Monday, October 01, 2018

When our Discipleship efforts are in Vain

I was reading today where Paul talked about being worried the Thessalonians had left the faith and his gospel work amongst them had been in vain.
'I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.' 1 These 3:5 NIV
If you've been making disciples for a minute, then there's plenty of times that you look back and see it was in vain. The two lessons I've been trying to learn for years (I'm still not there yet) are:

1) Do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). If all our discipleship efforts are done primarily for God's glory, even when they fail, it still counts, because God was glorified, and my motives were to make much of Him.

2) Do everything from faith and love - this is the only thing that counts (Gal 5:6). The type of discipleship that really counts (for the discipler at least), is when I'm motivated by faith in God and his promises: This faith leads to a love towards God and others that results in discipling in a loving way. This counts - even if the person I'm discipling backslides.
'For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.' Gal 5:6

Monday, September 24, 2018

Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this!

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at our God sometimes because of the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord then than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! 

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006),,                           Aug 31.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Our sigh is able to move God's heart

Isn't it amazing that our heavenly Father is so attentive to our every thought? Check out what Spurgeon said about this:

'Thy sigh is able to move the heart of Jehovah; thy whisper can incline his ear unto thee; thy prayer can stay his hand; thy faith can move his arm. Think not that God sits on high taking no account of thee'
 C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Monday, September 10, 2018

Some Problems with Tribalism, from a Tribalist!

I'm very tribal, and have enjoyed tribalism in the past, but have become disenchanted with it for some of the following reasons:

Tribalism fails to deliver what it promises
Each tribe promises something. When I was in the Pentecostal tribe it promised success and good health, but I had a disability. When I was in the Charismatic tribe it promised revival, but it never came. When I joined the Reformed tribe it promised theological correctness, but there's been plenty of doctrinal and practical incorrectness. When I joined the Independent tribe, it was the promise we can do more together and help council estate ministry, but the opposite occurred. I wonder why we make these promises? Is it a way to recruit and retain people to join our tribe and justify our tribalism? Have we accidentally placed our Tribes as the new messiah who offers the things that only Christ can deliver?

Tribalism entrenches our blindspots.
God's Church is so broad with so many facets, but our tribes will usually only ever link up with a handful of tribes closest to us. This can give us the false impression of broadening our horizons, whilst reinforcing the blindspots that our similar tribes will never expose.

Tribalism gives a false view of God's Church.
One the one hand, we occasionally say that God's Church includes all believers saved by faith in Jesus throughout all time: But on the other hand, our tribalism communicates that we are the only true believers. Again, we might give head nods to the other tribes closest to us, but we still exclude so many others. How do we pray Ps 14:7? Is it for all God's tribes, or just our own?

Tribalism wastes resources.
We plant churches on the doorstep of other churches because they're not in our tribe. We think God wants more of our tribe (even if its only existed a few years), not more of His Church (which has lasted for millennia). We ignore the locations that don't have a church, and instead, we double up, triple up, quadruple up churches in well-resourced places, because we think they need our tribe.

Tribalism misses out on partnerships made in heaven (literally).
Personally, I've been more blessed by people outside my tribe than in! Maybe this was God's ways of opening my eyes to the foolishness of sticking my own tribe.

Tribalism falsely thinks God only started ministry with you.
If a tribe decides to do something, like 'refugee ministry', it will start to talk about a new thing that God is doing. It will ignore others from other tribes who have been doing this ministry for years.

Tribalism boosts self-righteousness.
I feel superior to others because my tribe has got it right. I trust in my tribe's way of doing things, rather than Jesus' righteousness. As a Pentecostal, we had the Power, as a Charismatic, we had the Spirit, as Reformed, we had the Doctrine, as Independents we had the Polity.
Of course, as an anti-tribalist now, I can also be self-righteous, looking down on those who are tribal (even whilst I still deep down hold to tribalism in many ways)!

What's the answer?
1) I think we need a bigger understanding that the mission is Jesus' mission. He started it, and he's been doing it for years, through various different groups all over the world. Its about His mission, not ours.
2) I think we need a bigger vision of Christ's righteousness, because the more I truly am content with His record of right, the less I'm gonna desire to be right in my tribe, that's supposedly got it all right! The more humble, I'll be with other brothers and sisters from different tribes, and the more I'll exalt them in my eyes as I realise they too are clothed with Christ's rightness.

Monday, September 03, 2018

If only we got how special and exalted we are

I read this, and thought we'd all be so much happier if we only got how special and exalted we are!

'It is better to be the least in the kingdom of heaven than the greatest out of it. The lowest degree of grace is superior to the noblest development of unregenerate nature. Where the Holy Ghost implants divine life in the soul, there is a precious deposit which none of the refinements of education can equal. The thief on the cross excels Caesar on his throne; Lazarus among the dogs is better than Cicero among the senators; and the most unlettered Christian is in the sight of God superior to Plato.'
 C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Training for Urban Ministry: UMP Lite and Webinars

You can now do parts of the Urban Ministry Program through online webinars with me. Here's what you need to know:

1) I've broken the UMP down into smaller chunks (called UMP Lite). This means you can just start off with a 4 week interactive online course (1 evening a week), and see if its for you or not. If you want to progress onto further modules, you can. If you want to call it a day, that's cool too.

2) I'm teaching the UMP online through webinars. This means, as long as you have a webcam, and internet, you can join me one evening a week for training (from anywhere in the world). Its an interactive course, so you can ask questions, and we can have some back and forth, as well as going through the UMP curriculum.

3) The first module I'm teaching in November is Exegesis part 1. We'll do this on Thursday nights 8-9:30pm. This is designed for everyone, from recent converts to mature believers. We'll cover exegesis vs eisogesis, and how to use the following tools: co-text, cross references, different translations, systematic theology, Biblical theology, community. We'll discuss principles, and examples, and then for homework you get to practice it. The cost is £5 per session plus materials, but if you can't afford that, I'll sort you out anyway. Sessions are 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd Nov - unless I get lots of feedback asking for different dates. Sessions are recorded, so if you miss one, you can catch up. There will be homework to do in the week too.

4) The second module is Exegesis part 2. We'll do this after Christmas. This will cover genre specific exegesis, such as how to interpret OT narrative, or NT epistles, or the Psalms etc.

5) The third module is How to Teach the Bible in the urban context. You can take this module without having done the previous parts. We'll do this in the Spring. This will include how to preach to the heart, and how to preach to a variety of different types of people and cultures at once.

If you're interested, contact me here
If you'd like me to do something a bit different for your particular context, then please let me know, and I'll see what I can do.

If you want to know more about the Urban Ministry Program, go here

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reaching the Unreached 2017 conference videos now online!

Here are the videos from last years conference focusing on real growth in council estate ministry. Obviously, the workshop session where small groups discussed how they're seeing growth in their context was not filmed - but hopefully you get the gist.

Part 1 1:

Part 2:

Part 3: