Monday, May 31, 2010

God of the Second Chances

This past Sunday we had the awesome privilege of hosting Carlos Whittaker at MKCC.

He sang as part of the set what is my favourite song of his the opening line of the chorus is:

You’re the God of second chances, You’re the God who still romances.

Download album from Amazon

It sums up the Gospel of grace that so captivates my heart on a moment by moment basis. Why because I manage to screw things up on such a regular basis. My only hope is grace.

I read a list today of Bible people who God gave a second chance to published by Gary Lamb. Gary is a pastor who a year ago messed up big time and had an affair. Honestly I don't even know how you can piece your life back together after something like that but we can see a glimpse of God's heart by the people he works through in the Bible.

Noah was a drunk

Abraham was too old to be used

Isaac was a daydreamer

Jacob was a liar

Leah was ugly

Joseph was abused

Moses had a stuttering problem

Gideon was afraid

Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute

Jeremiah and Timothy were too young

David had an affair and was a murderer

Elijah was suicidal

Isaiah preached naked

Jonah ran from God

Naomi was a widow

Job went bankrupt

Peter denied Christ

The Disciples fell asleep while praying

Martha worried about everything

The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once

Zaccheus was too small

Paul was too religious

Timothy had an ulcer.

AND Lazarus was dead!

There is hope for us all in God's grace!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The First Words a child learns to speak

Through the Spirit we have received a spirit of adoption as sons and a life of intimacy with God the Father.
… those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. - Romans 8 v 14 - 16

The writer of Proverbs tells us that the "Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom". And certainly when you sit and think about a Holy, all knowing & all powerful God and think about our own state, a tremble enters into our heart.

God's plan for us is not to bring us to a place of paralyzing fear that enslaves our whole lives. But by giving us the Holy Spirit we get to know what it is to enter into sonship with God. Sons not Slaves.

And this sonship brings with it intimacy that brings us to a place where we can approach this awesome, holy and infinite God and call Him "Abba Father".

Abba is used by Jesus when speaking to Father God in the garden of Gethsemane. Mark 14 v 36.

"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

says "It was the intimate name used by children for their fathers and combines some of the intimacy of the English word “papa” while retaining the dignity of the word “father,” being both informal and yet respectful. It was, therefore, an endearing form of address rather than a title and was among the first words a child learned to speak."

So let it be the first thing you say to God - he desires intimacy!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Opening the door to your prison

By the power of the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body. The Spirit sets us free from the sins we cannot get rid of on our own.

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.Romans 8 v 1 & 2

Have you ever felt like the Apostle Paul when he reveals his heart to us through his writings. He reveals his inner struggle with Sin in his life. He wants to do good things but does not do them. He does not want to do wrong things but ends up doing them. I know exactly how he feels.

The first step is to realise as we are now in Christ there is NO condemnation. There may be consequences for our actions in our lives but Jesus took our place for the punishment of each and everyone of our sins.

The same power that pronounces us not guilty is also at work in our lives. The Holy Spirit has set us free and will continue to set us free. It's not just about our will power but us allowing the Spirit to work in our lives.

This is a life long partnership and process. I really don't understand why so many of us try to go it alone.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It may be time to talk to the Holy Spirit

• The Holy Spirit is our comforter, our advisor, our encourager, and our strength & guide.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. - 1 Cor 2 v 9 & 10

Through the Holy Spirit we stand in such a privileged place. This mystery of God which has been hidden for so long, which Paul says, even kings and wise men can not even begin to understand, has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

If we will look to the Holy Spirit we will see it and if we listen to Him we will hear it.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit: THE Comforter! not A comforter but THE Comforter.

It is great to have friends who care they are invaluable. But eventually they all go home. The Holy Spirit is already at home in you. He never takes a break, never takes a nap and never leaves.

By all means ask others for advice but don't forget to ask the Holy Spirit.

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Monday, May 24, 2010


I subscribe to probably what is too many blogs through Google Reader. Sometimes it feels like information overload. Often I rush past things without reading too deeply. Then on occasions like today you read something that just stops you in your tracks, brings a tear to they eye and forces you to your knees.

If you have stopped by here before you have probably seen some reference to Zac Smith. Zac went to be with Jesus a week ago last Sunday. A week on Mandy his wife published a post that Zac had written but had left unpublished on his blog.

She called them ZAXIOMS. They are simple yet so profound.

  • Leave everyone better than when I found them
  • Say “Yes” always
  • Learn something from everyone I meet
  • Listen to the questions people are asking of you — repetitive ones may be telling
  • Balance the past and the future as in a satiated hunger
  • Anticipate and dream: try to stay out of the belly of the whale
  • Stay in the frustration as long as possible — refining fire (So opposite of what I do!!!!)
  • Pick the harder path
AMAZING! Thank you Zac! Thank you Mandy!

When it's time to let God speak

Preaching about the Holy Spirit yesterday I listed a few things from scripture that we have in our lives as a result of the Holy Spirit being in our lives. Over the next few days I will recap them.

Now we can live like they don’t exist but that doesn’t mean they don’t. Just that we don’t get the benefit of the relationship.

• The Spirit helps us speak in precarious situation and to witness.

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. - Mark 13 v 11

When I think of the disciples listening to Jesus here it makes me smile. "Whenever you are arrested!", like its is going to happen. Not "IF you are arrested". These guys had given up everything to follow Jesus the Messiah now he was talking about them being arrested. They were expecting a kingdom not a prison.

But Jesus told them not to worry it would be the Holy Spirit giving them the words to say. he didn't even say the Holy Spirit would save them but that He would speak through them for God's glory.

A life being lead by the Spirit does not guarantee safety, rescue or victory in this world but it guarantees you the ability to tell anyone and everyone about Jesus even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Forgotten God

Had the great privilege to preach today at MKCC. Being Pentecost Sunday we took the opportunity to talk about the Holy Spirit.

During the preach I mentioned the book: Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. You pick it up at Amazon by clicking on the link.

If you have ever asked the question of your Christianity: Is this all there is, there has to be more? Then Francis says this:

“I believe that this missing something is a missing person – namely the Holy Spirit. Without Him, people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results.” – Francis Chan

We really need to understand that this Christian life is not about us, it is all about God. One of our problems is that we take this spiritual cataclysmic supernatural event called salvation that has been won and gifted by grace to us, through which we become benefactors of a victory won that we were not even fit to be an armour bearer, and some how we turn it into a mundane moralistic life. A dull life where we just ensure we live to a list of our own made up rules whilst becoming food critics at our new restaurant called church. All this when we are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to take Jesus Christ to the world.

We are content to DISCUSS Him (The Holy Spirit) rather than partner with Him in a DEMONSTRATION of his power.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The statistics regarding the Internet & Pornography are staggering:

  • 42.7% of Internet users view porn
  • 20% of men say they view porn at work.
  • 53% of Christian men consume pornography.
  • Breakdown of male/female visitors to pornography sites: 72% male & 28% female
  • 17% of all women struggle with pornography addiction.
  • The average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
  • 90% of 8-16-year-olds have viewed porn online (most while doing homework). & XXX Church are hosting from the 23rd - 28th May. It is broken into 2 segments:

Boys - Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday - Times here.
Girls - Monday, Wednesday & Friday - Times here.

Tune in and invite your friends.

Self Baptism or just going for a swim

I'm not really sure what is going on here but they do seem VERY excited to be in church. However baptising yourself is taking it a bit far. (Keep your eyes on the tank behind the pulpit!)

Guaranteed to make you smile if not laugh your socks off!

HT @shawnwood

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Am I trusting in the chair?

A great illustration taken from Mark's preach this past Sunday. You can watch the full message here.

Am I fully trusting Jesus?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The story behind my favourite song

"How HE loves"

"The love I am singing about in that song is not a pretty clean, its not Hollywood hot pink love. Its a kind of love that that's willing to love things that are messy, the things that are kind of messy, kinda gross"

"In my anger, in my resentment, in my frustration - He could love me through that."

nuff said!

Zac Smith with Jesus

About a year ago I clicked on a link that took me to the blog of Zac Smith. This guys was on staff at Newspring Church and he had started blogging about his cancer. Through the internet I have followed his story. He has taught me so much even though I have never met him.

Through his honest writings he documented his struggles & doubts as well as his blessings. I have prayed for him, watched him baptize his kids, listened to him talk about God working in his life and watched share his story.

I laughed & cried when the cancer disappeared and I also cried when he shared the crushing news that it was back and worse.

Here is what his Pastor Perry Noble wrote about Zac and his family:

"Zac has been healed…which is a relief to those of us who have watched him suffer these past twelve weeks. We ALL hate to lose him…and we will shed many tears and he will be missed; however, we are also rejoicing at the fact that He is now with Jesus and is experiencing HIS presence in ways that none of us could ever imagine.

I would ask you to please keep Mandy, his wife, in your prayers…as well as their children Luke, Jake and Lizzy."

You can read about Zac's journey over at his blog.

In Zac's words: Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to him. It made him a better follower of Jesus, a better husband, a better father and a better employee.

Thank you for your inspiration. God is still God and God is still good.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Matt Chandler in the UK

Today I had the awesome opportunity and privilege to hear one of my mentors, Matt Chandler, live and in the flesh at Jubilee Church in Enfield. (I've never met him but he mentors me through his preaching each week via podcast) It was great to see him and his wife together on this trip to the UK.

Here are some of the quotes (or near quotes as I remember them) that I jotted down.

  • Understand that the Gospel will be the stench of death to some people so pastor don't water it down to get a bigger crowd.
  • You can't go hide and seek with God he always sees you and sees the motivation of your hear.
  • The mainstay of your preaching should be this is who God is.
  • I've discovered most Christians don't know what to do with difficult situations because they have bought into the lie that God owes us. (For our good behaviour)
  • The reality of life is that if you live long enough you are going to bleed, cry and hurt. AND God is still God IN that.
  • Fight or flight? I'm a sort of in between guy I slap them and run away.
  • You can say whatever you like with your mouth but what you spend your money on shows what you really believe in and put your trust.
  • There is a cumulative effect to ministry which cultivates growth: -preaching, worship, values, small groups, teaching, etc. . So what are we cultivating?
  • don't know how much background you have in church but with church people you say lets try something different they don't usually say ok!
  • Identify what takes your affections away from God and what rekindles your affections for God and do the right things.
  • Most of us are not going to have our relationship with God hindered by morally wicked things but by morally neutral things.
  • Pastors, Sunday morning should never be about you and your gifts but about Jesus and what he can do.
  • When the kings (Organisers) run the church you end up running to the bottom line. Prophets & priests should run the church & pursue FAITH.
  • If the question is: What can we pull off? rather than "What does God want us to do?" We are trusting in ourselves rather than God.
  • The man of God uses a scalpel not a club. You shepherd people by being kind not cruel.
  • Don't just be a champion of a doctrine but be a champion of Jesus. One that goes after the heart and not the mind.
  • Progressive sanctification is a slow dirt path not a super fast highway.
  • We can have differences but once we are digging in the bible I'm OK with that.
Then we went to OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE. The second important reason to visit Enfield!

Please pray for Matt and his family as he faces a MRI on Tuesday to update on the condition of his cancer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gordon leaves the second most important job in Britain

Yesterday in a typically understated British way we changed leaders. With very little pomp and ceremony our leader for the last few years left the stage and our youngest Prime Minister for 200 years casually walked into a Terrace House with No 10 on the simple door. As one of my kids said: "Is that it?". No fanfare, no inaugeration, just a simple 20 min talk with our Queen and its done.

I'm probably in the minority but I believe that Gordon Brown has been a good servant to the British people in his role as Chancellor for 10 years or so. Then he seemed to be hit with a tsunami of trouble from the day he got his coveted Job. Yes he made mistakes but on most of the key decisions and events I really don't think that his detractors throwing stones would have done much different.

Any way this is not meant to be political, It was the end of Gordon's resignation speech that caught my ear.

He said he was leaving the second most important job to concentrate on the MOST important that of a husband and a father.

No matter what your politics you have got to say yes to that wisdom.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sunday morning is coming and it is cool

This video was shown at the recent Drive conference at North Point Church.

This made me laugh so much. But also reminded me that our Sunday gatherings are all about God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and a supernatural encounter not our formulas or cool ideas. (Although I still like cool ideas. :-) )

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Greatness of our God

I am probably a bit behind the times but today I came across One Sonic Society.

The band features along with others, Stu G & John Thatcher of Delirious? fame.

You can listen to 2 of their songs to be released on 11th May here.

Here is some of the lyrics of one, The Greatness of our God:

give me grace to see beyond this moment here
to believe that there is nothing left to fear
that You alone are high above it all
You my God are greater still

Missing what God says

But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions. - Ex 6 v 9

God's message.
Delivered by God's messenger.
To God's people.

Perfect! Its what we are all looking for.

But God's people missed the message because of their circumstances.
To be honest maybe they had a right.
They were in the middle of an awful situation.
To an extent that their spirit was crushed.

But don't miss the voice of God because it contains salvation and hope even in the vilest of situations.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Does this look like rescue?

Moses shoots back to God in utter frustration. Does this look like rescue? - Ex 5 v 23. He just didn't understand what was happening. God took the time and trouble to speak audibly to Moses, giving him a huge a specific mission. He confirmed it over and over & specifically promised that he would be with him.

The reluctant messenger hadn't had a bad dream or just dreamed up this Maison out of thin air. He was chosen specifically and pursued by God.

So you'd think that it would all be plain sailing. Moses would turn up, share the word of God and Pharaoh would relent. It really is the only scenario isn't it.

Well in this occasion things didn't get better they got worse. Moses came to bring people hope and what happened was more despair.

Sometimes like Moses I just don't understand God, why does he allow these detours or maybe even cause them? (He had warned Moses that He would harden Pharaohs heart).
I don't know but what I do know is Moses goes to the right place to make sense of it all. He goes to God. And asks him straight out!

Now we know the end of this story. Moses leads God's people to freedom. But at this moment Moses is a million miles from that. Everything has crashed down around him. But he remembers who controls the story end.

Whatever you are facing today remember Jesus knows the end of your story and it is glorious!