Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Rob Bell 'The Bullhorn Guy'| Preview

This is an introduction to The Bullhorn Guy No 8 of Rob Bell's Nooma series. The full version can be seen at www.pinpointevangelism.com/Bullhorn.htm. It seems to me that he deliberately uses an easy target, a poor example of what street evangelism can be( no resonance with the audience, untrendy guy, shouting,yelling etc), but in doing this, Mr Bell also rubbishes all street evangelism with the implication that those who do it just haven't 'got it'. They're not ‘cool' like Jesus who came to show love and who never condemned or judged anyone. That is despite the fact that he called on people to repent and believe his message, as well as talking about the H word more than anyone else!
Why does Rob do this? Is it just a reaction to against a Christianity that fails to portray the love of Christ or is it deeper? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Go and Make Disciples

This article was written by Leonard Lee a church planter and a veteran of over 25 years of ministry. He currently pastors Bayside of Central Roseville and loves to hunt, fish and play.

He has much experience in evangelism and nurture and makes some insightful comments. I think it is often better to listen to men and women who have been doing the Master's business rather than 'ivory tower' theologians who spend most of their days with either Christians or other academics, having little deep relationships with people in the ‘real world’. In other words Lee’s conclusions and insights don’t just come from books but from the experience of walking with God over many years and struggling with the problems that face a Christian who desires to bring young Christians to maturity. This is not to say I never read theology, I do, probably too much, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

Here Mr Lee is very strong on the relationship of the three personalities involved: God, the evangelist (That is the older disciple, for as George Verwer says we should always wear our L plates) and the younger disciple. He also is not an authoritarian disciple maker but one who through example appears to show love, loyalty, and sacrifice; not one who demands it. Christ laid down his life for the sheep: Would be Shepherds should do the same.

Lee also emphasises friendship. I think this an important aspect for both parties. Even if the older Christian must spend less time with themas they mature ( And to enable them to work with more needy ones), the prodigy must never be seen as a mere pawn or number. The younger must also appreciate that though their mentor spends less time with them, they are still loved by them and very much in their heart. One might also consider the love Paul had for the likes of Timothy and Titus. AK

'Go make disciples… These are the marching orders of our friend, Jesus. On the surface it seems simple and sometimes when we read the accounts in the book of Acts the details of how disciples were made gets lost in the fact that people were converted. Of course Jesus makes it easy to understand, travel with 12 guys for three plus years and “viola’” you have disciples. I have been in ministry over 25 years and still struggle to make disciples, but here are a few of my random thoughts that I am trying to flesh out as I endeavor to carry out the marching orders of my friend, Jesus.

Make discipleship about becoming a friend of God rather than looking like a Christian. Near the end of Jesus ministry he pulls his guys together and says. I am not calling you servants anymore; I am calling you friends because a friend knows what their friend is up to. (this is the Leonard Lee slandered perversion) As I disciple people one of the primary truths I try to teach is what a friendship with God looks like. Here are a few of the descriptions I try to apply.

I want people to understand the size of their friend. When I was a kid I was short. I had a couple big friends. The size of my friends gave me confidence to be a bit of a daredevil smarty pants. I could muster up courage to say things I might not have were it not for the size of my friends riding backup. One reason for boldness is the size of our friend. God is immeasurable and honestly, that is cool. When faced with a tough conversation or decision I will often think, “Do you know how big my friend is? He can do anything!”

I want people to understand loyalty. Loyalty is the quality in a friendship that allows us to not understand and still remain close friends. I have to admit, sometimes it is loyalty in my friendship with Christ that holds me until the fog can clear.

I want people to understand gratefulness. When gratefulness is in a friendship, faithfulness is in a friendship. I cannot remain faithful to any friendship I am not grateful for and I cannot be grateful unless I choose humility. The key to any great friendship is putting your friend first. No greater love hand any man than this than he lay down his life for his friends. This is not just a statement about Christ’s friendship with me but a standard for my friendship with him and his frineds.

Familiarity is huge in a great friendship. I have a buddy and we simply know. I know what he is thinking and he knows what I am thinking. This has made for the best in our friendship. We rarely have to apologize to each other because we rarely offend each other. We talk for hours on end, repeating stories because we know we love to hear each others thinking. We know exactly how to encourage each other because we are aware of each others strengths and weaknesses. This has happened by logging the time necessary to be familiar. Familiarity breeds contempt only when humility is absent.

I want people to understand love. Love is the action word for all friendships. Love is what causes me to live out the desires of my friend’s heart. In other words I love what my friend loves because I love my friend. Love is what drives remembering the values of friendship and of my friend in the middle of life. Here is another one of my slandered perversions of scripture.

Love is the act of kindness; love is patience applied; love is the enjoyment of my friends success (does not envy), love is the sharing of my success; (does not boast), love is seeking others first, love is choosing to not let hurt turn into anger; love chooses to erase the chalk board of offense; love holds on to holiness while being embarrassed by sin; love shields friends and friendship from harm; love starts every conversation believing the best; love is confident love is the best path; (love hopes) love hangs in and love holds the line when nothing else will. 1 Corinthians 13 kind of…

I want people to understand sacrifice. Great friendships are never based upon doing the minimum but upon sacrifice. No friendship ever grew deep without generosity. This is really the premise of “we love because he loved first.” God’s sacrificial, generous investment of love into my life is why I love.

Here is the impact. When friendship is a primary value, the tools for friendship are not burdensome. Church, the bible, prayer, giving, witnessing, serving are all on the list of good Christians but in reality these do not make me a good Christian, they are how I express and build friendship. Because I value my friendship with Christ these become no brainier’s to me, not burdens of being a Christian'.

For discussion: How do you build your friendship with God? How do you teach others to build a friendship with God?

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Dick Staub : The Culturally Savvy Christian(Part 1b)

I couldn't resist giving you the second part of the interview. If you have 9 minutes its worth listening to.AK

Dick Staub : The Culturally Savvy Christian (Part 1a)

This video is worth seeing. Dick Staub is the author of the book ‘The cultural savvy Christian’. He refers in this vid to the various portrayals of Jesus in film, be they Jesus as the Divine as in ‘The greatest story ever told’, or Jesus the man as in ‘Godspell’. This is the first of five parts to the interview; the rest can be seen on Youtube .
It is true that Christians should be ‘culturally savvy’, that is culturally relevant, but also 'biblically savvy’, that is sharing the authentic message in the culture we find ourselves in. To do this we need wisdom, humility, sensitivity, love and most of all the Holy Spirit. AK

Sunday, 13 January 2008

'Everything ' by LightHouse

These are the words of the song called 'Everything' by the group LightHouse which featured on my last post. A young friend who saw it said that if someone who wasn't a Christian saw it, they would be 'converted' there and then: so powerful is the message. I agree that it is a most moving piece of drama that both Christians and non-Christians will be touched by.

Recently I've met many 'backsliders' both young and old, who when asked, would they love to experience again the peace and joy they had when they followed Christ,told me they would.They also acknowledged that they were restless as they tried to find again that same peace and joy through other means- drugs, sex, music, sport etc. But were unable.

As one great Christian once said in a prayer to God: 'You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find their peace in thee'. I realise that many have been hurt by 'the Church'and have in turn sadly turned away from Christ.

But He still stands at the door of your heart seeking entrance. The most winsome,kind,loving and good personality who ever lived wants to share a life of intimacy with you. Will you let Him in today? If you respond to His invitation please let me know. AK

find me here
and speak to me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you
you are the light
that's leading me
to the place
where I find peace again

you are the strength
that keeps me walking
you are the hope
that keeps me trusting
you are the life
to my soul
you are my purpose
you're everything

and how can I
stand here with you
and not be moved by you
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this yeah

you calm the storms
and you give me rest
you hold me in your hands
you won't let me fall
you still my heart
and you take my breath away
would you take me in
take me deeper now

and how can I
stand here with you
and not be moved by you
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this

and how can I
stand here with you
and not be moved by you
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this

cause you're all I want
you're all I need
you're everything

you're all I want
you're all I need
you're everything

you're all I want
you're all I need
you're everything

you're all I want
you're all I need
you're everything

and how can I
stand here with you
and not be moved by you
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this

and how can I
stand here with you
and not be moved by you
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this
would you tell me
how could it be
any better than this

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Dancing With Jesus skit

My good friend Geoff from Liverpool told me about this skit. I hope you enjoy it.Without words it says more than most 40 minute sermons.

Bob Dylan - What Can I Do For You?

This is one of the very fine devotional songs to Christ from Dylan's 'Saved' album. The harmonica playing on it is outstanding and the words simple but sublime. When I got the L.P over twenty years ago I played it constantly. May you be blessed by it also. AK

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Rob Bell’s ministry proves ‘divisive’ in some religious circles By Drew Nichter

A Google search of the name Rob Bell yields nearly 300,000 results. Although not all of those Web pages refer to Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., a majority of them do.

One will find links to the Mars Hill Web site, a page promoting Bell’s NOOMA video series and of course, his Wikipedia entry. One will also find a site promoting Bell’s recent lecture tour, “The gods Aren’t Angry,” which made a stop in Louisville Nov. 29. The tour tackled the topic of religion and its origins throughout human history.

In an interview with the Western Recorder, Bell described the tour as a “way of answering the question, ‘What is grace?’ without ever using the word ‘grace.’

“I want people to be overwhelmed with grace,” he added.

The up-and-coming young pastor certainly has been an overwhelming figure in recent years. Bell’s Mars Hill congregation, founded in 1999, quickly became one of the fastest-growing churches in history, exceeding 10,000 members. He recently released the 18th video in his NOOMA series which has received “phenomenal response,” Bell noted. In between all of that, he even managed to write two best-selling books, “Velvet Elvis” and “Sex God.”

CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE Rob Bell during his recent “The gods Aren’t Angry” speaking tour stop at the Brown Theater in Louisville. (Photo by Drew Nichter)

With that success has come plenty of controversy, which Bell maintained he does not pay attention to. “I don’t Google my name,” he said.

If he did, he would find a Rob Bell “archive” on a Web site called Apprising Ministries.

The site is the work of Ken Silva, who describes himself as “an ordained (Southern Baptist Convention) minister who has dedicated himself to the study of comparative religions and non-Christian cults.”

Silva has a long list of targets including Mormonism, Rick Warren, even the SBC. But he seems to take special note of Bell, with more than 100 entries criticizing his teachings, lectures and ministry.

Bell declines “emergent” label
The criticism most often leveled at Bell is his affiliation with the emergent church movement. He is often linked to Brian McLaren, the pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Maryland and a strong proponent of the emergent church movement. In 2005, McLaren was invited and then disinvited to speak at the Kentucky Baptist Evangelism Conference because of some controversial passages in his book, “A Generous Orthodoxy.”

Bell’s name even surfaced alongside McLaren’s during discussions at September’s “Convergent” conference examining the emergent church at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

When asked whether he is an emergent church leader or claims any affiliation with the movement, Bell simply said, “No.” Discussing the role of the emergent church movement, he said he understood it to be “simply a conversation asking, ‘What does it mean to be the people of Jesus?’”

Addressing anyone who is critical of such a movement, Bell said, “I wonder whether that person is a Christian. That seems like a conversation they ought to have.”

Another charge that has been thrown Bell’s way is that his teachings oversimplify the gospel for the postmodern generation. In his “The gods Aren’t Angry” lectures, Bell asserts that God is not angry and that He has made peace with all of humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This principle prompted protests outside at least one tour stop.

Jeff Fuson, a longtime youth minister at Crestwood Baptist Church in Oldham County who recently became pastor of a new church plant, attended Bell’s lecture in Louisville. Fuson agrees that while some of what Bell teaches can be seen as “divisive,” it can help believers think about their faith.

“Even if we don’t agree with (Bell), he still challenges us to think and to pull some things apart and to wonder about our faith,” Fuson noted. “If a person can’t think about their faith, then their faith may be too brittle.”

Bell had much stronger words for those who are “scared” by those who offer a new approach to theology, calling them “the original Pharisees.”

“They’re obsessed with absolutely minutiae issues surrounding, ‘What words do you use to define the Bible?’” he said. “They absolutely obsess about people who, in their minds, don’t use the exact proper definitive language they’ve agreed upon somewhere.”

And Bell insisted he is not worried about offending “fundamentalists,” adding that each time he does so, “there are a thousand people who are now listening.”

Fuson emphasized there currently is a “clash of worldviews,” adding that “people are scared” of that.

“It’s a very challenging debate right now and it’s way bigger than Rob Bell,” Fuson noted.

He said that debate is between those who believe that in order to be a follower of Christ, one must adhere strictly to certain doctrines. On the other side are Bell and other “new thinkers” who are challenging some of that doctrine.

But Fuson added that they’re all on the same team and could learn from one another.

“What the people talking about doctrine are trying to accomplish and what Rob Bell are trying to accomplish are actually the same thing,” Fuson suggested. “This is to arrive at a place where you have people who are full-on followers of Christ. Both want the same thing, but they’re attempting different methods.

“The reality is we probably need to learn from both sides.”

Western Recorder issue date: December 11, 2007

Have you heard Rob Bell speak or read his books? Is he a heretic as Mark Driscoll has said or is he an example of the new evangelism that is required for the post-modern age or do you take the position of Fuson who takes a middle position?AK

Monday, 7 January 2008

Free Hugs Campaign.

'Sometimes, a hug is all what we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whose sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.

In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.

As this symbol of human hope spread accross the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED. What we then witness is the true spirit of humanity come together in what can only be described as awe inspiring.

In the Spirit of the free hugs campaign, PASS THIS TO A FRIEND and HUG A STRANGER! After all, If you can reach just one person... Fom the youtube site.

I love this video. There seems something very innocent about it.It seems to me to be an acted parable: that of showing love to strangers. I don't think the authors were Christians but they certainly showed some 'milk of human kindness' which is sure to touch anyone who have a heart of flesh. Perhaps the Church could take a leaf out of their book.Many people have no one to hug them, many are so lonely that even a kind word said to them or a smile given would make their day. Should Christians not be at the forefront of showing such love, as the salt and light of the world? John wrote 'we love because he first loved us'.Sadly we are often more apt to condemn those both inside and outside the Church. Did the Master not say: 'freely you have received freely give', and again
'Whatever you do to the least of these my brethren you do it onto me'.Let us be bold and move out of our comfort zones a little bit more, let us take a few more risks. Preaching and sharing the gospel with strangers is also thought foolish by some.But if only one out of every ten or every hundred responds, is it not worth it? AK

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A Covenant With God

Methodists hold an annual Covenant Service, at which they celebrate all that God has done for them, and affirm that they give our lives and choices to God. Most churches hold the service in the New Year.

In the Methodist church I was brought up in in Northern Ireland we held this service on the first Sunday of the New Year. As a teenager I felt it was almost a blood curdling commitment:'Put me to suffering;let me be laid aside by thee;let me be empty;the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

If we therefore end up having to go through a terrible year of trials, we can't really complain too much as we have given Him permission to allow it. But even then, we can still ask for mercy.

'I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt,
rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing,
put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full,
let me be empty.
Let me have all things,
let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine,
and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven'.

The Covenant above makes it very clear that this affirmation is a serious one that embraces the whole of our life, in all its parts. Most people find it quite tough to say, and really mean it. But the prayer is so central to the Christian life that other Churches have also adopted it.

In our culture we tend to prize our ability to make decisions and choose our own path in life. It can feel very hard to give that up. But this prayer is like a love poem. It is about surrendering to God in love and joy.