Gospel tract give-away

tracts

Today I received a big, fat, chunky box from the Good Book Company. It was jammed full of tracts (simple leaflets that explain the gospel).

I wrote these tracts several years ago and every time they get reprinted I get sent a free batch – hence the hefty parcel that arrived today. Thing is, as passionate as I am about sharing the gospel, it’s probably going to take me several years to get through this lot, so I’d like to offer some to you guys for FREE!

There are 2 different tracts, one called The Remedy, which is a simply written generic gospel leaflet with helpful illustrations (you can take a look inside here). The other is called Sorted and is aimed more specifically at young people and students. It’s a photo-based tract with an urban theme that unpacks a few key bible verses (again, you can take a look inside here).

So, whether you’re an evangelist, pastor, open air preacher, itinerant minister, youth worker, community outreach coordinator, or a faithful witness at work, if you think that you could use some of these leaflets then please do get in touch with me. I’m probably not able to post them to you (cos I’m not made of money), so we can either arrange a collection or you can chuck me a few quid for postage. You can find all my contact details on my about.me page.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Blessinz.

Thoughts on following Jesus in the current cultural climate (Pt.2)

u-turn-sign-on-road

This is the second part of the mini-series I started a few months back that looks at the challenge of following Jesus in the current cultural climate. In the first part I argued that as the prevailing culture becomes increasingly hostile to the people and mission of Jesus we would do well to recognise the reality of our current context and to remember the words of Jesus in order to gain perspective and find comfort.

In this post I want to present a further consideration for what it means for us as God’s people to follow Jesus in the current cultural climate. In short, we need to…

Repent of our sins

I read this verse in the book of Proverbs recently and it really struck a chord:

Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
Proverbs 14 v 34

On many levels it would seem that there is far more sin than righteousness on display in our nation at the moment, and that increasingly sin is celebrated whilst righteousness is ridiculed and rejected. So as a nation – far from being exalted we are reproached. However, it is UTTERLY crucial that we don’t look around at a society that neither loves nor fears God and to start blaming anyone and everyone who doesn’t see the world as we see it. Rather, our primary concern should be introspection and repentance.

One of the weird things about where Christianity stands in our culture right now is that it hasn’t always been like this. As I have stated previously we are now very much in the margins (where we belong) as are Christians in cultures the world over. But what makes our situation so (tragically) unique is that as recently as 60 years ago the Christian faith was front-and-centre in our land. Our laws, our values, our worldview and our aspirations were all deeply influenced by the gospel that had so dramatically shaped our society.

But here we are in 2015 and we have let go of the gospel.

Or we have twisted the gospel to suit a changing cultural narrative.

Or we have made the gospel a private affair and effectively put our lamp under a basket.

However, how we got here and whoever is responsible is really not the point anymore!

We are where we are – and the buck has to stop with the people of God.

Therefore, the buck stops with me!

Following Solomon’s dedication of the temple  in 2 Chronicles 7 the Lord appeared to Solomon and spoke these words:

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7 v 13-14

God was clear that when the nation was in distress the onus was on His people to respond. However, their response was not to point criticising fingers at surrounding ‘sinners’  or to rage against the godlessness of a Christ-less culture. Rather, what was required of His people was that they humbly turn, pray, seek their God and repent of their sins!

Saints, the brutal reality that we need to face up to is that the sin which is wrecking our society is also festering in our own hearts. I am not immune to iniquity, immorality, corruption and compromise…and nor are you!

If there is a lesson that I am being forced to learn more and more as I continue to follow Jesus it’s that I need His grace as much today as I ever did. The vile, stinking husk of my old self lurks in the shadows and leaps onto my back to pull me down at every given opportunity. Seeking to stand, fight, pray and prevail is an exhausting, humiliating and relentless struggle.

But there is no other way!

If I want things to change then I must be the first to turn to the Lord for mercy.

Repentance will always precede revival.

And repentance starts with me!

Will you join me?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 v 1-2

Eric Says Thanks

unnamed-6

I am seriously excited to share this post. The image above is the front cover of my first ever kids book – Eric Says Thanks.

This book has been a couple of years in the making and all came from a harvest assembly that I did at the local primary school that my kids attend. The assembly was so well received that I decided to write it up as a rhyming story. I showed it to the Good Book Company, who decided to take a punt on it and publish it! The book’s illustrations have been created by Xavier Bonet.

What’s more, TGBC have commissioned a further 2 Eric books which will also be available in due course.

Eric Says Thanks is now available for pre-order here.

Here are some of the endorsements for Eric Says Thanks:

Absolutely brilliant! I can’t wait to read it with my grandchildren!
– Rob Parsons

The Lord instructs us to teach our kids “in the way”. Get comfy, open this book with your kids and together embark on a delightful journey of discovery. It all starts with a humble piece of toast as Eric traces his way along a fun, rhyming path of thankfulness all the way to our generous God, his word – and a timely invitation for us all to join Eric in thanking God for his many good gifts. I’ve got a feeling Eric could start something quite lovely in lots of little – and big – lives!
– Colin Buchanan

Research has proven that gratitude is the healthiest human emotion. Kids who grow up grateful end up being great adults, and here’s a simple tool to teach it to your children.
– Rick Warren

Grateful for the Granny Ring!

A few months ago I was informed by a surgeon that my left ankle was knackered beyond surgical repair and that if I didn’t want it fused solid (which at 38 – I don’t!) the best thing I could do was try to take as good care of it as possible. What that meant in effect was that I had to stop doing high-impact sports like squash and football, and that my career as a breakdancer was probably never going to materialise. Consequently I had to ensure that any exercise I undertook in my battle against the middle-age-muffin-man-midriff was low-impact.

So I’ve settled on mountain biking and swimming.

I have been mountain biking on the surrounding hills for much of the last 8 years. There are few trails that I don’t know, few surprises left to discover. Regardless of that, it remains one of my favourite places on planet earth.

In a bid to redouble my efforts to cycle more regularly and more seriously I downloaded the Strava app for my phone. This app charts my routes, assesses my progress and even tells me how well I’m doing compared with other chuffers in my age bracket! I’ve found it to be a really help in nudging me out of the door and pushing harder once I’m out on the hills. But it can also be quite disheartening – as I found out earlier this evening!

unnamed-1Last week after the kids had gone to bed I went out for a cheeky evening ride up to the White Stone (a steep 2 mile uphill climb to the trig point on the mountain behind us). I felt really good. I knew that I was tearing seconds and even minutes off my personal best times on each of the different sections that Strava charts. I got to the top absolutely shattered but elated cos I felt fit, strong and fast. The sunset was pretty epic too! I felt like a champion.

So as I ventured out on the same ride tonight I was expecting an even better performance.

Oh how disappointed I soon was!

The first part of the ride went well (another PB it turns out!) But the second section (the steepest and savagest section) was a whole different story! I was probably only about 50 yards into the climb up the dusty track when my legs started to feel sore as the lactic acid began to burn. Shortly after I was so tired and in so much pain I thought I’d have to stop turn the bike around and head home. I’m not sure if it was male pride or simply not wanting to admit defeat but I defaulted to the only option left for me that didn’t involve going home – I dropped down to the granny ring!

For the uninitiated the granny ring is the lowest gear you can possibly go to on a bike. I guess it’s so low that even yer granny could ride up a hill in it! It’s so low that your legs are going ten-to-the-dozen while your wheels barely seem to be turning at all. But it’s a lot easier than higher gears. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve had to tackle that hill in the granny ring – but I was absolutely spent and so I had no choice!

As I edged my way up the track inch-by-snail-paced-inch, I was really cross with myself. I was also really cross with my app which was monitoring my humiliation in intricate detail and would soon give me a detailed breakdown of my physical breakdown! But I was also grateful for the granny ring. Grateful for the fact that while my pace was not what I’d like it to be and my performance significantly below par, I was still going. And I could see that if I made it to the top I was once again going to witness a spectacular sunset.
Eventually I made it to the top. This time, however, I didn’t feel so much like a champ. I was kind of humbled into acknowledging my limitations. I knew what my app was going to tell me and there was no hiding from the fact that it had been a tough and discouraging climb. But the view of the setting sun was indeed stunning and I drank in the beauty of it!

My overwhelming emotion, however, was just sheer joy that I hadn’t quit and had eventually made it to the summit.

I kind of want my Christian life to be like that.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the words of Paul as the end of his life and ministry drew near. He wrote this to his young protege, Timothy:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
– 2 Timothy 4 v 6-8

I love that Paul got to the end of his climb and was able to look back on his life as poured out, faithful in battle, running to the very end of the race. I love that he kept the prize of his crown – the same prize that awaits all who endure – sharply in focus. And I love that he wrote this all down to encourage you and me!

Friends, there will be times in our Christian lives when we feel and live like the “more than conquerors” that Paul tells us we are in Romans 8, and those are great days to be cherished.

But there will also be many days when, like today, the going is hard, painful, frustrating, confusing, humiliating, tedious, discouraging and downright miserable. Days when our performance feels anything like spectacular. It is on those days that the enemy wants us to turn back. To cancel the climb and forget the summit. He’ll tell us that we haven’t got what it takes. That we are worse and weaker than ever before. That others are much better at this journey than you. That pressing on is pointless.

And it is at that precise point that we need to humble ourselves, drop down to the granny ring and decide that while the summit might feel unattainable, the next inch is getting done…

…and the next inch…

…and the next inch.

This is why we need to lift the eyes of faith to Christ and the crown that awaits.

King Jesus set His face like flint towards the cross of our salvation and now He calls us to do the same as we look to Him. And He alone is more worthy of our sweat, our toil, our pain and our passion than anyone else ever could be!

Are we strong enough?

No.

But King Jesus is!

Struggling saints, let’s not quit.

In our marriages.

Our families.

Our friendships.

Our ministries.

Our churches.

Our dreams.

Let’s crack on!

Drop to the granny ring if you have to but DO NOT QUIT!

You can do it.

You must do it!

By grace, you will do it!!

The Son awaits…

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3 v 13-114

Pixelated Poision

A short poem that I wrote yesterday.

It’s about men and porn and Jesus and grace.

Hope it challenges / blesses / changes / encourages (delete as appropriate).

Peace.

Pixelated  Poison

Porn.

It addicts so quick

A generation trafficked with a

Tap >

Swipe >

Click >

That smartphone’s now a siren

That tablet a temptress

Promising pleasure

Delivering death

It’s pixelated poison

Sexual sorcery

Hedonistic heroin

Digital adultery

Too many brothers now shackled in shame

Too many good men taken out of the game

Too much of the world in too much of the church

ENOUGH!

Let the Holy Spirit stir

And woo you

And purge

And heal

And renew you

And lead you to the cross

Where the Saviour was slaughtered

To redeem broken sons

And make men for our daughters

Find grace in the blood

For the murkiest soul

Come to Jesus my brothers

Be free

Be whole.

Written in Kings at Costa

soul sessions jun 2015

I love good coffee.

I love great music.

And I’m passionate about the work of Compassion!

So I’m BUZZIN about the event that we are hosting this coming Friday evening. We have booked out Cwmbran Costa for an evening of live music, gospel challenge and Compassion promotion. We have invited an amazing band, Written in Kings, to come and bless us with their musical goodness and will present a host of ways that people can engage with the ministry of Compassion. If that’s not enough, £100 of drinks will be our treat, so the earliest punters will be blessed with a beverage too!

So please do join us if you can, and please help us spread the word as we really want to pack the place out!

Hopefully see you Friday.

Blessinz