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?