Thursday, September 28, 2006

Personal reflections bought on by the ever changing Bree Timmins

So in neighbours at the moment, as no doubt you'll have seen, one charecter, Bree is going through a bit of an identity crisis. Last week she sported a blonde wig and huge not-quite-as-cool-as-aviator sunglasses. Paris Hilton if you will. This week she's wearing heavy black make-up, some sort of black cape thing and black tops. But you watch neighbours, so you know all that of course. All of this was bought on by the discovery that her 'parents' weren't her actual parents, and her actual parents didn't want to know her. She lost her identity, and now's trying to find another one.

So what you ask?
Well, so this i tell you. One summer, i think it was between year 10 and year 11, so the summer of 2000 i went through a simialar thing and God was talking to me about that this morning. (see, neighbours is good) Nothing quite so seismic had happened in my life (a girl didn't like me) but nevertheless it left me searing for my identity. In wycombe as a teenager it was quite easy, on the face of it, to find yourself with a group of people. There were kevs, townies, skaters and goths. All of whom wore their own uniform and did their own thing. Now, at the age of 15 i knew i wasn't about to throw on some adidas silks and listen to the Artful Dodger, so the whole kev and townie thing was ruled out. So i thought i'd give the whole skater thing a go. Now, i couldn't actually skate, so i wore long shorts, big shoes, a baseball cap (backwards obviously) and sunglasses. This lasted about a week, i wasn't really managing it. So it thought i'd give being a goth a go. The thing was at this point i didn't actually like goths, hanging around the Rye, listening to bad music and being depressed, why didn't they just get over it i wondered...before i discovered existentialism and nihilism and got their point. So for a for a week i tried huge black jeans, hoodies and a long sleeved Rage Against the Machine t-shirt. Now again, you'll be wondering what the point of all this is.
I think this is.

Where was my identity at this time? Where is it now? Where is anyones? The Bible tells me that my identity is now found in Christ. No longer do i need to change the clothes i wear, the words i use, the people i hang out with to find to, and cling to some sort identity. I don't need to chnage myself to find validation in people any more, or in relationships, because my identity is in Christ. When i look back at the time in my life i've just been talking about, all i can see is slavery. All i can see is my own identity completly bound what someone else thought of me, trying to change myself for them. And here's the thing. Underneath i was still the same. No new heart, no new being. Just me under different clothes. But now i'm in Christ. And He has changed my heart. My heart which is what needed changing all along. And for that i'm glad. Well glad doesn't wuite come into it. I am exceedingly glad. And this is where my identity is now. Not in my clothes, or in my friends, not in who does or doesn't like me. Not in things that change like the seasons...but in Christ. Now He is my joy, and my security. Now He is who i want to please, want to live for. Want to change myself for. And thats great, because is never changing, never going to turn His back on me. And how cool is that? Much better than anything is used to try and do to change myself...and much more effective! Thank God for the Cross, and for the Holy Spirit...what an awesome God.

The usual suspects

Did you know that Christ will present the church to Himself in splendour without spot or wrinkle, and that she, the church, us will be holy and without blemish. And thats in the Bible right, so its true. The church, the universal body of believers will be holy and without blemish on that Day.

This is going to happen! How exciting!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Theology John made me do it

Why do you blog?

I don't know! It's a good way to think about things, let people know what i'm up to, maybe encourage people. Also because blogging people are cool people!

How long have you blogged for?

This is my 260 something post i think...since July 2005. Thats like, 15 months!

Self portrait

Why do readers read your blog?

I don't know...cos they're my friends i guess. Why i guess for the same reasons i read other peoples blogs, cos i'm interested in what they've got to say, what they're up to that sort of jazz.

What was the last search phrase someone used to find your blog?

I've got nothing! You tell me, i guess people find it cos it's linked from other people's blogs...anyone want to help me with that?!

Which of your posts gets too little attention?

I can't think of any to be honest. The occasional good stuff i write people normally comment on, and the humdrum/rubbish stuff normall gets ignored, and rightly so!

Your current favourite blog

Probably a toss up between a few. Dan, Paul, Bish, Ceryn and Hopkins are all up there. Challies is cool too.

Which blog did you read most recently?

Al Mohler on veggie tales, off of Paul's blog

What feeds do you subscribe to?

None, i don't really understand them, but they might save me a lot of time. What are they? Are they any good? What do they do?

Which 4 blogs are you tagging with this meme and why?

: cos she needs things to do to stop falling off her bike.
Nicola: cos her blog is getting too serious at the moment.
Ceryn: cos she'd take about an hour over it.
Bish: cos he never would.

There. Now, to misquote TJ himself, i'm off to agree with John Piper!

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I've just got some random thoughs on Mark 10:17-22.

Why did the man come to Jesus?
What made Jesus look attrative to Jesus? Why was it that the rich man came to Jesus and addressed Him as 'good'? What made him think that Jesus could tell him how to inherit eternal life? Perhaps he'd heard of the signs and wonders that Jesus was doing, much the same as the friends of the paralytic who lowered him through the roof. Perhaps he'd heard of Jesus's teaching and wanted to try them out for Himself. He clearly had some confidence in his own religiousness, as demonstrated by verse 20. Was it just then that he wanted to hear himself justified so that he could be happy with himself. Whatever the reason, it's worth considering why no one is asking us these questions. Why no one enquires of us how to inherit eternal life. Now obviously there's a huge differences between the way that Jesus lived and behaved and was probably attractive to people and the way that we live and behave. And maybe thats the problem. That too often we unwittingly present Christianity as just one option of many, of just as a lifestyle choice. Perhaps the answer is exactly the opposite to this. That Jesus told the truth, endlessly, and that the truth was irresistably attractive and completly cohesive. And maybe thats why the man came to Jesus. Because he'd heard of his teaching, and it's glory and truth and wonder. Now, we can do that can't we? I know i've largely ignored the question of whether the man was simply looking for ego boosting self assurance, but even if he was, even if people are today, he still sought it from Jesus.

We can't save ourselves.
Jesus asked this guy to do one thing. And he couldn't do it. I really believe that if just one person ever could justify themselves, be righteous apart from the imputed righteousness of Christ the Jesus would never have had to die on the cross. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. Even if Jesus asked us to do one thing, we wouldn't be able to do that. So we must look to Him and have faith in His life, death and ressurection, because thats our only hope...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Motion City

Yesterday, Ed had the day off. So he went exploring. The roads were very wet (actually flooded) and he blundered his way around south east Surrey, and into west Sussex, through some lovely villages, into a cricket ground, down to Horsham, and back via some leafy quiet woods. It was great. He listened to a lot of Radio 1, read some cool books, and took some photos...He doesn't know why he's writing this in the third person by the way.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's exciting to be...

No one who knows me will be surprised to see a link to this article here!

Young, restless, Reformed. Go read.

Memorize the city

I'll never really understand the depth of feeling that Paul had when he wrote about his own, lost people at the start of Romans 9. What an about turn he has from the end of chapter eight, when he seems to be soaring about the irresistable love of God and it's effects and certainty. And then minutes later he's filled with 'great sorrow and unceasing anger' over the state of the Jews before God.

Sometimes though, i feel a slight trace of that running through my heart. Last night after the pre CU prayer meeting, where we prayed for many different aspects of the meeting, i felt sorrow and anguish inside me. I thought of all the freshers who were coming to UniS, who knew about the Gospel, who knew of it's power and truth, and yet were ready to turn their backs on it. Who would maybe go to church and CU for a couple of weeks for their parents sake, and then abandon it. It's gutting, actually gutting to think of people who know the truth consciously turning away like that.

But there are three things i can do to prevent this, and to turn my hearts from lamenting to rejoicing. We can keep preaching the gospel, trusting that God's Word does God's work, and that it will not return to Him void. That the gospel is what people need to here, no matter how few people that is. We can pray for people. That God would stir in them, talk to them, we can plead with God for them, that they would be worthy of their calling, that they would hunger for Him and that the things of the world would lose their shine. That He would shine the light of the knowledfe of the glory of Christ into their lives. We can trust God, and rejoice in His irresistable grace, knowing that He saves whom He saves, and that no one can get away from His effective calling, and that He will complete the good work He started in everyone.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jesus and Peter

Poor old Peter. He tries to spend time with his best friend and teacher, and time again things get thrown up.

He couldn't take Jesus to a picnic without Him making loads more food from a tiny lunch.

He couldn't go for a sail without Jesus taking control of the weather.

He couldn't even go to a funeral without Jesus bringing the dead back to life.

No wonder he was the first person to realise who Jesus was.

He couldn't even go to Jesus' tomb and find Him there. But thats pretty much the best news ever really.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why bother with theology?

Why should anyone be concerned with theology? Surely the best way to persue an intimate relationship with God is prayer and experience rather than study? Isn't that all a bit dry? Surely Jesus is concerned with my heart not my academic study?

For a start there is always theology. Everyone has theology, so we need to decide whether it will be good theology or bad. Whether we'll work at it and study it or not. Even if we just unquestioningly accept all that people tell us about what the Bible says, thats still having a theology.

Our relationship with Jesus is a relationship with a real person. Jesus the man taught and dealt in propositional truth, truth that He then commanded His disciples share with the world. It seems clear from the great commision that Jesus wanted His followers to live in a certain way following knowledge of Him, and He wanted them to be taught how to live in this way. It is impossible to separate a knowledge of Jesus and His teaching and a relationship with Him. You can't relate to Jesus unless you understand Him. You have to get to know Him if you're going to turst Him, like in any relationship. Now, thats not to say that all Christians need to have the intellect of Edwards or Calvin (hooray!). A child and a theology professor can both say Jesus is Lord, both mean the same thing and both be right. It's jsut that one may have a deeper understanding of what that statement means than the other. But that doesn't make the theologian more of a Christian...obviously.

How will we worship and relate to God properly if we don't know Him? And we must treat God properly, because He is a jealous God. Theology tells us about God, and who He is, and what He's done and how that affects us. How can that not be worth studying? How can it not be worth getting to know. It was theology, a realisation of God and where we stand before Him that bought us to the point of conversion. The experience of Christian life is a great amazing one. But it is theology that informs our experience, that tells us what we are experienceing and whether it is valid. The Bible, and Pauls letters particulaly tell us of normal Christian experience, or how to pray, to live, to enjoy fellowship and fight sin. Thats got to be worth looking at in depth hasn't it? Theology is practical. We won't be able to relate to God, to follww Him properly and to live a life worthy of Him if we don't know what He asks for.

What about our Christian practice though? Surely thats more important than just studying? Well, our theology shapes our practice. In Philippians 1:1-10 Paul prays that the Philippian Christians will be filled with 'knowledge and depth of insight that they may be able to discern what is best'. So here Paul clearly thinks and prays that what we believe will change how we behave. If we have a deeper knowledge of how God wants us to live then we will be able to let that knowledge guide and inform our decisions at every level.

Neither is theology a dull, academic thing that is seperate from worship. Romans 1-11 is possibly the most challanging and comprehensive theological discourse in the Bible. And what does it drive Paul to? A tremendous amount of worship at the end of Romans 11. Because, i guess, because of what thinking and writing that truth showed about God to Paul. And he couldn't help Himself, he just explodes in praise. Theology is thrilling! It tells us how amazing God are, how terrible we are, and what He's done about that, and our correct response to that. Studying theology should do that to us, it should make us love the Lord more and want to love and serve Him more. Psalm one shows us that theology shores up our faith against attack, and helps us to bare fruit. An amaemic faith, devoid of passion and truth will never posses the nerve to die for the things it believes in. And the faith that isn't worth defending soon becomes not worth professing.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly. The world needs people with good theology. We are all called to give a reasoned defence of our faith. So that we must do. When we're asked why we think Jesus is God, we must be able to answer. We must know why we believe what we believe. And we must be deeply convicted of that.

I had a great time this morning reading chapter one of Grudem's 'systematic theology', but only because it made me hungry to read the Bible, hungry to know more of God. And that is what studying theology should do. It should puff you up with knowledge, or make us proud that we can out argue other Christian. It can't get much worse than using God's Word to win arguments.

These are obviously incomplete half thought out thoughts, so i want to finish quoting two people much much wiser than i a;

Luther 'the cross is our theology'

Mike Reeves 'why did Jesus go to the cross if a quiet time could have done it?'

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Week one

So this is what my first full Quinta-less week of Relay has looked like:

Saturday: Day off. Football. Very nice.

Sunday: Day off. Left Fam and moved to Guildford.

Monday: Day off. Sat and read in the sunshine

Tuesday: Day off. Football. Very nice

Wednesday: Team days

Thursday: Team Days

Friday: Team days and an afternoon on the M25

Saturday: *Fresh @ Reading Uni for new students.

So if i've had four days off in the last eight...why am i so tired!?

Friday, September 15, 2006

The five Rs of forgiveness

Recognise that you've sinned: This means that you are bringing God back into the equation. When you sinned, when you stole, or lied or whatver, you turned your back on the Lord. Recognising you've sinned against God brings Him back into the equation, and in the equation is where He should be.

Remember who you are now: You're a child of God. The Lord rejoices over you with singing, He sent His Son to die for you, to suffer all he suffered so that you might be united. Thats who you are now. And sin no longer has power over you. Only when you let it. Only when you listen to it's whispers more than God's promises.

Repent of the sin: 'Walk back past the cross'. When we sinned we in effect went back to our old ways when our bodies where our god and our desires were the loudest voice in our spirit. So go back to the cross again, look at Jesus, and repent once more.

Renounce the sin: Talk to it. Tell it how much you hate it, and how much better you know Jesus is, how perfect His ways are and how awful sin is. Tell it that you want rid of it. And look again to Jesus.

Recieve forgiveness: Did Jesus come down from the Cross when you sinned? NO! In fact it was your sin that held Him there untill He died. As Luther said, we all walk around with nails in our pockets. The Cross happened. The ressurection happened. It is finished, we are dearly loved Children of God, and thats the end of the story. Being a Christian doesn't mean we suddenly magically stop sinning. It means we are being regenerated to be like Jesus, and that He won't stop once He's started a good work in you. So recieve forgiveness and get on with it. And do it quickly.

Also, beware of the first lie. The one that says 'this is ok, its nothing serious, and it'll be good'...because that seems to be the start of a horribly slippery slope far too often.

Now it does

Just got back from three days of 'Team Days' in Reading, where all the south-east staff and Relay get together and hang out, learn stuff, pray and eat other people's food for a while. It's pretty cool. It was weird, or even actually a little bit hard to be back in Reading so soon after leaving properly on sunday (and i'm back there tomorrow! but thats cool!) but it was great to see some well known faces, some less well known faces, and some other faces again so soon after Forum. Having said that, i'll be pleased when i climb aboard the number three bus on monday morning and say 'umm, campus please mate' and go and see some students. Having said THAT, having some time off at the end of next week will be very nice.

Next week i start my core study module, the first bit being studying the reasons behind studying theology itself, which'll be pretty cool. I think thats what it is anyway! Then on monday it's the start of Surrey's freshers week, with Ben Carswell doing some talks, i'm looking forward to that.

Also in the Relay-blogosphere:

Dan Hames sings (woo!)
Screech doesn't speak
Paul reminds us/tries to tell us that God is nothing like marmite
Theology John talks too much

It's great doing Relay, if a little overwheling and scary sometimes. I still haven't really got used to the idea that my actual job is so focussed around the Bible, and weel, Jesus. I'm really challenged to make sure that time off from Relay is not time off from God, i hope/think it won't be.

*stir it up in my heart*

i might blog something worthwhile later when i've unpacked/eaten/thoght of something!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Resolved: To daily live in and embrace the truth of Acts 20:24, Psalm 63:3 and Philippians 1:21

Resolved: Remembering that nowhere this side of Heaven is really home, to live in Guildford with all my heart while i live here.

Resolved: To read the Bible and pray for a time every day, regardless of how busy or tired i get.

Resolved: To remember that while books by Carson, Piper, Grudem etc are great, there's nothing to replace the Bible in terms of importance.

Resolved: To remember that no matter how many people i read with, how many talks i do, how many people commend me, i am who i am before God, and nothing more.

Resolved: To never talk about anything other than a gospel of grace when i meet with students.

Resolved: To serve my new church as if i was going to be there for the rest of my life.

Resolved: Bearing in mind that the times when i'm in the greatest danger of conscious sinning is when i'm bored, to do everything i can not to get bored.

Resolved: To live by faith in God's promises, and in constant gratitude for the Cross.

Resolved: To count it all as joy.

Resolved: To consciously spend more time persuing knowledge of God, but never to persue it for its own sake.

Resolved: To never turn down an oppotunity to talk about Jesus due to laziness, fear, or a feeling of unworthiness.

*well we share a name*

Carson says

(The issue) is service of real people. The question is 'how can i be most useful?', not 'how can i feel most useful?', the goal is 'how can i best glorify God by serving His people?', not 'how can i feel most comfortable and appreciated whilst in some form of acceptable Christian ministry?', the assumption is 'how shall the Christian service to which God calls me be enhanced by my daily death, by my principled commitment to take up my cross daily and die?' not 'How shall the form of service i am considering enhance my career?'
--A Call To Spiritual Reformation, D.A Carson, P83

Real challenges as i start a year of 'full time Christian work'.

London bridge

Two new Relays have recently joined the blogosphere


Theology John

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More than just a timezone

I live in Guildford now! It's perhaps a bit weird that the first thing i'm doing in my new house is blogging, but two of my new housemates, Chris and Henk, have just gone to Submerge which is a local church, and Dave is out somewhere. So here i am. 11 Willow Way, Bellfields, Guildford. People tell me that Bellfields is the ghetto, but it seems top from here. My base for the next 10 months of mission at UniS.
Leaving Fam was hard. It was auch a good service, with Scott preaching from James 2, and me being prayed for, and Karen being prayed for as she starts her new job there. Which was lovely. But then saying, on a personal level goodbye to Scott was so hard. BUt i'll see Sean later this week, and Scott on saturday, so it's quite a good transition really. Thank you.
It was five years ago today that i started going out with the girl who made me want to be a Christian. Five years man, which makes me feel very old. I remember my politics teacher gave me a lift into town which was a bit random and i met her outside McDonalds, and we wondered around bit...anyway, thats not the point. The point is that five years ago God started moving in my life in a huge, undeniable and intentional way. And now i'm here, working full time telling students about Jesus, having been taught and shown and helped do and see so much. It took my about six months after meeting her to get saved, but i love the way God uses time like that, to make us think, and reflect and rejoice. I hope i'm still walking with the Lord in five years, i hope He's still using me and teaching me and leading me. I'm not in touch with Amy any more, and as far as i know, she's not really walking with the Lord anymore, which makes me sad. How can it not? Every time someone asks me how i got saved i'm back there again. But she did more for me that i have ever done for anyone, which is a sobering thought in many ways...Anyway, here's to ten months in Guildford!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What can Jesus do?

It struck me as Rico Tice spoke about how to know Mark's gospel on the final evening of Forum, how strange and yet wonderful some of the requests He faced were.

Look at the story of Jairus in Mark 5. His daughter had just died, we don't know what of but some sort of disease. To say he would have been stricken with grief would be an understatement. But he hears that there's a teacher in town at the time. A carpenter from Nazareth who knew more of Moses' law than any of the Teachers of the time. But then others are saying He's just a heretic, either power hungry or deluded. And what does Jairus do? He goes and asks Jesus to lay His hands on his daughter that she may be made well. And she is made well obviously, because Jesus has authority to do these things, but just consider the situation for a moment. If someone in my family had died, i'm pretty sure that i wouldn't be thumbing the local papers to see if i could get in touch with a local carpenter. Jesus had better be more than a carpenter.

And what about the calming of the storm? The disciples are out in a boat, Jesus, worn out from all He had been doing, was asleep in the back. And a storm comes up, and grizzled, experienced fishermen like His disciples are scared for their lives. So they wake Jesus up, which to us seems to be the obvious thing to do. But how do they refer to Him? 'Teacher'. 'Teacher!'. Again, i don't know about you, but i can't think of any mere teachers i'd want to help me in a situation like that. They must know, they must see that He's more than that. That He has authority over creation. And yet they call Him teacher. He'd better be more than a teacher!

And me. I'm trusting Jesus with my every moment. Trusting that He intercedes for me, that He fills my lungs with air, that He died for me, that He rose again for me. That He has taken the punishment my sin deserves. He'd better be more than a 2000 year old moral philosopher.

He is.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Radio friendly unit shifter

So, i really really want to go to bed. Man, leaving somewhere at 1424 and not getting home until 2124 is hard work. Although me and drew and annie had top times in the car, and it was lovely to catch up with annie as we drove across the southern tip of the cotwolds wondering where Reading was.
Relay 1 was amazing. I've got so much i want to write about. And then i get home and i've got an email from Surrey's international sec asking me to speak at their thing in freshers week, admittedly on a subject i know nothing about, but hey! I also got a text from Kate that i really didn't understand, i should probably call her tomorrow! Relay 1 was so special. Those people who were just names on a list a few weeks ago are now like my family. Seriously. There were golden moments on sunday afternoon as we all chilled out together waiting for the onset of 400 students the next day. 80 people who hadn't known eachother a week ago now totally relaxed in eachother's company (have you ever played Big Booty? then you'll know what i mean). I can't believe it'll be January before we're all together again. Although i'll see quite a few people before then at Team Days, UniS Freshers Week and more Team Days.
There is nothing more precious than grace. No one thing more important. No person greater than Jesus. Also, if you ever get a chance to to hear Mike Reeves preach, do it! I love theology at the best of times, but he told us of the Cross with such breathless excitiment it was hard not to be on the edge of your seat.
Forum was also cool. Rico and Danno were top notch, both of them preching like whirlwinds, both of them in their own way, both of them so inspired. And it was an honour and such a challenge to hear.