Month: August 2009

So Grateful For The Shepherd

shepherdLast Sunday I preached on possibly the most familiar chapter of the Bible – Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd…” It felt like an appopriate thing to preach on in light of what has just gone down here on the estate. I called the sermon “Through The Valley” and essentially encouraged God’s people to trust the Good Shepherd, Jesus during this dark time. (You can find the sermon here). I also pleaded with all those who were there and who don’t know the love of the Shepherd in their lives to turn to Him in repentance and faith.

As I mediatetd on the beauty of the gracious provision and awesome security that is ours in Christ, I couldn’t help but be grieved for all those who can’t call Jesus “my shepherd”. In fact if the Psalm began with the words “The Lord is not my shepherd…” the reality for the lost is truly fearful:

The Antithesis of Psalm 23

The LORD is not my shepherd; I’m constantly in need.
I never have the time or space to enjoy the rich textures of life.
My path is the path of stress.

My soul is battered, exhausted and sick.
I am helplessly addicted to taking the wrong paths –
hell-bent on dragging my own name through the mud.

When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I am paralysed by fear,
for I know that ultimately I’m alone;
There’s no one to guide, comfort or encourage me.

I am daunted and defeated by enemies that are too powerful for me;
I’m a stranger to true blessing;
and I’ve never drunk deep of God’s abundant joy.
Surely sorrow and guilt shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall be cut off from the blessed presence of the Lord forever.

I’m so grateful that Jesus in His grace opened my eyes and caused me to trust Him as my Shepherd. My prayer and my passion for this community and this nation is that Jesus would graciously add more and more sheep to His fold.

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Please Pray For Our Estate

This is a quick, yet passionate post asking you to take a few minutes to pray for our estate. You may or may not have caught the news headlines that there has been a horrific murder up here today – a woman’s body was found on wasteland in a roll of carpet. You can watch the BBC’s coverage of the incident here

By God’s grace, we don’t have many incidents like this, so naturally, the whole community is shocked by what has just occured and many are no doubt fearful. Please pray for this community that it will know God’s peace and protection. Please also pray for Hill City Church in the midst of all this. We have several families who live in and around the street where this murder has taken place, and we meet to worship each Sunday just around the corner from there. Each Sunday we get loads of kids from the area popping in and they will obviously want to talk about this. Please pray for wisdom and sensitivity for us as we seek to offer grace and hope in response to what’s just happened.

Ultimately, please pray that God’s Kingdom would come and God’s will be done up here.

Thanks and God bless you.

Teenscene: A Review

Dai PreachingWell we’re back and while we had an awesome week, we’re really happy to be home! Here’s how our week at Teenscene played out:

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and pitched camp on a class-room floor! At least the kids were on the floor while we had the privilege of a double bed (thanks Cookie!) I preached the first of my 7 Cries From the Cross series on Saturday evening to 100-odd young people and officers, and it wasn’t my best sermon ever, which I was gutted about. In reality my head was in a shed as I was struggling to distance myself from some troubling pastoral situations I’d left behind. However, my good friend Cookie (the camp leader) prayed for me that night and I wasn’t ready for what happened next! He put his hand on my shoulder and I was conscious of a hand on my shoulder for the whole prayer. It was only when I opened my eyes that I realised that his hand wasn’t on my shoulder at all, and had only been on there for about 30 seconds. I honestly believe it was God’s hand on my shoulder (and I’m not the sort of bloke to sensationalise stuff like that!) Either way, it was a turning point for me and I knew God’s Spirit with me in a powerful way for the rest of the week.

Both of my sermon series were well recieved. The Best ‘But’s In The Bible was a series of short morning devotions – a kind of thought for the day – which the kids seemed to enjoy. The 7 Cries From The Cross was preached each evening and was far more meaty and challenging. The Sofa Sessions were again really popular and I spent most evenings tackling question after question from the young people til late into the night. I also spent much of my meal times explaining verses in Mark to one young lad who was so hungry for truth that he spent most of his meal times reading his Bible (the food was awesome by the way!)

The worship was led immensely well by my mate Rhys Jarman and his band of merry men and they introduced us to some fantastic new songs. The team of officers was also first class with no in-house stress all week and a lot of grace and commitment shown. I was privileged to play in the Officers vs Campers football match as a hefty striker. Seeing as I hadn’t played for over 18 months I played pretty good, though we still got thrashed!

God was doing awesome stuff all week with several youths getting saved at different stages of the week, and many dealing with their sin and refreshing their commitment to live for Jesus.

To top it all off my son Josiah started walking for the first time! It was beautiful (though trust me the novelty’s already worn off!!!)

Thanks so much to all who prayed – we had a fantastic week and one we’ll remember for a long time to come. I’m already booked to preach at the Teenscene weekend away in February.

God bless the whole Teenscene family!

Off On A Busman’s Holiday

pinewood

The Sanctified Rant is going to be pretty quiet for the next week or so as I’m taking the family on a nice little break to a grand mansion house in Swindon.

Lovely!

The only catch is that it’s kind of a busman’s holiday as I am preaching 12 sermons in 7 days as part of the deal!! Basically I’m preaching at this year’s Teenscene camp for young people from the Cardiff area, and if it’s anything like 2 years ago it should be a blast! In the evenings I’m preaching on The 7 Cries From The Cross (which I’m buzzing about!) and in the mornings I’ll be doing a crazy little series called The Best ‘But’s In The Bible which is looking at 5 awesome scriptures that hinge around the word ‘but’ (e.g. Romans 6v23). Hopefully the sessions will be recorded so I’ll be able to give a link to the audio files when I get back. Last time I preached at Teenscene God did some awesome stuff – young people got saved and many grew in their faith. I had many late nights sat on a sofa surrounded by kids as they fired their questions at me and I gave them answers from the Bible. It was an awesome week.

I can’t wait!

After an abslutely crazy few months It’s going to be nice to have a change of scenery for a week, though we’re going to really miss our estate and our Hill City Church family (and our dog!) Please pray for us a family that we’ll be able to rest and really enjoy the time away – especially my beautiful wife Michelle who is such an awesome soldier of grace and who deserves a break more than anyone else I know. Please pray for my kids as well. Josiah’s taking his first steps now so I reckon he’s going to love the freedom of the huge lawn, and Elen just loves going on adventures and meeting new people.

Above all, however, please pray that God will help me to faithfully preach His gospel and that once again we’ll see God’s power at work in young lives as He saves, strengthens and sets young people free.

God bless and see you in a week!

To Ouagadougou In The Name Of Compassion

Hill City Church now has a beautiful sister…and she lives in Ouagadougou!

Burkina Faso in AfricaIf you’re anything like me you probably have never heard of the place, but it’s actually the capital city of Burkina Faso – one of the 3 poorest countries in the world. Not only is there massive poverty there (27% of the population live on less than 60p per day), but over 3/4 of people are illiterate, and the average age is just 53! With over 90% of the nation being muslim or animistic (or both), the need for the gospel in Burkina Faso is clearly huge!!

Well through the wonderful ministry of Compassion, Hill City has now established a gospel partnership with a Church in Ouagadougou – and we’re really excited about it!

burkina-fasoWhat this partnership means is that we get to sponsor some of the poorest and most vulnerable children in the world, giving them hope and extending mercy in Jesus’ name. For just £21 per month each child gets Bible teaching, education, health care, vocational training and opportunities for sport and play. Furthermore, because we are linking with a church that’s actually working there on the ground we can develop and deepen links with the local church leadership and we hope to be arranging a trip to visit our brothers and sisters and meet the children we’re sponsoring in the next year or so!

Buzzin!

Over the next few months we are going to be challenging the saints at Hill City to sacrificially sponsor one of the 20 children that have been allocated to us. In fairness I’ve been so blessed by the way that our young church have embraced the whole project with faith and excitement. Already over half of the children have been sponsored and one girl from church has even cancelled her Sky subscription to pay for it!

I love that! That’s the gospel right there!!!

Anyway, please do pray for our new African adventure. If you yourself would like to sponsor a child through Compassion personally, or if Compassionyou’re involved in a local church and the whole Compassion thing sounds like something you could get excited about as a church, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with Jeff and Jen – a fantastic Hill City couple who work as advocates for Compassion.

May the God of the nations be praised!

Sweet Salvation!

Glory_To_GodWe had a sweet day in church yesterday. Not only did I scrap the sermon I was scheduled to preach in favour of preaching on one of my new ‘favourite passages’ (Jesus annoined by a sinful woman – Luke 7), but the worship time was really special too.

Michelle had asked a few guys from church to contribute, and boy did they deliver?! First up one of the ladies who has been coming since Christmas and has really grown in grace in that time performed a song that she had written that was just beautiful (I’ll have to ask her if I can post the lyrics up on the blog). That was followed by a girl who got saved a few months ago singing Amazing Grace with Michelle. Very moving stuff. Michelle then asked her a few simple questions by way of testimony. You can listen the short 2 minute interview here, but for me the best part was her description of how she came to Jesus:

“I stood in my front room and shouted out God can you save me? Can you help me please?!”

It was just so real and so honest and so biblical. What’s more is that since she got saved we’ve seen her fiancee come to Jesus too and the power of the gospel is so evidently at work in both of their lives. It’s just awesome!

Thank you Lord for blessing us with your sweet salvation!