Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What do you Treasure most in Life?

The question of what we treasure most in this life is probably the single most important question that any person can ask! What/who is the person, object or activity that for you is the most important thing in your life?

This is another post prompted by my reading of John Piper’s Desiring God. He refers to Matthew 13:44 at one point and that verse stuck with me:

Treasure after

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding a one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

I include verse 45 and 46 as it also makes the same point that struck and challenged me. I have heard and read that verse many times over the years but the full meaning of it has never really jumped out at me before. What is Jesus saying here? What is this kingdom of heaven that he is referring to? Why should it be our ultimate treasure that we would give up everything else to gain it?

So what is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is referring to here? As I would understand it the Kingdom of Heaven is where the King resides. A desire for the Kingdom here is not a desire to just live there and enjoy the benefits, but a desire to be with the King himself. The Treasure therefore in the Kingdom is intimate fellowship with God in Christ. The thing that is worth giving up everything else in the the world for to have that treasure is Christ Himself. Not His gifts, blessings or any of the other benefits lavished on us by God, but Christ alone.

Paul put it brilliantly in Philippians 3:7-11:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

The translation in the King James of ‘rubbish’ in verse 8 is ‘dung’. This to me is a more powerful image of the comparison between what he has gained in Christ to what he had before.

But going back to Jesus’ words. Notice another word used here describing the way in which the man sells all that he has in order to gain the treasure. In ‘Joy’ he does it. I had never noticed that word before. Or rather it had never jumped out at me. To gain Christ is a Joy. Not only that, I would suggest the greatest Joy any human can ever know. The joy of fellowship, relationship, intimacy and being fully known by our wonderful Creator God is comparable to nothing else. It was what we were created for and is what was broken by the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. From then on we settled for treasure that was under our control. Our thirsts and desires became corrupted. Instead of desiring intimacy with God as our greatest source of pleasure, joy and satisfaction we turn to created things to satisfy that longing for what only God can provide. Be it sex, money, power, recognition, relationships, kids, drugs, pornography, alcohol, religion. Whatever becomes the central thing in our lives that fills that gap.

The trouble is these are dung. Some in and of themselves are not sinful. It is not wrong to want friendship, to do well at work, to have a happy marriage etc… but when those things become primary or pre-eminent then they have become idols. Something created in the place of God the creator. This is a bad thing indeed and far more insidious than many realise. Satan's greatest achievement is to get us to worship and idolise anything apart from God. That is the root of Sin in our lives, idolatry!

Our desires have become so corrupted and weak that we no longer desire God. Our thinking has become foolish Jeremiah 4:22, Jeremiah 5:21 and Romans 1:21:

For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Also Psalm 14:3

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.

So left in our sinful states we will never seek God for satisfaction. We in fact are incapable of doing so since we are in darkness because of Sin and actually prefer to stay that way given the choice.

John 3:18-20

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

So left to our own devices we will never choose God as our treasure. Like in the film Wall-E he finds a box with a diamond ring in it. He does not know that the diamond ring is beautiful and valuable, so throws the ring out being more enamoured by the box that contained the treasure. It is a work of God to open our eyes to the beauty of Christ by the process called regeneration. Our dead hearts are made alive and we, for the first time, see Christ for who He really is. The most important and beautiful treasure we have ever seen. Our hearts can do nothing but respond in repentance and faith and with Holy Joy trust in Christ. What once seemed boring and irrelevant becomes the greatest desire of the heart. Not health, wealth, prosperity but God. This is the new birth of a person passing from death to life. From Hell bound to Heaven bound. From a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26 and Jeremiah 24:7. The birth of a new Christian!

To quote John Piper from Desiring God, page 73, Chapter 2 – Conversion (see link below):

Saving faith is the confidence that if you sell all you have and forsake all sinful pleasures, the hidden treasure of holy joy will satisfy your deepest desires. Saving faith is the heartfelt conviction not only that Christ is reliable, but also that He is desirable. It is the confidence that He will come through with His promises and that what He promises is more to be desired than all the world.

So is that you? Would you say that you treasure Christ in this way? It is easy to say you believe in Jesus. Many people ‘believe’ in Jesus. But unless you have and know Christ as your ultimate treasure then you just know facts and your ‘faith’ may not be a saving faith. For when we are converted we gain a new taste, a new desire. That of knowing Christ Crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Worship and praise becomes a natural response to this new desire for we praise what we find glorious. Gratitude for what Christ did for us on the Cross and through the resurrection. Only a true believer can understand and experience what Matthew 13:44 is really talking about.

Psalm 63:1-8 gives us a feel for what it means to thirst after and be satisfied in God:

thirstquench O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will a lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Is that the depth of feeling you have when you open your heart and allow it the freedom to cry out its deepest desire? For God is most Glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him (John Piper). God’s first and foremost desire is that He is Glorified above all things. Our purpose in this life is to Glorify God by enjoying Him forever as the Westminster Catechism states, slightly altered by JP. So we are satisfied and God is Glorified. In fact God commands that we be satisfied in him:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Where those desires are the renewed desires post conversion. I don’t believe this means God just gives us what we ‘want’. He may do out of His divine goodness and has certainly promised to give us what we ‘need’. However I believe the desires of our heart that the Psalm is talking about are in fact God himself in Christ. If God is our supreme treasure then it follows that the desires of our heart will be Him. Our Joy is found in delighting ourselves in Christ where He responds by giving Himself to us as our hearts deepest desire.

If this is something Alien to you then may I suggest you ask God to reveal who He is to you. You need to be saved from, to be blunt, an Eternity in Hell. This is not an eternity away from God, or Annihilation, it is a conscious and justified eternity of punishment and torment. However to just want to avoid that is not enough. I am sure everyone would want to avoid that but apart from Christ where doesn’t become you saving treasure. In order to enter Heaven for eternity you need to desire Christ as your ultimate saving treasure and want to spend eternity with Him. Ask God to renew your heart and enable you to see Christ fully. Get a Bible and read it. Join a church of like minded believers who treasure Christ and live to Glorify Him.

This is a journey I have only just begun. At the beginning of the year I stated my goal was to learn what it means to find Joy in God. Now, in December, I am starting to see the faint embers of understanding what that actually means. It is an exciting journey to start. After 20 years of being a Christian God is calling me to a deeper level with Him that I could not have imagined 20 years ago when I first placed my trust in Christ as my saviour. I pray, God willing, that the next 20 years see me cling to God and fight for Joy in a way that Glorifies Him and deeply satisfies the cry of my heart.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Brilliant teaching on John 6:44 – Why do some Choose Christ and others Don’t?

Ok long title but this is some of the best and straightforward teaching I have heard on what Theologians call Divine Election. Basically regarding why do some people come to Christ and others do not. All this is taught from John 6:41-51 without dipping into the more obvious verses on Election in Ephesians and Romans.

This is such a difficult and controversial subject in Christianity. Whichever side of the argument you fall it has consequences for how you view what God’s Sovereignty means practically and how you interpret free will. I think he deals fairly and clearly with the issue.

In the sermon JP deals with what would be termed the Calvinistic viewpoint and why he thinks it is the correct biblical interpretation, as do I and next week will deal with the alternative viewpoint, often referred to as Arminianism. Whichever view you have I would so recommend you take the time to listen to this teaching. If only to hear a different viewpoint if you disagree which is always a good thing to do anyway.

Click HERE for the website with the notes and link.

Click the link below for the Video:


Click here for just the audio:


Thursday, December 03, 2009

What a Privilege!

These are three songs that I have the privilege to play on Sunday in Church. It is a great privilege indeed to play drums and be part of leading a congregation of worshippers into the presence of God. I love playing Drums as part of my worship and service. Anyway just thought I’d share these great songs.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Twilight – New Moon Review

newmoon Ok, I have been resisting reviewing New Moon until I have had a chance to think about it a little. First I have read all the books and overall liked them. New Moon is the slowest of the books because of what it deals with. Mainly Bella’s ‘loss’ after Edward rather abruptly dumps her and then the growing friendship between Bella and Jacob. However what keeps the book interesting is the development of the Werewolf arc. Jacobs fear at what is happening to his friends and then to what is happening to him and eventually how that works itself out once Bella knows the ‘secret’. You also have some sympathy with what Bella is going through as the book is told from her perspective. Even with her ‘using’ Jacob in the way she does there is ‘some’ sympathy towards her character even when she is at her most selfish.

However the biggest flaw to the way the story is translated to film is that she comes across as totally selfish in the way she uses Jacob as a distraction to her pain and her recklessness in endangering herself just to feel something again. Because the film has no time to explain the emotion, the dialogue is too forced when it tries and Kristen Stewart pouts her way through every scene the whole thing gets lost in the process. The film version of Bella has no real redeeming features that make it believable that Jacob or Edward would actually stick around. Also the Werewolf arc is too minimal and all happens too fast to make any coherent sense if you haven’t read the book.

The final act of the film is a little better. Though the jump to Italy again happens too fast losing all the explanations about the Volturi that Alice gives Bella on the way. I think they are explained in about once sentence in the film. The most interesting part of the story given in a throw away line. It is when Michael Sheen, playing Aro, appears on screen that you get an idea about how weak the rest of the cast are acting wise. The same can be said for Billy Burke who plays Bella’s father actually, he does a great job in both films as the awkward Dad. Anyway back to Aro. Michael Sheen is such a good actor and makes the character of Aro very close to the book. The cordial and slimy friendliness hiding the dangerous, controlling, ruthless and power hungry desires underneath. Hmm I wonder where he got so good at that. Oh yes he has played Tony Blair on screen!!!!! In fact I think they are the same character, interesting.

This film was always going to be difficult to make. The subject matter is hard to translate. The first film, though not in any way perfect, was reasonable at setting up the story. Bella’s attraction to the dangerous out of her league bad boy. His attraction to Bella with her intriguing ability to block his special ability and put her on more equal footing with him. Their denial of their sexual desires and self control. I came out of New Moon having enjoyed it, but on reflection mainly because I filled in all the blanks having read the book. I got it, not because of the film but because of the book. This is Bella’s most selfish and unlikeable stage of her journey. Sadly the film makes it her only characteristic. Robert Pattinson is ok as Edward. He does dark and brooding well but there is more to the character than that. Taylor Lautner did well as Jacob given what he had to work with.

Overall could do much better! It will be interesting to see how the next two translate to film, especially Breaking Dawn. I hope Kristen Stewart and the script shows how Bella grows up somewhat and makes her less drippy. It will be good to see how the rest of the actors playing the Cullen clan step up to plate as they have much more to do in the next two films. No idea how they will make Breaking Dawn less than a 15 given some of its content.

I hope the next films bring out the self denial, respect and no sex before marriage points from the books. That although Bella is verging on the obsessive in her ‘love’ for Edward the story is really about a love that nothing can break. Two people so devoted to each other that they will do whatever it takes to stay together. The character of Bella gets a lot of stick from people, especially some women. The film makes it reasonable criticism. However I am not sure the books represent her as such a winy doormat.

I think it is interesting how on the one hand so many women love the books, yet on the other Stephenie Meyer is criticised for writing what is seen as a weak female character. At the risk of being lynched could it be that underneath women do actually want to be protected, provided and cared for. Want someone so devoted to them who is actually willing to die for them and sacrifice their feelings and desires for the good of her. Who want the proverbial Knight in Shining Armour to sweep them off their feet. For all the criticism of Bella I think Edwards character in the book, though not perfect is a good example for men, apart from the drinking blood bit. Self sacrificial, a gentleman, protective, devoted, honourable, reliable etc… I think that is what Stephenie Meyer has tapped into and why the books are so popular. Not that women should be doormats, but that it is a Man’s God given role to lead, provide for and protect the family as a self-sacrificial servant, like Jesus does the Church.

Any way as much as I enjoyed watching the film it was disappointing as well. Cheesy in places with some awkward acting and badly crafted dialogue. Special effects were on the whole very good except one or two very CGI looking shots of the werewolves. I hope they learn lessons and listen to the fans and do better next time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More Blatant anti-Christian/Creation/ID Bias at the BBC

Mortar Board Now this is a second hand report as I did not see University Challenge last night. However from this, reliable, report I am glad I did not.

You cannot watch the TV nowadays without being bombarded by militant Darwinists evangelising their views and bashing viciously anyone who dares to disagree. I used to love nature programs but cannot watch them anymore, especially if narrated by David Attenborough. Why can’t they just marvel at creation and comment on observable facts instead of gross speculation on what ‘could’ have happened? Spoils the whole thing! Anyway Click HERE for what happened on University Challenge on 24th November 2009.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Humanist Agenda invades our Primary Schools….. again!

This BBC article highlights once again the battle for the hearts and minds of our children in the UK. (Oh and continues the BBC’s heavy bias to the liberal humanist agenda when it comes to it journalism).

A quote from the article lays it all out pretty plainly:

The British Humanist Association (BHA) had led a campaign to have Darwin's theory of how life evolved through natural selection made a compulsory element of the new primary curriculum.

It organised a public letter signed by more than 500 from scientists and supporters.

Andrew Copson of the BHA said: "This is excellent news. Evolution is arguably the most important concept underlying the life sciences.

"Providing children with an understanding of it an early age will help lay the foundations for a surer scientific understanding later on."

He added: "Public authorities clearly need to do more to tackle the growing threat to the public's understanding of science from creationist-inspired beliefs and other pseudoscience".

Firstly Macro-Evolution/Darwinian Evolution (goo to you evolution) has nothing, nada, zero to do with life sciences like any form medical research or any of the sciences that look at actual facts and follow the scientific method of observable falsifiable results. The kind of science that brings us medical drugs breakthroughs, micro chips etc… However this is one of those little lies that Evolutionist would have you believe to make them sound more important and set up their pathetic straw man arguments. This is shown in the last sentence of the article above. Where they try to scare monger people into believing that if we let these dangerous people run around and challenge Darwinian Evolution then the whole of civilisation as we know it will collapse and we’ll be dragged back to the Dark ages. Nonsense of course, they know it, any half intelligent person knows it but they keep spouting this rubbish out. Old Dawkins being the chief of the straw man scare mongering nonsense.

All this will do is add more pressure to already over stretched and underpaid teachers. Teaching something that has frankly zero importance to understanding operational science like Physics and Chemistry and a lot of Biology. All based on observable, measurable and reproducible science. Unlike any study of the past, both Evolution and Creation included. Both study the evidence and come to conclusions based on assumptions that cannot be tested and reproduced using the scientific method.

Trust me I am all for children understanding science as I think the science education in this country is frankly poor at both Secondary and Primary given the number of students entering University to study science based subjects. Children are not excited by the wonders of studying the world around them in any of the sciences enough to want to be the scientists of the future. I am not against the teaching of evolution when it comes to Micro-Evolution either.  Yes things change, adapt and ‘evolve’ but not in the scope that Darwinian evolution would have you believe. Evolution within kind is observable and useful in science and is perfectly biblical from a Creationist point of view. Another lie the Humanist would have you believe is that Creationist don’t believe in Evolution. We do, just not the same way. In fact a Creationist discovered the idea of adaptation within species before Darwin did.  But this terrifying fear of anyone questioning Macro-Evolutionary theory and pointing out the huge gaping holes in it is ridiculous and pathetic. Understandable though because the alternative is too terrible for an Evolutionist/Atheist to cope with, ie: God.

However teaching Children macro-evolution will achieve nothing except teach them that they have no purpose in existence and no hope for the future (see video at the bottom of this post). That moral relativism is all we can hope for and there is no true absolute definition of right and wrong. No wonder child suicide rates are up and depression is the modern epidemic. Take away hope and all you have is denial or despair.

I leave this article with some scripture:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and l the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)


For the wrath of God l is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

(Romans 1:18-25)

Do we want to raise another generation of ‘foolish thinkers’ blinded by human arrogance? Ultimately this is just another battleground being fought between atheism and faith. Humanist would have all traces of teaching any religion and faith from schools wiped away if they could. Don’t be fooled this is not about fairness or balance. This is about the absolute oppression and suppression of free thought and religious expression in this country and around the world. Any way I’ll leave it there.

Here is a short video talking about where atheism leads, by Mark Driscoll.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How far away I am from where You are!

The title of this blog post is taken from the song ‘Jesus hold me Now’ on the latest Casting Crowns album ‘Until the Whole World Hears’. The lyrics are as follows:

Living on my own, thinking for myself
Castles in the sand, temporary wealth
Now the walls are falling down
Now the storms are closing in
And here I am again

Jesus, hold me now
I need to feel You in this place
To know You’re by my side
And hear Your voice tonight
Jesus, hold me now
I long for Your embrace
I’m beat and broken down
I can’t find my way out
Jesus, hold me now

Curse this morning sun, drags me into one more day
Of reaping what I’ve sown, living with my shame
Welcome to my world, and the life that I have made
One day you’re a prince, and the next day you’re a slave

Lord, I just looked up today
And realized how far away I am from where You are
I don’t know what else to pray
Broken at Your feet I lay
The life I’ve torn apart
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now
Jesus, hold me now

It is the first two lines of the bridge that really struck me. ‘Lord, I just looked up today And realized how far away I am from where You are’. Lately I have been realising that the Christianity we live out here in the UK is so far from what Biblical Christianity is that it may as well be a different faith. Two recent things have opened my eyes to this fact:

  1. We recently had a series of sermons in church on ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ (SOTM) from Matthews Gospel.
  2. I have been listening to the Audio recording of John Piper’s book ‘Desiring God’

The Christianity that Jesus presented in the SOTM is so far removed from the safe, comfortable, unoffending, unassuming, often confused, sometimes very liberal Christianity that the Church presents to the world. John Piper’s book is so challenging and cuts right to the heart in reference to our walk with God. Both these together have made me see just how far I am from what Jesus calls us to be. How small my passion for worship of the only one we should worship and how my desire for prayer and reading the Bible is really quite pathetic. JP’s favourite phrase is ‘God is most Glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him’ and is in the title of my Blog. That is the heart of the matter. Where do we look to find satisfaction? Is it in worship of the one true God who is the only one who can satisfy our hears desires or is it in the temporary ‘comforts’ or ‘vices’ of this world?

I wish I could say that as a Christian it is in God. However that would be a lie. Of course I do look to God for my security, value etc… but not nearly as much as I should. I settle for storing up treasures on Earth to feel better instead of seeking the rewards of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:19-20). Those earthly treasures are any things that bring relief from the wounds caused by living in this fallen world. TV, money, buying stuff, relationships etc… Not all bad in themselves but when placed above finding satisfaction in God become idols to be torn down and destroyed or risk the discipline of God who doesn’t care for His children worshipping at the feet of false Gods.

Or as was preached this Sunday in Church ‘How clean is our Temple?’. Jesus turned over the money changers dealing in the temple and drove out the animals. All were defiling the Temple of God. Since that temple is now any believer in Christ where the Holy Spirit dwells what would Jesus come in and overturn in his Zeal for the House of His Father, (John 2:17)?

For too long Western Christianity has settled for so much less than what God intended for His bride. So  much compromise has crept in. Tolerance for behaviours that we are explicitly warned against. Adultery, Homosexuality, greed, prosperity teaching, idolatry to name a few. Are we so self absorbed with our own little life that we have no time for Gods purposes? When people you come into contact with don’t see any difference in your behaviours, goals, choice of words then something is very wrong with the way you live out your Christianity. If you are not drawing some to you and offending others then the faith you profess is nothing like that which Paul, the Apostles and Jesus Himself demonstrated.

These external demonstrations are all fruit from what is going on in the heart. Are we passionately devoted to seeking God daily in the Word, in prayer and Worship? Is He our ultimate source of satisfaction that is so superior to all other desires that everything else just loses its hold and taste? Is the Holy Spirit so filling us that our Love and passion for glorifying Jesus just flows out into and affects every facet of our lives? Does this lead us to hear the Holy Spirits revelations in words for people, to have the confidence and security to pray for Healing? To demonstrate selfless love and generosity that seeks no reward. Compassion for the less fortunate and downtrodden and a zeal for Justice in the World.

So this goes back to the line in that song. How far am I from where He is!!! I am only just starting to work through the consequences of this challenge. I know much repentance, humility and brokenness will be required. I know I desperately need to cling my Father in Heaven and can do nothing on my own. I want to move nearer to where God is and for there to be more of Him and less of me, I challenge you to do the same!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spiritual Depression in the Psalms

This is a great sermon by John Piper, based on Psalm 42, on dealing with difficult times in your life in a very real but God honouring way. Very down to earth spiritual practicality without any unhelpful uber/hyper super charismatic spirituality. Not that JP does that at all. Just plain old using the word of God and clinging to Truth in the face of tough trials that threaten to overwhelm you and most of all being brutally honest about where you are at.

The points that struck me are where Piper list 6 practical things from the Psalm to do when struggling.

  1. Asking god why is a legitimate question.
  2. Affirm God’s Sovereign Love. Recognising that God is in Sovereign Control of all things and that His love is beyond anything we can fully grasp yet must cling to.
  3. Sing! Yes Sing! Not happy clappy joyous stuff that may not be inappropriate to where you are at but songs that affirm truth and that are brutally honest. Many modern worship songs just don’t go there which is very sad.
  4. For example, Isaac Watts wrote these verses to be sung:

    How long wilt Thou conceal Thy face?
    My God, how long delay?
    When shall I feel those heav’nly rays
    That chase my fears away?

    How long shall my poor labouring soul
    Wrestle and toil in vain?
    Thy word can all my foes control
    And ease my raging pain.

  5. Preach to your own soul. This is a key theme from John Piper and is so helpful. It is also a very good reason to memorise scripture. Preach helpful key truths from the word at yourself. The power of the Word through the Holy Spirit is not something to be underestimated.
  6. Remember past experiences of close and intimate times with God.
  7. Thirst for God as the Deer Pants for Water. This for me is the key to hanging in there when all things around have gone bad and when they are going well. Keeping absolutely focussed on clinging to and thirsting for God alone. Recognising that without God there is nothing else. Where else would you go? Clinging to God and gaining intimacy with the Lord is more important than relief from your circumstances. It is ok to desire relief but not at the expense of clinging to God.

    First you need to recognise the thirst inside you for God. Accessing that thirst and not minimising the feelings that come when you do. It is a deep desire that can be uncomfortable for many who live on the surface of their emotions because it is at the heart of who we are as Image bearers of God. We were created so that only God can satisfy that thirst. Therefore to get in touch with it is to uncover a profound ache deep in the soul longing to be satisfied. If you go to the wrong place for it you are in deep trouble.

    The word of Habakkuk 3:17-19 are apt here. That is my prayer in all things. To gain a depth of trust and faith in God that holds me firm in all circumstances.

Anyway CLICK HERE for the sermon link and enjoy some wonderful biblical teaching.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

I have been reading, on and off, ‘Desiring God’ by John Piper. It is one of those books that I can only read short bits of because there is so much to take in. Re-reading sections is often necessary to grasp what JP is trying to communicate. Not because he is a bad communicator, but because the concepts are so deep to grasp.

The chapter I want to look at here is on Worship. It start with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:7-26

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

After engaging with the woman Jesus, in a series of leads tries to draw the woman towards who He is. She is very slow to grasp what he is saying and sees only the practical and not the spiritual. So Jesus goes for the heart and addresses her adultery. Not out of cruelty but because often the only way into a persons heart is through a wound. Backed into a corner the woman responds in a common way, by changing the subject. As Piper puts it “Why, yes as long as we are talking about my adultery, what is your stance on the issue of where people should worship?”. Amazing isn’t it how we can try to so easily take the focus off ourselves, when the light is shined upon us and place it on something totally unconnected. However Jesus follows her rationale and takes us to the heart of the issue. The issue is not where we worship but far more important is how and whom we worship.

The Samaritan woman did not ‘know’ the One she worshipped. Worship must be based on having a true understanding of who God is as well as being deep and passionate in the heart.

The two paragraphs at the bottom of page 81 in my version are brilliantly insightful and I will quote them:

Worshipping in spirit is the opposite of worshipping in merely external ways. it is the opposite of empty formalism and traditionalism. Worshipping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God. Worship must have heart and head. Worship must engage emotions and thought.

Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of artificial admirers. On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought. But true worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship.(page 81-82, Desiring God, John Piper, Inter-Varsity Press)

Piper then lays out the following picture: The Fuel of worship is the truth of God. A true understanding of who God is as revealed in scripture. The furnace of worship being the regenerated human spirit. The heat of worship being the stuff of the heart. Like the joy, gratitude, trust, reverence etc… One thing is missing in that picture. The fire! This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. Until the Holy Spirit turns an unregenerate soul, which is dead in spirit and unable to worship God, into a living spirit there is no true worship. ‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit’.

So our vision of God’s true greatness, fired by the flame of the Holy Spirit in the furnace of the renewed human spirit brings the resulting outpouring of our affections in worship with song, tears, longings and obedient lives.

What is then pointed out is that all things can be done in vain.

Piper then quotes Isaiah 29:13

Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men

Worship here is seen as Honouring God. Not increasing God’s honour since that is impossible. It is rightly reflecting the honour He already has. But the core point is that it must be done with gladness or else it is not worship. It is more than just willing the heart to try and worship. For without real desire there can be no real worship.

We can outwardly go through all the ‘acts’ of worship however they are performed in the church by an act of the will. This is dead worship where the heart is not engaged.

So what makes worship authentic?

The psalms give a whole array of reasons to worship God. From stunned silence at the holiness of God, Psalm 46:10, Habakkuk 2:20, Psalm 33:8

Or in reverence at our sinfulness faced with Gods power. Isaiah 8:13, Psalm 5:7

This leads to brokenness and grief for out sinfulness, Psalm 51:17, Isaiah 57:15

Then a longing for God in the brokenness. Psalm 42:1-2, Psalm 73:25-26, Psalm 63:1

God brings relief from the burden of sin and lifts our hearts Psalm 30:11-12 and turns our gratitude into Hope Psalm 42:5-6 and Psalm 130:5

Our heart will, in the end, long not for God’s gifts but for God himself. Psalm 27:4, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 37:4

These are the things that turn worship in vain to true worship. A heart captured by God which responds in the only way it can. Worship becomes an end in itself. John Calvin puts it like this: “If God contains the fullness of all good things in himself like an inexhaustible fountain, nothing beyond him is to be sought by those who strike after the highest good and all the elements of happiness” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

If we see the reality of God arrayed in front of us through His word and His world and our hearts do not respond with any grief, longing, hope, fear, awe, joy or thankfulness then any outward act of worship is dead. We cannot honour God if our ‘heart is far from him’.

We must worship God! This is not a ritualistic must, out of duty, but one of deep heartfelt desire to worship. For instance, I must tell my wife I Love her. Not out of duty, or I think it the right thing to do, but because deep in my heart I feel passionately in love with her and that causes me to want to say it. If I say it out of duty then it is meaningless. So it is with the worship of God. It is utterly meaningless unless motivated by a heart captivated by God alone. We come to God humbly recognising our desperate need of Him knowing that He alone can satisfy the deep heartfelt longing to be happy.

Piper then goes on to describe three stages of worship that I found to be terribly helpful. The above could leave us feeling like we are, either not Christians, or that we have such dead spirits that we cannot worship God truly.

The first stage is where it all starts. A barrenness of soul that can scarcely feel any longing but yet feels that sorrow for having so little love. Psalm 73:21-22

I think we would all recognise this stage and is one I certainly seem to return to far too often.

The second stage is where we feel deep longing and desire yet are not feeling the fullness of the banquet. We can recall, maybe, times when we did and felt Gods goodness close.

I would say this stage is where most of us end up. In this world, where God’s kingdom has come yet is not yet we are caught between two realities. No matter our satisfaction in God in this life we will still lack fullness and therefore will feel that deep longing having tasted yet not been sated. The more we taste, the more insatiably we will feel our thirst and longings for that which can only be fully satisfied in heaven.

The third stage Piper describes as being one where we feel unencumbered joy in Gods perfection. Being satisfied with Gods excellency and overflowing with the joy of fellowship.

I am not sure if JP is hinting that this is possible in this life or that it is the ultimate goal of the Christian yet is only achieved in heaven. I personally would err on the side of heaven, but with the caveat that God could break into our reality in such a way as to bring a temporary taste of this third stage.

God is glorified even by a spark of longing in our hearts. Again this spark can not be manufactured or willed into existence. It only comes from a heart renewed and touched by the Holy Spirit.

The chapter then moves on to look at how we are too easily pleased and settle for far less than could be achieved. He quotes a brilliantly insightful sermon by C. S. Lewis that talks about how our thinking has been influenced too much by the stoics and Kant. That enjoyment or worship is a bad thing. Lewis points out that if we look at the rewards promised in the Gospels it would indicate our desire is too weak not too strong. Half heartedly fooling about with drink, drugs, sex when infinite joy is offered. As Jeremiah 2:11-13 puts it. We walk past a spring of living water and dig about in muddy cesspools looking for satisfaction.

Finally Piper takes us back to the ‘Truth’ part of the worship in ‘spirit and in truth’. There must be a balance between spirit which much of the above tackles and truth. He makes the point that the only affection that honour God are those rooted in the rock of biblical truth.

Without the revealed word of God in scripture we can know nothing of the true nature of who God is. Without the word we cannot know the whom we worship. As the Samaritan woman did not know.

Without the heat of the Holy Spirit our worship will be dead and lifeless. Without the light of the word then worship becomes a fervent, corrupt out of control mess leading wholly in the wrong direction. A deep passion for truth and sound doctrine need not create dead lifeless worship as is often said by those who are unwilling to see this connection. If the feast of worship is rare in the land, it is because there is a famine of the word of God (Amos 8:11-12)

So worship should engage both the mind to grasp the truths of God’s reality and for the heart to respond to the beauty of that truth. This is why I like worship songs that declare wonderful truths about God and take our eyes off ourselves and focus them on Him. Then my heart responds to the truth with a longing to draw closer and experience the satisfaction of honouring God in worship. For in doing so ones soul finds the only source of true lasting joy in the universe. To know God and be known by Him.

The Chief end of man is to Glorify God


enjoying Him forever.

All scripture quoted is from the ESV

This is a review and paraphrase of Chapter 3 of

Desiring God
John Piper
Inter-Varsity Press
ISBN: 978-1-84474-044-4
© 1986, 1996, 2003 by Desiring God Foundation

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Shack is only Fiction – Lighten up!

The Shack is ‘only Fiction’ I have been told by several people when questioning its representation of Christianity and God. ‘Don’t take it seriously’, you can’t compare it to scripture. Why does it bother me that it grossly misrepresents God and truth? Mainly because a lot of people seem to take it very seriously given its ‘copies sold’ stats. I know it’s fiction. I have a copy given to me, I will read it eventually. But many Christians and certainly non-Christians don’t seem to be very discerning, when it comes to Christian truth, in my experience and take things too much at face value. The writer of the Shack could have made the book just as emotionally provocative without mullering biblical truth.

Anyway a good article that ask some good questions when it is pointed out it is just fiction. Click HERE!

OR its full link: http://www.carm.org/more-stuff/features/shack-only-fiction

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Terry Virgo on Prayer – Elijah’s Prayer

Great teaching and stuff I really need to put into practice as I confess I am not a great prayer in my personal life. I can pray with others but on my own I find prayer hard to get in to. The discipline of praying alone is also one which I am so poor at. 20 years of being a Christian you would have thought it would be easier, nope! Any way enjoy this wonderful teaching from a truly wise man of God.

It is in two parts and well worth a listen to. This was also tweeted about by John Piper.

Elijah Prays For Rain from Adrian Warnock on Vimeo.

Elijah Prays Part Two from Adrian Warnock on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Men in the Media + Torchwood mini-review


Just a short post to give a quick few thoughts on Torchwood. Yes I know it was a week ago but it takes me time to write.

I watched the first series of Torchwood and then avoided the second. Mainly because I was sick of the unnecessary homosexual and sexual content of the show. It drifted so far from a scifi show into the realms of a Channel 5 trash show that it became unwatchable. We get it Russell T Davies, you are a Gay man. We get it John Barrowman, you are also a Gay man. Now take the huge chip of your shoulder and get on with writing decent stories. Sorry Rant over!

So with that background I watched this 5 part mini-series with a certain trepidation. I liked what I saw in the trailers so gave it a go. I have to say I found it on the whole very entertaining. It certainly pulled no punches and didn’t wimp out when difficult plot threads had to work themselves out adequately.

The end solution to the Alien threat was uncomfortable because it involved a child dying. Interesting resolution that, with one person being sacrificed for the sake of many so that they could be saved from an eternity of hell as a drug supply to the Aliens, the 456. Remind you of anything ;-)

The government discussions over who should be taken by the Aliens was well written. One can imagine exactly that kind of solution being put forward by any government. Save the fittest and sacrifice the weakest. How very Darwinian!

However what I found stood out for me was the character of Jack Harkness. On the one hand he is very heroic, given that he can’t die this is not very surprising and may even not be heroic. On the other he came across as a very weak Man. He runs away from emotionally difficult situations, hiding behind a mysterious facade or actually running away physically as he did at the end. Instead of facing the consequences of the decisions he makes.

This got me thinking about how masculinity is portrayed in the media. I came to the conclusion of badly I think. Looking at Michael Jackson again. Here was a man, idolised by millions, yet was a seriously disturbed, abused and lost human being. A small boy stuck in an adults body.

So many of the men we see in public life are either chauvinistic or effeminate and weak. Now I am not talking physically here. A man can be a good man and still be what would be described as physically weedy.

I am not going in to what makes a good, godly man now but just wanted to make the observation. Men are no longer men and have been tamed by the feminists and PC brigade. Let’s discover what a real man is before our whole society goes further down into the sewer of broken homes, no respect for authority, abuse etc…

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thoughts on Idol/Hero Worship in light of the death of Michael Jackson

After the death of any major popular public figure it always brings with it a major outpouring of hysteria, sentiment and grief. The death of Princess Diana and now Michael Jackson are two very good examples. What you see reported on the news for days afterwards is the views of anyone and everyone who claimed to have met, known, passed in the street one day, that person who has died.

Now of course it is sad when someone dies. What I find troublesome though is the value held to these public figures compared to any ‘normal’ person. Thousands of adults and children die every day, around the world, through starvation, war, illness, abortion, accidents etc… These countless thousands are no less important and valuable human beings. So what is it that causes us to be affected so much by the death of a public figure who we really didn’t know personally. We may have liked the music, liked what they stood for, admired their determination in the face of struggle. But does their death really warrant the mass scenes of grief and tears, the hype and hysteria that are played out on the news. People gathering where the person died, lived, is buried etc… just to be near something of that person.

This level of fanaticism and reaction shows that these public figures like MJ, Princess Diana, Elvis, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain etc.. are raised to a level of ‘Hero Worship’ by many people. They may not describe it as worship themselves, as ‘Worship’ tends to be seen in a religious setting  or as an externally visible act. However the reaction to that person no longer being around uncovers the reality of the heart.

We are all Worshippers! We are all Thirsty!

You see we are all worshippers. It is irrelevant whether you affiliate yourself with a religion of some description. Even the most die hard, ardent atheist is a worshipper. Richard Dawkins is a worshipper, mainly of himself, but a worshipper none the less. The question is what or who do we worship? What or who do we lift up as having ultimate value in our lives? Who or what do we pour ourselves out to, giving most of our time, money and energy? Who or what has first place in your life, is preeminent? Who or what, when it calls, do you drop everything to give it attention or time?

Below is a list of some, but by no means all, things that you can worship in your life:

  • Your Job
  • Sex
  • Money
  • Food
  • Alcohol
  • Sports Team or person
  • Pop/Music Star or Public Figure
  • Your Husband or Wife
  • Children
  • Relationships
  • Technology
  • Drugs
  • Religion
  • Television
  • The Environment
  • Health

Now most of that list are not actually bad things in and of themselves. Some are very good things indeed and are certainly to be enjoyed. But the problem comes when, to quote Mark Driscoll, ‘a good things becomes a God thing which is a bad thing!’. To put it in Biblical language, you knew I would go there eventually, it is Idolatry, plain and simple.

When something becomes the controlling factor that determines what you do day to day then it may have become an Idol. I realise Idolatry is not a term used much in modern language. It possibly conjures up images of stone or wooden figures, shrines and primitive people bowing down to them. However in the Bible it is essentially anything you place above God in your life.

Now for someone who is not a Christian this will not seem a particular problem. Why would you place God above any of the list above? Which is true, you wouldn’t and can’t do anything else other than to give yourself to one or several of the above or any host of other things this world offers a thirsty soul.

Which leads me on to the second point. We are all ‘Thirsty’! In Jeremiah 2:12-13, a chapter strong in language against Idolatry especially verse 20, God calls Himself ‘the fountain of living waters’ and condemns Israel for ignoring him and trying to find water for themselves. In John 4:13-14 Jesus indicates we are thirsty souls needing the ‘spiritual’ water that only He can provide that ‘wells up to eternal life’. The Bible is full of language indicating we are thirsty souls looking for satisfaction to our spiritual thirst that only God can provide. These are often linked with passages where people are chastised for trying to get that thirst satisfied in places other than the Lord God. This is called Idolatry and as we shall see later, God is not impressed at all!

So why are we the way we are. Why are we Thirsty Worshippers desperate for the deep longing in our heart and soul to be satisfied by something.

Why are we all Worshippers? Why are we all Thirsty Souls?

Firstly the Bible indicates that God is effectively a worshipping community of One. The Father, Son and Holy Sprit are, though One God, always in a state of Glorifying the other. God the Father glorifies Jesus the Son, Jesus glorifies the Father and The Holy Spirit both. God is complete in Himself and needs nothing and no one. He did not create us because He needed anything from us.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Psalm 50:12

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” Romans 11:35

Now since we human beings are made in the Image and Likeness of God, Genesis 1:26-27, it follows that we therefore are worshippers. However we are not God. We are created and He is creator. We were quite simply made to Worship God and have perfect communion and relationship with Him, as Adam and Eve did in Eden. In that relationship with God we were created to find perfect satisfaction and wholeness for our heart and soul. There was no emotional pain, rejection, fear, abuse or anything negative that we find so often in our relationships today. So what went wrong? Why do we now find our heart longing for something better than what we have. No matter how good our relationships are we still, deep down, know that something is wrong. It could end, it could be taken from us. We know that we will be hurt, rejected, let down, disappointed by those around us. We fear hoping too much for something or someone in case what we place our trust in falls down around us.

When the devil tempted Eve he did so by subverting Gods word and undermining the perfect trust relationship with God. In Genesis 3:1 the devil used the term “Did God actually say?”. This put doubt in Eve’s mind and the rest of the conversation raised a question regarding Gods goodness. The effect of the fall and sin means we are cut off from any relationship with God. Sin stands between us and God and we are lost. We are cut off from the only true source of salvation and satisfaction that our souls need. We doubt God’s goodness towards us and spend our lives trying to organise our own satisfaction and salvation. We are thirsty and we look everywhere but God to find something to quench our parched souls. Psalm 42 and Psalm 63 are wonderful descriptions of a thirsty soul longing for God to bring satisfaction.

So we are created to be worshippers, to pour ourselves out to something or someone and we are thirsty beings who are no longer in touch with the only source of true thirst quenching satisfaction, The Lord God. So we spend our lives worshipping that which we think will satisfy our thirsty souls, bring salvation to our lives, relief from the pain and a little taste of heaven on earth.

So what practically does this look like in our lives?

What Idolatrous Worship Looks like

I had a picture/vision, whatever you want to call it, recently that was of a desert oasis. A person in this oasis sees another one appear in the distance. Not being satisfied with the one they are in and thinking the other one will be better they run out into the heat of the desert towards that new one. When finally they reach that one, hot, weary, dehydrated, gasping for breath and desperate for water it vanishes into nothing. It was a mirage, a trick of the mind. Then they see another one and off they head. Forgetting the real one they left in the distance. This is what we do with God and idols.

We might give ourselves to our career at the expense of family and friends. We might become addicted to pornography, sex, money, alcohol, people, religious activity, whatever it may be that we think is the thing that will quench our thirst.  This could be the adulterous couple, the parents who let their children dictate how the family is run never saying no. The unmarried couple living together. The person who start the path down drug addiction with just the odd puff on a spliff. The person or couple always doing something on their house to make it look better. The person who changes job regularly. Any number of things that brings the high, the feeling of being alive, the relief that thing brings us temporarily is all with the aim of satisfying that thirst.

But it never, ever does, not fully. It is an illusion. It may give the impression of temporarily satisfying us but eventually we realise we are still thirsty. We either carry on in pursuit of that thing in the hope it once again brings some relief or we switch to something else. Endlessly running after something that will always leave us face down in the mud, more desperate, more determined to find something under our control to satisfy us. Every person is caught in this endless cycle, some more obviously than others. However every single human being that has ever lived and will ever live is in the same situation. A sinner apart from God, lost, thirsty with no possibility of finding for themselves a way out.

What God has to Say about Idolatry

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. - Isaiah 42:8

I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god - Isaiah 44:6

To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? - Isaiah 46:5

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me - Isaiah 46:9

Deuteronomy 4:15-31

15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

25 “When you father children and children's children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27 And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.

1 Corinthians 10:1-22 Paul warns against idolatry and goes as far as saying that any other God except the God of the Bible is a demon and reminds us what happened in Exodus 32 when Israel fell into idolatry.

Romans 1:18-32 The great passage where Paul sais we have in verse 25, ‘because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator’.

There are innumerable passages that show God is not at all impressed with His children worshipping any one or thing other than Him. This may seem harsh and wrong on the face of it. However, firstly God is God, creator and has every right to expect His creation to worship Him. It is not wrong in any way. It is selfishness, prideful, folly and arrogant for a human to desire or demand to be worshipped but not God. Secondly it is in our absolute best interest that we worship God and that God is jealous for our worship. He knows what is best for us, that we can only find true satisfaction in worshipping Him. As John Piper would say “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him!”.


The Solution to our Idolatry

So the obvious solution to our Idolatry is Worship of the one true God of the Bible. The God who humbled himself to become a human man, lived a perfect sinless life. Died in our place, took our sins upon himself and imputed his righteousness. By his death and resurrection we have access to God and our relationship restored and our sins forgiven if we turn to Christ. We have a new, regenerated heart that knows where to find satisfaction. This doesn’t mean we always go there but it means we can go there. I hate the idolatry I find in my own life that robs me of joy in my relationship with God and everyone else.

But by the Holy Spirit we can turn from temptation and idolatry to worship God and find joy and peace and love and security.

The first of the Ten Commandments is in Exodus 20:3-6

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

If that is our first priority and our hearts desire then all the other commandments fall into place. If we worship God and God alone we will not need to or desire to turn to alcohol, sex, porn, adultery, shopping, people, jobs, money, greed. All our non physiological problems are found in idolatry in one form or another. Where we seek something other than God to satisfy what only God can.

Only through Jesus Christ can you find forgiveness of sins. Only in worship of God can you find the answer to your thirsts and longings that this world absolutely, 100% fails to satisfy. Stop listening to the lies that you can do it yourself apart from Jesus.

Michael Jackson died, the ‘King of Pop’. Every idol, public figure, pop star, hero, person and everything will pass away but the ‘King of Kings’, the Lord Jesus will remain forever.

Only in him can we find a passionate, loving, all satisfying relationship that can see you through everything this world throws at you and into eternity with Him rather than eternity in hell.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Brilliant Introduction to Calvinism from John Piper

If you click the following link there is a brilliant summary and introduction to Calvinism from John Piper. If you have ever wondered what it is, who Calvin was and why it makes sense for many people then click HERE.

Also just cam across this PDF book on the 'Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World'. Contains some arguments against the emergent church view of theology.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Some Great Songs I love currently

Love this song particulary:

Kim Walker has such a great voice, and:


Love playing this one in church:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Explanation of God’s Sovereign Will and Grace in Salvation

The following is one of the clearest explanations of the Sovereign free will of God in salvation that I have heard. Taken from John 3:1-10 is explains the process of how God the Spirit enables a person to come to saving faith in Christ. Outstanding teaching from Jon Piper here, enjoy!

Click here to go to John Piper’s website including the notes from the sermon.

For the Video of the sermon click here.

For the Audio of the sermon click here.

(By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Can we get it so Wrong?

I recently had a fleeting visit to the city of York. This city has a very long history over many centuries which I don’t claim to know much about. However I recently became aware of an incident that happened in 1190. The outline of which can be seen in the photo below.



This anti-Semitism partly stemmed from the utterly incomprehensible idea that all Jews were responsible for Killing Jesus. This has been a recurring theme of anti-Semitic behaviour from people who claim to be Christian through the centuries.

This got me thinking about why and how such atrocities can occur and how people claiming to be Christian get it so horribly wrong when it quite clearly goes against anything that is written in the Bible. Then it occurred to me that up until the Bible was translated into normal everyday language, whatever that may be, ‘Christians’ only knew what was taught them from the pulpit of the Church. (From a brief search this site gives an outline of the History of the Bible translations). Not until the 1500’s was an English translation of the Bible available for the common man. The Roman Church tried to suppress any version that was not in Latin and killed many in the process. It became clear that the Latin Vulgate bible that the Catholic church held to was massively corrupt and I am sure the source of much of the error that seeped into the church over the centuries. Satan won a great victory for a time here by blinding the understanding of the common man by using our innate desire for power and corrupting what started as good, the Church!

Not until everyone could read the Bible for themselves could they discern that what was being taught by the Church was far from ‘the Truth’. This kicked off the Reformation and much conflict between the Catholic and for a time Anglican church who wanted to retain tight control and those that Declared the Truth of scripture boldly challenging the established order. I am not about to discuss the Reformation here, Google it if you wish to look that up.

We are encouraged to search the scriptures daily like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), finding out if what is being taught us is right. We should never take on face value any teaching that is given. We are to test the spirits to make sure everything is from God and not from the Devil. The only way to do that is to know what is contained in the Bible. Without scripture we will warp God’s word and come up with all sorts of error in our thinking about our Faith for ‘the Heart is Deceitful above all Things, and desperately sick;’ (Jeremiah 17:9-10). A Christian needs to live in the Spirit but from the Word of God. Without both we either end up as ‘Charismaniacs’ and falling into all sort of gross lunatic heresy or we become legalists bound by duty and adherence to the law.

Either being ignorant of scripture or choosing to put your own slant on something, influenced by culture for instance, leads to such errors that Steve Chalke is currently declaring. He has denied the ‘Substitutionary Atonement’ of Jesus calling it cosmic child abuse. The whole of Christian faith pretty much hangs on this doctrine and it is so clearly taught right from the beginning to the end of scripture. The current Emergent church seems to be falling in to this trap of discarding Biblical Doctrine for the sake or being culturally relevant. Taken to its ultimate end is how the Cults that are based on Christianity came about. Where a Man or Men decided to add to what the Bible says and distort what is clearly taught in the Bible alone. Revelation 22:18 clearly warns that God is really not impressed by anyone who adds to scripture along with Other OT passages that command us not to add to God’s Word.

So in conclusion and in answer to my Question that is the Title of this article. How do we get it so wrong in reference to doing things in the name of God that are so in contradiction with God and His commandments. If we do not understand what is in Gods word, about the human condition, our sinful nature, our ultimate destination if we do not accept Jesus Christ and his Substitutionary death on the Cross, ie: Hell. We will invent our own theories and doctrines and be deceived by the Devil who is the great deceiver and father of lies. His very goal is to get us to put ourselves in the place of God and walk in utter darkness while thinking we are in the light.

Hebrews 4:12 says: ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’

If you do not know what the Word says then you will be deceived and are in fact in Darkness and heading for a most horrendous place. This life on earth is the closest you will get to Heaven. Happy to live your own life, your way, for you alone. I plead with all my heart that you would come to know and understand that without surrender and submission to Christ there is no hope. But with Christ there is salvation, Hope, joy, life and unconditional Love for eternity. Living knowing this life is the nearest you will ever get to Hell.

So such atrocities that occurred in York and through the Centuries and up to today in the name of the God of the Bible absolutely inexcusable in the light of the Word of God. The conflicts in the world today are not because of ‘Religion’ even when they are in its name. They are caused by such things as greed, selfishness, pride, desire for power, covetousness, ignorance, false religion, hatred and idolatry. True Christianity speaks against such things because the Bible does and therefore God does. We are to stand up for truth and fight against evil and oppression but only out of a heart to see people brought to Christ and for God’s Kingdom to come on Earth for the Glory of God alone.

The Otherness of God

This is a talk I recently gave to our church Worship Team where we are working through the Book Facedown by Matt Redman.

Worship of God must come from a sense of wonder at His otherness or it is not worship. Words like Inexhaustible, immeasurable, unfathomable, eternal, immortal and invisible try to convey something of the otherness of God.

God is like no other but as Tozer remarked ‘Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms’. The Bible reminds us repeatedly of God’s uniqueness.

Q: Are there any areas in your life you can identify where you box God into your view rather than that of scripture?


I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. 42:8

I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god 44:6

To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? 46:5

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me 46:9

We must be wary of trying to be so culturally relevant that we fail to see the higher value in the Glory of God. He is in no way like us and we merely touch the shallowest depths of who God is.

It is too easy to present a tame, domesticated God in church and fail to explore the mighty depths of the Lord. We can package God as though he somehow needs us, our worship, our offerings and love. God does not need us at all, in any way. He is perfectly whole, complete in the relationship within the Trinity.

Q: Has it ever occurred to you that God in no way needs you?

If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Psalm 50:12

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25

Everything we have comes first from God, even the breath we use to praise Him came from Him.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” Romans 11:35

God owes us nothing and never fall into the lie that He somehow does. No matter what deep and painful struggle we may find ourselves in we must never think we can demand God help us and that he somehow owes us an answer. Or that we can demand He bless us, heal us, fix the circumstances we find ourselves in. He may do so in His sovereign will and loves to lavish good gifts upon us but never, ever think he somehow owes them to us.

Q: Can you think of times where you have demanded God come through for you and been disappointed that He didn’t?

When things go wrong, how we react is a good indicator of how much we understand about the otherness of God. It highlights where we are placing more trust in ourselves or something other than God. That we are more interested in our own comfort than His Glory. This is idolatry! Worship of something other than God.

However this picture of Gods otherness is only really complete when we add in His outrageous Grace. God does not need our worship but the wonderful thing is He loves our worship. God delights in honest, heartfelt worship. He is like a doting father over a cherished child. Just as His otherness is beyond our understanding so is His fatherly love and grace.

This Love and grace is summed up in the sacrifice of Jesus that provides the access to God in the first place. Without which we could never approach the throne room of God. We come through Jesus, in Jesus and with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Our existence, from creation to salvation to sanctification is quite simply all about Him and for His Glory.


everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. 43:7

the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. 43:21

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. 43:25

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. 48:10-11

We are created and he is creator. Every page of the story is one of Grace, Love and mercy towards us. God lavishly gives us good gifts but we must never think for a second any of it is about us. God is passionate and jealous for His own Glory.

It seems hard to accept that God must care about his own Glory. When man glorifies himself it is pure arrogance and pride. When God glorifies himself it is from a place of pure holiness. God must prize Himself above all others since there is no one else above Him, He is God.

Passionate and intimate worship of God is not so uncommon in today's church. However we need to find ways of helping the church respond to the otherness of God which is equally as important. This surely has to start in our own lives and become part of who we are. A people who reserve something for God alone. Words, thoughts or actions.

Q: Is there anything you do or could do that is reserved for God alone?

Q: How in leading worship can we get across something of the Otherness we have been discussing?

The Jews revered the name of God so highly they would not even write or say his name. We need to recapture this sense of otherness but we need glimpses of this otherness before we can sing wholeheartedly about it.

Tozer writes: ‘What the Church needs today is a restoration of the vision of the Most High God’. This is a relevant today as it was 50 years ago when it was written.

Friday, April 17, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1930's 1940's, 50's, 60's and early 70's!

Received this from a friend. Sadly oh so true………… ish!


First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

Take away food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds , KFC, Subway or Nandos.

Even though all the shops closed at 6.00pm and didn't open on the weekends, somehow we didn't starve to death!

We shared one so ft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy  Toffees, Gobstoppers, Bubble Gum and some bangers to blow up frogs with.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because......


We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo Wii , X-boxes, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY ,
no video/dvd  films, 
no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
Lawsuits from these accidents.

Only girls had pierced ears!

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time...

We were given air guns and catapults for our 10th birthdays,

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house ! and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

Mum didn't have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!

RUGBY and CRICKET had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on

Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes and bully's always ruled the playground at school.

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.
They actually sided with the law!

Our parents didn't invent stupid names for their kids like 'Kiora' and 'Blade' and 'Ridge' and 'Vanilla'

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO

And YOU are one of them!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.