Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I want to preach a sermon series one day about the lost words of the current Christian dictionary. The words and concepts that riddle the scriptures yet are decidedly absent from the majority of believers today. My time has not yet come to do that but one thing has been on my heart for a long time now and was brought back to the fore by two things.
The first was when Mark Driscoll made reference to this lack in his first main session at the Newfrontiers Brighton Conference and the second was today when I began reading Imitation of Christ by Thomas A. Kempis again.

The concept that I am alluding to is Contemplation. Driscoll noted that far too many charismatics particularly do not have this as an element of their faith and Kempis, well he just writes in a way about the art of contemplating the wonder and person of Christ in all His manifold majestic perfection that it is obvious from my conversations and even my own life that current Christianity is experiencing a tragic dearth of this discipline.

There is far too much talk, action and noise which pass as the marks of ‘deep’ ‘passionate’ faith.
Deep meaningful talk and action, that which will make a difference to our relationships and our communities needs to stem out of a life marked with this discipline.
Well only when we look deep into the nature and person of Christ will we in any way begin to reflect Him.


3 Years Till Friendship

Last Wednesday my wife and I celebrated 3 years of marriage. It seems like such a short time, especially when I compare it to the length of time that some of the people that I am close to have been married. Yet, many, many marriages in this day and age do not make it to 3 years. For far too many people 3 years is just too long to actually ‘love’ someone, to move past that celebrity or reality TV show love and get to something that involves commitment and trust.
Please do not think for one moment that I am saying 3 years is the perfect length of time for marriage after which there is no divorce- I certainly am not.

In fact the reason I am writing is to just note something wonderful that I think has taken place in our relationship in the 12 months since our last anniversary (obviously). Before now, there were always one or two guys that I would have said were my closest mates, but now my wife has slotted wonderfully into that position. She alone has read the pages of my life to a degree that no other has; she alone knows my vulnerabilities and heart aches; she alone has touched the deepest parts of my soul and interacted with what lies in there: the good and the really not so good.

Ironically, this closeness, this shift has taken place in a season of real hardship, pain and loneliness for us. Yes, God has worked a miracle in our relationship to strengthen and deepen it so I can now lean so fully upon her and open myself up completely to her.

Marriage is a beautiful thing!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Clear as Day

Just finished reading an article in the Daily Express (not sure if Christians in Middle Class Suburbia are even allowed to read it). The article was about a clairvoyant, Laura Day, based in New York. The image accompanying the article was a picture of her with Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston, two of her high profile clients. Apparently she has been intrinsically involved in a multi-million pound building partnership with an American firm and a Japanese one. Oh, and by the way, she earns around £250000 a year, I tell you what I am choosing to engage people with the wrong Spirit if all I am in this for is the money.

It seems people are very open to hearing from the ‘spiritual realm’ about their future; or, able to lean on someone who has this ‘direct line’ apparently to a source of power that can give guidance to those in need of it and are willing to pay for it.

Spirituality is more popular than ever.
In fact it is popular across every class within culture from celebs to those struggling to make it that pop into the local clairvoyant or tarot card reader to seek help in some situation.

Christianity must rise to its place as the only source of fulfilment for those with spiritual hunger. How?
In two ways I think:
1) Followers of Christ living out the abundant life that was promised to them by Christ and testifying in every context to the completeness there is now in their lives.
2) The church teaching the truth of man’s estrangement from that Spiritual being who alone can fill the void that is so very evident whenever they give a moment’s thought to it. And, of course, how faith in the person of Christ who ‘redeems’ us from this certain estrangement.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I like many have been to the Newfrontiers Conference in Brighton, England, and like almost everyone else was gloriously inspired by the preaching and teaching. But another thing struck me while there and I thought I would just share that.
During the worship, which was lead with absolute grace and awareness of the guidance of the Spirit (Well done Simon Brading), the consciousness of the work of Christ inspired by His love for me has come upon me with real force.

When I think about all that I can tend to be distracted by (life situations, leadership, ministry, personal development) it seems that God has reminded me in these days of the wonder and gratitude I actually have towards Christ for His atoning work on my behalf. ‘Atoning work’ you may ask, well let me explain…
The holiness of the person of God demands that justice towards any form of evil must be shown. The love of God means He wants to make a way for those who are ‘unholy’, deserving of justice, to enter relationship with Him. We, stuck in ‘unholiness’ are unable to enter this relationship because we deserve just punishment for our wilful rebellion to God. Enter Christ as an obedient perfect substitute (His life for mine) to take on Himself the punishment for sin I deserve. This enables me, by faith, to accept this work (the work of atonement) of Christ on my behalf in order to receive the rewards of His life and obedience: a righteous standing before this Holy God.

This baffles me, why the most glorious, beautiful, loving being would give His life for me, offer me His righteousness in exchange for my sin.
What love is this, so divine
That demands my soul, my life, my all.


The Man!

I find myself often struggling with the effeminate imagery of Christ that is perpetuated by, well by the church really. I rarely hear a rallying war cry to follow this warrior like figure that conquered sin through an obedience that no other man could have had the guts or strength to fulfill. This man really is a legend, He is a great man to follow! Of course love permeates every thing He does, but let us not forgot what a glorious man Jesus was. Here just a brief reminder from Scripture in the book of Revelation

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


Monday, July 7, 2008

Personal Revelation

This one should be brief, I think.
Been a follower of Jesus for over 15 years now. It was June the 20th 1993 that the grace and love of God in Jesus overpowered my hardness and rebellion of heart and brought me into relationship with God as I believed wholeheartedly on all the work of Christ on my behalf.
Two weeks ago, something struck me as I wrote in my journal (no not lightning) and it was this:
Things are not easier for me now as a father and husband then they were when I was a carefree 17 year old filled with all the excitement of future and freedom of youth. Living the Christian life, in fact, is no easier. Every day is not a bed of roses and no matter how hard I try to find my delight in how wonderful it is to be living the Christian life, this would be ill-placed delight. So then what is the delight, what is supposed to be so much better these 15 years on? Why start the whole thing off if it gets no easier?
Easy, and this is what struck me! It is fellowship with Him, it’s knowing Jesus! It is the ineffable glorious delight of being in relationship with He who is both God and man. It is the certain truth that I have a friend who is greater than any foe, someone who loves me not because of what I bring to the relationship—but because he has already put his life on the line to insure that we will never know the terror of being apart (this terror is an eternity separated from every good thing, even the knowledge of goodness). I am loved by Jesus and I will never, ever, ever plum the depths of knowing him or exhaust the joy of being known by Him.

An Honest Preacher

Had a South African preacher with us this morning at our church. A man called Francois—he was like a breath of fresh air I tell you! Now it was not because he was young and cool and hip (he was a tad hip); and not because he brought a new dynamic message that he had plucked from some divine encounter with some angelic being! It may be that you are asking by now, “So tell us why? Why was it so fresh?”
The answer is nothing more than the fact that he was honest; no, maybe honest is not the word I am looking for, he was real. It is such a pity that honesty or being real should be something so surprising and uplifting, but this is the case. (Now, please note, I am not saying that the other preachers I hear quite often lie because they don’t. I am using the word honest more in the sense of real and authentic, he was honest to his own true understanding of what it is to bring a message to the people of God as a person living out his Christian walk within the parameters of real life.) It felt there was no separation in essence between preacher and people, he was one of us who faces all the pains, discouragements and disappointments that any of us do. This was fresh! And yes he finished with a brilliant, poignant reminder of the great and glorious goodness of God to those of us who are in relationship with us as highlighted in the eighth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans in the bible.

Why is that one of the unfortunate marks to the men and women of God that minister for God ‘professionally’ is the mark of ‘got it all togetherness’? Do we not know that honesty, openness, being real and authentic is what most endears us to those whom we lead? I fear not as I have heard far too many messages from far too many men of God that never quite said it all, there was always a holding back of something.
Bear your heart, reveal your soul, talk of the pain, the joy, the confusion and delight then bring the magnificent promises of God to bear as revealed in the word. Preach to the heart by exposing your own.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On a Knife Edge

Just looking at the TV guide for tonight’s listings and there is at least 9 hours of shows devoted to all the issues surrounding the increase of knife crime in the UK. 17 youth murdered in London alone in the first 6 months of this year. I think the total last year (the highest I believe) was 18 and it would not take rocket science to estimate that total will pale in contrast to this years at the current rate.
Of course, all of secular society is in reactionary mode giving an endless list of reasons as to why this is taking place. The list is typically always the same: youth culture; the rise of the prominence of gun and knife crime in media; increased violence in video games; societal trends; unemployment; oh the list goes on. Yet I cannot seem to shake the notion deep in my heart that all of these are symptomatic of something far deeper in the human psyche. Focusing on externals, for some time now, has always seemed far too shallow to me as a follower of Christ. There is a core issue that needs to be faced here!

Black Eyed Peas have a fantastic single called, ‘Where is the Love?’ which asks the quintessential question. Humans have a default setting that enables them to so ‘unlove’ someone that they (unlike any other creature around) can take the life of another of its own kind. We have a value way beyond that of any other creature (sorry dog-lovers but I am yet to see billions of dollars spent on a military rescue mission crossing several borders for even the most beautiful dog) but in a mere moment that value is defaced and demeaned by a violent action- where is the love? How can we be so loveless?
This is the core issue, the issue that effuses in the myriad of social ills that secular society would define as the core issue itself. It is a three-letter word, one devoid of meaning today.
Ready for it… sin! Will write more on this, but it may evoke thought for some of you.
Comment if you will.

Logical Conclusions

Martin Lloyd Jones was an outstanding preacher even before he got to Westminster Chapel in London. I am reading a book of his Evangelistic Sermons preached while in Aberavon in Wales, so insightful and extremely enriching. The most recent sermon I have read, referring to Herod’s fascination with John the Baptist and yet lack of commitment to the Baptist’s preaching, reaches a pinnacle as he challenges us to draw conclusions logically (a missing element to much current thought) to the gospel. I thought I would share it with you

Have you ever followed the gospel to its logical conclusion? If not do so know. Here is the argument. How simple and how logical it is. There is God, the judge eternal. Here am I, the sinner. God demands certain things of me and has made them quite plain and clear in His law, which is also attested by my own conscience. I have to appear before Him. Do what I will, it cannot be avoided. And I am guilty, and I am told that for the guilty there is nothing but damnation and hell. But here comes the gospel offer which tells me that Christ having died for me, God is willing and ready to pardon and forgive me, and give me a new life, and that he calls upon me to leave my sin and give myself entirely to God and to do all I can to please Him whatever that may involve. Refusal means eternal damnation, acceptance means eternal life. I do not know how long I shall live; I have no control over the length of my life. The offer is there now, is open at the present moment. Surely there is only one thing to do and that is to act at once.