Tuesday, 29 May 2012

'Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy'(1 Peter 1:8)

Somebody text this to me this morning. A pretty awesome truth if you take the time to actually let it soak in. As I was reading it, I was sat on my balcony in the sun, enjoying some breakfast. I'd just prayed with my wife before she left for work and then smashed a glass full of drink everywhere. Both events were pretty joyful to be honest.

Sounds strange really.

Most people would think that praying with someone each morning would be a chore. And having to clear up a razor-sharp mess from the carpet would certainly be aggro. But I just felt really joyful. And I think it's explained through this verse.

Today might suck. It might be tough and tedious or it could be full of laughter and hope. Either way, when you walk closely with Jesus, there's an inexpressible and glorious joy that underlines life.

So inexpressible that I'm struggling to actually describe it!

God has a plan for you which you won't fully be able to grasp. He's too big and too powerful to fully fathom. But give Him the glory for the bits you can get your head around and just see how much peace floods into your life each day.

I betcha it happens...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Secret Jesus

This Jesus is the one that doesn't often make the history books. The one that didn't live so daringly that He is still spoken about generations later. This Jesus is an incredibly deadly Jesus.

He's the kind of Jesus that hides truth, distorts dreams and causes boredom. He's the kind of Jesus who probably gives when His pockets are full, but gets real tight when He's going through a dry spell financially. He's the kind of Jesus who prays when He needs something, rather than ongoingly conversing with the Creator.

He's the kind of Jesus who only hangs out with like-minded, sociable or highly-regarded people. He's the kinda Jesus who sees the negative, casts doubt over situations and doesn't particularly enjoy gladness and joy. He's the kinda guy who might serve begrudgingly - or even worse, He'll serve to gain a platform for himself. He's a man who knows truth but doesn't love those around Him enough to share this wisdom. He's a Jesus who gives in too quickly, lacks commitment and hates the thought of leadership.

He's the kind of Jesus who doesn't speak of truth and would rather see people suffer instead of responding with prayer and love. The kinda guy who sponges off family and avoids responsibility and maturity like the plague. 

Sound anything like the Jesus in the Bible?

Nah, didn't think so either.

It's easy to present the world with this fake and phoney Jesus. If you need a fresh wave of direction, momentum and vision for Him, just stop, look and listen.

Stop living at 100mph and spend some time with Him - you'll realise how magnificent the real Jesus is. Look to how Jesus was around people; His manner, His patience, His love for them. And listen to what He has to say about your situation - He's perfectly placed to speak incredibly accurately into your life at the moment. 

It's no secret that He loves you and He has a very good plan for how He needs to use you today.

Monday, 21 May 2012

This weekend I stood in a room along with men who I very much admire. All of whom have challenged, inspired and sharpened me at some stage and last night it was great to witness them all gathering together and rallying as one.

There are some remarkable characters and some impressive talents within that group. Amazing technical minds, seriously gifted musicians, courageous speakers, loving husbands and bold and peaceful individuals alike. The kinda men you’d want beside you for the long-haul and when the going gets tough.

There weren’t many of us – though there was enough to know that a dramatic difference can be made in our church and within the spheres of influence that we find ourselves in across London.

One key area that was highlighted was the need to continually get alongside each other in support and prayer. Going it alone just doesn’t work. The world throws a million and one ‘gods’ our way to bow down to and most make the mistake of bowing down.

I think sometimes it’s easy for us as Christian men to make excuses - or are presented with excuses that fit: life is always gonna be busy, I'll fit Jesus into the spare time I have - our church is getting bigger, others can take the slack financially - or maybe, my wife is a Christian, so she doesn't need my prayer & leadership - my mates like porn & Jaegerbombs, so I'll enjoy them and let grace forgive me sometime later. 

The examples could go on and on. And if you're going it alone at the moment, you'll allow these excuses and doubts to take root without that loving slap from a friend nearby who can perhaps see your stupid filters on life for what they really are - sin, comfort and pride.

In Daniel 3 we see amazing brotherhood and Godly masculinity in the examples displayed by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - three men of God who stood tall together, despite all that the world was throwing at them.

'Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, 'King Nebuchadnezzar, WE do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If WE are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God WE serve is able to deliver US from it, and he will deliver US from your Majesty's hand. But even if he does not, WE want you to know, your Majesty, that WE will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.' (the image of gold today could come in the form of popularity, money, comfort, sex, greed, etc, etc)

These men stood shoulder to shoulder through this - I reckon it might have been a different scenario had they been in it alone.

If you go it alone in your walk with God, you'll allow the world to hack away at your true Godly masculinity and you may not even realise it. Allow the men of your church to get beside you to strengthen and rebuild you through what is guaranteed to be a constant and sustained onslaught from a Devil who really tries to kill, steal and destroy your life.

You won't regret taking this advice, I promise.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Your first love...

I love football. I always have. But to be honest, of late, I only pay it occasional attention. There really are bigger fish to fry.

But today's end of season finale was pretty damn remarkable to say the least. Almost scripted to perfection.

It's pretty cool to see tens of thousands of people erupting jubilantly in unison. Emotions were clearly soaring.  But what I find slightly peculiar was the tears shed by grown men in the crowd, as their team battled through. I'm not hard-hearted and I wouldn't say I was a sissy, but I think I save my tears for slightly more significant moments.

Such emotion towards a sport got me thinking.

What are you MOST passionate about in life?

That might be something that you've never considered before, but just spend a moment weighing up your options. It might indeed be football. It might be a good night out or it might be helping the homeless. It could be absolutely anything really.

But, if you're a Christian, I would argue that your main passion should be Jesus. If your knee-jerk response to that previous question wasn't regarding Him, then I wonder why that is? 

The Gospel was once so compelling and captivating that it caught your attention and changed your life in incredible ways.  What's since diluted that love and focus?

If your team wins 3-0 do you jump for joy and talk about it to whoever will listen? And if somebody comes to know Jesus, gets baptised or even begins to show signs of interest, would you react with similar butterflies in your stomach and excitement in your voice?

My first love is Jesus and being part of what He's building down here.

What's yours, really?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Grace will lead us home

This is such a weird one to write - I can't find the words even though there's a million and one things on my mind. But I'll give it a shot anyway.

Most, if not all, of what I write about is about Jesus. My example, my joy, my Father. This one is about someone else - my example, my joy, my Grandfather.

I've been spending a lot of time recently crying to God, praying to God and thanking God for the life of someone who we are all SO proud to look up to.

When God promises that 'surely I will be with you until the end' - He means it. A long, long time ago, my Grandfather engraved our family crest with the words: 'God is my defender'. Now if you knew what he'd been through in his 20's, on the frontline on the D-Day landings, you'd realise that he really meant that. Subsequent discussions I had with him would support that as well, as he also spoke of daily prayer and reading the Bible to help and guide him through what has been a VERY long life.

He's likely to be remembered most for being a great military leader - a man of true courage and valour. But I don't think these two things are mutually exclusive. God was his defender, in the very tough times and he most certainly is now, in a time of peace and rest.

If I had been in my Grandfather's shoes 66 years ago (when he would have been my age now) I don't think I would have been as brave and faithful. I think my world view would have been mangled and my ideas about God drastically altered or forgotten altogether. Would I have said God was my defender, if I had experienced a life as he did? I'm not so sure I would. 

He does though.

He also said to me a couple of years ago that 'divine help develops the fruits of experience.' Well, he certainly sees the full truth of that now and I couldn't be more thankful for that lifetime of experience and understanding.

As I've been trying to come to terms with his imminent passing, I was lead to Isaiah 51, which has given me amazing comfort: "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn... When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many. The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.'

As I'm sure Granf would testify, it's always strange how you find bits of the Bible which jump out with significance at particular times when you need them most. This is one of those times for me. Because of his faith and walk with God, this really isn't the end. It's the beginning of Heaven for him; and that changes everything. Knowing that he put his trust in the One who called him, means we can be thankful for his passing, despite the pangs of loss his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren might be feeling at the moment.

Also, in 2 Corinthians 4 v16-18 it says: 'Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.'

I will always miss him, but thankfully I can always look to the rock from which I was cut and remember that this is only a momentary goodbye.

George Leonard Bream - 1st June 1919 - 7th May 2012. Home safely at last.