Archive for February, 2012

I thought I would share some encouraging news that occurred on Wednesday evening. We are promoting a youth camp run by Ventures to our youth group this week. We had one youngster who went last year and he “loved it!”

We planned all the camp games that we played this year and we had a video project we did to show them. They all loved it!! The games were fun, the video was captivating, and when I asked “who wants to go this year?” I had 6 people who wanted to go. My personal aim was to have at least 5 youngsters go while I’m at the group because I leave for theological college in September.

Can you please pray for these youngsters and our TNG leaders as they prepare for camp! The camp is a christian camp and its purpose is to be life changing for these kids.

Here are my thoughts on this final chapter in the book:

1. What have I found helpful/insightful in this chapter?

Our Identity is in Christ! Tripp brings out in this penultimate chapter that we need to identify ourselves in Christ, because we also are people in need of change. We are adopted into the family of God because we are all in Christ. Paul describes it in Ephesians 2:6-7

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

We have life because we are in Christ. The other image that is useful to remember is Jesus’ saying “I am the true vine”. He is the vine and we are the branches, for he is the roots in which we live. “As people pursue the process of lifelong change, they need to live out of a gospel identity.” P260. That is the key. As people change, their Identity is in Christ.

The other insightful thing that came out the chapter is providing accountability. Tripp describes it as this: “Accountability requires a willingness to roll up our sleeves and get alongside people as they fight the war between sin and righteousness” P268

We are meant to walk people through the difficulties of their faith. It is a bit more than then seeing them once in a while and seeing if they are alright! We need to get alongside people who we have in our care. The example that comes to mind is the Congregational pastors. They need to really get to know their people (Chapter 10) and then work with them through their walks of faith. Tripp continues “God calls us to the same ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. He calls us to stand with people as the step out in faith, obedience and courage. This is the ministry of accountability.” P 269. He the lists what Accountability provides which are:

Accountability provides structure.

Accountability provides guidance.

Accountability provides assistance

Accountability provides encouragement

Accountability provides warning.

The final part of the book brings out the 8 core truths of being an ambassador and I hope that they will apply to my ministry:

1. We need God and his truth to live as we were meant to live. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

2. Each of us has been called by God to be an instrument of change in the lives of others.

3. Our behaviour is rooted in the thoughts and motives of our hearts.

4. Christ has called us to be his ambassadors, following his message, methods, and character (2 Corth 5:14-21)

5. Being an instrument of change involves incarnating the love of Christ by sharing in people’s struggles, identifying with their suffering, and extending God’s grace as we call them to change.

6. Being an instrument of changes means, seeking to know people by guarding against false assumptions, asking good questions, and interpreting information in a distinctly Biblical way.

7. Being an instrument of change means speaking the truth in love.

8. Being an instrument of change means helping people do what God has called them to do by clarifying responsibility, offering loving accountability and reminding them of their identity in Christ.

2. How will what I’ve read apply to my preaching ministry or counselling?

I pray that in my ministry I will apply in both my preaching and my counselling what Tripp says “LOVING as Christ loved us, and going beyond the casual to really KNOW people. It is loving others enough to SPEAK the truth to them, helping them see themselves in the mirror of God’s Word. And it is standing with others; helping them to DO what God has called them to do” P274

3. Next time we meet, I would like to discuss… Who are the people we are accountable to, and in what ways we can help them all in their journey of faith?

As I was on my way to MMTC this morning I thought I would grab a quick coffee at Star bucks in Birmingham. The girl at the till looked like she was high on caffeine because she was being very chatty. As I approached the till she said to me before I put my order in…” What makes you jump?” I responded clueless and she replied ” I jumped because of my hand shadow” she said. That was a good example of how we today can get frightened of things, but that doesn’t turn into fear! What we do instead is laugh it off and move on. We need to bring the fear of God back into peoples lives. A quote from Ecclesiastes 5 that I studied today gives us the example of someone who understood how to fear God. I quote Ecclesiastes 5:7.
” For when dreams increase and words grow many there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear” He is a God who could destroy us, he has the power to move mountains and create the smallest organisms! But he loves us! Let us be people who share the fear; not in the frightened way, but through the love of God expressed through his Son Jesus Christ to those we know.

As I am enjoying my half term holiday, it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the events over the weeks after Christmas and assess how much has been done. In ministry, we can get caught up in so much planning for the future that we forget about the joys and sorrows that have occurred. I can remember one incident when I was playing football with some guys, as part of our Men’s ministry; and one of the youth who was playing, nutmeg-ed me in goal! That was embarrassing! Some of the sorrows are all results of sin, and have been confessed, but I need to dwell on them thoughtfully.

At the same time as meeting up with friends and spending time with my partner, I am trying to catch up on some reading of books that I have bought but haven’t read yet. The first one is by a guy who runs some of the lectures at MMTC (Midland Ministry Training course). Tim Wards “The Word of Life”It is all about the authority of scripture as the word of God, and looking how God relates to his word, and how we are to interpret God’s word correctly. This is a light read compared to John Frame’s “The Doctrine of God” that I did last year, but it is part of my preparation before heading off to college, as well as reading up on my notes on the lectures that he did on the doctrine of the word of God, which he did as part of the 1st year program at MMTC.

As we head towards Lent, and the preparations for what we are going to give up, (mine is chocolate like last year), let us use this chance to reflect on how we as God’s children can be bringing people we know towards knowing him. There might be someone who you know who have all the questions under the sun, and yet haven’t read the bible. As I prepare for Lent and everything for next week, after a wonderful break; let us pray for God to break out in to people’s lives this year!

 

 

Here are my thoughts on chapter 13:

1. What have I found helpful/insightful in this chapter?

We have had a good deal of theory and application techniques in the recent chapters, but we have come to the DO chapters. Tripp brings out on the very first page of the chapter
“Change always demands a deeper understanding of the things of God and a more careful application of those truths in our lives.” p239 we have to apply the truths in our lives for real, not a passive idea. If we do, we will expect change, if not, and then we become stagnant. The problem is: it is a long process. I am still quite young to understand the period of a long process, but change is always going on. “Yet all this change, we are still changing.” p240. There is never “too” much change, because that is what the gospel is doing in our lives if we apply it effectively.
Paul says as Tripp quotes 2 Corinthians 11:1-3, for we need to look at the long view of life, and look at the periods of our lives that change is going to need to take place.

I was really helped by the description of Sin in this chapter as “Now-ism”. As I’m going forward into ministry, I tend to get concerned when the process slows up. I realise that it is my own selfish now-ism that is controlling my responses, and being part of a dynamic society, I tend to lean towards quick fixes and not long-term solutions.

Tripp describes “DO teaches us how to apply truths we have learned, personal insights, we have gained, and commitments we have made, to our daily lives” p243 Those who do are
“People who begin to follow Christ by faith in practical ways will increasingly expose their hearts”. P244 Over the long process of Change and “As the heart is revealed, people can learn how to live a ‘changed and being changed lives’ ” p244 this is the process of change. It is not just simply saying “I will accept Christ” and do nothing about it. There needs to be physical change and a spiritual change as Christ works through our lives.

I have found the personal ministry agenda very useful because it has set out the principle questions when dealing with someone in a pastoral way, and the second objective about clarifying the responsibilities.

The final bit that Tripp brings out to me is being prepared to talk to people. We must be prepared, what we might say, and he gives 3 agenda questions:

1. What does the Bible say about the information gathered? None of us has a completely uncorrupted Christian world view or mastered the gospel in all its applications.

2. What are God’s goals for change for this person in this situation? I can’t lead a person if I don’t know where we are going, and I must obey and lead people to where God is calling them.

3. What are some biblical methods for accomplishing God’s goals of change?

2. How will what I’ve read apply to my preaching ministry/ counselling?

This chapter has given me a lot of practical applications in which I must put in to practise. I hope to apply my preaching more to the questions of the people who I aim my talk to, but also to highlight that my interpretation is not the concrete one. I know that I am a sinner like everyone else and I know that I can never solve a person’s problem, but I pray that all I have learned from the other chapters will be put into practise as I continue my journey of faith.

3. Next time we meet, I would like to discuss…How often do we prepare what to say to someone, and which ways are the most effective

Here are my notes for Chapter 12:

1. What have I found helpful/insightful in this chapter?

This chapter is very similar to chapter 11, about dealing with confrontation and rebuking, but this has more to do with how to apply in to our ministries.

How do you confront someone like the example of Dan and Jim?

Tripp says “How we live with one another sets the stage through the way we speak to each other”

The way we live our lives is an example of how we communicate to people what we are like. We might set the agenda on what we speak about to someone but “The Lord has his own agenda which is so much bigger and better than ours.” The Lord is with us in the confrontation. He deliberately sets the encounters we have. “He displays his glory by transforming the thoughts and intentions of our hearts”. God is in complete control in what we say and do but Tripp gives us the warning.

“We can’t be satisfied with pleasing ourselves in what we say and do, but must ask what would please him (God)… People who approach life this way are ready to serve as God’s instruments of change”.

We must always think “What satisfies God?” We can fall into the trap of thinking that the person who is in need, is trying to reach your own personal targets, when they should be aiming to glorify God.

The 4 step frame of the confrontation process is very helpful:

1. Consideration: What does this person need to see that he does not see, and how do I help him? There are 5 questions that help ask considerate questions 1. What was going on? 2. What were you thinking and feeling as it was going on? 3. What did you do in response? 4 Why did you do it? What were you seeking to accomplish? 5. What was the result? Tripp says “When you encourage this kind of change you are doing the work of an ambassador = you are incarnating the presence of the Messiah who gives sight to those in spiritual darkness.”

2. Confession: Sinners find confession hard (Everyone). We need to encourage them to speak humbly and lead them to prayer and seek God’s forgiveness and other people’s.

We as counsellors need to confess our sins in our own hearts at the same time because we are dealing with sin and we can be infected quite easily.

3. Commitment. Don’t Soften God’s call for concrete commitments of the heart and life. God’s is unwilling to settle for anything less than our hearts.

4. Change.

2. How will what I’ve read apply to my preaching ministry or counselling?

I was very moved by the example Tripp gave about asking a man who had anger problems to keep a journal of his life. Then when they met up, Tripp got him to read back his journal, and the man said in tears “The man who wrote this journal is a very angry person!” I would like to use this in my ministry when I will encounter people in a situation where there is something wrong with them I their lives. I will try to not be a person who stands out of someone’s confession, but to be willing confess my sins with those who find it hard to. This chapter really highlights that we are all sinners, but we are saved by grace. I would like to use all the above questions practically and part of my pastoral set up when talking to someone.

3. Next time we meet I would like to discuss…

How can you be considerate and committed to someone who is not listening to anything you say?

Here are my notes for Chapter 11:

1. What have I found helpful/ insightful in this chapter?

Rebuking someone in the Love of God is not to be feared or regret but encouraged in order to confront sin, and help each other grow stronger in faith, and to remain faithful to God’s word. I have always thought that rebuking someone would cause real conflict and create barriers for the gospel. But I am completely mistaken! Tripp says “A rebuke free of unrighteous anger is a clear sign of biblical love.” The Bible presents confrontation as one of the cords of a strong relationship, a normal part of the interaction that makes the relationship what it is. I don’t cope with confrontation or being rebuked very well but I understand that it is through rebuking that we are confronting people’s sin. Using the Bible as the focus for confrontation means starting with my own heart. If I don’t I will tend to according to Tripp:

1. Turn moments of ministry into moment of anger.

2. Personalise what is not personal.

3. Be adversarial in my approach.

4. Confuse my will with God’s will.

5. Settle for a quick solution that doesn’t affect the heart.

But we need to rebuke because:

1. The deceitfulness of sin

2. wrong and unbiblical thinking.

3. My view of life tends to shaped by my experiences.

2. How will what I’ve read apply to my preaching ministry or counselling?

I need a model of daily intervention of honest rebuking and make it a regular part of all my relationships. I hope the people I talk to will confront themselves with their sin. I pray I will not condemn them; a sinner to a sinner. In My preaching, I hope that as I study God’s word, and bring God’s people closer to him; I will be more confident in rebuking sin and bringing people to repentance and joy through the grace of Jesus Christ.

3. Next time we meet I would like to discuss…

“How do you rebuke someone without being Judgemental?” I would like to know ways which you can rebuke constructively.