I’m coming to the end of two years as secretary for Bangor CU. It’s been a journey. It’s been a rollercoaster. There have been times where my depression has been so bad that I haven’t been able to get out of bed. Stress is a major trigger to my depression, so what with being a third year student who has a dissertation to write and some kind of future plan to form, life has been a bit of a struggle for me recently. You might be asking why I carried on with committee. It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. But it’s been such a blessing.
Lovely testimony from Katie Middleton.
Lovely stuff from Neil Powell:
I don’t think for a moment that Paul wants us to see the purpose of the Christian life as pay back to God. The problem I have is that it is pretty instinctive to want to pay back what I owe, and to begin to apply that to our relationship with God. So can I ask whether your Christian service begins to function in that way for you? Ever tempted to think that way? I owe God and therefore what he wants of me is to pay him back.
The problem, friends, is that when our drivers are duty, or even guilt, our very ministry begins to be a denial of the gospel. It’s actually putting the gospel in reverse. When Paul says that you and I have a debt to God he is not using guilt or duty to motivate your service. You see the secret of the gospel, I’m just beginning to discover, is that the right place for us to be, the only place for us to be, is forever in Jesus’ debt.
“O to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wand’ring heart to thee.”
Brilliant short answer from John Piper on why emotions are crucial in the Christian life.
My top secular books of 2013 – not necessarily those published this year (as will be apparent) but those I read for the first time this year. Related: Top Christian books of 2013.
My top Christian books of 2013. Related: Top secular books of 2013.
Honourable mentions go to Tim Chester’s Unreached, Richard Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed, Phil Ryken’s Loving the way Jesus loves, and Christopher Ash’s Bible Delight. The latter two are brilliant books for daily devotions.
This year I’ve been reminded constantly of how appropriate it is that we celebrate Christmas in the depths of winter.
First there was Glen Scrivener’s video:
Then there was his beautiful entry “He shines in the dark“.
Then there were the storms. Bad weather reminding us that this world is broken, is groaning (Rom 8:22), is not as it should be.
Then there was the fourth century theologian Athanasius, and his work “On the incarnation“. He tells us why Jesus came as a man:
[N]ow [the Word] entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us… He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own… He, the Mighty One, the Maker of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own…
Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
Winter is a time of long nights, of dim days, of barren trees and fallen leaves. It’s a time of darkness. And it’s into this world that Jesus enters—not the sunny summers where everything seems right, but into a world marked by sin and darkness. Whether we’re mired in sin, facing the unknown, or feeling distant from God, in the midst of our darkness, Jesus comes as Light.
It’s typical at this time of year to reflect back on the past twelve months and look forward to the next. For me, a lot of things are up in the air. I don’t know what the future holds.
But I do know who holds the future. He’s the one who entered into the darkness in order to bring us through to the light. Where he goes, we will follow. Glory!
This is absolutely beautiful from Glen:
I preached again on Christmas in dark places. Afterwards a woman told me she’d buried her husband that week. Another man told me his daughter had just lost her child in labour. Another spoke of a divorce this year. Everyone agreed Christmas was hard.
At the end I spoke to Barry. I took his hand and he grasped it hard. He whispered a phrase. I pulled in even closer: “Say again Barry?” He said it again. I thought I caught it but I wanted to make sure. Now my ear is right by his lips. “One more time Barry?”
“He shines in the dark.”
Oh, what glorious news this is!
I love this from Scott Oliphint:
Even before the entrance of sin, God condescended, in His Son, to speak to Adam and Eve, and to walk in the Garden. This condescension of God, in the person of His Son, was a constant pledge of the relationship to man, the covenant, that God had unilaterally established.
But then the sin of man ruined everything. Left to itself, the world would be a place where it was “always winter.” Yet the LORD God refused to let creation languish. Even with the devastating effects of sin, this now man-mangled habitat would not be “always winter.” In His grace, the Lord determined, according to His own redemptive time-table, to fight against and conquer the sin that we brought upon ourselves and on the rest of His creation.