Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Faith is more valuable than we value (Faith and Trials)

We all have things that are important to us, relationships, housing, health, jobs, money etc. These are things we value, and might want to see grow. But these one thing that we often undervalue and even ignore, and its 'faith'.

Faith is trusting in God. Its such a valuable thing, but we probably don't value it enough. Spurgeon once explained how valuable faith is to God,

Our Lord in his infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon his people’s faith that he will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. (Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006), Sept 3rd pm reading).

Here Spurgeon is saying that because God values faith so much, God won't stop us experiencing trials that strengthen our faith. Then he goes on to say,

You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of your faith had not been like unto fire.

Its so true isn't it? I can look back over the last two tough years and say that my faith in God is so much stronger as a result. When you feel the fire of pain, you have nowhere to run except God. As God stands with you in the fire (Dan 3:24-25), your trust in him is strengthened. You can never be the same after it. You know that when the next fire comes he'll be right there with you.

This is what Peter said in the Bible, 2,000 years ago,
'In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.' 1 Pet 1:6-7

Sunday, January 08, 2017

A Tribute to Mike Ovey. We need more Mike Ovey's

Today I woke up to the news that Mike Ovey had died. He was a great man whose life deserves far more than I can write here, but I would like to say a few words for why I am struggling with this news.

1. He had a brilliant mind that the church badly needs.
He taught me for three years during which he helped my brain work in a new way. He had a gift for getting to the heart of arguments, and following their trajectory. He used his intellect to look at every day problems in a way that many don't. For example, read his paper on victimhood, or his recent paper in Themelios on fear. We badly need this level of thinking in the church. We need more Mike Ovey's, not less. I just have to trust in God's loving wisdom, that in his economy Mike's entering glory makes sense

2. He wasn't Predujice, Paternalistic or Condescending.
As a council estate Christian I'm used to being treated a certain way by Middle Class church leaders. Not so with Mike. I always felt respected by him. Although he towered above me in intellect, he always talked to me as an equal. Although he was much higher in the British Class system, he never talked to me in a condescending way (although I didn't always understand his cultural references!). Although he was far better known in the Reformed evangelical world, he never discussed mission with me in a patronising way, but in a humble listening way. We so badly need more Mike Ovey's in the church, not less. I trust that God has a good plan for us.

3. He understood the need for both robust theology and contextualisation.
He knew that good contextualisation did not mean bad doctrine, but rather it would help teach and apply good doctrine. We need more Mike Ovey's, not less. I trust God will raise up other Mike Ovey's.

4. He prioritised God's word.
His brilliant mind didn't lead him to philosophise over the Scriptures, but instead he constatnly referred to them believing that God who cannot lie has chosen to reveal himself to us in the Scriptures. I wrote to him a few months ago to encourage him because during the recent Trinity debate he'd been interacting with certain Biblical texts, which others frustratingly ignoried. His reply, and his last words ever to me, included these words,
 'I feel more and more the force of Peter's question 'to whom else should we go?' [John 6:68] 
We need more Mike Ovey's, not less. I trust God will still see his word made known.

Thankfully, Mike has now gone to be with his Saviour. He knew there was no one better to go to, and he is there face to face with him. I do not understand why Mike is gone, because we don't need less Mike's, we need more. But I trust God has a good plan, and I know Mike is enjoying that plan right now in heaven with his Saviour, Jesus.

5. He was kind.
Probably the thing many of us will miss the most.

Lastly, prayers for Heather and the children

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The most popular blog post of 2016 was to do with grieving

In 2016 this blog's most read post was Prayers for the Grieving1: Close to the Broken-hearted

I'm so encouraged that this was a popular post because IMHO grieving is...

1. Grieving is a topic that us British Christians are not very good at.

2. Grieving is something we haven't written much about in comparison to how much the Bible talks about it, and how much we experience losses in this life.

3. Grieving is something many of us struggle to know how to do well.

4. Grieving is something many of us struggle to help others do well.

5. Grieving is something that in my experience, non-Christians on housing estates are better at talking about than Christians.

As we think back on 2016, I'm sure many of us have losses to grieve. I hope we can all talk to God and others about these things as we count the losses of living in a fallen world.

For more thoughts on grief, please see this post: 

What I've learned about Mourning and Grieving Loss in the last 18 months

or check out the grief label on the right