Friday, 8 July 2011

New Song: In Need Of A Saviour

Here is a song that I wrote about the hopelessness and dissatisfaction I experienced before I became a Christian.

Face down on the floor
I've been this way so many times before
They all think I'm fine
But I can't say no to whiskey and wine

Who's that girl I kissed?
I was sad to leave but I don't think I'll be missed
I can't go on this way
It only brings destruction and dismay

I need someone to save me, save me
From this life of cheerless vanity 
I know that I am lost 
I know that I am lost

The pain it never ends
The same routine is happening again
I need an escape
From this life of which I truly hate

I need someone to save me, save me
From this life of cheerless vanity
I know that I am lost
I know that I am lost

Take me far away from here
Won't you take me far away?

I need someone to save me, save me
From this life of cheerless vanity
I know that I am lost
I know that I am lost

Thursday, 2 June 2011

God does not want what we can give Him; He wants us! (Matthew 22:15-22)

Matthew 22:15-22
Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away
The inscription reads  “Caesar
Augustus Tiberius, son of the
Divine Augustus”
Here we go again...

Sometimes I cringe whenever I read and think about how the Pharisees reacted to Jesus. He heals a man's withered hand on the Sabbath and instead of marvelling or rejoicing, they accuse Him of breaking the Law and then plot to 'destroy' Him (Mark 3:1-6). In this passage, however, they think that they have trapped Him. The common Jewish thought at that time was that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman rule, so how would Jesus respond to this question? In paying taxes, is He effectively supporting the Roman Empire? In common Jesus-style, however, he responded in a way which was marvellously unexpected. 

"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s."

BOOM! Another triumph for the Son of God :)

Jesus, in this passage, does not only answer the Pharisees' question but teaches us another Kingdom principle; "Render to God the things that are God's"

For a long time I thought that Jesus was teaching about sacrificing or tithing the gifts that God has given us - "God has blessed me with finances, so I shall 'render' part of my income back to Him". However, I don't think this is the message that Jesus is teaching us here. It is much more amazing than that...

God does not want what we can give Him. He wants us!

In Genesis 2, God says "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness". So just as the people are to pay taxes to Caesar because the coin bears his likeness, we also are to offer ourselves completely to God because we bear His likeness. How amazing is that?

Paul writes in Romans 12:1 'I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.'

But what do we get in return? In paying taxes we don't really get any direct benefits, but the amazing thing is that in 'rendering to God the things that are God's' we get the greatest thing in return - "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28)

God wants you because He loves you. Whatever you have done, wherever you have been - it does not matter to God because He's your Father. He does not love a future you; He loves you just as you are!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

New Song: God-Shaped

God has taught me many lessons over the past year or two. One of the main lessons He has taught me is that I cannot sort out all of my problems by myself and that He is more than happy to sort them out for me. :)

Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest"

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

There was a hole in my heart
There was a gap in my soul
There was a hole in my heart it was God-shaped
I was left on my own 
It got harder to bear 
All my failures and all of my mistakes

He said "Come to me
With all of your worries and all of your pain
Just come to me and I will restore you and give you the strength
To carry on, to carry on

Many lessons I've learned
On this road with my King
Many lessons I've learned about Jesus
I've learned about true love
And how nothing can compare
How nothing can compare to Jesus

How many times have I disobeyed?
How many times have I walked away from You?
And how many times have you taught me that I cannot do this alone?
So I'll live for You, I'll live for You

Monday, 4 April 2011

New Song: Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16)

Here is a song I wrote based upon Psalm 16. I hope you like it :)

In You I take refuge
Lord, You are my strength
There is no good apart from You, there's only You
Your love never fails
I'll never let go, I'll never let go

My heart is glad, my whole life rejoices
In you I stand, I lift up my voice
Your love and grace are all that I need
In your presence there's fullness of joy
In your presence there's fullness of joy

You're my chosen portion
Lord, You hold my lot
Your pleasures are for evermore, there's always more
I'll never give up
You're the pathway to life, You're the pathway to life

You're always before me
You're at my right hand
I cannot be shaken
In Your presence I stand

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

There Is No Condemnation - Romans 8:1-4

Romans 8:1-4There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

I don't know about you guys, but I positively hate sin. Like yeast spreading its way through the whole dough, even the slightest sin pervades our lives and brings with it distress, despair and doubt. How many of us are still affected by the sin we committed in the past? How many of us are scarred by memories of the people we hurt, lied to or betrayed? Do we still pray forgiveness for the times we rebelled against God when knew his desires for us?

The enemy loves to bring us down by causing us to remembering our past sins. It is his way of distracting us from God's love and grace, and we must remember that it is Satan's character as the father of lies, for 'he was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him' (John 8:44). But for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation. None. Negative. We are absolutely free from the law of sin and death. 

I believe that God wants us to recognise our sin and mourn over it, yet not condemn ourselves. He wants us to be motivated into action and to rule over sin, being aware of Satan's character and attempts to disrupt our relationship with God.

There was a time about 6 months ago when every time I read the Bible I broke out in tears asking myself, 'Why would God send his beloved Son to die for me, when I have betrayed Him and His people on countless occasions?'. I think the answer lies in Jesus' parable concerning two debtors which he told to Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7:36-47.

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." 40And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher."

 41"A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all,

Sunday, 21 November 2010

More Than Words - 1 Peter 4:10-11

Dear friends,

I would like to share a verse which really impacted me during worship this morning.

1 Peter 4 - '10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.'

'Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God'. How much of our speech resembles oracles from God? In fact, how many of our words are what God desires for us to say to the world?

God has really blessed me recently with a multitude of opportunities to share His Gospel with non-Christians - yet what a responsibility it is! A 3 minute conversation could shape a person's attitudes toward the Good News for the rest of their life. Yet, God has trusted us with such a blessing; to have the pleasure of sharing the News that transformed our lives and brought us into a loving relationship with the Creator of the universe. What a privilege it is to see the words that we sow in faith blossom and bear fruit in a world of darkness and despair.

May my heart be filled with love for You
And let it overflow
To encourage others, build them up
Your tender mercies show
Oh Lord, my lips aren't worthy
To convey this news of grace
Anoint them in the hope that more
Will see you face to face

Blessings in Christ,

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

God Meant It For Good

Romans 8:28 - 'And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.'

I would like to share with you two experiences of mine from the past two weeks; experiences where I believe God's providence and provision are evident.

The first series of events link the loss of my Debit Card to a marvellous encounter with fellow Brothers in Starbucks.

Lose Debit Card at Sainsburys -> Take cash out with Cash Card -> Stop off at a Church Book Shop as I have cash -> Purchase books -> Sit at Starbucks reading books -> Men observe the books and begin a conversation about God -> Connection made with fellow disciples of Jesus Christ

If I hadn't misplaced my Debit Card, I wouldn't have had the cash to purchase the books and consequently my Brothers would not have had a reason to begin a conversation with me at Starbucks. God was able to use these events to bring about a connection which will no doubt prove influential on my walk with Him. 

The next series of events follow from a time when I was without a Bible (I only had a Hebrew Old Testament) and was praying that God would provide me with one as I was hoping to write encouraging letters to people and would have loved to quote verses from the New Testament.

Debit card gets declined at restaurant -> Get it sorted -> Card gets declined again when buying a train ticket -> Get it sorted once more -> Try to take cash out of machine for train ticket home -> Card declined again -> Walk to Alisdair's to borrow change for my train ticket (whilst praying about the Bible) -> Alisdair gives me money and his mother, Hazel, lends me her Bible

It turns out that when trying to get cash out for the third time there was nothing wrong with my card, but the machine itself. However, because I was required to do two security checks for my card not long before, I had assumed that Santander had frozen my account again. If it had not been for these events, I would not have walked to Alisdair's house to get change and would not have been given the wonderful gift of a Bible. I was then able to quote Scripture in various letters I was writing and through studying the Epistles, the Holy Spirit brought me abundant wisdom and revelation. 

These stories may not sound miraculous, but they showed me that God is able to take events that initially caused distress and inevitably use them for good. Take this example from the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.

Joseph receives a vision from God involving his brothers bowing down to him -> Brothers get jealous and angry -> Brothers sell Joseph into slavery -> Becomes Potiphar's servant -> Gets thrown into prison after being accused of attempting to lie with Potiphar's wife -> Interprets dreams in prison -> Pharaoh has dreams and hears of Joseph's ability to interpret -> Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dreams and becomes a commander over Egypt -> Brothers travel to Egypt to escape famine and bow before Joseph -> Joseph's initial vision is fulfilled.

The story of Joseph is an amazing and hugely influential one. It clearly shows God's providence and provision through a series of events which in themselves brought distress. It took 13 years as a slave and a convict before Joseph's vision was fulfilled. He later responds to his brothers' plea for forgiveness by saying, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).

We experience such sadness, distress and discomfort in our everyday lives, mostly outside of our control. However, God cares for us and promises to provide for our every need. He has the power to use any situation for our good, as long as we place all our love and trust in Him. In retrospect to these series of events in my life, I can see how God has been able to use my experiences of evil and suffering to bring about good, drawing me into a closer and more intimate relationship with Him.

Shalom in Christ,