Happy Reformation Day!

On this day 489 years ago, a monk by the name of Martin Luther posted a theological article in a public place. A fairly insignificant action in itself, but one that would change the world! When Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, to use Arthur Wallis's analogy, the cracks spread out across the reservoir wall. The flood that was released when the walls collapsed is what we now refer to as the Reformation.

This revival, for revival it was, was not so much a revival of power, but of truth. Revealing the eternal truth in God's word is just as much the activity of the Spirit of God as the manifestations of power. It recaptured the truth at the very heart of the gospel - that man can do nothing to earn or merit salvation; grace is a free gift of God extended to all who are dead in sin, and unable to save themselves, that through faith alone they may become alive to God because of what Jesus alone has done.

As with all moves of God, and men of God that have preceded us, we are indebted to Luther and the Reformation. We would not be where we are today without them. But equally we have an obligation to take the lessons learned and move on. Luther fought his fight of faith to free the church from the bondage to unbiblical traditions, not to replace them with a new set! Being "Reformed" is not fundamental to the essence of the church, though through the Reformation essential truth about what it means to be the church was reclaimed. An important distinction. We have an obligation to remember the past - not to live in it!

The principle of Sola Scriptura - applying all doctrines and practice in the church upon the authority of the Scriptures alone, is as vital today as it was in Luther's day. When men deny the power and operation of the gifts of the Spirit based on their experience and church traditions; when homosexual men are put in positions of church leadership based on current culture and opinions; when the church can be governed by any man-made scheme as long as it is not the model of Apostolic delegation seen in the New Testament - it's time to recapture what Sola Scriptura really means. Not to look back nostalgically at the ground that was taken 500 years ago, but to take up the baton and press into all that it means to be the Church of Jesus Christ revealed in God's eternal word today!

Ever since the light was almost eclipsed in medieval times, God has been working to restore to the church the light, the purity, and the power that are her birthright and that characterized her in the first century. The affairs of God’s house must be re-established as He instituted them at the beginning. The ways of apostolic Christianity must be recovered or the church of the latter days will never ride the storms that already threaten to engulf her. God has used revivals to this end.

During such times, new light has broken from the sacred page, and out of such times new expressions of the church have evolved, recovering (in most cases) something more of the mind of God. Only when the new truth became central and the work was built around it, instead of around Christ, and only when believers became more diligent in holding fast to the new truth than in holding fast to Christ, did the movement become denominational and sectarian.

Although the revivals of the future will surely reveal that there is yet more land to be possessed in this respect, let us never forget what we owe to the spiritual momentum derived from the movements of the past. And let us be ready to walk in whatever new light may break forth when once again God is pleased to manifest His power and glory.

~ Arthur Wallis


Anthony & Lucy's Wedding Photos

I have had a number of Google hits from people looking for photos of my brother's wedding in Edinburgh. I'm happy to use my Google rating to point people in the right direction:

Arthur Wallis on Revival

There was once a reservoir in the hills that supplied a village community with water. It was fed by a mountain stream, and the overflow of the reservoir continued down the streambed to the valley below. There was nothing remarkable about this stream--it seldom overflowed its banks or gave the villagers any trouble.

One day, however, some large cracks appeared in one of the walls of the reservoir. The wall collapsed and the waters burst down the hillside, destroying all the houses and bridges that lay in its path. The streambed could no longer contain the volume of water, and the overflow inundated the countryside. What had before been ignored or taken for granted now became an object of awe, wonder, and fear.

This is a fitting picture of revival. Often in the period just preceding this kind of breakthrough, the stream of divine power and blessing has seemed unusually low. The people of God and the work of God have been in great affliction and reproach, despised or ignored by those around them. In response, however, to the prayers of a burdened remnant, God has been quietly heaping the flood. Suddenly, when the majority has no expectation of it, God opens the windows of heaven and pours out his blessing in such abundance that the channels of organized religion cannot contain it.

The flood of life and blessing then becomes an object of awe and wonder. Works of darkness and strongholds of Satan that have long resisted the normal influences of the Spirit are swept away. Stubborn wills that have long withstood the overtures of the gospel and the pleadings and prayers of loved ones now bend and break before the irresistible flow of the Spirit, to be engulfed themselves and borne along in the stream of blessing.

Thus does God see fit to use revival to create spiritual momentum, to accomplish in days what could never otherwise be achieved in years of normal Christian activity. However, in our zeal for revival, we must not disparage what is achieved in the quieter seasons for God has His purposes in these times also. The patrolling and the harassing and the limited advances are all essential to the big offensive. “The day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10) is preparatory and supplementary to “the day of [God’s] power” (Psalm 110:3), and we must not despise it.

Arthur Wallis : The Purpose of Revival (Part I)


Running with the Good News

Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, "Let me run and carry news to the king that the Lord has delivered him from the hand of his enemies." And Joab said to him, "You are not to carry news today. You may carry news another day, but today you shall carry no news, because the king's son is dead." Then Joab said to the Cushite, "Go, tell the king what you have seen." The Cushite bowed before Joab, and ran. Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, "Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite." And Joab said, "Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?" "Come what may," he said, "I will run." So he said to him, "Run." Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and outran the Cushite. (2Sa 18:19-23)

Following on from yesterday's post of seeing the death of Absalom as a type of the death of Christ, this passage about Ahimaaz' determination to run with the good news takes on an immediate relevance and application to us today.

First, Ahimaaz understood it was good news. He didn't want to run and proclaim that the King's son was dead, but that the victory was won; the King's enemies were defeated; the price of peace had been payed, and as a result no more of the King's sons or subjects need die.

We need to understand and remind ourselves that the message we carry about the cross is good news. If we are not presenting it as good news, we are not presenting the Gospel, because that is what gospel means: "good news". We are not just telling people that Jesus died, but that because he died the victory over sin and death is won. God's enemies are defeated. And because of his sacrifice we can have peace with God and an eternal life that starts today. That's good news!

Next, Ahimaaz refused to be dissuaded form his determination to run with the good news. He was offered plenty of excuses not to run: "It won't be received as good news," "You can do it another day," "Someone else is better qualified to bring it," "You won't see any reward for your efforts." - Sound familiar? But Ahimaaz understood not only the nature of the message, but his obligation to run with it. He would not be stopped by anyone or anything.

"Come what may, I will run."

I like this guy! And I have to confess - he challenges and provokes me! I can't claim that I am there yet - but I want to be!


Death of the Prince - The Price of Peace

And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great terebinth, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on.

Joab said, "I will not waste time like this with you." And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak.

Then Joab blew the trumpet, and the troops came back from pursuing Israel, for Joab restrained them.

And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

2 Samuel 18:9,14,16,33

Discerning readers will probably know where I am going with this already, but if not let me highlight the details. The King's dearly beloved son, lifted up on a tree, his torso pierced, and the high price that was paid to bring peace to God's people. As unlikely as it may seem, in Absalom's death we see another type of Christ.

Now anyone who knows anything about the story will know that Absalom was anything but a model son! Apart from leading a rebellion against the King, he was also a murderer and a rapist. You could not think of anyone more different from the holy and humble Son who went to the cross in submission to God's will. But if seeing a symbol of sin and wickedness where we expect to see Jesus alarms us, we should remember that the precedent has already been set much earlier in Scripture.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. (Jn 3:14)

What was Moses thinking? You'd have thought if he was going to prefigure the death of Christ he could have chosen a more appropriate symbol, wouldn't you? If Moses had lifted up a pure white lamb, or a dove, we would have got it, right? But a SERPENT! The epitome of rebellion and sin. How can that represent Christ?

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Co 5:21)

You see, something very powerful is being communicated to us through these types: Just how much God hates sin, and how high the price was to free us from it. Jesus, when he went to the cross became the embodiment of sin. Though he himself was sinless he took upon himself all the sins of the world. The cross was a very ugly moment; Isaiah predicted that in his 52 and 53 chapters, and anyone who has seen the film The Passion of Christ will know there was nothing pretty there. Jesus did not just become ugly because of his beatings and lashings, but because he took upon himself all the ugliness of every evil deed.

Something else is communicated through this passage. Something very precious indeed... The heart of the Father.

We often major on (and rightly so) all that Christ went through as he went to the cross. His obedience even in the face of death is enough to keep us praising for all eternity. But the New Testament is rather quiet when it comes to what the Father himself was experiencing at this time. It is left for us to discover the Father's heart through the types and shadows left for us in the Old Testament. Types found in the accounts of men like Abraham, Jephthah and David. Men whose stories communicate the exceptionally high price the Father was prepared to pay to make provision, stay true to his word, and bring peace to his people. Anyone who thinks that God made a cold calculating assessment that Jesus had to die, and then stood back detached and emotionless is a million miles off! The Father loves the Son with an intensity of emotion that eclipses even the best of us as fathers.

In the face of such love, we gain a fresh perspective on the cost the Father paid to bring us peace. And perhaps we can read again and be moved to tears by the most powerful verse in the Bible. One that has often been robbed of its impact through over-familiarity.

"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)


Without Borders Google Search

Google have just released a service that allows you to create your own custom Google searches. Jumping on the waggon early, I have knocked together one for all things Ministries Without Borders related. The search is done on the Without Borders website, all related church sites, Covenant School of Ministries sites, and all related blogs (that I currently have in my Band of Bloggers list). I'm sure the list is incomplete, but it's a start. Give it a go.

Without Borders Search

If you would like to add the search to your site/blog, insert the following code:

<b>Without Borders Search</b>
<form action="http://google.com/cse" id="searchbox_013573112956649578089:bwa5ol4pljq">
<input name="cx" type="hidden" value="013573112956649578089:bwa5ol4pljq"/>
<input name="q" size="40" type="text"/>
<input name="sa" type="submit" value="Search"/>
<input name="cof" type="hidden" value="FORID:0"/>
<script src="http://google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=searchbox_013573112956649578089%3Abwa5ol4pljq" type="text/javascript"/>

If you would like to offer to help keep the service upto date, visit the new homepage for this search, where you should see a link to volunteer.


Just like us!

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. (James 5:17)

I love the Old Testament. (You may have gathered that by now!) It's God's "picture book". The eternal truths of God's plan, revealed in the New Testament, are contained in the Old Testament in picture form. What the New Testament writers called "Types" and "Shadows".

The Old Testament is full of types of Christ. That much is obvious; you can find him on every page if you know how to look. But the Old Testament also contains types of other things, like the Church - types of us!

The greatest prophet, Elijah, is one such type. The most important one in fact. As well as being a real historical figure, he also plays an important role in revealing the nature of the church.

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.

Once you realise this, there is a huge amount that can be unpacked. Enough for a whole series! The prophetic nature of the church. Its role in the restoration of all things. Preparing the way for the Lord's coming. Passing on the anointing to the next generation. Overcoming opposition. Miraculous provision. Beholding the glory of the Lord. Being caught up to be with him forever [visibly not secretly!] etc.

But among all these things that Elijah can communicate to us, James focuses on prayer. Elijah was a man whose prayers opened and closed the heavens. Likewise the Church has been given authority to bind and loose. When Elijah prayed, things happened! And that's exactly how it should be in the Church.

It's possible to pray, and then undermine the faith in your prayers by your confession or action. Like the believers in Acts who prayed that Peter would be released from prison, and then couldn't believe it was him knocking at the door!

When we pray we should believe in the power of our prayers. This is not the power of positive-thinking, but the power of biblical-confession.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

As the song goes: These are the days of Elijah!


God's word *is* power

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Co 1:18)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Heb 1:3)

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (Jn 12:48)

These verses communicate a truth that has been highlighted for us again and again as a people in Coventry. God's word does not just carry God's power - it is God's power. When God speaks it is as good as done, not only because he cannot lie, but because his very speaking accomplishes it! He does nothing that he does not speak first (Amos 3:7). When we pray, we are not twisting God's arm to do something he doesn't want to do, but we are cooperating with him in the very way he has chosen to work. Our speaking it out to him is the way he has chosen to bring it into reality.

Nowhere is the power intrinsic to the very nature of God's word clearer than in the gospel. These words that may seem like foolishness to some, don't just allow the power of God for salvation to come - they are the power of God for salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Ro 1:16)


Good News!

God loves you and has a good plan for your life

Many people believe in God, but disagree about what he is like. If God exists how can we know anything about him?

The only way that we as created beings can know anything about the creator who is outside of the creation we inhabit is because he has chosen to reveal himself to us. The Bible is the record of that revelation. God revealed himself to different people at different times down through history; through visions, and miracles, and through prophets (those who spoke on God's behalf). But all of these were just leading up to the ultimate revelation: God chose to become a man and show himself to us. That man was Jesus. Jesus was not just a good man, or an inspiring religious teacher, he was God made flesh. Through Jesus' life and words we have the ultimate revelation of God. If we want to know what God is like we only have to turn to Jesus.

Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father [God], and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14:8-9)

Jesus revealed that God is "Our Father," in fact the word he used to address God literally means "Daddy." He is not a far of and distant deity, unconcerned over the suffering that goes on in his world. He is a loving father - the ultimate father - who is intimately concerned for each one of his children. More than any natural father loves his children, he loves us, he only wants the best for us. He wants to see us succeed and do well.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

Through Jesus you can receive forgiveness for the things that separate you from God

But God did not just come so that we could know about him, he came that we might know him. Jesus came not just to tell us about God, not even just to show us, but to open a way for us to come into a real and living relationship with him. That we might not just know that God is our father, we can actually experience that relationship. As such Jesus came on a mission - a mission to die.

When Jesus died on the cross, many at the time saw it as a tragedy or as a defeat. Here was a man who had healed the sick, fed the multitudes, walked upon the waves of the sea, even raised the dead, but yet seemed powerless to save himself. Yet unlike the men crucified either side of him, Jesus was not paying the price for his own misdeeds... but for ours! When he hung on the cross he was dying in our place. The reason he chose to die was so that we could live. Because he has paid the price in full for every evil ever committed he can now offer us a full amnesty from the things we have done that separate us from God - the things the bible calls sin.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Jesus is not just one of many ways to get to God. He is the only way. Shortly before he went to the cross, aware of what was ahead, Jesus prayed earnestly that if there was any other way, God would spare him from the ordeal ahead. This is the only prayer of Jesus that was unanswered. It was unanswered because there is no other way. Jesus had to go to the cross, and if we want to come to God we must come through him, and the forgiveness he offers. We cannot do it though any of our own efforts, no matter how good they be, we cannot get it though any other spiritual path no matter how well intentioned. Jesus is the only way.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

You can receive this new life today!

As wonderful as the cross is, it is empty tomb and not the cross that is the ultimate sign of God's victorious plan for our lives. For Jesus did not stay dead, but he rose again - still as a man, but no longer as a mortal man - he now lives forever, and so continues to offer to all men, this way back to God. He defeated death, so that those who come to him might have eternal life. Not just life after death, but a new life before death, one filled with the life and power of God.

In order to receive this new life we first have to surrender our old life. To receive forgiveness we must admit that we have done wrong. The gift of God will cost us nothing, yet demands everything. This new life cannot come as just a patch on our old way of life, it can only come as a complete replacement. This total surrender is what it means to "make Jesus Lord" of our lives. It means that we no longer live for ourselves but for him. Ironically, it is in this surrender that we find true freedom, and in giving our lives to him that we truly find them.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)

The good news if you want to receive this new life, is that there is nothing to stop you. You can do it today, and begin a new life with God that will fulfil you in the way that nothing else can, because it is what you were made for.

All you have to do is through prayer (talking to God out loud - he will hear you) acknowledge that you need forgiveness, accept the forgiveness Jesus offers and surrender your life to him. He will then give you this new life. Then tell someone. Tell someone what you have done, that you have become a Christian - a follower of Jesus Christ.

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)

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

If you have done this, praise God! It is the best decision you have ever made, and one you will never regret, but it is only the beginning. I'd love to hear from you to help you get started. email me: chris.hhodges@lineone.net


Care to coComment?

Writing your own posts is only half the fun of blogging. What turns a blog from a cold bulletin-board of information to a lively community full of interaction are the comments.

Not all these comments will be on your own site either. In fact unless you are already a well established blog with loads of regular readers, most of these comments will not be on your own blog. Keeping track of all these blog-conversations that you are involved with can be quite a challenge. For example on a moderated blog, there may be no response for a day or two and then several all at once, by which time you may have got bored and stopped checking, and so miss out on what others had to say in response.

I had thought for a while: "If only there were a way to keep track of all the posts I had commented on, that would alert me when there was any update." Well, a quick Google a couple of months ago revealed there is such a tool: coComment.

It's a free service, and if you regularly comment on blogs other than your own, I recommend you sign up.

If you want to see an example, you can take a look at what I have been commenting on. Click the button below. There is also one at the bottom of my side-bar.

My coComments


Outstretched arm and outpoured wrath

"I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment." (Ex 6:6)

...with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. (Eze 20:34)

And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" (2Sa 6:6-9)

This is one of those passages of the Old Testament that many people have a problem with. Those who create a false dichotomy between the wrathful vengeance of the Old Testament God, and the loving kindness and mercy of the God revealed in the New. But it is the same God! Absolutely 100% identical. His wrath against sin burns just as hot in the New Testament, and his mercy and forbearance are just as evident in the Old.

You see, when David brought the Ark of God up on a cart he violated the clear instructions of God as to how it should be transported. Under the Levitical law anyone who even saw the Ark should have been immediately stuck down dead. God however showed great mercy, and rather than striking down all of his people, chose instead to ourpour all of his wrath on one individual who stretched out his hands. The judgement on the one meant mercy for the many, and after three months the presence of God was restored to the heart of the people where it belonged.

This is another way that demonstrates that the God of Old and New are the same, because this is a prophetic picture of Christ. Uzzah acted in ignorance and irreverence, whereas Christ set his face with deliberation and out of submission to God, but both by their outstretched arms took upon themselves the wrath of God that would otherwise have come on the whole people, and so fulfilled the prophecy of Caiaphas: "It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." (Jn 11:50)

It is also a reminder for us to walk in the fear of the Lord, to do things his way and never assume that we can just do things our own way, and God will ride along with it. I'd rather train myself in the fear of the Lord than receive any reminders!


Congratulations Dave and Sarah

From Dave & Sarah

I love a good wedding, and this one was great! There is something very special about a wedding when the Bride and Groom not only have a deep love for each other, but also a deeper love for the Lord; when there is a real sense of his presence during the worship, and spontaneous responses of joy and celebration from the congregation at the making of a covenant before God.

Congratulations Dave and Sarah! (Auntie Sarah and Uncle 'Tar Dave as they are known round ours) Every blessing on your life together.

It was also a pleasure for us to offer hospitality to Simon, one of the groomsmen, and Carole, his wife, over the weekend. Simon did an excellent job, both as master-of-ceremonies and as worship leader. It was a pleasure to serve such servants of God with our home, to get to know them better, and hear about the wonderful things the Lord is doing in Huddersfield. May God provide you with a building that meets your needs abundantly - enough, and to spare!

...oh yes, while we are on weddings, I've not forgotten that I promised a picture of Michael and me in our kilts, at my brother's excellent wedding last week. If you would like to see it, click here.


I'm Feeling Lucky

No, I haven't gone superstitious! Try this out:

Go to www.google.co.uk
Type "I want to serve the purpose of God in my generation"
Hit "I'm Feeling Lucky"

Cool or what!?
I'm currently getting about 2 hits a day from this search. :-)


"For such a time as this"

Please welcome to the blogging family, Richard Bentall. You may have seen Richard's insightful comments here and on other related blogs recently. Incidentally, long insightful comments on other people's blogs is usually a good sign you need to start your own! I'm pleased to say Richard has done just that.

Richard is another fellow member of the Living Rock Nuneaton cellgroup, who has remained faithful through thick and thin for many years. His loyalty and support, not just to myself and Jacqueline, but to the group itself has been invaluable. He has a passion for worship and music, as well as the people of God. He is a Kingdom man, called "for such a time as this."

It has been a real blessing to see how God has particularly stirred him and taken hold of him of late. The word of God is alive in him and coming out with clarity and confidence, and the Spirit of God is stirring in him as he has been stepping out in the gifts - especially tongues and interpretation. In his passion for the Word and the Spirit he is a man after my own heart, and one pressing in hard after the heart of God.

His blog will be one to watch! Please give it a visit, and leave some encouragement.

The fire in the equation

Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe.

~ Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time.

Following from yesterday's post, I thought of this quote from Steven Hawking, that I really like. For it is not just the undeniable order in the Universe that the atheist cannot get round, but the fact that there is a Universe at all! I read A Brief History of Time when it came out, back in the late '80s and really appreciated the irony in this quote. Here was a man who had tried his hardest to provide a consistent scientific model for the Universe that removed any need for a creator. He set off to find the Grand Unification Theory, the equation for everything, the one equation to rule them all - yet he discovered in one rare moment of clarity towards the end of the book, that even if man was to ever reach the top of this ladder, he would suddenly have nowhere left to go.

Any scientific theory can only explain what is already there to be explained; it cannot by force of its own logic and reason cause things to work that way. Many scientists forget this fact: the workings of the Universe are not governed by the laws of science, it is the laws of science that are governed by the workings of the Universe. As such, to try to explain scientifically how or why there is a Universe at all is like trying to lift yourself up off the ground - impossible. The questions of origins cannot, not now, not ever, be explained by science; they can only come because the creator chooses to reveal them to us.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot remove God from the equation.


Undeniable Design

I heard an interesting article on Radio 4 the other day, and came across it again today on the BBC website, about how Scientists are at last trying to tackle the "problem" of the "apparent" design behind the Universe.

The "problem" has been coined the "Goldilocks Enigma" because there are so many factors in the laws of physics (the strength of forces, the charges and masses of fundamental particles etc) which if changed by even a minute amount would cause the Universe to be such that life would be impossible, and yet the Universe is "Just Right" for life. It is undeniable that the Universe has been "fine tuned" for life - the only problem (for the atheist scientist) is how.

Here are a couple of quotes from the book "The Goldilocks Enigma" by Paul Davies:

If almost any of the basic features of the universe, from the properties of atoms to the distribution of the galaxies, were different, life would very probably be impossible. Now, it happens that to meet these various requirements, certain stringent conditions must be satisfied in the underlying laws of physics that regulate the universe, so stringent in fact that a biofriendly universe looks like a fix - or 'a put-up job', to use the pithy description of the late British cosmologist Fred Hoyle. It appeared to Hoyle as if a super-intellect had been 'monkeying' with the laws of physics. He was right in his impression. On the face of it, the universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator expressly for the purpose of spawning sentient beings. Like the porridge in the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, the universe seems to be 'just right' for life, in many intriguing ways. No scientific explanation for the universe can be deemed complete unless it accounts for this appearance of judicious design. Until recently, 'the Goldilocks factor' was almost completely ignored by scientists. Now, that is changing fast.

So, how come existence? At the end of the day, all the approaches I have discussed are likely to prove unsatisfactory. In fact, in reviewing them they all seem to me to be either ridiculous or hopelessly inadequate: a unique universe which just happens to permit life by a fluke; a stupendous number of alternative parallel universes which exist for no reason; a pre-existing God who is somehow self-explanatory; or a self-creating, self-explaining, self-understanding universe-with observers, entailing backward causation and teleology. Perhaps we have reached a fundamental impasse dictated by the limitations of the human intellect.

It is just a shame that when faced with this undeniable evidence that the Universe was designed and created for life, that Scientists feel the need to pull a rabbit out of a hat, in this case suggesting backwards causality, rather than accepting as he very nearly does, that he has reached the limits of human understanding and is now into the realm of the divine.

It is also a shame that this age-old evidence is only getting media attention now because authors like this one claim to have found a way around it!

"The universe does look as if it has been designed by an intelligent creator," says the author... well, there's a very simple explanation for that observation... it was!

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Ro 1:20)


You cannot out-give God

Here's a testimony I knew I would be able to give. Why? Because I took God at his word.

At the Elders and Leaders' conference a couple of weeks ago we took up not just one offering but two, and the second was in response to a prophetic word from the Lord. This word was that we were to try to be like God in his generosity, but that we would never be able to attain such a target because no matter how much we gave, God would always give more. Taking up an offering in response to such a word was fairly obvious, even though we had already just given, but another word came, through a proven prophetic ministry I know and trust: "Whatever you give, you will have back within the week."

This then presented me with a challenge. Not whether I should give; that was obvious. But how much? If I really believed that was the word of God then a "generous" amount would be very different from one where I could only give what I could spare. I took a deliberate decision to receive the prophetic word as the word of God, and stepped out in faith giving a lot more than I would have otherwise, believing that I would get it all back.

One week came and went, but both Jacqueline (who wasn't there when I gave) and I still held on to the word. If you examine prophetic time periods in the Scriptures, you will see that they are very rarely exact.

Today we received a cheque from the Inland Revenue, covering everything we had given to the Lord, plus another £80! Praise God.


Have kilt, will travel

I picked up my kilt from the hire shop yesterday, and we are heading north tonight! (It's generally not a requirement to have a kilt to get across the border into Scotland, but this is a special occasion!)

My brother is getting married!

It's going to be a great event! Michael is going to be a page-boy, so he and I will be in matching kilts! (I promise to post a photo when we get back!)

We will be away for the rest of the week until Monday, so I'll probably not blog until then. In the meantime check out my other post today, and "pass it on!"

Here's a wee picture of the happy couple, Anthony and Lucy, to end with:

Pass it on!

Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples) [John 4:1-2]

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
But Jesus said, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat."...Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. [Matthew 14:16,19]

True ministry always releases others to do the same. It never tries to hold on to all the activity for itself.

Jesus himself is the ultimate measure of any ministry. For as Ephesians 4:7 says "Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." Indeed, all the ascension ministry gifts are a specific measure of Christ's own gift. Jesus has reproduced his ministry to the church in the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers he has given. And in doing so he has set a pattern, of how they too, and all ministry in the church, should "pass it on", so that others among the saints are equipped and raised up to operate in the same gift (though only Christ himself can make someone an ascension gift) so that the body may be built up through the ministry of every part.

Jesus rejoiced in the fact that those who came after him would do what he had been doing, and even greater things. This again is a hallmark of true ministry. Those who are more concerned about their own reputation feel threatened by men of gifting that are being raised up by God. This was king Saul's problem. David on the other hand displayed a totally different attitude when he was told that his successor (Solomon) would be the one to achieve his dreams. He rejoiced, and made every preparation for his son to succeed in all that God had called him to.

If you have any ministry to the body, never seek to do it all yourself and so make the people reliant on you. Pass it on! Try to make yourself redundant! You will never manage of course, because those faithful servants who can say, "Lord, you gave me three talents, and look, I have replicated three more" will be given yet more. The greatest reward of ministry should be to see others walking in your anointing. To know that even when you are not present, your ministry to the body continues through the lives of those you have impacted and inspired.

The true measure of greatness of any ministry in the church of Jesus Christ is not the gap they leave behind, it is the inheritance they pass on.