Sunday, 31 May 2009

If not you... then who?

A video I found on Youtube to help encourage prayer at my local church prayer meeting:

Friday, 29 May 2009

When I don't desire God...

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13

Ever felt like the obedience that God requires from you is the last thing you want to give him? Ever felt like he is like a harsh dad who has given you a long list of impossible chores that you have neither the knowledge or the energy to accomplish?

I have and I do regularly.

Which was why hearing this verse again as I listened to my audio bible on the commute was so refreshing. The Bible says that it's God's work not only to show the Christian what to do and how to think etc., but also to give that same Christian the desire to do those things.

That doesn't mean we can sit back and go all passive, we must continually do the work of humbling ourselves before him, but it does mean that we need not loose heart when our desires are not immediately as they should be.

Moreover, knowing that the Heavenly Father is perfect and that Jesus has reconciled to his Father all those who submit their hearts to to him, and that together this Father and Son have freely given the Holy Spirit to those who love them, we can be confident that this God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit who wakes the dead, can also awaken new desires in our hearts (that we never thought possible) to love and serve him.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I know my place...

This is Cameron.

Cameron is joining the Royal Marines in about 7 weeks time. He has been training lots to ensure that his fitness is at the required level before he begins, (it'll only get worse after he starts!)

Today I went to the gym with Cameron. It was a humbling experience. Not only did he rep twice as much weight as me on every exercise, he also did about three times as many reps as I did! Moreover, I will suffer for it tomorrow much more than he will!

He's a great young man and a pleasure to know. He will make a great Marine.

Mercifully, whatever my perceived level of physical prowess, Jesus doesn't judge me on the size of my (lack of) biceps, but on my humility, love and trust towards him.

The greatest and highest labour of my life is not to strengthen the outer man, but to walk in the discipline of grace and strengthen the inner man, - trusting in Jesus as enabled by the Holy Spirit - and honouring God the Father for all his wisdom in this.

This is what I pray for me and those given to my charge.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Pray Before You Spray...

A while ago, I posted this video by John Piper. 

If he's right, which I think he is, the question arises in my mind: what's the prayer you pray when you go to the toilet? If nothing is supposed to be automatic, then what do you pray there without descending into flippancy, vulgarity or plain idiocy? 

For what it's worth, here is my attempt at an answer.

Sin is sometimes represented in the Old Testament by excrement.  Moreover, one of the names of Satan in the Gospels is Beelzebub, which some argue (I think it's a good one) means Lord of Dung.

So the prayer goes something like this based around 1 Thess 1:9-10

Father God, thank you for Jesus, through whom you have removed my guilt, cleansed me of my offensive rebellion against you, saved me from an eternity in Hell and released me from fellowship with the Devil to love and serve you in the power of the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen. 

Moreover, don't be too quick to spray the air freshener.  In the Bible stenches are symbolic of offense. So the next time a stench fills your nostrils, let it remind you of what rebellion against God is like from his point of view and before you spray, ask him to show you what a sweet smelling life really looks like.  

Maybe we could usefully pray something similar before applying deodorant. :-)

Monday, 18 May 2009

Celebrate Good Times

In this photo, you can see my sister with her family, enjoying a somewhat hectic but happy family lunch at the TV Tower in Berlin.

We are off there this weekend to celebrate with them and their church family, the birth of Max, (the little one in the pic).  

As a family we are also combining it with my Father's 70th Birthday and my Mother's 60th Birthday.  So it is going to be one long partying weekend! 

I thank God for the family he has given me. Even with all our foibles and idiosyncrasies, we still have a lot of fun! 

Good thing I have half term to recover afterwards!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

On Avoiding Pride...

Off they went...

...and back they came.

I am resolved that in all my endeavours and efforts for Jesus, my overriding wonder shall continue to be not on the authority I have been given by him, but on the mercy I have received from him.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Luke 11:1-13

I will resist the temptation to pass comment on the Trinitarian overtones of v2, but what better way to start a week of prayer and fasting than to get our encouragements from the master himself at the Jesus School of Prayer.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Beautiful words set to beautiful music

I love the Bible - more importantly I am stunned and amazed and in awe of the Living God who inspired it!

I also love it when the Bible's words are set to beautiful music.

Here is the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:22-27) set to beautiful music. You may not be a fan of regalia, but sing along to the words.  They are food for your soul.

Be stunned that through Jesus Christ, the God of the universe offers you such kindness as this when you, by nature a rebel against him and his holy majesty, humble yourself before him!

Prayer and Fasting

Off the back of Sitho's encouragement to the bloggers @ RFC to talk about prayer and fasting here is a fasting starter for 10.  Here's a follow up, also for 10.

Here is a prayer starter for 10. Here is a follow up, also for 10.  

Happy reading/watching.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The Normal Christian Life

This post in diagrammatic form...

Is this a fair representation of the Normal Christian Life?

If a person is not a Christian, evangelical preachers will say that they are dead in sin. Does that mean their spirit is literally dead? (non-existent?) or does it mean that their spirit is fellowship with darkness and therefore as good as dead before God? Moreover, does the difference matter? 

Please comment.

A Desperate Need for Reality. 1: The Problem

Watching the Narnia Code recently reminded me of the truth that as human beings we are constantly about the business of defining our universe and having it defined for us, wittingly or unwittingly by the influences around us.  

The programme highlighted the nature of light pollution in towns and cities and specifically how it obscures you from seeing the night sky and the stars in all their splendour. The point being that had most of us, (and especially those studying C S Lewis' writings) not lived in a light polluted reality all our lives, we might have stumbled the unifying theme of Lewis' Narnia Chronicles - the seven stars - a lot quicker.

When I was on the cusp of going to university, (I did a joint honours in French and Religious Studies) I remember well-meaning Christians warning me about doing R.S. and that it could shipwreck my faith in Jesus.  (They weren't wrong too, I have seen people throw away their confidence in Christ in doing those courses.)

To be honest, I can't remember coming out of a single R.S. lecture or seminar in those three years sensing a crisis of confidence in the good truth of Jesus.  But the novels that explored Existentialism, which I read in my French courses were a different matter. Why? I can only think it is because they appealed to my desire.  My desire to be master of my own universe and lord of my own destiny - to shape my own reality according to how I would chose, with no reference to Christ, let alone any glad submission to him.


The attempts of the human race to suppress the truth about Jesus, that have been going on since the Fall are not limited to the realm of the thinking disciplines like philosophy, but in all of life - whether it's art, music, literature, science and technology, work, language, relationships, hobbies - the lot.  You name it - we've found some way of cutting Jesus out of it and running away from him.

Whether it's in our dreaming or our thinking,  whether we actively deceive ourselves by deliberately reconstructing our lives so that we can ignore him, or whether it's that we just cover our ears and close our eyes and refuse to listen to the obvious message that the cosmos proclaims to the point where we actually become deaf and blind, (in truth these two interact with each other in a vicious cycle) we have all played our part in suppressing the truth.

The condom - a modern idol of ours - is a most powerful example of this deliberate reconstruction of reality.  God created sex as a picture of his own trinitarian life-giving and life-spreading love.  In divorcing the pleasure of sex from its life-giving power, we actively deny something about the nature and character of God to ourselves.  That self-deception is completed when we spawn subsequent generations who then grow up not knowing what real love is at all.  

We invented the condom because we wanted to be masters of our own destinies - to define life on our own terms and in so doing have hijacked the testimony of creation to serve our own deluded and self-centred ends. Ironically we have become less human and less humane as a result.

Only when Jesus breaks in directly can we be unplugged from this matrix of self-perpetuated and culpable lunacy.


Saturday, 2 May 2009

After Jesus who is the greatest human being who ever lived?

This morning I read Luke 1-3. 
(I read the Old Testament during the week and the New Testament at the weekend.)

After Jesus who is the person you are most impressed with in the Bible?  Paul? Moses?David? Elijah? Samson?  

The Pharisees loved Moses.  There is a fashion amongst Christian men to have a soft spot for David because of both his Warrior King lifestyle and his character flaws that are so similar to ours. 

Jesus gives us his opinion here.  

Curious isn't it? For someone who receives such an endorsement from the Son of God himself, we know relatively little about John the Baptist, certainly compared with the other characters mentioned above.  Moreover, I can't remember the last time anyone told me that they found reading about J the B an inspirational experience.

I know of no one else (apart from Jesus in Ps 139) who is accredited in the Bible as being filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born. Perhaps a fulfillment of this.

Less of me and more of Jesus is what my life must increasingly be all about.  

Man do I need help!  I love myself way too much and I am the poorer for it!

Friday, 1 May 2009

He Who Presents, Must Also Have the Presences

This morning I read Exodus 33-35.

A number of things struck me, not least the way the people were moved in their hearts to give generously to the work of God.

But more than, that this bit got my attention.  Apparently the Hebrew word rendered presence in our English translations is plural, or rather dual, in the original, and the verb connected with it (go) is plural which leads me to the conclusion that Moses asked the Father that the Son (LORD/Angel of the LORD) and the Spirit (pillar of cloud/fire) who had: 
  1. led them out of Egypt, 
  2. protected them from the pursuing Egyptian army and
  3. subsequently destroyed that same army,
...would also accompany them up to take the Promised Land. 

How else could they - a people of such little account - ever take on the might of the surrounding nations with any hope of winning and thus entering into the promises God himself had given them?

God's people, wherever they have found themselves in history, are known not only by their proclamations and professions, but by the clear presence of the God whom they profess, active amongst them. Anything else, however good it sounds on paper, is vane and pitiful. How else could they ever enter into all the promises God has given them? 

What was true then is still true now, and compels me to humility and to my knees.

A stunning video, even if not totally Biblically accurate.