Thursday, 24 January 2013



"Dream big", these popular peddlers preach, "because the bigger your dreams the bigger God will be to you!" But this idea is anti-cross. It's not your dreams for your life that give you purpose - it is God's simple plan for your life. But just because something is simple doesn't mean it isn't profound. Neither should simple be assumed to be easy. In a sense, God is simple. He simply is. He simply rules. He simply reveals Himself. Yet each of these statements are profound. God has a simple yet profound purpose for your life and it is easy to discover. The path to living it is stained with the wet crimsoned footprints of our Master. Yet there are those who peddle a message that God's purpose for your life is to help you achieve your dreams.
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1
You don't need a "dream" to give your life purpose - you simply need to apply the teaching of the Gospel. The appeal to "use God" to "help you achieve your dreams" may sound very inspirational when stated by the nice smiling man with an American accent in an expensive suit before a vast congregation of cheering fans, but it is not the message of Christ! On the contrary, one of the crimsoned stained pavers upon which we march with Christ is engraved with this reminder-
¶ Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24
Walking with Christ is not about 'dreaming'. Following Christ is made all the more sweeter because we view our richest gains as loss and rejoice that we can pour contempt on our reasons for pride.
Written by Isaac Watts
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince Of Glory died'
My richest gain, I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God.
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His hands, His head, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine demands my heart, my soul, my all.
When we acknowledge that Christ is our Lord, we lay down our dreams - we don't baptise them! We sacrifice our ambition - we don't sanctify it! We give up our agenda - we don't gear it up! Does this mean that our lives will lack purpose, drive, meaning and fulfilment? Far from it! Instead, our lives become focused on glorifying God and enjoying Him! Rather than sitting around in the Officers' Mess awaiting our marching orders, we boot up and get marching on our pilgrimage. We don't wait for some mystical dream to discover how we might glorify God, we bloom where we are planted. We turn our work into worship. We sanctify our serving. This means that we regard so-called 'mundane' tasks as opportunities to glorify God. It is when we are proven faihful in small things that God entrusts to us greater things (Matt. 25:23; 1Tim. 3:13). But notice this principle? It isGod - not us - Who assigns those tasks/responsibilities to our lives that give us a sense of meaning and purpose. You don't need to dream it!
But some will refer to one of the million-seller paperback books by one of the television-preachers who said that because Joseph had a dream, God blessed him with its fulfilment. This type of violence to the sacred text is nearly unforgiveable for any preacher assigned their sacred task of explaining God's Great Word. Joseph did not devise a dream! His dreams were God-given! They weren't given to Joseph for Joseph to make something of himself, they were given to him as a measure of God's grace to him so that he could endure what was about to happen to him and thus fulfil the divine plan to redeem mankind!
The steps of a person are ordained by the LORD–
so how can anyone understand his own way?

Proverbs 20:24
Finding purpose and fulfilment in life is simple. God gives us each a noble path to walk that if we are truly blessed will also be simple. While tending his garden, Francis of Assissi was asked what he would do if he knew that he only had five minutes left to live. His response? "I'd finish weeding this garden!" It wasn't that he thought little of time, it was that he thought highly of doing everything for the glory of God - including weeding! Like the many millions who have found fulfilment in Christ for their lives, Francis of Assissi applied himself to whatever need God put before him.
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13
I have a good friend who recently told me that he wasted a good number of his early years following Christ by trying to apply the numerous sermons he about "Discover Your Destiny", "Pursue Your Dream" and so on. He then discovered from reading God's Word that finding God's will and purpose for his life was simple. You simply follow Jesus. Where He takes you, you go.

Of course, you may actually have a dream that is quite commendable. Many people have. They have a dream to eliminate poverty, erradicate homelessness, end wars, and help indebted nations have their national debts cancelled. You may even feel that God has given you this dream as your life work. But have you laid it down at the foot of the Cross?

As Christ sets before you a simple, perhaps menial, task: follow Him there. Are you praying for God to be glorified in your life? And yet the only opportunities you seem to be presented with are so far beneath you? Are you praying for God to give you a "dream" or "vision" for your life? Perhaps it's time to wake up and see the needs you could meet right in front of you. They may be simple, but done to God's glory they can be noble.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 17 January 2013


A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg. In those days some film plates were sold individually. World War I broke out and unable to return to Strasbourg, the woman gave up the picture for lost. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, to take a picture of her newborn daughter. When developed the film turned out to be a double exposure, with the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. Through some incredible twist of fate, her original film, never developed, had been mislabeled as unused, and had eventually been resold to her. We have all experienced remarkable coincidences. But are they really coincidences?
¶ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:36
I want to help you. If we can grasp a clearer vision of Bible's revelation about God it will help us to see the invisible hand of God in the midst of life's difficulties and delights.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things
Isaiah 45:7
Things happen. Some of these things cause us to wonder whether God realises or even cares. These things might hurt us or perhaps simply disappoint us. Like Job's wife, we often ask, "Why God?" But perhaps like Job, we need to respond by acknowledging that there really are no random coincidences, instead, all things are ordered by God.
And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
Job 1:21
What Job knew, and was about to be tested regarding, was that God is good. Life is full of stories of amazing coincidences. For example -
A computer error gave two women in America called Patricia the same social security number. When the two women were brought together in an office to rectify the blunder they discovered that they had both been born with the names Patricia Ann Campbell. Both of their fathers were called Robert Campbell. Their birthdays were on 13th March 1941. They had both married military men in the year 1959 (within eleven days of each other). They each had two children aged 19 and 21. They both had an interest in oil painting. Both had studied cosmetics. Both had worked as book-keepers.
Most of the coincidences we experience do not seem to be coincidences at all. They seem random, almost haphazard. Accepting that God orders the world may be interpretted as a cold statement about God which could potentially mislead someone to think of God as heartless and cruel - if it wasn't for the overshadowing grand truth about God: He is good!

CoincidenceBill Hybels tells the story that he had to dismiss a staff member who was heading up their international ministry because he no longer had the capacity to lead that ministry. They had been friends for a long time. The staff member was shattered and left most ungraciously even though the Willow Creek Association paid him out far more than the amount of his entitlements required. His whole family cut themselves from Bill and ceased attending Willow Creek Community Church. Bill began receiving abusive letters from the man accusing Bill of unChristian behaviour. A few years went by and Bill was speaking in Europe when as he returned to his motel, his former international ministry staff member was sitting on a lounge in the lobby. Bill said that he emotionally sunk with the thought that this man was now stalking him wherever he went in the world. But as the awkward conversation commenced, the former staffer told Bill that he happened to be in town with his new job and thought that he would catch with Bill. He then thanked his former boss for dismissing him! He went to say that he initially had great difficulty processing the dismissal. However, after he picked himself up he was head-hunted by another international ministry who were paying him far more than Willow Creek ever did, plus he got to do what he loved (travel the world) and that these last few years had been the best of his life! Sandwiching his thanks to Bill he finished with a profuse "thank you" for dismissing him as "it was the best thing that ever happened to me." Was it a coincidence that the other ministry was looking for someone with just those skills at just that time the sacked man had processed his dismissal? At the time, it didn't seem so to the dismissed man.
The steps of a person are ordained by the LORD–
so how can anyone understand his own way?

Proverbs 20:24
Scripture places a precious gem in the hand of the Christ-follower. This gem of revelation is of infinite value. It is the rest that comes from knowing that God is awesomely sovereign. But before any of us fall prey to the dangerous idea that God's sovereignty (His control over the world) means that we bear no responsibility for our decisions, actions or attitudes, we need to hold in the same hand another gem. This exquisitely beautiful gem is gloriously revealed in Scripture: every human being enjoys the power of choice. We are each blessed with the endowed gift of responsibility. Yet, I have not told you the half of it! The follower of Christ has their power to choose further empowered by the grace of God and their responsibility bolstered by light from God's Word.
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13
According to First Peter 4:10 God multiplies His grace through the fellowship of believers with each other. This is why church is so critically important for the believer. Is it a coincidence that so many people say that when they put God first through their commitment to church fellowship that they just seem stronger and more able to deal with life's challenges? Is it also a coincidence that when the believer "takes time out from church" that whatever problems they were facing seem to get more difficult? Coincidentally, it is in church that God's "manifold grace" is transmitted through both fellowship and the preaching ministry of God's Word.

Christ-followers eat, breath, and drink "coincidences". We worship a Saviour Who was born coincidentally "at just the right time" (Galatians 4:4). We find strength coincidentally in our times of weakness when we look to the Lord (2Cor. 12:9). Coincidentally abnormal things happen when we pray. And it is perhaps prayer that causes the believer to experience coincidences more regularly than the average person. One atheist scoffed at the Christian for trusting a God they couldn't see, hear or feel. "Why would believe in such a God?" demanded the atheist. "I have come to know God." replied the believer. "Your so-called answers to prayer are merely coincidences!" retorted the atheist. "Perhaps", said the Christian, "but whenever I have stopped praying the coincidences have stopped!" Try it. Pray to God for Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask God to help you to fulfil your purpose for your life. Pray to God for Him to help you to become the kind of person He wants You to be and to find lasting peace and true joy. And if you are brave and adventurous, ask God to remove anything from your life that grieves Him and invite Him to change you into the person He wants you to be. Pray like this and coincidentally you might find these prayers wonderfully answered.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Miss Jenkins

A great New Year's resolution is to read a book by Dr. F.W. Boreham. Here's an extract from the great biographer, from his book - A HANDFUL OF STARS...

"...a young lady named Miss Jenkins. To this earnest and devout girl, her faith was the biggest thing in life. She had but one passionate and quenchless desire : the desire to share it with others. She sought converts everywhere. A murderer awaited execution in the local gaol. Miss Jenkins obtained permission to visit him. She entered the condemned cell, pleaded with him, wept over him, won him to repentance, and the man went to the scaffold blessing her.

Then, from the winning of the lowest, she turned to the winning of the highest. She fastened her eyes upon the Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo, the statesman of the hour, the most commanding figure in the three kingdoms. Wellington was then sixty-five, a man covered with honour and absorbed in public affairs. But, to Miss Jenkins, he was simply a great worldly figure and, in 1834, she wrote a letter - a letter winged by many prayers - warning him of the peril of living without a sure, deep consciousness of the forgiveness of sins, through the redemption of Jesus Christ. Wellington's iron nature was strongly moved. He replied by return post, and thus inaugurated a correspondence in the course of which he wrote to Miss Jenkins no fewer than three hundred and ninety letters. In the course of this amazing correspondence, Miss Jenkins begged for an interview, and it was granted. Miss Jenkins took out her New Testament and read to the old warrior these words. 'Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born-again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God!' 'Here,' says Dr. Fitchett, in unfolding the story, 'here was a preacher of quite a new type ! A girl's lips were reciting Christ's tremendous words : 'Ye must be born again!' She was addressing them directly to him, and her uplifted finger was challenging him. Some long-dormant religious sensibilities awoke within him. The grace of the speaker, and the mystic quality of the thing spoken, arrested him.' To the end of his days the Duke firmly believed that, by means of this girl-prophet, God Himself spoke to his soul that day."

Pages 153-155