Friday, 22 August 2008

Please Pray

'Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified'.- 2 Thes 3v1

I'm going off to a Christian youth camp in Northern Ireland on Sunday. The camp is aimed at kids between the ages of 14 and 18. Some are Christians others not. They're great, had loads of fun last year as well as much banter!

Please pray:
  • for anointed preaching
  • for the Holy Spirit's presence in the meetings
  • for the leaders. That we would be good examples of Christians who really love Jesus.
  • for encouraging conversations with the kids
  • for the practicalities of the event so that everythingwill run smoothly
  • for everyone to have lots of fun
  • for every person to come away from the camp with a sense that God is beautiful

Will blog more on my return...

In the meantime check out the ongoing debate between Hugh and myself over human happiness and God's glory.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Why we have to be happy in God to glorify Him

'According to my judgment the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself!' - George Mueller

Doesn't it sound selfish to make yourself happy in God? Surely that's just using God to make you happy? Below is the reasoning that forces me to believe (like George Mueller) this it is essential to make myself happy in God:

1) The chief purpose of the Christian Life is to glorify God. (1 Cor 10v31)

2) When sinners are born-again they receive a new heart. ( Ezekiel 36v26)

3) The heart's function is to produce desires. (Psalm 37v4b)

4) The new heart (given by God) produces spiritual desires or desires rooted in the Holy Spirit.

5) To be happy is to fulfill desires and cravings. The greatest measure of happiness happens all desires are fulfilled.

6) To be happy in God is to fulfill Spiritual desires from the new heart.

7) Holy-Spirit desires are given so that the fulfilment of them glorifies God. (God does all things for His own glory).

8) By implication of 6) and 7) we must make ourselves happy in God (fulfilling Spiritual desires) because this glorifies Him.

Three Misconceptions about Happiness:

1) I can't be 'happy in God' all the time because sorrow is a good emotion that God wants me to experience (2 Cor 7v10).

This misconception assumes that humans exert one emotion at a time. The truth is we can be happy and sorrowful simultaneously. 2 Cor 6v10: 'sorrowful yet always rejoicing'. A happiness in God can happen when we are filled with sadness.

2) Happiness is given by God sometimes and other times not. It is not to be pursued. It's to be accepted if God chooses to let me enjoy it.

If this is true why did Paul command the Philippians several times to 'Rejoice in the Lord' (Phil 4v4). Not rejoicing is a sin. Getting joy in God is commanded therefore it is our obligation and duty.

3) Pursuing your own Happiness is living by feelings and not faith.

Faith and feelings are not independent of each other. The right faith tends to produce the right feelings (Rom 15v13).

'God is glorified not only by His glory's being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.' -Jonathon Edwards

Friday, 15 August 2008


'Be clothed with humility.' 1 Peter 5:5

'Humility is a lovely garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the looking-glass of God's Word, and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He allows them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes of pride may fall off, and that they may walk humbly.'

-the puritan Thomas Watson

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Best Manning for the Blanckensee's

Yesterday was the wedding of my good friends Tom and Michelle. I was lucky enough to be chosen as best man. As promised to those who didn't attend the reception here is my speech:

''Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen- I’d like to thank you all for coming today and helping to make Tom and Michelle’s wedding such a special and memorable occasion. In case you don’t know me I’m Simon one of the honoured best men. Being chosen for this duty seems to suggest that I have been far too friendly towards Tom. Anyway I’m glad to have the privilege of speaking to you.

I’ve known Tom since the first year of University. Sussex Uni is a place full of people who are unsure… unsure about life, the future, themselves and what to drink that night. Tom was no different. I was drawn to him by a tee shirt he was wearing featuring a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine. I wasn’t entirely certain about the mental condition of Tom as I personally stopped wearing those tee shirts a good fifteen years previous. I then read the Caption: Doubting Thomas. As I peered at the shirt and came to the conclusion that I didn’t actually want to initiate any conversation with him due to his choice of clothing for a Monday Morning seminar, it all became clear. Tom was a church-goer. This made perfect sense to me. I’m a Christian and therefore am allowed to wear socks with sandals, continually eat quiche and sing kum-buy-ah out of pitch with raised hands. I’d like to point out that Tom and myself have never ever met up to participate in any of those three activities.

So we got chatting and became friends thanks to that faithful tee shirt. Since the three years of knowing Tom I’ve found him to be of a good moral conduct. Take for example his eating habits. Slow, carefully and skilfully he’ll enjoy a meal while making pleasant conversation…No…If you’ve ever eaten with Tom you’ll know that’s actually not true whatsoever. Tom has the skill of opening his gullet to food and shovelling it down as if the UK were about to enter a millennium of rationing.

Other things about Tom: Is he an intellectual? I can honestly say that in all the years I've known him, no one has ever questioned Tom's intelligence. In fact, I've never heard anyone even mention it. Well he did achieve a 2,1 in music from Sussex due to his powerful voice. He is a talented singer and as a result many of his friends and family have been forced to (against their own wills) become doubly talented listeners. Obviously it has been a great joy to go to concerts time and time again and listen to Tom sing in a language that I can’t understand. And the songs that he sings in English tend to involve maids and effeminate body movements….

After listing a few things Tom can do, for balance here are a few things he can’t:
He can’t get excited without flapping his arms and talking in a high voice.
He can’t not organise everything. Tom seems to be a professional in planning and ordering.
He finds it very hard not to be blunt. Tom has a tendency to get straight to the point in every circumstance.
He is unable to whip people with tee towels-He’s actually pathetic at this. He tends to try and get to you….he hasn’t got the right technique. I tried to teach him but my efforts were wasted.

On more of a serious note I want to make sure that Tom and Michelle are well suited for life-long marriage. So I decided to do a bit of research to examine their similarities and differences.

Meanings of names: Michelle your name comes from the Hebrew and means ‘to be like God’. Quite a good name to have as the Bible describes God as: loving, happy, perfect, creative, fair, kind, generous, gracious and patient.

Tom your name comes from the Aramaic and means twin (long pause). That’s it…. just twin …nothing special really....

Location: Michelle you are from Rainham in the county of Kent also known as the garden of England, for its excellent produce. Kent is full of orchards and hops, greenery, beautiful landscapes and views. Such amusements as the Chatham Dockyard, Canterbury cathedral, the array of sleepy villages, white cliffs of Dover, the extensive farming history and the rural atmosphere make Kent an attraction to many.

Tom you’re from Luton in Bedfordshire. Luton is famous for…..(look puzzled…glance at audience)…. its Airport.

Despite that I do think that you will be compatible for marriage. I want to share this piece of wisdom that I hope will bless and encourage you in your walk together.
The stand up comedian Henry Youngman once said:
‘My wife and I have the secret to making a marriage last. Two times a week, we go to a nice restaurant, a little wine, good food..... She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.’
Or maybe we can say that any married man should forget his mistakes - there's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

On a more serious note in case difficulties or disagreements arise Michelle I’ve got you a small present-something carefully selected and very useful. Use it when needed-it’s guaranteed to make Tom favour your viewpoint. You’re likely to win an argument if you just apply this gift. ….(present Michelle with Luton Town FC Top and Hat)…….Now I know that it’ll be tough to wear…Don’t wear it when you don’t need to.

Since I have known Tom and Michelle as a couple it has been very encouraging to see that Jesus is the centre of their relationship. It’s not that they don’t love each other-they do…they adore each other. But they are involved in a three way relationship. Christ is the foundation and joy of this marriage-they want all that they do to honour and to adore Him. I find that so very humbling and exemplary.

This wedding has been all about Jesus-that’s they way Tom and Michelle wanted it. What I can see clearly is that they are evidently satisfied with Jesus. That’s the point of there lives to be satisfied with Christ-it’s to find worshipping Jesus the most pleasurable thing they do. When they don’t find Christ enjoyable-when there not overwhelmed with His goodness they call it sin. It’s rebelling against the God that made us. It’s telling the real God that he is not interesting, he’s not exciting, he’s not enjoyable. And we’ve all done this…we’ve all rejected Him. Despite this Tom and Michelle don’t walk in shame or guilt they live in the forgiveness that God has promised to everyone who will trust in Him. Jesus died to take away our sins. He died to free us from sins. He was punished for our sins.
God invites everyone to know this forgiveness of all sin, He invites everyone to come and enjoy Him-to praise Him.

I think that Michelle finds Tom attractive….(turn to Michelle) Am I right?…In the same way God wants everyone in this room to find Him massively attractive and beautiful. Come to God and hate your sin. That’s it.

Tom and Michelle I feel deeply privileged and I thank you for your friendship and love. I’m praying for God’s continued blessing on your life.

Tom I hope this quote will help you in your relationship with Michelle: Matthew Henry said ‘Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.’

Will you all join me in raising your glasses in a toast to the bridesmaids Rachel, Kate and Sarah. You all look very wonderful.

Thank you''

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

New Book!

Today is new book day. To celebrate I purchased myself a copy of Martin Luther's Table talk.

It's a collection of every recorded word Luther spoke around a table...apparently. The book is divided into multiple sections for easy reference to Luther's views on specific subjects.

Here are a few excerpts:

'Sins against the Holy Ghost are, first, presumption; second, despair; third, opposition to and condemnation of known truth; fourth, not to wish well, but to grudge one's brother or neighbor the grace of God; fifth, to be hardened; sixth, to be penitent.'

'A good preacher should have these properties and virtues; first, to teach systematically; secondly, he should have a ready wit; thirdly, he should be eloquent; fourthly, he should have a good voice; fifthly, a good memory; sixthly, he should know where to make an end; seventhly, he should be sure of his doctrine; eighthly, he should venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honour, in the word; ninthly, he should suffer himself to be mocked and jeered of every one.'

'To live openly among the people is best; Christ so lived and walked, openly and publicly, here on earth, amongst the people, and told his disciples to do the like. `Tis in cells and corners that the wicked wretches, the monks and nuns, lead shameful lives. But openly, and among people, a man must live decently and honestly.'
All for the bargain price of £5 courtesy of Wesley Owen. Great stuff.
Off to be a best man for the weekend. Please pray for the speech!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Scripture is hard to accept

I struggled for a long time with the Spirit-filled words of Romans 9:14-24:

'What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?'

After lots of wrestling and struggling with God I had to accept these words. I can't ignore it or call it obscure and without relevant meaning. If you believe this paragraph of the Bible you will start to expereince God as bigger and more precious than you ever imagined.

One of the best books on the Sovereignty of God by A W Pink: Buy, read online.
Scriptures proving the Sovereignty of God here.
A simple definition of the Sovereignty of God here.
Piper resources on the Sovereignty of God here.

Friday, 1 August 2008

The Law of the Lord is Perfect

Why the commandments are good

1) Commandment keeping indicates a submission to God's authority and reverence to His word.

2) The commandments are the written representation of the character of God.

3) Keeping commandments is all about faith (Romans 14v23 with 1 John 3v4)

4) Keeping commandments is all about faith working through love towards God. (Romans 13v10)

5) God keeps the commandments. (Psalm 25v8)

6) The commandments make us depend on God for the Spirit (Psalm 119v10)

7) The law brings conviction of sin that leads to conversion. (Psalm 19v7a)

8) The psalmist enjoyed the commandments (Psalm 119v47)

9) Commandments make the heart rejoice (Psalm 19v8a)

10) Keeping the commandments makes society a good place to be (Psalm 33v12)

Other things about the commandments:

1) The law can never make us acceptable before God as it becomes 'weak through the flesh' (Romans 8v3). Therefore it can't be viewed as a list to earn God's pleasure.

2) The Christian should keep the law to glorify God by faith (working through love) to express the pleasure of God's perfection. Christ fulfilled the law and claimed that it was still applicable (Matt 5v18).

3) Christ's perfect obedience to the law (His righteousness) has been transferred to every Christian by faith (Rom 5v1 with 2 Cor 5v21).

4) The implications of 3) give that every Christian has a righteousness which exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees. This means that every Christian is entitled to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 5v20) :-)

Note: The words 'commandment' or 'law' always refers to the moral law (the 10 commandments) in this post