Troublesome Treasure

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I love Saturdays cos I get to hang out with my family ALL DAY and do stuff like what we did last Saturday.

It all started with a late and lazy breafast after which we read the Jesus Story Book Bible – my favourite version of the Bible for kids. The story we read was called Treasure Hunt and it tells the story of the hidden treasure taken from Matthew chapter 13.

It concludes with these words:

Jesus said, “Coming home to God is as wonderful as finding a treasure! You might have to dig before you find it. You might have to look before you see it. You might even have to give up everything you have to get it. But being where God is – being in his kingdom – that’s more important than anything else in all the world. It’s worthy anything you have to give up!” Jesus told them. “Because God is the real treasure.”

God had a treasure, too, of course. A treasure that was lost, long, long, ago. What was God’s treasure, his more important thing, the thing God loved best in all the world?

God’s treasure was his children.

It was why Jesus had to come into the world. To find God’s treasure. And pay the price to win them back. And Jesus would do it – even if it cost him everything he had.

After we had finished reading I asked the kids what they had learned from the story. Quick as a flash my littlest, Anastasia, said

God’s children are his treasure!

That was what had stood out for me too!

My eldest daughter, Elen, had clearly been so inspired by the theme of treasure hunting she came up to me and whispered “let’s do a treasure hunt for the others.” Outside the sun was shining and the dog hadn’t been walked yet, so this obviously sounded like a great plan.

Michelle dashed off into the kitchen to transform a washing powder tub into a treasure chest filled with home-made silver coins, 1p coins and the most exciting kind of treasure – chocolate!

I then sneaked out to hide the ‘treasure chest’ in a field near the house, then sneaked back in, sketched out a simple map, then got the troops ready to roll!

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We headed to the field where Elen and Josiah helped the twins to read the map and work out which part of the field the treasure was located. The excited treasure hunters charged across the grass as they hunted for the treasure chest, which they located within seconds (cos it was very badly hidden!!) They all cheered and we headed to the bench to count the coppers and munch the chocolates – mission accomplished!

OK, so I might be 38 years but I still LOVE doing stuff like that! (Having kids is a great excuse to keep being a big kid yourself!)

unnamed-1After a quick team victory photo we headed back, with Ezra carrying the treasure chest under his arm like a rugby ball. When we got home the kids all sat around the table and excitedly relayed the adventure to their mum. I asked the kids again what they had learned from the Bible this morning and why they think we might have done the treasure hunt.

Once again Anastasia replied:

God’s children are his treasure!

“That’s right” replied Michelle, “and you’re all daddy’s treasure!”

To which Elen responded (with perfect comedy timing)

Yeah, except we’re more troublesome than treasuresome!

We all roared with laughter, partly because of the clever word play, but largely because of the truth behind that statement.

My kids are my treasure, but they’re also little sinners (just like their dad!) In fact some of them (mentioning no names) have been behaving atrociously over recent days – pushing me to my limits and really wounding my heart at times.

But they are my treasure.

I love them passionately and unconditionally, despite their troublesome-ness!

It made me think long and hard about the epic truth that we had read in the JSBB that morning – God’s children really are his treasure.

I am God’s treasure!

I really, really want to love him like he deserves and honour him and please him, but my sin keeps getting in the way. Just like my own kids, I behave atrociously sometimes. In reality – I am more troublesome than treasuresome!

But he doesn’t stop loving me. He doesn’t push me away. Rather he pursues me with relentless grace. He didn’t simply skip across a field to rescue his easy-to-find treasure, he climbed the hill at Calvary and bled and died to redeem his lost treasure for himself.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

(1 John 4 v 10)

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(Romans 5 v 8)

WOW!

Just…WOW!!

God’s children are his treasure!

How extravagantly loved and how inexpressibly precious we are to our God.

May that truth refresh, encourage and delight your heart today.

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure.

(Stuart Townend)

ESCAPE : RED COMMUNITY

Some of you may know that I head-up a ministry called Red Community that is all about raising awareness and standing against human trafficking in South Wales. Well a few months ago we were given a generous amount of money from Gwent Police to work with TorFilm to create some short films aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking in Wales.

Well, here is the first film in the series! This film called ‘Escape’ seeks to expose the issue of sex-trafficking – the vile sexual exploitation of vulnerable women, children and men for the purpose of financial gain.

Sex trafficking is happening right here, right now in Wales. That’s a shocking truth that we MUST make people aware of. This powerful short film is based on real events that have occurred in South Wales (read more about that here)

This film has been created to raise awareness, therefore please feel free to share this video as widely as you can on social media, blogs and websites. However, please also visit our RED Community landing page and JOIN THE RESISTANCE by signing up to our online community, and please encourage others to do the same. We are seeking to create a strong, strategic and growing movement of gospel-hearted abolitionists here in Wales who refuse to let human trafficking flourish in the shadows of our land.

Copycat Kids

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A couple of mornings ago I was getting ready to take the dog for a walk when the twins, Ezra and Anastasia, decided that they wanted to come along for the adventure. I never say no to my kids when they want to join me and Cassie on our morning trek, so they donned their wellies and off we went.

We had a great time chucking a ball for the dog, playing chase and stopping at the ‘prayer bench’, then we headed back to the house. It was as we were on the home straight that I sensed that Anastasia was up to something behind me. I spun round and clocked a cheeky little grin spread all over her face.

‘What are you doing?” I asked her.

“I’m copying you, daddy!” Came the reply.

Sure enough, as we marched the rest of the way home she was matching me stride-for-stride, arm-swing-for-arm-swing.

It was so cute!

However, it was only as I reflected on that sweet little episode later in the day that it dawned on me…

…MY KIDS ARE COPYING ME!!

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Epic Street Art

Back in the day I used to do a feature on this blog called “Banksy Wednesday” which was basically profiling a different piece of Banksy art each Wednesday (clever title, eh?) However, for some reason or another I kind of stopped doing it.

However, my sister sent me such an epic email today that I just had to post the pictures that she sent me up on the blog – purely for the purpose of sharing epic street art with the world.

Enjoy…

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IF I WAS GOING TO PLANT AGAIN… (PART 4)

THIS IS THE FOURTH PART OF A SHORT CHURCH PLANTING MINI-SERIES. YOU CAN READ THE FIRST POST HERE, THE SECOND POST HERE AND THE THIRD POST HERE.

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If I was going to plant again…

>> I would be far more careful about who I encouraged to join the church

This is probably…definitely…the most controversial post in this mini-series!

Basically, EVERY planter wants to see their church plant grow. This invariably involves people joining the church, and there are some totally legit ways that people can join.

Legit ways to join a church:

1. Procreation: Having babies is arguably the most fun way to grow a church! As a family we ensured that Hill City grew by 100% purely through procreation!

2. Salvation: This should be the goal of every church plant – to grow as people respond to the gospel and are born again, being added to the church.

3. Relocation: People have to relocate for all kinds of reasons – work, family, changing circumstances etc. Oftentimes this will mean moving away from one church and wanting to reconnect with a new church family that is more local to them.

4. Commission: Sometimes Christians might move from one local church to another for the purpose of mission. This could be because a certain job or ministry position has opened up or there is a clear call from God. In both cases it is good and godly to for the ‘sending’ church to both recognise the call and commission the Christian and their family to go with their blessing and support.

However, there are also some not-so-legit ways to join a church and we should be far more wary of these.

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Thank You Mark Driscoll

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Some of you reading this blog will have never heard of Mark Driscoll before, though many of you will have. Few men have succeeded in polarising evangelical opinion quite like this guy. So when Mark Driscoll resigned as an elder and Lead Pastor of Mars Hill Church on 14th October, some wept and some celebrated.

To many, Driscoll’s was a refreshing voice – bold, brash, uncompromisingly biblical and uncomfortably prophetic. He could engage culture, especially the hard-to-reach secular 20-somethings of Seattle, like no one else. He was passionate, uncompromising and…irresistible. To others, however, Driscoll was to be avoided at all costs. He was toxic. A dangerous maverick and a tyrannical leader. For the months prior to his standing down there was all sorts being said/blogged/specualated about him. Some of it was true (he openly acknowledged that). Some it was probably untrue.

For what it’s worth – I was gutted…but believe that it was the right decision.

The reason that I haven’t written anything up to this point is that I didn’t want to add my voice (either positively or negatively) to a conversation that was fast degenerating into an online lynching. Rather than blogging I chose to pray (a lot) for Mark, his family and his church family. I continue to do so.

However, I have decided to write this post because I feel that the time is right. Before I get stuck in, however, I just want to be honest about a couple of things. Firstly, I am not going to comment on the allegations aimed at Driscoll because, frankly, it’s none of my business. Secondly, I am not the kind of man that wants to stick the boot in or stir up gossip – so if you’re expecting me to come out swinging pixelated punches then you’re gonna be disappointed!

So what’s this post about?

Quite simply, it’s to say “Thank you Mark Driscoll”.

Few, if any, men have affected my life and ministry quite like Mark Driscoll has. Is he a sinner who has made big mistakes?

Yes.

As have I.

But I can’t deny the ways that God has used this man to bless, build and encourage me, and I believe that it’s still appropriate to honour and thank him for that. I mean, I still love the Psalms that David wrote even though he stuffed up big time with Bathsheba. In the same way I’m still thankful to Mark Driscoll.

Here’s 6 reasons why:

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