Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Habakkuk 3:17 - 19

Since working at the church I have had to deal with many struggles and trials. Meditating on these verses in Habakkuk have proved to be good food for my soul...

''Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor 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.''
There is something wonderfully glorious and God honouring when a person chooses to set their affections on God despite the overwhelming circumstances. John Piper usefully comments 'God is most glorified in you, in the midst of suffering.' Despite the writer's seemingly bleak outlook on the situation it is with steely and hearty resolve he declares 'yet I will rejoice in the Lord.' It is admirable when a believer makes a conscious decision to to lift their eyes above the circumstance, to come back to the Father and remember and rejoice in their beautiful Saviour

In age of personal therapy, where everyone rests on their emotions and long to 'feel better about themselves' we are also in danger of portraying Christianity as something not to dissimilar.Modern Christianity can often be reduced to a mere sensual and emotional affair. We only worship God and commune with him when we 'fee l' like it. Do not get me wrong I am not disregarding emotion altogether, it is when the emotions become the end in themselves, we are in danger. As Bob Kauflin argues, he must be quick to discern emotion from 'emotionalism'.

As Christians we should try and capture the determined resolve of David as he writes of in Psalm 16:8, 'I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.' We should be ones who, whilst resting on the promises and certainty of God's character, choose with a sense of adamancy and purpose, to sing the Saviour's praise.

I cannot say I have ever read much liturgy or ever been part of a church which uses liturgy, and it is not my aim to get into a discussion about the usefulness of it within the Church today, but the purpose of liturgy is in essence what I am trying to speak of here. It serves the believer well, when he does not have the strength to pray but can only cry out to God from the depths of his soul... 'God of grace and goodness, you know that by reason of our frailty we cannot but fail; keep us always under your protection and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation.'

Feeling Insignificant

What I find even more brilliant and inspiring than the actual content of this video is one small observation I noted about Piper himself. This is the fact that he is hilarious and he doesn't even realise it...he is funny and he doesn't even try, he just is. Truly he is a person who has completely forgotten about himself and his own ego.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Tomorrow's worry feifeits today's joy

Despite how content or joy filled you may feel today, to worry and fret about tomorrow is to always forfeit the completion of your joy.

It says in Titus 2:13 that we should wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Jesus Christ.The blessed hope of Jesus Christ’s return should be the motivator of all our Godly pursuits, and the provider of our deepest joy.

The Beauty of Repentance

I love the way Spurgeon paints a picture with his words, speaking so vividly of the character of Christ and the nature of living as a Christian. I thought I would share two more quotes of his…

‘In the same way, when the soul has been saturated with the rain of penitence, the clear shining of forgiving love makes the flowers blossom all around.’

‘Even as certain fabrics need to be dampened before they will absorb the bright colours which they are to be dyed, so our spirits need the rain of repentance before they can receive the radiant colouring of delight’

Indeed, doesn’t a garden always look more beautiful after the rain has fallen on it?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Toughen up for Christ

I've been on a bit of a Spurgeon binge recently and am quite happy to continue binging away. Here is a quote from his book 'How to have real joy'...

'To grow is not only to be noble; it is to be happy. The man who stops growing refuses to be blessed. With businessmen, if they do not win, they lose. With the warrior, if he does not gain in the battle, his enemy is getting an advantage. The wise man who grows no wiser grows foolish. The Christian who does not learn more about his Lord and become more like Him, knows less aout his Lord and becomes less like him. If our armour is unused it will tarnish. If our arms are not strengthened by effort, they will be weakened by laziness. Our happiness declines as our spirituality fades.'

Indeed, it is a great spiritual truth that there is no standing still in the Kingdom of God. If you fail to advance forward you not remain stood still, you are pushed backwards, defeated and cast down. We must strive to grow and learn in the knowledge of God, to win and overcome the temptation of our fleshy desires, to strengthen and harden our faith by the testing and endurance of our will. Let's toughen up for Christ.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

03 - Taming the tongue

I am glad when people say important things in a straight forward matter. It saves a whole host of confusion.

The same is true for the Bible. I praise God for the simplicity of the gospel and the route to a holy life revealed in his scriptures. This is why I find books like 'The Secret Message of Jesus' by Brian McClaren a worrying and disturbing thought, as if I have been missing something all these years.

When it comes to the presenting the gospel as Christians who speak and communicate, I believe we should do it in a simple and straight forward way...Christian jargon truly is a curse which alienates non - believers by a wall of Christian subculture. When it comes to people's souls we shouldn't waste ourwords nor confuse people with them.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Make War!

This needs no explanation or comment.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

02 - Taming the tongue

The second point that I made at the Impact training day was the fact that speech is contagious. I read this predominantly in James 3: 5 - 6:

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."
The very fact that speech is contagious is an important reason we need to be careful what we say. If we criticise, we will breed more criticism. If we are cynical, we will breed more cynicism. If we are sarcastic, we will breed more sarcasm. If we are jealous, we will breed more jealousy...and so we can continue. Indeed Proverbs 16:27 says 'a scoundrel plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.'

In Chapter 3:9 it says that from the same tongue come cursing and blessing, and here I believe the real application takes root. In taming the tongue we should not just omit cursing, but bring forth blessing. Do we want to become contagious 'blessers' or contagious 'cursers'? Do we want to be people who contagiously spread ecnouragement and the building of one another up, or insted bring forth discouragement and the crushing of people's spirit?

Thursday, 11 September 2008

01 - Taming the tongue

Whilst away on my first Impact training block we had to present a short study based on the book of James. Our group spoke on taming the tongue which features in particular in chapter three...I was priviledged to present the talk on behalf of our group in front of the other 50 Impacters. I will share what I said over the next three posts.

Firstly, speech and what we say is significant, and therefore we must be careful with the words we use incase we get miscontrued or misinterpretted, we read about this in James 3:3 -4 ...
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.'
For this reason I believe we should reserve only the best words for Jesus. We often describe God as 'amazing' or 'awesome' or 'fantastic' but how often do we use these same words to describe ordinary things which in reality, and in comparison to God, are not amazing, awesome or fantastic at all? Similarly we should identify exactly what we mean when we use specific words and phrases. For example we can describe a husband cheating on his wife (or vice versa)as an affair, what we really mean to say is that he is committing adultery...simply saying 'an affair' does not capture the full sense of the meaning. Every day I go about conducting my 'affairs' but not everyday do I commit adultery. Another example is that of 'sleeping together,' the full sense of the meaning we are trying to convey would best be described by saying 'fornication' or perhaps 'promiscuity.'

This year I am going to be consumed by 'doing things' and carrying out many tasks. I pray that this year won't only be a year where I impact people with my actions but with my words also.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Social Anasthesia

'There are today, few of the convulsions that happened in the depth of the human spirit.' David Wells
In reading this statement I have come to realise that my soul has really become accustomed and almost blind to the depth of sin and injustice, which pervades our world and culture. Christians no longer allow sin and social absurdity to affect the depth of out souls, but instead treat many things as merely surface value issues. Put simply, Christians just feel enough anymore...they don't get angry anymore.

Here are some of the things which make me angry: cohabitation instead of marriage, sexually pervasive advertising, corporate greed and disproportionate wealth distribution, prosperity teaching, contraceptives being freely distributed in schools, abortion, waste and environmental destruction, cosmetic surgery, the tobacco industry, self improvement books, motivational speakers.

When will we as Christians and as a culture learn to shake of this sense of 'social anasthesia'? Chris Jordan, a secular social observer and artist, spoke on this issue at the TED conference held in 2008...if a non Christian feels these issues, how much more should we as Christians feel and respond to them also?

Monday, 1 September 2008

Thoughts on abortion...

This is a subject I am growing increasingly more passionate about, and have begun to research more into it. I hope you find these videos useful and informative. There are some interesting thoughts and some truly shocking statistics, I hope you can spare 20 minutes to make yourself more aware of the issue by watching these videos...