Book Review on ‘Iron sharpens Iron’ By Orlando Saer.

This book is an absolute necessity in a small group leader’s library. There have been so many books written on leading small groups/ house groups, but Saer seems to have been able to condense the major themes and problems in leading house groups in to this volume. His experience goes before him, and he has seen many examples of both good and bad lead groups. This review is to give a taste of his nectar, which is simple and beautiful for a light read; and for anyone who wants to invest in getting it.

A bit about the author: Orlando Saer is a senior pastor of Cranleigh Baptist Church of Surrey. He has been involved with leading small groups and training other leaders for almost twenty years. He was a former teacher, and he has a family.

In his book he has 6 main chapters and they are very close and concise. They are:

 1. Why small group bible studies?

2. Preparing for leadership                                                            

3. Managing the group

4. Mapping out the study

5. Leading the meeting

6. Prayer, care and personal nurture.

1. Why Small groups?

He talks about the purpose of the small groups and he sums it up in to 4 points: 1: A good place to listen to God: each can help the other study the Bible. 2: A good place to talk to God, each can pray for the others in an informed way.3: A good place to care for one another; each can carry the others’ burdens. 4: A good place from which to reach the lost: members can work together to advance the gospel. His emphasis is that ‘It’s not a social club!!!!’

2. Prepare leaders

He is making a general prospectus on what a leader of a small group should look like. He shows that you don’t need to be a genius to lead one, but someone who can organise and follow the scriptures precisely. He says that the best leaders are those who have a ‘proven record of practical godliness and doctrinal orthodoxy’. They also have to set goals for others involved, and to understand the wrong motivation and misconceptions to be a leader.

3. Management.

This chapter has a great application of structure to show how a small group goes from ‘taking off’ to ‘landing’. He is trying to show the pros and cons of how a small group can go. It is a very helpful and graphical chapter for you to incorporate in a small group.

4. Mapping out the study

This chapter is the longest for a reason. It contains the structure to prepare a bible study. There are several graphical ideas in planning and conducting a meeting that you can use, and he emphases the great ways in leading a discussion; and the answers for problems. He is demonstrating how to make a passage that seems unrelated to the people in the group, in a way that it becomes relevant to them today. It’s a really good practical chapter

5. Leading

It’s about how to lead the meeting. It talks about deflective measures, and focused approaches to the passage, and how not to get carried away in a meeting. It’s very important to understand the way how to lead a study and to make it great!

6. Prayer, care, nurturing

This talks about the moment in a meeting when someone brings up a problem or a prayer request. It will help you to be focussed on the prayer and nurture time in regards to the meeting, and to see if it is appropriate for them to talk about it in the meeting or privately. 

There is also an evaluation sheet in the back to allow you to assess how your meeting goes!!

It’s a great book, and it’s a must if you want to set up/ lead a small group!

Book Review: “God and Stephen Hawking. Whose design is it anyway? By John C. Lennox

 

 

There have been many discussions and debates about Evolution and the existence of God, that many Christian writers had declared war against the scientific genius’ of the 20th and 21st Century.  Alistair McGrath has written a book called ‘The Dawkins Delusion’ to contradict Richard Dawkins book called the ‘God Delusion’. Dawkins is trying to convince the world that God doesn’t exist, and if he does, we don’t need him!  McGrath responds that Dawkins is a hypocrite of science and reason, because he can’t except that God does exist.

John Lennox is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford; and he has debated against Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in many situations, but he now concentrates on Stephen Hawking.

 He has written this light read to explore and to expose the falseness in Stephen Hawking’s new blockbuster, ‘The Grand Design’. Stephen Hawking is trying to promote the ‘New Atheism’ by claiming that the laws of physics themselves brought the universe into being rather than God.   Hawking’s says “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch-paper and set the universe going”

Lennox takes a closer look at the logic behind Hawking’s theory.    

Lennox writes 5 tidy Chapters with a rounding conclusion; and his style is easy to read, so you don’t need a 1st class honours degree in Physics or Theology to understand the main points.

Chapter 1: The Big Questions 

Lennox is trying to establish the big questions that Hawking’s wants to answer in his book. He highlights that Hawking is trying to answer philosophical questions by using scientific explanations rather than Philosophical reasons. Lennox argues that the questions Hawking is trying to answer are specifically philosophical questions that can only be answered from a philosophical point of view.  

Chapter 2: God or the Laws of nature

This is Lennox attack against the theory of Hawking.  Hawking argues that it is by gravity that the whole cosmos came to be, but Lennox argues that in science, you need a substance in order to get a process and result so, who created gravity? Hawking’s fails to answer it.

Chapter 3: God or the multiverse?

This is where Hawking looks like a fool, because he says that there are many universes, and he believes that we have an identical universe somewhere in space. This is not a debate about the existence of God. God could create another universe if he wanted to, but Hawking here doesn’t deny God, but questions his own logic.

Chapter 4: Whose design is it anyway?

Hawking is trying to prove that the universe was created by the force of gravity, and that gravity is the grand designer. Like in chapter 2, Lennox argues that Hawking forgets that he needs to explain where gravity comes from. This makes his argument invalid. There is only one creator and that is God.

Chapter 5: Science and rationality

Lennox describes in this chapter, the existence of God. He highlights Hawking’s misuse of science. He explains that there is more proof about the existence of God outside of science than science can disprove God. Hawking forgets that a fundamental characteristic of God is that he is a personal God, and that he can’t be exposed from every individual because that is impossible!!

Lennox concludes the book briefly by saying “I hope that for many of you this investigation of Hawking’s atheistic belief system will serve to confirm your faith in God… that it will encourage you not to be ashamed of bringing God into the public square by joining in the debate yourself”

This book is a must read if you want to continue with the live debate that is going around the world today. Get yourself equipped to face the atheism in your area/street, and be a living warrior to defend the faith we all believe and live in.

Learning new songs

I had the opportunity today to learn some new songs. I have the whole collection of the survivor songbooks, and my aim is to learn as many as possible. I’ve just gone through the first half of the first book. It’s a challenge to learn something new, but the rewards are worth it!! My love of music grows with every new song that I play. We as Christians should look for new ways to worship God, maybe there is a book in the bible you haven’t read or a song you don’t know!! Try it yourself!!

Traffic Wardens on the beat!!!!

I was helping out at our local food bank, and while it was quiet, I noticed a traffic warden hanging around. I noticed that he was concentrating on a car opposite to where I was. He must have stayed there for at least 10 mins, ready to pounce and slap a ticket for another annoyed law-breaker. He noticed me in the church building and, we saw the movement. He went straight up to the car and did the usual technique of photographs; and slapped the ticket on the windscreen, then ran off. Great! One law-breaker caught! Or was it one person that the council made money on! I really felt enraged; especially in the news about the cuts in police; there were more traffic wardens on the beat than police. That is ridiculous! The councils are wasting money on warden schemes, where the money could be used on real crimes. Don’t the police also have power to give parking tickets? It’s just common sense! I must have seen 6-7  different traffic wardens in a 20 minute walk and not a single police officer. This world has gone crazy!!!!  That imagery reminded me of satan ready to pounce on anyone who isn’t  a follower of Christ.

In 2 Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy about who is an approved workman by God. At the end of  chapter 2:25+26, he says;

25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 

If you used v26 out of context it would be a good quote to hear from a victim of a parking ticket. The christian believer needs to watch out for those who will cause distractions, because not all of us are unplugged. It reminds me of The Matrix, the agents in the film could transform any human who was connected to that system. The Devil can do that too. We need to be on the watch out, not just for traffic wardens, but also the devil, as he attempts to fulfil his deeds.

The Engagement!!!! The Full Story!!!

Well if you don’t know; I finally got the courage to ask my beautiful girlfriend, to marry me!! YEAH!!!!! It was a painful process. I was contemplating when to do the deed, and it dawned on me that I could do it this week! I have been given leave from my post as MT for a week, and I’m enjoying the company of My fiancée in the beauty of North Wales.

I planned to do it on the Sunday for a reason. Her Dad works during the week, and I needed to ask him. I eventually phoned him and rushed down the words ‘Can I marry your daughter?’  A calm and positive response was what I needed, and that is what I then received. I became frantic, and excited, so I took her to the point on Anglesey where Menai Bridge was on our left, Britannia Bridge is on our right, and in front of us are the hills of Snowdonia. I took her to the bench that was by itself, and then took at my Bible and turned to 3 passages. The first one was Psalm 121. It says

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—    (These were the mountains in front of us)
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—                     ( On the muddy path towards the bench)
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—      ( God has watched over me and my fiancée since before we were born. He has brought us together, and we are truly thankful)

the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you

from all harm                             (God watches us. He will protect us, and watch over our lives as we made this commitment)

he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

At this point I was getting worried about the commitment and the whole regime of engagement but I went on to the famous passage of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, and finally the passage in Titus 3:1-11 about doing what is good. It was also a reminder that it was a three-way relationship!

I then… Did the Deed, I knelt down on one knee in fresh Welsh mud; put the ring on the bible, said a prayer then…  asked Kim to marry me. I was expecting a No, but surprisingly it was a yes. Then I said: ‘Can i have some tea?’ Then we walked back and had a lovely evening.