Showing posts with label good news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label good news. Show all posts

20 June 2013

Jesus makes a start

Leaders in the church, Part 10
< Jesus is tempted | Index | Back to front truth >

Matthew tells us how Jesus began his ministry by moving to a new town. Like him, we need to find the right time and the right place to proclaim the good news. Like him it's essential that we demonstrate good news as well as speaking about it as widely as possible.

Walking on the shore of Galilee
Walking on the shore of Galilee
Jesus leaves Judaea following John's arrest and returns to the region of Galilee.

He moves away from his home in Nazareth and goes to live in Capernaum instead, then he begins to preach his message about the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 4:12-25).

Isn't it striking that until this time he has done nothing but construction work for thirty years?

Often described as a carpenter, it's likely his work included more than that. He was a constructor and a repairer; if you think about it those were very appropriate tasks for someone who would later construct and repair relationships between the Creator and his creation.

A time and place for everything - At the right time and in the right place he begins his work as a leader. And what a leader! Here is the King of Kings beginning to speak into the world and reveal the redemptive purpose of Yahweh in an altogether new and more dynamic way.

How often do we speak and work in the wrong place and at the wrong time? Usually we will speak whenever and wherever we have the chance. But if we are truly going to be like Christ we must learn to be much more cautious, listening to the Spirit for guidance and doing and saying what he shows us at the time and place of his choosing.

But there's more here for us as leaders. How is it that in verse 16 the 'people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light'? Like Jesus, we must live among the people. It's difficult to reach people who are strangers to us. Jesus goes, moves to a new town, and lives there. If we are going to lead we need to first get in amongst the people we need to reach and allow our light to shine there.

Missional and incarnational - Alan Hirsch considers we need a missional impulse (going out from where we are), and an incarnational impulse (living amongst those we are sent to reach). Only when these are in place can we expect to reach the hearts of the people in meaningful ways that they can accept. Isn't this exactly how Jesus began his service, in Galilee, after John's arrest? He came with a mission and he came to live among us to do it.

And in living there and walking by the sea he sees Simon (known as 'Rocky') and Andrew and comments on what they are doing in such a way that they accept his invitation to follow. He collects James and John in the same way. Now they are a band of five.

And at this point he begins to travel throughout the region, teaching in the synagogues, sharing the gospel, healing the sick, and becoming famous. His ministry is under way! Notice how he has gone out from his home locality (Nazareth) responding to a missional impulse and then settles in Capernaum (responding to an incarnational impulse).

Perhaps he lived there for a period of time, we don't know how long. He might even have taken on construction and renovation work. So Simon, Andrew, James and John were not strangers when he called them to follow him, they lived in Capernaum and would have seen him and spoken with him before, perhaps often.

Speak and act in ways that bless - Matthew 4:23-25 fills in the detail on what Jesus did as he travelled around Galilee. He taught, proclaimed, and healed the sick and the oppressed. People came from miles around, from Judaea, and the Ten Towns and from beyond the Jordan too.

Just as Jesus made disciples out of the people around him, so can we. Potential disciples surround us, all the time. But we must speak to them. And, just like Jesus, we need to bring good news, not only talk about it. Jesus brought good news in the form of healing, freedom and grace. He blessed people. He was kind.

If you aspire to lead, follow his example!

Questions:

  • Are there people in your area with needs? (eg Elderly, sick, struggling to manage, poor)
  • Can you think of ways you might bring something good to such people?
  • Who is more likely to listen, someone who knows and likes you, or a stranger?
  • Jesus hung out with people, where could you go to do that?

See also:


< Jesus is tempted | Index | Back to front truth >

21 November 2012

A Baptist in Kolkata

We take a look at Chris Duffet's visit to India and track the first four day's events. The visit to the area around Kolkata is proving very interesting. Chris has been communicating without language, healing without medicine, and travelling where there are no roads.

A flower market in Kolkata
Chris Duffett is the President of the Baptist Union here in the UK. He lives in a village not far from me, I've had the pleasure of meeting him several times, and I can report that he is a most extraordinary and special chap.

At the moment he is visiting India with an international group, they're in the region around Kolkata in the north-east, in the state of Bengal, not far from the border with Bangladesh.

Prophetic words - Before he left home his eleven-year-old son told him, 'Dad, you don’t have money and things to give but what you do have is Jesus.'

These words would soon be shown to be prophetic; pure truth and life coming from the mouth of a child. Jesus told his followers (and tells us), 'Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven'. (Matthew 18:3)

Day 1 - Here are a few recent quotes from his blog, 'Be the light'. The first extract is from his first day in the country.
The poverty is overwhelming and not being able to communicate using the language humbling. A woman walked with me for half a mile or so carrying her baby. She asked and asked and asked some more for money. I didn’t have anything to give. It was humbling as she stuck so close and glue-like walked with me thinking I had money to give. In the end I simply looked at her and prayed over her and her child. I had nothing else to give.

Day 2 - On the second day he was invited to speak at a meeting and afterwards he invited people to come for prayer. He was overwhelmed by the numbers.
I prayed for so many people: the ones that stand out are the lady with a painful, possibly broken wrist, but I couldn’t work out whether it was broken or not. Her wrist was completely restored and she was able to bend it- she then joined me in prayer for healing for a young girl who had painful legs. Afterwards with a big smile the girl told us that the pain had gone.

A lady also had pain in her legs and as I prayed for her she spoke of the pain lifting.

Day 3 - On the third day in a very remote village where nobody had previously shared Jesus, Chris was invited to a woman's home.
We sit outside on a straw mat amongst the chickens and ducks and I am introduced by Benjamin. I share the story of Jesus and how he never turned people away, how he welcomed all kinds of people and healed them. I spoke on the story of the 4 friends bringing their friend on a mat and because there wasn’t any room on the house, they lowered him through the roof!

They loved the story. Benjamin added some more and then I asked if I could pray for the lady who couldn’t walk. I don’t know whether she was healed or not, but my goodness she loved being prayed for. She was so thankful. Humbling. As we prayed I sensed the most beautiful peace coming to her.

Day 4 - On the fourth day, Chris visits Serampore College and writes...
Students throng everywhere on Campus and it feels mega crowded. I learnt that Theology isn’t just for ministerial training and the Vice Principle of the Theology department Rev. Dr. Pratap Gine explained that many people who wouldn’t consider themselves Christian also study alongside those who are training to become pastors. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this and kept thinking of some of our baptist colleges in the UK and how that couldn’t really happen.

I hope this has whetted your appetite! If you want more you will need to visit Chris's blog again over the next few days to see what happens next.

Questions:

  • Is there something special about meeting simply? Have we in the West lost something by making it more complex and structured?
  • What is your attitude to extreme poverty? The poor are all around us where we are, how can you reach them?
  • Are there advantages or disadvantages in allowing unbelievers to study theology?
  • Why do we need to be 'like little children'? Is faith simple or complicated?

See also:

20 February 2012

Review Award - Chris Duffet

< Living to please God | Index | No later items >

Our second 'Review Award' goes to Chris Duffett. He richly deserves it for his lively, fun and very different blog called 'be the light'. A very special blog from a very special guy - both focussed on sharing Jesus.

be the lightChris lives within a few miles of me in the East of England. We've met several times but not as often as I'd like. His blog is called 'be the light'.

The first time I went to visit him he was baking bread and we shared some straight from the oven with butter, cold meat and salad. Scrumptious!

Chris is a baptist, meets with a local church in Bedfordshire, and is very active in sharing the good news about Jesus in some unusual ways. Visit the blog and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Why I like the blog - I have to say right away that the thing I most like is the sheer, abundant, happy life and energy of this site. And that is a good description of Chris himself. He describes some of his city centre adventures with us - always fun, always unexpected, always exciting. And he meets people everywhere he goes, making no distinction on grounds of appearance but blessing everyone in some very inventive ways.

Another thing I love (and it has a lot to do with that inventiveness) is that he makes people think, he gets in 'under the radar' and touches hearts and minds. It doesn't work with everyone of course, but Chris doesn't give up or bear grudges or get disappointed. He just keeps on keeping on with a smile and a warm heart.

Selected quote
I have a passion to enable Christians to let all kinds of people connect with the good news of Jesus through creative initiatives such as ‘Get in the picture.’
Conclusion - We tend to be fairly inactive in sharing the good news with local people. There are probably many reasons for this, and one of them is lack of ideas. Most of us understand at a very intuitive level that handing out tracts or stopping busy people on the street is unlikely to be effective. But we don't know what else to try.

We need something more arresting than a tract. Instead of stopping busy people we need them to choose to stop because they are puzzled or intrigued or amused. Chris's website 'be the light' is crammed full of ideas. What's more, they are all ideas that have been tested on the street.

Chris's approach is not the only one open to us. But it is a useful component in our tool-kit. Don't forget the other tools including prayer, a compassionate heart, the day-to-day guidance of the Spirit, and the headship of Jesus. But armed with these (as Chris clearly is), any one of his ideas is likely to be fruitful.

Read through some of the many examples in the 'Stories' section of Chris's website. Here are a few of my personal favourites

See also: An earlier review of Chris's blog

< Living to please God | Index | No later items >

27 September 2011

RESPONSE - Invisibility coat

'How do you become invisible? Just try wearing a 'Big Issue' seller's jacket.' This is one of the provocative thoughts in Chris Duffett's presentation, 'A Gospel for the City Centre'.

The invisibility coatListening to what Chris had to say in the video I was struck by how uncomplicated his message is. Why do we make church so difficult and messy? It's really not a big deal, or perhaps I should say that it IS a very big deal in one way, but not in another.

The creator of the universe has come to town and plans to make his home in me - and in you. Now that's a big deal!

But he wants us to respond in very simple ways, by making our home amongst anyone and everyone round about. We're not supposed to turn this into a programme or create an organisation, we're just to be there for people. Love them, be open and welcoming, listen, care about their problems, help them find their own solutions. It's often not our solutions and fixes that people want, it's our time. They don't need my opinion, but they crave my ear, my heart, and my attention.

Just read the Bible accounts of what Jesus did and said as he travelled from town to town. See how he interacted with people. See how present he was in their anxieties and woes, triumphs and joys. See how he brought peace and comfort and life to them. 'Come to me if you're struggling and heavily crushed; I'll give you rest.' (Matthew 11:28)

25 August 2011

Eaton Ford - Who do you pray to?

< 10th August 2011 | Index | 1st September 2011 >

We thought about the need to be prepared, and how the good news needs to come with power and deep conviction guided by the Holy Spirit.

Newspapers and magazinesJim mentioned 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 and we thought about the significance of 'the gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction'. Jim went on to ask which Jesus we pray to. He explained that until we can pray to the Jesus on the cross we can't fully comprehend the Jesus that heals, feeds, loves and talks to us.

I had a word from the Spirit. He told me, 'Don't look for mountain top experiences, look for the lowest point in the valley because that's where the living water is.' This was certainly true for Yahshua, it was through the lowest point experience on the cross that the living water was released. And it's true for us as well, as we go through the difficult places we come to recognise and depend upon that living water. Yahshua told the Samaritan woman, 'If you knew who I am you would ask me for living water, if you drink that water you'll never be thirsty again!' (John 4:10-15)

And then Jim added some more thoughts. We are very often destructive as a result of the things we don't do. We are frail, think for example of the Japanese tidal wave, the recent English rioting, the dryness in the lives of so many young people in Britain (one in six teenagers are in neither work nor education). Dry, unfulfilled lives lead to frustration, anger and serious problems). These disasters cause loss of life and ruin to many survivors. The tsunami would have done less harm if adequate defences had been in place, the riots would not have happened if fewer young people had been left without hope or purpose. But lack of knowledge often prevents us being adequately prepared.

We need (and those around us need) the good news that comes with power, the Spirit, and conviction.

< 10th August 2011 | Index | 1st September 2011 >

02 November 2010

REVIEW - Chris Duffett's Blog

I've just been put in touch with a guy called Chris Duffett. He, his wife, and their three children live in a village not far from St Neots, we plan to meet up for lunch later this month. I've just taken a look at his blog - perhaps you should too!

Chris Duffett's BlogChris is a man with a passion for reaching others. He wants them to hear the good news about Jesus. Not only that, he also has a passion for helping other followers of Jesus do the same. This is very healthy!

Chris founded The Light Project and was its director for eight years. His blog is refreshing and is packed with encouraging and challenging stories.

Here's an example, Chris felt he was supposed to find and pray for someone with lower back pain. He stood at a car wash looking out for this person...

Then I saw a young man, cool skater rags and plenty of piercings. I felt that he was the guy I should pray for.

A few minutes later I approached him and explained that I had felt God say that I should walk to the car wash and pray for someone with lower back pain. I asked if he was ok, and to be honest because of his age and ‘coolness’ I expected him to say yep, all was AOK.

Yet he looked stunned and said that this was ‘remarkable’ as he had been to the chiropractor for lower back pain. I asked if I could pray for his back and he said ‘yes please,’ but later as he was late for college. Non the less Phil and I said a very quick ‘non eye closing- get on your knees kind’ of prayer and asked Jesus to heal him.

The guy looked kind of shocked and I reassured him that God knew about him and his discomfort.

What do you think of my story? Coincidence or God?

Coincidence? I don't think so! The blog is fun to read but will also stop you in your tracks sometimes with an unexpected challenge or revelation.

But why take my word for any of this? Click the links and take a gander yourself. I may post again after meeting Chris and spending some time with him.

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