Family

Family
Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Noah:The First Drunk


We continue our series on "The Old, Old, Stories" which we began with Adam and Eve's descent into disobedience, followed by Cain's murder of his brother Abel, last week we found ourselves at Noah and the ark and this week we are with Noah sometime after the flood. You might remember that I said last week that in some way each of these stories is a story of the cycle of violence, mankind's violence towards God (our sin) which always leads to violence (sin) against others. Today's story takes us to that most dreadful of violences, family violence ... but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Noah: How to find favour in God's eyes



The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

We continue our series on "The Old, Old, Stories" which we began with Adam and Eve's descent into disobedience, followed by Cain's murder of his brother Abel and today we find ourselves at Noah, which really is a story of the cycle of violence, mankind's violence towards God (our sin) which always leads to violence (sin) against others. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Gospel in Disney: Diamond in the Rough

Children's Address

The story of Aladdin is from 1001 Arabian Nights and it's about a young man who was orphaned very young and ended up raising himself and who survives by stealing food in the market. In an early scene we see him stealing some bread and immediately we're tempted to think: "Hmmf ... a thief!" but we need to be careful. Let's watch the first clip

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Harvest Festival and Saving Souls

Here in the Northern Hemisphere it is the season of Harvest Festivals and I have been reminded that Passover/Easter, Pentecost (Jewish and Christian) and Tabernacles (Final Harvest festival, yet to be fulfilled in Christianity) are all related to various stages of Harvest. Mindful also of Wesley's instruction to preachers: "Everywhere avail yourself of the great festivals, by preaching on the occasion" it seems that the Harvest season lends itself to the saving of souls.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jesus' Rocks


What did the diamond say to the coal?
I’ve been under a bit of pressure lately.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Adam & Eve: Paradise Lost


A front page newspaper headline this week announced that more people in the UK don’t have any form of religious faith than do have ... and in an editorial comment the next day the paper asked if we should care?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gospel in Disney: Jesus, Lion of Judah

 

Today we begin a new series looking at the Disney classics and we start with the LionKing. This idea of a lion king that Disney picks up is actually a Biblical idea: it starts all the way back in the time of Jacob, who had 12 sons, one of whom was named Judah. When Jacob is dying, he pronounces a word over each of his sons. These words would come to define their lives ... that’s the power a father has ... the power to define what a child is like and when Jacob came to Judah, who wasn’t his oldest son, he spoke a special word about Judah and his future descendants. Let’s hear that word again:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Guide to Daily Quiet Time



Read my sermon on Daily Quiet Time here

Daily Quiet Time-some tips

· Quiet time is when you find a quiet place to be alone with God to pray, to read the Bible and to meditate. You should try to be regular and disciplined about this.
· This outline is offered to help you structure your daily quiet time. You do not have to stick to it slavishly. Use as little or as much as you need, and add to it as you wish. Start small and allow it to grow gradually.
· You may want to keep a hymn book or chorus book handy and make use of it during your devotions.
· Try to set aside 10-30 minutes a day for this.

Back to Basics: Daily Quiet Time

Every now and again we should revisit the basics, and that's just what we've been doing over the Summer. This week we look at Personal Devotion and the Daily Quiet Time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Back to Basics: The Forgiven Forgive



Three weeks ago we started a series which will run for the Summer break which I've called Back to Basics. The first week we looked at the truth that God has a unique plan for each of our lives and He reveals that plan to us through Call. Last week we looked at the one thing Jesus spoke about more than any other, the Kingdom of God. This week … well, I’ll get to that in a moment. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back to Basics: The Kingdom is Like ...


Last week we started a series which will run for the Summer break which I've called Back to Basics. Last week we looked at the truth that God has a unique plan for each of our lives and He reveals that plan to us through Call. This week we look at the one thing Jesus spoke about more than any other:
The Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back to Basics: The Call of God: Scary, Clear, Relevant

God has a plan for your life ... "Lord, what career should I pursue ... should I do an apprenticeship, go to college or uni ... where should I study ... should I marry or pursue a single lifestyle ... who should I marry ... what house should I buy ... when must I retire ... ??? God has a plan for your life. "I know the plans I have for you" says God in Jer 29:11. Can I expect God to tell me what His plans are for my life, or is that left for me to work out on my own. A God who has plans for my life but doesn't tell me what they are would be a devil.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Us and Them: NO!


In our series on "Partnership" we have covered a great deal of ground. We started off by looking at the Beginning and saw that God entered into partnership with the humans He created, commanding them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. He could have created the earth full of people, but He left that up to us. He could have subdued the earth He created, but instead, He asked us to subdue it, working with Him. Partners with God, here on earth. Not equal partners, but partners nonetheless.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Anyone for Sex


I would suspect that in teaching about sex, most would expect to hear a whole lot of do’s and don’ts, especially don’ts. But the language that says “do not” all the time is the language that is still under the Law and as you might remember from last week, we are now free of the Law and to quote Paul:

God's Grace is Bigger Than Our Sinfulness: Allellulia



This morning our subject was Anyone for Sex. This evening we look at a great Biblical hero, King David, who thought it was Anyone for Sex, and we see the destruction sexual sin can cause. But our focus will be on the good news that, in the story of David and Bathsheba, and in your story and mine, the last word is not David’s sinfulness but God’s grace.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Whose Body Is It?


This is an extremely difficult subject, while at the same time being an extremely easy subject. There were Jewish converts in Galatia who were teaching that salvation was possible only for those who kept the Old Testament laws. Using circumcision as an example of a clear command of God, their argument was that in order to be a “real” Christian, one must keep all of the Law. Paul's answer, although it takes five chapters of argument, is basically that we are free of the Law ... we're free of it!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Creation Walk 7: Conclusion

As our Creation Walk draws to a close, return to page 3 and Day 1: Record any new light our Lord has shed on your path as a disciple going into the future.



For later reflection

Having enjoyed God’s creation today, what do the following verses reveal:

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope

Creation Walk 6: Jesus and Nature

Jesus appreciated the beauty of nature (Matt 6:28-29) and showed respect for nature in His parables, which are rich in nature imagery. Through His upbringing in rural Galilee I imagine He would have learned about God’s care for creation by observing fruit trees, flowers, birds and fishermen and by
working as a carpenter. Jesus affirmed the Scriptures’ teaching that God created all things (Mark 10:6; 13:19Matt. 19:4).

Jesus knew that nature reflects the activity of God and does not operate independently (Matt. 5:45; 6:26-30Luke 12:6). God is a loving Father who sustains and cares for all creation. God gives life to all beings (John 5:17, 6:33Luke 24:38) and provides food for animals, birds and plants (Matt 6:26-30Luke 12:6). Since He loves all people, He causes the sun to shine and rain to fall on both righteous and wicked people (Matt 5:45Ps 50:11; 104:14, 17). As

Creation Walk 5: A Marriage without Consent

Depending on the train schedule, we might see a train crossing one of the fields during our walk.

In 1712, Thomas Newcomen developed the first steam engine. His single coal burning engine, which he used to drain water from coal mines, operated much more cheaply and efficiently than the alternative – it replaced five hundred horses. The rest is history: Suddenly, instead of

Creation Walk 4: Luke 13



Why did I think of Herod when I saw these flowers during our first visit to Sheringham to plan our Creation Walk?
.............................................................................................
You’ll find the answer somewhere in Luke 13

Still in Luke 13, Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree. I’m not sure whether there are any fig trees in the park, but there are lots of other trees, some of which you might notice are being specially cared for by the park gardeners ... I suspect in order to get the best from the trees.

Creation Walk 3: Reflections

Some particular reflections

The broad way is much easier isn’t it?
‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ Mt 7:13-14
Lord, please show me where I am walking on a broad road and bring me back on the strait and narrow (The older translation from which we get the idiom reads: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.)

Creation walk 2: In the Beginning


On our walk, keep your eyes open for different things from different days and perhaps keep a record here of anything that is special to you. Perhaps use Day 1 to record any new light that God may/will shed on your path.

Creation: Who Cares?

Romans 8:18-25
This sermon was preceded by a Creation Walk
Read my Creation Walk Booklet here

At the beginning of our teaching series on Partnership, we went back to the beginning and were reminded that "In the beginning" God created human beings, male and female "in His own image" and placed them in His newly created earth, giving to them the command ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ We looked at the language of humans having dominion over nature and saw that that should be exercised for the good of creation, not the selfish destruction of nature. Yes, the dominion given to humans in Genesis 1:26-29 does imply a human preeminence, and that theme is echoed in Psalm 8 but it opposes a theology of domination 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Creation Walk

Creation Walk

Saturday 24 June




Creation ... Who Cares?

Sunday 25 June

Read sermon here






Welcome to our Creation Walk. It is my hope and has been my prayer that today we will all have a fresh encounter with the God, our God, who made everything you see in the natural world ...   for us, ....  for you, .... for me.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Chaos and Mess: Fertile Ground for the Holy Spirit


Goodness me ... if we look at the world around us, we can be tempted to say: “What chaos, what a mess!”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Your truth is your truth, My truth is my truth. What nonsense!

  ‘What is truth?’ retorted Pilate.

Pilate says to Jesus at His trial “What is truth?” This is a question that is debated to this day, “How do we define truth?” Pilate would have debated this question during his education which qualified him as Rome’s legal administrator of Judea. He will have studied the same philosophers that form the basis of western philosophy today, namely Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Their teaching was already a few hundred years old by the time of Jesus, and that same teaching is taught in universities today ... and that same question is debated in first year law courses and in many of the arts subjects: What is truth?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wesley's Hymn for Ascension Day


Hail the day that sees Him rise, Alleluia!
To His throne above the skies, Alleluia!
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia!
Reascends His native heaven, Alleluia!

There the glorious triumph waits, Alleluia!
Lift your heads, eternal gates, Alleluia!
Christ hath conquered death and sin, Alleluia!
Take the King of glory in, Alleluia!


Circled round with angel powers, Alleluia!
Their triumphant Lord, and ours, Alleluia!
Conqueror over death and sin, Alleluia!
“Take the King of glory in! Alleluia!”


Him though highest Heav’n receives, Alleluia!
Still He loves the earth He leaves, Alleluia!
Though returning to His throne, Alleluia!
Still He calls mankind His own, Alleluia!


See! He lifts His hands above, Alleluia!
See! He shows the prints of love, Alleluia!
Hark! His gracious lips bestow, Alleluia!
Blessings on His church below, Alleluia!


Still for us His death He pleads, Alleluia!
Prevalent He intercedes, Alleluia!
Near Himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
Harbinger of human race, Alleluia!

Master, (will we ever say), Alleluia!
Taken from our head to day, Alleluia!
See Thy faithful servants, see, Alleluia!
Ever gazing up to Thee, Alleluia!

Grant, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia!
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
Seeking Thee beyond the skies, Alleluia!


Ever upward let us move, Alleluia!
Wafted on the wings of love, Alleluia!
Looking when our Lord shall come, Alleluia!
Longing, gasping after home, Alleluia!



There we shall with Thee remain, Alleluia!
Partners of Thy endless reign, Alleluia!
There Thy face unclouded see, Alleluia!
Find our heaven of heavens in Thee, Alleluia!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Back to the Beginning, Into the Future




This morning we are going Back to the Beginning to remind ourselves of the relationship that God established with humans when He created them and I'm going to suggest that the word "Partnership" best describes that relationship. We were created to partner with God in the rule and care of creation. Sin disrupts and destroys that partnership and most of the Bible is about the lengths God will go to in order to restore that partnership so that we can once again take up the role we were created for. Those lengths culminate of course in the life, death and resurrection of God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we can be born again, this time with power from above; saved from the sin that destroyed the partnership and set free to be everything God intended. We can of course use the word relationship instead of partnership, but as you will see, and perhaps already know, partnership implies a lot more than relationship.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Jesus to Peter:"We need to talk"


Last week, Danny looked at the first part of John 21 and explained how Jesus renewed his friendship with his disciples, more or less repeating how He first called them, by acting like a partner in their fishing enterprise, directing them to the big catches. Danny suggested that in doing so He showed how their future relationship was going to be more a partnership which would flow from their relationship with Jesus, but would involve partnering with Jesus in the fishing of people. He didn't say this and these words are not original from me either, but Jesus needs our hands, our feet, our mouths ... He needs us as full partners with Him in the business of bringing salvation to the world. The problem is there is often blood on our hands, our feet, our lips and in our minds. Peter had, so to speak, blood on his lips, lips which had denied Jesus, as much as the Roman soldiers had blood on their hands.

Fear



Scripture has much to say about fear. In the NIV fear occurs 334 times. If you look for afraid, you can add another 205 references. If you add worry and anxious … well, you’re getting the picture. Fear is spoken of both positively and negatively in Scripture …. and the truth is that everyone of us here has some element of fear in us, and that is as it should be. The issue is not do we have fear, the issue is what type of fear do we have, and what we do with our fear.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter: Darkness Doesn’t Stand a Chance


To understand Easter in all its fullness and beauty, it helps to have some understanding of Jewish and Biblical timing. In each of the four gospels we are told that it was early in the morning on the first day of the week, that the women went to Jesus’ tomb.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good Friday


If we read the accounts of the crucifixion in each of the four Gospels, we find that each Gospel writer records different details: same story, but different details. They record Jesus saying different things during the 6 hours he hung on the Cross, and if we take all the accounts and read them as one, we find Jesus saying 7 things from the Cross.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Laodicea, Nausea and the Syrian Gassing



Hopefully, this has been a nauseating week for us all … and I have chosen my words carefully, so let me repeat and say the same thing in a different way: hopefully we have been sickened in the past week, as we’ve read, heard or watched the news. And hopefully a few news items have caused this, but I’m going to focus on the Syrian gassing, as we look at the church at Laodicea in Asia Minor.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A call on the Body of Christ to be the body of Christ


You may know that Jesus was Jewish and that Jews, even to this day, don’t eat pork … in fact they don’t eat a number other very good foods as well. In Jesus’ day, the Jewish faith had many laws relating to what was clean and what was unclean. These didn’t only relate to food, but also to disease and illness. So, for example, people with leprosy were considered unclean and were to be avoided at all costs. They often lived in exile in their own homes. Dead bodies and graves were also unclean. People with bodily discharges were also unclean.

Easter: Look out from, rather than in to, the Tomb

My Lenten journey in 2017 continues to remind me that there is no tomb that can hold Jesus.

He cannot be, and will never be, found in the tomb..... 

therefore, let us stop looking in to the tombs in our lives, and start looking out from the tombs in our lives...........


the view is so much better, and always has Jesus in it

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Church of the Living Dead


I hate rats ... there are good reasons for this, but I haven't got time to tell you why.
I hate rats ... I know I shouldn't; I know that for some reason God made rats ... but I cling to the truth that God has given us dominion over creation, and I choose, quite incorrectly, to believe that because I hate rats, I can kill them.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Prophets Prophesy Lies ... and My People Love It That Way



30 ‘A horrible and shocking thing
    has happened in the land:
31 the prophets prophesy lies,
    the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
    But what will you do in the end?

The ministry of God in Israel was a threefold ministry of prophet, priest and king. The prophet spoke to the people on behalf of God; the priest spoke to God on behalf of the people; and the king was God’s representative who was meant to ensure that God’s justice and mercy prevailed in the land. The kings as a whole, were a disaster, often leading the nation deeper into disobedience. The exceptions

Friday, March 10, 2017

It is time to go over to the other side

Y

Our reading today really starts at Mk 4:35:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’

The “other side” is the other side of the Sea of Galilee … the Decapolis … pagan territory … there are 2000 pigs close to where they land. For the good Jew, this is the other side, this is no-go area. You did not go here, you stayed away from here … you teach your children to stay away from here. This place and this people are not like us and we are to have nothing … nothing,  to do with them. Do you have the expression "the other side of the railway line?" The Decapolis is something like that.You don’t mix with them, you don’t play with them, if you can possibly help it you don’t go to school with them, if you happen to work with them you have as little to do with them as possible, you certainly don’t ever think of marrying someone from the other side and you’d never consider living on the other side.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent: Reflection, Repentance, Prayer & Action

                                                                  image sourced here

The cross, O the wonderful cross
What Glory, what victory, I've found
I'll come to the wonderful cross
And my whole life I lay down

These words from The Wonder of the Cross by Robin Mark (listen to it here) are a wonderful reminder of one of the reasons for the season of Lent: Over a period of 40 days, starting on Ash Wednesday, we undertake a spiritual journey deep into ourselves but with our eyes focussed on the Cross, and hopefully rediscover or perhaps even discover for the first time, the glory and the victory which are ours because of what Jesus did and then lay our whole lives down for Him again….or, perhaps, for the first time. I really hope that is what Lent 2017 will be for us all.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

We proclaim a new reality: God rules the world!




Today’s Scripture reminds us that Jesus interacted with many different kinds of people in His ministry … we should too. To the east of the Sea of Galilee were the pagans, those people who had never really been part of the ministry of God or of God’s word. Our reading takes us to “the region of the Gerasenes” which is to the East of Galilee in a region called the Decapolis, which means “10 Cities”
   
These were very sophisticated Greek cities ... To the Jews they were pagan cities … founded by the pagan Greeks, they practised the fertility cult, they considered the pig a sacred animal, exactly the opposite to Jews, for whom the pig is unclean. Now, regarding how it ended up being pagan territory, it was the area to which Joshua drove out the 7 nations of the Canaanites … Joshua 3:10

This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.

Now there is much to indicate that in His ministry, Jesus ministered to both the people of Israel and the 7 pagan nations. You might remember that Jesus once fed a multitude of 5000 in Galilee and on another occasion 4000 … here in the Decapolis. (Mark 6:39-43 and Mark 8). These two miracles were a very Jewish way of communicating that He was the Bread of Life to both Jew and pagan. In Galilee, after the people have eaten, they pick up 12 baskets of leftovers, which, to the Hebrew mind would have reminded them of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus is saying that He is the Bread of Life in abundance to the 12. In Mark 7:31, we’re told that  Jesus went into the region of the Decapolis and there feeds a multitude of 4000.
And after feeding the 4000, 7 baskets of leftovers are collected: that’s Jesus way of communicating that He is the Bread of Life in abundance to the 7 nations … to the pagans. He is the God of the 12, He is the God of the 7 …. He is the God of all and in Christ He goes to all … the church must too.

Be this all as it may be, the Jews considered the Decapolis as the place of the devil. Beelzebub lived here because of the pagan fertility religions connected to the old Canaanites. So they referred to it as “across the sea” and it was a no go area for any self-respecting Jew.

Where are the no go areas in Hellesdon and Norwich … the places no self-respecting Christian will go to, or live, … the places where if your children said “We’re going to … on Friday night”, you’d say “Oh no you’re not!” Where is the Decapolis in Norwich? Where is the “other side” in Norwich?


Our story really starts in Mk 4:35 That day when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’

And they cross over, but encounter a terrible storm in the night, which Jesus speaks to … and it calms down. To the Jewish mind storms at sea were a sign of evil trying to rise up and destroy, so they are beginning to realise that Jesus has tremendous power. Have you?
 Then they land on the other side and are confronted by this demonised man.

The disciples are probably thinking: “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” … why is Jesus coming to this evil place.
Jesus confronts the evil spirits in the man and then Mark mentions:
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.
Why pigs? The pigs represent the sacred animal of the fertility cult in that area. Mark is emphasising the evil and uncleanness of the place.
12 The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man – and told about the pigs as well. 
17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

3 things: Notice that Jesus deliberately, consciously, in a very planned way goes right to where he knows the evil is and confronts it.
I think that’s part of what we’re called to do as Christians; we don’t wait for evil to come to us … He didn’t wait for the demon possessed man to row across … He went and found him. And as we think of our world-changing call to become disciples, I would like to suggest that just as Jesus did, we need to find where the power of evil is … in whatever aspect of life we’re involved in and confront it. We shouldn’t wait for it to come to us. Now, the word evil is unpopular these days and we prefer to think of things as bad, or wrong … but Scripture only knows good and evil. But, if you prefer, we are talking about whatever is “bad” or “wrong” to God … things that are destructive, that ultimately destroy people, families, nations. Some are obvious …. Drugs, alcohol … others have become more “acceptable” … blasphemy, cheating on taxes or benefits, sexual immorality in its various forms … others are more insidious … the way as a nation we treat the unborn, … the way we treat the elderly. I’ve heard the state of social care for the elderly described variously as sad … unfortunate … wrong. Is it a developing evil in our midst that needs to be confronted? Should the church care? So my first point: we shouldn’t wait for the evil to come to us.

Secondly: Jesus has nothing but compassion for the man. He doesn’t confront the man … he confronts the evil. He doesn’t go into why or how this man became demonised … what lifestyle or bad choices opened him up. He loves the man but hates the evil which has caused the man to become marginalised so that he lives “on the other side”, or the “wrong side of town”  … Jesus goes over to the other side. Jesus could never be found guilty of only associating with people who were more or less like Him … the church must be the same. We must be the same wherever we are. Are there people you avoid … at work, on the street, in your social life. Jesus was accused of mixing with the wrong people … oh, that you and I would be accused of the same thing.

The third is this: When you decide to live out your faith in this way, you can expect people to resist and resent and not to want to have anything to do with you. So the people plead with Jesus to leave because the two just can’t live together.

By this time you might be thinking … “Very interesting, but how is this relevant to me and my life. How does this help me in the office tomorrow?” Well, whether you know it or not, you want and need an office that is more Christlike. You need more Christian disciples in your office, in your home, in our nation. Each of these places only gets better when filled with disciples … that might never happen unless you “go over to the other side.”

But let’s go on because the best is coming yet.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.19 Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Now you talk about a tough mission field. Here’s a guy who 15 minutes ago had been possessed by demons and completely marginalised by his society … now all of a sudden he’s the only missionary in an area that represented the most pagan place you could possibly be. That’s a pretty incredible calling, but what is so encouraging is that Jesus says: “Your message is simple … you don’t need a theological degree … just tell them what happened… tell them about God’s mercy on you.” This is the key to evangelism for disciples: to be able to simply tell what the living God has done and is doing in your life and mine. That’s all this man had, and to see how this worked out, we pick up some verses that come some time after this episode, again when Jesus is in the Decapolis, this time recorded for us in Matthew 15:29-31.
Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Apparently that man had been a pretty good missionary … because when Jesus came back here at a later stage there’s a whole crowd of people coming to find out who this Jesus was. I find that quite incredible that all those people apparently listened to this one man and his story, by the power of God, made a difference in their lives. That’s the lesson for us.

God calls us to be His people in a culture that doesn’t hold His values. God says: “Your call is to bring My values, to confront the evil values, the bad values, the negative values of the culture we live in, the workplace you work in, in fact in every situation where I place you.”

To evangelise Hellesdon and Norwich requires “going over to the other side” … that might mean the other side of your office, …. classroom or sportsfield … the other side of your street perhaps … the other side of the Boundary road … please don’t leave here this morning without an idea of where the “other side” is for you … I’ve prayed that God will convict you in this area this morning … you’ve quite possibly resisted God for too long in this area … but He wants you to go to the “other side”, which might be terrifying for you, as it was for the disciples. Expect it to be stormy …  we know that we live as part of a world that is fragile and troubled, terrified and terrifying. The last time I preached it was on letting our minds be transformed, getting and using the mind of Christ … Today I’m saying that with this transformed mind, we proclaim a new reality: God rules the world! What’s more, we  live by that reality above all others. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have inaugurated the Kingdom of God and have reshaped the world into a new reality, which, with our born-again eyes, we see. Thus, amid the same old realities of trouble and turmoil, we are changed and are able to discern by the eye of faith the dimensions of the new creation Paul speaks of in 2 Cor 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!

When Jesus crossed over, He proclaimed a new reality into a terrible and frightening reality. You and I are called to do the same … and what with, … what do I say?  Just tell people what has happened to you because of Jesus … create opportunities to share your testimony about what Jesus is doing in your life. Believe that even the most pagan, unbelieving folk can be moved by your story … such is the power of God. Believe that your office, your clients, your family can be changed because of your presence and your witness.

Believe that you, by the power of God, can make a difference …  believe …. and cross over.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Discipleship: A Living Sacrifice


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom 12:1-2

The smell that must have hung over Jerusalem must have been amazing. It’s estimated that at Passover at the time of Jesus, at least 256 000 lambs were sacrificed. But every day, pilgrims, sinners like you and me, brought other animal sacrifices as well … bulls, sheep, birds … to be sacrificed on the Temple altar. Over and above personal offerings, the priests made general offerings every day as well. And depending on what the offering was for, various spices and oils were added as well. Can you imagine the smell? … mouth-watering ... unless you’re a vegetarian. Depending on what the wind was doing, you would certainly see the smoke from far off, but the closer you got, the more would have smelt and tasted sacrifice to the one true God. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Everyday Accountability for Everyday Christians


I decided to join a local gym and asked the trainer, bearing in mind my age, how much exercise I should do and how I’ll know when to stop. He said: “You do it till your gym clothes are soaked from your exertion, you do it till it hurts and then you go on just a little bit until you cry.” OK … so I changed, went up some steepish stairs to the main gym … that had me soaked and hurting; I bent down to do up my gym shoes and that got me crying … so I was done and went home.

That’s what often happens in the absence of accountability… we give up … and perhaps get away with things we shouldn’t get away with. Accountability answers the question:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Everyday Discipleship for Everyday Christians


Last week we looked at “Everyday Evangelism for Everyday Christians” and today we look at Everyday Discipleship for Everyday Christians
and I might as well say it upfront:  While evangelism can be fun … discipleship is not; and, if Jesus and I can’t convince you to embrace evangelism, we will never convince you to embrace discipleship.
That’s (the pic above) about as funny as discipleship will get.