Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Safer Sex Ball?

Logo

It's one of the most talked about social events on the student calender at Exeter. People are willing to wait for hours to get their tickets. This year all the 2,800 tickets were sold in around an hour. It is billed as an event to raise awareness for World Aids Day - The Safer Sex Ball.

Each year you hear the stories of people dressing erotically and getting drunk beyond recognition. I remember in my year a guy wrapped himself in cling film and went dressed as a condom! Apparently he had a long cold naked walk home.

As a pastor who works with students, I am sometimes asked, "Do you think Christians should go to the Safer Sex Ball?" Here are some thoughts...

As a Christian guy the main question I want to ask is, How can I walk with Jesus most effectively? Walking with Him means loving people, but it does not mean that I participate in all other people do. It means being involved in culture but not being 'of' the culture.

As I ponder how I can live for Christ best, I'm not sure what good can come out of me going to something like this. I don't want to see the (future) wife of another man dressed in this way. I don't want my mind to be filled with sexual images which should be reserved for marriage. I trust Him with sex! I want to keep myself for my partner for life.

I do however want to share life, get to know people and have fun in life. I want to bless and help wherever I can. I'm sure I can live for Christ without putting myself in a position which is particularly unhelpful. There are plenty of good opportunities which do not have such a cost.

So my advice is to give it a miss... particularly if you are a Christian guy... give it a miss!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Carrying burdens

Christians are called to live differently.

One of the key areas of life in which we get to express this is through generosity. I'm told statistically that generosity is not linked to wealth. It is all to do with who you are.

Jonathan Edwards writes a great essay on charitable giving. One of the most challenging things I found was him writing about giving when it costs you.


"In many cases, we may, by the rules of the gospel, be obliged to give to others, when we cannot do it without suffering ourselves. As if our neighbor’s difficulties and necessities be much greater than our own, and we see that he is not like to be otherwise relieved, we should be willing to suffer with him, and to take part of his burden on ourselves. Else how is that rule of bearing one another’s burdens fulfilled? If we be never obliged to relieve others’ burdens, but when we can do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbor’s burdens, when we bear no burden at all?"

I'm glad Christ took my burden on his shoulders on the cross. I'll be looking for opportunities to walk in his foosteps as I become more like him :-) 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I hope by the end of my life...

I hope by the end of my life at least some of these qualities will be evident in my life. I used this in the introduction to my sermon on Sunday. It's a description of some of the earliest Christians in the Epistle of Diognetus...

“They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.



nice Bish!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

It is with your life you gamble...

Sometimes we don't ask enough questions.

What am I living for? Why? How did I get here? Where did others go as they followed this path? Who am I trusting? Why?

It is with our own lives we gamble.

In January we want to ask some questions of the God of the Bible to see how he compares with other choices people are taking.

We are asking the question, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" We are looking to ask as many people as possible for honest answers and then build our January teaching around these questions.

I think we all have questions for God whoever we are.

So, If you could ask God one question, what would it be?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Snapped Tendon

"Can't believe you played touch rugby and ended up in hospital. You've changed."

Yes I snapped a tendon in my right ring finger playing tag rugby. Rubbish. I had surgery on Monday. They found the tendon at the bottom of finger and were able to re-attach it. It seemed to go well. I have never been under for an op before.

Other than waking up Tuesday morning in considerable pain its been fine. My sister in law has been amazing and others have been very helpful. My hand is now in a ridiculously large protective cast. Big kit for one finger! Have an appointment on Friday. Full recovery likely to take three months.

I'm typing with one hand... planning and accommodating for a different three months to the ones I anticipated.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Thus says the Lord...

On what authority do you say that?! It's an odd concept to have someone in a room with you who is speaking on the assumption that they are bringing the words of God. 'God would say...' 'God says....' etc etc. In our Church meetings every week people stand and bring words with a real sense of confidence that they are bringing the words of God. Who do we think we are?! God?

Dynamic relationship

Jesus promises that His people will have God the Holy Spirit living and active within them. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in many ways. One of these ways is to bring a spontaneous truth or impression from the Father that He wants to communicate in a specific moment. This is known in the New Testament as prophecy. Prophecy is when God speaks. The Spirit inspires a person, a person shares, and others are encouraged.

'L' plates are on

Learning to walk with the Spirit and sense His leading and promptings I have found is like learning to speak any language. You don't learn it all overnight, there is always more to learn and you enjoy breakthrough moments along the way!

Deeply blessed

Many brothers and sisters have brought prophetic words to me. Some have been very specific, others have been very simple. "God wants you to know that he really does love you and he will never leave you..." There have been times when I really needed to hear that. I have drawn strength from words like this on many occasions.

Ask

All Christians are called to pursue the gift of prophecy. Paul writes, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." and again, "So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy." 1Cor14v39 & 1Cor14v1 Therefore we are to be running after this gift. We are to be asking God for something to share with our brothers and sisters.

Weigh

The Bible is very helpful in helping us handle prophetic words. We weigh all that is given. How do we know if this is from God? We test it against what has been written in the word. We are all under the authority of scripture. 1Thess 5v19-21 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 
I find it helpful to ask the following questions in the sharing of prophecy...

1) Is this true? Where do I find this truth spoken in the Bible?
2) Will this edify? This is the purpose of the gift. It is given to build up others.
3) Is the timing right? In a meeting or when speaking to someone, when is the best time to offer what I feel.
If someone offers me a word I will ask the following questions...

1) Is this true? 
2) What do my leaders feel about this? (Seeking Godly wisdom)
3) How do I apply this?

 The more we are familiar with the character of God in the Bible, the more effectively we will be able to give and receive prophecy. As people grow in prophetic gifting they may share more specific revelation and speak specifically into the future. This is very exciting. Prophets operate under the authority of elders and are accountable in terms their character and the content of what is said. Trust and gifting seems to be built over time for a blessing to all. 


Greg Haslam has written a great book on prophecy called,
Moving in Prophetic which I would recommend. I have found this very helpful. You can also listen to some teaching online. 'Prophesying in power' could be a good place to start. For others Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere is a great read. 

I long for more prophecy in our Church. I'm also keen for those with prophetic gifts to pursue a greater depth to bring 'weightier' words of truth and power which demonstrate that God is truly with us. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Everybody needs more apostles...

“Let me give you a biblical picture of an apostle: he is a weak little chap with a poor voice (2 Corinthians 10:10), a jailbird (Acts 16:23). He looks under-nourished and his clothing is disreputable (1 Corinthians 4:11). If you look at his hands, they are stained and cracked by the hard work of softening skins and sewing them into tents, for that is his livelihood (Acts 18:3). At times he is very ill, even despairing of life (2 Corinthians 1:8-11; Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 11:30). Perhaps these infirmities have come from the terrible sufferings which he has undergone (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)”.*


I feel the need

I am a young pastor aspiring to make a positive contribution in the context of my local Church. I love my Church. I have the privilege of preaching every other week and leading volunteer teams throughout the church. As I serve on our leadership team and increasingly take on responsibility I am more and more aware of the need for apostolic ministry. Our team needs apostolic input. Personally I need it and the Bible is clear that the church needs it.



Genuine relationships

As part of New Frontiers we are part of an apostolic family on a mission. Our movement is in a period of transition. Within the UK we are looking to develop and cultivate multiple apostolic spheres. These spheres look to be largely regional. It is easier to have genuine relationship with those who live closer to you. I hope that within the transition we leave a lot of space for relationships to be preserved and blossom across different parts of the country. Words from PJ Smyth stick in my mind that we are to 'honour gifting, honour relationships and let mission motivate.'



What do we mean by 'apostle'?

Generally the word 'apostle' simply means 'sent one'. Jesus is referred to as 'the apostle' in Hebrews 3v1.
In the context of the New Testament it seems there are two further legitimate uses of the word.

1) Apostle. Big 'A' Apostle. The office.

These were men who had seen the risen Jesus and had been specifically commissioned by Jesus himself to be Apostles. (Acts1v21-26) These men had a unique call. They were a limited number of men called to pass on the teaching of Christ authoritatively in part through writing scripture. They brought a body of teaching. (Acts 2v42) They were seen as 'master builders' (1Cor3v10) laying the foundations of Churches (Ephesians 2v20) they had something of a motivation to 'go' to the nations (Rom1v5) They appointed elders (Acts14v23 & Acts20v28) and they were very much seen as Father figures with much affection for the Churches. 



2) The gift of apostle. Little 'a' apostle. 

There were more than the 12(+1) apostles in scripture. This means more men were recognised as having an apostolic gift to the church. (Acts14v14 Gal1v9) While scripture writing is complete, we still need these men who make no addition to scripture but plant churches, lay foundations, bring teaching, motivate us to 'go' beyond our comfort zones, bring an outside voice, help our teams of elders, appoint new elders, care for and the churches. Terry Virgo is helpful on his
blog and PJ Smyth has a great PDF called 'The world needs more apostles' *This is where the above quote can be found.


Jesus gives apostles

To have men like this among and in our churches is a must. If we are to grow up into 'mature manhood' and be the Church which Christ is calling us to be, we need more apostles. If we are to be effective in being a real blessing to our cities and towns and to the nations we need more apostles.
 

Ultimately it is Jesus who gives apostles. They are a gift to the Church. It seems that our part would be to ask Jesus, look for and encourage those with gifts in this lane, give generously, and look to actively participate in the sending and receiving of apostolic ministry. Surely we are to look for apostolic ministry to emerge from within our own ranks if we are to see more apostles. I find the description at the top challenging. I don't want to miss out on apostolic ministry because of my own pre-conceived ideas of what an apostolic ministry should look like. 


Our church currently has good relationships with Matt Partridge (Oxford) Guy Miller (Bournemouth) as well as our regional team lead by Grant Van Schalkwyk (Plymouth). I'm visiting Matt next week to shadow him,  listen and learn and he plans to come visit and preach in Exeter on December 5th. I look forward to receiving him. 


Our lead elder Andy Arscott is currently involved in helping Andrew Sampson who has recently planted in Truro, he is looking to gather and help a small team in Barnstaple and also looking to support Steve and Joy in Crediton. I think Andy will offer more and more to other Churches in the months and years to come.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bodybuilding

Last Sunday I continued to preach through Ephesians as part of our series 'Bodybuilding'. I was glad to use an Olympic lift as an illustration!

As we read the text we saw that Jesus has given gifts to every part of His body. We all have a part to play. We are one team or one body with Jesus as the head!

We're asking our people to respond at three levels:

1) As part of the family. (We all help with one foundational team - this is like doing the washing up!)
2) Pursue a passion. (Sign up for something that you want to explore - something which you desire to do.)
3) Invest and specialise. (Pick up further reading/research/pray/approach others who are gifted in the specific area that you are passionate about.)

It might be helpful to think through the following...

Gift survey:

Romans 12v6-8
1 Corinthians 7v7
1 Corinthians 12v8-10
1 Corinthians 12v28
Ephesians 4v11
1 Peter 4v9-10
1 Timothy 2v1-2

  • Which gifts do you have within you?
    (Ignited by the Spirit and applied to the building of the Church.) 
  • Which gifts have others recognised in you? 
  • Which gifts do you desire to talk hold of?
  • Where do you have a passion to serve?
  • Where can you learn and develop your gifts?