Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'Never Went To Church'...

A song by 'band' The Streets, which intrigues me. What is Mike Skinner, the writer getting at? What would I say to him if I met him after listening to this song? More to the purpose of this blog, what would YOU say...?

Is this song an encouragement or a sad reflection of so many hearts missing out on the fountain of life, which will never leave them thirsty?

Never Went To Church

Two great European narcotics,
Alcohol and Christianity,
I know which one I prefer

We never went to church,
Just get on with work and sometimes things'll hurt,
But it's hit me since you left us,
And it's so hard not to search.

If you were still about,
I'd ask you what I'm supposed to do now,
I just get a bit scared,
Every now,
Hope I made you proud.

On your birthday when mum passed the forks and spoons,
I put my head on the table I was so distraught with you,
You tidied your things into the bin,
The more poorly you grew,
So there's nothing of yours to hold or to talk to.

You put your hand up and interrupt the conversation with a, but...
People say I interrupt people with the same look.
Sometimes I think so hard I can't remember how your face looked,
Started reading about dreams in your favourite book.
I panic and pace when I can't see the right thing to do.
You'd be scratching your head through the best advice you knew.
And I feel sad I can't hear you reciting it through,
I miss you dad, but I've got nothing to remind me of you

We never went to church,
Just get on with work and sometimes things'll hurt,
But it's hit me since you left us,
And it's so hard not to search.

I needed a break when your book about dreams was taken,
I needed to pray or see a priest that day,
I needed to leave this trade and just heave it away,
But I cleaned up my place like you so I could see things straight.

I never cared about God when life was sailin' in the calm,
So I said I'd get my head down and I'd deal with the ache in my heart,
And for that if God exists I'd reckon he'd pay me regard,
Mum says me and you are the same from the start.

I guess then you did leave me something to remind me of you,
Everytime I interrupt someone like you used to,
When I do something like you you'll be on my mind or through,
'Cause I forgot you left me behind to remind me of you.

Chorus x 2
We never went to church,
Just get on with work and sometimes things'll hurt,
But it's hit me since you left us,
And it's so hard not to search.

But you used to tell me how you didn't know what to do even now,
And then I'm not so scared somehow,
'Cause I know that you'd be proud.

I got a good one for you dad,
I'm gonna see a priest, a Rabbi and a Protestant clergyman,
You always said I should hedge my bets.

Are we praying for these people that have such huge influence on our nation? For Mike Skinner, for Chris Martin, for Gordon Brown, for David Cameron, for David Beckham, for Jonathan Ross, for Chris Moyles, for Simon Cowell, for Britney Spears, for Prince Charles, for Jason Mraz, Brad for Pitt, for Barak Obama, for Robbie Williams, for Andrew Marr, for Osama Bin Laden, for Mark Zukerberg (creator of Facebook), for Cristiano Ronaldo even?

These guys have such influence in our nation and the world -what if they became Christians living all out for Jesus? God is certainly capable of it.

We've been studying Jonah in RUCU Small Group these last four weeks. Reading the list -only a very few people that could have been listed- we can feel they don't deserve Salvation. There are many more important people to pray for and more important to pursue. We looked at Chapter 4 last night, and the love that God has even for the Ninevites. Jonah gets angry when the good thing that God has given him, that he hasn't had any role in doing, it taken away. In Chapter 3 he gets so upset that God is gracious and merciful, he doesn't think they deserve it, and that only he and the Israelites do. Let us not fall into the trap of having the same attitude and Jonah in Chapter 3 and 4, let us expect that God will be gracious and merciful, not surprised like Jonah the drama queen...because He is mighty to save and He will do it...(be at RFC this weekend to sing a new song on this from our own JJ)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The extent to which I like the ESV...

When I quote the ESV, which is most often always in this blog, I feel it’s a real demonstration about how much I enjoy using it...

This is what it looks like coming from http://www.biblegateway.com/:

2 Corinthians 6:3-13 (English Standard Version)

3We(A) put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but(B) as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:(C) by great endurance,(D) in afflictions,(E) hardships, calamities, 5(F) beatings, imprisonments,(G) riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6(H) by purity,(I) knowledge, patience, kindness,(J) the Holy Spirit,(K) genuine love; 7by(L) truthful speech, and(M) the power of God; with(N) the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8through honor and dishonor,(O) through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and(P) yet well known;(Q) as dying, and behold, we live;(R) as punished, and yet not killed; 10(S) as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;(T) as poor, yet making many rich;(U) as having nothing,(V) yet possessing everything.

11We have spoken freely to you,[a] Corinthians;(W) our heart is wide open. 12You are not restricted by us, but(X) you are restricted in your own affections. 13(Y) In return (I speak(Z) as to children) widen your hearts also.

And it takes a good 5 minutes of editing to present it in my perfectionistic way, like this:

3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honour and dishonour, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
2 Corinthians 6:3-13

Note: The English spelling, the spaces between the verses and text, and the removal of the notes!

BUT: The ESV does make one annoying...well, it’s not an error as such, but it makes one of my favourite verses much less...'compelling' shall we say:

2 Corinthians 5:14...

ESV: 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

NIV: 14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

‘Compel’ is so much more helpful (in my humble opinion)! And I personally feel much more encouraged by that word used. ‘Control’ is almost robotic...A phrase I found myself using a few terms ago leading RUCU cell/small group, that I didn’t want us to be ‘robot Christians’ –devoid of emotion when we talk of Grace or Salvation or Forgiveness or the Truth of the Bible or the Supremacy of Christ or our being Compelled on by Christ’s great love for us...I don’t want to be a robot Christian. I hope and pray sometime soon I can wake up each morning ‘Compelled’ to glorify Christ. ‘Controlled’ is indeed correct yes, I am now a 'slave to righteousness'. It should be my mindset and my default setting, and that is fantastic that it is! But as I think I mentioned a few posts back Jesus demands our obedience yes indeed, but also deserves it, and we should act like he does. Compels, personally, makes me realise how Christ deserves such a response from us.

Now, hopefully a massive argument about the use of words will not kick off too much! Only helpful and edifying things to be commented! But I am aware of the need for accuracy, and I rejoice in the accuracy and honesty of the Bible, which the ESV delivers, as hopefully I’ve just shown...so really, I don't mind that much, and am pretty happy to accept that the less prefered translation might well be a more accurate translation of the Greek. But I still like the other...

I’m late for the prayer meeting (Originally written last Wednesday). Oh dear...see ya.

Hope (a better one)...

I was writing up some verses I’ve been challenged by lately, and found the theme of ‘a better hope’ kept coming up, so I have given them a post of their own together. I don’t pretend this is an exhaustive list of all the ‘hope’ bits in the Bible, as it is full of hope, hope being intrinsically linked to Grace I think maybe/somehow. But now upon realising how these have all come up at a time when I have been struggling with plans and ideas for my future, lacking in direction and learning to give up control of my life to God, what John Piper says in the Ruth talks from Forum 2008 seems to be true –Naomi had no hope, and it stopped her from seeing the great things God was doing in her life, and the great plans He had for her. So I must have confidence in the Hope we have in God to be able to “run with endurance the race that is set for us” (Hebrews 12:1). I don’t think that makes much sense, but basically, listen to those Ruth talks, and also Sean Green at RFC on 10/05/09 –another gracious encouragement from our God. And have hope in God too!

But here are a few scribbled thoughts on ‘hope’...

Hebrews 7:18-25...
18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

Heb 7:18-25

I love the phrase ‘a better hope’, which describes what 1 Peter 1:3-5 describes this way:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1:3-5

Hebrews 11:8-9

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

Heb 11:8-9

Abraham knew not what God had in store for him, but set off into the desert anyway. How trusting is that. I must learn from Abraham, and not be worrying about what is ahead because I cannot yet see it... (since writing this, God has in fact begun to graciously reveal his plan!)

Hebrews 11:16

16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Heb 11:16

It is heaven we focus on, and hope for, not lusting after the temporary things of this life (I’m sure there is a verse saying that better somewhere. Let me know if you know it).

Hebrews 11:32-40

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these,
though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Heb 11:32-40

Wow. I don’t really know what to say, that is quite a list (yes, another list readers!). Paul has one which I might put in the accompanying ‘verse blog’.

These guys did not get what they were promised. Why do I get so upset when God doesn’t tell me what to do for the year when I graduate? All these things they endured for our God. To say ‘our’ makes me feel so inadequate! But again, “thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor 9:15) that means my deficiency doesn’t matter, and I can stand alongside these guys, those “of whom the world was not worthy” (v38). I should follow their example, fixing my eyes the better thing God has prepared for us.

[By now you probably can guess I’ve been going through Hebrews lately!]

I’ve just looked up in my concordance all the verses on hope in the Bible, and there are so many that I remember as I look, so here’s a list of some of them for you to look up in your own time:

Titus 3:4-7
Titus 2:13
1 Timothy 4:10
Colossians 1:27
Colossians 1:15
Ephesians 1:18
Galatians 5:5
2 Cor :1:10
1 Cor 13:13
Romans 8:24
Romans 5:4
Psalm 42:5
Psalm 39:7

So, have hope! Most of this, as I said earlier, is as I find myself unsure of the next step after University, and learning to trust God more and more in that. Just some thoughts, but not all of them (there are usually to many to record here in time before they are forgotten):

It strikes me also that Jesus didn’t just turn 21 and start preaching. He got a job, and worked with his hands. He was 30 by the time he started out changing the world. 30. Most of us young scaly-wags see life as essentially over by then. In fact, so do most people. Well, if Jesus is our example, then I look forward to turning 30! I look at people like Sean Green, who I admire and find a great example (for a human that is, and after Jesus!), didn’t just go straight into ministry, but got a job, lived, grew up (I begin to generalise, I don’t actually know much about his life before he planted RFC) and ‘walked with God’. I’m not saying there is a technique or pattern, I’m just rebuking myself, and hopefully anyone else out there young, head full of theology and ‘UCCF-ed’ up, thinking they are God’s gift to the church (I exaggerate, hopefully you get my point, and nobody takes that the wrong way!) that: 1) God has a plan. His own one. A perfect one. One that will work out best for us and for his glory. 2) He doesn’t work on our timescale. 3) We might just have to get our heads down and work. 4) God will come and get us when he’s good and ready. 5) something else wise and helpful. Can be found at your local church leader, not here!


1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Africa Needs God...

Hello. I found this on another blog a few months back, I think, and I am often telling people to have a read, as it is quite an interesting and encouraging read. I'm not yet such an effective blogger to be able to discuss it here for you all, but here it is for your own reading, and comments below to discuss...

December 27, 2008
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset


Friday, May 8, 2009

My Times Are In Thy Hand...

This is a poem my grandpa once printed out for me, which he had by his bed. For years I've had it by mine, and only in the last two weeks has it gripped me as it has done. To really read this aloud...it is a real challenge. One that has to be taken. Have a read...

My times are in Thy hand;
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my friends, my soul I leave
Entirely to Thy care.

My times are in Thy hand;
Whatever they may be;
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee.

My times are in Thy hand;
Why should I doubt or fear?
My Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.

My times are in Thy hand,
Jesus, the crucified!
Those hands my cruel sins had pierced
Are now my guard and guide.

My times are in Thy hand,
I’ll always trust in Thee;
And, after death, at Thy right hand
I shall forever be.

William Freeman Lloyd 1791-1853

To know my grandpa, and the life he had lived, and to know he could read this, gives me energy to keep on running this race, and to live this out... :)

Another 'List'....

Josh Loves:
Sigur Ros
Romans & Hebrews
Hope (a better one)
Finally coming up with an idea for a dissertation
Good piano
Good drums
Good conversation
Singing 'half-heartedly'
Friends that rattle my cage
Getting excited about grace with these friends
The poem posted about after this...
Turning the world upside down
The sunshine
Forgiving friends
Writing stuff like this instead of revision
His family. Every one of them
Talking about himself in the third person
Asking questions
Being asked questions
Being part of RUCU
Laughing while playing football
Formula 1
His duvet
Jesus' priorities
Going to see a band live for the second time
People like ##, ##, ##, ##, ##, ##, ##, ##, ##, ##
CS Lewis quotes
International students
When others love grace
Prison Break
Romans 3:23 being in the same sentence as 3:24
Sovereignty (God's)
Loyal Mates (AD & DR at home...)
Unquestionable love.
Did I say Grace?
Probably lots of other things too...

Answers on a postcard.

....Back to revision...

(Written 3pm 02/05/09)