Tuesday, June 30, 2009

KISS & Preach

The family and I had the joy of traveling to the Isle of Wight for 6 days last week. We were blessed with the use of a Caravan belonging to a couple in the church. Oh, and when I say caravan, I mean something far more than the petty vehicles abused by Jeremy Clarkson and the boys on Top Gear. This was a fixed, three bedroom beast and it was very comfortable and accommodating.

Anyway, one of the essential elements of being away for me was to just be still and allow God to speak to me. I felt I needed it more at this time than I have on previous occasions as I think leading a work is more demanding than other roles I have had, so it leaves you a little emptied after 5 1/2 months. Time spent reading Martin Lloyd Jones on Preaching and Preachers, combined with good times in the two letters to Timothy in the NT drove home two vital things to me.

Firstly, preaching is unbelievably important and if one has the gift to use it to lead and feed Christ's people. I think I had begun to doubt the role of preaching in some very small manner. Maybe doubting my own gift and listening to too many voices instead of seeking to honor God by being His messenger of His truth to His people with His power and His anointing. I must invest in this more and not feel I am failing the people of God while I am investing in greater capacity and devotion in this area.

Secondly, K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. There are an infinite number of things that grab your attention and sap your energies as you lead a changing work. There are also a huge number of voices and opinions trying to inform you how to spend your time and what should be done. I felt the Lord just remind me to seek Him, to pursue my intimate relationship with Him and to listen to His voice. Also to flourish within my gifting and style and not to impersonate or deviate.

Make sure you give time to the voice of God, He does speak.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

For those who haven't seen her yet!

The wife is off running, yeah I do feel guilty but keep it down would you, Malachi is swimming with his uncle so I decided to bring the new LJ down to the office to watch me as I work. I am preparing a document for those who are being Baptized at X1 to read through and to discuss in a group tonight- so excited about that.

But I know a ton of you good friends out there are moaning at me for not getting a picture of Madison Shae out there for you to see, so here is a humble attempt. Excuse the old bloke.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Glory of Christ

John Owen was one of the most incisive writers of his generation. His generation was that of the Puritans so that is saying a lot. I love returning to his words when I am needing to be pushed deeper in my understanding of Christ and I did so today as part of some preparation. Here is some words he has to say regarding The Glory of Christ

"In Christ we behold the wisdom, goodness, love, grace, mercy and power of God all working together for the great work of our redemption and salvation. The wisdom and love of God are in themselves infinitely glorious. But we cannot see how glorious they are except in the redemptions and salvation of the church which is achieved only in and by Christ. Then the beams of their glory shine on us with unspeakable comfort and joy...
...We believe in God only in and through Christ. This is the life of our souls. God Himself, whose nature is infinitely perfect, is the highest object of our faith. But we cannot come directly to God by faith. We must come by the way and by the helps he has appointed for us. This is the way by which he has revealed His infinite perfections to us, which is Jesus Christ who said, 'I am the way... No one comes to the Father except through me.' By our faith in Christ we come to put our faith in God Himself. And we cannot do this in any other way but by beholding the glory of God in Christ..

Deep stuff hey.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thinking His Thoughts, Seeing His Way

It is still very early days as a pastor here in Watford; seems I have had to learn so much in such a short space of time. One pivotal area of learning is that of Pastoral Counseling. Many, many people are overwhelmed with problems no matter into which Pastoral context God places you, so it is good to seek His wisdom and insight as to how to best go about this. I have been led to a book (mentioned by several individuals actually) and early on am struck by what the author (David Powlinson) has to say regarding how knowing God changes your awareness and understanding of Humanity, allowing you to search far deeper than others who 'lock' His views regarding human nature out of their process.(Both the nature of others and your own)

Here are some brilliant words from the opening pages:

"To think Christianly is 'to think God's thoughts after him.' Of course, our thinking is both finite and distorted. We never see it all; and we often misconstrue what we do see. We see in a glass darkly, skewed reflections in a battered bronze mirror - but we do see. God, who sees all things directly in full daylight, enlightens the eyes of our hearts. We see surfaces, catching glimpses of interiors; God sees into the inky or radiant depth of every heart, all the way down to the fundamental hate or fundamental love. Our glasses are sometimes rosy, sometimes jaundiced, sometimes bluesy, sometimes mirrored on the inside of the lens (so that all we can see are the turbulent contents of our own interiors). The madness of our hearts generates warped spectra. But God sees all things in bright, clear light - and this God is the straightener of crooked thoughts."

Seek His thoughts...


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What do you talk about?

I wonder how many words we do actually say a day. There has always been the joke hasn't there that a woman speaks twice as many words in a day then a man. Or is it that a man has got through 90% of his by the time he gets home in the evening whilst the woman is only at 40% hence the silent men sighing at their extremely talkative wives at night. Whatever really, I am not sure any of that is true, and I digress anyway.

Was struck by a verse in Psalm 71 today which is as follows:
"My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure."

It made me think about whether, as a follower of the Lord Jesus, this is my testimony. Does my mouth speak often of what it is like to live 'this side' of my having encountered the 'salvation' and 'righteousness' of God so completely almost 16 years ago now?
Or is my mouth typically caught up in petty discussion about meaningless reality TV shows and the desires to have the next 'cool' gadget? Maybe my mouth is engaged in activity even worse than that; maybe my mouth is speaking bad of others, bringing them down, mocking or accusing them in order to keep myself in a lofty position. Whatever it may be, I think all of us would have to admit that we are not able to say unequivocally with the Psalmist that our mouths speak of the lofty, glorious wonders of the salvation and righteousness of God all day long.

Maybe we should make a much more conscious effort to do that. I do not think that it means sitting down and talking through the theological concepts of election, salvation, justification, regeneration and such (although I feel there is absolutely no harm in that if it is to deepen our awareness that such glorious truths are beyond our 'measure') but just speaking highly of new life in Christ. Being positive, hopeful, passionate about who He is and how He changes lives.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2 Whole Years

My beautiful boy Malachi was two years old last Sunday (07.06). It is startling as a parent how that time rushes by. In one sense you are so very aware that the time is gone because memories fade and do not have the absolute brilliance and clarity they had initially. In another though, it is impossible to believe that you have shared 730 days with this new being, where did those days go? Why does it seem I have missed out on so much?

Two is a glorious age! My little boy is absorbing things into his little mind in a manner and with a speed that just cannot be matched by any adult. His vocabulary literally grows by the hour and his ability to interact and to express himself morphs constantly. It is an age that I have felt myself aching to actually accept will pass. Surely if these years have passed so quickly, and now that he has a gorgeous sister (who herself will demand energy and focus and time and attention) my time with him will be even less and it will pass even more rapidly and soon he will be considering his university or something and I will dream of these moments.

I never thought I would ache this way. There are so many things he does that infuriate and yet I really do not want to have him grow up and lose the beauty of innocence and unhindered passion. My heart is that Jesus will win Malachi to an adventure so enthralling that he will be able to express unhindered passion toward that even when innocence is necessarily lost. He does enthrall me and I hope that the ache will fade as each new season begins, but I am sure I will ache when that one is passing on as well.

How did God offer up His Son, that is love incomprehensible!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Psalm 62

As if life wasn't enough to beat you up and get you up against the ropes at occasions, Christian ministry can add the final knock out punches at times. Life throws an assortment of things through us as we take its pre-set journey. I would not need to search too far to find some of those journeys riddled with pain and heartbreak at almost unbearable levels.
How Christian ministry adds to this is that you take the role of a servant, the role of a giver, one who loves and gives not necessarily ever receiving- this leads to extreme vulnerability! When the proverbial 'stuff' hits the fan within ministry it is over, above, and added to the pursuit of life with its bits and pieces.

It is in moments like these that the depth and beauty of some Scriptures are arresting in their affects, consoling and encouraging with amazing ability. Psalm 62 is such a Scripture and I will share just a few bits to encourage you:

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken...

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Bless you all