Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Ethiopia Expedition

Today, Elli and I, along with a team of boys from my school, are off to Ethiopia.

We'll be visiting the source of the Blue Nile, trekking in the Bale Mountains (see photo), doing a community project (painting / building) in a local school and wildlife spotting in the Awash National Park.

Growing up, I always assumed that Ethiopia was no more than a glorified dust bowl. The media focus back in the 1980s on famine and disease in one part of the country robbed me (until now) of any other opinion about (the rest of) it. I am ashamed to say that as I have researched around I'm stunned to learn that it is mostly lush and fertile, and has more history than you can shake a stick at. Not least the widely held cultural belief about the Ark of the Covenant.

Will be a fascinating month.

See you back here at the end of August.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Shaming the Tiger - Tony Anthony Exposed

After an investigation into his life story, evangelist Tony Anthony has this weekend been exposed as a fraud. Official statement from EA here. More detail here.

Tony came to Reading a number of years ago and many, including me, enjoyed hearing his (now largely fictitious) story.

Why did he do it? Was he an attention seeker? Did he want money? Was he addicted to the adrenaline rush of seeing many fall for his fairy story telling?

I don't know, it's probably not worth speculating either.

So what about all those who were converted at his meetings?

Whilst the life of the evangelist may have been a lie, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not. Whilst the jar of clay may have been faulty, the treasure inside it was not.

People who were dazzled by the wow factor of Tony's story and "gave their life to Christ" on the strength of that story, if they haven't fallen away already, will be rocked to the core. But those whom the Spirit of God touched, who were awakened to true faith in the gospel presentation he gave at the end, whilst being saddened by this development, will not be finally rocked.

As for the rest of us, it is business as usual. The early church preacher, Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that this kind of stuff was a fact of life (Phil. 1:15-18). He doesn't try to stop it or control it for in the whirlwind created by all this, some good will come. Not that he condones malpractice, (2 Cor. 4:1-2) but that he commits all these things that he can't control into the hands of God and runs hard in the task he has been called to, not deterred or distracted (1 Cor. 9:25-27). For whilst this turn of events will create a lot of noise and soul searching in the household of faith, the silent darkness and death, which holds many outside that household captive, is greater still.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I don't have the stomach to baptize people naked...

...but it's apparently what the early church did.

Before you go and write them off as a bunch of whackos, listen to this food for thought:

Playlist here.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Another Theological Blooper! (Doh!)

In a prayer meeting last week, I was talking about how Elijah was fed by ravens in 1 Kings 19. That was false. He was fed by ravens in chapter 17. Sorry.

Christ himself fed Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

A beautiful foretaste of John 13:3-5 and Luke 12:37.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Undignified David

This morning, Elli and I read 2 Sam. 6. Here's what struck me as we read it.

David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. As the Ark is carried by the priests (the Levites) into the city, David follows behind it, dancing with all his might, wearing only a simple outer garment called a linen ephod.

When he gets home, his wife Michal, daughter of the now deceased King Saul, tells him that he, the king, has disgraced himself as a commoner. David's response comes as a surprise, I would guess, for even though on paper he is the King of Israel, he refers to himself as "but a prince."

Our strange 21st Century Western take on life means we automatically side with David as the guy who was bold enough to be an individual and express himself and his devotion to what he loved (in this case to God), the British Prime Minister might have jumped on the bandwagon and called for him to be knighted (topical joke at time of writing that probably only Brits will get) but the vast majority of history and geography would be on Michal's side. Here is a man doing something not just unfitting, but outrageous for those who have had high office conferred upon them.

Except that it is not unfitting in this case.  The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God and more specifically, the pre-incarnate Christ, with his people. It was the pre-incarnate Christ who told Samuel to anoint David king. As he dances and worships, David recognises that he is in the presence of the one who has given him everything he has.

Moreover, he refers to himself as a prince because ultimately, he is not the true king of Israel, he is a mere throne warmer for the greater king who was to come.  Christ, the true king, the true bridegroom represented by the ark would finally come to his people. In the face of this reality, David strips off all his garments of his kingly office, for he is not in competition with this king, he is merely looking after this greater king's kingdom in trust until he (Christ) comes to take it for himself.