Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Missing Explaination

"It is only by coming into contact with the reality of the eternal that the weight of this life is adequately felt". Mike Horton.

It's a truly marvelous situation - to be using creativity and skill to create something (in my case, images) that causes some people to pause, and it's even better when it provides an opportunity to discuss who and what we are.

Last weekend, I spent about four hours having a deep conversation with one of my muses and her boyfriend about the significance of Christianity. It always fascinates me how the same ol' excuses are arranged front and centre to seek to mitigate (dodge the bullet) of the message of the gospel...

'we're all 'divine' (part of god) and are more spirit than body'

'we all have a will to determine where we go'

'we're all capable of being good if we so choose'.

It's at moments like this you realize just how essential Jesus' teaching about what we really are is - how the Law needs to break such hard soil and convict us and then how the sole authority of Jesus needs to be recognized as THE Lord and Saviour.

It was a truly meaningful discussion, with my muse confessing, 'to really be different and to know the truth, we need a miracle'.

The miracle is that the same power which sustains every particle of this universe everyday, that gives us sunlight and rainfall, that can bring life to those who are dead - the same power that spoke creation into being, can speak into our lives and make them new.

Please pray that such a miracle comes to those we have the privilege of breaking and sharing the word of life with, and that we as children of grace can expel the canker of duality from our lives so that rather than impoverish this world, we can richly define God's true glory amidst the world He loves, that many may come, may taste and see.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The Inner Need

"Here, I have one faculty enlightened and another left in darkness -
my understanding is sometimes sharp, my will, at the same moment, perverted.
There, I shall be all light, no shadow,
my soul invested in the light of true Joy,
and my body, in the light of glory".
John Donne.

How often in life the deepest treasures emerge from pain or darkness.

I was reading a novel which made reference to an astonishing fact. In recent times, it has been discovered that babies which have been born prematurely can be encouraged to begin to suckle - so they can feed - by listening to the melody of music. Apparently, it has been discovered that the human brain is more 'hot wired' to appreciate such sounds than even to engage something as essential as using our mouths to keep us alive: the necessity to enjoy beauty runs that deep.

John Donne was once a womanizer and writer of some of the most sexual verse of his age, but everything changed for him on the day he fell in love with a young woman so bright and sharp that she reminded him of sunlight. His life would become a record of trial and despair, and yet, as the great plague demolished London, he himself survived a fever to become a beacon concerning the realities of death and the weight of glory found in the sure promises of God.
Amidst a people crying in pain, he was able to express in sermon and verse a truth that richly fed the deepest need.

In an age most certainly poxed with all manner of 'certainties' which offer no actual satisfaction of our deepest need - to identify where we come from and where life leads - the music that can allow us to be nurtured by grace is certainly what we need to hear.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

So necessary

"If we are in the light, as He is in the light, then we have true fellowship with each other".
The first Epistle of John.

How has the summer been where you are?
Have you had plenty of days where you have got out and about, enjoying the blues, the greens, the sounds and the 'vibe' that is meant to characterize this time of year?
Well, those of us here in the UK can tell you that this year - like last year - we can count the number of such days in 2008 on one hand. Every day, the forecast has been virtually the same for months -
gray, cloudy, windy and very wet, with very little sign of change. The results are pretty miserable.
I was doing a review of my recent work over the weekend, and realized that nearly 90% of my photography this year has had to be done indoors, all due to the weather.

When you have lived under such a blanket of gray for that long, it's amazing to see what occurs when the sun finally does come out...people quite literally change!
Faces are filled with smiles, beaches and parks become filled with joyful sounds, everyone feels so much better. We are born to be children of the light.

This reality is most certainly a reflection of our spiritual need.
There is a 'light' of truth, which, when it radiates our souls, means that we escape the misery of a world without warmth and vitality. The light we all need is this:

"Now, the righteousness of God is revealed, apart from the slavery of the law,
although the law and the prophets testify of this truth...
that the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ is come to all who believe.
We have all sinned and fallen short of God's meaning and significance,
but we can be declared not guilty because of this gift, because Jesus Christ has redeemed us.
God gave Him to bring about this reconciliation through the shedding of His blood - thus, this gift can be received by faith". (Romans 3:21-25).

Today,we can walk out from the gray and the misery into this unbroken sunlight - peace with God, joy in life and fellowship with each other.
That should make us genuinely healthy people...

Sunday, 3 August 2008

For all lovers and mourners....

"The hope concerning the resurrection of the body permits no disdain or debasement of bodily life and sensory experience - it profoundly affirms them and gives greatest honour to those aspects of 'the flesh' which some have defined as something to despise...
The resurrection is the event which renews the whole of life, here, amidst creation.
It means we are called as people to give up ourselves fully to the whole of life without any reservation". Jurgen Moltmann: The Coming of God.

It's as old as humanity -
whenever we speak of grace, sensuality, fertility, symmetry, elegance and natural beauty, whether it's in terms on the natural world, or several man-made creations, we almost always quite naturally speak of these things as 'she'. The testimony of scripture is no different. Wisdom is depicted by Solomon as the virtuous woman who feeds us well as opposed to the seductress who entices us into an alien and demeaning life (Proverbs 9) and the communities of Israel and the church are also equally described so. In the book of Ezekiel, for example, the people of God are defined as a woman, who from birth, is nurtured and loved by God, the naturalness of her form adorned and lavished, her every need being met (16:6-14).
This inherent connection between natural elegance and the feminine in terms of Biblical revelation clearly stems from the creation of Eve in Eden, the 'mother of all living' (Genesis 3:20).
It is only when we step away from this 'inherently good' design to 'life' defined by the present, fallen world, that we see that purpose demeaned and destroyed.

Whilst the pagan world of the Greeks and other ancient cultures seemed to venerate the feminine into divinity, it was at a dreadful cost. Women, as Plato viewed it, were 'mutilated males' who did not possess souls - the epitome of imperfection. This, of course, has to be the case amidst a culture where the very nature of humanity - engendered, sexual creatures, which are bound to a physical existence - was seen as no more than prison to escape through 'Gnosis' (mystical wisdom) and death.

We can, no doubt, make some measure of excuse for people who had yet to hear the richness and fullness of the message of redemption found in the 'grace and truth' made evident by God in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, but what excuse do we have in the
church of the 21st century? Why, so often, do we so quickly and easily lean much more towards the de-personalising approach and dictates of the 'wisdom' which so troubled the early church of the Colossians than the natural delight and veneration of our creational humanity alluded to so richly in places like the Song of Songs?
The Greeks and others 'religious-ized' the natural to try and escape its immediacy - it's potent 'shout' of the fact that all of human life - male and female, 'naked and unashamed', speaks of the image of God, not the severed version they could conveniently display in their temples. The grace bestowed upon us should allow us to express a reality which weaves the life and gifts which spring 'from every tribe and people, and every nation under heaven', but the creative richness which God wishes us to use well is often muted and directed to be monotone when it comes to our 'religious' activities and relationships.

This must not be so!
The early church was plagued by all manner of issues and troubles, but it was a living community of the saints, and we are called to be the same - a body which makes the world spin as it views the astonishing and marvelous triumph of grace abounding amidst those once in darkness, now dancing in the light.

Friday, 1 August 2008


I've been looking for this for a while...
It takes a few moments to get started, but when people ask me to summarize the 'joy in believing' which by Grace was conveyed in the Gospel to me some 30 plus years ago, here's a simple yet profound way to express this wonderful gift...