Sunday, April 23, 2017

When one of our Generals Dies: God's Sovereignty and Mike Ovey

I previously wrote my thoughts about Mike Ovey passing here. Since then I've been thinking about how we can respond when one of our generals dies.

1) Mourning.

Like we've all be doing. Grieving the loss of such a great man. Acknowledging the pain and wrongness of death.

2) Comforting.

Giving comfort to one another, especially Heather and her children.

3) Acknowledging God's an even greater General, with an even greater strategy than ours.

Like us, Habakuk wrestled with what he saw as a bad situation where God wasn't doing the right thing. He came to see how God had a well thought out plan. When things seem to go all wrong, God uses these things as part of his master strategy to defeat evil, benefit us in the long run, and glorify His name. Whilst's its hard to see how God will bring good out of Mike's death, we have other examples that help us understand the concept.

David Brett for example, died whilst trying to climb a mountain in Australia. This was a tragic loss, with probably no immediate benefit. However, the people searching for David's body discovered a baby's jacket that was crucial evidence in the famous 'dingo' case. The discovered jacket revealed that Michael and Lindy Chamberlain had not murdered their child. A great miscarriage of injustice was undone because of David's tragic death.

Jesus' disciples, the generals of the early church were all persecuted and died, some at an early age, yet the church continued to grow at an incredible rate, spurred on by the examples of these saints.

We lost one of our greatest generals, but we have an even greater general running things from Heaven.

4) Stepping up to be more like Mike, and ultimately Jesus.

A kind, humble, yet brilliant leader has gone and left a vacuum. Its a noticeable vacuum because we have many gifted leaders, but not many gifted and humble leaders. Like Peter, we might wonder why Mike went, whilst Jesus might be saying to us, 'You must follow me' (John 21:20-22). I don't say this for Mike's family to whom I only say, 'I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'm praying for you, and hope maybe some of my prayers for grief might help.' I'm only saying this to the rest of us. Might Jesus want us to follow Mike's example in following Christ? Like I said before, we need more Mikes not less. Might this be the wake up call to this? We can say, 'Why God did you take Mike, we need more Mikes?' Or we can say, 'Why am I not living more like Mike and Christ? We need more Mikes, I will step up to the challenge (1 Cor 11:1).

Sunday, April 16, 2017

My doctoral studies on Council Estate Discipleship

For the last few years (maybe since 2011?) I've been doing a Doctor of Ministry at Westminster Theological Seminary, focusing on Urban Mission.

This has led to me looking at what does the Bible say about discipleship, and how should it then be done on Council Estates.

Most of my work is relevant to discipleship in any culture. Some of it is particularly relevant to Council Estate culture.

Here's some bullet points of some of my findings
  1. God uses us as image bearers to make disciples
  2. The better we reflect God's image, the better we disciple
  3. The image of God involves
    1. Representation
    2. Relationship
    3. Assessment / Evaluation
    4. Speech/Voice
    5. Power and Authority
    6. Enjoyment
  4. We need to be discipled in all these traits of the image.
  5. As we grow in these traits, we become more effective at discipleship
  6. This process needs to include the following:
    1. Hearing the truth
    2. Focusing on Christ
    3. Putting off the old
    4. Putting on the new
    5. Speaking the truth to others
    6. Teaching all that Christ commanded
As a result of my studies I've written the Urban Catechism, and am now producing the Image Bearer's discipleship course.

and here's me trying to work on this:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trauma and Resiliency - some thoughts off the back of Phil Moore's post

This post is inspired by Phil Moore's blog post  'What does Resilience looks like in the face of traumatic Experiences'
In his video he covers some great material. Having watched it, and having experience trauma myself, here's some thoughts:

1) Its so important to have a caring community around you when you suffer trauma.

Sadly in my childhood I didn't have this when I was being traumatised. Then later, when I faced the trauma as an adult, I again lacked this support. This made things much more worse than they would have been with adequate love and support.

If Diane Langberg is right that Trauma is the new mission field of the church (and I think she is) - then as a church we need to grow in how we lovingly support people through trauma.

2) We need to define 'healing' after trauma.

Phil does a great job of introducing this subject in his video. For me, I've struggled with this for many years. A long time ago I was in a Christian group that said that you wouldn't feel any pain of the past because God has healed you - but it didn't prove true. Later I moved to another Christian group who just seemed clueless about the emotional pain, and brain damage of trauma. Eventually I met a good counsellor and had to ask lots of of questions, and do a lot of my own searching of Scripture and processing to understand what healing should look like in my life.

3) We need to rewrite our stories.

Re-viewing our story from a Biblical framework that includes the fall and God's Sovereignty and compassion, and his redemption, can be immensely helpful. I've recently written a book about how I re-wrote my story with gospel truth, and achieved a type of healing I'd not been able to receive before.

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Discipleship course 'Image Bearers' part 3 UPDATED WITH DISCUSSION GUIDE

This is the video for part 3 (followed by discussion guide)
Part 1 video can be found here
Part 1 discussion guide can be found here
Part 2 video can be found here
Part 2 discussion guide can be found here


Image Bearers 3 ‘Power’

You have authority to use your power to _______________ and __________________.

We were made to depend on God’s power every ____________.

In what situations do you feel a lack of power for serving God and others? _____________
Is God really unable to give you power in these situations?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being all the time, how often do you use the following ways of receiving the Spirit’s help?

1) Personal prayer
2) Personal Bible reading / study / meditation
3) Individual singing to God
4) Group prayer
5) Group Bible reading / study / meditation / sermons
6) Group singing to God
7) Confession to one or more people
8) Exhortation (urging), or encouragement from a church member or elder
Which of these means of grace could you use more of? _________________________

How does the flesh / devil / world tempt you to respond to a lack of strength? (Compare with Heb 4:16)

Pray together and confess

Read Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus promises us his presence and authority to make _____________________.

Memorize and pray through these Colossians 1:28-29

Can you share any encouraging story of how God gave you strength recently?

When making disciples, in what ways have you experienced working in your own strength?

In what ways have you experienced receiving Christ’s power?

Pray together

Friday, April 07, 2017

Imager Bearer's part 2 Discussion guide

Here's the discussion guide to go through after the video for part 2.

Read Genesis 1:26

What’s your knee jerk reaction to the idea of ruling for God?

In what ways does the world try to influence you to rule?

How does the flesh or devil tempt you to rule badly, or not rule at all?

How are you tempted to be a consumer, rather than a ruler?

Luke 12:31-32
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Memorise this verse together
Pray about this verse

What’s your sphere of influence?

How can you rule in the church?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Video Blogging about my disability

Last night I had a spit of the moment idea to blog through the chronic pain from Hypermobility Joint Syndrome. Not too sure where this vlog will lead. Might include other disability stuff (like travelling around London). Might cover other stuff like being a pastor of a small urban church. Here's the vlog:

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

As a disabled man in constant pain I still disagree with my RE teacher about euthanasia

I write this post whilst in agonising physical pain. Last night, I prayed that for God to help me finish the Imager Bearers discipleship program I'm writing, so that he might possibly let me die having left behind something of use to others. I write this just to let you know that I understand what its like to be disabled, in great pain, and desiring to die.

Last year the paralympian Marieke Vervoort who is in almost constant pain said she wanted to end her life. It reminded me of my own struggle, but also of Religious Education lesson discussions in school years ago. My RE teacher and most of the class would tell me I was wrong for disagreeing with euthanasia, they explained to me that its not fair for people to go on in so much pain. Years later, having spent many years in constant pain, and having prayed for God to take me from this earth, I still disagree with them, and here's why.

1. The onus should be on people around the hurting to bring them comfort. 

I remember watching a comedy sketch where a motorcyclist was injured, and a man came up to him, and said, 'Don't worry, I'll save you.' and then broke his neck, as though putting a suffering bird out of its misery. This is how I feel society's response to physical suffering is. 'Don't worry Duncan, you can go to a special clinic and be killed, and end your suffering.' 
How about if instead, society said, 'We will endeavour to bring you as much comfort as possible during your suffering.' 
This is what Jesus did with us. Rather than kill us because of our miserable sinful condition, he came and entered our suffering, and comforted us, at great sacrifice to himself.

2. Its not my choice when I die. 

That's up to God. He's wiser than me, knows more than me. I trust him that he has a better plan than I could ever think up.
I remember a movie about a husband and wife stranded in the Grand Canyon. The husband couldn't move, and wolves were about to attack them, so the wife killed him as a mercy killing. Right after he died, a helicopter arrived to save them. Same way, we might think all is lost, its time to die, when in fact God has some kind of rescue just around the corner.

Sorry for the terseness of this post. Written whilst in extreme physical pain! I figure its more effective to send it out like this, than to smoothen it out later.