Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I've begun looking around for material to help support us as we take a look at roles and responsibilities within the new leadership team. I mentioned Purpose Driven and Natural Church Development in a previous post. I also came across some ideas from the Evangelical Free Church of America to do with church health. I'd rather not assign jobs simply on the basis of what needs to be done. Instead we should do at least some strategic thinking first.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I suppose I ought to be more spiritual than that, but I refuse to beat myself up because I don't always know exactly what God wants me to do. So I carry on trying to figure stuff out on the run and sometimes I get it right and sometimes I get it wrong.
If I always know what God wants me to do, where is faith in that equation? It seems to me that to follow Jesus is to walk by faith and to walk by faith is to take one step at a time. As we focus on the step we worry less about the destination and more about the journey.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
History has only one main event. Mankind’s time line is dotted with important moments: the first spark from the first flint; the rolling of the first wheel; the treating of the first wound. Who dares minimise these events? But who dares compare them with the cross? History has only one main event.
Scripture has only one main event. Other matters, but only one is essential. The story of Jericho might stir you, but falling walls can’t redeem you. Moses will give you direction through the wilderness, but no solution for your sin. David’s defeat of Goliath might reduce your timidity, but only the cross prepares you for eternity. Scripture has only one main event.
Even in the life of Jesus there is only one main event. For if there is no cross of Christ, then there is no truth to Christ.
And, when it comes to your life, the same is true. To remove the cross is to remove the hinch-pin from the door of hope. The door of your hope. For if there is no cross then there is no sacrifice for sin. If there is no sacrifice for sin then how will you face a sinless God? Will you cleanse your own sin? And if there is no cross of Christ then there is no resurrection of Christ. And if there is no resurrection of Christ, how will you live again? Will you push back your own grave?
Forgiveness of sin and deliverance from death, these are the claims of the cross. Let there be no mistake. The cross is not an event in history, it is the event of history.
Whether we believe in Jesus Christ or not, his birth, life, death and resurrection dominate our history. We calculate our dates with reference to him, our justice system reflects upon his teaching. Our systems of government, of education, of social order are all connected in some way to this carpenter from Nazareth.
Abstracted from He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado
Friday, March 21, 2008
A former porn star has left the sex industry to start a new life as a college student and church secretary, a group ministering to sex workers announced Tuesday.Sophia Lynn, 24, is now an office staff at Celebrate Community Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the US, where she will work while attending college. The South Dakota church offered Lynn a place to live, a college scholarship, and a job at the church office when they heard she wanted to leave the sex business.“This is like a dream,” Lynn reflected from her new home in South Dakota nearly a week after her move. “I hope I don’t have to wake up from this. I feel like my life has been saved.”
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
In Leopard, iCal has a default alarm setting, the only problem being that the default sound really doesn't get your attention. This has been a bit of a frustration for me, so I decided to see if there was a way around this and find one I did.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Seeking forgiveness ‘Forgive us our sins’ is a deep prayer. It is not a mantra that works if you say it enough. Nor is it like one of Harry Potter’s spells: ‘forgivoramus!’ and everything is sorted in a flash.
It’s an invitation to examine ourselves inwardly and outwardly, spirit and soul, attitudes and actions, words and wishes. This Spirit-led self-examination drills through the layers of self-deceit and self-justification. Just as the cock crow was a lie-detector for Peter, our earnest confession of sin reveals how we deny the calling of Jesus on our lives.
In a moment, it’s time for you to pray that prayer, ‘Forgive my sins’, and let God’s Spirit show you what that means. But first you need to know that God’s Spirit convicts you of sin only so that he can lead you forgiveness and restoration.
Peter discovered this beautifully when Jesus, risen from the dead, asked him three times, ‘Do you love me?’. He was shown that his three denials were forgiven and forgotten (John 21:15–17).
So give some time now to the simple prayer, ‘Forgive my sins.’ Let the Spirit show you what needs to be forgiven and soak every denial in the forgiving power of Jesus.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Unlike Mel Gibson's film and unlike the release of The Da Vinci Code, this series doesn't seem to be getting hyped up in the Christian media as the greatest opportunity the 21st century church will have for evangelism. That, for me, is a very positive thing. I found all the emails and publicity that came my way about the other greatest opportunities just too much. Every Sunday is a great opportunity, every day is a great opportunity to share the life and death and resurrection of Jesus with those around us.
I remember going to see the Gibson film and wondering if any of my unchurched friends would actually comprehend it; whether they would simply come out of the cinema shocked and bewildered by the whole thing. Good as it was, it didn't produce a rush of interesting conversations. And, if the truth be told, I'd rather have sat down with a group of friends and watched Bruce Almighty and talked about our images and understanding of the nature of God than try to use Mel Gibson's Passion.
I hope there will be many opportunities for conversations, many opportunities for pointing people toward Jesus. I'm certainly going to watch it carefully so that I can use what I can on Easter Sunday. But I also hope that we will learn how to be Christians in plain view, how to share our faith in positive ways and how to engage our friends in conversations that might nudge them towards Jesus.
And my prayer? It's very simple: "Lord use this drama in ways we cannot imagine to make yourself known in our nation."
Anyway, I came across some helpful insights made by Rick Warren on the Acts29 blog. He said:
Turn your critics into coaches by hearing what they are saying and humbly considering if there is any truth in their criticisms to learn from. Never engage the critics on their terms because it only escalates the conflict and is not productive. Be very careful with firing off emails or leaving voicemails and responding out of anger in a way that you will later regret. Shout louder than your critics to define yourself and do not allow them to define you.
All very good advice.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
What caught my attention was the short note about agape meals. It was as follows:
To do list
With other Christian friends (and your minister’s blessing or involvement) plan an informal agape meal together. Share food, prayer, praise and personal stories of what Jesus has done for you, and read these Bible verses together.
It strikes me that we spend too little time even thinking about what God has done for us recently, let alone sharing those stories with others. When did our faith become so personalised, so privatised, that we lost the priority of walking together on our journeys of faith?
If a person misses one Sunday:
Check with people who might know why.
Respond appropriately (visit, call, card or note, or no action needed)
If a person misses two consecutive Sundays:
Unless a known issue (eg hospitalisation, holiday) make informal contact via a call, a card or note, an email.
Follow up any response as appropriate
If no response then make a special point of checking on the third Sunday and if present, make a point of connecting with them and checking out why they’ve been away.
If a person misses four or more Sundays
Make contact specifically to ask why no attendance. Offer a clear opportunity to talk.
This strategy has to be adjusted dependent upon the frequency of attendance. So, for someone who is typically there every week, absence may be more critical than for someone who comes once a month.
What constitutes an appropriate response
If the reason for absence requires pastoral intervention, the pastoral coordinator needs informing and a plan of action established.
Otherwise a follow-up visit may be all that is needed.
Useful levels of contact include: A hand written note or card, either on Church stationary or plain stationary. An informal email. An informal ‘phone call. A text message. Flowers.
If something more formal needs to be arranged then an appointment should be planned.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
In a forward-looking address, he said the heart of the matter was not about advancing evangelicalism as a political or Christian system, but was instead about “how we help people understand that God is ultimately the God of Good News and is interested in people’s wellbeing”.
Turning to some of the challenges facing evangelicals, he pointed to the commonplace view that evangelicals are a US export more interested in homosexuality than poverty, and a mascot for the Republican Party.
“Evangelicalism has a serious PR problem and it’s not hard to grasp why,” he said.
Referring to some of the recent angry protests from evangelical circles over Jerry Springer the Opera and the Sexual Orientation Regulations, Mr Edwards said that Evangelicals had gained a reputation as the “angry brigade”. “We are known more for our anger than our anguish,” he noted.
Mr Edwards said that the responsibility to reverse evangelicalism’s bad reputation lay with evangelicals themselves.
“If people are going to think differently about evangelicals, the only people who can change their minds are evangelicals,” he said.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Colin, a fellow blogger, has pointed me to a web application called Shelfari. We've been experimenting with an online book club and this application might be a useful way of interacting on the internet.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I know that a MacBook is more expensive than a Windows laptop, but I have to say that there are some things that make it worth the extra. Take for instance Thursday. Anne and I took Ally over to Chelmsford for her last University interview. Having walked up to the Reception building, we left her there to get on with her day, and we set off back into town to Starbucks to run a wi-fi experiment. Anne works for a big multi-national company and we wanted to see if she could connect using a wi-fi hotspot so that , when we're away later in the year, she won't have to run back to the office in London to do a job she could do remotely.
So we chose our drinks, sat at a table, and got out the laptop and the MacBook.
The laptop booted up, searched around for the wireless network, eventually made a connection and we opened internet explorer (sorry Andy if that took you by surprise, I know you consider IE to be the work of the dark side). Nothing. No connection, no welcome screen, just the "can't find the page" message.
The MacBook. Opened it up and it wakes up to a new world. Finds the available networks, I choose the one I want to try, open Safari and it says: What do you want to do now? It's not my homepage, but somehow it is obviously working with the wi-fi hotpspot to help me rather than confuse and frustrate me.
Same scenario in MacDonalds where the wi-fi was free!
You see the MacBook just worked. It's a delight to use. There are moments when it does things I don't expect and things close unexpectedly, but there are times when it just does what you want it to do without having to delve into all sorts of proxy settings and connection profiles.
So, if you are about to change your old PC or laptop, give some serious consideration to a Mac. The offers on laptops might look good, but watch out for insufficient amounts of memory to run Vista. The £300 laptop on sale in the High Street might not be able to cope with memory hungry Windows applications.
Sales pitch for the month is over now, I promise not to mention how good my Mac is for at least another month (unless there's a really good reason!)