David's Blog

How well do you know God


How well do you know God  by John Piper 
(from his Solid Joys blog published by Desiring God - the blog can be found here How well do you know God - Solid Joys)

“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” (Job 36:26)
It is impossible to know God too well.
He is the most important person who exists. And this is because he made all others, and any importance they have is owing to him.
Any strength or intelligence or skill or beauty that other beings have comes from him. On every scale of excellence, he is infinitely greater than the best person you ever knew or ever heard of.
Being infinite, he is inexhaustibly interesting. It is impossible, therefore, that God be boring. His continual demonstration of the most intelligent and interesting actions is volcanic.
As the source of every good pleasure, he himself pleases fully and finally. If that’s not how we experience him, we are either dead, or blind, or sleepwalking.
It is therefore astonishing how little effort in this world is put into knowing God.
It’s as though the President of the United States came to live with you for a month, and you only said hello in passing every day or so. Or as if you were flown at the speed of light for a couple of hours around the sun and the solar system, and instead of looking out the window, you played a computer game. Or as if you were invited to watch the best actors, singers, athletes, inventors, and scholars perform their best, but you declined to go, so you could watch the TV season’s final soap.
Let us pray together that our infinitely great God would incline our hearts, and open our eyes to see him as fully as we can and seek to know him more.

What can Christianity offer our society in the 21st century - Tim Keller

The 2018 National Prayer Breakfast at Westminster, London was held recently with 140 MPs in attendance including Theresa May & a number of cabinet ministers and also 25 Peers from the House of Lords as well as various Ambassadors and UK church leaders. Tim Keller had been invited to speak at it on the subject of What can Christianity offer our society in the 21st century?'

You can watch his address here:What can Christianity offer -Tim Keller video


Are you a container or a conduit for your money?

There are so many warnings in the Bible about the dangers of money (e.g. Matthew 6.24 or 1 Timothy 6.9-10) - here's a quotation from Paul Tripp that encourages us to think carefully and clearly about our own relationship to our money:

There is a way in which you and I are always viewing ourselves as either a container or a conduit for the money we are given. Either we want money to stop with us because we have conceived many ways that it will make our life better, easier, or more pleasurable, or we think of ourselves as a pipeline and are excited that the money we have been given can bless and benefit the lives of others. Either our money is the currency that pays the bills for the small-market visions of the kingdom of self, or it is a God-given tool in our hands for participating in the big-picture work of the kingdom of God.

 The quotation came from an article adapted from Paul Tripp's book Redeeming money: How God reveals and re-orients our hearts. You can find the whole article here: 10 things you should know about money

5 Digital Dangers

The digital world is all around us and brings with it particular temptations. Here are some wise words from John Piper's Solid Joys blog  as we seek to navigate our way through it. You can find the original post here: Five digital dangers




Five Digital Dangers
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:14)

Christians do not just coast through life like jellyfish floating in the current of contemporary culture. We live by the power of the Spirit and find our course by the word of God. We swim. Like dolphins, not jellyfish. Part of that course setting and power is expressed in thoughtful engagement with the digital realities of our day. Dangers included. Here are five.

1) The hook of constant curiosity
Digital devices offer a never-ending possibility for discovery. Even the basic operating systems can consume hours of curious punching and experimenting. Then there are the endless apps consuming weeks of your time as they lure you into their intricacies.

All this is very deceptive, giving the illusion of power and effectiveness, but leaving you with a feeling of emptiness and nervousness at the end of the day.

Resolution: I will strictly limit my experimental time on the device and devote myself more to truth than to technique.

2) The empty world of virtual (un)reality
How sad to see brilliant, creative people pouring hours and days of their lives into creating cities and armies and adventures that have no connection with reality. We have one life to live. All our powers are given to us by the real God for the real world leading to a real heaven and real hell.

Resolution: I will spend my constructive, creative energy not in the unreality of “virtual reality” but in the reality of the real world.

3) “Personal” relations with a machine
Like no other invention, a computer comes closest to being like a person. You can play games with it. It will talk to you. It will always be there for you. The great danger here is that we really become comfortable with this manageable electronic “person,” and gradually drift away from the unpredictable, frustrating, sometimes painful dealings with real human persons.

Resolution: I will not replace the risk of personal relationships with impersonal electronic safety.

4) The risk of tryst
“Tryst \’trist\ noun: An agreement (as between lovers) to meet.” Sexual affairs begin in private time together, extended conversation, and the sharing of soul, which can now be done in absolute seclusion through digital devices. You can think that “it’s just nothing” — until she (or he) shows up in town.

Resolution: I will not cultivate a one-on-one relationship with a person of the opposite sex other than my spouse. If I am single, I will not cultivate such a relationship with another person’s spouse.

5) Porn                                                               
More insidious than X-rated videos, we can now not only watch but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to “do it” or make them “do it” virtually.
I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalises women. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything.

Resolution: I will never open any app or website for sexual stimulation, nor purchase or download anything pornographic.


Church - only messy people allowed!


Definitely something to think about in this article by Sam Alberry which originally appeared here on the Gospel Coalition website :  Only messy people allowed


Only Messy People Allowed: Toward a Culture of Grace

May 9, 2018  | Sam Allberry 

Some time ago a Christian friend came to me in distress. He’d had too much to drink while out with some friends. He’d known them for years and would regularly drink in moderation with them, but on this occasion he’d lapsed in his self-control. As far as he was concerned, he’d just blown several years of witnessing to them.

A group of us at church were discussing how to promote the prayer ministry offered every Sunday at the end of the service. We were thinking about how we could encourage more people to make use of it, when one lady said, “Well I’d never use it. I’d hate for other people to assume that I had a 
problem.”

Both these incidents reveal an underlying malaise in many of our churches. I’m not sure we really believe in grace. We do, in the sense that we teach it and assent to it in our confessions. But perhaps we don’t, in the sense of really living it.

PR Agents for Jesus

The problem, I suspect, is something of a misstep in our formula of what it means to live for Christ. We think we’re his PR agents: If I look good, then Jesus looks good.

So we hate the thought of not looking good. It’s Christian failure.

I don’t need to look good so Jesus can look good; I need to be honest about my colossal spiritual need so he can look all-sufficient.

If this mindset permeates a whole church family, however, our life together becomes a matter of performance. We put on our best Christian mask, take a deep breath, and head to church. If Christian parents adopt this mindset, parenting becomes about trying to perform well in front of the kids, making sure they only see the highest standard of Christian behaviour from us.

This may be a common way of thinking, but it’s disastrous. It leads to hypocrisy. The fact is, we’re not good, and we can only keep up the façade for a little while before the cracks begin to show. Our children see it right away. They know what we’re really like and can immediately tell when we try to put a Christian sheen over it. And when we really make a mess of things, the last place we want to go is church. We’re supposed to look Christian there, so when we know we can’t remotely pretend things are together, it’s easier simply not to go. Best to keep the mess away from the sanctuary.

All this is a sign that while we may be professing grace, we’re not actually inhabiting a culture of grace. We’re not Jesus’s PR agents, and he is not our client. We are broken men and women, and he is our Saviour. It’s not the case that I need to look good so Jesus can look good; I need to be honest about my colossal spiritual need so he can look all-sufficient. I don’t increase so he can increase; I decrease so he can increase (John 3:30). That means being honest about my flaws, not embarrassed about them.

Culture of Grace

Imagine the difference this would make to our witness. Rather than thinking I have to constantly be looking less sinful than every non-Christian I know, I am instead liberated to be myself, warts and all, so that I can show that my confidence is not in me. My friend who had too much to drink now has an amazing opportunity to be an authentic witness to Christ—not by pretending we Christians don’t have any sin, but by demonstrating what we do with it. If it’s about performance, then my friend really has blown it and will be too embarrassed to see his friends. But if it’s about forgiveness, then he gets to model repentance, to show brokenness about sin and sheer relief in a Savior.

Imagine also the difference this would make to our church life. Rather than having a stigma about being anything less than spiritually sorted, we can come together as a group of people who are open and free about our colossal spiritual need. The assumption stops being “We have to be good if we’re coming here,” and instead becomes “You have to be a real mess to show up here—thank goodness I’m not the only one.” Which do you think sounds more inviting? Which is going to foster deeper confession and public repentance? Instead of feeling embarrassed about going forward to receive prayer, we can experience the joy and relief of knowing we’re all ultimately in the same boat.

Grace, then, becomes not just a formal doctrine but a felt reality. No one is too low, too far gone, too needy—too anything—to worry about not fitting in around here. Our testimony is not “I was a mess, then Jesus showed up, and now I’ve got everything together,” but “I was a mess—and I still am—but I’m a mess who belongs to Jesus, a mess he is committed to sorting out. He came to me, has stuck with me, and continues to be my all in all.”

Indeed, we can say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world—but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

Sam Allberry is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, a global speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and a pastor based in Maidenhead, UK. He is the author of a number of books, including Is God Anti-Gay? (Good Book, 2013)James For You, and most recently Why Bother with Church. He is a founding editor of Living Out, a ministry for those struggling with same-sex attraction. You can follow him on Twitter.


A prayer to pray every day of life?

Reading Through the Bible through the year with John Stott (p296)  I came across this prayer  of which he prayed at the very beginning of each day:

Almighty and everlasting God,Creator and Sustainer of the universe, I worship you.

Lord Jesus Christ,Saviour and Lord of the world, I worship you.

Holy Spirit,Sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.Amen.

Heavenly Father, I pray that this dayI may live in your presence and please you more and more.

Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that this dayI may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day your fruit may ripen in my life -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons and one God, have mercy upon me.

Amen. 

Rescued by grace alone



“It is grace at the beginning, and grace at the end. So that when you and I come to lie upon our deathbeds, the one thing that should comfort and help and strengthen us there is the thing that helped us in the beginning. Not what we have been, not what we have done, but the Grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Finding hope in an age of cynicism

Hope is such a precious commodity. Without we can't live, we won't live - certainly not as we were intended to live. Here's an article by Jason Duesing that encourages Christians in particular to be a hope-full people. It first appeared here on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Choose hope
Jason Duesing is  the academic Provost and Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.




CHRISTIAN, CHOOSE HOPE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

When I was young, faced with washing dishes or some other such chore, my siblings and I would wonder when science would catch science fiction and our home would function like The Jetsons, where everything was automated awesomeness.

In the decades since then, our world does indeed resemble the dreams of yesterday’s science fiction, but it has also travelled further into dystopia. As one columnist wrote, “In contrast to science fiction tales set in fantastical futures on distant planets, dystopian novels take the anxieties of people on earth and amplify them.”[1]

With instant global interconnectedness alerting us to all forms of tragedy and conflict, our society appears to have defaulted either to resigned despair or distracted indifference. When regularly our leaders disappoint us by their actions and their human flaws are flouted and magnified due to our relentless and merciless scrutiny, it’s easy to see why many have come to a collective understanding that no one can stand with a message of hope. Once a small genre of fiction literature, dystopian-themed novels, games, and movies seem now to be the predominant world in which entertainment takes place, and increasingly the real world as well.

Hope, rather than dystopia, is the fiction of our day. What happened?

Active and passive cynicism

In the process of avoiding the anxiety of a Big Brother governmental takeover like in George Orwell’s 1984, society instead followed Neil Postman’s prediction that we would amuse ourselves to death. And, with anxiety and amusement gone, only cynicism remains.

In 2015, composer Mohammed Fairouz wrote, “The age of anxiety has given way to the age of cynicism. Among my generation, cynicism is no longer a bad word: it’s being celebrated, and it is often mistaken for intelligence.” The age of cynicism, Fairouz continues, is where “it is better to be wry and distrustful than to be open and trusting.”[2]                   

Luis Navia, in his critical study of classical cynicism, explains that in modern times a cynical person is:
someone who rejects ethical values and ideals . . . and who reacts sceptically and sarcastically to even the most innocent and well-intentioned human actions. For such a person, most if not all human activities are suspect and unworthy of trust, since no one, according to the cynic, ever seeks or pursues anything except for the specific yet often secret purpose of benefiting himself. For the cynic, accordingly, hypocrisy and deceitfulness, primitive selfishness and unbounded egotism, and gross materialism and disguised ruthlessness are the hidden characteristics of all human behaviour. Hence, the cynic does not believe in ideals or lofty aspirations, which are in his mind only linguistic and behavioural games promoted for the purpose of manipulating and duping people, or ways to hide the enormous state of confusion that permeates the average human consciousness.[3]

The Christian and cynicism

However, Christians should take heed, for we, as those living in this world, are prone to bend toward it. Often, the pull toward cynicism is easier to follow than the struggle to resist. Sarcasm comes too easy, complaining is default small-talk, and despair can mark us more than joy.
Often, the pull toward cynicism is easier to follow than the struggle to resist. Sarcasm comes too easy, complaining is default small-talk, and despair can mark us more than joy.

John Bunyan, in his allegory of the Christian life, Pilgrim’s Progress, introduces a character named Hopeful to aid Christian on his journey “from this world to that which is to come.”[4] Hopeful is a fellow pilgrim who joins Christian after his earlier companion, Faithful, was martyred. Bunyan describes him in phoenix-like terms as rising out of Faithful’s ashes.

Hopeful proves a worthy and helpful companion to Christian. When they were imprisoned together in Doubting Castle by the Giant Despair, it is Hopeful’s words that helped calm Christian’s mind. Later, as they neared the end of the journey and were faced with crossing a deep river in order to enter the gate to the Celestial City, Christian began to despair, and as they waded in, he began to sink. At that moment, Hopeful provides the encouragement that pulls Christian across the finish line: “Be of good cheer, my brother, I feel the bottom, and it is good.”[5]

Christian reader, in a cynical age where despair abounds, there is a mere hope that has found the bottom, and it is good.

This article is an excerpt from Mere Hope: Life in an Age of Cynicism.
NOTES
  1. ^ Nick Ripatrazone, “The strange hope of dystopian fiction since The Road,” The Christian Century, July 17, 2017, https://www.christiancentury.org/article/ strange-hope-dystopian-fiction-road.
  2. ^ Mohammed Fairouz, “The Age of Cynicism,” On Being, July 25, 2015, https://onbeing.org/blog/ the-age-of-cynicism/.
  3. ^ Luis E. Navia, Classical Cynicism: A Critical Study (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), 1.
  4. ^ John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), updated and edited by C. J. Lovik (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009).
  5. ^ Ibid.

The Great Exchange

Here's a post from John Piper's Solid Joys that takes us to the very heart of the gospel- if you want to get these daily delivered to your email you can arrange that at the bottom of the website page here Solid Joys :


The Great Exchange
By John Piper

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed. (Romans 1:16–17)
We need righteousness to be acceptable to God. But we don’t have it. What we have is sin.
So, God has what we need and don’t deserve — righteousness; and we have what God hates and rejects — sin. What is God’s answer to this situation?
His answer is Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died in our place and bore our condemnation. “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he [God] condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Whose flesh bore the condemnation? His. Whose sins were being condemned? Ours. This is the great exchange. Here it is again in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
God lays our sins on Christ and punishes them in him. And in Christ’s obedient death, God fulfills and vindicates his righteousness and imputes (credits) it to us. Our sin on Christ; his righteousness on us.
We can hardly stress too much that Christ is God’s answer to our greatest problem. It is all owing to Christ.
You can’t love Christ too much. You can’t think about him too much, or thank him too much, or depend upon him too much. All our forgiveness, all our justification, all our righteousness is in Christ.
This is the gospel — the good news that our sins are laid on Christ and his righteousness is laid on us, and that this great exchange becomes ours not by works but by faith alone. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Here is the good news that lifts burdens and gives joy and makes strong.

Overview of Paul's letter to Philippians for Sunday mornings and Home groups



Here's a very helpful overview of Paul's letter to the Philippians which we are currently looking at on Sunday mornings and in Home groups. You can find the video by clicking on the link that follows below:

  • Gatherings

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