David Bowie “Look up here, I’m in heaven”

As a young sprog (over twenty years ago), my Auntie Jeannette (Jean Genie) introduced me to the work of David Bowie – I instantly fell in love. A passion for his art stayed with me through my adolescence, teenage years and into adulthood. The man’s talents were remarkable and I was looking forward to hearing his new album “Black Star” released on his 69th birthday.

As we now all know, just two days after the album’s release, David Bowie died after an 18-month battle with cancer.

This period of David’s life must have been agonizing as he came to terms with his pending fate (one that we will all have to share). But to us “fans” David’s death was “sudden,” as nobody knew about  his diagnosis. Such secrecy (you could argue) gave David time to plan his affairs outside of the media gaze and made his death, in many ways, a final artistic expression.

When the news broke the media was filled with tributes.

His face was all over the National Newspapers. The Sun, the Star and the Daily Express were of particular interest to me as they referenced on their front pages a lyric from David’s new track “Lazarus”, where he sang “Look up here, I’m in heaven”.

Some have said this track is a “goodbye” from David to his “fans”. It is clear that the mind behind such a track was obviously in turmoil, dealing with the truth of eternity and the vanity of life. Again something we will all have to ponder at some point.

David Bowie

In truth none of us can say where David Bowie is today. His public life (and his work) did not allude to any saving faith. With that said, the Lord could have graciously met with David in his final moments (as He did the thief on the Cross). With repenting heart David could have put His trust in Jesus Christ and thus now be in Heaven as an adopted Son. I pray (for his sake) that this is the case.

What has encouraged me through this shared experience of mourning is how; in an age where churches are at best poorly attended and even closing, where Christianity is ostracized and atheism praised, the papers where still happy to publish “Heaven” on their front pages and that there has been no retaliation from the public ( in light of David’s sad passing). Several known figures from the world of entertainment and politics have also publicly shared their condolences and have  agreed with the concept of David now being in “Heaven”.

It would seem that “Heaven” is clearly still accepted by general consensus to be a reality. (Praise God).

The same people who would otherwise reject the teaching of Jesus Christ and His church, who would dismiss me at any other time as being “a nut” for believing in the Bible, are now all in chorus agreeing with the Biblical concept of Heaven.

Yet, this should not surprise me, human beings are body and soul, we are all spiritual beings and the Bible does tell us that God has put such knowledge in our hearts.

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end“(Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).

David’s death has once again proved that at times of sorrow and in times of grief, the general populous do concede to this knowledge and this is because it is true.

However, we do also learn (with great sadness) that the general populous believe that everyone (including themselves) will be joining David there, without thinking through the logic of such a position.

Yes! They are right, Heaven does exist and  it is a perfect place. So why (you may ask) do they then think they have any right to go there?

None of us can claim to be perfect? Paul himself writes “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

If we all went to Heaven, our imperfections would be amplified throughout eternity, Heaven would cease to be perfect, because we are in it! Your very presence would ruin it!

If you (rightly) judge yourself not to be perfect and are by your own admittance an imperfect judge. How damming do you think the verdict will be against you when you come to meet the perfect God, who has perfect judgement?

Where do you think He would put you? Heaven? I don’t think so!

I know I am not perfect, I know that I do not meet the standard to enter Heaven. So before God, I could never sing in my own strength as David did, “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. It is illogical and un-Biblical!

This is the sad state of man! We are lost by our very imperfect nature!

BUT! There is some good news! The same book that tells us of Heaven also tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

It continues … “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned

Hope! Hope in our imperfections!

In Christ Jesus we can sing “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Because in faith, in Him my sins are forgiven and forgotten.

God says “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25.

Jesus lived the perfect life that I never could and He took the punishment, the justice I deserve for my crimes against God on the Cross.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

This should be front page news today and every day!

By coming to Jesus, repenting of my sin and asking Him to save me, I can  go to the mercy seat saved and justified. Not because of my good deeds, but because of His, Jesus Christ. For God the Son is my advocate before my Father, it is in Him that I trust my salvation. I mourn my failures, my crimes against God and  I know there is no way I could get to Heaven without Him.

What blessed assurance we have in Jesus!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

In our sin, none of us have any right to sing “Look up here, I’m in heaven” but in Christ we can and we will!

What is for sure is that David Bowie has met his maker, as we all will one day. I pray He had Christ with Him at the time.

From the Welsh Valleys to the Calais Jungle

A few months ago my wife and I felt compelled to assist the Refugee Crisis. Like most of the country we were horrified to see pictures of a young Syrian child washed up on a beach and it drove us to action.

I put pen to paper and wrote “Refugee Crisis! What must we do?” . This blog was widely shared in the community and through it I was introduced to Torfaen Aid for Refugees (TAR).

After a few Facebook messages we agreed that Noddfa Baptist Church would become a collection point for the North of Torfaen. We were inundated! Many from the community had donated, we even had people come up from Cardiff as their centres were full.

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It was wonderful and humbling to be a part of such acts of kindness. It compelled me further to see this through on behalf of the community that the Lord has called me to serve. So, I volunteered to take the donations to Calais.

The work had only just begun!

A few weeks later a group of local volunteers collected the goods from the church. The clothes had to be sorted into type and sizes, bagged and labelled. All to ease distribution at the other end.

Each week my wife checked in with the distribution centre as well as local/national news to see when was the best time to go. Meanwhile the items for women and children were taken by TAR to Manchester and shipped to where they were needed most, on the borders of Eastern Europe.

In light of the Paris attacks (see blog Pray for Paris – What does this mean?). We decided that now would be a good time to depart for Calais as security was on high and the distribution centre had space!

I picked up the van early on the Thursday morning and drove to Thornhill Community Centre (Cwmbran) where the donations, once sorted, were stored. I met Mark Price (who heads up TAR) and Dave Daniels (Councillor for Lantarnam), who kindly helped to fill up the van in what seemed to be a monsoon, we were soaked through.

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Then off to Newport to pick up donations from local company “Global Business Intelligence (GBI)” who were also supporting the trip alongside TAR and members at Noddfa Baptist Church. The CEO of GBI, colleague and friend, Lee Williams, joined me on the journey.

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We made good progress on the motorway and arrived in time at the Eurotunnel, I was very impressed by its efficiency.

In France the rain was still pouring down. The depot was just 10 miles from the Eurotunnel but it took hours for us to find it. We asked many people for directions, to my surprise few spoke any “Anglais”at all.

We asked one young man “Thomas” who happened to be Australian. He was just coming back from “the Jungle” where he had been teaching the Refugees English and was walking to the distribution centre. It was dark by this time and still raining; he jumped into the van and directed us.

We got to the centre at 17:30, relieved to find it open. There was no time for pleasantries, the volunteers were working hard, a few came out to assist as we had a huge transit full to bursting. They showed us where we could collect roll cages from and where in the warehouse to drop certain things off.

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The picture above, does not do the scene justice! The warehouse was vast! Lee referenced the warehouse scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark and he was not far off.

We unpacked the van into different cages for; clothes, bedding, shoes, coats, towels, non-perishable food, toiletries, tents, cooking equipment and miscellaneous. We then worked to get them to the right places in the distribution centre.

It was an eerie place to be. I felt I was on the set of an apocalyptic movie, where the last of humanity were rallying together. Volunteers were working so hard, unified in a common cause, yet little was said in light of the tragedy that lay just 10 minutes drive away from us.

There were huge mountains of much needed winter clothing that could potentially save many lives. But to us, we were simply sorting out peoples old clothes.

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It was a sombre moment as we came to terms with our own perceptions of such goods. To us, they were leftovers, junk, things we did not need in our excess, but they were going to people who would view such a coat as a matter of life and death this winter.

I spoke with several volunteers and it warmed my heart to see so many from other churches. I asked them about the “Jungle” and shared my desire to see the church within it. They all looked shocked when they realised I meant tonight, but did say it was perfectly safe. I asked Thomas to be our guide and he was happy to venture back in.

Welcome to the Jungle

We entered the Jungle and I instantly regretted my decision to go.

Nothing could have prepared me for the desolate squalor that was set ahead us. Instantly we were greeted by a harsh, deep, pungent smell which I am sure would have been worse if the days torrential rain had not washed a lot of the effluence away.

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We drove in and up a stone path, to my surprise, within the huts were shops, hotels, mobile phone charging centres, free houses and places to rent bicycles.

I managed to take a few pictures on my phone as we slowly drove through, before being warned by Thomas not to take pictures. “The men in the camp would rather not have their pictures taken and can get quite aggressive if you do”. So away went my phone! Just as well, as we drove further in towards the Afghanistan district of the camp, some trouble had just happened and a crowd of people were gathered.

We had no choice but to drive through them, our guide got out in front to ask them to move aside. At one point we were totally surrounded, a conservative estimate would be around three hundred men in the road, many shouting “line, line?” Essentially asking whether the van had donations and  should they queue?

We continued to drive on.

The strategy was clear, someone volunteered to purposely walk slowly in front of the van (to slow us down) why others tried to open the back.

As we came straight from the distribution centre I forgot to lock the van door and could feel the vibrations under my seat of footsteps behind me in the truck. I was terrified. We were in a transit, in a separate cabin at the front, so relatively safe. I pushed on through to the church, rather than getting out there and then. We parked up, got out and opened the back doors, telling everyone to get out. To my relief they all had smiles on their faces as if it was just a joke, a bus lift to the top of the hill.

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To my disappointment, the church was locked owing to the previous incident that caused so many to gather further down the path. Our guide walked off and started speaking to various gangs of people, explaining that I was a Pastor of a church in Wales and would like to go inside. Many made calls to find “Solomon” who had the key. We were told to wait for ten minutes.

Many people came to the van asking “line, line”? Others walked right up to us to see what we were wearing. (Lee regretted coming in Gucci shoes and a Ralph Lauren shirt).

Most of them spoke English (better than the French people we asked for direction when in Calais). They told us that their main need was for footwear, the ground was simply wet mud and stone, their shoes were getting chewed up. I spoke to others who said they were Christian, I said I would pray for them and asked for their names.

A number walked past us to pray quietly at the doors of the church.

I am pleased to report that nobody that we saw there was emaciated. I also saw several women and one boy around ten years old. There maybe more but it was night time and many would have been in their tents, so unsure of the real demographic. Certainly male dominated.

We were told of the tear gas that they claim the  French Police had been using on them and that 200 tents had burned down days before, so morale was low.

We had also heard that some volunteers had set up a free canteen for residents, but this week it had been held up three times (it is assumed by the owners of the shops that were charging).  So they had to close.

We spoke to one gentleman who told us that he was involved in the running of the church and said that Solomon would be another 30 minutes. To my shame I could not wait any longer. As more people gathered i felt uneasy, I just wanted to get out. I gave the man many copies of John’s Gospel for them to use as a church. We got back into the van and drove through the crowds once more (this time with the van all locked). As we came out of the camp another scuffle was kicking off and I was relieved to be out of there.

I stopped the van several times to check, check and check again that nobody was hanging on or underneath.

We swiftly got back to the Eurotunnel and asked by the UK boarder Police where we had been. Their expressions changed when they were told.Lee had also lost his passport (which did not help matters).

We were ushered to the side for a full search and drug swab. As we waited nervously, Lee found his passport which eased the situation and we were eventually allowed to go.

We drove home in silence, shocked of what we had seen. We crossed the Severn Bridge in the early hours of Friday morning with a huge sigh of relief. I told Lee (Bilbo Baggins) that I did not want to leave the Shire again.

Final thoughts

I have left Calais with more questions than answers.

The news does not give justice to the awful conditions that these poor people are living in and I must stress they continue to need our support.

With that said I was also surprised by their ability to survive so long under tarpaulin surrounded by effluence and rubbish.

In my brief time in the camp I can’t conclude whether these people were fleeing war or were simply economic migrants. What I will say is, whatever their motive, their move must be out of utter desperation for them to wish to endure these conditions.

Many if not all wish to come to the UK, they have been sold a dream that makes waiting in the cold winter nights, all worthwhile.

Hindsight

I have now defragmented my brain from yesterdays experience by writing the above and can thank God for His Grace.

I was terrified in that camp, but in hindsight, we did get out in one piece, with not a single mark on the van (just a few hand prints).

Although the “Jungle” has become tribal and self policing, they all have a shared respect for those helping them. There has not been one reported attack on any volunteer. I saw one young western female volunteer simply walking through the crowds on her own! Some of them even stay within the camp itself!

Perhaps my fears were born out of what was an alien situation rather than any risk to self?

With that said, I think I have made clear that it was an awful ordeal to experience and I would strongly recommend to the faint-hearted wishing to go, not to! Please use your resources donating funds instead! The volunteers are hard working and committed individuals and although would welcome anyone with open arms, are stretched as it is and do not have time for tourists.

I was most surprised by how people were simply getting on with it, and many were dancing to music and quite jovial. Despite my horror of the conditions they were getting on with life, it was normal for them. They are resourceful, many have started businesses and offer services within the camp.

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The sad truth is, what I saw in the Jungle is the normal life experience of humanity. 2.8 Billion people in the world survive on less than $2 a day, 1.2 Billion people on less than $1 a day. By God’s Grace we are a fortunate few. We have received freely by birth a better life of much privilege, so have a duty to freely give to those less fortunate.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35

A big thank you to; Torfaen Aid for Refugees, the members of Noddfa Baptist Church  and Global Business Intelligence (GBI) who made the trip possible and a super big thank you to all those who donated.

Purple Lights of Hope

We are very blessed in Abersychan to have such a committed and active Councillor as Giles Davies. He does so much for our community and his drive to make a difference to the area has not deteriorated since he took office as the Mayor of Torfaen earlier this year. Giles continually seeks to support all those in the area to the best of his ability, he is always out serving the community and I thank God for him.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Giles Davies Mayor of Torfaen and Pastor John FunnellSo, when I get a phone call from Giles, asking to support, I jump at the chance (and we all should)! I do not do this simply as assistant Chaplain to the Mayor, neither as a friend, but in gratitude for his efforts to improve the lives of all of us in the community. Giles has sacrificed a lot of his time and resources supporting his charities this year, and has worked incredibly hard to raise awareness for “World Pancreatic Cancer Day” (13th November 2015). I was humbled and excited to be part of the proceedings.

The charity event started at Pontypool Golf club where we met to see the Folly Tower lit up purple, it could be seen for miles. (I believe this is the first time it has been lit up since the millennium).

Folly Tower World Pancreatic Cancer Day

The lighting of the Tower was launched in spectacular fashion with the best firework display I have seen this year (courtesy of Pendragon Fireworks).

We then moved on to St Cradoc’s Church, Trevethin, for the “Purple Lights of Hope Service” given by Canon Brian Pippen. Prayers were said, candles lit to symbolise ongoing prayer for those suffering with Pancreatic Cancer and a well chosen reading from Romans 8:18-26.

The reading from Paul’s letter talks about present suffering in a fallen world and the hope of Glory to come in Christ Jesus that will far outweigh our current pain and suffering.

Then we enjoyed an evening of fantastic entertainment.

Howard Jackson sang from his heart (full of welsh pride), a mixture of traditional gospel songs and some classics to. Marvelous!

Howard Jackson

Howard Jackson

Mandy Jones, spoke on her experiences with Pancreatic Cancer, losing her husband just six days after diagnoses. She bravely shared some horrifying statistics and gave an insight into the human tragedy. I will be praying for Mandy and her family as they continue to grieve their loss (John 3:16). Mandy heads up the charity in Torfaen. “Supporting the Fighters Admiring Survivors and Honouring the Taken and Never Give up Hope.”

Mandy Jones

Mandy Jones

We also had a scene from “AdHoc” dramatic group from their upcoming Christmas Carol show and a poem from Alex Wharton.

Alex Wharton.

Alex Wharton.

The star of the show had to be Laura Sidney. You do not expect to see such a talent at a local church in a small Valley town. Seriously world class. I closed my eyes as she sang and was carried away, a taste of heaven and something that she must pursue!

Laura Sidney

Laura Sidney

The night ended with refreshments and fellowship, a great chance to meet many in the community and support a worthy cause.

I ask everyone to please give what you can to the cause – here is the just giving page for Torfaen

A big thanks to Giles, Mandy and all who supported.

Who do you say I am?

The Lord is certainly blessing us at Noddfa, after 18 years of drought we have had the privilege of Baptizing six brothers and sisters this year. Two of which were on Sunday. By God’s Grace I preached on Peters confession in Matthew 16.

In verse 13 of the chapter Jesus asks His disciples “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

I asked the question, why did the people of the day, confuse Jesus the Son of God with such people? What made them think of John the Baptist, or Elijah or Jeremiah when they came into contact with Jesus?

Well, it is clear from Scripture that John the Baptist unashamedly preached sin (Matthew 3:6). He made known the imperfections of the human race and his ministry convicted those who heard him and they followed such conviction with repentance and Baptism. John the Baptist was not a preacher that sugar coated the truth to earn approval from man! He taught the truth of the Bible! Even if it made his hearers feel uncomfortable! Even if by doing so would lead to rejection, persecution or even death! This is why “Some” thought Jesus was John the Baptist. Because when they came before Jesus, they were met with His perfection and these “some” could see (by comparison) their own imperfection! When they came before God the Son, they were convicted of their wrong doing, just as they were when they heard John the Baptist Preach.

Why did they think Jesus was Elijah?

Well Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who worked miracles, by God’s Grace he stopped the rain for three years and six months, he fed people with jars of flour and oil that never became empty. In God’s strength Elijah brought a child back to life. Elijah called to God to make Himself known and fire came from Heaven! Jesus (being God, God the Son) had more than a double portion of Elijah’s gifts! As He walked this earth, the blind received sight, the lame walked, those who had leprosy were cleansed, the deaf began to hear, the dead were raised! And such miracles have not ceased, for we still see worldly men and women profess faith in our living God. This in itself is a miracle.

Why did they think Jesus was Jeremiah?

Well Jeremiah was known as the weeping Prophet! Jesus calls us to weep for our sin! Jesus said Himself “Blessed are those that mourn” (Matthew 5:5). Christ Himself wept, He wept for Jerusalem, He wept for His people, He wept at Lazurus’ tomb, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, despised and rejected by men. He suffered terribly; He endured humiliation as He bled naked on the cross! People thought Jesus was Jeremiah, because like Jeremiah He suffered, But Jesus did more, He suffered the horrors of Hell, so that us (His chosen) did not have to (Matt 16:21).

The disciples told Jesus who people said that He was; Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist and we have looked together as to why they might have got confused. But notice Jesus’ response. He said “Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15).

Andrew - Noddfa Baptism     Robbie - Noddfa Baptism

God’s providence has brought these two brothers together for their Baptism’s. Both have been raised in Christian homes, both have been taught the Bible as Children, both have grown up with the knowledge of Jesus. But up until this point, had any of it saved them? No! Not a bit!

You see our salvation is based on a personal relationship with God. The faith of our parents can’t save us, the fact we were christened as children can’t save us, the fact that we were raised in a “church going” family can’t save us! What saves us is whether we have a personal relationship with Christ, it is whether, we, as individuals trust in Him! On the day of judgement, when you are called to leave this life, it all comes down to your answer to this question of Jesus “Who do you say I am”

When it comes to your eternal salvation it does not matter what the world tells you about Jesus, it does not matter what your family tells you about Jesus, it is all about what you say He is!

Peter answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).

Let us put this amazing confession of Peter’s into context. The disciples are currently in Caesarea Philippi! (Matthew 16:13). A godless society no different to our own! Filled with idols made by man! Just like today, the people of Caesarea Philippi lived a life chasing their desires, chasing things of the world. If they were here today, they would be chasing the new cars, a bigger house, nice holidays, lots of money, wide screen tv’s, gadgets, or the latest fashions. Things that at best, are dying, at best will all eventually gather dust, decay, rot, get thrown away or be forgotten about!

Our society today is no different to that of Caesarea Philippi. People live to gain riches of the world, instead of eternal riches in Christ. They live in death. Which makes Peter’s statement of “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” even more profound!

In our reading we hear that Jesus and just 12 disciples stood alone surrounded by a secular world.

Just like then, we gather as a small church, surrounded by approximately 10,000 that would favour going to the shops to buy rubbish than come to worship their living God. In the midst of this consumerization and ultimately death, we have the privilege of witnessing our two brothers who have come to life in Christ, to declare publicly what Peter said here in verse 16, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”. It is on this confession that Jesus has built His church on (Matthew 16:17).

Despite generations of critics, Christians are still being baptised. We have been doing this for 2,000 years! Why? Because the human condition has not changed since the time of Jesus. Despite our modern technology we remain as selfish, as greedy, as pride driven and as lustful as we did back then! As true as these faculties are of us today, is as true as the cure! The Gospel!

A letter to our community

Over the coming weeks this letter is going out to the community that I love! The good people of Aberyschan, Talywain and Garndiffaith. Please Read and share.

Dear Neighbour,

It has been a year since my wife, four kids and I moved into the area and we have been amazed by the welcome. We are truly blessed to live in such a loving community.

Within 12 months your local church (Noddfa) has gone from just a handful of devoted people meeting on a Sunday morning, to over thirty regular attendees of all ages and backgrounds.

We have started a Sunday school during the service to keep the children/grandchildren busy so all the parents (and Grandparents) can have a break and enjoy their time with us, the kids love it to!

Our monthly family friendly evening services “Look Up” regularly see fifty or so attend.

full church outside

The Monday Club (6-7pm) is blossoming with many primary school aged children joining us for stories, games and refreshments.

monday club   mondayclub

Our Mothers and Toddlers group (Tuesday 10am) has had to expand, so we are now running a “Messy” sensory play session every Thursday at 1pm.

messy1 momandtots

Noddfa is also a collection point for the local food bank and “Torfaen Aid for Refugees”.

I am giving you the above information to illustrate that as a church we are here to serve the community (and that means you!)

Whether you believe in God, or have other views, I remain here for you as your local Pastor and my door is always open. If you have any questions about your life and its meaning, if you are undergoing various trials, or if you simply fancy a chat please give me a call, or come and see us at one of our meetings. You and your family are more than welcome.

You can find out more on our website www.NoddfaBaptist.co.uk or Like “Noddfa Baptist Church” on Facebook.

I hope we can meet in person at some point in the future. My details are below.

Pastor John-Edward Funnell
Email: Pastor@noddfabaptist.co.uk

abersychan

Televangelists and the Prosperity Gospel

“He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1:52-53

John Oliver

John Oliver

One of my closest friends (sadly not yet a Christian – but I will keep praying for him) suggested that I watch an episode of the “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. In this episode John Oliver exposes the fraud behind TV Evangelism (Televangelists) and the prosperity Gospel that they preach.

Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success), is a theory (in the guise of a Christian Doctrine) that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one’s material wealth.

Televangelists claim that if people plant a “seed” (a donation to the Televangelists’ church) God will bless them (through other avenues) with monitory reward or healing.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15

Through this “teaching” Billions of Dollars are being taken from vulnerable, poor and needy people, to pay for private jets, mansion houses and the lavish lifestyles of those claiming to be servants of God!

In his report John Oliver sets up his own religious movement “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption”  -to show how easy it is to take money from people in this way.

Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption

I want to initially start by reiterating (on behalf of John Oliver) that at the beginning of the report, he did stress the good work of the church and the important role it has in society. The networks attack was not on the “Church” but on the IRS and of course the fraudster Televangelists  claiming to be ‘prophets’ and ‘healers’.

Although I am not naive to Televangelists and their deception, watching this report has made it more real to me. It has broken my heart to see the extent of which weak people are being manipulated and worse still it is being done in the name of our Lord Jesus! It has brought me to my knees in prayer.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

Galatians 1:8

The “prosperity Gospel” argues that God wants you to be financially rich and it teaches that worldly wealth is a sign of blessing. The “prosperity Gospel” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact it contradicts the very teaching of the Bible!

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:6 -9

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” 

Psalm 23:1

As Christians, we know that God’s blessing is not shown in financial gain, but in our contentment in what we have got (good and bad) by the Grace of God.

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:25-26

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” 

Matthew 10:8

I received forgiveness for my sins freely from God. I did not have to pay anyone for Christ to work in my life! Yes my salvation came at great cost, but Jesus paid the price of that in full by the perfect sacrifice of Himself on the cross at Calvary!

The debt for my Sin has been written off by the King of Glory and as His servant I am indebted to Him for this reason, so how can I then hold others to account?

“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.” Matthew 18:21-29

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Matthew 16:24 – 26

The Lord Jesus Christ was born in a stable in a poor rural village, not in a lavish castle in the wealthiest city. He left Heaven to come low, he did not fly in a private jet, but lived a life of poverty and was nailed to a cross for the Love of God.

As Christians we must be prepared to follow Him in such suffering, for we do not live for the blessings of this world, but for the promises of the next.

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name”. Acts 5:41

“who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2.5-8

Ask yourself, would these Televangelists back what they teach all the way to the cross? Would they suffer Crucifixion as our Lord did?

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

Ephesians 2:8-9

The Televangelists contradicts the very Grace of God! They say “go out and earn money, then send it to “me” and you will blessed!”

“Simon the Sorcerer” tried to buy God’s gifts and he was rebuked immediately. “Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! Acts 8:20

The Bible teaches us that it is by the Grace of God, in Faith of what Christ has done for us , that we are saved.

We must never think that by paying money into a church, God will look more favorably on us, “for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

Yes, we are right to give money to the church so she can continue to proclaim Gospel truth, yes we must continue to support those who teach the Bible (correctly and in Love). Feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and helping the poor does cost money. But we must never think when giving that we can buy our salvation! For it is by Grace that we have been saved!

“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Acts 3:6

Money does not solve the problems of humanity! Despite our relative wealth in the West, we are still lustful, greedy and pride-driven people, we still lie, cheat and murder. This evil is innate in us all, the Bible calls it Sin, and it keeps us away from our perfect God. But in Christ, Sin is forgiven, this truth cannot be bought or sold, it is a gift from God and must simply be accepted by those in need.

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5

EMW Aberystwyth Conference 2015

I have just returned from what was my sixth EMW Aberystwyth Conference. I am pleased to say that I left with a filled head and a heavy heart. Praise God!

EMW Aberystwyth Conference

EMW Aberystwyth Conference

Those that attend Emmanuel Evangelical Church (Newport) would know from previous reviews (exclusive to their gazette) that I do not attend the conference in its entirety. By God’s Grace I am the head of a young family with four children (all under 8yrs), so it is simply not possible to go to all of the seminars, workshops and prayer meetings throughout the week. Neither would it be fair on my children who spend the rest of the year waiting for me to finish my study or sermon prep before we can play together. To us (well until the kids grow up) the Aber conference is the perfect complement to a family holiday in West Wales! A holiday that I would certainly recommend.

We left home on the Saturday before the conference, and in keeping with tradition we met up with friends at Bwlch Nant for a picnic . Below is our annual picture of all the children (the group continue to grow in size and number).

Bwlch Nant

Bwlch Nant

We then arrived early afternoon to our cottage just outside of Clarach (Penybont). A spacious, modern and clean place to call home for the week! Soft beds, big sofa’s, hot pressured showers, a dishwasher, washer/dryer and Sky TV! Very Happy and great value!!! We have booked it for next year already (sorry), but there are some B&B spots available next door.

On Sunday, we went to Capel Morfa and heard a powerful word from Dave Gobbet (Lead Minister at Highfields church). “Preach Christ, Die and be forgotten about”. The crèche out the back was filled with children. Very encouraging in these dark times.

We enjoyed the rest of the day with dear friends, eating a superb roast dinner on campus at Aberystwyth University. The evening came and we returned back to Capel Morfa to hear Chris Rogers preach a clear Gospel message on the cleansing of Naaman.

Ynyslas

Ynyslas

The fellowship continued as we spent Monday (as we do every Aber Monday – come rain or shine) with friends at Ynyslas. We played cricket, paddled in the sea, climbed the dunes and buried our children. After a brief stop off at the cottage for a shower and tea, I went on to the first evening meeting of the conference. Phil Hill (WEST) gave a most sincere message on ‘Grace’, through the illustration of Christ’s restoration of Peter (John 21). “Our God is watching the horizon, waiting for the disobedient to turn and come back to Him”. Our God is gracious and so should we be to our backslidden family.

The following day, after breakfast we returned to the conference. We settled the youngest two in Tiny Tots to burn off some steam, and dropped the older two off at Holiday Heroes where they had a week of fun and learning. My wife and I then went to the ‘great hall’ to sing to the Praise of God with 1500+ brothers and sisters. We then had the pleasure of David Meredith preach the first of a four part series on “the ultimate occupy movement”. We opened Joshua 1 and heard of Joshua’s ambition for God.

After the service, the sun still had its hat on, so we returned to Ynyslas to play cricket, paddle in the sea, climb the dunes and burry some more of our children. In the evening we returned to the conference to hear Paul Tripp talk on the “now-ism” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:18-39). His Grace can be tough, uncomfortable, unstoppable and redeeming! Grace = God for us! He was certainly with us that evening.

On the Wednesday morning David Meredith continued his series opening Joshua 9, looking at the deceit of the Gibeonites and Joshua’s discernment. God gave Joshua the wisdom to be gracious because their deceit came from a just fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).The afternoon was spent again with dear friends. My wife however left us for a better offer! She was treated by the EMW to a “Pastor’s wife’s lunch.” This came as a welcomed opportunity for her to meet and share with other great women who support their husbands calling. We returned to the conference to again hear Paul Tripp who took us through the miracle of Jesus walking on water, during a storm, to meet the disciples in their boat (Mark 6:45-52). Jesus injects Himself into the moment of need. Sometimes we need the storm to see His Glory! Are you hardened to His glory? Are you like a child at Christmas who rejects the gift to play with the box?

Thursday! The Sun is still shinning (let us not forget we are in Wales). We drop the kids off to their clubs (no walk of shame yet) and we hear what for me was the jewel of the week. David Meredith preached on Joshua 17 (in the context of Numbers 27), the suffering church. The challenge to us was great, the message had both spiritual and practical application. We are not local Christians, we are world Christians and the world is sick! Be gracious! help others, let the suffering find rest and relief in the family of God! The message left me weeping and frustrated for the lost souls who would not hear such a most profound word. The word David shared was from God and one I will never forget! Thursday was another “beach” day, but this time down on the front of Aberystwyth. The boy’s ‘body boarded’ in the sea whilst we looked on. We took in the view, visited the shops and ended with fish and chip supper by the peer.

Chish and Fips

Chish and Fips

We returned to the conference to hear Paul Tripp’s final message on Psalm 27 (read by a rather suspicious Character below). We where were reminded to stop looking horizontally for what we have been given vertically. We have the power of Christ to get us through the reality of living through this cursed world! Paul finished by setting us homework! Each day we must; “Gaze” upon the beauty of the Lord (Isaiah 40), “Remember” you are a child of God, “Rest” in God and “Act” on your identity as a child of God.

Pastor John @ EMW Aber Conference

Pastor John @ EMW Aber Conference

Friday morning, the children were sad, they could see that the end of the Holiday Heroes is nigh. They had a wonderful week, met new friends and enjoyed learning more about Jesus. We also enjoyed another week free from “the walk of shame” to Tiny Tots. – My kids earned their ice-cream! A big thanks to all those that looked after them.

David Meredith finished with Joshua 18 (in the context of Deuteronomy 12 and Joshua 19). What makes a good day? Reminding us of the importance of church unity. “Unity is not the same as Uniformity”. “The Christ in me witnesses to the Christ in you”. Be gracious, be united, do not let fear triumph over faith!

The afternoon and evening was spent avoiding toddler meltdown, it involved another walk across the sea front where the kids enjoyed their ice-cream and then an early night. (Unfortunately missing the final address by Paul Gamston – available online).

We departed this morning, the three hour drive was spent pondering the teaching (to the background of a sleeping family refreshed by an active week). The theme of the conference was Grace and the application of it. I am both challenged and grateful to God for what has been an amazing week.

I say this every year, but it is true, this conference was the best one yet.

If you have a family with children, I could not recommend it enough. Do not be put off by all the sessions, you can come and go as you please, there is lots to do for the entire family and the crèche facilities are brilliant.

The Aber conference truly gives us a taste of Heaven, we spend a week surrounded by hundreds of our brothers and sisters in Christ, learning the ways of the Lord, singing His Praise and thanking Him for His Grace.

For more information on the conference click here

Post Aberystwyth Sermon

The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these

On Sunday, we received a blessing that has not been shared at Noddfa for what I believe to be many a year. We had just as many Children than adults at the service!

Who would have thought it? Just a year ago we were gathered as a small remnant of grey? What a blessing!

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

However, having so many children obviously caused some disruptions, at times amidst the pew banging, the screaming and the loud whispers of “be quiet” from the parents; I could barely hear myself think!

As I paused between sentences to gather my thoughts, I was saying to myself the words of our Lord as written in the KJV,  “Suffer little Children  and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14). In other words, “put up and get on with it John”.

Why? Well because the Lord values children!

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15)

Jesus Children

Notice the children had to be brought to Him, so, you can assume that they were similar ages to whom we had on Sunday. Young children who could not physically make their own way, or did not yet have the ability to follow their parents instructions come. Yet, despite their utter weakness and dependency our Lord welcomed them.

How amazing is our God that He, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the all powerful and all knowing creator, desires to give His time to the most helpless of us.
The Lord cares for Children so we must!

Jesus looked upon those children as He once looked upon us. He saw them not only as what they are now but what they will become. We must Praise God for this truth, for before we knew Him, we shared all the attributes of a young child, we were weak, naive, uneducated and rebellious. Yet He still, so lovingly, told us to come.

Earlier this year (in faith) we started a Sunday School (11am) and the Lord has blessed that step forward as a church. The children attendance is an answer to prayer, we must not hinder them! A child’s mind is like a sponge and we do not know how the Holy Spirit is working in them even at this most early stage.

They may not bear fruit for decades (if at all), but we must be encouraged that the Lord is sending in His next generation!

“I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Yes, they may bang the pews and scream the place down! Yes, they maybe too young to sit through a sermon. But they are not too young to pray for!

And that is what I am encouraging all who read this to do. Pray that the Lord will continue to bring children (and their parents in) and that they will be saved.

Baptisms in the Welsh Valleys!

In recent months, we have been privileged as a church to witness three Miracles. The conversion of three very different people, from very different backgrounds.

On their profession of faith they were baptised earlier this month (I believe the first to be baptised at Noddfa for 18 long years).

In lieu of testimonies the message went through the three converts in Acts 16 (Lydia, the oppressed lady and the Jailer) as there were clear parallels to their conversions to the three we baptised that day.

We come before an eternal God, who works the same today as He did 2,000 years ago! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8)

Our first person in our reading who we meet in Acts 16:14 (Lydia), was a comfortable lady, she sold purple cloth, which was reserved for the rich, and she had her own home (v15) that she could invite people to. She was what you may call, a nice, normal, middle class woman of today. We can see in verse 13 that when Paul found her, she was praying and not only that, she was praying on the Sabbath! The Lord ’s Day! So, here was a nice, normal, friendly, hospital, loving middle class lady who knew of God (the God of the Bible), she worshiped God and she said her prayers.

Noddfa Baptism

Noddfa Baptism

But wait! What else does it say here in verse 14? The Scriptures tell us that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to Paul’s message and she was Baptised! Despite all of this women’s previous outward “religion”, despite her wealth, her social status, her prayer time, her acknowledgement of God and her worship of Him on the Sabbath (the Lord’s day).Despite all of this outward religion, up until this point in our reading, where the Lord opened her heart, she was not a Christian, she was not saved and because of her imperfections she was destined for judgement and Hell!

What the scriptures are reminding us here is quite simple, and a clear lesson to us all! Christian or not! You cannot earn your place in Heaven by being a nice person, by saying prayers, even by worshiping God on a Sunday! Christianity is totally unique in this respect.

If you are a person that thinks that because you give to charity, or because you and your children have been Christened, or because you say your prayers at night, that you are going to Heaven! Think again! This is all religious nonsense! It is all I,I,I,I!

This kind of thinking is a “religion” based on what you can do to serve God, so it is a religion based on your pride, your greed and your selfishness! This is not the religion of the Bible! If it was, Lydia would not have needed her heart opened, would she? She would have been fine on her own!

Those that think you are going to Heaven when you die because you are a nice person! Think again! If the entry into heaven is relying on what you do, then you are not relying on God.Christianity is not about what you must do to earn favour with God! It is not about your climb up to Heaven! Christianity is all about God coming down, because it is uniquely from God!

The God of the Bible says in His Bible, I made you, I love you and I know that you can’t meet the perfect requirements needed to come before my presence on your own. So, in love I will come to earth in the flesh, and live a life of poverty and suffer immeasurably on the Cross for you! I (God) will pay the price for your failures, for your imperfections, and I will open your heart to this truth, so that in faith of my works (not yours) you can be saved! All you have to do is accept this free gift in faith, just as our sister did in January.

See the difference, it is not I,I,I,I but God, God, God! What we are dealing with here is not a man-made religion, it is revelation from God! In love He has done the work for us!

Lydia ticked all the boxes of a nice religious lady, humanly speaking, but yet she did not have a saving relationship with God, until the Lord opened her heart!

Paul moves on, so must I!

Paul leaves Lydia to go to a place of prayer and on the way he meets another woman, one who has been trapped for many years, kept in bondage, she was (v16) a slave. This woman knew of spiritual things and as it says in verse 17 she could even recognize men that were servants of God. Similarly, our second sister to be baptised spent her life aware of God, but has struggled in her walk, she was a slave to her circumstance, a difficult divorce and illness.

Noddfa Baptism

Noddfa Baptism

The woman in our reading, during her bondage was aware of the spiritual; we are told that she even predicted the future! She was involved in fortune telling and other superstitions. Our Sister, likewise kept various religious mementos around her house (a cross, statues of Angels and various plaques engraved with Bible verse). The woman in our reading pointed out that Paul was a Servant of God (v17), likewise our sister knew to come to Noddfa. But none of these attributes gave her a personal relationship with God, a relationship of trust! None of these trinkets gave her the assurance and confidence that she now has in Jesus Christ.

Our sister has been worshiping with us for nearly a year now; she has heard the Gospel proclaimed in the name of Jesus and it is in Him that she has now puts her faith in.Like this woman in our reading, it was only when the truth of Jesus Christ was proclaimed to her, that her burdens were lifted!

Finally, we have the Jailer!

Paul and Silas find themselves in prison for preaching the Gospel (you see the world hated the church back then, just as it does today!).The Jailer was a typical man that suffered with the same pressures of life as most do today. He had a family (v33) and a home (v31).The jailer had everything he could possibly want, so like many men today he probably thought “why do I need God in my life?”

The jailer was also a very proud man, (v 27) he was willing to kill himself rather than deal with shame of loosing prisoners. Now I am not saying that our brother (before becoming a Christian) would go to such lengths to protect his pride, but, I think we can all agree that you will not find anybody on earth more proud than a Welshman! (And I have welsh blood so can say this and get away with it)!

Noddfa Baptism

Noddfa Baptism

When our brother first came to church, it was clear that he came reluctantly, and in the first service he laughed out loud when I confessed during my sermon that I was a Tottenham Hotspurs fan! However, after hearing a sermon about what the early Christian church went through, how men and women were persecuted, to hear that they lost their jobs, their homes,  they were killed and even cut in two because of their faith, our brother could see that there was more to this “church thing” than met the eye! Our brother began to offer his help to Noddfa, posting the Easter fliers around the houses of his area. He thought that if people can sacrifice even their lives for Jesus, he can post some letters and deal with the “embarrassment”.

Our brother started attending Bible Study, reading books and asking questions and then earlier this year he acknowledged the reality of God. Our brother asked Him for forgiveness and he put his trust in Jesus. Praise God!

So, what caused this change?

Paul and Silas, took a beating for the Gospel. They were being tortured in prison, we are told that they were in stocks (v24). Stocks were not simply vices like we may think of today, but torture devices that clamped on the base of your legs causing tremendous pain. Yet despite their pain, Paul and Silas were singing and praying to God. When they had an opportunity to escape the prison, they did not, they chose to help another man, they stopped the jailer killing himself, at the cost of their own freedom! Why? Because Paul and Silas have all they need in Christ! Christ gave Paul and Silas more than what the world could offer them, and this Jailer could see it! God used the witness of these two men to bring the Jailer to faith!

Like the Jailer our brother needed to be shown by the witnesses of other men. He came to Noddfa and could see that we were not snobs, claiming to be perfect because we come to church, in fact the very opposite, it was in the understanding of our own weakness and need for help that we come! He could see that like any other man in the Valleys, we too are all rough around the edges. But unlike any other men our brother has met in the Valleys, we had something that no amount of flat screen TV’s or the latest gadgets, or pub crawls, or football tickets, or fancy cars, or garden hot tubs or holidays in the sun could ever replace! Our brother could see that we have God on our side. So that when the trials of life come, we do not run away, we do not escape! We do not run off and hide, no, in God’s Grace we have the strength to stay and to do the right thing! Even if it means bad news for us!

As Christian men, we have to face mocking, we have to face embarrassment, we have to face peer pressure for not following the ways of the world! Being a Christian man is tough work! This maybe one of reasons why Jesus chose labourers, and fisherman to be His disciples. Strong men! That by God’s grace are willing to sacrifice all for their beliefs, men that will stay to help, rather than run from the church like cowards in fear of what others may think!

Ask yourself why would a man who has everything, the lovely family and the nice house, a man who could be sat at home watching his big screen TV, why would he choose to go through such a thing as being publicly dunked, if it was not for a genuine experience of deep repentance and knowledge of Jesus as His Saviour!

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:30-31

Love, Love, Love

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” Luke 15:9-17

On Saturday I had the privilege of marrying my first couple at Noddfa. As you can imagine, I was incredibly nervous throughout. This was their special day, one that they would remember for the rest of their lives and I did not want to put a foot wrong.

The couple had come to me earlier in the year and was surprised to hear that as a church we would simply accept a donation for the wedding, there was no set fee (outside of the organist and registrar). Without the risk of sounding cynical, I understand that other denominations make a living from such a ceremony. But for me, I see it as an opportunity to reach out to the couple regularly, to share the Gospel with them and discuss the Biblical principles of marriage.The couple regularly attended services on the lead up – and we pray they continue to do so.

Noddfa Wedding

Noddfa Wedding

The other huge opportunity from the wedding was of course with the invited guests.

Over seventy people were invited from the community, most had never stepped foot in Noddfa before, and now know where we are and have now all heard the Gospel. Praise God!

The service was traditional, short  and simple, the message afterwards unashamedly evangelistic and (Praise God) it got them thinking! (Whether they remember it post celebration is another thing!)

After a few pleasantries and a laugh, I asked them all quite directly why is church now reserved only for the special occasions? “Hatched, Matched and Dispatched” Is it because you see church simply as a tradition? Or is it because you believe that God does not exist?

What makes people believe that God does not exist? Well the common and most obvious answer is because you can’t see Him, touch Him, or scientifically measure Him. This is why people choose to relegate His church to just one visit a year?

Unsurprisingly the majority at the wedding acknowledged this to be their viewpoint.

I believe this is the common thought of many throughout our Valley, and I argue this stance is simply illogical. Especially when those who maintain such thinking are quite happy to join us at a wedding ceremony without argument. As a wedding is a  time to see two people contradict nature and give themselves to eachother for the rest of their lives. “In sickness and in health, until death do they part.” The entire ceremony is a symbol of love! Love, Love, Love!

Love (like God) can’t be scientifically measured; love can’t be seen or touched. Yet none of our visitors doubt that love exists! If they did, why bother to come?

By the same logic that our guests judge the unlikelihood of God’s existence, they would have to dispute the very thing that they had come to celebrate! Love! Can you see the double standards in the logic?

So, if you can accept love as a reality, without being able to see it, or measure it. Why then do you doubt the reality of our loving God?

God is love! Like Love, He can’t be seen, He can’t be measured! But yes, He is real! Without Him, weddings would not happen, we would have no propensity to love and we would live like the rest of nature, without morality and in absolute chaos.

Just like the wedding day was a physical representation of the love that cannot be seen or measured! This church lives by God’s commands as a physical representation of what you cannot see or measure. So, if you accept love, I argue, you must then by the same logic accept God.

The comparisons do not stop there! Like God, love is not of this world, because Love is from God! Love is unselfish! Love, loves in times of sickness and in times of poverty and at times of sadness and death. Love stays with you through the tough times. Love stays with you long after the looks fade! (I am living proof of this).

God is real and because we are created in His image we have a propensity to love!

Noddfa Wedding

Noddfa Wedding

Jesus is love, Jesus is our example! 

In love, God left the glories of Heaven, to be born a babe, not in a palace, but in a stable. In love God Himself took on flesh in the historical person of Jesus and lived a life of poverty. In love God came low, to be rejected by the world, (just as He is today), He was mocked (just as He is today), He was ignored (just as He is today), He was dismissed (just as He is today), He was beaten and eventually nailed to a cross where He slowly died in the most horrific way in the heat of middle east Why? So that come the day of judgement, those who He loves, those who He has chosen, who know Him as Lord and Saviour, and are obedient to Him, will not face judgement.

This is what we came to celebrate together! That in a cursed world, of wars, of social deprivation, of economic turmoil, of death and tragedy, by God’s Grace we still have people that reject the ways of nature, and do not do whatever their selfish genes tell them to do. Instead they sacrificially give themselves to each other just as Jesus gave Himself for us..

Just like God, Love is real and it contradicts everything that this world is teaching you!

Rejoice today.Thanking God, that in His Son, Jesus Christ, we have the ultimate source of Love, that His death on the cross is sufficient to pay for the Sins of those who know Him, and that all that love Him can defeat the curse of this world and live in Love.

Noddfa Wedding

Noddfa Wedding

Amen