Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Watch Night Service!

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This service is going to be a highlight of the year!  You are welcome!

Watch Night Service, 9pm-12midnight, Harmony House, Dagenham

Watch Night Service

9pm-12midnight, December 31st 2010

Venue: Harmony House, Dagenham, RM9 6EU

 

Do not miss tout on our Watch Night Service!  It is going to be awesome.  Pastor Benjamin has a very special and timely message entitled “You Will Not Recognize Who You Are Going to Be!”.  This powerful message is practical and packed with life-changing information to ensure that 2011 is going to be the Year of Total Transformation.

Find out how to stop being insane.  Find out what one of the world’s greatest scientists said about sanity and about obtaining results.  Discover the 5 things you must change to start seeing success in every area of your life.  Find out how to develop a system to retrain your mind to hold fast to the good while testing all things.

2011 is your year.  Start it in the right place.  Start it in a place where you are loved for who you are, not what you do.  Start it in a place where the Word is preached full of grace without compromise.  Start it in a place where everyone is free to move in the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.  Start it in a place where the people of the nations of the earth gather as one.  Start it in a place where dreams come true.  Start it in Tree of Life Church!

Small snowflake

More on Celebrating Christmas

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Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened ‘to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth: flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from heaven: for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith, let us be at peace with God: for justice and peace have embraced one another. Through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Truth has arisen from the earth. Through whom we have access to that grace in which we stand, and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory. He does not say: “of our glory”, but of God’s glory: for justice has not come out of us but has looked down from heaven. Therefore he who glories, let him glory, not in himself, but in the Lord.

For this reason, when our Lord was born of the Virgin, the message of the angelic voices was: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to men of good will.

For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.

Excerpt from a sermon by Augustine on the mystery of the Incarnation.

Destiny and Opposition

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Don’t let opposition impose your destiny on you.  You impose your destiny on your opposition.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

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This week, after sending out our weekly Wednesday Wisdom email, someone replied asking the question “does God really want us christians perpetuating an old tradition that is full of pagan influences?”  The implication was that I should not have encouraged Christians to celebrate Christmas.

It’s a good question and it deserves a full, Biblical and considered answer.  No one knows precisely when Jesus was born, although all scholars are agreed it certainly wasn’t in the middle of December.  Some information regarding when Zechariah was serving as a priest seems to lead to the us conclusion Jesus  was born in early September (ironically leading to a conception date of er… about the end of December!).  However, what date you celebrate something is not an issue, as the Queen knows full well!  The issue is whether Christians should celebrate Christmas at all.

I would have three answers for this question.

The first answer is that the first Christmas was celebrated.  I mean it was really wildly celebrated.  Wise men came from overseas to celebrate and worship the Word that had become flesh.  Shepherds came to worship and celebrate.  Angels in their scores turned up and praised and celebrated.  The first Christmas was a time of celebrating the fact that the Word became flesh.

Secondly, the Bible is very clear.  You must never let anyone judge you according to the days you keep (Col. 2.15).  You might think I am a stinky pagan for keeping Christmas but Biblically speaking I don’t care.  It has to be that way because the Bible says so.  If you want a tree, don’t let anyone judge you.  If you don’t want a tree, don’t let anyone judge you.  If you want a holly wreath, don’t let anyone judge you.

Someone might tell you that pagans had trees in their house or pagans had holly wreaths to protect you from demons.  Well, if you think holly protects you from demons you need help.  But putting leaves up in a house to make it look pretty is not a sin, is not pagan and is not a problem.  Man looks on outward things but the Lord looks on the heart.  If you judge someone for having a tree or having a wreath up, you are the carnal one, not the one who has the tree!  If you judge someone for taking their children to the shopping centre to see Santa and get a gift, then you are the worldly one.

Worldliness is not about what you do on the inside it is about the heart.  Fear is worldly.  Shame is worldly.  Sickness and poverty is worldly.  Worldly minded Christians would rather sit in the dark and in the silence rather than sing a few upbeat carols and enjoy the season!  Why?  Fear.  Shame.  Darkness.  Thinking like the world!

We need to be living as lights in the world.  Use Christmas as an opportunity to share the gospel of the Word that has become flesh.  Now if you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, I won’t judge you, but just make sure your motives are pure that you are doing it out of love rather than fear.  Make sure you are not doing it out of a sense of pride to make you feel like a better Christian than someone else.

Thirdly, Christmas is a great time of year to reach out to the community.  I personally believe that Christmas has been designed as a time to be spiritual and full of faith and to impact the community.  It’s the only time of the year you can talk about angels and not have people think you are loopy.  It’s a great time to talk about Jesus because it is in the backs of people’s minds.

Now, of course the devil wants people to be materialistic.  The devil wants people to be carnal.  But he doesn’t care if you are carnal because you drink too much or you are carnal because you drink nothing and hate in your heart anyone who has a glass of wine.  He doesn’t care if you are carnal because you max out two credit cards on Christmas or because you spend nothing on your children and judge and condemn people who buy their children presents.

Just as a personal aside, I buy my children presents all year round.  Just a few weeks ago, I bought my eldest an electric guitar.  I love my children and love giving good gifts to them.  This Christmas it has been quite pleasant: they don’t really know what to ask for, they already have so much!  Saves us a bit of money!  I don’t recommend going into debt for Christmas one bit.

Now as a pastor who has spent a lot of time door knocking and handing out tracts and invites in the street, inviting people to church gets a certain response.   Inviting people to a carol service gets a MUCH BETTER response.  Christmas opens people’s hearts to the church.  Which means you have more opportunities to get the gospel to them.  Which I like!

So, I say: enjoy Christmas.  Have a great time.  And as I said in my email on Christmas:

When you celebrate Christmas remember Jesus has already saved you from your sins.  It is not a future event anymore – it is a done deal.  Jesus Christ paid the full price for every sin you have ever committed and for every sin you will ever commit.

You are forgiven, redeemed, righteous and pure.  You are holy and clean and blessed and filled.  You have the spirit of Christ inside you.  God Himself lives inside you.  You have peace with God.  You have been declared righteous.  You have been made righteous.  You have been saved from your sins.

Every time you hear the name Jesus this week translate it: “The One Who Has Completed Rescued Me From my sins.”

You are free from the penalty of every single sin you have ever committed and ever will commit.  You are eternally redeemed.

Sin has been completed and totally dealt with.  You don’t need to be afraid of God.  He is not angry with you, He is not at war with you.  He is not upset with you.  He loves you and He likes you.  He is your Father and is rejoicing over you with singing and dancing.

It doesn’t matter if you went and wasted your life in sin, He simply wants you to fellowship with Him and give you a robe and a ring.

It doesn’t matter if you publically denied Jesus in front of everyone.  In weeks you could be preaching at the next revival.  That’s how Jesus restored Peter.  Why?  Because on the cross Jesus totally dealt with every sin Peter every committed and every would commit.

And Jesus has totally dealt with your sin.  This Christmas enjoy His love and goodness.

The Quiet Blog

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I know that this blog has been quiet in the last few months.  I also know from the stats that hundreds of people are reading it, so what is here is clearly benefiting and blessing people.

So why have I neglected this blog for so long?  Three main reasons.  Firstly, I have been very busy in real life.  The church is now 25+ people who attend regularly so that takes time to build relationships and encourage people.    In addition, I have been working long hours at a (rather dull) secular job to ensure I have the money to do all that I need to do.  Also, the radio ministry is taking more of my time as well.  I am amazed how full time bloggers do what they do and do it so well.

Secondly, I have been on twitter a lot.  (http://twitter.com/#!/holytwiglets).   I am still learning about how twitter works and what kind of online identity I need to fashion there.

Thirdly, I have been focusing so much on preaching on the Sunday and crafting messages that can help and build up the church.

So, this lack of focus and other activities have caused this blog to be neglected.  However, I sincerely believe that God has plans for this blog.  What exactly I don’t know.  In the first couple of months of 2011, the Lord has promised me everything will change.  Having a lively, well-maintained blog – and the time to maintain it – is part of those changes.

So please bear with us.  Please be patient.  And when  you read a post you like make a comment.  I only censor comments that contain rude language.

Glory and freedom,

Benjamin

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