The Gospel According to Lord Birt (and the Apostle Paul)

22 Apr

Hands up who remembers a pseudo Welshman who wore outrages shirts with huge cuffs called Laurence? Right, you’re banned from ever commenting!

Changing RoomsFor those who didn’t raise their hands, Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen was a pretty big deal back in the 90’s. He was made famous as an interior designer on the reality home-makeover show, Changing Rooms. The premise of the show was to take a boring old room and spruce it up again, make it sparkly and new. The show was such a success that it spawned a whole host of copycat shows which persevere to this day. Shows which essential break down into three vital elements: The Before, The After and the Star of the Show.

The before is always an attempt to show how run down, tired or old something was. Be it a room, a house, a business or even a person.

The after is always an attempt to show how wonderful, fresh, new, beautiful and exciting it has been made.

And nearly always the Star of the Show is the one with the expertise, the know how, the gifts to make the transition a reality.

But it’s not a new formula. It’s one the Apostle Paul used to good effect when he wrote the Christian’s in Colossae, writing to remind them what they were BC, Before Christ, and AD, after the ‘Star of the Show’ had worked salvation in them.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour.22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation

See it?

He lays bear the state that we are all in before (or outside) of Jesus. People entirely separated from God, cut off from Him, aliens. A people hostile to God in our thoughts and our actions. Living and breathing as if we’re at the centre of the Universe not Him.

He also shines light on our state after Jesus has reconciled us. Not holier than thou but His, belonging to Him, and set apart for Him. Perfect in His eyes just as Jesus was.

How could such a difference come about? What made for such a contrasted before/after? Jesus, His death, which reconciles.

Often we understand our status before God as guilty, but we forget that has repercussions. That that guilt brings separation from God. Likewise we understand that in Christ, because of Jesus, we are innocent. But we also forget that has repercussions too. That our innocence allows for us to be brought near to God, adopted even.

When Jesus died He didn’t simply make the guilty innocent, He reunited an alien people with their God, He reconciled.

The Gospel according to Paul (in the style of Changing Rooms) is we were a separated people who now are set apart because Jesus reconciled. That’s a good gospel, that’s great news.

“Out with the Old, In with the New”

12 Apr

Merry Easter!

My hunch is that no one said this to you this year. If they did, avoid them, they’re odd.

Derelict HouseThey’re odd because custom dictates that at Christmas we’re merry and at Easter we’re ‘happy’. Come to think of it, it may be the custom that’s odd. It’s odd also that Christmas is essentially condensed into one day (although, granted, there is much merriment surrounding that day) while the spoils of Easter celebration are divided between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Has no one ever thought of instead holding some sort of ‘Super Saturday’ event?

Why is it that Christmas comes once but Easter repeats in the space of a few days?

I think the essential answer is this: At Christmas we celebrate one truth – God takes on flesh. At Easter we celebrate two truths – Jesus died, Jesus rose again.

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul wants to remind the church of the Gospel, one whole truth, one whole message. But it comes in two bite sized chunks that are of equal importance. Have a look if you don’t believe me. The Gospel according to Paul is on the one hand (Friday) Jesus death & burial for our sins and on the other hand (Sunday) His rising to life again. It isn’t an either or, it’s a both and. Easter is essentially a dual celebration, celebrating Jesus doing, “Out with the old, In with the New.”

Here’s an illustration I used in church on Easter Sunday:

Imagine you buy a plot of land with a house on it. You buy it so you have somewhere to live. The only problem is that the house that stands there is dangerous, really dangerous. It’s dilapidated and it’s been condemned. You wont live in it and if you tried to you’d probably die.

So what do you do? You knock the house down (or get a team of experts in to demolish it for you.) You totally flatten it and remove the imminent danger. Problem solved right?

Well no. The immediate danger has been taken care of but you still don’t have anywhere to live. Just as important as ripping down the old is building a new dwelling in its place. So yet again you hire some professionals to design and build your dream home.

Problem solved.

MansionThis is a bit like Easter. Jesus comes and dies for our sins because they have left us in a very dangerous place, a place that inevitably leads to death. But if that’s it, if the danger of death is removed and nothing more, then we don’t have the Gospel, we don’t have ‘great news.’ Jesus comes and dies for our sins AND rises to life again. He takes down the dangerous house and replaces it with beautiful, glorious mansion. he takes away the imminent death and replaces it with eternal life.

And that’s why we can’t have a ‘Super Saturday’.  There’s too much to cram in, there’s too great a risk we’d remember one over the other. We need to celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus’ Gospel work is in two acts but both depend on the other. He died to take away our sins and rose to give us new life.

Hallelujah!

 

Page CXVI Jubilee

5 Mar

PAGE-CXVI-HYMNS-Jubilee-COVERI’ve been a massive fan of Page CXVI from the day dot, pointing you towards their new albums as they’ve trickled out over the last few years. I was chuffed last week to get this email in the post…

To celebrate 7 years of making music together, the members of Page CXVI and The Autumn Film are giving away their entire music catalog for 7 weeks. Between re-arranging the classic hymns, to creating beautiful emotive indie pop music, the band has recorded 11 albums together. Please join them in celebrating this jubilee by catching up on the records you’ve missed or download the entire catalog.

http://pagecxvi.com/jubilee

I couldn’t recommend heartily enough jumping on the Page CXVI bandwagon. They really a doing a great job. Go download and be refreshed!

Jonah – in a nutshell

28 Feb

See if you can guess what I think the book of Jonah is all about by reading my cheeky overview:

Our story begins with a man of God, commissioned by God to take the love of God to a godless people. But this man of God tries to flee God because he’s afraid of what God might do among the godless. Yet, God pursues him, God brings a storm and some false god worshiping sailors come to worship the one true God. The man of God gets thrown into the sea and swallowed by an enormous fish sent from God.

The story continues…the man of God in the belly of the fish sent by God gives thanks to God for the salvation that has come and will come from God. God hears his song of praise and God says to the ginormous fish, “Spit out the man of God.”

Our man of God on dry land, via a boat, a storm, the sea and the belly of a big fish, heard the word of God a second time. God doesn’t change…”Go to the godless.”

This time our man of God obeys God and makes haste to a people without God. He preaches to them everything that God has commanded and guess what, they believe God. So they turn to God, away from their godlessness, and in repentance find mercy and compassion from God. Praise God!

Final scene, again the man of God and the one true God are alone. The man of God is angry at God, “God, I knew you were good. Too good to these previously godless now God fearing folk. You care for those I don’t and it makes me want to die.” Not good. So God tries to teach our man of God by providing shelter under a plant. The

man of God is happy. Then God takes the plant away. The man of God is angry.

“Why are you so concerned about a plant you didn’t make? I am G

od, shouldn’t I be concerned about all that I create, especially those who don’t know the truth, that I am God?”

End.

Jonah and the Whale

 

Image

Light of the World

25 Feb

Golau sydd yn y byd

Oh that my Ode was for You

15 Feb

Recently I’ve begun taking part in a series of writing challenges, Daily Prompts & Weekly Tasks. Unsurprisingly yesterday’s prompt was focused on love coming in the form of an encouragement to write an ode to someone or something you love. [Bonus points for poetry!]

Of course I had a few options open to me; I could write about my dear wife, my precious son, or even my darling cat. But I felt it most important to be honest and admit that the greatest love in my life is usually me. Left unattended my heart will always deviate back to itself. So I wrote about that…: Continue reading

Refreshing

14 Feb

As many of you who have followed this blog since its earliest incarnation will be well aware, I tend to give it a fresh coat of paint on an annual basis. I think perhaps this latest refresh is a little tardy but never fear, it’s here now.

It may need a little tidying up (as is often the case when changing themes) but hopefully anything you want to access is readily accessible.

fresh paint

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