Monday, December 31, 2007

A year

Well 2007 is nearly over. As I am writing is now new years eve in both the UK and NZ (various other parts of the world will have to wait longer, sorry).

It is a strange thought that in a couple of weeks that I will have been here in NZ for over two years. Much has changed in the last year and there is much to be thankful for: the work on campus has grown, New Zealand feels much more like home, Anna and I became a couple (be it a long distance couple), and I have again gotten to visit family and friends back in the UK. It has not always been straight forward but at the moment nothing negative is coming to mind at the moment. Having read another friends blog I am reminded that an easy life is far from what Christians are guaranteed. All the things that I am grateful for are from His grace and not things that I have earned, and this has served to increase my gratitude to Him.

Another friend had blogged about his favourite books of the year. I have read a few good books (if I was to do eight I have to confess that would probably have to include every book I have read in the last year!) but I decided to blog about something that stuck with me from earlier in the year.

It was part of the preaching course that I studied earlier in the year. An article we read explained how as preachers the temptation can be to preach to the actions/fruits of sin that we see in peoples lives. But if you just cut the fruit off it tends to grow back. What we need to do is preach to the roots that cause the actions/attitudes to grow in peoples lives. This is how the fruit is stopped from regrowing. By stopping things at the root.

An example of this is how as we can say that sex is good but only within marriage because God has said so in the bible. And that is by no means wrong, because that is what the bible says, but it is not a full reason as to why sex is good but only within marriage. When faced by temptation to sexual sin it is not always easy (though it should be) to say "the bible says that I shouldn't do this outside if marriage so I won't". Our hearts have been conditioned by various influences to not trust God. We need to address what is going on in our hearts that is causing us to doubt God.

The other danger of preaching to fruits is that of legalism. "Don't do this because God says you shouldn't" can come across as teaching people to behave in a certain way (and to make it worse people sometimes leave with the impression that this is what makes us acceptable to God). Our intention should be to see lives transformed. I don't know about you but I haven't been able to simply behave myself out of sin as yet.

For me personally it has changed how I engage with sin in my own life. No longer "I shouldn't do this" but more "I shouldn't be like this so why am I? What particular lie am I believing in my heart that is causing me to do this?".

There you go. My end of year reflection. Happy New Year. Maybe see you around on one side of the globe or another.


Josiah said...

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

The concept of fornication is self refuting because there cannot be sex prior to marriage because in God's eyes, sex is marriage. Here is an example:

Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.
Genesis 24:62-67

Notice that the servant brings news that the marriage proposal has been accepted by all parties (previous verses in context of passage), the marriage itself occurs in the tent (cf Genesis 2:24).

Anonymous said...

Hi James,

Hopefully see you in NZ during our brief stop there end of July.

Should have a little baby Balch with us too, all being well.

We'll try to arrive around July 21 and stay in NZ for five days, but will confirm nearer the time. I guess Wellington is a dead cert seeing as Ben and Jen will be your new neighbours.

Look forward to catching up. We'll have to find a friendly garden centre cafe to keep up with tradition.

Un abrazo,