Boston attack: a pastor’s perspective

Monday at 2:50pm two bombs went off in my city. These bombs, designed to injure, did their work. At least three were killed, and hundreds were injured.

All of this leaves us with questions. Who did this? More desperately, why?

The Boston Police will, along with the FBI, launch a full-scale investigation. And the brave and gifted officers and investigators will doubtless find the individuals responsible.

After that, pundits and politicians will start to work on policy changes to insure this doesn’t happen again. Then, when time has passed, other politicians will use this as an issue to show their side has the answers.

But behind all of that work, much of good, lies the why. Deeper than culture. Deeper than religion. Deeper than policies, nations, kings, money, and every other reason we will hear in the coming days to explain this act of violence lies the reason truest of all: sin.

All of us – friends and enemies, kings and peasants – are touched and marred by this realty.

We are all alike fallen from grace. And now, having our visions skewed, perpetrate actions of sin against one another from a cloudy heart which all the while believes itself to be in the right. The broken breaking the broken.

And yet, tragedy like this shows us another aspect of ourselves. It’s the part we see when perfect strangers run headlong into the smoke of fresh explosions to help their fallen neighbors.

We see it when a man removes his shirt to dress a wound. A doctor manages his ER in the face of overwhelming injury. A citizen opens his home to those without one tonight.

We are all alike fallen, this is true. And yet there’s more to us. We are also image-bearers. There’s something of God – his likeness – which comes out even in the darkest of moments. Especially in them.

And this duality should tell us something. We are fallen, but not merely. We are a race of insurgents against God made in the image of the very God against whom we’ve rebelled. Love, art, charity, grace – these are ours because they were given to us by Him.

So what are we to make of it all? What are we to think when tragedy mingles with beauty? When pain accompanies grace? When blood spills with tears? We could start by calling to mind the cosmic event wherein this happened first and finally.

There was one who not only showed us the image of God, but was His exact likeness. He, shining like the sun, brought grace and truth, kindness and undeserved mercy.

And… He also experienced the deepest and darkest violence humanity has ever accomplished – the destruction of the image of God, Christ himself.

There, tragedy mingled with beauty, pain accompanied grace, and the blood of God himself spilt along with his tears. The gospel shows us that, in Christ, darkness, selfishness, terror, sin, and depravity can be and will be once and finally overcome.

That’s the hope – the only hope – for the deepest why of pain.

Tonight I’m praying for my great city. I’m praying that the image of God within her will rise above the brokenness which marks her.

But, cosmically speaking, there’s only one way that happens – and it’s not when we simply look within. The deep problem lives within too.

The image of God within us must connect – or reconnect – with the likeness of God sent for us, Jesus himself.

Yes, I’m praying for my city. I’m praying for the victims. I’m praying for the first responders. I’m praying for families.

But most of all, I’m praying for that grace which comes from God alone to overcome all that besets her.

Please, pray with me.


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Fifty Shades of Grey – A Christian woman’s perspective

WARNING: The contents of this post are mature in nature. Please be advised! Also the following blog expresses MY own personal Christian beliefs.

Wow! What can I say… The reviews for “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the erotica, mature book by E. L. James are highly controversial, as it becomes a best seller in Australia, Britain, and the United States. There is a lot of increasing buzz concerning the explicit sexual content of this book, as many women around me are avidly reading it. I heard it being referred to as “mommy porn”.

Friends consistently ask me if I have read it, so I went to the book store and looked through it. Also, after reading the sample trial on my kindle, I have decided that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is definitely not for me as a Christian woman, wife and mother. The male character is sado-masochistic, has a penchant for sexual violence, bondage, and hitting for erotic pleasure. Debaucherous actions take place in hidden dungeons, as they both subjugate each other to sexual lechery. Aside from being a love story this book is infectious in nature for my mind and soul.

The beginning of the first book starts off captivating, even inspiring further interest in the plot. Personally, I have an impressionable mind, and passion of any kind easily takes root, but as my trial sample ended on my kindle, I felt unsettled in spirit and polluted in emotion. It reminded me of when I read the other famous book “Twilight”, which left me depressed, discontent with my reality, and longing for young love…I realized that the realm of fantasy can be dangerous for me, and I have to be careful what I fill my mind with.

This is what MY OWN Christian opinion is on the following issues and presupposed questions regarding the book “Fifty Shades of Grey”:

“This book is just fiction, and it spiced up our marriage and our sex life”.

Yes it is fiction, but the content is pornographic in nature and depicts explicit, excessive, twisted, graphic sexual material. It incites the temptation to fantasize about a different man other than your husband, or for another woman other than your wife. I realize this book is predominantly read by women, and from my perspective, sexual mental images about someone else are impure, illicit, and considered unfaithful. Ephesians 5:3 ordains us to “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity among you”, and verse 4 says ” Obscene stories….these are not for you”.

God wants us to stay pure and fix our thoughts on what is “true, honorable and right” Philippians 4:8. Reading crude, lascivious books is not pure for our hearts and minds. If you have marital problems and the contents of this book have brought you closer, what I think is that extracting your intimacy from sexual vulgarity is never healing in a marriage, or that it offers a true solution from ongoing conflict.

As married couples, we can stem that intimacy from Song of Songs, a lyric poem inspired by God. This book in the Bible is filled with sensuous, amorous, exciting, exotic, enticing beautiful details. Chapter 4 for instance goes into great details, exploring the attraction and longing between a man and a woman. Here a few excerpts from Song of Songs: “You have ravished my heart, my treasure, my bride.

I am overcome by the glance of your eyes, by a single bead of your necklace … your lips sweet and honey, and honey and cream are under your tongue” Chapter 4: 9,10. The woman is described as having lips like ribbons of scarlet, and a delicious navel. She dreams in chapter five about her lover, husband to be, knocking on her bedroom door saying “Open to me my darling, my lovely doe, for I have been out in the night. My head is soaked with dew, and my hair with wetness of the night”. He further thinks of her rounded thighs, and she of his muscular arms and strong manly legs. Let these verses arouse a crimson color in you and your spouse’s cheeks…

God’s source is a much better place for what should be beautiful intimacy. Proverbs 5:19 commands us to be ” intoxicated”, or ” captivated” in our love for each other, and 1 Corinthians 7 to let our bodies fill us with delight, and to satisfy one another: ” So do not deprive each other of sexual relations”, and ” The wife give full authority over her body to her husband and the husband give full authority over his body to his wife”. Sex is a blessing to a married couple, but can be detrimental if indulged in abusive ways, as described in “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

“I am a young unmarried woman, so I don’t see the harm in reading ” Fifty Shades of Grey”.

Personally, I would not let my own daughter, or son, read any kind of erotica novels, especially this one. 2 Timothy 22 says “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right”. This book depicts a young, single, and graduating from university girl, who is seduced by a rich, attractive, well-spoken, powerful man. That is prime soil for a young heart looking to fall in love…However; he is a troubled man, with dark, impure desires, trapping her in obsessive lust, exploiting her physically and emotionally.

A young woman indulging in such a novel will only become seduced by unchaste activities, by a distorted view on how love is supposed to look like, and further be allured by debaucheries narrative, imagining herself part of a realm filled with vulgar, crude sexual escapades. I am aware that there is supposed to be a “deeper” love story woven through this book, and the next two sequels, but no woman should find herself attracted to a man who is sadistic, controlling, and domineering. 1 Corinthians 6:12 warns us: ” You may say, “but I am allowed to do anything”, but I reply not everything is good for you….you must not become a slave to anything”. My advice is to go read Jane Austen books like “Pride and Prejudice”.

In the end, this is just a book. A book written by a writer fueled by her own imagination and fantasies. Anyone can write any book they want, but we, as Christians, I believe, must be selective in what would be honoring and pleasing to God. Ask yourself if this book is bringing you closer to God, and how would you feel if Jesus showed up at your house wanting to look at your bedside book selection.

I find that whatever I read ends up preoccupying my thoughts and feelings, so reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” would become addictive and lead to seeking similar books, videos, etc. Immorality originates in the mind, so Galatians 5:16, 17 acknowledge our temptations: “The Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict”.

As Christians, is hard to navigate through the tempting lures of this world, but we must arm ourselves with God’s holy words: “Do what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in worthless deeds of evil and darkness. Instead rebuke them and expose them”.

By Roxana Phillip-Hackett


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