Sunday, 29 August 2010

What's your story?

We always used to think that August was a ‘flat’ month as far as Sunday meetings go, especially the Bank Holiday weekend when everyone seems to be away. Not anymore! We have had some outstanding times this year with great preaching on the theme of the resurrection, awesome worship and lots of people!!

Amongst other things, we sang a hymn this morning (Evan style!) that took me back to the days of school assemblies: I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me.. Remember it? The refrain of the chorus goes: Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story…. And it got me thinking.
I was travelling this week (Copenhagen & back) and threw a book in my bag entitled: “The Drama of Scripture” by Craig Bartholomew & Michael Goheen. Usually I read a page or two and then the hassle & distractions of a short flight take over & the book gets put aside. Not this one! From the moment I read the following, I was riveted:

‘In order to make sense of our lives and to make our most important decisions, we depend on some story. Some story provides the broader framework of meaning for our lives…. I can only answer the question, “What am I to do?” if I can answer the prior question “Of what story do I find myself a part?” Wow – that focuses your thinking! Read on…
‘Is there a true story of the whole world in which I am called to live my life?... What is the real story of which my life is a part?’
This book is a must read for any serious minded Christian or enquirer, but back to this morning’s hymn!

Yes there is an astonishing story into which my life (and yours?) has been woven, into which God has graciously written me a part, and it’s a story that God crafted before time began. It’s a story inspired by divine love that worked its way powerfully and providentially through the centuries to the climax of the Christ who died for me.!
And it is this story, yet to be concluded but of which we know the outcome (listen to James’ preaching from this morning!) that must define the life and choices of every Christian.

It is said of our post-modern culture that no one believes in a big picture any more, that there is no overarching story, so people just live their own self-centred little dramas. How small. How sad. How hopeless – literally. But God has, in Christ, presented mankind with a wonderful story of astonishing hope, help and happiness – and that is why I was so gripped by that old hymn, and challenged to see that my life is caught up in the greatest story ever told.
So yes, I most definitely will sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me!!

(Goff now Twitters!)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

New Day - Every Day!

It has been so good to hear & read reports of Newday. Last week, between 6 and 7 thousand young people for Newfrontiers churches around the nation and beyond gathered at the Showground for this years’ event. I have been hearing brilliant reports of great worship and many lives impacted by the gospel, which is priceless, and only time will tell the true impact of last week, as an army of young people return home or set off for university courses and so on, with a new zeal to live for Jesus.

I’m reminded of the opening verses of Colossians where Paul, writing about the gospel says: ‘…the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing- as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,’ Col 1:6. This is what the gospel does! This is what happens when people, young and old, hear and understand the grace of God in truth! It is powerful! It is effective! And it bears fruit and grows and spreads out as the good news of God’s wonderful grace, expressed in Jesus Christ, captivates the human heart, changes lives and results in radical Christ-followers.

In case you’re thinking that this is a bit extreme and that ‘normal’ Christianity is not quite like that, let me quote what Milton Vincent points out about the gospel: “Outside of heaven, the power of God in its highest density is found inside the gospel. This must be so, for the Bible twice describes the gospel as “the power of God.” Nothing else in all of Scripture is ever described in this way, except for the Person of Jesus Christ.’ He goes on to say… ‘Indeed, God’s power is seen in erupting volcanoes, in the unimaginable hot boil of our massive sun, and in the lightning speed of a recently discovered star seen streaking through the heavens at 1.5 million miles per hour. Yet in Scripture such wonders are never labeled “the power of God.”*
(* quoted from: 'A Gospel Primer for Christians' by Milton Vincent)

This morning at Kings, Steve reminded us that this gospel, this “power of God” is at work in the life of every born again believer! When we hear, understand and respond to this gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus, it really is a New Day – Every Day!

Have a great week – in Christ!


Monday, 9 August 2010

Too heavenly minded..?

During August we are doing a short preaching series on the Resurrection, exploring the significance of Jesus’ rising from the dead and the impact of this event on our lives – present and future. And they are huge!!

At yesterday’s meeting @ City Centre there was a big focus on our future hope as Christians, a focus that came across both in the worship and the preaching – and for me, it was awesome! Jesus’ triumph over death was a turning point in history, and on it turns the destiny of every person who puts their faith in Him. Because Jesus broke the power of death and rose from the grave, death is no longer what it used to be; it has lost it’s sting – for the believer. This is a truth that, in my opinion, many Christians have too week a grip of, with the result that they are troubled with anxieties and fears about the future.

Then for some reason, that old adage went through my mind, about being too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use; ever heard it? I guess it conjurers up the image of a mystical individual in a sort of trance, who’s forgotten about everybody else, and even how to dress and feed himself! Is that what a strong future hope does to you? Absolutely not, in fact the New Testament teaches that our hope should actually make us more effective in the here and now – especially in the way we treat others. Look at this from Colossians ch1:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
Do you see that? Love for all the saints exactly because of the hope laid up for you in heaven!

John Piper, commenting on these verses put it like this:
‘A strong confidence in the promises of God and a passionate preference for the joy of heaven over the joy of the world frees a person from worldly self-centredness, from paralyzing regret and self-pity, from fear and greed and bitterness and despair and laziness and impatience and envy. And in the place of all these sins, hope bears the fruit of love.’

Evan, keep working on that new song – we need more of this focus on our future hope in Christ because it changes us and builds the church!


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Don't forget to be grateful!

I have been known to forget things.. often, so it was some consolation this morning when Angie forget a dental appointment – very un-Angie! She’s obviously been with me for too long!
Of course being forgetful can at times be positively advantageous, as in the case of quickly forgetting bad things that happen to us, and even biblical when it comes to unhelpful complacency:But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.. Phil 3:13. But on the whole, forgetfulness is unhelpful and leaves us bereft of things, such as car keys, wallets, and more importantly, peace, joy and all the benefits of being a new creation in Christ!

One thing I am determined not to be forgetful of is God’s goodness to me in healing me from cancer. Even as the weeks pass, I remind myself daily of how blessed I am, how good God has been to me, and how valuable each day is with all it’s opportunities. And I find that daily reminder to be very helpful, keeping me from any sense of gloom or personal discouragement. Psalm 103 is very helpful counsel: ‘Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…’

So being grateful to God for his benefits to me this last year really does do me good. Gratitude does that; you should try it. But even more fundamental to our joy and daily well being is the discipline of not forgetting, but bringing to mind each day (repeatedly!) the awesomeness of being a Christian, of being called, forgiven, made new, alive in Christ and bound for heaven, in short, remembering the Good News, the Gospel! Milton Vincent puts it like this:

‘The gospel is so foolish (according to my natural wisdom), so scandalous (according to my conscience), and so incredible (according to my timid heart), that it is a daily battle to believe the full scope of it as I should. There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemnings of my heart, and the lies of the world and the devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel’

Be grateful, not forgetful!


(you can now follow Goff on Twitter)