Posts Tagged ‘God’

Conflict is something that I real struggle with and I know that I’m not alone. The other day, I was watched two people arguing about one of them jumping a queue in the local supermarket. The one who committed the crime was taking no responsibility and showing fingers and using abussive language. This is not unique. There are so many people in our society today who have no respect or are nasty for no apparent reason. So how do we cope with these people? How can we grow to love them? Are you someone who has become difficult to love?

I read a great little book called “How to love difficult people” by William Smith. It is part of the CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) series. (See picture).

Smith starts his solution by saying:

Learning to love difficult people starts with understanding that you (like me) are hard to love too.

We need to accept that we are not perfect and we can be difficult to love too. We sin like everyone else and to be humbled by that truth is the starting point to loving others who are like us. As Isaiah 53:6 reminds us:

We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all (NIV)

God sees us as difficult people, who are sinful, rebellious and selfish, like sheep, but he had a plan to reconcile us back to him. He sent Jesus as the good shepherd to gather us back to himself. God’s goal is to gather these difficult people into his fold. Do you think God gives up after a week, month, year? Why should we? We need to keep praying for the people in our lives who we find difficult- that they encounter his unfailing love. Don’t quit, but pursue. Be encouraging, pursue areas of growth, pursue them for their own sake and love them even if they don’t love you in return. I leave the last words to Paul and use them as a prayer for what you are going through:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 15:5-6 NIV)

Amen

Over the last 2 years, I have been fed by the wonderful wisdom that C.H. Spurgeon has provided in his “Morning and Evening Prayer”. For the Morning of the 15th August, Spurgeon takes us into middle of Genesis with this very specific verse:

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming.

Spurgeon draws out the importance of meditation and specifically, the location and time that should be devoted to it. He brings to light this amazing statement:

“If those who spend so many hours in idle company, light reading, and useless pastimes, could learn wisdom, they would find more profitable society and more interesting engagements in meditation than in the vanities which now have such charms for them”. C.H. Spurgeon. Morning Prayer 15th August.

Spurgeon emphasises that the time we have and the way we use it has a huge impact in the way we view our own lives and how we treat God. The amount of time we can spend watching ‘trash’ TV or playing games on our mobile phones – including the trend of catching Pokemon – is remarkable. We become slaves to our own pastimes and we find it very difficult to leave our phones alone for more than 5 minutes.

When was the last time you went for a walk without your phone or computer? When did you last go into a field and give praise to God for the beauty of his creation and grace he gives to us so freely?

I have recently discovered that I am spending 5-6 hours a day just sat in my study – working on my computer – this is not healthy – this is not spending time meditating and enjoying and receiving the wisdom of God through his Word. Spurgeon raises this issue:

“Our little rooms are neither so healthy, so suggestive, so agreeable, or so inspiring as the fields.” C.H. Spurgeon. Morning Prayer 15th August.

We are to meditate in the field – spend an hour in the evening everyday and go for a walk – giving thanks to God for the day you have had, for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and for giving us the wisdom found in his word. In the Urban climate I am him – Spurgeon does say – The Lord is found in the crowded streets too.

Where do you spend time in meditation on God’s Word? It is vital we spend time reflecting and growing closer to the Lord instead of growing more dependant on disposable ‘charms’.

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 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.

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!!!!!

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.

It is nearly time for my Bishop’s Advisory panel!!! I have less than a month to be ready for the grilling of my life. It has taken over 2 years of thought, prayer and discussions with my Director of Ordinands and I now feel ready for the Panel. The panels have changed over the years so I will outline what mine will involve; going in as a potential ordianand in 2011:

1. Application form: This form will be the most detailed piece of work that you will probably ever do on yourself. They ask you about every part of your life and work since you were born and they expect you to be as clear as possible. That is very difficult if you have a bad memory so if you are in the process of doing your form now; I suggest you start to jog your memories because it took me 3 hours to do that bit on the paper.

2. Written Reflection: For 2011 candidates, we had to write on an area of mission and evangelism. It was a 700-750 word assignment and the Advisors will look at your writing ability. This goes off with your application form, about 6 weeks before your panel.

3. The Presentation and group discussion: This is a piece of work that you have to prepare outside of the panel, but perform during the panel. You have to choose a specific subject that relates to one of the 9 criteria for selection and deliver a 5 min talk on your chosen subject. After your 5 minutes, you then have to chair a group discussion without a break, and you have to lead that discussion for 12 minutes. In the last 2 minutes, you have to summarise what the group has said and conclude the discussion.

4. Pastoral letter: At the Panel; you are given a scenario which requires a written response in the form of a letter. You are given the topic at the panel and you have the two days after to research and complete the letter on time. It should be no more than 500 words and has to try to address the issue. the panelists are looking at your ability to deal with pastoral issues in the form of a letter.

5. Personal inventory: This is a 45 minute test which involve multiple choice and essay based questions. It is a non-assessed test where the panelist see how you react to immediate issues and how you would address them.

6. Interviews: You have 3 interviews by all 3 panelists plus the panel secretary. The 3 panelists will use all the other tests that you have done plus your application form and references to try to see if you clear all 9 criteria. There is an education advisory, a pastoral advisory, and vocational advisory. They look all look at 3 categories in their fields and try to see if you are suitable. The biggest tip is: Be yourself!!

7. Results: Yes, No, Not yet. You will know about 10 days after your panel. Yes; means off to college and ordained ministry; Not yet; means there are some things that you have to do in order to go to college; No means that you are not suitable for training and you then explore with your DDO the options available or try again in 2 years time.

This process is what I will go through at the end of May. I have done 1 and 2, but I have the rest to face. I will let you know what the outcome will be for this ministry trainee…