Sunday, 2 March 2014

In many different ways I find the grace of God reflected

His tender mercies everywhere 'midst pains are interjected

And even pain itself is gripped within his sovereign hand

So,  I am safe. And know it is upon this Rock I stand. 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Separated but not Separate

Christ was separated from sinners, and yet he dwelt among them. Not only did he eat and drink with the hated tax collectors, the offensive prostitutes, the downright sinners, but he also had daily fellowship with the sinful disciples. He was patient with their hardheartedness, their arrogance, for three years while he walked by their side and taught them, moment by moment opening their eyes to the truth of himself. Occasionally they had glimpses of his majesty, but far more often they were ignorant of his glory and focused only on themselves and what they could gain. They wanted the bread without realizing it was offered to them from the hands of the Healer, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

And we are the same. 

Does it surprise you that people are sinners? It shouldn't. God knows I am one. Followers of Christ are - I am - often just like the disciples: walking with Jesus but ignorant of his effect. Hardhearted instead of being formed and fashioned according to his will and Word. We need the Spirit to change us, to mold us and change us and challenge us toward Christlikeness, toward serving and living in this world, and shining as lights pointing to Christ and his glory. 

You know the age-old phrase: be in the world but not of the world. Perhaps, as this article suggests, we would be better served to change our thinking. The reality is that we are not of the world. Of course. Christ has purchased us for another place, with him. But he has also prepared us for the journey, and the preparation is here, in the world. Amidst the darkness, and the light, the sorrow and the joy, the fleeting futility mixed with glimpses of eternity; this is where we live. It is where Christ has placed us. And he has equipped us to be here. What are we but his servants, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession", and why? The answer is before us: "so that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." 

As Christ was separated, so has he separated his people. We are set apart for his purposes, with open eyes. No longer are we completely ignorant. Now we live in Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit, and he shows us the better way - love, forgiveness, reconciliation. He went to the cross and died, not for himself, but for the sake of us, for the sake of sinners, committed to death and slaves to sin, bound to the prince of the power of the air. He died so that we might be reconciled to God. He was separated from sinners, and yet "became sin who knew no sin" so that we who knew sin and knew it well could flee from it and be free in him. What grace!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Hello, 2014.

So much has changed since I last posted a blog. I'll tell you one thing that hasn't changed: I still stare at the "new blog post" blank box for about two hours before I can even write anything. I still have to get up and walk around aimlessly while trying to think of how to construct something meaningful. At least, in some senses, I am consistent. 

Meaningfulness is an idea that my mind has latched onto this year. I know a lot of men and women (including my mother) who have chosen specific words as a "theme" for the year. If I were to choose a theme word, perhaps "meaning" would be it. Specifically when it comes to meaning in worship. I may only write four blog posts in 2014 (and even that might be wishful thinking), and it's likely they will all be about the concept of worship. What is worship, and how is it meaningful? Or why isn't it meaningful, and why not?

I believe we are created to worship; specifically to worship God, to worship him for all he is because he is all that is good and right and beautiful. He is the King of creation. He is the Light of the world. We are meant to worship him, in word and deed, in songs and speech and action.

There is always a desire for more than what is - as believers we want to know God more, to know him better. We want to love what he loves. We want to bring him joy and delight. We want to serve him well. We sing "Just a closer walk with Thee" and take joy in the promise that God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. After all, he has provided us with himself.

I want this year to be meaningful. I hope to serve God in such a way that I make it meaningful to others as well. That as I draw closer to him by his mercy, so I will gather others along with me. By God's grace, may we stand together, astounded at the mercy of God. May we serve him side by side, with greater joy than we have ever known. May we know Jesus better and seek more wholeheartedly to obey his Word. May we delight in his steady and unchanging promises. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord our Saviour, relying on him to sanctify us and conform us toward his likeness, as he has said. 

Happy 2014, my friends. May it be a year of meaning.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

God, my all-sufficiency,
Breathe anew life into me.
Give me peace in time of trial.
Let me not Your Word revile.
Let not all my enemies
Gloat and say Your victories
Are false, and that You have no power.
Give me grace for every hour.
Let me now Your mercy see
And know just what it means for me.
Let me hear my Saviour's words
of comfort; that neither the birds
nor hairs upon my head shall fall
But by Your Word. You rule in all.
Your sovereign grace omnipotent,
Your will unchanged, unmatched, unbent;
Your purpose Satan cannot thwart.
O Lord, still captivate my heart.
Let me trust Your promises
No matter what the devil says.
And my own sinful heart might be
So fickle; O, but God, let me
Remember yet Your faithfulness
And dwell in Your unchanging grace.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


Mercy. A word with so much light, against a backdrop of darkness. It is mercy to forgive when you have the power to condemn. 

The innocent don't understand mercy. The guilty know what mercy is. The innocent ponder these things in confusion as they stand in white and spotlessness. The condemned and dirty know what it means to be washed and redeemed. 

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

The accused stand waiting. Judgment may come; it is just. Condemnation of the guilty is right. It is what they deserve. 

Mercy is undeserved. Mercy is shocking. It is triumphant. It says, "You are guilty, or else I would not be needed. I cannot be demanded. But I am offered. Receive me, and have life." 

Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Children of darkness, when called into God's marvelous light, know how bright it is. They know how far-reaching is the glory of merciful light. 

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice...

Mercy is just. Mercy does not wink away blame or guilt. Mercy pays for it from itself. Mercy makes the sacrifice so that it can offer freedom.

Mercy sees the woman who says, "My daughter is severely oppressed by a demon". Mercy acts for the man who says, "Have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic. Often he falls into the fire, often into the water". You can hear the cry in those words: I am so afraid. I am so tired. O Lord, have mercy

And he has. Depth of mercy, can there be? The Lord has mercy. Mercy is found in Christ Jesus, the Lord, the Good Man, the Son of God, the Righteous Lamb. He stood in the place of the guilty, taking on our punishment. He felt pain we deserved to feel. He endured abandonment we deserved to endure. He embraced death so that he could offer life. He took on wrath so that we might have grace. He is mercy. 

Mercy is found in God, the Father of all mercies.  

And you were dead in trespasses and sins...
and were by nature children of wrath...

But God, being rich in mercy. 

But God. Rich in mercy.  

The riches of his grace cannot be understood. The limits of his mercy cannot be found. They reach further than all our understanding. Seek his mercy, guilty ones. Seek him while he may be found. He is the Lord, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Ephesians 3:14-21

Father, now we bow to You
With hearts seeking Your wisdom.
We bear Your name, we share in grace
O God, be now our vision.

The riches of Your glory 
Far surpass all that we show;
Jesus, strengthen us, that by 
Your Spirit we may know

The breadth and length and height and depth
Of Your unending love;
The fullness of the Lord on high
In majesty above;

The grace of Christ, who dwells in us,
In hearts redeemed in faith;
The Father's mercy, covering us
And all because of grace.

Father, now we bow to You.
To You we offer praise.
You can do more abundantly 
Than all our thoughts can raise.

May all our generations give 
To You what You deserve;
All glory, praise, and honour, Lord
According to Your word. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thoughts from the angry dome: for the love of Jesus, go to church.

Why Millennials are leaving the church. Hmm. If someone were to ask me why Millennials are leaving the church, my unfiltered response would be "because we're self-obsessed megabrats with little to no concern for things beyond our current vision?"

Brett McCracken had some more reasonable things to say:

I’m a Millennial, but I am weary of everyone caring so much about why Millennials do this or don’t do that. I’m sorry Millennials, but I’m going to have to throw us under the bus here: we do not have everything figured out. And if we expect older generations and well-established institutions to morph to fit our every fickle desire, we do so at our peril.

Part of the problem is that Millennials are consumers first, creators second. In an age where we have been formed and informed by and through instant gratification, we like seeing and taking and ingesting, but not as much serving or giving. So maybe Millennials are leaving the church because, ultimately, Millennials are lazy.

Don't get me wrong: some of the issues with the church are no doubt true. Some of the problems with the church are definitely real. Some of the concerns are worth consideration. But I have a message for twenty-something believers who are considering leaving the church, or who don't go to church because they find too many problems:

Do you despise hypocrisy in the church? Here's a bit of news: the church isn't Jesus. Believers go to church because we need Jesus. (Surprise!)

We might be hypocrites, we might fail, we might be broken. Jesus isn't. Jesus loves us. Jesus has fixed and is fixing us. Or had you forgotten the beauty of the gospel? Let me remind you:

The church isn't Jesus. Believers aren't God. We're saved and sanctified by him, not by ourselves. And thank God for that!

Don't leave a church because their mistakes and fumbles move your faith backwards. Go to church, stay, pray, and trust God to use you to move their faith forwards.

Don't leave a church because you think they might hold on to false or misinterpreted teachings. Go to church, challenge them, and be prepared to be challenged. Walking away is easy. Staying and growing (and helping others grow) is difficult. If God can use seed-sized faith, if God can "bring his truth through the mouth of a mule", then he can surely use you.

Don't leave a church because you "don't find Jesus there". Go to church and bring Jesus there!

If you want to worship Jesus authentically in church, go to church and worship Jesus. Why wait for the church to be all you think it needs to be? Go and be authentic. Your example just might change the church.

If you want to see believers being real instead of fake, be real instead of fake. Be an example. You just might lead others into authenticity.

You want authenticity? Stay in the church and bring it. 

Jesus loves the church. If you love Jesus, you ought to love his Bride. You ought to love what he loves.

So for the love of Jesus, go to church.