Month: August 2009

Forum

I will be away at forum for the coming week, from Monday until Friday, so there won’t be any blog posts from me until I get back. For those who don’t know, forum is UCCF’s summer training conference-type thing aimed particularly at CU leaders. I’ve not been before, but I have high hopes for the week. I hope to (in no particular order):

  • Encourage people from other CUs, and be encouraged by them
  • Make and renew friendships
  • Finish reading A Call to Spiritual Reformation (or at least read a large portion of it)
  • Get some serious praying done
  • Enthuse about freshers’ week
  • Sharpen my iron (Proverbs 27:17)
  • Have fun
  • Grow to love the Bible more after a whole week of listening to preaching from it
  • Is there any chance of learning to unicycle properly?

Love of the loveless

I’ve just been listening to some Eels songs on spotify, and noticed an interesting lyric in one. It went:

God shine your light down here
Shine on the love
Love of the loveless

I don’t know if anything profound was meant (I don’t suppose so) but it did strike me that it’s a plea which describes exactly what God has already done. By sending Christ (who is the light of the world, John 8:12) to earth, God has shown love to the loveless. We have nothing in us to commend us to God, and even our best efforts at good living are filthy rags in His eyes (Isaiah 46:4). Our only access to God comes through Jesus (John 14:6) who came to earth so we could repent of our wrongdoing (Luke 5:32) and be accepted by God (1 John 1:9).

The Eels capture it quite nicely in another of their songs, in which they sing:

You don’t need a thing from me
but I need something big from you

And now, in the title of another Eels song, “I need some sleep”.

Bridge building

God doesn’t build bridges, He divides seas.

John Piper (2007)

This quote is from one of John Piper’s blog posts, and reminds me that God’s ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8). Also noteworthy is Piper’s following (and sobering) comment:

Usually [God’s] people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not simply ride over them.

One thing I know

There are only two things of which I am sure: one is, that I am a miserable sinner; and the other, that Christ is an all-sufficient Saviour.

John Newton

Presumably based on that quote:

I remember two things very clearly. I’m a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.

John Newton in the film Amazing Grace (2006)

Was Newton’s a Biblical prespective?

One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.

A man born blind, John 9:25

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

The apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 2:2

Principles of personal witness

This outline of a recent Bible study at my home church may be helpful for some readers. It was entitled Principles of Personal Witness and delivered by one of the church deacons, Martin Sellens.

Biblical examples of personal witness

  1. Philip (John 1:43-51)
    Philip was called by Jesus (v43) and had a desire for others to meet Jesus (v46), so he found Nathaniel, told him he had found the Messiah, and invited him to come and see. Christ promises great things for believers.
    So, you found the secret message?
  2. Samaritan woman (John 4:29-30)
    Again, the invitation is to come and meet Jesus. The question is asked “Could this be the Christ?” and investigation is encouraged.
    It’s just because I want a blank line in the formatting, that’s all!
  3. Demoniac (Luke 8:38-39)
    In v38 the healed demoniac begs to stay with Jesus, naturally enough, but is told to go and share with others what Jesus has done in his life.

Four principles for personal witness

  1. Let your light shine (Matthew 5:13-16)
    The Lord commands us to let our light shine so much that God is glorified. The light will be attractive to some, because it is godly, but others will prefer darkness because the light reveals their sin. We live in dark times, and if our witness is weak, what will show the world their need for the Saviour? We need a living relationship with God for our light to shine, just as a torch needs batteries for it to work. We need to ensure our spiritual batteries do not go flat.
    This will really muck things up if the background colour of this blog is changed!
  2. Be ready to give an account
    We not only need to believe in our hearts, but also confess Christ to the world (Romans 10:9). A readiness to speak about Christ is part of our preparation for life (Ephesians 6:15). It is a vital part of who we are, and it is as foolish not to prepare as it would be to go for a long walk without shoes. We need to be ready for this with reverent meekness and fear of God (1 Peter 3:15).
    To be honest, I’m running out of things to write in these gaps
  3. Recognise the need of people to be saved
    We will only reach people if we see their plight. Jesus was moved with compassion, seeing people like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34) and weeping for a whole city (Luke 19:41) because He saw the urgency of the situation. The reason Christ came to earth because He saw our lost and helpless state. We need a Biblical sense of urgency (1 Corinthians 7:29-31) and must make the best possible use of our time (Colossians 4:5).
    If you found these messages, please post a comment so I know about it!
  4. Pray
    We need to pray for ourselves and others (Colossians 4:3), making use of practical planning such as prayer partners. We must be watchful to pray continually (Ephesians 6:18-20). Paul knew his responsibility as an ambassador of Christ, and knew he was to “go and make disciples”. This responsibility requires prayer for the Lord’s strength, opportunities and boldness.

I hope you find that interesting and, more importantly, helpful.

Successful but sinful

Lesbian teacher’s affair with a pupil

was the shocking headline of an equally shocking story in the free Metro newspaper yesterday. The story goes as you might, from the headline, expect. It takes place in an independent London school which charges parents the not inconsiderable sum of £13,000 to have their children educated there. A 26-year old trumpet teacher has been caught in (and admitted to) a five-month long lesbian affair with a pupil she taught, and has been suspended and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register.

Helen Goddard must have seemed to have everything she could want. She was a prodigious trumpet player from a young age, even performing in an Olympic opening ceremony before finishing school. She was young, beautiful and had a good job in a prestigious establishment. She seemed popular and could surely want nothing more.

But her earthly success is tinted by (now public) spiritual failure. She is, like the rest of us, a sinner. In her case this worked itself out in a headline grabbing scandal. For most of us it is easier to conceal our wrongdoing, but it is equally impossible to be rid of it. Sadly Helen’s ability on the trumpet will not be considered by God on the day of judgement. Neither will her career record. Only one thing will be considered – her perfection. Or more accurately, her lack thereof.

Unless she has faith in Christ. I am obviously unable to comment on whether or not she has that saving faith, but if she does then her eternal destiny rests not on her own (lack of) perfection, but on Christ’s perfect perfection. What grace it is on God’s part to forgive all who come to him. We may hide our evil hearts from our friends, but we cannot hide them from God. Let us be thankful, if we are His, that our salvation relies on Christ alone and not our respectability.

As an interesting side note – how would our churches treat Helen Goddard if she came to worship on a Sunday morning? Would we exhibit Christ’s grace despite knowing what she has done?

Comfort and security

O Father, grant your church to love your glory more than gold—to cease her love affair with comfort and security. Grant that we seek the kingdom first and let the other things come as you will. Grant that we move toward need and not toward ease. Grant that the firm finality of our security in Christ free us to risk our homes and health and money on the earth.

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, 2003

Can I honestly pray that I want God to be more important to me than my own comfort and security?

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Jesus, Matthew 10:37-39

hullabaloo dilemma

At the moment I have a bit of a dilemma regarding the best use of a Wednesday evening. On the one hand is the Leeds juggling club, Hullabaloo. On the other hand, my home church has moved the Bible study and prayer meeting to a Wednesday. I don’t know a great number of people at Hullabaloo, but that’s a situation I want to rectify. There is a great mix of people, some of whom are very friendly, and some of whom are surly to say the least.

The Bible study has been a regular commitment for the last several years of my life for good reason. It gives me a focus on the spiritual while Sunday is still days away. It provides an opportunity to learn from the Bible and enjoy the fellowship and wisdom of older believers. It is the only time the whole church can come together for regular prayer. It helps form the habit of prioritising God (and the local church) above other aspects of life.

My dilemma arises because I rarely see my non-Christian friends. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people at the best of times when I don’t see them on a regular basis, and changing school before A-levels made it much harder. My friends at the school I studied GCSEs at changed a huge amount over the next two years, and became completely different people. I daresay the same happened to me. The friendships which had been built were never destroyed, but simply disappeared. The friends I made at the school where I did my A-levels were great guys, but only knew me for two years before we parted, and given they had known all their other friends for seven years I was never as close to them. I’m on good terms with my neighbours, but don’t see them too frequently.

Combine this with a full time job and chances to chat become much scarcer. This results in a distinct scarcity of opportunities to share Jesus with others. The Bible study benefits me; evangelism benefits both me and others. Having said that, evangelism will surely be most glorifying to God coming from a life of dedication to sanctification. My dilemma is not between studying the Bible and evangelising. My dilemma is between a church meeting and building friendships from which evangelism can arise. I don’t want to be a hit and run evangelist, but a genuine friend speaking from love for the Lord and concern for the souls of my fellow jugglers.

I’ve had varied advice from people I respect, so it wouldn’t hurt me to have more if people have opinions they want to share. The comment box is waiting.

Further reading on evangelism: http://joshsendlessthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-hast-thou-done.html