Proverbs Day Sixteen | Bags

By | Blog, Death, Doctrine, Foundational, Revelation, Suffering, The Bible, The gospel, Wisdom

The Lord demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness. Proverbs 16v11 (NLT)

A just balance and scales are the LORD’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. Proverbs 16v11 (ESV)

This proverb strikes me as a beautiful description of the sovereignty of the cross. The justice, mercy, love and wrath displayed on the cross – God’s chosen means to administer justice and apply forgiveness through the sacrifice of the second Adam (Jesus) in order to deal with the sin of the first Adam.

  • The cross is right
  • The cross is just
  • The cross is His work not ours

Let us boast in the bag entitled “the Cross of Christ” not the one with our name on it.

Proverbs Day Ten | Weather watching

By | Blog, Character, Death, Devotionals, Discipleship, Foundational, Holy living, Life change, Suffering, Wisdom

In the UK we are privileged to have four seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Seasons teach us about life and certainly gives us imagery which helps us understand our own seasons.

Spring might represent new beginnings, ventures and effectiveness. Summer might be like blessing, momentum and just good times. Autumn could be understood as dying, fading, weakening or saying goodbye. Finally, Winter may mean grieving, loss, vulnerability and more challenging times.

A wise youth harvests in the summer,but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace. Proverbs 10v5 (NLT)

Seasons in our life are not in sync with nature's seasons in terms on timing, order or longevity. Therefore I need to regularly ask what season am I in?

Using 10v5 as my teacher I should seek to enjoy, be thankful and make the most of Spring and Summer. Whereas if I find my self in Autumn and Winter I should fix my eyes on the God of the seasons. I should draw from the memories, moments, truths about God and relationships established in Spring and Summer to help sustain me during the tougher seasons. And as Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes 3v1 "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…" My greatest challenge is not to waste the season I find myself in.

He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. Proverbs 10v5 (ESV)

A Brother Who Made History

By | Death, Love, Provoked Within, Suffering, The gospel

For the final 3 years before I left Gracechurch to move to Swansea we ran a yearly camp for the men and boys in the church called Band of Brothers. During that camp I would take the opportunity to teach about a brother who made history.

Nate Saint is one such man. He with his four friends were murdered on the 8 January 1956. Today is the anniversary of his death.

These men had determined that God had called them to share the news of His Son to the Waodini Tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest. This tribe had a proven reputation of murder using the spear. In fact most of the tribe had a relative that had been likewise killed. It was a risky and dangerous calling.

On the 6 January 1956 after several weeks work they made direct contact with three of the tribe, and were particularly excited two days later when they saw a group of them heading their way. The men’s wives were expecting a radio update at 4.30pm and it never came. The radio was silent.

A few days later a search party was dispatched. They found the bodies of Nate and his friends, and their plane destroyed. They had been speared.

End of the story. Wasted lives? No.

Their deaths opened two doors. The first door was that when the story hit the news in 1956, it compelled many thousands of men and women to lay down half-hearted lives for Christ, choosing rather to live for Him with everything they had.

The second door was that within a few years some of the men’s wives and their children were living with the tribe, and many of the tribe came to put their faith in Christ. Indeed Nate’s son, Stephen, would later call one of his father’s murderers Grandfather.

Here is the video I used on Band of Brothers to share the story. It has clips from the film End of the Spear. In the story you will see a dramatised encounter of ‘Grandfather’ telling Stephen Saint that he killed his father.

Nate Saint knew the one who had been pierced by men (Isaiah 53), and with his life he led others to lay down murder with a spear for good.

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16

Nate Saint Tribute from The Hill on Vimeo.

NB: You can read the story as told by one of the wives in the book Through the Gates of Splendour

Putting ballast in your boat…

By | Death, Doctrine, Suffering, The Bible, The gospel

Following my talk today I wanted to take the opportunity to add the quotes I referred to that have been so helpful to me:

“Only if God can say things that make you struggle will you know that you have met a real God and not a god of your imagination” Timothy Keller

“I can not see my role as a pastor in such days as simply entertaining you… to help you have a superficial cheerfulness that you just like to come to church, its a bit of relief from the severity of the times. That can not be my goal, not if I care. Rather as I understand my job, my calling… is to put ballast, the ballast of truth, the ballast of weighty glorious doctrine in the belly of your little boat. So that when you try and navigate these strange days, and these kinds of winds batter your life, you won’t capsize but rather you will make it all the way to the harbour called heaven with your faith intact and your joy overflowing. That’s my job – Ballast in your boat. Others can decorate the decks. I don’t have time to do it all. I do hope the decks are clear and the sun shines on us from time to time. Those are easy days. I am here to keep the boat from tipping in the hard days.” John Piper

Finally I wanted to share with you the reflection from my friend 12 months almost to the day when her mother died in a car accident (please see my previous blog entry):

These last 12 months would not be a time that I would want to repeat again, but I would also say that God has been amazing throughout. I have a son who likes to hang around my neck, even if I let go. I feel that God has been like that to me. I have learned so much about his character and sovereignty during these 12 months and where my life is unquestionably secure in Him. I am also at times like my son – holding on for all its worth, but I know more than ever that he is not going to let me go and he knows what he is doing. My mum knew where she was going and who she trusted in and that was Jesus. I do not know how I would have coped without God during this year. To be firmly rooted in God so that when hard times hit is more important than I realised. There have been times when I know I would not have coped without God.

I thank God that for my friend’s mum she had placed her life, and also her inevitable death, into the indestructible hope and security that is found within the life and death of Jesus.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8

So we go into Christmas not with a superficial seasonal joy, but a steadfast joy in the Son of God.

10… but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. Luke 2

Harry Hill on systematic theology

By | Holy living, Suffering

We had a discussion in my house: The basis of the discussion was that healthy faith is the opposite to unhealthy fear. We then remembered Harry’s common refrain “Well I have healthy faith, but sometimes I have unhealthy fear… Which is better? There is only one way to find out! FIGHT!!” Sometimes the Christian life is like that. I have recently been reading the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All of these guys had moments of fear, which compromised their faith and they also had moments of faith, which overcame their fear.

But the common thread was that these moments all came along because in faith they had responded to God’s promise. it reminded me that anybody who walks by faith will encounter moments – and some of those will be very hard moments, where fear will rear its ugly head and threaten to overwhelm. It is then that we must ask Harry’s question – which is better, faith or fear? And then we must be prepared to get the ‘gloves off’ and fight the battle for faith. If we do let them fight, be assured that unhealthy fear can always be defeated by healthy faith.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. Hebrews 11:32-38