Many of us were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Mike Ovey on January 7th 2017. Mike was probably best known for his role as the principal of Oak Hill theological College where he leaves a legacy of men and women inspired and trained for biblically faithful gospel-centred ministry for generations to come. It is well worth reading Chris Green’s short obituary for Mike here and pausing to give God thanks for his life and pray for his family and friends.
I recently came across Mike’s 2013 address to GAFCON – The Grace of God or the World of the West? If you want to get a flavour Mike’s Christian convictions it’s a brilliant and challenging message to hear. You can watch/listen to it below.
To give you a flavour of what he has to say here is a short extract that particularly struck me: “It is not enough just to say the word grace an awful lot. The issue is what we mean by it and whether we mean what the Bible means by it or whether we have made up our own meanings for ourselves…the kind of grace that I think the Western church talks about is cheap grace… Dietrich Bonhoeffer defines cheap grace as the grace that we bestow on ourselves…it is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession… it is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate.”
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
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.