What would you tell your children/grandchildren about Jesus (as part of your final words)? That the question put to N T Wright in the following video produced by The Work of the People.
Bottom line? ”Just read the Gospels more.” As Tom Wright says, “We never have Jesus in our pockets.” Read the Gospels in different ways. Keep on looking until you are part of the drama that has Jesus as the central character.
Great advice – I can vouch for it in my own walk with Jesus.
At Deep Creek Anglican we are part way through a series on Kingdom Living taken from Matthew’s Gospel. Downloads of the messages are available at the link. The Holy Spirit has been moving powerfully in many hearts, not the least those of the preachers!
Today I noticed that WorshipHouse Media are advertising another video, based around Matt 5:16:
On Sundays, we have just completed a twelve message series from the Book of Proverbs, entitled Living Wisely. It has been a challenging part of Scripture to preach from, but immensely rewarding.
We have preached thematically, covering:
- Two paths
- Honest workers
- Anger management
- Family building
- Choosing friends wisely
- Extravagant generosity
- Commitment to God in everything
- Radical ministry of compassion
I found two quite different resources very helpful:
- Good applications from Bill Hybels:
“Before we go out to the world we must come back to the Lord. If we want to change the world we must first change our own hearts and ways. As we take the words of the Gospel to the world we must also take with us words of confession to God, and before we get off our seats to seek the lost we need to get on our knees to seek the Lord.”
You can read the Christianity Today report here.
Chapter Fifteen: A relationship with the Risen Jesus?
Chapter Sixteen: Assured by the Resurrected Christ
At the end of Chapter Fifteen, Adrian Warnock suggests we ask ourselves: “Do I really love Jesus? Am I aware of His love for me in such a way that I have a strong desire to be holy? Am I devoted to Jesus?” These are very pertinent questions and ones that, although perhaps phrased a little differently, regularly cross my mind.
Our author notes that the goal of the Apostle Paul’s life was a relationship with the resurrected Jesus. The testimony of Scripture and that of saints of old is that we can experience living in resurrection power. Martyn Lloyd Jones dismisses a purely intellectual approach to the faith as “dead orthodoxy” and warns against setting experience and doctrine against each other.
In Chapter Sixteen the focus is on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. It was the risen Jesus who gave us the Holy Spirit. Adrian emphasises a truth that I often chew on: we receive the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.
Our author then gets into a discussion about receiving the Spirit, baptism with the Spirit and receiving the Spirit. In wrestling with these important aspects of the Spirit’s work, I find the following works particularly helpful:
I really connect with Adrian’s appeal towards the end of the chapter:
“Let’s resist becoming sidetracked by our various differences over these matters and instead simply cry out to God for more awareness and evidence in our lives of the power that raised Christ from the dead. Then we will know the joy of living our lives not in our own strength but in God’s enabling.”
Chapter Eight: Life Between the Cross and the Coming.
Graham Cole highlights three ‘commissions’ that Christians are to obey, as we live for Jesus in the world:
- Creation Commission (Gen 1:28). Our exercise of dominion is one of both care and control (eg. Gen 2:15). I would put it this way: care for the environment is one aspect of being a follower of Jesus and a citizen of God’s Kingdom.
- Discipling Commission (Matt 28:18-20). God calls His people to make disciples – of all nations.
- Moral Commission (Matt 22:37-39). The Creation and Discipling Commissions are “to be shaped by love of God and love of neighbour.” Indeed, as Graham rightly concludes: “Without love, creation care and discipling others become vacuous. We gain nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3).”
Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a reputation as an innovative communicator.
He was recently interviewed in Leadership magazine: Tying the Clouds Together. Not surprisingly for Rob Bell, there can are numerous thought provoking statements in the interview.
He talks of allowing the biblical text to broaden our horizons (of reality), rather than narrowing them. Rob comments:
“It may be my own warped sense of humor, but it was always the odd places in the Bible that I found most compelling. It’s God’s inspired Word, and it’s all useful. But to really believe that—that’s when things get interesting. I’d rather trust God, jump into those texts, and discover what God has for us….I always begin with the assumption that there is way more going on in the text than we see on the first reading.”
On the question of the impact of ‘video preaching’ to multiple locations, Bell comments:
“There is something more powerful than simply beaming yourself into other locations, and that is raising up disciples. Over time that will go farther and faster, but right now it will be more work and slower. With technology today it’s easy to spend all of your energies reproducing your own voice, but there is a longer view that says, what if instead of beaming video to those ten locations, we train ten people who can go there and lead? That’s a very basic question that should be in the mix somewhere.”
He gives some great words of wisdom on the spiritual side of preaching:
“…the public nature of preaching exposes you to a wide spectrum of feedback—from the really good compliments to really venomous criticism. Both can be dangerous because they lead to either pride or pain. We need to work at becoming the kind of person who is so deeply grounded in who we are, the work we are called to do, and the words we are called to speak, that the ambient hype that surrounds the preaching event doesn’t get the best of us.”
And then on what the journey of preaching involves, Rob observes:
“Some pastors think about how to survive the next five years. The better question to ask is, how are we going to thrive? How do we construct a rhythm and pace of life that ensures five years from now we’ll have more passion, more energy, and we will be filled with new and fresh ideas about life in God’s world?”
These words in fact apply to ALL followers of the Lord Jesus. The issue for each of us should not be: ‘How can I survive the next x months / years?’ But ‘How can I thrive, living for God in His world?’