Sunday, 30 December 2007

Deep Impact

This year has been a year of tragedy for Joy and I, our family,within our circle of friends, and at Church, it seems almost everyone we know has been touched with some tragedy or multiple tragedies. Events have happened that have shook us to the foundations, and have made a deep impact upon us. At the start of the year I recall listening to one of the finest New Testament Scholars, D.A Carson speak about the Psalms (A recording from All Souls sometime ago), he said that congregations are divided over the Psalms, the older more experienced people relate to the Psalms, whilst the younger people who have known less pain cannot relate to them. I recall thinking, mmm, I don't understand the Psalms, I haven't felt their pain and anguish. That all changed though as three different events came and knocked us flat. I don't know why God allowed these events, or why God allows deep tragedy on a global scale. Yet I know that God is good even though the world is full of evil and suffering. These events have helped me to fall in love with the Psalms and with wisdom literature, but more importantly they have helped me to relate to other peoples sufferings, which is really important for someone going into ministry. Most of all they helped me realise that I don't bring anything of worth to God, that I am a needy pilgrim and he is God, I have realised afresh my dependence upon him for everything and I have fallen deeper in love with Jesus. So 2007 has been a year of pain but a year of blessing too.
May God Bless you in 2008!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Richard Dawkins and the Christmas Message

We had an email recently from Boarders saying that Richard Dawkins' book 'The God Delusion' now comes with a free Atheist Christmas Card. Curiosity got the better of me,(as it often does), so I peaked inside the paperback edition. The Card simple said, "Come All Ye, Faithless" it seems to me that that is the gospel and the Christian message. Come all ye faithless, to the faithful God, who sent his beloved Son to die in our place. Come and believe and find forgiveness. I realise that isn't the intention of the Atheist Christmas card but is the intention of the God whom they deny,that the whosoever should come to Him and worship Him that includes Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins as well as you and I.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, 17 December 2007

Deep Christmas: John 1: 9-12

It was the first time since the end of September that I got to sit in for the whole service at Church.(what with preaching engagements, Bible class, the youth event and conferences), so it was a real delight to hear our pastor, Jim Turrent preach on my favourite passage, John chapter 1. I have always loved John's gospel, as a young Christian I was told by a senior saint, that all young Christians prefer John until they move on, well I haven't moved on. In his introduction, Jim pointed out how strange it is that for most of the year parents tell their kids not to talk to strangers, except one stranger, with a weird sense of dress. They are placed on his lap and asked what they want for Christmas, they are then told that this stranger will come to their home whilst they are asleep. Jim reminded us that for most people Jesus is also a stranger, yet he is the creator, but when he stepped into humanity, he came to his own people and they received him not. Jim rightly picked up on John's linking Jesus with the tabernacle and the glory of the Lord. Yet Jesus didn't have a halo like on those old paintings, he looked like an ordinary first-century Jewish man, but to anyone with eyes to see he was all the glory of the Father, his words, his acts, his miracles, his death and resurrection all point this out. John chapter 1 is an appropriate Christmas passage for John's purpose is to link the coming of Christ with the death of Christ, Jim brought this out. Finally Jim urged those who still think of Jesus as a stranger to make him a friend this Christmas, for knowing Christ is the greatest gift not just for Christmas but for eternity.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Persecuted Church

It's very weird to think of the persecuted church in a western society, until perhaps two days ago. When a lone gunman shot two dead at a YWAM camp before driving 70 miles to a mega-church in Colorado Springs and caused three more deaths before being shot himself. I think that Brady Boyd the minister was right on the money when he suggested 'but didn't elaborate, that violence follows churches that preach the gospel.'
"Any New Testament church is under attack and duress. It's unique to us as westerners to think that when we come under attack there's something wrong with the church," which isn't true, he said. (Rocky Mountain News).

This event has stirred my compassion for the persecuted church, probably because I have been in their building and know a staff worker,but as Boyd points out these type of events are normal to Christianity and we should expect more. A lady from New Life Church, speaking out of her grief said, "What type of person would do that to a Church? What type of person would shoot, women and children?" People like Saul, before he became Paul! Do not be surprised that people hate you because of me, they hated me before you.

We shouldn't be shocked when these type events occur but we should pray and grieve with those who grieve. We should pray for New Life Church and YWAM in Colorado, we should also pray for the persecuted Church throughout the world, that God would be with them and also with us, trusting in God because we know that God will be glorified in all things!

May God Bless You!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Nicholas of Myra

I remember reading a while ago the story of Nicholas of Myra. Nicholas of Myra was known for his compassion to the needy and for his gentle spirit. Nicholas had the privilege of attending the Council of Nicaea. When he heard the heretic Arius proclaiming that there was a time that Christ was not, Nicholas was so outraged that he slapped Arius around the face. As Christians we shouldn't really endorse that type of behaviour, but nonetheless he was concerned with defending orthodox Christology. So Well done Santa! (for Nicholas became a Saint for his kindness to children and the needy and is now better known as Santa Claus). So Arius was a verynaughty boy because all he received from Santa Claus was a slap in the face!