He who is mighty

This is a beautiful new song which cuts straight to the heart, of Christmas.

 

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O come, o come Emmanuel.

We used this Youtube version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel at our school end of term service to capture the lament of the people of Israel before the birth of Christ.  Beautiful.  Thank you AGC Church.

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Broken (an advent lament)

Our A&E groans like a gangrenous laugh,
satisfaction now far from both patients and staff.

An NHS ward makes up the next bed,
as suffering souls become targets instead.

Consultants are drawn by satisfaction and pay,
and the mind stretching challenge of curing Miss Hay.

Our nurses demob and chase agency stash,
a fraction of trouble for double the cash.

The budget expands with no where to turn,
As government cuts continue to burn.

The system is broken, the money is tight,
people are stressed, just turn off the light.

 

Our schools are no better, it has to be said,
results are what count if you want to stay Head.

The government calls for results to improve,
our children need grades if the country’s to move.

So Ofsted investigates every small crack,
and anyone lagging will soon face the sack.

The teachers are stressed and seek to implore,
our children to progress, just a few stages more.

Our children are pawns in political chess,
their results are required to keep voters impressed.

But the voters have children who need to see CAMHS,
They are under the pressure of endless exams.

So which will break first? The schools or the kids?
Something must change as our lives hit the skids.

 

Our debt grows each day by millions of pounds,
It’s 1.5 trillion and we’re still losing ground.

Our economy falters and refuses to grow,
we’re told to work harder with nothing to show.

The deficit shrinks, but not by enough,
and one more recession will finish it off.

The state will default or something much worse,
the banks will foreclose on our poor public purse.

Then what shall we do, with no money to pay,
for our schools and our hospitals on that very dark day?

 

Our law makers tinker with national policy,
unfettered by norms not matching their honesty.

The economy’s god, and has to be served,
adopt monetary law or face hardship deserved.

Competition is fierce and all must comply,
from banker to bin man to sly private eye.

And cameras stare into all open space,
There’s nowhere to hide from their all seeing gaze.

The state becomes nanny, policeman and judge,
with laws to control all those who won’t budge.

Dare anyone protest about all of this pain?
Any who differ face Twitter campaigns.

It’s an animal farm behind this ol’ barn door,
how did we drift into G. Orwells’ ’84?

 

Our housing costs spiral up out of control,
As landlords benefit from those on the dole.

The rich quickly swoon at the value of property,
as the gap in our wealth lands millions in poverty.

It’s location, location, location, they say,
undesirable places soon urban decay.

The rich separate and the poor must then cluster,
As the sad urban landscape loses its lustre.

The people who gather in middle class cliques,
have no real idea about life on our streets.

Grandparents swim in the wealth they have gained,
Whilst grandchildren muse about their future sustained.

 

The cool Western nations suppose order’s a given,
human nature, they say, is the root of true livin’.

We pity poor countries where corruption is rife,
we can’t fathom out their bent way of life.

“British values” are best and they need to be taught,
or the nations which move here will bring us to naught.

Society believes that we Brits know what’s best,
Rule of law and good justice will make you all blessed.

But to live by which laws? And who did create,
the sad way of life which now we all hate?

These laws did not grow, as if from the soil,
But we must live in Great Britain, in a way not to spoil.

 

The threat from abroad is now threat from within,
an evil idea gains a following thin.

But then in our streets, and across many lands,
this trickle of followers slowly expands.

Their message is clear, their methods intense,
submit to our way or lose your defence.

We rely on our spies and then on the Met,
as GCHQ trawls the vast internet.

But these systems are creaking, there’s barely a plan,
our intelligence systems are dependent on man.

Our confidence wanes as we wake from the dream,
this world is in melt down, or so it would seem.

 

The system is broken, and so then are we,
we collectively groan whilst longing to flee.

But to what shall we run and to where shall we go?
We can’t close Great Britain and move the whole show.

There’s one thing to alter, our god we must change.
Out with the targets and cold stock exchange.

We must usher in God, three persons in one,
Eternally loving, the bright morning Sun.

Creation gives value and true dignity,
To each human being, made by bless’d Trinity.

Our fall is complete, as we each went astray,
vast temples of Mammon trade on our Lord’s day.

What we desp’ratly need is a dose of real grace,
our sins washed away as to God we must face.

His laws they do bless and by wisdom he guides,
our burdens he carries, he heals our divides.

 

God refused to stay distant but came down instead,
to be born with his creatures in a poor cattle shed.

His words bring us life and his light he does shine,
in pits of our darkness, he says “you are mine.”

From the pain of the cross he calls “it is done!”
As God our great Father gave us his Son.

Christ’s life and his death were true sacrifice,
and he turns on it’s head, our fools’ paradise.

As our life finds it’s meaning in the love of the Lord,
our reason for living now strikes a new chord.

God’s kingdom of love is a kingdom of peace,
our rest is then found and our battles will cease.

 

And so goals need to change from the bank to the Lord,
our desire is to please him, no longer to hoard.

The Lord is not stupid, he’s no utter fool,
he let’s us chase others, till we go through his school.

His lessons are hard, his love can be tough,
we go our own way till we cry “that’s enough!”

“Have mercy on us, please turn the way back,
we were fools to chase targets, as one thing we lack.”

“We lack a real sense of what life is for,
the stress and the chaos shout, there has to be more!”

So when we will turn from the cruel god “economy”,
who drives us like slaves through lies of autonomy?

Let’s abandon this god, and his ways which bring strife,
and collectively turn to the God who brings life.

To lose our life now, in the King’s saving grace,
is to find our real self in the Lord’s resting place.

 

by Neil Robbie

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“A Crisis of Christianity?” That Express and Star article in full.

Yesterday I reported that I had spoken to a journalist about the Woolf Institute’s report on the death of Christian Britain.  Here’s a picture of the article, which you can read online a the Express and Star, “So are we facing a crisis of Christianity?”  It’s interesting to see the way some of what I said was re-worded and what was left out.  I didn’t quite say that “We don’t want to give credit to the people who have shaped our nation.” but I can see how “we are historically myopic and biased” was simplified.

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A journalist asked me…Is Britain still a Christian nation?

I was called today to comment on the Woolf Institute report which, it has been claimed, concludes than Britain is no longer a Christian nation.

This is what I said:

We can’t understand our culture, society, literature and many of our values, without acknowledging their biblical source.  Unfortunately, many people have a myopic view of history and wish to erase the Christian heritage of our nation.

The institutions, such as government, the judiciary (the rule of law), health care, education and even business conduct, were established by Christendom (the time when it was acknowledged that God ruled) over a period of about 1000 years.

Secular thinkers now squat in the house that Christendom built and are claiming credit for it.  However, they are altering or even demolishing it and we don’t know what the end product will look like.

The first hospitals and universities where started by Christians.  The universal education of children began as a vision shared by three vicars in 1811.

We can’t understand Shakespeare and most classic British literature without understanding the bible.

The values we hold dear, such as compassion for the poor, charity towards the disadvantaged and love of neighbour are all learned biblical values, not human intuition.

I asked the young journalist, 23, if he had heard of Wycliffe, Cranmer, Ridley or Latimer. He hadn’t. I asked if he knew the basic Christian story. He didn’t. So I asked if I could tell him.  He consented.

God is eternal and united in love, three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Out of his love, God created the universe and made each human being, giving us dignity and value. In his goodness, he established laws, which the first human beings rejected, plunging the world into chaos and evil.  The eternal Son became a human to live the perfect life and then die the death we deserve, taking the penalty for the sins of his people.  He rose from the dead and will one day return as judge to fairly judge each person according to the way we have lived.  Everyone who has faith in him will be saved but everyone who rejects him will be punished in hell for eternity.  Those he saves will live with him in a renewed creation where there is no more evil or death.

I asked him if he had heard that before.  He hadn’t.

Are we still a Christian nation?  It’s complicated, but yes, by and large, even if the secularists/humanist want to stick their fingers in their ears and shout loudly, “Leave us alone, God.  Go away!”

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A minister’s faith – C.H Spurgeon

I am just over six years into being senior minister of a church and over ten years in full time Christian ministry. It’s been a hard road for a while, but God put a book in my hand this term, “An All Round Ministry”, which is a collection of addresses by C.H. Spurgeon at his minister’s conferences. His first address, “Faith”, has been a great help. I’ve summarised the structure below and have found it helpful to see where faith is strong (in Christ) and where it needs strengthening (in the experience of ministry). I hope other weary souls may be helped as I have been.

The minster’s faith

We are born again, not of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but by the will of God. It is by faith, through faith that we are saved.

If our status before God is by faith, and we lay claim to the promises of the covenant by faith, and we go on by faith, then surely our ministry is of faith, too.

The goal of ministry is to set forth the saving gospel of Christ so than the sons of men may grasp it by faith.

It is proven by all observation that success in the Lord’s service is very generally in proportion to faith. It is certainly not in proportion to ability, nor does it run parallel with a display of zeal; but it is invariably according to the measure of faith, for this is the law of the Kingdom without exception.

Wherein and upon what matters have me, as ministers, faith, or great need of it?

1. Faith in God. God is the creator, sustainer and the one by whom all things are ordered for his glory and the good of his people. God is personal, relational, He alone is the I AM, for ever and ever. By faith, we see the hand of God in creation’s grand design.

2. Faith is fixed on the Christ of God. We trust in Jesus. He made atonement on the cross, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven and has taken us captive as he intercedes for us before the throne.

3. Faith is an equal confidence in the Holy Spirit. We believe in his deity and personality; his influences and offices. Have we trusted our life to him?

4. You and I believe in the doctrines of the gospel. The facts of the gospel are the same today as they were two thousand years ago. We ought not to dilute them, but many do just this! Our faith is rooted in the truths of the gospel in all it’s simplicity and complexity.

5. Faith believes in the power of prayer.

6. One other point, which I believe is essential to a minister’s faith, is that we believe in our own commission to preach the gospel.

7. We believe that the Great Shepherd of the Sheep will grant us an all-sufficiency with which to feed His people.

8. Our faith discerns upon our side unseen agency. While we are at work, God is also at work. All week long, by care and affliction, and trouble and sometimes by joy and consolation, making the people ready to hear what He has charged us to teach them.

9. Faith leads us to believe in difficulties being overruled to promote success. Because we believe in God and the Holy Spirit, we believe that all difficulties will be greatly sanctified in us. We believe in defeat, and going back with the banner trailed in the mire, persuaded that this may be the greatest way to everlasting triumph.

10. We believe in the gospel as God’s power to save. We know that, for every case of spiritual sickness, we have an infallible cure.

What does our faith work in us?

1. A glorious independence of man. The man who believes in God, and believes in Christ and believes in the Holy Spirit, will stay himself upon the Lord alone; not leaning or depending on the help of others.

2. A great courage under all circumstances. “Fear, I don’t know him.” “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

3. An abundance of good works.

4. Bear much hardship, exercise much self denial. True faith makes a man feel it is sweet to be a living sacrifice to God.

5. Faith is to us a great enlargement of our souls. We narrow our souls if we are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed. In other words, to make everything fit and to discard as worthless any doctrinal statement which will not fit an easy rationalism.

6. Those who believe firmly are made strong for service. Doubts about this and scruples about that do not make us strong for service. I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able.

7. Faith is our refreshment. Our faith in God revives us from our battle fatigue and weariness.

What does our faith say to us in the morning?

1. It claims to be well founded. The older I grow the more I realise the things I believe tally with my own soul’s best experience.

2. Faith asks us this question, “Have I ever deceived any one of you?” God asks, “Have I ever turned my back on you?”

3. Faith says “Give us wider range. Trust your God more.” Keep going deeper, like the river from the temple. Trust me to make you preach better. Do not fight your own battle in the church meeting, leave it to God. Trust me, go with prudence but with zeal into the darkest haunts of vice. Find the worst of men and seek their salvation.

4. Faith says “Feed me, feed me!” Faith feeds on Christ in his word and by prayer, mediation and study.

5. Faith says “we must go forward.” Faith presses on toward the goal, to which Christ has called us heavenward. Keep focused faithful solder and press on.

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Brave Merry Christmas

A poem of lament for advent, a cry to God for rescue, to turn chaos and evil to order and peace.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

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