Gospel: Souls and stomachs?

Gospel: Souls and stomachs?  & ‘Both/and’ but not always!

What’s all that about? If you are like me – a bit of a bridge – a peacemaker – you mostly want people to get along. Different people with different perspectives and sometimes people with different emphasis within the same perspective being helped to get along, understand and appreciate each other. All so they can reach a consenus ad idem (I am happily a failed accountant – took a bit of latin – failed it – more grounds for being a humble donkey). A consensus ad idem is a meeting of the minds. Potentially a beautiful thing. One of the most powerful tools in the peacemaking business is the highly effective and arresting – it’s not your way or his way! – it’s your way and his way – it’s both/and not either/or. This can be a light bulb moment for people. It can help them to see the other person’s side – its validity in part and its interplay with their side bringing about a restorative effect on battling parties.

As a peacemaker I have tasted the sweetness of this line and it’s powerful effect – but it can have an ego inflating effect also (sorry humble donkey). Partly due to such a consequence, it can also lead one to misuse it – to misunderstand when it has appropriate application and even to be a bit careless about its use. You can even end up using it to superficially resolve particular tensions or differences which do not warrant or allow resolution. In doing this we can end up flattening terrain that should be or has to be mountainous just because we have at our disposal some kind of mountain flattening machine which makes us feel a liitle bit high. Some things do not need resolving into one. To do so could dishonour and contort each thing. If that’s the principle – what the  application?

For image source go to patternoflife.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/both-and/

We often see this melting, merging of two into one when applied to the life of the Christian. Many christians can emphasise one thing at the expense of another – when they are unwise to do so. For example, sometimes trust in God’s overall plan and prayer about a specific situation are pitched against one another. But it’s not trust in God’s sovereignty (God’s freedom in choosing, doing, being) at the expense of prayerfully seeking God’s help in a situation. It’s both/and. It’s trust and prayer. You see how that works. Both/and. It’s also like someone saying belief in Jesus is the only essential for salvation (a safe, beautiful eternal life with God) and someone else saying repentance (sorrow for dishonoring God through sin and turning life toward God) is the only thing necessary for salvation. Again another opportunity to resolve this either/or situation is presented. It is in fact both/and – repentance and belief – After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:14-15).

So both/and is often very useful, wise and necessary, particularly when we have pitched two compatible, complementary or sequential things against each other. Notice however, that in being both/and – we have not said the two things are the same thing. As if they were interchangeable because the differences are so minute. This is because they are not the same, not interchangeable. Their distinctness is important and their relationship to one another is important. They are connected but not carbon copies.

Both/and is a necessary piece of wisdom for peacemakers when two sides of the same coin have been pitched against each other as if they were actually sides of different coins. They are connected but not carbon copies. Both/and statements seek to highlight the connection and difference when wise to do so – when being pitched, in an inapproriate way, against each other. So in certain contexts both/and type understanding is necessary and wise but in other contexts it is wrongheaded, confused, confusing and unhelpful. Such a context would include where the two connected things are being forced to merge into one thing in the sense that distinction is ignored or downplayed and people now speak of either thing to mean the exact same thing. If clarity and restoration are some of the benefits to the correct and wise use of both/and, what are some of the consequences of getting this wrong?

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No conferring

Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s you got to watch a lot of quiz shows on TV – many with a line that lingers long on the memory. Remember Sale of the Century – it was the “quiz of the week”. Perhaps my favourite was the intellectual gladiator-dome University Challenge with Bamber Gascoigne – way before Jeremy Paxman. At certain points he would say “No conferring”. That meant you are on your own – you must work out the answer on your own.

Some time back I had a very special opportunity do the exact opposite. A bunch of us gathered together to confer – work stuff out together – to progress together.

I was down south of Taupo (New Zealand) to attend a Leadership Conference looking at how to respond to the clear call on the Christian believer to be a bringer of the Gospel and a bringer of compassion for people. Two separate things. More on that distinction in an upcoming post.

Super conference – very stimulating, great time together, no hype, just a great time in God’s presence with God’s people.

I am linking to the resources generally on the Living Stones Leadership Training website but specifically recommending a special series of talks.

Malcomalcolm gilllm Gill (from Sydney Missionary & Bible College) did a wonderful series over three days on The Character of God, The Gospel of God, The Glory of God.

Click on his picture to get to their media section and then pop Malcolm’s name into the Search Archive box to source them.

I would recommend each of them and in the order delivered. Lovely wife and I had very energising conversation with him during the conference – great bloke.

Have a listen and grow. And please do confer.

The Gospel – within The Big Picture

Must see – must hear – must ingest – must meditate – must believe

This could save your life

Favourite moment is at 1.55 to 2.00. Its like that moment in a movie that you know a magnificent shift has happened. Rescue is coming, good will triumph – a great and beautiful end is glimpsed just beginning to come into sight.

The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered curriculum that examines the grand narrative of Scripture and how the gospel transforms the lives of those it touches.

Go to gospelproject.com/

From Mecca to Calvary – the story of God being kind to Thabiti Anyabwile

This brother is an incredible blessing to me though I have yet to meet him. His is a testimony to the gracious, saving hand of God in Christ. He is my go-to person when I need to think carefully and deeply on matters related to race, church life (commitment and discipline) and Christ honoring manhood.

click on picture to hear Thabiti’s journey from Islam to Christ

Click the book to go to an excellent written interview with Trevin Wax about Thabiti’s book – the Gospel for Muslims

Thabiti blogs at Pure Church – click Pure to find.

Click to link to Pure Church blog

Click to link to Pure Church blog

It is what someone says it is. IMHO.

‘The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions’ is a great sermon in my humble opinion. Someone has said it is the greatest recent message on missions. I wouldn’t argue with that.

I had ‘manish flu’ one recent Sunday. It was nothing as severe as ‘man flu’ which we men know is almost fatal. Almost – because we seem to rally on day 5 or thereabouts. Amazing. Our powers of recovery are astounding (high dose of irony at work here).

Consequently I couldn’t get out to church. So I loaded this sermon up and spent the hour ironing work shirts, (“it was the fever that made me do it guv – honest”). What with the stubborn creases – is there any other kind? – and the holding back of tears of joy & worship I was challenged and emboldened. But most of all I was reminded who is in charge of everything, including missions and how he is delighted to use the redeemed donkeys of this world in his work in the field of missions among the reached and magnificently among the unreached.

hearts in need of a haven

hearts in need of a haven

Please do watch it – and let the bits of theology, if any, that are not yours brush past you so that you can be caught up in the vision of this glorious task.

I hope this will be the first of many in a series on missions. This brother David Platt is interesting and I like him. But his apparent ‘sold-outness’ for God challenges and scares me. He is imho not a cool man. I like the uncool. I am uncool. Cool is quite overated. Here is a wonderful message – uncool in the 21st century by a lovely uncool brother.