Monday, August 28, 2006

Where did you sleep last night

Here's some cool blogs to read:

Cat Hare (she's off of Surrey. Surrey people are cool)
Anna Hopkins (she's going to Holland. How exciting)
Nicola Abram (she blogs in lists. But they're good lists)
Mandy Morgan (rare but weighty[her blog not her])
Tom Price (he's in america)
Becci Brown (she lives down the road)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Your sword! Your sword! My dagger

Anyone expecting this to be going to be dissapointed.

There are times, when i realise that i don't know anything. Everything i believe about what God wants and is doing and that all my half baked ideas are just that. Or not even that. And these are times that my conquered but oh so active sinful nature loves to dwell on, to feed, to linger have them take over my life. And there are times. There are times when i look at the cross. And i think about my Redeemer standing on the earth, about His irresitable grace, about how good and benevolent He is, about the people i've seen saved, about Reading, about the thousands of people groups without a sustainable witness. And, somehow, through the fog, it makes sense. And all my questions 'what about this' 'why didn't this happen?' 'my way's better really' just fade away like the morning mist. These times are like fresh air to me. Gethsemene and Calvary shine like beacons. Beacons of the Lord's great love for me, for the Father. And rememberace that that is all there is. In a very real sense, there is no life outside of Jesus Christ. The message of the cross saved me, and it's changing me. And that is very cool. And very humbling.

And man, do i need to trust in the Lord more. To gaze at Him, enjoy His presence to dance at His love for me, and His redemption worj on the cross. I can't wait to spend most of the next two weeks immersed in the Gospel, and then i can't wait to spend the rest of my life immersed in the Gospel. I remember thinking as i was finishing off my Bible studies for Relay 1 this week, that i didn't really know where God was taking my life (which wasn't altogether true, i can recognise the things on my heart, my passions, my gifts to an extent) but that as long as He and His word were at the centre of it i can't go far wrong.

So thats where i am right now.

Confused? Sure
Redeemeed? Absolutely
Determined? By the grace of God
Rejoicing? Oh yeh!

Christ died on a cross for me. His precious blood was shed. That is my rock. That must be my rock. What joy there is from faith in that.Jesus, mighty awsome holy Jesus is going before me to Guildford. Man, how amazing is the Gospel.
I actually love it!

So i guess no more blogging for a couple of weeks. I'm going to be an actual Relay worker. How weird. Weird sure. I am buzzing right now with the Gospel, with this book that's beside me. With Jesus, and how awesome, in the real sense of the word He is.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Naomi was at cell tonight for the first time (it was my last RFC cell for the time being). She met Danutia at church in Edinburgh and mentioned she was moving to Reading, and Nu, like a good Fammer, mentioned how cool Reading Family Church is...and here she was.

Anyway, during the sung worship bit of cell she had a picture for me, which i think is pretty significant (not that when God speaks, it's ever anything but) and i want to record it so i don't forget it. So essentially from here on it this post is all for me, but...well, it is my blog!

'there's a roundabout, with lanes leading up to, and you need to be in the right lane to get to where you want to go. And you need to decide which lane you need to get in. You can always be in the wrong lane and change later to get to where you're going, but it gets very messy. So get in the right lane'

Lots to think about...


The first time Kurt Cobain used heroin, he called Krist Novoselic, bass player in Nirvana to tell him about the experience. Krist warned him he was 'playing with dynamite'. Heroin appears (from my very rudimentary research) to be about the most physically addictive drug that there is. It really is like injecting dynamite into your veins, except it has the opposite effect, causing all the muscles in your body to relax, meaning eventual loss of consciousness, and your skin turning blue. Heroine is so addictive that addicts end up not being able to live without it, even though it's killing them. Even on the day he married the woman he loved, Kurt had to shoot up 'just a little bit, so i wouldn't get sick'.

I think sin is like heroin. All sin ever does is make us want to sin more. All it ever does it make us hungrier for more of it. Actually thats not all true, if it was then perhaps sin wouldn't be so bad. Except the Bible tells us that we can not serve two masters. There is no void or vacuum when it comes to what we set our mind upon. It is either spiritual or it's sin. So sin pulls away from the God of glory. It blurs the vision of the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ to an extent that we can't see it at all unless we're careful. Unless we fight it. It makes us want to serve it. It doesn't satisfy us, it only intensifies the longing in our heart for pleasure, and joy, and acceptance. It intesifies the problems that we have inside ourselves already, because we were not created for the fleeting joys of sin, we were created for a much deeper, more satisfying, longer lasting, glorious pleasure. And here is, i think, the key to fighting sin. And we must fight sin. The fight is evidence of our salvation, not the source of it, the evidence of it. If we're not fighting sin on an intenional, conscious level (this obviously won't be possible with all sin because not all sin is conscious) then we may not be saved.

So how do we fight? We fight fire with fire. We look at God's glorious promises in the Bible, and we fight with them. We believe that there are pleasure's forever at God's right hand and a fulness of joy in His presence. God is not a stoic, He's not merely ambivalent. He is a God of the fulness of pleasure. He is a God who is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Not when we are trying to satisfy our desires with lust, or money, or fame, or popularity. Our deepest longings and our cravings for pleasure will not be solved by drugs or sex. They will be solved by knowing and embracing and delighting in all the God is for us in Jesus Christ. All that God has for us in Jesus Christ. In knowing and loving Christ as our God and as our Savior. For surely that is the reason we have been made. We can fight by prohibition and warning all we want, and God makes some serious promises about the eternity of those who succumb to sin. But we are created for joy, and that joy is to be found in Christ, so the best way to fight for that joy is to tell ourselves about it. That only the pure in heart will see God. That the faith that justifies is also the faith that sanctifies. That sanctification is an inevitable result of our salvation.

In the book 'Future Grace' John Piper says that 'sin is worse than satan'. Sin is the tool, the weapon, the means that satan uses to pull us toward him and away from God. Toward eternal destruction and away from eternal life. Sin is the way he does that. By sugar coating the horrors of a life of unrepentant sin to make it seem attractive, and good and desirable. If we lived with an all encompassing passion for the glory of God, then these promises would mean nothing to us. We would see through them in a second.

The power of sin has been defeated, once for all on the cross. When Jesus died as a ransom the precious blood He shed bought all the good things that we need to live. When He rose again He defeated satan, who is now like a wounded animal lashing out to see who he can get at before the end comes, as it surely will. We need to remember this. We need to embrace the poweful realitiy of the cross, because how will we escape if we neglct such a salvation? We won't escape. The fight against sin is easy in theory. The Holy Spirit has given us all the weapons we need to fight. The reason why it's hard is that when we stop sinning, it means that we stop sinning, and we like sinning, otherwise we wouldn't do it. We have to choose what is better. We have to live for the deferred gratification in Heaven. We have to carve the mighty, wonderful promises of God on our hearts, and remember that those who live according to the Spirit will surely live.

From the old etc etc

I've started watching old Neighbours on UK Gold. It's from four years ago, just before Michelle goes on a school trip to the USA (which, four years on she is yet to return from despite: her parents divorce, her older sisters wedding, her older brothers breakdown and the birth of her younger brother, you got to love neighbours sometimes), just after susan gets her memory back and drew died and just after max had turned up. It's all a bit weird, but very nice in some ways. It is, of course, a big fat waste of time.

Tonight is my last Cell at Reading Family Church. I've only been going to cell for about eight months, but its been great. It's so cool to be in an arena where there are so many wise people, so many different people, so many older people. It's great to gather round God's word, i've really really valued and grown from it. It's been cool to see a church work so so well with a CU, and to have been part of it. To be a member of a church which really values and loves it's students and in the same breath supports the CU at Reading Uni.

I lot of what i've been thinking about recently has been this old to new stuff. It's kind of funny. One part of me, quite a large part of me can't really bare the thought of leaving my church for a year. And the rest of me is really exicited about doing so. It'll be cool to go back there, and see how it's grown, see how it's changed, see the new office. It'll be cool to get involved in another church, and see how God want's me to serve there. Strange thing transition.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Spurgeon says

We don't need to change the gospel for postmodernity. (HT: Bish)

How right he is. How absurd it is that this Gospel, which has been saving by grace through faith since Abraham is so often subject to passing fads and trends. Why, why do we, do i so often water it down, miss bits out and try and make it sensitive to the ears of those listening. I know that for me, i was saved shortly after (like, minutes) i understood the Gospel properly for the first time. I love the Gospel. I love how poweful it is, that it's the wisdom of God, that justification by faith is effective for so many to be saved. No one will be saves apart from hearing the Gospel, we need to stick to it, live for it, die for it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tick tock

Not long now...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Just posing the question

In Habakkuk, our eponymous hero cries out to God, wondering how He can let an ungodly nation conquer a not-very-godly-one. Habakkuk doesn't deny that Israel has fallen far, far from God's plan for it, but he still questions how God can punish it using a country even further from Him.

Are we sure this time is over? Do we think God has ceased to act in this way?

The UK is no a Christian country in anything but name. There are, of course, no 'Christian' countries except the City of Heaven, where all Christians claim their citizenship. A citizenship which is far more important and meaningful than our British citizenship. Do we think that 'the west' will defeat the threat it currently faces from Islamic Extremism? If so, why? Surely our only confidence it anything happening is God willing it. And if God willed the judgement of Israel in a not disimilar fashion, Israel being His covenental people, why do we think God would spare the UK? I honestly can't think of a reason. But then i guess it's not up to me to search the wisdom of God.

So what is our response to this? Well, we rejoice, we remember that our citizenship is in Heaven, that we owe nothing to our country, to patriotism, and that we await a Savior from there who will come. We rejoice knowing that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and that a Britian ruled by Islamic Fascism would fall under this category. We love our enemies. Living in one of the centres of the current Terror Scare this presents a particular challenge for me. I am ashamed to admit that as i walk around High Wycombe i find it all to easy to see an Asian dude and wonder 'are you in on it', 'are you on their side'. This is a terrible thing, and will eventually cripple a town already struggling with racial tension. We remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who already live in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran, as if we were there ourselves. We don't get too nostalgic about Britian at the moment, and remember that things are bad here for Christians already, but in the same breath thank God for the oppotunities to openly witness and make as much of this as we can.

I'm not trying to be sensationalist, or scare mongering. I'm just thinking.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

1400 Guildford conversations

Things i like about The University of Surrey:

  • Chancellors. Very classy
  • Steak baguettes
  • The permanent kebab/burger place for after the union. Woo and indeed hoo
  • I can park there
  • 21 is more than 19
  • Elvis Pressley toilets
  • Yards instead of metres (that can't be true!)
  • Evangelistic Freshers Week
  • It kind of feels like home
  • I guess the people are ok too...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ten scene points the winner

I think God is awesome.
Every other kind of judge criminals run away from. They do all they can to hide their guilt, to not be confronted with their judge going to any lengths to avoid him.
Jesus is more just than any judge we can imagine. More just than in our wildest dreams as i recently told an unbelieving friend. He is more personally affronted and offended by our sin and guilt than we can ever imagine. And yet is running away from Him a good idea. Not at all. The safest place in the universe is the closest we can get to God. He asks, nay, commands us to seek refuge and solace in Him, to hide in Him, to confess all to Him, to admit defeat and ask forgiveness. The safest place in the universe is with and in the One who could destroy us by His very presence. And yet in Him nothing in the universe is to be feared. Thats how amazing divine love and grace is.

Chapter Eighteen

Can i talk about grace for a bit? I think grace is actually my favourite thing in the world! Reading chapter eighteen of Future Grace by John Piper has opened my eyes to the wonders of grace a bit more, and i want to think that through.

God's grace to us comes in two different forms, conditional, and unconditional. Both of them speak totally of the mercy and glory of God, even though the phrase 'conditional grace' is a bit alien (well it was to me anyway!), but lets start with the unconditional graces of God.

Man, do i love the doctrine of election! It's just the most amazing, mindblowing-to-the-point-where-i-just-don't-understand it thing in the world. God, before the start of time as we know it chose for Himself a people to worship and enjoy and serve Him forever. I mean, that speaks enough of grace, gallons of grace flowing out of God to His people. But thats before you factor in the fall, and human rebellion against God. Which has given God every reason to go 'ok then, see you on judgement day', but oh we don't worship a God like that. Praise Him that He is merciful, and fully concerned with His glory and our benefit, and that those things are essentially the same thing. How great is that. And election gives us the key to evangelism. If it was up to us, no one would be saved, no one could be given a new heart by human efforts. Anyway, i've written about this before, so i won't again. Election, the most amazing, most unconditional grace there is.

'and those whom He predestined, He also called'. How is it that we are able to respond with a willing heart to God's election? Because of grace! Because of unconditional, unmerited grace, which means that when we hear the Gospel, we are saved. Because God's plans are impossible to frustrate, because God creates darkness out of light, something out of nothing. Just as with election, the grounds of our regeneration, our calling and response are not the result of works and faith, they are the cause of them! Grace again, at work in our hearts to respond to God's gracious election. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us before we are even saved! And that, is unconditional grace, that those whom God predestined, He also calls, and that that calling is always, always effective.

Common Grace.
What allows us to experience love and peace and happiness. What allows a parent to love a child. What keeps the sun going around the earth. What keeps the earth's tilt at exactly the right angle so it doesn't spin into the sun or fly off into outerspace? GRACE. Unconditional and unmerited grace. I love grace!

Conditional Grace.
So what is conditional grace conditional upon? The condition is justification is faith, the condition of sanctification is faith, and the condition of glorification is faith. Faith in God is the condition the of grace which justifies, sanctifies and glorifies (just as an aside how ridiculously loving that God would choose to have us holy and blameless!) So these responses are conditional on faith, whereas election and regeneration come before faith. If we want to persue justification, sanctification and glorification, we must have faith. Faith. We must love God and treasure the promise giver. We must embrace the truth of Jesus, not merely give assent to it. Anyone could believe that God was working all things together for his good, and be wrong. We must love God, ans have faith in Him.
These conditional graces are not merited. Here is my favourite part, the bit where my brain explodes. The condition of some conditional grace is faith. And what's faith? Faith, is a gift of grace! A work of the Holy Spirit. We can not stir up faith within ourselves, it must be given to us. This is what 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 is all about. God shines a light in our heart that we may say His light in the face of Jesus Christ. So, without doing down the important condition of justification, sanctification and glorification, remember the condition of it is a gift of grace. God gives us unconditional grace, and then gives us what fills the condition of conditional grace. This is actually amazing!

We must have faith, we must be called. Neither of these things is down to our merit. We must trust and believe in God's soveriegn and effective salvation work, and live for it.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I wasn't going to blog this now, but i have to before i sleep.

John Piper has returned from his sabbatical, and preached on Luke 18:9-14, listen here, or read here you really have to listen. Piper says that 'if you are trusting in your own righteousness you. Are. Going. To. Hell.'

This may seem like an obvious point, but the Pharisee in this parable thanked God for his righteousness, so he knew it was produced by God. But, it was in this he trusted. He trusted in his own works, the ones driven by God, and not in Christ alone. He was prepared to go into the judgement room on that day, and present to the Judge what he had done, as the basis for his justification. And he was going to be condemened for it.

I don't want to get this wrong. I thank God that He has made an unrecognisable person from the one who met Him four and a bit years ago, i thank God He is doing a work in me, to sanctify me, i thank God that every second word is no longer a swear word, i thank God that i am no longer driven on by anger and hatred and lust. These are good works in me driven by God's grace. But if i present them to Him on that last day, as the reason for my salvation, i will not be saved. I must trust in Christ's righteousness alone for my salvation. Sure He is doing good works in me, but as a result of my justification, not as some sort of addition to it, or even that those works are my justification. By faith alone in Christ alone. Why should i be saved? Because of Him, not because i now don't swear.

It saddens me that, according to Piper so many are turning away from this. So many are trusting in their own works for their salvation. What a terrible thing, to have the righteousness of Christ offered to you, and to say 'no thanks, look at me'.

You can run - you can not hide

Interesting thing, late night prayer. When all is stripped down, and you're tired, and you realise that the sunny facade you've been weating during the day is just that. And prayer is a beautiful thing. God is soveriegn, wholly soveriegn, and good, more good than we can imagine, and is more for us in Jesus Christ, the precious name above all names than we'll ever know this side of Heaven, but we must let Him in, so to speak. Self deception is one of the Devil's most potent weapons, and one that will rob us of our ability to communicate with ourselves, and with God.

So hooray for the Holy Spirit, who will intercede for us. Who'll look into our hearts say 'nothing good here' and take over for us. This is good, but we need to get on board, we need to engage. How often do i wrestle in prayer? How often do i 'get into the ring' with God? With my feelings? With the enemy. Am i just using my front line walkie talkie to order more cushions (i *may* have stolen that from somewhere!) Am i talking the talk (oh yeah send me somewhere that they kill Christians, Psalm 63:3 and all that) without walking the walk (um, God, why don't we deal with this situation my way) How often are the tears i shed for me, rather than for the state of the world, than for the lost? I think the most powerfully answered prayers i've ever had have come when i've been at my wits' end, when i've had nothing but the mercy and knowledge of God to fall onto. This has happened twice, over broadly the same situation, when i've been desperate, and they've both been answered, because with all my heart i've given them to God. I've not tried to hide part of it, or hold onto part of, i haven't been able to.

I remember thinking that i hoped 2006 would be like 2004 in a 'growth in God' year sense. In the spring and summer of 2004, i was totally broken. More wrecked than i have ever been. And that was a gift, a precious, glorious gift from God, because it meant that all i had was Him. He was also, all i needed. I remember praying desperatly that if God needed to break my heart every day that we'd be closer, He should do it. Do i still think that now? Or are my 'issues' (i hate that word but can't really think of a better one) now viewed as something to put up with, rather than something that God is using for His glory and my benefit.

Am i satisfied with all that God is for me in Christ? If i lost all the fleshly things that i have around my right now, is my faith strong enough to look at Jesus, to fall at His feet and say thankyou. I hope so. I know that He who started a good work in me will not give up, man, He would've had done long ago if He was going to. And this is a glorious promise, a wonderful truth, like oxygen. I know that i am wholly redeemed, and counted righteous in Christ. I know that my sin is atoned for, that NOTHING can seperate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. I also know that faith, without works is dead. Dead. And this is a chilling thought. Can faith, real, saving faith in Christ die? No, of course not, but it is marked by grace orientated, faith driven works.

I know i need to stop being intropective, and look the Jesus, the Christ. Jesus of Nazarath. Jesus, the one who Moses wrote about. Jesus, the Lion of Judah and the Root of David. Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away our sin. Jesus, who was crushed for my iniquity. Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus, who defeated death. Jesus, the living God. Jesus, the Word of God. Jesus, the Lamb who was slain. By His wounds i am healed. At His will i am restored. Great news. Security in our relationship with Jesus is vital. Believing in His promises is vital, that He is for, that He will never forsake us, that because of Him goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. Because of Him we are saved, and because of Him death is the completion of our victory. What then is fleeting hardship, be it physical or emotional? It's nothing. Nothing is anything, compared to Christ. To His light, His way, His promises. Lets go. Lets go and live like the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life. Cos it is!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice
Philippians 4:4

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


In the late seventeenth century in France, a girl named Marie Durant was bought before the authorities, charged with Huguenot heresy. She was fourteen, bright, attractive, marriagable. She was asked to abjure the Huguenot faith. She was not asked to commit an immoral act, become a criminal or even to change the standard of her day-to-day life. She was asked to say 'j'abjure' no more no less. She did not comply, together with thirty other Huguenot women she was put in a tower by the sea...for thirty eight years. Instead of the hated words j'abjure, her and her fellow inmates scratched on the wall of the prison tower another word: resistez...resist.

We do not understand the terrifying simplicity of a religious commitment that asks nothing of time and gets nothing from time. We can not understand a faith that is not nourished by the temporal hope that tomorrow things will be better. To sit in a prison room with thirty others, and see day change into night, summer into autumn, to feel the slow systematic changes within ones flesh, the drying and wrinkling of skin, the loss of muscle tone, the stiffening of joints, the slow stupefaction of the feel all this and persevere seems almost idiotic to a generation that has no capacity to wait and endure.

Future Grace- John Piper, P171-172

Thirty eight years. I can't imagine thirty eight years. I can barely imagine twenty. To be in the same room for that long, with the same people, as your dreams for life slip away, as your memories and hopes fade., as you feel the world forgetting you and passing you by. I can't imagine it. Oh for that kind of faith that waits on God, for thirty eight years in the same room for not doing an awful lot know that two words could set you free...That's faith in the promises of God. That's belief in Psalm 63:3. It is a terrifyingly simple request those people fulfilled...'wait'...'trust'. And yet how worth it it all would have seemed for them, when they were before Him on the Great Day. How all those minutes and hours and days must have seemed like the blink of an eye compared to what was awaiting them. Those thirty eight years would have been worth every second for them.

To have that faith, the faith thats happy to go at God's pace at wait for God where and for how long He really count everything aside from Christ as loss. We can learn a lot from these people, as we thrash around hopelessly trying to persuade God that our way is better. We do not worship a God who wants us to strain or serve Him for its own sake. We worship a God who does not need to be served by human hands a Godwho will work for us as we wait for Him. He wants us to wait, to trust and follow and love, and for all things we do to be born out of that. We worship a God for whom it is worth sitting in a room for thirty eight years for, as our fleshly life passes us by. Surely this is a drastic call to focus on the promises of God, to be heavenly minded, to remember that all the best things are to come, and to let the light that shines from Jesus blind us to all the fading, dim lights that seem to sparkle from so much in the world.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Look in the middle!
I would like to thank Pod for making this possible...

Dorothy wake up

Great stuff i've read recently:

Ceryn: I'm So Glad It's Saturday
Dan Hames: (another new Relay) The Fear of the Lord
Issy: Thanks Guys
Anna: The Great Shepard

Psalm 23:5

I was thinking this week how i'd never heard anyone preach on a Psalm ever...that was exactly what Craig did on sunday morning...which was nice.
Psalm 23:5 talks about anointing someones head with oil, and their cup overflowing. The whole Pslam obviously draws parallels between and shepard and his sheep, and the Lord, and well, us. So why does a shepard anoint his sheeps' heads with oil?

To Repel Insects.
Insects are a huge problem in the middle east. They carry disease, they irritate, they get in the way and are generally a nuisance. When a shepard puts oil on the face of a sheep, these insects are repelled. No more threat of disease and death, no more irritation and no more danger. The sheep are happy. Surely here there is a huge analogy with sin. Sin will lead to death. Sin gets in the way of our relationship with our Shepard. Sin irritates and will stop us following His commands. On a much larger scale these flies are sin. So what does our Shepard do? He finds a way to repel this sin, to defeat it. By the faith He gives us, we can overcome sin, so we are no longer subject to it, so we do not need to worry about it's consequences. When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered sin and its wages, death. The Lord promises that He will give eternal life to those who believe, that He will do only good things to them. He puts in us a love, a faith, and most importantly the Holy Spirit to battle sin, as the oil battles the insects. This is obviously an imperfect analogy (there are no good analogies for the saving work of Jesus Christ) but it's a powerful illustration, especially when coupled with the other two.

To Prevent Conflict.
Sheep, so i'm told, love to fight. They butt eachother with their foreheads to settle a dispute. The oil makes their foreheads too slippery to make this sort of fight possible. Faith in Jesus will stop conflict. What can two people fight over in light of God's grace to them? The faith that we are gifted unites us. The cross humbles us, and should shut up all our whining and moaning about other people...a symptom of envy and malice which themselves are symptomatic of a lack of faith. But Jesus graciously and powerfully stops this. He died for us, that we might be won for the Father, that we might be united in praise of God...that we might be saved. Grace, love and faith. Three wonderful things that should prevent any conflict between the sheep of the Shepard who laid down His life.

To Heal Wounds.
The oil the shepard uses, can heals wounds. Now, i have seen enough and heard enough to believe that God can and does heal physical wounds today, but obviously also He can heal our emotional wounds. Jesus, who knows what rejection and emotional pain is like more than any person who ever lived, knows our pain, loves us enough to weep with us, to release us from pain, and to die for us. In Gethsemene what terrified Jesus the most wasn't the physical pain that He was about to suffer, but the emotional pain bought on by separation from the Father. Jesus knows what it's like to suffer. To be hurt both physically and emotionally. He has conquered death, He can conquer any kind of pain in our lives for our benefit, His glory.

We worship and awesome God. A God who chose to die for us, who chose to make a way for us, who chooses to lavish grace and mercy on us. All of this without compromising His perfect holy justice...What an awesome God.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Tonight, i guess hundreds of thousands of men, and slightly fewer women, believers and unbelivers, are getting ready for the start of an adventure. This adventure is known to most as 'the football season'. It's kind of like new years eve for football supporters, only, we don't get the time off, or any sort of party. There was a time when i would have stood shoulder to shoulder with these people, the season ticket holder at Walsall, the badge seller at Bury, the chippy owner at Boston, my brothers. But thats not the case. At least, not amongst the unbelivers in that number.

Today, i got the most exciting email from UCCF. It was contact details for all the other Relays for 06/07. Most of these are just names now, except in the south-east, which Reading more or less owns, but these people are my brothers and sisters. These are the people who i'll spend the next ten months standing shoulder to shoulder with for the glory of Christ, the sake of the Gospel. Amongst this list of names are some people who will become close close friends. Some of them are already some of my best friends! Someone said that there is more in common between Christian strangers than there is between unbeliving friends. I can't wait to meet these guys, to worship with them and by encouraged with them...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Christian hedonism all the way

Listen to Richard on Romans 8:13


Decisions decisions other

[so, when i was tidying out my room the other day, before i lacerated the top of my finger and had to stop, i found a handout from a CU meeting in my first year about decisions making. I don't actually remember much about the meeting itself (apart from lil rach at the beginning in the skit saying its ok to have three chocolate bars in a day because there are three members of the Trinity) and not all of it is relevant, but here's some/most of it]

First of all, what do we think of truth in general? What has sin done to our appreciation, our sense of truth. Romans 1:22 says that we have exchanged the truth about God for a lie, that we have claimed to be wise and actually become fools. We have 'leant on our own understanding' and have paid the price. We now live in a truth decay, where we can't trust our feelings, what we think, what we know. It's all tainted. Sure, this part of Romans deals with the truth of worship and of God, but if we can't get that right, then what hope have we got of getting anything right? Our thinking about God will affect our thinking about everything else.

So what will we do in light of this. In his books 'The Cross Centered life' and 'Living the Cross Centered life' CJ Mahaney talks about preaching to ourselves rather than listening to ourselves. Don't listen to your sinful, broken mind, tell it the wonderful truth. Feeling far from God? Tell your mind about Calvary. Not sure that Jesus loves you? Tell your mind about Calvary. Just woken up in the morning? Tell your mind about Calvary. Anyway, i've digressed do we fight the lies our mind tells us, how do we learn the truth, how to we live from day to day in the truth? We take our our Bibles, as we read.

1. Does the Bible speak specifically about my decision?
One of the most valuable things i learnt as a cell leader was that the Bible is a book about Jesus, and not about me. That the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan is a story about Jesus being tempted, not about how to respond to temptation. The Bible is the final authority on all things, God's infallible and Holy Word. We must listen to God through the Bible. Know God through the Bible. Enjoy and rejoice in God through the Bible. The Bible's great! Through God's Word and Spirit He will transform us, and this is how we'll deal with most of our decisions. As Christians we have chosen the truth about God and must seek to maintain that in life.

2. 'Guidance' or 'decisions'
These are two approaches taken by people committed to scripture and the Gospel. The Bible is clear on many things. Heartbreakingly so. But there are some vocational things (jobs, marrying) where its not so specific.

a) Guidance.
By the Holy Spirit, who's voice we hear through the Bible we can recieve inner prompting and peace on things that we need to make decisions over. We need to be careful with the whole 'peace' issue though i think. If God asks me to go to Iran tomorrow and preach the Gospel, i doubt i'd have peace about it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't the Holy Spirit telling me to go. So when we think we here His voice, weigh it up against scripture, seek wise council and decide. This way gives us an image of us as the sheep and Jesus as the shepard. But, if you 'feel God telling you' to do something that disagrees with are wrong!

b) Decision
When the Bible doesn't speak specifically about our situation we are simploy to seek to honour Him with all our heart. Through prayer, and application of scripture and the advice of others. This does raise the question though of whether there are anything more than occasional areas of direct influence in the Bible though. For what its worth i think that prayerful reading and application of the Bible with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and others is the best way. We need to seek first Him, with all our hearts and minds and souls.

Some common pitfalls in guidance (from Packer's 'Knowing God')
Unwillingness to think
Unwillingness to think ahead
Unwillingness to take advice
Unwillingness to suspect oneself
Unwillingness to discount personal magnetism
Unwillingness to wait.