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Christian Life and Doctrine

  March 2004, No 3

Hello [first name], here is this months newsletter with items selected especially for you.

THEOLOGY


In God's Image

Scholars have long debated the meaning of "image of God" In Genesis 127. Although there is no consensus, three historic perspectives predominate in academic circles
One proposal is that the "image of God" means the ability of humans to think, to reason and to make decisions.
A second suggestion is that the image of God refers to our capacity to have a personal relationship with our God.
The third idea is that the image of God could refer to the dominion that God gave humans over our planet earth.
To whatever degree each of these perspectives captures the meaning of the image of God, Jesus Christ, exemplifies it perfectly as "the brightness of his [the Father's] glory, and the express image of his person" (Hebrews 13, king James Version).

THIS MONTH'S INTERESTING AND SOMETIMES AMUSING SMALL STORY


An elderly lady was taken to Abraham Lincoln's office. The president very kindly asked: "My lady what can I do for you?", "nothing," she answered shyly. "I only came to bring you some cookies which I made myself. I heard that you liked them...you have done so much for us. We can't do much in return...this is only a small gesture to show my gratitude..." Tears filled the president's eyes. He was moved speechless. After a little while he said: "My good lady, you are the exception. Thousands have come in here since I became president. You are the first not to ask, but to give..."

Colossians 3:15 "be thankful", Psalms 29:1,2 "Glory the Lord's name, glory that is due him."

Each other's burdens


'Carry each other's burdens, and you will fulfill the law of Christ' Galatians 6:2, NIV

by Captain Stephen Poxon

I like Bill (not his real name). I warm to Bill, instinctively. I saw Bill walking home from work, jostling, as usual, with the crowd that has just been disgorged by the early-evening train.

Nothing remarkable about that - nothing remarkable at all, except that a week before I had conducted the funeral service for Bill's mum. Bill had sat a matter of feet away from me at the crematorium, sobbing his heart out for a mum he adored and whom he had visited every single day throughout her final illness.

Now, as I looked at Bill from a distance, my heart went out to him. There he was, still sore with grief, having to make his way upstream once again, amongst commuters who had no idea of his heaviness of heart. I prayed for Bill, there and then - a very simple prayer that God would looked after Bill and help him to get home okay, despite the jostling.

The effect of spotting Bill making his way in the crowed has been quite profound. No one in that crowd knew anything of his grief, and so for them, it was of no quarter asked and no quarter given'. In a world that can be quite ruthless at times, Bill was awarded no special sympathy or consideration. He just struggled on; a man who had been without his mum for just one week.

Since then, my attitude has been challenged. The holy spirit has been reminding me to treat people properly - the driver, for example, who cuts me up; the elderly person, for example, who slows me up; the demanding enquirer, for example who winds me up. The holy spirit has been helping me to give them all the benefit of the doubt.

Why give way to 'road rage' and an angry exchange of insults with the driver who speeds ahead of me so dangerously? He might be a lunatic-driver, but on the other hand, he might (for all I know) be speeding to visit his sick child, or his dying parent. Why not assume that his burden is so great that he finds it necessary to ignore the rules of the road? Why not pray for him instead of being angry with him? He might be another Bill, carrying a secret load about which I know absolutely nothing. The last thing he needs is me steaming into him.

And what of the elderly lady whose concept of time and a busy day is vastly different of mine? Hers might not be the burden of grief and bereavement (although it might well be), but loneliness. Supposing she is trying to alleviate that burden just a little by speaking to me for five or ten minutes?

Will it cost me all that much to help her carry that burden for a little while? So what if it does make me late for my next appointment? Better, I suspect, than to dash away and leave her crippled under her heavy load.

And the enquirer who winds me up? Demanding more and more of The Salvation Army without even thinking of giving anything in return, not even courtesy; asking, grabbing, taking, all the time. How do I know what burdens he or she might be carrying? The burden of an awful childhood, possibly, which has produced an adult incapable of normal survival, dependant upon handouts. How dare I presume that the enquirer has chosen such a way of life, and in my imperious manner, refuse to lift the burden, albeit temporarily!

There are any number of 'Bills' out there, silently struggling under all kinds of burdens. I cannot pretend to understand every situation, but I can begin to take seriously those down-to-earth, gritty challenging words of Paul in Galatians 6:2.

Mrs Adams (not her real name) once accosted me in Tesco's (of all places!), shouting across the aisles and making me very embarrassed (I had only nipped in for some sugar). Her ramblings were loud and peculiar.

Mrs Adams had spotted my uniform, and recognized as something representing Jesus Christ and therefore, by default, the lifting of burdens.

I was annoyed at having been embarrassed, and didn't do as much as I could have done to help or care.

A few weeks later, Mrs Adams showed me a number tattooed on her left arm, a gift from the Nazis in Auschwitz because she had married a Polish Jew. I had singularly failed even to consider her burden, carried ever since the 1940s. May God forgive me!

BIBLE

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

My child recently asked me , "Where did God come from?" Could you please help me with the right answer? I remember asking the same question when I was young.

After we understand that God does exist, a natural subsequent question is, "Where did God come from?"
People throughout history pondered this question, searching their minds for the answer. Yet most have not thought to look to the only source of true knowledge, the Holy Bible. It is not that they have not read the Bible or looked into it, but they have refused to believe what the Bible plainly says.

The almighty ever-living, all knowing God, as Creator of heaven and earth and Author of His Holy Word, is certainly in a far better position to tell us where He came from than we as His created beings are to figure it out for ourselves, apart from His divine revelation!
So for the answer to the question of God's origin, let us turn to the Bible and see what it has to say.

The Bible tells us that God is ever living and eternal ---- the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8). When we humans begin to use words such as ever and never and always, we are using words that our limited, finite minds cannot really comprehend.
When we read and try to comprehend that God has always been, our minds will go just so far, as we stretch our imaginations to the limit. Then we come to what seems like concrete wall and find we cannot understand further.

Eternity into the past is impossible for us to fully comprehend. And yet, beyond the farthest reaches of our imagination, God has always been (John 1:1-2).
But if God has always been, where did he come from? The answer is simple. If God has always been, He didn't come from anywhere ---- He has just always been!

If we overcome and are accounted worthy of being born into His Kingdom as His very own children, composed of spirit as he is and very God ourselves, we will be able to understand many of the things that are mysteries to us now.
Nowhere in the Bible does God reveal to us where he came from. He just tells us that He is ever living and eternal.

God has revealed all we need to know at this time to qualify for salvation. The things we don't know and can't understand belong to God for Him to give to us when he wants to. Our duty now is to act on what we do know, keep God's law and grow to perfection so we can enter God's Kingdom. There God can teach us answers to many of our human mysteries.
God says through Moses: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we many do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

BOOK REVIEW

The feminine journey

"How can two write one book?" Cynthia Hicks asks in The Feminine Journey, which she co-authored with her husband, Robert. Very successfully, as it turns out.
Women readers will see themselves in Robert and Cynthia Hicks' examples and anecdotes while the couple explores six aspects of womanhood the creational woman, the young woman, the nurturer, the relational woman, the wounded woman and the strong woman.

Recognizing that life has exhilarating high points and devastating low points, The Feminine Journey Understanding the Biblical Stages of Woman's Life (NavPress Publishing Group) helps women better understand themselves as they live through life's challenges.
Unfortunately, the first chapter, where Cynthia Hicks relates her experience as a pastor's wife, could cause some to quit reading, believing that the book is not written for them. But don't stop. This book is for all women----married, single young or old.

Cynthia Hick's motivation for writing The Feminine Journey is that sharing her personal journey will encourage all women "to cut yourselves a slack, to enjoy the pleasant scenery at every stage, and to realize you are normal and not alone" (page 27).
The Hickses certainly succeeded, producing a book that makes women glad God created them female.



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