Advent #2 Peace

This talk was given by Sean Alan Page at Alliance Bible Church on Isaiah 9:2-7. Fantastic talk and another great preacher, apparently he works with incarcerated youth as a prison chaplain. I wanted to share three things that stood out to me:

  1. Prepare with Prayer…stresses and pressures come, and in many cases we know when they are due. When the meeting is, when the deadline approaches, when you are sitting down with the person you dislike for a difficult conversation. In the talk Sean encouraged us to prepare for those situations ‘like a Christian’, in prayer, by turning to the ‘Prince of Peace’.

This mirrored something else I read in James this week. James 5:13 – “If anyone is in trouble, let him pray”. My work is pretty stressful at the moment, and it’s due to be that way for a few months. As we cycle through the various annual deadlines, reports, committees and reviews. There is a lot expected of me, and little room for ‘peace’.

A secular point of view would be to ‘get some perspective’, ‘delegate’, ‘practice mindfulness’, ‘make a to-do list’ etc etc, all good things. But as a Christian I have a hidden weapon: Prayer.

2) There is one religion with a ‘Prince of Peace’. Surely, He is the One we need.

3) I was encouraged and challenged by the life work of the Pastor who spoke. He goes into these prison and speaks of hope, peace and future for young guys who have made the biggest blunders and been caught. This week, I also heard of a UK Christian organisation called The Message, that does a similar thing. This is something I want to be looking more into. Especially if God has brought it into my awareness twice, from two different sources, in a week.

Advent #1 – Hope

Thanks to Scott Burns for great Advent talk, looking forward to rest of this series 🙂

What I liked:

1) Advent for Mary and Jospeh comes in the midst of despair: Roman occupation, teenage pregnancy, potential divorce, chaos and confusion, community shame. This is where hope shines the brightest. How relevant for us in the midst of 2020

2) Advent isn’t just about Jesus’ first coming but also His second.

3) we can cultivate hope by:

  • Reflecting on Gods work in the past
  • Bringing the end of the story to bear on our current circumstances
  • Being aware/knowing experientially of Gods presence -here today- and how that impacts everything

Leave Her Alone Judas!

Earlier this week, I published a post about the woman who extravagantly worships Jesus by breaking a jar of expensive perfume and wiping His feet with her hair (her glory!). We examined the reactions of those observing the scene and drew out challenges for ourselves.

In this post I want to share some of my notes from a sermon John Piper preached on a similar story in the gospel of John 12. This is the first time sharing my sermon notes as they were taken rather than presented in blog format. Enjoy! (…and excuse the mess)!

That quote from 1 Timothy 6:6-10 highlights the dangers that come with even wanting to be rich. This isn’t just about the love of money, (v10), the line is drawn even closer to home (v9). How this isn’t talked about! I think we tolerate this ‘desire to be rich’, in our own lives and the lives of our fellow Christians. I certainly do.

Scott Burns: Act

After looking through the notes for the other talks Perkins did, I don’t want to post a part 2. It was mostly him walking through the model of how he selects and trains leaders. And unless you’re in a position as a pastor where you’re looking to raise up new leaders it’s probably not that relevant.

However, this is a talk I heard probably at a similar time to the last one, and the diagram used has stayed in my head ever since. Its from a friend/mentor of mine who moved to America after working for the Navs in Brum.

The original talk is recorded here.  But I wanted to just record the diagram. It’s in one of my notebooks, but rather than capture a picture here’s a copy from the source:

scott-act.png

I think its more or less self explanatoryJust to simply provide a walk through:

We are lead to these moments of conviction, where God asks us to act and obey in a particular area. Whether that be quiet times, evangelism, speaking up, turning the other cheek, or any other host of challenges. We are lead to these moments by different stimuli: Word of God, conscience, circumstances, and the example of others.

And then we have a choice do we submit (obey/action) or suppress (disobey/inaction). Whatever we do will either soften or harden our hearts to God’s voice and leading for the next time.

Few quick thoughts:

  • “right actions” with wrong motives can end up hardening our hearts, and vice verse.
  • Sometimes disobedience can result in hardcore repentance that leads us to softened heart.
  • No one ever does the right/wrong thing all the time. We can cycle through several things then swap sides

Think that’s it! Thanks Scott!

2020 Birmingham

logo-2020-birmingham

In March I attended a church planting conference in Birmingham, run by 2020 Birmingham, whose mission it is/was to see 20 new churches planted in Birmingham

by 2020. They seem to be very much on track for reaching that target. And are preparing for the next decade: 30 new Churches by 2030. (That means each church-planting church, together with the 20 new churches each planting a new one!) Highly exciting for someone like me, who believes that God wants to use local churches to change our cities and nations.

Just for shortness of posts I’ll divide his three talks into two sections, the Intro & talk 1 and then talks 2 & 3.

Introduction

Before he said anything he introduced us to himself by telling us 5 biases he has. I liked this, because although a lot of them are ones I hold as well. A couple are different, and it reminds me as a church we are made up of different parts that function differently.

Richard Perkins biases/preferences: Practice > Theory, Church Planters > Pastors, Provocation >Nuance, Planning>Reacting and a strong inclination towards pragmatism. (This all came across as he spoke).

Q: Where will we find the next generation of leaders?

  • Matthew 9.38 (Pray for workers)
  • Mark 9.38 (Don’t stop others not with/like us), this requires that we adopt postures of teachability and receptivity.

Q: How can we identify, prepare, equip & send out the next generation of leaders? (And that’s what he focused on for the rest of the conference.

Talk#1 WHO

  1. Leaders who fulfil the Biblical standard of eldership
  2. Leaders who satisfy the character of a planter
  3. Leaders who embrace the DNA (of 2020Birmingham)

Titus 1:6-9: Blameless. (not divisive or compromising)

  • in personal conduct. This doesn’t mean “sinless”, but without scandal.
  • in family responsibilities. Loves wife and children sacrificially. Brings children to maturity.
  • in doctrinal orthodoxy. Know truth and able to rebuke lies.

1 Pet 5: Motive.

  • Not because they must, but because they are willing
  • Not to pursue dishonest gain (kudos, reputation, money etc), but to give.
  • Not to lord it over, but by example.

1 Tim 3

  • Godly, proven domestic responsibilities, widely recognized respectability.

Putting it all together:

Theological Conviction.

Godly Character. (Church leadership is like a bottle filled with liquid that gets shaken – with no lid – what’s inside will eventually show.

Ministry Competency aka gifting and ability. Whilst this area seems to have the most attention/debate. It is a mistake to focus on it and overlook character.

Character>Competency.

When looking for ‘who’ this could be for ask:

  • Can they take correction? (this’ll show many things but also if they believe justification by faith)
  • Will they take direction/advice?
  • Are they a team player?
  • Can they lead themselves well? (Sin, Spiritual disciplines, etc)

perks1

 

Andy Stanley: Now and Then

 

img

These are my notes from an Andy Stanley talk given at his church very recently, you can find the link here. I’m not claiming that this is exactly what Stanley said, or that I have interpreted his meaning correctly. These are just my notes from his talk. I was introduced to Andy Stanley a few years back, one of the things I love about the way he communicates is that it is simple and usually has one point. He uses memorable phrases and spends a lot of time thinking about how to present the main point of his message concisely. In fact he wrote an amazing book on preaching, which I’d highly recommend…anyways!

L.O: How to prepare for what’s next

(Next = Transition = Change = Stress) What’s next usually results in stress, stress of some sorts

Are there things we can do now to prepare for what’s next?

  • Regardless of whatever else you’re packing, for the next season, you pack you. Wherever you go, there you are. We often think that when we’re in a new environment, we will become a new person. Same ethics, morals, weaknesses and strengths.
  • There is no necessary correlation between knowing what’s next and being prepared for what’s next. For example, wedding vows: “I do”. Preparation trumps a plan and a promise.

James, the brother of Jesus, said “you will be blessed in what you do”.

  • Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive Listening was the equivalent of reading. In other words: “just because you heard it, don’t think that alone makes a difference”. We often think: since I attended x,y,z I am sorted!
    1. Instead ‘Do what it says’. Often we hear a convicting message, we confuse feeling bad about ourselves with a religious experience.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says, is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, and after looking at himself immediately forgets what he looks like.  A mirror requires a response…You stand at a mirror until it looks better. When we look in a mirror we will be convicted, and we will do something about it.

Looking good is far less important to the direction and quality of our life than our behaviour. Chances are when we make the biggest mistakes, we probably looked good. No one gets credit for looking in the mirror. In the real world, we get credit for responding to the mirror. In the spiritual world we think this is different! We think we should get credit for the conviction. If this is your pattern you are deceiving yourself.

If you are in the habit of seeing something but doing nothing, you will carry this habit into the next season.

But…Whoever looks intently (stop, and get down on one knee to study/stare) into the perfect law (Greatest commandment: Love the Lord with all your x,y,z AND love your neighbour as yourself – these are the greatest TWO…later on in His life He said a new command: “Love one another the way I have loved you!”), that gives freedom… (seeing and doing now, results in freedom later).

E.g: Give…Save…Live. This is how most people were taught to handle their money. This doesn’t sound very liberating. We think liberating is the reverse: Live then save then give. We give money away, because it helps other people. And why do we help people, because this is what Jesus has done for us. What’s the result of giving, saving and then living? financial freedom.

E.g. Forgive. Doesn’t sound like it gives freedom, but have you experienced both? Not forgiving and forgiving. Forgiveness is freedom.

E.g. Sexual Purity… Enables you to honour the other person, and every other future relationship they have. Sexual Purity paves the way to intimacy. Exclusivity, is what leads to romance not experience! In this there is liberty.

Why does looking and doing make a difference? Because the seasons of life are connected. The season you are in now is connected to the season of what’s next.

James 1.25: “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”

Its not what you’re doing will be blessed, but you will be blessed in what you are doing.

The habit of doing will make you happy.  There is a pleasure in responding to the conviction in the mirror. Likewise there is a satisfaction in the response, the surrender – the obedience to Jesus. Being a does now is preparation for being a doer later.

“Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him. God takes full responsibility for the life wholly devoted to Him.” – Dr. Charles F. Stanley.

Sometimes what you read/hear will make sense, sometimes it won’t. But if God tells you to do it, you start running.

If you aren’t doing now, you probably won’t do later. Think about the wise and foolish builders. Matthew 7.24-25. The way you lay a solid foundation for your life is by being a doer, not just a hearer.

2 Questions:

  • What are you doing now, that you shouldn’t be doing, that you’re telling yourself in the next season you won’t do anymore?
  • What do you need to do?

 

Dawson Trotman – Born to Reproduce

Below are my notes, my interpretation, of a sermon given by Dawson Trotman in 1955.

“Emotion is no substitute for action. Action is no substitute for productiTrotman_Headshot_Circa_1951-728x1024on”

A baby is a reflection of the parents in the sense that a baby will grow and become a parent of more babies. God said: “be fruitful and multiply”. Adam as first-Adam multiplied, likewise Jesus as second-Adam also multiples.

God’s plan is that everyone has a part, the only reasons someone can’t have a child are that:

  • If they are NOT married or union – likewise we need to be united and live with the Messiah if we are to be fruitful and multiply.
  • If they have a disease, sterility – likewise we need Christ to take away the disease/sterility of Death over our lives as a result of sin. We need to be Christians in order to reproduce Christians. Do we have sin in our lives which unresolved, this will be a barrier to reproduction?
  • If they are NOT mature – likewise they are immature in their faith they won’t become reproducers. We can all the head knowledge we want, but this doesn’t mean we are mature. Unity is connected to maturity (Eph 4.13).

God wants Christians to multiply.

Questions:

  • How is your devotional life? Or do you have excuses. One of the reasons for sterility is lack of Union with Christ (John 15).
  • Where is your man/woman? How many people do you know, by name, which are living for Christ today? Or are the people just going to church. Are they producing more producers?

Ask God for one, ask for one man. Not two but one – one of like-heart.

There is a difference between sterile Christians and producing Christians. What stops us from producing producing-Christians?

  • The devil wants to stop you producing.
  • We can get too busy with “Christian-things” (ministry), without making producing Christians.
  • Neglecting “follow-up”. We can tell people about Jesus everyday and make sure that we speak to at least one person a day, but if we don’t follow it up we won’t see producing.

Philippians 1.6 comes alongside verses 3,4,5 & 7:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ JesusIt is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

Pauls followed up his ministry with teaching (letters), thoughts, fellowship, prayer, love and sharing work!

Not every time we sow, will we see a harvest, but eventually we will.

Tim Keller: Luke 15

prodigal

I’ve read Keller’s book on the prodigal son and really enjoyed it, especially the way he describes the True Older Brother. As one of my assignments for my Connect Program I was told to listen to this talk. Here are my notes on it (as always, this is my interpretation of what I heard, not necessarily word for word what Keller was saying) I’d encourage you to listen to it for yourself if you have time:

He was telling the parables for the Pharisees. Younger son is like the sinners around Jesus, Older son is like the Pharisees. The parable is aimed at the older sons, it is to address the “moral” religious people.

Both sons are alienated from the Father’s heart, in both cases they are lost. The younger brother is obvious he wants the money NOT the Father. The older brother, doesn’t want the Father either, he wants the money, he is so concerned with how the Father is spending his money/estate. However this is more concealed. The younger tries to get it by being bad, the older by being good, they both have the same goal in mind.

There are two ways to try to be your own saviour and lord, by being bad, or by being good and religious. These are two (falsely) perceived ways, to get the Father’s things. Jesus may be the inspiration, example, for the older brother, but not his Saviour and Lord.

For both sons the Father has to come out, to welcome each son into the feast. The good one isn’t lost in spite of his “goodness” but rather because of it, and his placing of hope in it.

The gospel is neither religion or non-religion, its not in the middle either. It’s something else.

Religion: I obey therefore I am accepted

Gospel: God accepts me, because of what Jesus has done for me, therefore I will obey

Two people can be at church worshiping with the same vigor but have two different motives.

The Gospel says that Jesus gives us a righteous standing, which no amount of hard religious work could do. Gospel believers obey to get more of God not things. Older brothers, because of their attempt to earn God’s blessing, believe they are getting leverage on God. And therefore they become self-righteous to others, and we see no fruit of the Spirit at work in their life.

Marks of Older Brothers

  • Get incredibly angry when their life doesn’t go well, not just sad and disappointed, but furious with God. Because they believe God owes them.
  • When elder brothers encounter criticism, they’ll either become super defensive or totally destroyed, because criticism hurts so much. They want their appearance to be good.
  • Prayer wise, elder brothers pray, but mostly petition-prayers, and when things are going well they pray less but when things are going badly they pray more. There isn’t much intimacy, worship, adoration, enjoyment of God etc.
  • It is very difficult to Old brothers to not be constantly loathing of other people.
    • If you’re self-image is based on your hard working status, you will look down on people who seem lazy.
    • If you’re self image is based on you having right doctrine, not on what the right doctrine is about, you will loath anyone who disagrees with you.
  • Elder brothers struggle forgive, because you can’t stay angry at someone if you feel superior to them.

What to do?

  • Get to a new level of repentance
    1. Sorrowful for wrongdoing, but this isn’t it at all, even Pharisees did that, and then they’d get proud about how much they’ve repented.
    2. It’s repenting for the reasons of your right doing! The one thing separating you from Jesus will be your damnable right doing (which is the right doing from which you do because of desire for God’s things.)
  • Get to a new level of rejoicing
    1. See what it cost to bring the young man home, and you.
      1. Everything that was offered came out of the second half of the inheritance.
      2. It was going to be costly, and the elder brother wasn’t happy about that.

Had the older brother been the True Older Brother, who wanted to hold the family together, he would have been like the shepherd in a previous parable. That younger brother didn’t have a True Older Brother, but you do. Our True Elder Brother didn’t save us at the expense of His money, but at the cost of His life!

  • This will lead us to genuine worship.

Practical Application

  • You the leader work this truth into your heart, Romans 1.16 “he who through faith is righteous will live”. Not “he who preaches correctly will live” etc.
  • If you are a preacher/teacher, when you communicate, move beyond biblical principles to the Gospel. g. Tithing (when we see the price Jesus paid we will run to tithe), Ps 23 our Good Shepherd, the reason we can lack nothing, is not because we trust him, but because He was sacrificed.
  • Get a group of leaders together, take them through a book like the prodigal God. Then get them to go through it with others.
  • Pray for this.

 

What will you see as a result? (just one example)

  • Gracious disagreements

 

 

 

Mike Pilavachi: Preaching to Young People

Mike Pilavachi

These are sermon notes taken from Mike Pilavachi’s sermon: Preaching to Young People. Given at Westminster Chapel on the 25th May 2015. I have listened to this sermon and these are my notes, I am not claiming right over the source from which they were taken. Nor do I claim that the phrases used were exactly put that way by Mike Pilavachi. In the process of taking these notes, I may have misinterpreted what he said. (Please don’t sue me!). Also there were a lot of examples that Pilavachi used which were really funny, and demonstrated his points, I have not included them. 

Pre-notes:

  • What do we mean by “youth”? We must understand that there are a lot of sub-cultures within that term.
  • This applies to regular preaching to adults.

 

Content vs Engagement

Both are very important, however content remains the same regardless whilst presentation will sometimes have to change. Therefore we need to look at both, and get both right. If we have amazing content – good doctrine ect – yet no engagement they won’t understand it (it will be useless information). On the other hand if we have great presentation – engaging using all different forms of media etc – but the gospel isn’t there they won’t have enough information to make a decision (the cross won’t be communicated).

How do we present the amazing truths of the gospel in a way that the younger generation can understand and respond to?

 

  1. We have to preach in the context of relationship.

We must genuinely love them, because they can detect this when it is there and when it is missing. Pray that God will enable us to see them how He sees them.

How do we express our love and vulnerability to young people?

  • Authentically
  • Personal
  • 2 Cor “you have 10,000 teachers, but no fathers”. Let us ask God to give us a Father heart for the young people. Around father’s children grow. God has to give us this heart.

 

  1. Planned Spontaneity

Young people want to feel that “this isn’t scripted in advance this is personal to me” and “this is something we can get involved in”. What does this look like?

  • To plan and prepare what you will say so thoroughly that you are comfortable with spontaneity/audience participation.
  • We are not trying to change the outcome of the teaching, teach whatever they want.
  • Learning how to go on a tangent, where you are not in control, and then bringing it back. This is a skill which we will need to develop.
  • g: pointing out that someone is late…playing off the response (playfully); noticing if people are talking (playfully)…it may backfire but be comfortable.

 

  1. Up to a point tell your story, as it relates to His story

It needs to be how it relates to His story and the Bible’s story. Be vulnerable and weak. The danger is we end up pointing more at ourselves rather than Him. Let us not get in the way.

  • Tell your story, or others’ story…this earths the Bible in real life.
  • It also builds relationship

 

  1. Model your journey of discovering scripture in the way you teach*

So many young people are scared of the Bible, and intimidated by it. We are not just teaching the Bible, but teaching how to read the Bible.

  • How do you handle footnotes?
  • Where do you get answers from your questions from?
  • What questions do you have as you read scripture? Is it okay to have questions? Is it okay not to understand everything?

 

  1. Speak their language

Understand their culture. Our model for this is Jesus Christ, who came and spoke in Aramaic the language of the people (rather than Hebrew the language of the elite). He used parables that were relevant to their culture.

Saying this, it is more important that we are authentic rather than relevant. There will be elements of their culture that you don’t understand.

But as our hearts grow towards them, we will want to learn more about them. We can bridge the gap.

 

  1. Practical Outworking/Response

How will they respond? We don’t always need to do BIG altar calls, sometimes more specific less broad, will have a greater impact. Do we call for practical responses, or super spiritual ones?


Where else in the secular world do we see similar models to preaching? (i.e 40 minutes non-stop speaking)

  • Politician – stirring people up to x,y,z…
  • College lecturer – teach people
  • Stand up comedian – holds an audience with humour

Which category do we fall into? Are we willing to lean into other styles? Consider the advantages of each. There needs to be an element of all three, not always in equal measure. The most important thing is that we are

  • Real (authentic)
  • Passionate
  • Loving

*Styles of Teaching

  • One verse

Just one line at a time, how easy it is to understand the Bible, how much you can get out of one verse.

  • Stories from Bible

They can act it out, make it funny e.g. have arsenal supporters as pigs in the prodigal son, or having a girl as the father and boy as the lost son “hugged and kissed his son”. They will remember it.

  • Explain the study

Point out the footnotes (when useful)…Explain how the internet can be a great tool for Bible reading. That you don’t have to understand everything, not even Greek and Hebrew to get something out of the Bible. Model how you deal with questions (asking people, checking online)

  • Big Verses/Passages
  • Theme/Topic

Final Thoughts:

  • When we talk about tough issues such as the topic of homosexuality/celibacy/marriage etc, let’s major on the positive of God’s plan – the positive of God’s way.
  • Preaching and worship: How does the worship song/time hammer in the truths of sermons. These are the things they will sing.