Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Blog Posting on 20 Schemes!

Posted: January 16, 2013 by mezmcconnell in Uncategorized

Can I once again thank my loyal supporters for continuing to come to this site and read my articles. However, I have moved over to the 20 schemes site for future reference.

My latest article can be referenced here.

Thanks

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Well, the Conservative bit of it anyway! 🙂

As voted for by you, the viewing public.

Right, let me get something straight right off the bat. I am not a conference junkie! It just so happened that I squeezed in these 3 during a manic 2 week period. In fact, this is the most conferences I have been to in 10 years! I do not usually like these things. I hate the crowds and the whole “famous speaker” thing but this can usually be offset by a decent book stall!

T4G

This conference was in Louisville, Kentucky and I was the guest of my friends at 9Marks. Some observations:

1. It was huge, almost 8000 people I think. That made it both good and bad. Bad in that it did feel a little impersonal and good that it was so powerful when we were all standing together singing some great hymns. It was such a powerful experience praising God with so many other people in one place.

2. Of the 9 main session: 3 were outstanding, 2 were good, 2 were OK and 2 were a disappointment (ironically, from the 2 speakers I was most looking forward to). As models for exegetical preaching, most of the talkers were poor but, as inspirational speakers, they were generally very good. I found the seminars and talking head things to be generally OK (ish), although they talked about issues which I feel are old hat for us in the UK (or maybe that’s just me). The one on famous pastors, particularly, (ironically chaired by famous pastors and even the guy against is famous for being anti famous) was bemusing to say the least. I think this part was weakened by the fact that every speaker (particularly CJ Mahaney) spent at least 10 minutes introducing each main session speaker by telling us why so and so was “the single greatest influence in my life as a believer and/or is perhaps the greatest treasure to the church today” or words to that effect. I don’t know if it is my European nature but I found this toe curlingly horrible.

3. It was brilliantly organised and there was a seamlessness to the event despite the huge numbers. Amazingly, it did not feel overcrowded at any point. All of the stewards were helpful and cheerful. The free book store was a brilliant idea and there was a massive selection of books to choose from. I only bought 1 because they gave so many quality ones away! I did find some of the stalls confusing. For instance there was a Gospel Coalition stall there which didn’t seem to do anything other than be a meeting place for painfully cool twenty somethings. I saw the odd person being interviewed but was otherwise mystified to its purpose. Other stalls were much clearer in handing out literature and promoting some of their work. Free sweets always works for me incidentally!

4. There was a great 2 day meeting afterwards at Southern Seminary. It was a retreat for pastors who had been invited by 9marks. I found that intense and immensely encouraging and enlightening. These are some Godly, friendly men and I have a real affinity and love for them. The way they invited feedback on the whole conference was a real example of humble leadership and wanting to learn. I bought myself a nodding Al Mohler doll for my shelf of tat at home (he sits alongside Obama) from the amazing on site book shop. The seminary just cracked me up. I noticed they had sold out to satan by allowing a Starbucks to sell their products in the place! It was a sort of theological Disneyworld with Al living in the princesses palace. His gaff seemed a little bit OTT for me!

Mark Dever and the 9marks team are just so open and generous with their time and resources. Truly amazing.

City2City

I have gotten involved with this group largely through a friendship with a guy called Al Barth. I also spent 5 weeks at Redeemer last year doing an intensive training programme for church planters. This particular set of meetings was for ‘network leaders’ from around the globe (sounds so grandiose when you say it like that)! Some observations:

1. I am still uncertain of the point of the event. It not really made clear (to me).

2. There were people from around the world and that was a good thing (in terms of shared ideas).

3. I felt some of the sessions were nothing more than psycho babble, business speak, seminar type things. One guy talked about having a crap-ometer and mine was in overdrive at certain points during the two days (and, ironically, particularly during his session).

4. Tim Keller, Al Barth and a couple of other people (one on prayer stood out) were on the money and spoke with a real authority and a distinct clarity. It was worth coming for that. The rest felt somewhat fragmented and lacking in cohesion. I observed that Tim pretty much disappeared straight away and I find him and some of his team strangely less accessible than Mark Dever and the 9marks staff.

5. It seemed very “American” in its “how to approaches”. In other words, much of what was presented would be a struggle to contextualise into Europe. Certainly, their heavy reliance on corporate models of church and leadership structures does not carry into our British types of churches (the majority at least).

7. The Bible was not really opened and expounded upon enough for my liking. It seemed to lack real theological foundation and punch. Maybe this was because this was not the purpose of the meeting? However, I would expect a room full of church planters from around the globe to get at it with the Word more. Very rarely was Christ and the gospel mentioned and certainly not really from the front.

8. I found it a more helpful trip in terms of establishing my relationship with a fellow gospel worker from Edinburgh, Neil Macmillan. We got to spend time together, (he got offered hookers and coke outside our hotel – always amusing), and we had many opportunities to talk about a vision for supporting church planters of all stripes in our city. That was perhaps the single biggest benefit of the time away for me. I also got to meet a couple of impressive men in the UK, not least of whom is a man called Neil Powell involved in Birmingham 2020.

9. The time away helped crystalise some thoughts about what’s next for me in my ministry and life.

Acts29We

To be frank, this was the one I could have done without. I was exhausted from my US trip (I was back a day and a half before heading to London) and only went along to do a seminar out of respect for Steve Timmis (and because I had made a prior commitment). If I’m really honest, I am not a big Acts29 fan in terms of all the machismo that sometimes come out of the US with this movement (cage fighting and beer drinking etc). I don’t find any of that stuff to be helpful in my context at all. I see the point that men need to be men (and not the feminised girly boys that mark so much of middle class Christianity in the UK) but at the same time I am trying to get guys to stop drinking (as much) and to see “being a man” as taking responsibility for their kids, not beating their girlfriends and/or spending their rent money on beer/drugs. Anyway, I digress. Some observations:

1. Straight off the bat it was gospel centred and it was gospel all the way.

2. The main preaching (I say this instead of ‘speaking’) sessions taken by JD Greear were on the money. By that I mean they were biblical, faithful to the texts and contextually applied to a European audience. This was a man who had done some homework and sought to engage cross culturally. He showed a great deal of humility in wanting to engage with us and not just turning up for the gig before being ushered out the door by his “personal aid” (other “speakers” take note).

3. The leading of the music by a couple of guys from Sojourn was profoundly biblical and extremely reverently done. I am not sure why it couldn’t have been done by someone from Europe but, regardless, outstanding and an example to any and all worship leaders (scrap that, everybody) in attendance.

4. The first day seemed to contain one too many sessions and I found the last speaker on the first day unnecessary in terms of what he had to say and how it fitted in with the overall message of the conference. Maybe I was tired but it didn’t resonate with me and those I was with. I think perhaps the problem was that Steve and JD can preach and, unfortunately, the gentleman concerned isn’t particularly gifted (in my opinion) to the same level (if at all).

5. As an outsider to Acts29WE I didn’t feel that I was given a full explanation of what they are about early on. I think there was a lot of assumption there and their 4 major principles could have been explained more clearly. I know there was a session on this somewhere but I got waylaid by people wanting to talk to me and missed it. Not the fault of the conference, but I would have appreciated this being explained in a session right at the opening of the couple of days so as to set the scene. As it was, Dai Hankey gave me a very good summary at lunch.

6. I am still unsure as to whom Steve Timmis is accountable in this movement. Who decides direction and strategy? Who keeps him from wandering off track? I am assuming his elders at TCH but how this will develop practically on the ground as this movement explodes (and it will) will be interesting. At the moment this looks like a movement largely bringing in those who are already planting churches, so it will be interesting to see how it develops as this first generation begins to birth them. I could smell the potential in the room and he is going to need a lot of support and prayer.

7. I found the seminar I attended to be pretty naff. The guy involved was from the states (a mistake I think) who used lots of illustrations that practically nobody in the room could relate to (he took a survey before ploughing on regardless). Many around me were playing on mobile phones or doing something else on computers. When I leaned in to the guy next to me and asked if he knew what was happening he just gave a resigned shrug. One guy at lunch said it “wasn’t the most helpful” thing he’d heard on the subject (posh speak for crap). It was a bit of a wayward presentation which didn’t seem to have any real connection in terms of application to the UK and/or European scene. I understood where he was trying to go philosophically but I didn’t really care how “Tinkerbell” fitted in to an overarching redemptive metanarrative! This space could have been used far more effectively for a seminar on Porterbrook, for example (see point 9).

8. The American contingent were extremely Godly, helpful, humble and insightful throughout the 2 days. They were a great example to some of their fellow countrymen who can sometimes present themselves in the opposite light when dealing with other cultures. I think Steve Timmis chose very wisely in this and, again, only strengthens my view that he is the right man for this type of movement from a European perspective.

9. The Porterbrook teaching material was there at a table but I felt it could/should have been given more prominence (there was a short talk given but it could have been clearer). There were some good interviews with planters and maybe an interview with someone using the material and how it has benefitted them would have been really helpful. This is a great tool for those of us trying to plant and train planters and I thought it deserved to be pushed more.

10. The interview(s) procedure(s) got various feedback. One of my friends found the chat intimate, friendly and helpful and another found it adversarial, aggressive and a bit hostile. Yet another, somewhere in the middle. It seemed to depend on “who you got” (and, to be fair, what stage you were at – all 3 were at different stages). As a person looking to perhaps join the network as a partner, I am not sure about this method (is there some universal questions to follow or is it more ‘organic’? – I suspect it is the latter given the feedback. I may be wrong!) and it’s purpose. It made me a little uneasy and hesitant to continue the process (more so for my shy wife than myself!).

11. Without doubt I would give the Acts29WE conference 11/10. I would have liked it to have gone on for more days and I left greatly energised and encouraged by God’s Word and the presence of so many planters out there with big dreams, battling in hard places. Steve and his team are to be congratulated for this.

In summary, T4G was a great experience. The pastors retreat afterwards was truly excellent. I love spending time with Mark Dever and his people. He is just such a great and supportive man. City2City was OK but often baffling. However, it gave me time to review what I was doing and the direction of my own ministry. Acts29WE was immensely encouraging and without doubt Steve Timmis will do the business. He is definitely the right man for the job. There were some great men there battling away in difficult places and it was a real pleasure and a privilege to get an invite. This is a movement that is going to grow and it will only be good for our continent and for the glory and fame of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would say that I left it with a confidence that Acts29 may have hit the jackpot in recent months with changes in personnel and the addition of Steve Timmis and those around him. Oh, and not a beer tasting competition or a cage fight in sight. Just good old-fashioned pubs and footie. Bliss!

I will be posting on the various talks in the coming weeks and trying to contextualise them for our housing scheme ministry. Watch this space!

Rewards for suffering persecution:

  • Glory in heaven. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18; 1 Peter 5:1,10,11)
  • Eternal consolation. (2 Corinthians 1:7; Romans 8:17)
  • Christ is made known. (2 Corinthians 4:11)
  • Life is being given to others. (2 Corinthians 4:12)
  • Grace of God is being made manifest. (2 Corinthians 4:15)
  • A guarantee that God will judge righteously. (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5)
  • Will reign with him. (2 Timothy 2:12a)
  • Spirit of glory rests upon. (1 Peter 4:14)
  • Glory is brought to God. (1 Peter 4:16)
  • Reason for joy. (1 Peter 4:13-14)

Pray for the persecuted church at Voice of the Martyrs.

Here are some resources from the Geneva Push 2011 Conference. As with all things, this is not a wholehearted recommendation for all of the content. But it is worth a perusal. Click here.

I was deeply saddened this week to hear of an extremely close pastor friend of mine who had succumbed to temptation and committed adultery. He has not been married for very long, he was pastoring a growing church and he was also the vice president of a Bible College. I have yet to ascertain all the details, and I am currently trying to contact him in order to offer help, support and counsel. But, for certain, his marriage has been devastated by this (hopefully not irreparably), his congregation is distraught and he has stepped down from all of his duties. The effect of all of this has been nothing short of catastrophic at so many levels and I am sure the fallout will continue for many months, even years, to come.

There is a fascinating article here by Harry Schaumburg written for the Desiring God website about the whole issue of sexual sin in the ministry. It is a brutally frank, devastatingly straightforward but pastorally applicable piece of writing. Please take some time to read it – it is extremely helpful.

As I have thought about my friend a couple of things have struck me again.

  1. My initial reaction to the news was shock, sadness and unbelief. I just didn’t see it coming. This was a serious man of God, with solid, theological convictions. It was a stark reminder not to put my trust in ‘princes and men’ but in the only true sinless one. Good, Reformed theology and ecclesiology means nothing if our hearts are far from the Lord and we are not daily walking in step with His Spirit.
  2. It made me both fear God and be thankful at the same time. Fearful, because I know what I would be capable of as a fallen sinner. Could I honestly say that I would not fall into the same sin if all of the circumstances were ‘right‘ to do so? I’m not so sure. My heart is as sinful as my friend’s and I am only ever a second away from sin if I take my eyes off the Lord Jesus. Thankful, that God in His grace thus far has spared me from my sinful heart inclinations. News like this makes me want to draw closer to Jesus for His help and protection.
  3. It reminds me to ensure that I keep vigilant in my own life and maintain the safeguards I have in place in my ministry when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. I am sometimes criticised for my ‘aloofness’ to women and my ‘unavailability’ to them here in Niddrie. I am far happier for that critique (although I try to be friendly and pastoral ‘with boundaries’) than if I were known for ‘over familiarity’.

The article gives out a challenge at the end and it is one I would echo if there are any reading this who are struggling and/or involved in similar sin.

If you are a pastor stuck in sexual sin, no matter how well you have attempted to cover those sins with layers and layers of lies, I plead with you, step out from the darkness of those sins. Step into the light. Get help. You will never find life in the shadows.

Please pray for me and for all pastors that we would be ever vigilant in these areas and never be so arrogant to think that it, ‘couldn’t happen to us’. 

Expositional Preaching In Housing Schemes? What A Joke!

Posted: October 4, 2012 by mezmcconnell in Uncategorized

Or so you would think, right? Read on.

I wrote this post in another format a couple of years ago when I first started this blog and had about 4 readers. Now I’ve built that up to a steady 12 I thought it ought to come out for a wider audience.

There is an increasing argument (in some circles) that the so-called ‘moderns’ of the last century responded well to more ‘concrete’ biblical messages  (on passages like the Epistles, for instance). Whereas, the postmodern mindset responds far better to the story telling approach to biblical preaching. Further, there is the thought that people in housing schemes can’t listen to a message more than 10 minutes long unless accompanied with some video footage and an all singing, all dancing power point presentation. We live in a ‘visual age‘ after all, or so I’m told. Well, I hardly use video, power point a bit more perhaps, and even then it looks like I put it together with the help of my neighbour’s cat. I just use the Bible and words. I just believe what I preach and try to illustrate and apply it in everyday language. I do it systematically and, in the main, expositionally. Do you know what? People stay in and listen. People you wouldn’t believe stay in and even take some of the message on board.

Now, expository preaching gets a bad rap from many people (not all) who like to debate the merits of social justice and mercy ministries. The think it is too one dimensional and an irrelevance in a non reading culture such as ours. All the talking heads and experts say so. They think that poorer people listen better when we ‘story’ the Bible and that we shouldn’t have just one approach from the pulpit. We shouldn’t even have a pulpit! Instead, we should mix it up and have more dialogue. Certainly, when we look at the NT we find little evidence for a set pattern of preaching. Indeed, the whole idea of the NT ‘pulpit monologue’ has scant evidence full stop. The Bible is also  full of wonderful ‘true’ stories (I tell my girls the difference between a Bible story and Cinderella – one is made up for our entertainment and the other is true and has been written for our spiritual benefit). So, should we be teaching our people more biblical narrative and maybe having a more interactive approach from the pulpit in our housing schemes and council estates? In a word, no. Here’s why.

  1. I base my ministry here not on what people want to listen to but on what God’s Word has to say. I can debate with my people every day of the week but for 30 plus minutes a week I am going to declare God’s Word loud and clear from our pulpit. Often, people will remark: ‘I heard you preached for 40 minutes on Sunday. How did your people handle that?  Implying what exactly? Usually, I will shrug and respond: ‘Fine, thanks’.  It’s not as if we’re reaching out to monkey’s here in Niddrie. Enough of the patronising drivel that seems to suggest that because a person didn’t finish their education they are unable to listen well. I have heard all the stories and read all the reports that talk about the difference between visual and physical stimulation blah blah blah. People here are smarter than we give them credit for. In fact, in my congregation most of my new Niddrie believers read more than my educated middle class members, including those who find it difficult to do so and had never even picked up a book pre-conversion. Pick the bones out of that!
  2. Anybody who thinks that interactive, dialogue style approaches from the pulpit is effective in areas like ours is welcome to come to Niddrie and show me how it’s done. Here’s a golden rule (and most visiting speakers fall into it): rhetorical questions are taken literally. As a preaching device in a scheme it doesn’t always work. So for instance, “have you ever been lying in bed in the morning and thought, I Can’t be bothered to go to work?” Response here? People shouting out the answer. Some arguing with you and say they don’t get up until the afternoon. Some saying they have to be at the chemist to get their script. Christians who know the literary tool stay silent (amused). It is then very difficult to move the topic on without having to be very firm and telling people to be quiet and, usually, you lose the flow of the point you were (cleverly) taking your people toward. I am not saying you shouldn’t use rhetorical questions but here declaration works far better than investigation. They are very often literal thinkers.
  3.  I like to think of Bible teaching as a plate of food. Narrative story is one food group. But the Bible also contains theological, doctrinal, poetic, wisdom, historical, literal and metaphorical genres. Therefore, because I want my people to have a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet, I seek, over the course of a year, to educate their palate across the full range. Otherwise, (in my opinion) over fascination with one type of literature inevitably leads to spiritual malnutrition. Telling stories is all well and good but the Bible is a big book! I can tell stories to illustrate my point(s) but I like to introduce my people to a nice salad once in a while instead of chips every week. Chips are good now and then but can become boring all the time, not to mention disastrous for the body.

In my experience, when we open the Word, God’s Spirit brings it to bear in people’s lives. The Bible is the Word of God. It is alive. It is sharper than a double-edged sword. The problem is that it is usually wielded by half-wits who wouldn’t know a sword from a sausage. The problem (usually) isn’t the length of the message, rather than the person stood giving it. Too many Herbert’s leaving Bible colleges who think that being able to preach to a class of theological students and maybe the odd, dusty, old congregation is going to wash in the wilds of our kind of ministry. Good exegesis is irrelevant if we can’t connect with people. Expository preaching isn’t the problem. Our pulpits are just full of irrelevant, expository preachers on the one hand, or namby, pamby, wishy washy emergent types on the other.

In Niddrie people are able to listen to, and retain, far more than we give them credit for. True, they will forget an awful lot. But good, systematic, expository preaching should train our people not only to read the scriptures well but to listen well. We can’t go wrong if we preach the whole counsel of God to our people. It might hurt at first. Like a muscle that hasn’t been used for a while.  But we are remarkably adaptable creatures and before long it will become almost second nature.

The mark of any healthy church plant in whatever context – indeed any church that takes the scriptures seriously – is good, solid, applied, expository preaching that mixes and matches all of it’s genres and inspires its people to get into the Word for themselves. Of course, we’re not going to win back our housing schemes solely through expositional preaching. That is just not going to happen. Firstly, we need men and women to move in to these places and begin to share the good news of Jesus. We need God, in His mercy and by His Holy Spirit, to save people and then we begin the long, arduous process of discipleship, teaching and preaching. So, preaching in this sense is not the first thing that is going to happen when you move into a scheme (that’s another blog post) but it should be at the forefront of our minds and at the centre of our strategy as we enter these places thinking, ‘what kind of church do we want to plant here?’

At Niddrie we will be launching a new church planting initiative within the next month. We are calling it “20Schemes” and further details will follow. We are launching this project in partnership with a church in Kentucky called Bardstown Christian Fellowship, itself planted by a Scotsman, Matthew Spandler-Davison. We are also benefitting hugely from the support, partnership and advice of the 9Marks organisation and Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Just this week they promoted “20Schemes” at their annual Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Conference in front of almost 2000 people, in North Carolina.

The aim of 20Schemes is to revitalise and/or plant 20 gospel churches in 20 Scottish housing schemes in the next 10 years. We want to recruit 20 planters to train 20 church leaders, 20 women to train 20 female gospel workers and 20 ministry apprentices to each make 20 disciples. Our aim is big and bold and, ultimately, is about finding a long-term way to grow indigenous leaders in places we would never think possible.

The questions/criticisms I am getting in some quarters are :

Why go to America? Why not recruit and train people from this country? Haven’t we moved past this approach to cross cultural mission?  Surely, we should be recruiting home grown men for this endeavour?

My answer? Show me some home grown men with the cojones to plant and/or revitalise churches in housing schemes. I am all for recruiting and developing home grown people. In fact, our first planting intern in West Pilton is a Scotsman, but the sad reality is that there is a dearth of Christian men in our country willing to give their lives to this kind of ministry.

Many of the men I know who are at Bible colleges and/or on local church internships, whilst sympathetic to the cause, have no intention of going into housing schemes. They want to be youth workers, or pastoral assistants or missionaries but they certainly don’t want to be any of those things in areas of urban deprivation (not in Scotland anyway). Why is that? I think there are a several reasons: firstly, many churches and gospel ministries in these places are dying, often with aging congregations holding on to history and past glories, unwilling to change. In a world of options men would prefer to go elsewhere or plant their own church rather than have to deal with that kind of political battle. Secondly, almost every man I have spoken to recently about our ministry, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, have pointed to ‘family responsibilities’ as the reason they can’t seriously consider our kind of ministry. Thirdly, I think there is a problem with how middle class churches and institutions are training people. We have more seminars and conferences than ever before. We have more churches who are training leaders than ever before. Yet, still this shortfall. The problem, I fear, is in the fact that we lack the courage to take risks at local church level. Churches want the perfect CV, the perfect candidate and the perfect answers to theological questions (or not as the case may be). The pond we are fishing in here is never going to produce that (certainly not at the outset). Local men are not going to handle 40 hour a week lectures on Exegesis and Hermeneutics. They are not going to be polished speakers or have the finesse of fine apologetics. Unless I’m reading my Bible wrong, the early disciples weren’t University graduates either. They were common men with a love for the Lord, supernaturally endowed with the spiritual gifts necessary to build the church.

In all the talk of biblical manhood and being manly it seems that growing a beard and going to a manly type conference is as near as we are getting to encouraging entry into housing scheme ministry. Everybody agrees to its necessity and are wishing me lots of luck in what we are trying to do but that’s about it. Therefore, we need a new approach in how we tackle the problem of planting in our specific field. Scrap that, we need an approach full stop. Our aim here is to generate, at least initially, outside interest in order to stimulate inside growth and momentum. If we have to go the states and other countries then we will. It is better than sitting here wringing our hands at the dearth of young men wanting to step out in faith. We are certainly starting down a risky road. But I think it is necessary. I think that such is the problem in our country at this moment in history that, in God’s providence, we have little choice but to take these steps. I think we are not going to see local men taking responsibility unless we put steps in ourselves to ensure future growth and development. I think it is going to be a long, drawn out painful process. I think it is going to be a lot of growing on the job. I think it is going to be intuitive, a lot of making it up as we go along and maybe a few painful mistakes along the way.

Back to my original question: Where are all the men? Pray for us as we not only seek to answer that question but provide solutions that are both God honouring and sustainable. Superficially, it will look like a lot of outsiders coming in, but underneath we are working on a long-term, sustainable strategy to grow truly indigenous planters, women’s workers and ministry apprentices. But we need more than a good plan and a well worked strategy. We need God’s favour.

‘We cannot defend the truth by creating caricatures’. So stands the conviction of the White Horse Inn as they have been engaging in debates with people from all sorts of theological persuasions over the last two decades. The web is a trolls dream come true as they move around from blog to blog and twitter feed to twitter feed causing havoc and leaving pernicious, ill-informed comments about a host of theological topics, safe in the anonymity of their own home. For instance, Calvinists become those who hate evangelism and don’t love people and Arminians become theological lightweights with an anemic view of God’s Sovereignty. Discussion in this arena can quickly become personal, aggressive and completely at odds with Scripture’s urgings to brotherly love and particular respect for our enemy. Instead of having a good argument, what ensues is a fight in which the other position is caricatured and both sides end up talking over one another rather than with one another.

The White Horse Inn has written an excellent article here in which they remind us that what we say matters. I would encourage you to take the time to read and digest it. I have been reminded of the importance of guarding my words again this week as I prepare my sermon for Sunday on Ephesians 4:29-32. Paul, here, encourages the church to use their tongue for building up and not for tearing down. Change that to the written word in the context of this article and you get the picture. I am very thankful that on this blog people are generally respectful even if they disagree with me. Thankfully, I have a feature which allows me to approve (or not) those who wish to make themselves heard on the particular topics I deal with. Not everybody makes it through this process if I feel that what they are saying is (1) not genuine. By that I mean is this person trying to be controversial or do they have a genuine point to make. (2) If they are respectful and coherent then I will allow their response. Interestingly, on my blog I receive more correspondence through email or on Facebook than I do on the blog itself. I think that often these people want to keep their opinions out of the blogosphere. That’s fine and these conversations are usually healthy and well thought through.

Of course, pretty much most of what I write here is my personal opinion. That’s the point of it being my blog. Some of it is jest and some of it is a nod to internet quirkiness. Much of it is serious thought or my own thinking out loud about topics I am still digesting and trying to work out in my own ministry. I am happy in all of this to have discussions with people about what I write and, if I can, argue my point from the Scriptures. Sometimes I will be right and sometimes I will be wrong. Some of it will be down to poor communication and writing skills and some of it down to a lack of mature thinking on a subject. All of it will be out of a heart to engage my Reformed convictions with the messiness of my particular ministry. Of course, it is all open for good-natured, biblical critique by those who follow and read what I say. The point is not that we argue over these things, but the spirit in which we do it as believers. The article end with this reminder:

In the din of talking heads shouting at each other, Christians have a great opportunity in the current atmosphere to end quarrels by offering a few good, at least better, arguments.

Wise words and good counsel. Have a good day.

The Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, interdenominational Christian organisation dedicated to assisting the persecuted church worldwide. VOM was founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned 14 years in Communist Romania for his faith in Christ. His wife, Sabina, was imprisoned for three years. In the 1960s, Richard, Sabina, and their son, Mihai, were ransomed out of Romania and came to the United States. Through their travels, the Wurmbrands spread the message of the atrocities that Christians face in restricted nations, while establishing a network of offices dedicated to assisting the persecuted church.

Visit their website here.