As part of my training, I attend the Midland Ministry Training course, and on Thursday 17th May was the most amazing day since September. We had Mike Reeves come and give us a whole day of talks on the history of the church, and especially looking at the Reformation. Mike Reeves is the head of theology of UCCF (Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship), He was a minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place in central London and spent his spare time doing a doctorate in systematic theology at King’s College. He is now responsible for overseeing all the work of Theology Network. He has written so many books on historical theology, and I am planning to buy and read these, so watch this space for any reviews.
As part of the day, he went through the start of the Reformation looking at Martin Luther, then Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Johnathan Edwards and the Puritan Richard Sibbs. He then did a contrast on “Religious affections” between Johnathan Edwards and Friedrich Schleiermacher.
The biggest lesson that I learned from the day is from John Calvin’s 4 wheel mode of study to both people and pastors. As part of Calvin’s syllabus to train pastors, he introduced the studies of doctrines. This is something we need to start teaching more in our churches. The thought that I came away was. “We preach more bible yet we don’t teach more doctrine”. We need to start to ground our bible knowledge into the doctrines of the faith, and really get to know our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Only then will we begin to grapple with the heresies and false teachings that are being stirred up in the mix. Let’s all get back into Reformation theology and bring out the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
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!