Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mark 9:43-49

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' For everyone will be salted with fire.

Some famous words from Jesus, from the sermon on the mount, where He expanded upon and explained the Law. These are harsh words as Jesus explains that it's not the outside that matters most. Jesus is not primarily concerned with what people looked like on the outside. If He was, then the pharisees would have been His best friends. Instead, they killed Him. So it's pretty clear that Jesus is interested in something other than the outward appearnaces.

And i guess at first from this passage it's easy to see what He's concerned with. He wants us to cut ourselves up to stop us sinning right? He's concerned with our hands and our eyes and our feet, not anything else. But does Jesus literally want us to cut bits of ourselves off? Well no, i don't think so. I think we need to look at where sin comes from, what the the actual cause of it is, the start of the problem rather than the agent of it. If we cut our eyes out, we'd still lust, we'd still want to steal things if our hands were cut off. So that can't be what Jesus is getting at. He can't just be telling us to cut bits of ourselves off. Because it's not the parts of our body that are the problem.

It's our hearts.

Our hearts are idol factories. Our minds are dark and futile and we need to stop listening to them, and to turn our hearts away from our minds. I think that what Jesus is getting at here. We need a new heart and that will mean that our hands, our feet and our eyes will stop causing us problems.

But how do we get new hearts? How can we cut out our hearts? We come to Jesus. Come to Jesus and get a new heart. Come to Jesus and start again. Thats what He's calling us to here. This is a harsh message, but it's one full of grace, it's one that says 'ed, you can't do this, so come to me, and i will'. We can not sort ourselves out. I think Jesus is using these words to get us to admit to the real problem that we have. And i don't know about you, but the problem with me, is my heart. Not my hands or my feet, but my heart. And what grace there is that Jesus knows this, and watns to deal with this problem and can deal with this problem and will deal with this problem.

The great exchange that took place on the cross gave me a new heart. He got all my sin, all the things that i do that means my hands need cutting off and casting away, and i got His perfect heart. Which is not to say that i now have that heart, but that it is counted to me. I still do things that would need to the cutting off of my hand because they would condenm me to hell. But Jesus has paid the price for them. My sin was counted, imputed to Him, and His righteousness was counted and imputed to me. And now thats what the Father sees.

So these are harsh words from Jesus, because He is holy and sin is serious. But they are graceful words. He pulls our attention to the problem, the problem that will be solved for those that believe on the cross.

Look away from yourself. Seek God and what He alone can do for you. Moral improvement of the old you is not whats needed. New life is what the whole world needs. It is outside of our control. The dead new not give themselves new life. We must be born again, 'not of the will of the man, nor of the flesh, but of God.' (John 1:13)
'What Jesus demands from the world', John Piper, P39

Monergism is the doctrine that the Holy Spirit alone works to bring about saving faith in people. Now, i'm not exaclty neutral when it comes to this, and i've just spent some time in Ephesians 2:1-10, but it's a doctrine that i wholeheartedly ascribe to. The primary mover and agent in our salvation is God. And that is very good news. There was, and is, nothing in me that is attracted to God. It all had to be and has to be the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart.

The new website was up from the start of this week. It's very good, with lots of articles and sermon MP3s, as well as lots of books that i want to buy! Go take a look...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Things i learnt

Mission week was a while ago now, but here are some things i learnt during the week.

  • I am very thankful for Red Bull, creme eggs and bananas, which to a varying degree kept me going through the week.
  • People are willing to talk about things if you give them a chance. God has written eternity on our hearts, and yet most of the time we waste talking about daytime tv and other things we do to out off boredom...thus trapping us in a circle. It's no wonder people are bored. So when we ask people to talk about things of eternity, they are normally ready to talk. Not that we need to chase after them, but they were created for relationship with God, so it's not all that surprising they are ready to talk about it.
  • It's ok to be ill. Dave, who does Relay in Cardiff spent a large part of the week asleep in my room. And if that had been me i would have been tearing my hair out and trying to come back onto campus long before i was ready. But it's far better to wait until you get better, because you'll be more effective in the end that way.
  • It's ok to rest. A good thing about Dave being ill was that i could come home every afternoon. I didn't have to be treading campus every hour of every day to be using my time well, and that was a cool thing to realise. On friday morning i hid in the Chaplaincy with Mark Driscoll, and that was cool too. And pretty much neccesary.
  • Mission weeks can be great catalysts, and that's kind of their point i guess. Just because the whole of campus didn't get saved doesn't mean that there was no poin in doing it. The fact that Arran got saved meant that there was every point in doing it. But it's helped us to see how important evangelism is, how it's not that actually scary, and how the Gospel really really is good news, and sharing it with people really really does work. So CU mission weeks don't minimise mission for the rest of the year, they spark it.
  • I am greatful for the example of other Godly men in my life. When i was at RUCU i was always jealous of the AMs who came to help us out because they could do it full time and not worry about work. Not that i ever worried about work that much anyway but anyway. Spending time with AMs during those weeks was a really valuable time. Some of them convinced me to do Relay, some of them showed me how to do good conversational evangelism. All of them impacted me in a good way.
  • If you put on good lunchtime events people will come.We had on average about 80 people at each lunchtime. They didn't all come for the food! People want to know why we go on about Jesus so lets tell them!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

the great decay

Aside from the Bible, John Piper's book 'don't waste your life' has had the most profound effect on me of anything i've ever read. Others come close, 'Desiring God', 'God is the Gospel', 'the shock of your life' and the 'mortification of sin' to name but a few, but this book gave the clearest and dearest glimpse of what Philippians 1:21 and Psalm 63:3 might actually mean.

desiringGod have just started to release DWYL vodcasts, (seriously, we've got to come up with a better name than that) you can see the latest one, as well as links to the others here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Gospel foolishness

I don't think i'll ever come away from sharing the Gospel feeling it went well. There's always an objection that i haven't seen and an argument i can't deal with...even in my own head, let alone theirs. And thats hard because it hurts my pride, which i don't like.

One thing that i've really realised over the last couple of weeks is when Paul says the Gospel is a foolish message, he wasn't lying. I mean obviously he wasn't, but it's really really true. Just like everything in the Bible...anyway. Jews demanded a sign, Greeks demanded wisdom, Muslims seem to demand a God who didn't hang out with prostitutes, and if this morning at multi faith week was anything to go by, Pagans (i mean actual pagans) demand a God who didn't kill His Son and doesn't send people to Hell. And if we've got any integrity we can't give them that. We tell them a message that they actually laugh at...again, not good for the pride.

But thats ok. And it's ok for two reasons. I'm glad that my pride gets hurt. Because it's not about my pride. It's about the glory of God. It's about trusting in the power of the Word and the Gospel. Not in my clever arguments. And i'm not the world's greatest apologist, but even if i was, that wouldn't make any difference. I'll be humbled as much as i need to be in evangelism, because God wants the glory Himself, He doesn't want me to have any. And thats really ok.

Which leads me to thinking about the wisdom of God. Why isn't His wisdom more like mine? Why didn't He make the Gospel...y'know...make more sense. Because Him, even in His foolishness, is much much much wiser than me. He knows what people need to be saved. He knows that our biggest problem is not intellectualism, or the lack of it...but sin, and seperation from God. And it's the cross that deals with that. Dealing with our biggest problem, once for all, is pretty wise. I couldn't have done that, i couldn't have thought of that. When i was drawing our creation, i wouldn't have based it all around a Godman on a cross. I don't know what people need. But God does, so all i've got to do is tell people that Jesus dieing for them meets their greatest. deepest, most serious need.

But what do i do about feeling like a failure after sharing the Gospel? Well, first of all i guess i just plain get over it and repent of my pride: 'but i'm a Relay can he not listen to me', and trust God. And i remember what, yeh you guessed it, 2 Corinthians 4 says. I present the Gospel without change or deviation, and pray that God would open blind eyes, and soften dead hearts by His Spirit, so that people can see the glory of God in Christ, and be saved.

So it's ok that the Gospel is foolish, because it's only foolish to our dark, futile minds...and it's wise to the only wise God, to the great God. It's ok to feel bad when you walk away, because it's about God's glory, not mine. And it's ok for my pride to get hurt, because it grives the Holy Spirit...

Thursday, February 22, 2007


more photos from the 2007 resolved conference here

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You can't see California

McCheyne has lead me to Leviticus. I know almost nothing about this book except it's meant to be where most 'read the whole Bible' people lose heart and stop, and that John Piper once described it as a 'bloody book'.

He wasn't wrong.

I'm only three chapters in at the moment but there is a great deal of blood involved. Goats' blood, sheeps' blood...even doves were sacrificed to the Lord. Imagine what the altar, where the blood was thrown must have looked like with all that blood thrown against it. Imagine the smell, the sounds of animals being sacrificed, the juxtaposition of the all the gold and fine twined linen mixed with animal entrails. It sounds pretty grusome.

So whats it all about? People trying to keep on the good side of a blood-lusting deity? A ritual? A way of keeping down the animal population. The people surrounded by the blood and entrails would have thought about none of this. They would have looked at this scene and realised two things. God is Holy. Sin is serious.

God demands satisfaction for sin. He is a just God, and can't let sin go unpunished. But because He is a just God and keeps His promises, He won't just wipe out His people when they sin, He will give them a home instead. So He provided a substitute for them in sheep and goats. God is holy.

Sin is serious. There is a link between people's sin and animals blood. If the people hadn't sinned, no blood would have been shed. But the people sinned, so blood had to be shed. Something had to die. Sin is that serious. Sin leads to death. Sin is serious.

Except how can a Holy God really be satisfied with goats blood, when it's men that have sinned? What sort of God excepts second best? No sort of God. When the Father was planning creation before it begun, He wasn't drawing a map of Eden, He was drawing a map of Calvary. All of time and space and history points towards Jesus on the throne. Points towards Jesus as the ultimate lamb. As the ultimate substitute. Providing blood that would satisfy the Father in a way that all the goats and lambs never ever would. Because Jesus, the infinite, eternal Son of God became a man, never sinned, and was slaughtered, like a lamb, as a substitute for the punishement men deserve. He died in a far more brutal and painful way than anything that died in Leviticus did.

What an awesome God who would rescue His poeple. We need to have faith in the Faithful One. We need to believe in the promises of God, and rejoice, and trust. What a great thing to worship a God who is holy and just and loving and compassionate and has found a way to be all those things at once...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Luca's reprise

Here are some reasons i like expository preaching.

Respect for the Word.
No one should be reading the Bible randomly, just picking it up and reading whatever page falls open. So no one should be encouraged to do that. Going through the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse from the front in church encourages me to read the Bible like that.

Respect for God.
God gave us the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He gave it to us as a book which talks about His redemption plan in time and space. If it was better for us to have the Bible in topics thats what He would have done. He'd have given us a book about sex, a book about giving, a book about evangelism, a book about the Holy Spirit and whatever else. But He didn't. Going through books one step at a time and you'll get to those things, but in God's place and at God's pace. Doing it this way also forces us to look at things we'd never choose to.

It feeds God's people.
God's word doesn't return to Him void. Our words probably mostly will. So we need to let God do the speaking, and just explain what He says. People are starving for God's words to speak to them, to feed and nourish them. The best way for it to do that is to be taught in context and in the story. I don'tneed life skills training, i need my heart to be blown away by the might and the glory of God in Jesus Christ!

It's just plain easier.
If you're going through a book a chapter at a time he knows where he's going, and so do we. The week isn't spent wondering what next sundy will look like. Next sunday will look like Romans 12 or Ezra 1 or whatever it is. The preacher knows where he's going and so do we. It's got to be easier to prepare a sermon from one bit of the Bible than to be jumping from verse to verse trying to draw out a point. There's meaning in the text, in every part of the Bible, so tell people what it is! It also means that people listening know where we're going next.

Mission weeks (3)

19-23 Feb

Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge
Bath University
Brunel University
Hatfield University
Northumbria University
St Andrews University
Swansea University

Sunday, February 18, 2007

a---b life

I notice my motivation for evangelism changing over time. At first i just didn't do it, then i did it because otherwise i'd feel guilty, the i did it because of a hunger for the glory of God. This week i did out od desperation for people not to go to hell. I even chased one girl with a flyer. She didn't show up. I think both the last two are worthy in their own, not dissimialar way. I hope the rest of my time in Guildford is spent making sure as few UniS students as possible are trusting in themselves on judgement day.

It's good to rest. I wish i'd remembered that before friday morning when i retired to hang out with Moses, Soloman and Mark Driscoll. Now thats a party eh? I love doing mission weeks, but its so easy to be distracted from the Lord by serving the Lord. And He doesn't want or need our service per se, He wants us. And He owns the universe, so we should give Him what He wants. And you know what? Thats the best thing for us as well. How wonderful it is that there is no contradiction between my all consmuing desire for satisfaction and God's all consuming desire for His own glory. This is a good thing! I'm pleased that He's made things so that every thing else leaves us feeling dissatisfied. Let's join in with Christ's eternal plan to make the Father famous everywhere. Thats the best thing we can do.

Which is not to say that enjoying other things is bad. I like steak, i like good company, i like football, i like good things that make me feel good. But only because they all point to the ultimate good...Jesus Christ, who points you nowhere but further into Himself. Christianity is the ultimate form of hedonism. And worship of the universe's greatest Hedonist.

On that note give this an hour of your time. It might release you from the soul destroying tedium of settling for second best.

I also like loud music. mewithyou are probably the most majestic band around at the moment. And none of you have ever heard of them. They play in pubs in Kings Cross during mission week. I am also currently enjoying Brand New and Biffy Clyro.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Kath Arnold often says wise things in a very off the cuff manner. The sort of thing that i would have to rehearse for a couple of days at least before throwing out there. One thing that got me thinking recently was 'i don't care what label she uses, i just want her to know Jesus is the way yhe truth and the life'.

And here's the thing, it's Jesus and dust. Doctrine is more or less justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and dust. Jesus and stamp collecting. Thats not always true all the time. I'm prepared to spend my life defending propitiation because i am convinced the Bible teaches it and that it is deeply unloving to deny it. But Gospel unity is the best thing ever, and it's great to unite around the things that are really important. I guess perhaps thats my point, that we need to find unity over the essentials and divisity and room and love over the non essentials. We can't afford to fall out over areas where the Bible isn't clear. We just can't. There aren't enough of us!

It measns that Bible believing Christians can find unity with each other be they Charismatic or cessationalist, or whatever other secondary divisions you care to think of. This doesn't mean that we suddenly form alliances with prosperity gospel people, or emergent village people...but then they are excluded by the fact they don't particularly like the Bible. And if you hate the Bible, you hate God.

I'm not really arguing against labels per se. I quite like knowing that i'm an (deep breath) a mill post trib Reformed charismatic calvinist and goodness me i love talking about that stuff. We just need to keep the first things first, and the second things very much second...

Friday, February 16, 2007


a picture tells a thousands words. which is good because i have no words right now, just pictures

words soon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


we had a packed lunchbar on the topic of 'is Christianity western' this afternoon. we've been moved to a bigger room on for the rest of the week. this morning we were out flyering and doing questionnaires to let people know whats going on on campus this week give them the chance to consider Jesus for themselves.

please pray for:
the general health of the AMs, especially dave
for CU students who haven't yet got involved to bring their friends to events
for the guys who have come to every event to keep coming and have open hearts
for Aaron who is very close to making a commitment
that we wouldn't tire of telling the truth.

praise God for:
His strength when we are weak and tired
the extra help we're getting tomorrow
Ben Carswell, our main speaker
the people that keep coming to the events
the enthusiasm of those who are involved

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Surrey Mission day 2

Please pray for:

The Muslims who keep coming to our events, this is so exciting and very encouraging to see what God's doing in their lives. Most of thier questions/objections come down to either a rejection of incarnation or a misunderstanding of the Trinity, so please pray that God would open their eyes.

A bigger venue for our lunchbars
For Ben who is doing six of the last 7 talks, for strength and wisdom
For students and AMs that we would rest enough and spend time with God and never tire of telling the truth.
That tudents would invite their friends

Praise God for:
moving us to a bigger venue for todays lunchbar
so many people are coming, there were 80 at the lunchbar, almost unheard of here
The Gospel and it's power
the freedom we've had in campus to flyer and serve teas and coffees.

thank you!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Surrey Mission day 1

Prayer and Praise


For the large numbers at this afternoons lunch bar
for Ben's talk which was clear and thought provoking
For the guys we spoke to when serving teas and coffees
For the turnout for flyering among the CU itself


For the Muslim Society committee who came to the first talk and spent ages chatting afterwards, that they've have open hearts and come again
For Peline, a muslim girl who i spoke to for about 10 minutes after the talk and promised to come to every event this week
For Aaron, who, in his own words 'want to pay for my own sin and isn't bothered abut enjoying God forever'
For Ben as he prepares for tonights talk
For me and the rest of the AMs, that they would get enough rest and time with God this week

and to that end, off i go...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mission weeks (2)

12-16 Feb

Bangor University
Durham University (Queens Campus)
Newcastle University
Sunderland University
University of Wales, Lampeter
Luton University
Nottingham University
Reading University
Sheffield Hallam
University of Surrey
University of Central England
University of Central Lancashire

Saturday, February 10, 2007

the road leads where it led

Obviously i'm aware that not everything written by and old dead dude is great...otherwise we wouldn't have needed the Reformation. I am at the moment reading 'Glorious Freedom' a 200 page exposition on 2 Corinthians 3:17 and 18 by Richard Sibbes. The puritans were thorough, you can give them that. I now reproduce some of it...

Therefore Christians must not be discouraged with the stubborness and unwillingness of the flesh to do good duties. If we have a principle in us to fight our corruptions and to get good duties out of ourselves that is an argument for the new nature. God will perfect His own beginnings and submit the flesh more and more by the Spirit. We see what a sweet excuse our blessed Savior made for His disciples when they were dead hearted and drowsy, when they should have comforted Him in the garden: 'oh,' said he, 'the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak' is not so much corruption, though that were an ingredient, but nature itself. Christ saw a great deal of gold in the ore, so we see how He excused them...

I say this for the comfort of the best sort of Christians who think they are not set at liberty by the Spirit because they find some heaviness and dullness in good duties. As i said, while we live here, sin lives in us, but it does not reign...the Spirit of Christ maintains constant battle agains sin...

When the Israelites had a promise that God would give their enemies into their hands, the meaning was not that He would do it without a blow. They would fight, but in fighting they would overcome. So this is the liberty of sanctification is not a liberty that ends our combat with sin, but a liberty to keep them under, until subduing them little by little we have a perfect victory. What greater encouragement can a man have to fight his enemy than to know he is sure of final victory before he has begun.

There is so much wisdom and truth in there, but there are two things i really want to pick out. First of all that the freedom the Holy Spirit gives is a freedom to fight knowing that that the fight is won. We can take heart in the fact that there is enough grace to keep us faithful in the future. Just like there was in the past. Christ could have given us total and complete victory over sin in this life, but in His wisdom He hasn't. I guess so we can taste and see just how much better and greater and more glorious He is than sin. Because we have to fight for Him. Also, Christ remembers our nature. Our wonderful Savior knows our flesh is weak, knows were are sleeping when He needs us the most. He wants our hearts to be towards Him, then He can go to work on the rest of us. And work He will, and win He will.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Dwayne and Soloman

We watched Little Miss Sunshine on team days, a film that i think given half a chance may become one of my favourites. Some of it was a little cloase to home though. One of the characters in the film, Dwayne, reminded me a lot of myself before i was saved. Not in the vow of silence wanting to be in the air force way. But just feeling like a disposable teen, hating everyone, feeling like there was nothing to live for. The scene where he found out he'd never get in the air force, through no fault of his own basically made me want to cry. Seriously. And it makes me think three things.

First of all, thank God for the grace which is changing me from Dwayne to Jesus more and more every day. And man, i'm still vile and wretched but Christ is there by His Spirit and He will win. Secondly, it reminded me of how burdened i used to feel for my own generation. You know the modern west is the first culture to not try and teach people en masse why they exist? No wonder my generation is such a shambles. No one thought to tell them why they were born. Partly this was obscured by a burden for students and unreached peoples, but my generation needs a lot of sorting out.

Which brings me to point three. It's oh so easy to malign emo kids and goths, telling them to 'cheer up' or whatever. But we need to reach out to them. They're depressed because no one's told them about Jesus. Because they have nothing to live for. And just because they want to express that by dressing like a 2004 version Gerard Way doesn't give anyone any right to sneer at them. I used to love being in Reading when the festival was in town...these kids were by kin, my brothers. If it wasn't for the cross i'd be there with them. Jesse Lacey would be my god and nietzsche my inspired author. They can be saved, they can be 2 Corinthians 3:18'd because i was. And here's the other thing, what has a nihilist or a transcendentalist actually got to be happy about? What has anyone got to live for without Christ?

Driving back to the snow laden Chiltern Hills yesterday Mark Driscoll told me about Ecclesiastes 1. Soloman tried everything that we try to find meaning and fulfillment and happiness. He was the wisest, richest, most powerful man in the world. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Surely he was the happiest man who ever lived right? He had it all. He did have it all...and what did he conclude? Meaningless,'s all meaningless. Thats how his lament opens. All of life is empty vapour, all of life is nothing. Trying to work it out is like trying to catch the wind.

Without Christ.

Christ owns the universe. A life lead without reference to Him is going to be meaningless, is going to be empty. It's going to be a waste. Thats who my generation needs, thats who Soloman needed. Jesus Christ, the infinate, eternal, Son of God. All things were made through Him and to Him and for Him. So the only way we can live...and really live is for Him and through Him and to Him. Get Christ sorted out and you'll get yourself sorted out.

What a message. What a weighty calling that no man will ever be worthy of. I hope that, as mission weeks starts in Surrey on sunday afternoon i am ready to herald to coming of the King of the universe. I hope i am.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

just a little longer

Just back from some lovely Team Days in Hove, which is bigger than i imagined it. Me and Olly both thought that 'hove was just a bit tacked on the side of Brighton' but its actually a real place...anyway.

We spent a lot of time over the last couple of days just sitting and being with God, just enjoying Him and talking to Him and listening to Him and spending some time in, in my case, Psalm 145. I guess it was kind of a retreat from the manic busyness of the next couple of weeks, which was lovely. It really made me think about how little time i actually spend doing that. Even in my quiet times mostly when i'm praying i'm moving through a mental list of things and people that i want to bring before the Father rather than just sitting and looking and being. And i take time to thoughtfully and prayerfully read the Bible, but i'm always looking to the end of the passage, to the next portion, to what i'm doing next. Even when i'm sitting and just reading i'm trying to get some pages behind me, trying to soak up as much as i can...even when i'm resting i'm still thinking of the next thing, the next page. I'd love to think that this is some super spiritual thing. And in some ways maybe it is...that nothing will give us peace except Jesus, nowhere will be restful except Him...that we'll never feel completly at home until we are really Home. Maybe thats it, but maybe i'm just very impatient!

Which is why these days were so good. Having thirty minutes to just be with God, climb up into His arms and just be. It's a fairly major charecter flaw of mine that i really struggle to just settle and be. Even when i'm holiday the question on my lips is almost always, 'whats happening next?'...which isn't so great. It's also why i only feel now like i'm really settling into Guildford, really enjoying being here and loving church. And i'm very greatful for that! We also watched Little Miss Sunshine, which i'll think about later...

(it seems that the infallible Dan Hames has climbed inside my head and written a

space ships...they won't understand

It's not all fun and games doing Relay....

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Psalm 96

Here are some notes from one of Mo's talks at Relay 2.

God is more glorious than we can ever imagine.

Verse one starts by addressing the whole world...tell the whole world about the salvation He has made available. We all should be rejoicing, the whole world should be rejoicing because of the work of the Lord. We should rejoice because of the Lord and what He has done. God's people need to declare this truth, we need to declare the name and glory and works of the Lord.

Verse four says that God is great and greatly to be praised and feard. All the other gods that people worshipped then and worship now are mute harmful, pointless idols. There is no glory in them, no worth in them at all. God made the Heavens, made everything there is, so how can anyone consider worshipping something created instead of the Creator Himself? There is slendour and majesty and strength and beauty in the Lord. This is why we need to tell's good for people to hear and respond about and to the glory of God. And when we realise the glory of God it will appall us that people worship anything else, and this will spill over into evangelism. There are no borders to this mission, this Psalm addresses the whole world, and should affect every part of our lives.

So come and tell God how great He is, how worthy He is of praise. We should tremble before Him because He is going to judge the world. He reigns, and this is to be our message. So God is going to judge, and judge with equity. And this is a joyful thing. The world is crying out for justice. God is moving all of history to this point, to the point of His judgement. So God's people need to be aprt of this, we need to show people what God is like, because He is who He is. And He will judge the world with righteousness. And this will cause the earth to rejoice (v11)

We need to be convinced that the world should respond. He made the world and everything in it so people should be worshipping Him. We need to grasp this, we need to call people to worship the Judge, to be hidden in Him from His own judgement, because thats what we were created to do, and that's what we'll spend all of eternity together. We need to be convinced of this in our worship and our evangelism. We need a deep knowledge of God. A knowledge of God that will overspill into worship and into evangelism, for the supremacy of the Creator, and the joy of His worshippers...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mission Weeks (1)

There are something like 50 mission weeks going on across Universities in the UK this term. At the start of every week, as long as i remember/don't lose the piece of paper with them written on, i'll post the coming weeks missions, so we can pray...

3-10 Feb
Durham University

5-7 Feb
St Martin's College, Ambleside

5-9 Feb
Birmingham University
Cardiff University
All Edinburgh Universities
Essex University
Oxford University
University of Glamorgan
Macclesfield College
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Plymouth University
joint Leeds and Leeds Met University

7-17 Feb
Cambridge University

It's hard for me to look at that list and not get very excited, to look at it and not pray and hope that all over Britian people are being delivered from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Thousands and thousands of students will hear the Gospel this week, and then the week after and then the week after. Thats worth getting excited about...

Sunday, February 04, 2007


There is a wonderful, liberating simplicity that comes with finding out what the Bible says, and doing it. Abhoring the evil, holding fast to the good for example, going and sinning no more. Perhaps it would be better to say 'finding out what the Bible says and then getting on our faces to ask for help'. But you get my point. It would probably save us from all sorts of undue pain and sin and stress.

2 Corinthians 3:18
is a great example of this. Look at the glory of the Lord and let it change you, believe in it's power, persue a vision of the glory of God. And i know this works because in a tiny way, i've caught sight of it working in my own life. Catching the faintest glimmer of the glory of God has made me hungry for more, hungry to change, hungry to love people and be like Jesus. So i know it works. And this is so liberating. It's liberating because it takes the responsibility off us. It's liberating because it puts us in a position of complete trust in God, who is, after all, far more concerned with His own glory in our lives than we are. This verse is good news, and it's news that works.

So lets do it. If w want to change, if we want to be changed from one degree of glory to another, lets persue a vision of the glory of God. We need to spend time in the Word, considering how amazing grace is and how awesome our Lord is. How high above us He is in every conceivable way and how He has saved us from Himself. How He worked out His great salvation plan. Lets pray that God would open up our hearts to see more of Him. And He'll do that so that we enjoy Him more and therefore bring Him more glory. And the glory of God will never run out, it will never run dry and we will never get tired of it. So lets be greedy to feast on the glory of God for our joy and His glory. We need to be reading good books. Books by people like John Owen, and CJ Mahaney and John Piper and huge numbers of others. People who can give us a bigger picture of God than we can see at the moment, who will share their wisdom with us. Spend time in the Word, spend time in prayer and spend time in good books, and hopefully we'll see more and more of the glory of God and be changed.

And we won't be like Moses. Moses saw the trail of God's glory and His face shone. But slowly this glory faded and he had to wear a veil. That won't happen with us, we won't lose our vision of the glory of God if we keep seeking it. We have the glory of God inside us, dwelling in us by His Spirit that will never fade and never grow old. And there will always always be more.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

saturday superhouse

[I just moved to blogger Beta, although, i mostly didn't have a choice, hooray for Google! I made a right hash of it though by accidentally entering an email address that doesn't actually we'll see what happens.] what happened was i have to remember what my accidently wrong email address is, and then i can sign in. *sigh* So anyway, today, as i've already mentioned i'm going to Above Bar Church in Southampton to do a seminar for Reading Cell Leaders. My own cell leaders weekend away was three years ago this weekend, which makes me feel very old. But here's the thing, it was one of the least good weekends i've ever had. Now thats nothing to to with the weekend itself, that was good. Its always good to hang our with Christians and get the Word open, though i probably think that much more now than i did then, i was just sad about a girl. But that was enough. Anyway, i loved leading cell, and now going back to help out train the next generation, who i guess are my great-grandchildren in leading cells is an amazing priviledge. I love looking back and seeing what God has done in the last three years. And now i've gone from the dude who barely said a word all weekend, to a dude who wants to get up and yell about Christ being Lord at Reading Uni. It's a funny, wonderful thing grace. And i like it!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

ten things i stole about you

On saturday i'm going to Above Bar Church to co-lead a seminar for Reading CU cell leaders, something that i'm very excited about and that i view as a real priviledge. One of the things me and Nicola are doing is helping Cell Leaders think about the local church. Here are ten things about what sort of church we should look for from Josh Harris' book 'stop dating the church'
as ever all the good stuff is from Josh, anything a bit dodgy is mine. Go and buy his book, it's really good.

We need to be involved, regularly attending and serving at one local church. Just one. None of this ‘one church for the worship and one for the teaching’ nothing about ‘I go here in the morning and here in the evening’ both those attitudes make you impossible to pastor and keep accountable, and show a terrible lack of regard for what God’s plan for the church is.

So here are ten things from ‘Stop Dating The Church’ by Josh Harris.

1. Is it a church where God’s word is faithfully taught?
2 Timothy 3:16 says ‘all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction and training in righteousness.’ So we need to be part of a church where God’s word is submitted to. Most churches give a non to scripture, in notices and preaching, but its more than that. Donald Whitney says ‘the sort of church we want to be part of is one where, when the Bible is read at the beginning of a sermon we can be sure that what follows will be built upon it. God knows what’s best for our hearts, and He made our hearts for the Word of God. Nothing nourishes us like His message’. So we need to be in a church where the Bible is faithfully taught.

2. Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?
Acts 2:42 tells us that the first believers ‘devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching’, and we have that teaching today in the Bible. The word ‘doctrine’ may sound dull and boring, but doctrine is simply what the Bible says about any given subject. So it’s important. We need to be in a church that is firm in believing and teaching Biblical truth, where what the Bible says makes a difference. We should be able to agree with what our church teaches on a subject.

3. Is this a church where the Gospel is cherished and proclaimed?
We need to be in a church where it is explained how the work of Christ makes a daily difference in our lives. The Gospel is the announcement of Jesus perfect life, sacrificial death and risen Lordship. We don’t need to be told that we are loveable people in need of a relationship, we need to be told that we are sinners and our only hope of escaping God’s wrath is though the grace of Jesus. Spurgeon says ‘don’t go where it is all fine music and grand talk, those things will neither feed the stomach nor nourish the soul. Go where the Gospel is preached, where it feeds your soul, and go often’

4. Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the Gospel?
Jesus commissioned every follower to go and reach people with the Gospel, so we need to part of a church that not only celebrates the Gospel, but is dedicated to reaching people with it. Without an emphasis on evangelism churches will become selfish and inward looking, the clear message of the Gospel should never be changed to make it more marketable however. People are never served by a church that is more concerned with being marketable than faithful.

5. Is this a church where the leaders are characterised by humility and integrity?
No pastor is perfect, but we need to find men who we can trust and follow. 1 Timothy lists the Biblical qualifications for leadership, things including being above reproach, sober minded, self controlled, hospitable, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. These are all personal things, as no amount of training in the world is as important as a Godly character. The most effective, Biblical leaders view themselves and servants, stay accountable and don’t view themselves as immune to sin.

6. Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s word?
No church will ever perfectly obey God’s word. What is important is a church where people try to live as well as believe rightly. Our faith and our desire to honour God should affect everything we do and if it doesn’t, something is wrong. The church we want to be a part of it will be one that seeks to hear and obey God’s word, and not just win converts but disciple people according to God’s Word.

7. Is this a church where I can find and cultivate Godly relationships?
We need relationships that give us encouragement and accountability and help us to grow and an essential part of living God’s way is being connected to other Christians. We want to be in a church which provides a setting for fellowship, encouragement and application of scripture. This will look different at different churches. We need to be able to invest in relationships with people at our church…so it needs to be local.

8. Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?
Pastor’s aren’t people paid to do ministry at the expense of the members of the church. Ephesians 4:12 says that Pastors are to equip the saints for ministry. So we want to be in a church where we are encouraged and challenged to serve. That’s not to say we should look for the best way to showcase our talents, but that we should be in an environment where service is looked for, and cheerfully given.

9. Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?
This may sound old fashioned but we want to be in a church that will remove us from membership if we backslide into unrepentant sin. Disciple in important in the community of believers, and something instituted by Jesus in Matthew 18. We can gain a huge amount of confidence from being in a church that will lovingly confront us with God’s word when we commit some scandalous sin, and that having given us time would plead with us to change, and then if we were still unrepentant, lovingly kick us out and treat us as an unbeliever as in 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2. This is not to be treated lightly, but we all know that hypocrisy can destroy a church and any church committed to glorifying God will value and define membership. We want to be able to know who is a part of the church and who isn’t. Disciple is important to guard against false teachers and heresies.

10. Is this a church I’m willing to join ‘as is’ with trust and faith in God?
We shouldn’t marry someone with the aim of trying to change them into the person we want them to be, and so neither should we join a church with the aim of overhauling it. We need to be in a church that we can be excited about, that we can join with faith in God and trust in it’s mission. Leave your gripes and complaints at the door and get involved!

If you feel a bit overwhelmed by 10 points, just have three. Join a church, one local church, and these are the non-negotiables:
• A church that teaches God’s word
• A church that values God’s word
• A church that lives God’s word