Wednesday, January 31, 2007

wake me up when its over

here are my five favourite photos from Relay 2:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

don't all religions lead to God?

Yep, the Relay 2 blog dump continues. This is my six minute evangelistic talk that we did in fellowship groups. Six minutes is basically no time at all, which is why it's so brief. I pretty much just mentioned the title and then set off to Calvary. Which i don't think is a bad thing. I've got a lot to work on if i do it again though, especially talking about Jesus showing us what God was like as well as being the Way, and more interaction with other religions.

I think the question of ‘who is God?’ is key to answering our question of don’t all religions lead to God? Is God the god of popular culture? The well meaning god who has lost control of what he created? Is God like that? Or is God the way He is described in the Bible? Is God holy, just, righteous, loving and wrathful against sin? Because if God is these things then it really matters whether or not all religions lead to God, but if he isn’t, then it doesn’t really, and the CU is of no more significance than the rowing club.

But isn’t it arrogant for Christians to claim to know what God wants? What about devout Muslims? What about people who aren’t religious but do a lot of good work? How can Christians possibly claim that there is only one way to an infinite eternal God?

Well what does God say about Himself? The Bible makes the extraordinary claim that God became a man, Jesus, who at the same time was both God and man. He did this to show that He was the only way to God. This is what Jesus meant when He said ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.’ This is perhaps one of the most well known things that Jesus said, and it seems that He is making an exclusive claim. He is basically saying that He is the only way to God…making the same apparently outrageous claim that Christians make about Him. And this is where the crossroads appear. There is no serious historical doubt surrounding the existence of Jesus. Most people who aren’t Christians believe that He was a good teacher, a decent guy, who taught a lot of good things. But that’s not what Christians believe about Jesus. Christians take the other way and believe that Jesus claimed to be, and was, and is, the eternal Son of God. The Christian faith is unique in that it focuses on a relationship with a person. Not a place, or culture, or language or set of rules…but on Jesus.

But why do Christians believe this? There is one very good reason why Jesus is the only way to God. Everyone will tell you that there are problems in the world. Whether it’s global warming, or wars or rising crime rates, no one denies that these problems exist. The difference comes when we try to agree why they exist. The Bible is very clear on this. Its says that the problem with the world is not ‘out there’ somewhere, but that it’s in us. The problem with the world is in our hearts. We are what’s wrong with the world. It’s the wrong thoughts, words and actions, what the Bible calls sin, that I do that offend God and create a gap between how God made and meant the world, and how the world is. This also means that there is a gap between man and God. We were made to live in perfect relationship with God, and it’s fairly clear that we don’t. And the blame for that lies squarely at our door. But what’s that got to do with Jesus?

Jesus was fully God and fully man, therefore He was not tainted with the same sin that you and I are. He had the perfect relationship with God, His Father that we were all created to have. He was the only man who did not deserve the punishment that sin brings. And what happened to Him? He was arrested, subjected to a show trial and nailed to a wooden cross. He had done nothing wrong…even those who accused Him at His trial couldn’t get their stories about Him to agree. Jesus died under the weight of the punishment for all the wrong thoughts, words and actions that you and I have done. He took the punishment due to us. How could He do this? Because He, in Himself had no sin, He had never done anything to incur the punishment of God. He was perfect. And God laid on Him the punishment that is due to us all so that our relationship with God might be restored.

So you see Jesus has to be the only way to God. He in the only one qualified to bare the punishment that we deserve. On the cross Jesus wasn’t killed by the physical pain, He died too quickly for that. He was killed by the wrath of God poured out on Him for the things that we have done wrong. He was the only one qualified for such a task, the only one who could bridge the gap between man and God that we have created. Jesus is the only way to God.

Monday, January 29, 2007


In my post Relay 2 glow, here are some reasons i really like UCCF:thechristianunions.

Commitment to the Gospel.
The first thing we heard 'from the front' was 'the Gospel is still true, Grace is still real'. It was like coming up from under a swimming pool and having fresh air hit the back of your lungs once more. Funny how you don't realise you've been ill until your better again. I have concluded that most/all my problems come from the fact that sometimes i just don't believe these two truths. And whats more it was the Gospel that we focussed on all week. It would have been easy to spend an hour on the first night reminding ourselves of it, and then spend the rest of the week learning how to be Relay workers. But we didn't. And here's the thing, if we don't love the Gospel, if we don't love Jesus then you can give us all the 1-2-1 tips in the world, and it won't make any difference. But show us Jesus clothed in His Gospel, and you're showing us life.

Commitment to the Bible.
I love the Bible, and i try to love all of it equally, but there are some books that just seem more helpful than others, no matter how untrue that is. And whcih book did we study this week? Zephaniah. You'd have to go a long way to get further off the beaten track than that. Two and half terrifying chapters on God's fierce judgement and half a chapter on His grace to His remnant. It was brilliant. And so easily missed. There's more to the Bible than Romans, there's more to the Old Testament than Genesis and the Psalms, it was great to remember that this week. There was a Bible open in every talk. This just seems like common sense to me but i know that it is getting rarer. But i'd rather have someone sit and expose the Bible to me, and help me to apply it well than pretty much anything else. I was at the Biblical Evangelism Conference two months ago, a whole weekend dedicated to handling the Bible better. Invaluable.

Commitment to Worldwide Mission
Wednesday evening was spent praying for IFES movements around the world, praying for the top 50 countries in the Open Doors persecution list, praying for China and praying for last years Relays who are away on Homestart at the moment. IFES is the third largest worldwide organisation after FIFA and the UN. I think thats pretty cool. This term about 50 missions will take place in the UK and Ireland, and in one week in February (12th-16th) there will be 13 missions on the go at once. It's great to be caught up in something so big, so eternal.

Commitment to students and Relays
Things like the BEC and the whole Relay programme illustrate this. Student led mission teams resourced and supported by Relays, staff and training conferences. Giving students the chance to handle and teach the Bible.

Commitment to Universities
'Change universities and you will change the world' said a wise sounding man. Universities will always be where the next generation of leaders will come from, so lets get amongst them. Lets change people's lives and eternities at university, so they can do it in the work place. Universities are increasingly closed to outside intervention, espeically that of a religious bent, so it's great to able to equip the students who have the right to be on campus where others don't.

Commitment to Church
I can honestly say that if it wasn't for Bish i wouldn't love the church as much as i do. Christ is building His church, the church is the bride of Christ, the church is what will be presented to Christ spotless at the end of time. CUs are there to gather people in the local church. They couldn't do what they do without the support of the local and sending churches. CUs are not churches, neither should they be treated as such. Go to CU sure, but get yourself involved in a good Bible teaching church, thats so important.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Relay 2: Karaoke

Mo (plus wig) kicked us off

The 'mighty' Midlands
Guess which musical number they did!

The North East
they just lacked 'a little bit'

The North West
i like them because they made sure we didn't come last!

They sung about a horse.

a sympathetic picture of Team London

The South East.
world class

The. Scotlandteam.
Winners two years in a row.

'They're gunna live forever!'

South West/East Central.
Two very small teams combining to make one small team. They nearly won though.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

it's better if you do

Much much more to come from Relay 2 when i've processed and looked over my notes and sat and thought and rejoiced a bit more. But for a start i wanted to write something short. In fellowship group this morning we were studying Zepheniah 3:12-20, the book that we spent the week looking at. We broke up into pairs and looked at a part of the passage each. Me and helen looked at 14-17 to see what it said about God.

  • He is gracious
  • Powerful
  • Relational
  • the King of Israel
  • mighty and saving
  • loving
  • expressive
  • happy
  • delighting in His own work
  • compassionate.
All that about God hidden in three verses in a minor prophet book that most people won't even read. If i've learnt one thing from Relay 2, and i haven't, i've learnt heaps, it's that the minor prophets are totally worth spending time with. And that God's amazing...i mean, just look at that list!

Monday, January 22, 2007

stop it and tidy up

i'm off to Relay 2 for a week... please pray for me and everyone involved!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

more on four

I should say before i start that most of what i'm about to say is inspired/stolen from a Dave Gibson article on Beginning with Moses.

So Luke 4, not about us, about Jesus being the obedient Son of God. About Jesus succeding where Adam the Son of God and Israel the Son of God had failed. Looking at this unfolding story in three parts probably helps a little bit.

The first scene Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God's one command to ensure their happiness and His glory was simple. Just don't eat the apple off the tree. Everything else you can eat, just not this. The audience hold their breath, will Adam be the obedient son of God, will he be a worthy federal head and substitute for us? No. He disobeys God's once command and eats the apple. And it's game over for him, he and eve are kicked out of Eden, forbidden from ever returning and condemned to work the land. God is rich in mercy and steadfast love however, and so gives them hope. One day, from their line one will be born who will crush the serpent under His foot...

Jesus is also not Israel. There are probably many examples of when Israel was God's disobedient son, but lets look at the Exodus. About two million Jews being led up out of Egypt, these must the serpent crushers who will live as God's people in God's land forever, loving and worshiping and enjoying Him. The audience strain their necks to get a glimpse of this new hope. And what happens? Moses has to leave Israel for forty days to speak to God...and they fall into disobediance. They make a Golden Calf and worhsip that instead. They even call it 'the god who bought us up out of Egypt'. Not so obediant there then. Later they even refuse to believe on God for entrance into the Promised Land and wonder in the wilderness for forty years. It doesn't seem as though Israel will be the obedient one after all.

Enter Jesus. Third time lucky think the crowd? Baptised and driven into the wilderness, what's He going to do. He relies on God. He refuses to worship the devil, or use His power to turn stones into bread or attract attention to Himself by throwing Himself down from the Temple and getting God to save Him. He is obedient. So His ministry continues. And as much as Jesus is everything Adam and Israel could never, He is everything we could never be. We will never be obedient like He was...never fight temptation like He did.

Sure there are times when i can ward off temptation for a season by telling myself about Isaiah 6, or other verses, but only for a season. The time will come when i fall again, the time will come soon, because i carry around with me a deadly enemy. The problem isn't that i do bad things, though that is a problem, the problem is that i am bad. So i've got no hope. How am i meant to follow Jesus' example? If satan came to me with the offer of food in this situation, i'd probably already have a bakery going. Luke 4 is not a guide for me.

And thats the best news ever. Why? Because Jesus is the perfect obedience that i need. he has been loyal to God, never sinned, never broken God's perfect law. And yet it was He who was nailed to the cross, not me. He who died under the weight of God's wrath, not me. Jesus who suffered for my sin. Not me. This is grace, that Jesus has done it all in Luke 4 so precisely so that we don't have to. This is amazing, glorious substitution.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

see what a morning

'if, in our preaching of the moutains of Christian scripture, we do not come to a hill named Calvary we are wildly off course' -C.J Mahaney

Friday, January 19, 2007


Esther 1-3

As Bish has already mentioned, we've started going through Esther in USCU main meetings. It's cool, good to get off the beaten track, and the old testament definately deserves more attention than we give it. Now, Esther's often held up as an example for girls, so i'm told anyway, no ones ever told me how to be a good Christian girl. But look at the Esther 2...she attracts attention by making herself look beautiful, then sleeps with the most powerful man she can find, and under no circumstances tell him about her faith. Now, obviously there are reasons for all these thing in the grand sweep of what God is doing in Esther, but still...this doesn't seem like great advice!

Luke 4

If Esther 2 doesn't offer great advice for girls then Luke 4 isn't a guide on how to avoid temptation. It's too easy to read these verses, to preach these verses as if we were the main charecter and it's about us fighting temptation. But it's not, the main guy in Luke 4 is Jesus, not us. Jesus the son of God being contrasted with Adam the son of God (3:38) and given the number of quotations from Deuteronomy, Israel the son of God. The point is not about how fight temptation, but how we could never fight temptation. Jesus is everything we could never be, He is our obediant substitute. He succeded where Israel failed in the desert and Adam failed in Eden...and where we fail every day. The actual point of Luke 4 is much more exciting than the one that immediately pops into our head.

Isaiah 6

I read this with Pete and Sam this week. Good times. It's great to see God in His sanctuary, to see Him the way he is. God is holy holy holy, way more holy than we know. So holy, as we noticed that even the Seraphim can't look at Him. Even their eyes must be shielded from His glory and awesomness. Isaiah knows exactly what this means for him. 'Woe is me, for i am lost (ruined)' he cries. He is a sinful man, and knows he'll be burned by the holiness of God. But God doesn't consume him, God redeems him. The coal touches his lips, and his sin is atoned for. Amazing grace.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

the McCheyne calendar

For my Bible reading at the moment i'm following the McCheyne calendar, which was devised by Robert Murray McCheyne and takes you through the new testament and psalms twice and the rest of the old testament once every year. In theory.

Yesterday, March 10th to be precise, i read among others Luke 24 and Job 39. As well as the obvious point of how good it is to read four different bits of the Bible each day, yesterday was particularly good. Job 39 sees God reply to Job, and point out to him that if He can make animals like Ostriches and hawks and horses which are all, to be honest, a bit of a mystery to us, and not only that they are a mystery but that He is powerful enough to create and sustain them, surely it's not too much to believe that sometimes what He does in our lives will be beyond our understanding. Luke 24 is Luke's account of the ressurection and aftermath, including Jesus on the road to Emmaus, explaining how the Old Testament is all about Him, if i could eavesdrop anywhere in the Bible there it'd be.

So yesterday what a vision of God this gave me. The God who creates and sustains all mysterious things, who's ways and plans and purposes are way above our own. And the God who is powerful enough to defeat death, to walk out of the grave. That was pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

featuring some of my favourite words

Here are some exciting things i learnt from Colossians about incarnation:

  • In the Son we have redemption
  • He is the head of the body, the church
  • He is the beginning and first born from the dead
  • He has reconciled to Himself all things by His blood on the cross
  • We are reconciled by His death in the flesh
  • He will present us blameless and holy on the last day
  • In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
  • Christ is the object for faith
  • In Christ is help to live and persevere
  • In Christ the fullness of the Deity dwells bodily
  • Therefore He is all we need to live and persevere, we need nothing else 'spiritual' There is nothing else spiritual.
  • We were buried with Him and raised with Him
  • God made us alive together with Him
  • He did this by cancelling the legal demands that stood against us, nailing them to the cross
  • We died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, we are not bound by the world, or by religion and have no need for it's rules.
good non?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

the blinding

'What broke George Verwer’s heart back in the eighties, and breaks mine today, is not mainly that you have sinned sexually, but that this morning Satan took your 2 AM encounter in the hotel room—whether on TV or in bed—and told you: “See, you’re a loser. You may as well not even go to worship. No way are you going to make any serious commitment of your life to Jesus Christ! You may as well go back to school and get a good practical education, and then a good job so you can buy yourself a big wide screen and watch sex till you drop.”

I want to take that weapon out of his hand. Yes, I want you to have the joyful courage not to even do the channel surfing. But sooner or later, whether it’s that sin or another, you are going to fall. I have come to Atlanta to help you deal with the guilt of that failure so that Satan does not use it to produce another wasted life.'

How many times have you felt like that? If you're anything like me, the answer will be something like 'oh gosh, a whole heap'. Go read: 'How to deal with the guilt of sexual failure for the glory of Christ and His global cause'. (HT: Paul)

*nutella for the eyes*

from here to there (3+4/4)

Jim Elliot was born in Portland, Oregan in 1927. In 1941 he started at Benson Polytechnic school, where he was known for his ability at american football, journalism and oublic speaking. Indeed, his speach lauding the achievements of FDR was described as 'one of the best i've ever heard' by a listening teacher. Along with all this, Jim was known as a Christian. He refused to back down from debate or discussion with his classmates during his school years, often launching into a mini sermon to explain and defend his beliefs. Neither was he afraid to defend his faith at a higher level, once clashing with the Student's president over his non-attendance at a school dance. He was a pacifist, and would have ignored his call up for World War Two had he been drafted.

In 1945, God called Jim to Wheaton College, a Bible college in Illinois. He saw this as a chance to grow in preparation for the mission field, both spiritually and physically, and to this end, despite his pacifist tendancies, he joined the wrestling team. His grades in subjects like politics and philosophy suffered due to this as well. He told his parents in an unapologtic letter that he felt studying the Bible to be far more important. He even turned down a staff position that would have given him a years free tuition as he felt that some of the responsibilities where a waste of time. Jim was burdened with a call to the mission field during his time at Wheaton, and spoke on how the Holy Spirt helps us in that role. One summer he and a friend hitchhiked to Mexico and Brazil where they spent time with a missionary family. This solidified Jim's calling to work with tribal people in south america.

Jim left Wheaton in 1949 and unsure of what to next he took up a number of odd-jobs, including teaching in a Christian school, who were to offer him a full time post, which he turned down. During this period he was in contact with Wilfred Tidmarsh, a missionary in Ecuador. In the January of 1950 he accepted a job with Camp Wycliffe, a linguistics programme. While not sure whether he shou;d accpet, he had been involved with the Inter Varsity Fellowship, and decided to work with Wycliffe. He continued to persue the missioanry life at this time, reading books by David Brainerd, Hudson Taylor and J.G Paton among others. He also interested in the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley and the philosophy of Nietzsche according to his journal.

Elliot first arrived in Ecuador in February 1952 to do mission with another tribe, the Quechua Indians. He married and became a father. Four years later he and four others ventured inot Auca territory...

Jim Elliot is perhaps best remembered for this quote: 'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.' For Him, the glory of the name of Jesus was certainly more important than life.

Nate Saint was born in August 1923 and was an avid flyer from birth. He fought with the army in World War II. He enrolled in Wheaton College, but dropped out in order to join the mission aviation fellowship and in 1948 he and his wife Marjorie began working in Ecuador, setting up an airbase on a disused oil camp, where they supplied the exisiting missionaries with essentials such as medicine and mail. He was the first to set eyes on the settlement that the team would set out to later on as he flew his fixed wing plane over what became known as Terminal City.

Perhaps Nate's greatest legacy is the ministry of his son, Steve Saint. Steve travels the world speaking on the role and sovereignty of God in suffering. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Steve's ministry, well, actually the most amazing thing about Steve's ministry is the fact that he travels the globe, talking about Jesus with the man who killed his dad. Isn't that amazing? That the deaths of these five young men was not in vain. Indeed soon after their deaths, the Huaorani tribe came to know the Lord and want to tell others.

The work of the cross in this story is amazing. What is it that makes five young, potentially successful men with their whole lives ahead of them go out to a backwater, knowing they are in every danger, and then lose their lives with seemingly so little achieved. What makes the son of one of these men able to not only forgive the man who killed his dad, but also live with him? What was it that made all the trials, problems and ultimately deaths of these men worthwhile?

The supremacy of Christ.

These five knew that they had a better and abiding possesion in Heaven then they did on earth. They knew that they couldn't sit on this message but had to spread it across the globe. They knew that had to lose what they could not keep in order to gain what thet could not lose. They knew that Christ's promises where sure. That He had ransomed people from this tribe, as indeed He had, and that He was worthy of their suffering for the glory due His name. They knew nothing else in life tastes as sweet as the Gospel.

Friday, January 12, 2007

no way jose

It would seem somehow remiss of me not to say something about wednesday night at some point. Even if, as i told the Bucks Free Press when they asked me 'its hard to talk about it without slipping into cliches', but here goes.

What a ridiculous, unbelievable night it was. We've been so poor in the league recently losing two and drawing two of our last four games before playing Chelsea, and suddebly, somehow we manage to draw with one of the best teams in Europe. Yes i know it wasn't their strongest line-up, but it was their strongest possible line up, and at the end they had Lampard and Ballack in the middle, thats nothing to be sniffed at. Our side cost £80,000 to put together, there's £104,000,000 if you can believe such a number!

The best goals are the ones you know are going to go in before they do, so this one was perfect...i can remember Tommy winning the flick on and Jermaine going after it, and then seeing the ball slowly trickle in front of Hilario and thinking 'hang on, we're actually about to score here' and then we did. And then...pandemonium. I genuinly can't think of how that evening could have been better. Chelsea were outfought if not totally outplayed for ninety minutes, we deserved our draw, we go to the second leg with a chance. Thats all you could have asked.

It seems i'm coming more or less full circle when it comes to football. There was a 15 month period in 02,03 and 04 where i went something like 16 months without missing and away game, and only missed a home game (Brighton, we drew one all) because of the cell leaders weekend away (where Ceryn came and made sure i was ok because i was so quiet. ha!) but now i'm missing our next four away games due to a variety of reasons. Including the second leg at Chelsea because of Relay 2. So relayers if you see me on wednesday evening in Ledbury wondering around as if i don't really know what my name is, it's because we're just beaten Chelsea and we're going to Cardiff. It won't might happen.

on youtube. They've got the attendance wrong, it was 9771. Massive!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

every day is like sunday

Richard Walker, friend, cell leader, gospel partner and Christological guru preached on Psalm 1 on sunday.

Go listen.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Operation Auca (2/4)

The first contact with the Huaorani was in September 1955. The team, which at that point was made up of Nate Saint, Ed McCulley, Jim Elliot and Johnny Keenan decided that the best way to initiate contact with the tribesmen was by regularly giving gifts to them. Nate Saint, meanwhile, learned some of the Huoarani language from a friend of his sister. It was decided that the best way to hand over these gifts would be from the air, using a fix wing aircraft and lower goods like kettles, buttons, salt, machetes and clothing on to the ground. This approached was used because of the difficulty and danger of meeting the Huoarani in the jungle. Eventually a clearing was identified and the first gifts were dropped.

After several trips to the Auca village, which the missionaries had called 'Terminal City' they saw that the tribesmen seemingly recieved their gifts positively, on some occasions even sending gifts back up to the plane by tieing them to the rope that their gifts had come down on. It was decided at this point that it was time to make face to face contact with the tribesmen. Nate Saint identified a sandbar about four miles away from Terminal City, which they christened 'Palm Beach', where they could land and set up base. They decided to take some firearms with them, but only to shoot into the air if they were under attack. By January 2nd 1956 Roger Youderian and Peter Fleming arrived in Ecuador, and the five started to set up camp at Palm Beach. By January 4th they were settled on their sand bank, and Saint had flown over Terminal City with a loudspeaker, asking the natives to visit the missionaries camp.

On January 6th the first tribesman arrived. A young man and two women, apparently a couple and their chaperone visited the camp, seemingly against the wishes of their compatriots. They exhcnaged gifts and became relaxed in eachother company, talking freely. The man, named Nankiwi started to show an interest in the plane (one of the gifts he had bought was a model plane) and Saint took him aboard and flew him around the camp. On their second trip they flew over Terminal City and Nankiwi hung out of the plane, shouting to his fellow villagers below. Later that afternoon Nankiwi and the younger woman grew restless in the camp, and left without any real explanation...the older woman was happy to stay and talk, and she ended up staying at the camp most of the night.

Meanwhile back in the village, a group had recognised Nankiwi from the plane and had decided to make for the camp. In the early hours of the 7th of January they found Nankiwi and the girl, returning without their chaperone. This enraged the girls brother, Nampa, and to deflect the attention away from himself, Nankiwi said that the missionaries had attacked them, and that they had lost their chaperone whilst fleeing. A senior member of the group Gikita, who had had bad experienced with outsiders beforehand recommended that the missionaries be killed. Even the return of the chaperone and her positiva account wasn't enough to dissuade them from their course of action.

January 7th was a quiet day in the camp, the five had expected to make more contact with the tribesmen. Nate made several flights over Terminal City, and the next morning reported that a large group of people was on their way to the camp. He radioed this information to his wife at 1230, promising to contact her again with more news four hours later. The Huoarani arrived at 3pm, and split into two different groups. Three women went one way, two of whom waded into the water. They were met by two of the missionaries, one of whom was speared from behind by Nampa, and the other killed whilst trying to make it known again that their motives were friendly. The other tribesmen, lead by Gikita, killed the rest of the missionaries before they had the chance to report the attack on the radio. They threw the bodies into the river and ripped the fabic from the plane. Fearing retribution they fled back to their village and burnt it to the ground to remove all trace of themselves. Some tribesman described hearing strange music and seeing lights in the sky, an experience they described as supernatural.

Marj Saint was immediately concerned when she did not recieve the promised four thirty call, but she did not share this news until later that evening. The next morning Johnny Keenan flew over the camp, and reported to the wives that the plane had been stripped and the men were not with it. Soon after a search team was gathered, including other missionaries and miliatry personel. The first two bodies were found on January the 12th, and later that of Ed McCulley's was found by tribesmen. They left the body were it was, and it was later washed into river and carried downstream. On the 12th two more bodies were found, and despite initial hopes, McCulley's was not among them. All five men were dead.

So what are we to make of this story? God is good and God is soveriegn. And He is always good, and always soveriegn. So how to explain the death of these five men? We'll look at that later on. But just to imagine what it must have been like for the men, for the wives, to have such a sense and passion of the glory of Christ, that you are willing to give away everything for it...and then to actually do takes your breath away. The only way to really end the story of five young men dieing thousands of miles from home, in the mission field for Christ is to let someone else do it.

This is what Barbera Youderian, wife of Roger wrote that night in January 1956:

'tonight the captain told us of finding four bodies in the river. One had tee-shirt and blue jeans. Roj was the only one who wore them...God gave me this verse two days ago, Psalm 48:14 'Gof this God is God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death'. As i came face to face with news of Roger's death, my heart was filled with praise. He was worthy of his homecoming. Help me, Lord, to be both mummy and daddy'

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Doing mission when death is gain: Introduction

I want to take some time to write about Operation Auca, about what doing mission when death is gain looks like. About what it really means to believe and live in Psalm 63:3. To hold the Kingdom, and the glory of the King more dearly than your own life. At the moment in my mind it looks like this. A brief introduction, an overview of what happened, a look at some of the protagonists and then a look at the aftermath. I'm sure that there will be repitition within the posts themselves, and that i will probably miss out some very important areas of the mission.


Operation Auca was an attempt by five American missionaries to take the Gospel to the Huaorani people of Ecudor. In the true spirit of the confidence found in Matthew 24:14, they were to go to another people group, another tongue, another tribe, and preach the Gospel secure in their calling, and in the victory of the risen Christ.

The Huaorani themselves numbered about 600 hundred, split into three mutually antagonistic groups, who lived in a river basin in eastern Ecuador. At the time of operation Auca they were recognised, infamously, as one of the most savage peoples in the world. They were known for fiercly defending their land against outsiders, any of whom they viewed as canibalistic attackers. Even before the missionaries got there, they were known for having killed rubber plant workers in the 1900s and shell oil workers in the 1940s. They were clearly a group of people in desperate need of the Gospel. In addition to this, the tribe was also known for violence against itself, with one family group regulaly attacking anothers homestead before fleeing, although this practice seemed to have died down slightly by 1955 and the arrival of the missionaries. Despite that they appear to be a people, and this appears to be a mission that was so dangerous, there is little need for hyperbole or exaggeration.

So what was it that made these five take on such a task? They were young, some of them newly married, some of them fathers...why did they go and do something that, on the face of it seems reckless and irresponsible. It seems that for Jim Elliot at least, the Urbana student missionary conferences that he attended left a serious mark, and we'll look more at the individual motivation when we look at the men themselves. But what did they see in the Bible that so many appear not to see today?

I've already alluded to two of my favourite verses in the Bible, Matthew 24:14 and Psalm 63:3. Aside from the precious, soul refeshing promises in Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, these are the verses i cling to. Isn't Matthew 24:14 fabulous? It seems to me the choice we are left with here is 'be doing evangelism, or be wasting your life'. There can be no cop out here. No 'waiting and seeing'. As sure as the end will come the Gospel will be proclaimed to all nations. All people groups. Every ethnicity. And when will the end come? When will we see the Son of God return in white hot glory? When the Gospel has been preached all over the world. Jesus has done the work for these people, so lets go and get them. May the Lamb recieve the glory due His name.
And Psalm 63:3 sums it up. The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, so we will praise God. What do you lose if you lose your life? What do you gain if you lose your life?

I don't know whether these verses had any impact on Operation Auca at all. I would imagine that what i see in the call of the Great Commission is a fraction, a shadow of what these guys saw. But what i do know is they saw Christ, and His suffering, and His victory, and His worth. And they went.

Justice for the 96

More here

'you'll never walk alone'

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why history is important

It's possible fairly ironic that i seem to have more affection for history now than at any time during my degree. Thats not quite true, bits of year 3 term 2 were pretty cool, and three or four of my history teachers are among some of my favourite people, but this afternoon i've spent time looking at history in two different ways, two important ways.

We'll do the last one first. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon in the company of King Josiah and King Hezekiah off of Israel, trying to get some sort of handle on Zephaniah (yeh, i actually love being a Relay Worker). Josiah has to be about on of my favourite people in the Old Testament. Whilst some of his men were try to refurbish the Temple, they found the covenant books of God, which i'm guessing are the first five books of the Bible in the Temple treasury. Now, quite how these were lost in the first place i don't know, but Josiah reads them and tears his clothes and repents. And then, and this is about my favourite bit, he goes around Judah on a destruction spree, trashing all the temples, high places and altars of the foriegn gods that his father and grandfather had caused Judah to sin by worshipping. Isn't that great. This is theology being lived lived out...and smashed out. Josiah had already been described as 'one who did right in the eyes of the LORD', which was increasingly rare those days, so he probably knew that things had gone wrong since the days of David and Soloman. He looked at history and saw that things needed to change, and man, did he change them. Perhaps not totally as Zephaniah suggests that there was still idol worship going on, but definately for the better.

And then what happens? His son becomes king, does evil in the sight of the LORD, and thats pretty much that for Judah, before being taken off into exile and captivity. Within about 11 years Jerusalem had fallen. Jehoiakim and Johoiachin both doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD. If only they'd paid attention to King Josiah, to a bit more history, maybe they would have learnt.

Hezekiah was king three generations earlier, and made the same kind of sweeping reforms that Josiah later would. He also fought off the Assyrians from more or less inside Judah. Good work. But then what happened? He died, and Manasseh and Amon both did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, leading Israel to sin. They didn't look back to David, or even just back to Hezekiah, and they sinned, Josiah did, and the Lord let him die before the exile. So history is important.

Here's the other, less important thing. I spent an hour at lunchtime at Wycombe printing off microfilm of Wycombe match reports from 1957 (yep i'm that cool) for something else i'm helping out with. Man, it was great, i could have done it all day. It was cool to look back at the games we played then, how good we were on the amatuer scene, how people got to games, all that jazz. History is important for small clubs like Wycombe. If we forget about people like Len Worley, Paul Bates and Geoff Truett, we'll forget where we come from, we'll forget why we exist. Recently Wycombe Wanderers have converted to being a PLC, and sold the name of the ground (fortunately now we've got it back) all in the name of progress, all in the name of playing in the 'Championship'. Well, frankly, i'd much rather still be a company limited by gaurentee, playing at a ground not shared with a rugby club, even if it meant we were a couple of divisions lower. Wycombe Wanderers should be a community club, looking backwards and looking forwards, not selling the family silver to chase a dream. I want Wycombe to be playing at the highest level they can sustain, and if thats only League One, or League Two, or the Conference, then fair enough.

Thats why history is important. Remember the lessons of the past, whether they are taught by David or Josiah or Len Worley, and apply them to now. Smash the idols, protect the football club.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2006- in review

In 2006 i:
  • stopped being on RUCU committee
  • turned 21
  • delighted to see people saved
  • graduated
  • spent spring and summer wresting with God, before entering winter delighted that He'd won (as if He ever wouldn't)
  • started Relay
  • moved to Guildford
  • was kept faithful by a wonderful God
  • spent more on books than cds for the first time
  • read more than i ever have done, the pick of the bunch being 'Living the Cross Centred Life' by CJ Mahaney, 'A Call To Spiritual Reformation' by Don Carson, 'Future Grace', by John Piper and 'The Mortification Of Sin' by John Owen
  • spent a couple of weeks in Scotland, and enjoyed days in Rushden and Fulham, as well as various adventures with other Relay workers.
  • looked forward to the future...