Getting Married in a church?

I would like to draw to your attention to this video which tells you; what a Church of England “wedding” is meant to be like. As soon as it began me and my Fiance both cringed!!! There are several things that are missing:

1. God.

2. The mention of Jesus Christ.

3. Any useful information.

4. No christian couples represented

5. No mention of bans

6. No mention of wedding prep

7. No gospel

8. No reasons for marriage

9. No model of Christian marriage

10. No costs

11. No marriage after care or prayer.

This video doesn’t promote marriage full stop, let alone marriage in a church. Apparently all the guy could tell me (I presume he had marriage prep?) “that we could get married there and all we had to do is go 6 times over 6 months!!” That is criminal!!!!  Shall I tell my finance who goes to a pentecostal church that she can go to church once a month? How is that going to help your marriage? He then says “We went a few times afterwards” Was there any support for the couple in prayer? Was the gospel shared to them? What were they doing in that church?

Another woman says “The majority of people in the UK said a church wedding was the proper place to get married, its more proper”. I didn’t realise that a church wedding was a place?

Then a vicar on the video called Geoffrey Eze then says “What makes a church wedding special? The music, the hymns, the vicar, the venue, powerful vows, the love of two people coming together”. Where is God mentioned? Where is Jesus Mentioned? Where is the power and love of God who is love mentioned? Whats more important, the presence of a vicar or the presence of God?

I know it is encouraging to see people getting married in church, and it is a opportunity for the gospel to be preached, but videos like this won’t grow the church. I’m planning to get married in a C of E church but there are more problems in this video then I want to mention, because it could put you off. As I’m going into the church myself, I really can’t stress how important God is in your wedding, and the power of prayer.

I pray for this video to be reviewed and changed!!

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The Holy Spirit: A fountain of Holiness and Joy.

To continue from my previous post, I’m exploring the works of Johnathan Edwards in my quiet time. He is looking at the 2 Corth 1:21-22 which says

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

We can see several things that God has done for us. 1. He is by God alone that we can stand firm in Christ. God sent his Son for us, he ordained before the world was created that we today could only stand firm in Jesus, with him. 2. He anointed us. We are individual and special to God. We have all been anointed/ chosen by God to do his will. 3. Set his seal of ownership. We are his! He has put a mark in our hearts to realise that we are his. We are people who are not blind to the truth, and we can see the living Jesus working in our lives and the lives around us. God created us. The created thing belongs to the creator. When we send a letter or create a piece of art, we usually put a mark or signature. That is the same as the seal of God. The created thing is not separate. We are not separate from God, but sealed with him. 4. He put the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of what is to come. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that we are in Christ, and prepare us for his return. For Edward says:

“The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant is a vital principle in the soul”

It is vital to have the Spirit in our hearts, because it convicts us of our sins, and is the fountain of true holiness and joy; like a spring of water. He then refers to John 4:14:

“but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And John 7:38-39a

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive,”

Edward then concludes by saying

“It is by partaking in the Holy Spirit that the saints have communion with Christ in His fullness”

Let us be people who dwell and live by the Spirit of God, and stand firm in the faith of Christ. For here are two questions to think about

1. To what extent ae you experiencing the fullness of Christ?

2. What is involved in “partaking of the Holy Spirit”?

The Extreme dangers of Lust

As part of my own devotional time in prayer and reading the bible, I use a book based on Johnathan Edwards. He was one of the greatest American preachers that moved a growth of the christian faith in America, and one of his most famous sermons was “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”.

The page for the day took me to 1 Peter 2:11 which says”

 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul”

We live in a society that depends purely what the world thinks, says and does. We have gone away from scripture, and depend on what we as intelligent beings believe in, and that is ourselves and our desires. As part of our preaching group, we are reading a book called “Instruments in the Redeemer’s hands” by David Tripp, and what we have read so far describes the conditions of our hearts, which lead to the lusts in our lives. We need to be strangers and Aliens as Peter says. We are not of this world. We will be rejected and abused for what we believe in, but we shouldn’t come to depend on the world, but on Jesus. From Edwards reflection he says

“So far as any lust prevails, it biases the mind to approve of the lust”

This is the deceitfulness of sin. We are blinded by the truth because of the lusts in our hearts. We can not understand dour own lusts until we see them through the eyes of our saviour. We are not immune to this, but we are different. We have a Lord and King who loves us, and he died for us. Why should we lust for things that we can’t have, and rejoice in the gift of grace that God is willing to give each one of us, to those who trust and belive in him. We are all human, we all sin, we all fail. We are Alien to those who don’t know the love of Christ. So to leave you with a few questions about the lusts that we have in our hearts and lives:

1. In what way have you seen the evidence of these truths in your life?

2. What can you do to protect yourself against lust?

The encouraging fruits of youth ministry

The last few weeks have had a really impact on the youth ministry of the church youth group. From the start of October, we had 11 young teenagers 11-15 coming to our youth group, and studying the CY Youth Christianity Explored course using the Soul DVD series, then I remembered that the group had a Facebook page for the older ones, and I put a post on asking them to bring some of their mates to the group. I did that at 5:30, then at 6:45 only 1 child turned up. Disaster!! I thought that would have done the trick. We still persevered with the study and at 7:00 5 more turned up in the meeting room. They were followed by 3 more at 7:10. At 7:15, we have 16 teenagers cramped for space in the meeting room. I was that shocked I couldn’t really continue with the study so I put on the DVD and they were all captivated. At the end of the study we spent an hour and a half  playing games and having free time with table tennis tables and table football. At 7:30 we had another 3 more turn up. 19 teenagers!! Praise God!! I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a one hit wonder that week, but the week after we had up to 20 teenagers turn up to the meeting. I can say at least 4 of those teenagers were seriously thinking about giving their lives to the Lord, and we are still working and praying with them. It’s great to see the fruits of  God’s word, and so I had to share it with you all.

Another encouraging thing that happened last Sunday was the sign of boredom in the youth in the area. I had two teenagers come to me on a Sunday afternoon and say “We’re bored!!! What can we do?” So I took them for a kick about at the local park and do a bible study with them, and they enjoyed it!!!!!

I’m very encouraged with what God is doing in the lives of these teenagers. I pray that they will come to accept Christ as their Lord and king. It’s great to see seeds being planted and fruits developing.

Book Review: Why God won’t go away! Alister Mc Grath. Engaging with the New Atheism

This is a book that I have Just finished reading. It is that good, I can’t help but blog it.

I wrote a few months ago a book review on John Lennox, about the controversy between Hawking’s view of creationism and the true Christian faith of creation. This encouraged me to read “Why God won’t go away!” by Alister McGrath, because this is an important issue of bridging the use of science and the belief of religion together.

Alister McGrath is a professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at King’s College London, and Director of its centre of Theology, Religion and Culture. He has written many theological books like “Mere theology” and “An introduction to Christian theology”. The purpose of this book is to inform the christian believer about the characteristics of “New Atheism” and how they are false in comparison to the christian faith. He breaks the book up as thus:

1. What is the New Atheism?

2. Engaging with New Atheism: 3 core themes

3. Where does the New Atheism go from here?

What is the New Atheism?

It would be useful to define what New Atheism is, before we explore its faults. New Atheism was formulated by the combination of 3 influential atheists. They are Sam Harris “The End of Faith”, Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” and Daniel Dennett “Breaking the spell”. These 3 men with their books started a movement in 2006, which then was gaining members. In 2007 Christopher Hitchens became involved with his book “God is not great”. McGrath goes on to explain how they became influential, and tried to convince the world that all the problems in the world, are down to organised religion. McGrath then gives a very good character profile of each of the men. They are convinced that all the terrorism and wars are down to the Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Judaism and Christianity), but McGrath then continues to explain what is different between New Atheism and Atheism. He concludes that New Atheism is totally anti-theistic. Atheism, has become so broad it includes areas of scepticism and Gnosticism. There are very few real atheists out there, because many people don’t believe there is a God, but they can’t be certain. This makes the case for a new sect of people who totally reject there is a God, and go further by giving evidence for it. These are the New Atheists. New Atheists are also anti-liberal. McGrath points out that two people: Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell call themselves “Brights” to create a distinction to other Atheists. This is a really good chapter to understand what a New Atheist really is.

Engaging the New Atheism : 3 core themes.

McGrath explains in defence that there are problems within religion, but he argues that it isn’t religion to blame for all the problems. The thought is “Religion poisons everything”. That is true to an extent. Organised religion that puts more focus on mankind, and not on God are poisoned, because they are not living by the truth, instead they live by what they want. New Atheism isn’t singling anything out in particular with what is wrong with religion, but saying that religion as a whole is poison. McGrath though argues against it because he clearly gives evidence that each Abrahamic religion teaches to love each other and to live in peace. McGrath then goes on an attack against secular violence (like the UK riots) and argues that organised religion is a way that distinguishes what type of human beings we are: here is a quote:

“Human beings are very good at inventing ways of distinguishing themselves from other groups of human beings and allowing these differences to generate conflict. Religion is one such difference. But there are lots of others: gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language and football. Get rid of religion, and conflict and violence will simply find another occasions for their emergence and other grounds for their justification”. (pg55)

     McGrath then goes on to two more chapters: 1) is about the rationality of God. He defends the evidence that there is a God, and shows up the heresy in the “Bright” movement. 2) The proof of Science. He argues that science is more in a box because it doesn’t allow flexibility or spontaneous calculation. That is why they can’t find God, because God is not in logic, because he is logic. He is outside of logic, and that is what they don’t understand. McGrath wraps this section by saying:

“Sadly many contributors to New Atheist websites seem to think that loud and rude insults trump evidence-based argument. I’m not sure whether that tells us something about the intellectual weakness of New Atheism or about the state of contemporary Western culture.” (pg87)

Where does the New Atheism go from here?

This small section highlights what New Atheism is doing now, and there are many scientists who thought that this sect of Atheism would be a good one to follow, but there is serious scepticism about this now. As the title of the book shows, God will not go away, even if a religious sect wants it to.

Hopefully that has given you a flavour to read this book. I would encourage you to share it with others, because this is another cult that is trying to put God in a box, and they need to know the truth.

Happy reading!!!!!

Trying something new…

As I’m preparing to begin a second year as a Ministry Trainee, I am willing to try out some new things that could either help me in my ministry or hinder it. Here are a few things that I will keep updating :

1. Planned for the year:  I was inspired by what Mark Driscoll said in one of his talks at the Church planting Boot camp 5th May Acts 29 (Birmingham 2020) conference at Carr’s Lane Birmingham this year when he said  “Prepare well in advance, think about the music and every small group in what you prepare, everything up to the pulpit”. He prepares well in advance. He mentioned that he tries to prepare his sermons and music at least a year at a time! That is what I’m trying out. I have planned the themes for every youth night in our youth groups for the whole year. It takes the pressure off you during the year. We will see if it works. You might think that I’m not letting God work through it if I plan it all, and you are correct. That is why it is still open for change, but it is better to be prepared instead of panicking.

2.  Visiting people: Being here for a year has given me the chance to get to know people. I haven’t really done any visiting or seeing people, and I want to try this out this next 12 months. I have a passion to watch people grow in their faiths, but also to offer prayers and just be there for people who live on their own or have an illness.

3.  Saying “Compline” (Night Prayer): I have only done my “quiet time” in the morning when I get up, and a quick prayer before I go to bed. Using the Night prayer in the Common Worship Daily Prayer book, has enabled me to thank God for the things during the day; and any problems that I have had, I can offer them to God before I go to bed. I will probably do this for a while, and see how it goes.

They are 3 things that I’m aiming to continue for the whole year, and to contribute towards my continued growth in faith and love, and passion for the gospel.

Do you try something new?

 

 

I’ve been recommended for ordained ministry!!!

It is official, this Ministry Trainee has been to a Bishop Advisory Panel and has been recommended for training for ordained ministry. It has been a process of nearly 2 years, but the journey has only just begun. There are a few tips that I can give any potential ordinands who are waiting for a BAP or considering the call to ordained ministry but I will say that they might not apply to you but they did to me.

1. Be yourself! The advise I get from every other candidate is to remember that the people who will recommend you are looking at what person you really are. They will look at people who have potential; especially if you are a younger candidate. If this is God’s purpose for you, IT WILL HAPPEN!!

2. Pray Pray Pray!!! During a time of pressure, you value your times of prayer. God is involved with this journey too, so make sure you keep him involved with what you are considering. He knows what will happen because he is an all-knowing and all-loving God. Don’t pray that God will get you through your BAP, but pray that God’s will, will be done. You need to trust that God has everything under control, so PRAY!!!

3. Be Prepared!! It is useful to have a few bible verses and scenarios up your sleeve when it comes to interviews, but make sure you have all the things you need. I remember turning up to my BAP, and i came for my pyjamas, but they weren’t in my case!! I had to sleep in one of 3 shirts I brought with me and my boxers for every night. I know it is a nervous and pressured time, but make sure you have everything.

4. Enjoy it!!! My Director of Ordinands (DDO) said that people find BAP’s very stressful and emotional times! That is 100% true!! The first day I was shaking like a tumble dryer, but I settled into the dynamic atmosphere and began to enjoy the fellowship with the other candidates. You are all in the same situation. We went out every night to the pub (2 nights) and shared the fellowship with one another. I made connection with people and I enjoyed the time being there, at the end I didn’t want to leave!!!

I hope these tips will help some of you who are considering ordained ministry, or have selection panels in the future; that what ever happens; God has complete control on what will happen.

Ephesians 1:11 “In him we were also chosen,having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

If you want anymore tips then let me know.