Leaders say what they see. Their not afraid to speak the word, they point out the awkward facts and they state the obvious. In the video below Ben explains more. Watch to the end for an update on our plans for Alpha.
I have found myself thinking about this a lot recently. A lord has power and authority over other people. When we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord we are stating that Christ has power and authority over us – in effect, that we submit to his power and authority.
To state this and not to submit to his power and authority is a contradiction, and actually makes the confession, “Jesus is Lord”, meaningless. Declaring “Jesus is Lord” is not just uttering words but placing ourselves in the most effective place of kingdom action. As Greg Boyd puts it: “we enter the domain of God’s reign when we enthrone Christ as Lord of our life”.
The challenge for us is to cultivate lives of submission to Christ as Lord. This is especially important as we make space for more MSC activity, as we face challenges, make decisions and respond to uncertainty.We have a tendency to make ‘lordship’ decisions from the basis of our own power and authority – we try to rule our own domain. Actually, to authentically live as disciples is to use the declaration of “Jesus is Lord” as the entry point into the domain of the true Lord and to lay down our own measly attempt to be lord of our lives.
The Lordship of Jesus is effective. I think at present we need to recover some confidence in the Lordship of Jesus. When you find yourself feeling fearful, doubtful about whether it is possible to do the things you think God has called for, when you feel troubled try simply praying “Jesus is Lord”. It isn’t wishful thinking or a kind of positive thinking technique but rather a statement of fact: “Jesus IS Lord”…… it is his rule and reign, his dominion and domain that matters and is the place to be for a disciple of the Lord.
Let’s make this our statement of faith and lifestyle: Jesus is Lord!
We are pleased to be announce our next Discipleship and Mission Workshop will take place on Sat 27th Feb in Harrogate.
These Workshops are designed for anyone who wants to think through what discipleship and mission could look like in the 21st Century Church.
They are a day of teaching, interactive workshops, networking and a chance to hear how God is bringing transformation through Missional Communities of ordinary disciples. We are looking forward to welcoming Nic Harding from Frontline Church Liverpool and Kairos Connexion to share his insights and input during the day.
We will also be running a pioneer and planter stream alongside the whole day.
You will hear the story of what God has done in and through our church and others, and the principles we have learned along the way. There will be experienced Missional Leaders sharing their stories, and plenty of time to ask questions and interact with experienced practitioners.
Over the past month or so the news has been dominated by the Greece financial crisis. All this is a direct result of the worldwide financial crash of a few years ago. Finance and investment is a big deal for the whole world right now. The financial crisis has made us all more focused on getting value for money.
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly thinking about
So we need to be asking:
“What does our investment look like from a ‘kingdom of God’ perspective?”
Over the last five Central Gatherings we have been talking about the ‘Five Capitals’:
Spiritual, Relational, Physical, Intellectual; Today we are looking at the last of the five capitals: How will we invest our financial resources in pursuing the Kingdom of God?
What is God saying to you & what are you going to do about it?
Jesus taught his disciples how to invest their time, energy, and money for a bigger return than just financial reward.
The Gospels are filled with parables and conversations around money, capital and investment.
In Matthew 13 we are given five parables about the ‘Kingdom of God’.
These parables show us that we need to sow, to search for and to sift out the Kingdom. There is work involved. They show us we need to invest in the Kingdom of God.
The good news that Jesus announced was that the true wealth of a life with God in his kingdom was now available to everyone. And you do not need to be rich to obtain it. It’s like a treasure a man found in a field, Jesus said. In his joy, he sold everything he had and bought the field! Or it’s like the merchant when he found a fine pearl he went away and sold everything and brought it. Do you realise that it is well worth trading the temporal for the eternal? It’s a much better investment.
It’s said that, Martin Luther, the man who began the Protestant movement, stressed these three types of conversions: conversion of the head, conversion of the heart, and conversion of the wallet.
Jesus talked about money quite a bit. He talked about how we could turn it into an idol, if we are relying on it for significance or security. But he also affirmed that it’s simply a form of capital that allows us to invest in other capitals that are worth more.
When did you last asses you finances in the light of your giving and investment in God’s kingdom?
Every year we should be doing a financial audit.
Ask yourself what am I investing in financially?
Often this will reveal to you what you see as important.
Now read Matthew 6 v 19-21.
The money image is by Lawrence Lew on Flickr
On Sunday I spoke from Mark.4.33-41 where Jesus and the disciples are in a boat and face a storm.
Within this passage the disciples ask 2 interesting questions: “Do you not care we are about to drown?” “Who is this?”
These questions highlighted 3 key issues:
Do we recognise him in our lives? Do others recognise him in our lives? Are we investing our other capitals to see our Spiritual capital of recognising Jesus grow?
How much do we trust him? How vulnerable do we make ourselves before him to trust him deeper?
Relying on Jesus
How much are we prepared to give up control to totally rely upon Jesus? We can only rely if we trust and we will only trust if we recognise him!
Where do we need to do some work within our MSC’s to recognise Jesus more, trust him more and rely on him more?
The truth is that we will only see our MSC’s grow if we are prepared to make ourselves vulnerable and trust Jesus totally, relying upon him, and ensuring that others around us can recognise Jesus at work in, through and around us.
Seriously, these two have been following me around – popping up when people pray and share words they think God is saying, showing their heads in times of daily prayer and sermons.
They’ve even been appearing when I’m minding my own business reading.
When this happens it does make me wonder “What is God saying?” Well what I’m hearing from this is a call to make the main thing the main thing.
In the first of these two, well known, bits of scripture we see Jesus announce his purpose by declaring (and subverting) the prophecy in Isaiah 61. His words would have been exciting and extremely challenging to hear. He has come as God’s anointed and chosen one to bring good news, to proclaim freedom, release and favour.
In the second we see the early church’s Holy-Spirit-empowered efforts to live in Jesus’ way. Sharing all they had, giving to each other and getting on with declaring God’s good news.
As we said to many of you on Tuesday, we’ve been sensing a challenge over the last few weeks to lean towards God’s calling on our lives. To evaluate what we’re doing and focus on the vision to “release communities of followers in the mission of Jesus.” We are committed to evaluating and altering our activity based on what we think God is saying. There’ll be time to explore all this more over the next few months. For now I want to ask you two questions:
What has the spirit anointed you and your community to do?
How might you be more released and supported to fully devote yourself to that calling?
Have a great week! Ben
Did you watch Noah on BBC1 the other week?
Its always good to see some Biblical drama acted out on our screens. The thing that struck me was the way in which they presented him as not even supported by his closest family until quite late on in the process of building. This was highlighted even more than the ridicule others gave him.
During Holy Week at one point I found myself reflecting on the way in which Jesus was ridiculed, willfully misrepresented and wrongly accused. He did little to respond, he was not able to much of the time, but what comes over is that he just got on with what the Father was calling him to do. Just as Noah did. Just as many of the Biblical characters did as they followed God’s call.
What we do will sometimes attract ridicule and misrepresentation. There will be moments of self-doubt, times that we are tempted to pull back from the brink. We will find we need to focus in on the main thing that we are called to do and…… just do it.
Having just led a small Kairos team on the Community of Practice we are part of (something like the Leaders & Teams Learning Community we hold twice a year) what emerged as we listened to God together was a challenge to make sure we focus on the main thing we are called to as a church: Releasing Communities of Followers in the Mission of Jesus. It’s not that we haven’t been doing this – but there was a definite feel of intensification – of the Holy Spirit emphasising our vision to be releasers of disciples in communities/extended families.
This term we are going to be focusing, in teaching, huddle, Learning Community and training, on investing the capital each of us has in the things of the Kingdom. I am beginning, with the help of the Vision Team and Base Team, to explore what it will look like to further invest in the release of effective communities – I believe we have only just started and hope you will continue, even if you feel a little like Noah must have done, to press on pursuing the vision God has given us.
I start my day with breakfast, it sets the tone for the day. A healthy breakfast often leads to a healthy day. This Lent I’m also trying to start the day with some spiritual breakfast; I take some time to be silent and focus on breathing.
The Hebrew and Greek words for ‘breath’ also means ‘spirit’. I breathe in the spirit and out what I need to let go of, such as what I’m worried about, what is holding me back or sin. I have found that this focuses me on God. Breathing is something we do all the time, however focusing on this life giving process by taking it all in and giving it all back, reminds us of the surrendering nature of being a living sacrifice to God.
Take the time to breathe, breathe into your belly not just your shoulders. I have found that it is often in the- what feels like nothingness- that God reveals himself beyond my expectations. I spoke on Sunday about the need to spend time with the Father, and how silence can be a good way to do this, don’t turn it into a complex thing, just be with Him and Breathe.
Pause…breath in…breath out…do this 10 times.
Draw close to the giver of life, focus on the Spirit being with you and in you today.
Throughout the day at those moments of tension, rushing, uncertainty, anger, frustration, as you grab a bite for lunch, have a spiritual snack, go back to the source of life.
Breathe with Him.
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