Monday, July 31, 2006

Tell that Mikey

James says that not believing God to be soveriegn over the future details of your life is arrogance. The way to battle this arrogance is to yield to the soveriegnty of God in all areas of life., and rest in His infallible promises to show Himself mighty on our behalf, to persue us with goodness and mercy every day, to work for those who wait for Him, to supply us with all we need to live for His glory. In other words the remedy for pride is unwavering faith in future grace.
Future Grace-John Piper, P93

How i needed those words today. And how arrogant it is to worry about the future. How much i need to tell my soul that God has got my life sorted, that He has ordered my every thought, that He is knitting all things together for my good. We can not lean on our own understanding, or boast in our own knowledge. As soon as we worry about the future, in whatever form that worry may take, we start to display a breathtaking arrogance and self perceived, self sufficiecy. How i long to really live between the lines of 'Amazing Grace'; 'twas grace that bought me safe thus far (well it was, it sure enough wasn't me, so look back and be greatful and rejoice and sing to the Lord) and grace will lead me home' (God is the same yesterday today and forever, and, well, look at the above!). How liberating it would be, how liberating those moments are to live by that faith. For that faith to empower and inspire our good works, and liberate us from the chains of worry, and the sin of pride.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The flood and the drops

So, it occurs to me that when we pray God anwers us in two ways. Two great and gracious ways, but two different ways nonetheless.

The Flood.
You pray with all your heart and God answers you straight off. And it's gracious because we totally never deserve answers to prayer. And it's great because, well, answer to prayer is great. God has mercy on us in our desperation.

The Drops.
You seek, and you entreat, and you wail. And all God tells you is 'I am who I am'. I am God, you are not. Wait. Even when my prayers are broken down into the base level of 'c'mon man, whats up' as if i'm sparring with Dave, God is answering in His grace and mercy. And giving the right answer. 'I am God'. And thats great because God is who He is all the time, He never changes, He is all sufficient, and in that instant, in this season, thats all i need. And its gracious because God doesn't have to put up with my prayers at all, but through the cross, because of Him and not me, because two parts of the Godhead are interceeding for me He does. And He answers. And thats great, because God is truly great, in every sense of the word. And thats all we need.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Unfinished sympathy (Part 4)

Apprently the song that was number one on your 18th birthday is like the anthem, or soundtrack for your life. This obviously isn't true, but it's weirdly apt that mine is 'All the thing she said' by TaTu...

What's yours?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Go to swimming

Oh i wish i was in Bulgaria! I was there this time last year and it was great, if very hard (check out the picks through the link on the right). I'm sure the passage of time has hidden from me the things i didn't so much like about it, but right now, reading what Kath has been writing about it, it makes my heart long to be there. I don't think there is anything more exciting than cross-cultural mission...maybe than any type of mission. But me, a kid from the home counties going to places like Lyaskovets, Veliko Turnovo and the year before that Panaji in Goa to spread the Gospel, to do the best job in the world by telling people the Good News. It's pretty cool.

This is the first summer since 03 that i haven't been away (yeh i know thats only actually two years, but when you've only been a Christian four four and a bit, thats a lot), but the great thing to know is that a) i can do mission right here, in my house is my mission field. I don't even have to use a translator/learn Bulgarian or Konkani to speak to my family because they speak English. Although, give me a room full of angry strangers any day. The worrying thing is that i'm sure the more i say that the more likely it is the Lord will give me that and i'll be like 'where's the door...i'm off'. And b) IT'S NOT ABOUT WORKS. Hooray. Hooray that God loves me in Christ the same about this summer as He did last summer or the one before that. Thank God that He is opening my eyes and my heart to things this summer that i've tried to hide from and run from for four years. Thank God for His grace, the only thing that made me wake up this morning, and the only thing that will keep me believing untill the end of the sentance...and hopefully beyond!

It struck me again today how little about works it is. Psalm 119:43 makes this clear i think. Only by grace can we have true words in our mouth. Only by grace. We can read and study all we want, but only God's grace keeps us in the wonderful truth. And the great news is, as we persevere God's grace is inexhaustable. God is far more concerned with the integrity of His people than we are, far more committed to the proclamation of the truth than i will ever be. Not, of course, that God needs to keep me in the truth or the wheels will fall off, but that He will keep me in the truth. He will do it because God is not vindictive. God is not mean. Holy, pure, wrathful and just of course, but not mean. He loves us and He loves His truth. So He will keep us in His truth. He will not let the words of truth slip from the mouth of people who are saved. Not because He needs us, but because He loves us, as the start of this stanza makes clear is His motivation. What an awesome God!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Faith works love other

I read 'Introduction Two' today in 'Future Grace' was cool are some of the Confessions?So most of what is about to follow is inspired (copied) from that, because i wanted to share and think over some of the stuff that i had found so helpful. Also, Nicola and Anna have recently blogged on grace and works...and i can't resist sticking my oar in.

So how is the faith which justifies us intrumental in the cause of our good works, as i believe it is? A good place to start looking at this is probably James. In James 2:18 he says 'But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. So, James claims to be able to show people his faith by his works. How? Because his works lead to his faith? NO! Of course not, how unbiblical do you want to get? But because his works are evidence of his faith. James 2:26 says that faith without works is dead. Our justifying faith is not only a convicting one, it is a compelling one. No one is justified by works, lets not mix up sanctification and justification. Justification is once for all, and God is the agent of it entirely. Works, though of course planned and instrumented by God require us to be obedient, and to love God, to be believing in Him and His promises, and that they are better than the evil we did beforehand. Romans 4:5 tells us that 'while we were still sinners, Christ died for us'. While we were still sinners we were counted righteous, forgiven, and given perfect eternal access to God. We were justified, but we were ungodly. We were still smoking weed, buying FHM and drinking too much. And now we don't. Why? Not because not smoking weed or drinking too much ensures our salvation, but because of the love and faith that has grown out of our relationship with God. We have been graciously shown, and are trying to live in, the light.

I'm now going to let some older, wiser men speak instead of me. A great deal of the following is found in 'Future Grace' p22-23.

Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession (1530) says this:
'the churches teach that this faith should bring fourth good fruits, and men ought to do the good works commanded of God because it is God's will, and not on any confidence of meriting justification before God by their works'
Article 30:
'because the Holy Spirit is recieved by faith, our hearts are now being renewed and...are able to bring forth good works...the doctrine of justification by faith...does not forbid good works...but shows what way we may do good works'

So here there is a clear link between our saving faith and our good works. The two don't just work in unison, but our faith is 'the way we may do good works'. Acting on our faith is what kills sin at its root, and makes us want to do good works.

Article 14 of the First Helvetic Confession (1536) says this:
'From faith love grows as a fruit, and from this fruit come all sorts of virtues and good works...(and though these are the) fruit of faith...we do not ascribe their piety of attained salavtion to such works, but to the grace of God'

This affirms that love grows from faith and produces good works, and also that it all relies on God's grace. Faith itself performs good works.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1571)
'we are justified by faith alone...albeit that good works which are the fruit of faith which follow after our justification (which) can not put away our sin...are pleasing to God in Christ'

So, our good works are the natural product of our justification, and our pleasing to Christ. Thats pretty clear! One more.

Chapter 11 of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
'2) the alone instrument of justification, yet it is not alone in the person justified but is ever accompanied by all the other saving graces and is not dead faith, but works by love'

This links us to Galatians 5:6 'For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.' So our faith is not dead. Our faith expresses itself though love, through good works. What a key word 'expresses' is there. Our faith, if it is real and persevering will express itself through love. Our faith leads to our good works. So the question of 'why should we do good works' is a bit of a non starter because if we are really saved, we don't have a choice, we are convicted, and then compelled. And if we don't feel compelled surely the fact that they are pleasing to God is enough to get us going? Maybe the question should be where do our good works come from? Our good works, i believe, come from the faith in the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, both in the past, the present, and the future...justified, then sanctified.

Good shoes won't save you this time

One night in Scotland i was lying in bed at night unable to get to sleep. What was on my mind? Lunchbars...lunchbars! I was happy to enough to lie there and think about it for a while, until i realised that a) i no longer have anything to do with RUCU, and indeed, haven't for sometime, and b) i wasn't sure then if UniSCU even had lunchbars...but i had to sit through it, and now so must you!

What's the point of Lunchbars?

I think they're great. I think its a really easy way for people to invite their friends along to a 'CU thing' without being worried about the singing or the praying (because there isn't any!). I also think its a good way, especially if you've got a good question to talk about, to get people in from off the street/in front of the library. People who may simply want to come and shout the speaker down, people who would never normally think about coming to church or a CU main meeting, but might come and hear about 'Why God allows suffering?' or 'What would Jesus say to David Beckham?'

What about titles?

Are some titles better than others? I think so. Obviously, there are some ones that will always be good to deal with, like the already mentioned 'suffering' one or maybe 'Don't all religions lead to God'. Lunchbars are good to deal with topical issues as well. After the Tsumani on Boxing Day 2004 there was a time for Christians to respond to why these sort of things happened as it probably was something that a lot of people were talking about. If nothing else, lunchbars can provide easy access apologetics training for Christians having to deal with these questions.
The point of a lunchbar is obviously to engage and to provoke, but also to preach the Gospel. It would be a great shame to have a room full of non-Christians who were obviously prepared to step out a little bit and come to something like this, and then not to proclaim the Gospel. This is a great oppotunity to point to Christ and Him crucified. This is why i think that some titles are probably better than others. The 'religions' or 'suffering' titles are obviously more condusive to talking easily about Jesus and the Gospel. Obviously there shouldn't be a feeling of pushing everything to the side just to preach the Gospel...actually maybe there should be. Sensitivity is obviously needed, as someone coming to a 'suffereing' lunchbar could obvioulsy be more concerned with why God let her family die, more than why God allows tsunamis. But preaching the Gospel has got to be paramount.

How often should they be?

At Reading we normally had them every fortnight with one every day during Mission Week. Although i think the last term i was on committee we had them every week for four weeks right in the middle of term, which worked really well to build up a momentum, but then left a bit of a gap at the end of term. It'd be great if they could be every week, although that would obviously put a lot of strain of resources.

[also, blogging resumes on Foxhill Close]

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Tie me up! Untie me!

Everyone should go to the Western Isles. Its that simple. It's probably a good thing i was only there for a few days, because any longer and i pretty much could see myself staying forever. In fact, if it wasn't for the Great Commision (which i am excited about, don't get me wrong at all!) i'd be perfectly happy living my life up there. I can't really describe it to you, because it defies description...amazing, deserted beaches, breathaking hills, utter desolate beauty at every corner, english not being the first language of a large number of people there, the primary school with only five children in it. It's just an amazing place.

I was telling a friend before i left that given my recent mood i'd probably spend my time there wishing i was somewhere else, as thats all i seem to do recently. But being somewhere else, being as in the middle of nowhere as you can be in this country was just plain brilliant. I feel revived, i feel happy to be home and happy to have gone. I feel like Lacey Green is my home again which is nice. In the sense that any of us have a 'home' outside of Heaven. I spent some of my quiet time embarking on Psalm 119, an epic on the importance of God's Word. So many gems...i've only read the first three stanzas so far but how clever is the Inspirer that He can come up with something where all the first words in each line of each stanza start with the same letter? Infinite creativity is pretty cool.

It was good to be a Christian up there. To be open in talking to people about my faith (i wish that was as impressive as it sounds, i was mostly rubbish), it was cool to hang out with my little sister and to look after her, it appears that we agree on: Rihanna (look, just don't have an affair yeh), Jo Whiley (just a bit...muh) and Zane Lowe (top class) but not Chris Moyles (she think's he arrogant, whereas i regard him as a radio genius) or Ian McClenan (are his books not just a bit dull?). I'm really glad i went. It was nice in some ways to be away from the Blogdom, but also great to read what's been going on while i've been away.

I was struck in my QT this morning by John 17:26. The love with which the Father loves the Son may be in us? Think about that...isn't that amazing. The best, purest, holiest, deepest, everything-good-est love there ever is or ever will be is somehow connected to us. Is 'in' us? Isn't that amazing...what a God we worship. His ways higher, His plans unsearchable, His judgements inscrutable.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Jonny Quest thinks i'm selling out

Question: How may people were crucified with Jesus?


Why do you believe that?

It says so in the Bible.

The Bible also tells us that we who are saved are dead to sin, and that we have only been tempted by what is common to man. Grace is amazing, mind-blowing and un-understandable. Grace has saved and is working in a carcrash of a sinner like me, making me rejoice, and love and sing, and want to dance and spend my life telling people about Jesus. Grace doesn't mean we can go on sinning.

Before i was saved, i was a slave to sin. Sin told me when to get up, what to do, where to go... My reward for my hard work for my master, my wages that i had earned? Death. Spiritual and physical.

Now i am a slave of righteousness, which is much better. My life is still not my own, but thats cool. And i don't have to work for my reward, its a free gift of grace. How cool is that. How awesome is our God that He would shed His blood for us. That we can call the Creator of the universe, the One who lives in blinding fearful holy light Father, is incredible. It really is.

I'm away from monday till friday, up in the Hebrides with my dad and sister. PLEASE pray that i'd use the oppotunity to talk to my dad about things y'know? That it'd be contructive God glorifying Kingdom advancing times. I love the Kingdom. It'll be good to go away for a bit, see some different things, be with different people. I am restless right now. I want to crack on in Guildford and get started there. But i've got things to do and things to learn, so thats ok. I shall do and (hopefully) learn. And there's a chance when i get back of an 'exciting' new blog-series starting...maybe.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Living in the light

John Piper preaches on 1 John 4:13-16...he actually preached this message today!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

As i rode the bus into town

How easy it is for our blogs to become arena's for ungreatful moaning. For morose naval gazing. That not what i was created for.

There're some great views around where i live. Tree envelloped hills, often at this time of year covered in sunshine...greens and blues and golds. Its lovely. How good is God. How amazing the fact that He would shed His blood as a ransom for us...Also, how cool is it that glorifying Him and enjoying Him are not seperate!

Anyway, here's my jazz from wednesday night. Now i know how to cut and paste, i can do this sort of thing! I can't take any credit for any of it firstly because of the obvious reason, and secondly because i was emailed the outline on wednesday, and just had to beef it out a little bit.

Paul begins this passage with a question: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?” In other words, shall we continue living our old life of sin because we are now under grace, so that grace may increase? Paul’s answer is no, and he spends the rest of the passage explaining why.

1. In our old life death reigned (Rom. 5:14); we were dead in Sin (Eph 2:1); we lived in sin (v.2), in rebellion to God; we were prisoners, unable to escape; we were slaves to sin (v.6). Anthony talked a lot, in some very visual words about how our lives looked before we were saved. He said we were like walking corpses, trapped hopelessly and helplessly in sin, but unaware of it, and its condition…surely the worst kind of prison, one you don’t even know you’re in! In prison, Anthony reminded us, someone tells you when to get up, go to sleep, eat, go to the toilet….do anything without being told or allowed to. We were helpless, without hope and without God (Eph.2:12). Our lives were characterised by sin.

2. Now we have died to sin; we were united with Christ in his death (v.5); we died to our old life; our old self died (v.6) so that sin might be done away with and that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Being dead to sin doesn’t mean we no longer sin. In 1 John it says that if anyone says they no longer sin they are making Christ a liar (1 John 1:10). John Stott says that being dead to sin means being dead to its legal obligation (Christ was punished instead) and to it’s moral obligation (when sin calls us and tempts us, we are not obliged to it. We can ignore it because we have the tools to recognise and overcome it now) Christ didn’t come to fix our old life, but to kill it. To crucify it. Christ came and died, and we have died with Him according to verse 5 so why would we want to continue it that which has been killed?

3. We have been raised with Christ, united with him in is resurrection (v.5) and called to live a new life. We are alive to God in Christ Jesus (v.11). This new life should be characterised by a continuing and increasing victory over sin (v.12), and a servant heart devoted to God’s service (v.13). This passage ends, notably with Paul mentioning that it is God’s grace that gives us the power to say no to sin, not that power to say yes! The old us was characterised by sin. The new us must be characterised by Christ's work within us.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Edwards and Spurgeon

Resolution 22:
Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
Jonathan Edwards, 1722

The glory which belongs to beatified saints belongs to us, for we are already sons of God, already princes of the blood imperial; already we wear the spotless robe of Jesu's righteousness; already we have angels for our servitors, saints for our companions, Christ for our Brother, God for our Father, and a crown of immortality for our reward.
C. Spurgeon on Ephesians 2:19 (HT: Ant)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Have you read my book?

I was listening to Richard Cunningham: Go last night, from last years Forum, and i can't remember why he got onto it (i was probably too busy laughing at the retreat story!) but he mentioned how neglected some of the 'minor' books of the Bible are. Imagine, he said, meeting Habbakkuk in heaven, and him asking what you thought of his book. Now, to be fair i've recently read and enjoyed Habbakkuk...but what happens if i meet Obadiah in heaven...something like this perhaps:

Obadiah: hi, did you like my book?
Me: ummmm yeh, it was good
...uncomfortable silence...
Me: errrrr have you seen Paul anywhere...i've got some questions...

So today i thought i'd have a bash. It's really short, twenty-one verses, and i'm not sure if i grasped it in totality, but here goes anyway.

Nothing is actually known about the prophet himself, apart from his name, which means 'servant of God'. His book concerns the downfall of Edom who invaded Judah whilst Jerusalem was being defeated by the Babylonians in 587. The Edomites were apprently descendents of Esau, and therefore close in kin to Israel. Indeed Herod the Great, who tried to kill Jesus as a baby was a descendant of Edom, but they seem to vanish from history alltogether after about 70AD.

Verses 1-14
Obadiah starts by denouncing the the pride of the Edomites, who regarded themselves safe in their cliff-top city. The LORD warns them of the judgement to come (v2), and attacks their pride (v3). Edom seems to be one of the perfect examples of a proud people, living proud lives with no reference to God, no respect for His people and no regard for His plans. Obadiah warns them that God will destroy their wisdom and understanding (v8). They will be judged for the violence done to the people of Israel, charecterised in verse 10 by Jacob. Verses 11 to 14 deal with the invasion of Judah, with God handing out some stern warnings about the Edomites conduct. I think God's love for His people shows here as the word 'calamity' is used three times in verse 13.

Verses 15-18
Wow. Judgement. The LORD will do to Edom as Edom has done to others, treating her by her own standards and judging her as such. Those who are saved will be set aprt in Mount Zion. There God's people will regain their posessions (v17). Verse 18 brings us to a particulaly clear picture of judgement. The house of Joshua shall consume Edom as fire consums stubble. Proud Edom will be destoyed and bought to nothing on this day. God's people shall be vindicated and saved by Him. God's word His final, there will be no come back...the LORD has spoken (v18)

Verses 18-21
God's people will be vindicated. They will inhabit more land than Edom can even dream of. Mount Zion shall rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom abd the glory shall belong to the LORD. A great ending for the persecuted faithful.

So, God will defend and vindicate his people. He sees pride, the pride of His people's enemies, and He hates it. He will judge and destroy His enemies, of that we can be sure. They will burn like stubble on that great and awful day. God's ultimate purpose is to build His kingdom for His glory, and nothing will stop this happening. This is a call to repentace. Like so many Old Testament books God's judgement is set out clearly. It's causes (living without reference to God-sin) and result (death). So what are we to do with this little book. Well, as believers to rejoice. Yes, we will face come under attack, but look at God. He does not turn a blind eye to the actions of the Edomites, He hates them, and He will judge. As non flee the oncoming wrath. Not to be like Edom in their pride but to come to God through Jesus for salvation and mercy. Not to be burnt like stubble on that last day...

Sunday, July 09, 2006


So, thats the end of the World Cup. Well, to be fair, the Final tonight was the first game i've watched since England went out. Mostly because i can not be bothered with it. I said a month ago that the World Cup provides a good marker for me every four years, something that shows me where i am, where i've been...where i'm going?

Nicola has posted
about her feelings on the end of the world cup, and the thing is, i *kind of* agree with her. I mean, i love seeing people achieve their dream in life, but, what're they going to say before the LORD. It's all so sad. Those who love live will lose it. But anyway...where am i? Where will i be in four years?

I'm not even sure i'll like football in four years time to be honest. For a couple of reasons. First of all, the way that my interest has slowed, the way that the shine has slipped from it, the way that. thank God Jesus' light has shone brighter and brighter and brighter, and the adrenaline and the joy that Wycombe scoring has given me...well, sunday morning is better. The way the Holy Spirit smacked me in the stomach on the way home, that was better! Being a Christian...that is better. This seasons been hard, especially with Mark dying...after which i would probably happily have not watched a game of football for a long time. A long time. Seeing half a team kick off a game in tears is something that will continue to live with me for a long time. Anyway. Its just. All a bit dull. Nothing, nothing is as good as knowing Christ. He really is the all surpassing gain. He really really is.

Second. Football is eating itself, at least at the top level. Where Wycombe play is at least far enough away from all the tedious nonsense that goes with football at the highest level. I love playing football, i love messing around on the astro with my mates, i love pretending that i can play like Zidane (hey, maybe after tonight i can eh?), but there is just something so so so mcuh better. And football makes it so easy to be blind to Him.

I remember thinking shortly after i got saved, that God probably didn't care how many away games i went to. That he wasn't really bothered if i skipped school to go to Crewe on a tuesday night in March, and that now i had something better to do. This only vaguely troubled me at the time. I used to try and work out how i could have a decent future in the Lord, and yet still see every Wycombe game...this shames me, and i thnk God for setting me free from this. And now, as i leave for Guidlford, i have niether the time, nor the money, nor, i think the inclination to go and see them every week. And this is good. I hate what watching football does to me. I hate the passion and the partizanship it induces in me. I hate it, and it must die. It must die.

It must die, because Christ came to kill it. Not that Christ wants me to become a automaton, He wants me to love Him, and be all He's made me to be, and to worship Him in all i do. Do i worship Him when i watch football. I try. Trust me i try. But too often i'm consumed with hoping that Kevin Betsy can dance past his marker, and land the ball perfectly on Tommy Mooney's head, and he can go running into the Valley End, arms aloft.

I used to think that if i could score a goal for Wycombe, and run, arms aloft into the Valley End, i could leave all things behind. That i could get on with my life. Then i met Jesus. And i must go. I want to go. He tells me to go. So i need to go. Whether its Guildford, or Paris, or Reading or wherever. And this is exciting. Much more exciting that becoming a terrace lizard.

'Look Lord, see my season tickets...'


I'm trying to think of a way to start this without saying 'i love my church' or 'church was great today'...but i really can't. So pick whichever one of those you prefer and we'll get on with it!

Today was great, things were really buzzing after Brighton, even those of us who weren't there were really, well, buzzing, like it was something in the air (i think He's called the Holy Spirit!). I love the fact that when He turned up, Sean had to throw His schedule out of the window and Anthony didn't even start preaching until 1140! The fact that when Liz spoke out in tongues the meeting stopped totally until someone interpreted it, which wasn't that long but still a noticable gap. I love how safe i felt standing at the front of church waiting to be prayed for. Aware of the fact that i was physically speaking in full view of everyone, and yet safe, and protected. I loved knowing that however long it took Sean and Sitho to work their way round to me, and today, it took a long time praise the Lord, that they would, and that they would pray for me lovingly.

Anthony was preaching on Romans 6:1-14, and something really struck me about the language he used to describe our state before we were Christians. The sin that people ask Paul if they should continue in, that grace may abound all the more. Now, as Anthony preached it, this was obviously just his scene setting, his 'wobble on the tee', but it really struck me about the nature of sin.

When we were dead in sin, before we were saved, we were like walking corpses, bound up to a slave master. Drenched and enslaved to and in sin, and yet totally unaware of it and it's condition. Our whole lives were chrecterised by sin, our whole lives were marked by the evil we did rather than the good. Sin made up who we were, sin was who we were. We were prisoners in the dominion of darkness. In prison, someone tells you when to get up, when to sleep, when to eat, when to use the have no freedom. Is this not the state we were in before we were saved, whether knowingly or not? It really didn't matter whether on the outside your life was a mess, or whether you were doing ok by the world's standards, because we were all unknowingly slaves to sin. Sin was our master, and we could do nothing...and it was killing us every day. The problem was so bad that Jesus didn't try and fix it. Paul says that Christians are united in His death on the cross. Jesus didn't try and fix our sinful self...He killed it, uniting it to Him on the cross. Thank God that Jesus did not come to call the healthy but the sick and broken.

And people are asking whether we should continue in sin? Paul rightly says 'by no means', what a horrible perversion of grace and freedom and truth, but also, we would we want to? Sin often feels good. Thats the problem, that sinning makes us feel good because our desires are too weak and we happily settle for second best. If the enemy couldn't make sin feel good, he'd have lot the biggest weapon in his armoury. It feels good, to an extent we enjoy doing the things we hate, and i know that sounds like a paradox, but thats the best way i can think of to explain it. But like the wolf, lured in by the blood soaked knife...sin is killing us. Why would we want to live in that again? Why would we want to carry on in sin, being a corspe when Jesus offers us LIFE. And PEACE and JOY and HOPE and a FUTURE and SELF CONTROL. We are commanded to turn our minds to whatever is pure, whatever is right, whatever is good...we must think upon these things. I don't want to continue in sin! I don't want to try and ressurect that which God saw fit to kill. A ransomed prisoner does not try and fight his way back in gaol does he? Do not believe the lies sin tells us. We are dead to it, and we must must align ourselves with this truth each morning.

I wish i could hate sin more. I wish my hunger for righteousness and light would blind me to all else. I wish my desires for joy were stronger so that they could only be satisfied by God. We must do all we can to fight sin. Not compromise it but fight it and root it our ferociously were ever we see it (are you listening Ed?) We must clothe ourselves in Jesus Christ, who has ransomed us from its power, once and for all.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Battlestar Scratchlactica

So, what do you do?

You're walking around Wycombe, and you see a girl selling the Big Issue, who's been there for as long as you can remember, and doesn't look a lot older than you do. I never mind buying the Big Issue off people, the fact that they are selling it kind of makes me feel more confident about what they are going to spend the money on, if y'know what i mean. Anyway, i gave this girl a fiver for it and told her to 'look after yourself ok', and walked away, and a few metres down the road i was almost weeping.

Like, a fiver? 'Look after yourself'? What was that? Like, why didn't i do more? Why didn't i buy her some food, give her more money, find out if she had a place to stay, asked her if she fancied coming to church...told her about Jesus? I don't really know what i could've done in a practical sense. She didn't look like she was sleeping rough, but you know, she obviously wasn't doing that well for herself. So when i got back to my car i prayed for her, and tried to stop feeling like quite so much of a failure. It's just difficult though, because i know what can set her free, what can change her life, and somehow all i can manage is 'look after yourself'. But on the other hand, i'm sure she'll be there when i'm next in town on maybe i'll have a pop then.

In other news, i'm meeting Becci tonight. How weird/cool it'll be to meet someone who i 'know' but don't actually know at all.
Also check out Mandy on 'Being and Making Disciples'
And it would be wrong to say i am counting the days to Forum 2006 (well, it wouldn't be, but lets pretend it would be) and here are the talks from last years...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Liberation transmission.

Stop serving God!

'the difference between Jesus Christ and uncle sam is that uncle sam won't unlist you unless you are fit, and Jesus Christ won't enlist you unless you are ill'

(Not just) semantics

Rob Wilkerson comments on Mark Driscoll's article on propitiation, and remarks on the use of the word 'avert'.

Now, this may seem like tired semantics, and i know i am perhaps guilty of banging on about propitiation...actually, forget that. I think propitiation is great, the Father's anger at my sin has been propitiated by Jesus on the cross, surely thats worth talking and getting excited about!

Anyway, i digress. Why is the use of the word averted worth getting so excited about? Because i don't believe our sin was averted by Jesus on the cross, i believe it was dealt with, removed...propitiated. Avert suggests that the Cross put God's wrath somewhere else, that it was displaced rather than removed, that in some sense, maybe it is still there. Avert suggests that the cross was like a shield rather than a sponge.

On the cross Jesus took all the wrath God has towards our sins. He removed it by soaking it up, not by having it bounce off Him, not by shovelling it off somewhere, but by dying under its weight. By being on the receiving end of every last ounce of it, so that we may enter into a relationship with the Father.

And i think thats pretty important to remember.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The tenth year

'Jesus is wholly concerned with God, and wholly concerned with people. That is, according to Jesus, the human cause is God's cause. Jesus' lifestyle arose out of the simple truth of loving God, our neighbours and ourselves.'
Out of the saltshaker-Rebecca Pippert, P52

Two things matter in life, people and God. INcreasingly, for me personally the things that i used to do with my time when i had nothing better to do, watch tv, play championship manager, nothing are losing interest (which is an anwer the prayer) and the Lord is pulling me towards Him and His face and beauty and purposes. This is good. Nothing matters in life aside from people and God, thats why the two greatest commandments are 'love the Lord your God' and 'love your neighbour'. All that concerned Jesus when He lived on earth were those two. How to relate, empathise and ulitmately save people, and how to glorify God.

So...evangelism shouldn't be something we do, project here a monologue there, it should be a way of life for us. I know this is fairly common sense but i'm pretty much seeing the mechanics of it for the first time, so bear with me. For people who have had no contact with Biblical Christianity we are their Bible. We are all they know about what it means to follow Christ, what it means to have Him as our God rather than ourselves. Our lives and lifestyles and relationships are all they know of Christianity, which is a pretty huge priveledge/challenge really, and something i need to remember.

What's been great about doing CEx is that it's taught me to build relationships with people first. Not to try and cram two ways to live into every casual conversation we might have. That my relationships with people need to reflect my relationships with the Lord. That my service must come from an overflow of love for Him, or it is wasted. Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, loving people wholly and recklessly with people who don't know the Lord is evangelism, because it shows them who He is, at least in part.

I need to pray for more grace in my relationships with my unbelieving friends and family. That i would love them as the Lord does and honour them accordingly. Thinking about this its a pretty huge challenge...and this is a fairly meditative post, but its been good to think things through!

Together on a Misson

Adrian Warnock is live blogging from the Newfrontiers conference in Brighton...why did i not get myself down there!? It'll be cool to see the eleven guys who have gone from Fam on sunday...

The prelude
Session one
Session two

Monday, July 03, 2006

Anthems of the free

One day, maybe one day (but don't count on it) i might work out that God's grace depends on Him not on me.
Oh that the Lord might keep stirring me after Him, that He might keep me in His grace forever, that i may worship His throne rather than try to take it off Him...

Always winter etc

Hello Mandy!

More importantly, what about the issue of honesty when it comes to blogging. Much like in the real world, i think its easy to try and portray some kind of image of ourselves when we blog. That things are always good with us, that our relationship with the Lord is always as good as it could be. I'm not saying this is deliberate, neither am i advocating some kind of 'blog accountability', but its something i know i need to watch myself with.

One of the most discouraging things as a Christian is thinking you are the only one who struggles with a particular sin, or even sin in general. I remember in my first year as a young cell leader being encouraged by hearing guys i respected and looked up to talking about their battles with sin. John in his first letter says that if we claim not to sin, then the truth is not in us, so we may as well all face up to the fact that sometimes, quite often in fact in my case at least, we will be struggling with the sin in our life. One of the reasons i feel so happy in my relationship with the Lord at the moment is the time i've spent recently with people (insert your name in bold here) who want to serve the Lord and are real in their relationships with Him. Blogs are great because they can encourage their readers, help people to think and remember, but like in our actual relationships with people, lets be as honest as we can when we blog. Its far more honouring to our friends, and more importantly to the Lord.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Out of the saltshaker

I've just started reading's so engaging and interesting. I like it, and i was going to quote some of it. But i can't find the have a look at this instead.

why do you blog?

Words eh?

Given it was through speech that Jesus chose to reveal Himself to us, i guess its no surprise that words are pretty powerful.

I love you Jesus.

Try saying it to Him. Maybe in a whisper, but do it audible so you can hear as well as Him. And then tell Him all the reasons why. Man, nothing has had me weeping quite so deeply, and yet then giggling quite so immaturly within a few moments of eachother. Weeping because of how good Jesus is, because of His power and might, and all He is. And giggling because of how much i enjoy His company in my warm dusk-filled garden, quiet but for the evening birdsong, and because, as Rebecca Manly Pippert puts it, after the resurrection Jesus didn't hire out the local concert hall and organise a performance of the Halleuja chorus...He made His disciples a little breakfast.

What a guy.

The sky, sleep and the gazebo of imputed righteousness

The Sky.

Psalm 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of the LORD, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Obviously on days like these that has been easy to see. The powder blue sky and wispy clouds giving way at dusk to clear starry nights. There's God's glory manifested for all to see. And how blessed are we as Christians that when we fear or worry about the nature of our Lord, we need only to look to the sky to see His grace and glory displayed for all to see. Remember for a second how permeated and broken by sin the world is, and not just on a personal level but on a creation level. Creation groans and longs for the coming of the Lord and it's restoration. And yet despite God still gives us days and night like these. Days of brightness and heat to enjoy and thank and worship Him for, and nights covered in stars, all of which are mindblowing distances away from us, and all of which He created. How amazing the sky is, and how awesome God is. Imagine what sort of days we will have in Heaven!


So maybe i occasionally give sleep a bad press. On thursday night/friday morning i was up untill well after dawn (insert your own names in bold here) and loved it, and i do enjoy ebing around in the wee small hours when the world seems empty. But man, sleep is great. Sleep exists to show us and remind us that we are not God, and He is the only one who doesn't need sleep. He will sustain us through to morning, filling our lungs with breath. Sleep keeps us humble. Reading Mahaney's chapter on sleep in Humility really changed my mind about tiredness and sleep. I used to hate being tired, it used to frustrate me that i couldn't always function at 100%, or even what i take to be 100%. But being tired is ok. You have to protect yourself of course, because the enemy loves to attack us when we're weak and lie to us, and tell us what is not true about our Lord and Savior. I love falling asleep knowing that i am totally safe in the hands of my Father. Nothing beats it.

The gazebo of imputed righteousness.

Man. How to write about Fam this morning without making the family in salisbury, wales, the greater brighton area, bristol, southampton and frosty hollow jealous. I love my church. I love the fact that when Sean asked us to erect a gazebo inside for an illustration for today's message no one really batted an eyelid. At the 'road end' of the hall was another tent, which Liz, who was very fired up from yesterdays womens breakfast, helpfully pointed out halfway through the message was a 'toilet tent'. So yeh, Sean was preaching on the second half of Romans 5. One of my favourite bits of the Bible, but also containing some of the most difficult verses. And man, i love the doctrine of imputation, so to hear someone as passionate and wise preaching on it was great. The whole federal head aspect of it really struck me this morning. Thinking that before we were under Adam's headship, the one who bought sin and death into the world, and now we are under Christ, the holy, sinless and unique Son of God is amazing. There's no way we can leave that Gazebo once we're in. There was something so good, so soul refreshing to have these verses presented in such a visual way...such a way thats makes so much sense. When its on the internet (which may not be for a while because of mobilise) you got to listen. It was brilliant. I can't really put it into words!


I was getting worried yesterday about a couple of things like what i'd do after Relay (i really don't like the way that two weeks after being certain i now am not...grr) and about some other stuff, feeling the enemy dancing on my insecurities in myself and in my relationship with the Lord...and He told me...'just trust Me'. So, it would be great to have all the answers now, it'd be great to know the answers to all my fears. But what is great is to know the Trustworthy one. The One who has seen me through this far and will not let me down, who's plan is perfect, righteous and holy. So perhaps like Elijah in 1 Kings 19 i was looking for too much, and God comes and reinforces what we already know of Him, essentially that He is God. Trust Me, He says. So trust is what i will try and do, by the grace of God.