Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A giant hat

Dan Chard arrived at lunch time armed with 24 krispy kreme doughnuts and in passing mentioned a story from the weekend. Dan and his dad spent 2hrs 50mins "running" the Bracknell Half Marathon - which is a Personal Worst for Dan (he was a 1:30 guy).

"It was my slowest by a long way but since I'm fairly unfit at the moment anyway I was faced with the decision to either run a fairly mediocre time or stick with my dad and face the strong possibility of coming last. But although my dad and I did literally come last, I was glad I chose to stay at the back with him as he would have really struggled without someone else to carry the hat when he wasn't wearing it!"

I think Dan and his dad finished the race as winners.

The chief end of man

In 1691, Brother Lawrence, a cook in a monastery, was on his death bed. As his friends gathered around him he said “I am not dying. I am just doing what I have been doing these past 40 years and doing what I expect to be doing for all eternity!”

"What is that" he was asked. He quickly replied “I am worshipping the God I love!”

Worshipping God – that was primary for Brother Lawrence. He was dying but that was secondary. He knew why he had been born into this world and why he had been born again.

Your perspective shapes your life, and Brother lawrence is still worshipping God. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A lesson from the pool side

Last night I went to the Monday swim session at the tri club but it was the first time in 4 weeks due to manflu, etc. Normally I am one of the stronger swimmers in my lane and often lead out on the swim drills. But last night it all went horribly wrong.

I volunteered to lead the first 700m swim drill (100m @ 100%, 500m @ 80%, 100m @ 100%), worked hard and thought I did well. I then mentioned to those in my lane that I found it a hard pace, to which they graciously replied 'it wasn't that fast'. Sadly by the third set of 700m drills, I was relegated to being the tail and coming in well behind the others.

So here is the lesson: 4 weeks ago I swam like a fish, but that was 4 weeks ago. As I got into the pool I was living in the glorious past. But when I got out I was very much in the present - having swum like a pregnant Lama! So often we can live in the past: how fit we were, how zealous we were, how close to God we were. Sometimes we need a rude awakening to show how much we have lost over time, in order to spur us on to the hard work of regaining ground.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

God is the Gospel

This week I started 'God is the Gospel' by John Piper. It's a great read but a chapter a day is probably enough if you want to avoid being swamped!

It has been so helpful to see again what the good news of the gospel really is. It is not primarily about getting our sins forgiven, or being justified before God (exchanging our sins to Christ and Him imputing us with His righteousness). The focus of the gospel is not how we can deal with our sense of guilt or avoiding hell but gaining heaven. The good news is not primarily about living a victorious life and earning rewards to be enjoyed eternally.

The good news of the gospel is God Himself. Being able to know Him, to treasure Him, to have access to Him. The good news is that we can now approach Him and enjoy Him forever. Now that is worth being reminded of!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

More on Theophany

Here are a few more thoughts from the New Dictionary of Theology - IVP

"The word theophany refers to 'an appearance of God to man'. Throughout the OT God manifested himself to man in three forms - human (Josh 5:13), angelic (Judg 13) & non-human form (Gen 15:17).

Many evangelical scholars believe that the angel of the Lord is a pre-incarnation appearance of the second person of the trinity. This is true as well of other theophanies in human form. Occasionally these theophanies and more specifically referred to as 'christophanies'. Neither the OT nor the NT directly identifies Jesus Christ with the angel of the Lord however scholars reason backwards from John 1:18 that no-one has ever seen God the Father."

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Thought for the week

This morning over a cup of tea we had a stimulating discussion on whether anyone has ever seen God the Father. Throughout the OT God appears to people with promises and commissions (even if they then think they will die - Judges 13:22).

However, John 1:18 states 'No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known'. So presumably no-one has ever seen God the Father, but people have seen God the Son, Jesus.

Some have suggested that throughout the bible, whenever God in person is revealed (Moses seeing God's back, Jacob wrestling) it is always either the Preincarnate Jesus, the incarnate Jesus or the risen-exalted Jesus. No-one will physically see God the Father until we get to heaven - Jesus has always been and will be our mediator (1Ti 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus).

So my question is, what do you think? Is this taking the economy of the Trinity too far? Do we need to be this dogmatic on how the Father, Son & Holy Spirit interact with us?

Monday, 21 April 2008

Apparently 'I am worth it'.

After school today, in a short playground ceremony, Joshua presented me with a sachet of L'Oreal Vita Lift: an intense double action anti-ageing Cream. Apparently it should make my skin feel firmer and the appearance of my wrinkles should be visibly reduced.

I had to admit, the packaging is an innovative design, by simply folding and tearing, it should deliver in perfect balance, both an Anti-sagging Gel with an Anti-wrinkle Cream. Engineeringly very cool.

What is not cool is this is now my future, the target of nonsense products with ridiculous tag lines like 'You're worth it'. Had I more time, I would get a good rant going on why products like this are NOT worth it, I am NOT worth it, how ageing is normal and how attached I am to my 'crows feets' & 'laughter lines'.

That said, my son's gag was funny and brought much hilarity to family life ... as will the sachet's 'Grande Opening'.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

I love church life

So I arrived at church today long after the set up teams but before the 9:50 deadline (when most visitors arrive). Whilst technically still gripped by manflu and coughing like a diesel Lada, I was able to pitch up and be blessed by being with our church.

Richard picked up my preach today and did a fine job. The church lunch was set up, run and cleared up without an official 'team leader'.

The band yet again turned up early at the office, picked up instruments and dropped them back again - presumably after 2pm. Kids church and creche were back in action, and all smiles as I dropped off and picked up my children.

And here is my point. I have been out of church life all week and feeling pretty fed up. But even though my week will be rated 2/10, I was able to gather with the church and be carried by other people's faithful service to Jesus. God's plan is good.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Man Flu

So last Friday, on the journey home from New Word Alive, I start feeling rough. I valiantly kept going for church on Sunday (we men can be heroic) then crashed this week. Rubbish.

What is it with manflu? I started bravely, listening to sermons and trying to finish a few books. But eventually my brain shut down and I got bored, fed up, and overdue on personal hygiene routines. Thankfully I am now out of the 'pit' and Liz has 'burnt / environmentally disposed of' the remaining bed linen.

But what has been really annoying is that this school holiday has been a washout in terms of dad time. First I was away, then sick. Dad time has consisted of brief snuggles, a few guest appearances at dinner & the unseen source of 'the cough'.

All my great thoughts and reflections of New Word Alive now need to resurface. Like the crab I stalked and caught in wales, but then set free, so shall my thoughts from NWA run free amongst the rock pools of the blog-o-sphere. (I really do need to get out again).

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Two books worth a read

I have just finished Jerry Bridges' book 'the Joy of Fearing God', reading it a chapter at a time in order to engage with the material. It is a deeply stirring book. Jerry paints a compelling picture of God and delighting in Him and it is full of personal stories and insightful applications. I didn't use the study guide but can see it usefulness if being read in a group. A great book to get us into enjoying who our God is and how we can live for Him. Surprisingly, it is in fearing God that our deepest enjoyment of Him comes ...

The other book I have recently finished is 'Zion's Christian Soldiers?' by Stephen Sizer. Terry Virgo recommended it as being helpful in thinking clearly about Israel, the land, the temple and the church. I found Stephen really helpful in joining up all these dots, and now have a much broader, clearer view on these controversial issues. However, I did find the book very unsettling when it came to explaining the extent of the 'Christian Zionism' movement. I had little knowledge of it, nor was I aware of their political weight regarding US foreign policy. The book is not a light read but well worth the perseverance, although you will need a good understanding of God's sovereignty in order to sleep well after reading it!!!

Monday, 7 April 2008

New Word Alive

I am heading off today to North West Wales to attend the New Word Alive conference. Scott & Barbie, Gary (my roommate), Liz K and Georgie will be joining the posse from RUCU (plus a few thousand others) to hear John Piper, Don Carson and Terry speak.

There is something about the live dynamic in preaching that can not be captured by the wonders of mp3. I have never heard Piper or Carson speak live so am really looking forward to that experience.

But most of all, I am really looking forward to hearing Terry speak. I know he will thrive in that environment and I honestly feel excited for him. It's feels as though my dad has been asked to play another international for England and I get to watch the game in the stadium. Strange I know, but then who wants to be in a movement that doesn't result in those kind of emotions?

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Wake Up!

This morning I spoke on Rev 3:1-6, the letter to the church at Sardis, the city that had twice been conquered because the inhabitants were too lazy to keep watch. Jesus said to the church there 'Wakeup, Remember & Repent, Walk with me, and hear'. I noted that Jesus desired that none have their name blotted out of the book of life; this was a timely warning to them ... and us.

However, given the time constraints of the kids being in, I simply didn't have time to expand my thoughts on application, so here are few:

I guess many of us have areas in which we have started well but have become over-confident or over-familiar with, and now leave our battlements unguarded. We start well in 'taking every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ' but after a while allow all thoughts to settle in our minds. We start well in our 'Bible in a year' but by April have lost our way. We can leave our battlements unguarded in preference for a few minutes extra in bed / TV / web surfing.

Sadly we all seem to go through seasons of spiritual catnapping (albeit to a lesser or greater extent), but how did they arrive at Jesus' diagnosis of spiritual death (especially given their bright reputation)? Presumably sin, habitual sin, was involved. Sin is brutal & ruthless, we mess with it at our peril. Pride has a thousand faces, greed and envy can masquerade as progress. Sin unchecked, will always lead to death, sin repented of will bring life.

Finally, Jesus knew the condition of this flock (as should church elders) but we also have a Christian duty to watch out for one another. Occasionally, I hear of sleepers (or those slipping into a sin coma) whose friends watch from the sidelines, not wanting to risk the friendship. In my sermon illustration Ed slept through the alarm but I woke him and brought back into the congregation. So the question remains, who do you need to lovingly shake, or who needs to lovingly shake you, before it is all too late?

Saturday, 5 April 2008

A Braai, a Farewell and a Good God

Today I picked up Tom & Michelle's BBQ (or braai as they like to call it) as next week they fly to the other side of the world. They start a new life and I get to keep their famous Webber Kettle BBQ (which I must remember to call a braai).

Although I will get to burn food regularly with the 'Manson braai' I probably won't see the Mansons again. As I shook Tom's hand and drove away I couldn't help but feel sad that I will probably never shake his hand again...

This is another example of where being a Christian helps me process life. I feel sad because they have been part of the church from before it started. I feel sad because 7 years passed so quickly and now they are gone.

But I feel hopeful because ultimately it is God who is in control and he is good. He ultimately calls the shots and works it out through us and our decisions. He is wise and faithful and sovereign and good. He is the one who creates opportunities, He opens & closes doors, He who will provide a buyer for their house, new friends for them & their girls and a new church family.

So yes I am sad they are going but I know God is sovereign and He is good, and that helps me process the emotions. I just need to do them proud and not burn too much on their braai ...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Free beer at a price

Imagine the scene - we have just finished the cell overseers meeting at Pete & Sarah's house and I spot a stash of Pete's beers in the corner. The beer in question is Abbot Ale (International Beer Competition winner 2005). I casually mention that is a mighty fine ale to which Sarah replies 'Take some, Pete won't mind, I'll tell him when he gets home'.

As a bloke I am now faced with a dilemma. The accepted Good Wife Code (amongst men anyway) is never give your husband's beer away. The accepted code amongst men is 'Unauthorised acquisition of my beer will result in conflict'.

But Sarah insisted I take at least two bottles (as Pete apparently won't miss them) yet I know both the Good Wife Code and Men Code. What should I do?

I only took one bottle (in order not to offend Sarah) and have now confessed my indiscretion via this blog. The beer sits before me now, I feel no condemnation, and it is a mighty fine beer ... I will let you know the outcome of my next encounter with Mr Horne.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


This morning over breakfast we read Proverbs 12v1: 'Anyone who loves learning accepts being corrected. But a person who hates being corrected is stupid'. A real Godsend of a Proverb to discuss and pray about over a family meal! I was off on the importance of listening to and applying mum & dad's correction - after all, who wants to be stupid!

However, Liz and I quickly realised that this proverb applies to mum and dad as well as to our lovely children. And the truth is we don't like being corrected. We find it embarrassing, it jars and exposes us. In one sense we would much prefer to flee correction and all that it implies. But that would be stupidity on display, like the sign above!

So our kids need us to model 'correction received' as well as 'correction given' - we are to prefer the pain of correction rather than the pain of adult stupidity on display. Life is never straight forward but thankfully the future is glorious ...