Friday, February 26, 2010

Two Must Reads/Watch

OK so I am suposed to be doing something else - like finish writing Parent History Maker Sheets for the children's discipleship group tomorrow - but I have just found two things I simply *must* recommend you read or watch.

1, George Barna's blog. With no disrespect to some megachurch websites (far, far west of here), where I read the senior pastor's blog and positional statements on why only women must wash dishes, this is the one BLOG you have got to read.

We need to get into worldview thinking and watch the signs too. Prophetically significant, not a slave to culture but an interpreter thereof; an adviser, not a soothsayer - that's my roundup of George Barna and the Barna Organisation.

2. I wish I had an iPhone. But I can't. So to make me feel better I laughed and laughed at this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You're very tense!

You may have noticed that there has been a large gap between postings due, in the main, to PAIN in the mouth department. Also due to a trip to London and some preparations for a formal ministry application.

Mouth pain first of all - mainly because there's nothing else quite like it.

I went to get a failed root canalled tooth out (now there's a lesson in itself) three Wednesdays ago and after much pulling and tugging it wouldn't come out.

After dentist number 1, enter dentist number 2; the Senior; again even more traumatic pulling and tugging with pliers and instruments of torture. But then he too admitted defeat.

Due to this traumatic experience, my gum got infected and I had to have two courses of antibiotics - my gum felt it was on fire underneath the partly embedded tooth. I was at work but so miserable, definitely not working at full capacity and crunching ibuprofen and paracetamol every three hours in rotation.

My colleagues were fed up of my slightly swollen and not as smiley face probably. Because we work open-plan and 16 people are going in and out every day, the next person in the door would say "how's your tooth?". I'm sure the Executive Pastor was grimacing at the top of the office whilst gently passing a sterilised Swiss army knife and a pair of pliers from his left hand to his right, and back again.....

Anyway, I was quickly referred to an oral surgeon who, one week later, removed offending tooth and some bone. As he came towards me yielding a scalpel he said to me, somewhat disapprovingly: "you're very tense!" After stitching what felt like the whole of my face, he discussed pain relief options with me. I must admit I didn't listen too well as I thought nothing could be that bad now that the abscess/infection and tooth has been removed. But, boy did I need it........when the anaesthetic wore off I was in AGONY. It was far worse than childbirth as it was throbbing pain, hamster cheeks and lasted four days.

Last Sunday I went to Boots at St Pancras Station in London to plead for codeine. Computer said "No". During all the lovely things we did in London, like queuing in a slow-moving mass of Italian visitors to walk three paces at a time in the British Museum, I was continually checking the watch to see how long till the next painkiller.

However, that part is now over and past and I am grateful to God for the skill of doctors and dentists. And loving friends and family who have taken care of loads of needs in those past two weeks!

Last Friday - another nerve-wracking event - as we both attended a psychological/psychiatric/counselling assessment for my formal ministry application. I was very nervous about this but didn't need to be. The team assessing us were warm, friendly, affirming and encouraging. Not sure about the next few steps...the assessed preach.....and then the "appearing before the Board". Feel very nervous.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Follow up to last post due to popular demand

Thanks for all the comments on the last post and the emails and phone calls that I have received. Seems like some pastors sent people to read this post :-)
I guess I wanted to add briefly that loads of people are telling stories from lesser-read places in the Bible and that's immense. Great news and go for it! The challenge is: the application. I am presenting a seminar that might on first glance sound a little controversial. It's on why telling stories is not enough. (Bear with me!)

I read a seminal book at Bible college on allowing the Holy Spirit to influence one's preaching (by the wonderfully named "Zuck"). Yet why is it with children, some "lessons" always seem to have the same teaching point - so a few weeks ago SU's Xstream material examine Acts 16 v 16 onwards - Paul and Silas in jail, how did they get out, what happened to the jailer and his family etc. Great stuff. Brilliant, inspiring story.

But what got them put in jail? v 16 onwards was in the childrens' readings/leaders notes, indicating to me that the SU writer didn't want us to overlook that.

A woman under the influence of a demon was delivered! Paul and Silas were fulfilling Jesus manifesto from Luke 4 - this is THE key point in the story to me!! They did as He did, and what He did demonstrated the Kingdom, and where we are the Kingdom is as He lives in us. And when they rebuked the evil spirit........they incurred the wrath of the religious authorities. Could it just be possible that we teach children to:
(a) ignore the miraculous?
(b) defer to our experience and expectation?
(c) not teach kingdom theology which isn't just a matter or words but of power?
(d) not relate Scripture to everyday experience?

And so I found the Holy Spirit whispering to me to talk to the children about occult practices and also about the power of God to deliver people out of the enemy's hands. I showed the Bible story itself from the Visual Bible on DVD and it shows what happened very well when she was set free, in my experience. I particularly liked how the servant girl was part of the gathered church in a later shot :-)

I then led into a discussion with the children (older ones, P6s and 7s) as to what happened; eliciting their responses: what did she look like before? what change could they see in her face and expressions after she had been delivered? Was it a complicated process? Why were the religious authorities so angry about what happened? What lessons are there for us in this story?

Every day in UK schools vulnerable children are told about/encouraged in or actually practise: reading horoscopes/palm reading/throwing runes/ouija/fortune telling etc
How will they know this is wrong if Christian parents/influencers do not tell them?

So, in your preparations: - ask the Holy Spirit: what would He have you draw out from the Scriptures tomorrow? Has it breathed life into you as you prepare? Holy Spirit, what is the application you want me to bring to THIS group of children?
I am truly sorry for the times when I have not allowed your word to do that.