Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An all too Glorious Exchange

It seems repeatedly in past weeks I have been struck by an exchange all too marvellous to fully comprehend. Teaching two weeks ago and then on consecutive Sundays while preaching this exchange has beautifully reappeared to take the place in my heart and mind that it always should.
What exchange you may ask? Well it is this one:
An all sufficient, absolutely lovely, infinitely majestic, gloriously perfect Saviour who dwelt in the midst of the praise of myriads upon myriads of angels for eternity gave his iridescent righteousness to a rotten, self-centred, glory-hating, God-ignoring sinner like me while taking upon Himself my sinfulness that I may know all-together sweet fellowship with the Lord of all!
Read it, believe it, absorb it, cry out for it if you know you have not received it! For this, this exchange is too magnificent to comprehend yet certain for all whom, by faith, receive this Saviour, this one called Jesus. Again I am astounded.

Pondering Marraige

21st Century Britain’s view on marriage is dire to say the least. Someone could respond with a declaration that the divorce rate has dropped in recent years, to which I can immediately respond, “Well that is because the number of people choosing marriage, as an option by which to enjoy life with the one you ‘love’ has dropped significantly!” Mark Greene from the LICC notes in an article on marriage that the number of marriages in the UK has dropped to the lowest figure in 111 years, and this while the population of England then was the same as that now crammed on to the London tube lines on any Monday morning.

There is no other subject on which I have heard more derogatory jokes. Even while working in retail upon my arrival here in 2004 I must have heard a snide, demeaning, or downright wrong comment from a ‘jaded’ husband at least once a day during the brief moments of interchange. It is tragic to say the least and profoundly destructive in actuality. The youth culture of Britain today makes a believer in the coming glorious Kingdom of God ache with sorrow at the state of our young people. It is not a case of looking at them through ‘old peoples’’ lenses and just having a moan—no it is sorrow at their loneliness, pain, and emptiness! Why broken chaotic families? Easy—Christ-defined marriage as the bedrock of society is no longer even a part of the backdrop of society.

Christians must respond to all the commands of Scripture and faithfully open their hearts to the empowerment of the Spirit of God to reflect the beautiful picture of marriage painted by Paul in Ephesians.
Men, Christ has embodied for His people the level of love we are called to for our wives to win the raging war ravaging marriages. We must love as He loved!
Wives, Christ has portrayed the submission to His Father that is demanded (however counter-feminised-culture) for flourishing biblical marriages.
Oh that we would heed the word. Oh that we would live His life. Who knows the societal transformation we could inaugurate?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Soul of the earth

I had the great pleasure of preaching at a brilliant little church called Bexleyheath Community Church this past Sunday. I quoted from a letter that was written to a man called Diognetus in the late 1st century. This man is reported to be a philosopher to the Roman Emperor of the time and apparently he had written to a 'disciple' of the apostles querying the life of Christians. The reply (part of which I will place here) is glorious and notes some stunning truths about the lifestyle of those early believers

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them... They share their meals, but not their wives.
They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law... Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated...
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body.

Will we as a generation of believers be renowned, reported to be the soul of the earth? If not why is that?

Malachi Update

Yes the little wonder-kid continues to change as each day passes us by. In the two weeks that we were in Texas (January) the change was quite literally mind-boggling.
The little guy has gone from his strange little military crawl/drag/ worm move to an all out 4 'limb drive' crawl. It is quite humorous actually. You can hold him above the ground and place him down with an effect similar to that of a landing aeroplane: a puff of smoke and the distinctive sound of rubber squealing. Yip he is a crazy kid. Again and again as early parents you hear the phrase, "Oh just wait, soon he will be into everything." Well in naivety one tends to think, "not our kid,' but HELLO it is absolutely mental! He can cover ground in dazzling speed getting his little mits on to everything. And if anything is of a nature that is not suitable for him to play with (live electrical wires etc.) it is these things that hold the greatest magnetic power to an 8 month old apparently.

He has finally broken through (note the pun) his stage of being 'dentally challenged'. There is ivory all over the boys mouth. In fact one of his big teeth growing through his top gum is more like an elephant's tusk than a tooth (size for size of course). So the little guy is changing unbelievably. Rumour has it that he becomes increasingly cuter which is wonderful news I guess, although quite hard to believe considering how stunning the little guy is. He pulls himself up on everything and quite amazingly strolls along the side of objects (falling over and whacking your head is part and parcel of this exercise) so I guess my next report will be that he is walking...oh no!

Order out of Chaos

God is about redemption! One day their will be a conclusive and glorious reconciliation of all reality to that perfect form known as the 'new heavens and the new earth' that the scriptures repeatedly allude to.
It is essential we hold fast to this truth; when life gets very much into the 'nitty gritty' it is these glorious truths that give us hope. Even in the very beginning we get a picture of the redemptive power of our wonderful God. Out of chaos comes a creation more lovely and wonderful than any poet has managed to articulate. As in creation so in our lives!

The lovely wife and I have had a strangely hectic and difficult beginning to this year (hence the lack of blogs for over 5 weeks, apologies). There has been painful loss, literal homelessness, much traveling and an assortment of other things that have left us floundering (is that supposed to happen to someone in full time ministry- surely not!). Yet in the midst of this God works to redeem, to bring clarity and restoration. What a faithful King He is! It is hard to fully ascertain in the moment what it is His divine hand is producing within our lives but there are enough reminders in His word to us that pain, difficulty and hardship 'are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.' (Ro. 8:18)

Remember this friends. It does not eradicate the pain and difficulty but it gives purpose, redemptive shaping purpose, to it. may we continue to revel in His grace!