Monday, February 28, 2005

Christian Unions - Student Mission Teams

Your CU - A Mission Team
I had the pleasure of giving the seminar for CU evangelism sec's at the Transformation weekend. Here are the notes from that. I love working alongside these guys, helping to equip and envision them to get their CU operating as a Mission Team on campus - which is what CUs are there for.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Transformation!

Home from the South East CU Leaders weekend at Sunbury Court. Fantastic to spend two days with my guys from Reading, SIAD and Surrey along with a load of other student leaders from across the region. Its always a great weekend, seeing these young missions leaders gathering to meet with God and be equipped for service over the coming year and beyond.

Ed & Anna, Reading CU

Ian Marlow taught us from 1 Corinthians 3-6, a great demonstration of God's great wisdom in human weakness, and amazingly pertient application and challenges. (Also worth a look at 2 Corinthians 3-6, which is what we'd planned to study!). Ian as always grounded God's word so clearly into the CU context and the challenges that students face doing mission. Once again this term I find myself humbled by God's Word - our God the great revealer of mysteries, entrusting the gospel to us!

Sam, Anna, Cat, Ruth, Paul, Surrey CU

I spent a fairly large portion of the weekend playing with the band. It was great to reunited 4/6th of the old Barefoot crew. First time Em & I have played with Andy & Rich since May 2000. Sadly we couldn't afford to contemplate flying Yinsern and Stephen back from Malaysia (as we did at our wedding when the 4/6ths that doesn't include us played). Big thanks to Spider Sam for stepping in on bass and PA.

Penny & Suzi, SIAD CU

It was also cool to have time to pray with a number of students as God's Word spoke into their lives, and see them catching a vision for leading their CUs as mission teams. As Rachel and Gareth shared the vision this morning - CUs as the missionary arm of the local church, students together reaching students with the gospel of Jesus. As we considered the vision and strategy of CUs it was great to hear stories from students across the region - encouraging and inspiring each other.

Rich & Andy, the Barefoot guys

Now though, time to rest... tomorrow is my day off. Hurrah! My body needs care, tis where God lives with me. Good ministry should always include rest, relaxation and fun!


uccf:thechristianunions
Cat blogged the South East CU Leaders weekend too!
As did Huxley, albeit briefly
Becci blogged the London CU leaders weekend

Friday, February 25, 2005

Contending for our all



Each year John Piper shares a biography at his pastors conference, calling us to sit at the feet of those who have gone before us and learn from them. This year he turned to Athanasius who took his stand to guard in the midst of a crisis over revelation and redemption, a fight that continues today.

What was clear to Athanasius was that propositions about Christ carried convictions that could send you to heaven or to hell. There were propositions like: “There was a time when the Son of God was not,” and, “He was not before he was made,” and, “the Son of God is created.” These propositions were strictly damnable. If they were spread and believed they would damn the souls which embraced them. And therefore Athanasius labored with all his might to formulate propositions that would conform to reality and lead the soul to faith and worship and heaven.

I believe Athanasius would have abominated, with tears, the contemporary call for “depropositionalizing” that you hear among many of the so-called “reformists” and “the emerging church,” “younger evangelicals,” “postfundamentalists,” “postfoundationalists,” “postpropositionalists,” and “postevangelicals.”36 I think he would have said, “Our young people in Alexandria die for the truth of propositions about Christ. What do your young people die for?” And if the answer came back, “We die for Christ, not propositions about Christ,” I think he would have said, “That’s what Arius says. So which Christ will you die for?”

Athanasius would have grieved over sentences like “It is Christ who unites us; it is doctrines that divides.” And sentences like: “We should ask, Whom do you trust? rather than what do you believe?”37 He would have grieved because he knew this is the very tactic used by the Arian bishops to cover the councils with fog so that the word “Christ” could mean anything. Those who talk like this—“Christ unites, doctrine divides”—have simply replaced propositions with a word. They think they have done something profound and fresh, when in fact they have done something very old and stale and very deadly.

Read the whole biography: Contending for our all: The Life and MInistry of Athanasius

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

scared of aeroplanes

Click to fly

A little five track "EP", maybe these will actually get recorded sometime this year... time will tell. Either way its been great to get back to writing and to have Rich back in the area to add his musical genius to the mix.

lyrics - © dave bish
music - © em bish, rich clements, dave bish

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fame!

Its the nature of the blogosphere to canibalise other articles... so let me confess my inspiration for this post, from Sam Storms
TIME Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Evangelicals In America


Probably more lucid than me. But it got me thinking, do we need to be nationally influential? Must each of us deserve our fifteen minutes (or seconds) of fame? And what constitutes grounds for being influential in the world? I think Storms hits the nail on the head in his article, surely its faithful ministry, not book-sales or notoriety.

In Sheffield Church-Planter, Tim Chester's book Good News to the Poor he comments on the influence of William Carey in India. Chester recounts a story from Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi who ask: "Who was William Carey?"

The answers, depending on who you ask, include scientist, engineer, industialist, economist, doctor, social reformer, educator, administrator and philosopher. Whereas if you asked a Christian in Britain they'd tell of the Northamptonshire cobbler who became a pioneering missionary and evangelist. He was that, and much more.

Today many are famous for being famous, known simply for being known. The stars of reality TV. Influence is about instant impact and so is a short-term quality. Once, influence was about longevity and contribution, about knowledge, discovery and integrity. Once, it was about all of life. What is lasting influence? What is it worth being influential for?

Chatting with a student I mention that I'm doing a seminar at Spring Harvest this year (on Christian Life is... Lived in the World) with Tara Devlin from Tearfund. The immediate response was "Playing with the big boys". No offence to Chris but it's indicative of our Christian sub-culture (the very thing the seminar should begin to bite against, whilst suggesting a way forward). Somehow we exalt people, and suddenly I find myself in that category... which is hilarious!

For information-sake the Spring Harvest Team Lounge is not the Holy of Holies, it is not hallowed ground... its just a butlins venue with instant coffee on tap. There is no elite in God's eyes, all men are equal... equal in sin and equally able to be justified by the death of Jesus. And the very fact that I might fall into this elite Christian-minor-celebrity category proves its not elite at all. Anyone who knows me will know that!

What should be consider to be the attributes of sucessful ministry, grounds for respect and influence? As Storms comments, surely faithfulness, God-centredness must be that which we count as most desirable. I can only pray that that would be the mark of my ministry. I don't desire to be original (this post proves that!), just to be faithful with the old, old story.

In my dark hours (and other ones too) I probably quite like the idea of being famous. There is no gain in that though. Popularity feels nice but it probably only serves to inflate my pride and to massage my ego. It threatens my desire to have all my security and satisfaction in Christ rather than people and their opinion. The fame game blurs my vision so I'm tempted to think myself less sinful than I really am.

Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1v14-17 are very helpful. Paul tells of how God showed mercy to the worst of sinners (Paul), as an example of God's patience for those who will one day believe. The point is - if people must look at me, then let them see proof that God can save even the worst of people, for he saved me. If my life is influential then let it be influential for being an example of the gospel of Jesus Christ at work in my life.

Fame? You can keep that. I want to live forever, not as a memory in the consciousness of the Christian sub-culture, but in the presence of King Jesus.

TIME - Evangelicals in America

Friday, February 18, 2005

God rules!

Phil just asked me to sum up my week in two words: God rules.

1. God rules:
As in, God rocks and is doing great stuff in peoples lives. This week is the CU events week at Reading University, life. A week of events, cold-contact and generally inviting people to investigate the claims of Jesus for themselves. Its been great to have a team with us, mostly made up of Relay workers and Reading graduates plus a few other gifted people. Great to see many people making new commitments or recommitments to find their treasure in Christ and live under his rule.

2. God rules:
As in, God is sovereign over all things. Last night was the AGM at Surrey CU and Jon Hobbs spoke on Daniel 4 & 5 to complete the first part of their series in Daniel. IT was great to have the gospel preached to us and be painfully confronted with God's rule. As Jon pointed out repetition often indicates what the main point of a passage is, and in Daniel 4v17, 25 and 32 we find:

"the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes"

...as the proud king of the known world, Nebuchadezzar, is humbled. Later, and the contrast between chapters 4 and 5 highlights the message. We find Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar refusing to humble himself in the middle of his insolent and arrogant idolatry. Belshazzar faces destruction, Nebuchadnezzar finds life as he finds that God rules.

It's been a joy to hear the gospel preached time and again, in Reading and in Guildford. To be reminded that I cannot continue in my selfishness and sin. To see that I have nothing but my sin to bring to God. To see that I deserve nothing but God's judgement for my rebellion. And to see, above all else, that his mercy and grace is sufficient for me.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Miss-sold or Made Known!

Miss-selling is dangerous. As a Christian I know this acutely well. The gospel carries a cost and if that cost is not detailed then people can probably rightly ask for their money back. In the long-run the cost is nothing compared to the gain, but it is still often a short term cost against our desires or aspects of life that would be contrary to saying that Jesus is Lord. To omit such information is actually deceitful, and says massive things about how good we think our good news is...

Miss-selling is common place, and it happens with Films very often. The biggest miss-sell I've seen recently is The Village. Marketed as a horror, it's not. Probably the best film I've seen in ages, miles better than Oceans 12 (even comparaing them is offensive). M. Night Shayamalan's best film since Unbreakable, The Village is a great exploration of our desire to escape evil... and our complete inability to do so, however hard we try.

Films are often miss-sold. Good films all the more so. Fight Club bombed at the box office because of bad trailers that made out that it was a horribly violent film. That was a marketting thing. I suspect that with The Village it might have been that, but also a by-product of the twists that Night has made his trademark. The unfortunate thing is that I can't be doing with scary horror type films so I nearly missed out on seeing this one. Don't make that mistake.

I'd have seen The Village at the cinema but for not being grabbed by the trailer. And I expect its true that if we Christians more often told of the goodness of our good news the message might be more welcomed.

This week it has been fantastic to see Michael Ramsden testify about the good news of Jesus, with great passion and faithfulness. To see the reality of judgement (good news when you're on the right side of if) and the wonders of God's free grace... unsurprising that many have commitment their lives to Jesus Christ, entrusting themselves to him.

Faith is about putting our trust in what is real and reliably true. It is the response that God is looking for as he reveals himself to the world in the message of Jesus. And revealing that is the task we've been working at at Reading University this week, inviting people to explore the life of Jesus for themselves.

Life-Online

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Seeing it right

Imagine a photo, a crowded scene. I show you the picture and point out one of the people. I start raving about that person, telling you how amazing they are, things they said etc... That'd be great.

Except if I'm pointing them out in the background of a group shot at a family/friend's wedding and don't mention at all the couple getting married, and the relation of the person to the couple etc, then however great my story is I've not really told you what the picture is about, and I'll have insulted the friend/family whose wedding it is. Poor illustration perhaps, but hopefullly you get the picture! We need to view things in widescreen, we need to have the picture in focus.

And that has to happen when we come to the Bible... Fundamentally the Bible is a book about Jesus. However desperately we want it be about us it isn't, not firstly. It has great implications and demands for our lives but its not primarily about us and our lives. Seriously I mean that.

The book is all about Jesus, from Genesis to Revelation. All about Jesus. In some way or other the whole thing is a revelation from God about Jesus. Matthew's gospel then is a book about Jesus. If we top and tail it and read Matthew 1v1 and 28v18-19 we're introduced to this Jesus. In the first line we find the book of the origins of Jesus, son of Abraham and son of David. Here is the key figure in the book. Or try Mark's gospel - again 1v1, the good news about Jesus the Christ, the son of God (picked up again in chapters 8 and 16, identifying him as the Christ and God's Son). And so we could go on.... (can't resist one last example - Revelation, that apparently difficult scary book at the end of the Bible... read the first verse, seriously it makes the whole thing a bit more comprehensible...)

However many parallels we could hope to find to our own situations it is about Him! There are applications to us, there are situations where we can find parallels and models for life, but if we do that we must take care to keep the big picture in view. Where can we substitute ourselves in? Are we like the apostles? Are we like Jesus? Am I Peter? Can I walk on water? Do I know how to sail a boat across a lake?How do we decide between examples?

If we can see at all, we must see it right. Seeing that Jesus is the star of the story, the focus for our attention, the centre of every scene. When we view each verse, story and section within the context of its story, section, book and the whole Bible then we will keep him central. Then our reading will be life changing, our understanding will be developing over time rather than necessarily instant (2 Corinthians 3v18, perhaps?).

The best reading of the Bible (and teaching) will pursue the story passage by passage, building the context, looking at all of the Bible not just apparently easy or relevant sections. One passage at a time, one book at a time, getting hold of the simple message of the Bible. Jesus. And call me stupid, but I need simple! Complicated allegories and 10 step plans built out of 159 verses gathered together from across the Bible just leaves me confused. God gave us a book to be understood, delivered to us in books - not just lists of words.

In context, our reading will be true, not distorted nor twisted (however well meaning we might be.) We might want an instant Bible-hit to perk us up, but that kind of approach is decidedly me-centred, which is a bit offensive given the book is about someone rather more important and impressive than me. In context, we will be seeing it right.

For more see... Magic Books, Grocery Lists and Silent Messiahs: How rightly approaching the Bible shapes the entire Christian Life. fresh from the Internet Monk.

Friday, February 11, 2005

there has been an alarming increase in the number of things i know nothing about*

Today, Southampton. South East Team Days.
First up Nay shared with us findings from her study project - looking at "are miraculous gifts for today?". We looked at the four major views and chatted briefly about them. Helpful to try to better understand where other people are coming from on their own terms, and to think a little about how to do ministry in a CU context where all four major views may be represented.... Clearly no position is neutral, but how do we practically deal with the challenges that come from uniting across such convictions to do mission?

Somehow (not sure if it was by our design or not), the three Staff on the team have landed up having really controversial areas for our study projects this year. I was up first on Romans 9 and sovereignty, and in May we'll look at Women's Ministry with Kath. In the meantime I'm still trying to get started on "Preaching 2 Chronicles 1-7" - with all the challenges of Old Testament Narrative and the common, but I suspect slightly dubious, application of 2 Chronicles 7v14 that abounds today.

After some nice filter coffee, Krish Kandiah arrived from Elmfield and took us on a whistle-stop tour of the Wisdom Literature (Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes). It was really helpful to think about how we approach and consider Wisdom. How do you square apparently contradictory advice? What is wisdom? As always Krish was clear and inspiring and makes me want to spend time reading those books through soon. As he reminded us at the start, ALL scripture is God-breathed and USEFUL.

Related to the whole Wisdom question, I've also found Tim Chester helpful on Wisdom, On Answering a Fool at beginningwithmoses.org

* attributed to Winnie the Pooh

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Unimpressive Power and Foolish Wisdom

For the best part of fourteen years (from age four to eighteen) I went to church almost every week (it was basically weekly for the first ten, and probably monthly after that... either way...). For an hour per sunday I would go through the motions reading the Anglican liturgy. Great phrases, poetically arranged to enable the gathered crowd to affirm and declare their shared beliefs. Except, that four fourteen years this stuff just went over my head, or rather in my eyes and out my mouth without touching my brain, emotions or any other part of me. I just didn't get it.

Yesterday I was reading Jonah from the Bible with Steve - meeting God in his Word, over a cup of coffee.

One short sharp message of impending judgement and the people of Nineveh, perhaps the evilest people since Sodom and Gomorrah (maybe), are on their knees seeking mercy from God. Several hundred years later Jesus speaks far more words of judgement to a crowd of Jewish leaders, and they come begging for a sign to prove that Jesus has come from God - and then they might possibly consider believing him...

Utter blindness and deadness. Its my experience up to the age of 18, and it is the reality for so much of the world. That's what God says. The world is basically dead. The world is basically blind. And yet once in a while the dead come back to life, the blind regain sight.

Jesus confronts these sign-seeking religious leaders for their arrogance and evil, saying that the people of Nineveh will be able to condemn them for their lack of faith. The Ninevites had one bit of preaching and a prophet covered in fish-guts. These religious leaders will have had a lot more to hear, and will have the ultimate sign - Jesus death and resurrection. This Jesus portrays as sufficient power and wisdom, as God's power and wisdom - to bring people to life. No more signs are required beyond that.

A man on a cross, who died and then came back from the dead. That's the Christian message, and as I write now some seven years after those days of parroting liturgy I find myself back in the Church of England, again reading the words. Except something has changed. This time round these are the very stuff of life. These words about Jesus who died and then came back from the dead are the very power and wisdom of God. The most magnificient event in all of history, sublime and wonderful.

And this message, wrote the pioneering Paul in the New Testament, is the only message we have. It should be delivered clearly and persuasively, but ultimately this is the wisest wisdom, the strongest sign. And, Paul writes, the beauty of it is that it thwarts our pride and intelligence and self-justification. It makes perfect sense but it kills our stubborn hearts to believe it - to rest all our confidence upon a man on a tree. This message is where the power of God is found, where the wisdom of God is found.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Encouragement

Good news is encouraging. It's great to hear good news! It's encouraging because of its good content, and so it is with the good news about Jesus.

I've just spent some time with CU leaders from Reading University, we looked at 1 Thessalonians 4v13-5v18. I've come away really encouraged, which I think is the point! 4v18 and 5v11 both tell us to be encouraged in the light of what has gone before.

In the first section - the question of Christians grieving for Christians is addressed. We're told not to grieve like the world grieves. The difference is that we have hope. Hope, because Jesus has died and risen and is coming back - and when he does we will be with him! So be encouraged! And let us encourage one another with this good news!

In the second the issue is the timing of the end, people say its all peace and safety and that life will go on forever, but it will end. Such people will be surprised when Jesus comes. We don't know when he'll come, but since we know he will, we should not live unaware. Rather because Jesus return will mean life rather than judgement for Christians, we should live expectantly and ready - and whether we live or die this side of his coming, we will live with him. We should wear the life that we have in him. So be encouraged! And let us encourage one another with this good news!

This is the true ground for encouragement, the death, resurrection and certain return of Jesus. It is great ground for encouragement for all who believe in him, and a message of warning to those who are not.

Mission & Mercy, Rights & Responsibilies...

Yesterday was the start of a two week series looking at Mission & Mercy at church. The overwhelming message was the priority of preaching the gospel, since this meets the real need that people have. This surely isn't to the exclusion of helping them in their situation, with their immediate and felt-needs - but faces the reality that without the message of the Cross of Christ no real help is given. Krish Kandiah likens messageless mercy to putting a plaster over a cut on the finger of someone dying of cancer, when you have the cure for cancer.

I was chatting with Steve last week about how Christians should deal with justice issues. He raised his concerns over us helping on the basis of people's "human rights", rights to life and justice, and no poverty etc. I think I have to sympathise. Do we human beings really have any rights, but to be sent to hell for our rebellion against God? I wonder whether the more Biblical approach (which would have at least as much affect if not more) would be to speak of human responsibility to God, our accountability to him for the way we treat each other.

A Human Rights approach produces a thoroughly man-centred approach to mercy. A Human Responsibility approach produces a thoroughly God-centred approach to mercy. Surely, the God-centred approach raises the gravity of the issue and takes a worship-ful approach to the way we treat each other. The other approach is all about me and my rights, which verges on an appeal to idolatry - and is a very secular approach to the situation.

Mission and Mercy are essential, and only awakened by deep passion for, and joy, in God. The priority is gospel preaching - eternal help. Mercy must surely be on the basis of our accountability to God, upon our desire that he be seen to be big in our lives and the world.

"One who has understood the nature of responsibility has understood the nature of man. Responsibility is not an attribute, it is the substance of human existence."
Emil Brunner, cited in For God and His Glory; The Theology of Christian Rights and Freedom in 1 Corinthians 8:1-11 (David Gibson) at beginningwithmoses.org


Our greatest responsiblity of all is to turn from our rebellion against God, and to believe the good news that by Jesus death we can know God and enjoy him forever. If we start talking about our rights, we must face the facts that by rights we should all be in hell. The human rights scandal is that we don't get what we deserve, instead God shows us great mercy as he reaches out to us in Christ.

Life in Surrey

Last week (31 Jan - 4 Feb) was Life week at Surrey University, five days of intensified action to make Jesus known to students. The Christian Union there is a year-round mission team but once a year its resources are focussed on a series of extra events, publicity, conversation and surveying around campus. This raises the temperature a little and should spur ongoing work in the months following.

The week began encouragingly and continued as such. The lunchtime events with a short talk and open questions were well attended and at times had upto two thirds non-Christians attending. Our mass flyering prior to events was very influential in bringing people in.

It was great to make contact with lots of new people and as the mission continues over the next year our hopes is that eyes will be opened to see the good news about Jesus. An Alpha Course kicks off this wednesday and I hope that many of the good things of the last week can be continued.

Many thanks to Ian Marlow for speaking and to Rachel Gibson and her team for the hours of hard work they put into make it all happen, the CU guests, and to all the guys in the CU, for being the mission team, day in, day out.

For more see Life-Online
....next up Life at Reading University (14-18 Feb) with Michael Ramsden

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Thursday, February 03, 2005

"Preach the gospel and if necessary use words??"

This quote, (apparently falsely) attributed to St. Francis of Assisi - who was a preacher - is a common threat to evangelism today. It plays to our fear of speaking about Jesus, and to our sense of weakness and insufficiency to the task. It is however fundamentally flawed at so many levels... let me deal with six things! Whether Francis said it, or whether it contains useful teaching isn't my point. My concern is the way it is applied.

I believe in showing mercy and loving people and helping the poor, widow, orphan, immigrant. I do. Giving someone a meal isn't evangelism and giving them a Bible isn't filling their stomach. They are different things. Both are important. Both are necessary.

Firstly, why do you need to tell me not to use words?
It is endemic of assumed evangelicalism that we forget that each of us how know about Jesus did once hear about him. People insist on preaching that we need no preaching, this is very like the postmodern wordsmiths who proclaim the meaningless of words - and yet expect their own words to be clearly understood! People complain about indoctrination, but indoctrinating just means teaching - and everyone gets taught, and everyone has doctrines.

Secondly, the Bible makes it clear that Words are always necessary.
The very existence of the Bible indicates God's express intent to communicate with words. But more than that that it is by the speaking of the good news about Jesus that people will come to believe. In a society that still carries a little Christian-Culture we might forget our need to hear - but the fact remains that what we know is only known because we have been told. It is by God's spoken word that we know anything definitive about people. The first thing God did was speak, and his people are told to speak too. Paul's final word to Timothy (2 Tim 4v2) wasn't do the washing up, it was 'preach the word'.

Thirdly, using Words is not an alternative to living the life
Those who prohibit use of words do so in favour of living distinctively. This is a false distinction. It is not an option as to either preach or live, both are required! A related issue is, what does a life look like that is changed by Jesus. My suspicion is that its more than just moral respectability - we are probably more compromised with our western culture than we dare to admit. Without words people will not guess that we are Christian- since they will not know what Christian is. With only words our faith will not carry half the impact - Christians should be at the forefront of making the most of life, living it the way it should be, in the arts, creativity, justice and joy... for the glory of the gospel of Christ. How that works in practice is something we need to wrestle with! If we follow the 'great comission' in Matthew 28 the result will be both preachers and teachers but also those who live in accordance with Jesus' teaching. Live and speak.

Fourthly, Jesus told us to preach, disciple and teach.
All of these things require speaking and using words. The word revealed message of Jesus has to be verball explained. The apostles in Acts prove, persuade and convince people about Jesus, and whilst it takes God to open eyes we are still to argue the case. We should use words with care and seriousness that reflects what we're speaking about. Preaching is not an excuse for excessive confrontation or any rudeness in our explaining about Jesus. We should be clear and respectful, though we will inevitably cause some offence. See for example, 2 Timothy 4v2 (again), or Matthew 28v19-20.

Fifthly, yes, the message is offensive and foolish.
Often we appeal to St. Francis' words because we look at the messages of the world and think they are superior to ours... ultimately God gives us wisdom to confound the world's wisdom, and wisdom which Jesus himself says will not be understood by lots of people. People are blind to Jesus message, blinded by sin and by satan. But when the gospel is spoken God re-creates and heals this blindness. 1 Corinthians 1v18ff shows the folly of the gospel that generations have rejected because it didn't suit their itching ears (2 Timothy 4v4).

Sixthly, even if preaching is illegal we must do it.
The first apostles were banned from speaking about Jesus, they could not comply with this kind of request. Preaching the gospel might mean we end up in prison - that is just part of the deal. That's Acts 4v19-20 for example.

Let us use words to tell of Jesus, and let us live lives of gospel-shaped love - for the church and for those currently outside of the church.

Out of the office

I've been out of the office (not that I have an office) for the last couple of weeks... hence an absence of blogging. Bringing you up to speed then...

Meeting God in his Word
Last week as the second Relay conference of the year. We gathered in Ledbury to meet God in his word. Our focus was on Psalm 119, seeing the glory of the God of the Word in the Word of God. As we worked through the Psalm day by day it was exciting and challenging and eye-opening. We were faced with his delight in God's everlasting word, and with his honest reflection of his afflictinos. The desire of the Psalmist that God's name be lifted high, and his honest reflection that he does not always do that.

I was humbled at the end to see that the Psalmist acknowledging he has gone astray from God. Admitting he needs saving, not because be forgets God's word but rather knowing God's word he knows that he has sinned. The sin is so often less ignorance and more disobedience.

How true for us! And how much we must keep returning to God's Word, to see his glory and be convicted of our sin, and called to turn back to God once again for grace. I am a wretched sinner and God's grace is my only hope. O, if I could honour him the way he deserves... and yet I cannot.

Talking about Jesus in Guildford
This week has been University of Surrey Christian Union events week. They've held lunchtime talks with Ian Marlow speaking on hot topics, alongside a couple of evening events and surveying and flyering around campus. It's been a joy to see people getting stuck in, seeing them stepping out to talk about Jesus. And also a joy to see that many people are interested to find out more about Jesus. My hope is that this will be a beginning of more on-going, bold explaining of the gospel of the glory of Jesus over the coming year.

Currently reading: God's Lavish Grace (Terry Virgo); When I don't desire God (John Piper); The Diary of David Brainerd (ed. Jonathan Edwards)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

How to fight for joy



"the joy I write to awaken is the sustaining strength of Mercy, Missions and Martyrdom.... Christ will be glorified in the world when Christians are so satisfied in him that they let goods and kindred go and lay down their lives for others in Mercy, Mission, and, if necesary, Martyrdom. He will be magnified most among the nations when, at the moment Christians lose everything on earth, they say, 'To live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1v21)' - When I don't desire God p 20,21.