Tag Archive: christian

Letting nostalgia define our vision…

antique2Habakkuk’s cry in his prophecy is a stirring inspiration for prayer, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?”  Those words, “HOW LONG? are deeply emotive. I think God wants them in our peripheral vision.  They are more than nostalgia, they are a cry for God’s intervention.  It is a prayer that God intends to answer.

The church may at times suffer from revival-promise fatigue i and needs gently encouraging. Such lassitude ii is not what you need when it comes to gaining, or strengthening a scripture-honouring vision for God’s purpose for ourselves and for the Church. So what’s the answer?

Mirriam Webster defined Nostalgia as, “a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition”. The New Testament is full of the drama of God. It was an exciting time to live – more so (and perhaps only)if you were one of the disciples.  In the midst of the political, social and economic upheaval of the day living under Roman rule, in the fullness of time, comes the hero of all hero’s in the person of Jesus.

His mission as God rescuing man from God, destroying the works of the evil one and reconciling man to God was a truly phenomenal one.  Accompanying it was audacious, powerful and amazing miracles, signs, wonders, wisdom, expressions of love and grace.   Lavish, infinite grace.

The preaching was crystal clear, unambiguous, challenging and emancipating.  Another good word.   Add to the mix shortly after Jesus’ ministry, the Mensa level teaching, preaching and exhortation of Paul as he inspires the Church with the epistles, gazing without blinking at time and history, interpreting Jesus’ very actions, the agenda of the God-man and the eternal mystery of the trinity.    Without trying too hard.

The teaching, the preaching, the signs and wonders – the very presence of God; and then there are the countless thousands upon thousands of people who came to Christ, these are what forms our ocean-deep nostalgia.

That’s why our stories are profoundly important.  Look back into history and see them there, standing tall in every generation.  Remember, retell – imagine what it was like. The sounds, the smells, the excitement and the astonishment, not forgetting the tears of repentance and uncontainable joy.   Remember Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Whitfield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones,  Stott… The list goes on and on as a tribute to the redemptive glory of Jesus the Christ. No one compares with Him.

If there is a vision we require for the future it has to be one that is borne out of the nostalgia of Biblical and Church history, wrapped carefully, thoughtfully and enthusiastically with the promise of Isaiah 43:19.   Look back at all the old stories of what God did in the past and allow God to begin to impart a fresh, invigorating vision of what He can do with and through you, your family, your Church and for others.

It’s a brilliant day – because it’s full of potential. He is the good of provision, protection goodness, love and breakthrough – and His faithfulness has no frontiers.

  1. The prophetic encouragement to the church, that God is going to send revival and that the church needs to keep praying and seeking God, can be met with dismay, disappointment and disillusionment if after a long period they are still hearing the same message – but not seeing anything significant in their midst  (back)
  2. my favourite new word  (back)

The missing word

finallyI’ve been musing over King David’s brilliant enroute-to-Jerusalem worship lyrics, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133)

It’s a short song, inspiring and contemplative – and based on David’s interpretation of Exodus 30:23-25.

Today, we would probably include 1 Corinthians 13:13 in the song. Love certainly is a good way of understanding what an expression of unity is.  What we need to grasp perhaps is, “fargin” the Yidish word meaning, ‘to glow with pride at the success of others’.  It’s a word that is certainly worthy of being adopted  straight into our Christian vocabulary!

If we are to dwell together in unity then we must be rooting for each other.  It is a ‘grace-imperative’. The unity that it points to in Psalm 133 expresses an assertive hint about collegiate relationship, trust, openness, mutual respect, vision, transparency and vulnerability. And more than anything, humility.

When an Israeli says, “lefargen” it means to not begrudge the success or well-being of someone else, it’s a positive way of expressing the satisfaction one can feel with another’s happiness. It’s what happens when we pray for each other, for other churches that they would have the blessing of the Lord on them (Proverbs 10:22)

The problem is, not only is there no word in modern Hebrew to approximate the fargin of Yiddish, but there is also a lack of this attitude in much of our individualistic society. It’s an unhealthy position and we have to take positive steps to ensure that we avoid the pitfalls.

In developing a culture of honour and preferring one another as we grow together as God’s alternative community we need to intentionally fargin what God is doing – celebrating everything that God is doing in our midst.  It is very easy to focus on what is not happening, and miss the deep, wonderful, life-transforming blessings of God that are happening, and not always announced from the rooftops.

Bless God with an authentic heart-fargin for everything that God is doing in the lives of those around you and in the Churches near you! In so doing you will be like Paul the apostle who was constantly thanking God and praising Him for all that he heard from the Churches that He was working with.

Fargin may be a missing word, but the attitude can be alive in our midst as we work out our salvation together, in fear and trembling. What an awesome God!

    What Will God Be Like in 100 Years?

    foiTNb4V0IiwjpX3BgFFOw_rThe pace of change today is simply breathtaking. Nothing and no-one is exempt, the only thing  guaranteed for the future is there will be yet more change. In the face of the dark days we are in it is a grim and sobering venture as we face the challenges and opportunities of the years to come.

    The apostle Paul was mindful of the effects of change in his lifetime declaring, “the world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor 7:31) What will life be like 100 years from now? We can barely imagine what it will be like in fiver years time!  We change, our cities and culture certainly changes, but what about God?

    What will God be like in 100 years?

    You don’t have to be a prophet to predict that in 2116, 100 years from now – God’s love will be infinitely transcendent.

    Due to the shallow romanticism of secular culture, we tend to view the love of God in the same way popular music, art, television drams and literature view love. 1 John 4:7-11 gives us this brilliant statement with respect to the love of God:

    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…. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his only Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

    The apostle John reaches out with the urgent admonition for Christians to love one another in the very character of God.  “Love is from God,” he tells us.

    He will be pouring love into our hearts…

    What he means is that Christian love comes from God Himself. This love is not natural to fallen humanity. We do not have it as a default position in our character!  It originates in God and is a divine gift only to His people. When we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given a capacity for this supernatural love that has God as its source and foundation. It is a love that is flowing from Him to Him.

    When John says that “whoever loves has been born of God and knows God,” he is not teaching that every human being who loves another is therefore born of God. It is much more than that.

    The kind of love of which he speaks comes only from regeneration, being born-again and transformed by the work of the Spirit of God. Without the Holy Spirit’s deep, penetrating transformation of the human heart, no one has this capacity for love. No unsaved person has this kind of love, and no saved person lacks such love –  “Anyone who does not love [in this manner] does not know God.”

    He will still be Love…

    John does not stop there. Not only is love from God but God is love.

    This is the key the staggering truth of what God will be like in 2116 – He will be exactly as He is now. Not the slightest change will have occurred.

    Love is such an intimate aspect or attribute of the character of God, that He is not just loving, but He is love. It is who He is, and not just what He does. That is the difference between us. We are loving, He is love. He is the infinite expression of love.  Any view of Him that neglects to include within it this profound sense of divine love is a distortion of who God is.

    As Christians we believe in a God who is simple and not made up of parts. God is not one part sovereign, one part just, one part immutable, one part omniscient, one part eternal, and one part loving. Rather, He is all of His attributes at all times. I’ve just finished reading ‘Simply God’ by Peter Sanlon i – it is probably one of the best books I have ever read in my life!  Peter Sanlon has helped me realise that to understand any single attribute, we must understand it in relation to all His other attributes. The love of God is eternal and sovereign. I want to add the words, “deeply”, “profoundly”, “infinitely” to almost everything I consider about God’s attributes!

    He will still be unchangeable not just unchanging…

    The love of God is immutable and holy.

    We must treat all of His other attributes in the same way. God’s justice is loving and eternal. His holiness is loving and omniscient. Our concept of the love of God will stay on track only as we understand His love in relationship to His other attributes.

    Whatever else God’s love is, it is holy. His love is therefore characterized by the qualities that define holiness – His transcendence and purity.

    • First, God’s love is transcendent. It is set apart and different from everything we experience in creation.
    • Second, God’s love is pure. His love is absolutely flawless, having no selfishness, wickedness, or sin mixed in with it. God’s love is not ordinary or profane.

    He will still be incomparable, unmatched, unequaled, unrivalled and have the supremacy in all things…

    It is a majestic, sacred love that goes far beyond anything creatures can manifest. No shadow of evil covers the brightness of the pure glory of the love of God.

    The love of God is in a class by itself. It transcends our experience. Nevertheless, it is a love that He shares in part with us and expects us to manifest to each other. He grants to His people—insofar as is possible given the Creator-creature distinction—His holy love (Rom. 5:5).

    So, what will God be like in 100 years? Exactly what He is today, no less or more awesome, gracious, kind, merciful, forgiving, tender, compassionate . . .

    He is everything God could possibly be – and whether we are in heaven or on Earth, that will be our continual bliss-filled, awesome experience.

    1. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simply-God-Recovering-Classical-Trinity/dp/1783591048  (back)