Australia Bible Calvinism Christian Living Health

Letter from Australia 79 – Humiliation and Humility.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We said we wouldn’t do it.  But we did.  We fell for it.  We got ‘British’ sunburn.  We went to Freshwater beach on Australia day – along with thousands of others – in fact over 180,000 people went to the Sydney beaches that day.  We had the factor 50 , the umbrella, but the next day we felt the pain!  It seems so obvious but Australian sun is slightly stronger than Scottish sun!

The Mask is Slipping

One of the things that amused me was the sign asking people to wear masks on the beach and keep social distancing.  If what we experienced was ‘social distancing’ then I would hate to be there when that was no longer observed – it would be almost obscene!  As for the masks – the situation just gets sillier.  I’m not sure why we need to wear a mask at all – when we have had no community transmission in Sydney for over two weeks.   We have now been told that it is legal not to wear a mask in shops, but it is illegal not to wear one in Church!  You don’t have to wear one in a café – but you do have to wear one in a hairdresser!  You don’t have to wear one in a hospital corridor, but you do on an empty train!    I’m sure there is some science somewhere – but in reality, it does appear to be somewhat arbitrary.   And the guidelines below are completely impractical and never followed:

It’s important you always carry a clean face mask with you and wear it properly:

  • wash or sanitise your hands before putting on or taking off your mask
  • make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth, fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • avoid touching the front of your mask while wearing it or taking it off
  • don’t wear the mask hanging around your neck or under your nose
  • put single-use masks in the bin after one use

Twitter Standards

The hypocrisy of the Big Tech companies never ceases to amaze me.  This week on Twitter I received a number of hateful and quite disgusting tweets.  One in particular went way over the line – a man accused me of being a paedophile enabler – just because I am a Christian.  Given that Twitter says that their community standards oppose tweets that harass or discriminate against someone because of their religion – I reported it.  Much to my surprise Twitter told me that their community standards had not been breached.  So, you can get banned for saying that a man cannot become a woman – but accusing someone of being a paedophile because of their religion is just fine.  Some community standard!

Humiliation

In fact, a number of things in the past couple of weeks have been quite humiliating.  And once again Richard Sibbes came to my aid.   In volume six of his collected works, he has a wonderful series of sermons on 2 Chronicles 34:27 – “27 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD.” The second of these is on the subject of humbling and humiliation.  I won’t repeat the whole sermon but here are a few things I found really helpful.

“Let us have before our eyes the picture of old Adam, our sinful nature: how we are drawn away by every object; how ready to be proud of anything; how unable to resist the least sin; how ready to be cast down under every affliction; that we cannot rejoice in any blessing; that we have no strength of ourselves to perform any good or suffer ill; in a word, how that we carry a nature about us indisposed to good, and prone to all evil”   – That may appear depressing and OTT – but to those of us who know our own hearts – we know the reality of this – and the great advantage is that it means we look to an ever willing Christ for aid – not to ourselves.

“Proud men are the devil’s pipes, and flatterers the musicians to blow those pipes.”

“When a man is humbled, he is fit for all good; but when he is proud, he is fit for all ill, and beats back all good.  God hath but two heavens to dwell in; the heaven of heavens, and the heart of a poor humble man.”

“Well, says Augustine, all men must be humbled one way or another; either we must humble ourselves or God will.” 

“ A man may be humbled, but not humble….An hypocrite God may humble and work by him.  He may work by graceless persons, but he does not work in them.” 

“There must be a constant endeavour to avoid the occasions and allurements of sin.” 

“Only this caution must be remembered, reproof must not be given with a proud spirit, but in a loving, mild manner, with desire of doing good.”

“Sin is the bane of all comfort.  That which we love more than our souls undoes us.  It embitters every comfort, and makes that we cannot perform duties with spiritual life.  Our very prayers are abominable to God so long as we live in known sin.  What makes the hour of death and the day of judgement terrible but this?” 

I love the Puritans.  Unlike far too many of today’s ‘Reformed’ they are not afraid to go to the heart and deal with the emotions as well as the mind – and body!  Although the above quotes may give the impression of being morose and depressing – I find them anything but.  They are realistic and hopeful – because they cause us to see ourselves in such a way that we have no one else to go to but Christ.    We cannot mask our sin – but once the sun of Christ’s love shines upon us – we can be freed from it.  We have redemption through his blood – the forgiveness of sins.  What a joy!

See you next week…

David

Letter from Australia – 78 – Happy Australia Day

The Psychology of Masks

The Antidote for Despair

14 comments

  1. Sorry you’ve had such a rough time recently, Pastor. There was me trying to debate the big political issues of our time with you on that other post when you had so many tough ordeals going on. 🙁 My apologies.

    My prayers are with you at this time.

    1. Jean – no worries…Feel free to debate as much as you want. I enjoy it. And if I didn’t – I wouldn’t. You are welcome to write as you please – I may not always answer..!

  2. Hi David, every blessing to you my brother. Writing to you from “The Shire” , not far from Tain.
    Anyway, just a couple of comments re your article.
    Galatians 2:20 has been for me a go to verse on a daily basis for many years. I believe it’s because it’s a an identity verse, for my best and worst moments.
    It puts out the fiery darts by reminding me who I am. I’m no longer who I used to be. ” I have been crucified with Christ”. The old Davy is dead, never to be revived. I am “no longer in the flesh”.
    This truth of not having two natures is a powerful tool in our God given desire to live godly lives.
    Secondly, and now for something completely different…..
    Reformed, kinda infers “job done”?
    We’re marching under a banner that basically communicates the opposite of what was intended, both to the Body and to the world.
    Finally
    Lived on Curlewis st Bondi back in the day. Remember getting some proper toastings on the beach, and dreaming of cold cotton sheets. 😄
    Shalom
    Davy

  3. Thank you very much, David. Wonderful to have the quotations from Richard Sibbes. As you know, he was called the ‘sweet dropper’, because of his tender ability to speak truth with grace. I sometimes wonder how Jesus uttered the words ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. I am sure he would have spoken these words with urgent, loving, kindness. ‘Come to Me, because I have something much better for you. Find a new direction for your life through turning to me.’

  4. I can empathize with the sunburn! My trip down under was the only time I ever experienced sunburnt feet. Was lathered with sunscreen everywhere else but never thought about my poor feet!

    1. Skin cancer specialists make a point of even checking between your toes when you ho for your annual check-up (a necessary evil in Queensland).

  5. More madness:

    Biden Admin Will Have LGBTQ+ Envoy, Allow Pride Flags at Embassies

    “President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of State says he will appoint an envoy for LGBTQ+ rights and let the U.S. embassies display the LGBTQ+ Pride flag without restrictions.

    Antony Blinken made the remarks at his confirmation hearing Tuesday, CNN reports. Donald Trump’s administration had left the envoy position vacant — it had been established by President Barack Obama — and did not allow embassies to fly the Pride flag on official flagpoles without special permission, although they could display it inside or on exterior walls.”

    https://www.advocate.com/politics/2021/1/22/biden-admin-will-have-lgbtq-envoy-allow-pride-flags-embassies

  6. Thanks for sharing the wisdom of Stibbes, David. Here is Augustine which reduced me to a puddle: ‘ The Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, is both a manifestation of divine love in us and an example of human humility amongst us so that our great pride might be healed by a contrary greater medicine. A proud man is a great misery, but a humble God is a great mercy’.
    Amen.

  7. “a man accused me of being a paedophile enabler – just because I am a Christian… I reported it. Much to my surprise Twitter told me that their community standards had not been breached.” Sadly, I’m not surprised that this should be the response you got. I’m surprise that you are surprised, unless you write that you are surprised for rhetorical effect.

    Is that any different to Jesus weeping over Jerusalem because he longed to gather the city just as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but they wouldn’t let him? But blessed are you if you are hated because of Christ for great is your reward in the kingdom!

    I suspect David, that you are wearing this false accusation you have received as a badge of honour!

  8. Thank you for this. Beautiful quotes…found myself ‘welling up’. Thank you! Absolutely grim re Twitter!!!

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