5 July 2023
As mentioned last week, I am deeply struck by the message of Ruth. Not the message of how we should emulate her fine character (which misses the point), but the revelation of how God uses women / Gentiles / foreigners for his extraordinary purposes. Ruth is set in the context of the period of the Judges—without which we easily miss what is distinct about her. She is also anchored into the genealogy of Jesus—and she’s not the only female or foreigner highlighted in Matthew 1.
After the message on Ruth are parts 2 and 3 of Andrew Kitchen’s series “Just Forgive?”. Andrew, a talented software engineer and Bible teacher, became a colleague in the teaching ministry in the ‘90s. We first got to know each other in the ‘80s, as he came to faith in London.
Finally, please take a moment for a poem by a Canadian friend—which has been framed and hung in our home for some two decades.
Last week’s message on Ruth—one of the true heroes (heroines) of the Bible—was a joy to prepare, and to deliver. That message has been reworked, and I hope that in listening you will learn something about God.
- Ruth Reconsidered — audio, 27 June, a fresh look at Ruth (19 mins)
- “Ruth & Boaz” — sermon audio, 25 June, Watford Church of Christ (23 mins)
- Why Did Ruth Enter Boaz’s Tent in the Middle of the Night? — article, Mary Willson Hannah
You Just Need to Forgive," Parts 2 and 3
Today we highlight the work of Australian software engineer and Bible teacher Andrew Kitchen. A few weeks ago we featured “You Just Need to Forgive” (?), Part 1. In that post Andrew deconstructs common language gambits used by abusers, such as “You just need to forgive.” If you haven’t already, please read part 1 before moving on to parts 2 and 3.
Part 2: So Andrew, you appear to be saying it’s OK not to forgive. If someone sins against you and they haven’t repented you don’t have to forgive them, is that right? But what about Mt 6:12 or Lk 23:34 or especially Mt 18:35? KEEP READING
Part 3: Let’s just say for a moment that I can see your point about forgiveness. That’s all very well and all very logical. I’m just not sure what to do with my white-hot rage, that’s all.
This is a real problem. We humans are complex beings, capable of acts of the tenderest love and yet also the most unspeakable cruelty. James is right – this should not be (Jas 3:10). Yet it happens. People in churches can get badly damaged, and in a way that can be very difficult to repair. The sorrow, grief, loss and anger can take life over. KEEP READING
On Sunday I preached two communion sermons from John 13—where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. Twenty years ago a friend gave me a framed copy of a poem he’d written as he reflected on this event. The poem had no title—so I thought—until I’d read it through several times. See what you think.
Was it from a couch—or from heaven—he arose that night?
Was it to the floor—or to the earth—he descended that night?
Was it with towel—or human flesh—he wrapped himself that night?
Was it with water—or with blood—he washed them clean that night?
Was it to his table—or to his throne—he returned that night?
That night—that night! That staggering night!
When men argued for greatness—and God was on his knees.
We all tend to think of ourselves first, jockey for position, covet flattering titles, and act in many other ways antithetical to the character of our Master. Consider him who descended from heaven to earth, from dining couch to the floor, and from the floor to Hades. While we argue for greatness, God is on his knees.
That’s all for now…
Thanks for your prayers, moral support, and donations. More food for thought to come next week, for example the answer to the question of whether Christians really need to accept an historical Virgin Birth of Christ.
Yours in Him,