Tag Archive: cross


a sense of loss

My colleague and close friend Carl Taylor, founder and visionary of Faith Hope and Enterprise, died earlier this month.

Carl was a quite remarkable man. Someone of whom, in my estimation, the world was not worthy.

His compassion for the poor and his commitment to helping people turn their lives around against the odds was absolute. He enabled people to overcome abusive childhoods, mental health illness, learning disabilities, addictions and their past offending behaviour to find a meaningful place in society. He worked for the benefit of others at tremendous cost to himself.

Even in hospital, in the last week of his life, he would talk to me about the future of the company and the people we currently work with. He never once switched off.

He was the kind of man who said it the way he saw it. He could be uncompromising and intimidating. He was honest. He lived out the call of God on his life for the whole of his life. In the last days we remembered God’s promises to “make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15), “to proclaim good news to the poor…to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah 61:1,2).

We remembered the promise of Jesus to the man next to him on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43). I know that Carl has also heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Friendships like ours don’t happen very often in life. We were open hearted with each other, we shared common values and purpose, we felt that God had brought us together for a reason and we pursued that vision with everything we had.

I will miss him. I will miss his warmth and his love. I will miss his humour and his clarity of thought. I will miss his wisdom and understanding.

Carl leaves an amazing legacy in the lives of the many people that he supported and the many different projects and enterprises that he was involved with. His vision continues and his ministry lives on.

Well done, my friend.

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the gospel works!

We live in a changing world.  It seems that everything is changing – and changing at an increasing pace.  Websites are regularly re-designed (I do the same with my blog I know!) company logos and strap-lines change, TV title sequences and theme music change and company products are constantly labelled as “new”. 

It’s as if we are rejecting anything that is old.  But not everything we are familiar with needs to be changed.

The gospel works.  It doesn’t need to be made new or re-branded.  We need to tell it not sell it. 

This morning at Jubilee we heard a really simple presentation of the gospel.  At least 15 people were healed (we had some stories of what God was doing as the morning went on) and 11 people made first time commitments to Jesus.  It wasn’t hyped or heavy.  It was the simple story of  God who loves us.

We need to learn to be confident in the gospel.  It is after all, “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes,” (Romans 1:16).  I think that sometimes we lose confidence in that.  It’s such an old message – can it still work?  Yes it can.  And in my experience, it does.  And it’s right to expect the message to be supported by miracles.  That seemed to be the norm for Jesus and it can be the norm for us too.

Have confidence in the gospel and in the power of the name of Jesus. 

Tell your story, tell God’s story.  It may be an old one but it’s still the most powerful story out there.

what a great day!

Good Friday.  What a great day.  It’s not that we ever forget the cross, but it’s great to reach the day in the calendar when we most reflect upon it.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness.” 1 Peter 2:24.

What happened on this day?  Jesus took upon himself all our sin, and all God’s wrath – justly and righteously directed against our sin – so that what?  So that we could live for righteousness.

“He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit,” Romans 8:4.

Suddenly, through Spirit empowered living, the burden of old covenant commandments – “You shall not steal” – become promises to be enjoyed; you shall not steal.  What was once so difficult to obey – “You shall have no other gods before me” – becomes a guarantee; “You shall have no other gods before me”.

Why?  Because the purpose of the cross – the place where Jesus, “disarmed the powers and authorities, (and) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them,” (Colossians 2:15)  was to win for the Father a people who would bring Him honour and glory through the power of their holy living.

Jesus didn’t die so that we could have a good life – although life in relationship with God is very good.  He didn’t die so that we could have eternal life – although everyone who believes in Him does have eternal life.  And He didn’t die so that we could be wealthy – although we do have treasures in heaven.

Jesus died so that we could bring honour and glory to God.  That’s our purpose now, our reason for being.  And it was made possible by the cross.  What a great day.

God is unfailing

We were singing a song in our meeting this morning which described God as “unfailing.”  It’s an unusual word isn’t it?  So in what ways is God unfailing?

  • God’s character is unfailing.  We all know what it’s like to experience a moral failure.  Those times when we do something, or fail to do something, which we later regret.  I watched an interview with Tiger Woods this week.  He is nervous about playing at The Masters next month because he doesn’t know how people will respond to him.  How they will respond now that they have discovered he is not the man that they thought he was.  That will never happen with God.  There will never be a day when we find out that God is not who He has told us He is.  There are no skeletons in His closet (or His tomb!)  Everything God does is shaped by His unfailing character – He is always loving, just, merciful, gracious, true, holy, good, righteous and full of peace.  He always is and He always will be.
  • God’s plans and promises are unfailing.  If God says He is going to do something, He will do it.  If someone makes a promise you have to consider two things.  Firstly, do they want to do what they have said and secondly do they have the power (or ability) to do what they have said?  God doesn’t make plans and promises that He doesn’t intend to keep (“we must do lunch – I’ll call you!”) and He has the power to do everything He wants to do.  So when God says He will never let you go, that means He will never let you go.  And if God has said that He will heal you, then He will heal you.  And if God has spoken to you about the things He will do in your life then He will do them.  Maybe the timing is not as you hoped and maybe the path you are walking is not what you had imagined but God’s plans and promises are unfailing.  So hang on in there.
  • The blood of Jesus is unfailing.  The blood of Jesus is sufficient for the forgiveness of your sins.  It may be that you feel you have now done something so awful that it is unforgivable, that God cannot still love you and be willing to forgive you.  Or that you have sinned so many times, tripped over the same temptation so often, that the offer of forgiveness no longer applies to you.  Well – it does still apply to you.  Because, “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7) and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,”  (1 John 1:9).  That’s good news – God cannot fail to forgive you if you trust in the unfailing blood of Jesus.

It was really good this morning to be reminded of these things.  However you’re feeling, whatever you’re experiencing, you can be sure of this:  God is unfailing.  You can trust Him.  HIs character, His plans, His promises and His blood will never fail.  What an amazing God.

restoration

When a youg guy asks his dad for the money he can only really expect to get when the old man dies and then he squanders it, what does his father do?  If the father is God, he welcomes his son back as soon as the young man comes to his senses, (Luke 15:11-32).

If a friend is caught in sin, what do we aim for?   “You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness,” (Galatians 6:1).

And when we think about God as our shepherd, we can be thankful that not only does He lead us to green pastures and still waters but that He also restores our soul (Psalm 23).

Because although we worship a holy God who punishes sin and allows us to experience its consequences, He also loves us and longs to re-establish relationship with us.  Ultimately, He paid the highest price in order to do that.  Because of Jesus, there is nothing in all creation that can separate us  from the love of God. 

And the cross is thoroughly in keeping with God’s approach to people throughout history.  Because throughout the bible we read a story of God taking the initiative to restore His people.  In the section of judges that I’ve been looking at over the last few weeks it says simply that, “The LORD raised up judges who saved them,”  (Judges 2:16).  It’s the fourth stage of a cycle: rebellion, retribution, repentance, restoration and rest.

But even though we live in a restored relationship with God through faith in Jesus, we still need to appropriate the forgiveness that’s available to us.  We still sin.  We still need to put that right.  How do we do that?  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9.

It’s a fantastic promise.  It’s guaranteed.  When we have messed up, we can be restored. With God and with each other.

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