Saturday, December 31, 2016

Urban Ministry Program: Mission Module



I thought it might be helpful to show the contents page of our Urban mission module. The first part of the course is a biblical theology of mission, starting at Genesis and going through to Revelation. Then we combine with what we learn in that biblical theology with Acts' and Paul's missionary methods. We also look at contextualisation of both church and message, and self theologising across different cultures and ethnicities. This workbook accompanies around 36 hrs of video lessons. You can find more info on the course here



Page Number
BM01 Methodology
5
BM02 Genesis 1-2, Creation
6
BM03 Genesis 3, Two Communities (Seed Theology)
12
BM04 The Flood & Babel
13
BM05 The Patriarchs
14
BM06 Exodus/Conquest
17
BM07 Judges & Ruth
22
BM08 Time of the Kings (including Psalms)
24
BM09 Prophets
28
BM10 Exile
32
BM11 Inter-Testamental Period
34
BM12 Gospels
35
BM13 Acts
41
BM14 Epistles
45
BM15 The End
56
BM16 Summary
58
UM01 How the Gospel spreads across cultures in Acts 1-11
61
UM02 Implications of Acts 1-11
66
UM03 Mission Lessons from Paul
70
UM04 Contextualizing the Message
84
UM05 Contextualizing the Church
101
UM06 Self Theologizing
111
UM07 Evangelism
117
UM08 Glory
123
UM09 Expanding Gods People
125
UM10 God’s Place
126
UM11 Spreading Gods Rule
127
UM12 Serving God
129
UM13 Protecting
131
UM14 Counselling
133
UM15 Ethics
135
Assignment
137








Friday, December 23, 2016

Urban Ministry Program: Teaching the Bible module

I thought it might be useful to those interested in the Urban Ministry Program to see the table of contents page of the Teaching the Bible module. This workbook accompanies around 12 hrs of teaching videos, and can only be taken after the Biblical Theology and Exegesis modules. You can find more info on the course here


Monday, December 19, 2016

Urban Ministry Program: Exegesis Module

I thought it might be useful to those interested in the Urban Ministry Program to see the table of contents page of the Exegesis module. This workbook accompanies around 36 hrs of teaching videos. You can find more info on the course here

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Urban Ministry Program: Biblical Theology

I thought it might be useful to those interested in the Urban Ministry Program to see the table of contents page of the Biblical Theology module. This workbook accompanies around 25 hrs of teaching videos, and is the building block for later modules in Urban Mission module, Exegesis and Teaching the Bible. You can find more info on the course here

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why is there classism and racism in the Church? And how I've changed my mind.

I used to think that within Christianity, middle class people in general had difficulty understanding the lower classes. I thought that as well as a lack of understanding, there was prejudice towards many lower class Christians. I still think these things are true to a point, but the issue is not one of class, its deeper and broader than that.

I had a conversation with a white middle class church leader where I tried to share some ways that myself and some others had felt mistreated by this brother. This is what Jesus taught us to do (Matt 18:15-19). But this leader defended himself and deflected. However, this wasn't too much a shock because I actually expect middle class church leaders to lack understanding and to mistreat me. But then I had a similar experience with a lower class leader. I tried to share how I felt mistreated, he defended himself and deflected. I went to one of his associates (another lower class leader) and he defended and deflected. I was shocked to be treated this way by brothers from the same culture as me, because I'd thought this was only how middle class people behaved.

To demonstrate that this wasn't just a shock to me, listen to one of my lower class pastor friend's response when I discretely told him what happened. Because I didn't mention names (to avoid gossip), my friend assumed I was talking about middle class people. So he responded, "You know that's how some of those [middle class] guys are...." and I interrupted him and said, "No bruv, these were our boys." "No bruv, you don't mean these were our boys do you?! No, I could see the middle class guys being like this, but not our boys!?" He was totally shocked, because like me, he assumed that its a middle class tendency to be self righteous, defensive, and deflective.

The sad truth had already dawned on me, and now it was dawning on my friend: Failing to listen to the wounded, not bothering to understand, defending one's own position, deflecting and blame shifting, are not reserved for the middle classes, they are part of the human condition.

Of course, there were ways that I had already understood this, Adam and Eve after the fall demonstrate the human condition of blame shifting. I'd taught extensively on how we do this, and how we have a lot of victim mentality in the lower classes. But, I'd thought that when middle class people fail to understand our sometimes painful predicament, and when they fail to recognise how they are somethings hurting us - that this was because of their class - as if this was a class issue.

I've now had to rethink things a bit, and here's some of my tentative conclusions:
  1. There are certain sinful traits that will be more prominent in a particular culture. My position hasn't changed on this. I'm not judging some cultures as more godly than others - they might be, but its hard for us to make that judgment call because of our blindspots. Each culture has its own set of blindspots, and so might easily judge another culture by some of the sins they see, whilst ignoring some of their own sins which the judged culture can easily see.
  2. Failing to recognise how we've hurt someone else is such a general sin that we should expect it from anyone, no matter what class they are from.
  3. Being defensive about our sin is such a general sin that we should expect it from anyone, no matter what class they're from.
  4. Blame shifting in response to someone trying to correct us is such a general sin that we should expect it from anyone, no matter what class they're from.
  5. The issue is all about how we respond to people speaking the truth to us.
  6. However, there are some cultural implications for how we end up responding to people speaking the truth to us:
  7. If our culture tells us certain lies (or skewed narratives) about the person who's trying to speak the truth to us, we will all the more easily defend and deflect and blame shift. 
    1. For example, if a middle class pastor was educated by his parents, schooling, and the media that he is superior to the lower classes who are stupid and lazy - when a lower class church member tries to point out an offence, it will be so much easier for the pastor to delude himself that the offence is not real, and that the problem lies with the church member. He may well defend and deflect.
    2. Similarly, if a lower class church member has been indoctrinated her whole life with the idea that authority is bad. When her pastor tries to correct her over an offence, even though he might be from the same social class, she will find it very easy to assume he is misusing his authority to harm her, rather than to help her. She may well defend and deflect.
  8. These cultural influences mean that a church group can very easily end up with systemic prejudice without even realising it.
  9. Even if we eliminate the cultural lies (narratives) we grow up believing, there are still plenty of other avenues of lies that will predispose us to defend and deflect:
    1. Indwelling sin will tell us that we have done nothing wrong, we're maybe even sinless, maybe almost perfect, certainly better than the person who is confronting us. This person in front of us is a sinner, a judgmental one at that, they are the problem not me.
    2. Gossip. In my situation, the problem was preceded by gossip about me. When gossip occurs without the person gossiped about being in the room, its incredibly difficult to get a true image of the person. Instead, the parties concerned end up with a composite image of the person, based on all their distortions and half truths. This results in believing a lie, a skewed narrative about the person. If this person then tries to confront us, why would we listen to them, we've already established that they are the problem.
  10. Power corrupts. Some cultures are very powerful, and assume power over others. This means that if someone comes to us who has less power than us, we may be tempted to use our power in a bad way, by not listening to them, and failing to protect them. This could happen with large cultures like the British middle class culture, and the American white culture. However, it can also happen with smaller cultures made up of a handful of individuals who have power. Sometimes, this power can simply be the power of offence. When we offend someone we hold a power over them. They are hurt, and will not receive healing and closure without us reconciling with them. When they come to us to show us our wrong, we might well be tempted to misuse our power, and fail to hear them, and instead use our power to defend and deflect. These smaller groups can vary from a social media clique to a group of friends gossiping.
What's the solution?
In the past, I would have thought part of the solution was that we needed to better inform people. To invite middle class church leaders to the hood, to show them and inform them of the struggles we face. To gently explain some of the examples of prejudice we face in the Church. But now I think the solution is different - its the gospel.

We need more of the gospel. We need to be more cross-centered. We need to apply the doctrine of justification by faith more. We need more identity in Christ, and as God's adopted children. The more I am living out of these truths, the more happy I am in the fact that whilst a sinner, I'm justified. I'm righteous in God's sight, and he looks at me as his son with whom he's well pleased. From this position, I'm more willing to hear a brother tell me he thinks I've wronged him. I know its possible because I know I'm a sinner. At the same time, I'm not going to be so defensive because I'm already secure in my identity in Christ. I'm not afraid of being caught out, because I know Jesus has paid for my sin, and confessing it won't mess up my standing with God. 

The problem isn't going to get better without us first being more gospel-centered. We can try to educate people about the plight of the lower classes in the UK, or of African-American's in the USA, but if the people we're talking too aren't saturated in the Gospel, they will defend and deflect.

If we're not more gospel centred, then I can't even come to you and say that you wronged me the other day when you gossiped about me. And if I can't come and do that, then how can I possibly come and say that your whole church group is prejudice or racist?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to inform and educate people. I think we should tackle some of the false narratives said about lower classes and certain ethnicities. BUT I'm saying that this truth telling needs to be preceded with the Church being more gospel centred, so that it can listen. Of course, that starts with me being more gospel-centred myself.

So what would repentance look like for us?
- Firstly, I think repenting of pride, the pride that we think we're above the people who try to correct us.
- Secondly, of unbelief - not really believing in justification by faith and so instead trying to justify ourselves, being self righteous.
- Thirdly, repenting of listening to the lies. Lies about how we're better than others. Lies about how others are in the wrong, and there's no way we've wronged them.
- Fourthly, repenting of not doing conflict resolution even though Jesus made it pretty simple for us (Matt 18:15-19).



Friday, December 02, 2016

How I Cope with Chronic Pain

From the age of 4, I've been dealing with chronic pain from Hypermobility Syndrome. Over the years its got worse, and these days I'm in constant agonising pain 24/7. Rose Marie Miller said I should tell others about my experience in case it helps others, so here's how I cope with chronic pain. They go up in ascending order of effectiveness.

1. Painkillers, ice packs, hot baths, swimming in the Mediterranean and massages.
These things all help somewhat, but are just temporary. I try to avoid painkillers as much as possible, not wanting to be addicted, or to mess up my stomach. Ice packs and hot baths are easy to do with no side effects. Massages temporarily ease the pain, but I can't ask my wife to massage me all day! I've found swimming in the Spanish coast to be really helpful. The warm water, along with the salt content helps my joints to be in the right position instead of hanging (a symptom of Hyper-mobility Syndrome).

2. Watching clever movies.
If I can find a clever movie, it helps to distract me from the pain. If its not clever, it won't help. Unfortunately the pain is usually too great to read, so interesting books are out for me. I have to save reading for when my pain levels are not too high.

3. Cooking.
When I cook, it tends to distract me from pain. It's also a way I can focus on blessing others. Pain can easily make me focus on myself too much and become selfish. Cooking helps me to think more about how to bless others.

4. Making music.
When I go into the studio and start making music, I forget my pain. If I'm in too much pain to get to the studio, I have a DJ set up that swings over my bed so that I can DJ in bed.

5. Singing songs to God.
Singing songs where the lyrics focus on how amazing God is, really help me to take my focus off my pain and on to God. I'll either do this by my self or with my family. I have a bunch of songs at the ready so that its easy to play even when I'm in excruciating pain.

6. Praying to God.
Sometimes when I'm in lots of pain I cry out to God to help me. Sometimes I pray that he'd take me to heaven early, other times that he'd give me the strength to take the pain. Sometimes as I pray, I feel an amazing sense of God's presence. There's been a couple of times when this has been such an amazing experience that I've ended up thanking God for the pain because of the joy it led to.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Transcendence and Immanence: Getting more of Christ in hardships

In preparation for tomorrow's conference talk on Christ Centered Church, here's a sermon I recently did on how Christ is both far from and near to us.


and here's the song we sang at the end:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Another song we'll be singing at the RTU conference this Saturday

As my talk is going to be about Christ Centered Church, we'll be singing this song about God's immanence and transcendence.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Songs to go with the Urban Catechism

Those of you using our Urban Catechism might have noticed that some of the questions have suggested songs to sing that fit with certain questions. Here's a playlist of those songs so that you can easily find them.
(soon we'll have this list updated on our website with the relevant questions to make it easier to find)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

We're fundraising for my present health needs

For anyone who's interested, my wife wrote the following on a gofundme page:

My husband, Duncan, has Ehlers Danlos syndrome (hypermobility joint syndrome). We hope that buying this bed will help him manage his constant pain and get much-needed sleep. Having Ehlers Danlos means that Duncan's joints dislocate frequently every day and cause chronic pain, fatigue and varying loss of mobility. He started using a wheelchair (on and off) back in May 2015. We are still adjusting as a family to this new lifestyle that involves disability. Duncan is in constant pain (which is very hard to watch when there's not much I can do!) and yet he has carried on working and being an amazing husband and father. He has always had difficulty sleeping and now most nights he can't sleep until about 6am because he is just in so much pain. He wakes up with aches and pains from our current bed, so we decided it is time to get an adjustable bed. An adjustable bed is like a hospital bed where the head and feet move up and down in many different positions providing good support for your body. Duncan tested out one of these beds for a whole afternoon and that evening he was so happy, because he felt so physically good for once! We are hopeful that this bed will help him manage his pain levels better. He does a lot of his work from the bed during the day too, so it will be used day and night!

We've discovered that disability is a really expensive thing! We have had to spend 10k on a wheelchair access van this year so we are at the place of needing to ask for help to buy this bed. Any little you can give would be very much appreciated.

If this bed works out well, and if we’ve raised enough, then we hope to also get an adjustable bed for the downstairs living room as well. Because right now, Duncan practically lives in our bedroom, is isolated and away from family life and rarely goes out. So to have a bed downstairs would be amazing and could change the way we spend time together as a family and the way we show hospitality and socialize with friends. Also, it would help as Duncan has a lot of meetings with people for his work as a pastor and is now limited because he can't spend much time downstairs.

An adjustable bed won't heal his medical condition, but it may help a lot in managing his pain levels, helping him get more sleep, and remove some of the problem of isolation when he is bedridden.

Thank you for considering giving. Our whole family is very thankful! Thanks again for your support via gifts, friendship, prayers!

God bless you!
Love,
Shay and Duncan Forbes

(PS. if you prefer to donate to us directly and avoid the 9% fees being deducted please be in touch. )

https://www.gofundme.com/2xwfggs

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

One of the songs we'll be singing at the RTU conference

In preparation for the conference on 19th Nov. Here's one of the songs we'll be singing.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

RTU Conference booking is open

Here's the link to book for our conference on 19th Nov 2016 at East London Tabernacle.
Sorry that the booking has been so late. Thank you for your patience

Friday, October 21, 2016

Latest RTU conference info

Our conference is coming soon!
We're going to meet at East London Tabernacle on Saturday 10-4:30pm 19th November 2016.

MAIN SESSIONS:
I'll be doing a talk on 'Christ Centered Church' - what is it? Is it different to Gospel centred?  How do we do it?

Graham Miller the CEO of London City Mission will be talking about the Socially deprived. Who are they today and where are they living?

Simon Smallwood from Dagenham will be talking on reaching the socially deprived in grass roots ways.

All these talks are intended to help us see the way forward for reaching the socially deprived in the UK. The vision of RTU is to see ‘a movement of Christ centred churches reaching the social deprived in a grass roots way’.

We will also be having worship sessions, a time for testimonies, and a panel discussion.

I'll let you know as soon as booking opens. [UPDATE booking is here]


If you want to know more about 'Reaching the Unreached', head over to http://www.urbanministries.org.uk/rtu.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Are we complicit with Trump in Abuse?

Many were shocked to hear Trump's recent comments about sexually assaulting women.
Many were then further shocked to hear people minimise his comments.
I have to say that sadly I wasn't shocked by either.
Over the years I've seen many respected people be complicit in abuse.

As a child I experienced adults ignoring the abuse I experienced.
As an adult, I've experienced adults not even caring about abuse.
Here's some of the ways I've seen this:

1. Not caring about child protection issues. 
Years ago, I learned on a training course that the biggest factor for child abuse was people in power failing to ensure proper child protection policies. Since then, I witnessed many people not wanting to bother with proper procedures, and just assuming that no one who seems friendly and goes to church is a child abuser (which is totally untrue).  Such attitude is so different to the biblical call to protect the vulnerable.

2. Downplaying complicity in abuse.
When it came out that Joe Paterno was complicit in his colleague Sandusky abusing little boys, many defended him. These defences often went along the lines of 'he didn't do the abuse himself, he just failed to report it properly.' One TGC article  by Colin Hansen even argued that Paterno did so much good, he just made a little mistake, resulting in the court of popular opinion unfairly judging him.

Such responses shocked me. It shocked me that people would defend Paterno because of his sports achievements. It also shocked me that people thought it was fine to know of ongoing abuse and not try to stop it.

Abuse thrives where people are complicit:
Whether its a coach failing to properly report abuse to the authorities, or a pastor failing to implement child protection policies, or failing to call out Trump for harassment and assault - it's complicity. It all promotes a culture where the vulnerable are not protected.

Jesus is different:
Jesus is the good shepherd (John 10). He protects the vulnerable sheep, and carries them close to his heart (Is 40:11). He uses his rod to fight off the wolves who try to harm his sheep (Ps 32). He rebukes the watchmen who fail to blow the trumpet (Ezek 33), and the shepherds who fail to shepherd (Ezek 34). He rebukes those who call evil good.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Vacation Lessons

I've just got back from a lovely family holiday. Here's some things I learned from it:


  • Being away from the internet can be a massive blessing. 
    • It removed a lot of distractions and unpleasantness for me.

  • Being away from some of my problems, didn't mean I was away from my sinful heart. 
    • I still had to wrestle with impatience, selfishness, and anger etc.

  • Making a goal of knowing God more, rather than having 'fun' days was more fruitful.
    • There's a pressure on holidays to make each day amazing. You've got to hit the beach as early as possible to get the best weather, best spots, and restaurant seating. But, I've found that prioritising family worship and catechism in the morning and evening led to a much more fulfilling holiday.

  • Making repentance a priority brought more peace and love to the holiday.
    • When there's six of you doing everything together 24/7, you inevitably end up hurting each other. Each day we had opportunities to confess our sin to each other and ask forgiveness. We helped one another apply the gospel to our regular sins, and grew in love and peace with each other. 

  • Holidays make me long more for the new heavens and earth.
    • Firstly, seeing creation in a different part of the world helped me consider God's creative variety, and how interesting all the variety in the new world will be. Secondly, having to come back from holiday made me long more for the peaceful new world that my holiday represented.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Perfectionism vs Repentance in Witnessing

Sometimes I can feel like if I'm not living perfectly, then I'm being a bad witness for Christ.

Of course, as we're living in the already but not yet, there is still indwelling sin within each one of us, so until I die, or Christ returns, I will still sin. This means that perfectionism is not possible, and Jesus doesn't expect me to live a perfect life.

So my neighbours and non-Christian friends won't be able to see a perfect person in this life (other than Christ). Instead what I can show them hopefully is a repentant person who is gradually changing.

Rather than trying to be perfect witnesses, I'm trying to be honest about my failings, and my sin, and instead demonstrate continual repentance. A repentance that shows how amazing Jesus is, that he's freed me up to be able to admit my sin, and that he's provided forgiveness so that I can openly repent, not fearing punishment.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Power & Prejudice in the Church today


When I was abused as a child by someone more powerful than me, I tried to use my voice to speak out against it, but I was shut up. When I went to a teacher who had the power to stop it, he did nothing.

As God's image bearers we have power and voice. Like Adam we're given power to serve and protect (work and keep the garden). Like Adam we're also given a voice to use this power (naming animals and his wife). The affects of the fall however messes up our power and voices.

In my case, my childhood voice was ineffective because it wasn't listened to. In my teacher's case, he had the power to protect me, but he didn't use his power to protect me, and he didn't allow my voice to be powerful.

In churches today we sadly see the same pattern. People use their voices to speak out against misuses of power. These misuses of power come in a various forms of abuse; gossip and slander, legalism and heavy shepherding, excessive anger and violence, inappropriate relationships, and child abuse. The complainant's voices often get ignored by the people with the power to stop the misuse of power. The people with the power often don't use their power to stop the abuse, even when its someone else causing the abuse.

There's 4 ways I'd like to highlight this plays out in the western church:

1) Racial Injustice: If someone from an ethnic minority tries to speak out against a racial injustice, the majority culture who have the power to do something about it, often ignore their voice. They often fail to use their power to redeem the situation.

2) Class Prejudice: If someone from the lower classes (in the UK) tries to speak out against class prejudice and inequality, some of the upper classes tend to ignore their voice. The people who have power to change the inequality often don't and instead use their power to defend themselves.

3) Child Abuse: If a child or parent tries to speak out against abuse, some church leaders try to quieten those voices. The very people who could use their power to stop the abuse, try to cover it up instead.

4) General Offences: If a believer goes to another believer and says, 'I believe you sinned against me' (Matt 18). The other believer will sometimes fail to hear their voice, and fail to use their power to wrong the right. Instead, they might use their power and voice to defend themselves. They subsequently hold a power over the wounded person, as they refuse to repent and provide reconciliation and closure.

All of these situations are highly unbiblical, yet sadly very common. 

Why is this? 
One reason for the first two situations could be that majority cultures can easily misuse the image of God by using their power to defend their positions rather than serving and protecting.

What about the third situation? Sadly child abuse is so prevalent all over the world that I don't think it can be limited to one culture. What we have seen is that all over the world, it is tragically common for some people to use their power in an exceedingly wicked way over powerless children. This is sin issue that is common to the whole human race.

What about the fourth situation? Sadly both majority and minority culture church leaders misuse their power, refusing to listen to other's voices. This is not a class problem, its a problem common to all of mankind, as we all have indwelling sin and deceitful hearts.

What's the solution?
  1. We need a bigger view of the power of indwelling sin, and the deceitfulness of our hearts. This will help us to be more realistic about the possibilities that we ourselves are misusing power. We will also be more open to hearing that one of our colleagues might also be misusing power.
  2. We need a bigger view of the cross so that we truly believe that Jesus has paid for the sin of misusing our power. If we truly believe this, we will experience the freedom to own up to our misuse of power. 
  3. We also need to apply the doctrine of justification by faith alone to our hearts. As we truly accept Christ's justification, we won't feel the need to justify and defend ourselves. 
  4. We need to regularly and constantly apply the gospel to every area of our lives, including:
    1. How are we reflecting God's power and voice?
      1. Are we serving and protecting others?
      2. Are we using our voices in a proud way that ignores the cry of the hurt and oppressed?
    2. How are we helping others to use their power and voice.
      1. Are we helping those who have been hurt to use their god given power in the right way?
      2. Are we listening to people and helping them to find and use their voices?
What will the result be?
We could end up reflecting God better, and having churches that are safer for children, and minorities, but also churches where children and minorities flourish. Multi-cultural churches where everyone gets to use their voice and power in an appropriate way for God's glory.





Monday, September 12, 2016

How God Comforts Us

For the last few weeks and months I've been teaching on how God comforts us. You can watch the series if you're interested here:

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Song I Wrote when my Dad Died

It would have been my dad's birthday a few days ago. Here's the song I wrote when I'd heard he'd died.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

RTU Conference Line Up (19th Nov 2016)

This year at our Reaching The Unreached conference, it looks like we're gonna be blessed with having Graham Miller and Simon Smallwood speaking. I'll do a session too.

The conference will be at East London Tabernacle which is a great venue.

I'll post more details as they come.

If you want to know more about Reaching the Unreached, head over to http://www.urbanministries.org.uk/rtu.html

RTU's vision is to see ‘a movement of Christ centered churches reaching the social deprived in a grass roots way’.
RTU's mission (how we get there) is through, ‘Linking and Training.’

How do we learn stuff?

With new students starting the Urban Ministry Program, I've posted this video to help us be better learners.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Trusting God in advance for future suffering

Since childhood I've had a fear for the future. My thinking has often gone along these lines: 'So much has already gone wrong in my life, there's surely going to be much more that goes wrong in the future.' This thinking is fuelled by fear, and promotes more fear, fear about the future. 

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.' (2 Cor 1:8-11 NIV)

The apostle Paul faced a lot of suffering and trauma. Sometimes his suffering was so bad that he despaired of life itself (2 Cor 1:8). But he believed one of the reasons for this was that he would not rely on himself but on God (v.9). 

Paul reflected on how God had delivered him from these trials, and that he would again in the future, 'He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.' (v.10). Paul's experience has made him intentional about trusting God for the future, for he says, 'On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us' (v.10). For Paul getting through suffering is not just about getting through it, but is about then learning to continue to trust God for future suffering.

Here I see the need to reflect on what God has done in the past, and how it shows he will get me through any future sufferings too. 

However, for Paul to get through future trials, he knows that this is also dependant on the prayers of others, 'On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.' (v.11).

So, to guard against fear for the future, I see the need for the following:
1) Reflect on how God has got me through past suffering
2) Based on this reflection, trust that he will get me through any future suffering
3) Ask for pray, build up prayer support, people who will be faithful in prayer during times of suffering.
4) Reflect on how this process helps me to rely on God instead of myself.

Here's a sermon I preached recently on these verses:




Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reaching the Unreached Conference Nov 2016

We're doing a one day RTU conference for reaching the socially deprived of the UK on 19th November at East London Tabernacle.
More details will follow soon on this blog and on www.urbanministries.org.uk (where you can also find videos of our previous conferences).
If you follow @UrbanMinistryUK on twitter you will get the very latest updates too.
I hope you can make it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Reggae meets Gracious Election

This is a reggae worship song based on 1 Peter 1:2,
'who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance'. (1Pe 1:2 NIV)


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Scott Sauls on Recovering the Lost Art of Encouragement

We're naturally good at criticising people, but not so good at encouraging one another. Hence this blog post by Scott Sauls is so helpful. Here's some highlights from it:
'The only people Jesus seemed to chastise were pious religious people who were quite sure of themselves' 
Scott then points out that such people demanded recognition and praise from others, and there's a difference between demanding and desiring recognition.
'Demanding recognition and praise is neither good nor healthy. 
Desiring it is both good and healthy.'
 Scott then explains the difference between critique and criticism:
'Critique is motivated by restoring and building up. Criticism aims to harm and shame. Critique, in the end, will leave a person feeling cared for and built up. Criticism will leave a person feeling belittled and beaten down.'
He finishes with:
'let’s not be known for what we’re against, but for loving as we have been loved.'