Monday, 20 December 2010

See, amid the winter's snow...

Haven't we been surprised by all of the snow in recent weeks?!? Well, at least here in Europe... It seems like everybody is commenting and twittering and blogging and posting photos about the snow! Okay, so now it's my turn!

Let's start with some pictures from the snow we had earlier this month in North Cotes, close to the end of the school term - from what I heard, it was the heaviest snowfall in that area anyone can remember!

Credit goes to Marina for most of these photos - thanks for letting me use them!

Because of the snow, we had a number of prolonged power and internet outages and, for a few days, we were completely cut off from civilisation as the only road out of the neighbourhood was impassable! The annual Christmas programme had to be cancelled for safety reasons and a number of local churches in Grimsby also cancelled their Sunday services.

All of this was just a week or so before term break when we were to go home again, so we were getting a bit worried about whether that would even be possible. But, praise God, the snow melted away more and more, so that everyone could get out once the holidays began! :-)

There were no problems whatsoever on the road driving back to Germany, but then the very next day it started snowing again! This past weekend, I went to a wedding in northern Bavaria, where we saw even crazier amounts of snow! See for yourself...

As Christmas approaches, all of the snow brings to mind a lovely Christmas carol:

See, amid the winter's snow,
Born for us on Earth below,
See, the tender Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Hail, thou ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption's happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, throned in height sublime,
Sits among the cherubim.

Say, ye holy shepherds,say,
What your joyful news today;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

"As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light:
Angels singing 'Peace On Earth'
Told us of the Saviour's birth."

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.

Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.

Merry Christmas, everybody! Hopefully any snow you may have will add to the Christmas spirit and remind you of the wonderful words of this beautiful carol. What a wonder that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth to bring us peace and hope and life!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

kʰæn ju ɹid ðɪs?

wɛlkʌm tʰu ðə ɪntənæʃnəl fənɛtɪk ælfəbɛt (ɑⁱpieⁱ) wɛɹ wɹdz ɑɹ spɛld ɛgsækli æz ðɛⁱ ɑɹ pɹoᵘnæᵘnst. ðɪs ɪz wʌd ɑⁱ hæv bɪn lɹnɪŋ ðə pʰæst fju wiks ɪn mɑⁱ kʰɹɔs kʰʌltʃʊɹəl kʰɔmjunɪkeⁱʃnz kl̥æs. si bɪloᵘ foɹ sʌm pɪktʃəɹz ænd wɑtʃ dænjəl mɛⁱk ə mɛs ɔv θɪŋz.


Can you read this?

Welcome to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) where words are spelled exactly as they are pronounced. This is what I have been learning the past few weeks in my Cross-Cultural Communications class. See below for some pictures and watch Daniel make a mess of things.

And here is Daniel trying out one of those difficult R sounds...
The most fun class of the year so far! =)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Please repent of your sin

Please repent of your sin.
It is killing you.
It is killing others.
It is contributing to the horrific nature of the world.
It is separating you from God.
It could cause you to spend eternity in the conscious, eternal torments of hell.

Repentance is a gift that God gives.
Repentance is the love of God in action.
Repentance is only possible because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

And friends, you and I, we are sinners. And Jesus came to save sinners.

These words were spoken by Mark Driscoll in a sermon about the fall of man. Don't take this as a personal accusation or judgment from my part. I am just as bad a sinner as anyone else and I know it. So I am not pointing the finger at you. But the Bible says that we all are sinners and God warns us about the consequences of sin. Don't let sin destroy you. Come to Christ in repentance and let him change your heart.

If you want to know more about how Jesus Christ's death on the cross can save you from your sins, I recommend you listen to Mark Driscoll's sermons on the fall and on the cross.

As the great Puritan writer John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you."

Friday, 8 October 2010

6 minutes of good news

No matter what nation or people group or culture or language or religion, the gospel is good news for everybody. It is good news for you. Good news for every day of your life and for all eternity.

Will you take just 6 minutes to watch the following video about the gospel and find out how this is good news for you?

Think about it.

Meditate on it.

Let it sink in.

Believe the gospel and live.

You never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never outgrow your need for the gospel!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Woodlands survival

Last week, I spent 4 days out in the woodlands in Derbyshire receiving survival training with my classmates as part of our Cross-Cultural Communication course. On site, we were provided with a few pots and pans, a limited amount of water every day, and an experienced instructor to give us training in how to survive in the woods. We were able to bring our sleeping bags and clothes and food, but only what we were able to carry on our backs. Tents were not allowed. We would have to learn how to build our own shelters from what is available in the woods.

We packed our cars early Monday morning and drove for about 2 1/2 hours to a place in Derbyshire where we could leave our cars.

From there, we hiked about 40 minutes into the woods.

After we arrived, our instructor Dave first taught us how to build a shelter.

And then it was up to us to gather materials for a shelter...

... and to make a shelter that would hopefully be waterproof!

Here is the finished product and my bed for the next three nights (with a makeshift mattress out of branches and foilage)!

This was what our camp looked like:

We learned how to make string from plants...

... start a fire ...

... even without any matchsticks or the like!

Plenty of smoke!

And useful for roasting a chicken or two!

We also learned how to make traps for animals...

 ... and where and how to find and make sense of animal tracks.

We had great weather every day, with just a few raindrops landing on my face on Thursday morning at around 5 a.m. - because my head was sticking outside of the shelter, not because my shelter wasn't waterproof! ;-)

And then it was time to pack our bags and head back to the car park again.

Goodbye woodlands!

The first to arrive back at the car park! =)

All in all a great experience - learned lots of interesting new things and had a good few days out in the woods with my classmates!

Monday, 13 September 2010


There you have it. I joined Twitter. I never really wanted to, but a friend kept telling me I should join, so I thought I would give it a try. Not sure how it all works yet and not convinced that I really want to keep it, but maybe some of you out there can persuade me otherwise...

So if you are on Twitter, you can now follow me @michaeltschmid.


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Life without limits!

Are you living life to the full? Or are you struggling with your daily circumstances and quickly become depressed? Life is not always easy. In fact, everyone of us will have to go through really difficult times. But this does not mean that there is no hope and we cannot have joy.

This morning in church, I was greatly encouraged when we watched the following amazing video about Nick Vujicic, a man who probably has much more reason to despair of his circumstances than any of us, but whose life nevertheless is bursting forth with joy. If he can find joy in his condition, then so can you!

Visit Nick's website at

Jesus says: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10b)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Don't Waste Your Life Sentence

What are you doing with your life? When we look around in our society today, we see people who in our eyes are wasting their lives - drunkards, drug addicts, beggars, prostitutes, criminals, prisoners etc. What we tend to (or want to) forget is that the hard-working, honest, church-going businessman with a wife and two children and a nice home may just as well be wasting his life, if he is living only for this life and what the world has to offer.

Several years after writing his excellent book Don't Waste Your Life, John Piper and his ministry Desiring God will be releasing a new movie entitled "Don't Waste Your Life Sentence" on 20 August 2010. This movie tells the story of people who have wasted their lives and have become rejects of society, but have had their lives radically changed by the gospel. They have found hope and peace and freedom in Jesus Christ and now have a reason to live again and the desire not to waste their lives.

You can see the trailer here:

What can we learn from these kind of people who were failures and have lost everything? Probably a lot more than you realise...

For more info on the movie, visit

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The greatest truth

Last Sunday, I once again had the opportunity of giving a short gospel message at a local nursing home. Over the past 10 months or so, I have been speaking from the gospel of John, starting at the very first verse and moving on bit by bit. This past Sunday was the day when I came to what is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

This one sentence has been translated into different languages of the whole world more often than any other sentence.


Because it tells us the most important message that people in the world need to hear today. For many reasons, John 3:16 is the greatest truth there is. Take a look at how this verse can be broken down:

God – the greatest Giver

so – the greatest degree

loved – the greatest motive

the world – the greatest company

that He gave – the greatest act

His only begotten Son – the greatest gift

that whosoever – the greatest invitation

believeth – the greatest decision

in Him – the greatest Person

should not perish – the greatest deliverance

but – the greatest difference

have – the greatest certainty

everlasting life – the greatest possession

(This breakdown has been slightly adjusted from a blog post I found on the internet a year or two ago and found to be very helpful for a Bible study I was preparing.)

God dramatically intervened in history some 2,000 years ago by sending His only Son to this world. Jesus Christ came to die for the sins of people from every tongue and tribe and nation. By placing our faith in Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life.

God’s invitation still is open to “whosoever”. The only question is: What will you do with Jesus? Will you believe in Him or reject Him? There is no other alternative. The world’s greatest truth calls for your greatest decision.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

How to enjoy the World Cup finals without committing idolatry

The following article is by my friend Vic Gill and was originally posted on the website "That I may know Him".

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen (1 John 5:21)

With the World Cup 2010 Finals fast approaching, the world embraces itself for what commentators call the ‘world’s biggest sporting showdown.’ For one whole month 32 national football teams will converge upon South Africa to compete for the most coveted ‘relic’ of the sporting world – the 18 carat gold World Cup Trophy. Not to mention the accolade of the teams name going down in footballs hall of fame. It’s meant to be the crème da le crème of all sporting events and you can be pretty sure that this event will engulf the world for its four week long duration. Football will literally take over.

It just so happens that on Sunday 11th July – the same day as the World Cup Final – my wife and I will celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary and run the London 10k marathon for Leprosy Mission, all in one day. Now, I’m not a sports fanatic or football crazy either, but here’s hoping that England makes it to the final. Wouldn’t it be even better if England goes on to win the world cup? I sure do hope so. Football, like anything good, noble and worthy can be enjoyed and it can be enjoyed even more when you know that life is not about football, but about the glory of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and His pleasure. That is what man was made for. But something has gone wrong.

What’s gone wrong?

Something needs to be said about a major event like this from a Biblical perspective. God’s Word is not vacant but penetrates into every facet of life. The Bible has something to say about everything, and yes, even the hysteria that surrounds major sports tournaments. The worship of the One True God has been replaced by so many millions of people with the worship of football. Generation after generation is being brought up with more knowledge about their football team than their Creator.

I am deeply troubled about the way in which football is religiously followed by the masses. It is a sad reality to see how sport is idolised and worshipped by so many millions of people. It is the equivalent of a modern day religion for the masses. It has its own stars, celebrities, relics, mantras, chants, followers and experts. Loyal fans even employ the use of Biblical language to express the emotion they feel. Some call it the ‘beautiful game.’ Good players are often called ‘God’; transferring players are referred to as ‘Judas.’ Chants such as ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘When the Saints go marching in’ are belted out from the stands. Managers are encouraged with slogans such as ‘In Rafa We Trust.’

What is Idolatry?

You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3)

Idolatry is the love of someone or something more than the love of the God who created you and gave you life. Whilst many may not practice the idol worship of statues, the modern day form of idolatry is bowing at the altar of self and celebrity. The worship of anything that is not the One True God is idolatry. Idolatry is not just the bowing to idols and statues; it is the allegiance and condition of the heart and mind. It is what you are devoted to. It is what occupies your mind and your thought life. Where you spend your money, time and talk is usually a tell-tale sign of what your god is.

This generation has made a god out of football. It has given football more time, love and affection than God. If you have done this, you are guilty before God and will be judged by Him on judgement day. You are sinning against God when you live for anything else but God. The very God who created you and gave you breathe is ignored, rejected and replaced with idols such as football.

So here are three things you can do to enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry.

Let your treasure be Christ

Jesus said: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34)

You can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry. One way is found in the above words of Christ. Let your treasure be in Christ first and foremost. The distribution of your time, money and strength is a display of the condition of your heart. If your treasure and heart is in anything other Jesus Christ, then you need to repent, make a u-turn and place your treasures in the right place. As you watch the football, keep reminding yourself of the eternal treasures of salvation and unsearchable riches which are in Christ Jesus. Let your hope and joy be rekindled each time you think about Jesus. Know that after the football tournament, whether your team wins or not, you have a spectacular trophy that awaits you in the heavens. Joy, real joy is the outcome of knowing, following and walking in Christ. The joys of repentance are worth more than all the diamonds in the earth.

Spend More Time Giving Him Glory

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11)

Another way in which you can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry is by spending more time with Him. I am certain that many hours will be spent enjoying and watching World Cup Football. However, the child of God should have a soul stirring desire within their hearts to spend time giving Him glory. Redeem the time and use it wisely. You were made to worship God. You were made to adore God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. Many Christians are miserable because they spend so little time in God’s presence. Don’t waste countless hours watching football and then give God a passing nod. You were not made to worship man or football. You were not made to religiously follow a football team. You were made for God’s pleasure so that you could enjoy Him for ever. A.W. Tozer said, “Jesus Christ came to make worshippers out of rebels.” Worship Him above all things and let every other pursuit fall into the shadow of this awesome and great privilege. Football will come and go, but God will stand tall forever, abiding eternally.

Speak less about football, more about Jesus

He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)

The final way in which you can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry is by telling others about Jesus the Saviour. This is incredibly soul satisfying. It brings pleasure to the heart to talk about the Master. During the World Cup season make it an effort to speak less about football and more about Jesus. Tell the world of the soul satisfying Saviour. Tell your football watching friends about the Saviour who died for their sins. Speak much about the sinless Saviour who gave Himself as a ransom for many. Speak about the final judgement seat of Christ before which all humans will one day stand. As Christians we are not to drop our guard and we are certainly not to go passive because everyone else is preoccupied with the football. Remember that during the tournament many millions of people are still dying and going to hell. Remember that many people are still living in complete darkness. Remember there that there are still villages where the Gospel has not been preached. Remember there is a world outside of football which still lives in sin, death, disease, sickness and misery.

I believe if you do these things, you can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Finals without committing idolatry.

Article republished with kind permission of the author Vic Gill.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

My creed

In my Church History class, we recently were looking at different creeds of the early church. These were written to define clearly what the church believed in, often as a response to heretical teachings of the time. One of our assignments in this class was to write our own creed. I thought it might be good to post it on my blog, too. I want my faith and beliefs to be based on the Word of God and I trust that this creed also is a reflection of that. So here we go...

My creed

God is the sovereign Creator and King of everybody and of everything. Everything exists for His glory.

God has revealed Himself to man by His creation, by His Son, and by His Word. The Bible is the verbally inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God.

There is only one God who exists in three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is eternal. He has always existed and never had a beginning.

God created the universe and all that is in it in six days. On the sixth day, He created man in His own image. Although created sinless, the first man chose to sin against God, with the effect that all of his descendants – the whole human race – are born with a sin nature. Every person therefore is a sinner by birth.

Since God is a holy God and cannot tolerate sin, He must punish sin. He is completely righteous and loves righteousness and therefore must hate unrighteousness. Every sin is ultimately against God and His righteousness. Even just one “little” sin is such a great offence against God and His righteousness that the just punishment is eternal death and everlasting suffering in a literal hell. By breaking just one of God’s commandments, man has become guilty of them all. Man is by nature totally depraved and dead in his trespasses and sins. He can do nothing to save himself from God’s just wrath.

Because of God’s great love, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to die for sinners. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a human being and was born by a virgin, so He did not have a human father and He did not inherit a sin nature. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth and shed His blood on the cross where He died for the sins of mankind as their Substitute. On the cross, Jesus Christ bore not only the sins of men, but also the full wrath of God on these sins, so that man’s sins could be atoned for and forgiven. After three days, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, showing that God was satisfied with His payment and that He had won the victory over sin and death.

Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, any person who places His faith in Christ as his Lord and Saviour is forgiven of his sins and receives the gift of eternal life. The Holy Spirit regenerates and indwells such a person so that he becomes a new creation in Christ and can never lose his salvation. Those who reject Christ or place their trust in anything else for salvation remain dead in their sins and remain condemned to eternal death.

Jesus Christ will forever be King of kings and Lord of lords. Every knee will bow to Him and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Warm fuzzy tarantulas

Recently, I read a book which made the following statement: "We keep fondling smooth roaches and warm fuzzy tarantulas in the dark."

Now you might begin to wonder what kind of books I am reading. It was actually a theological book on regeneration or what Jesus Christ meant when He said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)

So what does this have to do with roaches and tarantulas? They serve as an illustration of what effect the new birth has on a person.

But before we get to that, consider the following statement the Bible makes about a person in his natural state:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1-2, ESV)

A person who has not been given new life in Jesus Christ is described as being spiritually dead and following Satan ("the prince of the power of the air") and his desires, all the while not realising that he really is in bondage to the devil and his will.

So what can one do to be set free from this bondage? The Bible shows us that we need God's help to be set free:

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26, ESV)

This is what John Piper sees as the new birth. In his book Finally Alive, he writes,

And here is the key to liberating people from the captivity of the devil. God grants repentance - that is, he awakens the life that sees the ugliness and danger of sin and the beauty and worth of Christ. That truth sets the prisoner free.

And then he comes to this illustration:

It's what happens when a person in the dark fondles an ebony brooch hanging around his neck, and then the lights go on and he sees it's not a brooch but a cockroach, and flings it away. That's how people are set free from the devil. And until God does that miracle of new birth, we stay in bondage to the father of lies because we love to be able to tell ourselves whatever we please. We keep fondling smooth roaches and warm fuzzy tarantulas in the dark. (Finally Alive, p. 58)

I think this is a great illustration of how our attitude to sin changes once we are born again. All of a sudden, we see it for what it is - ugly and dangerous - and we do not want to have any part in it.

And this is also a good test for anyone who wonders if he has been truly born again. What is your attitude to sin? Do you cuddle it and play around with it? Or do you fling it away with disgust?

This does not mean that a person who has been born again will never sin, but it does mean that such a person will not continually live a sinful lifestyle.

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9, ESV)

Regeneration brings about a wonderful change in the life of a person. He is saved from God’s wrath and is given spiritual and eternal life and becomes a child of God. All this is possible because of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for our sins on the cross. Although we may never fully understand the mystery of regeneration, we can never thank and praise God enough for the great work He has done for us who believe in Him.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Jesus died - so what?

Today is Good Friday. This is said to be the day in the year on which Jesus Christ was crucified and died. But it doesn't really matter if it was precisely on this day or on some other day, the important thing is the historical fact that Jesus Christ did actually die on the cross. And 2,000 years later, this event still has a bearing on the life of every person in the world today - including you.

So what does Good Friday have to do with you? And how could the killing of an innocent man ever be called a "good" event and be celebrated by Christians?

Whether you think you know the answer or not, please take 10 minutes today to watch the following video clip of Paul Washer speaking on this subject.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

I am not but I know I AM

Who am I? What is my identity? The first time we find someone in the Bible asking that question is in the third chapter of Exodus. In this chapter, God reveals Himself to Moses out of the burning bush and tells him that he is chosen by God to deliver the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt:

Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:10)

Moses immediate reply is,

Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11)

Who am I? This is actually more a rhetorical question than anything else. What Moses is really saying is, "I am not fit enough for this great task. Surely I am not the right person to do this. I don't have the necessary courage, strength or ability to do this. I am a nobody."

It is interesting to note God's answer to Moses. He does not tell him, "No, Moses, you are the man! You have great qualities. You received an excellent education in the house of Pharaoh. You are a trained military leader. You showed that you are in charge when you killed that Egyptian. Nobody can stand against you. You are amazing! You must believe in yourself!"

None of that. In fact, God never really directly answers Moses' question
"Who am I?". Instead, He says,

Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. (Exodus 3:12)

God's answer to Moses' question "Who am I?" is "I will be with you." God does not in any way contradict Moses' own assessment of himself as a nobody. But He gives him this amazing assurance: "I will be with you." This is all that matters. I doesn't matter who you are. It doesn't matter that you see yourself as incapable. It does not even matter that you are incapable. With God, all things are possible. You and God make a majority in any given situation. In fact, God alone makes a majority. He is in sovereign control over all things. He is with you. Just trust in His power, not your own.

God then for the first time reveals His personal name: "I AM" (Exodus 3:13-14). God is the self-existent One. He has no beginning and no end. He has no need of anything. He is the ultimate and greatest reality in the universe. And He is the One who says to Moses, "I am with you."

Based on this promise, Moses obeys God's command and goes to Pharaoh to tell him to let the Israelites go. Initially, there is a setback, and things only seem to get worse, so that Moses asks God, "Why did you ever send me?" (Exodus 5:22, ESV). But God knew what He was doing and used Moses in a mighty way to fulfill His purposes and bring glory to His name.

I am not.

I am not able.

I am not sovereign.

I am not God.

I am a nobody.

But I know I AM.

Even though I am not, I know the One who calls Himself "I AM".

I know the self-existent, eternal, all-powerful God.

And I know that He is with me.

That is all that matters.

I am not but I know I AM.

How about you? Do you know who you are? Do you recognise that you have nothing good in you apart from God?

If you are a Christian, God has given you a similar command to go. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus Christ told His followers,

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

This is an enormous task that still applies to all of Christ's followers today. We might ask ourselves the same question as Moses did: "Who am I that I should go?" And God gives us the same answer. Christ introduced this command by saying,

All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)

And immediately following the Great Commission, He gave us this promise:

I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20b)

What a great promise! Yes, you can fulfill God's great purposes on earth and bring glory to His wonderful name! But you cannot do so in your own strength. You must recognise that you are nothing and trust fully in Jesus Christ and in His power working in you and through you. In this way, all the glory goes to Him.

I am not but I know I AM.

Do you know I AM?

("I am not but I know I AM" is the title of a book by Louie Giglio.)

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Examine yourself

If you are reading this, chances are you call yourself a Christian. (At least many of my friends and those following my blog call themselves Christians.) So if you call yourself a Christian, this blog post is especially for you.

I recently listened to a powerful sermon on Matthew 7 by Paul Washer in which he challenges the reasons many people give for believing that they are Christians. It made me think a lot about how I can tell and know for sure that I really am a Christian.

What reason would you give if someone asked you on what you based your belief of being a Christian?

Paul Washer gave this message to several thousand young people at a youth evangelism conference in 2002. It subsequently became known as the "shocking youth message". It may shock you, too, but I would like to encourage you to listen the whole 1-hour sermon.

If there is no way you will now listen to a whole 1-hour sermon, then at least take a look at this video of the message "in a nutshell" (3 min):

And if you want to know more about the background of this message, take a look at this video (12 min):

2 Corinthians 13:5 says:

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves...

Friday, 1 January 2010

New year, no fear, Jesus is near

It's 2010! Happy New Year!

My 2010 diary has the following words of Christ as the verse for the year:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1)

This verse is extremely comforting to me. I do not know what 2010 will bring. Nor do I know what will happen after 2010. I don't even know what will happen in the next 5 minutes. But when looking at the world we are living in today, there is cause for concern. Especially when we realise that there are many things that are beyond our control.

But in John 14:1, Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear. And He mentions two things that should take away our fear:

1) Faith in God
2) Faith in Jesus Christ

If we place our faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, there is no reason for us to fear anything or anyone.

David the Psalmist wrote:

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God have I put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4, NASB)

This is true. God is above everything. He is greater and stronger and wiser than anyone or anything. The almighty God is the Creator of all things and all people and is in control of every situation, every circumstance of everyone's life. If our faith and trust is in Him, we are under His care. We can live in complete peace even though there are wars all around us.

Later on in John 14, the Lord Jesus says:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

Only Jesus can give the peace that passes understanding. When He is near, there is no reason to fear.

These thoughts remind me of a beautiful song I learned during my studies in the USA. It was written by Ron Hamilton and is called "How can I fear?".

The second stanza of the song is as follows:

When I’m alone and I face the unknown,
And I fear what the future maybe,
I can depend on the strength of my Friend -
He walks along with me.

And the chorus then goes:

How can I fear? Jesus is near.
He ever watches over me.
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

(See the video below to listen to the whole song.)