2009 has been the year that God has begun waking me up from my Christian stupor, something for which I am very grateful.
Let me give you some background – I grew up in a Christian family to loving and faithful parents who taught me well. Throughout school I read my bible regularly, had a heart for God and expected to find myself in full time ministry one day. But from university I didn’t. Life – stuff, sin, selfishness – took over. I never walked away from God, I was just focused mostly on me rather than Him, in subtle but significant ways.
Fast forwarding 15 years to late 2008, I knew things weren’t right. I knew that God commanded more of me than I was giving and that if I was to be a Christian I had to give him more – everything. At the same time, however, I had been listening to many talks on design, science, business and the like which often had a subtle (and sometimes not at all subtle) humanist and atheistic bent that began to wear me down. And evolution (which I had ‘dealt with’ previously by ignoring it) could no longer be ignored. I knew a crunch was coming – either Jesus was who he claimed to be and demanded my all, or he was not and I was free to live my life as I saw fit – this half-baked self-centred, comfort-seeking and problem-avoiding Christian walk wasn’t going to cut it.
I spoke to a wise Christian leader and he recommended Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God which reminded me that there was no intellectual shame in our faith. I watched the Life of Jesus DVD and took advantage of other Centre for Public Christianity resources which reminded me of the historical integrity of the bible (helped by knowing the integrity of John Dickson and his work). I learned more about Darwin and emailed a well-known Christian scientist and asked him about evolution and faith. I listened to sermons on my iPod, looking for anything topic I could find that might help me work out if my faith was solid. But most importantly, I think, I prayed. I prayed that God would reveal Himself and give me a fresh love for Him, for His word and for being in relationship with Him.
The big breakthrough for me was reading John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life (which is available freely online as a PDF). From page 30 in the book he talks about ‘The great coming together for me’ in which John explains that we don’t need to decide whether to chase our own happiness (which feels inevitable) or to follow the Lord. Because of the way God is glorified (in our delight of Him) they are one and the same thing – God does not want us to begrudgingly serve Him, He wants us to delight in Him. That’s what we’re called to – joy, peace, fulfilment and satisfaction in Him – how could I want something else?
From there I went from strength to strength, listening to John Piper (web, iTunes), Mark Driscoll (web, iTunes) and more recently Matt Chandler (web, iTunes) speaking about Christ. And in doing so I started taking Jesus seriously. That bit about not loving money? He means it. And taking up your cross to follow Him? He means that too. As a result, a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders – I feel peace that I have not felt for many years. And now I want to share that with people who want to read it.
At this point I should point out the gospel, so that no one thinks I’m talking about earning our way to heaven or saying how much better I am than anyone else. The gospel is this, that while were God’s enemies Christ humbled himself, lived among us and died for us, paying for our sins so that if we apologise (repent) and trust Him (= faith) we can have a relationship with Him, enjoy life to the full (this doesn’t mean we become rich) and Christ’s sacrifice takes the place of the punishment that our rebellion (sin) against God has earned us. A few bible passages on this:
- 1 Corinthians 15 (a summary as a reminder to readers who have already believed and trusted in Jesus)
- John 8:12-29 (a conversation between Jesus and the Jewish Pharisees who typically loved the law but not God)
- John 3:1-21
- Luke 24:44-48 (Jesus summarising his purpose for the disciples after his resurrection)
So welcome to my new blog on my journey in following Christ – I hope it will be an encouragement to you. I don’t yet know what frequency with which I’ll post – inspiration will come first and the words will follow.