Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Wishes...

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counsellor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay Him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen”
Paul Book of Romans

This is the resounding resplendent truth behind Christmas. The mighty Yahweh who alone is King of Kings and Lord of Lords having no equal, the big G among all the little gs of culture purposed with His only begotten Son to bring salvation to mankind. A child was born, His name—Jesus! Fully God fully man wrapped in a manger bound for Golgotha to live a life and die a death that would satiate the demands of God for a perfect sacrifice for sin.
How foolish! How wise! How confusing! How glorious! The depth and riches of His understanding, the masterful brilliance of His grace filled rescue plan.
Christmas was the first visible moments of His stunning dawn of salvation. O how deeply I love this wonderful God!

Middle Class Jitters

Often I find myself a paradox. You may query what I mean. Well I am really struggling at the moment with ‘middle’classness’, and yet if I assess my cultural standing then I am certain that I am middle class. If I were not a Christian I do not think there would be any issue. It would be lovely to languish in almost complete comfort but for a number of absurd luxuries. I may have to drink £5 bottles of wine instead of £100 bottles of wine in order to enjoy an evening out with the mates, but red wine apparently it has to be, and half-decent wine to boot. Aside from minimal issues such as that things are not too difficult if you are residing in the middle class camp.
But how much of my life reflects the Kingdom mentality that Christ called me to? When I think about how much conversation with friends and peers is built around a slight lack of quality in a meal or the difficulty one faces when delayed in a queue at an ATM, I am not sure Christ would have been caught up in similar conversation.
Please understand that in my heart I have no desire whatsoever to be hyper-spiritual imposing some 21st century legalism upon myself and others. That is the last thing I would want to be accused of…but I do want to be ‘Christ’ to this South East London suburbia and beyond.
Culture is a very powerful thing (I am not sure if you have heard the story of slowly raising the heat on a frog in water which will eventually boil without jumping out) it permeates you and defines you unless you are willing to challenge it and to constantly assess your heart with the inspectoral brilliance of the divine word of the Lord. And it is the word of the Lord (particularly the beatitudes (Matt 5)) that strikes my mind and heart with clinical brilliance affecting my thoughts about myself and others in this particular area. How much of our faith is actually Western Materialism with a dose of Christ? This is a question that Francis Schaeffer would demand that we repeatedly ask ourselves.
I am Christian before I am ZimboEnglish. I am certainly Christian before I am middle class. I will not be judged for the quality of wine I drunk while here or the speed with which I got myself on the 'Middle Class Mortgage madness bandwagon'; I will be judged for how much I lived out the heart of Christ that now rules my heart to a lost, hopeless world!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Malachi Update

Well what do I say about this incessant delight that God has given us as a son. He continues to amaze and astound us on a daily basis. He is definitely learning that he will be raised by a community as people in the church come alongside us and show him a love that we in one way cannot show as his parents. This communal love is something that I pray will prove a great strength in years to come enabling him to relate to many others and work through things with others that he may not feel able to with us.
He remains blonde haired and blue eyed which is something that we were certain would have changed by now. He has learned to ‘parachute,’ which I am sure leaves you flabbergasted as you question, “What at such a young age?” Well... let me explain. It is the ‘parachuting’ motion, which for him for now is crawling. He literally balances on his stomach and can spin on a dime as he changes direction to drag himself from here to here. We really hoped he’d be crawling by 6 months, but now our hope is Christmas.
He is conscious of everything that exists down to minute detail. He will spot a small white piece of cloth on a carpet from about 3 metres and hunt it down to discover what it is. Put all his toys out on the floor and he will spend 5 minutes fixated on a tag hanging off a piece of clothing. Today in our ‘Morning with Malachi’ session he showed off his new trick which is as follows: He gets up on his haunches and shakes his head dizzily from side to side for no understandable reason and then of course looks at you to see if you are sharing in the wonder of this thing that only he must be able to do. It is the combination of these two things that I think makes it funnier. He does something that is completely random but then basks in his own wonder at how he is able to do something that surely no other person is able to do. Still not willing to burst his bubble.
He is legendary!

Emotional Discipleship

Recently read a book called The Emotionally Healthy Church. It highlighted some interesting things with regards to how we disciple people within the church.
Often there appears to be a strictly ‘spiritual’ focus to our discipleship encouraging people to study the scriptures and to journey forward in their understanding of the spiritual disciplines: prayer, fasting silence etc. Peter Scazzero [author] makes this confession as the pastor of a church
I have misdiagnosed people who have come to me for help. When someone who had relational problems or emotional issues, I applied every spiritual remedy I knew. Unfortunately, many people remained sick and some even ‘died’ under my leadership.”

This is a terrible confession to have to make but one I think many leaders of churches or various ministries within the church would similarly need to confess if honest. He continues
Today, I no longer simply pray and hope for the best. Each of the above people required a level of discipleship that went beyond a skin deep, superficial, quick fix… As a leader I had to undergo a revolution in the way I understood and approached discipleship.
The sad truth is that too little difference exists, in terms of emotional and relational maturity, between God’s people inside the church and those outside who claim no relationship to Jesus Christ. Even more alarming, when you go beyond the praise and worship of our large meetings and conventions and into the homes and small-group meetings of God’s people, you often find a valley littered by broken and failed relationships.

His points are valid, and, tragically true! This revolution in discipleship is maybe something that many of need to consider. I see it as a need to look into what has shaped people emotionally. We can use the phrase ‘get into the word and pray’ as a cop out for actually investing deep, meaningful ‘Jesus-like’ time with the people we are leading looking into the things that have shaped and moulded them emotionally.
People can often be your poster children of biblical knowledge and church attendance but be immature and dangerous emotionally, tossed about like waves of the sea, as one biblical author would say.
Conclusion? Well let us in no way hinder our desire to disciple people spiritually (if you are not doing it, or involved in it, get started) but maybe we need to take a long look at how we help ourselves and others develop emotionally and work through things (often deep and powerful) that shape us on this level.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Earlier this year I heard a very wise teacher muse on prayer for a while. His musings were wonderful really. I left that time conscious of a wonderful place of faith that is possible for us in prayer but also desperately aware that I am in that place terribly infrequently.
This ‘place of faith’ that he spoke of would be when we have a conscious awareness of being ‘within the throne room of God’ in a similar way to Isaiah’s encounter with God described in Chapter 6 of the book in his name. Here we see that Isaiah is actually in a place where he is overhearing the voice of Yahweh and the declaration of the angels. My wise teacher friend noted that he thought a place similar to this is possible for us in our prayer life; coming to a place where we are ‘conscious’ of having open court with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

As certain as I am that I want often to reach this place in prayer, I am sentient of an ache within alerting me to a shallow prayer life on the whole. I was mentored in prayer for almost 6 months before I left the USA to come to England and my mentor had a strategy of prayer that worked on a similar premise. One needs to get to a ‘place of abiding’ in the heavenlies with Christ before interceding in His name and with His power. (See John 15 where we read the stunning words about abiding in Christ and receiving all that we ask for in prayer.) On leaving the USA I went through a time of pain that I think has sidelined me from this deep place of prayer ever since.

I am certain that many of us are nowhere near the place of prayer that is available to us that has with it such glorious effect. I dare you to join me in longing for that place of faith in prayer where we are in the throne room having open court with the King.

Martin Lloyd Jones on Revival via Piper

Piper in his A Godward Life brings the thoughts of Martin Lloyd Jones upon revival to the fore. I think his thoughts are brilliant but also helpful as only 2 weeks ago I was having a conversation about the ‘reality’ of revivals. Here are some of Lloyd Jones’ words:

The greatest problem confronting us in the church today is that the vast majority of professing Christians are not convinced of the reality and the desirableness of revivals.” Lloyd Jones distinguishes them from evangelistic campaigns put on by the church and writes
A revival is not the church deciding to do something with respect to those who are outside. It is something that is DONE to the church…the whole essence of revival is that it is something that happens to the church, to the people inside. And they are affected and moved and tremendous things happen.

What happens? Lloyd Jones answers, “…It is in a sense a repetition of the day of Pentecost… the essence of revival is that the Holy Spirit comes down… What the people are conscious of is that it is as if something has suddenly come down upon them. The Spirit of God has descended into their midst, God has come down and is amongst them. A baptism, an outpouring, a visitation.”

[People] immediately become aware of His presence and His power in a manner that the have never known before…Spiritual things become realities…[these things are] First and foremost the glory and the holiness of God…and that leads inevitably to a deep and a terrible sense of sin and an ‘aweful’ feeling of guilt… Then they are given a clear view of the love of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, especially of His death upon the cross… They begin to get a concern for the members of their own family… There is a constraint that is driving them. They talk about it to people…and begin to pray for them… Others who are outside begin to join the meetings and say, ‘What is this?’ So they come in and they go through the same experience.

Pray for revival!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Non-flammable Memories

Confronted by death this morning. The lovely wife and I had to attend her grandad's cremation. An ironic twist to it is that as we are stared in the face by this stark reality we also celebrate the knowledge that our little Malachi is 6 months old today. I guess death is no respecter of what joy may be taking place in the rest of the sphere of life.
One has to think when death knocks on your family door. If one can move on and not think about it at all then they are probably a little shallow. I have often heard it said though that we are a culture that does all in its power to sanitize death and to remove it from our immediate consciousness at all costs--this seems true as I have not been directly confronted with death more than I can count on one hand in my 31 years. So, in my thinking I certainly concluded that if what is burnt up in that coffin (in very much the same way as the cheaply made wooden coffin that surrounds it) is all that is life and as it become ash that alone is all that made up the 'years' and existence that passed before than life is truly meaningless. All the value put upon it, pursuit and effort made to maintain it and cherish it seems extremely pointless.

What I thought as I drove alone to the crematorium was that as there is something that lives on longer than even the memories of that person. Speaking to someone who was at the crematorium just 3 weeks before for the service of two still born twin girls I knew that their memories would last infinitely longer than there brief physical existence.
Not only is there something that lives as long (longer) as the memories but it shares another similarity with memories-- its non-physicality.
The reason it is so hard for us secularists to believe that there is more to humanity than that inflammable body is that we can't touch it. But as certainly as you will never deny the memory of my wife's grandfather to her is the certainty that there is this non-physical component of us that lives on after death.

As I thought on this I did wonder why a world so certain that all that counts is this body and the material pays such immense attention and respect to the end of it. Why is death something so confrontational? Why do we not just cast dead people upon some recycling system; discard of them like some over-used sofa that no longer serves a purpose?
I think we all know that will never happen.
We as humans are of infinite value indwelt by the image of the infinite God.

Theological Mystery

There are several glorious truths of the Christian faith that I would call mystery: The trinity, predestination and salvation by faith along with several others. Now I have often wanted to explain what I mean by that, and that this mysteriousness does not mean that we must not seek to look into these things and know more about them. Well I have found someone speaking of it who is far more wise, intelligent and able than I to give some insight to this 'theological mystery' J I Packer. Read his words as he speaks about it with particular attention to the doctrine of atonement:
What sort of knowledge of God’s action in Christ’s death may we have? That a man named Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate about AD 30 is common historical knowledge, but Christian beliefs about his divine identity and the significance of his dying cannot be deduced from that fact alone. What further sort of knowledge about the cross, then, may Christians enjoy?
The answer, we may say, is faith-knowledge: by faith we know that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Yes, indeed; but what sort of knowledge is faith-knowledge? It is a kind of knowledge of which God is both giver and content. It is a Spirit-given acquaintance with divine realities, given through acquaintance with God’s word. It is a kind of knowledge which makes the knower say in one and the same breath both ‘whereas I was blind, now I see’ (Jn 9:25) and also ‘now we see as in a mirror, darkly . . . now I know in part’ (1 Cor. 13:12). For it is a unique kind of knowledge which, though real, is not full; it is knowledge of what is discernible within a circle of light against the background of a larger darkness; it is, in short, knowledge of a mystery, the mystery of the living God at work.
‘Mystery’ is used here as it was by Charles Wesley when he wrote:
‘Tis mystery all! The immortal dies!
Who can explore his strange design? In vain the first-born seraph tries. To sound the depths of love divine!
‘Mystery’ in the sense (traditional in theology) means a reality distinct from us which in our very apprehending of it remains unfathomable to us: a reality which we acknowledge as actual without knowing how it is possible, and which we therefore describe as incomprehensible, Christian metaphysicians, moved by wonder at the world, speak of the created order as ‘imagery’, meaning that there is more to it, and more of God in it, than they can grasp; and similarly Christian theologians, taught by revelation, apply the same word, for parallel reasons to the self-revealed and self-revealing God, and to his work of reconciliation and redemption through Christ.

…Now the atonement is a mystery in the defined sense, one aspect of the total mystery of God. But it does not stand alone in this. Every aspect of God’s reality and work, without exception, is mystery. The eternal Trinity; God’s sovereignty in creation, providence, and grace; the incarnation, exaltation, present reign and approaching return of Jesus Christ; the inspiring of the Holy Scriptures; and the ministry of the Spirit in the Christian and the Church — each of these (to look no further) is a reality beyond our full fathoming, just as the cross is. And theories about any of these things which used human analogies to dispel the dimension of mystery would deserve our distrust, just as rationalistic theories about the cross do.
It must be stressed that the mystery is in each case the reality itself, as distinct from anything in our apprehension of it, and as distinct therefore from our theories, problems, affirmations and denials about it. What makes it a mystery is that creatures like ourselves can comprehend it only in part. To say this does not open the door to scepticism, for our knowledge of divine realities (like our knowledge of each other) is genuine knowledge expressed in notions which, so far as they go, are true. But it does close the door against rationalism, in the sense of theorizing that claims to explain with finality any aspect of God’s way of existing and working. And with that, it alerts us to the fact that the presence in our theology of unsolved problems is not necessarily a reflection on the truth or adequacy of our thoughts. Inadequate and untrue theories do of course exist: a theory (the word comes from theorein, to look at) is a ‘view’ or ‘sight’ of something, and if one’s way of looking at it is perverse one’s view will be distorted, and distorted views are always full of problems. But the mere presence of problems is not enough to prove a view distorted; true views in theology also entail unsolved problems, while any view that was problem-free would certainly be rationalistic and reductionist. True theories in theology, whether about the atonement or anything else, will suspect themselves of being inadequate to their object throughout. One thing that Christians know by faith is that they know only in part.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Moltmann on Jesus' Pain

May I try allow Moltmann give us a glimpse into the ‘true inner pain and suffering and death’ of Christ?

"Socrates died as wise man. Cheerfully and calmly he drank the cup of hemlock…for him, death was a breakthrough to a higher purer life… The Zealot martyrs who were crucified after the unsuccessful revolts against the Romans died conscious of their righteousness in the sight of God, and looked forward to their resurrection to eternal life… The wise men of the Stoics demonstrated to the tyrants in the arena, when they were torn to pieces by wild animals, their inner liberty and superiority.
The Christian martyrs too went calmly and without fear to their death. Conscious of being crucified with Christ and receiving the baptism of blood, and of thereby being united forever with Christ, they went to their death in ‘hope against hope.’

Jesus clearly died in a different way. His death was not a ‘fine death.’ The synoptic gospels agree that He ‘was greatly distressed and troubled’ and that His soul was sorrowful even to death… Jesus clearly died with every expression of the most profound horror. How can this be explained?
…We can understand it only if we see His death not against His relationship with the Jews and the Romans, to the law and political power, but in relation to His God and Father, whose closeness and whose grace He Himself had proclaimed.

Moltmann goes on to express that this is the theological dimension of the unique pain of the death of Christ. He says to understand His death rightly we have to look at the life, context, and ministry of Jesus. Jesus constantly expressed closeness to and unique fellowship with this ‘Abba Father’ He proclaimed; Christ identified Himself with the Yahweh God in an inimitable way. Moltmann summarizes the pain of death thus:

"…Anyone who lived and preached so close to God, His kingdom and His grace, and associated the decision of faith with His own person, could not regard His being handed over to death on the cross as one accursed as a mere mishap, a human misunderstanding or a final trial, but was bound to experience it as rejection by the very God whom He had dared to call ‘My Father.’
…Not until we understand His abandonment by the God and Father whose imminence and closeness He had proclaimed in a unique, gracious and festive way, can we understand what was distinctive about His death."
Crucified God (147-51)

First Christmas Thought

Christmas season is upon us, along with its barrage of inane information enlightening us as to its meaning. Of course much of it is very near the truth—NOT!!

When one thinks upon the magnitude of this moment theologically one can only become painfully pi**ed at how our culture has transformed the meaning of Christmas. What do I mean? Well think of the word, it is Christmas: the birth of the Christ. At this time around 2000 years ago God became flesh, the incarnation took place, and He who is the very image of the gloriously incomprehensible God was born in a dingy nasty manger in Bethlehem, Palestine. WHAT?? How is this possible, why would God do this? So that we can immerse ourselves in a commercial landslide devoid of any reference to this glorious truth, I tend to think not.

No, this wonderful miracle of God taking on flesh to ‘tabernacle’ among humanity was the first ‘visible’ part of a stunning salvation plan. Only one who was fully man and fully God could die for sin and be a perfect sacrifice to satiate the anger of God towards a world who had distanced themselves from Him and were therefore destined to eternity without a chance of restoring relationship with Him. You will probably hear it a thousand times this Christmas from various sources, but may I be one of the first to remind us to linger upon this glorious truth as we journey through all the distracting twinkle of commercial Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ambition vs Anointing

Ambition versus anointing is something that I have been thinking on for quite a while. The reason why is that I think it is a continual battle in my own heart. The sad thing is that my own Spirit-led conscious tells me how drastically unlike Christ any form of selfish ambition actually is.

Ambition itself is not necessarily wrong! Paul writes in Romans about his ambition to preach the gospel where it had never been preached. This is holy ambition though. An ambition that is 'Kingdom of God' centered and not self-centered. Augustine talks about loving all things as a means to loving God. So, to personalize this I obviously need to seek great things as I serve God but only in order that His fame grows and not my own. 
The hard thing is that often my heart is unable to actually discern what I want to do certain 'things for God' for. Does anyone reading this know what I mean?

I am certain that God has anointed me to do certain things for Him in my brief time upon this earth. Some of those things I think will be quite dynamic and 'fame-making', but is this where the ground becomes very unsettled? I do not want to just sit back and be stupidly passive as I know God has told me to "run the race" and to "strive" for that which Christ has already won for me. But in running the race can I start using my own rules of participation and this be selfish ambition? It is a consistently fine line I think; wanting everything God has placed upon my heart to fulfill but, when that is not in my immediate present, living life in a way that does not transgress into any form of self-centeredness.

It is an issue for me and it can affect so many relationships around me and also really cause people to read you the wrong way-- not what I want! Also when I think about how many times Christ said 'to be the greatest in the kingdom you must be the least' and 'humble yourself and the Lord will exalt you' I know that this is a very important aspect of kingdom living, one which does distinguish me from a world living according to fundamentally different principles.
What about you?

Friday, November 23, 2007


[A pic of the fam]
Haven't broached many theological topics recently but thought I'd have a little shot today.
Still reflecting on this last Sunday and the responses that took place at the preaching of the gospel. Augustine in his 'De Doctrina Christiana' speaks at length about the wonder of preaching particularly focusing on a verse from the first chapter of I Corinthians: "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." (v21)
His beautiful thought on how God uses the preacher, God's 'DIVINE CONDUIT' to bring the transcendent truths of divine reality into the hearts of the hearer is superb. And when I think upon it, it is glorious how a message that is, in reality, barely words is transformed in some way to bring vital, and complete life change to the human heart.
Speaking with James S. about this we both had to agree on the vital element of God's choosing of a heart in order to perform the necesssary spiritual surgery that enables that heart to transform. Without this divine-spiritual 'pre-working' and working in the moment of preaching it is ontologically impossible that a heart could change, that one could be saved. God demands the glory in the change of heart that is why a message that is so foolish 'GOD CRUCIFIED FOR ME' (read Moltmann) can have effect.

What hope that brings to me! I can preach, I can speak of the saving power of God, I can share the gospel and rest thoroughly assured that God has chosen hearts that He will transform to react with faith ("The hands of the heart" as translated by a Bechuana speaking man last century) to know salvation.
This pre-working-spiritual-heart-surgery on a heart that is dead spiritually causes praise and CERTAINTY to me that some will believe. Without this 'surgery' there is no hope.

Malachi Update

Some of you may be wanting an update on the little dude, well here goes!
He is now 5 and half months old, which is quite scary when I think about it as it seems like that much time could not have passed but it has. Today I was looking at some older photos of him and realised he had a lot more hair about 4 months ago then he has now. He went through all sorts of stages with his hair until 6 weeks ago when he was pretty much bald. Fortunately, for him I guess, his hair is now returning.

This past week has seen him learn to 'drag' himself all over the place. It is definitely not a crawl although I guess in his mind when he gets up on to hands and knees could anyone ever ask anymore of him. The thing is when on hands and knees actually putting a hand forward and following it with a knee is out of his conceptualization at this time.
By the way not everyone has seen pictures of our little dude so hopefully this one of him as a budding DJ will help. Still bemused how both Kiralie and I can have dark hair and dark eyes and yet produce a blue eyed blonde haired little munch... yes guys I have spoken to both the postman and the milkman- NOTHING!!

He has also developed what I call the "I have a cold as well hear my massive cough" fake cough. How he knows at this tiny age how important it is to receive affection and attention is quite amazing really. I know he is doing it for attention because for 5 seconds after each of these 'terrible coughs' he looks around and grins with all of his face in pride.
Children are amazing, and I cannot compare the afffection both Kiralie and I have for him now compared to that day when he forced his way, rather compromisingly I might add, ask the wife for full details, into our little world.
Anyway more to come I am sure!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not Ashamed

Funny thing happened Sunday. I had the great privilege and joy of sharing a gospel message with my church yesterday and people responded! The surprise and joy that was on my face as hands went up was obviously noticeable because one of the members of our church had a major laugh at my expense after the service having observed my face at the time. (Hey I had told everyone to close their eyes, so why was he looking anyway…mmm?)
It was tremendous! I used a pretty unimportant text as far as the gospel goes—Not!! I used that glorious declaration of Paul’s in the letter to the Romans in verses 16 & 17 of the first chapter, which is the quintessential statement of this mighty book. Some of you may know the cataclysmic effect that this had on the pioneers of the reformation, but if not, here is the marked effect it had on Martin Luther
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.
And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word "righteousness of God." Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.

Paul says that in The Gospel there is power and all I can do is affirm this truth. This great power was unveiled yesterday before my eyes as broken, lost, darkened hearts were gloriously brought into restoration, joy and new life simply because this message has in itself a miraculous affectation upon the human heart that can only be accepted as a mysterious work of God.
Let us be like this great apostle and not be ashamed of this life-transforming message!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How To Look Good Naked

Sorry about the title of this one folks. For some of you who may not know, this is a show on Channel 4 here in the UK; one which believe it or not my wife convinced me to watch last night. The irony was that I had really hoped to prepare a bit for a sermon for this Sunday (with the obvious hope that God would use these efforts to maybe touch people's lives positively) and was unable to do so as I gave in to my wife's pleas to watch this not so positive show with her.
Aside from taking a good length of time to discern the gender, or genderal preference of the guy who hosts the show, I did get struck by some thoughts (by the way do not try this at home as I am certain you are not mean to think at all during these 'reality shows') as I watched.
The lady who was convinced to eventually pose naked, as well as going through a massive wardrobe upheaval etc. was a middle aged woman who did not look at all bad. But, due to her own thoughts about her appearance, her self-convincing certainty that she was too ugly to be loved, too ugly to be seen by her husband, this woman had not slept in the same bed with her husband 'since I can remember!' In fact, she confessed at the end of the show that divorce papers were in the house because their relationship had become virtually non-existent.

There are numerous tragedies here. Firstly, she could be so affected by a looks-obsessed culture and her not 'meeting the globally desired mark' that she felt unlovable. Secondly, as a result of the first tragedy, the glorious gift that is marriage was once again destined to be torn apart.

We live in a strange time friends. I think that as Christians we have to be ever aware of how to remain distinct from our culture and yet not removed from it. Romans 12 comes to mind where Paul evokes us to a spiritual 'metamorphosis' by a transformation of our minds through conformity to the work of the Holy Spirit within us and not a conforming to the world by the work of a commercially driven media!! Let Him lead you, let Him transform you, the freedom is glorious.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Revelation in Contradiction

I do not think I could put across in any one blog how important reading is. It may be one of the major methods the Lord has used to categorically change my life. I was a late bloomer on this as well...only started at about 21 to really start opening up the multi-layered, multi-generational, multi-faceted world of reading. So to put it bluntly to anyone who may be considering it: READ!!!!

I say this because I want to quickly share a quote from a book I am reading currently. A book that I think is proving more insightful and influential in my thinking than any other book I have read in a couple of years or so. Not in every way possible, primarily in how it is causing me to think upon what is the title of the book 'THE CRUCIFIED GOD!' Well let me just share it shall I? (Here the author is discussing the cross when seen through a dialectical principle of knowledge (things revealed in their opposites))...
'Applied to Christian theology, this means that God is only revealed as 'God' in His opposite: godlessness and abandonment by God. In concrete terms God is revealed in the cross of Christ who was abandoned by God. His grace is revealed in sinners. His righteousness is revealed in the unrighteous and in those without rights, and His gracious election in the damned.The epistemological principle of the theology of the cross can only be this dialectical principle: the deity of God revealed in the paradox of the cross. This makes it easier to understand what Jesus did: it was not the devout, but the sinners, and not the righteous but the unrighteous who recognized him, because in them he revealed the divine righteousness of grace, and the kingdom. He revealed His identity amongst those who had lost their identity, amongst the lepers, sick, rejected and despised, nad was recognized as the Son of Man amongst those who had been deprived of their humanity.'- Jurgen Moltmann
I would never in all of my life been able to articulate this marvelous thought because I am just a little simple, but this is glorious. Ruminate upon it, let it cause you to want to be Christlike. Love the unlovely, fix your affections on this one THE CHRIST!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Both Wrong, No Fight, Nice!!

My wife and I had one of those amazing moments in our marriage today as we crossed an important bridge (note pun later) in our relationship. It involved a journey, a coffee and the dreaded plastic.
First things first I have to share the hilarity of our journey. In London there is a road called the M25 which is the major road that orbits (no you Americans not like a satellite) the city of London. To get from where I live to the place we went today, IKEA, (wifey, Malachi and I) you have to cross a toll bridge that spans the Thames, this costs £1.
All good to get across but upon my attempt to purchase the coffee I had ordered the dratted plastic would not splurge out the cash. Yip, we did not have another penny on us. Coffee in hand, 15 miles from home, and not even a pound to get us back. SHOCK HORROR!! Here was the problem, a 'card' was in the front of the car that I presumed to be mine, and the wife asked if I had my card to which I nonchalantly replied of course. Of course the card was not mine, it was my wife's which naturally is left in the back pocket of her jeans all the time, gets bent and therefore does not work.

Well, here it was the perfect opportunity to literally destroy each other for our foolishness and our lack of consideration, inability to communicate and so on. But just then I realized we were both so very much in the wrong that to point fingers would have been extremely foolish and actually highly hypocritical. Naturally, if I had been just a little less wrong, well hell would have broken loose.
There it was I for once saw the plank in my own eye and did not try to highlight the speck (ok plank as well) in Kiralie's.
O what a happier day for it (by the way the card ended up working in an ATM) a day filled with joy which could have been distinctly different.
Count to ten peeps! See the plank, humble yourself, the outcome is far better.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Does 'Nice' mean Lukewarm?

In the middle of what may have been a migraine, although knowing me it wasn’t as I freak out at any type of headache, I began to reflect on something that disturbed me. Thinking about it now some of my thoughts may have actually led to the migraine as a sort of judgment for crossing lines with my ideas of people. That which disturbed me: ‘Nice’ Christians.
These are those people who would most certainly claim a relationship with Jesus and who probably have a remarkable attendance record at all sorts of Christian events. In fact, there is no horrific sin (you know all the nasty ones like smoking, wearing short tops and stuff that we are disgusted by) like involvement in massive sexual orgies that you could level against them. They smile beautifully talk all the good talk and just seem to offer a presence in any meeting but very little else.

Yet, there is so much about this version of Christianity that is starting to grate me the more I think of it. I am not sure why but the sanitization of their faith seems to be a primary factor. There is very little, if no, cost to their following Jesus, and there is certainly no chance of their Christianity interfering in their perfectly planned journey to settled middle-class life. You know what I mean: Two salaries, two cars, two kids, two stupid mortgages, need I go on? Well I wonder if this was ever meant to be the Christian hope, and salvation that Christ gave up all to buy at the price of His own life for us. Not likely!

When Jesus commands John to write to the angel of the church in Laodicea He highlights this concept of being ‘neither hot nor cold’ otherwise known as lukewarmness. I, like many others I hope (although thinking as a Christian is becoming increasingly unpopular so maybe not), think upon what Jesus has against this church. Equally, I wonder if there is any chance of an accusation like that being brought against me, or people that I know. Could this have anything to say to ‘nice’ Christianity? Is a sanitized faith a lukewarm faith? Is being nice what Christ died for? Is nice Christianity a Christianity that would make any person looking in on this whole faith thing of ours want to take a second look?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ethical Dilemma Numero Uno

So, I am not sure if you get moments of revelation on a day to day basis. There are guys on TV (and a couple of super-spiritual folk that I know personally) who hear God speaking audibly to them and have words which you and I could only dream of… Well, I see things, sheer revelation. On Monday, I saw an ethical nightmare that is taking the nation of Britain, and the US if I remember correctly, by storm. This thing, this thing that I saw, could send even the ‘most goodest’ person into terrifying tremors of ethical confusion. It haunts grocery stores and beckons you by name begging you to consider doing things its way. Were you to wander over into its grasp, well there the dilemma begins.
Hopefully by now you are inching ever closer to the screen of your computer to discover the identity of this horrific thing. Well here goes: THE SELF CHECKOUT MACHINE.

As I walked past one of these perfectly designed ‘ethical confrontation’ contraptions it struck me how powerfully this object could confront every moral fibre in your being. Certainly, every time you casually amble in the general direction of the Self Checkout Machine rising up within you will come thoughts of maybe sneaking even the cheapest, smallest thing on your shopping list past the scanner and into your bag the other side. Apparently the machine weighs everything that is in your basket and as you take it out ‘expects digitally’ it to go through the scanner and be placed in the bag on the scale the other side. Amazing thought here, but if you never put it in your basket in the first place there will be no expectation.
“Simon,” you ask, “If someone wanted to shoplift something they would do it anyway?” Yes, but this elevates things to an entirely different level. Any decent person will now be overwhelmed with new morally dubious thoughts. What is this world coming to?

Seriously though, it was something that struck me as I considered the general consensus that our society is surfing upon a moral landslide, yet here is something that only works assuming an old school honour system. A risk the supermarkets are taking? Maybe not; maybe the ‘supermarket powers that be’ have developed these machines upon principles gleaned from Romans 2:15. Who knows? Anyone give us a clue?

Malachi Update

Firstly, sincere apologies for the severe lack of blogs in the month of October. Not even sure why that is. A major part is played by my ‘not friends’ at Sky Digital whose See Speak & Surf deal for us has actually turned out to be See & Speak. Surf has apparently given up on his two mates and there is certainly mutiny on board the Sky Digital ship serving the LJ household. Don’t even try rectify the problem because that would be a foolish assumption on your part… Why would you expect something for your money??

Ok, on to the little dude—Malachi. Remember we were spending a morning about 3 weeks ago grabbing his arm and yanking him with the intention of enabling him to roll from his back to his front. Hey ho, the little guy has learned to do it all by his little lonesome. In fact if you don’t watch him it is fully possible that he will do a full circle around the focal point of his head which does not move as readily as the rest of his body. The little guy apparently assumes he has achieved legendary status through this dynamic development. Really can’t work up the strength of mind to tell him that other people have been doing it for ages. I think he’s too young to handle the shock.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Captured by the term 'ONLY BEGOTTEN' in the first verses of the first chapter of the gospel written by John. It was buzzing around my mind last Wednesday as I tried to peer into the depths of what this term means. It is the greek word μονογενης (monogenes) and it is used only of Jesus as a Son of God. You see in one sense we are the 'sons of God' maybe in an even more dynamic way if we are 'born-again' but Christ alone is the μονογενης.

This may seem irrelevant to those who still dare to look into the entries posted here, but I will try ground it with this reflection.

A few of us travelled to Canterbury University on Sunday evening where Matt Hosier did a brief presentation for about 60 students on Christian Ethics in contrast to the ethics brought about by alternate secular viewpoints. After the presentation there was a question time and it was in this brief period that it became abundantly clear that this μονογενης attribute of Christ- the fact that He stands alone as the eternally begotten Son of the Eternal Father, equal with God and unique in every way- is exceedingly unacceptable in a pluralistic society. There was no putting down of our desire to be known as Christians who wanted to live out a Christian Ethic most perfectly displayed by Christ; it was when we said that Christ claimed a uniqueness which in turn demanded His being seen as God incarnate and the sole example of how to live life that people got upset.

Pluralism allows us to wallow in this place where all views are acceptable we are all 'sons of God' like Christ trying to make our way in this world. This term- μονογενης- does not. Christ as He is portrayed biblically will not tolerate pluralism. He is not like other religious leaders. He cannot be, He is the 'only begotten Son of God' the only person (really) that the adjective unique can be applied.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pally Pally with God

Came across these thoughts of John Newton on prayer over at THE RESURGENCE blogsite. He highlights several hinderances and faults of public prayer and then relates this one that is a personal one to me and which often I find grates me as I pray with people, or am at a prayer meeting. We are by no means to judge each others prayers, but there are certain things that we must understand about God as we pray to Him that may affect how we do it. Here are Newton's thoughts:
Informality in Prayer
"... and still more offensive, is a custom that some have of talking to the Lord in prayer. It is their natural voice indeed, but it is that expression of it which they use upon the most familiar and trivial occasions. The human voice is capable of so many inflections and variations, that it can adapt itself to the different sensations of the mind, as joy, sorrow, fear, desire, etc. If a man was pleading for his life, or expressing his thanks to the king for a pardon, common sense and decency would teach him a suitableness of manner; and anyone who could not understand his language might know by the sound of his words that he was not making a bargain or telling a story. How much more, when we speak to the King of kings, should the consideration of his glory and our own vileness, and of the important concerns we are engaged in before him, impress us with an air of seriousness and reverence, and prevent us from speaking to him as if he was altogether such an one as ourselves! The liberty to which we are called by the gospel does not at all encourage such a pertness and familiarity as would be unbecoming to use towards a fellow-worm, who was a little advanced above us in worldly dignity."

Who is it we are praying to and how should that affect the way we speak to him??

Mornings with Malachi

Not too sure what you did this morning, but more than likely I have got something that can beat it, not too boast it is just the way it is. My little boy is 15 weeks old today and can captivate every moment of our attention (wife and I) if we let him. 'Mornings with Malachi' are a daily worship moment where without expressing anything to God directly in words, the wonder of our hearts at this amazing gift He has given us certainly must count as worship.
Day by day we sit astounded at the grunts, groans & gargles that he produces as he expresses all the crazy thoughts about milk and his mum's 'milk suppliers' that must rush around his little noggin. Today it was the turning-over training session that had me in awe. This involves pulling him gently by one arm from being on his back over on to his stomach and waiting to see how he handles the fact that his other arm is now very inappropriately trapped under his tiny chest. Seems totally captivating doesn't it... Ok well I guess you have to be his dad but the humour and delight involved in watching him engage repeatedly in this process is right up there.

Having kids seems to be more and more of an issue in contention with middle class folk over here in Europe. In many of the European nations the size of the population may even begin to drop in the very near future as increasingly more people choose not to have kids. Of course having a nice home, car and life-style that impresses is far more fun and enriching than havng kids. Think about all the things they will say to you, think about how they will reflect with you in the future about how often your hearts met in rapturous affection, think about how they will hold you and hug you with a love that knows no limitations. Gosh!! Why would we entertain the thought of having kids... they are just so, so needy; they selfishly impose upon our selfishness!! Oops a bit of a Paul moment there getting a bit foolish in order to talk to the fooled.

Well hey this gift of a son has deeply affected me and he certainly has not taken from my wife and my joy but added more than we could have imagined.

Too Long

"It's been too long!" I must write these words in my journal everytime I open its pages to catch up on all that has gone down since I last put pen to ink in there. As a Christian I find that life is not necessarily all about beating up on bad demon dudes that are around every corner trying to beat the crap out of you and stop living a life that Jesus would be content with. Life is more about bringing glory to God and reflecting Jesus in the midst of the ever-speeding-upness that is typical of this age we are in.
So, to take as a very small example, this blog! I have really wanted to reflect a lot of my thoughts and musings on this little blogamajig and would count it as an ever-so-slight part of my keeping in touch with life and thinking it out so to speak, but, as with the journal, life seems to be beating me to everything. I am in the rat race but often everything gets to the finish line before me on a day to day basis if you know what I mean.

So much of life is about balance and stability, in fact one of the signs of immaturity is a lack of that balance. Balance seems so unattractive. "Hey what do you want to do with your life?" "BE BALANCED" Mmm doesn't seem to cut it, and yet if you really think about it a good life, a fantastic life in fact, is when everything is kind of fitting together: Work, pleasure, energy consumption, sleep, pain, joy and so on.
I want to work this out and now I am married it is even more complex to maintain this balance at times. I want to cherish moments with the wife, I want to watch my beautiful son grow up (a little on that later), I want to do all I need to do to show Jesus to the people in my church and in my neighborhood, and often just want to chill and get deep intimate moments with the saviour who has won my affections. This mix often is imbalanced at some point. I want the good life, so do not want to be saying those words, "Too long" for much longer. I hope.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mystical Christianity

I have just read up on something that has intrigued me for a while. Sadly, the depth of this guy's writing is almost polar opposite to what I suggested yesterday, but give it a go.

Knowing, feeling, experiencing Christ not only as the object of our faith but the one who is the subjective one in which we abide is essential to a truly vibrant Christian faith.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Spirituality God Jesus???

Some words for ponderation:
If the essence of our spirituality lies in a relationship with God, I suppose we should ask ourselves who God is. I would like to believe God is completely good, completely kind and forgiving, and it is we who aren’t all that good and have no idea what goodness is in the first place. I realize that sounds like humanity-bashing, and I don’t mean to bash humanity, but when I watch the news it makes me wish deep down for another time and place that has a king who is good, and a people who love and care about one another and are easy to trust, and a news channel that isn’t always trying to stir up a fight so they can cover a fight. And Jesus helps me believe such a time and place might exist. I realize a lot of people don’t like Jesus, or just ignore Him or have no use for Him, but I think the best thing a person can do is to read through the gospels in the Bible and really look at Jesus, because if a person does this they will realize that the Jesus they learned about in Sunday school or the Jesus they hear jokes about or the skinny, Ghandi Jesus that exists in their imaginations isn’t anything like the real Jesus at all.—Searching For God Knows What

I am currently reading this book. It is the type of book my wife would read I think. You see she doesn't like books that much, often finds them a bit of an effort to work through. This one is a bit different tho' it is simply written and actually catches you up in this guy's journey into the answers to questions a lot of us have.
I think 3 of those essential questions are broached in this little excerpt. Is there a God? If there is what is he like? Was Jesus that God or just some crazy dude?
These are questions that our world either distracts us enough to never ask in a life time or most certainly works wholeheartedly to give numerous other answers to the ones that Donald Miller (author of this book) comes to. Jesus was either "liar, lunatic or Lord" he never wanted to just be the nice guy that people enjoy as a peripheral part of their self-invented spirituality. Big thing is this: If He is Lord than He will obviously have somethiong to say about our opinion towards His lordship!
What's yours?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

PC Sports Day

Celebrated my 31st birthday this week, which I can inform you is an absolute non-event. 30 seemed special in a strange way, except that I felt more conscious that I was making ground on 40 rather than the fact that I was only 10 years away from 20. Anyway, I digress. I spent the long weekend down with my sister and two nieces as part of the 'celebrations' and came across one of the most humouring concepts while in discussion with my sister.
My oldest niece had recently had a sports day at her school (if you can call 6-8 year old girls attempting to run sports) which my sister attended. But, get this, she was not allowed to cheer my niece on. Her school runs their sports day along the lines that it is not the performance of the individual that counts in any way, but the total performance of the team. I presume this is a form of politically correct support. Now I actually find this a little mental-- maybe it is my African background, but let me assure you my little Malachi will know very clearly that his dad is screaming out support and cheering him on to kick as much @%$£ as possible as he participates as a member of a team.
How do you try impress upon your children any form of desire and passion for excellence? Is healthy competition something that we need to wean out of our children in order to produce a purer, better human race? ABSOLUTLEY NOT!!! What is going on with our culture... Help us Lord!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Porn Myth

A real quick one here. This is a brilliant blog about a feminists 'revised' view at the dreaded P word. Have a quick glance, so insightful.



“The Sovereignty of God is an expression that once was generally understood. It was a phrase commonly used in religious literature. It was a theme frequently expounded in the pulpit. It was a truth which brought comfort to many hearts, and gave virility and stability to Christian character. But, today, to make mention of God's Sovereignty is, in many quarters, to speak in an unknown tongue. Were we to announce from the average pulpit that the subject of our discourse would be the Sovereignty of God, it would sound very much as though we had borrowed a phrase from one of the dead languages. Alas! that it should be so. Alas that the doctrine which is the key to history, the interpreter of Providence, the warp and woof of Scripture, and the foundation of Christian theology should be so sadly neglected and so little understood!”
These are words written by A.W. Pink (by name, obviously not by nature on a deeper look into these words) in his book aptly titled The Sovereignty of God. He wrote this way before our time, and was prophetic in his understanding that this concept is seemingly from another world with another language.
It is a concept that the world we are immersed in and the Christian Subculture many of us find refuge in have emphatically eradicated from the Christian faith. The ironic slant to this is that it is one of the most reassuring, peace-giving, comforting truths in all of Christendom.
This truth for believers is that we are loved by a God who is in control and dominion over the movements of the sparrow and the power of the Tsunami. One who shall never be thwarted and who possesses power incomprehensible to assure that all will work out for His Glory and pleasure and the joy of the lives of those who love Him.

The problem lies in the first part of that last statement.
Many would ask, “Since when is this world about the glory of God foremost, surely God’s sole purpose is to exist to guarantee the most enjoyable life for me as a consumer?” These many therefore think that God is not sovereign. He is controlled by man (O great autonomous being that he is) who bounds all that God is able to do by insisting that man’s free will is the dominating force in all of creation.
We love a God that is sovereign over the ‘naughty little beasties’ that interrupt our comfortable little Christian journey; but how dare anyone suggest that God is able to do as He please, when He pleases, with whosoever He pleases!

Personally, my heart is most in awe of God because He alone is who He is, and His great and awesome Sovereign power is spent in securing salvation and eternal life for those whose futile power is spent in running into a life of self-absorbed (seemingly pleasurable for a season) lostness.
Are we willing to dive into the depths of this divine declaration of God’s sole supremacy over all that is? Dare you!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


An amusing episode this past Saturday… As anyone this side of the Atlantic Ocean knows, the English Football season began at 12:45. It is an event that in many ways dominates the calendar of this secular nation. An author writing for the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity about 3 years ago noted that a word mentioned more than any other (including sex, celebrity etc.) in British printed media is football. Anyway, I digress.
The amusing episode involved my driving passion for the wonderful institution known as Liverpool Football Club—the mighty ‘reds.’ By the way this is going somewhere, so read on. This team dominated European football about 20-25 years ago but since the inception of the English Premier League are yet to win this prestigious title (While many other distasteful teams (you know who you are) have done). Thus as every season begins there is extreme anticipation we may ‘win it this year’ because we are more than capable, we just don’t. Bad starts are our ‘thorn in the flesh.’
Well my boys played on Saturday having not won an opening day fixture for 5 years. Total domination of the game, one nil up with 8 minutes to go & one of our best players handballs the ball in the 18 yard box penalty given: 1-1.
No, no, no, and I am cursing my love for this team. Why? It is always the same; so many chances, so much ability only to abuse the hearts of enthralled followers. O, sorry, before I forget our captain, Steven Gerrard (incidentally the world’s best player within the context of his team) scored a mind-boggling free kick two minutes later for us to win. Hoorah! From low to high in an instant. What I am getting to is this: Why must we support a team. Why is it in the blood as something so fully a part of the DNA that there is simply no chance it could be any other way. It is as if we are the ones chosen, not those who choose.
This reflects exactly what has been the story of my Christian experience. It is like I was won over by one whom is worthy of every ounce of passion, exuberance and devotion who I could not turn away from because He holds me, He enthralls me captivates me! Now that I am on this path it seems like I was destined, chosen (not cause I am a worthy or better ‘fan’ than any other) to follow this One. Unlike the Reds though, this One never fails me. He owns the Title- Lord of Lords, King of Kings- and will never lose it to any other fake contenders.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Father's Love

Spent all day with my beautiful son today. He is 8 weeks old and an absolute gem of a dude. I can glance at him repeatedly and each time be captivated by his person. I don't think it is his beauty and obviously it is not because he returns the stare with questions on the state of my soul, it is just because! This 'just because' may be father's love, I cannot really ascertain as this is my first go at this fatherhood thing, but it is all-encompassing.
I delight to rush into his bedroom every morning and wake him up to this world that is all so very new to him. Any response to my attentions causes such delight in my heart and I am sure I am just a bit goofy at times, really lost in the seeming perfection of my progeny who is a recipient of my 'nothing restrained' love. Cliches like, "I would do anything for him," or "I love him with an undying love," actually seem inappropriate as verbalisations of something that probably remains best unsaid.
A good friend (there is that word again) mentioned the relationship between me and my son on Saturday morning as we languished in the sweet, sweet sunshine sipping coffee and talking 'deep talk.' He was alluding to another relationship between father and son.
He is reading The Pleasures of God by John Piper and one of the major discussions in that book is the love of God the Father for His son Jesus Christ. What my friend was alluding to is the infinite magnitude of all that I have described for my son both in perfection and purity that God the Father must have for His son! This side of heaven I can only begin to glimpse ever so slightly into the exuberent exquisite excellencies of the love shared between two perfect beings that are perfectly related. Every time my tongue attempts to declare the beauty of such love I must be attempting language unspeakable.
The astounding thing as we muse upon such love is the immensity of sacrifice and intention there must have been behind the death of Christ so central to the Christian story of hope, redemption and meaning. Both Father and Son must have counted fully the cost of such a sovereignly 'outlandish' (humanly incomprehensible) plan.
Thus, every time I peer upon my son, there is twin delight:
Firstly, I am favoured immensely to know father's love and
Secondly, how delightful it is that I am caught up in the love of the Almighty Father's love for His Son Jesus.
Oh how I am to reflect this divine love somehow if I want to love my son somewhat acceptably!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Dash of the Poet In Me!

Turmoil arises, the soul squirms;
Tossed inwardly by a veiled winter gale.
Flowers fail to bud when scorched,
Scorched by the sun within a dark sky.
Nakedness clings like a coat of fur;
Barrenness baring fruit like spring harvest.
Lock the door opening into the grey room,
Cobwebs suspended, amidst the dust.
Eyes open only to discover blindness;
A raging battle fought by unnamed enemies.
The smog of past fires choking breath,
A deadness within more alive than death!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lymington & Friends

Just travelled back from a delightful few days in Lymington with 2 close friends. 'Friends.' It is a word that carries immense meaning to me. I think it is because in the outworking of things in my life these people have proven to be the family members I have needed desperately to get me through this up-and-down journey.
In fact during our time in Lymington while sipping lovely local ales and munching on delightful steak we had a conversation (a word that again comes into fuller meanining when used in conjunction with the word friends-I think anyway) about family and its importance. There were varied views amongst us-true friends can have vastly varied views and still be friends- but for me I had to drive home the beauty of friendship.

As I have stated before I am a born again Christian and I would unhesitatingly admit that one thing that has kept me on this 'path of faith' has been friendship. Again and again they have come near, offered help, spoken strength, and given new hope to this weary soul and brought clear vision of the sheer beauty of this life lived in pursuit of the almighty God. One of the clearest definitions of impossible is this: Christianity without Community! Deepest community is Christian friendship. I have lived life on three separate continents now and one of the underlying foundations that has brought certainty to my existence is friendship.

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes of Phileo which is the Greek word for love shared between friends. He says it is the purest because it is a love that does not need the other to live up to some unfair expectations (appearance, ability, beauty etc.). He notes that phileo is shared most strongly (and its strength is great) when a common goal or pursuit is shared by 'friends.' Well, it is marvelously clear then that friends sharing a common knowledge of and love for the great saviour Jesus will know most fully this phileo love.
One of the gospel writers, Mark, most clearly describes true christian friendship in the second chapter of the telling of Jesus' life on earth. The story is of four friends ripping off their nails and baring their knuckles in order to tear away the roof of a house TO BRING THEIR FRIEND TO JESUS! (Read it sometime)
This is friendship: living life to bring your friends closer to the one in whom they can most completely and fully live life-- Jesus.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

God in History

"Most of us have a difficult time understanding history with God as the major and definitive presence. We have grown up getting our sense of history from so-called historians, scholars, and journalists for whom God is not germane or present in what they study and write. We are thoroughly trained by our schools, daily papers, and telecasts to read history solely in terms of politics and economics, human interest and environmental conditions, military operations and diplomatic intrigue. If we have a mind for it, we can go ahead and fit God in somewhere or other. But the biblical writers do it the other way around; they fit us into the history in which God is the primary reality."- Eugene Peterson
Been reading a brilliant book by Eugene Peterson over the past weeks reassuring myself of God's wonderful work in this world (most perfectly displayed in the life, death and resurrection of Christ). One of the things most 'reassuring' about Peterson's marvelous insight is the reminder he gives that God is fully at work in our every-day run of the mill lives. God does not need to work distinct from our reality He loves to be fully alive in us as we do whatever we do for most of the day.
The powerful words I have quoted above are a poignant challenge to not only secular society, but to Christians who are being won over by the views of said secular society.
Here is the call folks: If we are immersed in the information overload offered by those who will not include God (and I assure you He is not awaiting an invitation He is everywhere present) we will lose sight of God for ourselves.
Peterson calls believers to return the notion of sabbath, to rest in awe and wonder at the person of God and His work in creation. We must remove ourselves from 'history' sometimes and look fully and humbly at all that God is and has done. When we do not do this, when we do not stop and wonder, we will lose our connection to God, we will forget Him and be defined by secularity.
His word, silent meditation, and getting away to a place where we are confronted by the naked beauty of God's creation shouting forth the glory of God are all means of seeing God again, feeling Him, loving Him, dreaming Him, knowing Him and above all worshiping Him.
Please let us not be defined by those who for now have removed God from 'history' because at the end of this section of 'history' they too will bow the knee and confess that "Jesus is King!"

Monday, July 23, 2007


Watched Babel ( last night. This is the latest movie by Alejandro Gonzalez who brought us 21 Grams & Amores Perros among others. He is certainly a man who thinks hard as a he formulates a plot that will take us on a global journey as well as on a soul journey. As one watches the drama unfold one is taken not only to the four corners of our world but also deep into the core of who we are as persons. A tag line for this movie is that pain is universal. After watching the movie my wife asked what was it that connected the four ongoing stories that make the whole and it is just that pain! Whether one is part of a destitute Morrocan farming family, an immensely wealthy Japanese businessman or a Mexican immigrant working illegally in the USA one thing that is capable of connecting us is pain.

Pain obviously can be encountered in a plethora of ways. Where there is absolute financial security for one there can be a chasm of despair due to the loss of a loved one; where there is freedom from all the cares of the Western rat-race there can be the consuming struggle of poverty. Yet the reality of pain is certain, there is not a people group, race, financial bracket that will escape this reality. In the movie Babel, an incident in Morrocco starts a chain that not only amazes you due to the connectedness of those thousands of miles apart, but a chain of revelation, revelation that aside from the physical connectedness there is this 'soul' connectedness- each personal-narrative is connected by this meta-narrative of pain being part of our human existence.

There are not enough blogs in the world that could transfer the information necessary for us to understand and accept pain. Mainly because an information transfer is not what is needed. Redemption is what is needed, a restoration to an existence where pain is not 'part of the norm.' That existence is not part of this world though. C.S. Lewis (an Irish Christian who taught at Oxford university) touched briefly on this in his book The Problem of Pain as he speaks of one of the major factors of pain. Breathe these words in
The possibility of pain is inherent in the very existence of a world where souls can meet. When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another. (Pg. 70)
Lewis seems to speak into the overarching plot of Babel in this brief comment and he brings it down to a matter of the need for a change in the human make-up, a soul-change. None of the pain in the storyline of Babel is outside of man and his propensity to hurt another. From a 10 year old Morroccan to an aged Mexican, all appear to have this default setting. There is a need for a 'redemption' of this default setting within each individual before there can be hope of the redemption of our world. Christ claimed this power stating to many, "Go away your sins are forgiven." He makes souls new, redeems individuals and certainly, I believe, is in the process of bringing about the thorough renewal of this world.
Babel reminds me that I, as one who knows this great story of redemption, have much work to do to tell a pain-filled 'global village' about this wonderful redeemer! And you?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


'His love is made complete in us' These words are found in the 4th chapter of the Apostle John's epistle within the Holy Bible. There is an astounding truth that these words encapsulate. A truth that strikes me at the core of my being and causes me to linger on the immensity of what is declared in these 7 words.
As someone who does not believe that there is a loving creator God who extends His love to us through the joy of daily life, our relationships, and most spectacularly through the in-flesh God- Jesus- who displayed the true intensity of God's love for us through sacrificial death these words may mean little. But for me, one who has been arrested by an overtaking 'knowledge' of this loving creator God these words are startling.
Here, very briefly, my thoughts:
There is a God, and if He is the essence of those three letters then He is all loving, all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present, eternal (or else He cannot be God), who in His very nature has love for us and wants us to know this love. Yet in His outworking of things He knows that the most obvious, should I say most real way of being loved as a person is to be loved by another person. (For if God did just show up and say, "I love You," the shock would overwhelm the sense of hearing, and all other senses I reckon) Therefore, we are told that we, those who have encountered this most pure of loves, this most excellent of loves- the particular life-changing love of God for man- are the conduits of divine love to a world living mostly without any knowledge of such love.
Any manner of person who is unloved, from the widow and orphan to the cocaine-addicted super-celebrity- is unloved because we are not fulfilling our role. James another apostle says it real well when he notes that for someone to say they love someone and yet do nothing about it is pretty much absurd. We are the means of bringing the love of God to others. There is this Tsunami wave of divine love enough to affect all of us on this planet but often hold back by me, or you!
What a thought. All can know His love, He says He desires that all will, but in His mighty way of organising reality it is us who are to show that love.
So where are we on this? How much are we restraining the love of God?
Are we making complete the love of God or are we a break in the circuit. Maybe we are a 'love rebel' who is too self-loving, consumed in fulfilling personal ambition, busy climbing the career ladder, doing all sorts of Christian activity without any love for those who are unloved. Completion of the love of God! It's our call!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Life seems to be all about beginnings. This is a beginning for me- the beginning of presenting my thoughts to a world that really may not want to know. This seems to be a risk that very few fear today. It may be that they think a lot of their musings, a kind of 'Of course the world wants to know' attitude. There are thoughts that count, thoughts that really count and then there are the thoughts of the one who really counts.
These are the thoughts of the one who thought before the word thought came into existence. In fact it was the speaking out of His thoughts that was Genesis- The Beginning. This is the one who possesses being within His very essence, unlike all of us who throw our thoughts on to this internet thingy who are all created, all with our own beginnings and ends while Him who lives without a Genesis of His own will have no end.
Anyway, there has been another beginning for me and this one of the most glorious ones I could ever be a part of. The beginning of fatherhood. Unto me a son was born some 6 Weeks ago- Malachi Jude a little 'Warrior prophet.'
This is something that I want to blog on often. For now the brith itself...
This may be one of the only remaining truly sublime experiences left to us as mankind. There are a lot of false ones, those presented by our modern consumeristic world, but they all fall short of this one that stands with purity in a category known as miraculous.
What a wonderful thing, a range of emotions that virtually leave you shattered, without anything 'left in the tank' so to speak. The joy, sorrow, pain, anger, frustration, wonder, excitement, love, concern, desire, expectation, and so much more. There is a thorough immersing in the event but also a radical disconnect as you do not get to be fully involved until that moment that the little one appears. Fragility, life, weakness, need, beauty, person appears and the heart is extended so to speak it gives birth itself to a whole new realm of love, an overpowering one as you and your beloved have a whole new avenue of expression as a couple extended towards this life that is from you. What a truly marvelous Genesis. Beginnings, rooted in Him who has no beginning. What a joy to participate and live life within His glorious reality and have beginnings of our own submitted to His glory and given by His startling grace!