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 (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.' 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beyond Duct Tape: One of My Favourite Gospel-Centred Resources

This is a great resource by Tami Resch and Shari Thomas

This workbook was made for church planter's wives, but I think anyone can benefit from it.
It's full of tools to help us apply the gospel to our lives. 
Here's some of the ways I use this workbook:

1) I really enjoy going through this book with my wife. It helps us to know each other better and how to apply the gospel to each other's life.

2) My wife and I loosely use this for pre-marital counselling. We use a lot of the concepts from the book and show couples some of the incredibly useful diagrams.

3) I often refer to this when I'm counselling people. Sometimes I'll even give people homework to do from the workbook.

You might also want to check out their Facebook page 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Desert Thirst for God

Psalm 63
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. 
You, God, are my God, 
earnestly I seek you; 
I thirst for you, 
my whole being longs for you, 
in a dry and parched land 
where there is no water. (NIV)

My experience is that its mainly when I'm in wilderness experiences that I thirst for God with my whole being. It's when I feel utterly helpless and hurt that I earnestly seek God.
I hate the desert experience, but I also know that without it, I just don't seek God as I should.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Prayers for the Grieving 6: Bring Me Up

Psalms 71:20-21
Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.

Lord please restore my life again. Bring me up from this dark hole. Increase my honour, and comfort me.