Theology

Riveted


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Thunder, Fire, Smoke and Trumpets

There is a staggering moment in Exodus 19 and 20 when God speaks to all of Israel and issues the frame-work of living for all of civilisation. It’s a moment in Scripture that would be amazing on screen as God reveals Himself to a company of weak people through the presence of Mount Sinai. The mountain is literally billowing with smoke and fire (19:16-18) and thunder and lightening frame the scene as Moses climbs to meet with God in the thick darkness.

It’s a scene that is difficult to take in because the pervasive feeling is that the Israelites (near the foot of the mountain) are unsafe – that they are in harm’s way because of the shoe-removing holiness of the scene and the sacredness of what’s happening. We don’t feel unsafe in worship and neither are we. But we are standing before a God who can make Mount Everest burn with fire and billow smoke like a furnace…daily we stand in places like this because of grace. And we are invited to climb!

Break Through to Break Out

God warns Moses that the Israelites don’t break through and touch the foot of the mountain incase He breaks out amongst them and kills them – such is the AWESOMENESS of His holiness and His presence. There is a reality of God’s holiness that we are barely aware of. There is a reality of His presence that we can barely imagine. BUT, unlike these Hebrews, we are invited to break through into His reality and taste and see…that God would break out amongst us.

(Definition of rivet (verb): “to secure; to hold firmly, as in eyes; to engross; to fascinate”)

This holy breaking-out of God in our lives, churches, communities, cities and Nations (ethne) is for the riveting of our eyes….the eyes of our heart. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God, says Jesus. And through all this smoke and fire and thunder claps and trumpet blasts is the invitation to be fixed on God – to be fascinated with Him through temptation and trial and comforted by Him in turmoil and loneliness…to be riveted on Him for the prospering of our souls.

God tells Moses in the next chapter that the purpose of the fear of the Lord is that they wouldn’t sin. The riveting of their hearts on a God of such might and power meant that they wouldn’t sin.

Being riveted on God = not sinning. Being riveted on God = the breaking out of His gracious power and presence. Being riveted on God = Nations being swept up in the God who effortlessly paints scenes like in Exodus 19 and 20.

Imagine the invitation to reach out and touch….(Please see Hebrews 12:8)

Generation X, Worship, Music and Song

RN11 – Influence


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This week, RN11 has just done what it said it would – rocked hundreds of Nations all over the planet.

Headlining the conference was Hillsong NYC’s Carl Lentz, powerfully preaching the gospel of grace and getting rowdy with the guys and gals. He was all about zeal for a life of purity and consecration and, flip me, does this guy know how to preach!

The best headlining band I have heard at RN in quite a few years, Gungor, played on Thursday evening. And they were truly high qual. Their music was anointed, compelling, world-class, and lots of other things taboot. I couldn’t believe how good they were.

But it was the home team at ALC/RN that blew me away the most, AGAIN, pulling together to make the conference mint. Musicians, dancers, singers, AV crew, sound/camera team, caterers, pastors, welcome team, hooverers (after the big exploding ball things) – incredible. Incredible influence. When you’re around incredibly influential young people like this you can’t help but get caught up in it – influencers tend to snowball…..well out of control.

http://rocknations.com/rn11-highlights

Book in now for RN12: www.alm.org.uk/rocknations

Mental Health, Theology

Mobile or ‘Mobill’?


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Whoever said that men can’t multi-task was very wrong!

I recently walked into a public toilet to witness perhaps the best example of multi-tasking I have ever seen: a bloke urinating at a urinal whilst holding his mobile phone with his other hand busy replying to a text, or a tweet, or whatever else that was so important that it couldn’t wait for 30 seconds while he finished, shook off and hopefully washed his hands.

The word ‘cell’ can be used to biologically refer a tiny part of the human body or sociologically to refer to a small group of people. It can also be used architecturally to refer to its other meaning of a small room, such as a prison, (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cell) & technologically to refer to what is regarded today to be one of the most essential items of 21st Century living, (http://ezinearticles.com/?Mobile-Phones—Essential-Part-of-Our-Lives&id=256895).

Since having an iPhone, I have noticed that I have been spending more and more time on it to the point where I have felt like I am virtually imprisoned in my cell phone. It has become one of the biggest obstacles for me in maintaining my healthy margins in life. With its perpetual stream of facebook updates and invitations, emails and twitter alerts, it has become a constant demand on my attention and on-going drain of my prayerfulness. So, the iPhone had to go and in its place came a 10 quid beauty to do the txt and call job.

Ask yourself this, have you ever been on your own in a pubic place and found yourself feeling awkward unless you get your phone out and start playing? We all have. That’s my point. Why do we feel like that?

I have been wondering how much healthier my soul would be if I was to meditate over Scripture or focus in prayer for even a fraction of the time that I spend fixated to the thing. How many amazing, miraculous things have I missed because I have been totally absorbed by the gadgets of the mobile?

Perhaps we should all have a ‘no-tweet-while-peeing’ ban and look up a bit more often – I wonder what we might see!

Theology

We’re All Changing: ‘I want’ to ‘they need’


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There are two kingdoms: the claustrophobic kingdom of self and the expansively glorious Kingdom of God. One is a kingdom riddled with small-minded selfishness and the other is one saturated with the transforming love and grace of Jesus. The mind-sets of ‘self’ and ‘others’ collide.

As believers we are fundamentally subjects of only one Kingdom but daily we stray and switch feet between camps as we wrestle and war with the persistent nagging to live according to our own desires and wants. Like when we get irritated in busy traffic because the laws of our own selfish kingdoms are broken (all these drivers are in MY way). I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want. I want. I want. I want.

But the Kingdom of heaven is a transforming kingdom. A kingdom full of the transforming love and grace of a Saviour who will not relent or rest until every microbe of sin is delivered from every cell of every heart of every one of His children. His grace is teaching us. His grace keeps us. It transforms our ‘I want’ into His ‘they need’. They need. They need. They need. They need. They need. They need. They need.

Be in awe of this grace. Be grateful for this grace. Be confident in this grace.  If you see and feel your need of it…it is changing you.

Theology, Worship, Music and Song

Just As You Are


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Hello Blogg (ers)!

I have been having a rest from blogging over the last year – it has been a good break.

One of the main themes of all my prayers is the on-going ask that Paul had that the Father would grant a Spirit of wisdom and revelation to the NT (Ephesians 1:17) church that they might know Jesus better.

This has become my theme every time I open the word or pray because seeing Jesus as He is really is the answer to everything: greater, deeper love for people, preference of His infinitely valuable presence over sin, increased humility/decreasing pride…the list could go on.

I wrote the song (below) after I saw something stunning in Isa.53:2 where the prophet Isaiah describes Jesus:

“…like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him.”

This was once the case for all of us – like the Roman soldiers who crucified Him or unbelievers today who don’t see the beauty of Christ – it’s as though there was nothing about Him that we would be attracted to Him. How incredibly wrong!

It was the reality that this is still true for me as a believer today that brought this song out. Even though I ‘know’ that Jesus is infinitely valuable and my most beautiful Treasure, daily my soul needs reminding. Despite being made alive in my heart by God to believe, I still barely see His beauty. Jesus is more beautiful and desirable than I could ever know so my only response  has to be the Ephesians 1:17 prayer- Lord, please help me to know You more, that I might see You as infinitely majestic and beautful. Just As You Are….

Be blessed,

Nick

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Adopted! Romans 8:14-16


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The Holy Spirit of adoption compared with the spirit of slavery. It’s like the difference between sitting on your Dad’s knee eating a Werthers Original compared to being trapped hopelessly in a child slavery camp: Loved unconditionally, understood, empowered, protected, believed-in, rescued, highly esteemed and cherished, pleasing. Compared to being over-worked, under-fed, beaten, abused, exposed, taken-advantage-of, unloved, forgotten. That’s why we cry “Abba!”

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RNX – Becoming What We Are


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My, my, my…what a very cool church we have here in Bradford, UK. (www.alm.org.uk). We are in the middle of celebrating 10 years of Rock Nations, a youth conference with plenty of differences.

When I was 15 in 1995, we had summer camps in vacated schools and for 2 or 3 days where we used to have meetings, tuck shops, day trips out where we used to get euphoric about all being out together in a new city (Bournemouth), and other Christian camp things. They were good days and God was doing precious things in us all then.

And God is doing something very awesome today as well: 1700 young people and leaders from all around the world are gathering in BD3 to encounter the living God, Jesus Christ. And it’s more than encountering Him for some emotional moments…there is a marking that is happening of young people’s hearts that will lead them to change cultures for Christ – hearts that have been sealed (Eph.1:13) by the Holy Spirit and that are being unleashed with insatiable zeal to see Him known, justice reign and freedom breakout. Sounds like a smaller band of men once upon a time to me.

And the fact is, RNX is about all of us continuing to become what we already are. We are sanctified and yet are being sanctified. We are justified yet are being justified and we are saved and yet we are being saved. That’s why Paul tells us in Colossians to ‘put on the new self’ which is ‘being renewed’. We’ve got it on already (because of the twinkling-of -an-eye-moment when we were reborn) but we’re still being renewed. We have the mind of Christ and yet our minds are being transformed in a daily way.

So I see RNX as a 10-year celebration of this conference but also as a celebration of His life in ours, that we are all becoming what we already are in Christ, whether we are 15 or 30 or 50, or any age. The Nations truly are being rocked!

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” – Phil.1:6 MSG

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Let’s Remember Them


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Living as a Christian in 21st Century England is easy. It might not always feel easy, but it really is. There are no laws prohibiting Bible reading or praying to Jesus or talking about Him in public places. There aren’t any government-sent army soldiers knocking on the door of your life-group to demand you stop worshipping Yeshua or pulling you off to a prison cell when you don’t.

  These realities are so far from our experience as Christians in the UK that we forget they are happening every day for a sizeable chunk of our Christian family around the earth. We forget. We forget what it really costs some to stand for the gospel and to bear the Name.

 

 

http://www.csw.org.uk/idop.htm

 Peter writes of trials that come to believers like this: “These have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor…” (1 Pet. 1:7)

In the absence of ‘life or death’ or ‘freedom or prison’ realities for us here, we should still remember that our own trials are still ‘proving’ our faith in our lives. Part of the high, high privilege of having a soft heart is the process of the maturing of our faith in Christ…a faith growing in wisdom. 
Whatever trial you’re in now consider it’s effect on your faith as one of proving and maturing. Trials mature us. Trials produce wiser faith….which is worth far more than gold, (1 Pet. 1).
 
Come on, let’s pray! Father, we pray now for every brother and sister around the globe caught in persecution. We pray you’d bless them. Keep them, protect and deliver them, and may their faith be shown to be genuine. Please strenghten their faith to the praise of Your Name – may your Name be known.
And for the trials in our lives, here in the Western world. Help us to respond well. Would you give us a wiser faith as a result, and that You’d be glorified – that is, known as the glorious One that You are. We pray too for subtle, governmental laws that persecute followers of Christ in the UK – in the midst of these cause Your gospel to shine. 
 
Amen 
 

 

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Love and War


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It is true to say that the right book in the right hand at the right time can literally save a life. And the power of someone’s testimony in the right hand at the right time is spectacularly powerful, let alone a husband and wife’s.

In “Love and War” John and Stasi Eldredge have ‘bared all’ to give any engaged or married couple an absolute must of a gift when it comes to preparing for and living in happy, glad-hearted marriage. Of course, it is also a must read for single Christian people to prepare their thinking in advance of finding the romance of love and the heart-ache of the relational war that will go hand-in-hand with ‘boy meets girl’.

Love and War combines profound insight, honest and refreshing directness as well as disarming humour that opens up the readers’ heart to better understand, and more deeply love, the one to whom they are betrothed. It is a cool, trendy, relevant exploration of this mysterious thing we call marriage and should be read prayerfully as it will require you to change, big time. Highlights include the chapter on sex, the perfect storm, the greatest gift you can give and a cracking sub-section on opposites do attract.

Thanks to the Eldredge’s for their testimony and not giving up that others might also get to 25years, and way beyond, as happily married Christian men and women.

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Get Low


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We all know that God likes it when we’re humble and He’s not very happy when we’re proud and arrogant. How is it then that we often struggle to take the last spot in the queue or the smallest bit of pizza from the Domino’s box? Why do we insist on giving ourselves the best shot instead of making room for God to do something far more glorious?

Living in Christian community can be very challenging. Getting on with people can be very challenging. Not taking offense is an on-going challenge. But the call from God is to ‘go low’.

I visited IHOP (see http://www.ihop.org) a couple of years ago and this is where I heard the phrase ‘getting low’. It means that whenever we are tempted to climb higher on the back of our own sense of ‘justice’ or ‘rightness’ or whatever it is that we think is the ‘way’, we need to forget that and place our own agendas down. Jesus said to consider the needs of each other….to prefer others to yourselves. And James talks about bearing with one another in gentleness (James 3: 17-18 MSG) as being a true sign of holiness and wisdom.

So, I am reminded again to ‘get low’, get on the floor, eat carpet, let go of offense and hurts, prefer others, love others, look to the interests of others…and when I see situations on the horizon to ‘get high’ for myself to instead resist and get down low.

Father, I ask you today for a greater anointing of humility on my life and for all who read this.

Amen