Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Do all good dogs go to heaven?

This morning I took my 13 year old soft coated wheaten terrier (terrorist) to the vet to have him put down. A sad day indeed for me and I could not believe how emotional I felt about my old dog when the vet gave him the fatal injection. But I knew his time had come and it was the humane thing for me to do.I felt a bit like the old man in the film called 'of mice and men' who in the end had to do the same with his canine friend. A few days ago Barney watched me dig him a grave in the garden in preparation for his final resting place.But as they say in the U.K. he had a good innings and I thank God for the enjoyment he brought to my family.I remember when I was about four years old and had found a dead chick outside my house. I ran in to tell my mum who understandably had more things to worry about than a dead sparrow chick. But I wanted the world to stop and mourn.It was only later when I started to read the Bible, when I was about 15, and read where it says along the lines: 'there isn't a sparrow that falls to the ground that your heavenly Father doesn't know about and how much more does he care for you'.He had shared that moment with me.
Wow. Though God doesn't always intervene the way we would like him to or perhaps expect- we can take it by faith that what he says is true and that he knows what is best no matter what happens.There are things such as life and death that are outside our control and which we must leave in his hands, and do what the wise man in Proverbs encourages us: 'trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding'
The great unwashed, uncombed, shaggy Barney after a walk in the woods.

Many thanks to Brenda and Cliff of 'Diary of a Wildlife photographer' http://inspirationalphotos.blogspot.com/ who was able to produce the following picture from one of the photographs my daughter took.You can also click their link on my favourite links. Their photographs are brilliant.

Monday, 30 March 2009


This is from an email sent from George Verwer to encourage Christians to pray for the very influential G20 summit, and in respect to Paul's word to Timothy and the Church, to pray for governments and for all in authority. AK

Dear brothers and sisters,

As I’m sure you know the heads of the 20 leading economies in the world meet this week in London with some huge issues on the agenda.

I think we need to give special attention in our prayer personally and in our team prayer this week to these meetings. There is a 7-day prayer guide which you can get on the Micah Challenge website, and this following prayer from Joel Edwards, the International Director of Micah Challenge, possibly sums up the issues.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:1-3

Father, we stand before you in prayer as the global economic crisis casts a shadow over the peoples of the world. We have been reminded that in a world as closely associated as ours, each of our actions affects the whole. We are sorry when we have failed to act beyond our narrow interests. Help us to live as a community and care for others, especially the vulnerable and the poor amongst us.

As the G20 meet we ask for wisdom for the leaders of the world. Where nations have pushed their agenda on others, bring partnership and love. Where people have lived their lives disconnected from their brothers and sisters in other countries, bring solidarity and compassion. Where efforts for good have been frustrated, bring break-through. May we see the dawning of a new world with your values at its heart. A world of justice, mercy and humility.

Lord, we thank you for the promises which governments have already made in the Millennium Development Goals because we know their power to lift millions of people out of poverty. May that same spirit of global partnership be evident at the G20. May the poor not be forgotten in the midst of crisis.

Father, help us to rise up. For who will raise a voice and reach out a hand to conform this world more to your plan if not us your people? As your children worldwide, let us rise up – in prayer, in speaking out, and in demonstrating your way of life – that out of the ruins of this current crisis might rise up a hope for a better world.

In Jesus’ Name,

Maybe we would use that as the basis for some intercession for these meetings in the next few days.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Everything-Tim Hughes


Where are the Young Men?

Three minutes of powerful, inspiring preaching from Pastor John Piper.

Friday, 27 March 2009


I discovered this excellent essay on Wesleyan evangelism at the Wesley online site. It is quite long but if you are interested in either Wesley or Evangelism it is well worth the read.The second part has been put on as a comment. Be inspired. AK

Our task in this essay is to consider a theology of evangelism that will be

1. Biblically based; 2. Historically Wesleyan; 3. Of Contemporary Significance.

Initially, it seems necessary to work with some definition of the task and the key words "theology" and "evangelism." One could, of course, develop a three-hundred page opus with a full Prolegomena to all of the classifications of theology. The Wesleyan heritage has by and large not engaged in that kind of exacting effort, although we could cite John Fletcher, Richard Watson, John Miley, Randolph Foster, or Luther Lee, as notable exceptions.

Our effort here will require a simple approach to theology. For the philosophers of religion, theology is "God talk"; for the systematic theologian it is the rational analysis of the ways of God, through consideration of His self-revelation in Christ, in Scripture, and in the natural order. The cynic has described the work of the theologian by a biting analogy: it is, said Diderot, the story of a man wandering lost in a dark forest at midnight with a flickering candle to provide a little light. Along comes a theologian and blows out the light. In a more positive vein, the definition employed in this essay will be functional: "Theology is telling the faith of the fathers in the language of the children."

Now, "evangelism"-a word which has the highest and most honorable significance, but which like many words has fallen prey to the abuses of certain persons who sometimes stress a theology of human wretchedness that would upstage Karl Barth or a do-it-yourself religion that might have driven Pelagius into the arms of Augustine. The consequences of such abuse is the state of affairs that exists today concerning evangelism. A company of "cultured despisers" of evangelism has emerged over the years, thinking of evangelism in the narrow terms set by the unlearned and ignorant.

It is easy for us to rationalize our neglect of this essential Christian work, by appealing to such unattractive examples. Mr. Wesley (not Dr. Wesley), a man of the people, saw these types in his age. On one occasion he wrote:

"Let but a pert, self-sufficient animal that has neither sense nor grace, bawl out something about Christ, or his blood, or justification by faith, and his hearers cry out, 'What a fine gospel sermon.' "

But what Wesley judged to be an aberration of the gospel and an embarrassment to a reasonable person, did not become the guideline for his Christian activity. He engaged in an incessant effort to "reform the nation and especially the Church and to spread Scriptural (note, Scriptural) holiness across the land." He became the evangelist-reformer without peer in the eighteenth century (with all due credit to Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield). He rode up and down the land for more than fifty years, telling the faith of the fathers in the language of the children; expressing it in an admirable union of the "reasonable man" with a cool mind and style (the typical 18th century Englishman) and the man whose heart was strangely warmed, who shared God's good news wherever he went. It is all too easy for us to accent "cool mind" and ignore warmth of spirit. In our world many (most?) persons live and act on the largely affective level. To preach or teach on the rationally coherent and logical level alone i8 to miss the mark with many. This is the Wesleyan concern: to appeal to heart and mind, emotion and intellect on the level where real communication occurs. Wesley wrote this introduction to the Standard Sermons:

I design plain truth for plain people: therefore of set purpose, I abstain from all nice and philosophical speculations, . . . from even the show of learning, unless in sometimes citing the original Scripture.... I have accordingly set down in the following sermons, what I find in the Bible concerning the way to heaven. 1

This is evangelism in the Wesleyan manner and spirit.

This focus upon evangelism is found continually in Wesley's writing and preaching. His preoccupation was with evangelical tasks, but he did not construe that narrowly, as a few spiritual laws by which someone is converted to Christ. Wesley sought to develop the full Christian character and the mature, witnessing, sharing believer.

This is spelled out especially well in four appeals that Wesley wrote in 1744-1745. "An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion" was written first, followed by three "Farther Appeals." The content of these essays so admirably summarizes Wesley's thought that they may be taken as the summa of Wesley's theology of evangelism. Indeed, I see the title "An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion" as a definition of the Wesleyan approach to evangelism.

In these essays, Wesley is actually engaged in a polemic with certain "men of reason and religion." He appeals to them to recognize some of the essentials of evangelical faith, i.e., the heart of evangelism.

His concern is about:

1. The doctrines of Christian faith;

2. The manner of teaching them;

3. The effects which should follow the teaching of these.

In developing these concerns, we should recognize the ways they are pursued.

1. Doctrine. Three themes:

a. The doctrine of the faith that saves and that opens up new evangelical and ethical possibilities and expectations.

b. The life of Christian love (sanctification, perfect love) which enlarges the Christian's personal and social awareness and capacity for service.

c. The work of the Holy Spirit as a present (contemporary motivating) reality and presence (as opposed to those who relegate the Spirit's work to the ancient era of church history).

2. Manner

a. The reasoned approach to evangelism

b. The gracious appeal to the will; to an uncoerced free decision recognizing the essential freedom of persons. The right to say Yes or No. Right of private judgment.

c. Going where the people are-Field Preaching.

3. Effects-Moral change-Social transformation. Physical relief for sick and poor.

Gerald R. Cragg writes of Wesley's theology:

The particular emphasis of his theology derived from his preoccupation with evangelism. He included all the traditional elements of the Christian system of belief, but he so arranged them as to bring into the sharpest relief the doctrine of salvation.2

I. The Doctrines of Christian Faith

A. The Doctrine of Faith

Wesley's theology was an attempt to "describe the true, the scriptural experimental religion...."3 It was a theology of evangelism attuned to human failure and disorder and to God's grace and love. It was existentially sensitive, for Wesley had walked the way himself. Before he became an evangelist, he had to wrestle with his own failure, his angst, his lack of contact with Christian reality and certitude. He could not tell the way of faith until he saw with "spiritual sight," to use his metaphor, until he received the gift of faith. He could not tell the good news until he moved beyond the pre-understanding of his Oxford years to the liberating fulfillment of Aldersgate. "Experimental religion!": Religion that corresponded with life! With psychological, rational, and spiritual needs! A religion of love that calls a person into a service of love to the neighbor! Religion that works faithfully, hopefully, lovingly!

Without being too certain about the years from 1725-38 (on which good men differ), it is claimed that Wesley became an evangelist after Aldersgate. Before Aldersgate, he did not know or understand the preaching of faith. Peter Bohler had counseled Wesley in the early days of 1738. "Preach faith until you have it: then, because you have faith you will preach it." Albert Outler comments: "Wesley had preached faith until others had it-and that was what broke the drought in his own spirit."4

May I suggest that Wesley, like Luther and St. Paul before him becomes a mirror and an exemplar of the struggling ascents to faith; struggles that St. Paul depicts in Romans 10 and Luther in his anguished search to find a gracious God. Each man in his own way portrays the anguish of the human quest for the treasure that finally is seen and known as gift. St. Paul wrote, certainly out of his own experience:

But what the Scripture says about being put right with God through faith is this: 'You are not to ask yourself, who will go up into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down). 'Nor are you to ask, who will go down into the world below?' (that is, to bring Christ up from death). What it says is this: 'God's message is near you, on your lips and in your heart'-that is, the message of faith that we preach (Rom. 10:6-8).

Paul continues to claim that all who call on Christ will be saved, that to call they must believe, that faith comes out of the context of hearing the good news, that the good news must be proclaimed. The good news is Christ in whom faith discovers a spirit-transforming personal presence. And this faith is the gift of God made alive in the catalyst of preaching the Word. Those who seek the glory of the divine-human encounter by their own struggles or contributions to the relationship are only candidates for futility and despair. Doubt is sometimes a necessary preparation for spiritual illumination, for the moment of grace. However, it must finally become self- doubt and self-surrender to the giftedness of faith. Doubt is an understandable stage along the way. It is often a step in a person's progress from self- trust to confidence in God. To doubt the Almighty is not surprising; it is the shadow side of our own self-sufficiency. Soon enough, self-trust leads to the despair of human emptiness. The nakedness of Adam and Eve portrays the existential and spiritual finitude of all. We stand before God and one another naked, without recourse. Preeminently contingent or dependent, we require an adequate structure of trust. That structure is not found in our subjective resources. It is only in God whose image and likeness we bear and which bears us. We are marked by an infinite need for an infinite God.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

This is perhaps Tony's most famous story. I hope you enjoy it and are challenged by its message.AK

Monday, 23 March 2009

'A Wretch Like Me' by George Verwer

George Verwer is probably one of the most well known missionaries around today, he is also one of the most honest.This message must have cost him a lot to bring, but it resulted in many young people, who were going through similar temptations, finding some help!George doesn't pull any punches about his own failures and encourages those who have also failed to find forgiveness and grace in Christ.

Having said that about George, I think I remember another well known missionary who once cried out that he was a 'wretched man' and later referred to himself as 'the chief of sinners'.Then man speaks about the grace of Christ and how much greater it was than sin :'where sin abounds,grace abounds all the more'-And the missionary? Of course it was St.Paul! AK

Sin is serious and incessant, but you don't have to live in defeat.

Once when I told my story at a missions conference, a woman informed me I had a demon.

Another time I told my story, and shortly afterward one of our mission ships sank. Someone wrote to me that was the judgment of God on me. (Actually, we had hoped to replace the ship; no one was hurt when it sank, and we thought of it as a blessing from God.) But I've come to expect that kind of response.

Most people don't want to hear Christian leaders admit their sins or say they still, on occasion, sin. And almost no one wants to hear a leader say he's come to terms with his sinful nature. But I have. And I say so publicly.

I wouldn't call my temptation by pornography an addiction. My exposure to it has been infrequent. I don't look at it online. I won't pay for it. And I haven't had regular access to the magazines since I was a teenager.

A neighbor prayed for me for two years, she said, and at a Billy Graham crusade at age 16, I had a powerful conversion experience. After that, I knew that the pornography had to go, and so I burned my few magazines. If it were not for my conversion, pornography could have become a terrible addiction. Still, through most of my adulthood, I was subject to awful temptations and sometimes fell.

Over the years, I can honestly say, I haven't gone looking for pornography. It comes to me. And it takes me by surprise. One time while riding to a strategic meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, I found a magazine left in the lavatory. That happened again when I was aboard an ocean liner en route to Scandinavia.

A defining moment for me occurred more than 30 years ago as I was walking in the woods outside London. From a distance I saw something hanging in the branches of a tree. It was a pornographic magazine, shot through with bullet holes. Someone had hung it there for target practice. Suddenly, I was the target.

I wish I could say I destroyed that magazine and got the victory, but the truth is, in the woods that day, that magazine made a fool out of me.

I was in the woods for quite a while after my lustful episode before I could crawl my way back to the cross and ask for forgiveness. Most of the time since then, I have been able to withstand Satan's temptations. I wish I could say that was true every time, but I'd be lying.

And, in the woods, I found a new approach to my own sinfulness: when I sin, I ask forgiveness. Time after time.

What's victory really look like?
What is victorious living for the sinner? The absence of sin? The defeat of Satan at every temptation? Going undefeated for a whole season? If that's the measure, then I fail. And, I suspect, we all fail, and we will continue to fail without relief.

In my own life, giving myself the benefit of the doubt, I estimate I successfully resist temptation maybe 95 percent of the time. But with the number of temptations we face, that's still a lot of failure!

Over the course of my 45 years as a Christian, I have failed, and not only in the area of lust. There are far worse sins than sexual failure with a magazine. In my own life, irritability and anger are greater issues. For others, it's arrogance, or condemnation, or legalism.

Victorious living, given our sinful nature, is not the absence of sin, but knowing what to do when we sin. 1 John 2:1 says, "sin not." It is John's desire that his followers will not sin. But notice the verse continues, "but if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ the righteous One."

When I sin, I am ready, quickly, to confess. And when I confess, I undercut Satan's power. Satan is the deceiver, the adversary who wants me to believe lies (either "I really haven't done anything wrong" or "I've sinned so horribly that I'm disqualified to serve the Lord").

By honest confession, my strength to battle the next temptation is bolstered by the knowledge that the Evil One has nothing with which to condemn me. Christ is my defender before the Father, and Christ says I am forgiven. Satan has nothing to say.

Since the moment of my salvation, I have never doubted God's word about his love for me. It is vital that we realize God loves us and accepts us—even when we fail. That has been life-sustaining for me. Even when rejected by people for my sins, or for telling about my sins, I have always felt God's love. I have an open invitation to return to him as soon as I am ready to admit that sin, once again, has gotten the better of me.

God's love is not a license to sin. Grace without discipline can lead to disgrace. While God can forgive my disgraces, for the Christian leader, too many disgraces and my credibility and people's ability to trust me as a leader is gone. Paul said, "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Cor. 9:27). If I had not dealt with my habit quickly and kept it in a small arena of my life, my sin would have grown to the point that I would be disqualified. It is only through the power of Christ that I am able to bring myself under subjection.

I have made myself accountable to my wife in the area of lust, and she has been an enormous source of affirmation for me. She prays for me. She listens to me. I report my occasional struggle to her and she does not condemn me. I remember telling her, now as an older man, that a quick glimpse at pornography had caused quite a stir in me physically.

"Well," she said, "at least it proves you've got something left." I can be honest with my wife, and she with me.

A sinner mentoring sinners
I have tried to be affirming for those who seek from me an accountability relationship. As creatures bent to sinning, we cannot master our sins alone. We need others who accept our sinfulness, but who will keep us from surrendering to it.

My special "mentoring" ministry began with my own public confession. I was invited to speak to the Urbana missions conference in 1967. My message was not about missions. It was about sexual sin.

That was the first time I gave my testimony in a large setting. Some were upset that I spoke so bluntly, but I told those young people that they, like me, needed to repent of sexual immorality. Some 4,000 stood up at the invitation, many weeping with repentance.


Friday, 20 March 2009

Alistar McGrath on Dawkins,Creationism and Evolution

Some might be surprised to learn that Alister McGrath, one of the main adversaries of Richard Dawkins also believes in evolution.McGrath comes originally from Downpatrick and studied at the Methodist College in Belfast and Oxford University. It was at University that he became a Christian having thought through his atheist views and found then wanting. Watch him here as he appeared on the popular American T.V. show 'The Hour'.AK

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Thanks St Pat

Perhaps two of Ireland's most loved Brits are Jack Charlton and St Patrick ( For those who don't know Jack Charlton was a very Englishman who was manager of the most successful Republic Of Ireland Soccer team).

Every St Pat's day I normally either put on St Pat's confession, which is brilliant, or his famous hymn. Today however I am posting an article written by Dan Kimball in which he quotes from George Hunter's 'The Celtic Way of Evangelism' which was written some years ago. Like many of the books on Celtic Christianity they sold well because of the wave of popularity of anything 'Celtic' at the time, even though many of them lacked historical accuracy.

Nevertheless books such as the one mentioned above are particulary inspiring as far as they have a biblical basis and encourage Christians to go out into the world with the great message we have been given. AK

Two of my missionary heroes are Hudson Taylor (China) and St. Patrick (Ireland). The reason is that they understood the need to contextualize how you go about church and mission in different cultures. I also am reminded that they both were criticized by their "home" base of Britain (in both these cases in totally different time periods). But they got criticism for changing how they went about "church", how they adapted their ministry even their dress and look if needed, to proclaim and teach the gospel catered to a specific culture.

I was just re-reading tonight the book "The Celtic Way of Evangelism" by George Hunter, which was a very influential book in my life several years ago. There are some who have disagreements with the author's take on the Celt's (as there is a variety of time periods and complexities in their history, so it is hard to say in a generic form "The Celts"). But never-the-less, it is a great and inspiring book. I will simply put a few quotes here from the book in memory and honor of the ministry of St. Patrick.

Patrick was kidnapped by the Irish at age 16 and became a slave for many years. He eventually escaped and went back to Britain. But then he ended up going back to the very people in Ireland he escaped from to share Jesus and proclaim the gospel. But he didn't do in normal ways. He did set up formal biblical training and education but so much was done relationally and creatively.

We can get fearful of being rejected or that people won't like us when they know we are Christians. But look at this description of the people Patrick went back to:

".... stripped before battle and rushed their enemy naked, carrying sword and shield but wearing only sandals and torc... while howling." (page 19)

Patrick got to understand those he was trying to reach:

"..Patrick understood the people and their language, their issues, and their ways...When you understand the people, you will often know what to say and do, and how. When the people know the Christians understand them, they infer that maybe the High God understands them too." (pages 19-20)

"After years of reflection on how the Irish might be reached, he moved into mission....employing parable, story, poetry, song, visual symbols, visual arts and perhaps drama to engage the Celtic people's remarkable imaginations. Often, we think, Patrick would receive the people's questions and then speak to those questions collectively." (page 21)

"They did not rely upon preaching alone to communicate the fullness of Christianity." (page 74)

The results:

"They baptized many thousands, probably tens of thousands. Patrick's mission planted about 700 churches. Within his lifetime, 30 to 40 (or more) of Ireland's 150 tribes became substantially Christian." (page 23)

The criticism that followed from the British and Roman church leaders (sounds like some similar criticism of today):

"One would naturally assume that the British Church which ordained Patrick and sent him to Ireland, would continue to affirm his mission and celebrate its achievements. This was far from the case. The British leaders had expectations that he was to be administer to local churches and care for faithful Christians. The British leaders were offended and angered that Patrick was spending priority time with "pagans", "sinners" and "barbarians". (pages 23-24)

"The Roman church leaders repeatedly criticized the Celtic wing for not doing church the "Roman way".....the hairstyle of the Celtics contrasted with the "tonsure" of the Romans. In hairstyle matter, and many others, Celtic Christianity had adapted to the people's culture; the Romans wanted Roman cultural forms imposed on all churches and people's - a policy that was alien to the Celtic movement's genius. The driving issues was control. That is why it was so important to the Romans for everyone to do church the "Roman way." (pages 40-41).

Despite the criticism, the type of people this missionary venture produced:

"They were devoted, compassionate, sold-out citizens of Heaven. They relied, through "prayer without ceasing" upon the Triune God's providence and power. They would do anything they could to help other people find The Way." (page 76)

I pray that as a church, we become devoted, compassionate.... and we would also do anything we can to help others find The Way, The Truth, and the Life." .............Amen

Monday, 16 March 2009

Core Values of 'The Crowded House'

I was impressed when I read the core values of a group of churches called 'The Crowed House'led by Dr Tim Chester who I first heard speaking at Cliff College some years ago. No matter what church you belong to, these certainly seem to be biblical values that we may well want to make our own. What do YOU think of them? Do you think they would work well in practice or are they just grand notions that will be forgotten once one of the 'churches'within the group really gets big and ends up promoting itself? AK

The Crowded House is a family of church planting networks. Our congregations are committed to working together within, and between, networks around the following shared aspirations. They are a statement of our distinctives and are not intended to be a judgment on those with gospel commitment who do things differently.

In obedience to Christ and for his glory, we are committed to:
1. The priority of the gospel
('community in mission')
We are committed to filling ordinary life with gospel intentionality, pastoring one another with the gospel and sharing the gospel with unbelievers. We challenge one another to be sacrificial, servant-hearted, risk-taking and flexible because the gospel has priority over our comfort, preferences, security and traditions. We will not let Christian activity be just one part of our lives.

2. Mission through community
We are committed to communicating the gospel message in the context of a gospel community. As we build relationships with people and share the gospel message, we want to introduce them to Christian community. We want people to experience church as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter. We will not put on evangelistic missions outside the context of a Christian community.

3. Home as the primary location of church
We want a reproducible model of church without any trappings that might impede freedom and flexibility. We are committed to homes as a context for all or most of church life with home shaping the ethos of church. When congregations use other buildings, those buildings will not be viewed as the main focus of mission.

4. Sharing our lives as extended family
We are committed to sharing our lives in Christian community, caring for one another, discipling one another and resolving conflict. We expect one another to make decisions with regard to the implications for the church and to make significant decisions in consultation with the church. We will not let conflict continue unresolved, nor view church simply as a meeting you attend.

5. Inclusive communities
We are committed to welcoming broken people and making church accessible to unbelievers. We want to offer a sense of belonging, and be communities of grace in which people can be open and vulnerable. We will not let our welcome be dependent on adherence to any cultural norms not demanded by the gospel.

6. Working for city renewal
We are committed to working for neighbourhood and city renewal – redressing injustice, pursuing reconciliation and welcoming the marginalized. We celebrate the diversity of cultures in our local contexts while recognising the need for gospel renewal. We encourage one another to glorify God and serve others through the workplace, business, community projects, government and artistic endeavour. We will not make a division between spiritual and non-spiritual activities.

7. Growing by starting churches and church planting networks
We are committed to starting new congregations. We will work together within, between and beyond our networks of missionary congregations. Our vision is to collaborate in a wider church planting movement to litter the world with communities of light. We will not develop into single, large congregations, nor become insular.

8. Prayer as a missionary activity
Recognising that God is the primary agent and orchestrator of mission, we view prayer as a missionary activity. We want prayer to be both a regular community discipline, and an impromptu response to needs and opportunities. We will not assume we are in control of mission, nor rob God of his glory by boasting of our achievements.

9. Everyone exercising gospel ministry
We are committed to every Christian seeing themselves as a missionary and exercising gospel ministry in every aspect of life. We shape activities around gospel opportunities, and the gifts and passions of church members. Leadership is not about control, but setting a missional vision by modelling and teaching the gospel so creating a culture in which everyone flourishes in ministry. We will not make distinctions between full-time and nonfull-time ministers.

10. Shaped by the Bible
We want our lives and our life together to be formed and shaped by the Bible’s story of redemption. We believe the Bible to be the reliable, authoritative and sufficient word of God, and are therefore committed to good Bible learning. We will not act on the basis of tradition, habit or pragmatism without reflection on the Bible. We will not see Bible teaching as an end in itself, but as that which must shape our thinking and action.

For more information about the Crowded House check out the website at http://www.thecrowdedhouse.org/

Friday, 13 March 2009

“Rules for a Preacher’s Conduct” John Wesley

Here are the “Rules for a Preacher’s Conduct” which every Methodist preacher had to read and keep or be put out. This list was put together for convenience, though it does not quite cover everything. Other rules are scattered here and there among the general rules and regulations of the Societies.

Be diligent. Never be unemployed: never be triflingly employed. Never trifle away time: neither spend any more time at any place than is strictly necessary.

Be serious. Let your motto be, Holiness to the Lord. Avoid all lightness, jesting, and foolish talking.

Converse sparingly, and conduct yourself prudently with women.

Take no step toward marriage without first consulting your brethren (After losing out on a particularbride Wesley didn't take his own advice and sadly his marriage did not go well, ending in a separation).

Believe evil of no one without good evidence; unless you see it done, take heed how you credit it. Put the best construction on everything. You know the judge is always supposed to be on the prisoner’s side.

Speak evil of no one; because your word especially would eat as doth a canker. Keep your thoughts within your own breast, till you come to the person concerned.

Tell every one under your care what you think wrong with his conduct and temper, and that lovingly and plainly as soon as may be: else it will fester in your heart. Make all haste to cast the fire out of your bosom.

Avoid all affectation. A preacher of the gospel is a servant of all.

Be ashamed of nothing but sin.

Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them; not for wrath but for conscience’ sake.

You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work. Observe! it is not your business only to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many as you can; to bring as many sinners as you can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in holiness without which they cannot see the Lord. And remember!—a Methodist is to mind every point, great and small, in the Methodist Discipline. Therefore you will need to exercise all the sense and grace you have.

Act in all things not according to your own will, but as a son in the gospel. As such, it is your duty to employ your time in the manner in which we direct: in preaching and visiting from house to house; in reading, meditation and prayer.

Be sure never to disappoint a congregation. Begin at the time appointed. Let your whole deportment be serious, weighty, and solemn. Always suit your subject to your audience. Choose the plainest texts you can. Take care not to ramble, but keep to your text and make out what you take in hand. Take care of anything awkward or affected, either in your gesture, phrase or pronunciation. Do not usually pray extempore above eight or ten minutes (at most) without intermission.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


Time is short, and eternity is long. The end of all things is at hand. Man has proved himself morally unfit to manage the world in which he has been placed by the kindness of the Almighty. He has jockeyed himself to the edge of the crater and cannot go back, and in terrible fear he is holding his breath against the awful moment when he will be plunged into the inferno.

In the meantime, a company of people exist on the earth who claim to have the answer to all life's major questions. They claim to have found the way back to God, release from their sins, life everlasting and a sure guarantee of heaven in the world to come.

These are the Christians. They declare that Jesus Christ is very God of very God, made flesh to dwell among us. Thy insist that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. They testify that He is to them Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption, and they steadfastly assert that He will be to them the Resurrection and the Life for eternity to come.

These Christians know, and when pressed will admit, that their finite hearts have explored but a pitifully small part of the infinite riches that are theirs in Christ Jesus. They read the lives of the great saints whose fervent desire after God carried them far up the mountain toward spiritual perfection; and for a brief moment they may yearn to be like these fiery souls whose light and fragrance still linger in the world where they once lived and labored. But the longing soon passes. The world is too much with them and the claims of their earthly lives are too insistent; so they settle back to live their ordinary lives, and accept the customary as normal. After a while they manage to achieve some kind of inner content and that is the last we hear of them.

This contentment with inadequate and imperfect progress in the life of holiness is, I repeat, a scandal in the Church of the Firstborn. The whole weight of Scripture is against such a thing. The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to arouse the complacent. "Let us go on" is the word of the Spirit. The Apostle Paul embodies this in his noble testimony as found in his Philippian epistle: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ . . . that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection . . . but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

If we accept this as the sincere expression of a normal Christian I do not see how we can justify our own indifference toward spiritual things. But should someone feel a desire to make definite progress in the life of Christ, what can he do to get on with it? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Strive to get beyond mere pensive longing. Set your face like a flint and begin to put your life in order. Every man is as holy as he really wants to be. But the want must be all-compelling.

Tie up the loose ends of your life. Begin to tithe; institute family prayer; pay up your debts as far as possible and make some kind of frank arrangement with every creditor you cannot pay immediately; make restitution as far as you can; set aside time to pray and search the Scriptures; surrender wholly to the will of God. You will be surprised and delighted with the results.

2. Put away every un-Christian habit from you. If other Christians practice it without compunction, God may be calling you to come nearer to Him than these other Christians care to come. Remember the words, "Others may, you cannot." Do not condemn or criticize, but seek a better way. God will honor you.

3. Get Christ Himself in the focus of your heart and keep Him there continually. Only in Christ will you find complete fulfillment. In Him you may be united to the Godhead in conscious, vital awareness. Remember that all of God is accessible to you through Christ. Cultivate His knowledge above everything else on earth.

4. Throw your heart open to the Holy Spirit and invite Him to fill you. He will do it. Let no one interpret the Scriptures for you in such a way as to rule out the Father's gift of the Spirit. Every man is as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. Make your heart a vacuum and the Spirit will rush in to fill it.

Nowhere in the Scriptures nor in Christian biography was anyone ever filled with the Spirit who did not know that he had been, and nowhere was anyone filled who did not know when. And no one was ever filled gradually.

5. Be hard on yourself and easy on others. Carry your own cross but never lay one on the back of another. Begin to practice the presence of God. Cultivate the fellowship of the Triune God by prayer, humility, obedience and self-abnegation.

Let any Christian do these things and he will make rapid spiritual progress. There is every reason why we should all go forward in our Christian lives and no reason why we should not. Let us go on.

'Jonah the prophet who ran away' by Brother Andrew of Open Doors

"But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord" (Jonah 1:3).

It is easier to identify with Jonah than with any other prophet. Others are so holy. Jonah is so much like us.

God says: Go ye!

Jonah says: No!

Jonah's basic problem: he had too much love for himself. He thought: "God will make a fool of me. I'll lose face."

He refused to be a fool for Christ.

He wanted God, but not God's kingdom. He wanted blessing without responsibility.

He was not making people ripe for hell. He just let them go to hell. He had no compassion for the lost.

What he did have was money. So rather than going east to Iraq, he headed west and bought a ticket on a Mediterranean cruise. He figured it was his money and he could spend it any way he chose. He didn't stop to think that he was spending God's money. Jonah pays with God's money to escape from God's call.

There is a burden on us. It's called the Great Commission. "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19a). I believe God has called enough people in each generation to fulfill the Great Commission in their lifetime. But too many have run away.

Where is our compassion? God is not willing that ANY should perish! That applies to Nineveh and Amsterdam and New York. WE are responsible for the Ninevehs of this world.

Why do we not weep for Muslims? Yes, why don't we weep for fundamentalists? Is it because we'd rather be entertained?

A man must be either entertained or challenged. It costs all your money to be entertained: television, radio, literature, cruises, time share condominiums, sport, travel (that includes the Holy Land), luxuries, food, eating out... (plus all at the expense of "family life.") And then, we've LOST all, everything.

We put so much on credit that there's nothing left for God's work. We borrow for "things." Do we ever borrow for missions? We cannot give what we do not have, and "to have" is unscriptural - the verb "to have" is not in the Hebrew language. However "to be" is; it is even God's name.

It costs nothing to be challenged - only your life.

We're stewards.

All that we have is entrusted to us.

And one day we must give an account (Romans 14:12).

Jonah ran because he saw opportunities as an enemy instead of the enemy as his biggest opportunity.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

An encouragement to pray and keep on praying from Charles Wesley

I was preparing a talk and remembered this hymn by Charles Wesley that I used to sing in the fellowship group I attended some thirty years ago. Yes, we used to sing all twelve verses, and with great gusto, to a tune for the guitar written by a man called John Kelly. Reading it again proved to be a great encouragement for me and I hope that it will be the same for you. It brings back memories. Does anyone remember singing it? AK

Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Stand then against your foes, in close and firm array;
Legions of wily fiends oppose throughout the evil day.
But meet the sons of night, and mock their vain design,
Armed in the arms of heavenly light, of righteousness divine.

Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;
Indissolubly joined, to battle all proceed;
But arm yourselves with all the mind that was in Christ, your Head.

But, above all, lay hold on faith’s victorious shield;
Armed with that adamant and gold, be sure to win the field:
If faith surround your heart, Satan shall be subdued,
Repelled his every fiery dart, and quenched with Jesu’s blood.

Jesus hath died for you! What can His love withstand?
Believe, hold fast your shield, and who shall pluck you from His hand?
Believe that Jesus reigns; all power to Him is giv’n:
Believe, till freed from sin’s remains; believe yourselves to Heav’n.

To keep your armor bright, attend with constant care,
Still walking in your Captain’s sight, and watching unto prayer.
Ready for all alarms, steadfastly set your face,
And always exercise your arms, and use your every grace.

Pray without ceasing, pray, your Captain gives the word;
His summons cheerfully obey and call upon the Lord;
To God your every want in instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray and never faint; pray, without ceasing, pray!

In fellowship alone, to God with faith draw near;
Approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the powers of prayer:
Go to His temple, go, nor from His altar move;
Let every house His worship know, and every heart His love.

To God your spirits dart, your souls in words declare,
Or groan, to Him Who reads the heart, the unutterable prayer:
His mercy now implore, and now show forth His praise,
In shouts, or silent awe, adore His miracles of grace.

Pour out your souls to God, and bow them with your knees,
And spread your hearts and hands abroad, and pray for Zion’s peace;
Your guides and brethren bear for ever on your mind;
Extend the arms of mighty prayer, ingrasping all mankind.

From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, “Come!”
Till Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Devotional on John 19.16 by C.H.S.

Let us muse upon the fact that Jesus was [brought outside] the gates of the city. It was the common place of death. That little rising ground, which perhaps was called Golgotha, the place of a skull, from its somewhat resembling the crown of a man's skull, was the common place of execution. It was one of Death's castles; here he stored his gloomiest trophies; he was the grim lord of that stronghold. Our great hero, the destroyer of Death, bearded(challenged) the lion in his den, slew the monster in his own castle, and dragged the dragon captive from his own den. Methinks Death thought it a splendid triumph when he saw the Master impaled and bleeding in the dominions of destruction; little did he know that the grave was to be rifled, and himself destroyed, by that crucified Son of man.
— from "The Procession of Sorrow," delivered on March 1, 1863, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. Do you know who C.H.S. was? Read his testimony a few posts before this.

Monday, 2 March 2009

COMING AND GOING: Spreading God's word in North Korea

I got this article sent from Open Doors which I hope you find interesting and hopefully wish to participate in. We are encouraged daily by Christ to pray: 'Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven', when you do this, please lift up the needy country of North Korea that God may open those gates that the King of glory may indeed come in. AK

Through the centuries, God has extended His message of Christ’s work on the cross reconciling sinful man with a holy God. At times the message has extended out to new people groups through such means as missionary work, exploration, and commerce. At other times He has brought people to the gospel message as they travel to foreign lands, study abroad, or seek employment. We see this powerful work of building His church in North Korea, both the coming and the going of the gospel.

Businessmen from the north and the south have the opportunity to interact with each other in an industrial zone between the two Koreas where they enjoy far greater freedom than other places in the north. Christian businessmen from the south do not leave their faith behind, but bring it with them thus allowing them to share the truth of God’s grace and reconciliation while working in North Korea. The elite living in North Korea also have unique opportunities for exposure to Christ through their access to international events and the news and media. Other elite North Koreans have enjoyed the rare opportunity to travel beyond the North Korean borders where again they can encounter the gospel message.

Although not the privileged or elite many North Koreans are drawn to risk everything they have to cross the border into China. God has on countless occasions used this means to bring North Korean people to China that they might hear His gospel from the Chinese Christians who care for them, body and soul.
And so, through all of the political striving of man, God continues to build His church in North Korea, both in the coming and going.
As you remember the people of North Korea this week, pray:

Pray that God’s church in North Korea will grow in power. Acts 16:5
Pray that God would override North Korean efforts to limit business travel in the industrial zone. Psalm 3:8
Pray for Christian businessmen from the south, and North Koreans who respond to the gospel in China, to have opportunities to proclaim the gospel in authority and power, without hindrance, in North Korea. Acts 19:20
Pray for the Chinese Christians who care for the refugees along the border to share the gospel boldly and with wisdom. Acts 13:48
Praying with you,
Irene and the Prayer Force Team