Strikes disrupt sermon prep.

 

What a great day so far… This morning I was planning on going down to my local library, and sit in one of their warm reading rooms, and make a start on my second talk. I left the vicarage, bumped into some familiar faces, and headed straight for the library. When I got there, outside on the door there was a sign that read “Surestart class cancelled”. It was only the class that was cancelled, and when I checked the main sign on the wall, the doors didn’t open till 10:30. Great I have 1 hour before I can do some prep. The town has no real coffee shops like Costa, or Starbucks, where you can kill some time. So I went to a Weatherspoons, and grabbed a coffee, and made an attempt to start work along with the noise and hustle of the local morning drinkers. It was a wonderful atmosphere. I never thought I would be preparing God’s word among people drinking pints.

After I had a coffee, and it was approaching 10:20. I left the “happy drinkers” and headed back to the Library. 10:30. Doors remained shut, and lights off! It didn’t occur to me that it was the day of the strike! Bother!! I checked on the website of the Library using my smart phone, and in small writing it said “all libraries will be closed”. Great! So I walked all the way to town and back to do some prep, and I spent most of the time walking backwards and forwards.

The annoying thing is that these strikes are down to selfishness and greed. There is no need for people to strike. I know that this morning I had a selfish ambition of going to the library and doing work, but what about the many people who depend on the services? What will it achieve apart from chaos? I wish that everyone would accept that Jesus is the one person they need to rely on and not the schemes of man. I pray that people of today’s society realise that their hope is false if they trust in governments and politicians, and not the awesome love and power of God.

Please join with me in prayer for these people!!

Christian Rap!!!

Secular music watch out!!! The amount of Christian music making it through to the charts is amazing in the States, but in the UK, there is a slow turnover of christian music. I composed an earlier blog describing the growth of Christian Metal music. Well believe it or not, there is something growing called Christian Rap music. The stage of Hip-hop and Rap has been dictated by a lot of corrupt lyrics about beating people up, and showing a “Macho” image. Why would you listen to that? What gives you the satisfaction to listen to the story of a Rapper who earns millions of dollars a year, rather than a Rapper who sings his music for the glory of God. When I became the MT at the church, I introduced to our youth group, Christian Rap. It caught on really quickly, and I have some of them listening to it on you tube. It caught the attention of my vicar, and now he has 2 albums and he listens to them intently.  The lyrics are exceptional!! They are all about the glory of Jesus, and that we are wretches and unworthy people to receive his grace. I’m really passionate about reaching the younger generation with this genre, in order to expose them to the faith of Jesus Christ and not Snoop Dog!!!

There are so many groups and singers out there. If you are a Christian Rapper; I would like to thank you for your ministry, also I will be praying for you to break out into the national charts in the UK and USA and across the world. What a way to worship God in our culture and generation!!!

I would like to leave you with two videos. Both are by a guy called “Lecrae”. He was exposed to the drug culture of today, but found Christ, and goes out to other youths who are exposed to this culture. Enjoy and keep listening to Christian RAP!!!

The most dramatic open day ever!!!!!!!!

The weekend just gone was a nightmare. The plan was to take my fiancée to an open day at a college for my ordination training. I wanted to show her the course that I would be taking, the accommodation, lectures, faculty, and the college itself. We got on the M5, heading south, in my car. When we got off at the Junction to head for the college, my car fails!! The clutch and the gear box goes. It was 9:45, and the open day began at 10:15. We were 20 mins away from the college, but I had to call out the AA, to rescue me. When he arrived, he suggested taking it to a garage and allowing them to survey the damage. I followed the AA to the garage in a jerking 2nd gear untill we arrived. It was 10:40, and I just had enough at that point, I just wanted to go home. The AA man asked us if he wanted to take us to the college, and we gratefully accepted. While we were on the way, he asked me who I was, and what I was doing there. I explained to him that I was a selected ordinand, who was going into the church. It was ironic, that I wanted to bring him to someone who would save him, while he saved us from a hopeless situation. We arrived at the college in an AA van. What a VIP entrance!! As we calmed ourselves down, we got on with the day, and we really enjoyed it. My fiancée got onto her mom and she offered to come and pick us up. At 3:00 I noticed on my phone that was on silent mode, that I had a miss call from my fiancée mom. I got her to phone her mom, and she then burst in to tears!! Her mom was involved in an accident!!! I was shocked!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! Her mom eventually arrived to the college in a police car. Two cars set out to that college, and not one arrived!!!! There was a time of sorting out the issue, and then my fiancée dad came and picked us up, and took us home. The news that I have received today has meant that I’ve got to scrap my car!

So the overview is this:

Two cars are out of action as a result of going to an open day.

The college had both visits from the AA and Police.

Where was God in all of this?? As I was pondering the weekend, I was reading the final chapter in the book “Everyday Church” by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Coming to the end of the book, and reflecting on the ideal gospel community, it dawned on me that everything that happened on that weekend was to bring glory to God. Even in the pain of losing my car (a possession) that I had when I was 18, I saw that God was drawing myself to him. I was worshipping and grieving my car, and not the suffering of Christ. It might sound ridiculous but we all put our hearts on possessions, and grieve them when they go, but as the vicar’s wife reminded me what Mark Ashton once said

“It was going to dust anyway”.

So even in the worst time of your life. Praise and thank God for the goodness that comes from it.

The Holy Spirit: A fountain of Holiness and Joy.

To continue from my previous post, I’m exploring the works of Johnathan Edwards in my quiet time. He is looking at the 2 Corth 1:21-22 which says

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

We can see several things that God has done for us. 1. He is by God alone that we can stand firm in Christ. God sent his Son for us, he ordained before the world was created that we today could only stand firm in Jesus, with him. 2. He anointed us. We are individual and special to God. We have all been anointed/ chosen by God to do his will. 3. Set his seal of ownership. We are his! He has put a mark in our hearts to realise that we are his. We are people who are not blind to the truth, and we can see the living Jesus working in our lives and the lives around us. God created us. The created thing belongs to the creator. When we send a letter or create a piece of art, we usually put a mark or signature. That is the same as the seal of God. The created thing is not separate. We are not separate from God, but sealed with him. 4. He put the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of what is to come. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that we are in Christ, and prepare us for his return. For Edward says:

“The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant is a vital principle in the soul”

It is vital to have the Spirit in our hearts, because it convicts us of our sins, and is the fountain of true holiness and joy; like a spring of water. He then refers to John 4:14:

“but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And John 7:38-39a

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive,”

Edward then concludes by saying

“It is by partaking in the Holy Spirit that the saints have communion with Christ in His fullness”

Let us be people who dwell and live by the Spirit of God, and stand firm in the faith of Christ. For here are two questions to think about

1. To what extent ae you experiencing the fullness of Christ?

2. What is involved in “partaking of the Holy Spirit”?

The Extreme dangers of Lust

As part of my own devotional time in prayer and reading the bible, I use a book based on Johnathan Edwards. He was one of the greatest American preachers that moved a growth of the christian faith in America, and one of his most famous sermons was “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”.

The page for the day took me to 1 Peter 2:11 which says”

 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”

We live in a society that depends purely what the world thinks, says and does. We have gone away from scripture, and depend on what we as intelligent beings believe in, and that is ourselves and our desires. As part of our preaching group, we are reading a book called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s hands” by David Tripp, and what we have read so far describes the conditions of our hearts, which lead to the lusts in our lives. We need to be strangers and Aliens as Peter says. We are not of this world. We will be rejected and abused for what we believe in, but we shouldn’t come to depend on the world, but on Jesus. From Edwards reflection he says

“So far as any lust prevails, it biases the mind to approve of the lust”

This is the deceitfulness of sin. We are blinded by the truth because of the lusts in our hearts. We can not understand dour own lusts until we see them through the eyes of our saviour. We are not immune to this, but we are different. We have a Lord and King who loves us, and he died for us. Why should we lust for things that we can’t have, and rejoice in the gift of grace that God is willing to give each one of us, to those who trust and belive in him. We are all human, we all sin, we all fail. We are Alien to those who don’t know the love of Christ. So to leave you with a few questions about the lusts that we have in our hearts and lives:

1. In what way have you seen the evidence of these truths in your life?

2. What can you do to protect yourself against lust?

The encouraging fruits of youth ministry

The last few weeks have had a really impact on the youth ministry of the church youth group. From the start of October, we had 11 young teenagers 11-15 coming to our youth group, and studying the CY Youth Christianity Explored course using the Soul DVD series, then I remembered that the group had a Facebook page for the older ones, and I put a post on asking them to bring some of their mates to the group. I did that at 5:30, then at 6:45 only 1 child turned up. Disaster!! I thought that would have done the trick. We still persevered with the study and at 7:00 5 more turned up in the meeting room. They were followed by 3 more at 7:10. At 7:15, we have 16 teenagers cramped for space in the meeting room. I was that shocked I couldn’t really continue with the study so I put on the DVD and they were all captivated. At the end of the study we spent an hour and a half  playing games and having free time with table tennis tables and table football. At 7:30 we had another 3 more turn up. 19 teenagers!! Praise God!! I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a one hit wonder that week, but the week after we had up to 20 teenagers turn up to the meeting. I can say at least 4 of those teenagers were seriously thinking about giving their lives to the Lord, and we are still working and praying with them. It’s great to see the fruits of  God’s word, and so I had to share it with you all.

Another encouraging thing that happened last Sunday was the sign of boredom in the youth in the area. I had two teenagers come to me on a Sunday afternoon and say “We’re bored!!! What can we do?” So I took them for a kick about at the local park and do a bible study with them, and they enjoyed it!!!!!

I’m very encouraged with what God is doing in the lives of these teenagers. I pray that they will come to accept Christ as their Lord and king. It’s great to see seeds being planted and fruits developing.