church

Bible, Church

The Valley of Achor


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‘…thus says the Lord, God of Israel, ‘There are devoted things in your midst O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.’

(Joshua 7:13)

It can be painfully frustrating to read through the accounts of the people of Israel. They seem to make the most obvious mistakes and at times have total disregard for the miraculous events that take place in their midst. Reading Joshua chapter 7 felt like one of these frustrating chapters to begin with but as the narrative began to unfold it suddenly felt significant and then incredibly relevant. It will never cease to amaze me how God does this time and time again through scripture. (more…)

Culture, Poverty, Theology, Welfare

Mr Cameron, Please Take Note


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According to PM David Cameron in his 2015 Easter speech that most of us have heard, the UK remains a Christian country because the government help to repair Cathedrals and older church buildings that, supposedly, represent the ‘living active force’ who are the local church.

Mr Cameron also pointed to the phenomenal welfare efforts of the church in specific terms of homelessness and poverty relief.

Spotlight on this Living Active Force

Here are just two specific examples of this living active Christian force that meet many needs in our fractured society but who are not necessarily synonymous with Cathedrals or dilapidated church buildings. (more…)

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.

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…)

Church, Culture

Disruptive Thinkers


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turningtablesWithin your world of creativity, with something you’ve written, produced, conceived or presented, it’s good to ask “how could this be better?” rather than only “what do you like about this?”. The pathway of constructive criticism should lead to better output. Not discouragement.

(more…)

Church

Church Last Night at the O2


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‘Twas great to be with friends from Hillsong last night at their European conference in the O2 Arena, London.

Karl Lenz preached up a beautiful storm from the green fields and quiet waters of Psalm 23. The Hillsong crew led worship powerfully & Matt Redman (a National Treasure) sent us home as the dancing generation

Church

Priority Seating


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I was sat in a bus heading into the City this week but not in any old seat; I was sat in a priority seat for those less able to stand than others. The bus had pulled up to a stop and a mother outside with a pram was struggling to see a free seat on the bus for her to come on for. (more…)

angels&demons, heaven, writing

“The Heavenlies” – A Peretti Pastiche (Part 2 of 2)


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Three

It was the end of his University life and Paul had decided that it didn’t matter if he got drunk tonight. He stood at the bar again waiting for more drink. Apathy, Deceit and Desire gripped hold of him like toxic leeches, writhing in pleasure as they controlled his mind. Their yellow, bulbous eyes flitted about continually, knowing that at any moment legions of angels could obliterate any attempt they could ever make to influence a human life. Kaalk had returned to the City’s demonic stronghold having achieved his goal, but with his swollen pride well and truly dented. He had a score to settle.

It wasn’t long before Pete and Adie had paired off with girls at the other end of the pub, leaving Paul on his own. He looked around and couldn’t see anyone else he knew, so just stayed by his new refuge at the bar. Paul felt his mind getting weary as he opened his throat and threw down the last of the shots. Looking up for a second, he caught the eye of a girl at the end of the bar near to Adie and Pete. He instinctively looked away back to his drink, but he knew she’d been looking at him. She was stunning. Desire shifted position and delved deeper into Paul’s mind. Paul suddenly felt more alert, more nervous again, and he was excited.

By flashing one of his last notes of the night, he motioned to the barman that he wanted serving again. He deliberately glanced back to where the girl had been standing as he exchanged his money for another drink, but was disappointed to find that she had gone. This beer seemed weaker than his earlier pints, like his tongue was numb; it was easier to drink and as he started to knock it back he thought how good it would be to have a girlfriend, not even a girlfriend, just a girl would do.

His thoughts were interrupted by a waft of perfume as he realised that the girl had come over to stand next to him. She was just standing there, leaning against the bar, playing with her long golden hair. As she turned to say goodbye to one of her friends, Paul’s eyes moved across her body as Desire burrowed deeper. Making sure not to slur, he leaned a little closer as she turned back and offered to buy her a drink.

They were soon sitting down holding each other with temporary confidence, not concerned about the public gaze or the fact that they couldn’t remember each other’s name. As the night drew to a close, Paul remained entirely oblivious to the hive of demonic activity that surrounded him. He had forgotten the boy who now lay in hospital and the Bible that sat by his bed. He had forgotten.

Four

Kaalk sat on the dewy moss of the church steeple as the sun struggled through the clouds in the distance. He was motionless except for the rise and fall of his alien frame. Sulphurous breath streamed from his nostrils as he focused on the house, averting his gaze only in occasional reproach of the demonic minions that sat restlessly behind him. Guilt crouched subserviently next to Kaalk. He knew this was his chance to impress his master.

Aramouth and Guldin were standing once again as mighty warriors. Singing with voices like the sound of many waters they were spearheading the Lord’s army that was rapidly congregating in the heavenly places. They proudly looked across the horizon to see hundreds of thousands of angels covering each other in prayer as they prepared for battle.

Paul stirred groggily in his bed as the physical hangover began to gnaw at his consciousness. He opened his eyes to the world allowing the gradual trickle of fragmented memories to tumble through his damaged mind. Kaalk’s huge membranous wings unfurled as Paul reached for the light and the window became lit. A leathery canopy now surrounded the fiend as he waited for the moment to climb the air, glancing furtively around for any angelic intervention. Kaalk was nervous because this was important.

As though in perfect synchronisation, pairs of orange and green reptilian eyes emerged from the trees ahead and from the cars beneath Kallk  – several more from within the bushes next to Paul’s window. They lit the area like flashing hazard lights from the scene of an accident. Kaalk was tense but he smirked with anticipation. The stench of acid rose from the sulfuric climate intensifying from his flaring nostrils as the demonic fellowship behind him also stood eagerly to attention.

Then came Kaalk’s call like the petrified screaming of lost children. In one blurred movement Guilt leapt with frightening agility and dived into the dome of the tree next to Paul’s house, passing into the roof space. He hurtled downwards at unearthly speeds towards Paul’s bedroom. The downcast child of God sat on the edge of his bed bathed in ice-cold perspiration. He felt sick in his stomach, weakly nauseous and giddy. He gagged at the rush of adrenalin with every hazy memory that returned, and, with them, Apathy, Deceit and Desire all moved to accommodate Guilt who entered the room with merciless force.

Paul instantly remembered his opportunity to leave the pub, the chance to go home. With immaculate precision Guilt sharpened his talons on his armoured back and sank them into his victim’s mind. Paul remembered the girl. Guilt withdrew his talons and began to swing back and forth with his barbed sword, hacking Paul’s heart with insatiable pleasure. Paul collapsed on the floor catching his head in his hands, weeping like a child. He was embarrassed by his fear though no-one was in the room with him, and yet, like the faint blowing of the wind he could hear outside, he recognised a still voice longing for him to call out the name of Jesus. Paul understood the voice instantly and with all the faith he had cried out to his Father in heaven.

A single trumpet sounded and the gates of heaven exploded open. Endless thousands of heavenly warriors raced in majestic silence to Paul’s defense as unimaginable fragrances and indescribable lights appeared in the train of radiance behind the heavenly host. With perfect timing, Guldin and Aramouth were fighting by Paul’s side and, like a spear through water, sent every demon sprawling to the floor. Paul lifted his head and remembered a verse from Romans, and then another from Philippians. Guldin stood before Paul like a mighty pillar of the finest gold while Aramouth prowled like a lion, skillfully disarming the injured demons.

Apathy, Deceit and Desire bowed briefly before the angels as they hissed and fled the room. Guilt had already maneuvered like a snake back behind Guldin who spun to see the spirit dig again into Paul’s heart. Once more Kaalk howled outside commanding the remaining demons to do their worst, and they moved together towards the bedroom like a black cloud.

Paul hesitantly got to his feet and sat again on his bed. He looked at his Bible as Guldin threw a massive blow to the back of Guilt’s deformed head. But Guilt braced himself and stuck obstinately to Paul’s heart. Kaalk’s filthy presence now filled the room as Aramouth turned to what appeared to be a different demon, transfigured. Kaalk had grown in stature and now towered above him filling the room with a putrid stench. Aramouth darted from one side of the room to the other to avoid the blur of Kaalk’s claws and fangs, failing to land any blows of his own attack.

But the demon lord hyper-extended his spine and screamed in horror amidst vomiting episodes as an explosion of pure light momentarily blinded him. Outside, the demonic cloud was seconds from entering Paul’s bedroom when it hit an impenetrable wall of heavenly authority. Demons were snatched and sent flailing into the abyss of hell; shattered wings and bodies showered the area like a grotesque spiritual deluge. Kaalk instinctively knew what had happened as he spat on the floor: his scheme was effectively over and that the Unmentionable’s army had conquered again. But Kaalk remained internally motivated with the prospect of his own glory, with his own triumph over these pathetic spirits that, on their own, were nothing.

The demon clawed at his bleeding eyes and grabbed Aramouth, tossing him aside like a rag doll. He pinned him to the floor with his muscular leg, but reached down too late to see Guilt being decapitated by Guldin and thrown out of the room with unquestionable authority.

Paul picked up his Bible and flicked the pages towards the back. He turned to the book of James and started reading at chapter four. Both angels were instantaneously transformed into figures of incomparable beauty: their faces became ruddy and their eyes burnt with cleansing fire. Guldin looked at Kaalk who now shook uncontrollably with fear as Aramouth snapped the demon’s leg with his mighty arm and stood upright. Without even so much as looking at each other, both angels sprang into glorious action. They circled the principality overhead and with a sovereign act of sword-drawn finality they thundered down through Kaalk’s very being.

Paul had reached verse seven.

Three weeks later Paul talked excitedly with Pete and Adie about his gap-year plans to travel to Africa to help with Christian missionaries there. Paul had seen his friends in the pub as he was passing outside and had decided to go in and join them. After an hour or so of catching up, a couple of beers and a bite to eat later, Paul shook their hands and wished them well for their futures. As Paul left, Pete and Adie talked of how good it was to see him, but couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t properly introduced them to his two friends.

The End

© Nick Franks, 2002

All works registered through Copyright House

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