Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Month: Jan, 2020

Brexit Ambivalence

I think my title is how many Brits feel about Brexit, which officially happens tonight at 11pm UK time. As much as the powers that be and the media have played up this dualist struggle between “Brexiteers” and “Remainers”, I think most Brits, partly for the sake of keeping the peace within their families and communities, are fairly ambivalent about the whole thing, whichever side of the argument we’re on.

I don’t want to get all political/divisive in this post. But I do want to write about division and unity. The European Union isn’t so united after all: it’s just lost its first member state. But the United Kingdom isn’t so united itself: Northern Ireland might end up leaving to unite with the rest of Ireland; Scotland might become independent only to attempt to rejoin the EU, and Wales might follow suite.

I could write about how every attempt to unite Europe (and for that matter humanity) throughout history has failed. I could on the other hand write about how racism has been more uglily apparent in the UK in the last few years.

But instead I want to write about the only dividing line through humanity that really matters, and that’s spiritual. It’s not even about being relatively good- plenty of moral people are both leavers and pro-EU. Ultimately, according to the Bible, we’re all naturally bad spiritually (to a greater or lesser extent). The dividing line is between those of us who will get what we deserve- hell- for our rebellion against God; and those of us who have received the grace of God for us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ- whether we leave or remain in the EU doesn’t really matter- what really matters is that we belong to Him. Christ is the great unifier of all who come into His truly united kingdom of heaven. In Christ, whatever our political persuasion may be pales into insignificance compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.

He’s my Lord, do you know Him? He’s the King of kings and the Lord of lords to whom every political power must bow. Better to do so gladly now, than to be forced to it in the end.

May the church be a truly united kingdom of God in the disunited UK and EU, worshipping Him together, and telling others of the good news of salvation in Him. To His glory alone, amen!

Broken

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.
Exodus 6:9 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/exo.6.9.ESV

God wanted Moses to let His people know that He was going to deliver them from slavery and take them to the promised land. Similarly, God has sent Jesus to let us know we can be delivered from slavery and led to the promised land. Their slavery was Egypt; ours is sin. Their promised land was Canaan; ours is the new creation.

But Moses wasn’t initially very successful in persuading his people of their promised deliverance from slavery. Maybe Jesus doesn’t seem successful with many people that we long to come to faith in Him. This verse hints at a couple of potential reasons why people don’t trust in Jesus.

Firstly, many people have broken spirits. Their consciences trouble them. But they’ve also be hurt by others, and they’ve lost all hope. God can bind up the broken hearted!

Secondly, many people are in harsh slavery to sin. It feels like an addiction they can’t break free from. So they’ve given up hope. But Jesus can set us free from slavery to sin!

“Almighty Lord, thank You that just as You brought Your people out of Egypt into Canaan, You can bring us out from sin’s destruction into the heavenly city. For Your glory we pray it, amen”

Disability?

Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord ?
Exodus 4:11 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/exo.4.11.ESV

Moses might have been relatable in his lack of confidence to serve the Lord, but he wasn’t a good example in this passage. He had excuse after excuse as to why he couldn’t serve the Lord. Before we judge him too harshly, I wonder if we’re the same?

I love the Lord’s response. He doesn’t give up on Moses as some no good has been. He keeps persevering with him, answering all of his objections. Moses probably felt like a has been: guilty of murder at 40, here he was at 80 looking after his father in law’s sheep. It was a far cry from the Egyptian palace he grew up in.

Of course, it’s good to be humble. But true humility doesn’t just put itself down, it bigs God up. We might feel inadequate for our tasks, but with God we can do great things.

I don’t think God is saying here that he maliciously strikes people down with disabilities, but that nothing happens outside of his sovereignty. He can bring good out of bad, even Moses’ maybe lisping, stammering tongue. “Then in a nobler, sweeter tongue, we’ll sing His praise above”.

“Lord, please forgive our excuses to not serve You, and please overcome our objections and shortcomings so that we might do great things for You. For Your glory, amen”

The Before & After Tag

Please use this image if you do the tag!

The image is courtesy of the excellent Canva App which I would recommend to all bloggers if you want to customise your blog’s design. I’ve chosen it because the Golden Gate Bridge in California is the emblem of my site (my thanks to whoever built it).

And I guess the top image reminds me of before, when I was mentally ill, feeling like I was between a rock and a hard place.

So, the Before And After Tag A.K.A. the Then And Now Tag…

It’s pretty simple really: use the image at the top of the post; answer the 10 questions; and tag the people you’d like to answer the questions 🙂

1. Who was family for you growing up?

Mum and dad, naturally, two older brothers and a younger sister. There was also my dad’s parents and brother four hours drive away in Norfolk and my mum’s parents and sister (still) an hour away in the North West of England. We still have other family in Norfolk and Lancashire.

2. Who is family for you now?

Now I’ve got a little family of my own- my wife and daughter. One of my brothers is married and I have a niece too. Marrying my wife has given me family in Italy- my mum and dad in law and siblings in law 🙂

3. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the heavy woollen district of West Yorkshire, among the “dark satanic mills” making their “shoddy and mungo” textiles! Home was an unassuming 1930s semi detached house.

4. Where do you live now?

I now live in a house that’s younger than me I think in the north of North Yorkshire (in Teesside really)

5. What did you want to be when you were older?

I was never too confident about what I wanted to be but I remember telling my barber when I was a kid that I wanted to be a (local government) councillor!

6. What do you do now?

I work in the local shop

7. What’s your earliest memory?

There’s a few contenders.

There was that time I told the barber, “I’m not sunshine, I’m Robert!” and was promptly sick!

There was the time when I dropped the hot dog at the zoo because a wasp was buzzing around me, to my grandad’s annoyance (who probably spent a lot on it!)

Finally there was the time I pointed out the “male mallard ducks” to my family’s amazement (I was pretty young!)



8. What’s one of your most recent memories?

Well right now I’m in the kitchen with my toddler playing with just about anything that isn’t a toy!


9. What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?

I know it didn’t take much to do this, but becoming a dad is a wonderful thing that I don’t think I can top!

10. What is your biggest hope in this life?

Apart from meeting Jesus face to face of course… probably that my daughter comes to faith in Him for herself- it’s for her to do not me of course!

The people I want to tag are a combination of some of my favorite blogs and who I hope will take part! 😀

Efua

Mrs Mariposa

Elisha (Africa Boy)

Joshua Swanson

Lydia Potter

If I haven’t tagged you, but you still want to answer the questions in a post of your own- go for it! 🙂

Interviewing Myself- More About Me :)

Action shot of me eating a pastry earlier this month!

I read Elisha and Joshua’s great interview of each other and decided to adopt their questions for me (with permission of course!). You can read their original post here:

https://africaboy.home.blog/2020/01/29/an-interview-with-joshua-swanson/

1: What is your favorite book of the Bible and why?

It’s all good, but I often enjoy whichever one I’m reading and writing about. So at the moment that would be the Psalms. It’s like a chemist’s shop for the soul, with a Psalm for most spiritual afflictions I would say.

And it’s a songbook, and I love music. I love how heartfelt towards our great Hod it is, and honest it is about a massive range of human emotions and spiritual states.

2: Who is your favorite Bible character?

Apart from Jesus? Tough one. I find myself relating to a lot of them for different reasons. I don’t relate so much with Daniel, but he’s one of my favourites because he has so much integrity in a hostile environment. He’s one of the few Bible characters apart from Jesus that the Bible doesn’t have anything negative to say (not that he was perfect).

3: What is your favorite Bible verse?

Tough again because there’s so much good. Maybe 1 Timothy 1:15 which says (off the top of my head) “Here’s a trustworthy saying to be wholeheartedly affirmed: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’- of whom I’m the worst”- I really relate to that!

4: Do you like your name?

I didn’t used to because my first name isn’t in the Bible. But I’ve come to terms with it. My full name means, “famous, bright, deceitful servant of the King”. Not particularly apt perhaps and probably for the best!


5: Which do you prefer: American food or Mexican food?

I haven’t had much Mexican food and I know it’s very spicy so I’ll go for the safe American option!

6: What is your favorite African food?

I should say jolof rice with my wife coming from Nigeria, but I love East African (Ethiopian/Eritrean food) – savoury pancakes called injera, and spicy chicken stew called doro wat with buna- gorgeous espresso style coffee! Jolof rice is good too though!

7: How many siblings do you have?

Three grown up siblings scattered around England- two older brothers, a sister, and a sister in law 🙂

8: If you could only write about one subject, what would it be?

The Bible unsurprisingly, hopefully as inspired by the Holy Spirit!

9: Would you consider someone, besides Jesus, in the Bible as your role model?

I suppose it should be Daniel again as he’s such a good role model!

10: What’s your favorite movie?

Tough question. I tend to like historical dramas so something like A United Kingdom would probably be my favourite. I tend to watch cartoons nowadays with having a toddler. We love The Lion King (haven’t seen the new one though)!

11: Do you watch Marvel?

I’ve seen some of them. I prefer them to D.C. because they seem to take themselves less seriously 🙂

12: If you could choose one place to eat at for your birthday, where would it be?

Probably somewhere in Bradford, the curry capital of the UK. My wife doesn’t like curries so that’s a bit harsh on her, but I haven’t hardly had a curry since I married her so it would make a nice change! 😀

Home

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Mark 5:19 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.5.19.ESV

I love this passage in the Bible, about the demon oppressed man who Jesus delivered. His life was transformed from chaotic terror to peaceful submission to the Lord. Understanderbly he wanted to follow the Lord wherever He went.

But interestingly Jesus didn’t permit Him. Wasn’t that what Jesus was about, gathering followers? Yes, but His calling upon this follower’s life was to be a witness within his hometown.

If we belong to Jesus, surely we’d want to follow Him to the ends of the earth and be missionaries in Papua New Guinea or the Amazon, right? They’re good desires, but for many of us, God has got a seemingly more mundane calling than “full time” Christian service. For most of us, God wants us to witness to those who already know us or will get to know us of the change He’s worked in our hearts.

The best (and hardest) place to witness of Christ’s grace in your life is your hometown. That’s where people know what you were like before, and hopefully see a change! A reason I so relate to this story is that I used to be, to put it bluntly, a madman before Jesus delivered me. Perhaps it’s time to nip to my hometown and tell of how much the Lord’s done for me!

“Lord, You’ve done so much good for us, and we’re so grateful. Please help us to be good witnesses for You where we are, and may the testimonies of our changed lives go before us, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Weeds

but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
Mark 4:19 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mrk.4.19.ESV

This is part of Jesus’ explanation of His parable, or spiritual story, of the sower. Some seed fell in rocky ground which spoke of persecution and hardship. This verse however is about the seed that fell among weeds, which are more insidious than the rocky ground.

One missionary once described his work and said that maybe he wasn’t sowing, watering or reaping, but simply removing stones. Well if that’s doable and necessary, then weeding certainly is! People need to realise that the word of God is more important than the cares of this world.

The world sees riches as a good thing. The Bible sees them as a good servant, but a bad master. If we live to get rich, we’re going to be spiritually unfruitful. Life isn’t about making money but about bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

What do we desire? Our answer determines whether we’re going to be spiritually fruitful. If we desire an easy life, or wealth, or anything other than God, His Word and His Spirit, ultimately our spiritual lives are going to be poor. Maybe we could all do with some spiritual weeding, to weed out wrong priorities in our lives!

“Father God, may Your Word bear fruit in our lives. Please realign our desires for ease, wealth and anything other than You, so that You are our priority and You can bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. For Your glory, amen”

Psalm 84: Pilgrimage

Click on the link to read my latest Psalm post:

https://bloggingpsalms.wordpress.com/2020/01/27/psalm-84-pilgrimage/?preview=true

Psalm 83: Persecution

Follow the link to read my latest Psalm post:

https://bloggingpsalms.wordpress.com/2020/01/27/psalm-83-persecution/?preview=true

Fierce

Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.
Genesis 49:7 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/gen.49.7.ESV

We tend to be very individualistic in the West in our thinking. “Only God can judge me!” we insist. Well here we have Jacob judging two of his son’s posterity for their own transgressions.

Simeon and Levi’s sister Dinah had been raped. In disproportionate revenge they slaughtered the culprit’s entire city. If they thought their sin was their’s alone to bear, they were wrong. Their dad pronounced a curse upon their descendants.

It might seem a bit harsh to us for Simeon and Levi’s descendants to be divided and scattered among Israel. But the lesson is that sins have consequences, often for generations after they’ve been perpetrated. Simon’s tribe was assimilated within Judah’s tribe, and Levi’s priestly tribe was scattered throughout Israel.

Initially, Simeon and Levi might have thought they’d got away with their massacre. After all, they weren’t subjected to the death penalty. But their wrongdoing had repercussions for generations to come.

“Lord, have mercy upon us for our transgressions. Thank You so much for taking away the penalty of our sins, if not their consequences. In Jesus’ name, amen”