Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The heart of mission

In Total Church, Tim Chester writes

"They [the words of Jesus in Matthews Gospel] make it clear that it is Jesus and his word that are the very heart of mission. He is the one to whom authority has been given; he is the one who commands his disciples to go; his name is among those into which people are baptised; it is his teaching that people are to obey; he is the one who will be with them as they go. At the heart of world mission is Jesus and the gospel word." [pg99]

At the heart of mission and world mission is Jesus and His word. You cannot separate them. You cant have the Gospel without Jesus and Jesus without His word. 

This should help us to focus not on ourselves but to the heart of our evangelism - Jesus and the lost. And if at the heart is Jesus then it must be relational and therefore our evangelism is relational. Its about relationships. Its not about just quick fixes of the Gospel in forms of megaphones or free tea and coffee. Our evangelism and our mission has to be deeper then that or we are no better then the loveless adverts that pop up on our TV screens - offering paradise but not the warmth of a relationship or community, which we actually really need. 

"Rethinking evangelism as relationships rather than events radically changes this. Evangelism is not an activity to be squeezed into our busy schedules"  [Total Church, Tim Chester, pg 63]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alpha Day in London

On Thursday I went to London for an Alpha day on Friday. I thought I would capture the days in some pictures from the train up to the conference.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Being Gospel Centered

Tim Chester writes in "Total Church" -

"Being gospel-centred actually involves two things. First, it means being word-centred because the gospel is a word - the gospel is news, a message. Second, it means being mission-centred because the gospel is a word to be proclaimed - the gospel is good news, a missionary message" (pg16)

He goes on to write how this impacts our everyday lives...

"The challenge for us is to make the gospel the center of our lives not just Sunday mornings, but on Monday mornings. This means ending distinctions between "full timers", "part timers" and people with secular employment...We need non full-time leaders who can model whole-life, gospel centred missional living. It means thinking our workplaces, homes and neighbourhoods as the location of mission. We need to plan and pray for gospel relationships. This means creating church cultures in which these are normal, celebrating day to day gospel living in the secular world and discussing how we can use our daily routine for the gospel"  (pg36)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To render your heart

 To rend your heart is not a common word we use or a word that we perhaps know the full meaning of. In the book of Joel, chapter 2, the Lord says:

[12]“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
        “return to me with all your heart,
   with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;  
[13] and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
 (Joel 2:12-13 ESV)

It would be too easy to see "rend your heart" as more of a "give your heart to the Lord". But when you look at the meaning of the word "rend", there is something quite shocking and striking about it.

To rend means to "tear (something) into pieces" or to "cause great emotional pain to" (Oxford Dictionary). To rend means more then I thought, which was to give everything to God. However it actually means to tear into pieces. And here God is saying that our hearts need to be torn into pieces instead of our garments. This makes sense if we know from other stories in the Old Testament where it was common to tear clothes and put on sackcloth as a sign of repentance. But the problem with this is that it can be counted as just another religious thing we do to justify ourselves with. But God wants more then just an outward sign of repentance - he wants our hearts to be torn, deeply repenting and feeling sorrow as a sign of turning back to God.

Isn't that astounding? God was calling Israel back to Him and be truly repentant, which can echo in our lives today. It is easy to go through religious emotion with our hearts never flinching. Yet within a relationship with Jesus, our hearts are warmed by the Gospel and they are called by the Gospel to be torn and broken in repentance because of how disgusting sin is and yet feel the soothing joy of the Gospel because of the reality of forgiveness on the Cross.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Appetite or Conviction?

You know when something isn’t right. You can hear that voice inside you saying that this may not be a good idea. But you find your desires wanting what is in front of you – they scream at you to indulge yourself. Go on… what harm can it do? Just once? Did God actually say it was a sin…?

Lets role back to Genesis 3. The serpent isn’t stupid; in fact he is crafty and knows how to play the game of desire and he does this through advertising and appealing to mans appetite. He makes death look beautiful and disobedience sexy. He plays on the appetite of man and woman to serve themselves and break covenant with God. Through listening to their appetites instead of the conviction of Gods word, they found themselves naked and ashamed. Sin lies and reaps devastation.

But isn’t our appetite tasty? Don’t we love the pull of lust and the forbidden fruit? There is always that temptation to go for what will please our desires especially if they are screaming at us to give it a go.

Imagine if you had a choice between watching or ignoring a film which you know contains sex scenes that will cause you to stumble. The choice seems obvious. But your appetite for seeing it and your desires bring up excuses –

  1. I will watch it in order to engage with themes and topics for Gospel outreach.
  2. I will fast forward through the sex scenes
  3. I will only watch it once and maybe in secret so no one knows.
  4. Maybe it won’t affect me much…just this once.

But your convictions scream at you not to watch it. Not to gratify the desires of the flesh. To flee from temptation. Your conviction knows that this may lead you into sin and cause you to stumble and cause you heartache. The Holy Spirit is placing convictions on your heart. But who will you listen to? Yourself or God?

I was challenged about this at Staff Orientation and Forum and how important it is to never go with appetite but always go with conviction. This isn’t just related to movies with sex scenes, but also shopping, internet porn, gossip, books, what you do, late nights etc… and although I am convinced that you cannot do this alone, but only through the Holy Spirit – by walking in the Spirit as Paul describes in Galatians 5. However you do have a responsibility as to whether you will listen and act with the conviction presented to you or go with your appealing appetite. Which is better?

Monday, September 06, 2010


I am now off to Forum for a week! Please pray for sunshine....!!!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

How to enjoy Relay Homestart...

This time last year I was getting ready to go on my next adventure by doing Relay Homestart in Peru. I know all the feelings of being excited, nervous, unsure, insecure, scared, happy, sad to leave friends etc... with a million emotions all in one I knew I would be boarding that plane soon with no language skills and no real understanding of what it means to live in a different culture and really no idea of what I was really doing. So as I am guessing that some of you will be feeling these things at some point, I want to write a quick guide on how to enjoy and make the most of Relay Homestart - whether that's in Europe or China or South America...

  1. Pray and continue praying - this may sound like a given. But we are sinful creatures that like to draw upon Gods help at the start and then when we get use to the culture and the language, suddenly God can be out the picture. Don't be complacent, continue praying and bring everything to God  
  2. Don't expect it to be like Relay - On Relay you had amazing support every week, you had theology to read, students to meet up with and conferences to build fellowship. But its all different on homestart, don't expect it to be like Relay at all - you may not get weekly support and it will take you a while before you can speak the language enough to be able to meet up with students one to one. This wont be like fitting on a glove. You are not the star relay worker in your university spouting Grace and Grudem. Your the foreigner that cant speak the language. But there are lots of advantages for it not being like Relay and you will find them out.
  3. Jump into the culture - The Culture your going into is different and can seem scary and you may get culture shock. The only way I dealt with this is by not shutting myself away but being apart of the lives of others in the culture. I was living with a family and so I joined in on everything the family was doing - watching TV with them, going to church events, going shopping with them etc...although I couldn't speak Spanish, my actions and my time shared with them proved to be shouting louder then words. So join a youth group or prayer group, join in with a family, be with different people and don't just hang out with English speaking people. Also try and eat everything or at least a bite - it shows your willing to try things. 
  4. Don't live on Facebook - Its very tempting to hide yourself away on facebook everyday. My suggestion is to not touch facebook for the first month - your friends will understand. Its more important that you get to know people where you are living then keep updated on the facebook feed. Your relationships where you are will be better off. 
  5. Enjoy the Differences - everything will be different - smells, food, people, clothes... but don't be cynical - its easy to believe that the English culture is always right, but you will see that its not and there is so much to learn in the differences. At times it will be frustrating, but as much as you can enjoy the differences - don't complain about them to other people, but let your words be encouraging and pure. 
  6. Your Identity is in Jesus - This is a huge lesson I learned. It is very easy to place your worth and Identity in everything but Jesus. You will want to place it in your language skills or how many one to ones you have or what you are doing compared to everyone else. But quickly you will see that when you place your worth in those things you will fall apart because they will not stand up - your language will fail, you will find yourself at times doing nothing or not knowing what to do! But Jesus will always remain and if your identity is in Him you will not fall and he will never fail you. Ever. 
  7. Don't expect to stay in touch with everyone - Some people are good at keeping in touch, some are not. Some will be annoyed that you are not emailing them everyday. The truth is, is that you wont have time to be keeping in touch with everyone and that's a reality that you will have to not feel guilty about. 
  8. Read your bible - Keep yourself in the word even if you don't have a routine. You will find that church wont be a place where you can get either teaching you understand or teaching that's going to feed you. But the Word of God will feed you. Keep in his word, enjoy His word, Delight in his Word, Weep over His Word and Rejoice that you have the Word of God in your hands. 
  9. Be prepared for crazy emotions - At times you will find yourself so happy your skipping down the road and then the next moment you are crying. You will feel alone and then very loved. This is normal, so don't worry. But remember your emotions are not reliable - but God is. Your emotions go up and down but God stays the same. God is still God. That is a good truth to hold on to. Don't be subject to your emotions, but know that God uses you in your weakness and when you are alone, you are actually very close to Jesus. 
  10. Love - Love the people, love the fruit lady, love your team mates, love other missionaries, love the crazy drunk man on the street, love the unlovable, love Jesus and do everything in Love. And enjoy every moment.