Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sound of the underground

If it's not there Richard, why do you keep shouting at it?

Cheers Tom, very helpful.

Martin's gone to change the world

Today is Reformation Day. Did you know that? Happy Reformation Day! Here are some reasons why i believe that the Reformation is not only still boneshakingly important today, but also why i believe it is the second most significant moment in history not recorded in Scripture.

The Word.
The Bible is the most important thing we have to help us to persevere as Christians. Where else are we to find a book that is God breathed? Where else are we to find a book that contains such good news? Nowhere? Where else are we to find a book that is useful for teaching and correction and rebuke? That tells us of our Savior? Nowhere. Lose the Word, and soon you're probably going to lose the virgin birth or the resurection or the bodily crucifixtion...lose those and you've lost Jesus. Lose Jesus, and you'll waste your life. The Reformation called people back to the Word of God, to a literal interpretation of it. The Reformation today calls people to live by every word the Lord speaks and to humbly submit to it. There is nothing more important than that. What would you rather listen to? Someone using vague 'biblical principle' to illustrate his point, or someone soaked in God's Word, handling it well, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse to enthrone the Lord in our hearts? I know which one i'd choose.

The Cross.
It upsets me to my core that i live in a time where people are denying the all sufficiency of the cross of Christ. I want you to stop reading and say five times, out loud: penal substitution is true and vital...done that? Once more, penal substitution is true and vital. Some people have lost the message of the cross and liken the idea of propitiation to 'cosmic child abuse'. How dare they. How dare they compare and debase the wisdom of God in salvation to the grossest form of perversion there is. Where they rob God of His mighty Holiness. What sort of God do these people worship? Not the One i worship, thats for sure. Luther fought against this loss of Cross focus, which in his day took the form of paying for indulgences at church...salvation by works under another name. If we are to have a big view of God we must have a big view of the Cross and majesterial work and effectiveness. We must kneel at Calvary, staying close to it all our lives. Otherwise arrogance and pride are the results. The Reformation bought us back to the cross, and the Reformed superheroes since have carried on that work.

The Church.
I have been blessed by being part of an amazing church, and it's probably because of that that i have such a passion for local Church. If you are a Christian and you're not committed to one local church...sort it out. Church should be the place where people feel safest of all, where people who have nowhere else to go can feel totally at home, where the lost and the broken can just come and sit, where single mums can bring their kids, where people who have been made to feel socially outcast can feel at home. That is church. People from every conceivable walk of life coming together in breathless gratitude and worship. Not somewhere where people are made to pay for their salvation (financially pay) or where they are made to feel like second class citizens if they can't. Not some sort of upper middle class social club where people dress up, drink coffee and pat eachother on the back. It should be somewhere where people are confronted with God's truth, where people are challenged and loved. Going to and hearing of some churches today, you get the impression that the Reformation was just something that happened to other people. I never want to be part of a church like that. The Reformation, bought us back to a model of church that is biblical, and for that, i am thankful.

The Lord.
Last, but never ever ever ever least ever ever ever, comes the Lord. Through some of the things i've just mentioned, which is in no way an extensive list, people were bought back to the Lord. By His word, His people and His truth, from the Reformation, many were saved. God did not let us slip into something that would condemn and judge us, and for that we should rejoice. He did not judge us by hardening our hearts, He gave us men to point us to the truth. Real life heros. And now, thanks to the work that started 489 years ago and continues the Reformed Tradition today, we have a much bigger, better and clearer view of God than we would have done otherwise. We have an actual view of God, and not some misguided view. We can be justified through faith, and know God through faith. Before the Reformation we were losing sight of these things.

The Reformation was pretty cool...anyone think we kind of need another one?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


We must must must be praying for our leaders.

Let me give you some background. Near the end of the UnisCU Housparty there was a time for sharing and feedback, and, to cut a fairly long story short, we ended up praying for our committee, which was a great coporate thing to do. Then, rightly or wrongly, i got up and shared some stuff about what an encouragement to me the whole CU at Surrey are, but particulaly how hard it is to be on committee...to be fighting not only your own battles with God, but those of 50-120 others as well. I know thats how i felt when i was on committee. It's hard, and it's draining, and it's burdening. Now, i'm not for a moment complaining about it. Being on committee changed my life and having the 'burden' of other people's battles is something i want my whole life...thats what i saw as i prayed and cried and sang my way to the end of houseparty. But it's hard, and thats why we must pray for our leaders.

Now, its a lot more serious when it comes to church leaders. I can only really talk about CU leadership, but i would imagine its the same principle, just mulitplied more, as the Bible says that church leaders are accountable (note: accountable, not responsible) for the salvation of their church members. Now, goodness me, what a thing to carry around. What a burden. What a joy to have, but what a burden to have. I remember sometimes after CU committee meetings i'd just want to go home and sulk for a bit (hooray for friends taking me to Kebabish and telling me the Gospel!) because of the decisions some people in CU made, decisions that were hurting themselves...i can only imagine that it must be much much more real for people leading a church.

I remarked today at church how great it was to have people from two churches and UCCF looking after and out for me, to know that they're praying for me and that i can turn to them with anything. But thats more battles they are fighting, and more strength they need. So i need to pray for them. I need to pray for Bish, and Sean and Scott and Craig and Boggles, that they would persevere in the faith, be worthy of their calling, get their strength from God and cherish their time in the Bible...cos i know thats what they're praying for me...

Friday, October 27, 2006

In and [out]

Winchester's mission was very cool. More or less unlike any other uni mission i've been involved in before (which to be fair is only four) but really good to be a part of nonetheless. Especially the moments when i realised that nothing was more important than the spread of the Gospel for the glory of God.

And now, after a shower, and sourcing some clean clothes/food, i'm off to Virginia Water for the UniS CU weekend away. Which i'm really looking forward to. Winchester was cool, but it'll be great to see all the Surrey guys in a bit.

*one more day on the floor, worth it all the more*

[out x2]

Monday, October 23, 2006


It was during Reading's mission week in 2005 that The Lord hit me in the stomach and told me to do Relay. It's probably understandable then that i'm pretty excited about going to Winchester this week to help out with their Mission Week.

Please pray for me, and Carolina and Jo as we help out the guys at Winchester CU. Pray that we would know nothing but Christ and Him crucified while we're there, that we'd get our strength and our joy from Christ alone, that we'd be eaten up with a passion for Him there, that we would be worthy of Christ has called us to there, and that we'd do all we do for the sake of the Gospel.

I am pumped. I just need to pack/print my talk off/watch Neighbours/get the right busses and trains.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


What i've done in the last 30 hours (kind of inspired by Screech)

  • Got up at 0430 to make an early morning prayer meeting in RDG. woo!
  • Finished my prep for Houseparty and Winchester Mission
  • Got excited about the end of Phillipians 1
  • Managed to fix the Freeview box
  • Had a great time doing teas and coffees outside the union...including talking to a guy about why pluralism is intellectually unsound and why i'm a young earth creation guy.
  • Stood and applauded(metaphorically) as Gemma looked after a guy who spend half an hour being sick. Got all warm inside watching Phil and Charlie walk him home *this is what we do*
  • Went to bed 22.5 hours after getting up
  • Dreamt about Bish being a stand up comedian...wondered whether that was worse than dreaming about Relay 2
  • realised my 365 was out of order but also that i wasn't bothered.
  • Got excited that Anna had blogged...then sad that is was short and that she was essentially excited about Christmas in the middle of summer.
  • looked at photos of old football grounds
  • started thinking of ways to get to 'Together for the Gospel 2008'
  • decided it was time to get up.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

since you've been gone

The world hated Jesus. The world hates Jesus. He promised the disciples that the world would also hate us. So it should come as no surpise that Gospel focussed proclamation mission teams from one end of the country to the other are 'under attack' at the moment.

From the Facebook protests to articles in The Times, there has been controversy over the plans of Edinburgh University CU to run the PURE course. The aforementioned article is a poor piece of journalism...having done PURE i'm not sure it claims to 'cure' homosexuality. The point of PURE is to help Christians (that is CHRISTIANS the course is not evangelistic, unbelievers can live how they want) pursue holiness, as we are called to do, though Gospel focused living...as Bish points out, thats the only way to do it. I found it helpful and continue to find it helpful. It's a sad reflection of society when one group can force it's views on another without much effort. I am pleased to hear that Edinburg will still be running PURE. Well done brothers.

On page 11 of today's Daily Telegraph, an article that runs to barely two hundred and fifty words talks about Exeter University CU being removed from their Guild. Now, most of my time involved with CUs has been with one that isn't part of the Students Union anyway, so i'm probably not in the best place to comment. Exeter CU were forced to change their name to 'Evangelical CU' on the basis of the complaint of one person, and that was only the start of it. It appears from the Telegraph article that the final straw for the CU was refusing to stop using the DB...particulaly asking their speakers to sign it.

Now, i love the truth in the DB...i would go to the stake for most of it. And i think running PURE is a brilliant thing for CUs to do, so a hearty well done to EdUCU and ExUCU. Also, those who want to live a Godly life, as these two CUs clearly do, will be persecuted. In Acts the early believers rejoiced that they had been counted worthy to suffer for the Name. And i hope people in Edinburgh and Exeter are doing just that. It's an honour to stand shoulder to shoulder with people like this in a broad Christian sense and in a particular UCCF sense. We can expect this sort of persecution to increase in frequency and harshness, as long as we keep standing on the rock of the Gospel.

So lets pray for Edinburgh and Exeter, pray that they would continue to live and speak for Jesus, pray that they would be an awesome witness to non Christians during this time, and that first and foremost, they would continue to focus on Jesus, and stick to the Gospel.

Update: From the Exeter CU website

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The ambition of sin

Interesting thing sin. When i say interesting, i obviously don't mean interesting...i mean deadly, but i've learnt slash read some warning things recently.
Sin has ambition. Sin wants to kill you. And if not kill you then certainly limit your spiritual life in terms of zeal, joy and fruit. Sin has ambition.

Anger isn't happy being anger...anger wants to be murder.
Greed isn't happy being greed...greed wants to oppression of everything else apart from the collection of stuff.
Avarice isn't happy being avarice...avarice wants to be theft.
Lust isn't happy being lust...lust wants to be...i don't know. Sex? Perversion? A hundred sick things i don't want to mention.

Sin wants to kill us. Its an agent from the Devil. This is a battle we must fight every day, by grace and faith or we'll either die, or at the very least, have no joy or progress in our faith.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

On legalism

In our supervisions at the moment, me and Bish are going through Galatians. It's great, actually great and so liberating to be spending so much time in such an important letter with such an important letter. But a couple of things have struck me about legalism...which may be linked, but we'll see.

Legalism, in the case of the Galatian Christians, the question of circumcision, speaks volumes about human arrogance. Among all the socio-political reasons that the Galatian Judaisers had to try and convince the new converts to follow the law of Moses, one the reasons had its root in arrogance. They thought that just by 'doing things' they could sanctify themselves, or even justify themselves. Isn't that self sufficiency gone made? That we're so caught up in ourselves, as were these guys, that we reckon that we don't need anything outside of ourselves to sort ourselves out. Now, thats not very eloquent, but isn't it true nonetheless? Isn't that also the root of all our legalism today? 'Yeh i'm a sinner and yeh the cross and yeh whatever, but what i really need to do is go and read my Bible for half an hour', and sure, we should read our Bibles, but thats not going to get us anywhere in itself is it? Think about it...it's absurd to think that things that we do can have any effect on our state before a God who had to kill His own Son to solve the problem. We can't do anything apart from have faith, and that's a gift. So lets stop trying!

How small is your God?
If we think that 'doing things' is going to improve our standing with God, we're forgetting two things. 1. For goodness sake Galatians, for goodness sake us now right here, 'it is finished' the cross has done it, here we now stand, imputed with perfect righteousness...wearing a wrist band isn't going to improve on that is it? I mean, thats common sense isn't it? God is huge, and magnificent and more holy than we can conceive of. I want, i need, a big God to worship, and man, i've got one. And we all do. The more we're filled with a vision of the glory of God, the more we'll be changed. So, lets not try and have a God who is impressed or moved by reading things or doing things or saying things. Lets have the Father, who is impressed with the Son, the Son who has done all that needs doing to bring us back to the Father. Lets have that awesome God, and lets rely on Him totally for all we need.

'this is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in. A soul under conviction of law is pressed to fight on against sin but has no fight for the combat. They can fight, but they can not conquer, they are like men on opponents swords, on purpose to be slain...the law drives them on, sin drives them back'
John Owen.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Where is your joy?

This is the script from the talk i gave last night at UniSurrey, thanks to those of you who helped me/sat where i could see you and smiled every time i looked at you! it's not totally what i said...i remember one point where i said mans days are like grass, and another where i was hectoring people to go read Romans 9... it's a bit of a blur.

I’ve been asked to speak on the topic of joy this evening. Whilst going through Mark’s gospel this term, every four weeks or so we’ll also be looking at the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22 and 23 throughout the year. I want to say two things before I start. First of all, that when I say ‘joy’, I don’t mean pasted on, ignoring the facts, smiling even though you don’t mean it happiness. The ‘happiness’ that is so often associated with following Jesus. That’s not what Galatians 5:22-23 lists as one of the fruits of the Spirit, so that’s not what I’m going to be talking about! I’m going to talk about joy. And I’m glad we’re doing this series on the fruits of the Spirit, because they’re very important things to get our heads around! Secondly, I just want you to think for a moment about where you joy? What is it you think about when you want to feel joyful? When you want to pick yourself up? What is it that unfailingly makes you feel happy? Maybe it’s someone, and not something. Just think about that as we go through tonight.

So lets look at Luke 10:17-24. and then I’ll pray.

So lets dive into our passage at the beginning, verse 17. Just to put this into some sort of context, from the end of Chapter nine to chapter nineteen Luke’s gospel tells the story of Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. They’re exciting, grace saturated chapters that show Jesus pursuing the end of the mission He was sent to earth to fulfil. Chapter 9:51 shows us this as it says ‘when the days drew near for Him to be taken up, he set His face to go to Jerusalem’ . Jesus is going to Jerusalem. At the start of chapter 10 He sends out 72 of His followers to go and preach that verse 9 ‘the kingdom of God has come near to you’. and that’s where they’re coming back from. It is, if you like, the first short term mission trip.

Verse 17 tells us that the 72 returned with joy. They came back rejoicing and said to the Lord ‘even the demons are subject to us in your name’. Even the demons! They’ve clearly had some pretty intense experiences on the road. No wonder they were joyful. I remember when Drew, one of my best friends became a Christian in January 2005, when I heard I was downstairs in Burger King in Reading. I got a text, and probably made a bit of an idiot of myself rejoicing in that room on a busy Saturday afternoon. I certainly think I embarrassed the guy I was with a bit. But that’s what’s happening here isn’t it? I can imagine the 72 returning and you can almost see them as they turn the corner of the dusty road, two by two, as it tells us in verse 1, meeting each other again, sharing stories, experiences, victories. The nearest thing I can really equate it to is exam results day, lots of loud voices and happy shouts as they return to Jesus.

Lets look at what happens next verse 18 and 19 ‘and Jesus said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing will hurt you. Jesus saw Satan, fall like lightening falls from Heaven. Satan had been dethroned by the work of the 72 here. He had fallen like lightening, and this is Jesus speaking, so we don’t need to worry about hyperbole. Jesus seems just as excited here as the disciples do…and its no wonder really. Jesus has given the disciples all this authority and power over everything. And the disciples have had massive success. I spoke about when Drew became a Christian…well imagine if when the CU runs Christianity Explored this term we see hundreds of people saved, we see people who we’d never imagine coming to Christ becoming members of a local church and active participants in on-campus mission. So is that is? Is that what the Holy Spirit will use to produce joy in us? Is that what we mean by joy being a fruit of the Spirit? Jesus doesn’t seem to think so, and here is, I think, the crux of what produces joy in us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, verse 20 nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in the Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus tells them directly not to rejoice that the spirits are subject to them…not to rejoice that they’ve just had an amazing time of evangelism out on the road, not to rejoice that they’ve seen people saved, not to rejoice that Jesus saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening. It’s interesting that Jesus even mentions this fact then isn’t it? If He wants the disciples not to rejoice in something, why mention it…why make it seem even better? Because, I think, He wants to show Christians the value having our names written in Heaven. Having your name written in Heaven is better than seeing satan fall , better than having hundreds of people come to Christ, better than seeing your best friend saved, better it seems here that anything else. Rejoice, says Jesus, your names are written in Heaven. Is this where your joy is this evening? That your names are written in heaven? Is that where you come back to when everything is going badly? Is that what you focus on when everything is going well? That your names are written in Heaven? And do you see why this joy is so important, so all surpassing, so vital to the Christian life? Because having your name written in Heaven will never change. It is permanent. When Jesus said on the cross that ‘it is finished’ He meant it. All our joy in other things in life is fleeting. Joy in new possessions will fade, joy in good grades will fluctuate and cause you more stress than joy anyway, joy in other people, in relationships is risky and paper thin, because those people could do something tomorrow that God will never do.

They could wake up and change their minds. God will never do that, He is not like that. Our joy in Heaven can be a confident joy, a joy that leads us to live fully and recklessly for the name of Jesus. A joy that will see us give our whole lives to Him knowing that, Romans 8:38 neither death nor life nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come nor any powers, nor height not depth nor anything else is all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Isn’t that an awesome promise?

So we need to stop and ask ourselves why. Why is having our names written in Heaven what Jesus offers as our ultimate cause for joy. What, in other words is so great about having yr name in Heaven? What is the greatest thing that the cross achieved? Just think about that for a moment. In his book ‘God is the Gospel’, the author John Piper wrote this ‘the critical question…is this.: if you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict and natural disasters, could you be satisfied in Heaven, if Christ wasn’t there?’

And I hope and pray the answer to that question is a resounding no. The best thing about eternal life, is that it gives us eternal enjoyment of Christ. An eternity to worship by enjoying Him. And eternity to do what we were created to do. Jesus didn’t die to give us an easy life, or joy for its own sake, Jesus was hung on a cross that we might have a relationship with God the Father, that we might have unity with and in God the Son. That’s what the cross achieved. Eternal life is good news because it becomes the everlasting enjoyment of Christ. Revelation 21:23 tells us that the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it for the Glory of God gives its light, and it’s lamp is the Lamb. The glory of God is the light of Heaven, is the sun (s u n) of Heaven. Christ is at the centre of Heaven…there can be no concept of heaven without Him there. This is why it is worth having your names written in the Kingdom of Heaven, Not so that we escape Hell, although that is a very, very good thing, but the ultimate end of the cross is not so we could enjoy ourselves with our friends for an eternity, not so we could have a good time, but so we might enjoy Christ forever. So we might have intense, overwhelming joy in Heaven with Christ. And have that joy increase forever and ever and ever. And until we get this, until we realise what the cross achieved ultimately, and what that means for us…living as a Christian will be such a struggle. Not that it’s not a struggle anyway…but sin looks a whole lot less attractive when you compare it with Christ.

I think joy is vital for Christian perseverance. Vital. The reason why we sin is because we don’t have enough joy in the Lord, because we don’t choose to believe, or that we don’t believe full stop in God’s wonderful promises to us, one of which was mentioned before. Isn’t that the case? That we sin because we think it will make us happy? Because our joy in the Lord is so thin that we think we have to do something other than enjoy Him to make ourselves feel satisfied. The famous Christian author CS Lewis puts it like this at the start of his sermon ‘the weight of glory’: if there lurks in most modern minds a notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics, because it has no place in the Christian faith. Indeed if we consider the unblushing promises of reward found in the Gospel, and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires too weak, not too strong. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slums, because he can’t imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the beach. We are far too easily pleased.’ And that’s true isn’t it? That the reason we mess around with sex and drugs and ambition is because we can’t imagine that there is anything better. We stay in our filthy slums, messing around in the mud because we don’t know what the beach is like. We keep sinning and relying on things apart from the Lord to satisfy us. And actually what we’re doing is driving ourselves further and further from that which will satisfy us…Jesus is all satisfying, all encompassing, He is enough, He will help you to persevere to the end. Look again at verse 20. Jesus is effectively saying rejoice in nothing else…and if Jesus is saying ‘don’t rejoice in people’s salvation’ I think we can take it as read that He is also saying ‘don’t rejoice in possessions, or in other people or sexual activity or in alcohol or in however many of the other things that we all look to for joy and happiness and security. He is saying don’t do it. Have your greatest joy as this: That your names are written in Heaven.

And we’ll need the help of the Holy Spirit in this. In Ephesians 3:17 and 18 Paul prays that his readers might grasp how long and high and wide and deep is the love of Christ. The love of Christ is all satisfyingly glorious. We need to help of the Holy Spirit to enjoy this gift of the Holy Spirit. So we need to pray that our joy in our salvation would increase, and that our fleeting, Christ diminishing gratification in other things, no matter what they are, would decrease.

Verse 21 sees Jesus rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. He rejoices because the Father’s gracious will is to reveal Himself to people regardless of social or religious standing…that’s why the gospel is being spread by tax collectors and fishermen, because of the Father’s sovereign will.

But the question is how do you get this joy? Look at verse 21.

In this prayer Jesus thanks the Father that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. You see? You won’t get your name written in Heaven, with all the joy that goes along with that by being wise, or by understanding things. Who are the wise people? Who has the influence? Gates, Dawkins, Blair, Branson... these people have wealth, power and wisdom. And its the Media that tells us what matters, look at the news for example: nuclear tests in North Korea, important... people being born again – not important... Everyone wants to be wise about something: gamblers want to know how to bet... football managers want to know how to win... but what people really need to know is Jesus – and IQ, money, power or fame can't get you that. Only Jesus can reveal himself to you.

Verse 22 shows us that it is Jesus who is ultimately supreme in this: all things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is, except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. So, as it says in Romans 9:9 it relies on God, not on human effort.

We can only know Jesus as he reveals himself – in His Word and because he dies in our place. Verse 21 and 24 are a tremendously encouraging end to these events:

Jesus says blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
There is nothing better than to have Jesus revealed to you! Nothing. It’s what David and Solomon longed for... its what Isaiah and Ezekiel thirsted for... the disciples get to know what generations longed for... and because of that their names are written in heaven! They have the joy of Jesus forever!!

And how does that joy grow... As we delight in the promises of God in the Word of God – Jesus speaking to us.... 2 Corinthians 3:18 is a precious verse to me – and it says: we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed from one degree of glory to another. And this comes from the Lord, who is Spirit. God's word changes us! God's Spirit grows joy in us! This is the Spirit's fruit in believers! You can't make it happen anymore than you can find Jesus for yourself – Jesus reveals himself to us in his word, and the Holy Spirit grows joy in us – so grasp hold of and delight in the truth that your name is written in heaven! Delight that you'll spend eternity seeing and savouring Jesus - that joy is the mark of authentic Christianity.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Men wiser than I

God has appointed Christ to be the heir of the world in His kingdom of grace, and to possess and reign over all nations, through the propagation of His Gospel and the power of His spirit communicating the blessing of it.
Jonathan Edwards

The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condenming power of sin, ought yet to make it their business, all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.
John Owen

Saturday, October 07, 2006

God is good

I mean really good. Like, outragouesly good. Here's three reasons why.

Even in the north He reigns.
My sister's just started at Durham, and in her college they have to share a room. Now, my sister is cool, but she's not such a fan of the going out and whatever. But anyway, i was praying, really praying, pleading that God would put a Christian in her room with her. And He did...and they went to CU this week. How cool is that? How makes-me-nearly-cry-in-public-while-i'm-on-the-phone to her good is that? God is good. Good...and He cares and is mighty to save. Mighty.

Don't eat brain.
God is good, and the cross of Christ has bought us many many great things. And today was one of those things. Walking, sitting, wondering, laughing, pretending to be horses around Hyde Park and central London in the sun was beyond my vocabulary really. It was so good to be with friends, people i love and who love me, people who know what i mean 'yeh... mebbe man' people who i can be stupid with. We were made for relationships such as these.

Twist and shine and burn and leap
I don't know what'll i'll be doing next year. But i know God has given me two amazing, amazing things to think and pray over. And God is good...good. And i want to be where i'll be able to demonstrate and tell people that and reflect His shiningness the most. And y'know what? I think i will

Seventy years and i can't count.
Ezra 1:1
Jermiah 25:12. God is good. Simple as.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

don't steal our sun

This is roughly the talk i gave at an international training thing yesterday...it's not totally what i said, but more or less. Also, you *might* recognise parts of it from somewhere else!

Why do evangelism at all? Even more so with people from different countries. Why share the Gospel with the people you’ve made friends with? Because Jesus commands it. In Matt 28: 18-19, often called The Great Commission He says all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me…therefore go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus has been given all authority over heaven and earth, he has total sovereignty over anywhere and everywhere we go and over anywhere and everywhere people come to Surrey from. So we are safe in Him no matter where people are from and no matter where we go. He is in control and we have nothing to fear. Ok? So, in light of that, we are to go. We are to go and teach and baptise and spread to Kingdom of God, because Jesus tells us to, and because He has all the authority, and because of that we have no excuse. Isn’t that an amazing gift we have been given? An amazing privilege and responsibility? Jesus could do it all on His own, I am convinced of that. He doesn’t actually need us, He could do it without us in a second. And yet He tells us to do it. Lets us get involved in the great joy of spreading the Gospel around all the earth. Isn’t that great? Perhaps the best thing about this afternoon is that I’m not even trying to convince you to actually go somewhere. To go to China, or Japan or Africa or anywhere, Christians should go to those places, they should go to dangerous places to share the Gospel, but in His wisdom and authority Jesus has sent people from all nations here. They’re right on our doorstep, in our lectures, in our courts, eating with us in Roots. So we can fulfil part of the Great Commission for the two, three of four years it is right here in Surrey.

But what if you’re still not convinced? Well, look at Matthew 24:14: this Gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Nations here means people groups, ethnic divisions, as well as actual nations. We can, I think, be sure that before Jesus returns there will be a sustainable witness in every single tribe, tongue and ethnicity there is. How can we be sure of that? Because Jesus doesn’t lie. ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away’. And Jesus said it, not me or anybody else. There’s no ‘fence sitting’ here. There are two options available to us, we can either take part and enjoy the victory of the spread of the Gospel over all the world, or we can cop out and waste our lives. Jesus doesn’t lie. Again, there are people from all over the world right here in Guildford, so what is being asked here isn’t that big a task…I’m just trying to show you the Biblical mandate for it. So why else should we feel confident and motivated in evangelism? Because the ransom for these people has already been paid. Revelation 5:9 ‘worthy are you to open the scrolls, and open it’s seals for you were slain and by your blood ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’ So the price for these people who come to café form all over the world has been paid by Jesus on the cross. He’s done all that needs doing to effect their salvation, God’s not going to go back on that…we need to tell people about it. One more reason that there is a definite, definite, burning reason to do evangelism, particularly to people from different cultures is this. The glory of God is at stake. Romans 15:9: ‘Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness…and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.’ So. The second person of the trinity was incarnated so that all peoples might praise God. Sure these verses mention Jews and Gentiles only, but when Paul wrote this that’s the only divide there was. Jews, and Gentiles. That’s everyone now anyway isn’t it? Jews, and people that’re not Jews. It’s like saying British people, and people that aren’t British. It’s everyone. So the glory of God is at stake. This is why Jesus came, so that people from all over the world would glorify God. Trust me. Actually, DON’T trust me, read it in the Bible. Read it in the Bible and play your part. Bring glory to God through sharing the Gospel with everyone…but especially in this context people at café.

So there we go. That’s the why. That’s why we do evangelism. It’s not, as one author puts it ‘something you wouldn’t do to your dog’…it’s great. The promise is sure because Jesus tells us to do it, the price has been paid, and God’s glory is at stake. And there’s much much more I could say, but we need to move on.

So how? How are we to go about sharing the Gospel. Well, as I said the ransom has been paid on the cross, so one answer to that question is ‘we share it indiscriminately’. But how? And also, we’re just people, how can we change anyone’s minds? The answer to that question… is that we can’t. But there is some very good news on its way…come with me to 2 Corinthians 4:4-6.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6.
Ok, I want you to break into 2s and answer some questions: 1. what’s the problem that unbelievers have? 2. what can we do about that? 3. what does God do about that?

So the God of this world. The devil, has blinded people to seeing the glory of God in the face of Christ. So what we do is tell them the gospel, the actual gospel as verse 2 shows the importance of not messing around with it. And it’s only the gospel which will save people, not our version of the gospel, not what we want people to believe… we can’t trick people, we need to tell them what the Gospel says. Then God will work to open their minds, as in Acts 16:14, when Paul preached the gospel, and the Lord opened Lydia’s heart. And then God, who said let light shine out of darkness will shine in their hearts to show the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Isn’t that what happens when people get saved…when WE got saved? That we saw the glory of God in the face of Christ and believed. This is how people will become Christians. So we need to share the gospel with people if they are to be saved. And that can equally well be done in proclamations sense like in church on a Sunday or in the course of a friendship. So that’s what we’re going to explore now, in pairs, just take a minute each to share the Gospel…go!

So there you go. Just a minute to share the Gospel isn’t all that easy is it? I remember being asked to share the gospel in a minute at something similar to this…and I just couldn’t do it! And it’s my job essentially! There are so many things to think about when sharing the Gospel. Where do I start? What sort of angle do I use? What words express the same things as justification and sin that a non Christian, let alone a non Christian from a foreign country will understand? And the other thing is that there’s almost no chance you’ll get as long as a minute to say what you want. You might get thirty seconds…you might get ten seconds before the conversation moves on, or you lose their attention, or they just don’t want to know any more. And if you’re anything like me those 10 seconds will be 6 seconds of thinking followed by 3 and a half of spluttering. And that version of the Gospel isn’t going to challenge anyone, let alone save anyone. So what can we do? Well there are many simplified ways to remember the gospel, to get it across in a few easy to remember points. Obviously none of these are perfect, and none can be shared in as little as ten seconds, but at least if you’ve got it in your mind then you’ll be readier if the opportunity comes.

It’s called two ways to live.
So two ways to live is this.
1. The world was created and it was perfect under God’s Lordship
2. but man wanted to be king, and so rebelled and made himself king
3. so man was dead and separated from God, with no chance of bridging the gap
4. But God sent His Son, Jesus to die on a cross and bridge the gap between man and God.
5. so man can now live in the truth of a relationship with God the Father, as long as they submit to the Kingship of God the Son, Jesus
6. so there are two ways to live. One that will end in death and one that will never end!

So that’s a simple way of sharing the gospel with people in a conversational context…so now have a go in your pairs…

Now I hope that seemed a bit easier, that you at least had somewhere to start, and that you’ll feel a bit more confident now if someone asks you why you’re a Christian, or if you can explain the Gospel…that’s what I hope anyway!

I want to finish with some real encouragement from the Bible. In Isaiah 55:11 it says

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God’s word does God’s work. The words that leave His mouth, that is, what we’ve got in the Bible…God’s word, will not return to Him empty. He sends out His word with a purpose, and that purpose is the salvation of sinners, as it tells us in 2 Timothy 3:15. God’s word does God’s work. It will not return to Him empty, but will return to Him with results, with success, with glory for God. Isn’t that good news? That we have all the tools we need to bring people to God, wherever they’re from. The Gospel is equally effective in bringing someone to Christ who is from China, or Saudi Arabia, someone who has never heard of Jesus, never read the Bible, or someone who thinks they’ve heard it all before and knows inside out where they’re not a Christian…because, as I may have already said a couple of times…God’s word does God’s work. All we have to do, as we saw earlier from the passage in 2 Corinthians, if we speak the Gospel, faithfully and relying on God, people will be saved.

And with international students this is such an important opportunity. International students are open to what we’ve got to say to them in ways that most home students just aren’t. They’ve come here to learn about Britain and our culture and our way of life, and they see Christianity as another part of that. I mean, obviously, that’s a wrong view of what Christianity is, but God brings us people in His own ways in His own time. And we must use this time that God has given us for the benefit of these people, and for the glory of His name. Also, this is potentially the only time in the lives of many of these guys where they will come into contact with Christians openly, and where Christians are able to speak to them freely about their beliefs. This is an awesome privilege that we’ve got to share the gospel with people from foreign countries, from different cultures. And its one we must take, and take seriously. So go. And seek out and make friends with international students. Be culturally sensitive, but not so sensitive you end up denying the Gospel. Be their friend, and be honest about what you believe and how much it means. And remember, and trust in the power of the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Look listen live!

I heard Bish preach this twice in six days last month...the joys of Relay eh?

Hebrews 12:1-2

Listen and look we're told here by the writer to the Hebrews.

Listen to the crowd of matyrs than line the way. The image here is of a race taking place in a stadium. We have 'a great cloud of witnesses', a great many witnesses watching us run the race in this metaphor. Listen to these people who held their lives cheap, and learn from their stories. People like Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, people like Norman Grubb and Howard Guiness, people like Perpetua, Saturas and Felicitas. Lets listen to these people's stories and learn from them.

What gave them the ability to hold their lives so cheap? Hebrews 10:34 says that the people who suffered then had 'a better and abiding possesion'. They were more concerned with Heaven, and with eternity than with fleeting gratification and human accolades. They threw off the sin that so easily entagles as this passage says. Are we doing that? Are we, am i getting rid of the things from popular culture in my life that stop me from holding life cheap, and from listening to the stories of the matyrs?

Keep your eyes on Jesus. This is what the crowd will tell us. Look, and see His glory and be changed (2 Cor 3:18) Some people get it wrong...Esau, for example will not be in the crowd. He sold his birthright for a single meal. Now, we may scoff at that...but surely we all do the same when we sin, it's just our price is sometimes higher. We need to be spurned on by the warnings of people who didn't and don't gaze on the glory of the Lord, of people who are easily distracted by that which entagles them. If we look at Jesus, and see His all surpassing, all encompassing glory, His all loving, all merciful nature, His amazing justice and righteousness. Look at Him and be satisfied. Why would we want to choose something other than the best?
Who is Jesus? Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. He went through all that He needed to, suffered more than anyone ever would or will, to effect our salvation. Why did He go through this? Why have those nails driven through those innocent wrists? Why suffer the torment of being sepeated from the Father? For the joy set before Him. Because He knew what was ultimately on the other side. He knew about Heaven. And He knew it was better.

So listen to the crowd, look at Jesus, remember how much better He is than life... and keep running.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Adrian and Mo

This happened a while ago but i've only just found it...

Adrian Warnock interviews Mo McCracken...our fearless leader


Desiring God 2006

The talks from the DG conference are now online (HT Adrian Warnock)

I'm excited! I've only managed to listen to half of Mark Driscoll's talk so far, and no more. I'll add no more to the huge amount that has been written about Driscoll, except to say that yeh, he's a bit shocking in the things he says sometimes, but his talk here at least, is very helpful and thought provoking...i'd sure like to have a drink with him!

Monday, October 02, 2006

huxleyS heroS

I was Bob Kauflin with a bit of Rob Wilkerson...

which reformed blogger are you?

Sunday, October 01, 2006


It's strange...and wonderful how God will change your priorities. How God will sometimes take something you wanted to do before you were saved and use it, but at the same til do a complete 360 on it.

Even after i became a Christian, when i thought about preaching, my priorities were a mess. Let me be funny i thought, sure, let my message by good, but if i can make people laugh even better...because then i know they like me. Now, as i think about speaking on the next three wednesdays on evangelism, and 'preaching' at USCU a week on thursday, i couldn't be less interested in being funny. People who are starving to know of the grandeur and majesty of Christ are amusing themselves to death as it is. And i want to perpetuate that? No. I want to be earnest. Oh God let me be earnest. Let me burn with a sense of Your message, with a sense of responsibility. Let me not even care whether people like it or not. But let me be earnest. Let me be taken with the seriousness of the responsibility of what i'm doing, and not diminish that to get a cheap laugh.

I need to be burdened. I want to take to heart the awful and yet inspiring truth of James 3:1. I want this burden to produce earnestness and seriousness in me. I need this burden to be joyful...i want to know the grace of God as He helps me prepare, and then speak. I want to be weighed down, and yet lifted up by the glory of God in the face of Christ. This is surely the greatest priveledge there is...to know that, to see that, to speak that. Not neccesarily exclusivly through preaching, but definately through proclamation. And thats exciting. I want to know this burden, and i want to rejoice in it.

I need to build bridges between each verse...taking them apart and putting them back together again. I want to show people the glory of Christ from the Bible, because that is a very great thing. I want to preach the Gospel (i mean obviously) i want to try and show Christ in all His grandeur and show people that this is what they need...more of Christ and less of anything else.

I need to remember that the only way i can do anything is because of the cross. That the wonderful cross dealt with my biggest problem, my sin, and cleared the way for people to have a relationship with the Father through union with the Son. Isn't that the best news ever? I need to be so taken with the glory of Christ, and the importance of the gospel that it just oozes out of me.

And i need to be joyful. I need to rejoice over the text, over the Bible, because that makes us wise for salvation. And that is pretty important!