Tag Archives: Sin

Rooting Out Idols

Ultimate Training Camp

When Luther pinned the theses to the door at Wittenberg he said that repentance is a constant of the Christian life, not just when you did something wrong.  That was the mistake the Pharisees made when condemning the woman who poured oil on Jesus’ feet.  It was not that their mistake was worse – it was because they were not constant in their repentance.


There is a line from Rocky “I am going to go the distance because then I will know that I am not a bum” – the thing is that that thing is probably your god, the thing that you want to do, the thing that you say “if only I can just get that”.

You have to see the idols – you have to be like a soldier who knows where the enemy is and not give it polite names.  Seeing what is wrong is part of the solution.

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Keeping The Heart

On the fall of humanity:

Man, by the apostasy, is become a most disordered and rebellious creature, opposing his Maker, as the First Cause, by self-dependence; as the Chief Good, by self-love; as the Highest Lord, by self-will; as as the Last End, by self-seeking.  Thus he is quite disordered, and all his actions are irregular.  But by regeneration the disordered soul is set right; this great change being, as the Scripture expresses it, the renovation of the soul after the image of God, in which self-dependence is removed by faith; self-love by subjection, and obedience to the will of God; and self-seeking by self-denial. (page 18)

On Temptation:

Divines observe this to be the method in which temptations are ripened and brought to their full strength.  There is the irritation of the object, or that power it has to provoke our corrupt nature; which is either done by the real presence of the object, or by speculation when the object (though absent) is held out by the imagination before the soul.  The follows the motion of the appetite, which is provoked by the fancy representing it as a sensual good.  Then there is consultation in the mind about the best means of accomplishing it.  Next follows the election, or choice of the will.  And lastly, the desire, or full engagement of the will to do it. (page 34)

Tributes to Dallas Willard – Part 2

On definitions:

Dallas and I used to play a game. I would ask him for definitions of all kinds of words. And every definition would contain a clarity and freshness and precision that would require folks to sit and reflect for a while. “Hey Dallas . . . ,” and then I’d ask him about any word or concept that mattered, and would receive a brief education in the possibilities of redeemed thought.

The word spirit. “Disembodied personal power.”

Beauty. “Goodness made manifest to the senses.”Maturity

disciple is “anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.”

Dignity is “a value that creates irreplaceability.” (This one, he graciously attributed to Immanuel Kant.)

“Hey Dallas, what is reality?”

“Reality is what you can count on.”

“Hey Dallas, what is pain?””Pain is what you experience when you bump into reality.”

“What is spiritual maturity?”

“The mature disciple is one who effortlessly does what Jesus would do in his or her place.”

“What exactly does it mean to glorify God?”

“To glorify God means to think and act in such a way that the goodness, greatness, and beauty of God are constantly obvious to ourselves and all those around us. It means to live in such a way that when people see us they think, Thank God for God, if God would create such a life.”

Somebody once said of Dallas: “I’d like to live in his time zone.” During one of his lectures, a listener challenged him with statements that were both offensive and incorrect. Dallas paused, thanked the person for their comments, and then simply moved on to the next question. Somebody asked Dallas afterward why he had not countered the student’s argument and put him in his place. “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.”

“One sign of maturity are the thoughts that no longer occur to you.” On the first day of sobriety, a recovering alcoholic will be filled with thoughts of her heroic efforts. After 20 years of sobriety, her mind will be free to think other, more interesting thoughts. Her sobriety will no longer look heroic, only sane—only a gift.

On eternity:

“Hey Dallas, what’s death?”

“Jesus made a special point of saying those who rely on him and have received the kind of life that flows in him and in God will never experience death. . . . Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living.”

Our destiny, Dallas used to say, is to join a tremendously creative team effort, under unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment. This is what the “eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard” in the prophetic vision. It is worth a few dozen read-throughs (found in The Divine Conspiracy).

Dallas also used to say, “God will certainly let everyone into heaven that can possibly stand it.” This is another one of those statements that becomes more daunting and frightening and wonderful the more you think about it.

“Keep eternity before the children,” his mother said. Dallas kept eternity before us in a way no one else quite has. And now he has stepped into the eternal kind of life in a way he never has before.

I’ll bet he can stand it. I’ll bet he can.

Merton’s Palace of Nowhere – Part 2 – False Self


The crux of the matter is, however, that we cannot be like God without God.  We cannot be like God by usurping God’s transcendant sovereignty in a spiritual coup that violates God’s will.  We cannot take our deepest self, which is a gift from God, and wrench it from God’s hands to claim it as a coveted possession. (page 34)


And yet it is this suicidal act that the brazen liar invites Adam to commit – and Adam accepts the offer!  In doing so, Adam, in effect, decapitates himself.  He tears out his own heart.  He gives birth to that sinister child of darkness and death that we are here referring to as the false self, the identity that Merton describes as “someone that I was never intended to be and therefore a denial of what I am suppose to be.” (page 35)


When we seem to possess and use our being and natural faculties in a completely autonomous manner, as if our individual ego were the pure source and end of our own acts, then we are in illusion and our acts, however spontaneous they may seem to be, lack spiritual meaning and authenticity. (page 36)


In our zeal to become the landlords of our own being, we cling to each achievement as a kind of verification of our self-proclaimed reality.  We become the centre and God somehow recedes to an invisible fringe.  Others become real to the extent they become significant others to the designs of our ego.  And in this process the ALL of God dies in us and the sterile nothingness of our desires becomes our God. (page 36)


This is the man I want to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him.  And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy. (page 36)


We are not very good at recognising illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves – the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin.  For most people in the world, there is not greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist.  A life devoted to the cult of this shadow is what is called a life of sin. (page 37)


After Adam had passed through the centre of himself and emerge on the other side to escape from God by putting himself between himself and God, he had mentally reconstructed the whole universe in his own image and likeness.  That is the painful and useless labour which has been inherited by his descendants – the labour of science without wisdom, the mental toil that pieces together fragments that never manage to coalesce in one completely integrated whole; the labour of action without contemplation, that never ends in peace or satisfaction, since no task is finished without opening the way to ten more tasks that have to be done. (page 38)

Conscious and Competent

Menlo Park Presbyteryian

30th July 2012


Like the distinction of “Conscious” and “Competent”


Some things are “Conscious and Competent”

Some are “Unconscious and Competent”

Some are “Conscious and Incompetent”

Some are “Unconscious and Incompetent”


Christian faith in many ways starts in the last of these.


Also looks at the idea of Disintegration.


Key passages are Matthew 5 (sermon on the Mount), 1 Corinthians 13 (the idea of all our strengths being worth nothing if we do not love), Matthew 23 (Jesus attack on the unconscious sins of the Pharisees), 2 Samuel 12, Mark 12, Galatians 5, 1 Peter 2, Ephesians 4, Luke 12, Matthew 11

Everything Must Change – Part 1



  1. Environmental breakdown – the prosperity crisis
  2. The growing gap between the ultra-rich and the extremely poor – the equity crisis
  3. The danger of cataclysmic war – the security crisis
  4. The failure of the world’s religions, especially its two largest – the spirituality crisis

(page 5)


The popular and domesticated Jesus who has become little more than a chrome-plated hood ornament on the guzzling Hummer of Western civilisation, can thus be replaced with a more radical, saving, and I believe, real Jesus. (page 6)

Boredom makes us sin

Boredom is a preview of death, if not death itself a form of death, and when trapped in prolonged boredom, even the most saintly of us will hope for, pray for, or even engineer relief, however demonic.  Sincere Sunday worshipers will confess to welcoming in muffled celebration any interruption of the funeral droning.  Be honest: Have you ever quietly cheered when a child fell off a pew, a bird flew in a window, the lights went out, the organ wheezed, the sound system picked up police calls, or a dog came down the aisle and curled up to sleep below the pulpit?  Passengers on cruise ships, after nine beautiful sunsets and eighty-six invigorating games of shuffleboard, begin to ask the crew hopefully, “Do you think we’ll have a storm?”


I recently heard a quiet and passive clergyman tell of his attending the Indianapolis 500.  He confessed that after two hours of watching the same cars speed by again and again, the boredom turned him into a degenerate sinner.  At first, he said, he simply entertained thoughts of “What if…?” and his own imagination thrilled him.  But soon his boredom demanded more.  A car caught on fire.  Hurrah!  Not until later did he remind himself that he, a Christian minister, had experienced no concern for the driver.  But a burning car was not enough; something more dramatic was needed to effect a resurrection from the death of boredom.  Voices within him, be admitted, began to call for a smash-up.  The demon of boredom had totally transformed him.  Shift the scene to a classroom or sanctuary, subject him or you or me to repeated and prolonged boredom, and a similar process begins.  For the communicating of the Christian faith, formally or informally, to be boring is not simply “too bad”, to be glossed over with the usual “But he really is a genuine fellow,” or “But she is very sincere.”  Boredom works against the faith by provoking contrary thoughts or lulling us to sleep or draping the whole occasion with a pall of indifference and unimportance.

In the congregation

“In the congregation… everything was going on at once, random, unscheduled, accompanied too much of the time by undisciplined and trivializing small talk. Babies born squalling, people dying neglected, an in between the parenthesis of birth and death, lifetimes of ambiguity: adolescents making an unholy mess of growing up and their parents muddling through as guilty bystanders. Also , of course, heroic holiness, stunningly beautiful prayers , sacrificial love surfacing from the tangled emotions in a difficult family, a song in the night, glimpses of glory, the sullen betrayal of a bored spouse quietly redeemed from years of self –imprisoned self worship by forgiveness and grace. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And all of this mixed together. In this world, sin was not a word defined in a lexicon. Salvation was not a reference traced down in a concordance .Every act of sin and every event of salvation involved a personal name in a grammar of imperatives and promises in a messy community of friends and neighbours ,parents and grandparents, none of whom fit a stereotype”


From Eugene Peterson, The Pastor

Jeff Lucas – Samson – Part 2

Jeff Lucas

The importance of laughter,

The frozen chosen,

We are saved for ever but we’re not too pleased about it.


Things that go wrong at Church

  • Minister who walked backwards into baptism font
  • Or the Church where they served jelly for Communion, and people had to scoop jelly out.
  • Christmas in big American Church, and they had cows and donkeys, and Eric the Deacon was hooked up to be the angel, and the orchestra played, and the motor stopped dead, and Eric began to spin round and round, the choir carried on, and Eric threw up all over the choir.
  • Hark the herald angels honk.


Take a picture in your mind of that man going round and round.


Men going round and round and round and making the same old mistakes.


A conundrum in this text, and the Spirit of the Lord drove him hard, and the Spirit starting to activate itself in Samson’s life,

– tears the line,

– rushed upon him

And the Spirit is stirring Samson the man.


In the middle of this, there is something that awkward, and Philistine Samson is meant to avoid according to the Torah.


Here is a man being stirred by the spirit, and the Lord clearly prohibits,

And the problem is this

And v4 “and his parents did not know that this was from the Lord who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines”


How can the Lord be using something which is so obviously against that which the Lord has so obviously stated earlier?


It says something to us about the nature of God who works in the midst of our mess –   God is involved, even if he has not initiated or endorsed.  Is it not true that God blesses people whom God should not bless.


Think of some Christian television – there are some TV evangelists are banned in our house.  One guy was asking for money in Jesus name, that God never wants him to suffer, “Jesus says in this world, you shall have trouble”.  I was getting angrier and this guy seems to know all things, and this guy “God has put something in your hands that he wants you to send me”


That man preaches a complete corruption of the gospel, but people do get healed through his ministry.  There is a sense in which grace enables God to have an acute lack of discernment.


God does not wait for us to have everything together before he involves in our lives.


The reality is that God is in the midst of the mess, actively at work.


Israel asks for a king (1 Samuel 8), God redeems the mess gives David, Solomon, and Jesus comes, and evil men put Jesus on the cross, and God redeems that mess.


Because God is actively involved in the midst of the mess,

But thank God for his grace.


The problem with people who are permanently offended,

There are Christians who have been offended since birth, with the midwife, “don’t you mess with me”


Physicality and Spirituality are strangely mixed.


The moment that the Spirit moves, we are also awakened to the erotic awakenings in the body.


Jewish thinking is remarkably and refreshingly open about areas of sexuality.  In the Talmud, when the Hebrew says “The Lord blessed Samson” and Hebrew is a euphemism for penis+cubit (18 inches)  The commentary he was endowed just as all men are.


Why are we being told this – there is a refreshing attitude to sexuality which is not found in the Church – the riddle at the wedding, out of the eater, out of the honey something sweet,  (honey is representative of highly erotic, as is eating).


It is not good to have your wife upset for seven days at your wedding, and then refer to her as a heifer.


–          Sources will be mentioned in Jeff Lucas’ book.


The Bible is open and honest about sexuality and spirituality.


Anybody who has worked in youth camp ministry knows that the night that the Spirit moves is also the night that you have to have your torches out in the bushes.  The connection between the physical and the spiritual is very strong.  We should not be surprised when of leaders having affairs, we should not be surprised of immorality in the Church (this is not to excuse anything).


We should realise that the Church is an ideal breeding ground to immorality, we shake hands, we hug, we use language like “I love you”, we have community together, the enemy wants to hijack all that beauty.  There is no room of off colour joking because it is just too joking – we have to treat people with absolute purity.


Samson was hijacked by the spirituality – there are some of us right now on the brink of an affair, you may well be praying with that person, you may have the idea in some kind of way that God has brought you together, step away right now, and step away from the disaster.  When we allow that to happen in our lives and deception will come in.


The Spirit of God is stirring Samson and he saw the woman.


We should learn and grow from failure

Samson went down (this is deliberate device, the language of going down, also speaking morally) and do you notice that Samson’s downfall is aided by three Philistine women (Delilah being Philistine, this is inferred but never emphatic).


Failure can enable us to learn and to grow, some of us never seem to learn.


In house, lots of wildlife.


Something smashed into the window of the bedroom.  A strategy to warn off strangers, they will run around the house screaming falsetto.


“There is something outside”,


Got back into bed, this sound of something hitting the window,

And there is nothing there,

Thought I am going to hide, and wondered what this?


This hovering gigantic bird showed up – they think they are seeing the enemy, take a couple of paracetomol, and up they go and they do it again.


Five minutes later keep doing the same thing,

Five minutes later keep doing the same thing


Want to see how dull and stupid this, and some of us are doing this with our lives.


We are constantly learning the same lesson,

And we are headbutting the double glazing all the time,


How many of us are close to making disastrous decisions, where we don’t seem willing to learn the lessons of life.


Headbutting glass is painful, are we destined to keep going round the same old things.


Dave had a problem with pornography, every weekend Dave would be found at the front repenting, prayed for him fifty times.  Dave “how are you doing?”  “Same old, same old?”


If the light could go on for some of us, if some of us just got it,

And realised that the pattern can be broken

And some of us were to go out of here and say “Alright Lord, I am learning the lesson, I am going to move forward with you.”


We can be wrong

He sees a woman who is going in her own “eyes”


She saw the woman in her own eyes, which is like the way that the nation is doing what is right in its own eyes.


He has become just like everyone else


She is the right one for me , doesn’t use Narah, uses Ishah, without saying it, he is saying “that woman is right”, he is believing his own lives.

Like saying “Poison is okay”



In Oregon, out in the middle of nowhere,

“Dad can we camp out by the campfire”

“Snakes aren’t around here”

“No darling, you don’t get snakes in state park”


Woke up, and looked under camp bed, and he had parked his camp bed and four baby rattle snakes came out,


The point is that Lucas is that he went to bed believing his own self deception,

As Samson says, ignoring his parent’s advice,

Ignoring the fact that this bride is sobbing for seven days,

Refuses to tell his bride,

Samson liked to think of himself who liked to think that he knew


Christians know everything, they have revelations about everything,

Sometimes people have strange revelations


The early Church had a problem with people in the know, Gnostics.


Lucas had a period that God moved, that he gave the impression that he was deeper than everyone else.


Samson was somebody who liked to be in the know

Are we deceiving ourselves on the edge of a disaster and unwilling to draw back?

Remember to visit dead lions

14:8 “Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass”


Lucas in car moving situation, and in a car, and started praying, bloke in car, was praying and car was saved.  There was a time of rejoicing.


Ten years later to those friends in the car, tell me what happened? Was I making it up?


Went back to visit the carcass of the lion, is that we can reflect on days in our lives, and these have shaped us and caused us to be the men that we are, today is one of those days.


Samson looked at the carcass.

Build Authentic Friendships

When he appeared he was given thirty companions, this man with a secret, doesn’t tell his parents, doesn’t tell his life, finally he will collapse with Delilah.  He was a man who didn’t even have friends to be with him at his own wedding (the idea of an hour and a half for lunch, but the chance to build friendship).


Lets be those who invest the time and energy and friendships needed for growth.


Close encounters of an evangelical kind – see you later next week.  We don’t really know each other.


Lucas says “I am a millionaire” , relationally because I have got friends.


How sad that he went to his own wedding?  And then his best man went off.


Personal story: My Dad prisoner of war in the last war, left it about three years before he died to become a Christian, when Dad died they called him to the hospital and said “he hasn’t got very long”.  His friend called at the exact moment that his Dad died.