Thursday, 20 November 2008

Leaving your Christianity at the work-place door

Yes... it's been a while!!!

Yesterday the news was reporting the leak of a list of contact details of members of the BNP (British Nationalist Party). Nick Griffin was quoted saying “anyone should be allowed to be in any job as long as they leave their politics at the work place door”. In the letter of ‘regret’ about the leak, Nick quotes an external source stating that there is no reason why “BNP members cannot be teachers, provided they leave their politics at the school gates”

How easy is that do you think? Can you become a neutral person, just by entering a building? Can you leave your core values at the school gate? Is it even fair to be asked to do so?

The BNP’s Mission Statement is “to secure a future for the indigenous peoples of these islands in the North Atlantic which have been our homeland for millennia”. (Indigenous, according to the BNP, means “the people whose ancestors were the earliest settlers here after the last great Ice Age and which have been complemented by the historic migrations from mainland Europe.”) …

It continues “Increasingly our people are facing denial of service provision, failure to secure business contracts as well as poor job prospects as both reverse discrimination excludes our people from the school room, workplace and boardroom. A key role of the British National Party is to provide legal advice and support to victims of repression and those denied their fundamental civil rights.”

This leads to the following stances:
Immigration: ensure native British people will not become an ethnic minority (by calling immediate halts to immigration, deporting criminal and illegal immigrants, offering generous financial incentives for immigrants to return to their lands of ethnic origin)
Economy: selective exclusion of foreign-made goods to British markets, ensuring manufactured goods are, wherever possible, produced in British factories, employing British workers

So, can people really put such ingrained views to one side? Is that a lack of passion to the cause? Does it lead to a dichotomy of belief versus action, particularly in the work place?

James (2:18) would say “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”. Belief and action go hand-in-hand… one goes to show the other.

So it is not possible to leave your politics, your core values, your principles, your belief, at the office-door or school-gate, for such things cannot be forgotten, and such things must be acted upon.

So is “anyone can be in any job, as long as they leave their politics at the work place door” a fair statement? I think not. It feels like a bad state of society today, where we are so shallow and fickle in our beliefs… that we can even suggest that we are to, or even can, leave our politics, or our religion, at the work place door.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Calling Christian Leaders

John Stott’s “Calling Christian Leaders” is a very helpful set of short chapters, teaching from 1 Corinthians 1-4.

In chapter 1, looking at 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, Stott shows us the ambiguity of the church, that the church today: is sanctified, yet still sinful, and called to be holy (v2, v11); is enriched, yet still defective as it longs for the return of Christ (v5-8); is united, yet still divided (v10-17).

Chapter 2 get us into 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5, showing how power is to be found in weakness, when it comes to Christian leadership. A weak message, of Christ crucified (yet the powerful way God saves), a weak preacher (that faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power), reaching weak, foolish, lowly people (that the glory would rest with God, not proud, arrogant man)…

Stott then goes on to look at 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, being concerned to show us here the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Stott helpfully brings out 4 stages: that the Spirit searches, knowing even the deep things of God (v10); the Spirit reveals God’s salvation to the apostles (biblical authors) (v12); the Spirit inspires the apostles (biblical authors) to communicate God’s salvation to others (v13); the Spirit enlightens those who read the message (v13-16). It’s a call for the Christian leader to humble himself. To humble himself before Scripture, and study it diligently, but in absolute dependence on the Spirit, without whom, our hearts will remain dull, cloudy, deaf and blind.

The penultimate chapter concerns itself with 1 Corinthians 3, and Stott expands the three analogies that Paul uses to describe the church: God’s field (v5-9), God’s building (v9-16) and God’s temple (v16-17). Stott shows us how Christian leaders have nothing to boast about - it is only God who makes things grow; that Christian leaders mustn’t move on from Christ crucified, the foundation of the church, and the way a solid, durable church is built (not with the cheap, perishable teaching of the world); the Christian leaders mustn’t forget what the church is – “it may (in our view) consist of uneducated, unclean, unattractive people. And the congregation may be small and immature and factious. Nevertheless, it is the church of God, His dwelling place by His Spirit, and needs to be treated as such.” The chapter totally downplays the Christian leaders, as God the Father gives the growth, God the Son is its only foundation, and it is the dwelling place of God the Spirit.

Finally, Stott finishes with a look at 1 Corinthians 4. A particularly challenging chapter on who, or what, Christian leaders must be like: servants of Christ (v1); stewards of revelation (v1-2); the scum of the earth (v8-13); fathers of the church family (v14-21). That which underlines each of these 4 is humility, humility before Christ – whose subordinates we are; humility before Scripture – of which we are stewards; humility before the world – whose opposition we are bound to encounter; humility before the congregation – whose members we are to love and serve.

There’s a real challenge to our thinking in v8-13, as Stott gets us into some tough verses on what Christian leadership is like… heading to death in the amphitheatre, the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world, thirsty and hungry. Stott helpfully gets these verses under our skin… “..the difficulty we have in applying this text to ourselves may indicate how far we have drifted from the New Testament. True, the persecution of Christians is increasing in some (especially Hindu and Muslim) cultures. Yet most of use are not cursed, persecuted or slandered. Today, even in a non-Christian, pluralist or secular culture, it is still regarded as quite respectable even honourable to be an ordained clergyman. … but it is not everywhere thus, and it should certainly not be taken for granted. I think we need to listen again to the words of Jesus: ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26). Beware, I beg of you, of the temptation to be a popular preacher! I doubt if it is possible to be popular and faithful at the same time.”

Friday, 29 August 2008

A Gospel Chat leaving me with more questions than answers

I’d like to think more about something that happened this evening… any comments gratefully received…

Me and a mate went for a drink after work, catching up about the summer… at the end of our catch up, the pub was getting busy (noisy) so we headed outside to pray… found some seats in a quiet spot… off the street… We're praying and we're interrupted by a homeless guy, who wants to pray with us… we invite him, and he'd like us to pray for him, that he would stay off drugs (he was currently off drugs)… we prayed for him, attempting to get the Gospel in as we did, and he prayed too… He then asks "why did Jesus die for me?"… We explain, attempting to make it as simple as possible… The guy said that he prays each night… We get talking about whether he had somewhere to stay that night… and he didn’t… he needed money to stay in a hostel (I still don’t quite understand how homeless shelters charge for people to stay - maybe they don't - hence this post)… he then asks if we could help him out…

A number of things run through my head…
Has this praying and chat just been for him to get to this question… is that a realistic thing to think? is it me being sinfully judgemental? Maybe bit of both?

What do we do in those situations?

It happens a fair bit, walking past a homeless guy, and they ask for money… sometimes if there's somewhere nearby, I might offer to buy them some food or a drink… but the response is sometimes "I need money so I can stay in a hostel"… how should we balance Christian giving and charity, when we're not totally sure how the money will be used… should we be giving money if it's only going to be used on drugs or something, and not for a hostel? Have I not let the Gospel transform my thinking, or am I right to be suspicious?

Of course, theirs, as much as the top City professional going home to a large house in the country, only has one ultimate need, and that is to come to know Jesus and the forgiveness he offers at the Cross… certainly the priority in our conversation with this man.

As we leave him (my mate giving him some money) we hand him a copy of Mark's Gospel… we've only got an ESV… I think to myself: that's not exactly your easy-going translation (has our desire for accuracy made a less accessible Gospel? Can I even dare ask that????), but maybe coz it's narrative it'll be ok… then I had Acts 8:30-31 ringing in my ears. That then led me on to thinking: he needs to come to church… but I couldn't help thinking: would he feel comfortable, would he understand the sermon when basically it's aimed at graduates… and I just wasn't sure… and that's where I'm left… a bit tied up in my thoughts… (Greg is very much missing his sounding board)

Friday, 15 August 2008

An encouragement from Calvin

"whenever we are troubled at the small number of those who believe, let us counter that by calling to mind that none grasp the mysteries of God save those to whom it is given"

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Gospel According to Matthew According to Ben Cooper

Welcome to the Matthewphile... Ben Cooper's blog for his pretty intense work on Matthew:


Monday, 7 July 2008

Individuals in solidarity with the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement and Declaration

In June 2008 the Global Anglican Future Conference took place within the context of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

GAFCON was organized in response to the spread of wrongful theological teachings and practices within the Anglican Communion, demonstrated and symbolised by the ordination and consecration of people in active same-sex relationships and the formal blessing of same-sex unions, though by no means confined to these issues.

At the end of the Conference the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration were issued, which may be found here, and should be read before signing this petition.

On the 1st July 2008, two meetings took place at All Souls Church, Langham Place, England, the first for incumbents and other church leaders in the Church of England, the second particularly for members of Parochial Church Councils.

Arising from this, it was decided that an online petition should be made available for individuals and groups such as PCCs to indicate to the wider Anglican community the degree of support there is for the GAFCON movement within England.

Please only sign this petition if you are a member of the Church of England in England itself.

To access the petition, please click here.

Friday, 20 June 2008

The Wordle of God... what a find!!!

Well done to Geero for coming across this site....

Here's a wordle for Romans 3:21-26: (original can be seen here)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Success Is: prayer

Another great chapter from Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by
Kent and Barbara Hughes...

No time to write much on it... but to quote the illustration used in the
chapter helpfully summarises:

Some years ago a young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and
asked for a job. "That depends", replied the foreman. "Let me see you fell
this tree." The young man stepped forward and skilfully felled a great tree.
Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, "Start Monday!"
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by, and Thursday afternoon the
foreman approached the young man and said, "You can pick up your paycheck on
the way out today."
Startled, he replied, "I thought you paid on Friday." "Normally we do",
answered the foreman, "but we're letting you go today because you have
fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you've dropped from first
place on Monday to last place on Wednesday."
"But I'm a hard worker", the young man objected. "I arrive first, leave
last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!"
The foreman, sensing the boy's integrity, thought for a minute and then
asked, "have you been sharpening your axe?"
The young man replied, "I've been working too hard to take the time."
[quoted from William D. Boyd, "I Work Too Hard!"]

The Grace of my God

A cracking song here on Bish's blog

Great to sing great truths... without the "Jesus my Girlfriend" factor!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Hearing from Calvin, second hand

Went to an AMAZING "bookshop" last week, well, more of a house stacked FULL of second hand books... some very old indeed... was great to pick up some Calvin commentaries for under a £10... brilliant... Romans for a fiver, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians set for £2 - remarkable! Lightfaded pages, and the names of previous owners in the cover... intriguing! I was reading through his on Daniel... and was probably most struck by the prayers that he starts each section with. Here is a man who understands his natural position before the Sovereign God, and the unmerited grace and favour shown to him from Him! I should put some up on here actually! Here is a man who most definetely knew his God!!!

Monday, 9 June 2008

An Evening with Habakkuk

or … a kick up the backside in depending on, and rejoicing in the Lord when feeling down right hard hearted.

I don't know if you ever have those times when you think you'll read some 'random' book of the Bible… and it actually hits right where you needed hitting?

That happened tonight… thought I'd chose a short book to study briefly this evening while Adele is out for dinner with a friend… Habakkuk came to mind, as we had been studying Romans, which quotes "the righteous shall live by faith". This book is a great reminder that while tough times will come, either personally or corporately, there is a day where God will return in judgement, destroying His enemies; bringing a great salvation to the righteous - to those who live by faith… a great reminder that when all the blessings are taken away… one thing stands… the Cross of Christ, and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade!

Habakkuk is not a happy chappy… he sees violence, destruction and wrong doing amongst God's people (1:2-4). Wickedness is not coming to justice… and Habakkuk has a complaint against God… not some notion of God in his head that he wants to complain against… no, the LORD, Yahweh…. "Why are you letting this injustice against your people go on LORD? Why are you just sitting around, while this happens to your people?"

The LORD gives grace and replies… "Habakkuk, I'm working, even at this very moment, to bring judgement on those who are wicked… a judgement amongst Israel that will come, even in your lifetime Habakkuk. Look out amongst the nations, and see the Chaldeans! I have raised them up to execute my judgement… they are a bitter, nasty, dreaded, fearful, powerful nation. Their might is their god… they are violent, rebellious and destructive. They will bring the judgement you are wanting" (1:5-11)

So, Habakkuk gets his answer… and it's not what he expects… he still doesn't quite understand. "But my LORD, my God, my Holy One - I see that you have raised this nation up to judge the wickedness of your people, Israel… but surely the Chaldeans are much, much more wicked than the wicked of Israel, they are traitors of you… how can you idly look at such traitors, and yet be silent when the wicked swallow up the man more righteous than he? The Chaldeans treat those made in your image, like their own creatures… treating them like fish on a hook. I know you will answer me LORD!" (1:12-2:1)

And so Habakkuk waits for the response from the LORD, that comes. "Habakkuk, Habakkuk… make this vision plain to everyone… it may seem to you like it is taking a long time to come, but be assured, the time will come… the Chaldeans are puffed (or maybe the wicked Israel too are puffed up?) they are not upright. Remember that the righteous shall live by faith! The Chaldeans will get their due reward, for the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God! Their gods are nothing but their own insatiable greed, and images of stone, gold and silver, that have no wisdom, nor have any breath or life in them. The LORD is the one before whom all the earth shall be silenced". (2:2-20)

So Habakkuk ends by praising God, as he realises that the day is coming when justice will be done. When God Himself will come, defeating those who oppose Him, shaking the nations, stopping even the sun and moon, threshing the nations in his righteous anger. Bringing with Him, the salvation of His people. Habakkuk rightly trembles at the thought of such a day, but he will quietly wait, knowing that the righteous shall live by faith; knowing that then, God's people's enemies will be held to account and destroyed. (3:1-15)

Habakkuk knows that the judgement on Israel, the Chaldean invasion is going to come in his lifetime… it's going to be a tough time for Israel… and yet, though "the fig tree should not blossom; nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food; the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls… yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places." (3:16-19)

Sometimes the Christian life can seem as barren and fruitless as the harvest that Habakkuk was fearing… when we see a lack of prosperity or advancement, or as we go through our own personal struggles, battles, tragedies… we can be deeply yearning and crying out "why won't you do something about this LORD?"

And what shall we recall then? The apparent prosperity of the wicked? The apparent advancement of the godless? Shall we be eager to join them in their apparent gains in this life? Or shall we remember the vision… shall we remember that God Himself will destroy the godless… God Himself will hold the wicked to account… God Himself will bring His Salvation to His people… the righteous… those who are faithful… who trust… who live not for this life, but for the eternal one to come…

What will be our sustenance through such times? Well surely it can be nothing other than the Cross of Christ… it was Habakkuk who despite having no harvest, no prosperity… clung to the LORD and His Salvation… the salvation found at the Cross…

Some helpful ideas on Weakening Pride and Cultivating Humility

I need to make a note of these things from Humility: True Greatness by C J Mahaney - what better place than here...

1. Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ
2. Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God
3. Begin your day expressing gratefulness to God
4. Practice the spiritual disciplines: prayer, study of God's Word, worship. Do this consistently each day and at the day's outset if possible
5. Seize your commute time to memorize and meditate on Scripture
6. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you
7. At the end of the day transfer the glory to God
8. Before going to sleep, receive this gift of sleep from God and acknowledge His purpose for sleep
9. Study the attributes of the God
10. Study the doctrines of grace
11. Study the doctrine of sin
12. Play golf as much as possible
13. Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself
14. Identify evidences of grace in others
15. Encourage and serve others each and every day
16. Invite and pursue correction
17. Respond humbly to trials
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11 [ESV]

The Supremacy of God in Preaching

This short book on preaching by Piper is well worth a read... a great reminder of the goal of preaching, and responsibilities therein. Piper takes a look at Edwards, in the last section of the book, to look at his character and thinking...

This book is full of gems, encouragements and challenges to those involved in declaring the supremacy of God...

As Piper heads to his conclusion, here are some quotes that he uses, which gives you an idea of the kind of content that preceded...

"They felt their infinite responsibility as stewards of the mysteries of God and shepherds appointed by the Chief Shepherd to gather in and watch over souls. They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung. Everything they did and spoke bore the stamp of earnestness, and proclaimed to all with whom they came into contact that the matters about which they had been sent to treat were of infinite moment... Their preaching seems to have of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power. It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword."
Horatius Bonar, 1845 (from introduction to John Gillies' "Historical Collections of Accounts of Revival")

"I love to think of coming to Christ, to receive salvation of him, poor in spirit, and quite empty of self, humbly exalting him alone; cut off entirely from my own root in order to grow into, and out of Christ; to have God in Christ be my all in all"
Edwards, "Personal Narrative"

Friday, 30 May 2008

Self Worth

I get emails from GotQuestions each week, which are helpful at looking at what the Bible has to say about various topics... this weeks was on self-worth, and can be read here... a student in Plymouth while I was there on mission recommended them to me, and I certainly pass on that recommendation today.

The article ends:

"Our self-worth is too often based on what other people tell us about ourselves.
The one, true authority on our self-worth is Jesus Christ, and since He gave His
own life up for us by dying on a cross, that should tell us just how valuable we
really are."
Helpfully justified earlier in the article:

"The Bible tells us that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans
. In fact, we were “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). What
worth is there in dead things? None. God imputed to us His own righteousness (2
Corinthians 5:21)
not because we were worthy of it, but because we were
unworthy, unlovable, and unable to make ourselves worthy in any way. But—and
here’s the miracle—He actually loved us in spite of our condition (John 3:16)
and because He did, we now have infinite worth."
When we look at the Cross, we don't just see our "self-worth" wrapped up in the love God has shown toward us... we see the seriousness of our sin (it takes His Son on the Cross to deal with it); we see God's righteousness, as he justly justifies through the Cross; we see his mercy and grace, by which we are saved; we see God's glory - a glory that we will share in, as we stand in his grace! What worth has been bestowed upon those who call out in their unworthiness!

The article is worth a read... along with this post from a brother that follows on nicely

It helps you think, influenced technology, and got women into the workplace

Yup... the humble typewriter...

Read on at the BBC Magazine

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

MyersBriggs (or but by the grace of God I am what I am)

We were talking about Myers-Briggs in the office today... thought I'd give it a go... haven't changed since I first started working for the company... but it is helpful being reminded of ways in which I "tick"

My type is: Sensor, Feeler, Judging, with a near 50/50 split on Introvert/Extrovert (slight preference to Introverted), so ISFJ.

Apparently, that means that I:

- like to look at information in terms of facts and details
- listen and ask questions to absorb information
- work hard to accomplish tasks to deadlines
- build team spirit, through maintaining good relationships
- contribute practical tasks
- avoid conflict and criticism
- sometimes can't see the wood for the trees
- can be too serious!!!

Under stress I am likely to:
- find a place of solitude
- appreciate encouragement from others
- be too critical of others
- have a gloomy view of the future

It'll be interesting to see how these things show themselves next year, but also whether they change much too...

Hmm - wonder what MBT my wife is.......

Monday, 26 May 2008

Success is: belief

The last leg ... back to London after a lovely day with my parents

Time for the next chapter of "Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome" by Kent and Barbara Hughes!

"Without faith it is impossible to please God!" That is, belief in the sovereign miracle-working God of the Old Testament... the God of Scripture!

A belief in the loving Creator God - like that of Daniel and his mates that trusts even when your life is on the line... a belief that manifests itself like those in the "Hall of Faith" of Hebrews 11. That God actively works in us, through us and for us and will reward us even if we cannot see or understand how.

Kent reminds us that without this faith it is impossible to please God. Without this faith life cannot be called a success - no matter what others may call it.

time for a little kip now...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Success is: a healthy love life

On a train to Exeter now...

A "devoted" husband who had not told his wife he loved her for 25years said that his faithfulness demonstrated his love! The Prodigal Son's older brother suggests otherwise - whose devoted service was actually devoid of love!

It is possible to pastor a large church without love for God; preach insightful biblical Christ-exalting sermons without love for God; deepen others' love for God without love for God!

Do you really love Him? Kent reminds us that loving God is the ground of all true success - and that is truly liberating! It liberates us from "the destructive tendency to compare ourselves with others. After all, who can measure the love of another's heart? ... our dignity and accomplishment lie in our relationship to God and our love for him. It frees and motivates us to live our life's highest priority, because if we really do believe that loving God is the most important thing in life, then everything - our conversation, our schedules, our ambitions - will progressively reflect his love."

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Success is: Serving

The world sees success as how much we're being served!

"The conducter of a great symphony orchestra was once asked which was the most difficult instrument to play. 'The second violin', he answered. 'I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play second violin with enthusiasm - that is a problem. And if we have no second violin, we have no harmony."

We all want the top spot! Even in ministry we can be quick to think success is measured by how vast a people we speak to, if we're getting the right invitations - and being seen with the right people in the right places!

There was certainly no one keen to play second fiddle in the room with Jesus before the Passover... with dirty feet they sat - no one willing to stoop low amongst his brothers to perform the servant task of washing their feet! John 13

That is apart from the Creator and Sustainer of the world itself - derobed and at his followers feet - he lowers himself with the selfless act of washing his disciples clean... a picture of what is to come as the one worthy of all glory and honour becoming a servant to the utmost - becoming obedient even to death on a cross - spilling his blood to wash clean the guilty!

If this is the attitude of our Lord and Master - how can we think we, his servants, are greater than Him!

"We had discovered that in service - not self-service - is the true pursuit of success!"

Success is: Faithful Obedience

On a train to Plymouth... Reading 'Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome' by Kent Hughes

How do we define Success? The world is quick to place a measurable, quantifiable value on Success! Even within ministry we can be quick to measure growth in numbers as the success factor...

Kent helps remind us that God's servants are not called to be 'successful' but faithful and obedient to His Word!

So, we should be 'mighty in the Scriptures' (Acts 18:24) and obedient to them (Joshua 1:7-8)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Field on Big-E Elect

Further to David Field's post on Category Confusion, here's another helpful addition on the subject: Our rule in administering of sacraments

1. membership in the New Covenant is only for the big-E elect in which case
2. baptism belongs only to the Elect and we can baptize no-one OR
3. baptism (properly, i.e., according the standards that God has given us) belongs to others than the big-E elect
4. assuming that 2. (baptizing no-one) is unacceptable then we are at 3.
5. but if 3. then EITHER the baptism of the non-Elect is nothing - just getting them wet
6. OR the baptism of the non-Elect is something. They are in some sense in the New Covenant since they have received New Covenant initiation.
7. assuming that 5. (the baptism of the non-Elect is nothing) is unacceptable then we are at 6.
8. but if 6. then there are two sorts of New Covenant people - the big-E elect New Covenant People and the non-Elect New Covenant people
9. but 8. contradicts 1.
10. so if you hold 1. and want to use it in arguing about the proper subjects of baptism, you are stuffed.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Engaging with Culture

I watched "Babel" with Brad Pitt on Saturday... thought it one of the most dull films ever... till I read what Damaris had to say about it's world view... need to get better at this!

"Listening involves more than just hearing words that are spoken; it involves really comprehending what is actually being communicated (which usually turns out to be much more than what appears on the surface) and responding in a way which demonstrates that you are ‘in tune’ with what is being offered.

In Christian thinking, it is the non-verbal act of the cross that is central to the healing of the relationship between us and God. The symbols and images associated with the Gospel transcend cultural and linguistic barriers not only in today’s world but have done so throughout history since the time of Christ. God does not speak to us directly but rather reminds us of his promises and his presence through other human beings, creation at large and from Scripture. The non-verbal work of the Spirit of God ‘speaking’ in these ways is what brings our knowledge of him to life. Films like Babel serve as a good reminder that while language is the primary way in which we know and understand the world and those around us, it is not the only way to communicate. If we want to be understood, the film says, we have to listen."

Friday, 16 May 2008

Category Confusion - David Field

Always good to be challenged in my thinking, and always aiming to raise the bar in my understanding:

Defo think that I would like to think more about what I think on this topic ;-)

Thursday, 15 May 2008

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?

The end of a tough week is drawing to a close…

Last week we had the sad news that Adele’s grandfather had passed away. The Lord Jesus has called him home, just a couple of weeks after him being given the all clear from his cancer treatment. A sad shock for all the family.

A quick rearrangement of the diaries, and a car hire later, we’re down in the South West for a few days, for the funeral and thanksgiving service that took place on Monday.

Grief is a hard thing… it affects us all in so different ways… it was difficult to know what to say, and how best to console the family, particularly my wife…

One thing came through at the memorial service… Adele’s grandfather was a God fearing man; a man who was in love with the Gospel, and let that shape every aspect of his life in service to his family and friends…

It meant that while his parting is sad, the assurance of him being at home now with his Father is a great comfort…

Can’t help but to call to mind 1 Corinthians 15… we can have great confidence that because Jesus has been raised from the dead, so then also those who have faith in Him, will also be raised from the dead.

I feel like so much has struck me over the past few days… things that I want to think and pray through in more detail when my head is back in gear again… hopefully this post will be the start of that process…

Our Bible Study leaders have just had a baby... these two events have been a pertinent reminder that we enter this life with nothing and we leave this life with nothing; who knows when the latter will happen… let that affect the way I use my life now, in whole hearted living for Jesus, keeping nothing back, reflected in my personal relationship with Him, reflected in my marriage with Adele, and reflected in my life more generally!

How I lack confidence in the Gospel when my credibility is at stake… it was a great reminder on Monday that there is only one thing to be confident in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ… may I be totally unashamed of my Gospel - loud and proud for the one thing humanity desperately needs!

At Michael’s Thanksgiving Service, there was no doubt that he’s now in paradise… let there be as little doubt at mine!

"If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labour is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:17-20, 58 [ESV]

Web Designer and Developer needed

UCCF are currently looking for a Web Designer and Web Developer... to be based in Leicester.

Take a look at or for some examples of what you could be working on... enabling students to live for and speak for Jesus through the ministry and resources that UCCF provide...

Soon to be advertised at

Friday, 9 May 2008

3 days of sunshine....

... 3 days of enjoying a Frappocinno....

Just enjoyed my third over lunch with my wife... awesome... bring on the summer sun!!!

Then bring on the Son... when we can bask in the glory and radiance of Him...

"And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light,
and its lamp is the Lamb."
-Revelation 21:23 ESV-

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Thinking Well

One of the reasons I started a blog was to help with my thinking… hearing, seeing, reading something, assessing it, formulating a thought, expressing that thought (hopefully concisely)!!!

It's certainly helping my mind to be ticking over "how does the Gospel speak into this situation" in and around the world… which has been great… I've noticed that it all springs from meditating on God's word… I was sat in Richmond Park with a dear brother at the weekend, and we read Psalm 19 and 84 together… chilled out in the Park with no external distractions really helped my thinking through the truths of those Psalms for myself… chatting them through helped firm up such thoughts… praise quickly followed - to God for his amazing Creation; to the LORD for his honey-sweet word!

Sweet indeed!

In the mornings, distractions hit me a plenty… is the coffee ready? Need to eat breakfast! What's the time? Better head to the office! Are the trains running OK? It means that my head might be in the Bible during my "quiet time" but my thoughts are really all over the place… something to work on! Tips?

Then, there is critical thinking… something I'm pretty rubbish at… "What did you think of that talk?" is a question that gets bounded about a lot… how do we answer that well? Maybe it's the wrong question we're asking… "How do you think areas of your life should change in response?" might be the question we're trying to ask… not sure… But how do we think critically, particularly about Christian stuff? I find it hard… perhaps because I don't know what it actually looks like to think well… perhaps because I think "that's better than I could do" so who am I to offer comment… perhaps because critisism follows too quickly, before self-application!

What does it look like to think, well? How do we go about thinking well?

Friday, 2 May 2008

A Theology of Waking Up and Getting Dressed

Here's a link to a great post I've just read... worth a read:

"Once we are wearing the spectacles of Scripture- once God has revealed Himself to us and shown us the truth about Himself, us, and the world what difference does it actually make? How does the world look different as we walk around peering at everyday things with our new eyes?"

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Morning Coffee

I recently experienced a coffee made using a Stove Top and was rather impressed with the more intense flavour it produced, compared to a filter coffee maker… so we went out and purchased one for ourselves at the weekend… and I'm loving it. A good strong coffee hit in the morning has been very welcome… and a nice smooth latte after work has been a great way to unwind with the wife…

But it's made me wonder… is my morning coffee my idol? I think it is…

I wake up in the morning with a longing to have that hit… my coffee drinking becomes a must priority before leaving the house in the morning… I feel that I simply "cannot function" without that caffeine beverage…

Does Psalm 119 read:
With my whole heart I seek my coffee? v10
I will delight in my coffee? v16
My soul is consumed for longing for my morning coffee? v20
I cling to my morning coffee? v31

Of course not!!!

It should be water that I really long for…
Isaiah 55: Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters… Incline your ear to me, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live!
John 4: Jesus says, "everyone who drinks of this water [from a well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

The real satisfaction… the real thing for "get up and go"… a proper priority before leaving the house in the morning… a splash in living water… a look at God's Word!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Ryle ... just can't get enough

How quick I can be to think my heart can change by my own efforts and struggles.......

J C Ryle on Bible Reading

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is "the chief means by which men are built up and strengthened in the faith," after their conversion. It is able to make them pure, to sanctify them, to train them in righteousness, and to thoroughly equip them for every good work. (Psalm 119:9; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit ordinarily does these things by the written Word; sometimes by the Word read, and sometimes by the Word preached, but seldom, if ever, without the Word. The Bible can show a believer how to walk in this world so as to please God. It can teach him how to glorify Christ in all the relationships of life, and can make him a good leader, employee, subordinate, husband, father, or son. It can enable him to bear misfortunes and loss without murmuring, and say, "It is well." It can enable him to look down into the grave, and say, "I will fear no evil" (Psalm 23:4). It can enable him to think about judgment and eternity, and not feel afraid. It can enable him to bear persecution without flinching and to give up liberty and life rather than deny Christ’s truth.

  • Is he weary in soul? It can awaken him.

  • Is he mourning? It can comfort him.

  • Is he erring? It can restore him.

  • Is he weak? It can make him strong.

  • Is he in the company of the unbeliever? It can keep him from evil.

  • Is he alone? It can talk with him. (Psalm 6:22).

All this the Bible can do for all believers—for the least as well as the greatest—for the richest as well as the poorest. It has done it for thousands already, and is doing it for thousands every day.The man who has the Bible, and the Holy Spirit in his heart, has everything which is absolutely necessary to make him spiritually wise. He needs no priest to break the bread of life for him. He needs no ancient traditions, no writings of the Fathers, no voice of the Church, to guide him into all truth. He has the well of truth open before him, and what more can he want?

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Absence makes the heart... show its faults

Tonight has been a tough night. Adele is away all week with UCCF at New Word Alive. I am missing her terribly. Coming home to her, hearing about her day, eating with her, playing a game, reading or watching a DVD. I miss waking up next to her, and planning the weekend with her.

Don’t miss-hear me – I’m not getting all sentimental… or looking for the “husband of the year” award – far, far from it . In her absence I have realised how I have taken such things so quickly for granted. That sucks – and shows my lack of understanding of what marriage is all about.

It is the strong realisation once again that I am a selfish, sinful man – who looks far too quickly at his own desires and satisfaction… Imagine if Jesus had that attitude – he wouldn’t have hung around sinners like you and me, he wouldn’t have washed their feet, he wouldn’t have endured the cross for them – in fact, he wouldn’t have even given up the glory of heaven to take on flesh, yet alone in order to suffer and die…

That’s surely why the church is encouraged to look to the interests of others, to have the mind of Jesus Christ amongst us, “who, though he was God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Phil 2:4-8]

It’s a fair and right call to the church. But even more so, an imperative for husbands: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” [Ephesians 5:25]

The purpose of marriage is to reflect the Gospel, to reflect the love of God found in Christ Jesus [Ephesians 5:31-32]. That means serious action boys – to deny self, and give ourselves to our wives fully, entirely, and completely in absolute service of them… what a joy that should be for us! The things I mentioned first of all should be things that I long to do, to grow in relationship with my wife each day. To touch her mind and heart, before touching her body.

That’s the tagline to a great short book I’ve just finished reading called “Sex, Romance and the Glory of God” by C J Mahaney that a dear brother recommended to me. It’s only 100 pages – and a great help to be thinking through what marriage is all about, and how we can be working proactively as husbands. I recommend it, whether you’re a husband-of-years, or a husband-to-be. Its aim is to look at the intimacy and relationship that God intends for marriage, and how to work on that as guys, and therefore grow the marriage. Helpful stuff! A great chapter on ‘Romancing’ – which, lads, we need to work hard at, and C J offers some really helpful advice.

I can’t wait for my wife to return… and I thank the brothers that made tonight so much easier for me, even though they didn’t realise they had!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Christian! Are you lingering?

I have been reading JC Ryle's Holiness - slowly making my way through it... on the home straight now...

Anyhow - I found a link for one of the chapters I read a little while back... definitely worth a prayerful read! Gives a good feel for the book generally, too - so if you like the challenge of this chapter, go buy the book (I find a great resource for finding second hand/new books online)

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Les Miserables - indeed

We were very grateful for the TicketMaster vouchers that my parents bought us… it meant that we could do no other than treat ourselves to a trip to the theatre… Adele fancied a musical... so we booked our seats for Les Mis. I had heard a lot about this production, it seems to be “the show” to see in the West End, or at least was at one time.

While Adele’s sister cuts Adele’s hair – and they have their girly chat – praise God for an upstairs - I’m free again to put thoughts to paper…

The show was great… but I went away with a niggle in my mind. How could the audience offer such rapturous applause? Don’t get me wrong – the production was excellent, and worthy of such applause… but had people lost the deeply depressing story that had ensued… had they forgotten that life is unfair – the man who spends twenty years on the chain-gang for stealing some bread for his starving family?

Had they forgotten about the respectable lady who had to become a prostitute in order to feed her child? Had they forgotten that the young idealistic students had all lost their lives at the barricade – for seemingly no reason at all? Had they forgotten the song of the women – where nothing ever changes, where we’re simply turning through the years… where minutes turn to hours and hours into years? Had they forgotten the song of Marius “empty chairs at empty tables, now my friends are dead and gone. Phantom faces at the window, phantom shadows on the floor. Empty chairs at empty tables, where my friends will sing no more”?

It was a hard to pill to swallow as I watched… and odd that the audience would applaud with such gusto with whistles and cheers at the depressing storyline. The audience was lost… oblivious to their own state; deaf to the story that spoke so loudly to their lives; blind to the fragility and ‘pointlessness’ of their lives as shown before them on the stage. That can be the only answer as to why they went out so happy and cheerful!

Praise God that according to His great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading!!!

Three men on a Cross...

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
[Luke 23:39-43 ESV

Three men, each hanging on a cross… their hands and feet nailed… death is close for each one of them…

In agony, despised by his nation, nailed as a criminal, derided by onlookers, deserted by his friends, the so called Saviour of the World – looking utterly pathetic, weak, foolish… Is this the Jesus you see?

The Thief who Railed
Mocks the pathetic looking Jesus… “Save yourself and us!”, he cries… thinking that if he is the so called Saviour – surely he can take himself off the cross, saving Himself, and the thieves… The thief sees nothing but a foolish, deluded man, dying on the cross for the lies he’s been spreading…

The Thief who Repented
Yet the final person in our scene sees a different Jesus… Firstly, the thief recognises his own position… a guilty man, who has lived a life in the wrong, and his punishment is awaiting him, beyond his death… Yet in Jesus, he sees a man who is utterly innocent, a man crucified for doing no wrong… more than this, he sees Jesus the Lord, the rightful king of a kingdom, a kingdom that is brought about exactly by Him dying on the cross… this is no foolish man dying for a lie… it is the Son of God bringing in His Kingdom by dying an innocent death for the wicked… What a great faith this thief has. “A great faith that can see the sun under so thick a cloud, that can discover a Christ, a Saviour, under such a poor, scorned, despised, crucified Jesus, and call him Lord” [Lightfoot, C17th]. So little evidence of the kingdom as Jesus hangs on the cross - yet this thief calls upon Him as his Lord to be remembered in His kingdom. And see the compassion he has, that in the throws of death – he would share his faith with his fellow criminal thief!!!

And what compassion we see in Jesus… that amongst his pain, suffering, agony… his weakness… he would offer such a great assurance “today you will be with me in paradise”… as Jesus dies, so he offers eternal life…

Remember the tomb of Jesus was found gloriously empty!

Remember the Thief who Repented – he’s in Paradise today!

Remember the Thief who Railed – he died without Jesus!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Jesus - His Majesty and Humanity

I thought I would write my first proper post, while my wife is attempting a Sudoku – and the Chinese is settling down inside… helped along I’m sure by the abundance of Easter chocolate.

I have been reading Hebrews 1 and 2 this week – how great that these two chapters lie side-by-side…

Chapter 1 overflows with the majesty of Jesus… the exact imprint of God, the radiance of the glory of God… creator of the world, sustaining it by his word, sat at the right hand of God… Of whom of the angels has God said “you are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or “I shall be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”. His throne will last forever, he laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of his hands… yet they will perish, but he will remain – his years will have no end! (No wonder we’re to listen to him!!!)

This is Jesus in all his glory and majesty!!

Yet the writer continues, in chapter 2, to tell of a very different Jesus. A Jesus who is made lower than the angels… a Jesus who becomes a man, taking on flesh… a Jesus who suffers, in the flesh … a Jesus who dies in the flesh…

A Jesus who becomes a human being, so as to suffer as a human being… so as to die as a human being – and so to destroy the enemy of all human beings – death; the power of the devil.

Jesus had to become a man, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest, making atonement for the sins of the people… so that they might become His brothers.

How quick I am to separate these two aspects of Jesus, his Majesty and his Humanity – and my how that undermines the Gospel…

How quick I am to see Jesus the Man dying for me – and to not see Jesus the Son of God becoming a man to die for me… it’s just a few extra words, but moves the Gospel so much deeper in my heart… reminding me of just how amazingly relational the Gospel is… Jesus giving up the glory of Heaven, in order to suffer and die – for his brothers!!! Through faith we’re brothers of Jesus… a brotherly relationship with the very same Majestic Son of chapter 1… how amazing… and therefore children of God, with the same relationship (and inheritance) as the Son has with His Father… what a great Gospel we have!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

J C Ryle ... Holiness

They cease to disregard the opinion of man; they imbibe a morbid fear of 'extreme views', and are filled with a cautious dread of giving offence. And at last the man who at one time seemed likely to be a real successor of the apostles and a good soldier of Christ, settles down on his lees as a clerical gardener, farmer or diner out, by whom nobody is offended and nobody is saved.His church becomes half empty; his influence dwindles away; the world has bound him hand and foot. He was walked in the steps of Lot's wife. He has looked back.