Another Awesome Devotional…

Three things describe Christ’s relationship with His Father: intimacy, dependency and obedience. Today let’s look at his dependency on God. “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do; for whatever the He does, the Son also does in like manner” (NKJV). Jesus knew he couldn’t do anything without his Father, so He didn’t bother to try. We, on the other hand, sing, ‘Without Him I can do nothing’, then go out and act like it depended on us. If we succeed, we often become so conceited that nobody can stand against us. And if we fail, it’s usually because we collapsed under the weight of an assignment God didn’t give us in the first place. Have you ever wondered by Jesus never struggled with insecurity or battled the fear of failure like we do? Because it never even occurred to him that he couldn’t do something that his Father had already assured him He could do. When you know you have heard from God you can face any obstacle or enemy with confidence. God will never give you an assignment that does not require His wisdom and under girding strength. Indeed every act of God in your life is designed to increase not decrease your dependence on Him. You say, ‘But I have talent. I can do a lot of things!’ Yes, but you can do nothing that matters in God’s eyes. So before you begin your day, kneel and pray ‘Lord, I’m counting on You, and I don’t have a back up plan!’
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The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World by Jonathan Powell

I really did enjoy this book. Jonathan Powell was Tony Blair’s chief of staff during the years Blair was Prime Minister. He is also a student of Machiavelli, and what Powell does so well and fascinatingly is interweave sayings of Machiavelli into his account of his years with Blair – and it works wonderfully.

For a political book this is very gripping & enjoyable as well as informative. Not once did I feel bogged down nor was I struggling through chapters. Powell has added a valuable and important insight into the Blair government; it’s internal struggles and conflicts and most strikingly, the humanness and ‘normality’ of government. By this I mean that politicians are not titanic personalities who are doing superman work, but flawed, fragile and ego-centered human beings struggling to a job they have been given to do – and more often than they would like, having a bad day.

Highly recommended.

Settling Into Virginia…

I am settling into Virginia and into this new ministry. My first Sunday (25th) went really well and I am finding my feet. I am currently living with a family from the church, which is both wonderful and hard as I miss Kitty and the boys.

At the beginning of September, a friend gave me a devotional booklet. I am not a huge fan of devotional booklets because I usually found them shallow, but this has been a wonderful revelation to me. I want to share some of the past ones over the coming posts, but here is one I read earlier this week:

Pastor, are you an emaciated chef? Are you serving healthy meals to your congregation every Sunday, while you yourself are starving to death spiritually? Have you allowed the business side of church to steal your prayer life and rob you of time spent in the scriptures building yourself up? One of the great dangers of ministry is giving out, but not taking in. Financially, when you give out more than you take in you end up bankrupt. And the same thing can happen to you spiritually. When Joshua replaced Moses as the leader of Israel, God said the same thing to him three times: “Be strong and of good courage”. Then he explained to Joshua where his strength and courage would come from” “The book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have great success.” Note the words “you shall make your way prosperous”. YOU have a role to play in both your strength and your success. What is it? To mediate on God’s word day and night. To meditate is to ruminate. Cows ruminants. They chew the chud, swallow it, bring it back up and chew it some more, and each time they do they get something more out of it. So chew on God’s word. Think about it. Process it. If you want to be spiritually healthy, meditate, ruminate on the scriptures!

My Last Sunday…

Today was my last Sunday as Assistant Rector at my church. We had a very moving and nice leaving reception after the 11am service. We are going to miss everyone so much. We really do love the people of our church. This move has been a very hard decision to make. But, over the past few months I have been challenged with Acts 20:24:

But I do not consider my life worth anything95 to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. 

No matter how much I / we wanted to stay my life is not my own – it is Jesus’.  As Bill bright said, Comfortable can be the curse of the Christian. And God has opened doors through some remarkable ways for our move to Virginia, as well as through some conflict. There is still things we need God to move in but we feel that it is time to step out and do what God is calling. So, I am going to Virginia to be Rector of a small church plant. It’s exciting – it’s new and we believe it’s of God. We covert your prayers!

God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? by David Lamb

The answer to the question posed by the title of this book is, of course, no! David Lamb is tackling a question which is rife among many Christians throughout the western church – how can I reconcile the God of the Old Testament to the God of the New Testament. Lamb ably, and in a way which is very accessible, answers this question. And his answer is that of course, God has not changed, nor is he a different God:

The main point that these texts are making is not simply that God is unchangeable, but that God is unchangeable about his commitment to bless his people.

The question “What is God like” – “What is his nature like” is at the core of Lamb’s book and it is an important issue to wrestle with. Lamb says that:

We will find…that the God of both Testaments is loving. He affirms women, is hospitable towards foreigners and brings peace, not a sword. He is not legalistic but gracious, not rigid but flexible, and not distant but near.

If you want to now HOW Lamb comes to this conclusion, you will need to buy the book and read it. It would a be a worth while exercise to do so!!

Recommended.

To Be Saved….

… you must put your trust in Christ and nothing else. You say, “But what if I clean up my act?” No, there are people who live better by accident than you do on purpose. Our distinction as Christians is that we have placed our trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and nothing else. [From the Word For You Today Devotional]

I just love that line, there are people who live better by accident than you do on purpose. How true. How sobering. How glorious that we are saved by faith and not by anything in us!!

Tithing and the First Fruits

I have been reading one of the best books on tithing that I ever read. I have not heard this teaching with so much clarity before. the book is called The Blessed Life by Robert Morris. Most of the guys I know would not pick this book up. But they should. It actually is very good and it is the ONLY book on tithing which has had an impact on me. Morris talks of the biblical principle of first fruits – that is every thing that is first, the first part of the harvest, the first born animals and the first born humans are dedicated to the Lord. That was the point of the Levites. And if your first fruits in your animals was a clean animal it had to be sacrificed. If it was an unclean animal (a donkey) you had to offer a sacrifice. We have lost the first fruits principle in too many churches…

I believe there is a difference between tithing and giving. I believe that tithing is simply returning to God that which He has said is His. Giving our firstfruits, our first 10 percent to the Lord via a local church, is what causes that which is ours to be blessed. You can’t give that which doesn’t really belong to you. The firstfruits are the Lord’s. The rest is yours to keep or give as you choose. It is from this account that you give what the Bible often refers to as offerings. Tithing isn’t really giving-it’s returning. It is bringing back to the Lord what is already His.