Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Beyond 400, Evangelism and Worship

There is much being said over at Beyond 400 about the future of the Baptist movement.

40 different people will share their voice as to how they see the future and what changes might happen in order that Baptist's in the UK might deal with the current problems and move forwards positively and radically.

I am still reflecting and thinking through what people have written and my own thoughts into all of this.

One thing I am beginning to pursue in thought is that the church must faithfully be the church.  And the church faithfully being the church is that the church worships the Trinity.  And the church worshipping Father, Son and Spirit requires us to be faithful in worship by sharing in the Eucharist, making disciples, being theological; worship is a calling to glorify God.

I have a concern that our discussions about the future are not rooted in our calling to be a worshipping people.  I'm not sure proper theological wrestling is going on.  I'm not sure a rootedness in Scripture is happening.  I'm not sure that we are seeking for the church to faithfully be the church and are therefore trying to be something else.

The way the church grows is by us being faithful worshippers of the Triune God who alone is worthy of worship.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ash Wednesday

Lord, we remember the depth of your love for us,
and we repent of our half-hearted discipleship.

We have been called to deny ourselves:
forgive us for putting self-interest
before the interest of your kingdom;
forgive us that Christ's Lordship in our hearts
has been challenged by our ambition, our appetites,
our desires, our needs;
forgive us for the times when self-interest
hindered our care for others.

Lord, we have been called to carry our cross:
forgive us for complaining when it has weighed heavily upon us;
forgive us that, having received so much,
we have sacrificed so little;
forgive us for the limits we have set to Christian love;
forgive us.

Isaiah 58:6-9

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.'

Lord Jesus Christ
you have walked where we walk
and now help us in our weakness:
blessed be your name.

Lord Jesus Christ
you have been tempted as we have
and now you come to help us in our danger:
blessed be your name.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have suffered for us
and now help us when we suffer:
blessed be your name.

Lord of Lent, come to your Church
and ask us the hard questions.
Are we faithfully proclaiming your Gospel?
Are we doing he work of justice?
Have we welcomed the weak
and given prominence to the poor?

Come to your Church
and forgive us our sins.
Create in us a pure heart O God
and renew a steadfast spirit within us.

Challenge the idols we have raised
and destroy them.
Help us to be truthful in all things.
Sweep away pride and arrogance
and humble us to be servants in the image of your your Son.

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,
"At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you."
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see-- we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Matthew 6:-6,16-21

Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Lord, lead us into the wilderness
that we may meet you.
Help us put aside our business and stress
and to rediscover silence.
Help us to listen to your voice, wherever you may be speaking.

Lord, teach us to pray.
Through prayer, lead us into a deeper communion with you
and nurture within us
a greater concern for you world.

In silence and prayer
help us find you
and to be found by you,
that we might be remade
in the likeness of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.

Monday, 13 February 2012

LL Cool J Prays over Whitney death

LL Cool J opened this years Grammy's with a prayer over the death of Whitney Houston.

I think he got it just right.

"Heavenly father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit, and to have the legacy of her music to cherish and share forever. Amen."

Monday, 6 February 2012

God is Simple

The web has been awash in blog posts, tweets, comments and arguments over recent comments made by John Piper.  Hopefully I'm not misquoting, but it appears that Piper claims that Christianity has a 'masculine' feel because God has revealed himself in predominately masculine ways as well as predominantly calling men to be leaders in Israel and the Church.

There seems to be much that is unhelpful out there in regard to this, but thankfully Scott McKnight and Steve Holmes have both provided some much needed wisdom and insight.

Rachel Held Evans has invited male bloggers to blog about the feminine aspects of God's nature and character in response to Piper's comments and then she will put the best ones on her blog.

So what have I got to say in all of this?

Well I doubt it will be original as 'there is nothing new under the sun', but I think it is important to say that God is simple.

God is simple.

God is simple.

We need to remember that God is not a contradiction.  He is not some kind of maniac with a personality defect struggling to figure out who he/she is.  God is not grappling with his/her gender.  God is not a male and female. God is not confused and angry with at himself/herself at his/her gender complications.

The arguments and replies in this whole episode are very much in danger of creating a very confused God, made in our own image.

There is a real problem with modern day theology that it has very little to do with God and an whole load to do with us; this is the problem with Piper's comments and we need to be careful that our response to his comments do not fall into the same trap.

God is simple.

In the Gospel story God has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.  And we discover in this story a God who is compassionate and gracious, a God who desires to relieve the burden of those under oppression, abuse and injustice.  We discover a God who weeps at death and drives away the darkness of death though the resurrection of his Son.  We discover a God who calls people to himself to learn from him, follow him and be sent by him.  We discover a God who loves unconditionally, dies freely and lives eternally.  We discover a God who calls humanity to give of themselves to one another in servant-hood and humility, just as he gave himself in this way.  We discover a God who calls all humanity to himself through the horror and victory of the cross - 'In that he hangs in our place, it has been decided what our place is' - there is no distinction.  We discover a God who calls people to serve him in the world regardless of gender, class or ethnicity.

We discover a God who is full of grace and truth and calls humanity to be likewise.

Our God is simple, let us try not to forget that.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

This Hope - A New Church

This Hope is the name of the church that is now beginning to meet, evolve and grow here in Newton Abbot.

The website will soon go live and I will share more on how things are going and what this group of people are getting up to week by week.

You can follow us on Twitter @thishopechurch.

It is really exciting!