Saturday, September 30, 2006

30 Days of Blogger's Bliss - A Review

In terms of this 30 day thing with the blog it’s been great, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of being disciplined to write something and post it. David was great in giving some constructive criticism on some of the posts in terms of them lacking bite. I concur with the analysis on reflection and I put that down to two factors. One, with the main workday entries as they’ve been at best expansions on the daily thoughts that I post to the staff then they’ve necessarily had to be a bit toothless as I endeavour to edge my way round communicating to the audience in a relevant way. There again I feel like I’m straining on a leash and not getting to really let full steam blow on that, but I’ll have to see how that goes at work. The second factor is that as it’s a daily entry thing even on the weekend I don’t really give that much thought to what’s going up in terms of reviewing the material and analysing whether I’ve said the strongest thing that I can on a given subject or issue. Therefore even the Almighty’s Awesome Deeds series does not hit the heady heights because I more or less read the verse, contemplate content, put it down, and with little editing or revision post it. As I consider that I don’t really give it my best shot, which is disappointing but it’s necessitated by circumstances.

As a result of this I don’t think I’ll necessarily post the staff daily thoughts on the blog unl
ess it’s particularly appropriate. Likewise I won’t pressure myself to have a daily entry on the blog and rather ponder and note any things that I read and study in a period of time and then create the post to the best of my ability even if it just means a weekly post or maybe every few days. Yet I do want to continue posting entries on this blog as well developing work on other blogs that I hope to be involved with over the season. The writing thing is definitely something I’m all the more committed to developing over time. I want to see what I can do with some of the teaching series I’ve already done and those I’m about to do. If I can convert them to text that may also help with the writing thing, and as ever reviewing these notes should trigger off issues that I can write about.

So in doing this I believe I’ll set myself a target to be ready to do another month’s of daily blog entries perhaps by this time next year should the Lord tarry and spare my life.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Friday, September 29, 2006

Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: Public Announcement

An God spoke all these words saying,. (Exodus 20:1)

Throughout the book of Genesis when God speaks, He’s usually talking to an individual or a family. He doesn’t talk to a tribe, let alone a nation. Throughout the dealings with the Israelites up to this point in Exodus God has spoken through Moses. Indeed it’s as a result of the last awesome deed of the Almighty that Moses’ leadership is fully recognised.

Although the Ten Commandments are awesome in and of themselves, it’s fair to say I’ve taken for granted the fact that God spoke all of the words. Not written, not through a prophet or mediator – live and direct. Later on we realise that such was the power and awesomeness of the Divine Public Announcement that the people urged Moses to let God do all the talking through him – they couldn’t stand it.

Sometimes today it’s easy to take for granted the sheer awesomeness of the Almighty Himself speaking. People often say ‘God said to me’, ‘I felt the Lord tell me’, and everybody’s favourite ‘God told me to tell you’. Yet the very fact that the Almighty communicates direct should be a cause for us to stop and appreciate exactly what has happened. Like appreciating the grandeur and beauty of creation, when we consider that the Almighty chooses to talk to us it should be a truly heart-stopping moment.

In essence we don’t deserve to hear God talk to us. Having rejected Him by sin our actions deserved only one last piece of communication by God to us and that was the invitation to hell. As it is not only does He choose to reach and communicate with man but when He first chooses to do so on a corporate level, it is to outline in loving manner just what He’s done for us and how we can now live life to its best in accordance with His will.

That’s awesome.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Daily Thoughts - For Example

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

It’s fine telling people about Jesus. It’s great pointing to a book and repeating the words of the main man of the book and then telling people – do that. That’s all fine, but it’s not always that straightforward. In doing good things and being the best we can – we offer people an example to follow. Like parents who’s behaviour influences a child, so our behaviour can affect each other when we spend enough time together. The challenge is to live a life that reflects something encouraging to others for them to follow and then get others to follow.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Daily Thoughts - Good Perspectives

One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honour. (Proverbs 29:23)

A good perspective on things can be a healthy thing. A good perspective on our weaknesses should prevent us from feeling too smug and superior when talking to people ‘less fortunate’ than ourselves. A good perspective on our failures should allow us to be gracious in success. A good perspective on our bad times should give us a better appreciation of our good times. Pride doesn’t allow a good perspective on things whereas remembering where we’re coming from bad as well as good can give a more balanced approach to life.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Daily Thoughts - Way With Words

To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (Proverbs 15:23)

There are times when it’s not people saying a lot that matters. It’s the little that someone says that can make all the difference. Just a single word at the right time can cheer someone up. Just that word can evoke memories of better days and hopes of brighter days to come. Of course it takes good relationships to be able to know when to say that word and how to say it. More than that though it’s good to know that the words we speak can bring joy to others that can be indescribable. What say you?

4 His Name Sake
da man cd

Monday, September 25, 2006

Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: Superpower Washout

Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31)

One of the reasons why I love the Bible so much is because it can be so exciting and humorous to engage with it. For example in this same chapter we have Moses and the Israelites challenged by the might of the Egyptian army in pursuit from behind and the great Red Sea in front. Moses endeavouring to keep all well tells the people not to be afraid as God surely will deliver. Then he goes to God Himself and checks exactly how He’s going to deliver to which God almost off-handedly says ‘Why are you asking me? You’re the guy with the stick! Give it some!’ (Verses 13-16.)

What is so hugely encouraging about this episode is the manner in which God states consistently over the time that He has orchestrated events perfectly for His glory to be seen. Reading the thrilling journey of how over a million people crossed dry land and the world’s greatest superpower of the time were drowned like rats never fails to excite me. Seeing God in action like that, no wonder the people responded as they did.

It makes it even more tragic that the slavery mentality of the people would cost a generation the chance to experience the promised land God had promised to their forefathers. And the key to that is when we forget the awesome deeds of the Almighty and get mired in the temporary inconveniences of the present. Rather we should see that He is not only capable but willing to show Himself strong in any given situation even when things look particularly daunting. Knowing that He’s done it before on many occasions for all different characters should strengthen our faith in Him to be faithful in completing the work He’s started in us. That’s why it’s so exciting to know that nothing can separate us from His love because it’s that love which sees Him do such awesome deeds on behalf of His people for His glory.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: Superpower Meltdown

But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.
So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. (Exodus 3:19, 20)

10 ways to crumble a superpower.

1. Pollute the water system with blood for a week
2. Usher in a significant infestation of frogs ruining any chance of good life for citizens
3. Usher in a significant infestation of gnats increasing the bad life for citizens
4. Usher in a significant infestation of flies really ruining life for the citizens
5. Stick in a killer plague that wipes out your livestock – a key source of your economy
6. Put a dangerous skin disease that affects animal and mankind to further destabilise the power
7. Bring down the hailstorm from hell that wipes out man, beast and most of the plant-life
8. Usher in a significant infestation of locusts to wipe out the rest of plant-life and completely cripple the Egyptian economy
9. Forget an electricity shortage – turn off the light BIG TIME with darkness being the order of the day for three days – literally no one can see anything

The coupe de grace is letting all the firstborn sons of Egypt die and thus do a better job than they’d tried 80 years earlier when Moses was born.

For the price of one you get ten awesome deeds of the Almighty – they were deliberately done to prove to Pharaoh, Egypt and the rest of the world that when God is for you it is recommended that you do not oppose Him.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: Miracle Birth

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. (Genesis 21:5)

I was reading in Genesis 17 when Abraham and Sarah received their name changes and then after that God promised that He would indeed bless Sarah with a child. At 90 years old. Reading the part where Abraham – father of faith – receives the word and has a laugh was a good reminder of the fact that the man was just that a man. When faced with the incredible obstacles in the way of childbirth, it’s understandable that he wouldn’t necessarily jump with joy at what seemed impossible.

That’s why I love the Lord. When it looks impossible with man, it is more than possible with God. I’m not sure who the Guinness Book of Records lists as the oldest mother in history or who is the oldest couple to have a child. It is still remarkable that a child as produced by a barren woman – well past the age of child-birth – and a man who is as good as dead in that department (pre-Viagra, although that would probably have got him to meet his maker sooner than he’d like). In fact it’s more than remarkable it’s awesome.

Even when I give up hope on the Almighty making a way, He comes up with the goods again and again in miraculous ways. Bringing life in the middle of a dead situation would be an act that is repeated in many episodes of the Bible and it’s reassuring to know He is the Lord who brings life and laughter even when all hope seems to be gone.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Friday, September 22, 2006

Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: Sodom and Gomorrah

For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it." (Genesis 19:13)

God is not politically correct. An outcry of a people gets to His ears and instead of embarking on a series of negotiations and discussions to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation, or at least levied some spiritual embargo or blockade against Sodom and Gomorrah, He wipes them off the face of the earth. In unmistakeable fashion. That’s why I’m glad He’s God and I’m not. There are sins in life that sometimes we want to brush over or excuse – perhaps justify and tolerate because ‘we can’t do any better’ or ‘I can’t help it’ or some other well-meaning cliché. The reality is of course is that the thing goes straight to Yahweh as an outcry to which He will respond.

Not to say that the Almighty is just a big bully that goes about beating up anyone He doesn’t like on a whim. No, no the Almighty’s judgement is right – so even when Abraham looks to negotiate with the Just One, he’s actually onto a loser because the judgement has already been passed. After all Genesis 13:13 helpfully points out that people of the vicinity were great sinners – hardly an argument to support a ceasefire on the part of the Almighty.

Indeed such was the impact of God making an example of Sodom and Gomorrah that even Peter, Jude and John had to mention them in passing at the end of the Book. It’s a sobering thought along with the Flood to see how much God hates sin and the lengths He’s wiling to take to get rid of it – whether we’re co-operative or not. And seeing as though we’ve been given these examples of the Awesome Deeds of the Almighty, I believe it pays to take serious heed to them and be equally as ruthless in cutting sin from my life through the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Daily Thoughts - What To Do With Worry

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

It was great to be able to go to my Mum when I hurt my knee and cry on her shoulder before she would tell me it would be alright. (Of course she says at 28 I should stop crying to her when I get hurt!) So worry only makes matters worse and the best thing for it is to swap it with requests and thanksgiving to God. Even as we give all of them to Him it’s assuring to know that God already cares for us and is waiting for us to go to Him.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Daily Thoughts - No Worries

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

So there’s a problem with worry – it didn’t solve anything and made matters worse, yet we still worry. It’s easy to say don’t worry – it’s harder not to worry. So here’s a recipe for No Worry Soup:

o Take Worry
o Put into pot
o Add requests to God – i.e. please can you do something about this worry
o Pour in lots of reasons to be thankful
o Let worries melt into the thankfulness mix
o Add salt
o Stir until it’s tasty
o Hand to God
o Leave it

Just a suggestion.

The scripture outlines how to actively deal with the worry in the light of God – if there’s anything that you would worry about turn it into a request to God to deal with it. Also thanksgiving helps with the perspective on what could worry us. Acknowledging Someone greater than us who’s able to give a better view of what worries us is a good reason for us to be thankful and thus not worry. As one great philosopher said – it’s not the problem that’s the problem, it’s how we deal with the problem that causes the problem. Dealing with it through worry makes it worse, but dealing with it through thanksgiving – however difficult – will at least allow our hearts to be at peace in the situation.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Daily Thoughts - The Problem With Worry

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)

It would be understandable if by worrying things were improved. If it made a positive difference it would be alright. It’s appreciated that there maybe a lot of important things to worry about – food, clothes, mortgage/rent, relationships, work, money, society, crime, terrorism, football results. The problem with worry is it does nothing to help the situation. In fact it only makes matters worse by clouding our perspective on how things are. We can miss the important things in life because we’re busy worrying about something we can do nothing about. So if it’s not going to help, why do it?

The challenge that Jesus offers in this passage of scripture is actually fundamentally opposed to modern views of reality. The world we live in subtly encourages worry to such an extent that it leads to fear. It then goes onto offer means of escape so we don’t have to deal with our worries, or we can medicate them. Escapism is the things called for because of the ‘burdens’ of life. We’re entertained in all manner of ways and we’re given false ways out of the worries that we’re set-up with either in a consumer-driven way or in leisure-driven way. They’re false ways out, because they don’t deal with the situation.

Jesus’ way of dealing with the situation is calling us to live in the REAL world. That’s not about being engrossed and overwhelmed by every-day cares of life but seeing things from God’s perspective. Seeing the real important things – reflecting the image of God, seeking His righteousness in how we live, finding how to please Him in living a life like His Son. That perspective will change how we view everything else. Rather than being slaves of our circumstances we can believe God in them and walk by faith and not by sight to doing what He wants us to do.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Monday, September 18, 2006

Daily Thoughts - In It Together

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)

For some people it’s natural to enjoy your own company. The danger of the life of the loner, though, is that when things go wrong there’s no support. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! There are many benefits of sharing work, sharing lives, sharing goals – personally and corporately. One of the outstanding reasons to do it is the fact that when we get together and agree to be in it together there is so much more to get out of life, than there would be on our own.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Thank God For ... Hughie Lawrence

On Friday my friend Hughie celebrated his birthday. I would tell you how old he is, but then he'd have to kill me, and Deborah says I haven't got enough money for her inheritance for me to die now, so you'll just have to ask the guy yourself.

The history of the relationship between Hughie and me goes back to the days that I was knee-high to a grasshopper it’s fair to say that I’ve known of the guy for the best part of 20 years. In1994 he was the Director (and founder) of the National Church’s Summer Retreat for young people and although it will go down with me as one of the WORST TIMES OF MY LIFE, one of the highlights was the way that Hughie really looked out for David and me. He really was a most helpful dude in checking if we were alright and stuff. I never forgot that, and I’ll always be grateful to him for doing that when no one else really did.

Put the clock forward three/four years and a more confident Christopher Dryden is at university having a whale of a time studying for a Philosophy and Politics degree in Essex. More significantly I am also getting well into radio through the student radio station. Here I am seriously consider taking it up as a profession for the future. To do that I need to get inside. Whose name should come wafting my way but that of a BBC Radio journalist and producer/presenter of gospel shows for UCB/Cross Rhythms – one H. Lawrence. I wrote a letter to him asking how I could get involved and if he could possibly help. The brother actually kept and read the letter … and left it for a year or two.

Then I saw a chance to link up with him by joining an evangelism programme he was developing. I signed up even though I didn’t have that heart of an evangelist. I linked up with Hughie and he suggested that I come up to Stoke-on-Trent to see his digs and see what he gets up to. The end of the year around this time there was scheduled to be a time of fasting and prayer in Stoke. So while he was in London promoting a concert, I linked with him and took the trip up the M6.

I look back fondly on that time. I had no idea what ministry really meant, always relating it to just a bloke standing in front of lectern chatting about what we should and shouldn’t do while working up a sweat for himself and his ‘listeners’. But that first experience of the prayer/fasting retreat under the leadership of Hughie was an eye-opener in terms of how ministry really engulfs your whole life. Hughie and I talked further and agreed that in February 2000 I would come up to do some work with a guy he knew who was based at the same radio station as he was.

When the Bible says the just shall live by faith, it is not just a light statement about believing God to pay your bill, it’s a life’s commitment to making unpopular, unconventional and uncomfortable decisions on the basis of having a knowing in your heart that this is what God wants for you. My family wasn’t thrilled at the fact that I’d left a fair paying job and stability in the capital city to go back to the middle of nowhere without a paying job. Yet I can look back and know without a shadow of a doubt that God was the author of it and I duly experienced tremendous spiritual blessing in getting to know God better and pursue Him with my whole being. Hughie was hugely instrumental in this. He allowed me to follow him on his many missions, whether it was a concert or an event or whatever the case was, I got insight into what it took to be a full-time minister of the gospel. I am convinced that Hughie did (and continues to do) a great deal for the gospel despite having a full-time job. Hughie walked the walk as well and talking the talk – and man did he ever talk! Now that is an awesome role-model to have.

He allowed me to share in some of his dreams and visions for Kingdom development, hence the Stoke-on-Trent church which came about after another end of year prayer and fasting session featuring Angela, Authrine, Hughie and myself. It was an exciting time and a challenging time, but with a good friend like Hughie I felt good going forward in faith believing that God would give us the victory. We prayed and studied together believing Him for the provision to support the vision we knew He had for Stoke-on-Trent. It was proven in the facility we now have at our disposal and the many contacts we developed. There’s just no way all of this could have come about if it wasn’t for God on our side.

So the guy – who was my best man at the wedding, a job he wouldn’t have done unless he felt called to do it – this guy was my best male friend for the last six years or so. He was there supporting my spiritual development like no one else before or after him. He’s more of a spiritual father to me that my own real dad was. He showed me what it is to be real in God and yet still powerful in His might than any other living person on the planet. I love Hughie Lawrence.

To reiterate, Hughie, I give God thanks for you. I’m grateful that you allowedme near your inner sanctum for the best part of at least three years. Thank you for allowing me to minister with you and witness you minister in the lives of others. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience real-life ministry and as a result gain a deeper relationship with our Father through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Son Jesus Christ. Thank you for sharing part of the vision God gave you and empowering me to explore aspects of my abilities that were untapped previously. Thank you for believing in me when other people did not even consider me. Thank you for praying with me and for me. Thank you for studying with me. Thank you for watching football with me. Thank you for getting me to PLAY football with you. Thank you for the jokes, the insights, the mistakes, the good times and bad. Thank you Hughie for being my friend.

For His Name's Sake



Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: The Flood

And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:13)

I cannot be bothered to launch into an apologetic as to the historical validity of the event recorded in Genesis 6-8 – you either believe it or you don’t and it doesn’t matter how much ‘evidence’ is gathered if you don’t want to believe it, you’ll have enough to live on. And if you do want to believe it, you’ll have enough to live on.

I choose to believe it, because I choose to believe the Word of God is true as an event in this case – just as I do in the first humans being Adam and Eve. It may not be a scientifically sophisticated perspective on matters of biology, etc. but I’d rather be right with God than scientifically sophisticated. (There goes the scientifically sophisticated reader offended at my tone of writing voice, and those easily offended by this kind of tone of writing voice. May God bless you as you leave.)

With that in mind, it’s not difficult to list this event as a truly awesome deed. I mean imagine God completely wiped out every living creature on the planet with a global flood – isn’t that awesome? I mean truly by the very definition of the word it should make you look back in awe to know that the power of God was expressed like this. If you check verses 5-7 of this same chapter there’s a description of the state of the world which isn’t too dissimilar from a modern description and God’s response to it is pretty serious.

What is particularly outstanding in the whole episode, however, is the faithfulness of God to His creation by creating a means of escape for those who remained faithful to Him. It should be an assuring thing to know that even in a world which continues at pace on a collision course God will remain faithful to those who remain faithful to Him and even when it all comes crashing down around our ears, by His awesome works, He will provide a means of escape.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Daily Thoughts – The Almighty’s Awesome Deeds: Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

I feel kinda bad in a sense cos I’ve not lived up to the daily entry into the blog every day of this month. I was out until after midnight and didn’t put something up in the morning, so technically I’ve not lived up the billing, but it’s all good. I’ll just press on through and endeavour to keep up with that which I’ve committed.

Following yesterday’s reference to the awesome deeds of heaven I thought it would be good to just highlight for us exactly what are those awesome deeds. It also make sense to have the first study at the beginning of the book. The sheer cohesion and consistency of the creation itself is a testament to the mighty acts of God. So when I consider His awesome deeds at that point that in itself is reason enough to praise God – just check the sun, stars and sky and how they’re determined by outside forces . Then just to consider that as the pinnacle of creation He had in mind us as human beings to make of the earth what we would as loyal stewards. It’s quite breath-taking that we of al creation were made in His image to reflect His nature and inhabit the world with His values and His rule.

I was at a friend’s birthday party tonight and when I saw the way in which God’s creation can engage with each other in a social gathering, I was full of praise to God for allowing us to be like this – reflecting His image in relating with others. Yes, sin has severely shattered the rue meaning of relationship with ourselves and God – but I’m still grateful for the amazing act in the beginning when God breathed into man and he became a living being. That can still be the case, if we’re willing to obey and yield to the rule of the Spirit in our lives. A lot of opportunities open up when we consider and acknowledge the awesome deeds He has done even in creation.

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Friday, September 15, 2006

Daily Thoughts - The Awesome Deeds of the Almighty

Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. (Psalm 66:3)

It’s refreshing to know that we serve a God who’s deeds are down as awesome. Sometimes in thanksgiving it’s good to actually be reminded of what God has actually done. Not just through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection – awesome though that is, but the great list of triumphs and works recorded in His Word from Creation (check the beautiful pix!) to the New Kingdom. If it was any human being making a list of their achievements it would be counted as arrogant or boastful, the difference with God is He backs it up with truth – it’s not arrogant if it’s the truth. It’s not boastful if it happens to be a matter of fact. It’s particularly appealing when we consider that these acts were done for His glory and so we can share in this by faith on His side. He actually wants us to take a look at what He’s done, be totally blown away and engage in praise and confidence in relating to a God who is able to make His enemies cringe.

Imagine being in the same ring as Muhammad Ali. Imagine being on the same pitch as the Brazil football team of 1970. Imagine being in the same writing room as William Shakespeare. Imagine being in the same city as Elijah. Imagine being on the same road as Gandhi. Imagine being in the same nursing room as Florence Nightingale. Imagine that, the honour, respect and awe in being in these people’s company and how their peers would not be able to match their brilliance in their given field.

Multiply the level of awe and wonder by a billion and we maybe getting close to the awe we’re meant to be experiencing when we consider the works of our God. No wonder the enemies of God don’t even bother coming in the same atmosphere as Him. And think about God’s enemies today – doubt, fear, pride, disease, division, ignorance, etc. Really, if we were to put these up against God there would be no competition at all, yet sometimes we succumb to them. Perhaps when we reconsider the perspective of the Almighty we can allow these issues and factors to cringe in the light of His glory. Indeed bring anything that opposes God and put in comparison to Him – do it and rejoice and then follow the psalmist’s advice and rejoice and actually acclaim the God we serve. That’s more than a suggestion!

4 His Name’s Sake
da man cd

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Daily Thoughts - Focus

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

It’s not easy to focus on good things, when we’re in a world that apparently is full of bad stuff – or at least that’s what we’re told. Or at least that’s what we think. Of course there is so much in life that reflects otherwise – God, health, relationships, love, creation, opportunities for peace, etc. Sometimes it’s difficult to see this when there are real issues we face. It’s difficult to see, but it’s still there to be seen and maybe seeing this will help put everything else in perspective. Hence the importance and challenge of focus – it helps our mind and body to focus on the whatevers …

And thanks for the genius who helped me out with a little difficulty I had and just told me to call these e-mails ‘Daily Thoughts’ rather than Morning/Afternoon. That saved me hassle!

4 His Name's Sake
da man cd

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thank God For ... My Sister

September’s a funny month because my dad and my sister were born in this month so just when I think it’s safe to get my gratitude out for one family member another pops up and demands the same, but I’m so grateful to God for them both that it’s a pleasure not a chore.

I actually have two sisters the elder of whom is based in America and I didn’t really grow up with her, so I’ve only ever known the younger who’s still over one year older than me and so to me was my big sister.

When I was a lot younger, Ruth was a dictator who ruled with an iron fist. I’m quite certain she must have been inspired by the leadership of the Prime Minister of the time Margaret Thatcher. For Ruth indeed ruled my brother and I by fear and we knew our place with her – we did not mess with her stuff, we did not enter her bedroom … ever … unless royal approval was given. Even when we started growing up and David and I were physically Ruth’s superior she still subdued us by intellect. The amount of weeks’ washing up I did for Ruth is like the descendants of Abraham – innumerable. Ruth really knew how to manipulate her brothers.

For all that though I give God thanks for her because for the longest time up until I met and became close to my wife, Ruth was the best friend I ever had. I can’t speak highly enough of how strong she was for me. When I was contemplating things, Ruth would always offer a perspective on things that made it easier for me to make a decision. She never condemned me for mistakes I made, neither did she soft-soap anything and flatter me – she was brutally honest when she needed to me, always looking out for my good. Indeed she was looking out for my good so much she even did the vetting job on Authrine before she was allowed to be my wife! Hah, I still remember the relations between my sister and wife in the early days – just a testament to Ruth’s protective nature. It’s that what made her such a great sister to me. It’s the one thing I’ve never needed to look for – a great sister, because I already have one in Ruth and I don’t really know if I’ll ever find anyone who comes close to her.

So there’s much to be grateful to God for her input in my life, but her example and testimony is also worthy of admiration. My sister has endured setbacks ever since she was a baby – hard, trying, difficult, off-putting, discouraging episodes that would have weakened anyone else perhaps to the point of despair. There was something about Ruth, though, her faith in God strengthened her in those trying times, so even though it was upsetting, she would work through that and trusting in God persevere towards the goal set before her – not only that she would achieve it. A natural-born leader and a great teacher she is able to inspire the best out of those who she lead and taught. I still chuckle at the fact that she was teaching children since she was a child herself and completely self-taught developed a teaching capability that would be the envy of many a children’s teacher.

She is an extraordinarily principled woman who’s stuck to her convictions through thick and thin and never wavered (at least to me) in her commitment to Christ. Like her Dad, Ruth is notoriously loyal and dedicated in everything she did. No fanfare, no big deal and sometimes even at the cost to her own health or welfare my sister would keep on keeping on. Supporting and serving others selflessly in such a manner that could only be described as humility in action. Sure she could be strong in her opinion and outspoken from time to time. She had a heavy stubborn streak of that there is no doubt and she could be heavily private putting on a public presentation that would guard against any intrusion into what was going on inside. She is by no means perfect. I give thanks for her, though, because she’s committed to perfection. She loves God with her heart and there’s no doubt in my mind she has been a huge influence in my own spiritual development just by her example.

I’ll always look up to Ruth even though times have changed and the dynamic of our relationship has evolved from big-sis – little-bro through best friends through to now brother and sister with families and larger responsibilities. At this particular time in her life I pray that she will truly experience the manifold blessings of God and go onto bigger and better things by faith. I love her so very much and no one deserves happiness more than she does. As long as there’s breath in my body I always want to give God thanks and praise for my sister – Ruth.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Afternoon Thoughts – Never Forget – Always Remember

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2)

The Bible is clear that we live to serve someone or something. Much as we’ve been educated to believe that we’re free agents, we’re only as free as the choice we make as to who will rule us, who we will serve. In coming across the book of Exodus it’s very interesting to note the events that lead to the people of Israel growing and multiplying as immigrants in Egypt. What is undeniable, however, is that for generations all the people have known is slavery to the rule of Pharaoh in that country. All they know is that they serve Egypt and its wishes. They develop its infrastructure, build its cities, play a significant part in maintaining the status quo.

For God, then, to come in and blow that to smithereens must have meant much to the Israelites. For the dominant oppressive superpower of the day to be eradicated in a series of catastrophes must have been a convincing sign of who the real Boss is. Yet in outlining His love agreement with the people God still felt it important to state from the beginning who the people are dealing with. When put into that perspective the following requirements for the people are more than reasonable. More than understandable.

We today have been also delivered from the rule of darkness. Paul outlines in Ephesians 2:1-3 just how oppressive the rule of sin was over our lives. We shouldn’t require too much of a reminder of how bad things were without God. We shouldn’t require too much of a reminder of the hopelessness, pointlessness, boredom, frustration and despair we used to endure under the old rule. Yet that’s exactly what we do need to remind us of the great love the LORD has for us and to remind us of where we now reside as mentioned in Ephesians 2:4-7. Implicit within that is the fact that we are under new rule. So He has to be Lord of all or He’s not lord at all, and if He’s not Lord at all then that leaves room for us to slip back almost effortlessly under the old regime. Let us never forget – but always remember what God has done for us, and can do for those around us living in slavery to sin.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Monday, September 11, 2006

Afternoon Thoughts - It's A Royal Family Affair

The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40)

One of the beauties of reading the Bible is some of the little things you don’t notice. Sometimes we go for the grand schemes and major stories of scripture and don’t take on board some of the little things. This is one of those times where I came across something I hadn’t noticed before. As Jesus is relating what it will be like when He returns He starts off in verse 31 by saying when the Son of Man appears. Now this is always a sign of Him talking about Himself. A bit like saying when yours truly, or in my case, when muggins pops up. So He starts off there, but notice His title changes to the King by verse 34 repeated here. If there was ever any doubt that Jesus isn’t only Lord but king as well this section of scripture should dismiss those quickly.

It makes it all the more remarkable to hear the King saying that whatever is done for the least of His BROTHERS is done to Him. Now there’s a family feeling if ever there was one. The King Himself in all glory saying that care for the little guy is care for Him. That’s got to change our own perspective on humanity. That’s got to motivate us to look for any opportunity to extend a helping hand to those in need. To know that in doing so we’re actually helping our royalty – not just any royalty but heavenly royalty – what an honour that is. That’s how precious our perspective on humanity should be.

The homeless, helpless, heartless and hopeless are just waiting for an opportunity to know that there is a home, help and hope from people who have a heart to give them and allow them to understand how special they are. And every day we have the privilege of showing them.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Afternoon Thoughts - Check Yourself

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:7)

I love it when God tells us to check ourselves. I believe He does it whenever we’re getting carried away with ourselves and miss out on what He would have us to actually be getting carried with. In this situation the people have got carried away with looking after their own business and as a result not getting why they ain’t succeeding at anything in life – so they get crop failure, holes in their money bags and overall dissatisfaction.

When I say I love it when God tells us to check ourselves, it’s not the sado-masochist in me that loves to see people suffer, it’s actually the love-in-hindsight of a Father who actually doesn’t want us to suffer anymore, but wants us to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. It should be obvious that this individualistic, materialistic, selfish, ego-based way of living where things drive us – even the most honourable things like family welfare – and yet we find no satisfaction in all of that. Indeed we get so stuck in the rat-race that we get almost comfortable in the futile pursuit of selfish gains where we’re never satisfied, but always in the hope of an elusive and indeed non-existent fantasy life.

And like waking up from Groundhog Day of misery God wants us to check what we’re doing and what we’re getting from it and not just that, but to see a way of escape. To see that there’s actually more to life than the house, the family, the car, the children, the job, the shopping, the mortgage, the bills, etc. There’s the great building project that He’s got in mind for us – to be building blocks in the Temple He’s building where He will live – where His kingdom rules over all, where His values are pronounced on all, and where we find real peace, real joy, real love and real satisfaction.

The Bible is the outline of God reaching out to a humanity that’s rejected Him even though He created them and offering a way for them to actually be what they were always created to be. To do that we need to put Him and His business first in our lives. And if we are – that’s all good, but just in case I invite us to check ourselves, our motives, what drives what we do, what we are doing and what we’re getting from it.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Evening Thought - Doing and Teaching

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:19)

As a fellowship we’re currently studying the book of Romans which is one of the favourite books that theologians point to as the ‘we don’t do law no more, cos we’re not under law we’re under grace’ justifying line. I’m not going to get into an argument about the role of the law post-Christ, because that’s a separate study for another day.

What I do want to address with this particular verse is just the importance of not just teaching but doing as well. Right after this verse Jesus sets the standard of righteousness to which believers must attain, but it’s based on people actually teaching and doing the requirements of the commandments. As Jesus would go onto highlight in the rest of the sermon that His standards are actually more exacting that the law’s requirements and so the route to success is belief in Him. Through that belief it’s abundantly clearly that we are empowered to fulfil all the requirements of the law and live them out completely as Jesus did. If you don’t believe me check what 2 Peter said in 1:3 – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”

Therefore if we have the power available it really is just about accessing that power through faith on a constant basis. Then not only do we live out obedience to Christ, but we’re also in the best position to teach others of it. Our life example can play a model as Paul’s did for the early church and as Jesus’ did for the disciples. It’s not unreasonable to expect us as maturing believers to reach for the stage where our intimate knowledge of the LORD enables us to be in a position to direct others in how to develop that intimacy with Him. No longer should we be content just to be fed, but we should be in a growing position to feed others. Likewise if we’re not getting fed so we should hunger and thirst to be so in the hope that we can be like Christ in multiplying others. To do that we need to teach the whole deal about who Jesus is and the law that He fulfils.

4 His Name’s Sake
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A Photo At Last - My Dad!

The man amongst men - my dear father!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Morning Thoughts - A Prayer On Perspective

I’m reading R.T. Kendall’s In Pursuit Of His Glory an autobiography covering his years at Westminster Chapel. It’s a good read actually, so I’m glad I read it. Whilst reading it I came across this prayer which I thought was so cool I’d share it with you.

O God, I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for help that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am among all men most richly blessed.

(A Confederate Soldier.)

4 His Name’s Sake
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Thank God For ... My Dad

Today is my dad’s 73rd birthday and sadly I won’t be able to call him to offer many happy returns, but this little tribute is my own way of saying happy birthday.

The more I get to know people, the more I appreciate my dad. I know that not everyone was brought up by their dad and even those that were didn’t have the best of relations with them. Now my dad isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and for a brief season in my life I was only too aware of his imperfections. Yet the fact remains that my dad’s presence has been there for me all during the years of my growing up.

It was my dad’s example that encouraged me to get into reading and from there launched a whole range of opportunities for me that allow me to where I am and achieve what I’ve done in life. Now my dad is no great scholar but his simple perseverance in reading every night was something that struck me as a good thing to follow. When there was anxiety and chaos flying about my dad was the epicentre of calm and peace.

My dad wasn’t rich, but in that he taught me that I could be content without money. My dad didn’t have hundreds of friends, but in that he taught me that I could be content without popularity. My dad didn’t have a lot of qualifications, but in that he taught me I could be content without formal education. My dad worked hard and taught me that contentment can still come when I do that. My dad was committed to his family and taught me that contentment comes when I put my family as a priority. My dad is a consistent, humble servant and taught me that contentment comes through being faithful.

Not once in my childhood do I recall ever feeling insecure because of my parents. There was never a time when I thought either would leave me. My dad’s faithfulness to my mum is amazing, and his faithfulness to his children is something I hope to emulate. His dedication to church is the standard I’ve set for myself and his humility and ability to withstand great pressure is still to me the epitome of what makes a great man. His love of God has been unquestioned by me, I just know he loves the Lord and I believe that’s seen in the children he’s brought up who are all at heart God-fearers.

Last year in August he spent some time with us whilst on his way to Ghana for my sister’s wedding. The time he was here was illuminating, my dad shared who he was in a way that amazed me and got me thinking how incredible it is for God to have turned a man’s life around so much. As my dad told me about his life before us I couldn’t believe it was the same man who was contently sitting in out front room entertaining his first granddaughter with a glee I’ve come to cherish. The reality is that this is the same man who’s gone through so much and endured so much and still has the presence of mind to remain humble and thankful.

I give God thanks for my dad and I love him with all my heart.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Morning Thoughts - What Is Peace – Part 02

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

When I read that at first I thought it was just talking about people who stopped arguments and generally wanted people to get along. Thinking about peace a bit more and reading that this is actually talking about people who actually make peace – not just stop quarrels – I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye.

In being a bridge for people to cross over from shattered life to a whole life we actually make peace. In being a bridge that builds relationships between people and between people and God we actually make peace.

This is not natural for us because by nature we look out for own interests and when we’re hurt we retreat into ourselves, protect ourselves and never really give ourselves to others. As a result we never really build relationships; we become easily offended, hold grudges against others, tell others that you can’t trust anyone – in other words we’re not natural peacemakers.

In as much as we act like this we don’t really reflect the nature of God who through Jesus broke all barriers and boundaries to express His Kingdom and rule of righteousness which is based on peace with God and each other. Again it goes a lot deeper than the rational and emotional approach to peace. It strikes at the very core of the spirit that was created to interact and engage with the Creator. And once we experience this peace – once we taste of it, it becomes only natural to want to share that with others. It’s like good news, you really want to tell everyone because it’s so good.

So when we forget about ourselves to look out for the best interest in others we reflect the same character as Jesus Christ who didn’t come to be served but to serve. That’s how we can be called the sons of God.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Afternoon Thoughts - What Is Peace Part 01

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

WARNING: I could have edited this entry, cos I appreciate it’s not a short one. But on careful consideration I just couldn’t bring myself to cut it too drastically. Stick with it, bear with it and I believe as a charismatic preacher would exclaim – you shall receive a blessing.

Herein begins a little series on the biblical definition of peace. This little series is motivated by my job at the YMCA. I don’t think I’m divulging state secrets to state that the post of Christian Spiritual Development Worker is to assist the Stoke and North Staffordshire branch in expressing the concept of Shalom.
The Chief Executive – Mr. Daniel Flynn, top bloke – has the vision of the whole organisation being based on helping people on their journey experience this shalom – wholeness. Hence there’s the services offered to support the educational and vocational development of the customers (the term of the residents), as well as support for the housing needs development of the customers. Noting the holistic nature of man there’s the pursuit of not just developing their mental capabilities and physical capabilities but also their – much neglected – spiritual capabilities. Hence my post and the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ in allowing people to realise and fully develop those spiritual capabilities, which in turn fully enrich all the physical and mental capabilities. So because of that kind of jazz, the peace thing is a big deal and it got me thinking … what is peace? So we turn to ‘exhibit a’ for insight into what it is.

It’s fair to say that if you were one of the 11 disciples listening to Jesus during this discourse you’d be a bit concerned. First of all Jesus has repeated for our hearing that He’s going to die, and die soon. Plus by His intimations the manner of His departure will not be … fitting for the Jewish Messiah (John 13:21). Now He’s talking about going back to the Father which is a bit baffling as we don’t even know the way to this Father. So in His reassuring way, He’s telling us that it’s alright, although He’s going away He’ll send another Counsellor to remind us of what He’s taught us. Still through all of that we’re still hung up on the death business, which is where this verse comes in as so important.
First of all there is the reassurance of one thing we need in a time of bad news – peace. On hearing of a loved one dying or about to die there is a natural state of turmoil – emotionally we go to pieces, mentally things do not compute in every way it appears as if our lives have become an internal war zone. So peace, well that’s good thing to have. Not only that but Jesus gives a particular kind of peace on offer – a distinctive peace in contrast to another brand of peace on offer.

Allow me to suggest what we could consider the world’s peace – no one fighting, no harsh words said to each other, a level of understanding and harmony between parties. That sounds alright doesn’t it? Sure. Problem – it doesn’t actually solve anything. More accurately it doesn’t hit the heart of the issue to produce these nice sentiments. The world’s kind of peace is something that they hope will be brought about intellectually, politically, rationally, socially through programs, policies, discussions, summits, etc. All missing out on the key to real peace. Which is why the Prince of Peace comes into offer a distinct kind of peace not based on any of the world’s values, but essentially based on who He is. His peace.

His peace is based on a unified relationship with the Father that allows Him to be obedient to Him in everything because He has access to the One who knows the beginning from the end. His peace is based on a relationship of wholeness with a whole God and a Holy God who created us in His image to be whole. Something that’s possible when we have His Spirit living inside of us.

The crucial missing element to world peace is the link to the God of peace – Yahweh Shalom. And it’s this peace that is guaranteed by Jesus in his last chat with the disciples before the cross. Without the God of peace every other effort remains shallow, futile and hollow. Ceasefires mask the war of words beneath. Policies of racial harmony mask the deeply engrained years of hatred, ignorance and misunderstanding motivating individuals, families and communities. Indeed world peace cannot reach the heart of man, and yet until it does so real peace can never begin. That is why the peace that Christ gives us is so distinct and amazing.

Acknowledging Christ’s sacrifice – believing in Him – gives us access to a sense of wholeness and rightness that this world just cannot comprehend – hence the peace of God that passes understanding! It strikes the very core of our being that was separated from God but through that sacrifice reunites us – reconciles us. He is our peace who has broken down the walls of division to make us one with God and then one with each other.

Such knowledge as a result should affect our approach to life – as Jesus goes onto encourage. We don’t have to be anxious and we don’t have to be afraid. Literally everything is all-right – peace with God makes everything all-right, even if it doesn’t seem all-right. Even if external circumstances suggest chaos, upset and anarchy, God’s reality, assuring us of a real relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, suggests otherwise. God’s reality states that we are now in contact with the Sovereign Being who is far greater than any external circumstance and by grace, through faith now resides in us to allow us to live in this reality.

That wonderful peace, that glorious peace is so fulfilling that it motivates us to share this with others and live in it constantly in the hope that more will share in it not just now but with the promise of it to be there eternally.

4 His Name's Sake
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Book Review – Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

It surprises me sometimes how quickly I read a fairly lengthy book. Dever’s book on the church isn’t a heavy-tome, but neither is it a light read.

What I found attractive about it was the commitment to move away from number-driven approaches to church growth that often compromises the Word, but a more doctrinally robust approach to assessing church health.

It was also interesting to note that the book was birthed out of a series of sermons that Dever preached to his church over a period of weeks. The content and structure does lend itself very much to sermons without compromising the ease of readability.

The nine marks themselves are interesting, especially seeing as though they’re based fundamentally on the first one which is the importance of expositional preaching. I myself am very keen on this type of preaching, I believe it’s important for the church to be reminded of the requirements laid out in the word. Yet to start off on this point made me consider whether this would really be so high on the priority list, especially from a biblical survey perspective. Minor quibble aside, it’s a strong argument presented persuasively in a manner that’s easy to grasp.

Through the nine marks many occur which aren’t just biblical sense but passionately proclaimed in each chapter. There are areas where the reasoning is not so strong and based more on church history than the bible – especially church membership. That is not, however, to detract from the way in which Dever does appeal convincingly to these ways of assessing a healthy church.

Outstanding marks to really contemplate include Mark 2 – Biblical Theology; Mark 3 – The Gospel; Mark 8 – Discipleship and Growth; and Mark 9 Biblical Church Leadership. The appendices are also worth the read to see just how many lists of church growth methods have sprouted up since the book was initially published as well as an insightful list of resources and material useful for further study.

There are some books worth reading to stimulate a greater love for the church and God’s purposes for it and I believe this is one of those books. The heart in which Dever writes it makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want us as the Body of Christ in local expression to miss out and mess up what we’re meant to be, and that passion is contagious. I’m glad I’ve got this book – not just borrowed it from a library – and I would strongly recommend it as part of any believer’s collection.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Monday, September 04, 2006

Morning Thoughts - Mind Your Language

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

This verse is often used to ‘encourage’ people not to swear or use abusive language. What really is abusive language though? It’s easy to tell people not to swear, it’s harder to show people how to speak positively. Some of the most hurtful things that are said don’t contain an expletive at all! It’s easy to want to give people a piece of our mind or tell them what they can do with their suggestion. The real challenge is to check if we can consistently say things that help to build others by what they need for their own good. This kind of way of living isn’t easy or natural, but it is beneficial.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Evening Thoughts: How Do You Sleep?

I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, LORD, will keep me safe (Psalms 4:8 CEV)

OK so I left it late to put up today’s post, but thanks be to God I’m doing my bit to keep up with my commitment. Tonight’s thought is more than apt considering the time it’s going up!

There was this pop group called the Beatles, you may have heard of them, they had a couple of good tunes in the 1960’s and attracted a bit of interest here and there with their pretty tunes. They were comprised of four men and the nucleus of the group was the songwriting skills of Mr. John Lennon and Mr. Paul McCartney. The group performed and recorded up until 1970 when the group was acrimoniously dissolved at a high court. Such was the acrimony particularly between Mr. Lennon and Mr. McCartney that both had little digs at each other through veiled messages (and sometimes not so veiled) in a couple of their early solo efforts. Mr. Lennon in particular was not backward in coming forward and released a tune on an album entitled How Do You Sleep? It was a biting critique of his former partner’s efforts in the music business, indeed one of the most cutting diatribes against a friend you’ll hear committed to vinyl including such a point as ‘the only thing you did was Yesterday’ with reference to a tune with which Mr. McCartney was attributed that was fairly popular at one point.

Anyhoo, as I recall Mr. Lennon asking that question, I also ask that question of many people – although not with such harsh overtones. My issue is in a culture that needs sleeping pills to get to sleep and has a number of those suffering with insomnia. And even if we make it to the land of nod it is often troubled with anxious thoughts and concerns for what will take place in the future. The land of nod can also bedevil us with thoughts of yesterday and the things we did or should have done. We’re bombarded with messages suggesting that we don’t live in a safe world anymore, and the threat of violence or harm is said to be more real than ever before. The Fear Factor is no longer just a television concept but a crippling epidemic affecting young and old.

So how do you sleep? Well for me I’m grateful that like the psalmist I can lie down and sleep soundly. It’s a really odd thing that the only thing that gets me out of sleep is the rare occasions of ill health for most of the time I get to sleep and sleep as soundly as if a nuclear disaster would be required to trouble my slumbers. I put this assurance to nothing that I’ve done or nothing I can do. I’m not in any particular way more special or unique to experience this blessing. I put it down to an innate knowing that God has me protected – and not just me, but my loved ones as well, so that as I sleep I do so in confidence of sleeping in the arms of a loving Father who guides and protect my family, friends and I.

I hope and pray that this assurance will give you a good night’s sleep.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Morning Thought - Real Community

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

There are interesting images of the church from outside. Some see it as an institution, some see it as a building, some see it as a group of freaks, some see it as a team of people who do nice things but have crazy beliefs. One of the most interesting things about the perspective of the church in the early days was that it was based on something crazy – and that was a crazy desire to be with people.

What I find so inspirational about this verse is that people were committed – first to getting good teaching together, then just being together and sharing the most friendly of activities – having something to eat together – and also they were committed to seeking God together.

In a society driven by the pursuit of individualism and autonomy, where the self is king above everything this picture really provides something sharply contrasting. It provides a brief glimpse at the kind of community God is looking for. The rest of this section of scripture (Acts 2:42-47) goes on to further outline how Spirit-led people had a dramatic impact on each other and the community around them.

It’s this kind of vision of what a church is all about that should be viewed by the world around us. As Jesus Himself said the world will know that we are His disciples by the love we have for each other creating the most powerful sense of real commUNITY the world will ever know.

That’s my prayer for the church today – that we’ll be dedicated to teaching; real intimate fellowship and seeking God together to change our lives and the lives of those around for His glory.

4 His Name’s Sake
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Friday, September 01, 2006

Blogging Bliss

Today as the start of September sees the start of my 30 days of Blogging Bliss where I endeavour to put an entry on the blog every day during the month. Something of worth, but not necessarily something overly heavy.

Just a discipline thing that I’m looking to do – I know that’s meant to be the whole point of a blog to do it kinda every day, but I don’t, and I’m looking to do so now, so there you go. That does include the morning or afternoon thoughts, but I’ll look to do a bit more than that here and there and it won’t all be heavy stuff. I mean check the Challies site today to see something really hilarious! It’s on me links list down the side of this page.

Anyhow – onwards and upwards!

4 His Name’s Sake
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Afternoon Thought: Empathy and Sensitivity

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15)

Empathy and sensitivity. It’s amazing how in the course of a day we can experience and witness such a wide range of emotions. It’s amazing how a face can spoil or brighten someone’s day. Little is more comforting for someone than to know that someone cares enough to be with them in whatever they’re going through and whatever they’re feeling. It’s easy to be heartless, callous and insensitive – being more concerned about how we feel. It’s something even more powerful to go from how we feel to share how someone else feels to show that we care.

4 His Name’s Sake
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