Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting the Balance Right

'Anger: Your Spiritual Ally' is a strange title for a book. Written by Andrew Lester and published recently in the UK it offers the idea that far from being the enemy of a Christian, anger is actually our friend!

Now if you're anything like me you'll find that a bit hard to swallow. After all, I've always thought that Christians weren't supposed to get angry, and if they did, they ought to keep it to themselves. We've all seen the damage that anger can do - fractured homes, frightened children, disappointed work colleagues, even violence and death itself - so what good is anger?

As I read the book, and more importantly the Scriptures on this subject, I came to discover some significant truths. Firstly, anger is part of that human nature of which the Creator said 'It's good' in Genesis. OK, so the events of Genesis 3 radically spoiled that assessment, but what I'm getting at is that anger is a normal part of human nature. Secondly, those who know their Bibles will agree that there is clear evidence that God gets angry (very angry actually, though we also read that He is 'slow to anger'). The events surrounding Jesus' rampage through the Temple courts armed with a scourge of cords are also evidence that Jesus (who was sinless) experienced anger. Thirdly, the Bible teaches that there is an anger which is healthy, and another expression of it which is not, in fact is sin. 'Be angry and do not sin' is the advice of the Apostle Paul, contrasting the two.

Now why am I reading that book? Well, partly because I am writing a follow-up to my own book Braving the Storm which contains a chapter on anger. Partly also, though, if I'm honest, I struggle with feelings of anger about my decade or more of chronic pain and serious ill health, and the effects they have had on my family and ministry. I am relieved to read what Mr Lester has to say, and am resolved to find ways of 'owning' my anger and expressing it to God so as to make it part of the healing and not part of the problem.

Now that's what I call a spiritual ally.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Death of a Good Man

This week a really good man went to be with the Lord, leaving his wife, children and work behind. This is what the Christian news media said about the passing of Rob Frost:

"Senior church leaders paid tribute this week to Revd Dr Rob Frost, founder of Share Jesus International, who died on Sunday, age 57. Dr Frost, a Methodist Minister and former national evangelist for the Methodist Church, initiated scores of projects including Easter People and next year’s London-based Pentecost celebrations. He died only months after being diagnosed with skin cancer in June. Methodist Church General Secretary, Revd David Deeks, said, ‘Rob’s passion for evangelism was boundless and he leaves a great legacy.’ Revd Dr David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance, said, ‘Rob ranks as one of the most creative evangelists and able apologists of his generation.’ Evangelical Alliance General Director, Revd Joel Edwards, praised Rob’s ‘fervour and creativity’, his mentoring of young people and said ‘His aspiration to rediscover the spirit of Pentecost and make it accessible to the culture’ will be ‘his final legacy’."

I have always felt that Rob had an influence way beyond the circles that he normally moved in - he came from Methodism - and his testimony and ministry touched many lives. I can imagine that his family are finding this a tough time, and will need our prayers. It would have seemed so much more sensible for Rob to live and work on for another 10 or 20 years, but that was not in God's plan for him.

As we ponder the passing of a great servant of God, the tribute paid to King David comes to mind. He 'served the purpose of God in his generation and then fell asleep'. What a testimony, and one that we would love to have said about us. Rob was brave, clear minded about the gospel, filled with the Holy Spirit, and sold out for Jesus. 'His works follow him'.

There is a great mystery in the matter of God's timing for our lives, but one thing we can learn from this is to do all we can, with all the strength that we can, for as long as we can. The rest, we leave to God.

Goodnight Rob.

Friday, November 09, 2007


Now with the wonders of the Worldwide Web we are able to 'network' with our friends. All good stuff, whether it's on Facebook, MySpace or even on the special networking site for over 50's 'sagazone'. I am now able to catch up with friends all over the place, and am even playing Scrabble with my best friend Graeme who lives down under in New Zealand! Needless to say, I am ahead!

Got me thinking, though, about the issue of quantity versus quality when it comes to friendship. All this networking could still leave us sitting alone at our computers hardly ever meeting up with anyone. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for contact, especially over the miles, but nothing beats face to face get togethers over a great coffee. Also, there is room for fraud and identity theft in all this, something that was being warned about only recently on television in the UK.

This weekend I will meet up with some friends in the Lake District that I haven't seen for a long time - and I'm really excited about it! There's nothing to really beat the buzz of chatting and catching up on mutual friends and even with what God is doing in our lives.

If prayer is some kind of networking with God, I am realy glad that one day He and I are going to catch up in person. 'Face to face I shall behold Him' as the songwriter says. It's great having access to the Lord every day, and even in the night when you can't sleep, but it will be even greater to sit down and talk through a few heavy issues when I see Him!

So, to all my Facebook chums, if you are coming anywhere near Guernsey do let me know, and if I'm around your neck of the woods I'll get in touch. And Graeme - if you read this - let's meet up in Singapore for a coffee some time soon!

Mine's a cappucino.