Sunday, July 31, 2005
Anyone who has read the August 2005 edition of 'Evangelicals Now' will have read Dr Stanley Jebb's excellent article on the training of those young men called to the ministry. Having been under his pastorship and ministry I know that he holds exactly the same view as I, that going to Bible College or seminary isn't neccesarily the best choice for training - rather that church pastors should identify those young men called and train them up themselves. Dr Jebb says;
"It is my conviction that more could be done to train men in the local church, and this has been borne out in experience. Colleges often lack the personal touch which is vital for training men effectively and the fact that the local church is the best place to learn about pastoral work".
However I have been "under" 3 pastors since Dr Jebb left the church in Dunstable; his successor, the church I attended in Birmingham and the church I have left unavoidably here in Bristol and none of the pastors have had any interest whatsoever (that I could discern) in training up young men in the ministry. Indeed I did my best to get close to them and learn and found it an almost impossible task. I don't think my experience is unique from talking to other young men and friends of mine who have left Dunstable and also experienced Dr Jebb's superb ministry. This testimony from Dr Ern Baxter echoes the cry of my heart;
"And there came to our city – I went to church of course with my parents – and there came to our city a man whom I would now call an apostle. And he came to visit the church where we were and he brought with him a very brilliant pianist who had been helping him in his church planting efforts. But this pianist was going to have to leave him for various circumstances that I won’t recall. This man heard me play the piano because my parents had invited him to our home for our evening meal. My father who was very proud of my accomplishments said, “Son sit down and play a song and sing it for us”. And I remember I sat down and played ‘Old Man River’ and accompanied myself on the piano. And this man was sitting there and he said, “I need a pianist – I need someone to travel with me and play the piano – would you be interested?”. Of course I was in a spiritual euphoria of sorts, which as I look back on it is difficult for me to recapture but everything was new and wonderful. And I said I would be interested. Now these were Depression days – days of 1928 and so on.
And this was about 1932 so on May 4th 1932 I had packed up my little bag (I didn’t have many possessions) and I got on the train and I joined this man in a Canadian city called Yorktown. I started to play the piano for the meetings and sing solos. We met in a tent at the time and I helped with the seating and so on. That was May. In the early part of July we finished up at a large conference. I was asked to be one of the pianists and I played the piano" - Life on Wings interviews - emphases mine.
It has provoked the question in my mind as to who bears the responsibility to see this Moses/Joshua relationship come to pass? I remember reading Terry Virgo's account of his meeting and forging such a special bond with David Holden and he said their letters crossed in the post!! ("No Well Worn Paths"). I tried that with another pastor I greatly respected in London and yet again he didn't feel the same.
I was at the Westminster Conference in December 2001 where Dr Jebb was speaking, and one of the sessions was actually about this issue. The discussion afterwards was fascinating to listen to, and Dr Jebb participated strongly in support of this viewpoint - the conclusion to the discussion was; "Where are the young men?". My response is; "Where are the fathers?".
Saturday, July 30, 2005
I am thrilled ... Kate Simmonds has just put the lyrics of THE hymn of the Brighton Leaders Conference on her website. To me it is the most glorious anthem of the Resurrection and Glorification of Jesus Christ, and follows through to the impartation of the Holy Spirit and the Comissioning of the Church - it is a masterful amazing song, undergirded with the apostolic teaching of Terry Virgo (her own testimony) and it just makes me shiver (holy goosebumps as Ern Baxter called them) remembering the anointing of the Spirit as the thousands sang it!! Here are the words:
IN HIM I HAVE BELIEVED
In Him I have believed, on this my hope now rests
That Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
The all-surpassing joy of knowing Christ my Lord
The former things, I count them all as loss
Called out of darkness into Your goodness
We are Your children, chosen in Christ!
Now in Your family, heirs of the promise
To Your purpose on the earth I give my life
A people born of God, united by Your call
One faith, one Lord, one Father of us all
Joined with bonds of love, and planted in Your house
We worship You with hearts and lives poured out
Let us go on in the power of Your Spirit
Taking Your gospel to all the world!
Declaring Your wisdom, our great commission,
That Jesus Christ has come to save the lost!
Whatever trials may come, in faith, Lord, help us stand
For righteousness and justice in our land
What fear can hold us now?
We run toward the prize
Our lives already crucified with Christ
Through every nation, Your kingdom advances
Who can extinguish this spreading flame?
Through tribulations, we’ll stand on Your promise:
‘I will build My Church and hell will not prevail!’
And on that final day, the citizens of heaven
Called out to be the new Jerusalem
In multitudes will bow before the throne of God:
One nation called from every tribe and tongue
Great celebration! The glorious union:
The Lion of Judah and the pure, spotless Bride!
All of creation waits for this moment
All your promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ!
Kate Simmonds 2004 Thankyou Music
Thursday, July 21, 2005
I promised that there would be a forthcoming "50 Most Influential Churches in the UK" list. I'm upto about church 30. It's quite an interesting yet sobering task because I found that what I consider to be influential is quite different from the official USA one. My criteria were the following:
1. As close a resemblence to New Testament principles as possible.
2. A Senior Pastor with a significant ministry. (i.e - written a book(s)).
3. Church Planting - the church is seen as an "Antioch" church.
4. Church Building - place of meeting. I don't like this as a factor, but unfortunately it does have to register.
5. Size - I don't like this particularly either because I believe that we were sent to "Go and make DISCIPLES". Not converts. However it is a fact that the larger the church, the more the world takes notice.
So again, the list will be out soon!
See, What a Morning!
I've been an avid "Resurrectionist" since my SGM experience, and have been amazed that this isn't a new problem (i.e people iconizing the Cross). My historical hero Dr Ern Baxter preached a two-part series on the Resurrection - once at Life in the Spirit Conference 1991. I will be making those available soon on the blog.
The other discovery was an awesome sermon by Dr John Piper called; "Six Gifts of the Resurrection". It did my soul good to read it! Christ IS risen!!
Conference Time Again!
Two conferences to watch out for in the next year or so. Also from Desiring God, their national conference has been planned and speakers organised. Firstly it was Jonathan Edwards, secondly it was Sex and the Supremacy of Christ and now it is going to be Suffering and the S0vereignity of God - October 2005.
Once again Piper never fails to delve in deeply and once again I am sure my budget won't let me go, so we will watch and wait and look forward to the outstanding CD set that I am sure will be coming. And also maybe the book? Particularly note that there will be an interview with Piper on the first night - as my hero Pete Cockrell would say; "This will scratch where I itch!".
The second conference will be in September 2006 - yes, Darlene Zschech is COMING TO LONDON!! How excited am I! http://www.hillsong.co.uk/hillsonguk/ - it is hosted by the Hillsong Church in London and will be quite an event I have no doubt. I've already signed up!
http://www.thechurchreport.com has just brought out a fascinating report on the 50 most influential churches in the USA. It's well worth perusing. The most heartening thing to me is that John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church rank 19th. The top two are of course Hybels and Warren.
But it got me wondering ... what would such a list be in the UK? Could we even construct one?
Watch this space.
Well my new book "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ" arrived fresh with the DVD ... oh how I love Amazon dot com. And due to (still) working night shifts I read it tonight. There is something incredibly different between reading a book and listening to an audio CD. While I have heard the material presented at the conference it seems that a different part of my brain engages when I'm reading. Wish I was a scientist and could dissect that. Anyhow. I found myself more offended than when I heard the CD's. Why?
After mounting on eagles wings with John Piper and examining the Supremacy of Christ, the reader feels ready to combat anything. God's glory is there to enjoy. However the conference moved on to address the practical issues and the section we come to after Piper's resounding opening is "Men and Sex" ... not quite so glorious? Well the married man has C J Mahaney's chapter to look forward to, full of humour, of understanding, of truth (apart from his error on the Song of Solomon) and of encouragement. The single man on the other hand has Mark Dever ...
"The first thing to say about sex and the single man is, there should be none! If you are not married, the Bible clearly teaches that you should refrain from any sexual contact. Sex should not be experienced outside of marriage".
Ouch. Quite frankly can I opt for being a single woman with Carolyn McCulley? She's a lot nicer and although she says the same thing, she makes it sound a lot more pallatable.
But after my initial teething problems with this section, and my dislike issues with Mark Dever (who needs a bit of a makeover if the DVD is anything to go by) it did get me considering this whole issue of truth in a tolerant age. The culture in which we live doesn't like being told the truth. We dress it up in any shape, form and guise possible if it's going to hurt at all. This is the codeine age!! Surely that's why our evangelism faces such a complete challenge because the world doesn't want to be told that there is only ONE way to the Father and that way is going to cost you your life. So the question is, should I actually be grateful for Mark Dever and his bad hairdo? Up until I read this chapter, I am really glad and grateful to be a single man in the Kingdom of God! Now it seems to me that sex is presented as a bit of a special perk for those in Business Class. Single men? Sorry - you're in economy.
If I listen to my cynical self talking - that has been so well trained by postmodern professors and psychiatrists then ditch Dever. He deserves to go in the dustbin with his barnet. But actually and unfortunately the Spirit of God is also speaking at this unearthly hour!! And He has a point to make. I am indeed quite glad that John Piper has gathered together men who are not afraid to spell out the truth. Sex IS indeed reserved solely for the marriage bed. It is a precious glorifying amazing gift from God and anything outside the context that He has designed is the "suicidal alternative" to use a Piperism.
So therefore what I don't think this book explores adequately at all is exactly WHAT the single man has to do in the pre-marriage stage for those destined for marriage and in the permanent stage for those destined to be single. I don't like the Capitol Hill Baptist Church team hearty jingo that marriage should be pursued. I can appreciate that there are a class of Christian men around who should be married but aren't because they're lazy, but I think this approach is extremely insensative to those who actually truly and honestly haven't met the right person yet. Sovereign "Grace" Ministries adopted the same ridiculous approach. The irony was that the Sovereign "Grace" church I was in didn't have any single women in it. So it was a bit hard to go out, get on with it and get married. I did consider suggested to the pastor that importing of women should be necessary along with this theory but I didn't think he would see the funny side.
My alternative approach would be rather a Piper-esque God-glorifying approach to looking at what Paul has to say about singleness. Didn't he actually say it is BETTER if you don't get married???! Now to me, that sparks my interest!! Because Paul said prophecy is better than tongues so I wanted prophecy! Therefore I want to know why being single is better. All Dever has told me is that I can't have sex. What I want to explore is the role of single men in the church. What do we have to do? What can we do? Unfortuately at this stage in my life I am writing quite in the dark, because the pastor of the SGM church didn't have a clue on this issue. Sensitive he was not. All illustrations from his pulpit concerned his family. But my prayer in all seriousness is that God raises up a single Christian man like Carolyn McCulley. Who actually has far more to tell us than simply "You can't have sex like me".
Praise God for the truth-tellers!! But please use your brains as well.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
He sees the supremacy and glory of God in everything ... even sex! I fully recommend this website for a visit:
John Piper's last national conference was called "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". It certainly raised a few eyebrows among the circles in which I visit! However I got hold of the CD set and the book is soon to be delievered and the material on it is EXCELLENT. Piper has chosen his speakers carefully and there is a broad range of topics, yet the depth and insight is characteristic of him. The Panel Discussions are as usual a complete feast, the first discussion being particularly worthy of hearing - C J Mahaney was present and those familiar with him in the context of a discussion (particularly one in which he is not leading) will know that he causes havoc.
The website has links to the videos of the messages - so particularly helpful for those of us in the UK.
I only take issue with one issue. C J Mahaney message was based from his recent book; "Sex, Romance and the Glory of God" and much of the teaching is derived from the Song of Solomon. For some reason known only to himself Mahaney has decided to move away from the classical Reformed view that the Song of Solomon was written primarily as a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride, and has tried to argue (quite unsuccessfully in my opinion) that it is more a textbook for a sexual relationship between a man and a woman. While I appreciate that some things in the Christian life are often spiritualised unncessarily I don't think this includes the Word of God. Consider the following quotes:
"This is spoken in the person of the Church, or of the faithful soul inflamed with the desire of Christ, whom she loves". (from the Geneva 1599 Bible Notes)
"It treats of Christ and his Church, in their most glorious, lively, and lovely actions, to wit, his care of, and his love unto his Church, and that in its most eminent degree; and also, of her love to him". - James Durham (1622 Puritan) who incidentally C H Spurgeon described as "that master of masters".
On Song of Solomon 2:1 - "If these are the words of the Well-beloved,—and I have no doubt that they are,—then it may be suggested by some that here we have the Savior praising himself; and it is true; but in no unworthy sense, for well may he praise himself since no one else can do it as it should be done". - C H Spurgeon.
I have no issue with the truth that husband and wife may be able to draw strong and useful lessons from this glorious book in the Old Testament. Most marriage ceremonies however draw the paralell between Christ and His Bride - the Church, and husbands and wives. Yet surely the primary picture - the marriage that will last for eternity is that of Christ and His Church. That is the focus! Let us not bring Scripture down to our level by suggesting that God wrote the canon of Scripture and included as some sort of extra, a textbook solely aimed at married couples. What use then would single people or children or widows have from it? No - this is a beautiful picture, indeed the most beautiful and intimate picture of Christ's love for His people. Any other truth must flow from that.
That issue aside, I still strongly recommend the overall conference. Dr Al Mohler addressed a most pertient issue: "Homosexual Marriage - A Tragic Oxymoron". His style was sympathetic and gracious yet he stuck rigidly to biblical truth. Also Mark Dever's address is worthy of note. His special skill in church history shone through as he spoke on the Puritans. But to me the highlight was John Piper's keynote addresses. They bound the conference together and gave it context. Well worth the time (if you can spare the blushes).
Monday, July 18, 2005
In the theological world, every now and then "buzz" words become very much en vogue. Some organisations and individuals are becoming very proud that if certain buzz words such as "Reformed" or "Charismatic" are entered into a Google search engine, their website comes up at the top. What kind of world are we now living in? What do these words mean? At certain points it is crucial that definition comes to bring light to the words and adjectives that we use.
In my understanding therefore, I am proud to call myself a Reformed Charismatic for the following reasons. We:
1. Honour the Word of God.
Any definition absolutely must begin here, by virtue that I have used the term "Reformed". I believe totally and utterly in the supremacy and sufficiency of Scripture as the final authority of God speaking and communicating to man. So what are the great Reformed Doctrines of the faith as found in the Word of God that I, as a Reformed Charismatic, am particularly passionate about?
20 years under Dr Stanley Jebb has taught me that God is supremely sovereign over all things - time, space, history, Creation. His response to wars and rumours of wars and the strife and plotting of men? He laughs. Hallelujah! That is a great comfort beyond all comforts! To know that my Father rules the cosmos!
I didn't begin to learn about the grace of God truly until I was at Stoneleigh Bible Week 1999 and I heard Terry Virgo's masterful series on the Grace of God - teaching me to say "no!". Since then it has been an awesome adventure to learn more and more of the outrageous nature of God's grace to me. Grace is a hugely misused word - awfully abused in some situations. I have sung about grace in situations that were supremly legalistic, I have attended a church with grace as it's banner that know's nothing of the grace of God in it's practice with leaders who think nothing of heavy shepherding and so on ... yet this aside - true grace is the most amazing revelation of all!
The Finished Work of Christ.
C J Mahaney has brought the most amazing and cutting insight into the Death of Christ known today I think in his presentation of "The Cup" at the Brighton Leader's Conference 2005. It was breathtaking. The agony that Christ went through ... for us? Truly the hymn is correct; "That Thou, My God shouldst die for me? Tis mercy all!". However it is incorrect as Dr Ern Baxter points out to "stop" at the Cross. This is again something I have had to experience for 2 years. While they may acknowledge the Resurrection in their thinking, some are so carried away by their restoration of the teaching and application of the Cross for Christians that they forget to follow through and teach that; "If Christ be not raised, our faith is IN VAIN!". Therefore true Reformed doctrine sees the Christ triumphing over sin and death and rising from the grave and appearing to the testament of many.
But He does not stay as the gardener. He indeed ascended on high gloriously leading a host with Him - the gates of heaven were flung open and He was seated crowned with glory and honour. And the Father told Him to sit - until His enemies are made His footstool. And there we have the basis of true Restoration. That history will not wind up with Jesus Christ the loser and His church a defeated Bride. Jesus shall indeed "reign where'er the sun doth it's successive journey's run". And when He was seated and glorified His coronation oil was the outpoured Holy Spirit that came down on the Day of Pentecost and has been coming down ever since! Joel's prophecy has been fulfilled! (but by no means finished).
2. Welcome the Spirit of God.
Although we have hugely benefited from the Charismatic Movement of the 1970's and the renewal and restoring of the moving and working of the Spirit of God, I believe that Terry Virgo is crucially right to remind us of what actually makes us "charismatic". I am a generation on from the 1970's. The battles over using the gifts of the Spirit in most churches are coming to an end. The wars that rage over contemporary songs are largely over and won. Yet what MAKES us "charismatic"?
Some may adopt a "charismatic dimension". Is that acceptable? We learn from the Word of God that the Spirit will largely go as far as we allow. He will not force Himself on those who don't want Him to. But to my mind, a charismatic "dimension" suggests that such people are comfortable with a section of their lives being related to the Spirit of God and thus far and no more. They have selected what they like from life when He is present, but boundaries are laid. That is a misdemenour to me - surely Dr Lloyd-Jones is right by saying that the greatest sin of the evangelical world is to put God and His Spirit into a box.
We are a people who cherish and crave a relationship with the living, active and powerful Holy Spirit. We believe that He has indeed been poured out on all flesh and that when His Presence is manifestly active in a church - that things will begin to happen! What things? Those things are are laid down and dictated by in the Word of God! He will lift our gaze to God, He will testify that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead and seated on high, He will convict the world of sin, He will remind us of all things, He will encourage, He will bless, He will ultimately bring change!! Because He is indeed the Potter and we are the clay - therefore when we meet together we can pray with boldness, openness and confidence; "Come Holy Spirit!".
3. Shaped by Church History.
Dr Sam Storms submitted eight excellent reasons why this is vital and why I believe a true Reformed Charismatic should be shaped by the example of those who have gone before us. Pay special heed to point 4.
1. We read in Acts 1:1 that the Gospel of Luke was an account of "all that Jesus began to do and to teach." The book of Acts is the account of what Jesus continued to do and teach through his church. Although Acts concludes on a triumphant note (28:31), Jesus has not ceased to act. The history of the church and the development of its understanding of doctrine is nothing less than the final chapter of the book of Acts. Jesus is no less alive today, working through and on behalf of his people, than he was in the days of Peter and Paul. Although we do not have an inspired record of this activity, we can and should learn much from the ongoing manifestation of Jesus in his body, the church.
2. The importance of historical theology is also due to the fact that it is, in a manner of speaking, a study of the interpretation of Holy Scripture. Thus when we speak of the development of doctrine we have in mind the interpretation and re-interpretation of Scripture by individuals. The truths of the Word never change. They do, however, undergo formulation, attack, re-formulation, and so on through time. We must always distinguish between divine truth as it is in itself (the Bible), and the gradual apprehension of that truth in the course of human experience.
3. Doctrinal statements and creedal affirmations have played an essential role in the life of both individual believers and the corporate church. By them we assert what we believe and how our beliefs distinguish us from those who we regard as being in error. Yet no one ever produced a doctrinal statement or confession of faith in isolation. So much of what we bring to the Bible (be it conscious or not) has come to us from past generations.
4. Historical Theology is also the study of the manifold work of the Holy Spirit. There are two primary ways in which this is true:
· To deny the validity and value of historical theology is to deny the ongoing process of divine illumination. Canonical revelation ceased with the writing of the book of Revelation. But the Spirit continues to illumine the hearts and minds of those for whom he is Teacher. To deny the importance of studying this process is to refuse to acknowledge in the past what we so jealously claim for ourselves in the present. Who would dare suggest that the Holy Spirit ceased his teaching ministry in a.d. 95 only to have resumed it in this present age
· Related to the above is the truth relating to spiritual gifts. As Christians we should strive to profit from all the gifts graciously bestowed on the entire body of Christ. The Holy Spirit has ministered and edified the church in the past through the charismata no less than he does in the present. The fruit of these gifts is available to us through the diligent study of the lives and literature of such great saints as Augustine, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Spurgeon, and others. We are diligent to heed the instruction and exhortation of contemporary teachers and leaders. Why, then, do we arrogantly ignore those who have taught and led with equal insight in centuries past
5. The history of the church and its theology is the record of divine providence. The Bible loudly asserts that God is sovereign and Lord over all of history. He is actively and effectively and for his own glory directing the course of human experience such that all things will be consummated in Christ Jesus. To study historical theology is to study God at work! History is, in point of fact, the redemptive strategy of God. Consider the words of the psalmist (Ps. 77:11-13): “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; what god is great like our God” In that light, John Piper writes:
“The aim of providence in the history of the world is the worship of the people of God. Ten thousand stories of grace and truth are meant to be remembered for the refinement of faith and the sustaining of hope and the guidance of love. . . . Those who nurture their hope in the history of grace will live their lives to the glory of God” (The Legacy of Sovereign Joy [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2000], 18).
6. Through the careful and diligent study of historical theology we are alerted to the destructive heresies and pernicious tactics of Satan in his never-ending effort to destroy what God is building. We must acknowledge that “there have been periods in the history of the church and its theology when seeing the hand of God maintaining it in truth is a sheer act of faith. There are other periods or chapters of the story when it takes little faith to see God at work restoring truth”. The study of historical theology will protect the student from dangerous theological paths, for no doctrine of the Word has come down to us untouched.
7. Historical Theology is also the study of people. Three considerations are important here:
· First, the study of historical theology reveals to us both faith and failure from which we can learn much.
· But, secondly, we must also be careful in how we appropriate the insights of great individuals of the past. We should never challenge someone’s evangelical credentials simply because he/she fails to agree completely with an Augustine or Luther or Edwards or Wesley. We who are evangelicals must always view historical tradition as our servant, not our master. Our consciences are ultimately bound only to Scripture.
· Finally, while historical tradition is not an infallible guide to biblical orthodoxy, it helps us meet the challenge of radical individualism.
8. Historical Theology is crucial because of what it shows us concerning the emergence, development, refinement, and ultimate impact of Christian belief. Why is this crucial Because of three truths.
· First, belief matters. What people believe affects how they live. “Bad theology,” said J. I. Packer, “hurts people.” We simply must devote ourselves to understanding what people in the church have come to believe, why, and how it affected them then and how it affects us now.
· Second, some beliefs matter more than others. Some doctrines, such as that of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the nature of salvation are worthy of debate and precise thinking. Heresy is not always a bad word, for it identifies what is false that we might see and embrace what is true.
· But third, sometimes some beliefs matter too much. The disturbing thing about historical theology is the revelation of how Christians have done un-Christian things to each other in defense of doctrines that, in the ultimate scheme of things, don’t matter all that much.
9. The study of historical theology also “demonstrates how the interpretation of the Bible was governed, often to an uncomfortable extent, by cultural and philosophical assumptions” (McGrath, 149). In taking note of this we can avoid the danger of thinking that “evangelicals can read Scripture and reflect on it in a detached, objective, and culture-free manner” (149).
4. Guided by the Prophetic.
While much concerning the spiritual gifts has been won by our father's generation, I am still convinced that much nervousness surrounds the current New Testament Gift of Prophecy. While many so called "charismatics" would not take the high and easy road to practicing cessationism, most would fall into the "open but cautious" camp. Therefore the gift of prophecy would be permitted in church as long as it was to remind those present of Jesus' love for them. While my tongue is firmly in my proverbial cheek I am concerned when I hear a senior pastor of some years experience with responsibility for 200 to 300 people tell his congregation that he is nervous of "predictive" prophecy and doesn't think it should happen. This is a clear response to excess. A review of New Testament prophecy is clear that God can and does guide His people through the prophetic - never apart from His Word or in opposition to it! Of course not. But to the listening ear, His Spirit truly speaks.
In conjunction with this, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that God is currently bringing His church to a place of exercising the prophetic to such a degree that 1 Corinthians will be fulfilled and unbelievers are going to walk into our gatherings, hear the prophetic in action and fall down "declaring God is truly among you". Already this year, at Brighton, an unbelieving friend of mine has prophesised to me of things God has been speaking about and of which he knew nothing!
5. Pursuing the Lost.
What is the point of all of this unless the Great Comission is fulfilled? We absolutely must have at the heart and at the end of all our theological debates and discussions, the inevitable question - how will this further the spread of the gospel? We must regain a heart for the lost!
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Its been QUITE a week!! Still very much in the glorious throes of Brighton Leader's Conference I've been spending lots of time in prayer and reflection about the area in which I am so blessed to be living. I received quite a powerful picture relating to the geographical location where we live. I realised that the M4 motorway passes right by us and that motorway cuts the nation in half. Wales to London. The M5 intersects it and goes north. Exeter to Birmingham. And I really felt God beginning to stir me. That if a volcano errupts in an area it will follow the paths of least resistance. I really believe that if God errupts in volcanic activity in Bradley Stoke then the shockwaves will flow up the nation and down and across. We could touch a nation!!
The Church!! The Hope of the World!!
I went to the Bradley Stoke New Frontiers Church today for the first time. Wowwwwww ............ God was SO powerfully active and manifest!! I actually found it an intimidating and scary experience and almost impossible to walk in the front door. All the fears and hurts from the past came flooding back. I was about to walk home in defeat but they had the back doors onto the park open so I wandered around and sat on the grass and listened into the worship. What a people!! They sang some of my favourites: "Salvation Belongs to Our God". The gifts of the Spiritt were awesomely manifest, I heard someone speak in tongues and it interpreted. Some prophetic words were spoken out and the singing in the Spirit was glorious!! But I was "got!". I thought I was safe out on the grass and an amazing young guy came out and came and sat and chatted. I shared parts of my testimony and he was so amazingly unjudgemental and accepting. I shared my passion to get involved in the local church and he dragged me (almost literally) in to meet some of the people!! Before I knew it, I was giving my phone number to a cell leader and promising to be back next Sunday!! I walked home somewhat in a daze .... God is so good!! So gracious!! And so on my case!!
A Book Review.
Not wanting to allow this blog to become flooded with the subjective, I do want to strongly recommend a book that I have recently finished. It is called "Christ's Radiant Church" by John Hosier - recently produced for the Leaders Conference in Brighton. It is available from:
My summary is that this book is the nearest that New Frontiers have ever got to producing their own Systematic Theology. Hosier covers the following chapters:
God’s ultimate purpose - Restoration.
God’s wisdom displayed to the world
Saved to belong
Given to Christ
Sent to serve
Overseers of the flock - Apostles Today
Lavish and undeserved- Grace
Death, burial, resurrection and celebration
Baptised by the Spirit
The overflow of our hearts
To bless the church
Passion and purpose
Treasure in heaven
Ordained by God
Equal but different
The expression of God’s will
Making the difference
Living in harmony
The King is on the throne
His style is easy to read and well understandable, yet the content is profound and many scholars will benefit from it. Hosier has no trouble interacting with men such as Grudem and Fee and in particular demonstrating their inconsistencies particularly with regard to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
It is my contention that New Frontiers will only be strengthened by this impressive contribution to the theological marketplace. No longer can they be sneered at as a charismatic fringe movement - history has spoken. Their combined passion for the Spirit of God and the Word of God as well as their avid commitment to mission makes them an impressive world force to be reckoned with in the Kingdom of God. And I am truly honoured and excited to be part of that!
Well recommended and suitable for most who want to be inspired and have their faith lifted.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Well what a week ... what a privilidge ... what a God!! I returned from Brighton absolutely staggered and amazed that God is just so awesome and yet I am tasting the first fruits!! Just the beginning! I can sincerely and honestly say that God has done far more than I ever could have imagined! I went with my feeble goals and aims and He has just simply blew me away with His glory, His grandeur, His awe!!
The conference was packed full as usual with seminars and main sessions. I went largely looking forward to hearing Terry Virgo again and was totally satisfied (more later!). It was fantastic to hear some new guys speak - especially Stephen Van Rhyms from Jubilee Church in South Africa (Simon Pettit's successor). He opened the conference with a mature and godly sermon on suffering. David Holden and Dave Devenish didn't fail to impress and satisfy. C J Mahaney predictably preached two sermons I have heard before on "The Cup" and "When Life Doesn't Make Sense". I have to say that the measure of anointing upon him was greatly greatly increased and it was so good to hear the pure vision of the Cross after the muddy waters of my experience in Bristol at the church.
I went to Peter Brookes in the first seminar on "Turning Church Inside Out". I have developed a deep love for this amazingly passionate guy. He has led CCK superbly one can tell and gave some amazing insights into church leadership and how it should be done. I left with some great notes, but more importantly an increased passion for God's Church. The second seminar was David Holden on "Handling Conflict". I wish I had gone to this seminar 2 and a half years ago before I joined the Sovereign "Grace" church in Bristol - it might have solved much heartache. Still ... much to put into practice in the future!! The final seminar was C J Mahaney on "Sovereign Grace". To be honest I wasn't that impressed. I've heard it before on DVD played in a home group and while his presentation of this doctrine is adequate, I think Sam Storms far outstrips him. See http://samstorms.com.
So the highlights ......
Scott (my first spiritual son!) became a Christian and received the Spirit!!! .....
I knew something was up when during a particularly passionate time of worship led by the amazing Kate Simmonds, he seemed like a ticking time bomb. He was responding extremely deeply to the songs we were singing and I knew that God's Spirit was at work. He told me on the way home that he had "taken the plunge" and had surrendered his life to God!! Hallelujah!! When we got home we all gathered to wait on God, bask in His Presence and pray and I felt led to get us to lay hands on Scott and pray that he received the baptism of the Spirit. Hungry he was ... for he was gloriously filled with the Spirit!! A prophecy came that he was to be used dramatically of God to become a teacher of His children, not just of children ... watch this space!!
Myth (my second spiritual son!) was awesomely touched by God!!! ....
Myth just came down for the Thursday. It was great for him to meet Steph my best friend and comrade-charismatic in arms and he testified that he came to the prayer meeting in the evening and heard God speaking powerfully to him telling him how welcome he was, and how passionately he was loved!! The worship that night was led by the flamboyant Evan Rodgers (of "Celebrate in the Lord" fame) and his African troope of dancers. My evangelical self cringed ... but Myth loved it!! Pure passion!! He left a bit early and we found him on the beach and were up till 3am talking of God, of His Son and of His Spirit. I felt so so close to him, and felt so honoured again to see God so powerfully at work. I have sacrificed much to keep this boy close to me particularly as I was "commanded" to cut him out of my life. I am so so passionately glad I listened to God and not some misguided men. For I felt God say again and again; "Vindicated! You are vindicated!!". I'm so excited to see these two boys become great and powerfully used in the Kingdom of God!!
The Church - the Passion of God's Son!! ...
You cannot be in a New Frontiers conference and come away unchanged in your view of church. It was just exhilarating to see their big vision of God and His church!! "I have seen the city of God and I cannot turn away!". Kate and Stuart have written some absolutely outstanding new songs that I guarantee will become a deep inheritance. Watch out for the new Live Worship CD coming out in September!! My favourite song was a hymn format that has taken the very biblical route of not stopping at the Cross (as some do) but proclaiming the glorious Resurrection and the fact that: "I will build My Church and Hell will not prevail!". It was particularly key in light of the hideous London bombings.
Terry Virgo - A Spiritual Giant ...
The biblical pattern of spiritual fathers has always been so close to my heart ever since I saw the pattern in Moses and Joshua - Elijah and Elisha. My constant prayer has been that God would provide such a figure for me, especially after I have been so fortunate to taste of what that will be like with my only true pastor Dr Stanley Jebb. To watch these men and learn off them! To see their passion for God and prayer!! So to be under Terry Virgo's fatherhood for the week was truly heaven. I had an amazing vision of the father heart of this man when after the offering the passionate Mobilise crowd came down to near the stage and danced round it to some of the great songs! For some reason Terry was the only elder on the platform with the band and the light and life radiating from him was breathtaking. You could see the love in his eyes as he watched his people dance and worship God.
Terry followed his example of last year and preached a 2-part series from Isaiah 9 and Judges on Gideon and the Battle of the Mideanites. He highlighted a pattern I have never seen before. That when the church is in peril, God raises up a prophetic voice, then anointed leadership and finally a great army!! Once again his passion for the Spirit of God shone through. We cannot and must not be charismatic in name only!! It is not enough to play around with the Spirit's gifts and want them for their own sake!! This is about God's Presence in His house!! We are to long for a "surging of the Spirit!!". The anointing with power that He brings cannot be substituted for anything!!
It was truly the most powerful conference of my life. I came away with the usual heartache but rather than dreading returning to a church deficient in the Presence of the Spirit, I have come back so so excited to be linked to a family that is on the move!! I cannot stay angry at a group who aren't going anywhere!! We are a mobile people!! The lost are out there to be saved!! It is truly time to go!!