Friday, 29 January 2010

The Beatitudes

Be attitudes?
Sometimes we hear it said that these are the be attitudes, as if its our job to fulfill them.

Well the answer might shock you.

The beatitudes are not the 10 Commandments of the Sermon on the Mount but door openers to the Kingdom of God. They are not conditions to be fulfilled but blessings pronounced on those whose experience they are. This is why they are so shocking to the religious mind. Jesus was opening the doors of the kingdom to the people the religious folks wanted to keep out!

A Re-transaltion/Paraphrase

With that in mind I have paraphrased or re-translated them:

Blessed/happy are the downtrodden, the worthless, those hanging on to life, for the kingdom of the heavens is for them.
Blessed/happy are those without status, whom the world looks down upon, they shall be lifted up, strengthened and comforted.
Blessed/happy are the lowly, the exploited of this world, those who have no say; the earth shall be their inheritance.
Blessed/happy those who hunger and thirst for justice; they will be satisfied.

Blessed/happy are the ones showing mercy; they will receive God’s lovingkindness.
Blessed/happy are those with an undivided heart, who are committed; they shall see God.
Blessed/happy are those who are peacemakers; they will be heirs of God.
Blessed/happy those who suffer for the cause of God’s justice, theirs is already the kingdom of the heavens.

Friday, 22 January 2010


Our English word 'church' is derived from the Greek 'kuriakon,' meaning 'dedicated to the Lord,' a word commonly used to refer to a holy place or temple, and came to mean a sacred building. The problem is it is never used in Scripture in reference to the Body of Christ, the church'.

The original Greek word that we transalte 'church' is 'ekklesia' which simply refers to an 'assembly,' a group of people gathered together for a purpose. It's therefore not a special building, nor an individual, or two or three people meeting together for coffee in Starbucks, even if it is in 'the name of Jesus.'

Today it is common to speak of the church as an 'organism' as opposed to an 'organisation,' the idea being that an organism has life and fluidity. There is also the suggestion within it that organisms can function without structure. The reality though is otherwise. All complex life forms have structure, structure and life go together, e.g. the human body.

The church likewise is NOT ‘amorphous,’ that is having no definite form, shapeless, without structure, as some would suggest.

The pictures we have in the Bible tell us otherwise:

• A Body: (Eph. 1;23; Rom 12:5) It's not meant to be taken literally, but rather speaks of connection and function – purpose is to oppose divisions. It’s about love & respect,the importance of all, and their need of each other, and that they are not interchangeable parts.

• Citizens: speaks of a well ordered society (Eph.2:19)

• A Household: speaks of family order and relationship (Eph. 2:19)

• A Temple: speaks of structure and the dwelling place of God (Eph. 2:21)

• A Bride: speaks of a ‘person’, love & loyalty to Christ (Eph. 5: 25-32)

So church then is an assembly gathered and structured for a purpose.

1. To be a people gathered before, under, and for the Lord – we are here first and foremost for God. Eph. 1:3-14; 2:21,22

2. To be a new man, a new society/new community – redeemed lives that are experiencing personal and relational transformation as we come under the authority of the Word and gathered community. Note: Personal growth is directly related to relational growth. Eph. 2:15, 19; 5

3. To be a city set on a hill – a light to the world. The church is not a castle to protect us from the world, but a place from which we go out into the world, to serve the purposes of the King.Matthew 5:14.

Therefore we should "not forake the assembling of ourselves together ...." Heb.10:25

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

This last week I have been away doing a weeks study at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology. On Friday it was my turn to lead the morning worship, and having spoken on the scripture "Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,.." (2 Timothy 2:8) we sang, 'I Know that My Redeeemer Lives' by Samuel Medley, a hymn I haven't sung in a long time, and my what a hymn! It was so appropriate to the text!

Now when you read the text it's not that Timothy had forgotten Jesus, or the gospel, no, it's that he needs to realise and appropriate the truth of the risen - no, more than that, the alive Christ, the One who came and dwelt in this 'stuff' (this real, tangible, human flesh), who was tempted and tried just like we are, but overcame, who went down into death bearing our sin and is alive today from the dead! There is a man in heaven who is our saviour, who is able to encourage and empower us because he has, and does symapthise with us.

Enjoy the hymn! Know the truth! (The actual version we sang was an edited one from Praise, but I have included the full version here for your blessing).

I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy this great assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living head!

He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives exalted, throned above;
He lives to rule his Church in love.

He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with his eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.

He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives to bless me with his love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my saviour, still the same;
What joy this blest assurance gives:
I know that my Redeemer lives!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Prophetic Revelation

Prophetic Revelation
"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." (Proverbs 29:18 ESV). This is where we need to be living as we head into 2010 - prophetic vision/revelation.

Now, we must never think for one moment that this always means something new, unheard of, totally original - if we do we'll be in trouble. This revelation has to do with a people who are alive to God and his Word.

First, alive to God, a relationship that is real, vital, developing, growing .. the problem is sin disrupts it, we can take it for granted, it goes stale etc. - and the problem is not God's!

Second, alive to His Word, the Holy Scriptures (maybe that word 'holy' needs to be restored to them - perhaps its again part of the dumbing down that is frequent today). How often this verse is quoted withouth the second part - "Blessed is he who keeps the law." Christians who are deaf and disobedient to the Word are cutting off the very basis of prophetic vision/revelation. If you are not hearing God one of the best questions you can ask yourself is, when did God last speak to me and what did I do with it? We close the door to hearing God by disobedience. Logically we might say, if you are not listening and responding now, why say anymore?

Praise God his mercies are new every morning. With him there is forgiveness. Acknowledgment, confession, repentance are key. He is more willing to renew our lives than we realise! Its the devil who says 'that's it, God's finished with you.' As the Psalmist says,"The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand." (Psalm 37:23-24)

Monday, 4 January 2010

How Precious is Your Name

I finished writing this hymn last year, it can be sung to the tune 'Lloyd,' with slightly altered phrasing in a more expressive modern style.

How precious is Your name O Lord
It means the world to me.
It speaks of all Your saving worth.
Your love poured out for me.

And when I think of what You've done
(And done it all for me!)
I cannot help but lift my voice
And sing my praise to Thee.

You came and lived your life for me
In flesh just like my own
You knew temptations fullest power
yet sin you did not own.

No sin was yours, but mine you took
And bore the wretched curse
Of death upon a Roman cross
To give men peace on earth.

There on that cross You shed your blood
So freely, all for me.
A sacrifice, atonement made,
To give me peace with Thee.

Richard Burgess 2009