Real Lives (DJ Carswell)

Real Lives by D.J. Carswell is a book full of examples that show that the gospel is the power of God to save those who believe in Jesus.  It’s highly readable and great value for money (only £2)!

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Real Lives contains the stories of 13 people who have been saved by the gospel.  I really enjoyed reading their stories and seeing God’s amazing grace at work in their lives.

The thirteen people whose stories are told are all real people and are all different, (from a famous footballer, to a backpacker exploring the states, to an alcoholic working in London), but there was one thing they all had in common, they were saved by the gospel and their lives were changed.  

As I read each of the stories, I was struck by the number of different ways that people came into contact with the power of the gospel.  Here are some of ways the people in book did: through a tract; an invite to an event; a work colleague; a biography of a Christian; by a family member becoming a Christian; in recalling Bible verses learnt as a child; being impressed by behaviour of Christians; or just reading the Bible.  

Real Lives is a perfect book to give to non-Christians because each chapter contains an explanation of the gospel, and give evidence that show that the gospel works in the changed life it brings about.  In the final chapter, it also gives a straightforward summary of who Jesus is and what He’s done.

It is also a great book for Christians to read and see God’s saving power at work, and then buy extra copies to give away to non-Christian friends and families. 

Real Lives is available to buy from 10ofthose.com HERE.  

Check out the great offer for 100 copies of this book as part of The Real Giveaway HERE

Also check out the article by Roger Carswell about doing a ‘Real Lives’ mission HERE.

London Men’s Convention 2009 – He will return in glory

Here are my notes from Mike Cain’s exposition on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 at the London Men’s Convention 2009.  This fourth session focused on Jesus, He will return in glory.

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Knowing the future means that I know what to give myself to now.  Paul sums up the Christian life as waiting for the King to come back in 2 Thessalonians, getting ready for Him.  For some this meant persecution (v4).  But if Jesus isn’t coming back there is no point in getting ready. 

If we’re not waiting for the King to return we will not be able to live the Christian life at all.  

Four reasons to stand firm on the conviction that Jesus will return: 

1) God is Just (v5-6) 

Day of Judgment is real because of what God is like.  God is just so will judge.  Persecution is evidence that God’s judgment is right.  The story of the Bible is how the Creator of the world will bring justice to the world in the light of the injustice of sin.  The Thessalonians were wobbling because it looked like God won’t judge.  We are wobbling because it looks like He will. 

2) Jesus will be revealed (v7) 

When He came as a baby He was hidden in a stable.  When He comes again the whole world will see Him.  Jesus said the Father has entrusted judgment to Him.  The Jesus we need to be ready for is the judge.  Jesus when He comes will burn up the impurity in front of Him.  Look at this Jesus; He will come again in history in a blazing fire of judgment. 

3) Jesus will shut his enemies out (v8-9) 

Enemies don’t know God because they don’t obey the Gospel.  Gospel is God calling us back to know Him.  Those who don’t know Him are punished with everlasting destruction.  As the whale was made for the ocean, so we were made for God.  In His presence we enjoy life as it was meant to be.  The further away from God, the more destroyed we are. 

On the Day of Judgment those who haven’t turned back to God will be shut out from His presence forever and eternal destruction.  The punishment fits the crime.  I say I want nothing to do with God and that’s what He gives me.  This is not to frighten us but save us. 

There is a place where fire of God’s judgment has already burned out at the cross of Calvary where the judge experienced the fire of God’s judgment so we can be let into God’s presence.  Before He comes as judge, He came as Saviour. 

4) Jesus will be glorified in His people (v10) 

The life to come is the main event.  It’s where all God’s plans are heading.  The world restored to the glory He created it.  People restored to the glory He created them.  Salvation is all about being in God’s presence. 

God’s glory is God in all His brilliance.  We will see that, but we will also see His brilliance in us.  We were created to glorify Him, to reflect His brilliance.  That’s what will happen when we are re-created.  It’s in the world made new we will taste life in its fullness.  We will see how worth waiting for He is.  Look at what is coming, don’t you want to be part of that.  Stand firm in the gospel. 

Glorify Jesus today (v11-12) 

If we’re not ready for Jesus what would we say to Him?  Paul prays we’ll be counted worthy of His calling; we’d suffer for His kingdom.  What will it cost for you to get ready?  Do what it takes! 

For 4½ months, 22 men waited on Elephant Island for Ernest Shackleton to return to rescue them after their ship the Endurance sank.  Frank Wild each day encouraged the men on the island with the words: “Roll up the sleeping bags, the boss may come today”.  That’s what Paul is saying to us.  Keep going, get ready the King may come today!

London Men’s Convention 2009 – He rose to rule

Here are my notes from Tim Keller’s second talk on John 20:1-3, 10-18 at the London Men’s Convention 2009.  This third session focused on Jesus, He rose to rule.

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The connection between death and resurrection in John’s gospel has to do with faith.  The cross itself does not produce faith.  People looked at the cross and said God can’t bring good out of this.  But what triggered saving faith, faith in the cross, was the resurrection. 

Three marks of faith that the resurrection triggers: 

1) Faith rests in truth 

Jesus said He would rise again over and over again.  He said it so often that His enemies had heard it so they put guards next to the tomb.  You would have thought His disciples would have said: “It’s the third day, let’s have a look!” 

What evidence would your friends need to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead?  See Him, touch Him, see Him eat, see Him lots of times.  This is exactly what we’ve got in the Gospels.  Jesus gave the evidence that broke through these barriers. 

If you were making up a story about Jesus rising from the dead, you wouldn’t put women as the first eyewitnesses.  The reason why women were the first witnesses was because it happened that way.  Historical evidence is powerful.  Believe in Christianity because it’s true. 

2) Faith comes by grace 

All around Mary is evidence, the angels in front and the Lord behind, but she still thinks it’s a disaster.  Even if you don’t think Jesus is near you, He is.  Jesus breaks through and sends her as the first messenger.  How clear does Jesus make it that salvation is by grace.  He chooses a women not a man, a former mental health patient as the first messenger.  This salvation is as much hers as ours.  She was at the bottom of the pecking order but He chose her.  

3) Faith works through love 

Mary was grabbing hold of Jesus to never let Him go (v17).  But Jesus is saying once I’m ascended you’ll still have me.  I’m about to ascend to the Father and send the Holy Spirit and you’ll have me.  The Spirit brings my presence in your life.  Don’t be satisfied with just the objective side.  Jesus can come into your hear now. 

Be willing to pray and meditate on His Word so you get to a place where He touches you.  Let the resurrection not only convince your mind but let you have Him.

London Men’s Convention 2009 – He Came as King

Here are my notes from Wes McNabb’s exposition of Matthew 14:22-33 at the London Men’s Convention 2009.  This first main session focused on Jesus, He came as King.

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Introduction 

London’s greatest need is for men to be vibrant worshippers of the King, acknowledging Him as the Son of God and living transformed lives. 

Do you love Jesus?  How can you not?  Has Jesus captivated your hearts?  Does your wife, children, friends, know that you’re mad about Jesus, that He’s precious to you?  This man deserves your worship, does he have it? 

He came as King like no other.  When was the last time you went to a baptism and heaven opened and God Almighty speaks. 

1) King of Authority (v22-23) 

Look how He dismisses the crowd, how He tells the disciples to get in the boat.  His authority is staggering.  Thousands ready to crown Him as King and He sent them home.  He has authority over life and death, angels and Satan, you and me.  One day every knee will bow and acknowledge King Jesus as Lord. 

2) King of Knowledge (v24-25) 

Knowledge of everything – even our greatest dilemmas.  Disciples are in the middle of a storm but Jesus knows exactly where they are.  Maybe there are storms in your life (marriage, finances etc), take heart Jesus knows exactly what’s going on.  Its pitch black and Jesus walks straight to them.  We’re his children; it’s his business to know where we are.  Maybe nobody understands what you’re going through, King Jesus does, and He says He’ll be with you to the end of the age. 

3) King of Love (v26-31) 

Love that is outrageous and unconditional.  Disciples are terrified but Jesus full of love and compassion speaks reassuring words to people who thought He was a ghost.  Maybe you need to hear His words ‘Don’t be afraid, take courage’.  Jesus says ‘Come’ to Peter.  What Jesus says to each of us when we ask for His forgiveness and mercy.  Peter begins to sink and cries out ‘Lord save me’.  Jesus couldn’t let Peter drown and as the King of love saves Him.  Do you remember when Jesus did that for you?  Jesus can meet your greatest need. 

4) King of Power (v32-33) 

Power that brings us to our knees.  Are you still unsure that Jesus deserves your worship?  When they climbed into the boat the wind died down.  Do you know anyone who can control the weather?  Here is someone who is all-powerful.  When we think of things that are impossible, remember Jesus delights to do the impossible.  We’re so weak and helpless, not King Jesus. 

Conclusion 

Has Jesus won your heart?  Are you sorry that you’ve let other things take His place and want to be taken up with Jesus again?  

Be passionate about power of Jesus to change people.  No-one comes close to Jesus.  Will your worship of Jesus enable you to address London’s greatest need? 

How dare we not be lost in wonder, love and praise to King Jesus?

London Men’s Convention 2009 – Chairman’s Welcome

Here are my notes from Richard Coekin’s address from Acts 8:35 at the London Men’s Convention 2009.

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Be Men of Jesus 

In Acts 8 we read of an important man, the Ethiopian Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”  (Acts 8:35) 

Luke records how the Lord sent his evangelist to the Ethiopian to help him understand who the suffering servant is. 

a) We are men who want to learn from Scripture 

Like the Ethiopian we have come to learn from Scripture.  We haven’t come just to be entertained.  We haven’t come just to hear great orators.  We have travelled to an inconvenient part of London to hear the living Lord speak by His Spirit through His Word.  Jesus regarded the text itself where God speaks.  The Bible is the ruling, uniting Word of God.  We’re here to search in the text expecting to hear God speak. 

b) We are men who want to understand the gospel 

We want to understand the gospel for ourselves and the sake of unbelieving family and friends who need to hear it in language they understand.  The Gospel saves us from the God’s wrath to come.  The Gospel is found in the identity and mission of Jesus Christ our Lord.  He came as King, He died for sins, He rose to rule, and will return to judge.  Each part of His mission we see He is Lord.  The Gospel is the power of God for salvation and calls us to repentance and faith. 

c) We are men who want to worship Jesus 

We want to worship Jesus.  We want to know this wonderful man, who was led like a sheep to slaughter for us.  He is the man for all men.  We can’t know this man until we know the Gospel.  But we must not forget to worship and adore Him.  Biblical faith is both objective and subjective, both facts and feelings, understanding and affections; genuine spiritual affections for Jesus where mind and heart are combined like light and heat in a fire.  We want to return home as change men on fire with a devotion for Jesus. 

We want to be men of Jesus.

Worse than hell

“I can only think of one thing worse than the torments of hell.  It is this: the knowledge that these torments are inflicted by the Prince of Love.  What would it be like for you to endure under his wrath day after day, eternity after eternity, always and for ever knowing that once, if you had only asked him, he would have saved you?  Can you imagine the horror of that?”

(Gary Benfold, Revelation Revealed)

Kent Hughes Soundbites

Some comments from Kent Hughes I noted down from his interview with Lee Gatiss:

  • “If you have a quantified definition of success you are defining your success like a businessman or a politician would define success…If at Pentecost 30 were saved or 3 were saved and the Holy Spirit was in it, it would have been a success.”
  • “Only God knows whether you’re a success, because only God knows your heart.”
  • “Take the ministry seriously, but not yourself too seriously.  God can use a jackass.”
  • “Scripture teaches penal substitutionary atonement explicitly and implicitly.”
  • “I think that there are many times when you should do homeschooling but it’s a highly individual thing, it depends on the child and it depends on the context…I’m not for just saying homeschooling is the way to go, it’s a case by case thing.”
  • “I have not been able to move away from the Baptist position on baptism.”

Silent Messengers: The Vital Ministry of Gospel Tracts

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Silent Messengers is a great little booklet by Andy Banton (available for free from The Open Air Mission) on the ministry of gospel tracts.  Short, and to the point, it puts in front us the need for this ministry, the reasons for handing out gospel tracts, tips about what makes a good tract, and stories of how God has used this ministry to save people through Jesus. 

It won’t take long to read, but will certainly encourage you to think about how you (and your church) could use gospel tracts to make the good news about Jesus known in your town and city. 

Copies of Silent Messengers are available to order for free HERE

Some good gospel tracts are available to buy HERE and HERE.

What keeps Him on the Cross?

“Make no mistake: Jesus can descend from the cross and save Himself at any moment.  It isn’t the nails that keep Him there.  What keeps Him there is what placed Him there – His passion to do the will of His Father, and His love for sinners like you and me.”

(C.J. Mahaney, Christ our Mediator)