Saturday, April 29, 2006

Praise God

Dan became a Christian the year before he came to Reading Uni. When he came here the CU didn't find him, and he didn't make any Christian mates or go to Church, and he struggled. Over Easter he got in touch with Laura who just happens to be engaged to Joe, one of my best mates. Joe let me know, i let Tim (who leads cell in his hall) know, Tim brings him to CU on thursday (Marcus Honeysett on Romans 4) and is taking him to church on sunday. The system works!

Praise God! How concerned with His own Glory, how concerned with those who love Him and seek Him.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Calvary to the nations

I've been listening John Piper 'Doing Mission when Death is Gain' again. And something struck me, and you might have to bare with me here, because i'll sound like i'm stating the obvious for a while. Maybe i am stating the obvious, but it struck me as wonderful, and humbling.

Jesus suffered on the cross. There can be no doubt about that. I believe that his greatest suffering, His greatest concern in Gethsemene was not physical, but spiritual, but despite this, there can be no doubt, no doubt at all that he suffered physically as well. Crucifiction wwas brutal and horrific more or less beyond our imagination. I've disgressed. Jesus suffered on the cross to glorfy His Father by winning a people for Him, thus, i believe setting the precedent for missions. Is there was a way to win a people for the Father, and to gloryfy Him without suffering, why did Jesus, the one through whom the universe was created have to suffer to do it. The owner of the universe, between two nobodies, all dying the same. Maybe i've missed something, but if there was another way, surely Jesus would have taken it.

So what? So to bring people to Jesus, to show people the glory of the Father in the face of Jesus Christ, we must suffer. That is the means, the price of our evangelism. Suffering. But thats alright, because all men can do is kill you, and when you die to go to Jesus, your exceeding joy. So the enemies greatest weapon becomes our greatest victory, which is good. But i digrees again. So please, and i talk to myself as much as anyone here, don't be happy, content with a quiet surburban life, with a decent job good kids. Of course, of course there is work to be done amongst the office workers of the world, they need the gospel as much as anyone, and we need Christians there. But the Christians working in offices will suffer when they proclaim Jesus.

But think, just think. Jesus suffered. And He calls us to suffer. We can partake in the great commission in the same way that Jesus did. By suffering! By taking up our cross and following dying. Is that not an honour, is that not the greatest thing in the world? That we, in some small way might go through a similar experience to Jesus as we evangelism and proclaim. Isn't that amazing? We are counted worthy to suffer, and i think that's great. And i hope i still will when the question is more immediate.

I've blogged on this sermon before, here and here.

Monday, April 24, 2006


'The Critical question for our generation, and every generation is this: if you could have heaven with no sickness, and with all the friends you had on earth, and all the food you ver liked and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disaster...would you be happy in heaven, if Christ were not there?'

'God is the Gospel', John Piper: P15

Christopher's river

Sometimes, quite often today in fact, i've been bored with my revision and thought to myself...'man, why can't i just work for the CU full time'...and then i remember. Relay: the best graduate job in the world.

Also today i learnt, in a small way, how concened the Lord is with His name. A while ago, during Mission Week i had a chat with a Muslim guy called Issa, about Christ and His religion and my faith. I felt fairly unprepared in the face of his beliefs and Danutia, being Danutia, bought me a small booklet entitled 'A Muslim's guide to Christ.' Thats been sitting on my shelf pretty much ever since, but today, just by chance* i put it into my bag on the way into campus. Outise the library were guys handing out flyers to an exhibition and talk on campus about 'The man who changed the world'...ooh, i thought, that'd be Jesus. It was Mohammed. So the next time i walked past him i said something like 'i've got one of your things...would you like on of one my things?' and handed it over. I know its only a small thing, but it was a good lesson in obediance, and as i said, about the Lord's passion for His name. What are the chances of my putting it into my bag randomly today eh? Our God, our awesome, wonderful, immutable God. King of the universe, and yet well acquainted with my daily movements. Pretty mind blowing really.

yeh, i know it wasn't 'by chance'

In other news: if anyone fancies looking at the code of my blog and working out why my links are so unevenly spaced, let me know. I can't work it out, and more signifcantly, neither can Bish...

PS: need a laugh?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I will play my game beneath the spin light

When i was younger i read a book called 'The Phantom Toll Booth', i did think it may have been by Tolkien, but on reflection, i don't think it was. Anyway, the story was about a boy who was given a toll booth for his birthday (yeh i know, just stick with me) and when he drove through the toll booth he ws transported into another universe. It may have been at war, or in some kind of trouble, i'm not sure. Something was going on anyway, and our hero had to drive through this strange land, populated by people who grew down instead of up, and all sorts of other randomness. I don't really remember all that well to be honest.

Luckily, this post isn't about the phantom toll booth, its about the nature of sin. You see, in the book there was a cave that the protagonist stopped in for the night. They served him a certain type of stew, subtraction stew, which was delicious. The problem being, of course that the more you ate, the more you wanted, and the more you wanted, the more you ate. Is this not the nature of the sin which threatens to devour us?

We are designed for a relationship with God. This is a relationship which gives us joy, and pleasure and fulfillment. Are these not the things we look for when we indulge our lust, our greed, our self centredness? And thats the thing, because we were made for something that we don't automatically have (a relationship with God) then we desire all the time. We desire things that our flesh, that the world around us tells us that we need, and it's with these things that we try to fill the hole. The hole only God can fill. And the more we sin, the more we try and fill our longing, our hole up with worldy things, the hungrier we get, because the further we get from God, and the more we train our minds to these things. So the more we sin, the more we desire, the more we sin.

But, we weren't made to lust, or to be greedy, or selfish or whatever. We were made for something much much better, much much higher. We were made for a relationship wth God. And we don't sin because our desire's are too strong and God can't hold them in, but because we're far too happy to fill the hole with what feels good, with what our fallen sinful pleasure sensors tell us we need. We can not trust our fallen, sinful minds, they will lead us astray in a flash. We are, as Piper and Lewis and countless others have written and said, like children happy to make mud pies in the slums because we can not imagine what is meant by a trip to the beach.

Jesus Christ is the end of our longing. He is the fulfillment of our desire. He is the answer. Not sin. Not what are sinful minds tell us is. We need to desire God above all things, for Him to be the King of our longings. Filling the hole we feel with anything else will only make it worse, will only take us further from the solution. Further and further, until it's too late.

We were made for something far better than we think we are satisfied by. Sin will never, never satisfy us. Only Jesus Christ will do that. Let's embrace that truth.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Highlands: Just as He left them.

Tremendous times, the air up there is so clean...i love it. God's creation is beautiful!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Resurrection...not remembrance

Back at Bourne End Community Church today, for possibly the last time in a while, where Simon was preaching on the end of Luke 23 and the beginning of Luke 24, with reference to the women making their way to the tomb, and right and wrong ways to react to Jesus, His life, death and resurrection.

These women loved Jesus. They had 'followed Him from Galilee' and served Him as best they could while He was alive. Now, on the day between the first Good Friday and the first Easter Sunday, they were preparing to try to continue to serve Him after His death. What a sombre day that must have been for Jesus followers. We can only imagine the despair, the humiliation and the anger they went through. This man, Jesus of Nazareth, who they thought was the Messiah, this man, who had promised to rebuild the temple in three days had been executed with criminals, and now lay cold in a tomb. What must it have been like for the women as they prepared to anoint Jesus' body?

Many people see Jesus as a good man, who taught us good things. Who taught a good moral code, who had some nice ideas and live a good life. But that's all. Jesus as a man who should be honoured and respected and remembered, but not much else. So they go to church at Christmas and Easter...and sometimes they take communion. But Easter is not some sort of remembrance Sunday for the church. Communion is not a Christians way of saying 'we will remember Him'. For Jesus is not just a good man who died, not just a great man, teacher and moral guide who died, as the women may have thought of Him, as millions do today. Jesus is the living God, the King of mankind, the Firstborn from all creation. The women wanted to remember Jesus, to respect and celebrate His memory...but He is risen! He is risen! And as this impacted the women's plans and reaction to Jesus so it must impact ours.

Others would say 'things have moved on'. That Jesus taught some good things, but that was two thousand years ago. He doesn't say anything relevant to my life. He never said anything about the internet, or texting, or 4X4 ownership, or student loans, or anything about any of the other thousands of things that take up our time today. Sure, He meant a lot to the people that knew Him...but thats about it isn't it? And maybe the women were thinking this as well, it was Sunday, they'd last seen Jesus on Friday. His life, their time together was already just a memory, a time that had passed. It's time to start thinking about how they'll live the rest of their remembrance sure, but that's all it'll be, a memory. But when they got to the tomb, and realized He was risen, all that changed. We can't 'remember' someone who is alive, they still have an impact on our day to day lives. We can interact with Him, He can teach us, comfort us, rebuke us. He is living. No longer, as the women discovered, in the tomb. So sure, things have moved on since First Century Palestine. But Jesus, the risen one, is just as alive now, as He was then. And He owns the universe. He knows everything about the internet, and texting, and anything else you care to mention, because He is GOD! We can have a relationship with Him today because He is ALIVE. How will we live the rest of our lives? As resurrection people!

On that morning the women were going to anoint a dead Jesus. It would have been awkward, what would they do? What would they say to eachother? How will they leave the tomb? Will they come back tomorrow? Predictable though. Jesus was dead, they knew exactly were to find Him, exactly what box to put Him in. But, they didn't find Him there. Why would they? Why look for the living amongst the dead? They were reacting in totally the wrong way. They didn't know what to do. A dead Jesus is predictable...a living Jesus is a different matter all together. The same spirit that raised Him from the dead now lives in us. Now He is risen, we can share life with Him, life in all its fullness. There is no need to fear death, or life. Jesus has conquered death, and rules life. The resurrection confirms to us that Jesus was who He claimed to be...That same spirit that raised Him, also raised us. And lives in us.

Easter Sunday is not a time for remembrance but celebration. We celebrate our Risen King. We celebrate the new life we can have in Him, that He has given us. We celebrate that He has conquered death. We celebrate that His death and resurrection accomplished everything. We are humbled as He calls us brother, and encouraged. If Jesus can conquer death, He can do anything. What an awesome God. The resurrection demands a reaction. Not one of awkward remembrance, or of halfheartedness. But of worship. Of awe. Of celebration. There is a name of one man in heaven and earth, throughout all eternity worthy of praise. That is Jesus Christ. The awesome, beautiful living God.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

He's got the whole world in His Hands'

Jesus finest hour- His last.

'The body lay there till early sunday morning', and then...everything changed, for ever.

Literally Speaking

Challies reviews Eugene Peterson's new book here. I'm not sure he's too impressed, and, given the quotes he's pulled out of the book, i'd pretty much have to agree, at least regarding his thoughts on Bible translations. I 'd have to add a caveat here, in that i'm currently (slowly) reading Peterson's first book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, and really enjoying it.

I can't really think of a succint way of ending this, without going into a 'literal Vs paraphrase' debate. So i'm just going to stop! Read what Challies has to say!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Where the circle ends

Are Thursday the best band you've never heard of? I think so. Check 'em out, start with 'Standing on the edge of summer'...role on their new album.

Monday, April 10, 2006


  • Is there a Biblical precedent for Revival, or is that a bit of an irrelevant question given the time scales? (stolen from Hoops)
  • If you don't believe that Jesus is the only way to God, but believe He is your way to God, are you saved?
  • How can theology be 'too reformed'?
  • Is there a picture of the Trinity in marriage?
  • What were the Israelites thinking when they made the golden calf?
  • If Moses is an effective mediator (Exodus 32), how much more should we rejoice in Jesus given Hebrews 3?
For what it's worth my answers would probably be: i don't know, probably not, i don't think it can be, i think so, there but for the grace of God, lots and lots and lots...eternally. Woo!

Roger, the wolf and the grace of God

Isn't Roger Carswell just lovely? He spoke at Word Alive on Colossians 3:1-17, which is all about putting off the old life, and putting on the new. Everything has changed now Christ is risen from the dead, now that we know about it. Everything. Chapter 3 is the application of Chapters 1 and 2, which are exulatation and warning. We are to seek the things above, where our Savior, Brother and King sit, where we one day will worship Him for eternity. It struck me as we sung the last song on saturday morning (we will meet Him in the air) that i just can not wait to be with Jesus. Finally, my sin dulled heart will love and worship Him totally, and my sin dulled mind will appreciate Him fully. Its going to be good times y'know, and life here has got to be in preperation for life there. So seek the things above, and thats not easy (about which more later possibly), but it is neccesary.

Anyway, this isn't a write up of my notes from Word Alive, Bish and Ceryn will do that far more ably than me. Whilst talking Roger shared a similie that is so striking, so accurate it bears repeating on its own, and hopefully repeating in my head for many years to come. When eskimoes want to trap a wolf, what they do it this. They get a knife, and cover it in blood, and bury the handle in the ground with only the blade exposed. The wolf, driven by his lust and greed for the blood on the knife starts to lick it clean. And heres the rub. As he licks the knife his tongue is cut to ribbons, destroyed, and sheds more blood. The wolf, driven only by an unstoppable passion for blood doesn't notice this and keeps on going for the knife. Blood continues to pour from the wolves tongue and be licked back up again off the knife. Then, finally, the wolf dies. It's passion for blood, its hunger and greed has destroyed it. As our sin will destroy us if we don't clothe ourselves with the obediance of Jesus. We won't notice, it'll be too late as our hearts are hardened and our minds dulled. We must be ruthless. We must stand with Jesus and His obedience. It's our only hope.

So how to finish this one. To tell you that i was so shaken by this metaphor that mortal sin is now not an issue in my body. If only! By sunday evening i'd lost sight of all i'd learnt that week, all i'd been taught at church that morning. I was the wolf. And i went to bed and woke up feeling like an idiot. I am an idiot. But God is bigger, and grace is stronger. I'd started praying about my financial situation for Relay next year this morning, bought into relief by the fact that i had exactly £0 in my account by the end of Word Alive. When i went to the bank to pay some stuff in this morning, i checked, and, following my prayer, and due to the grace of Gid, this number had risen considerably. Now i'm aware of the mechanics of this, that my parents paid some money in earlier on, and the Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC just doesn't do the name justice) had finaly remebered that they were supposed to be extending my overdraft. But i know the reason that it happened today. And i am thankful for it. For the providence and grace of God, and for His obediance and righteousness imputed to me, which gives me hope. Don't hear me wrong, i'm not saying for a second that grace=money, or that my sin is irrelevant, because i don't think either of those things. I'm just blown away again by the power of God's grace and provision to a wretched man like me.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Faces of RUCU at Word Alive 2006

*It's a chalet thing* RUCU @ Word Alive 2006

I need to get up in five hours...

This photo was taken so late time was going sideways...

This was before i asked Drew what rhymed with 'trundle'

Drew was easily scared!

Y'know, its not easy being gangsta


Drew dances like there's no one watching

Before the last evening...two thoughtful, two excited

'Shall we jump on Hoops?'

Photos from Ocean View, Harbour Bay, 121, or wherever it was called...i never really found out!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Let there be light

Something struck me, or rather, continued to strike me yesterday at football. We were losing, not playing badly but not playing well enough to suggest we'd get back into the game. So i stopped watching for a little while, and looked around me. Now, Adams Park is small enough that if you sit in the upper tier of the bigger stand, as i was, you can see out across the farmland that surrounds the ground. It was a beautiful day, sun, birds, trees etc, it was amazing. And it struck me, continued to strike me. God made this. Once, it wasn't here, now it is. God made it. It was a beautiful moment, and got me thinking about how powerful, how straight up powerful God's will and word is.

Look at Genesis 1:2-3. The earth was formless and empty. Dark. Nothingness was everywhere. Then God spoke. 'Let there be light', and there was light. He spoke, and it was. He willed, and so it happened. Something from nothing. Nothing + God's word = something. Time again this happens in Genesis. No animals, then God's word, then animals. And sea. And day and night, and man. Something from nothing. God spoke, and nothing, became something. God willed, and it just was.

Similaly i believe, Luke 1:34-37. Jesus Christ was born to a virgin. There was nothing inside her womb. And then 'the Holy Spirit came upon her', and there was. God willed, and something appeared from nothing. A baby was there. Again, nothing+ God's will and word = something. IN the first instance, creation, the second instance, the incarnate Christ. God is so poweful!

Thirdly, look at us, look at you. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 shows us the mechanics of how we came to believe. God shone the light of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ into our hearts. Light. What was in our hearts before? I can't speak for you, but in my case it was only darkness. 17 years of rebellion, and darkness. There was nothing there, not even a spark to work from. God spoke, and willed, and suddenly: light, new life, rebirth, i was a Christian! The same voice that spoke creation into being, the same Holy Spirit that worked in Mary. Thats amazing, and thats how poweful our God is!

How encouraging is this for evangelism? Where there is nothing God can create something. No one is beyond hope, no one is beyond saving. It just needs God's word, and will, and something will be created from nothing. There was nothing before creation. And then there was. There was nothing in Mary's womb, and then there was. There was nothing in my heart. And then there was.

God is more poweful than we can ever conceive. What an amazing thing it is to worship Him! What other response can there be?

Why CUs?

Mo ponders homogenous church (HT Bish). For what its worth my thoughts on this matter are:

Christian Unions are not (or, at least shouldn't be) para-churches, they do not exist to do the same work a church does, for very simple practical reasons that can not do the same work a church does.

Christian Unions are mission teams. A groups of people focused fro three or four years on doing mission in the campus that God has bought them to. This is their primary aim. Alongside this is the responsibility to support Christians on campus and bring them to a greater level of maturity. I think things like PURE and Forum are good examples of this.

Churches simply can not get onto campus, and do the things that students can do. There's no way a church group would be able to meet in halls and weekly on campus. NO way, it just would not happen. Students can do this, and are.

Students should of course, of course get involved and serve in the local church at Uni in any way they can. Churches are great places to grow, to serve, and to meet deeply wise Christians, something you probably won't find at CUs. Thats why i am baffled by the idea of student churches. WHY? How is that biblical? To segregate off a group of people, and make them meet together apart from the rest of the congregation. Does that not defeat the object of churches?

I think at Reading we're really blessed to have such a god relationship between the CU and the local Churches, who are happy to support, challenge and get alongside what we do as a mission team. As their mission team to thousands of otherwise unreached peoples.

Churches: great. CUs: great. Unity of purpose between them for the Gospel: GREAT.

Towards 400 innit?

I came into membership at Reading Family Church this morning, as we move towards a membership of 400 in 2008. Now, it may seem weird to be joining a church in a town that i'm moving out of in four or five months, but Fam is where i want to be long term, and where i want to come back to when i've finished Relay. I want Fam to be my Antioch, to be the place i come back to, to be the place i get sent out from for whatever i do in the future, God willing. So its great to be a member of a church for the first time. Even though i was really late today, because my alarm didn't go off, and, you know when you wake up, and you know its late without really knowing how late!? Luckily it was only just after half ten so i managed to get there pretty much just as Sean was bringing people up the front to become members.

We've just started a five week series on the cross at church. This morning we were looking at propitiation. The gospel is Good News! God's wraths burns and fires against sin, it has to...He can't not be angry with us, God is so holy and so righteous, and we're so not, we can't offer Him anything. But He loves us, and takes the initiative to save us by sending Jesus to the cross. Thank God for that eh? Jesus dies on the cross, taking all our punishment, all the anger, wrath, and fury that we deserve...wave after wave, until Jesus cries 'it is finished' and it is. And we only need to believe. We only need to believe. Its good news. God is a God of perfect love, and of perfect holyness. And He has saved us.