Monthly Archives: April 2016

Loving Jesus well

imagesJesus loved us well. He laid down His life for us. In His death we find our redemption and our true value; no one pays that high a price for junk.

Loving us with unconditional extravagance includes not treating us as our sins deserve. This is an extraordinary notion, for everywhere else, at least in measure, the converse is true. The Scriptures reassure us of this – we will reap what we sow. This universal law is less than comforting in a fallen world where sin, weakness, carnality and lawlessness are interwoven into the fabric of life. What it means is that on a macro level what goes around comes around, and that we all experience an unintended proliferation of weeds come harvest time.

Not so with the Lord. Thanks to the cross, we are the recipients of unmerited favour. We do good; we get good from God; we do bad, we still get good from God. The mystery of grace is that this transforms us. We love because we are loved. We love Him because He first loved us. Little by little we are moved from living for ourselves to for living for Him. Little by little we move towards that place where the deepest desire of our hearts is to lay down our lives for Him; to live for the proverbial audience of One. This was how Jesus lived; this is how Jesus would have us live; this is how Jesus helps us to live; and living this way is how we find meaning in life.

Living surrendered to the Lord Jesus is not complicated or difficult. It’s not something that we figure out or strategise for. It’s not about obeying laws, fulfilling demands or meeting requirements. Neither is it grandiose, elitist or only for the super-spiritual. It’s not even of necessity unpleasant, even though it is a way of life defined by sacrifice, because it is after all for another, and inevitably for the benefit of others. It is life in the moment, naturally supernatural, and extraordinary in the ordinary. It’s a cocktail of kindness, mercy, generosity, encouragement, embrace, joy, peace, miracles, signs, wonders and gratitude. In it all the universal law of sowing and reaping – which in the lives of sinful men and women must inevitably present as the law of sin and death – elevates to giving and receiving, which is the law of Spirit and life. To live for the Lord is to live by grace; not by just desserts, but by unmerited favour, and of doing unto others what Jesus has done to us.

Music_WorshipThe saints you and I most admire are inevitably only doing what Jesus tells them to. They’re following the Spirit, walking in the grace they’ve been given. This was true of the heroes of the faith whose stories pulsate on the Bible’s pages, and it is true of those who provoke us to love Jesus more by the way they lead their lives alongside us day by day. Let’s join them today, walking in the grace that is ours in Christ Jesus, and simply doing what He tells us – no more; no less. This is worship in it’s truest sense. This is loving Him well.

Open letter to 33 South

3Being with you was a blast. Thank you!

Visiting Cape Town is hardly a suffering, but you were a joy beyond anything else your amazing city had on offer.

Thank you for celebrating Jesus with us. He truly is the Beginning, End, and All Things in between, and your obvious delight in the Good News of the Gospel was nurture to our souls.

Thank you for embracing, edifying and encouraging us. From discreet envelopes to heartfelt hugs, again and again we got the message – we’re loved and appreciated. It means a great deal, be it from friends of long standing, or from brand new acquaintances who are set to become friends of long standing in time. We have carried home with us a wonderful sense of having bonded with you – a bunch of God’s kids with whom we really get along. Having been with you, we are blessed and refreshed, and we trust that you are too.

It’s also a giant thank you for further provoking us in our pursuit of a pattern of life that is in and for the Gospel, rather than delineated and defined by the demands and activities of the church. We love the local church and could not imagine a life lived outside of it, but steadfastly refuse to allow it to become our master. Only Jesus may ever hold that place in our lives. Having reveled in your adventurous spirit and undemanding newness, we’ve returned home having resolved all the more to continue to give our lives to Christianity, not church-ianity, despite the considerable challenges this brings.

1Thank you too for befriending and blessing Andy. He loves Cape Town and he loves you, and his life is so much richer thanks to your warmth, patience, generosity and openhearted affection. He is a special young man, but it requires special people and special moments for that to be seen. His memory banks are full of new entries. Thank you for making them happen.

Our hope is that you’ll think as fondly of us as we do of you, and that in our Gracious Lord you will experience exceedingly, abundantly above your most outrageous prayer and wildest dream.

Much love,

Gavin, Estelle, Andy, and Highway

SMGN guest post by Christopher Probert

ChrisChristopher is a friend to and encourager of SoMuchGoodNews. He resides in the UK, is husband to Helen, and dad to Michael and Daniel. A vet by profession, Chris enjoys the outdoors and revels in the Gospel.

He recently shared these thoughts. Enjoy!

What is true happiness? When are you truly happy? And when are you least happy? I believe happiness is freedom from guilt and shame.

Young children are happier than adults, because they are carefree and have no sense of shame and little sense of regret. Have you seen the little kid playing and running stark naked, laughing all the way. I think that deep down we all want to be like that kid.

To do so would mean getting rid of guilt and shame. I see only two conclusions that a logical mind can reach when considering the solution to guilt and shame. One is to remove the source of it by abolishing rules, laws and God; thereby freeing ourselves from ever contravening anything. Everything becomes relative. No right or wrong. No good or bad. Just innumerable shades of grey. No one to answer to. No responsibility. Become a free agent. Encourage free thought. Don’t allow anyone to judge you. A very popular course taken by many.

However, even in a secular world, it’s clear that there are some rules. And the most secular will often be the most vocal when seeking justice or reparations for wrongs done to them. We all want the rules to apply to everyone else! And then there’s the nagging thought, deep down that even the staunchest atheist has. That twinkling doubt: “What if there really is a God?” So some will turn to religion, to try and answer that doubt. However, religion makes a very poor substitute for the true Good News. Religion is not Good News at all. And, instead of relieving it, it adds to our sense of guilt and shame. Thus many reject religion, having found that rather than solve the problem, it is compounded and they become even more unhappy.

Some might believe that those are the only choices before us. A choice between Atheism and Religion. If those were the only options then I too would choose Atheism to live free from guilt and shame. But, I have some really Good News. A path to true and lasting happiness. This is the only other logical conclusion. To receive God’s perfect sacrifice (the ultimate punishment suffered by Jesus on the cross – the death penalty) as full payment for all of our transgressions in perpetuity. Past, present and future. An incredible exchange that’s almost too good to be true. All our sin for all His Righteousness. Not by our own efforts, but by His. When received, the result is freedom from condemnation, guilt and shame. Freedom to live within the rules, and not fear the consequences when we don’t. Ultimate security and hope. True happiness.