God is neither real nor supernatural

I noticed in a recent trip to the UK, that some UK Christians argue that ‘God is real’. The other term that I have heard a lot is ‘supernatural’; God’s actions are expected to be supernatural. Ironically, neither of these terms are biblical. The term ‘real’ has been used in English only since the early 14th century. The term supernatural was first used about 1520.

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Transition – safely from one side to the other

It has rightly been observed that the only thing that doesn’t change in the life of a mission worker is the presence of change!  Our lives are constantly changing as we transition between different countries, cultures, roles, relationships, agencies, cities, ages, homes, family settings and churches.  Yet for all the frequency of change, most of us do not deal with it well.

Change destabilises us emotionally.  It removes the certainties that we rely on to maintain emotional equilibrium.  We don’t know where to shop.  We don’t understand the language.  We’re not sure if people are staring at us simply because we look different, or because we’ve done something terribly wrong.  Sometimes we recognise and prepare for the big things that change, but often it’s the little ones that trip us up.  We can cope with eating different food three times a day but really miss our favourite brand of coffee.

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Global Connections conference reflections – Part 3

This is the third in a series of blogs on the Global Connections conference in May 2016, From Where I’m Sitting, where we sought to explore mission from different perspectives. You can listen to the talks on the Global Connections events page. I had the privilege to seek feedback on what was heard on the last morning and made a wide range of points.

Another key point raised was “Agencies and churches need to do something about their Governance”

I was very challenged by Chris Kidd’s comment about trustees. It is vitally important that we are well run, but legislation is now taking that to an extreme. It is only a part of a trustees’ role whatever the Charity Commission says. Being well run and balanced books is not the “be all and end all”.

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Holistic evangelism: A bleeding woman and a dead child

I finished my last post by saying, please God, may my anger continue to burn until the church practices holistic evangelism as God has called it to do. This raises the question of what is holistic evangelism? I answered the question by saying, “when the kingdom is enacted on the earth, amidst all the messiness of human existence with its sin, sickness and spite.” But what does this actually look like?

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Global Connections conference reflections – Part 2

This is the second in a series of blogs on the Global Connections conference in May 2016, From Where I’m Sitting, where we sought to explore mission from different perspectives. You can listen to the talks on the Global Connections events page. I had the privilege to seek feedback on what was heard on the last morning and made a wide range of points.

One key point raised was “The Gospel is Central” to all that we do?

One clear message that we heard during the conference was “Christ is sufficient”. The gospel is central to all that we do. It is not an add on to our social programme, but the core of everything.

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Before the deacons’ meeting

Two Deacons were chatting before the deacons’ meeting.

Peter: Good to see you back for a deacons’ meeting, John.

John: Yes I have been rather busy recently and haven’t been able to fit these meetings in. I hear we have got another intern starting next month.

Peter: Luigi isn’t an intern; he’s the new assistant minister.

John: Oh I thought he was a Latin American who is coming here to learn what it is like to work in a UK church.

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Holistic evangelism: What on earth is the church for?

I am angry. I have been since 6th July 1980. At times the anger has burned brightly, but on other occasions it is just sadness. Nearly 34 years later and there is still anger and sadness.

I am angry with the church. Not with any particular local congregation, but with the chronic failure of The Church – the community of people claiming to be Christians in this country. The anger is specific: it took The Church 17 years to tell me about Jesus. It was in July 1980 that I became a follower of Jesus, this controversial, delightful, enigmatic and fascinating manual labourer from Palestine.  It was then that I found I actually mattered to God, that I was loved by Him and that my life had purpose and meaning. But it took 17 years for The Church to bother telling me about this Jesus.

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‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’

Whether you are for or against ‘Brexit’, the fact is the EU has drifted from its original moral vision to put economics before values; while the Bible is clear that human existence is not just about ‘the standard of living’ but also ‘the quality of life’.

The European project has failed because it now has little to say on any issue except economics. Yet the original idea was in fact a ‘Christian vision’ of ‘theo-political imagination’ (academic Scott Thomas).

However, socialist thinkers in the European project eventually subjugated all else in order to develop policies on abortion, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research. Issues that have been driven rough-shod over centuries of Judeo-Christian values the EU project looks set to marginalise altogether.

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Global Connections conference reflections – Part 1

My role at Global Connections means that I have to be rather a conference junky. As a network we are committed to people learning from each other, and the best way to do that is to bring people together. Fortunately I love meeting new people at the many diverse events that we facilitate.

As well as the many day events, every couple of years we hold a residential conference where it is easier to spend quality time with others. This May we tried to do something different in terms of those we asked to contribute. Entitled From Where I’m Sitting we sought to explore mission from different perspectives.

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A Christian Mission Perspective on the EU referendum

We are constantly being told that the EU referendum is the biggest political decision of our generation and potentially a turning point in the history of our country. Well that may or may not be true, but whatever our political perspective, as Christians we believe that Jesus Christ, not politics, is the hope of nations.

The earliest Christians confession “Jesus is Lord” wasn’t so much a statement of faith as a defiant rejection of the supreme authority of Caesar. For Christians Jesus Christ, not secular political power, is our ultimate authority. He is Lord. His sovereignty should be our controlling paradigm for reflection on life, the universe and everything, even the referendum.

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