Category: Bible

Proverbs 7

Yesterday at the Courageous Men’s Conference we premiered a brand new short film that has been created by Andy Toovey of 2V Studios. It is a film that has literally been several years in the making. The idea was birthed from a conversation that I had with Andy about 2 years ago about how the story of the foolish young man and the adulteress in Proverbs 7 could be applied to the folly of young men pursuing sexual gratification through pornography on the internet.

Andy developed a screenplay and soon afterwards we were out on the streets of Newport shooting the film.

However, as Andy’s workload increased, the footage remained untouched for a long time…until recently! We agreed that the Courageous conference would be the perfect event to launch the film so Andy got to work. As you’ll see below, it was worth the wait!

The finished product is effectively a partnership between TorFilm and Red Community. It is my hope and prayer that it will be used by God to communicate a dynamic Biblical warning to young men (and women) about the dangers of pornography and that as a result many will be saved from this wretched online deathtrap.


 

There are many things that I love about this film. One of those things, however, is that it features Newport’s fanmous Chartist mural. We had no idea that just a few months after shooting this the mural would be controversially destroyed by the local council. It also features Newport bus station as it was before its extensive renovations. Therefore this film has captured something of the history of Newport.

The Bible – 6 Reasons why pages are better than pixels

old-bible-wide I started writing this post sometime last year, but just haven’t had the time to finish it. However, I’ve finally found a few spare minutes, so here goes…

Essentially I’m writing to big up the Good Book – the real, tangible paper version of it!

Pretty much everyone I know (who owns a smartphone at least) has the Bible on their phone. Myself included! My personal preference is the ESV app – which is seriously slick. However, I’m also quite partial to the Bible.is app cos it actually reads the Bible to you, which is great if you’re busy doing the washing up etc. I also refer to my Olive Tree app from time to time as it contains the Behemoth of all Bibles – the ESV Study Bible on there! And I am well aware that there there are countless other versions that people like to use, such as YouVersion. It is truly awesome having Scripture in your pocket ready to rock and roll straight away. It’s convenience is one of the greatest assets of having pixelated Scriptures in your pocket. The search functions are also class and it is most definitely cool being able to read in the dark e.g. in bed!

There is also a lot to like about having the Bible on an iPad too. Indeed it’s quite remarkable how many pastors and preachers seem to be stepping into their pulpits these days with an iPad under their arm! I guess having your Bible AND your notes in one place is kinda handy. But all that said, I refuse to put down my trusty hard copy in order to trade it in for pixels. Sure I love my ESV app and intend to keep using it regularly. But I wouldn’t swap it for my old school hard copy version in a million years!

Why?

Do I think Scripture on paper is more spiritual than the pixelated version?

Absolutely not – truth is truth!

So why make the case for paper over pixels?

For what they’re worth, here’s my 6 reasons:

(more…)

Christ Throughout the Bible

I can’t remember exactly when the last time I went to Soul Survivor was. It was sometime in the late 90’s. I only remember 2 things about the event – firstly that I was there with Michelle. Secondly, that the main speaker that week was Louie Giglio. We’d never heard of him before, but each day his Bible teaching totally blew our socks off.

However, for both myself and Michelle, our strongest memory of that week was the last sung worship session after Loiue’s final message. During one of the songs, Louie came back on stage and in a moment of Holy Spirit inspiration he walked us through the whole Bible, showing us Jesus in every single book, exalting Him as the central figure of Scripture. The One who it’s all about.

I recently found a transcript of Loiue’s rant online and thought I’d post it here

Hope it’s a blessing to you: (more…)

Headlight

Tomorrow I am privileged to to be speaking at Headlight – an open day event at WEST that is being run in conjunction with WEST, Ignite and SOW. Essentially Headlight is all about getting stuck into God’s Word (one of my favourite subjects) and I’ve got the job of unpacking the subject of Finding Jesus in the Old Testament. It promises to be a fantastic day, so if you’re free, why not join us? The details are below.

You can also visit the Facebook page here.

31 Days in the Book of Proverbs

This post is primarily for members of the Hill City Church family, though the rest of you are free to listen in too! Essentially what this is all about is pulling together 2 issues that we as a leadership have been asked about loads of times over the last few years at Hill City, namely:

  1. How do I study the Bible better?
  2. How do I live for God better?

Hill City is a very young church and these are timely and important questions that demand a response. Therefore, what myself and my co-pastor, James, are proposing is that we as a church – all of us – dedicate the first month of 2012 to reading through the epic book of Proverbs together. Proverbs is a book that is loaded with nuggets of wisdom. It consists of 31 chapters, which is convenient as there are 31 days in January. What we propose is that we read a chapter each day until we’ve finished the whole book.

It’s our firm belief that studying the Bible together will help us ALL to better understand its truth and live more godly lives as a consequence. Here’s how I suggest we go about it:

TUNE IN: Try to open your Bible at a time when there are minimal distractions (turn off your TV, phone and music!) Before you start reading take some time to pray to God and ask Him to speak to you.

LISTEN UP: Don’t just read the words but listen to what God’s actually saying to you. It might well be that of all the nuggets in the chapter there is one in particular that stands out to you.

GET IT DOWN: Take on board what God is saying. Get it down by writing it in a note book or on a post-it note that you can put somewhere prominent like on the fridge or the back of the toilet door.

LIVE IT OUT: Whatever God says to you – do something about it and watch Him change your life and your world!

SPREAD THE WORD: We want to hear how God is speaking to us as a church through the Proverbs – so here’s what we suggest: Text each other, plaster Proverbs all over your Facebook and Twitter accounts (after all – the Proverbs is essentially King Solomon’s Twitter account!) On top of that, we are going to make space during each Sunday morning service in January for people to share ways that God has been encouraging/challenging/blessing them through the Proverbs.

So there we have it.

See you on January 1st in chapter one…

Guidance Part 1. The Bible

The reason why I’ve placed the Bible at the very top of the guidance hit-list is simply because it isn’t just one option among many when it comes to seeking God’s will for our lives. No, this is the BIG one. If in the process of seeking God’s guidance you receive nothing from His Word then I would argue that you are on VERY dangerous ground because the Scriptures still are (as they always have been and always will be) God’s primary means of speaking to His saints. Whether through your own personal devotions, as part of a group Bible study or as you sit under the public teaching of the Word, you can be sure that God is speaking.

The question is are you listening?

So often we don’t hear what God is saying because we are listening for something specific or looking for God to rubber-stamp what we already think, rather than allowing Him the space to say what He wants. A classic example of this would be in the area of relationships. Some girl catches a young man’s eye and he immediately turns to the Word desperately hunting down a Scripture that confirms that she’s to be his wife. That scripture never comes because all the while God was saying either “I’ve got someone better for you down the line” or even “I’m going to bless you with a life of singleness because that’s going to be best for you.” The problem wasn’t that God was silent, it was that you were approaching the Scriptures with an agenda!

A few things to bear in mind when it comes to hearing God’s voice through His Word would be as follows:

1. The Bible is living, active, sharp and precise. (Hebrews 4v12)

Anyone who thinks the Bible is antiquated or irrelevant has never truly come to terms with it. Even now in our 21st Century world – the Bible continues to speak, bless, inspire, encourage and guide men and women all over the world (including me) in extraordinarily profound ways. If we believe that God is alive and that His Word is also alive then surely we can trust that He can and will speak into our own lives and situations.

2. If you hear His voice – be ready to respond obediently

God’s Word carries a weight and an authority that demands a response. If we approach our Bible’s as mere “life coaching” or “good practice handbooks” then we are clearly not hearing the authoritative voice of the God of the Universe, because when you hear Him speak – you know that action must follow. Moses helpfully lays out for us what responding to God’s Word should look like:

“You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 13v4)

When seeking God’s guiding voice into your own life, be prepared for the fact that He might (in my experience He often does!) tell you to do something or go somewhere that is completely undesirable to you!! Are you ready to obey at all costs? Maybe you’re not hearing God’s voice because you know what He’s going to say and it demands more from you than you’re willing to give! If that’s the case, don’t bother waiting for His Plan B – there isn’t one. It’s obedience or bust!

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1v22)

3. The Bible speaks into the here and now AND the there and then

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119v105)

God’s Word has something to say to you where you’re standing right now! God isn’t only concerned about mapping out your future and giving you the BIG picture, He’s also intimately concerned with all that you’re involved in today and wants to lead and guide you in your friendships, vocations, financial dealings and personal struggles. However, Scripture also has plenty to say about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Praise God that there IS a big picture for all of us! God has got a perfect plan (Jeremiah 29v11) and He is more committed than we are to see those plans fulfilled! Therefore the important thing is to make sure that you’re in the right place spiritually to both listen AND obey what God is saying to you today, and also to trust that He will say all that needs to be said to you in the right way and at the perfect time. That requires great faith and patience.

4. The God who wrote the Bible (2Timothy 3v16) is the same God who explains it to us today (John 16v13)

Only those who repent and trust Christ for salvation can receive the Holy Spirit and enjoy the power and grace of His work in their lives – this includes helping us to discern his voice and understand His Word. Therefore, those who haven’t trusted Jesus and who haven’t received His Spirit will never know the joy of knowing God’s guidance through His Word. The problem’s not that the Bible is dead, it’s that they are dead (spiritually – Ephesians 2v1) and they need a heart transplant for God’s Word to ‘work’ for them:

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36v26-27)

Similarly, if a Christian is in deliberate sin and refusing to repent, this too will affect the work of the Spirit in their life because the Spirit is Holy and constantly waging war against sin. So if you’re a Christian and you haven’t known God’s presence, voice, comfort or guidance through Scripture recently – it may be time for a spiritual MOT!!

My advice to any Christian who is seeking God’s help for guidance and direction is this: Wait. Be patient. Be holy. And if He hasn’t spoken to you through His Word yet then don’t take ONE STEP until He has!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
(Proverbs 3v5-6)

Face Lift

The last week or so has been very, very tough for me personally.

Not only because my dog had to have a lump removed that turned out be cancerous. Not just because my kids have recently decided that pre-6am is the best time to get up, get loud and get the rest of us up as well! Not only because some of my mates are really going through the grinder at the moment. And not just as Mother’s Day fast approaches and for the first time in my life I don’t have a mother to hug and make a fuss of!!

No, on top of all that there have been a lot of pressures and strains that have come hand-in-hand with being both a Pastor and a pioneer of a young church plant, and while it would be completely inappropriate to go into details here on the blog, rest assured the events of this last week have sought to rob me of my joy and deprive me of peace! At times, I guess it’s fair to say that I haven’t been the happiest bunny in Rabbitland! Which is why I loved reading this verse this morning:

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (Proverbs 15v13)

It reminds me of that old Christian chorus:

“With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm…”

Now I’ve got to say that I completely DO NOT endorse fake Christianity! I think Christians who walk round with fake smiles, fake “I’m fine!”s and fake hope are doing themselves, their God and their world a disservice! However, I also believe that we DO NOT have to remain in a place of sorrow and a crushed spirit. There is a third way! It is possible to genuinely smile in the face of adversity – to smile through the storm!! So what is that third way?

Read that verse again.

The key to joy is not changing our circumstances, but refocussing the eyes of our heart!

So how exactly do you do that? It’s at this point in the blog that I feel the need to just go off on one! This isn’t going to be a deep, considered, structured and well thought-through theological framework for where my joy should come from. Rather I’m just going to go nuts and rant about a load of stuff that I’m thankful to God for right now, and that hopefully will cheer my heart and write a big, fat smile across my chops.

So here we go – a bunch of reasons why I should rejoice:

  • The God of the universe loves me with an everlasting love
  • Jesus died for me
  • Jesus rose for me
  • I’m saved by grace
  • I’m forgiven forever
  • I’m heaven-bound
  • I’m no longer hell-bound
  • I’m no longer a slave but a son (Galatians 4v7)
  • I’ve heard God’s voice through the Bible this week
  • I’ve seen direct answered prayer this week
  • I’ve had the privilege of teaching the Bible this week
  • ALL God’s promises are always true
  • God is with me (even when it doesn’t feel like it!)
  • I love my job!
  • God is at work in my life
  • God is at work in my church
  • The prodigals are coming home
  • My wife is a babe!
  • Seriously, she is!!
  • My kids are a precious gift
  • I have a warm home
  • I have eaten food every day this week
  • My bills are paid
  • I have some fantastic friends
  • My family haven’t fallen apart since mam died
  • My mam’s in heaven
  • My dog’s not dead
  • The sun is shining
  • I can still see some snow on the mountain opposite (I love snow!)
  • God is good and He is in control!!

Straight up – I genuinely enjoyed the process of writing that! I honestly feel elated. In fact I’m buzzin’! Thank you Jesus!!

Whoever you are reading this and no matter what your circumstances, I want to encourage you to focus on the glory, the gospel and the goodness of God, and see if your heart doesn’t start to glow and give you a God-given face-lift!

Lord, thank you for all these gifts that have blessed my heart. I pray that as I step out now into the rest of the day – my face will tell the world how good you are and how thankful I am!
Amen!!

My Bible Is Enough!

Over the last few months our trusty old lap-top has crept ever quicker towards the grave as it started to fall apart both internally and externally! Therefore I was ecstatic 2 weeks ago when I was informed by my financial team that we had enough money in the kitty to be able to purchase a brand new MacBook Pro. So I went ahead and bought and I have to confess – it’s a beautiful bit of kit and a huge blessing, for which we thank the LORD!!

However, 2 days after receiving it my inquisitive 21month old son decided that while I was upstairs – he would get acquainted with it!

SMASH!!!

I heard it from upstairs and when I arrived at the scene of the crime the MacBook was on the floor, the toddler was in shock and the dad was almost in tears!! Closer inspection revealed that the casing was dented both on the top and the bottom and upon putting a DVD in the drive it sounded like there was a load of gravel in there too! I took it to the Apple Store and they confirmed that my lovely little boy had done £350 worth of damage to the machine! This was annoying on 2 levels:

i) Because we don’t have £350 lying round and have therefore had to use our contents insurance for the first time ever!
ii) Because I couldn’t do all the work that I wanted to do this week for sermons, website etc. as it’s still being repaired as we speak!

However, it wasn’t all bad news. Far from it!

Why? Because I still had my Bible! I Guess I’m as prone as anyone to take technology too far – spending more time clicking and browsing the internet than praying and reading scripture. It’s just easier innit?! But this week I’ve spent more time with my good ole ESV in hand than usual, meditating on and chewing over deep truths and beautiful promises. To be honest, it’s been quite liberating!

I guess the Bible is enough!

Furthermore, I started preaching a new series in Hill City on Sunday looking at the life of Joseph. A book that has been really helpful in getting me excited about Joseph is RT Kendall’s God Meant It For Good. However, as I settled down to do some sermon prep last week I couldn’t find the book anywhere, so had to simply go to the scripture with nothing but a prayer that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the text and guide me into all truth. And He really did! As I got lost in the text I got really excited about what I was reading and started itching to preach what I was learning. I suppose the lesson is that RT’s good – but he’s not the Holy spirit!

Once again I guess the Bible is enough!!

It really shouldn’t come as any great surprise to me. I like to think of myself as a Bible guy – someone who esteems and places a high value on God’s Word. But in reality, I think that my love for scripture had started to be mere lip service. I would say how much I love the Bible, but my lifestyle suggested otherwise!

So now, I’m putting an end to it! I’m going to enjoy these few days without my MacBook Pro and rediscover the godly discipline of getting stuck into scripture! I’m actually going to take Paul’s advice and “Let the word of Christ dwell in [me] richly” (Colossians 3v16).

Why?

Because the Bible really is enough!!

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.