I Have Decided

Full disclosure – this is a sad story…

Last week I was invited to teach at a conference for pastors and Bible college students in South Asia.

Right before my session, the worship leader stood up and told this story…

About 150 years ago, there was a great revival in Wales. As a result of this, many missionaries came to north-east India to spread the Gospel. The region known as Assam was comprised of hundreds of tribes who were primitive and aggressive head-hunters

Into these hostile and aggressive communities, came a group of missionaries from the American Baptist Missions spreading the message of love, peace and hope in Jesus Christ. Naturally, they were not welcomed. One missionary succeeded in converting a man, his wife, and two children. This man’s faith proved contagious and many villagers began to accept Christianity. 

Angry, the village chief summoned all the villagers. He then called the family who had first converted to renounce their faith in public or face execution. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the man instantly composed a song which became famous down the years. He sang:

“I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back, no turning back.”

Enraged at the refusal of the man, the chief ordered his archers to arrow down the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the floor, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife too.”

But the man sang these words in reply:

“Though no one joins me, still I will follow.

Though no one joins me, still I will follow.

Though no one joins me, still I will follow.

No turning back, no turning back.”

The chief was beside himself with fury and ordered his wife to be arrowed down. In a moment she joined her two children in death. Now he asked for the last time, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.”In the face of death the man sang the final memorable lines:

“The cross before me, the world behind me.

The cross before me, the world behind me.

The cross before me, the world behind me.

No turning back, no turning back.”

He was shot dead like the rest of his family. But with their deaths, a miracle took place. The chief who had ordered the killings was moved by the faith of the man. He wondered, “Why should this man, his wife and two children die for a Man who lived in a far-away land on another continent some 2,000 years ago? There must be some remarkable power behind the family’s faith, and I too want to taste that faith.”

In a spontaneous confession of faith, he declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

The song is based on the last words of Nokseng, a man from Garo tribe of Assam (now Meghalaya and some in Assam), India. It is today the song of the Garo people.

Source: Dr. P.P. Job in ‘Why God Why’


There was a stunned silence in the room.

Everybody knew this song, but very few people know the story to it.

The worship team then led us all in this song, and it was hauntingly beautiful. For us to be in the region where this took place, and having all made that same confession, was so powerful. There was barely a dry eye in the house.

Today there is no need for a challenging personal question, or a point to ponder, or a prayer of confession. Just read that story again, and listen to this song…

Life Defined

All I am
my life defined
By I’ve been crucified with Christ
The life I live
I live by faith
In Jesus Christ who lives in me

Identify seems to be something of a hot topic nowadays, doesn’t it? Everyone seems to be choosing who they are and what they want to be, who they want to be, defining themselves.

I heard someone say recently that at the core of this is a rejection of authority. People don’t want to be told that you are made in God’s image, because they reject the authority and actuality of God. 

People don’t want to be told that your life has worth and dignity and value because of the price paid for you at Calvary, because they reject the idea that they need salvation.

But what about those of us who accept the authority of God, how are we defined?

Our Christian worldview will only make fullest sense when it affects and influences all we are, and our lives are defined by the fact that God is real, He made us, He sent His Son to die for us, and through faith in this we are defined.

The Bible uses many terms to define you, such as;

Adopted son/daughter – Galatians 3.26, John 1.12

Heir – Galatians 3.23-29

Believer – 1 Timothy 4.12

Saints – Colossians 1.2

The church – 1 Thessalonians 1.1

The life we now seek to live in one of faith (2 Corinthians 5.7); faith in God, faith in Jesus, faith in the fact He now lives in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, and faith that any definition of ourselves that we can come up with will never be as good as who He says we are. 



Life Defined starts at 12:00 minutes.


Glory to Glory

Sometimes the progress in our Christian life, or our life in general, is not as quick as we would like it to be, is it. You know, maybe you start a new diet or fitness plan and after two days you look in the mirror and wonder why you don’t look like an Olympian. 

In our faith life, we are the same, aren’t we. We make a commitment, step out in faith, see that the claims of Christianity are true, but then it dawns on us that we are still the same person. There has been no miraculous instant whole-life change and that seems, to us, like it’s not happening.

Maybe you react in the same way to something you did before you believed.

Maybe you still feel the pull towards doing something or going somewhere you know you shouldn’t.

Maybe old habits still linger.

But you think ‘This isn’t how it’s supposed to be now, I’m a Christian, I should be living like Jesus, or like wonderful Christian example Mr./Mrs. ___ ‘.

At this point we can become discouraged, downhearted, and maybe even deterred from walking this way. When this happens, we need to remind ourselves of the wonderful truths of the Word of God.

If God has started a work in you, it will unequivocally, absolutely, 100% be finished (Philippians 1.6). Being transformed from glory to glory comes from beholding the Lord, spending time with the Lord, meditating on the Word of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3.18). 

All I know is this
There’s nothing that You miss
If it’s not beautiful yet
It’s gonna be

When I can’t see beyond
A thousand things gone wrong
If it’s not finished yet
It’s gonna be

I believe all that You start You complete
From glory to glory

So, if things don’t feel like they’re moving on as quickly as you’d like, if you seem to have arrived at a place from where you see no progress, if you feel down and out, take a moment and behold the glory of the Lord, and rest easy in the fact that He always finishes what He starts, and He who began a good work in you will bring it completion, He is transforming you from glory to glory. 

Never Been A Moment

This week I’ve been thinking about the line between feelings and faith, and how this influences who we are and how we are.

During our Spiritual Depression Miniseries we said that we ought to interpret our lives based on the Bible, not interpret the Bible based on our lives. The problem with the latter is that our lives then become the ultimate test and truth of reality, rather than the Word of God. When this is the case, our lives can change, our feelings can change, and we end up being blown here and there by every wind of change, often multiple times a day. This then has the potential to change who we are, and how we are. 

Think of the person interpreting their life independently, all alone, not in relation to something that never changes.

What happens when they feel abandoned and their circumstances seem to support that feeling?

What happens when they feel lost and their circumstances seem to support that feeling?

What happens when they deal with loss?

What happens when they deal with tragedy?

If we rely on feelings over faith, it’s only a matter of time before we end up in a dark place.

There’s a part of this song that speaks to this so well,

There’s never been a moment
I was not held inside Your arms
There’s never been a day when You were not who You say You are

Despite what is going on around us, God never changes (Malachi 3.6, Hebrews 13.8). Because God never changes, His Word to us is solid, true, and lasting (Luke 21.33). So, when we might feel abandoned, lost, alone, or down, we can turn to the Word of God and know, for sure, that He is always there, always true, and always ready with an all consuming, heart pursuing, grace extending, never ending love.

This should define who we are, and how we are. 

Even Then

Most Thursday’s we have a devotional with a bit of music, and today we’ve got Even Then by Micah Tyler.

On the nights when the dark lasts a little bit longer
When the wind and the storm is a little bit stronger
When the fear in my heart dips a little bit deeper
When my faith to stand gets a little bit weaker

Where could I run to?
Where could I go?

There will be times in our lives when things get tough, when we experience periods where we think ‘Where are you Lord?’, when we have doubts of emotion and feel as if nothing will ever get any better. 

I read recently that when things are happening that we don’t understand, we must fall back on the things we do understand. When life gets rough and tough where do we run, where do we go?

Psalm 73 offers a very present help in times of need and trouble,

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

It should come as a great comfort to us that the Lord never lets go (John 10.28) of those who have turned to Him in faith. When the dark, stormy, fear-filled times come along, we have an ever present help in our times of need. We must turn first and foremost to the Word of God in times of trouble, not our own feelings, not someone else’s experience, the solid, tried, true, and tested Word of God. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition…

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones

He is our refuge and strength, He is in our midst, He will help, He is with us.

We need only be still and know that the Lord of hosts is with us (Psalm 46).

I Will Boast

In Galatians 6 Paul is writing to say that people will ask you to do things in order to make them look good (vv.11-12), and that appearances are not to be boasted in, or gloried in, whether they are yours or someone else’s (v.13). Then he writes,

14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

This forms the basis of today’s Thursday Music, ‘I Will Boast’ by Chris Tomlin.

I will boast only in the cross

Where my Savior died for me

Nothing else, no other love,

Goes so far and runs so deep

Paul writes to the Romans that it is rare that anyone would die for a righteous man, yet sometimes people will give their life to save a good person. The love of God is proved to be on a whole other level when we see that whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5.7-8). No other love goes so far for us, no other love runs so deep for us.

I will boast only in the cross

See His head, His hands, and feet

Scars of grace, scars that heal

He broke the curse and set me free

This looks back to that horrific scene on the cross where Jesus took upon Himself the punishment, shame, and consequence for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2.2). The head, hands, and feet of Jesus took the physical punishment we deserve, and He gave His life to offer us a new one (John 19.2, 1 Peter 2.24).

This is why Paul writes far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. The cross of Jesus is the only true, pure, unchanging, and right thing in our lives. Everything else is temporary and temporal, but the cross of Christ is the starting point for a wonderful, new, and everlasting life.

Brokenness Aside

This song by All Sons & Daughters has some deep truths in it for us. Let’s just look at the chorus.

‘Cause I am a sinner
If it’s not one thing it’s another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
But You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful
Beautiful

Often the point we all get to before we realise that we are in dire need of a Saviour is to realise that I am a sinner. We know that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3.23). We also know that God is a God of justice, a holy God, and must act on sin (Habakkuk 1.13). All this point to the fact that as sinners we are deserving of judgement. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23).

We often find ourselves caught up in words and tangled in lies. Maybe it’s words spoken in anger to our children. Maybe it’s words said in frustration to our spouse. Maybe it’s bending the truth into a lie to make ourselves look better at work. Maybe we lie to ourselves and say that ‘just once‘ is ok, ‘this time I’ll do it, next time I won’t‘. Whatever it is, we all fall short of the glory of God, and if it’s not one thing it’s another.

All this may get us down, all this may leave us feeling hopeless. Is our conclusion going to be Romans 6.23? But, as sinful as we are, Jesus is even more righteous. As deceiving as we are, He is even more pure and holy. As irrational and unpredictable as we are, He is unchanging (Malachi 3.6, Hebrews 13.8).

Whilst we are not to use this as an excuse to do what we want (Romans 6.1-2), we are to take comfort and encouragement that Jesus is a Saviour and He takes brokenness aside and makes it beautiful.

Rather than taking our anger, frustration, guilt, shame, tiredness, inconsistencies, and apprehension out on those closest to us, there is only One place to take it. 

Take all of this, and any other burdens you are carrying, to Jesus and watch Him take brokenness aside