Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reaching the Unreached Conference Nov 2016

We're doing a one day RTU conference for reaching the socially deprived of the UK on 19th November at East London Tabernacle.
More details will follow soon on this blog and on www.urbanministries.org.uk (where you can also find videos of our previous conferences).
If you follow @UrbanMinistryUK on twitter you will get the very latest updates too.
I hope you can make it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Reggae meets Gracious Election

This is a reggae worship song based on 1 Peter 1:2,
'who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance'. (1Pe 1:2 NIV)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Scott Sauls on Recovering the Lost Art of Encouragement

We're naturally good at criticising people, but not so good at encouraging one another. Hence this blog post by Scott Sauls is so helpful. Here's some highlights from it:
'The only people Jesus seemed to chastise were pious religious people who were quite sure of themselves' 
Scott then points out that such people demanded recognition and praise from others, and there's a difference between demanding and desiring recognition.
'Demanding recognition and praise is neither good nor healthy. 
Desiring it is both good and healthy.'
 Scott then explains the difference between critique and criticism:
'Critique is motivated by restoring and building up. Criticism aims to harm and shame. Critique, in the end, will leave a person feeling cared for and built up. Criticism will leave a person feeling belittled and beaten down.'
He finishes with:
'let’s not be known for what we’re against, but for loving as we have been loved.' 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beyond Duct Tape: One of My Favourite Gospel-Centred Resources

This is a great resource by Tami Resch and Shari Thomas
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Duct-Tape-Together-Ministry/dp/1461151295

This workbook was made for church planter's wives, but I think anyone can benefit from it.
It's full of tools to help us apply the gospel to our lives. 
Here's some of the ways I use this workbook:

1) I really enjoy going through this book with my wife. It helps us to know each other better and how to apply the gospel to each other's life.

2) My wife and I loosely use this for pre-marital counselling. We use a lot of the concepts from the book and show couples some of the incredibly useful diagrams.

3) I often refer to this when I'm counselling people. Sometimes I'll even give people homework to do from the workbook.

You might also want to check out their Facebook page 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Desert Thirst for God

Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. 
You, God, are my God, 
earnestly I seek you; 
I thirst for you, 
my whole being longs for you, 
in a dry and parched land 
where there is no water. (NIV)

My experience is that its mainly when I'm in wilderness experiences that I thirst for God with my whole being. It's when I feel utterly helpless and hurt that I earnestly seek God.
I hate the desert experience, but I also know that without it, I just don't seek God as I should.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Prayers for the Grieving 6: Bring Me Up

Psalms 71:20-21
Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.


Lord please restore my life again. Bring me up from this dark hole. Increase my honour, and comfort me.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Should black people just get over it?

Whenever race problems are brought to the foreground in the USA, a considerable number of people say that blacks should get over the pains of the past. Even when race isn't the issue, we have a natural human tendency to want people to get over the things that are hurting them. We say things like 'come on! Pull yourself together! Get over it! Put your chin up!' We expect people who have suffered to get over it.

The apostle Paul was a man who greatly suffered, and who learned how to deal with suffering:
If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. (2 Cor 1:6 NIV) 

Paul had experienced both suffering, and comfort. He'd learned that when suffering, its the ensuing comfort that produces patient endurance. If it was written as a mathematical formula it would be:
SUFFERING + COMFORT = PATIENT ENDURANCE OF SUFFERING

Now it seems to me that us humans often want others who are suffering to have patient endurance without us giving any comfort. We don't want to have to give comfort to others, we just want people to do really well on their own, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. When we apply this to race issues in the US, it appears some white people want black people to patiently endure suffering. Sometimes this is applied to the ongoing pain of past-slavery and lynchings, sometimes to the present pains of seeing horrific videos of black males (men and children) shot at point blank range. Some people feel that black people just aren't patiently enduring stuff. The thing is that from 2 Cor 1:6, we see that we can't patiently endure suffering without receiving comfort. We can't expect African Americans to patiently endure suffering if they are not being comforted in their suffering.

Sadly on social media, I've seen some people give the opposite of comfort to people who have been rocked by the sudden deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. Some have been like Job's comforters offering their expert opinion on why Alton and Philando (like Job) deserved suffering. I don't want to be judgmental or cause division here because I myself have many times offered commentary instead of comfort when I've seen friends and family suffering. Even sometimes when one of my children hurts themselves, rather than comfort, I quickly say, "Well you see, that's what happens when you run downhill" If we're honest we've all been like Job's comforters at some time, we've all pontificated on someone's suffering instead of comforting them.

Jesus doesn't call us to pontificate on people's suffering, but instead to mourn with those who mourn (Rom 12:15). He also doesn't tell us to tell people to get over it, instead he gives us the formula that people can patiently endure suffering if they receive comfort (2 Cor 1:6). As God's people, let's give comfort to those who are suffering, and help them patiently endure suffering.