Saturday, 30 April 2011

Romans 12 v1-3

'So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.' 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Today is the greatest of days. Greater than your birthday, wedding day, Christmas and the day your children were born. Greater than all of them.

The whole of creation waits for this day. History trembles in awe of this day. The effects of what happened on this day twenty centuries ago still echoe loud and clear. 

To consider that Jesus wasn't a man that died is simply foolishness. There are more facts, sources and witness reports to proove his existence and death than any other in that period. 

Jesus did live. Jesus did die.

But three days later, even though his tomb was under Roman guard with the entrance firmly blocked, He rose from the dead. The implications of this should blow your mind. If they don't, you haven't considered them properly.

Death was defeated. Surely this is worth giving some time and thought to!? 

The stone was rolled away. Daylight shines into the tomb revealing nothing. The guards lose all colour in their faces. It's completely empty. The believers run away gasping. Their King's promises did come true after all. 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

So. We're in the middle of things at the moment. The saddest day in history and the greatest. The second day. 

Yesterday marked the day when Jesus Christ was beaten, spat on, mocked, whipped, kicked, stripped and nailed. 

Today, approx 1,978 years ago, He lies dead in a tomb. He really died. 

There wasn't any trickery. No slight of hand and no Roman guard bribery. He really suffocated on that cross and really ended up in a guarded tomb, behind a huge stone. 

The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday gets little to no mention in the Bible. But its still mightily important. Today history holds it's breath in anticipation. If He doesn't rise tomorrow, the message, the miracles, the ancient prophecies, all in vain. He did some mind blowing things on Earth, but without tomorrow, when He rose from the dead, it would all count as fairly meaningless. 

History trembles with expectation at the prospect of an empty tomb.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Isaiah 53. 1-7

'Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.'

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

It's almost Good Friday. Whoever came up with that name probably had some explaining to do. It stuck though.

Bunnies and chocolate eggs aside, this time of year is a ridiculously big deal. It's a bitter-sweet thing really. On Friday i'll try and reflect on how my best and closest friend and God of all creation died. For some, the Easter period marks the end of lent, so chocolate and alcohol are the order of the day. To most it's just a time filled with Bank holidays. 

But to some, it's the time when Jesus died for them. I'm not sure how i'll feel on Friday. It's probably a different emotion each year. But either way, I really hope it hits me for six again. I really hope I can even slightly get my head around the pain of those lashings and thorns; the weight of those nails; the pressure of bearing a world's-worth of sin and shame. 

It's an amazingly Good Friday for us if you think about it for a minute. Put your chocolate bunny down for a sec and try. 

More to follow...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

'We honour performance, God wants persistance. We honour prominence, God wants allegiance. We honour affluence, God wants benevolence. We honour intelligence, God wants obedience. We honour confidence, God wants dependence. We honour relevance, God wants reverence.' 
- Rick Warren

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The definition of Spiritual warfare

"The reality that the advance of the gospel and the building of the church involve us in attacking and experiencing counter attack in relation to real cosmic forces of darkness under the control of Satan who is also described as the god of this world." (Dave Devenish)

This isn't witchcraft or voodoo talk. It can be both devastatingly subtle and painfully powerfully all at the same time. Luckily for us, Jesus showed us that demons believe in God and in His name flee in fear.

Recognise the demons in your life (I guarantee they'll be lurking somewhere!) and cast them out in the name of the one who first cast them out.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I read this verse in Luke 14 this morning. It's powerful and challenging:

'For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

I keep reading passages, blogs and tweets all encouraging a Christian to finish the race well. I am very close to some guys who have fallen very early on, so this is something I am very aware of. I think I need to constantly be asking myself: what am I doing that is foolish!? And what should I be doing more of to help fan the flame and run harder for Jesus?

Later in Luke 14, in a different translation Jesus goes on to say: “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.'

The cost is incredibly high. Much much higher than we could possibly imagine. I want to reach glory completely out of breath for running so hard, not drunkenly stumbling towards it smelling of Hell's smoke; I might not be let in. Desire a great last day on Earth for Jesus, not just an emphatic, smiley first-day-encounter.

It's easy to run hard for a few weeks. But that won't count for much in the end. Help build a tower not a childs sandcastle. 

Sunday, 10 April 2011

'The fact that He chooses to use us is only due to His grace. If God should choose to raise up others for His purpose and never to use us again we would have nothing to complain about.' 

Brother Yun

Friday, 8 April 2011

Contained in the hum between voice and drum

Last night I went to a pretty amazing gig. My ears are still ringing after a couple of hours of heart-thudding baselines. I loved the atmosphere, the music was immense and the guy on stage is one of the coolest customers around. Thousands had their hands aloft as he worked them into a delirious frenzy (the drug cocktail was probably helping them too!).

There's much that could be remarked on regarding the clubbing/dance scene. But I'd rather pursue holiness than hedonism. When I see Heaven, there may well be amazing laser shows, pulsating crowds and a party atmosphere. But I know who i'll be lifting my hands to.

The guy singing is pretty talented, and if you check some of these lyrics, he's pretty much on the money. Shame it's for his own glory and not Jesus' though.  

Friend what is it that you seek
What is it that you try to find
Someday I hope you realized
It shined in you all the time.
Hills to climb, sights to see, seas to cross,
Friends to make, hands to shake, the world is yours,
Foods to taste, sounds to hear, love to feel,
Seeds to sew, things to know, fish to reel,
Space to quiz, stones to lift, life's a gift

God is indeed a DJ.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

I enjoyed a frank discussion about reading the Bible last night. I haven't got long so I won't go into the details. But needless to say, if you don't read your Bible apart from opening it for 2 minutes on a Sunday morning at church, then something needs to change. Also, if like me, you read it most days but take none of it in, then that's pretty stupid too. I won't go on about the first group, because that's plain and simple - read it more!

But for the second group (me!), you need to rethink things too. I read it for like 15 minutes most days, which might sound decent to most people. But I think I'm only actually taking it in for about two of those minutes. If I was handling a workload with that kind of efficiency I'd have been sacked ages ago!

One of my friends said that she reads small chunks..maybe a few verses or a chapter a day, and really waits on God over the passage. I think sometimes I'm tempted to see reading as much of it as I can as a I'll get some brownie points for doing it..!?! (idiot). But this idea of hers makes way more sense. It allows God to work through the passage and allows the reader the time to really weigh it and pray into it.

It's not a competition; it's a wisdom-filled, life-guiding, spirit-inspired companion to everyday living. Read it and weep. Or maybe read it and smile. Either way, don't let it collect dust or allow it to become too taxing.

Friday, 1 April 2011

It's not popular & it isn't profitable that I write these things.
Everybody has faith. Did you know that? Everyone has faith in something: their parents, their career ladder, their flings, partners or spouses, their football team. Sometimes people say to me 'I wish I had your faith'. I could think of a few things in response to that:

a) no you don't; you couldn't handle the weight of it just now.
b) no you don't; you would have asked for more of it by now if you really wanted it.
c) why?

The third one is the kick in the nuts for me. Why is faith in Jesus such a cute idea for some people? 'Oh him? Ahh yeh, bless him. He loves Jesus. Seems to work for him, but it's not for me.' This isn't some kind of warm fuzzy feeling that keeps me clapping through the day.

If you 'wished you had my faith', think through what that might mean. Because it would change your very life as you know it and it would turn it on it's head. Be careful what you wish for. It's totally amazing but it can be kinda costly if you actually do it properly.

And I don't say that to boast...I haven't started the race yet, I'm still fumbling around looking for my running shoes.