Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Working for God

I was recently very inspired and challenged again as to how much we do things in 'the flesh' as opposed to 'the Spirit' after reading this in Tozer's book 'The Set Of The Sail' in the chapter 'Substitutes for Discipleship':

 Another substitute for discipleship that I would mention (though these do not exhaust the list) is zealous religious activity.
Working for Christ has today been accepted as the ultimate test of godliness among all but a few evangelical Christians. Christ has become a project to be promoted or a cause to be served instead of a Lord to be obeyed. Thousands of mistaken persons seek to do for Christ whatever their fancy suggests should be done, and in whatever way they think best. The what and the how of Christian service can only originate in the sovereign will of our Lord, but the busy beavers among us ignore this fact and think up their own schemes. The result is an army of men who run without being sent and speak without being commanded.
To avoid the snare of unauthorized substitution I recommend a careful and prayerful study of the Lordship of Christ and the discipleship of the believer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Anniversary

So, Nicky and I recently celebrated our 19th Wedding Anniversary.
I say celebrated, but really that's completely misleading.
The Tuesday of our Anniversary I had been suffering from a sore throat.
I decided to go to the Doctor's and get some pills and just return to work, but when the Doctor saw me he diagnosed Quinsy.
I'd never heard of it, and apparently it's not that common, being an old type of illness. It's so uncommon, that he immediately got on the phone to another Doctor to come and have a look, as they'd never seen it before. the other Doctor simply said "Oooh, lovely".
A funny story, but Praise God I got the Doctor who actually knew what it was! Not one of the Doctors who would have given me a wrong diagnosis.

Anyway, I spent our Anniversary in hospital hooked up to IVF liquids and antibiotics after they'd put a huge needle down my throat to try and scratch the swelling.
Not pleasant.
I couldn't talk or eat for the best part of 24 hours.
I really noticed how much I missed speaking in tongues. It was a couple of days later after being discharged that I had the strength to talk a bit and I started speaking in tongues again. I was very aware of these power words going through my throat, like reverse medicine, coming out instead of going in.

I've been speaking in tongues a lot more since. About 15 mins at a time. I seem to have had a heightening of my understanding of just how powerful this gift of the Spirit is.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Omni's!

The kids are going back to school. For my daughter it's a new school. High school. And it can be very daunting.
We spent some time the night before her first day playing a game of encouragement. We basically took it in turns to say encouraging things to each other.
I got a bit carried away, and started talking about God's 'Omni' characteristics.
It's so amazing, I thought I'd share these very pieces of encouragement.
These do not of course fully explain these characteristics, they are just small facets of them.

Omnipotence (from Latin: Omni Potens: "all power") is unlimited power.

God is all powerful. Yep, easy one, got it. But what does that mean? If you are in need and pray, God doesn't just get His eye dropper out and measure out a tiny part of His power to help your need. No, God aims ALL His power at your situation. His power is perfect and complete. It never runs out, never needs to replenished, He never needs a rest for it to build up again. When He helps, He helps completely, and He hasn't then emptied Himself of power, He still has all power to help anyone else.

Omniscience  is the capacity to know everything infinitely

God knows everything. Again, easy. got it. Next. It means God knows everything there is possibly to know about everything in existence. He will never be surprised by something He didn't know. We will never learn something He doesn't know. We just learn things that he allows to be revealed to us. I guess that's what science is. Our learning of his revelations on creation. He knows everything about you, every thought, motive, word spoken. He sees all the secret things.

Omnipresence is the property of being present everywhere.

This one could freak you out. To explain this one to the kids I drew a line on some paper. Marked the beginning of the line as birth, and the end as death. I then marked lots of different events along this line, such as: first time to walk, first word, starting nursery, first day at school, first day at college, first job, getting married, having kids, being a grandpa/granny, being called home to be with Him.
Then I asked the kids, where Jesus was on this timeline? They pointed to various events, but I drew a circle outside of the timeline and said He's there. He's outside of time. Because He's outside of time, He can see all events at once, and can be in all places at once (at every time).
So, right now, he's there at your birth. Right now, He's there when you walk. Right now, He's there at your first day of school, ready to help you, preparing things for you. Right now, he's there at your first day of work. Right now, he's there at your bedside calling you 'come home'.
Absolutely beautiful.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's the Devil!

I've wanted to work this out for a while.
I get a bit fed up with people when they say things like:
The Devil stopped me.
It's the Devil that has done this.
The Devil is making trouble for me!

Wheras I agree 100% there is a Devil, and he is our adversary, I think a lot of 'stuff' that happens in our lives has absolutely nothing to do with spiritual warfare.

So, I wanted to see just how much time the Devil can give to each person. Because he isn't Omnipresent like God, he can't be everywhere at once. So his time is limited.

There are 6.721 Billion people on the planet. There are 24 hours in a day.
Divide one by the other, and allowing for the speed of light you have exactly .00001285522988 of a second to have his undivided attention.

Seems a bit more unlikely now doesn't it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Death Strikes Twice

Psalm 68
20 Our God is a God of salvation,
and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

So, Monday 9th I was cycling along, just out of work, making my way to the Taff Trail, a path for cyclists and pedestrians that runs along the River Taff.
It's my usual route and a good time for me to speak in tongues and worship.
This Monday afternoon I was praising God, thanking Him for delivering me, because I had just been missed by a Jeep, which had cut me up on the corner before getting to the Trail. It missed be by a foot, but even closer was the trailer it was pulling, which missed me by about an inch.
I thought It was my time, but Praise God, I lived.

I got on to the trail, praising and then noticed for some reason my coat had come undone at the bottom and was flairing out like a cloak. I did think of just leaving it, but as it looked ridiculous I stopped and re-zipped it.

My next encounter was with a chap standing in the middle of the path urinating.
Some days cycling you see it all.

Then I came to a part of the trail that runs into an underpass. just before I came to it a motorbike roared out of the tunnel. it was going very fast with a teenager driving. He didn't move out of my way, so I had to swerve off the path to not get hit. he was of course riding illegally on the Trail.

I thanked God again that I had not met the bike in the tunnel, as there was no room and I would have just been killed by a bike going at that speed.
And then I thought.
The amount of time it took me to stop my bike and re-zip my coat earlier was the amount of time I missed being in the tunnel when the bike was there.

Truly Our God is a God of salvation,
and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

We See Your Glory

This album was given away on CD at the latest ministries Without Borders Bible Week 2010.
It's also available as a free MP3 download.
It has some superb songs on it and words that you'll be glad you have knocking around in your head.

Download HERE

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Circle Of Life

A superb book. I just e-mailed Roger Aubrey the author to give my thoughts:

Hi Roger,
Just a quick note to say I have just finished reading The Circle Of Life.
As I started reading I thought it was good reading, but when I got to the chapter The Attitude of Gratitude it just hit me with both barrels.
It's been a couple of weeks since I read that chapter (Bible week in the middle) and I am very pleased to see that it has become a part of me.
One last comment, the end chapter and your operation. I thought it was a very powerful message the way you reacted to the hospital ward 'joker', by not accepting his words, even though it was such a subtle attack in joke form. That really made me think a lot as to what I accept.

Thanks Roger
Chris Morse

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cain & Abel

Cain has to be one of the most infamous characters in the Bible. He's known as the first murderer. What he isn't known for is being the first worshipper. And yet...

Genisis 4

1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.

2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.

3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,

It was Cain who made the first offering. We get it into our heads that Cain & Abel perhaps had a competition to see who could offer the best offering and Cain lost. But that's not what happened, some versions of the Bible state it was at a later time that Abel bought his offering.

Is this an important point? probably not, what is important is that Cain was definitely first and the instigator.

So, what went wrong? Why was it rejected?

Both Cain & Abel had good professions, one a keeper of sheep, the other a farmer. The substance of the offering was OK. There's nothing wrong with offering God grain, seed, flour, oil...it's all stuff prescribed by Moses as acceptable.

So, I ask again...what went wrong for Cain's offering of worship to be rejected? Remember, at this point in time there's no murder been committed, and God isn't judging him for something he will do but hasn't yet.

There's a massive clue later in Hebrews:

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

So, faith plays a part. But how has it played a part?

Romans 10 tells us: 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

We really need to pull this verse apart to get to the bottom of things.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice. By faith. Faith comes by hearing, and we hear through the word of God.
So, working this out, Abel MUST have heard God say something on the subject of worship/offerings/sacrifices and he then offered something after he heard because he acted on his faith.

Sorry, if I'm really spelling this out, it's just so important to get to grips with this simple story and truth before we answer the big question of Cain.

It would have been impossible for Abel to offer anything in faith if he hadn't have heard God.
So, does this mean then that Cain didn't hear God? there was no offering by faith? it was just a good idea he had?

I think the answer to those questions has to be a yes, yes and yes.

But surely God wouldn't reject Cain's offering because he hadn't heard God say anything on the subject and therefor couldn't offer in faith? Would He?
Surely God would look with kindness on any offering of worship. This just can't be the reason that led to history's first murder. Can it?

Let me ask you, what else could it have been?

The book of Romans talks a lot about the flesh and the Spirit. How both are at war with each other. God cannot accept something done from a fleshly heart, or to put it another way, He will only acknowledge an act birthed from the Spirit.

If this is starting to sound a little far fetched to you, think over some of the Bible's greatest stories, how people responded to God and saw Him reward their faith with His presence and power. Then think of people who did things their own way, and the punishments that followed.

To me this story of Cain & Abel is a huge wake up call to Christianity. It says to me that no matter how holy or religious or kindly an activity is your involved with, if the Holy Spirit has not given you the idea, or it's origins are not in the word, God will not back it. Have you ever been involved with outreaches or events that appear to win no souls and see no fruit. We console ourselves by saying we had maybe 1 good conversation, that we know it may take several conversations before someone accepts Christ, and perhaps this was only the first, we put a spin on our events to cover up the obvious failures they are, but really we need to come clean and say it was a failure that the New Testament would not have seen.

So, should Cain have just done nothing? Yes. Again, I think one of the hardest things for a Christian to do, is nothing. He feels he must in some way work for God, do something for Him, go out and start a Church, put on a meeting, look for the bigger and better. but again, if God is not telling you to do this, then it's origins HAVE to be in the flesh, and therefor God will not back them. In fact God is at war against them.

So how do we know when God is telling us to do something?
Most people will acknowledge that when he has spoken to them, they KNEW. You can also read the Word and have a knowledge of His commands to you.

Thinking this through over the months God showed this to me I have come to a place where I realise God won't micro-manage you. He wants to see you make good decisions yourself. He doesn't really have a lot to say on the subject of whether you should have tea or coffee, where white or black, He want's you to make a decision. There are bigger decisions to be made than this though. Such as where shall I live, where shall I work, who shall I marry, and when it comes to the Church, His body, He has a LOT to say and we exclude Him at our peril. It is in this type of decision we need to hear the Spirit talking, and if we hear nothing, to do nothing until we do.
I will finish this lengthy spiel, to just say that there is also a daily walk with Jesus where we need to hear and obey. A time when we will be walking along and the Lord will tell us to do something unusual, to break from our routine or our plans and turn aside and achieve something specific. this might be to talk to someone, to pray for someone, to do a secret act of kindness...it could be anything the Spirit directs you to do. That is when we need to obey and see God back up that act of obediance and faith with His power and presence. What we mustn't do is then think, WOW, that was great, I'm going to do it again to that person now. That is when we get fleshy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tiny Little Things

Strange this. A while ago an idea came into my head about a traveling salesman, that I should make him a music CD to listen to in the car as he's traveling around.

I promptly did nothing. Every now and then as I listened to my iPod I would think, oh, I must put that on his disc, that's a really encouraging song.

So, more than a month later I get another prompting of the Spirit. I need to complete these little tasks. So I started the compilation. It took me about a week or so, but Sunday morning came and I thought I'm going to get this done and finish it, then I can hand it over to him at Church.

Thing is, how on earth can this be the Spirit? It's such a little thing and not really very dramatic. it's not like the Spirit has told me to go and lay hands on someone or raise the dead is it. It's a CD!

So, I'm at Church and the guy gets up to give a testimony of what has happened to him this week.
He tells us all he's got a new job, he's back on the front line of sales and his words were "I need to start wearing the armour again" and also he was given a car! Yes, a car! And not just and car but an E type Mercedes!

So, after Church I go and hand over the CD and say I felt I needed to do this for him.
His face was beaming. He said he hadn't got any music in his new car and he really wanted something encouraging to listen to.
I didn't tell him, but the first track is Phil Driscoll Armour of God.

All I can think is I must complete those little tasks the Spirit gives me a lot sooner. Maybe it will lead to bigger ones.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Going The Distance

1 Corinthians 9
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

Hebrews 12
1 ...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Something that's been with me a long long time over the years, and has reared it's head again recently is endurance.

When I was in school I was an excellent athlete, usually winning the 5 star Amateur Athletics Association award in Pentathlon.
I was a great sprinter, and could handle a 200 meters pretty well, but anything longer was a hardship. I wasn't trained for this kind of endurance. I was a winner at the sprint but in the mile would do well if I came in half way through the scoring.

What I learned from trying long distance running is that the start goes well. You have all the energy, you have the plan in your mind of how you will pace yourself and who you will pace.
The end goes well, you find that extra bit of energy, and you make that last high energy surge for the line.
The hard bit is the middle. When the start is long gone and the end is nowhere in sight. There's just the plod, plod, plod of the mundane as you put one foot in front of the other and just carry on.

The same is true in the Christian life.

The start is exciting, you feel you can take on the world. Everything is possible. You know how the story ends and you know where your place will be when the final curtain goes down.
But the bit in the middle can be hard going.

How do you keep going when the tough times come, or even worse than the tough times...the mundane times. Days of blandness. Days of non events where you just go through the motions of living.
I know some people may say, "hey, your a Christian, every day should get better and better!" but we actually live in the real world, and the real world isn't like that. Some days don't get better and better, some day's nothing happens at all. And sometimes, weeks are like that. So what can you do?

You have to stay hungry. You have to strengthen yourself. You can't afford to become lazy, to become disinterested or even worse, dispassionate. And that's where the hard work comes in.
I'm sorry the answer to all this isn't an easy one, where you just say a prayer and all is right with the world. It's more a case of building yourself up with the truth. Speaking in tongues, not letting any negative thought find a foothold. You have to keep going, believing what you knew at the start and wait patiently for God to refresh you along the way.

You just have to keep going.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stay Soft

I've been thinking of this for a few weeks now but not had the chance to write.
When I lived in Basildon in the 90's, one of my best friends was a Leader of a Church there.
I used to visit him regularly in his office and amongst all the books and paraphernalia on his shelves there above his desk, stuck on the wall with a bit of blue tack was a tiny picture of an African child sitting on a blue bucket in a dusty dirt street.

I asked him about it once and he told me this boy was looking for food, probably he'd walked miles with his bucket to try and find some aid. His parents were probably dead with starvation in this droughted location. The boy himself would probably have died a few hours after the photo had been taken.
He said sometimes he looked at the photo and just cried.
He kept it there on the wall to stay soft.

Over the years I've thought a lot about that conversation.
I've noticed that there are times when things are going so well, you feel like your on cloud 9, God's blessing seems so rich, you have a smile on your face and joy in your heart and yet... with all these good things going on it always seems to be the time you become calloused and hardened to the needs around you.

It's the time I need to be careful, to stay soft.
Staying soft isn't about being a push over, or a weakling. It's about having a tender heart. When meat is tenderized, it's done so by having a big steel mallet pound it again and again, imagine that happening to your heart. It would be so bruised and tender that the slightest feather touch would cause you to wince and clutch your chest. That is what being tender to the Spirit is all about. Staying soft so that his merest touch stops you in your tracks.

I use many means to stay soft. Memories. Songs. Films. Pictures.
Oswald Chambers says to let memories do their work in you. They can teach and tenderize you to God. I've found that it's true, and for me a hard pounding on my heart.
Find your hearts soft spot and pound it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010



I've been thinking of these recently. It seems as life gets busier and more and more demands are made of you the importance of knowing your priorities becomes vital knowledge.
Getting them wrong can see conflict in your marriage, your family and in yourself. You see your free time being eaten into, your rest time, family time, husband and wife time and something has to give.

Here is my list of priorities. I've thought these over for a while in the Spirit and asked others what they think, and believe these are right:

1: The Lord.
It had to be didn't it. Above all others you must cultivate your relationship with God or the others are pretty much doomed.

2: Your Husband/Wife.

3: Your Children.
The order of these two is important. If your children eat up all the time you have for your spouse then there is no option but deterioration for that relationship. The same with your spouse taking all your time so you can't spend time with Jesus, the time might be going into the relationship but because the priorities are wrong it will suffer for it.

4: Your Job.
They pay you for your time, and that payment affords you to stay in your house, clothe yourself and family and allow you to eat. Your job is a gift from God and we need to work at it 'as unto Him'.

5: The Church.
As a friend said to me recently, Church isn't the same as God. If you don't get the above priorities correct you will not be able to operate at Church level. It's important to be committed to a church, to become part of the wider family of God, but if it's at the cost of your marriage you wont win any stars in your crown when you stand before Him. Some churches love to hold meetings, 1 a week, 2 a week, 1 every night. You just cannot agree to that level of commitment without something suffering.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Cross Part 2

So what is the power of the cross?

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
(I Corinthians 1:17)

I remember as a kid going to a gospel meeting, that didn't have nice words or clever arguments. I remember a young man talking of what the cross was like. What the thorns were like that were twisted into Jesus head, what the nails were like that cruelly went through His hands, the spear that gashed his side open, and this was all after his cruel flogging and mutilation.
The cross has no power as a gold piece of jewelry that hangs round your neck, or as a white marble statue above a pulpit. They beautify something that should not be beautified.
The power of the cross is to kill, and keep killing, until whatever is on it is dead.
The power of the cross is it is a doorway to life. An eternal life that can only be reached by death, now, in this world. Not at your natural death, then is too late, but willingly, while you have breath now.

and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
(Ephesians 2:16)

The power of the cross is to take away the judgment we deserve. Jesus took that hostility between God and man, that hostility that man had created, that stopped man from being all God intended him to be, and nailed it too the cross in his own body.

by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
(Colossians 2:14)

Imagine being in a queue at a store. You have 1 item in your basket. It's the most precious of possessions, costing all. You get to the till and realize you have no money. You can't put the item back, that is not an option. The price has to be paid, and you can't pay it. The sentence for not being able to pay is eternal imprisonment. And then Jesus comes, opens up his wallet and pays the price for you.
You would be eternally thankful, the fact that some would rather go to prison that have the price paid for them is astonishing, but true.

Jesus paid the price with His life, on the cross, and when you see the truth of it the only response is to give Him your life. And as we've seen, the way to do that is through the cross.

A couple more things on the cross. These are some random thoughts associated with other 'cross' related verses.

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
(John 19:25)

The cross isn't a quiet private event. People will notice, and should notice. Your family will be the closest and most observant. They will see a great and tragic spectacle. They probably will not understand. Think your being a fool. Maybe try to coax you down, plead that you give this up so life can go back to normal. But it can't. And eventually they will see the effect the cross has had on you once you have made it through the door to the other side of death and Jesus lives in your heart on the throne and begins to make all things new in your life. The cross is a public spectacle and the more people see and know of what you have done the more will be affected. After all the Bible tells us:

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Romans 10:9)

There is a telling, a confession that is part and parcel of salvation. It just can't be done in secret.

, As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.
(Matthew 27:32)

Similar to the point above, but this makes me think that there are other people who get dragged into what is happening with you near the cross. There are relationships you have, people you know, or people you don't know that for some reason become satellites to you as you are going through this change to the cross. You may feel sorry for them that they see you like this, falling to bits as sin weighs heavy around your neck, as the knowledge of Heaven and Hell weighs heavy, the knowing deep down that your life is a mess with you running it and you desperately want Jesus to step in and become Lord. But God has brought these people to you for the very reason of observing you, to get a feel for how heavy and how deadly the cross is. They may never hear a skillful sermon, but to come into contact with you as the cross weighs heavy is a more sobering experience than any they will have experienced up to now.

and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
(John 19:17)

Just to finish this point, ultimately, no one can bear the cross for you. You will carry it. It will take everything you are. Nothing left behind. But as the cross is inserted in the place of the skull, you will find that for you it is death that has been killed for you through the power of the cross.

Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe. Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
(Mark 15:32)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2)

The cross as we've seen is not a pleasant experience. Made all the harder by people who will ridicule you. People do not like an act like salvation. It's misinterpreted by them. They feel threatened by it, as well they should, because they feel you are saying; this is the right way, the only way to be saved, to be truly good, spotless and blameless in God's eyes. No one in these PC days wants anybody to draw a line in the sand as to what is right and wrong. These days everything is right, there is no wrong way to find God, in fact, we don't really need Him anyway because we are not bad. We've made up our own rules as to how we will enter heaven, and they don't involve Jesus at all. To stand up in that atmosphere and say; NO, there is only one way and His name is Jesus, will not go down well.
Despising the shame? The shame is to be seen as the sinner you are. All your faults and weaknesses. Jesus Himself took the place of a sinner and was counted with them, though He knew no sin. he endured it. He had His eyes fixed on the prize.

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
(Galatians 6:12)

My last point. I have to stop somewhere on a topic so large or I might never finish.
When I read this scripture, the biggest thing I think of is to remember where we have come from. Remember the simple truths that set us free, and the simple but incredibly powerful life we have entered into. We have entered via the cross into friendship with the Creator of the universe. Our walk with Jesus is a simple one. As simple as Adam in the garden, walking and talking with His Lord, sharing his thoughts and feelings and listening to the great teacher as he shares His thought and feelings back. And as with any student / teacher relationship, He rubs off on us. We start to see His character and more, we start to become like Him. Amazing.
Where this goes wrong is when our eyes are diverted from this simple life. We get bogged down with people's ideas on how to worship, how to pray, 10 ways to prosperity, how to be an overcomer. And if we are not careful our attention drifts to formulas, to giftings and gifts, to ministries and people, and slowly our attention is refocused on something that is supposed to be 'deeper revelations' of Jesus, when in actual fact, the deeper revelations are already there in your simple walk, being revealed as He sees fit to reveal them. We find prayer gets harder, and shorter, worship only happens when the band is particularly on form or when it's your favourite song. You tithe, you read the Bible, you try your best, but slowly your walk with Jesus is being replaced with rules and regulations. Life is being replaced with Law.
The cross set us free. We are free. We have friendship with the Saviour. There is no deeper truth, no missed message that you have to fulfill to attain salvation.

The Cross Part 1

Lets start with the big choice.
The Cross or the Throne?

The throne is where you sit now. Lord and master of your heart and mind and body. You do what you want, you say what you want. You answer to no one other than the Law of the Land.
The throne is a plush, gold covered, velvet lined, seat of luxury and power. You were born sitting on it.

The cross is a crude device, made from 2 long rough pieces of wood. No effort has been made to beautify it, no lick of paint, it's an object made for one purpose. To kill whatever comes in contact with it.

That is the big choice.

The first mention of the cross in the Bible is from Jesus. He's talking about the cost of discipleship:

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
(Matthew 10:38)

and in Luke:

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
(Luke 14:27)

Jesus wants you to go on the cross, allowing Him to take the seat on your throne. You have to allow this willingly by giving up the throne and going to the cross. You go to the cross by accepting Jesus as Lord of your life. As you do this you find that Jesus takes His rightful place as Lord and you find that you are now dead on a cross, crucified with Jesus.
Something I've learned since starting this study is that the cross will not be found by the light hearted. Only those with serious mind and serious heart can find the cross. It's the narrow door, not only does it cause you to lose all as you squeeze through, but for most they don't even see it as they carry on their busy lives.

And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
(Luke 9:23)

Jesus talks of this being a daily act. This doesn't mean you have to go through the process of salvation every day by accepting Jesus as Lord of your life. When you have done this once, He is Lord. There is a daily walking through of what you have done though. The flesh, which could maybe translated as the part that still likes sitting on the throne, will rebel at your decision to give up the seat of ruler-ship. It's been used to getting it's own way and want's no other King but itself. It is this fleshly voice that needs to be put in it's place daily. The place of death.

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
(John 19:19)

This verse has a significance for us too. It is only in death, and death on a cross we will ever truly find out who we are. Just as all who passed could see this was Jesus, the King of the Jews, so when we are crucified with Him, we find out just who we are. Servant of the Most High, Slave to Christ, Friend of God.

He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
(Matthew 27:42)

What was said in mockery nevertheless has truth in it. You cannot save yourself. The one place you can save yourself is on the cross, but as Paul says, this idea is foolish to some:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(I Corinthians 1:18)

How many times are we told the mystery about losing your life to save it? Just a quick search gives me 6 results:

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
(Luke 17:33)

Think of all those self help Guru's, those seminars where someone promises you to become a better person in 3 easy steps. The adverts that show you by buying this product, eating this, wearing that, will improve your life. It's all a lie. It won't work. Only the cross will make it happen.

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
(Luke 9:62)

The same is true of those who go to the cross and are then fooled into thinking that another way will save them. To fall for the voice that says, 'do this thing instead, and then we will believe you are serious'. No, it's a one way journey. There is no turning back. Not ever.
I'd just like to expand on this point slightly. You have to count the cost. You have to assess the price being asked. I expect you might have been to meetings where an appeal is given. All eyes are asked to be closed, all heads bowed. It's made as easy and embarrassment free as possible for someone to shyly put their hand half way in the air, just high enough to be seen but not high enough to be noticed by anyone hopefully.
This isn't a good start. This isn't giving the person the right understanding of the cost of their decision. In some ways the decision to follow Christ should be made harder. Not a dip your toe in the water and if it's not to your liking perhaps find a different way to show your nice and good. No, it's a jumping straight in the deep end, knowing you can't swim and your not going to make it up. An abandonment of all that has gone before. No turning back.
I think the easier we make these decisions, in the long run, the harder the task to train the disciple.
You don't have to explain that your money is God's, your time is God's, every decision you make needs to be for God to a person who has given up his life to Jesus so dramatically. They understand already that they and everything they have and are is His.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hero Worship

When I was a kid, I had the nack of maybe not understanding the right answer, but guessing what it should be.
For instance, I was in primary school, and the question was asked: Which is heavier, a Kilo of feathers or a Kilo of sand. Nearly the whole class said sand. I had no idea what a Kilo was but I guessed it was a trick question and said they were the same...and got a big pat on the back for being clever.
Thing is, I'm not that clever, I just could guess well.
When it came to questions on having a hero, I was pretty much the same. Knowing that the wrong answer was to say my favourite pop star, because he looked cool, or wore dark sunglasses that were trendy...I knew not to say my favourite film star, the one who killed all the bad guys with witty one liners. Those were the guys I really wanted to emulate, but I answered correctly and said Jesus...and got a nice pat on the back for answering correctly.

Now I'm older, I look at jesus and think, this man really is my Hero.
Jesus was a man (as well as being God) that was always at peace. Nothing flustered Him. He never flew off the handle, he got angry, he got sad, but it was never out of control.
He could walk into a room and everybody would know, here is someone special. They might not like Him, may take offense at Him, but they couldn't ignore Him.
In conversation, it didn't matter who he was speaking too, he had the right word for the right time, something I admire in him more and more.
He truly was, and is, someone I want to be like.

My Hero.