Stand in awe

I read facts like those listed below and cannot help but praise God – he made the stars!

On 20th August 1977, Voyager II, the interplanetary probe launched to observe and transmit to earth data about the outer planetary system, set off from earth travelling faster than the speed of a bullet (90,000 miles per hour.) On 28th August 1989 it reached planet Neptune, 2,700 million miles from the earth. Voyager II then left the solar system. It will not come within one light year of any star for 958,000 years. In our galaxy there are 100,000 million stars, like our sun. Our galaxy is one of 100,000 million galaxies. In a throw away line in Genesis, the write tells us, ‘He also made the stars’ (Genesis 1:16). Such is his power.

Nicky Gumbel, Questions of Life

 

Vague theology

Following on from the idea of getting interested in theology I wondered if anyone could a magazine like the one below but entitled Vague Theology? On second thoughts I wonder if it is already “in print” in the minds of most Christians when they talk about God. If in doubt this think of any comments you have heard where someone says, “I like to think of God as being like… and you will realise how thoroughly unbiblical many of them are. (I originally saw the cartoon here.)

Start studying theology

Yesterday I mentioned the need to be understanding in our love of God. I do realise many theology books are written in an academic and pretty inaccessible way and that this puts many Christians off of exploring theology as a way of expressing their love for God in a deeper way.

However there is no need to despair as now there are many more easily readable and understandable theology books available. One such is Incomparable by Andrew Wilson, (subtitled Exploring the Character of God). It is cheap (I think my copy was 5 pounds) and in brief easy to read chapters he explores the rich subject of what God is like. If theology has been a fearful word to you previously this is a good place to begin.

Below is a sort of theological joke based around the fact that Jesus is all knowing, lol!

Don't be stupid

Love should not be stupid. I have heard Christians explain their walk of faith as, “I love Jesus and that’s all that matters.” That is not enough. Paul writes to the Philippians (1:9-11),

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Undoubtedly love should be the great trait of the Kingdom of God, it should guide us in our relationships with God and everyone else (believers and non-believers.) Ye we must understand that love needs to be trained so that it might be filled with knowledge and discernment – love is trained so that it is the “best’ love. Let me mention two things that might help apply this verse.

On a very simple level we have to ask how we can love someone we do not know? Theology is an exploration of who God is and should result in worship, praise and adoration – if your theology (and study of it) doesn’t do this maybe you are getting it wrong.

The same principle of simplicity might be applied to our walk with the Lord. We are not called to wander in the desert but to walk in the paths of God, to follow the promptings of the Spirit, to see what the Father is doing and do those things.

Be filled with the knowledgable and discerning love of God – and then see the fruit it will produce – a knowledge of what is excellent, purity in your life, fruitfulness, and praise and glory being given to God. A few verses later (1:27) Paul gives this command, arguably it is the result of nonstupid love.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,

Who are you?

Today I am travelling back to India to be with my wonderful wife and children for about six weeks – it has been two months since we were last together. It is a straightforward journey of about 24 hours travelling time and then I shall have to readjust to being husband and dad – I know what I am (dad and husband, even a friend to some), I simply have to remember to live it.

With extremely poor linking I would ask who you are. How would you describe yourself today? Confluence blog recently gave this list (below) of who, as believers, we are. My question is not whether we know who we are (what the Bible reveals), it is simply to ask do you live who you are?

  • John 1:12 I am God’s child.
  • John 15:15 I am Jesus’ friend.
  • Romans 5:1 I am justified by His grace.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
  • Ephesians 1:4 I am chosen by God.
  • Ephesians 1:5 I am adopted as His son.
  • Ephesians 1:18 I am God’s glorious inheritance.
  • Ephesians 1:13 I am sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit.
  • Colossians 1:13 I am redeemed and forgiven.
  • Colossians 2:9 I am complete in Christ.
  • Romans 8:1 I am free from condemnation.
  • Romans 8:28 I am assured that God is for me.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:21 I am anointed and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Colossians 3:1 I am hidden with Christ in God.
  • Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
  • 1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
  • John 15:16 I am chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple and His Spirit dwells in me.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation.
  • Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.
  • Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
  • Ephesians 1:3 I am blessed with every spiritual blessing.
  • Romans 1:7 I am loved by God and called a saint.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:2 I am a saint.
  • Philippians 1:1 I am a saint.
  • Ephesians 1:1 I am a saint.

 

Setting your sights right

Monday morning – the whole week is ahead – where will you go and what will you do in the coming days?

“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do his work through me.” James Hudson Taylor

Jesus, when facing massive temptation to bail out on God’s plan, had the strength to pray and live out,

“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

It is a good prayer for any day, but especially as you face a new week.

Hope in dark times

I have long thought that for many Christians hope is the missing jewel in the crown on the Christian life.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I have heard many words spoken about faith and love yet surprisingly few about hope – yet hope is a regular feature of biblical life. I read some of the life of Joseph today in Genesis, let me give you a few headlines;

  • He received revelation – dreams about the future
  • He blew it – no humility in what God had shown him, instead in pride he blabbed to to all and sundry
  • Things got bad – his brothers didn’t like him and sold him into slavery – notably they wanted to kill him but the hand of God was still upon his life to protect him
  • Things got worse – he resisted a woman who wanted to have sex with him and for his troubles got thrown into prison
  • He helped others out – was put in charge of the prison, interpreted God’s plan in the dreams of others, yet still remained in the dark cell

There is a lot that could be said about this but I want to make one simple point: In all of this in hope he clung on to God – faith enabled him to live day by day, hope kept his heart focussed on the future, on the still to be fulfilled promises of God.

Darkness might come, others might seem to be stealing what God has promised you, promises might seem to go unfulfilled, but God has not forgotten, put your hope in him and let it draw you into his future purposes and plan.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

What should ministry look like?

The world around us is changing – church and ministry are changing too.

Last week I mentioned the example of Jesus, Peter and Paul, all of whom opened up new ways, developed new paradigms which allowed more room for the glory of God to be shown and the work of God to be done.

Recently I read this article, 10 New Rules for Ministry. It is not the definitive list of what modern ministry looks like but maybe it can stimulate you to look for new ways to act, new doors to go through, new avenues for kingdom enterprise.

1. Teach accurately–with simplicity–from the Bible about topics that are relevant to people in our culture.

2. Care, really care, about people. They will know it if you don’t. The world cannot compete with real, authentic loving relationships when they are centered on Jesus. Most churches are not as good at this as they think they are. They think they are loving people when, in reality, they are still much better at judging them.

3. Do something to enhance the quality of life in your community. Being social minded helps people feel good about their church and makes it easier for them to talk about it.

4. Use media without over-using media. Cool videos can reach into someone’s world if they identify with the people and storyline, but don’t rely on multimedia to build your ministry. The world will always have better videos then you. Don’t be in love with your high-tech gadgets.

5. Speak bluntly. Don’t offend people for no reason. But sometimes you MUST say things to help them navigate the complexities of life. When you do that, some WILL be offended. Most will appreciate your courage to say what has to be said.

6. Involve the congregation in missions projects.

7. Change fast when something doesn’t work or as soon as you find a better way. No method is etched in stone.

8. Be authentic. People can smell phoney a mile away. Be honest about your own failures.

9. Be practical. What you teach either works, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you will lose you audience and eventually your congregation.

10. Do something a little crazy. Shake up the status quo.

Some of these rules are newer than others but all of them represent how ministry is changing.

I’m not sure that all of these changes are for the best, but one thing is certain. Ministry IS changing.