Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Spurgeon - Incarnation 3

"I am persuaded that no man has any idea how wonderful a stoop it was for God thus to dwell in human flesh, and to be “God with us”.
The Lord might have come with thunderbolts in both his hands he might have come like Elias to call fire from heaven; but no, his hands are full of gifts of love, and his presence is the guarantee of grace. The babe born in the manger might have been another prophet of tears, or another son of thunder, but he was not so: he came in gentleness, his glory and his thunder alike laid aside.
'Twas mercy filled the throne,
And wrath stood silent by,
When Christ on the kind errand came
To sinners doomed to die."

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas

We had a great time as a family as we gathered for our Christmas Celebration.
Matt Giles and his band led us very well. It was good to start with 'Oh come all ye faithful' and 'Hark the herald angels sing'. There were prayers of thanksgiving, prophetic words of hope and restoration and readings from the Bible.
Simon and the team did a great job to set up the hall and the trees the day before. John and Fi had a party with the kids and Chris Mitch gave a great talk on the amazing gift of God to us - Himself! The morning was a good team effort.
John Fielder spoke powerfully for us about Christmas. He shared some amusing stories about growing up and sharing Christmas with his in laws! He then walked us through some questions...
  • Who was this baby?

Was he God as a baby? Did he grow into a man who is God?

  • What has that got to do with me and you?

Is he a badman? Is he lunatic? or... could he be God?

It was great to have guests among us, enjoy mince pies, and catch up with some who have not been with us for a while.

I was struck by the weight and the amazing news that God came to us. We have something truly unparalleled to celebrate during this season.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Rejoicing in God's grace

Paul was very good at rejoicing when he found evidence of grace of God. When he saw God at work, though he was always aware of sin and shortcomings, he rejoiced!
1Co 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus...
Eph 1:15 & 16 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers...
1Th 1:2 & 3 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We got together as a student leaders team last Friday to celebrate all God has done this term. I shared an overview of the term. We looked at the numbers, read some testimonies and thanked God for all He has done. We sang our praises then opened a bottle of champagne...
We have a great team working with/for the students:
'Air war'
Rach - (Impacter) Hospitality, music, meet ups.
Nat - (Impacter) Hospitality, meet ups, communication.
Tim - (Impacter) music, teaching, meet ups.
Jono - (Impacter) tech, videos, meet ups.
Dave - Sound, visuals.
Kath Dags - Logistics, planning, bookings, communication, meet ups.

'Ground war'
James Slater - 'Ground war leader'
Impacters
Mark Scott
Emma Cookman
Emma Rice
Annabel
Nicola
Cat Lambert

Many meet ups, people cared for and prayed for. Much study and reading done.

The team have been amazing this term. I genuinely rejoice at the work that God has done both in and through these guys. The time given and the sacrifices made speak to me of hearts being transformed by Him. Its a great privilege to stand with and lead this team in all that God is doing.
We saw a couple of people become Christians, a handful baptised and many many guests came to The Lounge and heard something of Jesus. We have much to do but this Friday was a pause to celebrate.

Making big decisions... knowing His promises

As a Christian, God is my Father. Whatever challenge I face in life, knowing His love and His promises to me will be very important.
I found John Piper's work on this topic to be exceptional. A great read for the holidays whatever may be on the horizon for our lives.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Proverbs 23 - 24

What are you drinking?

Small group response
Read Proverbs chapter 23 v 29 – 24 v 6

What were the two ‘bottles’ presented on Sunday?
House favourite – lifestyle of binge drinking
Vintage life – life pursuing God


What three choices do we all face?
Drink from House favourite, vintage life, or not drink at all!

Why do many enjoy ‘The house favourite’?
Fun, adventure, community, forgetting of self…

What does it cost people?
Verses 29 - 35
Galatians 5 v 20 – 21


1 Corinthians 5 v 11 – 13

What has Jesus done for us?
Read John 3 v 16 – 17

Where can we go to drink now?
John 7 v 37 – 39

What do we learn about how vintage life can be lived?
Proverbs 24 v 1 – 6


(You may wish to break down into two’s or three’s at this point.)
Where do you desire to drink from?
Do you need to confess and repent?
Do you need any help/support?
Why do we always have hope for people?
Are there people who you would like pray for?

Spurgeon - Incarnation 2

"Sin had separated between God and man; but the incarnation bridges the separation: it is a prelude to the atoning sacrifice, but it is a prelude full of the richest hope.
From henceforth, when God looks upon man, he will remember that his own Son is a man.
From this day forth, when he beholds the sinner, if his wrath should burn, he will remember that his own Son, as man, stood in the sinner's place, and bore the sinner's doom.
As in the case of war, the feud is ended when the opposing parties intermarry, so there is no more war between God and man, because God has taken man into intimate union with himself.
Herein, then, there was cause for joy."

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Spurgeon - Incarnation

Dec 24th 1871 by CH Spurgeon...
"The God who made you, and against whom you have offended, has come down from heaven and taken upon himself your nature that he might save you. He has come in the fullness of his glory and the infinity of his mercy that he might redeem you.
Do you not welcome this news? What! will not your hearts be thankful for this? Does this matchless love awaken no gratitude?
Were it not for this divine Saviour, your life here would have been wretchedness, and your future existence would have been endless woe.
Oh, I pray you adore the incarnate God, and trust in him. Then will you bless the Lord for delivering you from the wrath to come, and as you lay hold of Jesus and find salvation in his name, you will tune your songs to his praise, and exult with sacred joy."

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Planning

My wife and I, and a few of my friends have found this Mark Driscoll study very helpful.
Hugely practical and I think some things I have drawn from here will increasingly make me fruitful. :-)

The Christmas Lounge - December 6th

I really enjoyed The Christmas Lounge. Nat and Annabel worked really hard and the bar looked great. Lights, ribbons and decorations galore provided the a good Christmas 'feel' to the evening.
I've had a great time getting to know new people simply from being at the Lounge this term and the numbers of new people every week is very encouraging.
Dave opened the evening with some slide guitar and then some regular playing and singing. The open mic contributions varied from accomplished to entertaining! The Christmas video was great then Tim brought a thought to share.
Tim was brilliant. He shared a few funny frustrations about the 'tack' at Christmas and suggested that millions of people gathering around nativity scenes each year might be part of this tack. He went on the comment about why this birth (of Jesus) was unlike any other. He then drew two simple yet life changing observations...
1) God likes/loves us. To enter into human form leaving heaven and taking on flesh tells us that our maker has a specific interest in us.
2) We can know God. No need for speculation. If we want to know God, we can go to Jesus.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

High Sundays

There are certain Sundays in the year when we expect to have a high numbers of guests among us.
We have found that Baptisms and dedications bring a lot of people into Church to see family and friends who would not otherwise attend.
Similarly at Christmas many of our friends and family are open to visit Church when they normally would not. We refer to these kinds of Sundays as 'High Sundays'.
We really want to welcome and serve our guests well. We want to give a flavour of who we are, and serve people where they are at.
This Christmas, Matt will be leading a time of worship with a strong band. He is very gifted and serves people well. He'll bring a Christmas theme for this occasion. John Fielder will be sharing something on the subject, 'Who is this Christ?' I will be welcoming and we will be enjoying mince pies afterwards.
This is a big week for all those in our Church. A great week to invite friends and a good time for all of our teams including kids, PA, set up & welcome teams.
We expect to have a good time together and meet lots of new people. We hope people may will visiting us again and maybe see a few people sign up for Alpha in January! We look forward to seeing you there. :-)


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Spirit-filled missional Church

Bill Johnson has had a huge impact on some Christians I hugely respect. A revelation of God's heart as a Father and his willingness to give more of the Spirit has seen his Church apparently explode with signs and wonders, healings and miracles every week. A New Frontiers leader spent three months over there. The town is about the same size of Exeter. He did not find one person who had not heard of the Church. He did not come across one person who had anything negative to say.

Mark Driscoll has had an equally large impact on Christians all around me. Teachers I hugely respect will often quote and refer to Driscoll. His church has reached into the thousands and his exaltation to mission at the New Frontiers Brighton Conference I thought was very helpful. I particularly enjoy his teaching.

I believe God calls his Church to be both filled with the Spirit and missionally effective. I am sad when a tension is felt between those who 'want the Spirit' and those who want to 'reach the city'.

I have been pondering the following...

The Spirit is poured our for mission!

Act 1:4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me;
Act 1:5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

The Spirit is the most important person in the Church for mission.

Christians are to pursue the Spirit and His gifts...

1Co 14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts
Luk 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Eph 5:18 be filled with the Spirit

Christian life is to be in the Spirit.

The Spirit loves unbelievers among us.

Part of catching the heart of the Spirit is also to develop awareness and understanding of the family of believers and unbelievers, not simply individual experience. (1Cor14v24) It was the Spirit who breathed out guidance in 1Cor14 to use His gifts in a way which pleases Him and serves all who are present in our meetings.

Spiritual gifts can be used in a way which does not please the Spirit.

The Spirit is not pleased when gifts are not used for the common good, (1Cor 12v7) or when people are impatient mean and rude. (1Cor 12v4) The Spirit is not pleased when we do not interpret tongues, (1Cor14v13) have too many tongues (1Cor14v27), too many prophetic words (1Cor14v29), or when people are left confused (1Cor14v33). The Spirit wants to be among us and bringing gifts in a way which is powerful, understandable, explained and helpful to all.

“We want the power gifts and the sense of security that good leadership brings as well.” Lex Loizides

I believe the Spirit wants to move in our meetings through good leadership anchored in what He has spoken in the Word. 1Co 14:40 “All things should be done decently and in order.” We don’t want to misrepresent God by the way we handle His gifts. 1Co 14:33 “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” God wants to attract and convict people through his genuine work but we can be put off by our weirdness and poor handling of His gifts.

We want the power of God without the unnecessary, unhelpful trappings of irrelevant Christian subculture that mean nothing. Spirit filled meetings will surely be marked by a sense of faith in the people, gifts manifesting while managed in a helpful way for guests. Music styles, lights, venues, time of day, use of technology, or specific songs, meeting formats will change as the Spirit leads us to serve our cities better, but the power of the Spirit will be increasingly among us.

For me the 'L' plates are on to learn from others and keep in step with Him.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

One Church - One vision - Two services...

Over the last few years our Church has continued to grow. In September this year we took two massive steps of faith.

1) Bringing me onto staff full time.
2) Going from one to two services.

Currently our Church is hovering around 200 members.
As the Church gets bigger there is a temptation to feel, 'others will do it.' When the Church was 50-100 if you didn't do something, nothing would happen.
Despite appearances the same thing is true today. As we have grown we have increased our faith and therefore our spending according to God, and the numbers he has added to us. As a Church we are 'all hands on deck'. The financial challenge is there for all of us, and the volunteer challenge of going to two services is very real week to week. Teas & coffees, set up, sound, music, welcome, visuals, home group leading, rent, wages, Alpha, Beta and many more challenges are being met each week. Many of our people are serving hard at the moment and as a team we are excited and determined to bring on more staff in the new year to meet increasing vision and faith.
I find my heart is revealed when I look at my diary and read my bank statements. I know Jesus burns with passion for His bride and for this city and so I cannot help but be drawn to His mission. I'm very excited about continued growth and facing the challenges this brings as a family on a mission. I'm glad to be surrounded by people who share His heart and have a good sense of challenge and faith about what we're doing.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 29th November

Another full bar enjoyed live music from Alex and Ben, playing keys and guitar, followed by our very own Tim Allen. I like The Lounge. I got the chance to connect with more people within our Church and also had a chance to meet guests who were with us again. Some had been before and some were there for the first time.
The theme of the evening was alcohol/drunkenness. Jono's work on the videos this term has been exceptional. This week I thought was insightful of the variety of views among students when it comes to alcohol consumption. It was also very funny. We heard stories of one student mistaking his laptop for a toilet and another losing their nipple!?
I shared my experience of drinking culture at university and the reasons I think people love the smash! Drunkenness brings community, adventure and freedom from thinking about yourself all the time! I went on to speak about becoming a Christian and being under the influence of something a little different...
"Do not be drunk from wine... but be filled with the Spirit."
I talked about how authentic Christianity is supernatural living. Community, adventure and freedom from thinking about yourself all the time! I talked a bit about Jesus and a bit about the early Church in Acts. I was clear that drunkenness is not acceptable among believers but that our goal is not just to be sober, but be filled with the Spirit. We then had a short break before I interviewed a friend of mine about supernatural living and healing he had seen in the last few weeks. John Fielder is a legend.

I hope that our guests found the evening provocative and that all the Christians were more than challenged to pursue authentic Christian living.
We also picked up a few questions from the texts. Here are a few rough notes from how John and I responded
  • "You have the Spirit, I have my alcohol. Comments?"
John and I both commented on the negative effects of alcohol and the positive effects of the Spirit on individuals and the community. The Spirit takes you to God himself!
  • "Can Christians smoke weed in moderation?"
Christians are called to obey the law. So no. Also why would you give yourself to be under the influence of drugs when you can know God himself. Its a poor substitute.
  • "Some people say, 'if you don't want to get wet, stay out of the river.' Can this principle apply to alcohol?"
Yes and no. If you find it difficult to drink and not get drunk, we'd look at the principle of the weaker brother in scripture to help. (Romans 14) We're not aiming for a blanket ban however. The aim is that we are filled by the Spirit and enjoy a drink, just like Jesus.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Alpha - suffering

It is getting towards the end of the current Alpha course. One more week to go. We've heard about Jesus. We've heard about sin and we've heard the offer of rescue. Many questions have been raised and thoughts shared as people are slowly deciding for themselves how to respond.
Last night John asked me to speak on the subject of suffering. I'm not an expert and I would not consider myself as someone who has really suffered. So in all humility I walked us through the life of Jesus from his birth to his death making the point that Jesus was the suffering servant.
Born in a situation of poverty, no sign of Dad in the gospels after a certain point. He saw his friend die and his cousin murdered as he walked through life on the earth feeling pain and grief.
We see suffering like that of Baby P and something inside us screams out, 'There is something wrong with the world!' We get angry and rightly so. We find ourselves agreeing with Jesus who was and is angry. Turning over tables, using rightly harsh words and talking about wrath and fury Jesus expresses something of what we feel in our hearts.
Jesus taught into the issue of suffering. We are all in trouble. He asks us, 'Will you be rescued?' The world needs saving and so do you.
When God made the world, He knew it would fall. But he also knew what it would cost Him to restore it. Jesus and the Father agreed the plan. He was abandoned, stripped, abused, beaten, mocked, spat on, tortured, separated from His Father as He faced the wrath of God. Jesus knew suffering.
Jesus lived in the world familiar with suffering feeling the pain and the anger. He taught into the issue and then suffered beyond words to offer us reconciliation.
It is always difficult teaching on a subject like this. There is not exactly a 'feel good' factor in the room afterwards! I hope it was helpful. As I reflect on this topic I am amazed at the reality of the gospel, the weight of sin and the love of God. As I walk this life I expect to suffer and so I'm grateful to know a man I can go to who has more than been there.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

In step, every step...

If I was to go out for day with my wife and ignore her for long periods when she wanted to communicate with me I'd be an idiot. It would be very rude to the one I love and not helpful for our relationship.
If I was to be in a key meeting at work, and had a world expert in the room, and did not ask for his/her advice I would be a fool. If I had the designer of my work sat next to me and made big decisions without consultation I would be a fool.
If I was at home working out how best to love my family and had someone there who was an expert in family life, leadership and counselling, and I did not seek their help, something would be deeply wrong.
If I told you I love and respect someone in life above all else and did not passionately seek communication every day, I'm not sure you would believe me.

As a Christian, I have the Spirit of God walking with me each day in every situation. The eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9v14) uncreated along with the Father and the Son was there in the beginning. (Genesis 1v2) He is fully God and is of equal majesty and everlasting glory. He is maker of all, expert of all, and He loves people. He designed family, he is an expert in every discipline. He is the great counsellor. He is God with me. Its so easy to forget Him! It's so easy to be a foolish, proud, uncaring, hypocrite it seems...


I'm glad He is so patient.

I'm glad He is forgiving.

I'm glad and excited that He is so willing.

I'm inspired to walk with Him more each day.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Baptisms

2,000 years ago, in the middle east, Jesus Christ told his followers to go and make disciples and baptize them.
On Sunday it was amazing to see this commandment lived out. In the South West of England, Devon, Exeter his commandments are being obeyed with joy and conviction in front of hundreds of witnesses. What an influence Jesus has had, and continues to have on people all over the world!
Baptism is of course part of our response for salvation so it was a very important day for many. It contributes nothing to earn salvation, but is part of how we receive it by faith. Normal Christian life begins with baptism. As a church we aimed to serve our guys well by having our worship led as best we can and a message which was helpful for our guests in particular.
It was good to pray for those who were taking this step of faith. My wife enjoyed doing some of the dunking! I particularly enjoyed seeing my brother in law taking this big step as well as others who we have shared our lives with up to this point.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Raising women to pursue godliness in all areas of life...

Encouraging prophets (Acts21v9) missionaries (John 4v29) businesswomen (Acts16v14) pioneers (Acts18 Romans 16v1) and homebuilders (Titus2 Proverbs31) who can handle the Word of God and walk with the Spirit.

Ladies night is part of Church life where women are taught by, and connect with, other women in the Church family.


Its my hope and prayer that we will have women in our Church…

Who move in the prophetic…
1Co 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,
1Co 14:25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Act 21:8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
Act 21:9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.

Missional women…
Joh 4:28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people,
Joh 4:29 "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"

Godly businesswomen...
Act 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
Act 16:15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.

Act 16:40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.

Pioneering women...
Sense of adventure for God…
Look at the life of Aquila… she was amazing… what an adventure…
Acts 18

Rom 16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,
Rom 16:2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Vision of homebuilding…
Napoleon was asked what could be done to restore the prestige of France he said, “Give us better mothers!”
Pro 31:25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
Pro 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Pro 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Pro 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Pro 31:29 "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Pro 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Pro 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.





Handling/teaching the Bible...
Act 18:24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.
Act 18:25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
Act 18:26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Women teaching on impact…
Teaching in kids work…
Teach other women…
among the opportunities in church life...


Tit 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,
Tit 2:4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,
Tit 2:5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Recommended reading...















Men's Bible study 2 - 'Men of sacrifice'


Big Idea: Because Jesus died for us, we are radically freed to live sacrificial lives in marriage and in the Church for the city

Sum from Genesis…
Made by God, in his image, to reflect his glory. Different from females, given responsibility to work and to protect moral climate. Made to rule the earth, man to lead, be responsible. God says this is good.

We have failed… To be a real man we need Jesus!
Jesus didn’t.
He imputes righteousness
He transforms us by his grace.

Kick off questions…

What is the biggest sacrifice you have made and what was it for?
Are you married? Would you like to be one day?

Pray & Read Ephesians 5v25-26

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Eph 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, Eph 5:27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

What does it mean for you to make a sacrifice?
For you?
For others?

From the text, and the following questions how are husbands to love their wives? How are you to love your (future) wife? (Verse 25)
What did Jesus do?
How does that motivate you?

What is the purpose/goal our sacrificial lifestyle for our (future) wives? Verse 26 & 27

What are you preparing her for?

If you want to be a good husband how are you to view the following…
Jesus
Word of God
Your own preferences
The point of your marriage

How does that challenge you today?

Regardless of whether you will marry…
What is Jesus’ heart for the Church?
What is the final destination of the Church?

What is your part to play?
Look up the following: 1Cor14v26 1peter2v9 Gal6v2 Gal 5v13 Eph4v32 James5v16 Hebrews 13v16

What sacrifices are you going to have to make to build church as Jesus wants you to?

What should our attitude be towards…
Church meetings
Your brothers and sisters
Homegroup/I.D. etc

How can you balance commitments to the Church family, work, mission and hobbies? Is there enough time for it all?

Pray for each other…

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Alpha - Faith

I really enjoyed Alpha last night. I do fear that may have been guilty of over eating! Good to have dinner among friends again and great to catch up with Ben and Roz and hear about Bolivia.

John spoke on repentance and faith after grace last week. He made some very helpful points about faith. We all choose what to trust and rely upon with our decisions big and small. The question is what or who do you trust? He shared the joy of repentance. Its truly awesome that we get to turn from whatever we are doing and turn to trusting and believing our maker.

Some good points and observations were made in our discussion...
  • Many people seem to trust and put 'faith in' friends and family values or achievement in whatever form.
  • Faith and reason have a curious relationship. They are certainly not opposites. But many people exercise blind faith in friends and family or achievements which don't promise what we look to them for.
  • When comparing Jesus as someone to trust it can stir both a sense of security and stability for some and provoke fear in others.
It was a real privilege to hear people speaking honestly about these issues.

Lounge Q & A request...

Here are some rough notes from how I responded to some questions last week for those interested...

Does size matter?!
This was a joke, but I felt it was worth picking up. Within the context of an exclusive life long sexual relationship your partner is your standard of beauty and body composition that God made for you. Within marriage you can enjoy the adventure and exploration of enjoying each other free from false comparisons. So size can bless... but then 'its not the size of the fish - its the motion in the ocean'...?! haha. The most import dynamic for good sex lives is commitment, trust and exclusivity in marriage built on faith in Jesus.
If I'm willing to die for my partner, can I sleep with them?
If you are willing to die for them, then you should marry them. Then you can sleep with them.
Should Christians go to the safer sex ball?

Questions to consider...
What are you living for?
What are you trying to build with your life?
Does this help or hinder?
I'd say given the levels of alcohol consumption and nakedness that I would not go because it would be both unhelpful and unfruitful.
Is passionate kissing ok if you're not married?
In the Church, if you are not married, you are brother and sister. How do you kiss within your family? I know this might depend on where you grew up but its not normal! She/he may marry someone else. How would you feel to be at their wedding?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Who am I?

Jesus Christ was a preacher (Luke20v1) who performed miracles (John2v11) got angry at sin (John2v15) had compassion for people (John11v25) healed many (John5v8) washed feet (John13v12) and raised people from the dead (John12v17) and did many other great works that were not written down. (John20v30)

John 14:12 He said to his followers...
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me... (I think this means me and many I know)
...will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

We see his followers in Acts...
Preaching (Acts 4v8) getting angry (Acts5v3) compassionate (Acts 2v45) seeing healing (Acts 4v14) miraculous escapes (Acts 12v7) and many more great works of the Spirit done by the disciples.

As I write an essay for leadership training I am pondering...

Who am I in Christ?

What should I expect?

What does he require of me?

What should we see within the Church of Jesus Christ?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 15th November

We had another good night at The Lounge this week. The bar was packed again and half the people there were guests who really seemed to enjoy the evening. James Dickson opened the evening. He is class and a really good bloke. Another guest Jo played second and he is also very talented. The open mic was brilliant again. Contributions were of a very high standard and good to watch. I particularly enjoyed the keys and guitar combination and I was loving the slide guitar.
The topic for the evening was 'sex preaches'. I told some stories of my experience of teaching in Church and suggested the idea that sex is a good gift that tells us about God. I shared a verse from the Bible about having sex outside - God is good. :-) The joy and thrill of sex tells us he is a God who gives us good gifts to enjoy and bless us. Knowing Jesus, "better than orgasm!" Good sex is merely a signpost to the maker. The relational depth of connection tells us something of the relational nature of God and the context (within marriage) tells us something of God's commitment to his people.
I had some fun answering questions which were text in...
Does size matter?!
If I'm willing to die for my partner, can I sleep with them?
Should Christians go to the safer sex ball?
Is passionate kissing ok if you're not married?
I was glad to be open and honest and also to teach directly what God says about these issues in a way people seemed to be receiving. Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Don

One of the best things about New Frontiers Leadership training is the chance to meet men who have built churches and fought great battles for the gospel.
Don Smith has planted two successful Churches in his lifetime. Last year I was introduced to him. I reached my hand out to shake his and he punched me in the stomach. I was a bit shocked but felt an invitation to banter so I went to rugby tackle him and lifted him up on my shoulder. I then realised I had an old man on my shoulders and that I should probably put him down - gently! So let him down. As soon as his feet were on the floor he got me into a headlock and wrestled me to the floor. It was on... Welcome to leadership training.
This year Don was a little more mellow. Classic Don jokes were around. "80% of people die in their beds, so get up!" He was pumping vision for the local Church. He was preaching how there is no other plan and the his conviction of church planting. Brilliant.

He answered questions for the young leaders and finished by laying out these three simple yet profound and sustaining comments for us youngsters...
1) Know that God has called you and that HE will equip you.
2) Work hard. No substitute for hard work.
3) Stand on the Bible and walk with the Spirit.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Right here, right now.

I have read testimonies of persecution in countries such as China and ponder how we would survive if our Church ever had such a battle for faith.
Perhaps to dwell on this too much is to miss the very real battle that we are in right here, right now. I found the second service emotional to preach on Sunday at the thought of our members falling into sin and away from Jesus and life.
I was struck by CJ's comments in his book Worldliness: "The biggest challenge to you today is not persecution from the world, its seduction by the world... That’s how we lose people… Not really attacked from the outside but decaying from within."

This has to be taken seriously. I pray that people might respond well in homegroups this week and help each other to resist the seduction from the world and be overwhelmed by Jesus.

Monday, 9 November 2009

This is it

Chloe and I went to see Michael Jackson's film last week. He was amazing. His attention to detail, his singing, his dancing and his creativity was inspiring. I've never seen anything like it. Had he pulled those concerts off they would have been something else. Genius.
I read this week from AW Tozer, "Man for all his genius is but an echo of the original voice, a reflection of the uncreated light. As a sunbeam perishes when cut off from the sun, so man apart from God would pass back into the void of nothingness from which he first leaped at the creative call."
I still don't know what to make of Micheal Jackson. I had Bad, Dangerous and History and as a young boy I learnt as many of his dance moves as I could. The worship he received from millions was testified to by the interviews from his dancers on film. Then there was the children (!) and those TV interviews and now his song which is being played around the world... "I am the light of the world," he sings. The Bible declares, "it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." I wonder how Jackson will feel when he meets The Light of the World. I'm glad God knows all that went on and will deal with it.
Gifting is always pleasing to the eye. Micheal Jackson's gifting and creativity reveals something of God to me, the creator of creativity. Jackson in all his glory and gifting was but an echo of the creative genius of Jesus Christ, who gave him all his gifts.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Proverbs 7

If you didn't catch the sermon on Sunday you can download it from Dave Bish's blog (thebluefish.org)...
Thanks to some helpful comments from Dave and my wife, the second service I feel was more helpful. :-)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Draw your weapon

Some verses mentioned on Sunday on the following...

God doesn’t mind sin

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

A little bit wont hurt

Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I don’t have to do anything

2Ti 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

I can’t control it

1Th 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
1Th 4:4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
1Th 4:5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Temptation is too much

1Co 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

When you stuff up

1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Draw your weapon

I have found these notes helpful as I learn to handle the sword of the Spirit in the fight against temptation. Not all we need but definitely something we need to learn...



Pro 7:1-3 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Pray – ask for help from His Spirit…

1) Identify and define Sin biblically.
What are you hoping for?
Define heart motives as God describes.
What are you saying about God?
What is the lie?

2) Embrace the gospel.
See the cross. Confess, ask for forgiveness.
Who are you in Christ?
What is your deepest desire?
Thank God.

3) Take practical steps to help.
Places you go...
People you see...
Things you look at or listen to...
Words you say…
Confess and apologise where you need to.

4) Replace sin with Christ.
Replace lies with truth.
Declare what is true of you in Christ.
Declare what is not true.
Meditate and pray over key passages of God’s word.
Ask God for more faith and more of him!
Sharpen your sword and preach to yourself regularly!
Put verses in key places. Car, work, dairy etc…

5) Share with someone you trust.
Tell someone what you are battling.
Meet to share and update.
Make yourself accountable.

6) Review steps 1-5 daily and 6 as you agree.

In the Christian life God has many means of grace for us. Specific forgiveness and pastoral help will of course at times be needed, but the above is not a bad place to start...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Alpha - The reality of the human condition

Was good again to gather among friends and have some banter around the table. I love the way through the Church and through friends I'm always meeting new people and enjoying the company of new friends. I'm looking forward to some golf with a couple of the boys. Our next 'Band of Brothers' event is November 22nd. This cannot come quick enough. At the moment we all have to face the horrible reality of Matt Giles walking round as the self proclaimed 'strongest man in the Church' which was again a dominant topic over dinner!

The topic for the evening was, 'the problem'. John Fielder talked us through the thorough pollution of the human heart and the ultimate penalty.

Whenever hell is talked about it provokes a response. Some are deeply offended, others are provoked to really think and take Jesus seriously for the first time. We had some great questions being considered on our table. 'What's the point of trying to be a good person if my best efforts are filthy rags?' 'How are we saved if the situation is so bleak and depressing?'.

Personally I was struck again at the depth and reality of my need for a saviour. The reality of eternity and the weight of the message we carry.

I guess when pondering hell a couple of questions will always need considering...
  • How do you define good?
  • Who can judge?
  • How bad is the crime?
  • How valuable is the object of our offence?

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 1st November

We had another good week at The Lounge. Was really good to see so much of our Church family there. Its good to catch up and spend some time together as we share life. A good number of guests were among us and others are hoping to make the next Lounge.
The music was quality. Both James Dixon and Matt Giles were really good to listen to. Good to see some quality on the open the mic after as well.
The theme was 'success'. I laid out the idea of success being a god (something that you live for...) is rubbish compared to Jesus. I told a story of a man who is close to me to warn of the dangers. Again we had some great questions coming in. Personally I'm pleased with how things are going. I was a bit ill on Sunday and my voice just about lasted and the evening was solid! :-)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Just a mum

This week my wife and I sat down to pray and plan the week ahead. I was struck by the river of blessing which flows out of a household when the wife can be released into a fuller homeward orientation.

Not valued or recognised by our culture, biblically this is a very high calling and I'm starting to see the fruit of it in my household. For some this is not possible at all. For some this could mean downsizing, for us it means not having loads of money but we feel its well worth the sacrifice.
Vision from God
"To love and worship Jesus through building a home that blesses, supports and helps my husband, disciples my children and influences the community for good." (Chlo's vision from Genesis 2v18 Titus 2).
Study
My wife has had the time to read and research how to raise our boy. Both practically through the NCT website and spiritually through books like 'Shepherding a Child's Heart'. She is also enjoying reading John Stott's 'The cross of Christ' and 'Marriage to a Difficult Man' (!) by Sarah Edwards (Jonathan Edward's wife). Like all mums should be, she wants to be a good theologian for her role. This is not wasted on my boy and will serve our family well as it grows as well as our Church and community.
Finance
She handles much of the outflow of money from our household. My wife will spend thousands over the year. Her decisions and wisdom will largely determine how we go financially. She is a real giver and is often aware of needs and we are able to give small gifts to demonstrate her heart. She also hopes to use our garden at some point to grow as much food as she can (which at the moment is about 3 tomatoes).
Community
Chlo was able to have 5 mums and babies over this week. Babies and toys everywhere. We were also able to have one of my best friends and his girlfriend round this week. Chloe has also been able to connect and share life with ladies on our square over the recent months.
Church
Chloe and her friend organised and cooked for 21 guys who came round after Church on Sunday. We were able to have some good friends over and Chlo had three student girls over as she shares her life with those in our Church family. We had nearly 40 people (large and small) through our house this week.
She also goes through nearly every sermon with me that I preach. She offers much wisdom and many a sermon has been restarted from her direct and helpful comments. :-)
Home
She has time to make our home nice! She does a lot of hard work around our home which releases blessing. This is such a gift for me and for others as they come into our home. :-)
Mary was just a mum as well. She raised Jesus - who saved the world, and James, who led a huge Church in Jerusalem.
It's amazing how God values and uses this role.
My wife did not catch this vision from our culture. She has cultivated it as she reads the Bible and draws close to God through various sources. I love her. She is the biggest blessing I have been given after Jesus himself. She is amazing. I know she is being challenged and stretched in all of the above. Especially as she is being woken up a few times a night by Rufio. She is a soldier who is strong and courageous as well as beautifully feminine.
Homebuilding:

Submission:

Homes that change the world!

Titus 2 series:




Friday, 30 October 2009

Sex in a different position

For those who requested, you can catch my sermon from the other week on my friend's blog:

Great sermons

Here is a link to a couple of my favourite talks from last years leadership conference in Brighton.
4. Main Session 4 - Daniel: Engaging with Society/David Stroud
http://www.newfrontiers.xtn.org/resources/talks-and-preaches/select-event/leadership-international-09/main-sessions/

This was very helpful for me and also a couple of my doctor friends. For those of you who are working in the world, this is a must listen.

Joel Virgo preached an exceptional sermon on the armour bearer.

7. Main Session 7 - The Armour Bearer/Joel Virgo
A great message which I found very stirring and challenging if we are to build churches which genuinely impact our cities. Another must listen!

A vision for life

Check out http://www.mobilise.xtn.org/
The early bird catches the worm! We are booking everything early this year to ensure 1) People know about it. 2) People have time to plan for it. 3) To ensure the cheapest rates.
Catch the vision
This week in the summer has been a life shaping week for me. Its filled with great teaching and times of praise and worship as you catch God's heart for the nations through God's plan of local churches.
Stay together
We have booked a hostel on the sea front within a short walk of the venue. I should be a good time as we stay together as family from Exeter!
Key info...

Conference dates 6-9th July 2010
Accommodation: £54
First instalment of £27 due now (by 15th November)
Second instalment of £27 due in May
Conference cost: TBC (Booking opens in January). But to give an indication, last year it was £30 for students, if paid by early March. You will have to book this yourself online but we will keep you informed...
Make sure you grab a letter and response slip from us on Sunday. :-)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Alpha


Another nice evening down at Nico's. Good to eat among friends and have a catch up. I was particularly pleased with the apple slices for pudding.
The subject for the evening was the Resurrection. John Fielder again spoke passionately and clearly and I found it really helpful.
I believe that Jesus physically died. I believe that he was physically and supernaturally brought back to life. Am I mad? Am I lying? or could this possibly be true? What are the implications if Jesus was raised to life? What does that mean for my Gran? What does this mean for the people in my city who die every day? What impact does this have on my life? How does this change my approach to death? What does this say about Jesus? What about other religions?
In our group the size of the claim was something that we considered. It was helpfully pointed out in our group the need for a scientific and thorough examination of the evidence. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 the implications if Jesus did not rise. (No forgiveness, preaching is pointless, faith is empty, the apostles are liars and all those who have died are lost.)
The stakes could not be higher. For those investigating or weighing up their faith, the Resurrection is a great place to go.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Why every student should consider applying for Impact

Many students finish university and would be wise to consider an Impact year. The timing and quality of this year offers a unique opportunity...

  • To build deep foundations in God through extended study and teaching.
  • To work in a team of people who are passionate for God.
  • To explore identify and grow specific areas of gifting.
  • To leave a genuine and lasting investment in people and their walk with God.
  • To establish yourself as a servant to the bless the city.
  • To see the Church grow and gather momentum.
  • To prepare you for the next phase of life in God.

For many the timing of this year is perfect...

No wife/family to support yet. No mortgage commitments yet. No work commitments yet.

If you are considering serving in this way, keep your eyes open for application forms and interview dates.

Band of Brothers

After eating, studying and praying, we made our way down to Heavitree Park for the 'Heavitree Olympics'. Great to get the guys together and really good to get to know some the freshers better.

Brilliantly organised by Joel and Mark, 2 teams, 5 events, 1 king of the ring.

Cream bandanna's vs. blue bandanna's we kicked off with three legged football. Despite the off the ball collisions from a certain Mobbs and Slater, the blues came up 1-0 winners. Always fun to score the winner especially when you are tied to a worship leader with a considerably sized glutes.

Pick pocket wrestling was next. We picked four of the keenest from our team to face the others. The long arms of Ryan Hanley were almost as impressive as his dress code. Stripey shorts up to his chest and hair everywhere made him easily the best dressed.

Dan Partridge was outstanding in frisbee showing he offers more than just chat. His long throws and the octopus arms of Jono made it 3-0 to the blue 'Rydogs'. Tug of war and stick wrestling brought us home. I got beaten up by Mark Williamson much to my frustration! To make matters worse I have a sore neck, shoulder and shin this morning.

I think we need to re asses as men as we now face the reality of Matt Giles as king of the ring. His intimidation tactic of shirt off, trousers up, war dancing while painting mud on his chest and face saw him go home with the trophy. This can't happen again.

Band of Brothers

Great to have the boys into my house on Sunday afternoon.

We ate together, opened the Bible together and prayed together. This was followed by the 'Heavitree Olympics'. Two teams, 5 events and one king of the ring!

Men’s Bible study 1 – ‘Gospel Men’

Kick off questions:

When you were growing up, who did you look at and think, ‘he is the man’!? Films,books,TV,Sports etc.
What does culture say about the differences between man and women?

Read Genesis chapter 1 v 26 – 28 & Genesis 2 v 15 – 18.

What do these verses tell us about…
Who made us?
Whose image/glory men and women are to equally reflect?
The different roles for men and women?
Mankind’s role on earth?
How God felt about this in his creation?

Sum up what a real man is according to Genesis 1 & 2?

Read Genesis 3 v 2 – 6

How did the man (Adam) fail?
Some men abuse, some men abdicate responsibility. In imaging God we are to morally perfect. How have we failed to be men? (Romans 3v23)
Can you think of anyone who has perfectly reflected the image of God, treated women well, always did the right thing, and taken responsibility? Read Hebrews 4v15.

What did his death achieve?
Matt 20v28 Romans 3v23 & 24 Romans 8v29

In light of the above, how has God helped us to become real men?
What is the first thing you need to do if you want to be a real man?
Who is our model of manhood?
What is the ultimate purpose of being a real man?

Read some of the following verses to get a flavor of this man who we will study in the following weeks…

Matt 23v33 John 2v14-16 Phil 2v8
John 11v33-35 Luke 7v13
A couple of verse to think about:
Ephesians 5v25-27 1 Tim5v8

Friday, 23 October 2009

Sex in a different position

Must reads:
A Celebration of Sex Guidebook
by Ph. D. Deborah C. Neel Ed D. Douglas E. Rosenau R. N. Ma Ed W. Ellen Fox

Sex, Romance and the glory of God
by CJ Mahaney

Pro 5:18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
Pro 5:19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.

Application for men…
Plan an evening to bless your wife.
(Hopefully you will do this every week)

What do you need to organise?
Babysitter?
Food/wine/will you cook? Go for a drink? Budget? What does she like?
Candles?
Music – what is her favourite?
Quality time – turn off phone!
Communication… Have you heard her heart?
Energy levels – go home ready to give!
Clothes – what does she like you to wear?

Share your preferences of your partner as you seek to bless each other:

Husband/wife likes and dislikes:

Smell

Sight

Sound

Taste

Touch

What solutions do you have to the following barriers to regular, good, sex?

1) Too busy/tired
2) Inhibitions
3) Tension, conflict
4) Parenting demands
5) Procrastination

Which of the following would help you each night?

Go to bed at the same time/early
Tidy house
Teach the children to respect locked door
Schedule lovemaking around preferred times
Connect while apart (call,text,note,voicemail.)
Create a good atmosphere/anticipation/communication

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Alpha

Last night after meeting some new people and having a good meal among friends, I was reminded of the monumental nature of the claims of Jesus Christ.

John Fielder is an inspiring and passionate man who laid out some great teaching for us to consider.

If I was genuinely convinced that I was the president of the USA and told people I was for many years, I wonder what you would think of me. I would not be accepted as a sane balanced person. I would rule myself out of being a good moral teacher. Similarly if I thought I was a poached egg... even more so if I thought I was God.

Jesus claimed to be God. Last night we looked at six areas of evidence as we pondered the possibility that this man could have been what he claimed. These stand out to me...

1) His unrivalled moral teaching.
2) His breathtaking character and integrity.
3) His commitment to his claim even to torture and death.

In our group we landed on the importance of the reliability of the Bible and the NT documents to uphold the historical Jesus. A great point to make if we are to be persuaded.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Lounge - Sunday 18th October


We enjoyed another good evening in The Lounge. Music was played, we watched a video, I spoke and then we opened the mic.

Good music, great people.

The bar was packed, there were many new faces and our live acts were brilliant. The good music provided a backdrop for mates to catch up and a chance to meet new people. The open mic provided a chance for guests on the evening to contribute with a song or two. We had a talented pianist who played some great stuff. I particularly enjoyed his ‘jazzy number’.

Jesus hates religion.

It was good to be able to share some of the spice of the gospel to provoke thought for guests and to push for integrity from our Christians. The theme was morality and we looked at ‘being religious’, ‘being good’ and ‘gospel’. I talked about how people who make rules, fulfil them and then feel justified are by definition self righteous. They are in danger of pride or despair as they either succeed or fail. Whether religious or moral, Jesus may have attacked you for hypocrisy!

By contrast the Gospel says that we are all the same and offers us a free gift which gives no grounds to boast. Free from pride, despair, dead religion to life and knowing God. I invited our guests to consider this difference and suggested to Christians the dangers of religion and that we may owe people apologies for self righteous hypocrisy.

Pub preaching?

One of our guests described my talk as a combination of spirituality and stand up comedy. I hope my colloquial style is easy to receive in this context. The team seemed pleased and we are hoping more people will catch what we’re about and enjoy The Lounge.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

8 Reasons God wants Christians to be part of a local Church



1) To meet with other believers/Church family. (Hebrews 10v25)

2) To worship God through Jesus. (Ephesians 5v19)

3) To be taught from the Bible. (Matt 28v20 2 Tim 4v2 Acts 2v42)

4) To celebrate communion. (Luke 22v19 Acts 2v42)

5) To baptize believers. (Matt 28v18-20)

6) To be under Godly authority of male elders. (1Tim3 Titus1 Acts14v23 Hebrews 13v17 1Peter 5v5.)

7) To be in environment where discipline functions for the good of all. (Matt 18v15-20 1Cor 4 Titus3v10)

8) To work together in loving the city. (John 17v18)

Closer

This Sunday night some members of our Church met to spend some time drawing closer to God.

The event was called 'Closer'. It was a great evening. I particularly enjoyed praying for those in the Church who I hugely respect but do not get to catch that much time with. I love our people.

Prophetic words were shared, tongues were sung & interpreted, people sang spontaneous songs. The whole evening was about drawing close to God through prayer and intentionally opening our hearts and asking for more of God. All this was done under the oversight of our lead elder who both encouraged released and weighed words as we went.

I love the reading the Bible every day. I love hearing great preaching. I have seasons where I listen to a sermon a day. I love to study the Bible in detail. But I also really value time to just stand with my brothers and sisters and ask God for more of him through the gifts which he gives us by His Spirit. I'm glad this is going to be a monthly feature.

6 Reasons Pastors should blog

6 Reasons Pastors Should Blog
By: Abraham Piper

1. …to write.

If you’re a pastor, you probably already know the value writing has for thinking. Through writing, you delve into new ideas and new insights. If you strive to write well, you will at the same time be striving to think well.

Then when you share new ideas and new insights, readers can come along with you wherever your good writing and good thinking bring you.

There is no better way to simply and quickly share your writing than by maintaining a blog. And if you’re serious about your blog, it will help you not only in your thinking, but in your discipline as well, as people begin to regularly expect quality insight from you.

2. …to teach.

Most pastors I’ve run into love to talk. Many of them laugh at themselves about how long-winded they’re sometimes tempted to be.
Enter Blog.

Here is where a pastor has an outlet for whatever he didn’t get to say on Sunday. Your blog is where you can pass on that perfect analogy you only just thought of; that hilarious yet meaningful story you couldn’t connect to your text no matter how hard you tried; that last point you skipped over even though you needed it to complete your 8-point acrostic sermon that almost spelled HUMILITY.

And more than just a catch-all for sermon spill-over, a blog is a perfect place for those 30-second nuggets of truth that come in your devotions or while you’re reading the newspaper. You may never write a full-fledged article about these brief insights or preach a whole sermon, but via your blog, your people can still learn from them just like you did.

3. …to recommend.

With every counseling session or after-service conversation, a pastor is recommending something. Sometimes it’s a book or a charity. Maybe it’s a bed-and-breakfast for that couple he can tell really needs to get away. And sometimes it’s simply Jesus.

With a blog, you can recommend something to hundreds of people instead of just a few. Some recommendations may be specific to certain people, but that seems like it would be rare. It’s more likely to be the case that if one man asks you whether you know of any good help for a pornography addiction, then dozens of other men out there also need to know, but aren’t asking.
Blog it.

Recommendation, however, is more than pointing people to helpful things. It’s a tone of voice, an overall aura that good blogs cultivate.

Blogs are not generally good places to be didactic. Rather, they’re ideal for suggesting and commending. I’ve learned, after I write, to go back and cut those lines that sound like commands or even overbearing suggestions, no matter how right they may be. Because if it’s true for my audience, it’s true for me, so why not word it in such a way that I’m the weak one, rather than them?

People want to know that their pastor knows he is an ordinary, imperfect human being. They want to know that you’re recommending things that have helped you in your own weakness. If you say, “When I struggled with weight-loss, I did such-and-such,” it will come across very differently than if you say, “Do such-and-such if you’re over-weight…”

If you use your blog to encourage people through suggesting and commending everything from local restaurants to Jesus Christ, it will complement the biblical authority that you rightly assume when you stand behind the pulpit.

4. …to interact.

There are a lot of ways for a pastor to keep his finger on the pulse of his people. A blog is by no means necessary in this regard. However, it does add a helpful new way to stay abreast of people’s opinions and questions.

Who knows what sermon series might arise after a pastor hears some surprising feedback about one of his 30-second-nuggets-of-truth?

5. …to develop an eye for what is meaningful.

For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable? This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane.

If you live life looking for what is worthwhile in every little thing, you will see more of what God has to teach you. And the more he teaches you, the more you can teach others. As you begin to be inspired and to collect ideas, you will find that the new things you’ve seen and learned enrich far more of your life than just your blog.

6. …to be known.

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.

Your people hear you teach a lot; it’s probably the main way that most of them know you. You preach on Sundays, teach on Wednesdays, give messages at weddings, funerals, youth events, retreats, etc.

This is good—it’s your job. But it’s not all you are. Not that you need to be told this, but you are far more than your ideas. Ideas are a crucial part of your identity, but still just a part.

You’re a husband and a father. You’re some people’s friend and other people’s enemy. Maybe you love the Nittany Lions. Maybe you hate fruity salad. Maybe you struggle to pray. Maybe listening to the kids’ choir last weekend was—to your surprise—the most moving worship experience you’ve ever had.

These are the things that make you the man that leads your church. They’re the windows into your personality that perhaps stay shuttered when you’re teaching the Bible. Sometimes your people need to look in—not all the way in, and not into every room—but your people need some access to you as a person. A blog is one way to help them.

You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for your people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back. This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say. If you practice the kind of holiness that your people expect of you, then your life itself opened before them is good leadership—even when you fail.

Conclusion

For most of you, anything you post online will only be a small piece in the grand scheme of your pastoral leadership. But if you can maintain a blog that is both compelling and personal, it can be an important small piece.

It will give you access to your people’s minds and hearts in a unique way by giving them a chance to know you as a well-rounded person. You will no longer be only a preacher and a teacher, but also a guy who had a hard time putting together a swing-set for his kids last weekend. People will open up for you as you open up like this for them. Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your teaching and depth to your ministry,

Friday, 9 October 2009

Singing to the Father

I was having a some time reading the Bible and praying with my wife the other day. I found myself singing to Father God. I found it quite overwhelming.

How deep is your love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That you should give your only Son
To make a wretch your treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
You turned your face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold your Son upon a cross,
My sin upon your shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held you there
Until it was accomplished
Your dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast you my God
Your death and resurrection

Why should I gain from your reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
Your wounds have paid my ransom

Kubernesis


'Kubernesis' translated 'gift of administration' in 1Cor12v28 is referring to the helmsman, pilot or ship master. The role involves implementing vision, releasing, planning, delegating and monitoring.

Those gifted at this task for the Church will need to be persuaded of the bigger picture. They need to have a deep conviction of the Church and a heart for the city.

5 duties of a navigator which are applicable to Church:

1) They know where we are going.
Know the heart and vision of the leaders.

2) They know where we are at the moment.
Measure and monitor how we are doing clearly and honestly.

3) They are able to communicate effectively with people.
Build teams, motivate and empower others to achieve our goals.

4) They are able to foresee problems and find solutions.
Offer innovation and ways of doing things more effectively.

5) They literally make things happen.
Own and love the vision.

Biblical examples:
Joseph Genesis 41v33-36
David 1 Chron 22v1-5
Moses Exodus 18v13-26
Jesus Matt 14v16-21

Without this gifting Churches will not run well. Leaders will not lead effectively and people will not hear about Jesus. This role is massive.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Men of conviction


I have grown up in a generation whose parents have de valued and eroded family and roles within the family as God intends. Divorce, separation and bad marriages are common experiences inside and outside the Church.

Some men abuse. Being physically stronger some men dominate and abuse women. Some men abdicate. They do not take responsibility and let their wives carry the weight which God has asked them to carry to release the wife to be all she should be. Some explain this role away but God still holds men accountable.

I see a generation

I am increasingly finding myself around young men who by God's grace have a deep conviction and a hunger to be the men who God has made them to be. A burn which drives men to make big decisions, to be open and appreciative of direct rebukes and a commitment to love wives self sacrificially. I even find students wanting to prepare for this calling. I find this refreshing and exciting.

Do you see the beauty?

Men made to lead as head (1cor11v3) to provide (1Tim5v8) to protect and guide morally (Gen2v16-17) (Eph5v26) and to lay down his life down for his wife just like Jesus did for the Church. (Eph5v25).

Our women should feel loved, valued, treasured, prioritized, cared for, covered, secure, prayed for, supported, lead well and released into all kinds of ministry. Teaching (Titus2) Leading ministry areas, mission and loads more.

A great sermon from CJ Mahaney
http://www.sovereigngracestore.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=A1010-03-51
"A husbands responsibility and how to change" which I think outlines the truth but also the beauty of God's plan. "Who would not want a head like that?!"

My hope

Currently New Frontiers stick out like a sore thumb in the evangelical world with regard to gender roles both in marriage and Church. I know many do not come to our Church over this issue. I hope as men we start by taking responsibility in building a culture where the wonder of God's plan and the beauty of it are evident in every mans heart, every household and in our Church. A place where men honour and serve women as sisters and wives unlike the world has seen for generations. A place where both men and women can be all God intends with great joy. A place which teaches and demonstrates a way out of the mess of broken families where our culture broadly finds itself. The men who I have spent time with recently give me great hope.