Friday, March 26, 2010

Isaiah 53: 10

In Isaiah 53: 10 we are confronted with these somewhat alarming words

But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief..."

The reference is obviously to Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross (although all the 'clever' people seek to disagree in our age of superior intelligence). Today in my reading I saw a wonderful 5 point summary of why God the Father was 'pleased' in this work of 'agreement/consensus/willful participation' in the crucifixion of Christ:

1) That He might execute His pleasant decrees
2) That He might fulfill His pleasant promises
3) That He might redeem the chosen objects of His love
4) That He might promote His Son to the highest honours
5) That He might exalt His own glory to the uttermost.

Hmmm, breathe that in.


It's about global redemption

Last night I got caught up in a prayer for our weekend sponsored run event - the X1:1000. Let me explain. We are intending to run 1000 laps of our local running track in order to raise funds for a charity called Friends of Tariro (the pioneer of the charity attends X1) which seeks to bring hope and resource to the widows and orphans of rural villages in Zimbabwe. It's going to be a fun, but crazy afternoon cause not too many of us are, let's just say, able runners. But we're in and we want to be a part of this!

What struck me last night while praying was this: We are a part of something global in this silly afternoon of running. We are a part of investing in that one thing out of all other things we are a part of now that will last after time ends - The Kingdom of God. That's what this run is about, it's about bringing the Kingdom of God into those villages. The rule, the reign, the hope and purpose of God into those villages that are now only victims of drought, oppression, and hopelessness.
It's strikes you when you think that your small fellowship on the outskirts of London England is part of the Global Redemption, reconciliation, rescue plan of the mighty God of all. Then you can get excited about putting running shoes on that you've not worn for ages, then you can get up early Sunday by Sunday to serve the mission of the local church!

I'm running Saturday, why, cause I'm silly and will regret it for the next week, but also, and this is ultimately why, because I want the Kingdom of God to come to those widows, orphans, and churches in Kazingizi Zimbabwe - that's why!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Role as the Preacher

In a stunning sermon on Romans 5: 1 - 11 John Piper expounds the role of the Preacher when preaching if it is the role of the Holy Spirit (vs. 5) to reveal the essence of the love of God to us. (See here) What is the preacher useful for? What is it that I am called to do morning by morning before the people of X1? Here is Piper's thoughts

"The point is this; my message this morning cannot take the place of the Holy Spirit in your life. And the Holy Spirit will not do the work assigned to the Word of God. My calling is to describe the love of God to you. His calling is to pour it out in your hearts. My calling is to point you to what Christ did; his calling is to open your eyes to see it as glorious and personal. My calling is to make it plain; his is to make it precious. Mine is to make it clear; his is to make it dear. Mine is to take you on a tour around the deep and scenic lake of the love of God; his is to plunge you in and saturate your life with the love of God—to baptize you in it."

Lord help any person entrusted with the difficult yet glorious task of "making it plain," "making it clear" seek your strength in this. Lord cause your people to reevaluate what preaching is and not to put up with mere great talking! It is so much more than that!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Romans 8: 28

Just started reading, today in fact, the puritan Thomas Watson's dissertation on the wonder of God's promise to us in Romans 8: 28 and the opening words alone accelerate the heart beat. A taster

"If the whole of scripture be the feast of the soul, as Ambrose said (Bishop of Milan in the 4th Century), then Romans 8 may be a dish at that feast, and with its sweet variety may very much refresh and animate the hearts of God's people. In the preceding verses the apostle had been wading through the great doctrines of justification and adoption, mysteries so arduous and profound, that without the help and the conduct of the Spirit, he might soon have waded beyond his depth. In this verse the apostle touches upon that pleasant string of consolation, 'We know that all things work together for Good to them that love God.' There is not one word that is not weighty; therefore I shall gather up every filing of this gold, that nothing be lost."

O the honour for scripture, the devotion to God's truth, the certainty of God's great affection for us.

We must trust that God is in all things lavishing grace upon us - it is who He is!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Isaiah 53

Read this in my preparations for this week's sermon on Isaiah 53: 4 - 6, it is simply quite wonderful:

"As an artisan laying a mosaic of complicated pattern and diverse colours, has before him a working drawing, and carefully fits the minute pieces of precious stone and enamel according to it, till the perfection of the design is revealed to all, so do the evangelists and apostles, with the working-drawing of OT prophecy, and Old Testament types and shadows in the tabernacle services and ceremonies, in their hands fit together the details of Christ's life on earth, His atoning death and His resurrection and say, 'Behold, this can be none other than the long looked-for Messiah.' The central knop, or flower pattern, of the mosaic, from which all the other details of the design radiated, was the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah."

It is a truly beautiful prophetic message that draws us to the very cross of Calvary.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Sovereignty of God

2 Weeks ago I had the pleasure of teaching at the Watford School of Leadership on the topic of Evangelism. I chose to speak on Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God for two reasons primarily:
1) My deep rooted belief in the stunning elements of reformed theology with regards to God's sovereign grace in the salvation of men,
2) The lasting impact of a book by J. I Packer I read in University with the same title (see here).

Packer's thesis is marvelous and rooted in the mysterious antinomy of God's sovereign grace in salvation coupled with the moral responsibility of man to propagate and respond to the gospel. Give it a read if you do get an opportunity. As an opener to the discussion though I shared an inspirational quote to alert us to this 'large' doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and I share it with you now:

The Sovereignty of God. What do we mean by this expression? We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou? (Dan. 4:35). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Psa. 115:3). To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is "The Governor among the nations" (Psa. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the "Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible.– A.W. Pink

Feast on that, and may it lead you from Orthodoxy (right belief) to Orthopraxy (right living from right belief).


Pastoring is Labouring

Again & again on this journey of growing in my understanding of the
calling of pastoring a body of God's people one thing I certainly am
aware of is it's demands! Today in some reading I am doing 2 authors confirmed such with these words

"The goal of presenting men and women perfect in Christ requires hard
work. To this end Paul worked hard, struggling with all Christ's energy, which so powerfully worked in Him (Colossians 1:29). The word used for struggling means literally to engage in a contest, and usually in the context of fighting with weapons. The only weapons adequate for this struggle with Satan and his influences are prayer and the word of God.

I commit to the war of seeing God's people reflect our Lord with ever increasing glory and commit to labour with His mighty energy and His sufficient weaponry.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Inspiration for Easter Series

Hey if you've got about an hour do your very self a huge favour and watch this sermon from C.J Mahaney. It is the inspiration behind our Easter Series 'The Great Exchange' out of Isaiah 53.

The Cross: A Meditation on Jesus' Atoning Death from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

Hope you're blessed as I was.


'Day-to-Day' Prompts

Taken an unnecessary break from this Bloggage recently. Laziness probably, and maybe even an underestimation of it's role in anyone's life (hey I don't say that for an encouraging 'don't stop' (if you wanted to) that's what this particular blog's about). Just as I'd been carrying that, most of yesterday at least, as Mondays are days I like to update things, God brings a significant individual in your life to 'prompt.'

Today I met by chance with a couple that God has brought into our 'arena' as a church for reasons neither they or I know at this time. In the course of our instantaneously meaningful conversation (you got people in your life with whom that happens?) the gentleman mentioned how meaningful these blogs were for getting to taste the heart of his new pastor (sounds crazy that, good but crazy) from a distance. Well there you go, as you can see I am on the blogging trail again as the sole purpose of these words are that maybe just maybe they will be used of our glorious gracious King to be a benefit to your life in someway.

Thanks to that gentleman, yeah you know who you are, and hey thanks Lord for prompting us as you do in the very normal 'day-to-day' of life (it appears that is not enough for some people).


Changing Nappies, God & Us

Just partaken (one of a huge number of times now) in the changing of my beautiful little girl's nappy. How do I expose the need that this had to take place for her good other than to say she was a bit of a 'stink-bug' to say the least.
What often happens when you are blessed to invest in this exercise is that the child in question, Madison in this case, wriggles like a crazy caterpillar in order to be released from your grip. The desired goal is that she will be brought to a place of more comfort, greater joy and 'release' for her but all she knows in the moment is the holding back, the strong 'resisting' grip of DAD and she wants 'freedom' as she knows it.

Makes me think of my Father that does. So, so often I am wriggling free of circumstances, confrontations, challenges that He is using to 'take me somewhere' freshen my 'aroma' as a living sacrifice. Why? Well cause I know best don't I; I want what ever Godliness is, whatever comfort is at my pace and probably, more often than not, in my way. Truth is - He does, and O how much more does He know what freedom and peace is for us that we do even for ourselves.

By the way, my beautiful one is singing, purring and smiling now - she'll wriggle again tho'!