31 Days of Prayer: Day Two – God is willing

Child KnockingIf you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matt 7:11)

In Mark 9, Jesus meets the father of a boy possessed by an ‘impure spirit’. The man desperately wants his son healed, but is unsure of Jesus’ ability to help: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” he begs. Jesus replies “‘If you can’?” Jesus then heals the boy with a simple word – he is more than able to meet the father’s request. “All things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) Read more of this post

31 Days of Prayer: Day One – The Power of God

World In God's Hands‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)

Our understanding of prayer will never be bigger than our understanding of God.

I know it’s a cliché, but the place to begin reflecting on prayer is by focusing again on the character of God. In particular, we’ll start by focusing on God’s power. We pray to a God who is able to do all things. Read more of this post

31 Days of Prayer

Prayer 1“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful in it and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2)

If I could choose one thing to be great at, or even one thing to be better at, it would be prayer.

Maybe that’s a reflection of how important I believe prayer to be in the Christian life. But if I’m honest, it also reflects my disappointment at my own lack of prayerfulness – my well-meaning plans that so often fail to produce action. And I’m not exactly going out on a limb here, but I doubt I’m the only one who wishes he was a better, more faithful pray-er.

With that in mind, I’d like to invite you to join me in the month of August for ’31 Days Of Prayer’. Read more of this post

Standing with the Nazarenes

A quick but meaningful way to offer real support to persecuted Christians

10422057_10152707905469258_1305997246647383114_nOver the last 48 hours, you’ve probably seen this picture (right) on Facebook. It’s the Arabic letter ‘nun’, for ‘Nazarene’, and is currently being painted on the doors of Christians in Mosul by an extremist Islamic group called ISIS. The symbol marks out Christians, who are being forced to either convert to Islam, pay a ‘protection tax’, flee their homes, or be killed.

For this reason, many Christians have placed the ‘nun’ on their Facebook profile as a small way of showing solidarity with their persecuted brothers and sisters, encouraging prayer, and perhaps drawing a tiny bit of attention to what’s happening in Iraq. Read more of this post

John Piper on Game of Thrones and growing in godliness

Watching TVOver the last few months, I’ve written a couple of posts encouraging Christians to think more deeply about their ‘entertainment choices’, especially with reference to shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, or films like The Wolf of Wall Street. In my view, it’s an urgent issue facing Christians everywhere. So I was really pleased to come across these reflections from John Piper – 12 Questions to ask before you watch Game of Thrones.

It’s an article packed with great insights and quotable quotes. Among my favourites: “Jesus has blood-bought power in his cross. He died to make us pure. He ‘gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession’ (Titus 2:14). If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.”

And as one who has written about the violence in a show like Breaking Bad, Piper gives me food for thought by noting that, unlike murder or other forms of violence, nudity cannot be faked: “Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.”

It’s well worth taking five minutes to read the whole article. It may very well help you to grow in godliness.

From obscure peasant and condemned criminal to King of the World

Cross HillHe was born in an obscure village as the child of an unmarried teenage peasant. He grew up in another obscure village, where he worked as a carpenter until the age of 30. At the age of 33, after a brief public ministry during which he gathered a small band of followers, he was betrayed by one of them, abandoned by them all, arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. He died in the most humiliating, painful form of execution that humanity has ever devised, hanging on a cross between two common criminals on a hill just outside a small town. He died homeless and destitute – executed as a criminal, mocked by his enemies, abandoned by his friends, buried in a borrowed grave.

And now, over the next few days, countless millions of people all over the world will gather to worship Jesus of Nazareth as the Creator of the universe, the King of the world, and the Saviour of humanity. His life, death and resurrection will be proclaimed as the central events in human history.

“Today Jesus is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind’s progress. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together, have not affected the life of mankind on earth as powerfully as that one solitary life.” (James Francis, ‘One Solitary Life’)

It’s worth asking Why.

Creating a Culture of Evangelism – Mack Stiles Podcast

Mack Stiles PortraitMack Stiles, author of Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus and Marks of the Messenger, on promoting the gospel and creating an effective, Christ-centred culture of evangelism in your ministry.

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Mack may be the most passionate and naturally gifted evangelist I’ve ever met. He’s the author of five books, including Marks of the Messenger and Speaking of Jesus. This week, at the Together For The Gospel (T4G) Conference in Kentucky, Mack will launch his latest book – Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus. Born and bred in America, he now lives with his wife Leeann in Dubai, UAE, where he is CEO of Gulf Digital Solutions and General Secretary for the Fellowship of Christian UAE students. Read more of this post

Ten Resolutions of an Introverted Christian


Reading TogetherI will define myself as a Christian, not an introvert
Myers-Briggs may say that I’m an INFJ. Gallup may think they know my Top Five Strengths. There are all kinds of ways to categorise ‘me’. But what truly defines me? What goes to the heart of who I am? I’m a Christian. I’m a follower of Jesus, and a new creation. I’m saved by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus – being conformed to the image of Jesus by God’s gracious work in me.

We can say lots of true things about ourselves, but personality tests or traits will never ultimately define any follower of Jesus. Our identity is found in him. We are Christians first. Read more of this post

Why You Must Always Exaggerate

MegaphoneOver the years, many teachers and preachers of God’s word have shaped the way I understand the Bible, the world, and myself. Easily the most important have been those who pastored me personally – who led the churches or ministries of which I was a member. People who knew me, invested in me, and shared their lives with me.

But there have also been many teachers and preachers outside my local ministries – authors, conference speakers, and various other leaders – who have played an enormous role in shaping my thinking and my life. Some are people I’ve come to know well; some are people I’m yet to meet. Some are the ‘big name’ authors and speakers that everyone knows; some serve in relative obscurity.

As I look back and consider why people I barely know have influenced me, a number of factors emerge. But for now, I want to mention one common characteristic among those who’ve impacted my thinking: a willingness to state the truth in bold and challenging ways. Put another way: a willingness and ability to exaggerate. Read more of this post

Getting Things Done, God’s Way

What's Best Next Cover

What’s Best Next
b
y Matt Perman
Zondervan, 352 pages
Amazon | Book Depository

I admit that I’ve always been a bit skeptical about books on productivity. I don’t really know why, but I think I just assumed that reading a whole book and developing a comprehensive system for ‘time management’ was overkill. Surely all it needs is a bit of common sense, right? After all, I already make to-do lists, I have a diary and a basic weekly schedule, and I take time out to make sure that what I do gels with my overall goals.

Still, in the back of my mind, I knew I should get around to reading one of the books that everyone recommends. I’d seen the way books like Getting Things Done (David Allen) or First Things First (Stephen Covey) had helped my friends. I’d just never been quite motivated enough to make the time for it myself. Read more of this post

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