Do you ever find yourself questioning whether your faith is true? And if so where do you turn to strengthen your faith?
I am most prone to doubt when I am tired or feeling under the weather. At times like that the number one thing that renews my faith is Christ’s resurrection. Taking that away is like removing a key block from a Tower of Jenga, everything else collapses around it. Paul writes: ‘And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’ 1 Corinthians 15:14 (NIV 2011) As if that wasn’t strong enough Paul continues in the same chapter to say that if Christ has not been raised: 1) our message is a lie, 2) there is no resurrection for anyone else, 3) our faith is futile, 4) we are still in our sins, and 5) we of all people are the most to be pitied! Of course Paul is being rhetorical here, inviting us to have confidence in Christ’s resurrection, because he then goes in to state: ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ 1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV 2011)
Why was Paul so certain that Christ had been raised? Because he had evidence; evidence that we too can rely on to confirm that our faith is based upon facts. Just a few verses earlier Paul cites the eyewitness testimonies of Peter and the 12 apostles, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote and could have been questioned. He also cites a resurrection appearance to 500 others at the same time, again most of whom were still alive and could have been questioned.
Of course we could also look at the evidence of the empty tomb and the folded grave clothes; the response of the authorities who had every incentive to prove that Jesus had not risen; the eyewitness testimony of the women who arrived first at the tomb; the scepticism of Thomas; the willingness of the disciples to die for the truth of Christ’s resurrection.
A careful investigation of such details leads to the conclusion that the best explanation for that first Easter morning is that Christ is indeed risen! And if Christ is risen then we know that the message of the scriptures is true, that we too will be resurrected, that our faith is not futile, that we have been set free from our sins, and that we are the envy of the world.
This Easter, allow yourself to be captivated by the facts. Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again! Alleluia, Amen!
This blog post featured in the April 2015 edition of Lifelines
The run up to Easter is one of my favourite times of the year. Each new day, as we see the weather improving, draws us closer to the time when we celebrate Christ’s death and Resurrection. Normally in the run up to Easter I would encourage you to focus on Christ’s death as it is through His death that we are able to receive mercy and forgiveness for our sin. But what would the Easter story have been like had Jesus not risen? After all the animals sacrificed under the Old Covenant stayed dead! The resurrection though gives us confidence that the power of death is beaten, and that we like Christ will be raised to life on the last day.
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for the disciples to encounter the risen Lord Jesus after the tomb was found empty? During a period of 40 days Jesus appeared to over 500 followers on at least 11 occasions as recorded in the gospels and Acts. What would it have been like to be part of that? How would your faith have been strengthened to see Christ standing in front of you with nail scarred hands and a pierced side?
Starting on Easter Sunday will be a 6 week series called ’40 Days with Jesus’. Each week a different preacher will help us join the disciples and retrace their steps in an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. The series is supported by a devotional book by Dave Smith called (you’ve guessed it!) ’40 days with Jesus’. There are also small group questions and video clips that some Connect groups may choose to use during these 40 days in order to help us draw closer to our Risen Saviour.
Dave Smith is the leader of Kingsgate Church which was planted as a small group meeting in a home in 1988 and now consists of a congregation of around 1,500 people in a massive warehouse conversion in Peterborough. Dave Smith is joining us at Westpoint in August so this will also be an opportunity to get to know him before the summer.
If you would like to join us on the 40 day adventure you can purchase a copy from Amazon
Paperback edition 40 Days with Jesus from Amazon UK
Kindle edition 40 Days with Jesus from Amazon UK
This blog post featured in the March 2015 edition of Lifelines
A few years ago when we were on a family holiday in France we visited an amusement park. One of the more challenging rides was a 500m aerial runway across a lake and onto an island. After watching several people take the ride before me I became convinced the ride was safe, plucked up courage, climbed on to the seat and sped down to the landing area. My initial nervous trepidation change to exhilaration as the warm air rushed past my face.
Many people think that becoming a Christ follower is an act of blind faith, a leap into the dark without any rational basis. Nothing could be further from the truth! At the point of decision there may be many unanswered questions but, like my decision to ride the aerial runway, genuine faith in Christ is based upon a body of evidence. Of all the things recorded about Jesus, the one outstanding claim that needs to be scrutinised is His resurrection. If that can be shown to be false then everything else falls away like a stack of cards. Even St Paul recognised this when he wrote these words: And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
No serious historian would question that a man called Jesus lived and taught in the region of Galilee and Judea. Over the years a number of people have written books that set out to impartially investigate the evidence surrounding Christ’s resurrection, the most famous being ‘Who moved the stone?’ written by the lawyer Frank Morison who intended to prove the resurrection didn’t happen. Trawling through the New Testament accounts, and other contemporary evidence, Morison concluded that the most rational explanation for the events surrounding the first Easter, 2000 years ago, was that: Jesus actually died on the cross, he really was buried in the tomb, he was definitely raised back to life and appeared to over 500 of his disciples. In short, the essential elements of the Easter accounts are true.
You may consider that you know the details well, but have you truly examined the evidence? In between the chocolate eggs and fluffy bunnies why not conduct your own investigation into the resurrection this Easter? Begin by reading Matthew 21- 28; Mark 11-16; Luke 18-24; John 11-21. Then get hold of one of the books listed below and see how all the arguments against the resurrection can systematically be shown to fail. Then you will have evidence that demands a verdict; you will have a rational basis for a decision upon which to base faith in Christ.
This blog post featured in the April 2014 edition of Hook Focus
 1 Corinthians 15:14 (NIV2011).
The first things that come to my mind as we enter the month of November are bonfires and fireworks. I have vivid memories as a boy of helping my father pile wood, leaves and other garden waste up to build a bonfire at the bottom of the garden. As dusk fell various invited neighbours gathered and then the bonfire, complete with an effigy of Guy Fawkes, was lit. Sausages were sizzled on forks attached to long canes and fireworks were let off. Even in those less safety conscious day’s fireworks were an adult responsibility but there was something exciting to a small boy about being entrusted with a sparkler! You are no doubt familiar with the ritual of one sparkler being lit from another until dozens are being waved around to paint patterns in the night air. Given a sufficient supply of sparklers and willingness to share the flame this handheld display can be kept going for many minutes. One sparkler on its own however can seem quite tame and will soon burn away to nothing.
Christian faith too is best experienced in the company of others as together we share the joy, and at times heartache, of being a follower of Jesus. Whether our journey of faith is long, short, or not yet started the act of sharing it with others encourages the whole community, including ourselves, in much the same ways as happens when sparklers are ignited off each other. However, if we try and live our faith in isolation then we can quickly lose our sparkle and become dull and cold. Once a sparkler is burnt out all that is left is a useless length of wire. The good news however is that if a person’s faith seems burnt out it can be invigorated by joining with others whose flame is burning brighter.
If as these colder winter months draw in you feel that your life has lost its sparkle then perhaps it is time to immerse yourself in a church community. Whether you are an old hand or completely new to the Christian faith I am confident that you will receive a warm welcome at any of the churches in Hook. You can find out more on the adjacent pages.
This blog post featured in the November 2013 edition of Hook Focus
This challenging video shows Ray Comfort inviting various scientists to provide him with observable evidence for evolution. Their responses are thought provoking.
I am indebted to Adrian Warnock who posted this video on his blog.
Spoiler alert – this video will affect you emotionally. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy!
Rebecca and Joanna Barnard were born by emergency caesarean section at 28 weeks. Doctors predicted that Joanna would not survive outside the womb due to her underdevelopment. Their parents, Brandon and Jessica, along with their family and friends, prayed that God would miraculously heal their baby daughters. This brief documentary records their journey of faith and their resolute confidence in God.