Thursday, 16 December 2010

What in the World am I doing?

This week is the Crosslinks SMILE gap year training conference. There are teams of Gap Year Students heading off to the Gambia, Uganda and Thailand, all on programmes where Evangelism, Service and Discipleship are key.

I popped over to give some talks on Mission. An afternoon session, broken into 3 mini-sessions from Isaiah, Luke and Acts.

We had a lot of fun, starting off by designing 'World Problem' Top Trump cards, thinking about presenting problems in the world. We then saw what God is doing in the world, in Isaiah 66, from which we were able to draw up a time-line, from when Isaiah received his revelation, through to Jesus's return, and his bringing in of the New Creation, and the eternal judgement. Then we filled in the timeline with how God achieves his mission of gathering a people from all nations to see his glory, 1) through sending a sign, the Lord Jesus, 2) through sending out people who have witnessed the sign, to declare God's glory out to the nations...

A break of light relief before looking at Luke 19, and Jesus' coming to earth to seek and to save the lost... by teams attempting to seek and save the lost (a jelly baby of course - in bowls of squirty cream)... using only their mouths... messy and hilarious! Then diving into Luke 19 thinking about Jesus' priority... proclaiming his message: good news to the rich, good news to the poor... good news to the well-fed, good news to the hungry... good news to the oppressed, good news to the oppressor... it's all about whether we see people as Jesus sees people - lost! For only two category will matter on that final day - those who submit to the Lord Jesus, and those who live as rebels and traitors to Him.

Next, groups headed outside, with a box of matches. A member of the group had to light a match, and tell their group members the gospel, before their fingers burnt... some hilarious squeals, screams and people totally crumbling under the apparent pressure of holding a lit match.

Then back together again, for a look at Acts 1 and 2, seeing how Jesus sends the disciples out to all nations (just as we were expecting from Isaiah)... and how then we today are equipped, with the Holy Spirit, and the disciples message (looking at the gospel content from the latter half of Acts 2)... to go out to all nations... while Jesus continues to work from his heavenly throne room...

Awesome time... real encouragement to see young people, eager to align themselves with God's agenda, of taking the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, to all nations...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

His Kingdom...not yours

Been doing some work on 1 Peter for a CU talk in a couple of weeks... seems that Peter wants to give the Christians confidence, that while their life is now difficult, tough, pressured and as they are marginalised simply for being obedient to Jesus... so they need reassurance to stand firm... in 1:1-12, that confidence seems to be: God is for them (he chose them); they have an awesome, secure future ahead of them that will never perish, and not be taken away from them; and that even through trials - they can rejoice, deeply, for the most precious thing they have - their faith - is being refined to make it stronger, more beautiful, more pure...

They're exiles... in the world, but not of the world - set apart, marked out, as being obedient to Jesus. And that obedience to Jesus causes them to be reviled, mocked and maligned... but that should not be a surprise to them, for it is the pattern that Christ himself sets up, follows and experiences (as foretold in the prophets) of suffering in this world, but glory in the future world... that living hope, that awesome inheritance.

Reminds me of this quote (from Tripp):
"Jesus didn't give you his grace, to make your kingdom work... he gave you his grace, to invite you to a better kingdom!"

"this is the true grace of God... stand firm in it!" 1 Peter 5:12

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Training Church

Some helpful and thought-provoking quotes from Trellis and Vine, ch6 (The heart of training):

Training forms not only beliefs and abilities, but also character and

Training is loving someone enough to want to see them grow and
flourish, and being prepared to put in the long-term, faithful work
that will (in God's mercy) see that happen.

We are always an example to those whom we are teaching and training,
whether we like it or not. We cannot stop being an example. One of the
key tasks for the pastor and elder is to frame their lives so that
they serve as godly models for others - which is why most of the
requirements laid down for elders in places like 1Tim3 and Titus1
relate to character and lifestyle.

We are to set an example in striving for holiness, not in displaying
perfectly achieved holiness.

In relational training, the hearts of both trainer and trainee are
exposed. As we train ministers of Christ's word, we don't measure
progress simply by the performance of tasks, but by the integrity of
the heart.

Trainees likewise need to see into the heart of their trainers - the
sins and confessions, the fears and faith, the vision and realities,
the successes and failures. The life and ministry of the trainer is
the model for he trainee - not perfection but of godly desires in an
earthen vessel. This requires an honest, open sharing of our lives.

Programs and packages can provide a very helpful framework for
training. However, to make real progress in helping the Christians in
your congregation become "encouragers", they need more than a six-week
course. They need the example of seeing it done; and they need the
personal instruction and mentoring and prayer that addresses the
spiritual issues at the heart of becoming an "encourager". This takes
time and personal attention - before, during and after the structured
training opportunity.

The Trellis and the Vine is written by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, published by matthiasmedia