Sunday, 27 March 2011

Biblical womanhood/wives...

Chloe and I had fun today teaching and sharing on biblical womanhood and submission in marriage. You get check out the sermon here. We're working out for us what it means to apply a Biblical blueprint to our marriage.

Here are a couple of study books which Chloe has found particularly helpful with this whole area of womanhood and what the Bible says. They are produced by the Good Book company.

In the past as a Church we have recommended Sharon James' work as well. I think this is great and very thorough. My wife particularly appreciates Carolyn Mahaney and her influence. Her book feminine appeal is similar material to that which she shares in the 'According to plan' set.

My wife has also found the 'girl talk blog' a huge encouragement. 


Rest is part of God's design

To rest or not to rest?

Let me get straight to the point - in the end, if we choose not to rest I think we are either arrogant or idolaters. Apart from exceptional circumstances, God has woven rest into His design for humanity.

In the Bible God models and has given us a Sabbath to rest one day in seven. He also gave different festivals and holidays as a break from the routine of work.

Learning lessons

As a pastor in my second year of ministry I made the mistake last year of not taking all my holidays. I enjoyed the ones I took, but did not take them all. At times I suffer from arrogance. At times I deny my need of sleep and rest and believe that I can do all that I want for as long as I want. I also struggle at times with an over-enthusiasm for ministry and all that I could be doing. When I think about it carefully I think the reason I did not take my holiday last year was idolatry. I was holding up ministry ahead of what God was asking of me.

I love working for the Church but I love God more! An older pastor who I know was sharing about his Church and their positive attitude towards holidays. You get commended for taking your holiday because God has designed us to enjoy them. Our lead elder has a similar attitude.

It's a faith issue

Personally I find it takes faith to take a holiday. It takes faith to believe that God cares about and will continue to build his Church without you. It takes faith to leave people who have needs, and projects which you can contribute towards in the hands of others. It takes faith to not feel guilty taking a rest when others are working hard. It takes faith to be around tired people and not feel bad for feeling rested and sharp.

I have just finished reading 'Going the distance'. It's been good for me. My wife and I have reviewed our annual pattern and have decided that a week off in March is a good place to start. :-) This week we'll be having a week off. We're going to visit friends and then spend three nights away in Cornwall. I can't wait. I'm filled with faith to receive it is a gift. I refuse to feel guilty. I believe I am being obedient to Jesus.

On holiday this week :-) 

I am pleased that we have drafted a good annual pattern and that I have been able to learn and improve my leadership of my home in this area. Next week I'm going to read, sleep, spend time with my son (kicking a football and wrestling predominantly) and look to bless my wife as much as I can. Thank you Lord Jesus for ongoing patience and provision for me and my family.

Friday, 25 March 2011

What should wives do?

On Sunday I will be preaching through Ephesians 5v22-33 looking at the role of wives.

This text contains those infamous words, "Wives submit to your husbands..." 

This topic always provokes a range of responses. On Sunday I'm looking to punch through 9 observations which I have made from scripture and then interview my wife Chloe. 

I like John Pipers definition: “Submission is a divine calling of a wife to honour and affirm her husbands leadership and carry it through according to her gifts.”

1.Biblical submission is not assigning different value, it’s assigning different roles.

2.Biblical submission is not just a cultural expression, it’s an eternal value.

3.Biblical submission is not primarily a response to your husband, it’s a response to Jesus.

4.Biblical submission is not passive, it’s active.

5.Biblical submission is not absolute, but it is genuine.

6.Biblical submission does not allow abuse, it’s part of Church life.

7.Biblical submission is not for husbands to enforce, it’s a call on the wife.

8.Biblical submission is not easy, but it is powerful.

9.Biblical submission is not popular, but it is beautiful.

Chloe and I are seeking to build our marriage according to God's blueprint. I'll be asking her the following questions:

1) How would you have described yourself as a single Christian girl?

2) What was it like getting to know me?

3) How did you feel about the biblical model of marriage?

4) How have you found trying to build according to God’s blueprint over the last four years?

5) Can you think of any examples where you have had to choose to submit?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What should husbands do?

Sexuality, gender and roles within marriage are topics which always draw quite a response. There is much speculation and debate in our day over how we should or should not build our relationships.

In the Bible, the calling on husbands is amazing. We are called to lay our lives down in servant leadership just like Jesus. We are called to provide and to protect. I felt Andy preached brilliantly at both of our sites on Sunday.

Personally I feel challenged again to be intentional about loving my wife as I am called. I want to be quick to learn, quick to change and quick to say sorry where I have not been as I should.

CJ Mahaney encourages his men to cultivate a 'pattern of sacrifice' in their lives.

Husbands, what can we do each day to demonstrate sacrificial love for our wives?

What can we do today, that costs us, and blesses our wives?
Big things or small things, what can we do?

How can we lead our wives spiritually today?
What have you prayed for your wife today?
How will you expose her and encourage her in the word of God today?

How hard are you working today to provide for your family?

If you are a man who is not yet married, how can you start building towards this calling?

Further listening:

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Christian conference?!

Up until a few years ago I had never been to a Christian conference. I'd only been to a local Church meeting.

My first time

I'd heard that my local Church was part of something bigger which helps us and gives us a sense of security but that was the extent of my insight. One summer I decided to go to the New Frontiers 'Brighton Conference'. It was the first time I'd been in a room with thousands of people who loved Jesus and were passionate about walking his path. It was the first time I'd seen so many different men and women with different styles and gifting working together for the same ends. It was the first time I'd been exposed to different wisdom in different areas and experienced the strength of something of authentic relationships at this level. It was the first time I'd danced the night away to music while being completely sober! The truths of scripture and the calling of God to plant Churches were illuminated in my heart in a powerful way.

The week in Brighton completely changed my perception of what we were building as a local Church and all that we are part of. It made me want to give my life to work within this movement. We are a family on a mission!

Not just a conference

I'm not really a fan of Christian conferences per se. I think that the specific purpose is important. What are we trying to do together? I enjoy being exposed to good Bible teaching and/or a specific gift but in the end I'm looking for more when Christians gather together in this kind of context. I think we're looking to be part of a movement led by the Spirit of God. 

Some of our students were catching something of who we are a couple of weeks back. It looks like the Bude Weekend for Students and 20's could be a good fixture on our calender in the future. It was great for them to see a little more of who we are and to see there obvious enthusiasm with all that they had seen and heard. 

The times are changing

New Frontiers is changing and the Brighton Conference will end this summer. As a family we are looking to different spheres for relationship and corporate vision so therefore for us in Exeter Together at Westpoint is vital. I felt is was a little rough around the edges last year however I am utterly convinced about what we are trying to do together. I'm sure the guys will have learnt loads and I'm really looking forward to gathering again this summer at something which is far more than a conference. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

This is New Frontiers

I have often been asked, "Who are New Frontiers?" "What kind of Church do you belong to?" Here is a helpful little video which gives a little of the history of our movement.

Friday, 4 March 2011

(Christians) What will your life say today?

"You are writing a gospel
a chapter each day
by the words that you say
and the works that you do.

Men read what you write
disturbing or true.
What is the gospel
according to you?"

My wife and I were praying this morning that we may not waste today. What will we write? What will we say? What will the Church do today across our city I wonder?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

'Are you serious about hell...?!' Some considerations

Last Sunday I had a look at the (un)popular(?!) subject of hell. The most unpopular and yet frequently asked about subject. I spent some time looking at Luke 16v19-31. I found it an emotional and difficult subject to speak on such a text. At one point during the morning sermon I paused while I wept. Part of me felt vulnerable and uneasy but I do feel that it is an appropriate and 'real' response when handling a topic like this.

This topic is part of the central message of Christianity and has been a view held by biblical Churches throughout Church history. I also added 5 considerations which I think we need to have an awareness of as we think through this difficult subject.

1) This is Jesus talking.

To reject something which Jesus talks about on moral grounds is making quite a claim about our own wisdom and moral judgement.

Tim Keller writes: “We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus, the pre-eminent teacher of love and grace in history, "I am less barbaric than you, Jesus--I am more compassionate and wiser than you." Surely that should give us pause!”

2) Jesus cares deeply.

Some people find the idea of Jesus/God being angry almost impossible reconcile with the idea that God is loving. However, in scripture, it is because he is loving that he is angry! An unloving response to all the abuse, injustice, crime, selfishness and general mess in the world would be indifference.

Jesus cares passionately about how you treat me and about how I treat you. When people are mistreated - he gets angry. This is because he is good.

3)  This is very personal.

If I was in your house eating your food, enjoying your furniture, music, etc and treated your house as I pleased, without speaking to you or honouring you as my host I guess you would be offended.

We live in God's world. He made it. We didn't. We'll all die and the world will keep on spinning. We are not in control of and we did not design creation. The best we do is study and work with that which is already there. The whole of creation belongs to God.

When we reject God and abuse His creation we are personally offensive to God in his world.

4) God is that valuable.

When I was living in my old flat, my car was parked on the street and someone threw a brick through the back windscreen. I found this offensive. However the offence was less that it would have been if someone had thrown a brick at my wife! Why is that? Same action?

As the value of the object increases, the offence increases. Chloe is more valuable than my car so I the action is more serious and more offensive.

Is eternal punishment an overreaction?

Well I think we have to ask the following questions:

How valuable is God?
Therefore how serious are our crimes?

Scripture speaks of an everlasting God who is of infinite value. To offend and reject something of such value is a very scary reality.

5) The offer of God

God has offered to pay our price himself. Jesus offers himself to be our 'wrath absorber' or 'wrath diverter'. He offers to be our great substitute so that we can know God and walk with Him rather than being against Him. His offer is open today.

The only way people can get to a place  of punishment is to trample over and reject the cross of Christ.