Darren Dalton • September 22, 2021
How do we respond when things become uncomfortable when we face opposition and those who are supposed to protect the freedom of faiths are creating legislation and laws to prevent us from openly sharing our faith?
Do we shy away, wish to create a community of fellow believers sheltered and away from the rest of the world? Or do we adapt the Gospel to win favouritism from the secular world?
I read an article where a church is now offering beer at their services to bring more people in. At what point does church stop being about God and becomes about entertainment? No longer placing their hope and trust in our sovereign God, but giving over to culture and allowing that to shape our churches.
The book of Daniel is a great revelation to what happens when you fully trust and place your hope and identity in God. Especially when living in an anti-God culture. A culture that worships and glorifies every man-made idol including the king himself.
Chapter 6 has King Darius tricked through his pride to make a decree that if anyone prays to anyone else except the king for thirty days will be thrown into the lion's den.
The reason for such a strange decree was, Daniel was known as a man of prayer. Every day he would pray to God three times. The satraps and other administrators knew this and knew this was the only way they could get Daniel in trouble with King Darius.
They knew Daniel was obedient and trusted in God and would not do anything to break his relationship with God.
This was Daniels response to the threat of his life. Daniel chapter 6:10 tells us that he did exactly what he always did, he didn't panic or stop praying. He continued faithfully praying, placing his hope and trust in God for help.
Though Daniels enemies were against him and even though Daniel was thrown into the lion's den, God saved him.
The bible tells us that we will go through these difficult times but what is revealed is that our sovereign creator, who has chosen us to be adopted into His family. He is with us throughout those trials. He was in the furnace with Daniels friends and he saved Daniel.
We too can trust in the same God as he does not change, He is still the same sovereign God of the Old Testament just as he was in the New Testament and is today and will be in the future.
When trials or pressure comes our way, what will we be known for? Will, we still stand in prayer trusting in God's word and promises? or will we bow down to the idols of this world, idols that have been created in the image of mankind, idols that can not save us from God's judgement.
After Daniels witnessing to God's power Darius could not deny God anymore and decreed in verse 25;
Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”
May the way we testify through our faith and trust in God call others to bow down and call upon Jesus, that through His death and resurrection we all may be saved.
Reverend Darren Dalton
St Andrews Church Kinson Bournemouth
Darren Dalton • September 17, 2021
I saw an advert for an alarm company, a wife rings her husband at work and tells her husband that the neighbour was burgled. His response was 'that could have been us!'
The wife reassured the husband as she has called the alarm company for protection. Then the advert ends with the jingle.
This advert shocked me, I wonder if you have seen it and how it made you feel?
This advert reveals the very heart of the consumer community, there was a lack of empathy or any real concern for their neighbours. People who they may have known for a while. His response was me me me and no concern to how the neighbours felt or if they were ok. The wife's response was I need to protect our stuff.
There seems to be a disconnect, where the community is not important but the only person I need to look after is myself. No longer do we focus on what's best for the community but if it's not in my best interests I'm not interested. Or the fact we can live on the same street for most of our lives and still do not know the people we live next to.
Unfortunately, I see the same mentality creeping into our churches, the disconnect from one another where we do not truly know the person who we sit next to every Sunday or know what is going on in their lives. The shift from knowing and hearing the Gospel message to placing it in our hearts and truly living lives that show that we are connected, loving in a way that reveals we are disciples of Christ.
The results of this disconnection can be revealed by the way the community are more concerned with self and have become a culture consumed with individualism.
There have been many stories in scripture that have helped me and one of those is from the book of Ezra. Ezra is a priest at the time of the Exiles returning to Jerusalem, the people have already forgotten about their exile and the reason for it in the first place. They already start sinning by marrying people from other tribes.
Ezra's response to this affected me deeply and opened my eyes to how we need to respond. In chapters nine and ten, Ezra is in prayer and he breaks down into tears and tears his clothes as a response to the heart of the community he is living in. Through this act, Ezra is showing how much he cares about the future of Israel, through their sinning they were exiled from the promised land and most importantly from God. He sees their lack of connection between each other and from God as a massive concern.
Through his action, he shows the community that he cares about them and their spiritual needs. Through this revelation, the people around him also cry and tear their clothes in repentance and turn away from their sinful ways.
They cared because he cared, this led me to think how do we show that same concern? If we hear someone has been burgled is our first response to build a bigger wall to keep everyone out, or is it to provide an intentional service to show that we care.
How do we show that the spiritual welfare of our kids, our church family and the wider community matters to us? If we don't show that we care or that we are concerned why should they? How connected are we with God and His mission in His world?
St Andrew's, Kinson, Bournemouth.
Darren Dalton • September 10, 2021
I have pondered on;
Matthew 7:13-14. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Another interpretation of the 'narrow gate' is 'strait gate'. Strait is a narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two other large areas of water, such as "the Straits of Gibraltar".
the Origin of the word
This helps me to understand a little more what Jesus meant as narrow. It's not just as simple as narrow is the gate but it is tight and not anyone can fit through it. You need to be a particular shape and size, the gate is designed for those who have been on a disciplined, strict and self sacrificing journey, only then can they fit through it. The journey where we are disciples of Christ being transformed by Him no longer are we our old selves but we are new transformations in Him.
The picture above if you were wondering is from a show called 'A hole in the wall' where there are shapes carved out in the wall and as it comes towards you, you need to adjust your self in order for you to fit through. The game puts the works on the contestants to fit through the narrow hole but in order for us to fit through the 'narrow gate' we need to allow God to do the reshaping and the only way He can do that is if we fully trust in Him and let go of all the other idols we carry.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples first time they did not take anything extra, no money not even a second pair of sandals. They had no option but to fully trust God, as only God can give what we truly need.
We too are on that journey, sent out by Christ to proclaim His good news, the only difference for us is that we hold onto too many idols. Idols that we place before God, idols that we put our trust in, idols that prevent us form meeting on Sunday's and through out the week. As we make excuses after excuses to make ourselves feel better.
The road is narrow and tight, it encourages us, it forces us to get rid of those idols we hold on to if we want to pass through the narrowing of the gate. unfortunately too many people find it more comforting to feel in-control, to do what they want and to live the way they want to, they keep on the wider path as it enables them to hold as many idols as they want.
The narrow path is uncomfortable as we need to be honest with ourselves and with God. The journey is hard, we have to let go of everything and fully trust in God. But through this strict journey we are moulded into the likeness of His son so, when it comes to the gate we will enter. Not because of what we have done but because of the work Christ has done and the Spirit continues to do.
The question I and we need to reflect upon is, what do we need to let go off to allow God to continue to shape us as we journey with Him, and are we willing to put the hard and sacrificial work in and stop making excuses?
St Andrew's Kinson Bournemouth