The House That Jesus Built

I’d really recommend a book I’ve recently read by Dale Ralph Davis, ‘The house that Jesus built’. It is a cracker, and only 64 small pages!

House that Jesus built

Dale, who is both presbyterian and reformed (but informs us ‘that you don’t need to be both to be biblical, but it helps’) outlines a welcome booklet for those who have turned up at church, new to Christianity. I mention that he is a presbyterian minister because the book is written for churches under presbyterian government and he is reformed because, well, he believes and teaches the Bible.

This book has much use and something i found particularly useful is his view of ‘Sunday worship’. Let me give you his statement and talk you through it:

To say that you will grow as a Christian through the worship of God is a bit dangerous or misleading.

This is so true brothers and sisters. I was told this as a young believer and it leads to the mentality of ‘in order to grow, i need to worship God more..’ That is wrong. The reason anyone should worship God is because God is supposed to be worshipped. We worship God because God has commanded us to do so (Psalm 95 and 100) and because He is worthy of praise.

Dale is blunt here, so i want to be too. Contemporary Christianity can view God as a big, wonderful vending machine in the clouds and if we put the right things in, the good stuff comes out. If that is true then worship, in a corporate sunday sense, is about making us feel better when the biblical reality is that God is there to be praised whether we feel good or not.

I had the joy of interacting with a teacher in a local school recently who seemed to be the chief banner-raiser for the entire secular government agenda. In our conversation, which covered everything from food, the government, Edinburgh city council and ending in world religions, she informed me that she regularly attends worship services. Some weeks in a church, other times in a chapel (rc) other times in a synagogue and on occasion in a mosque. I asked her one simple question in response to such a well rounded and level headed and non biased exposition of herself; ‘why?’. The answer? It made her feel better.

I don’t want to criticise the temporal feelings of being ‘lifted’ up but sometimes i watch top gear, and it lifts me up or i walk up to the park at lunch, and it lifts me up. Church, although a place for us to be cared for, ministered to and comforted, is the gathering of God’s people to worship God selflessly, because He is worth it.

If you want to grow as a Christian there is a simple set of imperatives: pray, read the Bible more, live as it says and go to church. What is the indicative for doing that though? Do it all out of thanks and praise to the one who paid your debt. That is worship.

Buy the book here!

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Assurance : The Beautiful Truth

This post originally appeared on Gareths Blog : Word to Life.

Hello all, So this week ahead of me has been shaped really around a chapter from the John Piper book Pierced by the word. Especially on the topic of Assurance. The point that stood out to me was as follows:

Assurance is a fight to the day we die.

Fight the good fight of Faith. Take Hold of the Eternal Life. (1 Timothy 6:12)

I have Fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have kept the Faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

This is not me telling anyone i am dying, i am (praise God/God willing) a healthy 20-year-old. But i will be visiting people this week, who are in there 90′s and have fought the good fight and have run the race.  This means they have assurance that they are safe in Christ. Their Lives are testimonies and as i meet with them, they may be questioning the end, I will encourage them, and I encourage you. It is not all a mystery, it is Gods will for us to have assurance, as the point is made in Hebrews 6. But that by no means makes it easy for them, or those left behind. Because of that we need to cling to the Cross of Christ, trusting in the sacrifice on the cross, which Saves all who trust in it.

What can we Learn from Fifty Shades of Grey…

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This post originally appeared on Kieran’s old blog in October 2012

Ok, so I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, nor do I plan to. However I have read enough reviews and heard enough comments about the book to get the gist of the story line. The book is being affectionately labelled as ‘mommy porn’  and it is indeed pornography in the truest sense of the word, ‘Pornography’ literally meaning writing about sexual immorality. Martin Saunders who heads up Youth Work magazine summarises the story:

Here it is, then: 21-year-old virgin Anastasia Steele meets charismatic billionaire Christian Grey, and falls for him. He’s not just stunningly handsome and rich, he’s also trying to save the world and stop famine. What a hero! Well, except that, thanks to an abusive childhood, he has a severely twisted sexual appetite. Despite this, Ana is drawn into his world, and into his arms, via lots of gasping and swooning – and begins a long-lasting liaison with him. He’s not really capable of a healthy relationship, however, so instead introduces Ana to a world of controlled violence, submission and, of course, lots of (very badly written) sex. Within a few short weeks, Ana goes from repressed virgin to sexual deviant, and despite – or perhaps because of – the violence, falls deeply in love.

But why is this book so successful? Why are so many people reading it?  Why is it one of the fastest selling books at the moment? At the New Christian Media Conference that I attended last Saturday Vicky Walker spoke about what we can learn from 50 shades.  It was a very interesting talk and it highlighted some very important issues surrounding the success of the of the books. So why are so many people reading it? FOMO! Fear Of Missing Out. One of the main reasons that people are reading this series of books is down to peer pressure. People are afraid that they are missing out. Its being talked about in the staff rooms, the twittersphere, the coffee house and Facebook. People just don’t like to feel left out, do they? Now I am by no means saying that that is a good reason to read it. But I do think that this is an important factor in the incredible success of the book. Sex Sells Of course we know that sex sells. It always has done. No doubt that is one of the leading factors of the success of this book. However Martin Saunders closes his article with a very powerful comment:

 …why has Fifty Shades, a poorly written sex story by an unknown author, become the publishing phenomenon of the year? How come, in an age where gender equality is finally looking achievable, millions of women are turning to a book that seems to suggest that, deep down, they actually want to be oppressed after all?

How should Christians respond to 50 shades? Often our response as Christians is to make a noise. Complain. Grumble. Moan. But perhaps that’s not the correct response… As Christians we should be known for what we are for rather than what we are against. Let me be clear, I am not saying,  that we should not be discouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ from reading these books. As Christians we need to be fleeing from sin. However instead we should be modelling, relationships, marriage, singleness and sexuality to the world. As the church we have a responsibility to be speaking to the world about what sexuality should look like. Christians should not be blushing behind the pews. But instead, speaking up about sexuality and the redemptive power of Christ.  As Christians we should be leading the way in the discussion not hiding away from it.

“When it comes to sex, the Bible provides a far more fulfilling framework than EL James’ sadistic anti-hero.”

Dealing with Depression – Book Review

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This post originally appeared on kjsmcknight.wordpress.com on February the 21st 2013 :

This morning I finished reading ‘Dealing with Depression – Trusting God through the Dark Times‘ by Sarah Collins & Jayne Haynes (Christian Focus Publications) that I purchased at the Good Book Co Youth Work Conference.  The book was very eye opening and one that I would whole heatedly recommend to all Christians particularly full time gospel workers.

“Depression is a common complaint in the doctor’s surgery and 1 in 5 of the population that is 20% of people will have at least one major episode in their lifetime. We are reassured here that just like our physical health we can go through good and bad emotional health. But how does the Christian deal with this? It is so easy for us to be riddled with guilt but in this book the Christian is reassured that God knows and deals with us by grace, He helps us move from guilt to grace. Written from a Biblical and medical perspective.”

The book is split into 7 clear and helpful chapters as well as 3 Appendixes which are as follows:

  • 1. Depression – what is it?
  • 2. Why do people get depression?
  • 3. Medical treatments for depression and a Christian perspective on them
  • 4. Depression and the Christian
  • 5. Trusting God in the darkness – Help from the Psalmists
  • 6. Trusting God in the darkness – Using what God has provided
  • 7. Helping the depressed
  • Appendix 1: Struggles with Depression by Roger Carswell
  • Appendix 2: Coping with my wife’s depression – a husband’s perspective
  • Appendix 3: A Pastor’s experience of helping someone with depression

The book deals with the issue of depression through the lens of scripture and through the lens of up to date medical research and thought. It is important that we do not see depression as purely a spiritual problem or purely a medical issue. It is essential that help is sought from medical professionals and it is important to listen to their advice. However it is also important for those suffering from depression to not isolate themselves from the Body of Christ as fellowship is particularly important along with prayer and bible reading; even though at times it will be a great struggle indeed.  I appreciate how the book straddles the medical and spiritual as we have a tenancy to hold one above the other.

I found the 3 Appendixes particularly useful where 3 people from different vantage points share their experiences with depression, each giving useful practical advice.

Some of the most useful advice was:

Listen- Just being there is important. Don’t make the depressed person a project, just be there for them, always listening before speaking.

Prayer- Encouraging the depressed person to pray. It may be very difficult. But short, honest, angry prayers are ok. By not praying the ‘lines of communication’ are down, and the person will feel further from God.

Bible- Reading God’s word like prayer is very important, although a real struggle. Often people with depression find them self able to relate to some of the darker Psalms.

Before reading this book I knew very little at all about depression, after reading it I am just a little bit clearer about this very difficult and complex illness. So go and buy it, it’s not even a fiver!