Was reading Mark’s gospel and something struck me (no, it wasn’t a bus). In 1:14, Mark tells us that “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “‘The time has come,” he said. ‘The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Now…what is the good news? Our first response would be that Jesus died and was risen so that we could die to sin and rise to new life. Yeah, thats good news. However, its clearly only part of it. This is Jesus announcing what the good news is. He hadn’t yet died, technically, the work was still to be done. Jesus says: Its the proximity of the Kingdom, its repentance, its believing.
It appears that simply announcing the Kingdom is effective. This is a long held confirmed view of mine and to my mind is the great value of open air worship…it announces the Kingdom. By simply announcing the Kingdom, we’re conducting life changing, world changing business.
This verse just magnifies the power of faith in Jesus and the power of the work on the cross…it was effective before it even happened. But the key here is ‘repent and believe.’ Jesus makes evangelism look very easy.
I believe something happens spiritually when the Kingdom is announced. Yes, people hear and God rejoices, but I believe the demons quiver. It has to be said though, that Jesus never simply announced the Kingdom…all the way through the gospels Jesus announces the Kingdom, invites people to respond to it, then he demonstrates it with a healing, a deliverance session, or some other miracle.
Maybe your evangelism needs to take a new direction today.
For some strange reason, I put a CD of gaelic psalm singing in the player this evening. My gaelic is progressing, but its almost impossible to work out what they are singing on the CD due to the style. So I stopped listing to the words and started listening to the worship.
My mind went straight back to the church in Barbhas in Lewis where I visited a couple of years ago where God started to speak to me about Scotland and which ultimately led to our return. As I listened, I recalled how in that church, some 50 years after a powerful revival, the presence of God was so very tangible in the church where there was nothing much modern, trendy or multi-media about the worship.
I’d say there are very few times in these last two years that I’ve sense God’s presence so intensely in a worship session, not like that, anyway. It does cause me to think how much I am desperate for the presence of God, though. Have I not felt God in the same way because its a ‘geographical’ thing, or is it an ‘expectation’ thing? I don’t know.
I think back to earlier this year when I attended a conference about healing where the Holy Spirit actively did something with the disconnected muscles in my face. Holy Spirit tingling for several hours in the affected area bolstering my faith that God indeed IS a God who heals!
I’m sure you, like me can think back to the times when we’ve felt close. Thing is, yesterday’s presence isn’t much good to us. Seek him now, just where you are. Accept his love. Accept his holiness now. Let him touch you afresh, fill you to over flowing, and then go out and infect the world.
Was at the Church of Scotland this morning on the last leg of the Torry church tour. Again, a predominantly elderly church with, what appears from the content of the sermon, to have several missional challenges! The Rev Dr Barclay exhorted his congregation in no uncertain terms to take ownership of the mission of the church or else!
In many ways he was right. His church (as in the denomination) have recenly brought out a new plan to solve the decline of the church….by restructuring the system. His comment was that no amount of restructuring would help the delcine of the Kirk, what was needed was for people to own the mission. He spoke from the bit in the gospels where the Pharisees were questioning Jesus ministry. Jesus responds by asking them what their thoughts were on John the baptists ministry. The Pharisees don’t answer because it would get them in trouble…they sit on the fence. So, Dr Barclay made the connection between that and the concept of ownership…you either own the work or you don’t, but if you sit on the fence, its clear to all that its exactly what you are doing…sitting on the fence.
Very intersting…but I won’t publish my ‘pew-view’ of what the response of the congregation was!
Nevertheless, it was good to be identified as a visitor and invited to share tea with the minister (I was incognito in civvies) where on revealed that I was a Salvation Army officer. Dr Barclay was very cordial, conversational and refreshingly open about the missional challenge his church faces.
So, the grand tour of Torry churches comes to an end. Next step in the mission here is to begin conversation with local authorities and gain their perspectives on life in Torry.
On the issue of restucturing as a pancea for all ills….The Army are often the best at this, but as the good Dr Barclay said this morning, the right question is “What are we doing about the mission of the church?” and not “How can we structure the church better?”
We’re recruiting intercessors for the Salvation War on the Torry front. If you’d like to partner with us in prayer, helping us storm the forts and battle the enemy, please let us know.
We will endeavour to send out a weekly intercessors email to help inform your prayer for us. I know many of you pray for us anyway, but receiving the update will give you something other than ‘God bless em’ to pray! Thanks in advance for your partnership in the gospel!
To sign up, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This grabbed me as I read this morning:
“If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used. If the church in the second half of [the twentieth] century is to recover from the injuries she suffered in the first half, there must appear a new type of preacher. The proper, ruler-of-the-synagogue type will never do. Neither will the priestly type of man who carries out his duties, takes his pay and asks no questions, nor the smooth-talking pastoral type who knows how to make the Christian religion acceptable to everyone. All these have been tried and found wanting. Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will not be one but many) he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom.”
A. W. Tozer
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I like the book of James in the New Testament. I like to think of James as Jimmy, the Glaswegian half-brother of Jesus fae the East End. James is a gutsy book, close to the edge some might say, immensely practical and straight talking, thus my theory that James (aka Jimmy) was Scottish. Our country has St Andrew as its ‘patron saint’ but I think Jimmy would do better in his place.
He starts of with trials and temptations, what to do with them and how to endure. He then goes on to talk about watching your mouth. Then he goes on to talk about making sure you don’t promote the wealthy above the poor before teaching about getting your sleeves rolled up and getting on with it. After re-capping on keeping your mouth shut, he then talks about making sure you’re not fighting with your family in the faith and about making sure God is number one. Towards the end, a warning to rich oppressors, a pep talk about being patient in suffering again before his classic ending:
“If yer in bother, talk tae the Big Man aboot it. If yer happy as Larry, gee it laldy and let Him hear yer song. Ur ye no weel? Get yer pals roon and get them tae pit a wee bit oil oan yer heid and Jesus will do the business. And, before ye can run round the table and take a swipe at the cat, as long as yer believin, ye’ll be fine. Mare than that, if ye tell each other whit ye’ve been up tae, ye’ll be even better. If yer guid, yer prayers will work fine.
Thon Elijah wis a bloke jeest like yersel. He was prayin that it widnae rain (like maist Gleswegians) and it didnae….fur a hale three an’ a hoff year! Wance he wis fed up with the dry, he did the business again and it poored until we were a’ drookit…it wis bouncin’ aff the flair past yer knees.
Mind this though, if sumbuddy goes aff the rails, make sure and grab haud o ees jaikit because if ye can stoap him, ye’ll hae done wonders.”
Gaun yersel Jimmy!
PS. Jimmy is listed as being the patron saint of drug dealers (pharmasists!)…no comment!
sincere apologies to the non-Scottish readers…normal service will soon be resumed!