Author: Simon

Neither Arminian nor Calvinist

Neither Arminian nor Calvinist

Neither Arminian nor Calvinist

In trying to explain where Calvary Chapel lays between Calvinism and Arminianism, most churches have including a statement in their statement of beliefs that reads something like this:

“At Calvary Chapel, we believe that we maintain the middle ground between Arminian and Calvinist theology”

Although this helps somewhat, it doesn’t go into enough detail. So, in 2011 Chuck Smith wrote a short book called “Calvinism, Arminianism And The Word of God. In it, he attempted to clarify what Calvary Chapel believes and teaches. Again, so much has been written on both sides of the argument that one man could never answer the question.

There is no question in my mind that Calvary Chapel not only pioneered a “middle ground”, but that the movement also added greatly to the present conversation. As we are currently going through the book of Romans I thought I’d quickly revisit what this “Middle Ground” theology expresses – by the way, there are lots of people that call themselves “Calminianism” which I’m not sure I like. I prefer “Mediate” theology.

Simply put, Mediate Theology agrees with classic Arminianism that when God predestines that this is based on his foreknowledge of what all humans would do in all possible situations that they could find themselves in. But it also teaches that God’s all-knowing character is so great that it is not limited just to what all actually created being would do but to what all possibly created beings would do in all possible situations. Because God creates only a finite number of persons between the beginning of the universe and Christ’s return, his sovereign choice is preserved, because he must choose to create some beings and not others. Thus, with classic Calvinism, his sovereign, elective freedom is preserved.

There are countless passages throughout Scripture that, seemingly paradoxically, affirm at one and the same time God’s sovereignty and human freedom (with accountability). Philippians 2:12-13 for example:

12 Therefore, my beloved, fas you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Paul here commands us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, but only because God is the one at work in us to do his good pleasure.

Isaiah 10:5-13 similarly:

Woe to Assyria, ethe rod of my anger;

the staff in their hands is my fury!

6 Against a fgodless nation I send him,

and against the people of my wrath I command him,

to take gspoil and seize plunder,

and to htread them down like the mire of the streets.

7 But he idoes not so intend,

and his heart does not so think;

but it is in his heart to destroy,

and to cut off nations not a few;

8 for he says:

j“Are not my commanders all kings?

9 kIs not lCalno like mCarchemish?

Is not nHamath like oArpad?

pIs not qSamaria like Damascus?

10 As my hand has reached to rthe kingdoms of the idols,

whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,

11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and sher idols

tas I have done to Samaria and her images?”

12 uWhen the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, vhe1 will punish the speech2 of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. 13 wFor he says:

“By the strength of my hand I have done it,

and by my wisdom, for I have understanding;

I remove the boundaries of peoples,

and plunder their treasures;

like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.

Here we find God using Assyria as an instrument to punishment faithless Israel but then promising to turn around and punish Assyria because of her evil motives in conquering God’s people.

There are 12 basic propositions to Mediate Theology:

  1. God limited the exercise of His sovereignty by creating moral beings and delegating authority to them.
    1. note: according to Ephesians 2, he has also delegated control although He is still in charge.
  2. Since the fall did not erase God’s image, depravity does not mean total inability to respond to God’s salvation message.
    1. For clarification on this point see point 4 below (i.e. God still does something in order for the sinner to respond to Him but He does not regenerate a person so that they can then believe (as Calvinists believe), nor does He leave it up to the sinner to believe on their own (as Arminianists believe).
  3. Although Christ’s death is particularly effective for individual believers, it is potentially available to all humanity.
  4. The conviction of the Spirit mediately prepares sinners for faith.
  5. God’s calling to salvation is not irresistible.
  6. The new birth is conditioned on repentant faith.
  7. Repentant faith is the only condition for salvation.
  8. Right standing and new birth are conditioned on repentant faith alone, apart from works.
  9. Election/ foreordination are based upon foreknowledge.
  10. True believers are eternally secure in Christ.
  11. Christ’s discipleship teachings are a challenge to believers, not the way of salvation.
  12. Christ charged us to proclaim salvation on God’s terms.

For those who like things laid out neatly so that they can compare the three views (Calvinism, Mediate, Arminianism) here is a very useful table called 3 Views on Sovereignty

One of the big dangers for a church like ours, with a good mix of people who believe one of the above perspectives is that:

1) we create caricatures of what the other side believes. Straw men are always the easiest to knockdown.

b) fail to appreciate that both sides are attempting to be faithful – the Calvinist wants to preserve the Scriptural emphasis on divine sovereignty; the Arminian, on human freedom and responsibility. Both are right in what they want and correct to observe in Scripture the theme that they stress.

So, here I lay out the system of belief that I’m most comfortable with. I’m Reformed in as much as I’m not catholic (but agree with neither the Calvinist TULIP nor the Arminians FACTS)

For more reading about Mediate Theology, I’d recommend the book “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: An inductive mediate Theology of Salvation” and although quite dry provides some excellent insights.

praying for the persecuted church

Persecuted Church update

praying for the persecuted church

Last May the BBC reported that Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels’. According to Help the Persecuted, a Christian is killed every 6 minutes for following Christ.

Christian Women are the most persecuted group on the planet. Mina’s story is heartbreaking

The World Watch List is Open Doors’ annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Use the link below to explore the country profiles to find information, stories and how you can pray for Christians in that country:

https://worldwatch.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/world-watch-list/?_ga=2.212060689.462394063.1580552416-904183416.1580552416

The purpose of this blog is not only to again highlight the cause of Christians around the globe but to also focus our attention on praying for them. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to go over and sign up to ICommittopray.com which is a helpful website that has prayer requests from around the world and encourages readers to post their own prayers specifically for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted.

Link-a-thon – February

This week’s blog is a link-a-thon – a collection of relevant (and not so relevant) links from across the internet.

Don’t Compartmentalize Your Christianity

I love Paul Tripp’s blog – down to earth and rich. This week Paul wrote about the dangers of “compartmentalizing” your faith. Read it here:

https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/dont-compartmentalize-your-christianity

Truth and Lies : Muhammad: The God of Islam

This is a discussion with two Islam experts Dr. Bill Warner and our friend Dr Jay Smith on the topic “Why is Muhammad elevated to the position of God?”

 

Exploring the Alps

In last weeks sermon, I mentioned my love of the Alps. if you’ve never been here is a wonderful trim lapse video called “Exploring the Alps”

Kobe’s Death Reminds Us Life Is Not Fair

I must admit: I’m not a follower of basketball and didn’t know who Kobe Bryant was until the news broke this week about his death. Still, it’s a sober reminder that death is not normal – it’s not right. In this helpful article, Greg Lauries reminds us that life isn’t fair:

https://harvest.org/resources/gregs-blog/post/kobe-bryants-death-reminds-us-life-is-not-fair/

Coronavirus

Let’s face it, global pandemics are not new: we’ve all heard of the “Black Death” (aka the Great Plague) that occurred between 1347 – 1351. It was responsible for killing an estimated 75 to 200 million people. Much more recently, In 1918, the first recognised H1N1 influenza virus broke out infecting 500 million people and killing around 25 million. In our lifetime we’ve witnessed Ebola, the 2009 “swine flu” pandemic and the 2017 “bird flu” pandemic. Now, we’ve been hit by the Coronovirus. So far 11000 people have been infected, and 259 people have died. Here, apparently, is everything you need to know about the virus: Everything You Need to Know about the New Coronavirus from China.

Also, here is a map tracking its spread in real-time.

Remembering the Holocaust – 75 years on

I’ve met a Holocaust Survivor on a number of occasions. His name was Walter Kammerling. Originally from Austria, he was 14 when the Nazi’s invaded Austria and on 9-10 Novemeber 1938 he saw the “Kristallnacht pogrom” (or Night of Broken Glass) which was a pogram (violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group) against Jews carried out by paramilitary forces throughout Nazi Germany. Jewish synagogues, shops, businesses and homes were targetted, attacked and destroyed across Germany and Austria. In Vienna, hundreds of Jewish men were arrested and sent to Dachau concentration camp. Walter’s father, mother and older sister ended up in Auschwitz-Birkenau and were murdered in a gas chamber.

This week marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. To be honest, it hasn’t had a lot of press … nowhere near enough.

According to the Gospel Coalition, there are 9 things you should know the most horrific genocidal campaigns in history:

1. The term “Holocaust,” originally from the Greek word “holokauston” which means “sacrifice by fire,” refers to the Nazi’s persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people. The biblical word Shoah, meaning “calamity”, became the standard Hebrew term for the Holocaust as early as the 1940s, especially in Europe and Israel. The term “holocaust” became a household word in America when in 1978 NBC television aired the miniseries titled Holocaust.

2. The Holocaust began in January 1933 when Hitler came to power and technically ended on May 8, 1945 (VE Day). But the official genocidal plan was developed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Fifteen Nazi leaders, which included a number of state secretaries, senior officials, party leaders, SS officers, and other leaders of government departments, held the meeting to discuss plans for a “final solution to the Jewish question in Europe.” (The Nazis used the euphemistic phrases “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and “Final Solution” to refer to the genocide of the Jews.) In the course of the meeting, Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps.

3. The Nazis distinguished between extermination camps and concentration camps. The interchangeable terms extermination camp (Vernichtungslager) and death camp (Todeslager) refer to camps whose primary function was genocide. Unlike concentration camps, the Nazis did not expect the majority of prisoners taken to the extermination camps to survive more than a few hours after arrival. In the early years of the Holocaust, the Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps (where they would often die of torture and starvation), but from 1942 onwards they were mostly deported to the extermination camps.

4. Genocide at extermination camps was initially carried out in the form of mass shootings. However, the shootings proved to be too psychologically damaging to those being asked to pull the triggers. The Nazis next tried mass killing by blowing victims up with explosives, but that also was found unsuitable. The Nazis settled on gassing their victims (usually with carbon monoxide or a cyanide-based pesticide). Stationary gas chambers could kill 2,000 people at once. Once in the chambers, about one-third of the victims died immediately, though death could take up to 20 minutes.

5. The use of camps equipped with gas chambers for the purpose of systematic mass extermination of peoples was a unique feature of the Holocaust and unprecedented in history. Never before had there existed places with the express purpose of killing people en masse. These were extermination camps established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Chełmno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibor, and Treblinka. For political and logistical reasons, the most infamous extermination camps were in Occupied Poland, since Poland had the greatest number of Jews living in Europe.

6. At various concentration and extermination camps, the Nazis conducted medical experiments on their prisoners, which included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and various amputations and other surgeries that were often conducted without anesthesia. The most notorious of these Nazi physicians was Dr. Josef Mengele, who worked in Auschwitz. According to one witness, Mengele sewed together a set of twins named Guido and Ina, who were about 4 years old, from the back in an attempt to create Siamese twins. Their parents were able to get some morphine and kill them to end their suffering.

7. Churches throughout Europe were mostly silent while Jews were persecuted, deported, and murdered by the Nazis. As Holocaust scholar Victoria J. Barnett says, “In Nazi Germany in September 1935, there were a few Christians in the Protestant Confessing Church who demanded that their Church take a public stand in defense of the Jews. Their efforts, however, were overruled by Church leaders who wanted to avoid any conflict with the Nazi regime.”

8. The largest Protestant church in Germany in the 1930s was the German Evangelical Church, comprised of 28 regional churches or Landeskirchen that included the three major theological traditions that had emerged from the Reformation: Lutheran, Reformed, and United. Most of Germany’s 40 million Protestants were members of this church, although there were smaller so-called “free” Protestant churches, such as Methodist and Baptist churches. Historically the German Evangelical Church viewed itself as one of the pillars of German culture and society, with a theologically grounded tradition of loyalty to the state. During the 1920s, a movement emerged within the German Evangelical Church called the Deutsche Christen, or “German Christians.” The “German Christians” embraced many of the nationalistic and racial aspects of Nazi ideology. Once the Nazis came to power, this group sought the creation of a national “Reich Church” and supported a “nazified” version of Christianity. The Bekennende Kirche—the “Confessing Church”—emerged in opposition to the “German Christians.” Its founding document, the Barmen Confession of Faith, declared that the church’s allegiance was to God and scripture, not a worldly Führer.

9. The most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed is six million — around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time. Additionally, the Nazis murdered approximately two to three million Soviet POWs, two million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals, and 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses, bringing the total genocide toll to around 11 million.

What Kind of Parent Are You?

These are words that I have heard myself say to myself on an almost daily basis for 24 years.

“What kind of parent are YOU??”

Usually, I’d hear myself say it after some kind of poor judgement, unwise decision or heat-of-the-moment comment. It took me a long time … too long … to realise that goal in parenting is not success (at least how the world defines success); it is faithfulness to the task.

We don’t always get it right.

Now after nearly 25 years of being a dad the same question is still heard echoing in my head, but the emphasis of the question is different.

It’s not “What kind of parent are YOU??” … now it’s: “What KIND of parent are you?”

Nowadays it’s not reactive but reflective. As I browse the internet (an meet many many parents) there are many answers to the question of “what kind of parent are you??. Here’s are some of the most popular kind of parent:

  • helicopter parenting – a parent who “hovers” or pays extremely close attention to a child’s experiences and problems, particularly at School. 10 Warning Signs you might be a helicopter parent
  • lawnmower parenting – a parent who removes or ‘mows down’ obstacles in their child’s path, so that they never has to experience discomfort. How the Lawnmower Parent hurts children
  • free-range parenting – possible the opposite of the helicopter parent, this is a parent who lets their 9-year-old ride the NY Subway Alone
  • tiger parenting – probably should be called the military parent because this is all about demanding the highest standards in everything. It’s an attempt to pressure their children to attain high levels of academic achievement or success in high-status extracurricular activities such as music, using authoritarian parenting methods
  • attachment parenting –  a parent who is continuously physically close. There is a high degree of touch. Some Perils
  • janitorial parenting—letting your children do whatever they desire and you clean up after their mistakes, allowing them to avoid accountability.

Do you recognize yourself in any of these descriptions?

These philosophies have been born out of an honest desire to raise children to be perfect … or at least know how to deal with the imperfections they see in themselves and others. They are honest attempts to give the best opportunities to children. They’ve come from conversations about can be deemed appropriate or not. Like …. how old should a child be to be left home alone … for how long … or what age should I buy my child a mobile phone?

We’d probably disagree on many topics concerning parenting but there one thing we should agree on: we need wisdom to tread out the life of a parent.

The solution to being a better parent is always, firstly, an acceptance that I don’t have it in myself to be a great parent. I’m not sufficient for my child. This should lead us to pray for much-needed wisdom. Incidentally, I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard myself singing “God I look to you”. I know the song comes from Bethel (of whom I have some serious concerns over) but the words go:

God, I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You, You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do

 

Wisdom stops me in my tracks and asks me to consider two things: 1) are you able? 2) Does my parenting reflect how God the Father treats us, His children?

And then, wisdom requires us to consider the circumstances we find ourselves in, the specific needs of the child in terms of their character and capabilities before it gives us a route forward. We might have valuable and helpful philosophical reasons for our acts and reactions but these should come from biblical principles. So wisdom then requires us to consider the child. Interestingly, as a last consideration not a first. 

What KIND of parent are you?

Well, what matters most is that you seek godly wisdom to understand what is best for your children and then … pray again for the courage and fortitude to BECOME wisdom to your children. 

Responding to Trans Questions

What’s your response when someone tells you their daughter is now a boy?

At a pastors’ breakfast this morning the hot topic issue of transgender came up in conversation. This wasn’t a subject that would have been raised a few years ago but is now something we are all having to think about and deal with. Trans is a difficult subject: it is such a complicated mix of biology, psychology, culture and politics. There are so many potential landmines to stand on – who wants to be subject to a social media firestorm for stepping on the wrong side of the politically correct line? Or to say something to a trans person that might cause hurt? Or to face penalties in the workplace (or courts) for using the ‘wrong’ pronouns?

Yet at the same time it is essential that those who have questions about the current narrative (and I think most people have questions) don’t just clam up and refuse to engage for fear of what that might mean. Thankfully there is an ever growing number of helpful resources and information on trans which can help us raise the right questions and engage in a positive way.

This excerpt has come from Thinktheology.co.uk and contains some helpful, if not provocative thoughts. The rest of the article can be found here.

ANNOUNCEMENT_ CRECHE •

Announcement: Creche

ANNOUNCEMENT_ CRECHE •

We’re pleased to announce that our “stay and play” area has now been moved to a manned creche. This means you can drop off your 0-3 year old after worship, enjoy the service and pick them up at the end. We’re praying that this will be a real blessing to those couples with small toddlers.

The room allocated for our creche is the lounge on the left as you enter the building.

sermon series romans

New Sermon Series in Romans

sermon series romans

I pleased to let you know that tomorrow (Sunday 12 Jan 20) we’ll be starting a new sermon series through the book of Romans. Paul’s thesis on the gospel is rich and deep so we’re taking over a year to study it. As usual, we plan to cover every verse and every chapter. Alongside our studies, we’ll be encouraging you to journal your way through the book and we’re providing custom “Grace Changes Everything” books for you to do this. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through this! Our prayer is that this will be more than a series of sermons but will help you grow in your walk with Christ.

Why does grace change everything? Well, because grace means “God’s kindness”. God is kind and acts towards us in kindness. He doesn’t expect anything in return and loves us just as we are. He’s a wonderful God who sets up home in our lives to start renovating that home so that it will one day be perfect. So although he welcomes all, in His kindness he wants to help us become more than we ever imagined.

best reads of 2019

Best reads of 2019

best reads of 2019

This year I managed to read 15 books. Of those 15 that I read, three were stand out best reads of the year. Here they are:

Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion by Rebecca McLaughlin

This was by far the best read of 2019. Rebecca McLaughlin’s insights and arguments are first class and although she doesn’t really bring anything revelatory to the discussion, the chapters deal with 21st-century contexts such as slavery and homosexuality. It was not only a convincing read in terms of the evidence for Christianity and the apologetic for it, but it was also highly encouraging in the sense that it debunked the popular opinion that Christianity is in decline. Rebecca shows that the best evidence, from current and historical research, supports Christians claims as found in the Bible.

Windows of the Soul: Experiencing God in New Ways by Ken Gire

This book was initially out of my comfort zone but it made me think about how God’s speaks today. We’d all agree that the final authority is the Bible, but I hope we’d also all agree that God speaks in the every day too. Not in the same way as He has spoken in the Bible, and not with the same authority, but He speaks nonetheless. What this book did for me was to encourage to “join up” what is written in the Bible, with everyday life and learn to listen to His voice. That is still a work in process but I was grateful for the reminder.

The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge

For those not familiar with Fleming Rutledge, she is an American Anglican priest, author and theologian. Her main focus of theology is how biblical theology meets contemporary culture, current events and politics. Honestly, the first thing I had to do was get around the idea that I was reading someone from outside my own tradition and thinking. This was a book intended to challenge me .. and it did … for many reasons.

The positives are that Rutledge does deep in her examination and explanation of the cross of Christ. She is able to quote the church fathers, the reformers as well as more recent theologians. She then brings it all into a contemporary context.

The Sunday 4am Club

In May I was honoured to be interviewed by The Expositors Collective. The podcast discussion was released today – give it a listen here

I hope you’re blessed.

Builder Destroyer

Do you Build or Destroy? – Part 2

Builder Destroyer

Builder Destroyer

Chopo Mwanza is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church Riverside in Kitwe, Zambia and this week I’ve been reading and thinking over two relating articles that he has written about people who go to church. I found both articles helpful and so I thought I’d summarise them here.

The title of the second article was “4 Members Who Tear Down the Church” but actually, it’s more about how each member can build destroy what God is building. Sadly we’ve had all of these in our church so this is quite applicable to us. Our role, of course, is to exhort those we think are any other these … indeed, if there is anything in ourselves that leans towards these, we need to confront in love and gentleness. Here are the four things:

1. Armchair Critic

    • Here’s what Chopo says: “These days, cynicism seems cool. In a world dominated by social media and self-expression, cynicism is easily mistaken for wisdom and enlightenment. In Christian circles, people build entire ministries on cynicism; their purpose is to tell you what’s wrong with everyone else. And in our self-deception, we manage to veil our critical spirits as wisdom.” I’ve written about the dangers of self-professed discernment ministries in the past and certainly, they have their place but the danger, of course, is that we sit in our armchairs with a spirit to find fault in what others are doing, without addressing the faults in ourselves. Sadly armchair critics don’t often listen to reason because they are acting out of fear and pride – that’s a bad combination! This is why Chopo says “Cynics can never be pleased nor satisfied, more often than not, cynicism hides the wounds of bitterness and even hatred. This type of member can destroy the unity and joy of the church.”

Please, be a critic who is involved in the life of the church, prays regular for your leaders, and engages in debate. 

2. Absent

    • This is really the flip side of the previous post found here. Chopo writes: “It’s amazing how many people are eager to be “members” of a local church without also being eager to faithfully attend.” True and sad. Granted, there are some valid reasons for not attending but let’s not turn reasons into excuses. Chopo writes with boldness when he states “Non-attending members are an oxymoron. They don’t want to serve and use their gifts to edify other believers, and by not attending they actually remove themselves from the platform where they can minister and be ministered to. Over time, they harm the unity and mission of the church.”

See you tomorrow?

3.Divisive

    • I have a lot to say about this but only a few sentences in which to do it. Chopo writes well when he states that “divisive people are often driven by a desire to be in charge. They want their opinions heard and implemented’ … The ironic thing about people with a divisive spirit is that they sometimes have a sincere concern about the church’s well-being.

Bring together, don’t seperate.

4. Gossip

    • Chopo writes that “meddlers often gossip. They’re in the business of gathering information about people and their affairs with the purpose of sharing it with others.” Sadly we have seen this in our church with some devastating consequences.  They’ve even masked their meddling and gossip behind the care and concern for others when in actual fact all they want to do is gossip.

The full article can be read here.

Builder_destroyer

Do you Build or Destroy? – Part 1

Builder_destroyer

Builder_destroyer

Chopo Mwanza is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church Riverside in Kitwe, Zambia and this week I’ve been reading and thinking over two relating articles that he has written about people who go to church. I found both articles helpful and so I thought I’d summarise them here.

The title of the first article was “6 Members Who Build Up the Church” but actually, it’s more about who each member can build up the church. How can we be the church we claim to be? There are 5 that I think are particularly helpful to us:

1. The one who attends

    • Using Hebrews 10:23-25 as the basis of what he wants to say, Chopo encourages us to remember that the most basic way to build the church is to attend the church. Sounds so simple and yet how often we forget that our attendance actually is more than “going to” but more “being part of”. Chopo says that “there’s something encouraging about knowing a brother or sister is simply going to be present at a church service, and you are going to worship God together.” The simple truth is that attendance is step one. You cannot build others up – encourage them, exhort them, help them and be helped by them, if you’re not meeting with them regularly and faithfully. To use a Biblical metaphor: the sheep that is disconnected from the flock will get picked off by wolves.

Dear church member, church meetings are not about you or your convenience. Build others up by faithful attendance.

 

2. The one who encourages

    • Paul wrote in Colossians 4:8 – “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts”. Paul is writing about a man called Tychicus who ha been sent o the church so that he might be able to encourage them. Don’t we all need encouragement from time to time? I know I do. I’ve often been blessed by the Christain who encouraged me. I’m heading to the football today – Southampton v Everton (BTW .. not my idea!) anyway .. what will 30,000 people be doing from the seats? Encouraging their team on.

Strive to be one the kind of Christian who loos for someone who needs encouragement and give it to them.

3. The one who confronts without indulging gossip

    • So let me say this upfront – our church is full of people who struggle with sin. We’re probably more broken than we realise and this kind of sin actually serves as a very great danger to the church. Chopo writes about the unity of the church and how it requires those who call their local church “home” to maintain unity by confronting one another in love and gentleness. The difficulty is that sometimes our hearts want to gossip and slanderer rather than love in gentleness. We must choose to confront sin – ours and each others – but in love and gentleness without gossip and slander. The latter will break the unity that God has established.

Love God and others by confronting sin in love and gentleness.

4. The one who prays

    • This word from Chopo is so timely as he writes about Samuels statement to David in 1 Samuel 12:23 – “Far be it from me that I may sin against you by not praying for you”. You know .. the poorest attended meeting of the month in most churches is the prayer meeting. That says a lot about our own hearts. Chopo says that “The best church members are devoted to prayer. They’ve learned to depend on God so they highly value praying to him.”. I can’t agree more. I times I wish my own personal prayer life was better … but I also wish our church prayed better prayers together.  Chopo says that Christians who pray are the churches’ unsung heroes and their prayers drive the church. It’s not the Bible teaching of the worship – it’s prayer.

Be the Christian who devotes time to pray with other Christians

5. The one who serves

    • Who do you serve your church family? Let me rephrase … how do you love and encourage those around you without any expectation of reward? Chopo right says “attendance is necessary, but members should do more than just attend. They should serve.” This is what Paul meant when he says that the saints should do works of ministry (Ephesians 4:12)/ Using our God-given gifts is not optional but mandatory – Paul writes in Romans 12:6 that we should “use them”. This is a command. Why should we use them? Because the church is not a spectator sport being “done” by a few people. There is not only great encouragement from working as different parts of “the body of Christ” but there is also great reward (even though that’s not the reason we do it). Chopo says that there is “great comfort” “from knowing you have teammates fighting with you and encouraging you as you go”. He goes on to say that “people who are able to but don’t serve in the church tend to discourage the rest of the body.”

Be the Christian who serves out of love to God and love for each other

The full article can be read here. His corresponding article with the title “4 Members who tear down the church” can be found here and my thoughts on that can be found here

Sunday with Special Guests Neely Music and Ron Dozler

This is a quick reminder that tomorrow we will be enjoying the ministry of Jeremy & Kaci Neely and Ron Dozler.

Jeremy & Kaci Neely

Jeremy and Kaci are based in Nashville and they are currently on their European Tour. They have kindly stopped off in Southampton to lead worship and share some testimony. These two are a great couple and I know you’ll love their music, as well as their story. Jeremy has just released a book “Falling Down” which will be available to purchase tomorrow.

“Falling Down is a remarkable, exciting, and tender story, that Jeremy dramatically recounts, of how the incredible and unyielding grace of God was shown to an angry young man who became a follower of Jesus…”

Ron Dozler

Pastor of Calvary Chapel Myrtle Beach, Ron will be teaching our Sunday Morning sermon.

 

Calvary Ladies Retreat

This year the annual Calvary Ladies retreat takes place at Hollins Hall Hotel and Country Club, Shipley.

THEME

This year’s retreat theme is based on Hebrews 12:2 – “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”

SPEAKERS

Pamela Markey – former missionary to Africa, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan provides her wisdom as she shares on the topic of Joy

Nancy Sylvester – ministering in York, England, Nancy oversees Women’s Discipleship at Calvary Chapel York. Watch an interview here 

Also speaking will be book reviews from Kathy Gilbert and craft devotional workshops from Margie Stewart. Other workshops will be announced closer to the time.

WHEN

31st January – 1st, 2nd February 2020.

Time: First session starts at 7:00 pm. Friday night.
Check In Friday 31st January @ 3:00 pm.
Check out by 12:00 noon 2nd February 2020.

Delegates are encouraged to come for the whole weekend or they can choose to come for a day

HOTEL

Described as “an unforgettable country getaway” set within 200 acres of lush, immaculately landscaped grounds, with impeccable service and a host of amenities. Maintain your spiritual and physical fitness in the state-of-the-art leisure club.

COST

FULL COST – £102 inclusive of weekend and is based on 2 people sharing a room. Includes all rooms
ensuite, Sat and Sun breakfast, Saturday evening meal, 2 indoor gyms, gym classes, swimming pool and spa all on site.

– Space is limited.

DAY RATE:
– £19.00 includes Friday, Sat & Sunday Sessions, Saturday dinner, tea and
coffee. Without dinner, cost is £10 for all three days total.

To sign up please click here

Don’t Forget to Set Your Clocks Back

Who actually does this anymore? Setting their clocks back? It’s all automatic these days! Still, it’s nice to THINK about having an extra hour in bed … although the reality is that most children haven’t grasped the idea yet … they save up all their daylight savings until they are teenagers.

Anyway … if you find yourself early to church tomorrow we appreciate the extra help to set up!

Why we use Technology

Why we use Technology

Technology is everywhere .. and increasing. It’s how we communicate and shop for our weekly groceries, it’s the world the next generation are connected to with such a degree it’s started to be become “a right” to children, it’s moving at a rate that barely anyone can keep up with … so what about the church? To what degree should churches and Christians be engaging technology – and how?

There are generally two reactions to using technology in the church:

  1. Rejection – we don’t like the change it represents, so we reject it en masse as evil.
  2. Embrace – we adopt it wholeheartedly as an unambiguously positive force for good.

However, for the Christian neither of these two options are biblical. In Genesis 1:27 we read that:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

One of one the jobs that the first humans were given on earth was to master the world around us and bring our ingenuity to bear on the problems that we face – and as we do so we are actually reflecting something of the image of God. So our ability to create technology is a good and a positive thing that reflects something of the image of God. However, we also need to recognise that we don’t live in the Paradise garden called Eden, we live on the other side of Genesis 3: a world that largely rejects God’s good purpose for our lives. To this post-fall world God said in Genesis 3:17:

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

So the result of the Fall is that things are now distorted and warped … or as the Bible puts it: “crooked”. There is stuff that just isn’t right, things are upside down.  So the basic principle which we need to establish about technology is that technology by itself is what we might call “amoral” – that is, it is neither good nor evil. Like lots of things in this world it’s something with great power for good but which is also deeply affected by the fall. What’s important is how we use that technology – what we use it to do, and what we allow it to do to us.

It’s not whether technology is good or bad .. it’s how we use it that counts

There are many values and benefits of using technology – you are currently reading this through a web browser, connected to the most advanced network every to have existed and my hope is that this article is in some way an encouragement and blessing. Phone apps like PrayerMate help you in your prayer life, Facebook is great for connecting with people and encouraging struggling friends just to keep going, some of our Life Groups have embraced What’sApp as a way to keep in touch and keep the prayer requests flowing. Technology has enabled some wonderful things.

However, though w might argue that technology is inherently amoral, we should also assert the fact that technology – like everything else – seeks to dominate us and draw our hearts away from God. And actually, this goes with anything created – they all have the potential to become an idol in our lives – something that we put our trust in instead of God.

One of the most significant ways technology seeks to dominate us and draw our hearts away from God is by changing our thinking. Technology has the power to impact how we think about the world around us. Think about how John Logie Baird, a Scottish inventor, created the television, and how it has completely revolutionised how we engage with everything from politics to education. Just today, for example, you can watch one of the most important debates to ever take place in our UK Parliament, two quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan, or s documentary exploring Florida’s wildlife. The point is that technology changes the way we think.

Here’s two examples of how technology changes the way we think in relation to the church:

1. Technology changes how we think about community

“In the old days”, your community was strictly defined by your locality i.e. where you lived. But now, community means anyone who has the same interest, regardless of locality. This is based entirely on our own preferences – as an individual. If I’m interested in fishing, I can find thousands of online “communities” that I can interact with.

2. Technology changes the way with think about truth

I had a colleague who once set up his own Wikipedia page. He turned himself into a wrestler. He used photoshop to make it look like he really was. The trouble was, he wasn’t. Nowadays Wikipedia certifies truth by consensus i.e. how many people agree. Giants like Google and Facebook filter online experience by showing information is that relevant to you. On Facebook, over time, you’ll see more information from friends you interact with most and less with friends you rarely engage with. We live in a world where truth is being defined by how relevant it is to you, and how many people agree. Of course, this does cause an issue for Christians, who view the Bible as the never-changing source of truth.

So how can we neither REJECT or EMBRACE? Well, of course, the answer is that we must REDEEM. 

Some practical thoughts on using technology

Let me see if I can summarise with some routes forward for you to prayer into:

  • Is your use of technology a distraction? It’s so easy to be dominated by buzzes, beeps and notifications. Try turning down the noise by turning off buzzes, beeps and notifications (except for phone calls) and only checking your phone twice a day?
  • Does your spouse have full access to your social media accounts? iof not, why not?
  • When was the last time you had someone round for tea/coffee just to catch up? Sure you could do that online, but when was the last time you did it eye to eye?
  • What is the first thing we do on our phone in the morning? Do we check our email/social media before we checked in the Lord?

Using FaithLife on your Phone

For several years we have used some software called FaithLife Proclaim to send church presentations on a Sunday morning to individual phones. As we haven’t mentioned it for awhile, here’s how to set up your phone to accept our signals

foodbank

FoodBank Open

foodbank

Our foodbank is open again. Last year we helped to feed 8654 people in Southampton. THAT’s AMAZING! So we’ve decided to open the foodbank up again. With the increase in the uncertainty around Europe and Christmas approaching we want our foodbank to help reduce some of the physical challenges that people face from time to time.

Here’s how it works:

Donations
Each Sunday a large plastic box will be placed underneath the info desk. Please place any non-perishable food donations in that box. Toiletry items can also be placed in the box. Just one extra item on your shopping list per week could help someone in need.

Here’s a list of ideas to add to the foodbank:

Stewed Steak
Ravioli
Irish Stew
Minced Beef
Spaghetti Bolognese
Chilli Con Carne
Chicken in White Sauce
Meatballs
Macaroni Cheese
Curries
Baked Beans with Sausages
Spaghetti Hoops
Tinned Fish
Sweet Corn
Hot Chocolate
Soups (particularly chunky)
Other Misc. Veg Tinned
UHT Milk
Cereal (especially Weetabix)
Flour
Baked Beans
Sugar
Potatoes (tinned or packets)
Treats (chocolate, crisps, etc.)
Conserves
Tomatoes
Pasta Sauce
Rice Pudding
Custard
Noodles (packets)
Tinned Fruit
Pasta
Squash
Vegetarian Foods
Rice
Sanitary Products
Peas
Tea
Toiletries
Carrots
Coffee
Carrier Bags

Using the Food Bank
People coming to church are free to use the bank whenever they like, without request. Church members are encouraged to point out the box to those who might be suffering financial difficulty.

What happens if the box gets full?
If the box gets 1/2 full we will empty it and donate to Southampton City Mission Food Bank. This way we know that the food is going to a good cause.

The Need for Praying

Praying has seen a bit of a revival in many churches over the last few years. “Healing Prayer”, Prayer rooms set up in buildings for the sole purpose of Christian prayer, 24/7 Prayer Network, The Prayer Course … these are all the outcomes of Christians being struck again by the need and value of prayer (whether you agree with the outcomes or not).

However, if I can be honest, prayer at Calvary isn’t something that we do very well. Although we have put corporate prayer into our morning service, and emphasise prayer in our weekly Life Groups, these are often felt as “add-ons” and are quickly rushed through. Here’s a story about prayer that might inspire you:

Five men were entrapped in a deserted zinc mine in Salem, Kentucky, by falling rocks. They had nothing to eat. They were in utter darkness. One of the men could have saved himself had he not run back to warn the others.
When the entombed men discovered that they could not escape, they began to pray and sing. Their prayer and praise service lasted for fifty-three hours! Then they were rescued. Later one of the men testified, “We lay there from Friday morning till Sunday morning. We prayed “without ceasing.” When the rescuers reached us, we were still praying!”
When the men were brought up out of the mine, on the caps of each one were scrawled these words: “If we are dead when you find us, we are all saved!”

Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (pp. 1040–1041). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

I want to let you know that we start monthly Prayer Meetings again. They will take place on a Sunday evening and will take place at one location each month, but the location will change each month. Here’s why I think it’s important for us to gather for the sole purpose of prayer:

1. It reminds us of the importance of prayer.

See, the difficulty these days is that prayer is not really that exciting … or .. it should be but isn’t. It’s not entertaining. It’s often not easy or convenient; it requires effort and work.

We give up so easily.

Isn’t this why Jesus told the story of the persistent widow in Luke 18, so that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.”? or … “Don’t give up because it’s hard”.

I suppose part of the difficulty is that we are accustomed to being served well with music and media and preaching. Honestly, we can just sit back and be served … but prayer requires that we turn the world off while we turn our hearts and minds on. This has been a real lesson for me again whilst going through the book of Exodus. God requires relationship over ritual. Relationship doesn’t come by default, we have to work at it.

The challenging thing is that since prayer is hard and important, we need to work for it as a priority. Jesus said in Matthew 21:3 that “My house shall be called a house of prayer”, so we should prioritize the commitment to pray together.

2. It unites us around God’s purposes.

We have no problem praying for our individual needs, wants, and desires do we? We pray pretty well when WE need something. Although it’s never wrong to pray (and we ought to pray for the things that we need) our prayer life should not be dominated by prayers for ourselves.

Our health and happiness isn’t the meaning of life.

When we are praying together we are reorientating our hearts and minds away from our selfishness and putting them onto others. This is really what it means to love one another – our hearts and minds are FOR others and we are working and praying for their good. So when we gather together we are emphasizing the spiritual over the physical, the corporate over the individual, and we are uniting our hearts around God’s purposes for his church.

3. It prepares us for God to act.

I say this regularly ….. if we don’t expect salvation and healing and God’s intervention in the lives of others we will not pray. if we don’t come with a sense of “God is working”, “God hears our prayers”, we will lose heart and give up. On the flip side however, if we do not pray for salvation and healing and God’s intervention in the lives of others we will not see it.

What makes the difference? Well, the difference between the two is our belief about God. Do we believe that God answers prayers?

When you read the book of Acts we see quite clearly that the early church believed that God is a listening God, a working God and a blessing God. Their lives were defined by prayer.

Friends, prayer changes things!  Prayer is God’s ordained means by which He accomplishes His supernatural ends. Jesus reminded his disciples in Mark 9:29 that there are some things that can only be conquered by prayer.

So come out and join us on Sunday 27th October for the first in our monthly Prayer Meetings.

The New Life

Knowing God and trying to live the Christian life involves three main things: Bible, Prayer and Worship.

The Bible. The old adage is true:

Sin will keep you from the Bible, the Bible will keep you from sin

Knowing God through His Word involves:

  • Reading the Bible – Nehemiah 8:3 (ESV) — 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
  • Memorizing the Bible – Job 22:22 (ESV) — 22 Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart.
  • Meditating on the Bible – Joshua 1:8 (ESV) — 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
  • Obedience to the Bible – Deuteronomy 31:12 (ESV) — 12 Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law,

Prayer. No factor in Christian growth is more important than prayer. Prayer may be dined as talking with and listening to God. We walk to Him with our lips and our heart, and He walks to us through His will. It involves a two-way conversation. Spiritual maturity is impossible without systematic prayer.

The Bible says about prayer that it comes in the form of:

  • Praise – Psalm 150:1 (ESV) — 1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
  • Confession – 1 John 1:9 (ESV) — 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Requests – 1 Samuel 1:17 (ESV) — 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”
  • Thanks – Philippians 4:6 (ESV) — 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  • Commitment – Proverbs 16:3 (ESV) — 3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

Worship. The Bible describes the Christian life as “walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16. Walking best represents the step-by-step, moment by moment character of the spiritual life. Living by the Spirit’s power is a moment-by-moment yielding to the Spirit’s will and control. The evidence that we are walking in the Spirit is simply the display of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Walking in the Spirit involves confession of sin, yielding to God, and being filled with or controlled by the Spirit.

  • The meaning of worship – 1 Chronicles 16:29 (ESV) — 29 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness;
  • The expression of worship – Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) — 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
  • The reasons for worship – 2 Chronicles 7:3 (ESV) — 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
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