Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I need a litt... a lot of help in this stuff!

We Brits are great at having resolutions, but cynical about our ability in following them through.

The following list is one I wrote back in the early noughties after reading Jonathan Edwards' long list of the same.

To those of you who are wondering, this is not a post trying to show off. In truth, I'm cringing and squirming as I read some of these again as I often feel like I'm going backwards rather than forwards, (and you may well have observed it). In others I am static. In others still, there are reasons to rejoice. Overall, I feel nervous and not a little hypocritical posting this, but it's all in the spirit of no.28, (never to give up the fight, no matter how unsuccessful I may be!).

You have my permission, the next time you see me breaking one of these or being sluggish in them, to give me a good kick up the pants! Sometimes, it's the only thing that makes me listen.

I'd rather look a fool in front of you with opportunity to change than a fool in front of Christ with no such opportunity...
  1. Resolved. To make the God who is Father, Son and Spirit my treasure and to do all for their glory, such that their name is supremely exalted in my life and they are my ultimate joy.
  2. Resolved. Daily to meditate on the Scriptures in such a way as to plainly perceive myself to grow in the kind of knowledge and understanding that leads to love for and obedience to Jesus.
  3. Resolved. To set aside time (daily) to pray so that no.1 might be truer and no.2 more effective.
  4. Resolved. To fast regularly such that all my appetites might be in joyful submission to the will of God rather than causing my self-destruction.
  5. Resolved. In the power of the Holy Spirit, to root out, confess and turn away from all sin that I know of in my heart and seek that God would show me all the sin in there, to which, I am still so blind.
  6. Resolved. To know all my weaknesses that lead to my sin and learn how I function, that I might grow n reverent fear and avoid repetitions of those sins, believing by faith the promises of Scripture.
  7. Resolved. Never to be found thinking, saying or doing anything of which I would be ashamed, were it the last thing I thought, said or did before I stood before the judgment seat of Christ.
  8. Resolved. With all the energy God has given me, to live in the enjoyment of Himself, to rest in him and by his grace, to purify myself so that enjoyment might be even more intense, and that I might be more ready for my Heavenly home.
  9. Resolved. To subject all my cravings to the will of God, especially those connected with food, sleep, sex, money, power and ambition and adulation from others.
  10. Resolved. To live my life in such a way that at no point would I look back and wish I had done things any differently or have any regrets.
  11. Resolved. To fear the displeasure of God more than that of any human.
  12. Resolved. To live my life the way Jesus would have lived had he walked the earth in my lifetime.
  13. Resolved. To eat only as much as I need and no more.
  14. Resolved. To acquire only as many possessions as I need for maximum joy in God and for the fulfilment of the Great Commission.
  15. Resolved. To use as much of the money God has given me as I can in the relief of the poor, the relief of the suffering church and the finishing of the Great Commission.
  16. Resolved. To joyfully receive my share of suffering (with thanksgiving!!) so that the Great Commission might be completed earlier and therefore bring forward the day of the return of my LORD.
  17. Resolved. Never to treat anyone differently on the basis of what I might get out of them for my own ends, be those ends material, spiritual, or just the massaging of my own ego.
  18. Resolved. No longer to think of anyone or anything from a worldly point of view.
  19. Resolved. To live before to the world in such a way that the blood of its judgment is not on my hands.
  20. Resolved. To love with all my might the Bride of Christ, his church, as Christ Himself does, and to strive to see the fullness of the glory of her Christ displayed in her, for our joy and the joy of the nations.
  21. Resolved. Never to make light of a subject that should be taken seriously, or by my example give the impression that I live only to entertain and be entertained.
  22. Resolved. To spend more time contemplating the brevity of this life and the eternity of the afterlife, than I do seeking out entertainment.
  23. Resolved. That the truth I speak would never be undermined by the emotions with which I speak it, that I would truly & fully feel what I know to be true.
  24. Resolved. To speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, in love and never to be found gossiping or entertaining gossip.
  25. Resolved. To be the servant of all, under God.
  26. Resolved. To be a blessing to the Bride of Christ by keeping myself pure and living and leading in a way that makes Her excited about God and His Kingdom Purpose.
  27. Resolved. Where possible to live at peace with all men.
  28. Resolved. Never to give up my fight with my corruption no matter how unsuccessful I may be.
  29. Resolved. To weed out all cynicism and self-pity in me and to replace it with glorious love for and hope in God.
  30. Resolved. To keep a tight rein on my tongue, saying only what is good and praiseworthy, for the building up of people and the praise of God, not tearing people down and blaspheming his name.
  31. Resolved. To give all praise and thanks to God for the talents, abilities and opportunities he has given me, to thank him alone and direct all the praise of men I get straight back to God, that my pride might have no opportunity to boast.
  32. Resolved. To cling with all my might to the Death and Resurrection of my LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, alone in whom all these resolutions are possible, and without whom, I would have no forgiveness, no righteousness, no cleansing power, no resources for the daily struggle to live by faith in him, no joy, no hope and no future. To him be glory, honour, power, majesty, might and authority for ever and ever, for he ALONE, the wisdom and power of God is worthy of it all! Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Carols

For me, one of the benefits of going to a boarding school like the one I did, was the many activities that went on outside the classroom to help fill up the time.

I got roped into the school choir. The Head of Music "asked" me, as he did all the new pupils, to audition for it.

The audition wasn't a very democratic experience. Basically, if you could sing, you had to be part of it - especially if you were a boy, as tenors and basses were in short supply. Some of my friends deliberately sung flat, as they saw what was coming. I didn't have the presence of mind or even the boldness to deceive my teachers like that. Moreover, I do love music and I love singing in harmony with others. It's one of the things I miss now as the demands of real life crowd into view.

Here are three non-congregational (i.e. only sung by the choir) carols that we used to sing. The first is one of my all time favourites:

In looking, I came across this version of the Angel Gabriel. I don't prefer it to the original, but it is cool especially when they mix it in with Joy to the World.

I murdered the third verse of In the Bleak Midwinter one year in a solo when nerves got the better of me at the school carol service. People were very kind, but they were trying to rescue my ego! I was upset because of the perceived humiliation and because I had butchered a carol I love! Here it is - unharmed. :-)

In this last carol, I remember thinking what a weirdo the composer must have been to liken Jesus to an apple tree. He must have composed it after drinking a particularly potent vintage of his medieval home brew! I realise now how ignorant I was. His poetic allusions were, back then, way beyond my small mind, but I see it now.

I wonder if he wanted to use pomegranates, but couldn't get them to fit the tune...

Happy Jesus-mas everyone! :-)

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Mr Splashy Pants is Better

So... In the week when everybody is celebrating the victory of the ordinary Joe in the street over the bulldozing might of big business; there is another less well known story, that of Mr Splashy Pants, which I personally find more amusing.

By the way, is it me or does the guy in the video remind you of the actor, Martin Freeman?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas 101

Three reasons why Christmas is not just good news; it's best news.

1. God Goes Public.

Jesus, the eternal God-Man from Heaven, who since the dawn of time had revealed himself and the will of his Father to the prophets only, swaps his glorious and indestructible Heavenly body for a frail, mortal one like ours and is seen, heard, touched and known by the masses.

Jesus did what we could never do, that is to live the perfect life. The kind of life that would get the Heavenly Father's 100% approval with no caveats, no ifs, no buts, no spin and no exaggeration. He lived the life that we could never live, despite all its inherent pressures and stresses, temptations and sufferings. He proved faithful to the will of his Father to the end of his earthly life - to an excruciating, abandoned and accursed death. A death which soaked up all of the Father, Son and Spirit's righteous anger against all human wickedness and treachery and the subsequent curse that this wickedness had brought on the whole cosmos.

Jesus was never sent, only to be a good moral example for the world, our need and his mission was so much greater than that (as things like the Copenhagen summit illustrate so well). He is the first of a new humanity. Not the human equivalent of a software patch or upgrade, but a whole new kind of human - he was and is the true human. One that we could never create, whether artificially or naturally. Since that first rebellion, we have all been and all are frauds and counterfeits, all living on borrowed time.

Christmas, that is Jesus Christ, is the ultimate sneak peak, the spoiler, as to what the new humanity will be like.

Through this true human - Jesus, the God-man - the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in staggering kindness, offers love and the hope of reconciliation to the whole world.

Jesus came to share in our frail humanity, so that all those who humble themselves before him, need not eternally feel the full force of his righteous anger, but rather, might one day fully inherit his true, pure and eternal humanity, and know friendship with the Father like he does, and freedom from pain, sorrow, disorder and death.

Moreover, not only true Christians, but the whole universe now lives in the hope born from that appearing 2000 years ago.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Petit Peu de Kareoke French!

Come on tout le monde! C'est time for a jolly bon chante-along with some legends from the world of musique francaise.

Yes, our amis across the Channel have taken this favourite de famille and put some of their own cool paroles to it!

So why not gather round the ordinateur and get ready for quelques minutes de fun fun fun?!!

Don't worry if it's been a while since you cleared out that grenouille from your gorge, cliquez "play" for a morceau of folie festive!

(For those among nous who are un petit peu more avancée in your comprehension de francais; can you spot the erreur de printing in les lyrics?)

Joyeux Noel everyone! :-)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Walking Through the Bible in a Year

In 2010 a number of us at RFC will be walking through the Bible in the same way you would walk through any other book: from front cover to rear cover. Going slowly enough, to take in as many of the sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes as we can without getting bogged down in the detail, and getting to know the true and living God better along the way.

The plan is to meet up monthly, bringing along the questions, frustrations, revelations, thoughts and testimonies we have (had) as a result of all we've been reading and then talking it all through.

Of course, if I get my way, we'll involve food! Why not? It's biblical. :-)

Steve Levy, a pastor from Mount Pleasant Church, Swansea, expresses wonderfully much of what I'd love this forum to achieve.

(Buy his short and cheap-yet-excellent bible overview here)

Personally, I'm looking forward to knowing and loving God more, but I'm also looking forward to doing that with others. I naturally make things over complicated, and I know there are going to be those times when the penny will drop because of what someone else asks or says that I had never seen before.

Wisdom is not the preserve of the intelligent, but of the humble.

This is not an academic forum. It's not for people who want to get a spiritual bicycle pump and puff up their brains! Rather, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we simply want to become wise, so that we can love God and love like God loves.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Eating My Words Again?

Not long ago, in this post I wrote about how it's only human beings - those made in the image and likeness of God, who can sing, everything else in creation only speaks.

So when I was sitting in our church meeting this morning and we read Rev. 5:6-12, I found myself feeling uncomfortable and somewhat exposed when it said that all the angels and that lot sang and a nervous undertone of: Am I going to need to do a screeching public u-turn here? sat with me as I listened in.

This afternoon, I thought I better double check. Now I am no Greek geek, but looking at the Greek word lego that the NIV translates sang in v12-13 and you'll see no hint of it meaning "sing".

So why is it rendered sung in the NIV? I don't know. Maybe if someone in the NIV Translation Committee were to pass by this blog, they could soon shut me up. But for now I feel relieved and vindicated.

By the way, Sean's sermon was a cracker. Pick it up here when it's uploaded later this week.

On another note, if you have ever wondered what God was up to before they actually created everything, here's a clue. Be in awe. :-D

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Christmas is coming still!

I love my brother. Not only is he a technogeek. He has good social skills too! Here is an ad he put together for his school's Christian Union Christmas Meeting:

Homepage for the event here.

At my school, we are preparing for the annual carol service, which has a big input from us in the Christian Union and, whilst voluntary, is surprisingly well attended.

If you know Jesus and can spare a prayer for these events we would be most grateful. All we want is to bring honour to Jesus and open the eyes of many to the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Do Not Fear

Do not fear being different.
Do not fear looking inferior.
Do not fear inconvenience.
Do not fear missed opportunities.
Do not fear wrong decisions.
Do not fear reaching a plateau or falling from the top of your game.
Do not fear time and chance.
Do not fear growing old.
Do not fear helplessness.
Do not fear weakness.
Do not fear past failures casting a shadow over your future.
Do not fear the (lack of) change in your marital status.
Do not fear Christmas stress.
Do not fear traffic jams and rail delays.
Do not fear dementia.
Do not fear disease.
Do not fear your genetic time bombs.
Do not fear disability.
Do not fear other road users.
Do not fear the birds that aren't of your feather.
Do not fear how your children will or won't turn out.
Do not fear the unknown and unknowable.
Do not fear yob culture.
Do not fear what the News tells you to fear.
Do not fear the brinkmanship of politicians and businessmen.
Do not fear redundancy.
Do not fear global market fluctuations.
Do not fear Islamic Fundamentalism.
Do not fear Communism.
Do not fear nuclear annihilation.
Do not fear energy shortages.
Do not fear water shortages.
Do not fear food shortages.
Do not fear wars and rumours of wars.
Do not fear those who can kill the body but then can do no more.
Do not even fear climate change.
And do not fear the accusations of the devil

In short, do not fear loosing everything to gain the one who truly matters.

Rather, today as in everyday, whilst the world continues to speculate, pontificate and bluster its way along the broad road to ruin and destruction; you Christian fear God, love them and at their leading, subvert this mad and rebellious world order with love; compassionate, self-sacrificial, Jesus shaped love.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Christmas is coming!

One of my favourite songs is below!!

If you love Jesus, you can sing along by opening this cheezy link to some organ playing in a new window and running it in the background! (I couldn't find a video that wasn't cheezy in one or other way). Alternatively, just read and meditate.

I cannot tell why He Whom angels worship,
Should set His love upon the sons of men,
Or why, as Shepherd, He should seek the wanderers,
To bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that He was born of Mary
When Bethlehem’s manger was His only home,
And that He lived at Nazareth and laboured,
And so the Saviour, Saviour of the world is come.

I cannot tell how silently He suffered,
As with His peace He graced this place of tears,
Or how His heart upon the cross was broken,
The crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, He heals the brokenhearted,
And stays our sin, and calms our lurking fear,
And lifts the burden from the heavy laden,
For yet the Saviour, Saviour of the world is here.

I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
How He will claim His earthly heritage,
How satisfy the needs and aspirations
Of East and West, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendour
When He the Saviour, Saviour of the world is known.

I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
Or who can say how great the jubilation
When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to Heaven, and Heaven to earth, will answer:
At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world is King

Now enjoy getting ready for Christmas! :-D