Uncategorized

A Letter to BS15?

I was reading the letters to the Churches at the start of Revelation (if you’ve not read them, they are only a couple of chapters (2-4) in the book of Revelation.

Great Advent Reading, great as a challenge, encouragement and a rebuke!

Have we ‘forsaken my first love’?

Have I become lukewarm and apathetic at times?

Have I sold out and compromised on issues of holiness at times?

Have I got too religious and lost focus between religion and Christ?

I wondered what the Risen Christ would say about Kingswood,  BS15, if he was writing us a letter today?

Now, it would be easy to rant about all my frustrations with a loud voice here…

Show the people God!

Pray for a reminder of God’s awesomeness, his power and might, but also his love for us all as individuals, the bible tells us that not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing about it, he even knows how many hairs there are on our head…

I remember my friend Jimmy Rocks being asked what he was passionate about, and I expected him to say “evangelism”, “signs and wonders”, “Discipleship” or “issues of justice”… -the kind of answers I’d have given- but instead he said this “the presence of God”.

Jimmy had grasped something, to often we often know about God, but we can actually know God, encountering him personally.

Something of that pearl of great price, worth giving up everything for, ultimately everything is about Jesus.

It’s not about seeking his hands, what he can do for us, but about seeking his face, seeking him for the sake of our love for him.

Encountering the presence of God, sensing his presence is the fuel that drives everything else, but when we seek God to simply re-fill us we miss the point of what actually it is all about.

We often pray that people will get inspired to be intercessors, or to be missional, or to serve in any way but unless this comes out of an overflow of our encounter and relationship with Christ then it could be simply good but empty works.

So pray afresh for Christians that we first are transformed by our daily renewing encounter with God.

That there is more than we have had before!

Pray that too often we live on yesterdays treasurers, and limit ourselves to the experiences of God we have already have had, God is constantly calling us to know more of him and experience more of him…

I once talked about not trusting a skinny chef, the image is that if we want to see other people encountering and falling in love with Christ then we need to be captivated and falling in love with him too, on a daily basis, going deeper.

Too often I think we get stale, and comfortable, when there is so much more to experience.

Moses says (reasonably late on his life) show me more of your glory, which is a great prayer, but then I thought he’s seen 12 plagues, the red sea part, a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, water coming out of rocks and the miraculous provision of manna and quale… and yet he says “show me more of your glory”.
Pray for unity…

Pray that unity is actually lived out amongst Christians loving one another and standing shoulder to shoulder in proclaiming Christ and making him known. Unity was the prayer of Christ in Gethsemene but yet we as Christians are so divided, separate, doing their own thing in their own way, and yet we never make it a priority to join together forgetting that this was Christ’s number one priority, the theme of his final quite time with the father that his Church should be “one and you and I are one”.

And I’ll close with a passage of scripture which never ceases to challenge me to “seek first God’s Kingdom”.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”  2 Chron.7.14.

 

 

Standard
prayer

A Simple Blog about Prayer.

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c]
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus wants his disciples to pray, in fact he really wants his closest mates to be praying for him as he approaches the toughest challenge of his life, and yet they are caught napping. When the need is greatest, the disciples are caught napping.

“being ready” is a major theme of Jesus’ teaching, describing his return like a thief in the night, telling parables of the careless bridesmaids who run out of oil (Oil -a symbol of the Holy Spirit) and aren’t around when the Bridegroom returns (Bridegroom -an image for Jesus), or the parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard. John the Baptist’s message was to get ready “prepare the way…  for the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand”.

Sadly, this can feel a bit like a picture of the modern day Church caught napping.

Yet could Christ say to us and our Churches “why are you sleeping” and would he challenge us to “get up and pray”.

When I arrived in Kingswood in the parish they had a million and one music groups, flower festivals, concerts and socials but not a single prayer meeting in either Church.

Yet sadly  prayer is seen as an optional extra, something just for the keenest. Yet could Christ say to us and our Churches “why are you sleeping” and would he challenge us to “get up and pray”.

Mark Rich says when he goes to a Church the first thing he does is look at the notice sheet and counts the weekly prayer meets as a barometer of the health of the Church.

Unless we have a supernatural element to who we are, we engage with God in prayer we are simply “A Rotary Club with a Pointy roof” to quote  Archbishop Justin.

Churches really  aren’t measured by their activity or grandeur of the building but in the depth of their relationship with God.

Archbishop Justin continues “without prayer there will be no renewal of the Church, and without a renewal of the Church, there is very little Hope for the world”.

A Church will never be a praying Church unless its component parts -its members- are praying, and I mean really pray, not politely going through the motions dutifully, but seeking God with all of our hearts, souls, mind and strength. A great quote from Pete Greig is our prayers need to be “more Fight Club and less Golf Club!”.

If you want your Church to be a praying Church, then the best advice I can give you is to pray.

Bring it into conversation, let’s pray about this, I’ll be praying for… I was praying… and let’s be Churches of testimony -when God answers our prayers, let’s share it with the Church to encourage and raise the faith of those around us.

And rather than just being a praying Church, let’s join with other Christians in our local area and pray with them and for them, as ultimately, we want to see the body of Christ in this area built up, encouraged and equipped.

As I wrote this I’m reminded of the image of the Roman Soldiers that stood together interlocked with their shields, the idea of needing one another, and fighting together, remembering the adage “united we stand and divided we fall” -so true in the context of prayer, particularly from this passage.

In seeking to encourage Church to go deeper, and become more prayerful, I have experienced some nastiness, opposition and resistance, and maybe you might too? In many ways we are being revolutionaries, our prayers re-write the spiritual DNA of our areas, our prayers are powerful and dangerous so of course Satan will try to keep us asleep rather than being awake and at prayer.

One quote from Mark Rich is “Satan laughs at our schemes, sneers at our plans, but he trembles when we pray”.

want us to be a Church that makes Satan tremble, don’t you?

Let’s ask ourselves are we as Churches (and as individuals) filling our lives with things that cause us to spiritually fall asleep and distract us from prayer and our relationship with God.

 Should we  keep doing them?

If the answer  is yes, what can we do to keep us awake, alert to the spirit and prayerful?

Let’s pray for a new wave of prayerfulness to sweep across this area and across our nation, let us be part of a new awakening in the Church of God at this time…

Let us wake up and get on our knees.

Standard
Jesus, priorities

Keeping the most important thing the most important thing.

I wrote recently about Church being US, you and me, living it out in community and relationship with each other, needing each other, and other people needing us.
The acknowledgement that we sometimes as individuals and community don’t get it right, but still with the challenge to seek to live it out. Ending with the prayerful challenge of John Wimber “Lord, Send Revival, Start with me!”
The sense of personal responsibility for the Church, our role within it, and our calling serve Christ and one another, to keep ourselves and our brothers and sisters sharp, as a friend once said “Contending for one another’s hearts”
I did the whole article without mentioning the words, Leader or Pastor or Vicar, because actually in one sense before the cross of Christ we are all equal, sinners in need of grace, we all have a calling, and I believe a calling to leadership is a call to serve, following the call of him who took a towel and washed his disciples feet.
In our culture Politicians talk about serving us, but really rule us, this shouldn’t be so for the Christian as the only one called to reign is that of Christ Jesus.
Christian ministers we are called to serve, as Jesus himself said: “I have not come to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many”.
Too often, as I have said before we have a model of leadership which looks more like Alan Sugar than Jesus Christ.
Yet we do need leaders.
I’ve seen Churches become leaderless, or their leader not step up to the plate, and an unlead Church doesn’t go anywhere,  the Church normally grinds to a halt… rust sets in, and the Church fossilizes.
Leaders need to lead.
If Moses had offered no leadership the people of Israel would still be slaves in Egypt.
If Nehemiah had not offered any leadership the walls of Jerusalem would not have been rebuilt.
If Jesus had not lead the Disciples you probably wouldn’t be reading this now.
Probably all of us lead in some form or another, but the key question is what and where are we leading God’s people in?
I did a course called the Arrow Course, A course designed for younger leaders, it’s strap-line was “To be LED BY Jesus, to LEAD like Jesus and to LEAD more too Jesus”.
Leadership centred in, through, by and to Jesus Christ is the kind of leader I want to be like. Christian leadership like everything in the Christian faith when boiled down to its key components should be totally and unapologetically ALL about Jesus.
If I wanted a biblical picture to try and sum up what I want my life to be all about, I’d choose the pearl of great price, a picture of giving up everything for Jesus, I’d like to be the kind of person who if I was a stick of rock has the words JESUS emblazened through my very core… I know I fall short of this many times, but that’s got to be the vision.
“The Vision is Jesus”, it’s not about me.
Yet we end up with the same problem we have with Church, we want something divine, and we encounter something very human, because his followers are people with treasures in jars of clay.
The joke in clergy circles is every Church wants the Arch-Angel Gabriel to come along and be their Vicar!
 We know that we as leaders are human, and are fallen, and yet almighty God does choose to work through you and me, when we come and make ourselves available to him.
To quote an old cliché “God is more interested in your availability than ability”…”God is not limited by your limitations”…
It is about following Christ where-ever he leads, as faithfully as we can, in partnership with one another, iron sharpening iron as one person sharpens another.
Leaders need people like you and me, to pray for them, to bless and encourage them, to (in love) challenge and inspire.
Leadership is all about these questions, what is God doing now? What is God saying now? Where is he leading now? Will you go?
The Green Cross Code Hedgehog used to say “STOP, LOOK, LISTEN and STEP OUT“…
That’s what Christian leadership is all about, stopping and looking and listening to what God is doing and then taking the step of faith, out of the boat, to where God is leading…
This part that needs us to ask God for bravery and courage, faith spelled by John Wimber as R-I-S-K.
One of the greatest leaders in the Bible is King David who is described as a man after God’s own heart, the book of Ezekial talks about God giving us a new heart, his heart, of flesh not stone, a heart where God has put his Spirit within it.
A dangerous prayer is “God break my heart for what breaks yours”.
What is God saying, what is doing, where is he leading, will you?
And will you keep going no matter what is thrown in front of you?
The problem most leaders start of okay, but it’s not just how you begin that matters, being a Christlike leader is not just about starting well, but continuing well, walking in the footsteps of Christ.
Recently I re-read James Laurences wonderful book growing leaders and he talks about how leaders start off okay, but sadly many

Fade out

Fall out

Sell out
Burn Out
Fade Out, ‘loose your first love’ end up from longing to see heaven invade earth and God’s Kingdom advance, to plodding on keeping the flower arrangers happy, not quitting but  that spark has gone, the fire has petered out, and nothing is happening other than a disillusioned show on the road shuffle towards retirement.
Sell Out, compromising truth for the sake of popularity and comfort,  bowing to pressure when society and biblical values part company or bending to whatever theological pressure group shots the loudest. The Civil Service talking of breaking a new government minister with the phrase “house trained”… Let’s not be house-trained!
Fall Out, how many leader do we hear who cash and burn, sex/money/power takes another scalp of someone who started off in love with Jesus and seeking to serve him, but whom the enemy has taken out the game, because they didn’t realise their vulnerability and take precautions.
Burn Out… Similar in many ways to fall out, but without the sex/money/power scandal, but crash and burn through exhaustion, depression and disillusionment.
The truth is that all of us can in our faith can FADE OUT, FALL OUT, SELL OUT or BURN OUT, just as our leaders can.
I’ll close by something I came to see when I worked in rehab about leadership, the group was lead by an alcoholic in recovery, he was a ‘wounded healer’ but yet he’d  been sober for many, many years but still didn’t take his recovery for granted.
We may be broken people, yet God’s power is bigger than our brokenness, in fact our weakness enables and strengthens our dependence on the only one who truly is faithful and trust-worthy. He is only one that can ‘keep you from falling’… ‘he who will not let your footslip’ -the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
Standard
Acts of Service, Blessing, Jeremiah 29

Seek the Good of the City…

Jeremiah 29. This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin[a] and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.)3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

This passage is well know for the last bit, which is often used as a message of hope and a reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness…

So the people from Jerusalem are pretty depressed, they are in exile from the promised land and are really unhappy.

God’s message to them is one of hope, he WILL restore their nations and take them back home, but for now they are to stay put and wait.

Wait. If any of you have had a ‘wait’ message from God, it’s pretty tough, it’s only later (or maybe the other-side of eternity) that we understand why we didn’t get what we wanted when we wanted it.

Wait is a hard message, as we all are, by nature, a bit impatient -at least I know I am.

Yet what are they to do in the mean time? 

Kick their heels and do nothing? 

Play solitaire on the computer?

No, God tells them to put down roots, marry, build  homes, have kids…

Too often when we wait, we forget that the journey is also part of God’s call, people fix on the goal and not on the lessons God wants to teach us, shape us and mould us as we get there.

Sometimes, -and this is a bit shocking, but sadly I believe true- people do a ‘bargain’ with God where they say “you provide what I want, and then I’ll serve you”… forgetting who they are talking too… Our lives are not on hold until God fulfils his promise to us.

Mike Piliavachi talks about waiting for the call to ’employed church youth based work’ and said that it wasn’t until he began to realise the value of his job and the importance of the people he was working with that God answered his prayer and opened up a job at his local church.

I believe that God has called you where he has called you, on the various front-lines of your home, work, social spaces where-ever, and he’s saying to you to commit to the places he has called you, put down roots, roll your sleeves up and become part of these communities.

Too often I fear that Christians are in ‘bubbles’ where their home could be anywhere because they don’t know their neighbours, their work colleagues they get on all right with but its all a bit superficial really, and the only community they are part of it the Church community, which sadly often becomes and insular and inward looking group…

Jesus is saying get out there, take the risk of developing real relationships with those around you, which risks being hurt, rejected and maybe costly  -but also has the potential to be fruitful, life giving and blessed.

‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city’ (or community) -sometimes Christians can be too heavenly minded for any earthly use… and when you talk to some of them, it’s almost like their gospel is waiting to die, rather than being called to bring something of heaven to earth… I think we have tagged the wrong verse as the great commission, we think its Matthew 28 “go into all the world and make them my disciples”, but I think our great commission actually comes earlier in Jesus’ prayer “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”, this is Christ’s mission statement, bringing in the Kingdom -which of course has making disciples as a core tenant of this, but actually is broader and bigger…

I was asked when I was interviewed for radio Bristol about meeting the spiritual or practical needs of the parishioners through street pastors… thinking about this later, I wished I’d rejected the premise of the question: people aren’t split into ‘spiritual’ and ‘secular’ bits, and since the incarnation (Jesus coming as a human) there is no longer a spiritual/not spiritual divide.

The Jewish idea of Salvation is the word Shalom -peace or wholeness- I remember doing some touring schools work with a Christian rock band (think a Christian-ish busted, but lovely guys) around the midland’s with a band called ‘My Spoon’… And they sung the Girls Aloud song “Whole again” -with an ironic nod towards Jesus… wholeness. To often we in Churches talk about getting people to ‘pray a prayer’ -which is good, don’t get me wrong- but actually that’s the START of the journey rather than the END! In fact when you are cold and hungry, are you able to concentrate on a salvation preach.

‘Faith without works is dead’… Christians aren’t called just to preach good news, but actually live it, BEING good news.

I heard a story of this nightmare Australian village, which the government pumped money into to try and turn it around, to not much success… what turned it around? Someone who planted a Church, and took discipleship seriously, saw the aboriginal guys get sober, walked with them enabling them to become whole in Christ…

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city, one of the biggest indictments I have against my theological college was it had all the missional rhetoric, but even though the local area had about 90 Christians living locally, the community didn’t feel any different.

We are called to be salt and light. We are called to be changers and transformer of community.

After-all when you sprinkle salt on your steak, you don’t say this salt tastes steaky, but rather  this steak tastes salty… we are called to be people that impact the community.

I long for the day the councils eyes light up every time a new Church is planted in their patch as they can see Christians bless their community, the more Christians here the more the community looks and feels like heaven… The more we are visible and obedient, the more of God’s Kingdom we will see break in on earth as it is in heaven, in Kingswood as it is in heaven.

And then this brings us to the famous bit of the passage, we are called to be where God has placed us, and in many ways it will feel uncomfortable, as it is not our home, we are ‘alien ambassadors’ as our rightful home of best fit for us is heaven, and yet we are called to ‘carpe diem’ ‘seize the day’, waiting for Christ’s return and the break through of his Kingdom… but we have this promise that what we are doing is not pointless or waiting in vain, for God is faithful, he’s not dropped us in this situation as a kind of sick game. God is good, all the time. He loves us and he is a faithful God with whom there is always hope, a God who wants to be found by us in our waiting, in the struggles with living out Kingdom lives in a broken, fallen and occupied land he says to call on him and he will answer.

So I will conclude, by saying in many ways all of us are exiles awaiting the promised land, some of us feel more in exile than others as we wait for God to make good on a promise, or something that we desperately long for. Yet let us seek God in this journey, make the most of our waiting, serve him faithfully, put down roots where he has called us, build relationships and settle down where you have been called rather than have your eyes on to clock/door (when he wants to move you, he’ll let you know and will sort it out, you don’t need to stress). Remember  he is faithful, he is good, with him there is always hope, he longs to be found by you as you search and reach out to him… and remember that he is a God of rescue who loves us.

Standard
Repentance, Sorry

The hardest word…

One of the most challenging verses I find is “when you go to offer your gift at the altar and you know your brother or sister has something against you, first go and be reconciled before offering your gift”. These come from the lips of Jesus himself.

Do people have something against you? (Very different from you justifying your own conduct to yourself).  Is there someone, or a group of people, who maybe you need to offer out a hand of friendship and reconciliation to? Perhaps people are missing from our fellowships because of things we have said or done?  Is their hurt or damage that needs (as far as you are able) to be repaired and restored?   Maybe at Christmas write a note within a Christmas card to mend areas that have been broken? Perhaps too let’s go the extra mile offering a hug, or a present to show the sincerity of our apology and desire to see the family United.

The hardest word is to say the word sorry to one another, yet we confess together each Sunday in our liturgy, yet I do wonder sometimes whether deep down we actually believe we ourselves are sinful. Jesus wants his Church to seek first the Kingdom of God and to be “one as you and I are one” –unified- and this was the prayer of Christ, sweating blood at the Garden of Gethsemene.

Sometimes pain can leave us deadlocked, two people or groups have a blind spot unable to see the others point of view, maybe in that horrible and messy situation you need to be the bigger and better person and reach out? It’s a risky thing as although Christians should want to be reconciled with one another sadly the fallen-ness of this world and our on fractured humanity means it doesn’t always happen as it should.  Yet forgiveness is so important not just because it pleases God, but also because unforgiveness literally eats us up inside.

Scripture says “by this all people will know you are my disciples that you love one another”, as we think of Jesus the very embodiment and personification of love, love with skin on.

A challenge for 2017 is for us all to be more like Christ; to be that community that looks like him, that acts like him, that welcomes like him, that is generous like him, that speaks like him in love, truth and kindness, that goes the extra mile, and does so with a smile.

Standard
5 Fold Ministry -Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers (Eph. 5), Humility, identity, Isaiah 6, Pioneer, Pride

Words, Language and Titles…

A week ago I was at a really thought provoking meeting at the Diocese thinking about pioneer ministry.

Yet the thing that struck me  is the language, words, names and labels we use actually acts can be really unhelpful.

Gideon was called by the angel as a “Mighty Warrior” and didn’t see himself as Israels military leader after-all “I am the least in my family and my family is the least in Manasah”… Yet Gideon was a Mighty Warrior as he step out in faith (after a fair bit of encouragement from God) he stepped into the Identity that God had called him to, the gifts, skills and talents that lay within him, unseen and unrecognised.

Some of us at times can be a little like Gideon struggle with self doubt, and doubting of our calling, or other times we have our own ideas and expectations of ourselves. A type of false humility can easily exist and we can mistakenly think as virtuous but actually keeps us from becoming all that God wants us to be.

I wonder how many pioneers -or perhaps apostles, evangelists, teachers and prophets exist within our Church but would rule themselves out, or not be confident in embracing who they are before God?

I wonder too how many pioneers, -or perhaps apostles, evangelists, teachers and prophets exist within our Churches  but the Church communities sadly often don’t realised, acknowledged and embrace these gifts… (I think those with a pastoral gift most churches are reasonable at recognising, but often sadly many are less good at recognising the other characteristics).

Intestestingly both Isaiah (Is.6) and Jeremiah (Jer.1), both prophets who really needed Gods help to find their voice, Isaiah even has a vision of a cereph touching his lips with a burning coal… I wonder how many of us need Gods help to find our voice, especially our prophetic voice? Often the prophetic feels scary, we say things that other people don’t alwyas “get” or “understand”, sometimes to give a prophetic word takes a lot of courage of bravery.

Yet sometimes labels aren’t always helpful, one of my friends who was  evangelist, was told he was a good evangelist and for a few weeks went tactlessly crashing into conversations bible bashing in the most to-curling way imaginable, a million miles away from the normal  conversations he had been having. Sometimes Gods call on our lives can get limited when our egoes get over-inflated “pride coming before a fall”.

I don’t think these gifts, calling and ministries were meant to be given so that we can strut around like peacocks, and I’ve blogged before at how uncomfortable I am when perhaps there is too little walking deeply with the spirit and too much ego and testosterone flying around. The Growing Leaders Course sas “Charisma and Competence without Character creates Catastraphy”. A verse that don’t quote often enough but occurs repeatedly in scripture is “God opposes the proud but lifts up the humble”.

Humility I believe can be best be described as “coming into agreement with God about ourselves”, Paul’s epistle to the Church in Rome urges us “not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought” in fact Paul urges “to think of the needs of others”, God doesn’t give gifts to massage our egos but rather to build up the body of Christ.

To move in the call that God has placed on us we need to come to a place of maturity, not just letting God work through us, but more painfully and more challenging is letting God work in us.

Often too, God gifts us but we have to get ourselves prepared to be used by God, we won’t be effective as a Bible teacher unless we delve deeply into Gods word, nor will we ever move in the prophetic unless we pray and become used to listening to Gods voice, and we never be trusted with leadership of Gods people unless we learn how to serve and follow faithfully.

Too often I fear too many Chritians stay too much in the shallow end of their faith, nor are prepared to invest in the walk with Christ to really know what the potential God has placed within them, like the tragic  tale that Jesus told of the foolish man  who buried his talent in the ground. Potentially great evangelists  who never really talk about their faith, teachers who haven onthing to pass on, prophets who haven’t attuned their ear to the voice of God, apostolic leaders who’ve never learned that the first come last and a biblical model for leadership involves a towel and a bucket washing crap of the foot of disciples who may dessert you, and may betray you.

So, let’s think about how we can be the culture in the soil of discipleship whereby people can be empowered, grow and thrive in their faith, where the people of God are built up and Gods Kingdom grows and flourishes… Counting ourselves in to Gods plan and purpose for his plan in our lives in his world.

Standard
Uncategorized

Recognising the Kingdom when it comes…

I love it when people reply and give me feedback, I don’t mind when people disagree with me, for me the most important thing is that people wrestle with what it means and how it looks in reality of everyday living to be a follower of Christ.

I posted a message about the research that shows that rather than trying to grow bigger trees a more fruitful way to see people come to faith and fullness is by planting small shrubs, and talked about people mistake growth through transfer as people coming to faith.

I got a comment reminding me of the verse which says “seek first the Kingdom of God” and maybe God is calling some people to pastor mega churches (and some mega churches are replanting in areas of deprivation where historically often the church has fled to the suburbs and now are returning which I believe must bring joy to the heart of God).

Yet as I thought about this more I began to think I wonder how much of this is to do with our own ideas of what it means for the Kingdom to come?

When Jesus came the first time the people were expecting a bit of a cross between Arnold Swatzeneggar and Tony Blair (A warrior and a politician rolled into one much like King David was) and yet he was born in poverty, “had no where to lay his head” and died upon the cross for our sins. Many people missed what God was doing throug Christ because of their beliefs of what that coming  of the Messiah would look like.

When we pray Lord the your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven often God’s answer to that prayer doesn’t look like we think it does.

I read a great quote from Pete Greig who says “God doesn’t really do nostalgia” in other words God rarely does the same thing in the same way twice.

Sometimes we expect what God to do to look like we have always seen it before, Kingdom coming means large building and a fab sound system… When it might be the call to do a service in a nursing home bringing elderly and often forgotten people to know and re-connect with Christ’s love for them.

Maybe we think Christ’s coming in our lives might end up with us as a pastor of a church, when perhaps God is calling us to the vital roles of kids or teenage ministry, or perhaps the soup run or Foodbank?

Perhaps a prayer we can pray today is, “Lord, I want to seek first your Kingdom, and Lord help me recognise it when we see it begin to break in so that I can have the privildge and joy of being a part of what you are doing”.

 

Standard