Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Visible Message

Hey there, if anyone now wants to check out messages from Watford feel free. Just to the side, let me know your thoughts.


Prayer & Intimacy with God

So many believers seem to portray an inconsistency with what they believe in the aroma, or aura of their lives. I am certain that the peak of our existence as created beings is intimate relationship with our creator, the Trinitarian God, Yahweh. But it does not often appear the case when you spend time with Christians. I am sure there is a multitude of causes and I am nowhere near insightful enough to list all of them, but after this weeks sermon to our church I do know one element that may lead to this 'downcast Christian spirituality.'

A lack of the intimacy created by prayer!

In my time preparing and delivering a message on our fifth value: Authentic, Vibrant Personal & Collective Prayer (watch the set of 4 videos here) it became so obvious to me that a vibrant, authentic prayer life goes miles to enabling and maintaining intimacy with Christ.
One of Christ's most beautiful statements was in John Chapter 15 where he states that He is the Vine and we are the branches. He was making it clear that for us to know life, for us to flourish in our relationship with Him we had to be intimately connected with Him, we had to know communion, reach a conscious state of oneness even.

Prayer, particularly personal word-based relational prayer (between God and worshiper) is essential for us to relish this marvelous faith won for us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. I will be the first to put my hand up and say that I am nowhere near that place of ongoing, dynamic prayer. But I feel more motivated more challenged that I must pursue it, for the joy of my soul and of course for the glory of God.


Oh to win this

Well saw this and thought this would be an extremely handy accompaniment to my new shed/office that I am currently sitting in.

Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

Yip, what could go better with a Pastor's office shed, his mac laptop and prep times with Jesus? Yeah I agree, nothing!! A Logos Bible Study Library would do the trick.
Who knows, we'll see!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What 'Owns' You

"You don't have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity..."

These are the words with which John Piper challenged 20000 college students in the summer of 2000 (see here). Piper's earnest plea was that this groups of 20-somethings not waste their life on the cheap temporal pleasures lavished upon them by a society fixated only with the now. Piper wanted their lives to count for so much more.

What owns you? What dominates your affection, what grasps your attention more than any other thing? Maybe it is a multitude of things all wrapped up in this wicked rat race of keeping up with the mind-blowing levels of consumption by our peers in order to maintain 'the image.'

Piper's whole message is borne out of his focus on the words of Paul in Galatians 6:14. Here Paul claims that he will boast only in one thing: THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. For Paul, and so it should be for us, the cross of Jesus Christ was the central element of all reality. For him reality is because the cross was. As Christians we must ask ourselves if we could make the same claim.

We must ascertain whether everything we seek to do, our thoughts, our affections stem from our absolute love for the person and work of Jesus Christ crucified. It will bring about transformation if that is the case.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

'The Splendour of His Holiness'

Struck by a phrase in Psalm 96 this morning, "Worship the Lord in the Splendour of His Holiness; tremble before Him all the earth."
WOW!! When was the last time you walked away from a worship service at your local contemporary church hearing people remark with wonder, "I was struck today by the splendour of the Holiness of God!" No no no, more than likely there will only be conversation about the quality of the music heard and the quality of emotion felt during any modern-day worship session.

Can this be right? Do we EVER TREMBLE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD ANYMORE? I fear not, and if this is the case surely we should be alarmed. If the Psalmist is telling us this is how we should worship, why then is this such a foreign, even alien, experience in the life of a modern 'worshiper'? Well the answer is simple-- WE WORSHIP A DIFFERENT GOD, A MAN MADE GOD. And made not by the outworking of our tumbling into a secularly dominated culture, but by us as Christians ourselves. We have made this new God, this God of love devoid of Holiness. A God who must love us, a God who needs us, a God itching to grant us our multitude of wishes BUT IN NO WAY THE GOD OF DAVID AS REVEALED IN PSALM 96.

Please, my friends start crying out to God that He would show you more of who He is. Are you bold enough, are you humble enough?
For I will say these words that I spoke to our student group two years ago

“Our understanding and belief in what the Holiness of God means will define every other thing in life.”
“No other thing is more important for Xtians and Xtianity today than a God-given understanding of His holiness.”

Believe it, its true.


Monday, February 2, 2009

A Perfect & Complete Gospel

Preached on our second value this week-- A Perfect & Complete Gospel.
Here is the statement undergirding that value:

We are wholeheartedly assured that the Gospel is a true message that must be declared, a power that changes lives, and a lifestyle that must be embodied. The gospel message is centred on the person, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Bible. We believe Jesus is alive today, thus, the gospel must have the same rescuing, healing, and transforming effect that we see in the New Testament

In defining the gospel I borrowed very heavily from D.A. Carson who spoke on this at the Gospel Coalition in 2007. His summary is brilliant and he uses 8 words to define the gospel as revealed in I Corinthians 15.

It is
CHRISTOLOGICAL: It is totally, thoroughly, and primarily about Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
THEOLOGICAL: It is about God, it is about sin, the fall of mankind, the plan of redemption. It has theological depth.
BIBLICAL: From Gen 3, through the Psalms, and prophets the bible is littered with references to this coming redeemer and His work for mankind.
APOSTOLIC: They were divinely entrusted with the message, they passed it on, they were inspired to preach it & write it for us.
HISTORICAL: On a day in history Jesus Christ of Nazareth was born, he died roughly 33 years later (historically) and 3 days later He rose from the dead, literally and historically! THERE ARE NO BONES IN THE TOMB!
PERSONAL: This gospel paves the way for individual salvation!
UNIVERSAL: Christ, the New Adam had inaugurated a NEW HUMANITY, a new family of faith. People from every tribe, every tongue, every people can be part of this new family.
ESCHATOLOGICAL: There is a glorious end day that this gospel points to, when all will be restored to God's perfect requirements.

THE ONLY ANSWER: There are no other answers to the problem of mankind's distance from God.
THE ONLY HOPE: We are stuck in a desperate situation and all around fails to bring hope, until we discover the hope in the gospel.
THE ONLY POWER: All other remedies to cure mankind's ills work outside in, the problem demands an inside out transformation only possible in the Gospel.
THE PERFECT LOVE: It is truly the most beautiful thing in history. If love is most to be valued, then the infinite love of God the Father, for His infinitely worthy Son, handed over to restore mankind as an act of love is truly beautiful (when understood in light of the total outcome of that moment (I mean don't see the bloody cross without the glorious resurrection))

BELIEVE IT: Initially and as a continual act of belief. Believe it.
KNOW IT: Don’t just believe it, get it into the core of all you are and do!
LOVE IT: Be satisfied in the new life given by the gospel; live so no other thing completes you, no other thing is necessary for your happiness.
LIVE IT: A New life, a radically different life!
SHARE IT: Speak it; get it into any conversation.
HATE RELIGION: The gospel is the polar opposite of Religion!

A perfect & complete gospel. How marvelous.


Showing 'The Word'

I was greatly encouraged last week by a member of our church who stated that something I had shared as part of my message on 'Absolute Truth' as a value for us really affected Him.
That is the secondary aim of preaching is it not? The first is obviously to Glorify God, but the second must be to move our hearers hearts in such a way so they pursue Christlikeness more wholeheartedly with deeper affection for Him.

My point was this:
"In pursuing this value (Absolute Truth- The Word of God), as we love this truth, live this truth, immerse ourselves in this truth, we will show a lost & dying world Jesus Christ."

What do I mean by this? Well if we are defined by the divinely inspired word of God in which we see Jesus most clearly then as we love The word we will show 'The Word'- Jesus.

Of course we read the bible to be encouraged, to be informed, to know truths that help us fight the lies of the culture and of the enemy, but our final aim in living in the word must be to so look and live like Jesus as we see Him in those pages of Scripture that we show 'The Word' to the world.

I want that. You?