Thursday, May 27, 2010

Birthday Video for my Wife

Monday was Rachel's birthday, so I made her a cake (which is a whole lot more work than I remembered!) and bought her a dress and we used a voucher that someone had given us for a night in Fernroyd House . It was a great time. Birthdays mean a lot to her and I really wanted to honour her and show her how much she meant to me. What touched her the most though was a video that I made for her.

All I Want Is You from Mike Neglia on Vimeo.

It's a little bit jumpy at parts, but that's from uploading it to vimeo...
Now go tell your wife that you love her!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What do you say when you are about to die? pt 2

Death without Christ is "the king of terrors," but death with Christ loses the "sting," the power to hurt, which it otherwise would have.
John Preston, the Puritan, knew this. When he lay dying, they asked him if he feared death, now that it was so close. "No," whispered Preston; "I shall change my place, but I shall not change my company." As if to say: I shall leave my friends, but not my Friend, for He will never leave me.

J.I. Packer
"Growing in Christ" 1994

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Common Thread

I have looked carefully over the lives of God's saints in the Bible. I cannot find one of whose history much is told us from Genesis to Revelation who is not a man of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that they call on the Father and that they call on the name of the Lord Jesus. I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked that they do not call upon the Lord. I have read the lives of many eminent Christians that have been on earth since Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, some poor; some were learned, some unlearned; some of them were Episcopalians, some Presbyterians, some Baptists, some Independents, some were Calvinists and some Arminians, some have loved to use liturgy and some have loved to use none. But one thing I see they all had in common; they have all been men of prayer. I have studied the reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with what joy the heathen men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, New Zealand, in India and South America. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect, but one striking thing I observed at all missionary stations, the converted people always pray.
I do not deny that a man may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact that a person is praying proves he is a child of God. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there is plenty of deception and hypocrisy. But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins, he cannot love God, he cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ, he cannot long after holiness, he cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again, he has yet to be made a new creature, he may boast confidently of election, grace, hope and knowledge and deceive ignorant people, but you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray.
J.C. Ryle (10 May 1816 - 10 June 1900)
Practical Religion, pg 58

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Hardest Thing

Prayer is work. Unbelievers do not understand the difficulty of prayer, but those of us who are Christians know it well. Everything else in the Christian life is easier than prayer. It is far easier to read our Bibles than to pray. It is far easier to witness, to go to church, and to give to the poor than to pray. Why? The reason for this is that the closer we get to what is most important-what brings us the most spiritual power, the more opposition we are going to get from the devil, the world, and our own flesh.

-Reaching the Ear of God
Wayne Mack, pg 34

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not perfect, yet loved greatly

"Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults."
- John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564)

Nobler, sweeter song

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

William Cowper
26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800

Noblest speech

My chains

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Charles Wesley 1707-1788

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eschatological Preview

Yesterday Malcolm and Amanda flew from Cork back to London, then they got the bus back to Oxford where they are now living . We were all hoping that the newly revived Icelandic ash cloud would have kept them here for another day or two, but it relented long enough for their plane to make it's scheduled departure. It was a joy to have them stay in our house over the Bank Holiday Weekend, and I just came across this video (which I had forgotten about) which records their wedding ceremony about a year and a half ago.

I love officiating weddings, it's one of the great privileges of being a pastor. I love the solemnity and the ceremonies of weddings. I love the joy and happiness of weddings. I love the public declaration of love. I love the emphasis on the covenant that is being made. I love the food. I love the dancing. I love being able to preach the gospel to heaps of people who usually don't come to church.

Jesus loves weddings. His first miracle was at a wedding (John 2:1-12 particularly verse 11). He compared the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14 particularly verse 2). And the culmination of judgment on all earthly and satanic rebellion is actually the inauguration of the heavenly wedding feast between Jesus and His church (Revelation 19:9 and 21:2).

I often comment that weddings are a bit of an eschatological preview. People from all over the country (or in some cases, all over the world) are joined together, there is celebration and reunion, good food and wine, singing, dancing, and a real focus upon joining in on the joy of others. Weddings are always a real joy for me, and they are a bit of reminder to me (and hopefully to you) of the hope of heaven. Your presence there is fullness of joy... Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My lost estate

I will tell the wondrous story
How my lost estate to save
In His boundless love and mercy
He the ransom freely gave

I will sing of my Redeemer
and His wondrous love to me
on the cruel cross He suffered
From the curse to set me free

A student's prayer

Living in a university city a significant percentage of the church I pastor is made up of students. This prayer is particularly relevant for them as they sit exams this week, but also for everyone who ever endeavors to "study to show themselves approved".

A Student's Prayer

St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Relentless mercy and justice

We find that the animal sacrifices were God's "altar calls", symbolizing the way He relentlessly extends mercy with justice to faulty people. These rituals revealed His loving character and His desire for restoration and maintenance of intimate interaction with those whom He claimed as His own.

The NIV Application Commentary - Leviticus, pg 25
Roy Gane

What do you say when you are about to die?

“I do not need to plead my own cause … I am a dead man already. My life is dead and hidden with Christ. It is your lives that are in danger, you are dead in your sins. I will pray to God that after you have killed me, He will spare you from eternal destruction.
- Kefa Sempangi facing 5 would be assassins in Idi Amin's Uganda

The New Faces of Christianity: believing the Bible in the Global South.

HT: Patrick Mitchel

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My ambitions

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.

-Robin Mark 1990

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Baptism of Jesus part 2

The opening of the heavens occurs in the calling of Ezekiel in exile: 'The heavens were opened and I saw visions of God' (Ezekiel 1:1). It is usually a sign that God is about to speak or act and that one will get a quick peek at God's purposes. But Mark does not use the word 'open' (anoigo), as some translations render it. Instead, he describes that the heaven are torn (schizo), as one might imagine a bold of lightning tearing its fabric. What is open may be closed but when something is ripped it cannot be easily returned to its former state. When Jesus comes out of the water, Mark tells us, all heaven breaks loose! It is also significant that Joshua (josh 3:7-14, 4:14-17), Elijah (2 Kings 2:8), and Elisha (2 Kings 2:14) each parted the Jordan as a symbol of their power…Jesus, however, does not stand by the Jordan and part it; instead something far greater is parted – the dome of heaven.

-NIV Application Commentary Mark, David E. Garland page 48

The Baptism of Jesus part 1

When Jesus came to Jordan
to be baptized by John,
He did not come for pardon,
but as His Father's Son.
He came to share repentance
for all who mourn their sins,
to speak the vital sentence
with which good news begins.

-Frederick Pratt Green