Category Archives: life

Beauty, glory, and how to not end up empty


“There is one more thing to say about God’s glory – it is his absolute splendour and beauty. The word for ‘glory’ in the Old Testament means importance, the word for ‘glory’ in the New Testament (the Greek word doxa) means ‘praise and wonder; luminosity, brilliance or beauty.’ 

Jonathon Edwards once said: ‘God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.’ It is not enough to say, ‘I guess he is God, so I have got to knuckle under.’ You have to see his beauty.

Glorifying God does not mean obeying him because you have to. It means to obey him because you want to – because you are attracted to him, because you delight in him.

This is what C.S.Lewis grasped so well in his chapter on praising. We need beauty. We go to lengths to put ourselves in front of beautiful places, or surround ourselves with beautiful music, or hang out with beautiful people. But these will leave us empty if we don’t learn to see all of these things as mere tributaries and God himself as the fountain, the headwaters of it all.”

Tim Keller, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), 170.

Leave a comment

Filed under life

the meaning of life is not ’42’

Ultimate reality is a community of persons who know and love one another. That is what the universe, God, history, and life is all about. If you favour money, power, and accomplishment over human relationships, you will dash yourself on the rocks of reality. When Jesus said you must lose yourself in service to find yourself (Mark 8:35), he was recounting what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been doing throughout eternity.

You will, then, never get a sense of self by standing still, as it were, and making everything revolve around your needs and interests. Unless you are willing to to experience the loss of options and the individiual limitation that comes from being in committed relationships, you will remain out of touch with your own nature and the nature of things.

Tim Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, 216-217.

Leave a comment

Filed under keller, life, quotes


Reflecting on the message of the prophet Zephaniah, and in particular his picutre of God searching through the streets of Jerusalem with a lamp to find out the complacent (Zeph 1:12-13) , I read this great line:

“The great causes of God and Humanity are not defeated by the hot assaults of the Devil, but by the slow, crushing, glacierlike masses of thousands and thousands of indifferent nobodies. God’s causes are never destroyed by being blown up, but by being sat upon.”

G.A.Smith, Book of the Twelve Prophets. Expositor’s Bible (1956)4:573.

1 Comment

Filed under life, old testament, quotes

resolutions for the new year

I was encouraged by this post by John Piper heading into the new year, so I reproduce the list here for your edification (and mine!):

1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.”

8. I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.” I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.

Leave a comment

Filed under life

First day at St Paul’s

Well, the first day has come and gone.

It was weird to come back to a place where I was student minister 8 years ago. Much has changed, but it was nice to see a whole bunch of faces that were familiar (and even remember some names – not bad after 8 years!). People were very friendly and welcoming, which was great.

What a mixture of messages that were preached over the 4 services – 2 Chronicles, John 17, Hosea 13-14, and 1 Corinthians 15-16! That much hasn’t changed – people here are still people of the Word. I look forward to the privilege of opening the word with them in the near future.

Thanks to those who have prayed for us in the transition. We are feeling settled in our new house, and ready for this next chapter in the Baker family lives to begin.

Grace and peace.


Filed under life, ministry

Faith vs Sight

I had a very sad conversation today with an older lady. Someone that many people in her church would consider to be a rock.

The topic was evangelism. She told me that she felt like she couldn’t be involved in that with any integrity. She just couldn’t talk to other people about Jesus.

When she was younger, she had given herself to God and the church with lots of enthusiasm. In her own words, she had been very committed.

Now, she felt different. She no longer believed that the bible was God’s word. She had decided a while ago that she would ‘follow God very slowly, and from a distance.’

What had happened to change her mind? When she was younger, she ‘expected more from this whole Christian thing.’ What more? ‘Gifts of the Spirit that were more obvious; or a major ministry, or…. ‘

I was floored, and deeply saddened. I wondered what had given her those expectations at the start. Maybe a case of expecting to walk by sight, rather than by faith.

She will be in my prayers.

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, life