Monday, May 25, 2009

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia

Hello there Qualicum Beach!

Feedjit is a wonderful tool (see left hand side of the blog)

Whenever I have a spare moment, I look at all the places blog readers come from and daydream away, imagining who they are, what they do, what the geographical place they live is like (so for Qualicum Beach I am imagining white sand and deep blue sea, it being BC an' all; no shallow aquamarine inlets seeing as you are right on the edge of the Pacific basin.

ahhh here you go.........check this picture out!

[actually the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I know the person who lives here - is it you, D??]

I wonder if the regular visitor from Milton Keynes works for these people as that's where their HQ is (I think).

I wonder if the person from Oakland California who visits this blog regularly is permanently suntanned as CA is very hot I believe and to me will always be the home of Anaheim Vineyard (one place I have always wanted to go!!).

I wonder if the person from Chicago Illinois works for a church or works with children.

Scores and scores of people from N America have hit on the blog by searching for "children and communion". I wondered if a lectionary or some popular teaching material used all across the States suggested doing communion with children in April/May as for some reason this topic was hit really heavily.

If you are even possibly one of the people I have mentioned, please do "out" yourself and leave a comment to say hello. I send you warm greetings and love in Christ Jesus from my little corner of the UK.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Children and the Holy Spirit

I have been feeling a strong urge for some time to teach into the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Can children be filled with the Holy Spirit? What are your views on the Holy Spirit? Are you very cautious, as Francis Bridger is in his book "Children Finding Faith", or are you the exact opposite, like Rich Hubbard in his book "Taking Children Seriously"?

if this question is to be answered in an unbiased manner, one must first ask if children can have a personal faith and love for God. For if children can love God, then they receive the Spirit of sonship and can be filled to overflowing with his Holy Spirit.

John Westerhoff’s Theory of Faith Development is relevant to this question. He uses the analogy of a tree to describe the growth of faith in developing human persons. He says “a tree with one ring is as much a tree as a tree with four rings” , in other words experienced faith, the first stage of faith development, is as valuable for a person to possess as owned faith, the final stage. So a very young child can profess love for God the Father and Jesus the Son AND the Holy Spirit their helper – but adults need to teach even very young children about the Holy Spirit.

How can you love someone whose name you do not know?

There is much more I could say here, but it is the subject of a research paper that has to be externally marked so I will have to leave it here! ** Update - I have now been able to reveal more of my views now that my degree is finished! See entry on 27 Augus 2009.
I have to recommend Clark Pinnock's book "Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit". An awesome book in every meaning of the word!

I feel a call to make sure in our kids ministry programme that the Holy Spirit is taught about at cerebral level, welcomed at a personal level and free at a corporate level to minister to children.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Two down, three to go......

I have finished my last ever exams for my theology degree but I am still less than halfway through all my final assignments. Have got a research paper to hand in as well as two more essays. Hoping the exegesis one goes fairly smoothly (a bit nervous about that one!)

I feel slightly frustrated because I am totally and utterly committed to my job as well as to finishing the degree. So, in amongst the two days off to prepare, I finished liasing with folks re: an all age service, arranged some discipleship, worked some more on the kids weekend away and summer plans and tried to answer a number of emails. Then I thought that was a bit ridiculous so I put an "out of office" message on my email as I had to attend a denominational meeting somewhere far away....

But now I have come back to a bit of a pile up of things I absolutely have to do before I can refocus on my research paper. Hmmmmm. I am so determined to get through this.

Someone who I have only fleetingly met In Real Life left a comment for me this week which is probably one of the most encouraging comments I have ever received. They have been through a similar process (juggling things to finish a theology degree) and I had admitted in January to a few of my facebook friends that I didn't think I would be able to get through this semester.

The comment said:
"As Lynn rounds the final bend, she's into the home straight, and seeing the finishing line directly ahead of her for the first time she puts on a final burst of speed; recognizing the almost superhuman effort the crowd are on their feet, cheering her on, willing her to succeed"....

Someone sent me an encouragement in an email to stick in. Several folks here have been texting me. I am so encouraged. It's these little things that make so much of a difference. Thank you, thank you Father!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Update on week

Quick update.....I am feeling better. Thanks for your comments and other means of showing the l-u-r-v (you know who you are!)

I am OK and I will continue to be OK. I'm not a quitter. I read some "inspirational words" (this IS a bad sign!!) on a website that said: "fall down seven times, get up eight", which, coupled with an examination of the life of Paul in preparation for NT exegesis and exams, has REALLY convicted me of what the Bible says about tough times and knowing God to be sovereign, in control AND Father.

Moving to a new kind of place in a different kind of ministry team + missing friends + not knowing people well + criticism/knocks fairly regularly = one feeling sad children's pastor.

But the maths-like equation doesn't end there - around it, through it, above it and beyond it is one so faithful, so loving, so full of mercy and grace that I find myself melting into his arms like a child when I really allow him to put HIS perspective on the situation and to love me. I'm loving Colossians chapter 1, verses 15-20.

Someone here wrote some tough words to us a while ago - saying that we weren't co-erced to move here so, basically, get on with it. Hard words but true. If I'm going to lead people and deliver hard words occasionally, I've got to be able to receive them; take them on the chin and learn from Paul who said:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

Cheesey but true saying: when the outlook sucks, try the UPLOOK. I'm looking and learning as child, I hope!

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Final Countdown............

I am about to go impossibly quiet for a couple of weeks.

If you have been following the "Studies" labels, you will know that since 2004 I have been studying part time (not by distance learning but by beingin actual lectures) for a BA Theology, specialising in children and family ministry.

In this degree, there's a good solid core of OT/NT/Doctrine/Pastoral Leadership/Mission Studies/Historical classes. There are 3 core classes in each of these.

All my elective classes have been in practical theology as it relates to children - what do we/should we teach children, how do churches care and protect children, how do we offer pastoral care to children and families, how do we disciple children and integrate them into the name just a few issues.

I've been asked what I have gained by doing a theology degree. After all, I have a degree and two post grads already; why do more study?

I think one of the biggest advantages for me from these years of theological study has been growing in critical skills. I have read much more widely, way outside my own theological comfort zones (reading about cessationist views just now, for example). I am much more certain of what I believe; much more secure when reading or talking about doctrinally different views (my institution particularly recommends reading across a wide theological perspective; you're not allowed only Wayne Grudem!!); more in awe of the richness and variety of imagery and literary styles in the Bible and so much more in love with the revelation of the God whom I see underpinning every word from Genesis onwards.

As I come to the end, I feel there is so much more I would like to know....for example, I haven't really touched the major prophets (thought the truly amazing Eryl Rowlands referenced Isaiah as much as one man possibly could) nor the book of Revelation ("phew" some may say!)

I have my work cut out over these next few weeks - 2 exams, one research paper, two written assignments (one a NT exegesis; one on the development of worship since the 1730s!) and working 3 or 4 days a week....

I don't think I will manage to cook, clean and iron for the next three weeks. Let alone pack up the rented flat (yes, in addition to tying up the studies and working, we move house). Too many things, not enough hands or time!

Dear God, hold me close over these next few weeks. I'm gonna have to be very strong to manage it all and I feel so weak. I've been re-reading little David big Goliath story this week.

Will (hopefully, if I manage to pass the last few things) having a theology degree make any difference to me in the future?
Am I more employable? More useful? Does having the BA Theo have more currency? (apart from being able to undertake an ATQ in RME) Was it a waste of time? (I'd argue: not)

Answers on a postcard.....or in the comments box below! :-)