Month: October 2015

CR:ISIS

This is a poem that I have been working on line-by-line and verse-by-verse ever since the rise of ISIS first hit our screens. It’s my response to what’s happening in Iraq and Syria. It’s very graphic, very raw and very disjointed. My prayer , however, is that it’s ultimately very hopeful.

CR:ISIS

It’s a CR:ISIS
I’ve never seen nothing like this
My heart’s in bits
Tears flow as I write this

Men torn from their wives and kids
Decapitated corpses dumped in ditches
Vicious violation of precious desert princesses
Snatched and stripped and sold for sex
It’s vile, it’s sick
it’s a CR:ISIS

I’m haunted by this

I got images of terrified kids
Indelibly etched on my irises
Burned on the inside of my eyelids
So every time I close my eyes I witness
The unspeakable evil of this CR:ISIS

Like the face of a boy who watched his sister get raped –
Her throat got slit before they could escape
They were gonna kill him next then the cavalry came
And he broke down and wept and wept and wept
Oh God heal his heart with grace 

I still see the little boy from the Yazidi tribe
Carrying a box with a baby inside
But this was no crib, the baby had died
No time for burials when you’re running for your life
Oh Lord have mercy on this child

But there’s also images that flood my heart with hope
Like the photo of this tiny soul
A young refugee forced to flee brutality with his family
I saw a photo of him clutching his pet bird
In the face of sheer evil some innocence preserved 

There is hope in the midst of this hatred
But we can’t hide from this –
It’s a CR:ISIS

Truth is I don’t know how to process
The spread of this virus of mindless violence
But I gotta confess
There’s a righteous rage
Rising up in my chest that
I’m not prepared to suppress
Cos ignorance is bliss and
I simply will not ignore this
It’s a CR:ISIS

And I defy any true disciple of Christ
To turn a blind eye
To this genocide
We can’t deny their plight and hide
Its time to arise
Turn back the tide
To fall to our knees like a warrior bride
And  C-R-Y out to the most High
Why?
Cos it’s the right and righteous way to fight
Against this CR:ISIS

And I’m not placing my faith in Kings or politicians
I’m trusting the One who alone can change the hearts of men
Amen?
And the direction of my intercession
Is that these terrorists will find true redemption
In the face of the Christ who gives salvation
Cos only grace can change a heart bent on sin

So the prayer I groan as I clench my fist
Is “God be glorified in this!”
This is a CR:ISIS
But my faith is in who
King Jesus Christ is.

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Full Grown

Today is #antislaveryday. I am sure that the news channels, as well as your social media feeds, will be full of news about human trafficking and modern slavery today. I thought it would be good to mark the day by profiling a film that was made here in Gwent recently.

As you are probably aware I lead a ministry called Red Community that is all about raising awareness, raising support and raising an army to stand against human trafficking in Wales. One of the projects that we have been involved in this year is RED Alert – the creation of a series of short films aimed at helping people understand the reality and scale of human trafficking in our own nation. The first film, Escape, profiled sex trafficking (you can watch it here).

Today, I’m posting up the second film, Full Grown, that profiles criminal exploitation. This is the crime of forcing or coercing people to engage in criminal activity such as begging, pick-pocketing, credit card fraud and cannabis cultivation.

Vast amounts of the UK’s cannabis is grown by young men, often children, who have been trafficked into the UK, from overseas nations, perhaps most notably China and Vietnam. Full Grown is a gritty and powerful film, based on actual events, that sheds some light on the brutal reality faced by many of these modern-day slaves.

Please don’t just watch it. Let the weight of it’s message impact you. Pray about it. Share it. Help us to raise awareness about human trafficking in Wales.

Blessinz.

Our secret weapon – JOY!

TopSecretfolderI’m quite a chipper person.

My glass is generally half-full.

I tend to see the best in people.

I sincerely love life.

And I do laugh…

…A LOT!

But I have to confess – this year has been hard! As previous posts have alluded to I have been through some pretty dark seasons of the mind and soul and while I am genuinely in pretty good shape at the mo, I am very aware that a dark cloud is never far away.

Sometimes it literally feels like I’m being stalked by sadness.

Trouble is – I’m not even sure why!

  • My marriage is strong.
  • My family is a blast.
  • My health is…fair to middling!
  • My finances are in order.
  • My church family is fab.
  • And I’m not harbouring any secret sin in my life.

So why does this happiness assassin keep showing up?

  • Is it because I live in the anti-depressant prescription capital of the UK?
  • Could it be the pressures of pastoral ministry?
  • Perhaps I’m getting too emotionally involved with human trafficking?
  • It is possible that I’m simply doing too much.
  • Or as I turn 39 this month perhaps I’m just preempting the inevitable mid-life crisis!

Who knows?

Actually, God knows.

And while I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why things are as they are, God in His grace has blessed me with a means of standing strong and fighting back. In fact, He’s given me a secret weapon.

“What is that secret weapon?” I hear you cry.

Well, quite simply – my secret weapon is joy!

It’s like my buddy Nehemiah said:

“do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
– Nehemiah 8 v 10

So there you have it – all we need is the Lord’s joy and we’ll have all the strength we need to take the happiness assassin outta the game, right?!

YES!

So the question is how do we get the joy of the Lord? I mean Paul told us to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, but HOW?! How do we get our hands on this secret weapon?

Well, a few weeks ago the Lord handed me the key to the gun cabinet, and I’ve been buzzin ever since. Here’s the key:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation”
– Psalm 51 v 12

Ultimate joy is found in God’s salvation, nowhere else!

When I seek joy in anything or anyone else I am setting myself up for a fall because everything and everyone else is broken, fractured and flawed.

  • My wife is great, but she’s not perfect (neither am I!)
  • My kids are epic, but they’re still little sinners.
  • My health is deteriorating at a rate of knots!
  • My money keeps getting spent.
  • I love my ministry, but it involves people who, like me, are broken.
  • And while sin has no dominion over me, I still regularly screw up.

But God’s salvation…that’s different! The blood of Jesus NEVER runs out! His forgiveness IS limitless. His love NEVER fails. His grace IS sufficient.

I still remember the day that Jesus saved me. I was 15 years old and as I surrendered my life to Him I experienced His mercy in a powerful, life-changing, future-shaping way.

I was clean.

I was accepted.

I was joyful.

I was home.

But sadly, that joy has not always remained with me.

To my shame, I think that when I experience a lack of joy it is directly linked to sin and a loss of wonder in the salvation of God. I think that’s where David got to when he prayed that God would restore the joy of His salvation in Psalm 51.

So here’s where I’ve landed – I need God’s help to stay fixated and fascinated by the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ:

“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.”
– Charitie Lees Smith

My secret weapon is joy but it’s the gospel of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ that activates that joy. A single step away from the cross is a step towards joylessness, despair and a butt-kicking at the hands of the happiness assassin! Therefore humble repentance is the only way to lay hold of the secret weapon of God’s pure joy. And when I’ve got that joy, I feel invincible, because the source of my joy, Jesus, is invincible. And because His grave is empty my heart is full.

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!”