We are excited to have Glen Scrivener visiting us this coming Sunday. Glen will be preaching God’s Word in our morning service and speaking at our Big Questions meeting in the evening. Glen helps lead Speak Life and is the main speaker for the Events week this coming week, organised by the University of Birmingham Christian Union. As well as being an excellent preacher Glen is also a very gifted evangelist. Lets pray for God’s blessing on Glen’s ministry and the work of Speak Life.
Do you ever feel that longing for something that can’t be described? Its a longing that can’t be satisfied by anything here on earth. Its a longing for the hope of heaven which is to come, our heavenly home where we will be with Jesus. Sometimes we can just get a glimpse maybe in a song or in a sunrise or in Scripture that stirs that longing. Treasure those stirrings. Store up those glimpses. Be present now but always with that hope for the future. It brings joy.
“Like ghosts become flesh for the first time
we came to the land of the living
tasted the bread
sipped the wine
spoke the language of belonging.
In a tent on a hill walled by green
we gathered for one more meal
I watched twilight
dance with candlelight
and breathed a hint of truly alive.
Can you be sick for a home you’ve never seen?
Sometimes the curtain flutters,
and I catch a glimpse
of a fawn in the shadow
that bids me to follow.
I can’t. Not yet.
But I am coming home.”
Jen Rose Yokel
Someone has shared a blog post with me that resonates very closely with what I was trying to share last Sunday morning about the purpose of God’s gifts to the church (Eph 4:7-16). It expresses the same sentiments as my sermon (perhaps more clearly!) and even uses the same illustration I used from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe!
Below is an extract of the post by Heidi Johnston but I’d encourage you to follow the link and read the full post here. I hope it stimulates you to reflect on how you are seeking to use your ‘time and talents‘ for the good of the church and the glory of God.
“There is a gift for each child – a sword and shield for Peter, a bow and horn for Susan, and a dagger and cordial for Lucy. Each gift is directly related to the personality and role of the child but each is given for the good of Narnia. Rather than diminishing the value of the gift itself, this knowledge adds a solemnity and significance that would otherwise be lacking.
While it is important to know what your gift is, I think it is equally important to understand the purpose for which it was given. Rather than simply a pat on the back from a benevolent father or a weapon in the fight for pole position, any gift we have is given as a crucial and integral part of the battle to defend, strengthen and build the Church of Christ.”
“Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity!” Psalm 119:37
Dear friends, do not gaze upon any sin…
for looking breeds longing,
and longing begets lusting,
and lusting brings sinning!
Keep your eyes right — and you may keep your heart right.
If that first woman had not looked upon the forbidden tree and seen “that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,” she would not have plucked and eaten the forbidden fruit — and we would not have been the children of sin and sorrow!
O friends, if we begin to look upon iniquity, we shall almost certainly fall! There are some sins that we poor, frail creatures cannot endure to look at.
We are as moths near a burning candle — the only safety for us is to get out of the room and fly into the open air. But if we go near the candle — we shall certainly burn our wings and, perhaps, even destroy ourselves!
Just so, we must take care that we do not get used to sin. I believe that even the common reading in the newspapers of accounts of evil things is defiling to us. If we habitually read such things, we shall come, at last, to think less and less of the coarser forms of vice than we ought to do.
Nothing can keep us away from the fangs of sin, like falling into the embraces of Christ. Looking unto Jesus, is the great remedy against looking unto sin!
Turn away my eyes from vanity, my Lord, by filling them full with a vision of Yourself and holding me spellbound with that grandest spectacle that eyes of men, or angels, or even of God, Himself ever saw — the spectacle of God Incarnate bearing our sin in His own body on the Cross!
Keep your eyes fixed there — and all will be well.
(Charles Spurgeon: 1834–1892)
I was at a prayer group last night where we were encouraged to pray with big vision. Here’s a flavour of what was shared with us.
Pray for God’s presence where you live, work or study, in your families and communities. The message was that prayer is a battle where we need the shield of faith and the Lord to strengthen our use of the sword of the spirit, taking us deeper into His Word. Do we treasure the scriptures and use them to give us authority as we pray?
It’s the 500th anniversary of what in 2017? The Reformation, which shook the world and reshaped history. The prayers were bold: for an awakening that would move into every level of the nation’s life; campuses, colleges, schools, the media, government. Is our desire that there would be so many conversions that it would actually change the character of Britain, the prayer that God would bring substantial change in the church, nation and reaching into Europe?
We were reminded of the prayer of the Welsh revival: ‘More Lord’ and then ‘Even More’. Do we pray for greater vision and expectation? ‘Lord, stretch our faith.’
Is the church in Britain today frozen? Is there a need to re-discover the wonderful dynamic power of the gospel, and prayers for revival that fill us with compassion and a deep passion for the lost? Let’s pray for a mighty mobilisation of prayer in our church and beyond.
The final challenge we were given: to start the year focusing on God’s presence, God’s promises and on prayer. As we pray, may we all see our extraordinary God glorified in 2017.
I felt encouraged to pray.
The following poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, was quoted by King George VI in his 1939 Christmas Day broadcast to the British Empire.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.
Classic Glen Scrivener…
Yesterday morning we thought about the subtle sin of envy – that green-eyed monster, as Shakespeare called it. In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges warns that a competitive spirit can be a form of envy – an obsession with our own glory and reputation, a selfish need to be better than others. We should strive to be good stewards of what God gives us (1Pet4:10), and diligently do our best (2 Tim 2:15, 1 Cor 9:24) but our motive should be God’s glory not ours, serving others not beating them.
One of the ways we must guard ourselves against this is by watching how we communicate to others – are we stirring up envy and jealousy by boasting of our what we have or have done? Sometimes its not what we say but how we say it that tips it over into boastful envy-inducing language. Social media is a minefield for this sort of thing so we must be careful. It reminded me of a clip by Brian Regan that I shared on the blog some time ago. Envy is no laughing matter but I think humour can be used to make a serious point…
“Your Word is completely pure, and Your servant loves it.” Psalm 119:140
Do we love the holiness of the Word? The Word is preached — to beat down sin, and advance holiness. Do we love it for its spirituality and purity?
Many love the Preached Word only for its eloquence and notion. They come to a sermon as to a performance (Ezekiel 33:31,32) or as to a garden to pick flowers — but not to have their lusts subdued or their hearts purified.
These are like a foolish woman who paints her face — but neglects her health!
Do we love the convictions of the Word? Do we love the Word when it comes home to our conscience and shoots its arrows of reproof at our sins? It is the minister’s duty sometimes to reprove. He who can speak smooth words in the pulpit — but does not know how to reprove, is like a sword with a fine handle, but without an edge!
“Rebuke them sharply!” (Titus 2:15).
Dip the nail in oil — reprove in love — but strike the nail home!
Now Christian, when the Word touches on your sin and says, “You are the man!” — do you love the reproof? Can you bless God that “the sword of the Spirit” has divided between you and your lusts? This is indeed a sign of grace, and shows that you are a lover of the Word. A corrupt heart loves the comforts of the Word — but not the reproofs:
“You hate the one who reproves — and despise him who tells the truth!” (Amos 5:10).
“Their eyes flash with fire!” Like venomous creatures that at the least touch, spit poison!
“When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him!” (Acts 7:54).
When Stephen touched their sins — they were furious and could not endure it.
How shall we know that we love the reproofs of the Word? When we desire to sit under a heart-searching ministry. Who cares for medicines that will not work? A godly man does not choose to sit under a ministry that will not work upon his conscience. When we pray that the Word may meet with our sins. If there is any traitorous lust in our heart — we would have it found out, and executed! We do not want sin covered — but cured! When we can open our heart to the sword of the Word and say, “Lord, smite this sin!”
When we are thankful for a reproof.
“Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.” (Psalm 141:5).
David was glad for a reproof.
Suppose a man were in the mouth of a lion, and another should shoot the lion and save the man — would he not be thankful? Just so, when we are in the mouth of sin, as of a lion, and the minister by a reproof shoots this sin to death — shall we not be thankful? A gracious soul rejoices, when the sharp lance of the Word has pierced his abscess of sin!
He wears a reproof like a jewel on his ear:
“Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.” (Proverbs 25:12).
To conclude, it is convicting preaching which must do the soul good. As a nipping frost prepares for the sweet flowers of spring — so a nipping reproof prepares the soul for comfort!
John MacDuff (1818-1895)
This is my first blog for Monyhull and I hope I remember to write because it will give you some insight into the people and situations I work with. First of all I love being a missionary. In the midst of the difficulties and pain of seeing our teenagers reject the gospel and things not going the way I would like, the Lord keeps me going telling me ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men’ Colossians 3:23 it’s when we do all for Him and not necessarily just for those who we are trying to help that we can keep going when there seem to be no results.
So let me just share briefly share with you a little about a family that I have mentioned on facebook – three brothers, well 4 but the youngest is doing well and not been on the street or out of school. Kevin 17, Pierre 16, Gabriel 15. I know these boys and their mother reasonably well having accompanied them for 3 years. I am closest to Pierre – he and even his mother call me his second mother which is a real privilege for me. When I came back from the UK in April 2O16 I started to visit this family again and soon tried to help them in various ways, one of them being buying sweets for the father to sell on the bus so they could have an income. He went out that afternoon to sell what I had bought for him and didn’t come home…he disappeared involving himself in drugs again, living on the street and then ending up in prison. None of these boys is studying so in June their mother, along with them and I went to try and find places in a school for them to study. I asked for much prayer for this on facebook. We went from pillar to post and they are still not studying but hopefully soon. I haven’t given up yet and next week I am going to take them along with their mother to the school where hopefully they have a place.
Let’s just keep praying.
These boys have been on and off the streets for a number of years and have an addiction to certain drugs. Pierre and Gabriel can’t read. Their mother is sometimes unhelpful but other times really wants the boys to study and is willing to sort things out – there is often the attitude here of ‘what’s the point, nothing goes right’ and I can understand it. Life for those who are poor is very hard. But we keep going, keep persevering when it seems there are no results. We keep praying for them and when I go there, share something from God’s word and pray with them. Please keep praying for this family with me and watch on facebook for news.
Thank you for partnering with me in this work. I love these teenagers and love even more speaking of my wonderful Lord to them. He has changed my life and can still change theirs.