Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More on grace

Grace is amazing! God's reighteousness given to us, us forgiven in His court? Amazing, so so important. Grace is joy. Grace is knowing that we'll never be good enough, and submitting totally to the will of the Holy Spirit and losing all our hopeless religion because of that. All this by faith alone.
Grace is why i want to be a Relay worker. I've seen too many people come to uni and fall away from Christ for whatever reason. Normally i guess either because they were labouring under some sort of pseudo-Christianity at home, and had no joy there, or because they think Christianity is all about outward appearance and they can't be bothered any more (i guess those two reasons are kind of the same), or because, heart-breakingly, they've given Jesus a go for 18 years, and now they want to see what else is out there. This horrible, horrible distortion and misunderstanding of grace and of God himself upsets me a lot. It makes me feel sad deep within my being. Its such a waste. Its such a shame. People i know who come from good Christian families living empty pointless, non God glorifying lives at uni, because they think that the world is better than Jesus.
This has to stop. People who come to uni with an understanding of Christianity as some sort of performance must be put right, for God's sake, and their own. People who come to uni to try and live 'life' away from Christ must be told of the power and importance the cross, of the joy and real, true life than knowing Him is. To want anything else from life apart from what Christ has for you is not to want life itself. I know i might be one voice against an overwhelming roar of dissenters, but more than anything else, i want to be that voice.
Grace is all that has gotten me through the last fourish years. Grace is all that will get me through the next 60 odd (if i live that long). It's all about grace. And grace is all about the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us, even though we were totally undeserving. The cross robs us of all our pride and self righteouness. Lets thank and worship and dance to Him because of that. What a wonderful plan, what a wonderful God.

Monday, January 30, 2006

CEx...Part Two

So i love the gospel...i just love it! It's great. I also love evangelism. All the awkward silences are worth is when you tell someone that Jesus is the only way to God. I love being with non-Christians, looking at the Bible together. I love being able to tell people that if they believe in Jesus they'll be ok with God on judgement day. Hey, this gospel is GOOD NEWS! CEx is going quality scenes. There were fewer people there today than last week and a couple of new ones. But thats ok. It's not about numbers...man, this guys are so up for finding out about Jesus, for looking at His claims. Its an honour to be doing this with them. Please keep praying for them. It's no surprise to me at all that people involved in CEx are ill, and that some of the guests have had difficult weeks...but please keep praying.
And its been great for me doing it as well. Reawakening my passion for the gospel, for people's salvation. Thinking again about justification by faith, about what that means. Its amazing and exciting, and makes me feel warm inside. It reminds me what Paul means when he says that death is gain.
God is doing big things at Reading. Praise you Jesus!!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I love books

Not a sentance i ever would have thought i'd be writing a couple of years ago. But, a year being discipled by Bish, has certainly given me a passion for reading. My pastor Sean gave me 'Counted Righteous in Christ' by John Piper today. He told me to read it slowly, as if i'll ever be able to read anything by Piper at more than a couple of pages a time! There are a lot of books on my 'to-read' list at the moment, i've just started Finding Joy, by Marcus Honeysett, and along with that there's 'Revelation of God', by Peter Jensen, the remainder of 'Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places' by Eugene Peterson (i'm only a few pages in but it's excellent so far!), and Keeping in Step with the Spirit by J.I Packer. I've probably read more in the last 18 months than i have in the last 18 years before that...man i love it. I don't know how long it'll take me to read all the books i've just mentioned...but i'm looking forward to it!

I love the Bible

Sean preached at church this morning, on, well, on the Bible, from 1 Timothy 3:16-17. It was really good. Great to have my heart reawakened to what an amazing the thing the God breathed word is. All too often i find myself thinking of it as a hassle or a chore to read the Bible. I find i have to struggle to 'fit it in' to my routine. What an awful, sinful attitude that is...The Bible is God's word, God's way of communicating with us today...it is a privaledge to be able to read and live in it. I'm looking forward to continuing going through Mark's Gospel at Christianity Explored tomorrow...i love the Bible!

Goodbye Pal

Just been to the memorial service held at the football ground for Mark Philo. Incredibly moving tributes from players, managers and most of all his father. Seeing Mark's kit and boots being handed over to his family made me cry like nothing else has done for a long time.
Also at the service we sung a different (to me ) version of amazing grace. After the first two verses, instead of singing 'twas grace that bought me safe this far' we sung the following:

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures.

Yes when this heart and flesh should fail,
and mortal life shall cease
I shall possess, within the veil
a life of joy and peace.

Friday, January 27, 2006

When love is not love

John Piper and Phillip Johnson have both been making me think about love recently. I know that sounds a bit weird but bare with me.

What do we understand by love? When someone we love is upset, how do we love them? How do we try and make them feel better? The obvious answer seems to be this: we tell them that 'its ok really', 'you're a great person', 'i really like hanging out with you and if other people can't see that, then it's their problem.' That is not love. That is making much of someone. That is perpetuating the self centeredness of man, which is probably part of what got us into this mess into the first place. Making someone feel better by pointing out their good points is not love. What about the cross? Surely telling someone that the creator of the universe gave Himself up on a cross for them is cross centered love, real love? I don't think it is. Saying that about the cross again makes much of the person, makes us more self centred, and, even more worryingly, makes Jesus Christ, man centred. Yes, the cross achieved our forgiveness from sins our working out of sanctification.But we must view that in terms of what else the cross achieved that being a relationship with the Lord, being able to be in His presence to worship and praise Him for evermore. We must remember that as well as the other girsts of the cross, and worship God Himself, and not the gifts. And so this is real, Christ exulting, man loving love. The complete message of the cross. In John 17, Jesus prays for His followers that they 'may be with me where I am, to see my glory'. Now that sounds pretty self centred does it not. Jesus is asking the Father to show the disciples how much glory the Father has given Him. he doesn't ask the Father to stop the twelve worrying about Jesus arrest and execution, nor that they would not blame themselves...but that they might see the glory of Christ.

That is love. Showing people the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and the fact that we can have a relationship with Him because of what He achieved on the cross. The cross and resurrection is where the glory of God is shown the clearest, where Christ showed His love for us the most. If you really want to love someone, make much of God through the message of the cross. Don't encourage them to think of themselves as the foundation for their joy, but only Jesus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Goodbye to all that

Last exec meeting tonight. We had both the outgoing and incoming committees together for the main body of the meeting, which meant i had to squeeze 17 people into my living room...which was not easy. The the incoming guys left, and well all wrote on the plates that Annie and Karen had bought...solid stone things that we wrote on with paint...it was top. So many laughs and fun times recalled (Who IS the other Roger by the way Hev?) as we wrote messages on eachothers plates.
These are nostalgic times, remembering the fun, the laughter, the problems, struggles and the hard times we've come through with Jesus at our side, enjoying the fellowship He's given us. It seems funny getting upset about it, we're going to see eachother again on thrusday! And yet we've all had a year of unity that we'll always share. I count the 8 others on Committee as some of my closest friends. I love them all. And i'm going to miss committee...the people...the times we shared. But i know that there's more ahead. More challenges, more problems, more good times and more lives. But that i've learnt and enjoyed this year probably more than any other, and that's due in no small part to my brothers and sisters on Committee. I'll never forget them.
All i can do now is Praise Jesus for the times we shared, and for all He gave us. Thanks gus...thank you Jesus. It rocked.

Gotta find a way, a better way, i'd better wait

Tom Price, a Reading graduate and Head of the UCCF's Apologetics website (go there NOW), came to do a lunchbar today on 'Does Religious Passion Lead to Terrorism?' and then to do some World View Survey training in the afternoon.
My story today isn't about Tom, or about the talk or the training, its about what God is doing at Reading, and how amazing, scary and challenging it is. Tom started talking at 1315...at about 1320 a guy walks in who was obviously heavily under the influence of alchohol, perhaps among other things. Tom stood, and explained the gospel through the spectrum of his title. It was during the Q and A our friend started to talk. It wasn't a point or question raised because of the talk, or anything even relevant to what he had heard, it was about the bigger question of morality and right and wrong, and the value of life. He was angry, not at Tom, or God or Christians, but at life. And sure, his language and behavior was pretty offensive, if one is offended by those things, and it would have been easier to wish that he wasn't there, and that he'd never come. But here's the point. He DID come. he came and heard the gospel. Perhaps for the first time. he was listened to, and Tom answered his questions well, and fully, centred on the cross. These are the people we need to reach. The people are regarded as a waste of time, as a curio, as someone who we wished was somewhere else. He came. God is doing big things. These are the people we must reach, the hopeless, the Godless, the people who have nothing but a can of lager in their hand at one o'clock in the afternoon. These are the people that must break our hearts, that we must sacrifice all things for to reach. Tom was great handling his questions, his attitude and demeanor. I'm sort of rambling, i don't really know where i'm going. I think he is the sort of guy i'd be if at Easter 2002 i'd turned by back on Jesus instead of embracing Him. Angry, sad, drunk, confused and lost. There, literally, but for the grace of God go I. So lets look for these people, lets reach them. Christ suffered far too much for us to decide that some people are troublemakers or difficult or too abusive or whatever.
God's really been speaking to me recently about how good it is to know Him. I'd been a Christian for nearly a couple of years when in February 2004, i had my heart broken. It would have been so easy then for me to give up and become my own god again. And i thank God every day that i didn't. That March 2002 and February 2004 saw me choose Christ over life, saw me persuing death to self and life in Christ instead of the world. CEx yesterday really made me think about how i'd view God at the moment if either of those moments in my life had gone differently. It makes me want to cry out with joy, and throw myself at the foot of the cross in praise for our wonderful, faithful living God.
Hope 2006 is exciting and scaring me in equal measure. Freshers week was amazing, for the number of people we got in contact with. I'm praying big numbers, big prayers for Hope 2006. Since my first year i've prayed on and off for an organised, Godly chaos because of the power of God's word proclaimed to unbelivers on campus. Judging by the events of the last couple of days...i see no reason to believe that God's name will be lifted higher than ever on campus during Hope 2006.

So seek out difficult people. Remember always that the only difference between them and you is that you are forgiven. Let God show you time and again how good it is to know Him, how good He is that we should know Him. And rejoice. And go into battle.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Amazing, amazing times in HumSS 125 tonight as the RUCU Christianity Explored course kicked off. I was thinking before that i'd probably never been this prepared for this sort of thing before, certainly in terms of experience, but i knew that if i didn't give it all up to God, and trust His sovereinty completly, it would all go wrong. We catered for between 12-15, me in my horrible, cynical unbelief never ever believing we'd get so many...
About 20 guests turned up...which may not sound like many from a field of around 13000, but wow! It was so exciting! Every time i left the room to get more food, or more plates i came back and there were more people arriving. Me and Nicola had to run to the Union shop to get more cutlery ( we still didn't have enough, about half of us had to eat with knives) and i called Annie who was there...and from the sound in the background it was clear there were loads of people there...then i got the FEAR! I was scared. But it was great, God took away all our self assurance, all our feelings of control and complacency over the evening and made it so we had to rely on Him. Cool stuff huh? So we had the group bible study, which was Mark 2:1-12 (Ceryn, thank you SO MUCH for helping out, you're a hero) and there were some good questions, like 'was the paralytic more of a sinner?, and some very random ones for example 'are there tigers in heaven? (why is it always guys that ask these questions!?) but it was good, and the people in our group were receptive and interested. Then Rico Tice on the DVD, and then a chat about that...and then no one really wante to leave. I am so encouraged. We have a God that answers prayers in such a serious manner, such a powerful God. Praise Him that we know Him and are known by Him, we're so blessed to be believers, and its so easy to lose sight of that. I've been praying that big numbers (and i mean big!) would come to Him during events week...after tonight, i really believe it, Praise the Lord.
Then back to the Chappy to wash up, where Bridge Cell are still in the quiet room, praying and studying together, it was great to chach up with them, and just be with them for a bit as we washed up, I was so encouraged. It was great, even though washing up took nearly an hour!
And so here we are. I am blown away, encouraged and so so thankful to God for all He's doing at the moment in these guys lives. Please please pray for them, for Emma, Fran, Sian, Ruth, James, Pierre, Jools, Izzy, Jo, Kim, and goodness me, the other ten whose names i can't remember. Coming week one is hard enough, sticking with it will be even harder, the enemies going to be trying every trick in the book to reel then back in. Lets wear out our knee pads for these guys, and for the glory of the Lord...What an awesome God we have! Praise Him!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ceryn bought me sherbet

So, as you can see from this slightly poor photo, Ceryn bought me sherbet tonight. There's no great story behind this, except that she bough Tim some, so why not me. After much persistance my whining campaign has paid off. But now...why should Ceryn buy me and Tim sherbet and not you? Next time you see her, make sure you ask her to buy you sherbet, cos now she has to!

So why do we need saving? (Or, why do we bother with shiny slogans and gimmicks when the gospel is enough?)

Piers spoke from Romans 1:18-2:11 last night at CU. Wow! Such a challening passage to listen to, such devastating truth in there, all at once difficult and exciting to listen to. So what is God's problem with us? Well, because although we know God, we do not honour Him or give thanks to Him. In other words, we all have the evidence to hand that God exists. God has shown us through creation His glory, and His majesty. So, as it says in 1:20, man is without excuse. We are. Man sees God, in sunsets, in the symphony of creation, in the birth of a child...but refuses to give God the thanks and honour He deserves. So God has every right to be angry with us. So, God gives us up to our godless desires, to our impurity, to the dishonoring of His body, because we have excepted the lie. This is pretty damning stuff, and it continues in the rest of the passage...all that we do that is Godless, all laid out for us. God's problem with us is that we have turned from Him. He is the Creator, and yet we have decided to dishonor Him and instead chosen to worship the created. It's crazy, why look for meaning and purpose in the created, and not the creator. And yet we all do it, it is so prevalent in our society. So we're stuck. God has given us up to our dishonourable passions, the passions we so freely engage in. We have no hope before this mighty, holy Creator. Not only is it bad enough that we indulge in these things, we also give approval to those who do, knowing that those who turn from God like that deserve to die. And so chapter one of Romans ends, pretty damningly, man, lost and hopeless, turning our backs on the one true God, the Creator and Sustainer. Well, if Piers had left it there it would have been pretty bad news last night. If God had left it there it would be bad news all the time. And yet the message we preach is good news. How come?
Chapter 2 picks up the story. Verse four talks of God's kindness leading to repentance...God was so concerned with the glory of His name that He sent His Son to die, that we might see His glory and know Him...That is the Good News. He will render to each what they earn. To those who seek for themselves: wrath, fury, tribulation and distress. But for those who by the grace of God seek what is good, there will be eternal life.
So there is what we need saving from. Ourselves, more or less. The fact that though we know God, we neither acknowledge or thank Him. That is what we need saving from. Nothing else. The completed work of the cross means that we can now be in a relationship with the Father. He has graciously shown us His glory in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that now we are no longer given up to the lusts of our hearts, but that we can seek the glory and honour of the Father, in the face of the Son.
Which brings me, in a very roundabout fashion, to my other, shorter point. Why do we bother messing around with the gospel? Why do we dress it up with additions, or water it down by taking away from it? Do we really think we can achieve more with our own message, or that the message we come up with is better than Gods, or that we can save those with our message God can't with His? Piers said last night that he felt intimidated by the message he was bringing from the Word. I certainly felt intimidated listening to it, surrounded, as I was by unbelievers. So yes, it can be scary to deliver the Gospel in full, but its all we've got, it's the light of God, it's the power of God, and most importantly, its the tool He's chosen to use. Who are we to try and improve on that?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I loved the way she said 'LA'

This will probably turn into a bit of a ramble, and for that, i make a little apology. How great is our God? I mean, really? How infinite, how holy, how unimaginably in control of the minutiae of our lives? What a great thing the cross has done for us, that we can have acess through faith (through faith! just by believing) to God our father. It's just top.
Just had a chat with my dissertation supervisor, and we've found an exciting compromise in the theology essay Vs history essay debate. I'll now be looking at sources of authority in the reformation. So i should, nay, must look at people like Luther and Calvin, as well as The Bible for my dissertation. How exciting is that! What a privaledge that is. I'm really excited as i sit here working on it now to think of the things i will read, the way they will refresh my soul and excite me again about the the truth of what Jesus won for us.
Church was great on sunday. I was prayed for at the end to try and embrace the grace that i have been freely given...for that grace to truly change me. And guess what? Since that happened, almost to the day, the enemy has stepped up the temptation/attack on me. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord that His grace is enabling me to change, that my changing is upsetting the enemy, that things are happening, that the Lord is making me stronger...*awesome God*.
The new Christianity Explored course is starting on monday. I met up last night with the other guys 'running' the course, and that was so exciting. Some of the things that i was reminded about evangelism really spoke to me, but especially the simplicty of having to answer the question you were asked. Sure, you may want to talk about propitiation, or the power of the Holy Spirit, but if you're asked a question about the salvation of amazon indians...ANSWER THAT QUESTION...and preach the gosple always. It also struck me that often the world's perception of Christians is that they're missing out on life, that they're wasting their time in delusion (Ned Flanders anyone?) but man, could that be further from the truth? Life to the full is what we're promised in John 10:10, not life minus the good bits. Psalm 16 talks about eternal pleasures, not eternal self denial. No sort of god is glorified like that. So is that our fault for keeping ourselves in bondage, or not showing what our faith really is, or just the misunderstanding of the world...there's a challenge!
I think Mark's death has upset me more than i really thought it would. Until today i was really unable to set my mind to anything...it kept drifting back to him. I went to the football ground yesterday to put down some flowers...it was incredible. But God is good. God is our sustainer, and there it is.
So exciting, if sad, times at the moment. I even loved my history lecture this morning, half an hour of which was on the dialectics of social political history. I love that stuff...why can't it all by that good!

Anyway...back to Calvin and Luther...woo!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mark Philo. 5th October 1984-14th January 2006

It's sometimes said that some stars shine twice as bright, but for half as long. That cliche would certainly not be out of place if applied to Mark Philo.
Mark played for Wycombe Wanderers, the club he's been at since he was 15, the club i've supported since i was 8. Mark died at 1620 this aftternoon, after a car crash just outside Reading in the early hours of this morning. He was 21 years old.
The relationship between supporters and players is a strange one, but i know i'm not alone in thinking of them as some sort of extended family. When the club's MD announced the news in the bar after the game today (the game was played at his families request), a number of people, myself included shed a lot of tears. There's no real way to explain how i feel this evening, but i know it can't be as bad as his family, friends, and the players he's played with for six years feel. My prayers and heart go out to them tonight.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mmmm Grace

When i started this blog, back in the crazy sunshine days of June, Bish described it to me as a place where thoughts could be processed and such like, and he deffo had a point (y'know, for a change).

By my legalist standards i've had a 'bad' couple of days. I don't want to go into the ins and outs of things, but they haven't been pretty, i think, for example, i referred to at least one person as 'scum' while watching the news today. Hardly gracious speech seasoned with salt around outsiders eh? I've had a bit of a heart malaise in the last thirty hours, and its not been good. Also, i have done no work today, and only got dressed about three o clock. So a 'bad' time recently then?

But this is what i'm learning about grace. To say that because of grace the 'bad' days are inconsequential is wrong, if anything else because it brings out pride in the 'good' days. No, grace means we are perfect forever, grace means we are hidden in Christ Jesus, grace means we have access to the Father through the Son. Grace means there are just days...days where Jesus loves you. Day's where Jesus died for you. Day's where your name is carved onto His hands. Days where we must focus our attention on the cross of Jesus Christ.

Why do i quantify times like these as 'bad'? Because i'm too proud, too me centred, too legalistic. Because, to an extent, i don't practice what i preach i guess. Not because Christ thinks any less of me.

When i look back on my year on RUCU committee through the rapidly enveloping twilight, i have some regrets. I wish i'd grown more, embraced more, changed more, had more faith, fought a better fight. But i know that because of the grace of God, there is nothing i can do, more or less, than look at the cross, ask for mercy, and push on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

If only tonight we could sleep

So its 2340, which is not really late by by current, bad, standards. But i'm nowhere near tired enough to sleep, and i've got to get up at 0700 tomorrow to do Cell Training Prep. But, and here's the exciting bit...we get to study the bible! So i don't really care about getting no sleep, or the state my hair will be in at 8am in Cafe Mondial, because it's such a treat being in the word of our living God. We're looking at 1 Corinthians 1, which'll be excellent, and then at the central RUCU meeting on thursday, we're looking at the Romans 1:1-18. It's going to be excellent.
Praise the Lord for His word, it's amazing.
Just Praise the Lord full stop really...go on, do it now!

Faith and Works

Someone (Piper? CS Lewis?) said that you should read three old books for every new book. Now, i clearly don't do that, but my dissertation will be about Biblical Doctrine in the Reformation (thats the plan anyway, my supervisor is concerned that i'm writing a theology essay, whereas i should be writing a history essay), but i've just found this by Luther, as an introduction to Romans. It's good stuff, go read! I'm looking forward to tucking into more as the weeks go by...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Robs Miscellanies

Rob blogs about Galatians two, and how important focussing on the gospel alone really is.
This makes me feel two almost polarised emotions...It was deeply refreshing to read Rob's words on how sufficient the gospel is, it really made my heart leap, and man, how much should we thank God that this is the case. That the gospel is sufficient, that nothing else is needed for our salvation. Dwelling on that makes me feel like i've been drinking a cool, clear glass of water on a hot day.
But it also makes my heart ache. It makes me sad for the people i know, for the people in general who attend churches where some sort of gospel plus nonsense is propagated. It makes me sad that these churches exist in the first place, that what presumably started off as gospel centred churches has drifted away from those strong begginings, and are now implicitly denying the gosple with their laws. It makes me sad that people attend these churches. If this is where you are bought up, if this is all the teaching you know, what chance have you got? If something appeals to someones fallen sense of pride in self justification against the pride robbing, humbling truth about the cross people are always going to go for it. I know i would, but for the grace of God.
This brings me to three conclusion.
1) To endevour to keep the gospel alone central in everything i do and say. To keep my conversations with non believers clear and seasoned with salt.
2) To always seek out a church where i will be confronted and challenged by the truth rather than comforted by wearing the right clothes or praying in the correct manner.
3) To challenge the people i know who attend churches with dress codes. To pray for them more consciously.
On the first evening of Word Alive last easter, Graham Daniels told us that if we haven't been accused of lawlessness then we haven't preached the gospel properly. Lets pray that truth would grab hold of some of these churches.

Don't go to Chieveley Services

Good times last night as i drove down to Bristol for Dave Long's 25th birthday. Great to catch up with just under half of 'Team BG 05', good to hear that Chen was planning to get to Bristol Airport this morning 'at dawn' (not the catch a plane you understand, to spot them). We went bowling and then back to Dave's place in Filton. I'm very aware that being on committee at RUCU has turned me into a bit of a geek... i can now sit in a room with a bunch of strangers and quite happily talk staf workers and relay and pink t-shirts (don't ask). But its a great privaledge to be a part of what the Lord is doing through UCCF, i love it!
Happy Birthday Dave!

Friday, January 06, 2006


A lot of what i believe is influenced by the work of John Piper. He's just been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Pray for him and read his letter here.

Colossians 3

Read it here.

The end of Colossians 2 saw Paul showing the Colossians the nonsense of man made religion. The waste of time that angel worship, human philosophy and asceticism is, when compared to Christ. The readers of this letter might at this time have been thinking that Paul was going to spend all his time outlining where his opponents were wrong, without reminding them what the alternative was. At the start of chapter 3, Paul does just that. We are to embrace our new life with Christ totally, throwing off any vestiges of our old selfs. Paul tells his readers to set their minds on the things that are above...pretty much the opposite of what the teachers of deceptive philosophy had been trying to get them to do. 'Set your mind on what is above, not on what is on earth. Look at Christ, look at His ways, His teaching and life, not to something made up by another sin filled man. Christ is God with us, surely His ways are better and more worth setting our minds on. Paul tells his readers that they have died to this world, and are now hidden in Christ. Why, if you are dead tjo this world do you still mess around in it? It has no authority or hold over you, so look at the things that do have an authority over you. Look at Christ. Get to know His teachings and words, because nothing else will satisfy and give you life as Christ does. Paul makes this all sound very easy, and we know the experience of it is a lot less easy. But this is what we must do. We must ignore todays fallible, Christ denying teachings, and, as Paul said before hold fast to the head. We must make sure that no one disqualifies us by immersing ourselves in the teaching of the man we know never would...Jesus!
So we must lose ourselves totally in this new life. We are a new creation in Christ, we have been born again, so lets live like we have been. Lets embrace the great calling that Christ has put on us! And what, according to Paul, are we being called to lose, to give up? Good things? Things that make the world a better place? Indeed no! We are called to get rid of: sexual immorality (BAD), impurity (BAD), passion (BAD), evil desire (BAD), and Christ denying idolatry (BAD). So, Christ wants us to live our new life putting away the things that destroy us and harm the people around us! So whats the problem? Our desires are the problem. Not that our desires are too strong but that they are too weak, that we too happily settle for second best. I know, deep in my heart, that the most joyful, deeply satisfying moments i've had have been when i've lost myself in Jesus. When i am deeply immersed in His word, or in real, heartfelt and honest prayer to Him. Those are the great moments. But i am also painfully aware that all too often i forget those things, and run after the things Paul lists above. But look at verse 6. On account of these things the wrath of God is coming. These things are the reason that Christ will return in glory and power to judge us. Because of the fall of man leading to these things. Do we really want to be a part of that? Did Paul want the believers in Colossae to be part of those things, that so many people around them were telling them to be. Or did Paul want his original readers to turn all together from those things, so that they might show the all satisfying glory of God to the people that perpetrated such lies. Verse 7 tells us that we used to walk in these things...and that is irrefutably true. But now our lives are hidden with Christ, we can not, we must not continue in these things. How does that bring glory to God? How will we look like new creations, if we don't look like new creations?
Pauls tells the Colossians to also get rid of the Christ denying things that come out of there mouths. The lies, the slander, the malice, the lies. To put in the new self. The self which is better. The new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Renewed in knowledge. How will we know what our new life is supposed to look like if we don't know about Jesus? If we don't try to know more about His life and teachings, if we don't study letters like this? If we don't, as Paul has already said, hold fast to the head? We can't. We won't have a chance, we may as well make it up. So lets open our hearts and seek knowledge of these things. Knowledge of Christ, and all His glorious teaching. Then the Holy Spirit can show us more and more of the father. Then our hearts will be set alight!
So we are to be new people. To put on compassion, rather than malice, humilty, not pride, patience not wrath and kindness rather than evil desire. Remember that the Lord has forgiven you, so you ust forgive. And, above all, to put on love, which binds everything together. The second of the two greatest commandments. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, open your hearts to Him, and be thankful. Is that not a better way, than asceticism, than new moons, than evil, than sexual immorality, than passion? Christ is better than all that the world has to offer, so lose yourself in Him. Again Paul tells his readers to let the word of Christ dwell in them richly, so they can teach and admonish, so they can be wise, and so that they can be thankful to Christ.
And finally, greatly, importantly. Whatever the Colossians do, they must do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the father through Him. So, if there's anything they do that does not sit well in the name of the father...they must stop it, they must put it away. Paul wants his readers to remember in all they do they they are new creations in Christ, and that it is only through Him that they can do anything. New creations in Christ, as all believers are, must be those new creations! Lets give all the glory to Christ. Lets give thanks to God the Father through Him, because of Him. Lets embrace our new life, our better life, as an act of worship to Him, and to make His name famous.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gentleman Caller

I've been reading 'God is the Gospel', by John Piper over Christmas. It's an excellent book, and has really challenged what i believe about the point of salvation, who the Holy Spirit is, and how we do evangelism.
Piper's point in this book is that the greatest gift that God has to offer is Himself, not anything else, and that our justification, santification and re-birth are means to an end. The end is relations with the great I AM. This has challenged my very self centred approach to the cross. Thinking that the cross was a way to make much of myself (of course God loves me...His son died for me), or to see the cross as my way of escaping hell. But no. God created us to live in relationship with Him, to bring glory to Him, and that is what He does on the cross. The cross is the place where God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ shines the brightest. Look at what Christ is doing, look, therefore, about how much God is worth. The point of the cross must be the lose our self centredness, not to enhance it! To see that in the death and ressurection of Christ we see the glory of a God who fulfills everything i need. To realise that is a much greater thing than forgiveness or feeling loved? Would you be happy in heaven if Christ wasn't there but all your friends and loved ones were? I hope not!
And the Holy Spirit? I'm not sure how i regarded the Holy Spirit before. Obviously as the third and equal part of the Trinity, obviously as no less God than the Father or the Son, but i think in some way i saw Him as independant of the other two. What a load of nonsense! The only way the Holy Spirit changes us is by showing us more and more of the attraction of the glory of the father! It can not do things independantly of Him. If i remember one thing from this book, i hope that is it. We are only changed by looking at the Father and realising His greatness. To do that we need the Holy Spirit more than anything else.
Which takes us onto evangelism. It takes two things for people to believe in the gospel.
1. The Gospel must be faithfully proclaimed. I don't why its taken me so long to realise this, but man! Who was ever saved by my garbelled version of the gospel, or by the 'nice' bits of the gospel, or by anything other than the gospel? No one! It's just not possible. All the time i've wasted in petty arguments with non Christians...why wasn't i just telling them the gospel?
2. The Holy Spirit must move in their hearts to show them the light of Christ. Romans 1:20 says that we are without excuse, that we can clearly see the things of God, we just ignore them. Only the Holy Spirit will open their hearts, will be the light shone into their hearts. That'll only happen if we pray...so lets pray!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Colossians 2:16-23

Read it here.

I think here, we've reached the beating heart of Paul's letter to the Colossians, the reason he wrote the the churches there. In 2:8, Paul appeals to his readers to not let any one take them in with deceptive philosophy, with Christ insulting, grace denying nonsense. Here's why.
Verse 17 calls such things, judgement with regard to moons and festivals and sabbaths and food and drink, a shadow of the things that are to come, the substance belonging to Christ. A shadow of the things that are to come.When the sun shines on a tree, that tree casts a shadow onto the ground. The shadow, given perfect light and a lack of any interference on the ground is a decent representation of what the tree looks like. Now, i'm wary of pushing the analogy too far, but if you want to learn what the tree looks like, or draw the tree, or even (deep breath) be the tree, then you wouldn't look at the shadow would you? You'd look at the tree. The substance. So lets look beyond the law, beyond legalism. Pauls pleads with the Colossians to dismiss out of hand the people telling the Colossians that they must eat and drink this, observe that, wear the other. NO! They must turn to Christ. And what for us today? No one has recently told me at church that i must eat a certain food to be justified, or pray at certain times. But i think it's clear that this sort of thing still exists today. You still hear people say that 'if you have enough faith you'll be healed', which is about the most offensive thing i've heard recently, or that if one doesn't read the bible enough, one is not saved, or that we must pray in a certain voice, or way or use certain words. This sort of thing is Christ denying, gospel countering nonsense and must be ignored at all costs. I think these things are the angel worship, the new moon observing of the 21st Century west. Paul goes on to talk about people being puffed up without any reason by their sensuous minds. Now this may well have been a particular problem in Colossae, it may well have been that there was an angel worshipping (v18) sect there, that Paul was desperate for his brothers to stay away from. One thing that we can be waryof directly from Paul's letter is from verse 18, when he talks about people puffed up beyond all reason by their sensuous mind. That is exactly where legalism comes from...It comes from our pride, from believing that we can justify ourself, from our self centred desire to be seen as better than the next man. It comes from our sensuous mind. Our sinful, fallen mind. It can be no good. Paul writes to the Galatains that it was for freedom that we were set free, no longer to be burdened by the yoke of slavery. No longer to have to worry about whether or not one is good enough.
So where can we look? What will tell us of our justification, or help us to live the life that Christ wants us to. Well, Paul describes the people trying to disqualify the Colossians as 'not holding fast to the Head' in verse 19. So there you have it. Hold fast to the Head, not to mans teachings. The body grows with a growth that is from God, not anywhere else. How will we grow if we don't look to our nourishment, or provider. The body grows with a growth that is from God. So hold fast to Him and let no one disqualify you, hold fast to Him, and don't get lost.
So rules and laws and regulations are dead. Finished with. The legal demands have been nailed to the cross (v14). Why then, Paul asks the Colossians, since they are dead to those things, do they still observe laws? We are dead to laws! They were nailed to the cross! So why still observe them. Why are the Colossians still not handling, not tasting, not touching? They have no need to do this, they need only walk in the way of Christ, and seek the things that are where He is. Come on, these things are but a shadow. And we're guilty of this as well, we make tules for ourself about where we go, what we do and how we do things. But all that does is have us concentrating on the rule, and consequently on the sin, and not on Christ. Not on grace. And that can be no good at all. Paul says that these things 'indeed have an appearance of promoting self made religion and severity to the body, but have no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh'. How true that is. Sin is inside us, in our hearts. It'll be there whether or not we do this or that or not. Of course, protect yourself, be wise, give the devil no oppotunity, but don't think for a minute that self made religion is any substitute for the Holy Spirit showing you more and more of the Father, and you reacting accordingly. That is the only way to conquer sin in our lives. Not by creating rules for ourselves. If we were able to observe the law perfectly, as Christ did, we would be able to justify ourselves. We can't do that. Only the grace of God can train us to renounce ungodliness. We need the cross, where Christ died, bearing the demands of the law on His shoulders, more and more. Hold fast to the Head, because there is life. Nowhere else. Never ever think that anything you 'do' will bring you closer to God, because that is an insult to Christ, and everything He fought for, and won for us. The grace of God brings you salvation.
Hold fast to the Head, and let no one disqualify you.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


I'm currently going through my annual 'should i get a tatoo i really want one' phase. I'm not sure whether this has encouraged me or put me off for good!

Good stuff on *Cymraesbach*

Click me

All is quiet on New Years Day

This made me smile/remind me why I want to spend my life making Jesus famous on campus...

I'm resisting the temptation to eulogise about 2005. I did start this afternoon but I gave up because I couldn't find the photos I wanted. One of Andy Flintoff and Brett Lee at the end of Edgebaston test and the other of English supporters on day four at the Oval waiving their umbrellas around, trying to convince the umpires it was raining, whilst the Australian supporters took off their shirts, donned sunglasses, and made as if to bask in the non existent sun. I think that'll be my favorite sporting memory of 2005.

Simon spoke in church this morning on Philippians 3:10-19 about continuing to push towards God. My ESV Bible describes it as 'straining towards the goal', and I think that's a great way of putting it. We can all be comfortable, all look back at the highs of 2005 and be pleased with ourselves. We could just settle in our routines and never push ourselves for the Lord. But that's not what He wants. He wants us to 'press on for His upward call'. We were saved to do good works (Eph 2:10), so lets find out what they are, and do them! Lets forget what lies behind, the good and the bad, the joy and the heartache, and push onward in 2006 for the Lord.

It's been a priviledge to be a part of what God is doing, in Reading, in Bulgaria and at home in 2005 and I hope that the Lord will keep me part of what He is doing in Universities, because its so exciting, so important, and it means so much to me. To be part of the battle for my generation...frankly I can't think of anything i'd rather do. To help people see the glory of the Lord, and His infinite worth and might, to make God famous. There is nothing else I want to do in 2006, nothing that fills me with such a feeling of certainty. I will fall, I will fail, but God's grace is infinite, and He's all I need.

Hebrews 13:8.