NEW BLOG: The arrival of the Urban Curate

Well… It has been a while. Since the Ministry Trainee came to an end I have been training at Bible College and therefore I have not been able to update this blog as much as I wanted to. The blog remains the same with the same focuses but with a new name. The Urban Curate reflects what I will be doing over the next 3-4 years. I will be living in an Urban area near Birmingham and working in a local church that is small in number and strong in tradition. These posts will be a variety of experiences, reflections and learning that come from what the Lord is doing here and hopefully it will build and encourage Christian believers to be effective and growing disciples. As Paul encouraged the Colossian church by saying:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Col 2:6-8 NIV.

This is a challenge for us as Christians today. We need to be aware of what we believe and accept today. There is much heresy available on the Web, in magazines, newspapers, books, movies, etc. We need to be rooted in Jesus Christ and grow by being built up by his teaching and his grace. What is interesting in these verses (that you might want to reflect on) is the overflowing of thankfulness. We are so thankful for what the Lord Jesus has done by dying on the cross for our sins and to restore our relationship with God. It is by Christ alone that salvation is obtained and therefore we need to be full of thankfulness. I am so thankful that the Lord has called me to be a servant of his Word and that by his Spirit he has given me encouragement, Wisdom and knowledge. I pray that as you read this blog, you will be encountering God through his Word, by his Spirit, so you may be encouraged and grow in your faith. I hope you benefit from the blog. Please keep reading and growing in your faith!!!!

Good Friday Meditation service

As we are over the half way point in Lent, it is time to begin the preparation for Holy week. As a MT last year, I was given permission to conduct a Good Friday Meditation based on the Stations of the Cross. The aim of the service is to allow people to come into the church, say a few prayers, sing some hymns and then to begin the Stations. Unlike the traditional method of the Stations, I have made it more like a Labyrinth, to give people the chance to walk through the story in a different way.  There are so many variations to the stations, but I have chosen the nine that are scriptural in the gospels and they are:

Stations of the cross.

  1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 14:32-42
  2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested, Mark 14:43-52
  3. Jesus is judged by Pilate, Mark 15:1-15
  4. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross, Mark 15:21
  5. Jesus is crucified, Mark 15:21-32
  6. Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief, Luke 23:39-43
  7. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other, John 19:25-27
  8. Jesus dies on the cross, Mark 15:33-41
  9. Jesus is laid in the tomb. Mark 15:42-47

At each station, there is a bible open with the selected scripture for you to read the story, then there are application questions to reflect on. There is usually a reflective aid to help you focus, e.g. Jesus in the Garden is represented by a kneeler for people to kneel and pray. The natural way of going through the stations is in a chronological order, but you can go through it by a different order which would be a change.

If you are thinking about Good Friday this year and you have no plans, then I suggest this method as a good alternative for a Good Friday service.

TNG Group meeting: Camp theme

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.

Praying on a Train in the Quiet Zone

As I came back from Lichfield today, I was having some lunch, and I was using the opportunity to offer to God all that I had talked about with my DDO. It just occurred to me that I was sitting in the “Quiet Zone”. If you are on a long journey, or you are travelling by train to something that you need to pray about; I encourage you to use the Quiet Zone as a place of prayer and meditation. Well done to the rail network.

Christian Rap!!!

Secular music watch out!!! The amount of Christian music making it through to the charts is amazing in the States, but in the UK, there is a slow turnover of christian music. I composed an earlier blog describing the growth of Christian Metal music. Well believe it or not, there is something growing called Christian Rap music. The stage of Hip-hop and Rap has been dictated by a lot of corrupt lyrics about beating people up, and showing a “Macho” image. Why would you listen to that? What gives you the satisfaction to listen to the story of a Rapper who earns millions of dollars a year, rather than a Rapper who sings his music for the glory of God. When I became the MT at the church, I introduced to our youth group, Christian Rap. It caught on really quickly, and I have some of them listening to it on you tube. It caught the attention of my vicar, and now he has 2 albums and he listens to them intently.  The lyrics are exceptional!! They are all about the glory of Jesus, and that we are wretches and unworthy people to receive his grace. I’m really passionate about reaching the younger generation with this genre, in order to expose them to the faith of Jesus Christ and not Snoop Dog!!!

There are so many groups and singers out there. If you are a Christian Rapper; I would like to thank you for your ministry, also I will be praying for you to break out into the national charts in the UK and USA and across the world. What a way to worship God in our culture and generation!!!

I would like to leave you with two videos. Both are by a guy called “Lecrae”. He was exposed to the drug culture of today, but found Christ, and goes out to other youths who are exposed to this culture. Enjoy and keep listening to Christian RAP!!!

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?