Wednesday, 10 October 2012

At 8:00am on the 8th October, 2012, Samuel James Britton was born. We are thankful to God for this healthy little boy, our third child. In the old testament we are first introduced to a the future prophet Samuel when he is born to Hannah, a desperate, childless woman. She is described as praying and weeping "in bitterness of soul" that God would grant her a son. She vows that if her prayer is answered, "... then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life..." Of course, God is faithful and little Samuel is born (I am told that in Hebrew this name is is a homophone for the word meaning "Heard of God"). Hannah is also faithful and gives Samuel, even as a young child, to the service of the Lord and he goes to live with the priest, Eli. One night God calls out to Samuel. This is remarkable in the text since, "In those days the word of the Lord was rare." Samuel hears the Lord on three occasions before it is clear to him who in fact is calling. On each occasion Samuel responds, "Here I am". With Eli's coaching he also responds on the third occasion with a profoundly important and life shaping phrase, "Speak, for your servant is listening." It is our prayer that little Samuel's life will be given over to the Lord. We hope that he will listen to God, be open to His leading and be dedicated in His service.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Top Five - Kid's party foods

My son Joel had a combined 2nd birthday party today. It got me thinking... how much I loved party food as a kid. Here's my top five;

1. Fairy bread - who's idea was this stuff? Calling it fairy bread was pure genius. All kid's love the idea of a bit of magic.

2. Jelly - We had it at home sometimes, but it was always better at a party. Wibble wobble, wibble wobble, jelly on a plate.

3. Frankfurts - What is really in these things? I probably don't want to know, but dipped in sauce they tasted sensational.

4. Sausage rolls - What is really in these things? I probably don't want to know. Just add sauce (Is there a theme here?). Party size of course.

5. Cake - It was all in the design (cricket bats, footballs, guitars, tigers...) and the icing... oh so sweet!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Beatitudes IV

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Isn't this what we all need and crave? To be recognised as living rightly; to know that despite difficulty, hardship and suffering we are known by God and he approves of us.

"...are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..."

We all know what it is to hunger and thirst. It is a deep desire born out of the necessity for sustenance. We have these needs as physical beings. And we know that the craving can be intense, all-consuming(pardon the pun), demanding.
We know this physical desire... but hunger and thirst for righteousness? It must be said at this point that the text does not clearly place any boundaries around the righteousness so desired. It is personal right-living in relationship with God. It is a world transformed by a right-living humanity, reconciled to it's maker.
"Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." This is the visceral prayer of the hungry and thirsty in the words of this beatitude.
"Purify my heart, cleanse me from my sin and make me holy..." This is the craving of the blessed ones.

"..for they shall be satisfied."

The satisfaction of having thirst quenched, of having hunger satiated is something we can all identify with. And what a declaration this is! For those who deeply long to see the world and their hearts oriented to God rightly to be assured this will happen is simply thrilling.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Sometimes I can fly.
The spirit gives me wings and I soar.
The truth on my lips,
a transcendent joy.
And I sing.
But not with my voice.
It is my soul.
A glorious symphony;
the harmony weaving a tapistry with the melody.
The notes lift me higher and higher.
There is no fear.

Sometimes I cry;
Wallowing in the pit.
A world full of lies,
a temporal despair.
I weep.
But not with tears.
It is my soul.
A potion of rejection, brokeness,
loneliness, failure and loss.
The cup that I cannot bear.
There is only fear.

What is this life?
Must I come down if I go up?
Reaching the mountaintop
only to fall down... down.
When will I run and not grow tired?
When will these wings carry me to rest?
When will I stand in the Son and know only happiness?
Please. I want to go home.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Beatitudes III

Matthew 5:5
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

We have come to understand that this declaration of blessing from God is a source of great encouragement and hope in this age; the age in which we experience daily the imperfections of our own falleness and the falleness of other people and the whole of creation. There is salvation happening; a reversal of this falleness.

"...are the meek..."
The meek are the humble, the gentle, the considerate, those who do not think too highly of themselves. They are the people who refuse to subsume the humanity of another under the ambitions of the self.
We see it in Jesus as he welcomes children, eats with 'sinners', interracts with women and teaches his disciples.
Meekness is the attitude of Jesus as he suffers the cruelty and violence of his passion and death.
The meek are those who see in the needs of the poor, the homeless, the naked, the weak an opportunity to serve Jesus.
The meek are those who have seen the glory of God in creation and humanity and interract with them filled with appropriate reverence and fear.

"...for they shall inherit the earth."
When one considers human history one cannot help but be convinced that those who have 'received' an inheritance are those who take it for themselves, deceive and coerce, overpower and oppress. Meekness does not to meet the criterion for this type of heir.
Psalm 37 provides us with the great contrast of those who seem to inherit ('the wicked man') and those who God declares will inherit.
But in contrast to the way things seem the inheiritance of the meek will be total. The earth, the dwelling place of all humanity will be rendered to them. This is the blessedness of Jesus Kingdom.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Top five - aussie beers

Beer is one of the great joys in life. The variety produced by Australian brewers has never been better. Unfortunately australians and their beer have historically been famous only in terms of quantity consumed, but I'm happy to say that for me and these brewers quality is the main focus. Here is my top five.

1. Barons - Wattle seed ale.
The 'brave boys at barons' produce this outstanding dark ale as part of their native range. Caramel, coffee, wholesome.

2. Moo Brew - Wheat beer.
This boutique Tasmanian brewery produces this fantastic cloudy wheat beer. Smooth, creamy with a hint of citrus.

3. Outback Brewery - Pale Ale.
There are plenty of great aussie pale ales. I'm not suggesting that this is the best, but it is a little known Gem. Fruity, fragrant, sharp.

4. Coopers - Sparkling Ale.
The first aussie beer that really made me lick my lips. It sparkles in flavour, but the beer itself is cloudy. Hoppy, bitey, refreshing.

5. Gage Roads - Premium Lager.
Again, how to choose 1 Premium Lager from all those on offer (and some would call me un-Australian for not choosing Crown), but this is something special. Tight, a hint of sweetness, cool and clean.

Others that could easily have made it:
James Squires - Amber Ale.
Little Creatures - Pale Ale.
McClaren Vale brewing Co - Vale Ale.
Barons - Lager.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Beatitudes II

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Already, as a result of the previous beatitude, we have come to expect that this 'blessedness' is peculiar. It is the ironic declaration of God; an insight into the reality of things not seen; the great reversal of fortune that inclusion in the Kingdom entails. It is not necessarily an experience of blessedness now.

"...are those who mourn,..."
Mourning is what a person does in the face of great loss, usually the loss of a loved one to death. I think the mourning described here speaks directly into that sort of situation, but also contains hints of a broader, more cosmic, existential mourning. It is sorrow, deep sorrow, over my responsibility as a sinner for sin and death and suffering. It is seeing the organic connection between my falleness as an individual and the falleness of all of creation. It is seeing in death - of a loved one, or of anyone - a great judgement falling on us all.

"...for they shall be comforted."
This is the blessedness. A great declaration that comfort (of God himself, of the kingdom) will be extended to those beaten and bruised by the fall. The future can be bright for those who see only through tears. It is God himself who will wipe their tears away.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Beatitudes I

Our home group/biblestudy group/growth group/cell group... is studying the Beatitudes. We started last night. I thought I'd give some reflections each week. I am of course indebted to the group for the content of these posts.

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I think it is clear that though some translations render this word as 'Happy', this is not what is meant. 'Happy' implies a subjective state, but blessed implies an objective state; a gift bestowed from outside. It may or may not be associated with 'Happiness'.

"...poor in spirit..."
I think what is described here is the knowledge of the poverty of being a fallen human; the limitations; the faultiness; the powerlessness; the sinfulness... It is the experience of lack and dependency an all things that arises from the clear view (afforded by the illumination of the Spirit) that;
"There is no-one righteous, no-one who seeks God, all have turned away";
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?".
It is the picture of the pleading sinner before God as opposed to the proud Pharisee in Jesus parable.
It is the contrast between the 2 criminals crucified on either side of Jesus.
It is the place to which Jesus leads the Samaritan women at the well.
It is the experience of Peter who denied Jesus 3 times.

"...for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
This is the blessedness bestowed upon those who are poor in Spirit. It is a life furnished with the capacity to live within the Kingdom.
Now is a good time to clarify - I don't think poverty of spirit is an end in itself. No, it is simply to place to which fallen human beings must go in order to be rightly oriented towards God. It is a clearing away of the old, worn furniture of pride and self-righteousness, and independance which we have become accustomed to. It is the spring clean needed in order that a new creation makeover can be worked in our lives, and so the Kingdom be manifest in us. Like any cleaning process it will be at times uncomfortable even painful.

When we (in Adam and Eve and in ourselves) have pursued/pursue our own way of living it has been/is an act of defiance against the God who is there and has spoken. The reversal of this (Kingdom of heaven) begins and continues in the Christian life and it requires a humbling, a turning, an acknowledgement of fault and weakness, a certain sorrow... a poverty of Spirit. It will be the ongoing experience of the Christian in these 'in between' times.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Top Five - Reasons to be a Christian

The top 5 reasons to be a Christian.

1. Jesus.
In the words of Philip Yancey,
"God is, in a word, Christlike. Jesus presents a God with skin on whom we can take or leave, love or ignore. In this visible, scaled-down model we can discern God's features more clearly.
I must admit that Jesus has revised in flesh many of my harsh and unpalable notions about God. Why am i a christian? I sometimes ask myself, and to be pefectly honest the reasons reduce to two: (1) the lack of good alternatives, and (2) Jesus. Brilliant, untamed, tender, creative, slippery, irreducible, paradoxically humble - Jesus stands up to scrutiny. He is who I want my God to be."*

2. Adoption.
In the words of J.I.Packer,
"In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship, and establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is a greater."**

3. Meaning and purpose that death does not destroy.
In the words of N.T.Wright,
"...when Jesus rose again God's whole new creation emerged from the tomb, introducing a world full of new potential and possibility. Indeed, precisely because part of that new possibility is for human beings themselves to be revived and renewed, the ressurrection of Jesus does not leave us passive, helpless spectators. We find ourselves lifted up, set on our feet, given new breath in our lungs, and commissioned to go and make new creation happen in the world."***

4. A multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual joining of people.
In the words of John Piper,
"I infer from this that the beauty and power of praise that will come to the Lord from the diversity of the nations are greater than the beauty and power that would come to him if the chorus of the redeemed were culturally uniform. The reason for this can be seen in the analogy of a choir. More depth of beauty is felt from a choir that sings in parts than from a choir that sings only in unison. Unity in diveristy is more beautiful and more powerful than unity of uniformity. This carries over to the untold differences that exist between the peoples of the world. When their diversity unites in worship to God, the beauty of their praise will echo the depth and greatness of God's beauty far more than if the redeemed were from only a few different people groups."****

5. The local church.
In the words of Eugene Peterson,
"Men and women are not admitted to the community by presenting credentials of love skills, nor do we maintain our place in the community by passing periodic peer reviews on love. We are here to be formed over our lifetimes into a community of the beloved, God's beloved who are being formed into a people who love God and one another in the way and on the terms in which God loves us. It's slow work. We are slow learners. And though God is unendingly patient with us, we are not very patient with one another. Outsiders, observing our embarrissingly slow and erratic progress in love, wonder why we bother. Well, we bother because God is love: he created us in love; he saved us in an act of love; he commanded us to love one another. Love is the ocean in which we swim. So what if many of us can only wade in the shallows, and others of us can barely dog paddle for short distances? We are learning and we see the possibility of one day taking long, relaxed, easy strokes into the deep."*****

*The Jesus I never knew. p265. Zondervan, Michegan (1995).
**Knowing God. p233. Hodder and Stoughton, London (1993).
***Simply Christian. p99. SPCK, London (2006).
****Let the Nations be glad; the supremacy of God in missions. p.199. Baker Academic, Michegan (2004).
*****Christ plays in ten thousand places. p.312. Hodder and Stoughton, London (2005).

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Lady wisdom

At 9:13am on the 30th of May, 2009, Sophie Olive Britton was born.

Sophie is the french form of the name Sophia which is the Greek word meaning wisdom.

In the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, wisdom in personified as a woman.
Proverbs 4:5-9;
"Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown."

Then in Proverbs 31, there is an extensive description of a wise and virtuous women. The description climaxes in verse 30;
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."

It is our prayer that little Sophie Britton will become a woman who so prizes wisdom, and so displays wisdom that the Glory and Grace of the Lord will shine forth for all to see.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


They'll say there is a Superman;
You may see him flying high.
They'll invite you to their wonderland;
you'll feel comfortable inside.

You'll stand and watch the evergreens
believing summer's come.
You may hug and kiss their beauty queen
believing age undone.

As our vanity twists and turns
They rise up across the world
Whilst they fire of pride still burns...

You'll hear the voice on MTV;
say reach up for the stars.
But there's no time to guage reality
when your eyes are fixed on Mars.

As our vanity twists and turns
They rise up across the world
Whilst they fire of pride still burns...

But I know he's coming.
'Cause I've seen the empty tomb.
Yes, I know he's coming...

I know he's coming.
'Cause I've seen the empty tomb.
Yes, I know he's coming.
'Cause I've seen those graveclothes.
I know he's coming...

Top Five - reasons to like McDonald's

I know, I know... There a plenty of reasons to dislike Macca's.
It is fat laden, sugar boosted, calorie dense food that promotes obesity (especially amongst children to whom they advertise most aggressively).

But here are a few guitly reasons to love Macca's;

1. 24hr service - A quick cheeseburger meal at 1am after finishing a shift at work hits the spot perfectly.

2. Drive thru - what would a road trip be without one stop under the golden arches?

3. Free WiFi - staying connected shouldn't be this cheap!

4. The big Mac - special sauce is so special.

5. The controversies - is soft serve ice cream really made from pig fat? Is it really apple or choko in the pie? Can you really become fat, depressed, develop liver dysfunction and heart disease from just 1 month of eating?

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

New Life

Woke up this morning, and I got myself out of bed.
I put this shirt on, then I went downstairs.
I made a coffee. I made some toast and vegemite.
Read the paper, and then I closed the front door.

I got to work and sat down at my desk.
I made a phonecall; she said that she was depressed.
I made a coffee and looked at my pile of work.
I thought to myself, what the hell is all this worth.

I saw my boss and he said, "Phil you are a drag."
He said, "This company will not tolerate your crap."
I made a coffee as I gathered up my stuff,
then walked out of the office to get me a new life.

He walked the dusty roads; He led a band of lowly men;
Washed their feet and told them stories of the King.
He died a brutal death; they say He'd done to wrong.
Then He came back again, it was to give me a new life.

Saturday, 23 August 2008


Death comes;
it's dark spectre rising
swooping, diving
creeping, writhing.
The end is near.
We wait in fear.
A fog
closes in around us.
Final breaths.
Silence screams.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Wait upon the Lord

Psalm 147:10-11

He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
The LORD favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

My hairy, scrawny legs could never be conceived of as attractive by anyone, so it is with some relief that I find this passage in scripture.
Less flippant, of course, is the meaning of these verses. Here we have the powerful emphasis that God delights not in the independence, but the dependence of man; God takes pleasure in the way we acknowledge our poverty when we receive from His riches; God favors those who realise the awesome majesty of his power by fearing Him and who trust in His mercy by waiting for his kindness.
These verses are so offensive because they assume that humankind's greatest achievements are unimpressive before God (cf. Isaiah 40), that any attempts at self-glorification on humankind's behalf are idolatrous and that God rightly thwarts them (cf. Genesis 11).
This is the God-centredness of God that demands God-centredness from His creation.