Monday, 28 September 2009

Doctrines of Grace

I had been thinking about doing a series of posts looking at the Doctrines of Grace a while ago. But today I read the following Taste and See article from Desiring God Ministries so thought I would post a link to it and maybe come back to doing my own, slightly more detailed blog posts at a later date. Enjoy!

Rebuilding Some Basics of Bethlehem: The Doctrines of Grace :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

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Thursday, 24 September 2009

Before the Throne - Live from NWA 2009

It has been a long time since I last posted, very slack of me. I have loads of things I would like to write about, hopefully I will make more time to do it in the coming weeks. But for the first post back I want to review a cd. "Before the Throne" is the live worship cd from New Word Alive 2009. It is excellent. Songs are lead by Stuart Townend, Lou Fellingham and Keith and Kristyn Getty. If you attended the conference, listening to this is a great way to relive a part of it. It contains old favourites like " Before the Throne," "Oh to see the dawn," and "You are my Anchor (Father's Embrace)." But there are also some new songs (although since it has taken me so long to post this, not so new) which I am sure will become classics. "God Immortal" which is new take on the classic old hymn "Immortal Invisible" I believe, written by Lou Fellingham, is a great song, I've tried it at my church and it went well. "Creation sings" and "Come people of the risen King" are products of the never ending stream of quality new hymns from the Townend, Getty and Getty collaboration sure to be heard in churches round the land for years to come. It is also worth mentioning a very moving solo of "Hear O Israel" performed by Kristyn Getty part way through the album. If you are thinking of buying a new worship cd in the near future and want good music and quality lyrics, look no further.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Quote of the Day - The OC Supertones

"Kids in universities, drowning in an ocean of apostate philosophy, we need apologetic instruction, mental reconstruction, ignorance reduction, to halt the mass abduction, evangelical mind has been scandalized, wisdom and truth have been vandalized, by the unevangelized, no truth in a world that is randomized, expose the lies no matter how they're disguised."

Taken from their song "Grounded" which is on the album "Chase the Sun" I thought this quote was very relevant to my work with students. What a huge challenge to be a student or work with them!

My only post of this month, hopefully there will be more in the coming weeks, some album reviews, book reviews and some updates on London Urban Mission.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

No, Mr.President

Having just become an uncle for the first time this week and seeing the amazing nature and blessing of new life, I thought I would post this video. I know it is American, and laws are different in some ways, and it is a sensitive and sometimes very complicated issue for some people, and people have different views of church and state etc, but I wanted to post it for info and because I think the conclusion of praying for governmental leaders is a big challenge which I nelgect. Please feel free to comment on it if you feel particularly strongly one way or the other.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Trial: Suffering to Bless

Listened to this today in the car. Some really good practical application as usual.
Check out the video:

Or audio:

Monday, 27 April 2009

Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind - John Piper

I listened to this on my commute to and from Stockton today. It is a John Piper sermon on Romans ch14v1-9. I found it really interesting and challenging. Maybe because I work for a non-denominational organisation it made me think even more. I don't want to fall into the trap of thinking "oh well it's a secondary, non-essential issue I don't really need to think about it or have deep convictions on it." But how do I go about having deep convictions and strong opinions on these things without causing division and trouble? This sermon helped.
You can listen here:
Or watch here:

Friday, 24 April 2009

Book Recommendation - Jesus in College

I have been intending to recommend this little book since I read it a couple of months ago. It really is excellent, and even a slow reader like me can finish it in one short stint. I was simultaneously encouraged, challenged, motivated and excited as I turned the pages and took in the stories, ideas and personal testimony. Steph Bushell has honestly retold of her time as a student, a Relay worker, a UCCF Staff Worker with students in further education colleges in an engaging and very very honest way. There are great highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and sorrows as she retells of how she sought to make Jesus known to those who needed to hear the message. For students or workers involved in small Christian Unions in colleges or universities and for those thinking of starting a CU this book is a must read, you will find it inspirational I am sure.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Narnia Code

I have to be honest, when I sat down to watch this programme I was very skeptical. I thought "here goes, an attempt to brush off or explain away C.S.Lewis' clearly Christian worldview presented in the Narnia stories." I am happy to say I was completely wrong! This is well worth a watch. A very interesting insight into Lewis' work which clearly shows his very strong Christian Theistic worldview and intelligent writing. I was left smiling a very broad smile and excited and encouraged by the coherence of the Christian Worldview as I thought about various aspects of it. The link is below for BBC iplayer. Enjoy. The Narnia Code

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Forum 2009!

Calling all CU leaders, check out the video and sign up!

Let's hope we get the weather shown on the video! It can't be as wet as last year, can it?!?!?!

Monday, 16 March 2009

When I look at the stars...

I have been meaning to write this post for a while after looking up at some fantastic clear winter skies at night.
Everytime I look up at a starry sky I am reminded of the Switchfoot song "Stars" in which the following lines appear:

"When I look at the stars I see someone else...when I look at the stars I feel like myself."
But more importantly Psalm 19v1:

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork."

For me one of the great things in the creation that points towards an awesome Creator is the sight of a starry sky. Next time there is a clear sky on an evening, and particularly if you are out of the city with all its light pollution, look up and I believe you will join with me in being overwhelmed by the greatness and glory of God. It should keep us humble too, realising just how small we are in this universe, but also amazed at the grace and love of God in saving sinners like us. Let's praise Him when we look around at His beautiful creation.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Album Review - Valley of Vision

After re-listening to this album over the last couple of days I thought I would write a review. Sovereign Grace Music have produced some excellent albums and this is no exception. Inspired by Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers and devotions, the cd of the same name has a great mix of devotional songs suitable for reflection, personal praise and quiet meditation (In the Valley; The Precious Blood) as well as songs which I am sure will be congregational classics in years to come (Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son; Let Your Kingdom Come). There are songs which stick in the mind very easily and you find yourself humming and singing them as you go about the day. What is also very encouraging is that there are songs expressing varying emotions from joy to sorrow and varying themes from grace to perseverance. Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son is a fantastic, expressly Trinitarian song which is rare in todays contemporary worship music. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys listening to praise and worship cds and anyone looking for new songs for their church to sing.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Durham Main Event - FREE - Reflections

Looking back on the main event week in Durham I was thinking about a few things.
As I already mentioned in an earlier post I was struck once again that it is only when God opens blind eyes that people see the truth and put their trust in Jesus. But, I also observed and encountered some other things too.

1. Many people have very inconsistent worldviews and don't realise.
While out doing cold contact questionnaires on mornings before lunchbars it was interesting to hear people's ideas and opinions on questions ranging from "what is your greatest fear for the future?" "What do you think makes a person a Christian?" "What do you think happens when you die?" Those who stopped to participate were keen to voice their thoughts but many would answer one question and two questions later say something that contradicted what they had previous said. People who thought there was no God but were hoping for an afterlife. Or those who would call themselves Christians but then when asked what a Christian was gave a definition that didnt fit with beliefs they had said they held to. That kind of thing. An important lesson for us then is to make sure we know our worldview and we know how Jesus affects all we do. We also need to continue to develop our understanding of and ability to deconstruct the inconsistent worldviews of others.

2. The Parable of the Sower is seen in life regularly.
During the week we heard of a girl who seemed very keen to come to all the events and her Christian friend was really excited. But the next morning the girl came her and said she didnt want to talk about it anymore and didnt want to be invited to anything else. I guess she was kind of a cross between the seed on the path and the seed that is choked. Others came to events had their questions answered but they were still not stepping up to the plate and follwing. I also saw a guy who had become had made a profession of faith a few years ago when I was leading a table at a follow up course but is now not walking with the Lord. Only God knows His heart, but he may be an example of seed falling on rocky or thorny ground too. And we did also see seed fall on good soil, which we trust in the Lord's providence will go on to bear great fruit. Praise God!

3. We still fear man in our evangelism.
To my shame I saw that I still fear man sometimes when it comes to evangelism. For this I ask forgiveness from God. I know His power is at work in me changing me and that He is a sovereign God, He works thorugh me, but also inspite of my failings. I pray I learn a lesson and God gives me greater boldness. This was also evidentin students too in some fear to invite friends to events or sometimes reluctance to have the gospel procliamed at small events.

In summary, I personally had a great week. The above is not at all meant to sound completely negative. It was great to be able to encourage some of the more timid CU members and I look forward to hearing from them in the future. Seeing and being part of such a fantastic team of CUGs was a joy. The students involved in all the organisation, presentation, set up and set down etc were exemplary. DICCU has many gospel-hearted students. By God's grace I pray they will continue to have a huge impact in the University and in the country as a whole as many of them graduate and go out into the workplace.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Durham Main Event – FREE (Part 3) – Salvation requires a miracle.

While listening to Daf speak on Monday evening (16th Feb) I was sitting and absorbing what he had to say and thinking to myself “this is great, how cool is the gospel, it is amazing, it really does make total sense, how can anyone listen to this and not be convinced?!” And then, it struck home to me in a fresh way, something I already knew, it takes a miracle of mercy from God for anyone to see the truth. How thankful to God I should be that He opened my eyes to see, believe and put my trust in Jesus! I am praying for many miracles as a result of this week of talks and the Free Thinking follow up course which will be running.

Durham Main Event – FREE (Part 2)

The week has been very encouraging so far. Yesterday simultaneous lunch time talks were run, one on "Science vs God: Must we choose?" And the other titled, "Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha: half right or all wrong?" I went to the science talk and heard Andrew Sach give an excellent talk dealing with Naturalism and the Christian worldview. He looked at design, human existence and Jesus as his 3 main points. He also answered some potentially sensitive and heated questions very graciously and with great wisdom. You can here it and all the other talks from the week at under the “talks” tab.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


The last few weeks have brought more snow than I can remember for a long time. I love the snow, I am a big kid at heart. Snowball fights and sledging are great fun! Something struck me each time I looked out upon the beautiful, clean, white snow recently.

First was from Isaiah ch1v18:
"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;..."

As I looked out on the purity of the snow, how clean and white it was I was reminded of the glorious exhcange that has taken place for those who trust in Jesus for forgiveness. Jesus perfect record is given to me. Though my life is full of sin, though I am dirty in the sight of God as a rebel, God now sees me like the snow I saw around me recently, pure, white, clean, washed, because of the blood of Jesus, and because He lived a life without sin. Awesome! Thanks be to God for His amazing grace towards me a wretched sinner!!!

So next time it snows, remember that verse.

Second, along the same theme, I was reminded of a song by Jon Foreman where he sings "Wash me as white as snow and I will be made whole". Jon Foreman is an excellent singer songwriter from California and has 4 EP's out titled with the names of the seasons. This song is based on Psalm 51, echoing David. Check out his music here. I hope it may be an encouragement to you.

FREE - Durham Main Event

I am currently back at my old University to help out with their main event week.
The CU in Durham is a real encouragement to me. This week there are 6 lunchbars (a double bill on wednesday, 2 options) and 5 evening talks running monday to friday.
Monday morning began with a University-wide prayer meeting. There were around 100 students there I think plus the CU guests and speakers. A great way to start the week, knowing we have a job to do, but knowing that were are dependent on God working in advance to prepare the soil for us to sow seeds in.
Please pray for all the CU members and CU guests. Pray for boldness, wisdom and clarity. Thank God for those who have been to events so far and for all of the College level events that have taken place over last weekend.
Pray for the speakers, that as they present God's Word, that the Spirit of God will take those words and bring new life!

I hope to update regularly about this main event week. There are many other missions going on across the country, be praying for students all over Britain to be confident in the gospel, bold with the truth and passionate about Jesus!

Friday, 30 January 2009

Trial and Jesus

On the way back from speaking at Bradford CU I listened to this sermon by Mark Driscoll from his new series in 1&2 Peter. The sermon is titled Trial and Jesus. I had thought of trying to give a synopsis as a blog post but I reckon you'd just be better of hearing the whole thing!

Listen to the audio:

Or watch the video:

It is well worth a listen or watch, very challenging, very encouraging, heart-warming and mind-nourishing.

Jesus Christ is awesome!

I recently went to Bradford to speak at their CU meeting. They are studying Colossians this term and I had the privilege of taking them through chapter 1v15-20. I had a great evening (and I hope they did too). It was great to be reminded of how awesome Jesus Christ is.

Under the over-arching title of Jesus Christ is supreme and sufficient I looked at 3 ways this was shown in the passage:

Jesus Christ is the Creator
Jesus Christ is the Sustainer
Jesus Christ is the Saviour

Without putting my whole talk in this post, let me share a few of the things that served as a great reminder to me that it's all about Jesus.

All things were created by Him and through Him and for Him. The language Paul uses makes it very clear. In the ESV translation, the word all is used 5 times in 3 verses. Jesus is supreme. He is above everything, all powers, thrones, authorities, in heaven and earth. As the childrens song "God rules" says, "He's the boss of everything!" He is the heir of creation, it is His. Jesus Christ is Lord of it all. If this is true it gives massive implications for the way in which we live. Jesus is the one who is be reverently feared. Nothing can stand in His way. He is the one who deserves all praise, all admiration, all worship. Only He is worthy, anything else is a poor substitute!

Ultimately everything that exists is there for the glory of Jesus Christ. So as, Christians we should seek to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

Not only this, but everything that is here, everything we see around only continues to exist because He enables it and allows it! You only take your next breath because He allows and enables it too. This should humble us. Jesus is Lord, down to finest detail. Each day we should be thankful for the air we breath, the ability to breath it in and all the other good gifts, but we should thank the Giver for them. As Paul says in Acts ch17 the God we believe in gives "life and breath and evrything."

Finally, Jesus is the Saviour. He is the head of the church. Without Jesus Christ kept as the main focus the church will, like a headless chicken, lose its direction, keel over and die. We sadly see this in church history and even played out for us today. Jesus is fully God and because of this He is able to reconcile all things to God. So reconciliation with God is through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross and only through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.

Jesus Christ is awesome. Take some time to look at the passage for yourself, I have only gievn a brief insight into its content. I hope and pray God will warm your heart and feed your mind as you meditate on the glorious nature of our supreme and sufficient Creator, Sustainer and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Timothy and Epaphroditus - Living (well they were then!) examples.

Following on from the "grumble" post, I was looking at the next section of Paul's letter to the Philippians (ch2v19-30) as part of my job (what a great job to have!) and thought there were a few things worth noting from Paul's commendation of Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Most of Paul's greeting and commendations about individuals come at the end of letters yet here in Philippians we have a detailed description of Timothy and Epaphroditus. Why?
They are living examples to the Philippians of what Paul has been teaching and exhorting the believers in Philippi to be doing. He is sending them to Philippi with commendation.

Timothy has served with distinction "as a son with a father" in the work of the gospel. He has the interests of Jesus Christ at the centre rather than his own. In those ways Timothy is the embodiment of things Paul has been exhorting. Timothy is servant-hearted not self-promoting or self-centred. Just as Paul has declared that as Jesus was an humble servant, he is showing the Philippians a close to home example of how this is lived out. The believers there know Timothy.

Epaphroditus is one of them. He came from Philippi to minister to Paul's need. He too is a very close-to-home example. Someone who the Philippians know and who they can watch and witness with their own idea. He has been a brother to Paul, a "fellow worker and fellow soldier." Epaphroditus "nearly died for the work of Christ." This guy demonstrates what it is to live a life worthy of the gospel, he is willing to suffer for the sake of Christ and even die if that be God's will.

Paul's priority has been clear all the way through the letter from the start. The gospel is to be preached, and if it is being preached faithfully he will rejoice. His attitude is also clear, he looks to the interest of the gospel first, which means setting aside his own preferences for those of others for the sake of furthering the work of Christ.
If the Philippians were thinking, "this is ok for you Paul, you're an Apostle and showing us Jesus, well He was the Messiah," Paul has given them two people they can very very easily relate to.

Finally, Paul calls for the Philippians to "honour such men" as Epaphroditus. We too today I think should honour, respect and look to godly, gospel-centred, Christ-exalting people. I'm not saying we should put them on a pedestal but we all need examples to follow, and where there are godly people who are imitators of Christ we can follow their lead. Thank God for the works of grace in their lives and pray that He will keep them strong in that grace.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

In memory of Ruth...

Today would have been the 26th birthday of a very good friend of mine from University. Ruth Elizabeth Bryant died last April from cancer. She was a godly woman, a great example to many. Her love for her family and friends shone brightly, and her desire to help the helpless, love the loveless and fight injustice was infectious. Even in the toughest days after being diagnosed with cancer and knowing she had only weeks to live Ruth held firmly to the promises that her God was sovereign and everything was happening for a reason and ultimately for her good, even if she could not understand it. Below is a prayer that she wrote just after finding out that the doctors could do nothing else but make her last weeks as comfortable as possible. It was an encouragment to me, I hope it may be to you too.

"Father God, please help me to keep clinging to you above everyting else and be confident that however bad it gets, you will never ever leave me to face it alone, even if I can't see where you are and I'm angry at you. Please help me to trust your promises and stay faithful to you. Help me to believe that I'm beautiful no matter what happens to this feeble body of mine - my flesh and my heart may fail but please always be the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Thank you that you are so much bigger than I'll ever be able to understand or imagine, help me to stop boxing you in - in the life I expect and plan for, in the ways I expect you to respond, in the higher plans and ways you have through all of this. I just pray that however long this life is for and however painful it is, that I would enjoy you forever and literally shine with life. I want to know the whole truth of what you meant when you said you came that we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10)"
Ruth Bryant, 16th February 2008

She is now with her Lord and Saviour Jesus and I look forward to seeing her again in glory.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

"I can be your Relay worker"

Well done to the North East Relay workers for their hilarious karaoke at Relay 2 conference last week. You did the region proud! I hope you enjoy it too!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble!!!

As part of my job I get to study the Bible with students, a great privilege. Today I met with a student to continue to work through Paul's letter to the Philippians. We looked at chapter 2 and verses 12-18. This is not going to be an exposition of that passage, more observation and thought. In verse 14 Paul says:

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning," (ESV)

What a challenge, and on the surface a pretty outrageous one. I don't know about you but what comes to my mind are questions like this "What if someone annoys me, or gives me an unattainable deadline, or treats me harshly, or asks me to do something I don't want to do? Are you telling me I'm suppose to stay quiet and smile politely and get on with it?" Quite simply the answer is yes. But it's not an empty, of the cuff command. We have clear reasons to help us understand. The passage goes on:

"that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world..." (Philippians ch2v15 (ESV))

If we do all things without complaining but instead are servant-hearted and joyful in all we do it is a huge witness to the world around us. In this command we are being spurred on to holiness, encouraged to shine like stars, exhorted to be who we are, children of God.
This section follows an awesome description of the Lord Jesus Christ and His humility and servant-heartedness in coming to save sinners, leaving glory to become obedient to death, even death on a cross. Paul say to each of his readers "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" and this is because God is working in them for His glory. Just as Christ was obedient and came to serve, and did it all without grumbling, so we too are called to obey and serve in the same manner.
So next time you're thinking of grumbling or complaining or questioning, remember this and ask God to help you to serve humbly with joy.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Quote of the Day - Sin and Salvation

"the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man" John Stott, The Cross of Christ, IVP.

I wish I could so succinctly sum up glorious doctrine and truth! At the heart of our sin as human beings is our desire to please ourselves, look after number 1 and reject the One who created us and sustains us and deserves all our praise and worship. Yet, God, who could so easily have left us in this state, out of love and to show mercy, came to earth, stepped into time in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and gave Himself so that we might be brought into relationship with the Triune, Living God, to glorify and enjoy Him forever.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Why "All that's in my head is in His hands?"

So why the title for the blog. Well, it's another lyric from another band I love, Switchfoot. Again it adequately described something that is very true, something that is a great challenge and comfort to me and also a fitting title for a blog I think. All that I think, everything that is in my head that stresses me out, that brings me joy, that causes me to reflect and to seek to understand more is known by God and is in His hands. All that I write on this blog He knows before I write it. The Triune living God of the Bible whom I believe in holds the whole world, including all of my thoughts in His hands! Amazing!

Why bloodwashed pilgrim?

"I saw a bloodwashed pilgrim a sinner saved by grace..."
The quotation is the opening line of a song by the OC Supertones, a ska band from Orange County California, and the inspiration for the address of my blog. I chose it because I not only love the band but it describes who I am in Christ. I have been bought and washed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (see Romans ch3v21-26, Romans ch5v9, Ephesians ch1v7, 1 John ch1v7, Revelation ch1v5 and so on). I am a sinner saved by grace.
Not only that but I am a pilgrim too. God has called me to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians ch2v12-13) and I am to run the race, fight the good fight and keep the faith, persevering by the preserving grace of God until the end. (1 Corinthians ch9v24-25, 1 Timothy ch6v12, Jude 24-25).