Month: November 2009

The unmistakeable rise in technology

Going to university was the first time I stepped out from my parents’ protection and took responsibility for my living habits and money properly. Before coming to university I bought and made a computer with my dad’s help, and since around that time I’ve noticed a marked increase in the amount of technology-related products I buy.

I think it was for my 18th birthday, in the summer before starting university, that I asked for and received a video camera and tripod, which have served me well since then. In my first year I also bought a digital camera, a headset for talking on skype, and a new computer mouse after the scroll wheel broke.

The second mouse broke in exactly the same way in my second year, so rather than replacing it with another one the same I splashed out on a wireless keyboard and mouse combination. A pair of wireless headphones was the next logical step I suppose, recently supplemented by a switch which allowed me to have my headset, headphones and speakers all connected to my computer simultaneously. I officially had too many computer peripherals to fit on the computer!

After checking how much I was spending on my mobile phone, I decided it was worth switching from pay as you go to have a one month rolling contract. Having had the contract just roll over into the second month, I promptly lost my phone, prompting the purchase of a new one. Being me, I took the opportunity to have something of an upgrade, with my new phone being operated via a touchscreen, and a memory card is (hopefully) on its way through the postal system to me to allow me to store more audio books and the like on it.

As they say, like father, like son.

Nothing appealing

One of many differences between humans and God struck me over the weekend, while on the RUCU houseparty. The Bible talks were from Isaiah chapters 53-55, and in my personal devotions I was reading Romans chapter 5. Just a few hours apart I read both the following passages:

He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

Spot the difference? We looked on an unattractive Christ and, by nature, reject Him. God, on the other hand, looks upon an unattractive humanity and loves it. God comes and dies for sinful humanity. What is the result?

I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 52:12

Jesus, God the Son, is honoured by God the Father because He bore our sin. A just God punishes all wrong things, and Jesus took that punishment for us. What amazing love! No wonder Jesus is honoured!

Watching Leeds

I’m a Leeds United fan, albeit not a particularly dedicated one, so I was pleased to hear the announcement that Leeds’ first round FA cup match (against Oldham Athletic) would be broadcast live on the internet by the FA, with no charge whatsoever. For me, the biggest obstacle to watching Leeds matches has always been the cost. The only time I’ve ever watched a game at Elland Road was when a friend won a pair of free tickets. Much as I’d love to go regularly, it’s never been financially realistic. The match took place, and sadly I was working through most of it, but I did watch the end of the game. Viewing figures have just been released, and the video of the game was played a massiveĀ  176,000 times!

To put this in perspective, Elland Road seats just over 40,000 people (incidentally this makes it the 240th largest football stadium in the world by seated capacity). The new Wembley stadium seats 90,000. The largest football stadium in the world is the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, which seats 150,000. Obviously there were not 176,000 separate people watching Leeds vs. Oldham, but it’s an impressive viewing figure nonetheless (and makes it one of the 5 largest free-to-view online sporting broadcasts in the UK so far)!

The next match to be freely streamed is the 2nd round match between Norwich City and either Carlisle United or Morecambe on Saturday 28 November. I’ll be interested to see how many people watch that one.

Great movements of God

Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.

D. L. Moody

Today, Friday the 6th of November, marks the IFES World Student Day, a 48 hour period of solid prayer around the globe for the work of Christian students as they aim to live for God in their universities. RUCU‘s termly prayer week is this coming week, the 9th to the 13th of November, after which we head off for a weekend of fellowship and teaching at our houseparty. Some of my (few) readers are Reading students, some are not, but if you are a Christian why not join us in prayer this week? We will be praying for salvation on Reading campus and for God to make great movements in the lives of individuals, and through them great movements which impact throughout the whole world. Be part of it. Pray to God.

A Christian’s friends

A lot of Christians do, in my limited experience, tend to find that their closest friends are other Christians. This is only natural, as they are connected by the close bond of unity and fellowship which comes from being in the body of Christ, the global church. It is also actively encouraged much of the time, as it is rightly pointed out that the negative influence non-Christians tend to have on a Christian is greater than the positive influence of the Christian. In the words of JC Ryle,

The good go down to the bad, and the bad do not come up to the good.

Is this why so many Christians struggle to be living out the experience which the apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, sharing not only the gospel with the people around them, but also inviting them into their lives? I realise this is a broad brush stroke, but do Christians struggle to share the gospel in a personal and meaningful way because they are afraid of making close friendships with unbelievers? I would suggest some do.

I can testify that at university I have found it far easier to make Christian friends, even when I have naturally got on better with a non-Christian. It is a source of constant pain to me that I have so few close friendships outside of my various holy huddles. Having said this, God is gracious, and He is pleased to bless me with a number of friends who do not know the gospel, and He is strengthening my friendships with them. It is my prayer that I will grow in my love for God so that I may be able to love them more, sharing not only the gospel but my life.

What’s the point?

I’ve recently been watching some of the TED videos, many of which are fascinating. One I watched tonight was an inventory of invisible things, which was a delightfully baffling look at life. Towards the end of the talk (9:20 in if you want to check for yourself) the speaker, John Lloyd, concludes

There are only two questions really worth asking:
‘Why are we here?’
‘What shall we do about it while we are?’

What excellent questions! Fortunately we have answers to both of of them: we are here because God created us as an overflow of His Trinitarian love, enabling Him to love us and us to love Him. While we are here we should enter a personal relationship with God and live our lives for His glory. This isn’t the answer that John Lloyd gives, but he does offer a quote from poet W. H. Auden:

We are here, on earth, to help others. What the others are here for I’ve no idea.

(N.B. According to wikiquote, the quote is actually by John Foster Hall.)

Remembering Christ

Remembering Christ, will transform us into His likeness. Our thoughts are the builders, which rear the temple of our character. If we think of unclean things–our lives will become unclean. If we think of earthly things–we will grow earthly. If we think of Christ, if thoughts of Him are in our mind and heart continually, we will be changed, moment by moment, into His beauty!

J. R. Miller, “The life of Jesus”

This is a constant challenge, and one which I would do well to remember. It is surely when we are beset by evil thoughts and desires of sin, that we are most able to grow in Christ by fixing our eyes on Him and trusting Him to carry us through!