Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bonhoeffer on 'Truth'

I'm studying in my little office at the bottom of the garden for an Advent series that I want to take the people of X1 through in this season. As part of that study I have been reading a little book called Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons.s Which is actually my first real induction into the writing's of Bonhoeffer. I have read many a quote by him in a multitude of other books I have read, but this has been truly affecting.
One of his sermons preached with the looming election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 in mind is one about truth - God's Truth. It is preached from the text of John 8: 32 and is simply heart-opening. Here is one powerful section:

"The truth will make you free. It is not something we have to do, not our courage, our church, our people, our truth; but God's truth alone that makes us free. Why? Because to become free does not mean becoming great in the world, not becoming free from your brother, nor even free from God, but to become free from oneself, one's lie. It means to become free from thinking only of myself, from being the center of my world, from hate, by which I despise God's creation. It means to be free to be for the other: the person for others. Only God's truth can enable me to see the other as he really is. It tears out the twisted image that I have of the other within me and shows him to me in a new light. And insofar as God's truth does that, it bestows upon me the action, the love, the grace of God. It destroys our lies and creates the truth. It destroys hatred and creates love. God's truth is God's love and God's love makes us free from ourselves for others."

O to be truly freed by and for God's Truth - the one to whom Pilate posed the ironic question, "What is truth?"


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Living Life Without the Fear Videos - Number 8 Thanks Vimeo

8-11-2009 - Simon LJ - Joshua - Part 1 #5 from X1 Video on Vimeo.

Living Life Without the Fear Videos - Number 7 Thanks Vimeo

01-11-2009 - Simon LJ - Joshua - Part 1 #4 from X1 Video on Vimeo.

Lloyd Jones on not being 'theological' about the cross

Far too often we can dismiss theology and doctrine for the intellectual heavyweights of our faith while we focus only on emotion or feeling toward/from it. Lloyd Jones speaks heartily into this notion in this quote:

"Now I know that many people are not really concerned to know [what is meaning, the explanation of Christ's death] that. They say, 'No, I am not theological or doctrinal; all I know is that the cross is marvelous and wonderful and that the Lord died there.' And there are many who think that is the right attitude. They think that this is too sacred for anybody to examine, that you must never come to the cross with your mind but only with your heart, that the doctrine of the cross is something to be felt, not understood. But nothing is more terribly dangerous than that. If I understand the New testament aright, there is no place where we should be more careful to go with our minds fully operating as to the cross on Calvary's hill. And I will tell you why: it is because this is the central thing; there is not truth concerning which the adversary and the enemy of our souls is so anxious to muddle and confuse us as this particular truth."

How glorious. Love Him heart, soul & mind.


Monday, November 9, 2009

"Living life without the Fear" Week 8

An overview of this week's sermon at X1 Watford in our series, "Living Life without the Fear"

This week as we return to Joshua 2 we will turn our attention from the select missional men who encountered an ‘awakened seeker’ within the walls of Jericho and look at this woman RAHAB who hid them from the King’s army.

As we look at this woman, what stands out about her, what distinguishes her from the other people in Jericho?


It is not our goodness; it is not our attendance, it is not our morality, our likeability, our nationality, our superiority, not even our good works or anything of ourselves that causes God to look upon us and say well you deserve all my lavish love, affection and grace here is eternal, abundant life. NO! It is one thing and one thing alone and we see it here in the life of Rahab – FAITH. The apostle James makes that clear (Ja. 2: 24)

With this in mind I want us to clarify 3 fundamental elements of faith seen in the life of Rahab...

Rahab heard the messages that were being rumoured throughout the streets of Jericho, she listened in attentively to the fearful retelling of tales by the fear – bound soldiers frequenting her establishment. Upon that testimony, on hearing these facts Rahab states, “I KNOW...” “She heard, she believed, she acted upon that belief...”

I know we are told to never turn to the last page of a good story as it will spoil the whole thing, we all know there is nothing worse than ‘that guy’ who cannot help but tell you what is about to happen in a movie while you are watching it. But, turn with me to Jo. 6: 22 -3 and see the outworking of this amazing ‘deal’ between two ‘missional’ men and an Amorite harlot. She is rescued from the crumbling Jericho!

This is for those of us who have received this message (or maybe think we have) who have been rescued from a life without life and been made alive by the inner working of the Spirit of God who has given us abundant life. Make sure you know this: Faith reveals itself.

Read the words of the 15th century Italian reformer Benedetto –
Faith imprints us with a certain violent love of good works.
Here is another way of saying that,
We are justified (declared right before God) by faith alone, but the faith which justifies is inevitably accompanied by works: which are the evidence of that faith!” – Peckham

The faith that saves the soul is the faith that gives that soul holy affections, spiritual energy to serve God for the coming of the Kingdom. It is visible, and active!


"Living life without the Fear" Week 7

Wow, seems silly how time passes by on occasion. I realize I have not updated this blog the last two times I have had the joy of preaching at X1 in our series: "Living Life without the Fear" from the book of Joshua. These past two times have been rooted in chapter 2 of the book and have been extremely helpful to us as a church. Here is an overview of week 7:

This passage of scripture catches us up in the Missio Dei - God's mission to restore, heal and redeem!

These two were Joshua’s Special Forces providing essential Human INTEL.

These men are chosen to engage with a pagan culture, to live out their faith in the midst of a hostile, impure culture because -
OBEDIENT - Joshua would have known the character of these men.
PURE - Able to engage with non-faith culture but not get sucked into the seedy underworld driving it.
FAITH - FILLED - Unlike 10 of the spies sent 40 years earlier these men were full of faith even when encountering any opposition, they knew the power and delivering work of God. (Jo. 2: 14)

If we are to be 'missional', if we are to be those willing to engage with secular culture around us, we must be Obedient, Pure & full of Faith.
Will you be an anonymous missional warrior refusing all self-comforts, self-glory that this world seeks to force feed you for the great glory of the saving power of God to bring the lost and broken to new life?

If you are willing to take on the ‘Missional’ battle; if you are willing to let the power and work of the Holy Spirit to mould you then be aware of the ‘people types’ you will engage:
1) Aggravated authorities - 'King of Jericho'; the enemy Himself will conspire against you, authorities of mind and world-views ( Dawkins etc)
2) Spiritual Masses - ‘We have heard...” “For forty years God had been giving the people of Canaan an opportunity to turn to Him.” Now we can see that for 1900 years the story of Christ has been ‘out there.’ But people will reject and ignore it because they want life their way.
3) Awakened Seekers - And then the glorious marvellous truth that there will be those that our Powerful God is awakening: asking the deep questions, feeling new feelings, certain ‘there is more to this!’

God’s infinite grace and power to restore the broken and the lost to himself cannot be thwarted. No matter how ‘impossible’ it appears for some to know Christ, we see here that God can change the heart and transform the life of anyone!

God can and will transform the lives of even the most ‘lost’ people that we will encounter if we are willing to faithfully, obediently, purely engage them missionally. If you think I am pushing a personal theology here, why don’t you turn with me to John 4 to see another missional warrior engaging a lost soul that God had freely, gracefully and mercifully wanted to know

Why am I so certain that we should be engaging with those immersed in a secular culture with only a media-governed view of Christ? Simple because the immense love and grace of God is irresistible to those He awakens, and there are more than we can estimate outside the walls of the church.

Get into culture, be pure, be obedient, be bold, be fill of faith, God will change lives!