bible

Bible, Theology

Live Like a Limpet


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English Riviera

Back in the day, one of the best summer-time things to do was to roll down Headland Park Road on our mountain bikes and go crabbing in the rock pools of the English Riviera. We’d raid the ‘fishing box’ (an old Wall’s ice cream container) and arrive at the big pools with a bright orange H-shaped crabbing line. (more…)

Bible, Marriage, Theology

Hosea: History, Style, Theology (Intro)


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Letters on a Page

Thinking/praying about the historical, theological and literary contexts of biblical passages is pretty darn important if your hope is to grow in love for God.

How come?

Well, have you ever thought why it is that God decided to make the primary medium of His Self-disclosure to us to be through specific details and letters on a page (yes, pixels on a screen) rather than numbers or code of some kind? Or that He even chose to have a Book at all?

Perhaps God chose words because they convey thoughts and personal information which, in turn, hold potential to convey emotion and therefore form relationships?

Numbers can’t do that.

Whatever the reason, I figure that it’s good to start a study by recognising that words forming different styles of literature, as part of this, history and theological motif, are a big deal to God and packed full of meaning.

So, coming to study Hosea needs thought in each of these areas to really delve into its ‘riches’ (Col.3:16), otherwise it’s like buying a top-of-the-range DSLR camera for thousands of pounds and then only using it for selfies! (more…)

Bible, Theology

Cold Feet? Reconsidering the Call


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How beautiful [and delightful] upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7 (ESV)

There isn’t a question mark in this verse because God is making a statement through the Prophet Isaiah rather than asking a question – notice the exclamation of ‘How beautiful’ – it’s as though God can’t take in how beautiful our feet are to Him. There is a longing in the Word of God for the ones God has made.

Listen to King David in Psalm 16:3,

As for the saints (godly people) who are in the land, they are the majestic and the noble and the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.

Similarly, in Romans 10:15 quoting this exact verse from Isaiah 52 above, Paul makes a bold and missionally motivating proclamation of the beauty of the church rather than asking the church in Rome to go away and work out if they were worthy or able enough.

No. God delights in us and this is the boiler room of our ‘going’. He call us Hephzibah not Azubah or Shemamah; He calls us My Delight is in her not Abandoned or Desolate (See Isaiah 62).

Publishing Good News

God delights in us enough to have orchestrated the great condescension of Jesus from the glory and majesty of the throne of God to the frailty of human frame and the freezing temperatures and animal muck of a farmyard.

Imagine being a Daddy and having a beautiful newborn baby boy. Imagine laying him on a cross of torture and suffering. Imagine placing him down naked on a cold, wet winter pavement, turning away and abandoning him.

What love is this?

This Love is our God and our Saviour.

This Christmas – Cold Feet?

This Christmas I’m taking this verse from Isaiah 52, where God describes our feet as being beautiful, and digging down into why it often is that we live and move and have our being with cold feet rather than the experience of feet that are beautiful.

Why?

Cold Feet is a term often forming part of the stereotype for men and women who have a fear of commitment to long-term relationships or marriage. I’m sure that all of us can relate to this same ‘fear’ when it comes to going hard after God and the great commission – of taking the gospel to the lost.

How about you? Do you have cold feet when it comes to the glorious gospel and ‘publishing’ and proclaiming it boldly for popular consumption? I know I often do.

We need to walk more closely with the Spirit of God.

This Advent – Beautiful Feet

This Advent I’m making room to reconsider Jesus, the call of God on my life and how it is that I “Go” for the sake of the lost, the church and the glory of His name.

Would you join me?

Cold Feet

 

 

 

 

1 John, Church, Culture

Back Stories


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We all have back stories – recorded and unfolding narratives of the span of our life forensically written by the sum of our experiences: great highs, often greater lows, innumerable memories all woven together in the finest detail to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art, hanging as a priceless tapestry in the inner gallery of our heart.

We don’t always want the public to view our own piece hanging there and we don’t honour the pieces that we see of others every day.

Do we walk through these galleries we’re in every day paying cursory glances at the pieces on display? Or could we stop to really look at what we see?

A biblical perspective for back stories is a faith-primed hope of a better future – all because of Jesus: He promises to never leave us alone and in the fullness of time to make all things new.

The difficulty with back stories is that we even struggle to know and understand our own let alone those of others – they require attention, thought and counsel. But understanding and attending to our own will help with our understanding of others.

The thing is – because everyone has come from somewhere, is currently somewhere processing the past and dreaming of a future; and because they are in fact headed somewhere into an unknown place, we must treat each other with the love that John talks about in 1 John. (I won’t quote chapter and verse but how about picking up your Bible, reading 1 John and noting the correlation between our love for Christ and our love for each other?).

See what I mean?

My prayer for myself and for you is that we would draw the same boundary lines as Jesus draws: grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace [until it becomes annoying, ‘unfair’, even ridiculous] upon grace upon grace. You’ll need an eraser for sure; so will I:

We all know the feeling of being found outside of the boundary lines that others have drawn for us, (even in ink), essentially leaving us in relational exile where grace has run dry; but in the power of the Holy Spirit of God we can all be prayerful students of back story masterpieces and come to truly understand that each piece really does paint a million words.

Marriage, Theology

Jurassic Theology: Marriage isn’t about Marriage


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We now think it’s all about sex, companionship, equality, inclusion, human ‘rights’, dignity, happiness and an extinct Jurassic, biblically-based theology that’s reduced to being ‘bigoted’ and ‘unloving’. But the Apostle Paul thought it wasn’t about any of these things; he thought it was all about God – all about the Bridegroom Jesus and His bride.

Yes, I’m referring to marriage. (more…)

Bible

Fight as Though For Yourself


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A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for adversity.

 – Proverbs 17:17 –

The bible says this is what friends do and that this is what brothers are born for.

Q) Is this your experience? A) Probably not…at least, probably not entirely.

It’s more likely that you have been hurt by your friends, vice versa, and that you have shirked the risk of taking responsibility of the adversity of a brother (or sister, obviously). (more…)

Culture, Discipleship, Theology

Ancient Missional Adrenaline


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KFC Church

When I read the book of Acts, I really want to be a believer, a lover, a follower of Christ. I’m glad to be. I’m proud to be. When I go to church, I often feel like there’s something very important missing and I can be left feeling like I do when I occasionally go to KFC for some fried chicken – i.e. I’ve just eaten a bucket of it but I want to eat something else to combat that slightly empty, greasy feeling that it leaves me with. (Not that I’ve ever been to a church that I would describe as being greasy, or ‘chickeny’).

I’ve been ‘in church’ all my life so I’m not talking about looking for the mythological ‘perfect church’. (It’ll be our wedding day when we are ‘perfect’). And I absolutely agree that church certainly isn’t all, or even mainly, about our consumption and ‘being fed’. But it is a bit, isn’t it? Even when we’re ‘self-feeders’. Believers need the gospel as much as unbelievers, surely? Pastors need discipling as much as anyone else, right?

What I am talking about is the frustrating and inadequate compromise that there seems to often be in churches who excel in one major area of ecclesiology but then struggle in others. Let me give you some examples:- (more…)

angels&demons, terrorism, Theology

Russell Brand’s ‘Manifestations of the Infinite’


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It’s been another harrowing week on planet earth. The terrible atrocities in Paris and Nigeria (and elsewhere not covered by the media) have again functioned as the exclamation mark for the statement of our times – of threat, fear, violence and deceit – churned out from terrorist groups all around the world: “we will strike anywhere; you are not safe”.

I don’t know about you but I have a world-view that includes a conception of a spiritual realm – that beyond the world that we see and touch and taste and hear, there is another ‘more real’ world…the world of the infinite. This isn’t a world of confusing and sad-feeling interstellar realities, or of the actual post-code of the Lady in Black; it is an actual realm of angels and demons and of armies of both.

You may or may not believe in ghosts – I do – though not Casper ghosts or any kind of ghost that can be ‘busted’ by Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd. I believe in a spiritual dimension comprised of a Triune God, One God in perfect oneness and yet divisible and individually knowable in Three Persons: – The Holy Ghost (The Holy Spirit), Jesus Christ the Son of God and the The Father. I believe in a Triune God like this because the bible tells me that He is so. The bible also tells me that angels and demons (try not to hear that as a Dan Brown novel title) are a major part of the unseen spiritual realm: angelic hosts that worship God and do his will and demonic spirits that wage war against the purposes of God in heavenly places and on the earth. These are some of the ‘big stories’ from the ‘big narrative’ of the bible and you can find it for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Russell Brand

(more…)