Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Miletus Farewell

Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. - Acts 20:17

The group of believers at Ephesus was important to the Apostle Paul. He had at one point on his journeys taken up residence there for 3 years.

Relationships had been birthed, nurtured and flourished. So on his way to Rome, which it would seem that Paul knew he would not return, he lands at the port of Miletus and sends for his friends, the leaders of the Church at Ephesus.

The came, a journey of over 60 miles, to say goodbye to their leader and friend. In a few short verses we read how Paul pours out his heart to his fellow leaders. Encouraging, directing, challenging, thanking & inspiring. It is his last opportunity to influence these leaders who he had worked side by side with and he holds nothing back.

Both his challenge for them and love of them is undiluted. These few verses contain a wealth of insight into Paul's leadership ethos and style.

Over the next few posts I want to explore verses 17 - 38 of Acts 20 and uncover some unexpected gems of leadership advice.

First: Leaders do life together

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

To the rescue

"People think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but…most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean."

"No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves."

Sally Lloyd-Jones’ - Jesus Storybook Bible.

Now that seems worth reading.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Enter the Silence

28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. 31-33 Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. - Lam 3:28-30 (Message)

I don't do silence very well.
I walk in the the house and switch on the TV.
I sit in the car and switch on the radio.
I work at my computer and iTunes is open.
Even when its quiet it's not.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Email & RSS feeds keep the unheard noise going.

So advice like.. Enter the silence....bow....don't talk....don't ask....wait, don't come easy. But God is saying that that is the pathway to hope in trouble. The light in the darkness.

Silence opens the way for me to  listen.
Bowing says God is in charge not me.
Not asking against every instinct in my body, means I am trusting.

Trusting the one that will never betray, never let down, never lie, never use you and never desert you no matter how bad it gets.

Silence is not weakness and not to be feared it is the doorway to... Stockpiles of His love!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Poured Out

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. - Phil 2 :17–18

Paul compared his life to a “Drink Offering”. This was something that was added to the main sacrifice that would add aroma. It wasn't the main thing, it was just a small addition. An afterthought.

From the great Apostle Paul the Philippians faith was more important than his life.

The fact that through his life he had been instrumental in bringing Christ to this group of people was all that mattered. Their faith was the main thing his life only made sense because it brought about faith.

Lydia the fashionista, the demon possessed no name slave girl, the retired captain of the Praetorian Guard, their faith in Christ, was everything to him. His life poured out in to their lives touched by their faith meant his life was a sweet aroma to His God.

Now he could die rejoicing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Counted worthy to suffer?

Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name. - Acts 5:41

I wrote about this verse a few days ago but just can't get it out of my head. So I guess God is still trying to get something into my heart.

Earlier in the narrative of this part of the early church history we read of some amazing conversions and incredible miracles. God was on the move so much that people were dragging their sick friends on to the street to be healed. The unbelievable thing was this healing did not come about through a touch or prayer. The shadow of the apostles falling on the sick as they walked by was enough.

Our cry often in the church of today is, we would love to see more of what they had then now. What if....? It would be awesome wouldn't?

Yet I see that this revival, this demonstration of God's power in new and incredulous ways, brought something that I am not sure we are ready to welcome.

The Apostles doing God's will, performing His miracles, preaching His Gospel are arrested & tortured.

These crazy, radical, selfless followers of Jesus did not see the dichotomy of a life sold out for Jesus and temporal suffering. In fact to them they were partners. Earthly comforts were way less important than Jesus cause.

Their memory had been scared indelibly with the sight of a suffering saviour. When salvation was gained suffering was present. So now it was no impostor to this Jesus focused life.

I am sure for them seeing conversions and miracles there was great joy. But it is notable at this time of revival, from deep within joy sprang up because: "...they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name."

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Never alone

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” – James 4:8

The great aim of this writer is that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God, that God not be a distant thought, but a near and present reality, that we experience what the old Puritans called communion with God.

Communion is defined as an exchange of conversation, ideas and feelings. So often that does not describe my relationship with God.

It can often boil down to me just trying to be obedient to what I think God wants me to do. My friend Juergen, who is now with Jesus, told me: "It's not about obedience, it is about intimacy.

We will do things out of love we will never do out of duty or fear.

God is always with us not as a policemen but as a lover. We are never alone and that is a good thing!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Joy in the Gospel

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.Phil 1:12-18

So we find the Apostle Paul in prison awaiting trial, facing death. At the same time some preachers who just don’t like him are getting off on preaching Christ so that things will get worse for Paul.

That’s low. I would be crazy mad. I’d be praying down fire on their heads. But we find Paul rejoicing because Christ is proclaimed even when the motive is wrong.

The man and the message had captivated Paul’s whole being to the point that what happened to him was of no consequence.. Christ was enough. Not when he was planting a new church, preaching at some revival or singing in a beautiful auditorium that’s air-conditioned and has comfy seats. But he was enough in the stench and staleness of a cell facing death any day. Jesus was enough.

When we truly get the Gospel + nothing = everything, it will revolutionise our lives. The Gospel does not guarantee your best life now it guarantees wicked sinful people an eternity with the Holy and Perfect Son of God – Jesus.

And the fact that this message is being shared with other wicked people becomes the consuming passion of Paul’s life. We must be PASSIONATE ABOUT PEOPLE. Lost people matter to God, so they must matter to us.

They mattered to Paul. Outside of prison he preached the Gospel. Inside the prison he preached the Gospel to all the other prisoners and the whole imperial guard!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Surprised by Joy

Honoured to have another opportunity to share God's Word with the great people of Milton Keynes Christian Centre. Continuing our series - Draw Near.

My subject this week: Surprised by God. Click here if you can't see the video.

Surprised by joy from MKCCpreaching on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Surprised by Joy in Fellowship

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.Phil 1:3-5 

Paul is writing to a church he planted.  A place with so many memories for him and a right concoction of people.

Lydia the fashionista. Rich with multiple homes travelling around the known world selling her brand. The no name slave girl who was demon possessed and used by men to make money. The retired roman centurion who understood what it was to serve but now was enjoying the trappings of his service in this roman colony keeping his hand in by being a jailer. All put together to form this thing called church. If ever there was an example that church was for everyone it is here.

Diversity is the churches strength not weakness. Something to find joy in not because of what it does for us but what it does for the kingdom. All sorts of people reaching out to all sorts of people to bring them into the kingdom.

Diversities common cause is THE Gospel. The greatest cause unites the greatest of enemies.

His cause is greater than your agenda.

Part of a message "Surprised by Joy" watch the rest of it here.