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]

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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?"