Friday, April 19, 2013

Examine the Evidence

A bunch of guys who sing together and call themselves 'The Evidence' are heading our way this weekend!  Each of them has graduated from the discipleship training programme run by Teen Challenge UK. They have also had their lives dramatically turned around from self-destructive behaviour caused by addictions to drugs and alcohol. Now they are evidence of God's amazing grace and the life-changing power of the gospel - the good news of new life in Christ.

I live in an affluent, well-groomed community where you might imagine that there is hardly anything like drug addiction going on. Yet our island prison population, small as it may be by overseas standards, is mainly made of people serving time for drug related offences. The streets around our church building are known by the authorities to house multiple drug and alcohol related issues. We have been placed at the heart of this community with the community at our heart. Only the life-changing power of God can make the difference.

So we are going to take a look at the evidence and see what we think. They may be visitors to our island but they are not strangers to our problems. Their stories may well turn out to be a message of hope and life-change for many.  At least I hope so.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Ragamuffin Goes Home

The author of one of my favourite books The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning, has died this week in the USA. The sub-title of one of the latest versions of this bestseller is: 'Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out.' I first read the book when passing through a time of deep trial, when I thought that my life would soon be over and felt that it had not counted for much. Brennan had also trodden some pretty dark pathways in his life of faith and service and although we came from very different parts of the Christian family, I found his reflections so helpful.  I have lent out my copy so many times that I have lost it now, but will buy another one so that I can give it to other fellow strugglers with the storms of life.

Later on, I read his book 'The Furious Longing of God' describing how much God wants His children to realise the amazing power of His unconditional love for them. In it he writes: 'If you took the love of all the best mothers and fathers who have lived in the course of human history, all their goodness, kindness, patience, fidelity (faithfulness), wisdom, tenderness and strength and united all those qualities in a single person, that person's love would only be a faint shadow of the furious love and mercy in the heart of God the Father addressed to you and me at this moment'. Wow - I need that - and I have been comforted by the reassurances his writings give on many occasions.

Thank you Brennan.  Well done, good and faithful servant - enter into the joy of your Lord and mine!