Saturday, 29 September 2007

Caniadau ei Ieuengctid

A poem by William Williams Pantycelyn:

My precious soul while here below,
Doth trust with ease, yet doubts still grow;
I'm dead as stone, yet much alive,
I'm far from God, yet near I thrive.

Though poor and needy, rich am I;
In health, yet sick and fit to die;
Though chained and bound, I freedom know;
I greatly joy, yet sorrow show.

I dwell in peace, yet war abounds,
I prove defeat, yet triumph sounds;
Though foes oppress and have their way
I conquerer prove and win the day.

Though dull and blind, yet I can see,
I'm full of filth, and purity;
Though black with guilt, white still my dress;
Without, within the veil I press.

My way is short, yet travel still;
I rest, but journey onward will;
Far, far from home, e'en now by grace
I dwell in my abiding place.

God's temple I, yet Satan's nest,
My very foe I make my guest;
Hell I deserve, yet heaven my right
Through grace and mercy, in God's sight.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

It shouldn't be like this

“People are saying to me ‘wrong time, wrong place’. It shouldn’t be a case of wrong time, wrong place. It shouldn’t happen in this country”

This is the reaction of Stephen Jones to the death of his 11 year old son Rhys in Liverpool, and he is absolutely right. This shouldn’t happen.

It shouldn’t be the case that an 11 year old boy is shot 3 times walking home from football. It shouldn’t be the case that one child murders another. There shouldn’t be gangs of young people roaming around with weapons. Parents shouldn’t have to raise their children in fear. And when we look at all the death, war, disease, cruelty, famine, greed, corruption, lies, we know it shouldn’t be like this.

Do not be tricked into thinking this is just the way things are. All death and suffering is deeply wrong. God created the world perfect and made us in His image. It’s human rebellion against Him that has made things as they are. And the only person who can put each of us right, who can save us and change us, is Jesus.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2v11-14

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Water off a duck's back?

Before the inevitable government inquiry into last month’s devastating floods, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are you thankful? That there’s clean water when you turn the tap on? That you don’t have to queue for bottles of water? That you have a home to come back to at night? That God has been kind to you?

Are you mindful? That once in history the whole earth was flooded? That this was God’s judgement on sinful humanity? That “by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly?” (2 Peter 3v7).

Are you ready? Apparently only 57% of our country’s flood defences are in good condition. How terrible to be caught out! The only shelter on the day of judgement is found in Jesus Christ and His death in our place: are you trusting in Him?

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief” 2 Peter 3:10

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Royal Robes

The famous wedding dress that Diana wore for her wedding to Charles has been cut into 4inch squares, which are available to buy for £1000 each. The designers say that possessing a piece will help the owner “step a bit closer to the woman who is still alive to so many throughout the world”. How strange! And how sad that people will fork out a load of money for what in reality is just a piece of cloth!

When someone turns from sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ they also get a royal robe – they are scrubbed clean and given the righteousness of Christ. And it’s not just a piece they’re given, it’s all of it! And although the righteousness of Christ is beyond value they are given it all for absolutely free! At the end of time all those who belong to Jesus will be like a ‘bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev 21:2).

One of the songs we often sing in Townhill says ‘In royal robes I don’t deserve I live to serve your majesty’. Is that your story? Or are trusting in things that seem precious but in reality are worthless?

Friday, 1 June 2007

What is the church?

Some people think church is like a shellsuit; utterly unfashionable, completely outdated and you wouldn’t be seen dead in one. For other’s going to church is like visiting the dentists; You don’t go very often but when you it’s always painful, you’re made to feel guilty, and you leave thinking you should try harder.

But last week I saw something and I thought “That’s what the church is really like!”.

I saw a sculpture made of thousands of lost and broken objects that nobody had any use for: earrings, hairclips, zips, nails, paperclips, and many more. The artist had painstakingly searched high street pavements collecting them and had carefully threaded them together so they made a huge and beautiful piece of art. It was something completely new and exciting, made out of things fit for the rubbish dump.

That’s what the Bible says the church is really like: A huge group of people from all sorts of backgrounds and who were all lost and broken by sin, but who have been sought and saved by Jesus Christ. Jesus is now carefully at work in their lives, transforming them and building them together to make something glorious. In reality the church is never outdated, it is never about trying harded, it is something completely new and exciting made out of people fit for the rubbish dump.

Ephesians 5: 25 Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Are you part of the true church: the church that Jesus died for?

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

What can't you just shut up?

Last year I went to a folk concert. The atmosphere was very quiet and respectable, the audience politely applauded the female singer-songwriter as she gently played her guitar and sang sweetly. However one guy in the audience kept calling out for the same song, which the singer obviously didn’t want to play. This guy kept going on and on, he was so irritating that eventually the singer got so fed up that she punctured the nice polite atmosphere by yelling at the top of her voice: “SHUT IT!”

I reckon, deep down, that’s how most people feel about Christians. “Why can’t you just shut up?” Why do have to keep going on and on about Jesus?” You believe what you like, why do you have to involve every one else?” “All your talk about sin, hell and needing to repent is so irritating, are you determined to make us all miserable?” In short, however polite people may appear, the underlying message is “SHUT IT!”

Well, here’s the reason Christians can’t shut up, the reason we at Townhill Baptist will always keep going on and on that you need to repent and believe, the reason that Jesus is and will always be the most relevant person to your life:

“Salvation is found in no-one else, for there’s no other name give to men by which we must be saved”. (Acts 4:12)

The shocking truth is that if tell Jesus to shut up, you block out the only person who’s able to do you any good. Are going to turn and trust Him?

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

A New Year's Resoloution

Well my New Year's resolution is to have a crack at reading Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, and to my surprise it's not a chore but thrilling stuff. Here's a few passages that have grabbed my attention so far, and a picture of the man himself and his famous namesake:

Calvin on how awareness of our own poverty of spirit and moral bankruptcy should lead us to seek God:
"From the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity, and- what is more- depravity and corruption, we recognize that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone. To this extent we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to be displeased with ourselves."

Calvin on how there can be no true knowledge of God without piety:
"I call piety that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him- they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him."

Searching stuff hey? Does your knowledge of God come from a true assessment of yourself? Are you dissatisfied with yourself? Are you persuaded that your complete happiness and every good resides in him alone?