Shalom.

It is a very popular Hebrew term, used as a “hello” and “goodbye” for the comings and goings in life.

Yet like most words, English cannot encompass what magnitude and depth this word contains. Following what the Strong’s Dictionary tells me, it means more than just the “peace” that people imply. Peace is a poor English word to describe what a huge expanse this word entails. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord (7965). Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.

When used in the Hebrew, it is the fullness that is comparable to a debt that is paid. That is, the debt is not partially paid, but fully–there is a sense of the completeness and the efficacy of the shalom being complete, and requiring no further action.

Keeping this in mind, I wonder when we read the words of Jesus, he often uses the greeting: “Peace be unto you,” a translation of shalom aleichem, what that would mean to us.

If it is, that Jesus is calling for our debts to be paid, and ourselves to be made whole through the freedom from the bondage of sin. What if shalom meant more than just peace, as we have understood it to mean, but Jesus continually inviting us to drink of the Living Water and eat of the Bread of Life? Applying this, are we seeking more than just peace, but are we looking for the debt of our sins to be paid fully.

Moreover, if we greet our brothers and sisters with the greeting–shalom–do we wish them completeness, wholeness…etc. ? Do we hope and pray for the utmost of graces and love to be lavished upon them, because Jesus certainly did for the people he encountered. To have the heart of Jesus is to know love other as you would treat them, and to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1v.7

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Dear Hipster Church,

So many thoughts I am likely not allowed to put on facebook. So, WordPress is in for a treat today! A early Christmas special as you would have it. ^__^

1. We Get It.

You love Jesus, we get it. You love others, we get it. However, it’s confusing when you treat Jesus and His words so flippantly.  It’s confusing when He’s merely “the man upstairs”, or “big bro in heaven”. I don’t really understand this Jesus you guys have placed your faith and hope, and ultimately laid down your life for. It’s confusing the obtuseness of your theology and lack of clarity in soteriology. Read more of this post

Charles Spurgeon on Pride

An excerpt from a sermon delivered on August 17, 1856 by Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark on the topic of “Pride and Humility”. I find paraphrasing a useful exercise for me, so I have done some editing, removing “thy” and “thou”s from the text, as well as some liberty in the substitution of archaic words and phrases. Nevertheless:

In the first place, pride is a groundless thing. It stands on the sands; or worse than that, it puts its foot on the billows which yield beneath its tread; or worse still, it stands on bubbles, which soon must burst beneath its feet. Of all things pride has the worst foothold; it has no solid rock on earth on which to place itself. We have reasons for almost everything, but we have no reasons for pride.  Read more of this post

Defining Life In Amongst The Chaos

ImageLife is chaos.

We began in chaos. If we were to subscribe to evolutionary theory, we were a few atoms forced together by chance from a million others emanating from a cosmic bang producing hydrogen atoms. From the combinations forming from the random contact of atoms, compounds happened. These compounds multiplied, and continuously bumping around, mistakes happened, and mostly, we reached a dead end and most compounds decayed away. But some flaws worked in our favour and we changed somewhat to slightly different structures and the better compounds overtook and dominated over the older versions of the compounds. From the diversity of compounds became life. Life started off as simple, then complex life forms. Life is merely bumping into each other, and making more offspring, and moving further and further along the evolutionary cycle.

If we were to subscribe to creationism, we were conceived as very good beings from the dust of the earth. Yet, we are fundamentally tainted by the chaos, that is, power and the ability to sin against one another and against a Holy God. Through the fruit eaten in the Garden of Eden we have been forced to live a life without the direct providential care of God, and we are returned to working the earth for little fruit. It is the chaos we find, when we find our relationships strained because we have rejected the life of God for much less.

We are highly flawed beings, whatever theory we subscribe to. Read more of this post

Keeping Christmas in Perspective

I feel sometimes people fight all the wrong battles. 

People arguing about Happy Holidays over Merry Christmas especially. They have grown so overblown that it become irrelevant from its true rooting in Christ’s birth. Merry Christmas is in the larger scheme of things only a small part of what Christmas is. Is Christ diminished if we do not wish people Merry Christmas, or is Christ more manifested in other places? In other words, is this the Gospel? I am convinced if we continue to fight these meaningless battles, and all we are seen fighting is over these things, it begins to define us. And I am sure the Devil would be glad to see us fight over these little things instead of fighting for the sake of the Gospel.

People often say that the Devil is so successful because people don’t believe he exists, but equally dangerous is to believe he exists but not to destroy the work of the Gospel.

I think people fight for too little if they are fighting to maintain a Christmas story, without looking at the larger picture. The Christmas story  can sometimes be so deeply entrenched in tradition that we can almost become lethargic in how we carry it on. Then perhaps, it becomes almost acceptable for non-believers to treat Christianity as nothing more than tradition of a time long ago. People often complain that Christianity is not relevant enough, and this is true because we aren’t living and engaging actively with the complete story of Christmas.

Christmas is more than just a merry time and a feel-good nativity story, it is more than a woman giving birth to a child in a manger.

 

“If you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
” Isaiah 58:10 (English Standard Version)

Have been diminished the power of Christmas that it is merely a time of the year, but a daily reality and sanctification?

Building Contentedness Every Day

“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

These words came from King David in the Psalms, it speaks of the thankfulness he has toward God, because He is the source of all things (Psalms 118:24). And whether, this thankfulness is arising from the circumstances at the time that he found himself in, or in the greater goodness and grace that God bestows on us continually. David shows how there are a great many things we can be thankful for. It is this thankfulness that arises from answered prayers and knowledge of the saving hand of God.

Through the notion that God is the source of all things, he proclaims that we should rejoice. The context speaks of a cornerstone that was rejected and the builder tossed aside. While this could apply to his own situation, that it seemed to him that he was the stone that was ignored and set for destruction, God saw him and lifted him out of his sin. Read more of this post

To Be Christian Is To Love Your Enemies

The Apostle John argues in his letter to Christians, that to love is the mark of a Christian.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1John 4v.7

In other words, essentially, the Spirit of God is a Spirit of love. The knowledge of God that is given to us when we are saved is essentially a knowledge of a loving God. All else would be in vain if we did not have the knowledge of the provision for sin through the love of a Saviour in us. Matthew Henry says that it is “love [that] oils the wheels of his affections”–and surely this is a sign of being born again: being compelled to love.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” 1John 4v.8

John then proceeds to explain what the application of this love is: in the image of Jesus. Jesus was God’s only Son, the manifestation of everything–there was no other son that God had left. What Jesus accomplished on this earth was that we would live through Him. What is love, if we do not continually relate it to Jesus? What life is there of the Christian, if we are not continually comparing ourselves against what standard Jesus set for us?

Too often, I think it is too simple to compare ourselves to other people and see how ‘good’ we are compared to them. I can look at the Pat Robertsons and Rick Warrens of this world and think I am better than them, superior in the faith perhaps, and that could be no further from the truth. I am continually needing grace when I see myself and how Jesus needed to die on the cross for all of my sin.

“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4v.9-11 (English Standard Version)

In another reiteration from John to emphasize and expand his point, he describes specifically the work accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus. What John is describing is not a menial love, that cannot stretch far–but a love that goes till the death. That if we were to love with the love of God which has filled us, it should be a lot that sacrifices itself totally for one another.

The description that John gives a complexity beyond just loving those who deserve love, but those who do not deserve our love. The same applies to grace, that we not only are lavished with this unmerited favour, but we are so fallen beyond deserving or even seen as neutral before God. I like to think of it as a negative bank account balance, no bank would dare give us a loan. The reality is this: that we can only love, when we realise that we are loved undeservingly. We can only love if the love of God inhabits within us.

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I was in church the other day, and there was a man who was struggling with addictions. He described how it would go in cycles, he would stop for a time and then when he thought he was victorious, it would come back with a vengeance. There was a certain doubt and defeatism that had entered this man’s heart, that he couldn’t believe in himself to fight this any longer. In an open conversation, my pastor gave two points:

1. The Holy Spirit in our hearts is the only thing that can truly change us. Him, entering our hearts will undoubtedly change us and conform us into what God would want us to be like. Freedom from alcoholism, freedom from drug abuse, and even greater–from sin and the eternal bondage to these depraved things.

2. I can guarantee you that everyone in this church would die for you. We all believe in the Holy Spirit’s power, and His love toward us–I think I am safe in saying that everyone here loves you so much that they would do anything for you.

It’s a monumental statement from my pastor to proclaim that anyone would die for him. He certainly knew his own worthlessness better than anyone else in the church, therefore, better than anyone else in the church should he know of what a love there is in the Church. Where there is a worthless feeling, surely this should be matched with love–that there is a value assigned to us in Christ. To be afraid of love, is to be afraid of God and who He essentially is. I am certainly reminded of what Saint Francis of Assisi said many years ago:

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.”


I truly believe that to love others truly it demands everything of us, and this in turn, is a monumental task. I daily realise how far short I fail in this standard and where I don’t have enough faith, I doubt. What does love demand of you, and what ? Is your life different from before you knew Christ, are you loving more?