Christ’s loss for my gain

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, 

cast off that I might be brought in,

trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend,

surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best,

stripped that I might be clothed, 

wounded that I might be healed,

athirst that I might drink,

tormented that I might be comforted,

made a shame that I might inherit glory, 

entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,

groaned that I might have endless song,

endured all pain that I might have unfading health,

bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem, 

bowed his head that I might uplift mine, 

experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,

closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,

expired that I might forever live.


From “Love Lustres at Calvary,” The Valley of Vision, p.76-77



St David’s Day

1 March – St David’s Day.

Even google has a Welsh doodle

Those who know me will know I’m not the most patriotic Welshman you could bump into.  I’m sure I’ll cheer the men in red shirts in the 6 Nations rugby for as long as I’ll live, but my sense of Welsh identity is weak and right now I’ve lived as much of my life in England as I have in Wales.

For every 10 things I could list that I admire about Wales, I could list at least another 20 that frustrate and infuriate me.

But I do know Wales is a nation that desperately needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Wales needs men who will unflinchingly preach the good news of a crucified, risen and exalted Christ.  Wales needs men and women who are ready to weep over and with their non believing friends, and who are ready to die for their Saviour King.  Wales desperately needs God’s Spirit to own his word and work and awaken a hard, proud, comfortable, deluded nation.

Wales is no different to England, Ireland or Scotland in any of the ways above.

But on St. David’s Day, pray for the work of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Wales.

Acting as though faith in Yahweh alone were an impractical policy for life

In words that might be addressed to so much of 21st century Western Evangelicalism, Ortlund Jr.comments on Old Testament Israel’s spiritual adultery as found in the book of Hosea,

The people failed to make meaningful connections between 
their theology, history and worship, on the one hand, and their 
real-life problems, on the other hand. They put God, his
 covenant, his power, his wisdom, into a limiting category of
 thought – they could not bring themselves really to believe the
 assurance of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 – while ‘the real world’ was 
another category altogether with its own rules and its own 
resources. They acted as though faith in Yahweh alone were an
 impracticable policy for life. As a result, they dishonoured him
 even as they thought they continued to honour him.

Moreover, unalloyed, classical Yahwism was losing its compelling power among the people. It was being redefined with fewer
 sharp edges and more open doors as a broadly inclusive
 religion, increasingly tolerant of elements of paganism.

(Ortlund Jr, Whoredom: God’s Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology, 48)

You shall read the NIV 2011

With another Christianity Explored course beginning next week, this morning I went to order some new NIV Bibles to hand out to those on the course, as is our usual practice.

Clearly I’ve not been paying enough attention when it comes to the world according to the NIV.

I’ve known about the recent release of the NIV 2011, and I’ve also known about the updates and issues involved with the new translation for some time.  Many of these revolve around more dynamic equivalence of meaning and the increased gender-neutral language within the NIV 2011. What I wasn’t aware of until now is that the NIV 2011 is actually a replacement for the NIV 1984 (original ed.) which is no longer being produced.

When your old NIV breaths its last, you won’t be able to buy a direct replacement.

If only I’d read Trevin Wax’s comments 18 months ago.

Whatever the pro’s and con’s of the new translation we’re being forced to make a choice by the publisher, Zondervan. Either find another translation or use the new NIV 2011 with it’s changes.  The one choice individual Christians and churches are not being given is to keep using the NIV 1984 text.

Personally I’d like to see our church using the ESV (English Standard Version) as it’s main pew Bible.  Lots of our younger people already use it.

But I’m not persuaded that as a church we’re in a place where we are ready to consider changing to use a different Bible translation at present.

That’s a situation that Zondervan have now made a great deal more difficult and I’m sure we won’t be the only church faced with this issue.

What is man’s primary purpose?

At church last night we began looking at the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a series of questions with answers focusing on the Christian faith which were completed in 1647.

If you want to look at / print off the 107 questions of the catechism for yourself you can find the original version here, and if you are really cool you’ll find an updated English version here.

The first question and answer of the catechism is also without doubt the most well know

Question: What is the chief end of man? (What is man’s primary purpose?)

Answer: Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  

And as John Piper has helpfully stated,

Is God in hell?

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. – Matthew 25:41

Last Sunday evening I got into a conversation where the question arose as to whether God is in hell or if hell is the place of separation from God.  It may seem from Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:41 and 7:23 that hell is the place where God is not. Many assume hell is the place of separation from God’s presence, but the Bible speaks of God being present in different ways in different locations.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” – Matthew 18:19-20

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. – John 14:16-17

Continue reading

Heard the one about Jesus, Mohammed and the BBC?

You can read about Mark Thompson’s recent interview on the BBC and religious bias here, or if you want to see the whole interview yourself then head on over here.

If I’m hearing him right there’s a complete lack of logical consistency in Mr Thompson’s  explanation as to why it can be permissible to offend Christians but not Muslims in the UK

During his defence of why he thought it acceptable to show Jerry Springer: The Opera on the BBC he effectively makes the two following statements:

  • because Islam is a minority held view in the UK we need to take extra care we do not cause offence
  • because Evangelical Christianity as expressed by the group ‘Christian Voice’ is a minority held view in the UK we need not pay too much attention if offence is caused

Go figure!  Romans 1:21-22

Helping the poor – feeling or doing good?

Christianity Today addresses the issue of effective ways to fight poverty in it’s latest issue.  It highlights the problem that so often we give to feel good rather than to do good.  In the article, “Cost Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor,” economists specialising in analysing development programs were asked to rate from 0-10 some of the most common poverty interventions in terms of their impact and cost-effectiveness.

It’s an interesting list and worth at least a few minutes reflection as you sip your Fairtrade coffee – or perhaps not.

1. Get clean water to rural villages (Rating: 8.3)
2. Fund de-worming treatments for children (Rating: 7.8)
3. Provide mosquito nets (Rating: 7.3)
4. Sponsor a child (Rating: 6.9)
5. Give wood-burning stoves (Rating: 6.0)
6. Give a micro-finance loan (Rating 4.2)
7. Fund reparative surgeries (Rating: 3.9)
8. Donate a farm animal (Rating 3.8)
9. Drink fair-trade coffee (Rating. 1.9)
10. Give a kid a laptop (1.8)