Monday, April 24, 2006

Things to Come - Things To Go

Right, as ever there be things a bubbling in the background and at last my time will be more devoted to this here blog! I'm hoping to introduce a few more contributors here to make things a bit more eventful and as well as that I'll be slapping in a few things that I've been working on behind closed doors! (OK, the doors were closed because the wife didn't like to hear me sing so loud.)

I will be giving that full update on the holiday, there'll also be news on a couple of initiatives I'm working on which will have an impact on this here blog.

I'm going through something pretty major at the moment and not to put too fine a point on it, things may never be the same again. Just pray for me. I hope to be back sometime in May. Until then, keep on keeping on.

4 His Name's Sake
da man cd

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just A Quick Pointer

Well it was a brilliant holiday. I really enjoyed myself - it was in Kilkhampton a place in Cornwall literally on the foot of the country. A more detailed report of what happened will pop up sooner rather than later.

This is just to give you a brilliant article I read as part of the Sojourner e-mailzine that my church subscribes to.

Bothered by the Cross
by Deanna Murshed

As someone who has been a Christian for a while now, I must confess that the idea of redemption through the cross has lost its power to bother or puzzle me as it did in the past.

I remember being jealous of folks who could confess a grand conversion experience that pulled them from lives of sheer drunken hedonistic debauchery - dramatic stories in which they were saved just in the nick of time - into resurrection just by the skin of their teeth. And although getting in by the skin of our teeth is surely true for all of us, it is at least more obvious in those great stories, for whatever reason.

But that is not my story.

Even my earliest memories include my mother sharing Bible stories with me. Though I struggled with the meaning or reality of these accounts to be sure - I can't recall a time when I didn't perceive myself within this grand story of redemption.

My mother showed me a simple faith. My father, on the other hand, questioned just about everything. And I somehow inherited both. God help those who hear me think out loud.

I also remember that as a child, the idea that Christ died on the cross and rose again for me - though it was repeated over and over again and I so desperately wanted to believe it made sense - seemed odd. But I think it was repeated often enough, that eventually, I just came to accept it. After all, the answer to almost any question in Sunday school was easy: "because Jesus died on the cross!"

So, somewhere along the road, I took it for granted that Christ lived, died, and rose again. Somewhere, maybe after I had responded to the sixth altar call - just to make sure God had duly noted my belief - I had heard it enough times to think I had this mystery of mysteries settled.

But every now and then, I come back to that place. Really, what in the world does this mean? Christ died on the cross. It is so easy to hear now that the absolute foolishness of it - and I mean that in the best possible way - simply ceases to amaze me.

But liturgical cycles are good for that - making you not forget any part of the story and asking you to revisit each station, as it were. One passage has been coming to mind (from John's gospel):

"Jesus replied, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life'" (12:23-25).

The version of the Bible called The Message states the last verse this way: "In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal."
The part that really struck me recently (though I've surely heard it read a hundred times) is that the dying of the grain is not for the resurrection of the seed itself - you do not die simply to be resurrected into a better you. You don't give up that bad habit or attitude, greed or grudge, simply to come out on top. (Though I suppose that's not a bad place to begin). No, the grain dies so that it can produce and reproduce life. The passage says, unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it is no more than a single grain.

The answer as to why the grain needs to die is for it not to remain alone. In other words, Christ died so that he could bear more Christs and grow his reign!
Though this way of living for others seems like such a radical (re)orientation, all of creation seems to be screaming this message. Every part of the wheat is living for the spread of life, wants there to be more wheat. The most basic cycle of nature reflects the divine order.

It is simply astounding, when I think about it, that the God of creation does not live for direct self-satisfaction! The God of creation who has all power and all might is in constant submission to another purpose. And God is inviting us to follow.

When one reads the surrounding texts in John where Christ is trying to explain to his disciples who he is and why he must leave them, he is rather indirect. He never says, I do such and such because that is my plan. Rather, he points to the Father and then says that the Father points to the Son and has given Him authority. And then the Spirit testifies of the Son and so on and on. And then the Father lifts up the Son. It is almost comedic how each part of the trinity points the finger at the other - not in blame, as in the human tendency - but because of a perfect harmony, submission, and a trade of trust and authority between each member. This is a wholly different order - a glimpse of what divine community looks like.

I don't know about you, but completely surrendering my will for another goes against every grain of my self-preserving being. And it looks nothing whatsoever like our capitalist culture which encourages us to think the opposite - both economically and morally. The world says that if each individual seeks out his or her own personal fulfillment, we will all ultimately benefit. But the gospel compels us to seek the benefit of others with no guarantee of anything in return.
This is a terrifying invitation that should bother us.

But do our motives have to be absolutely perfect in the sight of God before we can follow? And can we ever reach the point of being perfectly other-oriented? (If so, I'm in trouble).

But I'm comforted that in scripture, I find myself in good company. Christ's disciples followed him for many reasons - not all of which were noble. Ironically, sometimes they were selfish in their pursuit of selflessness. Sometimes they sought to gain something (to meet earthly or eternal needs), other times because they knew there was no other way. Later, they figured a few things out - saw Christ more fully - and their motives changed to those of gratitude, and ultimately, they imitated Christ's example to obey simply because God is worthy.

So, I've come to believe that we hold on to this mysterious truth for different reasons at different times in our lives, though we may never come to fully understand how it is that Christ's death saves us.

That we should follow Jesus in his death so that we might really live is the message of this Easter season.

May God have mercy on us as we follow this call.

Deanna Murshed, integrated marketing manager at Sojourners, is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School's faith and culture program.

It's worth you checking the site for yourself - I hope you were as blessed and provoked by this article as I was.

4 His Name's Sake
da man cd

Friday, April 07, 2006

What Am I Doing To Please God

(My dear friend and li'l sista Lydia asked me a question in a text this afternoon and I sent her this, I thought it would help set the score for where I stand and who I am in case of any ambiguity.)

This question did say ‘what am I doing to try and please God’, however I have an issue with the concept of trying. Is there anywhere in the Word of God that we see the Almighty condemning or applauding somebody for what they tried to do? Will we be judged on what we tried to do? I put it to you that the whole concept of ‘trying’ anything is a kop out for us. A kind of insurance policy or disclaimer in case that which we do doesn’t work out. I’m learning not to buy it. God doesn’t tell me to try and live a holy life – He tells me to live a holy life, which indicates that I’ll either live a holy life or I won’t. That’s why John gives us the guidance that we should confess the fact that we don’t live holy lives all the time – we sin – and when we do it’s best to let God know and look for Him to clean us then get back to living holy.

I don’t try my best – I do my best. I think you get my point, but I hope you’re not put off. It doesn’t put me under any pressure to state what I do and what I don’t do, even as it didn’t put David under any pressures to come to God and say that I have hidden the Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Now here’s a homey who killed a man because of his lust problem, and he has the temerity to say he hides the word so he doesn’t sin – and later on he’ll claim that he walks uprightly and blameless before the Lord. How can you say that? Surely you must say I try to walk blameless? But no, he says these things because he knows who he is and the God he relies on completely.

Herein is the key to the response to your question. The first thing before this list that I acknowledge is that in and of myself, I am not capable of pleasing God. So I rely on Him completely to give me the mind, the desire, the hunger, the thirst, the overwhelming gut-wrenching determination to know and to do what is pleasing in His sight. And thank Him, He gives it to me through the example of His Son, the guidance of His Word and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Beyond that, here’s a snapshot of the things I do to please God.

o Believe He is and He is a rewarder of those that diligently search for Him
o Find out what pleases Him – by asking Him … all the time
o Find out what pleases Him – by reading His Word
o Funny you should ask actually, cos today I was reading Psalm 119 (not all of it, not even I can do that in one sitting on the way to work) and it was looking at the love the Psalmist had for God’s Word and how He sought God’s face continually with his whole heart just to find the way to please God. So it’s good you should ask me this question now.
o Find out what pleases Him – by sharing with others
o Live the way He wants me to live
o Be concerned for the things He’s concerned for
o Hate the things He hates – sin
o Love the things He loves – righteousness (social justice, peace, love, mercy, humility, etc.)
o Deny myself daily, take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ
o Being obedient to His instructions
o Giving Him access to my heart to highlight the areas that I have not yielded to Him or are unlike Him
o Love His people
o Care for the dying
o Praying without ceasing

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I hope this gives you perspective of what I do to please Him. In essence it’s what He works within me to please Him for I am His workmanship created for good works through His Son, so I was originally hard-wired to please Him and despite the mess sin put in the works, He’s re-wiring me to do what I was always created to do.

4 His Name's Sake
da man cd

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Word in Pictures

Do I really need to tell you who's who? One's me, the other's my wife, the other's our son, Kevaughn and the final one's our daughter Deborah - surely you can work out the rest!

I haven't had much to say have I? But it's still good getting these pix out there for you to see what goes on in my cranium. Now then, the family will be on holiday, so I'll be a cramming some stuff in now and maybe, hopefully some stuff will be available tomorrow as well. After which I'll be out of reach for over a week, but I hope you'll not be too devastated for the wait and also be excited in anticipation of some holiday photos!

Right-o, haven't forgotten about those newspaper headlines!! Enjoy

4 His Name's Sake
da man cd

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

Freely I Have Received - Freely I Give

Just a quick one today - hopefully more newspaper reports soon.

I just can't get over what the Internet offers in terms of FREE resources for believers. It's brilliant. And I'm sure I'm just touching the surface of what's available.

Anyhow today's revelation was the ability to get the entire Bible in either the Word English Bible version or the King James Version absolutely free. If you don't know, now you know. I like the price and I love the fact that now all I need is an MP3 player and I'm able to enjoy the Word on the street, in the bath, on the throne, on the bus, etc. I have the facility to enjoy it at home, although I'm looking forward also to getting a sound system in our bedroom that can play MP3 files which would also be a boon. But what a delight! What a pleasure! What a blessing!

Oh yeah, the web-site address for this deal of all deals is -

Now I'm sure you may have come across other similarly free sites where you can get your stuff to do with building us up in the Holy Faith, and if so be a treasure and let us know asap. It's all about spreading the good news and anything that enables us to do that to as wide an audience as possible is, as we say in the trade, a good thing!

Right, that's me time up. News still to come about some intriguing personal developments ... but that will come later. Also, my tagline is changing. Rather than the l8r business which has been a faithful tagline since I've been online (some 10 years this year!). Recently after some bible study and further thought I've come up with the following -

4 His Name's Sake
da man cd