Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I.D. 2

Last night was really fun. I was teaching alongside Andy Arscott with a house full of great people pondering the grace of God.

It was vintage Andy. He was dancing around, kissing Jane as part of an illustration and spinning plates all around the room. He is a man who is very aware of the dangers of legalism and therefore teaches this subject particularly with passion and urgency.

Here are a couple of notes:

God justifies the man who does not work

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness. Romans 4: 4-5

Justified by faith

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand...6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! Rom 5: 1 - 11

"When He died, He set us free from the law and opened another door to us – it’s called grace. Christianity has nothing to do with trying to live up to God’s standards. It’s about believing that Jesus has already met them. When we’re saved we no longer cower before God and whimper, “I’m trying to do my best, Lord. I’m sorry I’m such a miserable failure.” We come to Him with confidence – not because we’re looking at our performance, but because we’re looking at Christ’s." Michael Eaton

Evidence of legalism
  • Am I more aware of and affected by my past sins than the finished work of Christ?
  • Am I more aware of and reliant upon my godly practices than the finished work of Christ?
  • Do I constantly experience condemnation?
  • Do I often feel that I am better than others? Or am I aware of feelings of self-righteousness?
  • Am I often looking within, concerned about my performance, faith, worth, etc?
  • Do I lack joy?

The cure for legalism

Understand your salvation.
Understand your justification.
Look always to the finished work of Christ on the cross.
Take ten looks at Jesus for every one look at yourself.
Boldly approach the throne of grace to help you in your time of need.

Mobilise

Mobilise 2010 Promo from Newfrontiers on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Band of Brothers


Was good to eat with and study with a group of men on Sunday afternoon. Was fun to play football as well but a couple of us felt that maybe something special had been birthed among us as we considered the following.


Men’s Bible study 3 – ‘Band of brothers’

What is your favourite example of a group of men acting as brothers and why?
What made these relationships special?


Read below and answer the questions as you go…

John 1:11-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John is writing about Jesus. What happens when we believe and trust in Him?

1Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Who does Peter say Christians are?
With what purpose?
What has God done for us?

What is our mission as Christians?
1Peter2v9 (over the page)
Look up Matt 28v18-20 & Acts 1v8

From the following verses, what might this mission look like, and how should we relate to one another?

1John 3:13-16 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

How is this similar/different to your favourite example of men acting as brothers? (See Kick off questions).

How do the disciples in Acts compare to your example?
Can you think of any specific occasions in the early church?

Slow down and discuss the following:

How do you feel about the mission that we’re on?

How can we help to build a ‘band of brothers?’ Today/This week/This year?

You may find the following verses helpful…
Hebrews 10v24-25 James 5v9 James 4v11 Eph 4v29

Pray for your brothers!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

I.D. 1

Last night we had the pleasure of having around twenty people into our home to kick off the I.D. course. The course lays down what we believe as a Church and invites our guests to join us on the mission.
Andy hosted and led the teaching with me along side him making a contribution. It was good to meet and speak to new people. I look forward to getting to know this group more as they walk the course with us.
I really enjoyed pondering the truth of what we believe again. We were served well by James Slater and Kath Dags who made sure our students arrived ok and had a lift home afterwards. They have done great work all year.
Last night we outlined:
  • Jesus claimed to be God.
  • It all hangs on his resurrection.
  • The evidence...

If he has risen... 7 implications for how we build this Church:

  • Jesus is God.
  • He can be trusted.
  • The OT is God's Word.
  • He promised his teaching would be faithfully passed on. (NT)
  • His sheep will hear His voice.
  • The Bible is our highest court of authority.
  • We seek to handle the Bible diligently.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Which game are we playing?

Steve Tibbert shared this very helpful picture for us at Leadership Training last week. It has since been discussed among our leaders...

The Church planter might be seen as runner or swimmer. He has freedom to run at his own pace and make decisions as he feels will work. Independent/relational people love this stage as it allows the leader to develop close friendships with his small flock.

As the Church grows, the leadership team grows. In the early days of a church the team could be seen as golf buddies. Highly relational, informal and playing with friends. A leisurely pace and similar skills flow from the golf course into the bar! For a highly relational pastor this may be the most enjoyable phase.

If the Church continues to grow, the leadership team will grow. When you have more than four people, you cannot all play together. The team will need to transition from golf buddies to more of a basketball team. A bigger team requires more formal communication, more effective teamwork and trust between team members. You cannot be best friends with everyone on the team because there are too many players for that. The relationships are different.

A basketball team will have a couple of star players who the rest of the team build around. Players will play in specific positions and some may be left on the bench. This can be painful but usually players are flexible enough to play in different positions. This can be the most enjoyable phase for the entrepreneurial leaders.

When the leadership team/staff increases to 15, 25 or even 50 people the game changes completely. Many find this unsettling especially those who prefer golf or basketball. Now the leadership team look more like an NFL team.

Players are not interchangeable, roles are highly specialised and the weight on the individual team member increases. Players can't and don't know all that is going on in different areas. Players generally stay in specific units with different coaches and different playbooks. The quality of what is produced for the city is improved. Resources increase and the potential to shape culture increases. Some team members can feel left out or insignificant. Some won't be able to make the change and some won't want to. The team have no choice. Will they put pads on? Retire? Or get run over?

If these changes are not recognised it can lead to relational overload for the leader. He may try to play the wrong sport with too many people. It may also lead to communication breakdown. More formal, intentional and direct communication will be needed as the team grows. As the leadership team grows, the decision making process will have to change. To avoid a bottleneck, eventually the team with have to narrow the people in decision making.

I feel as a Church we are beginning to transition from golf buddies to a basketball team. We are trying to play our players in positions which will suit them best and serve the Church most effectively.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Leadership Training

As part of my leadership training I travel to Brighton to study. Around 30 people gather every two months for four days of lectures and open forums led by Andrew Wilson. Andrew Wilson is a very gifted teacher from Kings Church Eastbourne.

I stay with a great host family who look after me and another guy very well. There is a cool bottle of beer waiting for us on the table as soon as we get through the door!

Last week we had a day with Andrew Wilson teaching on the 'doctrine of man'. This was followed by two days with Mick Taylor on homiletics (how to preach) and a day with my hero (!) Steve Tibbert on leadership. I decided against asking for his autograph and settled for taking in as much wisdom as I could.

Steve Tibbert has grown a big Church in Catford. Every year they have grown by another 100 members and they continue to grow. He is a very inspirational man and has shaped much of my thinking from relatively very little input.

On Tuesday evening we had an open forum with Terry Virgo at his house. I was able to ask a couple of questions about the role of apostles and surrounding issues. Terry is very gracious to give time to receive and respond to questions from puppies like me! :-)

I'm very grateful for the chance to learn from men of such wisdom and experience. I hope what I receive I can use well to be a blessing in my context.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Proverbs 27v5&6 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend'

This week we're talking about friendship.

Here are some notes for our small groups to respond and apply...




Read Proverbs Chapter 27 v 5-6

What was the big idea drawn out from Sunday?

Read through the following verses:

Proverbs 17v17
Proverbs 18v24
Proverbs 13v20
Proverbs 14v20
Proverbs 19v4
Proverbs 19v6
Proverbs 25v19
Proverbs 25v20
Proverbs 27v9
Proverbs 27v5-6

What picture of friendship do you have from these verses?

In what ways in Jesus our ultimate friend?

Why do you think God wants us to pursue human friendships?
(As opposed to only relating to people who you simply serve.)

These questions may want to be asked in smaller groups as it is quite sensitive.

As a Christian, who do you want to look good in your life? (Who do you want to be glorified?)

What impact does this have on your ability to receive correction/lay down ministries/etc?

Why are wounds from a friend faithful?

How will you cultivate genuine friendships and invite people to correct you?

Pray for genuine friendship and humility!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Pray for your leaders


At the elders meeting last night there was a corporate sense of anticipation and fresh faith in God for the year ahead. The guys feel that this year is particularly significant for the evolution, growth and direction of the Church.
  • As a Church we have a 'Church Together Night' tonight where prayer for the elders will be on the agenda.
  • The elders will be meeting for the day on Sat 16th Jan to work through a significant agenda.
  • If you are a member of the Church, you may be invited to pray and fast with this in mind at some point between now and then. It would be great if the whole Church was praying that the team would be hearing from and God well and bring clear vision and direction for the Church into the New Year.


Monday, 4 January 2010

Sending our best

I was reminded by a man I have a deep respect for, that the Christian life is full of paradox's. It was Jesus' death that brings us life. It is by losing our own lives that we find life. This weekend it was through painfully sending one of our most gifted and joyful families from our Church to Bolivia, Santa Cruz that we celebrate and rejoice in their obedience and faith in God. We would have it no other way.
We had a 'sending service' for Ben and Roz (& Baby Chloe) on Sunday. They have been with us for around for six years and now make their move to continue building God's local Church. Ben preached and we gathered to pray for the family in this very exciting stage.

Ben shared 5 reasons they are going to Bolivia:

1) They have been called by God to Bolivia progressively over the last few years.
They have read His Word.
They have spoken to wise Christians & elders.
They have spoken to God a lot.
They have pursued answers and received through the prophetic ministry.
They have explored and tested what God seemed to be saying.
They are in agreement.
2) God has provided through people for this move.

3) They are Christians. They will go wherever God wants them to go.

4) They are going to build a local Church as God's means of changing and offering hope to people.
5) They are being sent by Frontiers Church Exeter and will continue relationship with us.

We have all really appreciated this couple over the last few years. Ben's preaching gift I believe is exceptional and has blessed many people. He has served me well and honestly with the impact team and blessed many through homegroup leadership. Roz had pioneered with teaching English as a foreign language and made relationships with a number of women in the city and of course being a wife and mother. Who can forget their party trick with which they kind of introduced themselves to the church with... Bum drumming?!

It was an emotional day for the Church family. It is funny how you can feel closely knitted on mission together then God calls people elsewhere. I went to give Ben a hug on Sunday and found my self a little overwhelmed with tears. It seems all that herbal tea is having an effect on me! We do celebrate walking with God but we also feel the loss of immediate contact. This seems to be the nature of our mission and the nature of our Church. We will send our best, it will be painful and we will rejoice!
Check out something of the Church: http://www.casaalfa.org/index.php?id=church

Ben & Roz's blog: http://powellsinsantacruz.wordpress.com/

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year!

I love looking ahead to the New Year. I enjoy the chance to reflect, review and to set my hopes and plans before God for the year ahead.

Reading this year

I am not a reader. Before I was 21, the only book I'd read from choice was while I was at primary school. It was Cops and Robbers and it was brilliant. :-) Since God took hold of my desires I have had a deep thirst to read. I have found that this is one channel through which the Spirit of God brings deep conviction, revelation and real joy into my life.

Every Christmas I ask for and receive great books which are truly life giving. This year my in-laws bought me Don Carson How Long, Oh Lord? and some of my closest friends bought me a wide margin ESV Bible. I can't wait to get stuck into this. I'm going to read and scribble and note all over it! I find reading 'with a pen' so helpful.

Sometimes I do feel like I have so much to read and so little time! I want to read every book and learn as much as I can. At times it can feel a little bit overwhelming. I can get frustrated and start rushing my reading and not get much from it. I know that my wife often feels like this.

Little and often goes a long way

This Christmas I have been reading John Piper Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. I was really encouraged by one of his chapters on reading: "One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day.

Suppose you read slowly, say 250 words a minute (as I do). That means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read twelve and a half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that an average book is 250 pages long.
This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year.
Or take a longer classic like John Calvin's Institutes (1500pages) ...you could finish it in 25 weeks. Then Augustine's The City of God and B.B. Warfields Inspiration and Authority of the Bible could be finished before the year's end."

A Reading Plan

My goals for the New Year include a reading plan for the sake of my soul and all those who I love. Among the busyness of work, being a husband, dad, and seeking to encourage my wife to keep reading, I found Piper's observation very encouraging. Many of us have demanding jobs and family lives, but twenty minutes seems 'very doable' and many will be able to do more which means we will find much treasure in our reading this year. :-)