Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Bible in 90 days.

I am currently trying to complete the challenge to read the bible in 90 days. I have had comments from friends who I respect admiring my commitment to reading God's word. The truth is that this commitment began with a feeling of shame. I profess to be a Christian but the truth us that I am really a bit rubbish. Let's face it you only have to look at my blog to realise this. Sustained activity for a few weeks then nothing for months on end.  The truth is that despite professing faith and being baptised in 1989 (wow that really is a long time ago, to give you a clue Nigel Mansell won the Brazilian grand prix in his first race for ferarri on the day I was baptised) I have never in all those years read the whole Bible. I do not just mean that I have not sat down and read it in one sitting, i mean that their are books of the Bible that I just simply have bit read.
Like many Christians I suppose the new testament is quite well read the gospels especially. The old testament though is a different story though. Because  the reading plan starts from the beginning I have been reading large chunks of the Bible I have never read before.
It has been a challenge some books (1 and 2 chronicle's I'm looking at you) being repetitive in Kings being evil well apart from a few standing out. What I have noticed more than anything is a God who pursues his people. The story of the old testament is one of a God who is constantly calling back people who have deserted him to go off being sinful. This leads me to two conclusions:
Firstly not much has changed we are still going our own way and sinning against the living God we only need to look around to realise this to be true.
Secondly God is still in pursuit revealing himself to us and calling on us to come back to him and worship him as we did before.
It's good to know that as much as some things change God does not.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Martin Luther

"So tenaciously should we cling to the world revealed by the Gospel, that were I to see all the Angels of Heaven coming down to me to tell me something different, not only would I not be tempted to doubt a single syllable, but I would shut my eyes and stop my ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard."

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Make War! (2)

"When you make peace with God you make war with sin.
The evidence of being justified is that you make war on sin. When you become a Christian you don’t become perfect, when you become a Christian it doesn't mean you win every battle in the war, but if there is no war . . . your not saved. If you are totally at peace with sin, at home with sin, relaxing in the arms of the pleasures of sin and there’s no war in your soul against it, there’s no reason you should think your saved."

John Piper.

Make War!

I found this while looking for something else. It is well worth a listen too. John Piper telling it completely like it is.

Quote of the Day.

You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most. It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.

John Wesley

God's E-mail

One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the evil that was going on. He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out.
So he called one of His best angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time.
When the angel returned she told God, yes it is bad on Earth, 95% is bad and 5% is good. Well, God thought for a moment and said "Maybe I had better send down a second angel, to get another point of view."
So God called another angel and sent her to Earth for a time too.
When the angel returned she went to God and told Him yes, the Earth was in decline, 95% was bad and 5% was good. God said this was not good.
So He decided to E-mail the 5% that were good. He wanted to encourage them..............give them a little something to help them keep going.
Do you know what that E-mail said?

* * * * * * * * *

You didn't get one either, huh?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Another Quote.

The Gospels do not explain the resurrection; the resurrection explains the Gospels. Belief in the resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith. 

J.S. Whale

Quote of the Day.

In many respects I find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes him dangerous. Because of Easter I have to listen to his extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from his sayings. Moreover, Easter means he must be loose out there somewhere. 

Philip Yancey

Jesus is alive!

Luke 24

He Is Risen
 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other womenwith them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”
8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to wake up on that Sunday morning and to start the day knowing that the man you thought was your saviour was dead and buried. No point denying the evidence you had watched him being crucified on the Friday and you saw Jesus die. Had you been conned? How could he be the promised saviour when he had just been killed like a common criminal?
It is easy for us to look back and know the end. We read of the crucifixion in  a way that takes away from the shock because we know how it ends. We know Jesus is going to rise from the dead and it takes away from the shock of what has happened. Jesus, God's only son, has just died!
This is the situation that these women were in. They were going to the tomb to prepare Jesus body permanently for being buried. He had been put into the tomb quickly to get it done before the sabbath. Now it needed to be done permanently because Jesus is dead! 
Firstly they find the stone rolled away and they go inside and find Jesus body has gone! Now what were they thinking at the time? Already stricken with grief having watched the saviour die they find body gone. Were they thinking Grave robbers?
Secondly they find two angels and the sight of this terrifies them.
Thirdly what the angels tell them must have been possibly the most stunning revelation in history. To put it in my own words it goes something like this:

Ladies why are you looking for a living man in a grave? The one you are looking for is alive just like he told you he would be.

If you are reading this for the first time as a story it is utterly shocking. How can he be alive? We saw him die?  But it is not a story it is the truth and the key to our salvation. Without the resurrection we have no hope of resurrection.
How must those women have felt? From the depths of despair suddenly hope! Jesus is alive!

Monday, 5 July 2010

That's my King!

The last post contained preacing by S.M. Lockridge. He is probably most famous for this :

It's Friday, but Sundays coming!

Yes Lorna and I have the same post but we found it together and it is too good not to be on both. 

It’s Friday, Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping, Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday, Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring, The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday, The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd, Mary’s crying
Peter is denying, But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’
It’s Friday, The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe Him in scarlet,They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know, That Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday, See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping, His body stumbling
And His spirit’s burdened, But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday, The world’s winning
People are sinning, And evil’s grinning
It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross
And then they raise Him up next to criminals
It’s Friday, But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday, The disciples are questioning
What has happened to their King
And the Pharisees are celebrating, That their scheming
Has been achieved, But they don’t know
It’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday
He’s hanging on the cross, Feeling forsaken by His Father
Left alone and dying, Can nobody save Him?
Ooooh, It’s Friday
But Sunday’s comin’
It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields His spirit
It’s Friday
Hope is lost, Death has won
Sin has conquered, and Satan’s just a laughing
It’s Friday, Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard And a rock is rolled into place
But it’s Friday, It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Lesson of the Homeless Man

(Unknown Author)
It was a cold winter's day that Sunday. The parking lot to the church was filling up quickly. I noticed as I got out of my car fellow church members were whispering among themselves as they walked in the church.
As I got closer I saw a man leaned up against the wall outside the church. He was almost laying down as if he was asleep. He had on a long trench coat that was almost in shreds and a hat topped his head, pulled down so you could not see his face. He wore shoes that looked 30 years old, too small for his feet, with holes all over them, his toes stuck out.
I assumed this man was homeless, and asleep, so I walked on by through the doors of the church.
We all fellowshipped for a few minutes, and someone brought up the man laying outside. People snickered and gossiped but no one bothered to ask him to come in, including me.
A few moments later church began. We all waited for the Preacher to take his place and to give us the Word, when the doors to the church opened.
In came the homeless man walking down the aisle with his head down.
People gasped and whispered and made faces.
He made his way down the aisle and up onto the pulpit where he took off his hat and coat. My heart sank.
There stood our preacher...he was the "homeless man."
No one said a word.
The preacher took his Bible and laid it on his stand.
"Folks, I don't think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today. If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

Becoming like Christ.

Ephesians 5

 1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I think it is amazing how much you become like the people you spend time with most. When Lorna and I first got married there was one habit she had that provided endless amusement to me. When tidying things away she had a habit of shouting at and berating inanimate objects. She would be tidying the kitchen and suddenly I would hear her shouting. Listening in always made me laugh: "Did I ask you to fall out?! No I didn't! Now I have to bend over and pick you  up because you are being naughty and falling out!" Well it was always words to that  effect.
The Cheese Grater I honestly believe cowers in terror to this day in fear that it will fall somewhere and be on the end of another tirade of abuse for not doing as  it was told! But the worst part of it all is that I find myself after all these years doing the same thing! What exactly do I think this behaviour is going to achieve exactly? Will the Cheese Grater repent of its evil ways and stop falling out of the cupboard and behave itself the next time I tidy up?
The point is you become like the person you spend the most time with. Its almost inevitable really that people who live together, like say a Husband and Wife, will pick up each others mannerisms and habits.
My point is simple. I want to be more like Christ. So if that is the case why am I not spending time with him? Reading the Bible and praying are things that we class as everyday, mundane and even boring parts of being a Christian. But without them how can we ever hope to become more like Jesus?

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Church is hard.

This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.


I don't know about anyone else but I find Church to be really hard sometimes. I guess the biggest problem for me is that we are all a bunch of sinners just thrown together almost and trying to worship God together. On the one hand I find that it is quite easy to fit in. I have read the Bible and by the blessing of God understand a fair bit of it. After a while you become expert in the Christian language and can say all the right things at the right time. The problem is with that is that you can hide behind it and pretend to be something you are not. You see a part of me really wants to be seen to be Holy. I can present a good image when I really try to.
The problem with that is that it almost seems like I am putting on a mask and playing a role. In my private life I am not anywhere near as Holy as I would like to think I am. If you do not believe this just ask my Wife. It is only possible to be so Holy at Church. Living it 24 hours a day is much harder especially with four children. The Bible would make it clear what I am. A hypocrite.
But that is what I find most difficult about church. I am a normal human being. In this I am not trying to belittle my sin bit just stating that I think we all struggle to be completely open and honest about who we are. I believe we deceive ourselves and often cut ourselves more slack than we do other people. I believe that often when we see others sinning it is really hard not to be slightly on our high horse and say " I can't believe they did that!" The truth is though that we are all sinners that are saved by Grace. What I do not understand in my life is why I am trying to make myself Holy, The only way I am Holy is by accepting Gods free gift. You know the one I mean. That Christ died so that I could be clothed in his Holiness and Righteousness and he would take my sin and disgrace to the cross and take the punishment for my actions.
When I meet up with the sinners that populate my Church( and every other Church for that matter!) I should remember that fact. I am only part of God's army because of what he has done not what I have achieved. Lets be honest if it is about what I have done then I am bound for Hell!

Quote of the Day.

"If the devil were wise enough and would stand by in silence and let the Gospel be preached, he would suffer less harm. For when there is no battle for the Gospel it rusts and it finds no cause and no occasion to show its vigor and power. Therefore, nothing better can befall the Gospel than that the world should fight it with force and cunning."

Martin Luther

Thursday, 24 June 2010

A Christian ablaze.

 "Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn."

Charles Wesley.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Courage to speak out.

Acts 5. 
29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

(For background you can find the whole of Acts 5 to read here.)

This is part of the text that was preached at my home church this Sunday. I have not listened to the sermon yet as it was my turn to look after my two year old this week so consequently was out the back playing with cars.

But when this was read it makes me think of another moment in Peters life which I will reproduce below and draw comparison to what goes on above.

Matthew 26.

Peter Disowns Jesus

 69Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. 70But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

 71Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth."
 72He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"
 73After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away."
 74Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"
   Immediately a rooster crowed. 75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

It is just a simple point that I want to make but very important I believe.
Here is Peter not long before the events at the top denying Jesus to a bunch of no ones. A servant girl in a court yard asks him and he says he never new Jesus.
Yet here he is standing before the Sanhedrin and being questioned by the High Priest and he says:
29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.

Wow that's a bit of a difference. He wilts before a servant girl but stands up before the High priest and tells him you murdered Jesus who is the messiah!
When we ask where our courage should come from when standing up for Jesus it is important to note where the Apostles got courage from. This is in the days when the Holy Spirit has  just been sent. That is one reason that Peter had the courage. The other is he believed in a risen Christ and wanted nothing more than to do what his saviour required of him. So ask yourself the question. Do I have the Holy Spirit in my life?
If the answer to that is yes then am I witnessing? Do I have the courage to tell people about my saviour? If the answer to those is yes then I have no problem. If the answer is no then I am not letting the Holy Spirit have the kind of influence on my life that he should. If I did then the one thing that I would want most is to do the will of God. I would be telling everyone.