Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 12
Purging ourselves (2)
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 11
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 10
ATTENDING to God 4
Words from James Gray
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 9
ATTENDING to God 3
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 8
ATTENDING to God 2
Words by James - 2020.04.02
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.
If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord;
so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
To the best of my knowledge I have never read the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 & I suspect the same may be true of you. Yesterday that all changed. I went online to take a look at Question 1 of the famous old Catechism and I must tell you I was deeply challenged.
Question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism goes like this: “What is your only comfort in life and death?”
The answer is: “That I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and death - to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
These 21 days of enforced Covid- 19 Retreat have brought me back to ‘Question 1’: ‘What is my only comfort – my one true and steadfast hope – in life and in death?’
The idea behind ‘Question 1’ comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is a verse we know well. But what of its reality? What is the true basis of my living in this world and what do I hope for when I contemplate the fact that one day I am going to die? What then? Do I have an absolute trust that I will be with Christ, or do I prefer not think about such things?
Most of us have time in these days to think and do some mental and spiritual spring (or is it autumn?) cleaning. So, among the many things you have been thinking about, stop and ask yourself ‘Question 1’: ‘In life and death, what is my one true comfort and hope?’ And maybe we can arrive together at the answer: “I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and death - to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
1563 is a long time ago but last month (March 2020) a brilliant new song was released that was birthed according to the song writers in ‘Question 1’ and the answer given in the Heidelberg Catechism. The song is called, ‘Christ our hope in life and death.’
Please listen to it.
God be with you.
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 7
ATTENDING to God
Words by James - 2020.04.01
In our preoccupation with the war against Covid-19 and the accompanying lock-down, I have had to remind myself that we are actually in the midst of Lent. Good Friday and Easter Sunday will soon be upon us.
Slowly but surely, after all the good advice we have received about and what to do and what to avoid around ‘the Virus’, the Cross has come into focus, a reminder that our Christian faith is not about ‘good advice’ but about ‘good news’, good news about what God has done for us and this world in His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus. You remember those wonderfully timeless words of John’s Gospel: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever places their trust in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.‘ (John 3:16)
The Cross and the Empty Tomb are indeed precious to us. Earlier today words from John’s 1st Letter were pressed on my heart: “the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.” I have read those words hundreds of times, but today I paused to think how significant they are for my own life. The blood of Christ that cleanses me from all and every sin.
Before I thought about those words I had been watching Johnny Cash’s incredibly moving music video, ‘Hurt’. If you want to see despair written on a man’s face then you should watch ‘Hurt’. In a few haunting minutes it portrays Cash’s life in all its potential and failure. It has been described as “one of the saddest music videos ever made.” And I can believe it.
Cash was a broken and dying man when the video was made and as he approaches the end of his life he looks back over the utter wastefulness of everything and he thinks about what might have been . . if only. “What have I become?” he keeps asking himself as he wrestles with what he calls “my empire of dirt.”
‘Hurt’ does not have a happy ending. The video ends with Cash closing the lid of his piano. The music has ended. The song is no more. It’s over. It’s too late. It is gut-wrenching stuff.
But I don’t think that is the whole story of the video. Interspersed in the video are images of the Cross and our dying Saviour. What was the filmmaker trying to say? Perhaps he was trying to say something about how we are never outside the reach of a searching God, never so soiled that the blood of Christ cannot cleanse us from every sin. . because that is the amazing truth, the good news of Good Friday, our most precious Gospel.
A few months after the video was filmed Johnny Cash died. Did he realise, I wonder, how much he was loved by God? If only . .
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 6
Your Red Dot
Reflections from James Gray
Words from Ken Jackson - Lockdown day 5
Presenting yourself to God
Words by James: 'LISTENING'
Back in January 2015 a Christian song was released that took the world by storm. Last time I looked, the official video of ‘No longer slaves’ had been viewed on YouTube over 116 million times. That is considerable!
I recall when I christened the daughter of SA World Cup rugby star, Francois Louw, himself a dedicated Christian, that I paused and asked everyone present to listen to ‘No longer slaves’ with its words, “From my mother’s womb you have chosen me, Love has called my name . . I am a Child of God.” It seemed an appropriate song for that moment.
I listened to it again an hour or so ago and thought to myself it is a song we could all listen to again. I needn’t tell you why. It will become apparent as you listen to it. In fact, there is another great version of ‘No longer slaves’ filmed in a prison somewhere in America. If the first version is powerful, you should watch the ‘prison’ version! Please listen.
God be with you and listen to what the Spirit of God is saying to you.