Month: December 2009

White As Snow

2009 has been a good year for snow!

There was obviously the hefty dump we had in February, and now at the end of the year we’ve had the first white Christmas that I can remember. And the white stuff’s not done with yet! In fact as I sit here typing there are massive flakes falling from the sky, several inches lying on the ground and very few people out and about on the estate (apart from the usual snowball terrorists!) I love the snow – it brings out the kid in me like very few other things can (except possibly Jelly Babies!)

However, this particular flurry has got me feeling all theological.

Well perhaps not theological – perhaps just thankful…for grace!

I found myself thinking about those brilliant words in Isaiah 1v18:

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow

I love that God Himself wants to talk us through the realities of grace! He gets us to face up to the scarlet scandal of our own sin, then points us to His promise of forgiveness and the gift of a snow-white soul. These words echo those penned by king David as he pleaded with God for forgiveness after his sin as an adulterous murderer had been exposed:

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51v7)

How is that possible? How can scarlet sin, such as adultery and murder be made whiter than the pure snow?

Answer: The cross of Jesus!

Fast forward 1000 years. Jesus – the spotless Lamb of God – was nailed to a cruel Roman cross and stained with every last trace of my sin (and the sin of the world) shedding His own blood as payment for my debt and transferring His own righteousness to my account. Crazy as it may sound, my scarlet soul was purged – whiter than snow – by the crimson blood of Jesus! Check out how John put it:

“the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1v7)

Across the valley from my house I can see several industrial slag-heaps – black coal-tips that scar the mountainside, telling the story of decades of industrial abuse. When it snows like it is today – the black slag is completely covered by a pure white blanket.

It’s a strong picture of what Christ has done for me.

Ugliness is replaced by beauty.

It’s the majesty of the gospel.

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These Words

Had a good Christmas day yesterday, though I must confess that I found it a little emotional – being our first family Christmas since mam died. I can honestly say that I enjoyed giving gifts more than ever this year. I managed to find some tidy books for my kids that they seemed to love! Elen got a Fifi story book (go on admit it – I can tell you’re jealous!) And Josiah got probably the coolest book ever – a racing car book that folds out into 3 race tracks for 2 little wind-up racing cars! It’s honestly the coolest thing ever. I’m thinking of taking it to elders meetings from now, to help make major decisions: If the red car wins we buy a church jet, if the yellow car wins we buy a horse and cart!! See how it could work?! (I’m not serious by the way!!)

The gift that I most enjoyed giving this year, however, was a new Bible to my wife, Michelle. I enjoyed it for 2 reasons. Firstly, because it’s an ESV (she’s been a stalwart NKJV user for years – which is fine – but now we’re both using the same translation as each other!) Buzzin! Secondly, as I was thinking about trying to make her Bible as personal a gift as possible, I decided to write a poem for her and put it inside the front cover. I thought I’d post the poem below.

Hope it’s a blessing to you.

THESE WORDS

These words are treasure more precious than gold
A story of love – relentless and bold
Making wise the simple, converting the soul
These are the words of God

These words like honey are wholesome and sweet
A light for your path a lamp for your feet
Divinely inspired, true and complete
These are the words of God

These words are a plumb-line – straight and sure
Sharp and precise – a weapon for war
A fire that burns, holy and pure
These are the words of God

So cherish these words – make them your delight
For they are eternal – the words of life
Revealing the beautiful mystery of Christ
Jesus – the Word of God.

Message from Matt

Following confimation that Matt Chandler’s tumour was malignant (cancerous), and in light of the course of medical treatment that he is soon to undergo, Matt recorded this short video message. I hope it’s of encouragement to you.

Please continue to remember Matt, his family and his church in prayer:

Message from Matt.

Ps119 Tweets

For those of you who have been following me on Twitter you’ll know that I have recently been working my way through the beautiful colossus that is the 119th Psalm. I heartily want to recommend it as a Psalm that’s worth taking some time to camp out in and really getting to know. In a nut-shell it’s all about the Word of God and why we should be digging deep into it, loving it and wielding it as weapon of grace!

Owing to it’s precise, poetic structure, Psalm 119 breaks down nicely into 8 verse segments, each of which I’d take a day to study and to chew over. What I also did was try to pick one verse that especially stood out and Tweet it, along with my reflections (using no more than 140 characters.) Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the box-set of my Ps119 Tweets.

Hope you find them helpful:

  • Something to pray before getting stuck into the Word: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps119v16)
  • Are you spiritually fit? “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.” (Ps119v32)
  • A prayer for the online Christian: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your way. (Ps119v37)
  • If you’re not looking to God’s Word to find true joy – you won’t find it: “I find my delight in your commandments which I love” (Ps119v47)
  • The power of Scripture in the face of suffering: “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” (Ps119v50)
  • The timeframe of obedience – if God says it – do it now: “I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” (Ps119v60)
  • If there’s a more concise scripture that better defines who God is & what He does I don’t know it: “You are good and do good” (Ps119v68)
  • Confident that when I suffer it’s at the hand of a faithful God who knows best: “…in your faithfulness you have afflicted me.” (Ps119v75)
  • Literally my testimony while mam was dying: “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” (Ps119v92)
  • The Word of God is beyond perfect: “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.” (Ps119v96)
  • God’s Word keeps you a step ahead: “Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies.” (Ps119v98)
  • Illuminating the here & now, and the there & then: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps119v105)
  • Desiring shameless hope: “Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!” (Ps119v116)
  • Looking at life through the lens of hope: “My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.” (Ps119v123)
  • The Christian’s primary responsibility in a dark world is to preach the Bible: “The unfolding of your words gives light.” (Ps119v130)
  • When was the last time you wept for the lost?: “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.” (Ps 119v136)
  • In case you ever wondered how righteous God is – He’s eternally righteously righteous: “Your righteousness is righteous forever,” (Ps119v42)
  • The security of the presence and the sure promises of God: “But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.” (Ps119v151)
  • Why the Bible’s not like any other book: “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Ps119v160)
  • That Bible of yours is no mere book – it’s a treasure chest: “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.” (Ps119v162)
  • Love for Scripture = unshakeable stability: “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” (Ps119v165)
  • Authentic worshippers are Spirit-raised and Word-focussed: “Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me.” (Ps119v175)

Taking A Bus Down Memory Lane

Just stumbled across this old video that BBC Wales made as part of their Cracking Crime series back in 2002. It’s all about the Urban Sanctuary bus project that I helped to pioneer on the St.Mellons Estate. I thought I’d post it up for 2 reasons:

Firstly because it captures perfectly the beautiful mayhem of what living and proclaiming the gospel on St.Mellons estate was like! St.Mellons was without doubt the most emotional, life-shaping, prayer-inspiring, gospel-clinging season of my life and I still hold the place, the people and the church very dear to my heart. In fact it’s hard watching this video all these years later without shedding a tear as the people behind the faces are still so precious to me! For those who never knew me before the Hill City episode of my life – this video should really help you to better understand where I’m coming from culturally.

The second reason that I thought I’d whack it up though, is that it was the Urban Sanctuary project that brought together me and my gorgeous wife, Michelle. I’d never even met her until one day we ended up on the make-shift ‘bus team’ scraped together by the pastor of the local church to help raise funds and lead the project. Within 2 years we were married, and so both the bus and the estate hold very fond memories for us!

Hope you enjoy the video! (You can read the related article here.)

Ten Years On And Still Loving It!

When I got saved at 15 I knew almost straight away that there was a calling on my life to preach the gospel in Wales. The key scripture that God used to arrest my heart and radically affect my future was:

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: ‘Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.'” (Romans 15v20-21 NIV)

Well, I have just passed my 10 year milestone for being involved in full-time gospel ministry in Wales – and what an adventure it’s been! It all started with the Underground Youth Lounge at Highfields Church in Cardiff, leading to 6 years of intense incarnational mission with EZ36 on the St.Mellons estate, and now to the planting of Hill City Church on Trevethin. I’ve also enjoyed working with Ignite as their Evangelism and Discipleship Coordinator. I’ve had multiple opportunites to preach in prisons, churches, universities, schools, parks, ships, street corners, skateparks, marquees, cafes, night clubs, houses, gardens and on TV and radio. I’ve preached to the saved and the unsaved, to young and old, men, women, politicians and kids with disabilities. I’ve been blessed to write, rap and record more gospel messages than I can ever remember…and I’m still loving it!

I recently got to preach to hundreds of bonkers young people at the latest Ignite event in Cardiff and was buzzin to see several respond to the message and surrender their lives to Jesus. The following weekend I travelled to Bangor in the far North West corner of Wales where I got to teach the Offensive course, rap a few tracks and preach the gospel too! And this weekend just gone I travelled to Aberystwyth University where I preached the gospel to a packed room of students and was thrilled by their response.

Furthermore, the New Breed/Acts 29 church planting network is rolling along nicely, and I’m also currently working on the manuscript for an evangelistic book to be published by Authentic. On top of all this has been the joy of teaching the Bible each week to the saints of my beloved Hill City Church – Probably the best church in the world ever!

So for a decade of being blessed enough to work full-time and flat-out for the cause of the gospel in Wales – I thank my God and Saviour – it’s an honour, a joy and a privilege! Thanks to all who have prayed, loved, supported and encouraged me over the years!