Monday, October 18, 2010

Who then is this...

"Natural laws were made by Christ and alter at his bidding"
John Piper

"Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
Mark 4:37-41

"The God of glory thunders....the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars...the voice of the LORD...strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'"
Psalm 29:3-5,9

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stained Glass...

"To the Glory of God, in loving memory of Walter George Bailey, Captain in XV Battalion Hants, who fell in action Sept. 15, [illegible] if was the first of many to be baptised in this church. Became a devoted worker of it. He enlisted from Queens College, Cambridge while preparing for Holy Orders"
[Summer 2009, Bournemouth]

Monday, May 10, 2010

Theology on Fire...

Time for a more serious post.

I've picked a very small little book from John Stott entitled "Balanced Christianity: A Call to Avoid Unnecessary Polarisation" and just finished reading it.

It deals with four issues that have a strong tendency to divide the church and cause us to forget the Gospel: "Intellect & Emotion" (Preaching style); "Radical & Conservative"; "Form & Freedom" (Worship style and Church Structure); and "Evangelism & Social Action".

[I initially used 'vs.' instead of '&', but quickly realised there was me subtly forgetting the Gospel again!]

Published in 1975, part of me is sad we still haven't seemed to learnt from Stott - or, at least I haven't. And the main way I would learn this is through reading the Bible, and through the teaching of my Church leaders. The last thing I would want to do is point fingers, but I would recommend this tiny book to all Christians, and in particular, preachers/church leaders. They can then set their flocks an example whereby the 'othering' of other congregations with different secondary preferences is eradicated.

Anyway, this is not the main point of this post. What I wanted to present to you from the book was an extract which sums up, almost perfectly a thought/conviction I hold, and am enthusiastic about:

"In particular, nothing sets a heart on fire like truth. Truth is not cold and dry. On the contrary, it is warm and passionate. And whenever new vistas of God's truth open up to us, we cannot just contemplate. We are stirred to respond, whether to penitence or to anger or to love or to worship. Think of the two disciples walking to Emmaus on the first Easter afternoon, while the risen Lord spoke them. When he vanished, they said to each other: 'Did our hearts not burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?' (Lk. 24:32.) They had an emotional experience all right that afternoon. They described their sensation as a burning heart. And what was the cause of their spiritual heartburn? It was Christ opening the Scriptures to them!

It is the same today. Whenever we read the Scripture and Christ opens it up to us, so that we grasp fresh truth in it, our hearts should burn within us. As F W Faber once said, 'deep theology is the best fuel of devotion; it catches fire, and once kindled it burns long' (quoted by Ralph G Turnbull in A Minister's Obstacles 1946, Baker 1972, p. 97).

This true combination of intellect and emotion should be apparent in the preaching as well as the understanding of God's word. No one has expressed this better than Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who gives this striking definition of preaching: 'What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning truth ought to be mightily eloquent as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man's understanding of it it defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire' (Preaching and Preachers, Hodder & Stoughton 1971, p. 97)."
(John Stott, "Intellect and Emotion", p. 22-23)

I have experienced this burning heart often in my own quiet times reading the Bible, and in church listening to a sermon, or listening to one as I walk via my iPod. But not as often as I or, dare I say, God would like. Often we know what we have to do, but fall short of conviction because there is no Biblical fuel to power us on. Like a real engine, preaching puts a spark to the theology passing through the sermon. If there is not fuel, there is no movement. When we understand the Bible, we are compelled to act upon it, and we do not cease to forget it.

You can buy and read it for yourself here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What happens next...?

I've recently been watching a lot of You've Been Framed on YouTube, after rediscovering it while waiting for a Chinese takeaway and laughing very loudly in as everyone else quietly waited.

This one is very funny, but not just because of the many people falling over/hurting themselves/etc, but a set of adverts that run throughout. Well, one advert in particular!

Watch the whole clip, and notice the first advert - all for Revels sweets - and get their message: you don't know what's coming next. This first one isn't very amusing really, but you need to catch their drift. Continue watching the clip...which is here:

[Read this after watching only: I find the banana thing hilarious! To explain, when you blow the candles, you wish for something -the boy wishes he was a banana and it comes true! I think my amusement comes from... so many things! I just hope you get it...I just wasn't expecting it! Nice one Revels, but I still don't like your chocolate!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More 'Art'...

Same story as last time, but without the trees... Cool huh?

Monday, May 3, 2010


While searching Google for tips on how to draw trees, found the blog of this America chap who an Artist/Poet - so he seems to suggests. Its quite a cool idea that might also be appreciate by you the reader. Or not, either way. There are loads more too...

And in case you want to draw trees...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Four Reasons...

To encourage you to invite your friends to evangelistic events... if these 'Reasons' are often yours, then check yourself, and try not to let them interfere with your friend's salvation. I've definitely gone for each one numerous times, and am still working at avoiding them...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Books about Dreams...

Hello. Just finished "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis, it being my bed-time reading this last week. Being a student, I have the usual overwhelming to not go to bed until at least 1 am. Having said that, I've never been one to stay up all night, or at least till 4am, just because I can. Sleep is too good for that. Unless it's deadline week.

Over the last Christmas I read "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. It only now occurs to me that the title of 'Books about Dreams' is indeed very apt - stories about dreams as my bed time reading.

The point of this post is to recommend both to you. Both can be read quite quickly, as 'light' reading, especially if you are reading anything requiring a lot of thought. They are stories, containing interesting and subtly challenging Biblical truths (well, as Lewis admits, his is quite a lot of speculation upon hints the Bible gives us, but thought provoking none the less, and makes one look forward a little bit more to the eternity we have before us).

Both books are however, very thought provoking and worth reading - especially 'PP'. First of all for the admirable knowledge of the Bible that 'Christian' shows and uses in day to day life -something we could all learn from - and secondly the people he meets. I reckon there will be at least one you clearly identify with, and it is very challenging to realise this and be rebuked by 'Christian'....

You can probably buy them pretty cheaply on Amazon too.

Currently reading Spurgeon's 'Praying Successfully'. Strange blurb on the back cover, but very challenging on the inside. So challenging, I picked up Lewis instead! Need to get back into it, as Spurgeon seems to have a talent for asking difficult and challenging questions. Do you know that feeling with a book that you almost don't dare picking it up, because you know you're not going to be allowed to stop without some serious thought and ridding of the 'old self'? Almost like going for a run that you know will be very good for you, but its going to take some work! Am reminded now of another C.S. Lewis remark (maybe in the Weight of Glory essay?) that a school boy will detest learning Greek verbs/whatever for years. But if he pushes on, it will turn into a joy. I really need to grasp this with so many things! Holiness being a primary one, followed by learning the guitar, and getting consistent exercise (of the individual and boring type, another 29 rugby players not that easy to find three times a week).

The only problem with this book recommendation, is that you now have realised the free option of reading this nonsense to send you to sleep...I'm pretty bored by my writing too. Goodnight :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Do the Math...

Something for the mathmaticians, and all other normal people in fact...

Embarassingly, the first time I watched this, I got lost in the math! Thankfully it isn't a case of Faith + Maths ability = Salvation...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thought #45,623,501...

Just begun now reading 'Praying Successfully' by Charles Spurgeon, to get a taster of what a man who we've heard so much about, who lead at church at the ridiculous age of 18ish, had to say in text form.

But this is not my random thought, which has been completed via reading something he says.

I should say, having come back to this point in this post, if you are looking for deep insight, or something interesting to read, stop here. Go the the list of blogs on the left and read them instead. Do you ever have moments when something in your mind makes perfect sense to you, then when you share it, its significance evaporates? Well, the main worth this blog has is an example of this! Anyway...just some thoughts...

There are two ways we get to heaven: Number 1 (as Spurgeon writes) is to live a perfect life. Number 2 is to accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross and trust him for our righteousness, and so on.

I often put this to non-christians (well, the occasional times I get to explain the gospel to my <5 friends). There are two ways...etc etc. The first way would be fine, and we need look no further if it is the case -we have done nothing wrong so far in this life. But, who can say they are sinless so far? Even someone without any acceptance of the possibility of the gospel will hopefully admit they once did something wrong. So we are left with the Second option. [Continue gospel presentation. Questions recommended rather than a monologue].

However, my thought becomes yet more obscure. I find then this conversation often can tangent into a discussion of what a 'perfect' life looks like. And then I often talk about Jesus, and how its not rules and regulations, but our thoughts and motives -greed, selfishness, anger. This is correct I'm sure, but it doesn't seem to cut it with my fellow converse-ee.

But - and yes this post is all for this one simple thought - an alternative answer might be to point out that the difficulty we have in answering this question, or agreeing to it, just goes to show how incapable of living a perfect life we are. We don't even understand what a perfect life might look like -outside of what we see recorded in the gospels. Such is our state as rebellious human beings that we cannot even work out what a perfect life would consist of, let alone live it out. Even then, though I see Jesus' example, I still just don't get the living a perfect life thing. I have some idea, but its often not what I would guess -Jesus always responds differently to how I would.

Rather than giving a long answer, next time I might just simply point out that I don't know what a perfect looks like, I'm not completely sure -the whole concept if foreign to me. The difficulty we have in describing it shows that it is not in our nature to live a life comparable to the life lived by Jesus, making him acceptable to God.

I don't feel I've explained it well though... back to the conversation, one might point this out, suggesting it as roof we are naturally 'bad' people -rather than all good, and that some people just "turn out messed up for some reason I can't explain/science can explain"- is the fact we cannot even agree on what a perfect life might look like.

And if they do come up with a definition, then maybe ask if they think they fulfill it...I imagine they don't come up to their own standards either, let alone Gods. Then pray they'd see their need for the Cross of Christ.

Just a thought...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sitting out Sundays...

This is encouraging to see, and the positive coverage likewise- Euan Murray, Scottish rugby player, turns out to be a pretty serious Christian. Not by the simple fact he has decided to withdraw from playig on Sundays, but in the clarity of his explanation. And everyone reading got a snippet of the Gospel!

Here's an extract below, but read the whole thing...

Unfortuantely however, Murray's presence on Saturday's thriller against Wales was not enough to withhold the last ten minute surge from Wales. Maybe if Murray's teammates were as disciplined as him, they might have not been sent off, and the lead held...

"He suggests that the path many professional sportsmen follow is "rotten". He tries to explain. "All the shiny bubbles," he says, holding out his big hands and shaking his head in sadness. "The money, the possessions, the fame, the great elusive relationship – all bubbles that appear perfectly spherical, all the colours of the rainbow. They're bright and shiny and light as a feather, and you chase them because it's good fun, but the minute you get them they burst and they're empty." He pauses. "I'd had enough of chasing bubbles."

What were the "bubbles"? "The attraction of all the glamour and glitz that society puts up on a pedestal and says is the be all and end all. All the tinsel, you know? The success. There are many ways of measuring success – it could be in popularity, the funniest guy, or the guy with the best scores, it could be money, it could be getting the best-looking girl, lifting the most in the gym, having the best clothes, it could be being the best rugby player in the world." He trails off. "It's not wrong to be funny, or have a great-looking wife. It's not wrong to have money and to want to be the best player in the world, but if that is your idol then that is wrong."

In finding God, he says, Murray was able to change his path. He picks up a mug of tea and a glass of water and holds them out in front of him. "This is the tea, all dirty and horrible, this is me, yeah? That's Jesus," he says, motioning to the water. "Pure. He's taken that filth upon himself and before God he says, 'Punish me for it'. He's been punished and look what he's given me. That perfect goodness in the eyes of God. He's declared me innocent." He swills the dregs of the tea and smiles. Can it be that simple? "I'm ashamed of the things I've done. Of course I am. But I'm thankful I have a saviour. He's saved me from that lifestyle. He's given me a new life."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lotus F1...

"Lotus F1 return the famous name to Formula 1 on debut"
The historic Lotus name returned to the track for the first time in 16 years as the new Lotus F1 team completed a private test at Silverstone on Tuesday.

Like the Lotus team, a once legendary blog has started up its engines, and it ready to race again.

Ok ok...cut the 'legendary', and the 'race'...but I hope to start blogging again, but this time with the intention of being sporadic. I shall be the master of the blog - not the blog of me!

Speak soon...