Friday, 30 July 2010

Time for a rest

I'm going on holiday for two weeks. :-)

I'm glad that rest is something that God did (Genesis 2v1-3) and something that he commands! (Exodus 20v11) Jesus took times away from the crowds to rest.

Steve Tibbert writes, "I believe that if we rest more we will be stronger in God, we will be more effective in caring for our families and will be more churches we lead.

Many of us think that if we worked a little harder we would be more fruitful - I'm saying that rest is the critical factor." He writes a good paper which is worth a read.

I'm looking forward to investing time with my family and doing a bit of reading. We'll be by his sea in Cornwall. "The sea is his, for he made it." Psalm 95v5. We're also planning on spending time with some old friends and family. Can't wait. :-)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Parenting #3 For Dads

This is a moment of reflection for Dads. God calls me to be a Dad. This will not apply to every family set up, but to those in my position...

The call

God holds men accountable for their households. (Genesis 3v9 1 Timothy 3v4-5 Ephesians 6v4.) God addresses the man first as leader on moral decisions, the overall running of the home and for parenting.

The Bible addresses parenting commands to Dad, not mum.

This is not to deny or minimize the crucial, society transforming role of mothers. Instead, this is a call for men to take God given responsibility and also heart posture towards mum. Often she carries out much of the task day to day but he has overall responsibility. (Titus 2v4-5) This shapes my prayer, my listening, my sharing of burdens, my priorities, my time away and my appreciation of my wife.

My repentance

After reading this chapter from Farley I confessed and apologised to my wife for making her feel like Rufus was her responsibility and that I am gracious to help her out. Nothing could be further from the truth. She is my team mate who is helping build my home which I am responsible for. I am to help, support, release her in her talents and receive her as a precious gift from God.

Influence of Dad 

Farley writes, "God holds fathers accountable for parenting because he gives them inordinate influence over their children."

He refers to a study published in Touchstone in 2003 and concludes, "The father's spiritual example was the primary tool that shaped his children's desire to embrace religion. The mother's spiritual commitments were less decisive."

If only mum goes to Church, no matter how faithfully only 2% of children ended up going.

If Dad goes to Church, regardless of mum, over 33% of children ended up going to Church.

Touchstone wrote, "The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created order. Father's influence, from the determination of a child's sex by the implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing is all out of proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in Western liberal society."

Influence of Dad (2)

Fatherhood initiative wrote: "Teens from fatherless homes are: 5 times more likely to run away, 20times more likely to have behavioural disorders, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 9 times more likely to drop out of school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison." 

They also note that interestingly these results do not hold when the Father dies. It seems children understand that this is outside of his control and can compensate emotionally Farley observes.

Three thoughts:

1) My role and the weight of the responsibility which God calls me to. In the end this is my first responsibility. I am on my knees for myself and I need to be more so!

2) My brothers. I hope me and my brothers will help each other on this journey and that God leads us to be the best Dads we can be.

3) The distance we are right now in culture and the raw, passionate opposition which this kind of data and reflection may induce in our culture. My heart breaks for the gulf between the gracious blueprint we have and the values promoted in this day. Really I am deeply saddened by this.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

We are going to be missionaries

The Bible is a story about God's mission to save people for himself through Jesus.

If I believe the Bible, I am to play my part in God's great mission. It seems that at the heart of the Church we are a 'sent people'. John 17v18 1Pt2v9

I have been re-reading Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. They sometimes ask people to imagine that they are part of a church planting team in a cross cultural situation. They conclude the paragraph by saying, "Mission is central to us wherever we are. These are the kind of questions we should be asking wherever we are."

So I have been pondering and trying to apply these questions as I seek to love my city Exeter.

  • What criteria would you use to decide where to live?
  • How would you approach secular employment?
  • What standard of living would you expect as pioneer missionaries?
  • What would you spend your time doing?
  • What opportunities would you be looking for?
  • What would your prayers be like?
  • What would you be trying to do with your new friends?
  • What kind of a team would you want around you?
  • How would you conduct your meetings together? 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Parenting #2 - Marriage talks

'First principle of parenting' was the title of the chapter. I was reading Gospel Powered Parenting and expecting to get to the practical bits.

It was somewhat of a surprise when William P Farley started talking about marriage. I guess it is obvious when you think about it. Here are some reflections.

Marriage talks, so lets talk marriage

For those in my position trying to build biblical marriages of headship and submission from Ephesians 5, our great hope is that we will in some way be a picture of Christ and the Church. This is why marriage was created. I like the way Farley puts it, "human marriage exists to point men and angels to the eternal marriage of Christ and his Church."

My son has a front row seat to see and hear the message coming from my marriage. My marriage is my first opportunity to show him something of the gospel. This message will either attract or repel my son from the message which comes from my mouth. The first thing I can do to help my parenting is to work hard on my marriage.

Dad

I have an opportunity to demonstrate a pattern of sacrifice which displays to my son something of the love and affection that Jesus Christ has for his Church. As I cherish, value, compliment and delight in my wife so my son might see something of the delight Christ has in his Church. As I pray for and lead my wife in Bible reading and prayer so my son might see something of Christ's sanctifying grace towards His church. This is a high calling.

I once heard CJ Mahaney ask himself something to the effect of, "Will I take advantage of my wife's godliness or will I model myself on Jesus Christ and his love for the Church." This kind of chat improves my prayer life!

Mum

Chloe has an opportunity to support and help and submit to my godly sacrificial leadership. I realise this is a can of worms. We do not take this lightly. This is going to take some wisdom and discernment! Again we found CJ and Carolyn Mahaney teaching on this very helpful and clarifying. As she trusts me joyfully she is showing our son how the Church is to be to Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5v22-24. What a beautiful picture God wants to paint with our marriage. 

Gospel

We know we will fall short. We will need to ask for forgiveness and repent. We will need to confess in front of our children openly and honestly. However as we walk with Him, as he changes us little by little, I hope my son will see our intentions, our aspirations which point Him to Jesus and also the power of God as he gradually changes us.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Sweeter than honey

Sweeter than honey and to be desired more than Gold is how David describes the words of God. I have had a number of conversations recently with people about how to read the Bible and draw treasure from it.

How do I read it?
How do I apply it to my life?
How do I grow in this area?


I have compiled this loose framework from various sources including friends, 'Leading better Bible studies' and from Matt Chandlers recent session which you can find here. I hope some find it helpful.

I am particularly enjoying this tool kit at the moment. 

Toolkit:
  • Pencil
  • Highlighter
  • Moleskin
  • ESV Bible (Which you don't mind writing on.)
  • According to plan, Graeme Goldsworthy
Ask – We can’t see anything without Him. 1Cor2v14

1.Look – What does the text say?

With a pencil in hand I circle, underline and observe as much as I can for 5-10mins.

Context: Verse/passage/context/book/genre/Testament (Goldsworthy)
Who, What, When, Where, Why?
Repetitions, contrasts, progressions, illustrations...
Link words
Look up and follow questions (ESV Study Bible)

2.Think – What did the text mean to its original audience?

Awareness of genre and features
Awareness of Biblical Theology/progressive revelation (Graeme Goldsworthy)
Harmony of scripture. Process of elimination from what is clear.
The Bible is about God.
What is the point?(s)

3.Listen – What is God calling you to do?

· I highlight one or two verses which I feel God is leading me to.

· I write in my journal for 10mins+.
Write contrasts comparisons and examples.
I write how this speaks to me.


· I write down things to do as obedience.

What was God’s concern?
Where does this speak into your life?
What does it reveal/affirm?

What will you do in response to what God is saying?
When will you do it?
What will help you?
What will hinder you?
James 1v22-25

4.Talk - What do you want to talk to God about?

· I spend time (10mins) singing (Worship music on iPhone) praying and speaking to God about what he has shown me and other stuff on my heart.

What has God spoken to you about?
What do you want to thank him for?
Where do you need to confess?
Where do you need help?

Walk - Do it.

Takes me 25-30mins each day and I love drawing close to God through His means of grace.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Parenting #1 - Gospel parenting

I have been a Dad for just over a year. Rufus is getting more and more active and fun.

I have read a few books, listened to different teachers, and watched different people. I have gathered a few thoughts which I wanted to draw together. Clearly I am not an expert. I am a faltering young Dad! However I think I have picked up a few simple things which have helped me.

Parenting is worship

The life of a Christian is a joyful response to who God is and what he has done for us. I want to live for him and live in a way which delights my Father in heaven. His opinion is the most important one in my life. Not expectations of others, not the latest research, and not what other parents think. Parenting is now one facet of my worship to God.

A big call

After reading around the subject it is clear that God calls me to a certain role with certain responsibilities to my wife and son. The bar is high. Looking after my Son all day is amazing and challenging for Chloe and carrying the leadership of the home before God is not something that I am taking lightly. According the scripture the buck stops with me.

I fall short

I want to be the perfect Dad! However I know that I am not. Sometimes I am selfish and sometimes I am lazy. Sometimes I don't do what I should do and sometimes I do what I should not do. Knowing God's call on Dads and my love for my wife and son I find this particularly painful. Should I give up? Or should I settle for pursuing less than the picture God paints for me?

He has paid for me

The good news for me, as a faltering Dad is Jesus has paid already for all my parenting blunders. He lived the perfect life and died on the cross and my substitute. God has forgiven me. He shows that He loves me and is for me and He has made many promises to me.

He is changing me

I am so grateful that God had promised to be working in my heart and changing my character. He has promised that as I walk with Him I will become more loving, more patient, more kind, and more joyful. This is good news for my wife and son! I also hope to display humility before my family. I expect my home to be a place of confession, forgiveness and yet progressive transformation and joy. I look to God who calls me to an amazing role, forgives my shortcomings and yet empowers me to be a better man.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

It is well...

"


  1. I really like this version from Mars Hill. I think this song is one of my favourites. It is a song that I hope to sing all the days of my life. Written by Horatio G. Spafford 1873. Here are the original lyrics.

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul.
    • Refrain:
      It is well, with my soul,
      It is well, it is well, with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

New Frontiers - Hearts for Transition

I had a good time at together on a mission 2010.

It finished on a poignant note with news of PJ's cancer. PJ has started to blog about 
his experience. As a personal hero who I have drawn from I find this deeply emotional and at the same time fortifying. http://pjsmyth.tumblr.com/

As a young pastor I am looking to take on more responsibility and therefore increasingly concerned about receiving apostolic input to help our church. This season of New Frontiers therefore particularly draws my attention. I found Steven Van Rhyn particularly helpful. God spoke to me and I will stand on this word.

Acts 20v17-38

Mission motivates
Paul faced the following:
  • Uncertainty
  • Vulnerability v22 v29
  • Lack of resources at times v35 (&1Thess2v9)
  • Relational complexity v36 - v38
The primary challenge: Will Paul/we let these secondary issues hamper the primary purpose of mission?
No season of consolidation.
Together on a mission.
Apostolic gifts are for mission.

Necessity of elders
Paul with eldership team. Apostles and elders working together through transition.

Leadership teams - Acts14 - Holy Spirit appointed - for the purpose of gospel advance.

What do you do when founder/apostolic relationship ends? Through change/growth/death?
Elders/teams:
1) Watch ourselves. v28 'What you people need most is your personal holiness.'
2) Keep watch over the Church. v28 Jesus gave himself for the Church.
3) Watch each other. Mark 9&10 Disciples were going after position and seats at certain tables.
We must aim for servant leadership not entitlement.
The need to be first is a sign of immature leadership.

Succession plan
No names. No specifics. Foundational level for more advance.

1) Jesus is building his Church. v32 Phil 1v6
He is the sustainer.
He is building his Church.
Any of us could be taken at any time. It is God who builds His church.
Jesus is the saviour.
Jesus is the great Apostle.
Jesus is far reaching.
Jesus is available to all.
Jesus is where we place our hope.
Paul commends them to God.
(God is better than Terry!)

2) We hold onto the gospel.
'the word of his grace'.
Gospel of first importance.
Gospel changes lives.
Gospel is the power.
1 Cor 15v3-4

3) Hearts of generosity v35
Work hard & provide for others.
No hording! Give, give, give... in transition.
Don't let uncertainty stop you giving.
Help others and help other churches.
In this soil, apostolic gifts will grow. As they did needing and seeing good discernment Rev 2.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Toam 2010


TOAM Highlights 2010 from Newfrontiers on Vimeo.


I had a great time this year. Terry Virgo was brilliant. Personally I found Stephen Van Rhyn very helpful and Joel Virgo finished the week off well. I had some great time reflecting and praying with my wife about our future and the kind of home we want to build and the kind of parents we want to be. I also caught up with my best mate which was awesome. I'm looking forward to catching seminars online next week.