Monday, July 27, 2009

How about a bit of Calvin

Thought it would be a great idea to start the week with a little taster of the great John Calvin as he writes on the progressive nature of God's revelation to us in the scriptures:

" the beginning when the first promise of salvation was given to Adam (Gen. 3:15) only a few slender sparks beamed forth: additions being afterwards made, a greater degree of light began to be displayed, & continued gradually to increase & shine with greater brightness, until at length, all the clouds being dispersed, Christ the Sun of righteousness arose, and with full refulgence illumined all the earth..." ( Institutes II.10.20)

He's good isn't he?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

What do I want?

Last week Friday at 8pm GMT went live as we seek to impact people digitally and draw them into the great Christ Culture of the church. There is a blog there where I am entrusted to share thoughts as the lead elder at X1. Here is some thoughts I shared with our people this Monday:

A legitimate question that could, and probably should, be asked by any member of a church (or any Christian within a church) to its pastor is, "What do you most want from me?" I would love to be asked that question by everyone at X1. What I mean by this question is not in the arena of service (although the answer to this question will have immense implications upon service), or giving, or attendance, or purity of life, or even effective evangelism (although again every one of these things will be completely affected). What I mean is what do I want for my people to grasp as the central component that would astoundingly transform their lives and therefore the life of X1 as a community of Christ followers.

My answer, and maybe different church leaders would give different ones (or the same but worded differently) is simple and is scriptural. It is discovered in the life of that man who was known as 'a man after God's own heart', King David. It is in these verses found at the very beginning of Psalm 63

1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

David gets it, he gets what I would want from every member of the X1 family! He knows the Lord. His life, every single element of it, stems from an intimate communion with the Lord. You see that in vs 2. The result is the overwhelming consciousness of the love of God for Him ('better than life'). The final overflow is a life of sheer contentment, a life of praise, a life that lives every minute in passionate response to the 'power[ful] glor[ious]' King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

What I want from every member of X1 is that you seek, above all other things, every distraction or seemingly good thing, total and complete intimacy with the Lord. An intimacy that draws you into HIs presence and allows you to see Him as He truly is.

Everything will be different!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Horatius Bonar Charges us to Labour

Horatius Bonar was a nineteenth century Scottish 'divine' and he preached a series called, "Words to Wnners of Souls." I have just begun it and right at the outset are these words from a hymn he wrote:

"Go, labour on while it is day,
The world's dark night is hastening on.
Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth [laziness] away-
It is not thus that souls are won."

This is his way of saying: Get busy people are dying without Christ!



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All is Grace

It is not every day that I take a serious dip into the writings of the great American Puritan Jonathan Edwards, That's a bit of a pity really because then it is not every day that I get to read words like this about the astounding grace of God towards us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ

"The grace of God, exhibited in the gospel, is glorious,

1st) Because of the greatness of it. Every circumstance of the gospel, grace surprisingly heightens it; let us look on what part we will, we shall see enough to fill us and all the angels in heaven with admiration forever. If we consider it as the grace of God the Father, and consider his greatness, his holiness, his power and justice, immensity and eternity; if we diligently consider how great a being he is, who took such pity and compassion on mankind, it is enough to astonish us. Or, if we consider ourselves, on whom this great God has bestowed this grace, we are nothing but worms, yea less than worms, before God; and not only so, but sinful worms, worms swollen with enmity against God. If we consider him by whom we receive [grace], the Son of God who made heaven and, by his almighty power, [is] equal with the Father; if we consider the greatness of what he did- he died most ignominiously and painfully in our nature it all infinitely heightens the grace of the gospel.

2nd) Because of the glorious fruit of this. No less than salvation and eternal glory are the fruits of this grace of the gospel; adoption, union with Christ, communion with God, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the heavenly happiness, the pleasure of the eternal paradise, the new Jerusalem, the glorious and triumphant resurrection of the body, and an everlasting reign with Christ in the height of glory, and pleasure and happiness: no less than these things are the effects of this marvelous grace.

What a vast difference is there between a poor, miserable sinner, full of sin, condemned to hellfire, and, a saint shining forth in robes of glory, and crowned with a crown of victory and triumph; but 'tis no less difference than this, is made in the same man by the grace of God in Christ.

Thank you God for rescuing me from my terrible state!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


So much has been happening in my heart and mind regarding money, finance and vision over the past 3 or 4 weeks. A lot of it sprung out of some personal thoughts one morning, but then was confirmed after a discussion with a leader of a church in Hillingdon, London. His thoughts were provocative, particularly in how finance and vision are inherently linked. The point seemed to be that for all that God is calling a Body of Believers to do there has to be provision to support that- obvious I know but new revelation for me.

As we start to weave this into the fabric of our church life (early days) I am aware that the primary means is to release people from a false understanding of money and to set them free into the CONTENTMENT that comes from God's view of giving and attitude towards money. I want this for my own life first. I know I am immersed in a culture which worships money... there is no other way of seeing it. Piper makes this clear so powerfully as he talks about the nature of God or money:

"There is something about God and money that makes them tend to mastery. Either you are mastered by money and therefore ignore God or make him a bellhop for your business, or you are mastered by God and make money a servant of the kingdom. But if either tries to master you while you are mastered by the other you will hate and despise it. This is why Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Much money makes a cruel master."

Many are 'mastered' by money. I mean good people, not people that use it for evil or hoard it, but those who cannot let it go out of fear. Placing such immense faith in money saying, "If I have it, if I give less away then I'm ok." We need to be freed from this fear, and discover the great contentment and joy of storing treasures in heaven. I will write more on this but read more of Piper's words here!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Last Night

Here is an image of people going crazy and giving their money to the mission of God to change the world.

Now from Blackberry

I am probably really slow on this but I have just realized I can set up my Blackberry from which to blog. How sweet is that. This whole world of comms is pretty astounding. What next?


Thursday, July 9, 2009


A lot of people label Christians as a whacky bunch. Sadly, there are many groups of us that give serious justification for such an opinion. Along with that I would also like to state that many people that make such comments though, really have little or no idea of authentic Christianity and make statements based on hearsay and preconceptions. Anyway, tonight I did see some crazy stuff.

Firstly, I saw 5000 people from 50 nations simply pumping with passion and excitement for the fact God is real and that He is making amazing impact throughout this broken globe through His church. His church is just the communal expression of redemption and transformation that Christ was Himself as an individual. He came to restore us to our best place: dynamic relationship with our Father God. The church just carries on displaying and proclaiming that, drawing people into that same place. It was 'crazy.'

Secondly, and this is seriously 'crazy', I saw those same 5000 people all stand together, and race forward to the front of a conference centre to give £1 500 000 to empower this amazing mission of being the people of God and showing the love and grace of God. It is simply mental and so inspiring.

God transforms people and is able to take them a million miles from worshiping the God that holds so many in bondage; MONEY, and give over that control and make them free.

It's crazy!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Brighton Conference

I have the great privilege and pleasure of being down in Brighton for our yearly conference as a movement of churches: Newfrontiers. I believe we gather very well as a group of churches and this is the place where one can taste it most completely. One gets immersed in the power of the communal praise of thousands (rather than 10s as is the case at Christ First). One gets a picture of heaven when surrounded by individuals who have been radically transformed by the grace of God from all over the world.

We have already received two extremely encouraging and confirming messages during the main sessions.

Mbonisi Malaba from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe took us into Jonah to unveil the Global Heart of God; His incomparable love for the individuals of the nations. Then straight into Acts 18 to discuss the Global Strategy (he noted Paul was a strategist) needed to embrace the global heart of God and to effectively reach the nations: Go to where people are!

Stef Liston from Camden, London then spoke powerfully on being Childlike in leadership. With several humorous quips about the nature of children (reminding me constantly of my monster mouse Malachi): no catering to hierarchy, always asking, always follow their dads, are besotted with their daddies etc. Combined with some powerful biblical insights into Christ-like leadership he reminded us to keep it simple (God is saying something to me definitely) and imitate the Christ.

Hoping for much more but what a joy, I am so hopeful He will mould my heart in these days.


Friday, July 3, 2009

The Romance of Preaching

As I had mentioned in my last post I have been reading Preaching & Preachers by Martyn Lloyd Jones and it has been extremely beneficial to me. It seems to me that I have very few conversations with individuals where there is an almost unhindered joy as they speak of preaching that is affecting their lives. Again and again I will hear people recount their love for worship within their church context, or how they love the expression of Spiritual Gifts, but alas, very few times do I have conversations like this regarding preaching. I find this a great tragedy. I think there are multiple doors at which to lay the blame, but it is very sad.

Lloyd Jones would echo my sentiments exactly, I think he would be heartbroken at this age of 'preaching' within churches. Why am I so certain of that? Well listen to these words that expose his thoughts regarding preaching and the wonder of it

"Let us hurry on to something much more important - the romance of preaching! There is nothing like it. It is the greatest work in the world, the most thrilling, the most exciting, the most rewarding, and the most wonderful. I know nothing comparable to the feeling one has as one walks up the steps [now the pulpit certainly is not 'up' any stairs] of one's pulpit with a fresh sermon on a Sunday morning or a Sunday evening, especially when you feel that you have a message from God and are longing to give it to the people."

His words betray his idea of the importance and prominence of preaching I think. Maybe he was just a product of his time and church has moved on? I do not think so at all.

Preachers, is that the way you feel about preaching. Is it something of such significance to you that you labour in prayer and preparation to present the greatest 'fresh' words for the joy of your peoples and the glory of God? Or is it just the dull part of the meeting after the worship, which gets a minor percentage of the time in your gathering time?

Lord restore preaching that transforms lives and explodes the minds and affections of hearers with the glorious truths of the word of God!