"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

Coronavirus - opportunities for mission

March 18, 2020


In these uncertain times, many people are understandably feeling a mixture of emotions including fear and anger. For many, the things that they find security in like health, work, finances and comfortable living are being taken away. It's easy to panic. It's easy to react by hoarding tins of meatballs and packets of loo roll. But how do we as God's people respond? Here are 3 very simple things that I have found helpful:

  1. Remembering that God is still sovereign. This is not a surprise to God. The almighty creator of the universe is still Lord of all, and can see this current crisis from a much bigger perspective than we can. Throughout history and across the globe, people have faced and are facing trials that remind them of the fragility of earthly life and the need to have an eternal perspective. In the comfortable West we are learning lessons that our Christian brothers and sisters around the world have known for years. Christians in Bangladesh know not to find security in their home as it is very likely to be washed away by devastating floods. Christians in Iran know not to put security in jobs or status because they know that they will be persecuted, exiled or even killed for their faith. As Christians, we're not to find security and meaning in temporary things, but in the sure and certain hope of eternal relationship with our Lord Jesus and the renewal of all creation when he comes again.

  2. Recognising a new openness to the gospel. I am already seeing that people who might not ordinarily think about the bigger questions of life are grappling with these issues, perhaps for the first time. When the foundations of our lives are shaken, all sorts of doubts and questions arise. My prayer is that this will be a time of huge spiritual renewal on a global scale.

  3. Responding with compassion. This is an opportunity to show God's love by serving people in practical ways. We also need to connect with how people are feeling and what they're thinking. This is no time to dismiss people's fears with platitudes, but it is an opportunity to talk about the hope that we have in Christ. This doesn't mean that we don't feel sadness and pain at what's going on around us, but it does mean that we don't feel despair. We can help others to see that they too can have a relationship with Christ that can't ever be broken by disease, poverty or death itself (Romans 8: 38 - 39)
I'm trying to make the most of the difficult circumstances that we're all facing to reach out with the gospel. Here are some ideas and things I'm trying to do (I'm sure you have many more!)

  • Join a Facebook community groups to offer support to others (running errands, doing shopping, collecting medication, walking dogs).
  • Make meals for people.
  • Phone and message people who may be isolated at home.
  • Connect with neighbours - leaflets through the door with your contact details and offers to help.
  • Offer to pray for people. People who are particularly vulnerable are the elderly, those at risk of domestic violence, those experiencing poverty and those struggling with physical and / or mental health problems.
  • Use Google street view to do a virtual prayer walk round your community.
  • Give generously - Foodbanks particularly need support at the moment. There's also an organisation called Acts 435 that enables you to give directly to people in need in the UK. We also need to remember to continue to support overseas charities that may suffer during this time.
  • Share Christian videos on social media.
  • For kids who are stuck indoors, download the free Guardians of Ancora game which is a brilliant adventure through the Bible world (I've played it - it's really good!)
  • Pray for unreached people groups with the Joshua Project app.
  • When you're online, share stuff that has spoken to you - from the Bible, Christian books, YouTube videos, blogs, infographics etc.
  • Keep in Christian community by having online small groups for Bible study and prayer through Skype or Zoom.
  • Lots of churches are live streaming teaching, worship and prayer instead of having physical meetings. This may be something that you can invite friends to share in.
  • Be real and be kind - share stories, struggles and hope. Ask for help and give help.

 

Picture This Thought - Parrot [Creation care]

February 14, 2020
A brief look at why care for the environment isn't an 'optional extra' for a Christian, but part of God's calling to all of us. We can look forward to the earth being liberated from its bondage to decay and being fully renewed, but that's not an excuse to do nothing now. Looking after God's good creation is an essential part of our worship, stewardship of resources and justice for the poor.

Read more in this post.




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8 sites for Christian Infographics

February 5, 2020
I’m a visual person. I love diagrams, maps, timelines… One of the things that I’ve found really helpful in understanding the Bible and growing in my Christian walk is looking at Christian infographics. Often they really help to represent complex information in an easily digestible form. So here are my favourites:




This is one of my go-to sources of quality charts and diagrams. There are maps, book outlines, timelines, and even a min...

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Slavery or Freedom? Galatians 4

January 28, 2020
Last Sunday I preached on this rich passage from Galatians. Here's a rough transcript of what I said. You can also download the MP3 (15 mins) and PowerPoint from the church website.

We've looked at 3 main themes in Galatians:

  1. God is saving a family (not just individuals)
  2. Salvation is coming from the Old Testament (through the promised Messiah)
  3. That saved family is marked by the faith of Abraham, not the law of Moses (external religion trying to follow rules always goes bad. Faith in Jesus brings ...

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St. Patrick's Breastplate (I Arise Today)

January 21, 2020


Some excerpts from St. Patrick's famous prayer:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of h...

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Picture This Thought - Temple [God’s presence]

January 7, 2020
Where can we go to meet with God and how can the gap between a holy God and a rebellious people be bridged? A short explanation of the meaning of the temple for God’s people and the new way that Jesus has opened up for us to know God.

See also the Bible Project video on the Temple


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Book Recommendations 2019

December 27, 2019
It's become traditional that I round off the year with a survey of my reading and a few recommendations of books that I think are interesting, challenging, moving, informative or just fun.

Here are the numbers of books I read for the last four years:

2016 40
2017 134
2018 54
2019 80

As with last year, it was a real mixture of stuff, with probably more Christian titles in preparation for talks and assignments. Here's my round up of the best.

Top Christian




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New Living Out articles

December 20, 2019


I have been busy working on the Living Out website, both updating the content that was already there and adding new stuff.

There are three new articles that you may find interesting - two by me and one by my good friend Jo. If you have any comments or feedback, I'd love to hear from you.

  • The call to all. In this piece, Jo shares about how she's become more willing to publicly engage with LGBT issues and how that's been a positive experience for her. She calls the church to stand alongside same-...

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Picture This Thought - Derelict church [Christendom]

December 8, 2019
Why the crumbing of Christendom is a good thing. Christianity was never meant to be a state religion, forced on people by powerful authorities. The Kingdom of God is much more subversive. Jesus showed the greater power of foot-washing and self-sacrifice.


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Picture This Thought - Robin [Transformation]

November 25, 2019
Becoming a Christian involves radical transformation as we become more like Christ. How can our lives look distinctive as God transforms out beliefs, thoughts, character and behaviour?


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