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This is taken from the Porterbrook module ‘Gospel Living’. Don’t know about you, but this warms my heart…

“Imagine the moment of your arrival in heaven. All the angels are lined up to welcome you, and all the saints who have gone before you are ready to cheer as you walk through the gates. Those who know you have got front-row seats, and you instantly recognise their faces, though they are all much more attractive than you remember. The noise is deafening and the sense of coming home is almost too much to bear. At first you think that they are there for you, and in a sense they are. However, then you realise that no one is patting you on the back and saying “Well done”. Not one word of congratulation is spoken. All the cheers are for God! All the praise is directed at him for his magnificent work of taking a broken specimen of humanity and transforming her into a stunning and breathtaking example of what grace can do. Just as no one stands in a gallery and praises the canvas or the paint and says, “What a fine work of art you are!”, so no-one in heaven will look at me and praise me for what a fine job I have made of my life. It is the artist who is applauded, as it is God who is praised.”

Last night Jo and I watched an episode from the 4th series on West Wing (don’t worry – I’m not going to give any big spoilers).

Toby Ziegler has to be one of the most self-righteous, and as his ex-wife says, sad characters. So in the episode we were watching he tries to win his ex-wife back. But she says he’s just too sad for her, too angry, too pessimistic about the world. He stands there stunned, wondering if she’s always thought that, if his friends think that. Ironically he then get’s angry.

It was sad watching a hopeless situation. There was nothing his ex-wife could offer him by way of solution, healing or hope. There was no grace, no chance of change. There was just sadness and broken relationship.

I had to pause the DVD. It made me pause and think of the good news of the gospel. Yes we are broken, sad, angry, pessimistic and destructive. But in the gospel we have hope. By God’s grace we are not slaves to our dispositions, our upbringing, our circumstances. As the Holy Spirit works in us to make us more Christ-like we learn to approach the world differently, there is a joy that grows in us in the face of suffering and a dark world as we consider the future that is in store for us. That is how Jesus was able to endure the cross. As the gospel captures our hearts we are turned from self-righteous, sad, inward looking people without hope into lovers – of God and others.

It really is good news…

On Sunday I was preaching on Acts 8 and comparing the religion of Simon and his thirst for power, with the Christianity of the Ethiopian eunuch and his humility in wanting the person of Jesus.

It is striking how what we often really want is the things God gives us rather than God himself. So when we don’t get those ‘things’ we get down, upset or even depressed.

But listen to Christian, from the Pilgrim’s Progress:

prudence: …what is it that makes you so desirous to go to Mount Zion?

Christian: Why, there i hope to see him alive, that did hang dead on the Cross; and there I hope to be rid of all those things, that to this day are in me, an annoyance to me; there they say there is no death and there I shall dwell with such Company as I like best. For to tell you truth, I love him, because I was by him eased of my burden, and I am weary of my
inward sickness; I would fain be where I shall die no more, and with the Company that shall continually cry, Holy, Holy, Holy.

God is gracious; he gives us so much, not least freedom from our sin. But how much are we content with knowing Jesus? That’s what Christian can’t wait for – being able to be with the one who has freed him, “for to tell you truth, I love him…”

A thought struck me yesterday as I was reading something about Ephesians… O’Brien argues that Ekklesia in Ephesians is primarily about the heavenly gathering. So when Paul says in 3:10 that the church displays the wisdom of God, he is talking about the heavenly church. This seems to be to say it is not about the earthly church. It is quite striking that O’Brien finds it very hard then to say anything concrete about the earthly church.

But then I got to thinking… So what? Read the rest of this entry »

 

 

My wife and I started watching ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ last night. We got about 15 minutes in and it was far too brutal to continue watching. However, it did get me thinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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