Tuesday 19 March 2013

Matthew complete

I have just finished reading Matthew. What an awesome gospel. I love this book. If I can recommend anything, it's reading big chunks of text – even whole books – at one sitting. Matthew was too much for me, but I managed it in three sittings (I'm a slow reader, with a 2 year old kid!). The Jesus represented here is so different from the one I hear about often in the media and at church. He's radical, daring, bold and courageous. He's compassionate and kind. He does not suffer fools and applies great wisdom.

I really had to wrestle with some of the text, especially when it came to the place of the chosen people of God. I knew the importance of Israel in God's eyes, but I really didn't appreciate it until I read this gospel. Jesus strongly, passionately, walked in obedience to what his calling was that people often took it as insolence and arrogance. He knew who his Father was and He unashamedly carried out His Father's business.

I know the Bible wasn't written to me, or for me, but the inspired Word of God to reveal His character and His purpose. And if you allow the Bible to speak to you, and change you in your thinking, it has the power to transform. Reading the Bible in this way is uncomfortable and can be irritating – challenging us to our very core.

Reading Matthew, I began to get revelation that demons also worship Jesus; that proclaiming and confessing his name is not enough; that God calls us into something so much higher and more important. It starts with worship and then moves on to simple, child-like obedience.

It's so wonderful to get to know the God of the Bible: His passions, His purpose and His calling. He's the one I will follow. However, I may get very broken along the way!

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Out of the mouths of babes

I'm still working on reading my Bible. I'm only up to Matthew 17. I'll let you know how I get on later today...

Meantime, I've been debating whether to use English terms with Joshua or American. Where we live is quite British in its history and way of working, but the YWAM campus has a lot of Americans. I therefore want our son to have a grasp of both American terms and British so that he doesn't feel alienated when a babysitter says: "let's change your diaper".

This morning, walking to creche with him, it was rush hour, with lots of traffic, he pointed and said, "lorry", I said, "yes, well done, that's right". I then said, "it's also called a truck..." to which he said, "kuk, kuk" (not being able to pronounce the 'tr' sound yet). However, it sounded a lot like 'kok', which, when said out loud appeared that he was swearing!

So when I walk into creche, his first words to the teacher was: "Daddy saw a kok".

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Jesus is radical

Just read Matthew 6-14 and I'm learning more about the character of Jesus from Matthew's account. He's such a bold, courageous, daring, fearless leader. He took no nonsense, he had huge humility and compassion, yet was not a people-pleaser. This is the leader I want to follow.

I'm reading the Bible in a new way this year: whole books at a time. Matthew is a bit more challenging because of its length and the amount in it. I'm finding myself stopping and imagining in the character of Jesus and how he was received when he walked the earth.

Sermons are good and necessary in every Christian's walk, but if we're not reading the Bible regularly and allowing it to challenge us directly, we can end up following some crackpot ideas created by fallible humans.

The part of seeds and the separation of the good from the bad on judgment day filled me with an awesome fear of God whilst reading it and my heart skipped a beat as I realised in a new way how real God's authority, power and judgment is.

May God continue to guide all of us who are serving Him to protect ourselves from the snare of the enemy. Help us Lord to know you, be obedient to your call and to keep ourselves pure and Holy in Your sight. Amen.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Trying again

I thank God that my journey with him is so full of grace and mercy. When I have failed in my work God is giving me a second chance. Where I have failed at spending time in prayer, intercession and quiet times, God is giving me a second chance. Where I have failed to read the Bible, God is giving me a second chance.

I recognise my skills and abilities, but often overlook my failings. Having done StrengthsFinder as a team, we can clearly see our gaps in our skills and I have been praying for a few weeks now for God to help me staff my weak areas in my ministry. However, God has been guiding me to a different thought: allow Him to work in areas that we cannot; allow Him to get the glory. Just as when we don't have the finances (more often than is comfortable - great tips, by the way on the YWAMKB on how to fundraise), when we don't have the skills, God is the one who can give us the tools to get the job done. So, personally, I am really trusting Him now to bridge the gap of skills that we currently have on the team, and if that's supernatural provision, then so be it!

Part of my recent lack of discipline is not having regular fellowship and bible study outside of the Sunday church service. This has happened because of having a two year old who needs to be in bed at the time when most groups meet. However, right now, my wife and I are trying out a new home group which fits better with our current circumstance (it meets in the afternoons and includes childcare). The topic this week is grace and the power that it has to spur us into action. Rather than grace being a reason to give up, quite the opposite is true: grace is the very thing that should kick us into action. Under God's grace we will be effective, productive and worthwhile citizens of this earth - pleasing to Him who made us. It gives us a purpose, a place and a reason to keep going when times are tough.

At church we are going through the gospels and just seeing if we can learn more about the nature and character of God through what the gospel writers present. The new rector of our church encouraged us this week to read through the book of Matthew. For those of you who've been following my blog for a while, you will know that last year I tried and failed to read through the entire Bible in a year. This year, I am trying a new tack which has so far been met with moderate success: read through entire books at a time. The Bible I use has a table of the books with the estimated time it takes to read through. It's surprising how many books can be read in less than an hour. Matthew is a bit longer at 2.5 hours, so it's probably not one sitting! Yet totally do-able in a week.

This morning I started and read the first five chapters. Tonight I plan to read five more. I'll let you know how I get on!

So far this year I have read Hebrews, 1 Kings, James, Malachi, Ruth and Esther. As I read, I'm asking God to transform me by its content. Watch this space to see what happens!

Thank you God that when I failed to read your Bible last year, you gave me another chance this year, with a different way of doing it. Amen