Friday, February 15, 2019

A poem from an American soldier in the middle of the war!

Follow a poem from an American soldier in the middle of the war!
Hope that inspires and intrigues you, but mainly I hope that makes you wonder...
"Lord God I have never spoken to you
But now I want to say, "How do you do?"
You see, God, they told me You didn't exist
And like a fool I believed all this
Last night from a shell hole I saw your sky
I figured right then they had told me a lie
Had I taken time to see the things you made
I'd have known they weren't calling a spade a spade
I wonder, God, if you'll take my hand
Somehow I feel that you'll understand
Funny I had to come to this hellish place
Before I had time to see Your face
Well, I guess there isn't much more to say
But I'm sure glad, God, I met you today
I guess zero hour will soon be here
But I'm not afraid since I know
you're near
The signal!
Well, God, I'll have to go
I like You lots, I want you to know
Look now this will be a horrible fight
Who knows, I may come to Your house tonight
Though I wasn't friendly to You before
I wonder, God, if You'd wait at Your door
Look, I'm crying, I'm shedding tears
I'll have to go now God goodbye
Strange now, since I met You, I'm not afraid to die"

Monday, February 11, 2019

Connect@Tiviot Dale by Amanda Martin

Connect@Tiviot Dale
It is hard to believe that we are coming towards the first anniversary of the birth of the church at Connect! So much has happened in this first year and we have been so excited to see what God has been doing amongst us and through us. We are grateful for all your prayers and hope that these good news stories will help you to keep praying for the church and for the work that God is doing here.
The first thing to give thanks for, is the number of people that God has led here to find, and serve Jesus. Through Baptism people have shown their commitment to following Jesus and have acknowledged how knowing him has changed their lives. Through reception into Membership, people have shown their desire to serve Christ as part of the family here. Some of these people have felt able to give testimony about their journey with God, and this has been such a blessing to all who hear how knowing Jesus can transform a life. We have also been able to welcome people who have been to the AA meeting held at Connect on Sunday evenings into worship on a Sunday afternoon.
This year has also seen the development of the “Bridge” outreach work. Several members of the church lead this ministry, which aims to ‘Bridge the gap’ for people who find themselves in need. Tesco have been willing to donate food and clothing to support this outreach and we have secured funding for a worker to work alongside the volunteers for about 10 hours a week. God is giving us a heart for helping the homeless and some of the members of the church go out onto the streets regularly to offer practical support as well as prayer. We are also planning to offer a Christians Against Poverty (CAP) Life Skills course.
At Christmas we met three times to worship in a service that included praise,singing, preaching and testimony. Through being blessed themselves, the worship team and those taking part, were able to bless many people who came, some of whom have chosen to come and worship with us regularly since then.
In January we held our first “Encounter with God” Day. This was a full day of learning, listening to God and sharing, that truly touched the lives of those who came. It was amazing to see what God can do, in just a few hours when we give him our full attention. We plan to offer more of these days in the future.
Also in January, we held our first Women’s Conference – which we called the “Her Conference”. On this day we welcomed over 50 women to share and learn about their identity in God. This was a time of great blessing that touched women from the church, from the wider circuit, as well as reaching out to those who did not yet know Jesus. The men of the church were an amazing support on this day, welcoming all who came, preparing refreshments with love and care, and helping with music for worship.
We have also seen God at work in the challenges that we face. Whilst we were so grateful for the building that we were given, it does need some attention and work. The amount of money necessary seemed like a mountain to climb, but through the generosity of two churches in the circuit, and we pray through a Connexional Grant that we are waiting to hear about, it seems that God is enabling us to do what needs to be done. We are so thankful for this and feel that this affirms the vision that God has given us for being His church in this place and time.
At Connect we Belong, Believe, Become – each person is encouraged to walk with Jesus and to find out what ministry God is calling them too. We hope that with the good news we have shared you will be encouraged for the work that God can do in your church. God bless you and thank you for your prayers, please keep praying for us.
The church at Connect@Tiviot Dale.

TEXT by Amanda Martin

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Church unity in a multicultural congregation

Text-based in Romans 15.1-13 (see below)

Unity is precious and without unity, a church is no longer a church with a good future.

Jesus prayed for unity among the believers not only in His time but ours as well.

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23 New International Version (NIV)

The truth is that is not different people that divides the church and makes the world to doubt the gospel. This is not because of refugees or people from other countries.
People divide things and churches, when people are more concern with the form that things have instead of the meaning then we have the recipe for division and destruction.
We are called to be a body, and a body is only complete and effective when is build up with different organs and members, and that is the same with church. We need a variety of people with their talents and skills and gifts to be a functional body of Christ. If all the church is the same in everything that is not unity that means that there is a controlling and “comfort zone” attitude of the people, what generates a huge inefficiency in evangelism and impact in the wider society.
But what a church needs to do in order to become a diverse church that walks in unity?

The text that we read teaches a pragmatic approach to this.

1)  God gives endurance and encouragement that generates unity.

What generates unity is not a group of people in the same place.
Too many churches think that they are in unity to be in the same building every Sunday morning. Even when they don’t know much about themselves or when people cannot wait for the end of the service to disappear from the church.

What generates unity in churches is when people have the same vision!

People will do things differently, and that is healthy when done with the same vision and purpose in mind. Different organs work differently and do the different process to allow the human body to walk from point A to point B.

2)  We need endurance and proactivity to be in unity.
Unity just doesn’t happen but needs to be worked and people need to decide to be in unity.

Churches need to do less activity that perpetuates the dominant culture and generate programs that share the culture of the Kingdom.

Freedom and endurance are the two keywords to be in people’s heart in the process of unity.

3)  Acceptance is vital to the process.
Verse 7 says that we should accept one another as Christ has accepted us.

When accepting that people see and do things differently we are able to step forward in the process of unity.

Acceptance is vital, as without acceptance the tension will be building till the point of explosion.
This is not a pretending exercise, but an intentional process to renew the mind and practices of a local church towards becoming a place of radical welcoming.

4)  When we walk n unity and acceptance God is glorified.
How awesome is that!
When churches become a place of acceptance of other worldviews and cultures there will be joy and God will be glorified.

Those are the places that transform the world and impact the community.

Romans 15.1-13 
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”
Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Book Recommendation for church planters

1)   Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (B&H Academic, 2006). A very good and practical book that focus both the planting and the planter at the same work.

2)   Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Crossway, 2013). This book talks about the clarity of vision and purpose in planting a church. Church Planting without planning and a good ecclesiology will more often than not result in a disaster.

3)   Stuart Murray, Planting Churches in the 21st Century  (Herald      Press (May 25, 2010). The book answers the most important questions about church planting: Where, Why, What, When and who!

4)   Christopher B. James, Church Planting in Post-Christians Soil: Theology and Practice (Oxford University Press; 1 edition, December 2017). This book shares stories of renovation and transformation in a post-Christians context. It does it with a theological and ecclesiological base as well.

5)   Ralph Moore, Starting a New Church (Baker, 2002). The best part of the book is when it shows the importance of ecclesiological flexibility along with practical steps that every church can do in order to influence a culture.

6)   Harvie Conn, Urban Ministry (InterVarsity, 2010). Approaches urban church planting and help those leaders who need a robust understanding of contextualization in a changing cultural landscape.

7)   Tim Keller, Center Church (Zondervan, 2012). This book engages a wide range of important questions that every church planting must to ask and hopefully know during the process to plant a church. The book approaches various things from theology, preaching, revival cultural engagement and many things between.

8)   John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker Academic, 2010). This book helps church planters to have a good root where there are, but to understand that God wants to save the whole world, and every church planting is part of that. Missions are in the DNA of every church.

9)    David W. Shenk & Ervin R. Stutzman, Creating Communities of the Kingdom: New Testament models of church planting (Herald press, 1998). This book helps to understand church planting in a new testament way. Practical but very challenging.

10)                  Michael W. Goheen, The Church and its Vocation (Baker Academic [6 Nov. 2018]). This academic work helps with amazing inputs of how to translate our ecclesiology to a new postmodern generation.

Connect Group 33 – Lord teach us how to pray

Icebreaker:  Think about a conversation that you have had recently with someone who you are close to – it could be a friend or a member of ...