Sunday, 28 March 2010

True freedom!

It seems to be quite a rare thing nowadays for people to put their hand up and take the blame for their misdemeanours. I’m nor sure I can remember, for instance, the last time I heard a politician do that (even when apparently caught red handed), and when Tiger Woods steps up and admits the full shame of his philandering and the betrayal of his wife, he is immediately suspected of engaging in some stage-managed ploy to save his brand name.

I guess you don’t have to look very far to realise that actually we are all pretty skilled at sidestepping blame and pushing it onto others. We started young didn’t we? No child has to be taught the line “It wasn’t my fault, it was him!”, and the innocent look to go with it comes quite naturally from a very young age.
And yet that inbuilt reflex to sidestep, although employed in the name of self-preservation, actually has the opposite effect of leaving us diminished and uncomfortable, because when we sidestep we take our guilt with us.

Easter celebrates the most liberating truth of the Christian message, that instead of sidestepping we can stand right where we are and have our sin and guilt lifted from us forever, as we humbly admit “Guilty as charged” and look to Jesus to step into our place and take our blame on himself.
Martin Luther put it like this: ‘Christ alone bears our sins. Therefore beware, as you place your sins on your conscience, that you do not panic, but freely place them on Christ…. Hence you must say: “I see my sin in Christ, therefore my sin is not mine but another’s. I see it in Christ.” It is a great thing to say confidently: “My sin is not mine.” “My sins have been transferred to Christ; He has them!”

Jesus died on a cross, taking yours and my sin upon himself, so that if we will put up our hands and admit “Yes, guilty as charged” and put our faith in Him to save us, then just as Jesus rose from the dead, so we too can enjoy full forgiveness, a clear conscience, and the newness of life that comes from knowing Him.

This is true freedom!


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Grace abounding!

I have a good friend who clearly has a gift from God of generosity. He is very thoughtful and attentive to situations and people around him, continually looking for the opportunity to bless or give. I’m sure you would agree that this is a very attractive quality – especially if you have been on the receiving end! It’s great to be around people like that!

There are other people I know who, how can I put it, are either oblivious to everyone & everything outside of themselves or are just plain mean-spirited. And who likes to be around them?

This has a bearing on something that is very much on my mind on the moment, namely the fact that the Apostle Paul repeatedly uses the phrase ‘in Christ’ to describe the life of a Christian. For Paul, a Christian is someone who has had a dynamic encounter with Jesus Christ, as a result of which, he or she has died to themselves and now lives this new ‘resurrection’ life that flows out of the fact that Jesus is alive, present and active in us by the Spirit. If it’s real, then it must issue forth in a changed life – albeit step by step as we discover God’s grace for each situation, including grace to put us back on our feet when we fall.

So those ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bands that the younger generation sometimes wear are totally appropriate for many life situations. After all, I want to be like Jesus, don’t you? So be provoked by my friend, and be alert, looking for every opportunity to exceed in this grace of giving – just as Jesus continues to lavishly pour his grace and goodness on us. That’s what he’s like!


Sunday, 7 March 2010

For me, to live is...

What a great weekend! Our annual 18 – 30’s weekend (MOBILISE EAST) is always a great event and this year has been no exception. To see around 150 young people worshipping God and zealous to be radical in their devotion to Jesus, is awesome! This years’ guest speakers were Sam and Marlene Poe who are great examples of a radical couple who have taken many bold steps in life and ministry over the years, and in fact are just now embarking on a fresh adventure as they go on from here to Zimbabwe where they will be living for several months, serving the churches.

Of course, every age group is equally important in church life, but as a church leader, I count it a particular privilege to have this Mobilise age group in the mix because there is little doubt that these are the years when important choices are made that can affect the trajectory of the rest of ones life. What will be the motivating factor in the big decisions of life – money, success, comfort, self-indulgence?? Of course, those things get dressed up in very attractive garb and are well able to grab us and set the course of our lives, but they are not enough! We were made for more! I am eternally grateful for the discomfort that God graciously laid on me back in my early twenties, causing me to realise early on that living safe and for self would never be enough.

The apostle Paul says it best: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me Galatians 2:20.

For to me to live is Christ! Philippians 1:21. Any other priority in life is just never going to be enough – whatever age you are!

Thanks MOBILISE for the provocation, or should I say reminder - us older guys know about radical too!


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