30.9.19

A Statement of Faith

  1. Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, and apart from Him the true God can not fully be known, worshipped, or acknowledged. Jesus is fully revealed as the God who is love and whose gospel is peace. 
  2.  Salvation is by faith in the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from all human works and character. It is by Grace we are saved not by works, it is a gift from God, obtained through faith. 
  3. It is the supreme obligation of every saved person to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. We will fail no doubt often in this for we are mere humans - but our aim should be holiness. The two golden rules are to love God and love each other (even to love enemies). This is the kind of active faith that can change the world for the better.

 These three points are the pillars of my faith - the deity of Christ, salvation by faith in Him, obedience to His word. Do you believe these three things and if not why not take it into consideration?


What in the world?

"Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God." (From the Message paraphrase of Phil 2).

"What in the world?"

It is the phrase that comes to mind during family, school ground, work place, media and halls of power politics, alike.

In the world where joy is stolen by human bad behaviour.

In the world where fights and arguments break out daily from the home to the halls of power.

In this world we are to be lights. To show it a more excellent way.

This is no easy task, but by His grace may each of us be able to respond to "What in the world?" with a glimpse of another world.

A better world.



28.9.19

The Poor Man

We hid him.

The poor man.

His existence challenged our comfortable lives.

A prophet speaks out.

The vipers take him out, on our wicked behalf.

We say, "not in our name", but... How can the prophets compassionate humanity be tolerated when it challenges us this much?

Like trees with no fruit our true colours show.

We store up.

Moth and rust still win.

The grass withers and the leaf fades.

A puff of smoke, a vapour.

This to shall pass.

The empires crumble and fall.

Even the ecclesiastical tyrants meet their maker.

The rich shall inherit the grave.

Earth is for the others.




27.9.19

Good Friday

Scene 1 (The upper room): Take the bread. Take the cup. Be blessed. Foot washing. A final meal, a humble farewell.

Scene 2 (Betrayal): Watch with me! Bleeding tears. Anguish in prayer. Betrayed with a kiss.

Scene 3 (Peter and friends): Promises broken. Tearful regrets. Denial.

Scene 4 (The cross): A tear drop falls from the cross. A dying man's cry. The earth shakes. The temple trembles in the presence of God.

Scene 5 (Empty tomb): A king rises from the dark. The grave abandoned. Nature blooms in the presence of it's God. The victory accomplished!


26.9.19

Three Sixteen

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16 - 18)

What is the context?
In Theological College they often emphasised the importance of context when reading and applying scriptures. So the context is this: Everything was created by God. Jesus was the inspiration. He was at the beginning. There was harmony. The light was come into the world. But, the world didn't recognise him. (See Jn 1:1-3, 9). Humanity had a wonderful relationship with God and was appointed as earth's stewards. It was amazingly good. We had life (knowledge & experience of Him) purpose (stewardship of earth/creation) and choice (free will). (Gen 1:26-31) But, by humanity's choice this relationship was broken by rebellion. Amazingly good to amazingly bad. That story continues now in these verses.

John 3:16 is considered one of the most famous verses in the Bible. In the verse we find word of love, a benevolent Father and Son and a choice.

What is the object of God's love?
We the world are the object of God's love. His vast as oceans self-giving love.

What does he give?
He gives His Son. He gives Himself. In the words of Jesus "I and the Father are one." I don't subscribe to the notion that the Father turned His face away. Or if He did it would have been with tears of empathy and compassion, not in wrath or separation. Indeed even earthly Father's would also suffer if they sacraficed their son for others. The whole Trinity is concerned for us to be saved.

"Each of the three Persons in the blessed Trinity is concerned with our salvation: with the Father it is predestination; with the Son propitiation; with the Spirit regeneration. The Father chose us; the Son died for us; the Spirit quickens us."
- A. W. Pink (1886-1952)

Why the sacrafice?
To save us from our sin and rebellion and the inevitable consequences thereof.

What future will you choose?
You have free will, you have a choice. We all know all things are perishing. Those who don't believe are condemned already. It is like an illness that has spread to all humanity, but has a cure. The cure needs to be applied. The word perish means to be cut off from God. Without Jesus humanity is automatically condemned, cut off. With Jesus salvation is on offer. Instead of loss of life eternal life is on offer. His permanent presence. The ultimate cure. A gift and invitation from the giving reconciling Father is presented to you.

Belief is the pivot. (See Col 1:19,20). God desires all things are to be reconciled to Himself. Those who are in this new heaven and new earth have trusted in Christ alone for salvation and not in their own "righteousness." Choose life, choose Christ.


25.9.19

His Kingdom Come

Where is Hope?

The Saviour:"Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

The Martyr: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

The Prophet: "The Kings of the earth are a vanity, the nations are as a drop in a bucket."

The Charlatan and Jester: "Make the mortal vanity and dust of empire great again. We are the greatest" wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The Saints: "His kingdom come."

The Sinners: "All hail the wind", grasp, grasp, grasp.

The Philosopher: "Are we looking to earthly authorities and powers or above?"

The Saviour: "My kingdom is not of this world... all authority in heaven and in earth has been given to me...heaven and earth pass away, but my word is forever."

The Prophet: "Of the increase of His government there shall be no end."

There is Hope!*


*Notes and verses of interest: Kingdom - Mtt 24:14, Col 1:14, There is an eternal kingdom and the great king is God - Dan 4: 3, 34, The kingdom is for members of all peoples, for the saints who gain not only forgiveness but citizenship - Dan 7:14, 27, It is a kingdom of peace and justice unlike war like kingdoms of earth - Is 9:7, Entry is supplied by Jesus who makes His people citizens - 2 Peter 1:11, The currency of the kingdom is the light of His love - Col 1:12-14


24.9.19

One Thing

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4: 7, 8)

Hiding the poor,
Killing the prophets,
Generation of vipers,
Trees that bear no fruit.
The grass withers and the leaf fades.
A puff of smoke, a vapour.
Empires crumble and fall.
One thing remains.
His name is LOVE.


23.9.19

Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46:10)

Once there was an old man who took his grandson a walk in the countryside. The old man's face was creased with wrinkles. Like the rings inside an ancient log tree, each signified age and wisdom. The man, to the boys surprise stopped suddenly. He was calm, so calm the boy didn't feel it right to interrupt this moment of solititude. 'Listen', the old man said. The boy listened. At first he could hear nothing but his own racing thoughts. 'Truly listen', the man said sensing the boys difficulty. So he tried again. He closed his eyes, took a breath and opened them again. 'I hear it', he whispered. They both fell silent again and listened to the gentle winds and the birds in the trees, and further a field the beautiful sound of a babbling brook. Then they listened to silence itself. 'This my child is real worship.' 'To Jesus?' 'To Jesus.'


22.9.19

If we render unto God...

If we render unto God all the things that belong to God, there would be nothing left for Caesar' (Dorothy Day)

I find Dorothy Day's interpretation excellent when it comes to the possible meaning of Mark 12:17. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them." (NLT) What if the whole point is that he (Caesar, 'the man') owns nothing? Sure he'll have his coin for a time, but not for long. He can have his stinking taxes. Will it bring him glory? Will it lift his empire to be greater than the Kingdom of God? "No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand." (Is 40:15 NLT)


20.9.19

Love, love, love

"All you need is love", the song says, "all you need is love." A simple yet hard truth. A Rabbi once said "Love, the rest is commentary." Yet we struggle in our own strength. In order to truly love God (who is love) and others (who are all created in His image), we best ask Him to be love through us, to be our strength.

"Beware of works religion", I hear the hardcore preacher say. Well, let's be very clear, all Christians are called to love and this manifests in fruit. Indeed we are saved by God's grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. But, this is not so we may warm pews and ignore a broken and needy world at our doorstep.

"Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell;
I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell."—C. T. Studd

God has saved us for a purpose, His purpose. He has called us to love and good deeds. To be lights in the darkness. To love as He does. Let us Love, love, love!

Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV):
"And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."


19.9.19

He watches over us

“He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11

Lately I haven't posted anything here due to being fairly busy. Busy in a good way. On the 17th September 2019 God blessed my wife and I with a baby girl and Ezra with a baby sister. Both Mum and Baby are doing well, though being kept in hospital for some issues. So proud and full of love for them both.

We announced our new arrival online as follows:
"We are absolutely delighted to announce that our daughter Lilianna Blanche Holdsworth was born today at 2:45pm weighing 6lbs13oz. She is just beautiful."

I don't have an in depth reflection for today or anything particularly creative to write. My only thought for now is that God watches over His people. I could never have imagined years ago that at some point I would be married to my childhood sweetheart (well teen hood anyway). Nor that I would one day have a baby boy and baby girl. It has been an incredible adventure so far. In it all at various points it does seem that God or His angels have been there with us on our journeys together.

The verse I opened with appeared in my memories on Facebook from 6 years ago. It was a blessing to stumble upon it again today.

I am eternally grateful that He will command His angels concerning us to guard us in all our ways.




17.9.19

Rest and be thankful

I had a lovely walk with my beautiful wee boy recently. He did very well, being carried and walking all the way. Next time, however, I will choose a different route or perhaps take a buggy. Duddingston is a beautiful old vintage village in Edinburgh. The architecture is very old world. Our first stop was Dr Neil's Gardens. Full of lovely stone paths and pretty flowers, set in the midst of a wildlife reserve. We didn't have enough cash so didn't manage to sample from the cafe, but will next time hopefully. We visited the old Kirk and picked up a couple of bookmarks made by Amos Christian Trust, who also made Ezra's dedication invites this year. After that we journeyed past the Sheep's Heid up a hill to the community gardens where there are apple trees and chickens. We came here when he was even smaller and just started to walk (picture below). We kept going up the hill stopping at a bench with a sign that fittingly said "Rest and be thankful" which is what we did. The view was amazing, but the route we finally took down revealed a much more incredible view of the ocean and another Edinburgh skyline. We entered a more modern part of the village and to a local shop for snacks before heading home. The rain managed to stay off through out. It is a beautiful walk and I recommend it to anyone who is able. The phrase "Rest and be thankful" also lingered much of that day in my thoughts. It is sound advice.

16.9.19

The still small voice

"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." - 1 Kings 19:10,11

The Still Small Voice:

God was in the still small voice.

In my travels I have encountered worship styles that are so varied. Lately I have been thinking of the loud nature of much worship in contemporary churches (both preaching and song). Whilst not being opposed to this style I have found that at times it has been draining. It may be my inner introvert or it may simply just be that the season of loud is over for me at this time. Either way it seems that my heart yearns for the calm, the gentle, the peaceful. It reminds me of verses in Kings that speak of Elijah seeking God.

In summary:
The winds came.
God was not in that wind.
The earth shook.
God was not in that shaking.
The fire came.
God was not in that fire.
God was in the still small voice.

Some additional thoughts:

The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God doesn't always have to be dramatic or loud. It is also of note seeming silence from God does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Something we all should take heed of. There is further more a parallel here to the voice of judgement and the voice of grace. Judgement can be loud and frightening while Grace is often a gentle whisper. Elijah's experience was such a long time ago, but today we can also be assured God is still speaking. This largely happens through scriptures and things that line up with scripture. How God speaks to us is perhaps less important than if and what God speaks to us. The beautiful thing is God still speaks. Let us truly listen to his voice.


Notes on Cosmic Agape

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 ESV

(Audio



Notes on Cosmic Agape:

Abba is generous to his people. Three times He gives us heaven: At Eden, at Calvary, and in Eternity.

In the story of Noahs Ark one man and his family were saved in a wooden vessel. Others perished refusing to be saved.

At the Cross one man dies on a wooden Cross to save the human family. He is not willing that any should perish. Though, alas, some may choose to.

The heart of Abba is Agape. Jesus His beloved son says he is one with the Father. In effect one son volunteers to be a sacrafice to have a shot at saving all the other children. He knows there is one way. In the garden he asks the cup to pass from Him if there is any other way. But, in that moment He knows Abba's will, that humanity be given a chance.

Would we be so brave?

The Father is not willing that any should perish, even if it costs. The trinity is a community. So Abba suffers with the son. He does not turn His face away. Each lash, jibe, and nail he feels. Just as any father who is good would.
Would we be so brave?

There is a call to all of humanity to:
Believe in the Father's love (agape).
Recieve the Father's love (agape).
Reflect the Father's love (agape) to God and others.

Will you be so brave?
How will you respond?

"O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Spread his praise from shore to shore;
how he loveth, ever loveth,
changeth never, nevermore;
how he watches o'er his loved ones,
died to call them all his own;
how for them he intercedeth,
watcheth o'er them from the throne."
- S. Trevor Francis