Tuesday, 24 January 2012

What dreams have you got?

What dreams have you got?

God meant us to dream and we are not talking day dreaming here!  He spoke to people in the Bible through dreams. On the day of Pentecost when God poured out his Spirit on all flesh, Peter said the young would have visions and the old dreams - that's not visons for the future and dreams about the past. It refers to God speaking across the generations - with peole living longer, the average age in the UK for both sexes is now in the 80's, and we're healthier and stronger -  maybe its time whatever age you are to dream again in God, to listen for and hear God afresh.

The dreams and visions God gave people in the Bible were very often bigger than the individuals involved...... That's God's way! God always gives us dreams bigger than ourselves, otherwise they wouldn't be dreams, and they wouldn't require us to go out on a limb in God.

As we head into 2012, what are yours?

Are you just expecting more of the 'same old,' or are you looking for somehing to happen?

What are your dreams for....


Your marriage?

Your family?

Your education?

Your work?

Your church?

Your .......

Don't let this year be the same as last. Put your hand into the hand of God and walk into the future he has for you. Let him shape both you and it. You'll be surprised!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Missions & Culture

Well I’ve been away this week doing the fifth module of an MTh, this time it was Aspects of Modern Mission – Great stuff!

Now I grew up reading missionary stories, stories of men and women who gave up everything to go and tell the Good News of Jesus Christ in what were largely unknown places, sometimes it cost them their lives – I loved them and was inspired by them.

Today the story of missions is quite different, but nevertheless still as inspiring. The character of missions has changed, but the message hasn’t, what’s more it’s not only ‘over there’ it’s here, right on our doorstep.

The town I live in was predominately White English up until a few years ago – in fact I can remember going to Spring Harvest in the 1980′s (a big Christian event held over three weeks at Easter to accomodate the numbers), and hearing talk of a changing culture, pluralism etc and how we as Christians and the church should respond to it. Well, then it didn’t connect with me or the church I was in, my part of England was still very English indeed!

Today it’s very different, it’s fast becoming a town of many nations, and we are having to learn to do mission at home – to learn about and reach other cultures with the Good News of Jesus Christ, King and Saviour.

It also makes us reflect on our own culture – the early missionaries went to not only bring salvation but to ‘Christianise’ others, which tended to mean the imposition of a western colonial culture. Now we find ourselves asking in such a diverse world is there really one truly Christian culture? And with the world on our doorstep, how do we do reach so many people from different cultures? How do we build churches that are truly an expression of the manifold wisdom of God, a representation of the one new man in Jesus?

It’s easier to go the homogenous route, but that seems to deny the wisdom of God in the gospel, a gospel that not only breaks down the barriers between God and humanity, but all peoples.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

New Year Resolutions and All That

And so we are into 2012, resolutions have already been made….
and broken ….

It’s not that resolutions are necessarily wrong, some well known men and women of God down through history have made them, i.e. Jonathan Edwards of the USA.

A lot of people make resolutions only for them to last a few weeks, the reason being those resolutions are self-focused, they are about what I am going to do, and how I’m going to do it. It’s about my will, my resolve, and my strength to perform – in many ways it’s a works gospel: try harder, you might get there this time. Believe me I know I’ve been there.

Paul reached the point of complete desperation regarding his ability to perform, to get it right, to reach the standard. To paraprase him, “The good I have resolved and want to do, I can’t do it. In fact it’s worse than that, I find myself doing the very opposite – the things I hate.” It led him to the utter depths of human poverty and despair – to cry out: “who will deliver me from this body of death – this life that continually pulls me down into death?” Romans 7:24.

Maybe that’s where you are.

And what was his conclusion?

Notice he does not say “how can I do this,” “have you got a better program I can try,” he says, “who will deliver me?”

Did you notice that, “Who?” He’s given up on himself, he needs someone beyond himself to do it. And the answer he gives is Jesus.

Whether you believe Paul was a Christian or not at this point, the answer is the same. One of the things we need to remember – a very important thing – is that the gospel is not just for those who don’t know Christ, it’s also for those who do.

We need to continually be reminded of the gospel because the devil loves to get us away from Christ and into self, and that kind of Christianity is miserable indeed.

The gospel is Jesus plus nothing – absolutely, not my will, nor my effort. It’s about his faithfulness, how he has performed, and our being in him, and his life in us.

The writer to the Hebrews says there is a rest for the people of God, and the person who has entered that rest, has rested, or stopped from his own works (Hebrews 4:9,10).

That rest is Jesus – only, always.

So as we go into the New Year where are you looking in and feeling down, or away from yourself to Jesus the “author and finisher of our faith.” Believe me there is a world of a difference!