Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Serious Clash

Sorry for not blogging last week, bit of a hectic one.

Reading through the book of Proverbs, yes again, I know I was there late last year it is just a book that is wonderful to return to again and again. I commend you do the same. Anyway this morning I read chapter 19 and was struck by this short but provocative phrase:

"better to be poor than to be a liar."

Now it may not be too provocative to you, but let me explain why it is so to me.
Our culture has become one which cherishes image over substance. This extends into simply every area of life. Where it is most noticeable is our worship of celebrity. Celebrities, those who possess fame, wealth, and image are seen to be role-models and those whom we would seek to be like almost always because of their money (and the lifestyle that apparently comes with that) not their morality.

Morality, in fact, is an increasing hinderance to celebrity it seems so why would you cherish integrity and honesty (which is what this verse is trying to highlight) if it appears to distract from the lifestyle so idolized in our society. Those that are followers of Jesus have to cut radically across the grain in this. We have to be different. We have to believe the promises of God, even when we will get no support from secular-materialist culture, that being poor is not as damaging, not as 'inwardly' destructive as being a liar.

Better to be without money than without morality. That's not what I say, it's what He says!


PS. I know there are rich, honest people, please do not hear what I am not saying

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I would suggest extreme caution to any watching God TV

I have become increasingly aware that living in a media-heavy age enabling us to access resources literally from every corner of the globe has, like many things, its pros and its cons. One thing that has struck me in the past two to three years is the prevalence of God TV as a reference point for many believers. Often in conversation with individuals I will hear a reference to this channel (or group of channels) and more and more it has left me more concerned than encouraged.

It is often easier to just stay silent on topics like this; but as someone called to shepherd the people entrusted to my/our care I have come to see that it is essential to speak for truth in order to protect. Such words do not need to be heeded, but that does not necessarily mean they should be left unsaid. So I place here, briefly, three reasons why I would be extremely tentative in encouraging anyone to spend much time watching the predominant portion God TV:

1) IT DOES NOT REFLECT AUTHENTIC BIBLICAL COMMUNITY - All of the writings, commands, exhortations of the NT are written to those living out the reality of being immersed within an authentic, damaged, often difficult, grace-demanding body of believers. This is church, and unless you are pursuing your Christian life within such a context you are not actually pursuing your Christian life. God TV offers you an 'edited' world which can withdraw you from and actually make you sour towards the local church. Seek to immerse yourself within 'actual' community with all its flaws for that is true Church.

2) MANY TEACHERS DO NOT SHARE YOUR THEOLOGY - I think it would shock (even rock the faith) of many of the individuals spending many hours watching God TV that some of the most 'profiled' speakers on these shows differ in some absolutely fundamental elements of Theology to them. One such teacher is Modalist Trinitarian something which is totally unbiblical but this man is often referred to by those I have conversation with. Many Western Christians are spending little if any time locked into God's truth and so can be easily misled by those who do not actually have an intention to pastor them and care for their faith discipling and interacting with them relationally. Be very careful, be pastored by 'real' people who are your shepherds, share your values and Theology.

3) ULTIMATELY THESE MEN AND WOMAN ARE NOT YOUR LEADERS - Many people can, sadly I believe, be 'pastored' more by these mega-stars of the Christian world then their own pastors. As I mentioned earlier (point 1) people can actually remove themselves from community and submission to biblical-spiritual-governance because they slip into 'lazy perfect church' that is beamed into their lounges without accountability or responsibility.

Be careful friends, pour your lives into local-biblical community. If each of us is doing that there will be radically different churches reflecting the stunning reality of Gospel-living to those without God.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sibbes on the 'Difficulty' of true faith

I had a conversation with my wife yesterday about her becoming a believer and sacrificing a relationship at the time that it would have been far easier to have maintained. We discussed the often-levelled-at-christians phrase, "christianity is just a crutch for the week" and how untrue it was of her at that time. Today I have found a quote by the simply wonderful Richard Sibbes which sheds some light:

"It were an easy thing to be a Christian, if religion stood only in a few outward works and duties, but to take the soul to task, and to deal roundly with our hearts,
and to let conscience have its full work,
and to bring the soul into spiritual subjection unto God, This is not so easy a matter,
because the soul out of self-love is loath [hates] to enter into itself, lest it should have other thoughts of itself than it would have."

'Soul deep' Christianity is so very difficult it is humanly impossible. It is only in His power that any achieve it.


Thursday, August 6, 2009


I have entered a strange scenario these past few days. I am up in Norwich at a large New Frontiers hosted youth event called NEWDAY. (Check out http://www.newday.xtn.org ) Basically there are roughly 6500 people here 80% probably under the age of 21 so it is an intense concentration of what would be called the 'youth of today', but let me tell you where the scenario starts to take on strangeness.

Simply put a huge number of these youngsters are 'born again Christians.' Individuals who would say they have had a life-changing encounter with the Living God in the person of Jesus Christ and are therefore somewhat 'different' to most people of their age. They are exceedingly exciteable when it comes to the musical applause/praise of the one who has changed them- Jesus. Can I just say a tent housing 6000 people simply takes off. Now I will tell you what is most strange, what is even 'anti-culture'...

In the group of 30 people we have brought here at least 4 would say they are not 'followers of Jesus.' They are here for a time out with their friends (I would assume this percentage crosses pretty much the broad population here so maybe 600 people here are in the same boat) and a good time with others. But what happens when we are in the formentioned tent is that the power and the wonder of being absorbed into this group of people praising Jesus draws them in and soaks them up in its overflow.

What is happening here and almost certainly never ever happens in the everyday life of a Westerner is that Christianity is the primary feature and definer of culture and people are 'pressured' to want to be of like identity. It's amazing to me.
In the end I know that whether you are alone on a Zimbabwean hill (my story of encounter) or amidst 6000 passionate Christ-lovers it is the sovereign power and drawing love of God that transforms you.
Hope it happens to many here...


Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Cross of Christ in daily life

Been drawn back into reading 'True Spirituality' by Schaeffer as it is so very rich. He has spoken to me once again this afternoon.

So many of us as modern Christians are drawn into an understanding of our journey of following Jesus as STARTING with a 'death to self' and being made new in Christ. We tend to leave it there though. In one sense we think that may be the last time we have to face that horrific Cross of Jesus Christ, that is so far from the truth, and here is a brief thought from Mr. Schaeffer to remind us of that

"I am to face the cross of Christ in every part of life and with my whole man. The cross of Christ is to be a reality to me not only once for all at my conversion, but all through my life as a Christian."

Pick it up daily, die to self and live the Christ life!