Monday, May 15, 2006

Word Alive 2006 (in pictures!)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

WORD ALIVE 2006 - Skegness

So below are my notes from Word Alive, the student celebrations, where we went through Colossians. Unfortunately I didn't get to much else due to being ill and needing to take it easy. Apologies if some of the notes don't make sense, that's my fault not down to the speakers. Some are more comprehensive than others - where there are gaps, it's where I was probably getting a bout of pain!

There are no notes from the Wednesday evening talk by Nigel Beynon as I missed that. Likewise no notes from the talk on Friday by Kent and Barbara Hughes. I was there, but, well...maybe there'll be another post on that sometime! Bish has also written up the notes on his site, so check them out!

All in all it was a great week. God's taught me a lot and I'm still processing it. Typing up these notes has got me all excited again, and also shocked at how much I'd forgotten already. Read them, it's exciting stuff!

Oh, and photos to follow!

WORD ALIVE 2006 - Skegness. Evening 1 - Richard Cunningham

What a way to get started! :-) First heard Richard speak at Forum 2004 and loved it!

We're informed that we'll be going through the book of Colossians. Woohoo!

Acts 19:8-10 - background.
Colossians 1:1-13

The glory of God's word is such that it speaks into our lives. But the content of the passage is much more than about me!

We need to get out of an egocentric approach to God's word. Authenticity is very attractive, inauthenticity just isn't. Have a hunger for authenticity.

All isn't well in Colossae. There are questions over the authenticity of the gospel, and these are coming from within the church, which is very dangerous.

Paul offers reassurances to Colossian church that they ARE Christians.

1. The nature of the gospel.
It IS true! And so it has the power to transform and spread. THE GOSPEL HAS LEGS!
There are false teachers. Effectively these guys are saying "Epaphras gave you a starter, come to us for the main course".
But there is nowehere to move onto beyond the gospel. The gospel is all we need. In Christ, the full might of God's glory, we have all the authority, all the power, all the fulness we could EVER need.

2:9 - You can get no fuller than the Godhead dwelling in Christ.

2. Fruit of the gospel (verses 4-5).
Faith, hope, love.

FAITH in Jesus. Mere Christianity.

LOVE - for all the saints. "A new commandement..." (CF- another post on this passage.) This is the distinctive badge of the Christian. Love has got to cost you - time, energy, emotion..."By this all men will know that you are my disciples."
Love for ALL the saints...! Not just the ones you like!

HOPE - What's the relationship of faith and love to hope?
Faith and love speing from hope.
Authenitc Christianity doesn't say the hope of heaven is the icing on the cake, but that heaven IS the cake. The major experience.

It is sometimes said that Christians are "too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use" - but the biggest danger is that we become too earthly minded to be of any heavenly use.

3. Gospel knowledge (verses 9-13).
Paul's prayer.
WHAT should we be praying for each other?
a. knowledge (verse 9) - to be filled with it.
power (verse 11) - to be strengthened with it.

a. Knowledge.
When the Bible talks about God's will, almost invariably it's about moral will. When we think about God's will, we think about guidance. Ok, but we miss deeper things if we get preoccupied with ourselves.


Knowledge of God's will is always connected to following God's will.
But the primary focus - moral. HOW does He want us to live/speak/relate?

Live skilfully. Need true Solomon-like wisdom. And that will lead to knowledge of God's will.


WHY do we pray this?
Because growing in knowledge of God isn't just a means, it's an end.

b. power

verse 11- 'so that' = great endurance and patience. Lack of power is frustrating.
What will power look like?
- stay Christian!
- faith in Christ
- love for the saints
- knowledge of God's will

Joyfully giving thanks to the father in the process! The mark of people who are closest in the Lord.

What's the key to joy?
v12 - Christ has qualified us
v13- Christ has rescued us

v13 - what we've been saved FROM (darkness) and what we've been saved TO (kingdom of God).

We're not in the kingdom yet! We're in a battle. that's why we need to keep going. that's why we need wisdom, knowledge, strength, power.

THAT will glorify the Lord.

WORD ALIVE 2006 - Skegness. Evening 2 - Vaughn Roberts

Colossians 1:15-29

Make sure you understand who Jesus is!

People say "you need more than Jesus". We start to listen to that and we find that other things become more important than Jesus in our lives.

To counter that - look at Jesus. HOW could there be anything more?!

1. Christ is the all-surpassing God
(verses 15-17).
Jesus has more websites devoted to Him than Beckham and Madonna put together! He's unique. He's influenced history more than anyone else.

People often say of their lives, "There must be something more..." - The Bible says yes there is! The Bible says look no further than Jesus for the answer.

If you try to draw a picture of someone you've never met then you'll have a go, but it will be your own image of the reality. If the person is stood in front of you then you don't need to keep trying to draw the picture - the image is there.
Other religions - people drawing sketches of what God might be like.
But in Christianity we have God coming to us and saying "this is what I'm like".

Jehovah's Witnesses use this verse (15) and the word 'firstborn' to say that Jesus can't be eternal - if He was born then He had a beginning. But they ignore the context. And the rest of the New Testament!

"firstborn" - first in rank/honour, or ruler/leader.

If Jesus made all these things then it stands to reason He has authority over all these things.

"Peace, be still" - WHO IS THIS?!

"Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Well if we know the answer to that, we know the mind of God." - Stephen Hawking, 'A Brief History of Time'.
Answer? - VERSE 16! (To start with!)

Without Christ we would cease to be.

Nothing and nobody can be placed on a par with Jesus.

"Jesus is not 'The Great', He is 'The Only'...our place is on our faces before Him in worship."
- John Stott.

2. Christ achieves an all-encompassing salvation.
Verse 18 - He is the head of the body, the church (not, for example, the Pope)

There's no better one to fix something than the one who made it.
God, through Jesus, created the world and God, through Jesus, fixes us.

The death of Jesus is the turning point of history. Jesus died not just to pay for my sin but to put all of creation back in order. The universe depends on the cross.

Verse 23 - 'If'. CONTINUE TRUSTING IN GOD. The true believer keeps believing...

Verses 28-29.
(I drummed verse 28 into my head when I was on the CU exec coz it's on our constitution. Whilst listening to this talk I thought about that. It's not just for the CU as a whole, it's for ME personally. And not just for when I'm in a position like exec where I need to be encouraging and leading people in this. It forms part of MY mandate for my WHOLE life. At least it should...)

Persevere. Remember who Jesus is. There CANNOT be anything beyond Him.

WORD ALIVE 2006 - Skegness. Evening 4 - Roger Carswell

Colossians 3:1-17

We're bombarded with the attitude that we can do things our way, as we like. Paul says - NO!
Imagine the man writing this. Saul of Tarsus, great academic, philosopher, linguist etc...and a devout Pharisee.

But on the road to Damascus Saul is transformed. The old has gone, everything has become new. And now he says to the Colossians, if you are a Christian then this should be your experience in Christ.

A passage of sustained exultation for those in Christ.

Why did Jesus die and rise again? Romans 14:9

So if we have been raised with Christ then surely we want to seek the things above.

1. Seek the things above.
Set your MIND on these things.

One day everything will be gone- and yet such huge pressure to conform. To be worried about the things the world worries about etc...

And yet WHY when we have Christ?

Priorities in life - getting to know God should be paramount and a pleasure, as well as a priority.

We are dead to sin.
  • Our life is hidden in Christ.
  • My body is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The world can't see that.
  • Christ is everything.
  • This world is all temporary, life has more significance than that.
  • 2. Slay the things on earth.
    verse 5 - five sins to do with lust and greed. Ruthlessness against sin. Be careful about the books you read, films you watch, etc...

    Wolves killing eskimoes! (or, put rightly, eskimoes killing wolves!)

    It's not so much what we give that counts, it's what we keep. Oh to give in the name of Jesus. And give, and give...

    3. Put off the old self.
    Caterpillar to butterfly. Verse 8- Put off, put on.

    Godly discipline. Allowing Christ to be in us, work in us.

    "A person may be dedicated but if ill-disciplined, useless." - Hudson Taylor.
    Christian life - cultivating what we DO have in Christ and becoming more like Jesus.

    Anger - talk about God being angry. But anger is an outcome of our nature. With us, it's sinful. God is Holy, therefore His anger is righteous.

    Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?

    4. Put on the new self.
    Verse 12 - "Therefore" - learn to say this! I am dead in Christ, therefore I say 'no' to that. I am raised with Christ, therefore I say 'yes' to this.

    Beautiful words in Verses 12-13.

    Christ is all and is in all.

    Verse 9 - Do not lie
    Verse 13 - Bear with each other
    Verse 16 - Teach and admonish

    Verses 14-17 - HOW to live like this.
    4 verses, 4 instructions.
    1. Love one another.
    2. Let the peace of Christ rule our hearts
    3. Let the word of Christ dwell in you
    4. Do all in the name of Jesus

    Ephesians 5:18 . Be filled with the Spirit, and then same list as in Colossians 3:16. Word of God and Spirit of God work together to produce the same Spiritual fruit.

    Word fills our mind, Spirit fills our lives, and then we seek to live as we should.

    Matthew Henry - robbed by a highwayman and yet thankful! Why? -

    1. Never been robbed before
    2. Took everything, but not his life
    3. Although they took everything, it wasn't much in the first place
    4. He was robbed, not the one who did the robbing



    Let God deal with sin.

    Let Him change you.

    Die to old things.

    Christian life is a series of new beginnings.

    Look to Jesus to fill you afresh.

    WORD ALIVE 2006 - Skegness. Morning, final day - Graham Daniels

    Yeah, a Welsh guy on the last day! What a send off :-)

    Colossians 4:2-18

    The attention of Paul's letter now turns to evangelism.

    1. PRAY
    a. for others

    1:9, 4:12:-Paul and Epaphras are great examples of how to pray.

    It's hard to devote ourselves to prayer. But evangelism needs prayer.
    Prayer needs devotion, which is hard work and a universal vulnerability.

    We need to be watchful as well as thankful. 3:1-4. Satan is very quick to slip under the guard of Christians who aren't watchful.


    • Is my prayer life devoted?
    • Am I determined to try to make time to pray?
    • Have I given up keeping watch?
    • What can I do to add to my devotion in prayer?

    Think of one person you want to come to know Christ. Be devoted to praying for them.

    b. for preachers.
    Change of tone - pray for 'us'.
    1:28 - Paul's life work.

    Colossae was terribly introspective. Paul's heart is the heart of Jesus, to save lost people.

    Devil wants to turn us inwards, fighting with ourselves and with each other.

    Instead we need to be linking arms and looking outwards.
    Paul wants to proclaim the mystery of Christ. The scriptures must be proclaimed. Awesome responsibility to preach the gospel. Preachers need prayer!

    Some people are just wirred for evangelism. Pray for people like that! Their calling by God, affirmed by the church, to preach Christ. They need prayer.

    2. PLAY
    verse 5. Don't have to become Billy Graham! Paul's role was to make opportunities - the Colossian's role was to take opportunities.

    Not everyone can just create opportunities. Opportunities for most of us are borne out of a profound friendship. Don't need to retreat if you don't think of yourself as an evangelist. Don't be over-cautious! It's ok not to be like Billy Graham, but do make the most of every opportunity. But then we're back to prayer. Devote yourself to prayer for your friends.

    Yeah, we'll fail. But people will know an authentic Christian, who lives for Jesus and says sorry when they fail. Hardly anyone says sorry these days.

    The friend you've been thinking of - what can you do to add value to that friendship?

    There's a lovely attraction to stick to other believers...but there has to be a discipline which makes us spend time with non-Christians, where it's more uncomfortable.

    3. SAY
    You have to answer people. Distinction between Paul and the Colossians.

    Paul- makes opportunities. Colossians - answer people.

    What's your conversation like? Must have an edge, which means getting into God's word. Back to devotion again.

    Would you know how to explain the gospel to people? What about the big questions of suffering and other religions? Keep being ready.

    Tychicus and Onesimus were postmen!

    Paul shared his ministry, supported his team. Expected faithfulness. All the above are predicated on an authentic gospel ministry.

    Faithfulness is the theme.

    4:12 - Paul wants to make sure the Colossians really take his message in. Tells them to stand firm in the gospel.

    If they do this, they will look out. Mark of a gospel community is that it looks out in partnership with other believers.

    People need heaven. They need the gospel.


    • In Jesus, we enjoy fullness of life and freedom.
    • Exhortation to share the gospel.
    • Partner in the gospel with faithful gospel people.


    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    RUCU Cell Leader's Training Weekend 2006, Gospel Living, Dave Bish

    Titus 3

    Who rules my life?
    We were once ruled by passions/pleasures, but as Christians - no!!
    Paul tells Titus to remind Christians to be distinctive. WORK HARD at your degree! Consider it as time spent worshipping God.
    If this is God's created universe then studying it is good. Worthwhile. Submit yourself to your department.
    Submit to the bank! God's money! Be godly in the way you think about money.
    Sumbit to and respect your parents (unless what they tell you denies the gospel).

    Be ready for every good work. Look for things you can speak well of in others. Don't go looking for a fight in any given situation!

    Our previous life warranted God's judgement on us. We've been saved from it, not because of US! Previously sin mastered us, we weren't free, and now we're mastered by God. He's the better master! We will fail but our journey should be towards perfection.

    v4-5. We're saved to be devoted to doing good. Verse 4 -'BUT' salvation appeared. God showed his grace. We were stuck in sin, BUT...!

    Not our great plan, but God's eternal plan. Salvation plan.
    verse 5 - reborn and renewed.
    verse 6 - justified by grace. Christian jargon! Gift, free, and means we're credited with Christ.
    It says we're perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!

    There are things in the Bible that we just believe. It's the same Bible that says we stand perfect before God - why do we have difficulty believing that?

    The details matter. In fact, even the devil is in the details sometimes, twisting them.

    We need to be confident in what we believe and for that reason we need to be immersed in the scriptures.

    There's NOTHING that beats eternal life with Christ.

    One way or another we wiull devote ourselves to SOMETHING.

    What's it gonna be? Good or bad?


    How am I gonna avoid wasting my life?
    How do I help my cell avoid wasting their lives?


    Who are my heroes of the faith? Really, they're just ordinary people. But they haven't wasted their lives.

    There are fights which, for the sake ofthe gospel, we should get involved in.

    But we shouldn't waste our time so much in things that don't matter. Avoid sin. And unprofitability.

    We LIVE for Jesus AND we SPEAK for Jesus.

    RUCU Cell Leader's Training Weekend 2006. Witness Workshop, Dave Hooper

    How does your cell find evangelism? What's hard about evangelism?

    Even Paul found it hard! Ephesians 6:19-20. "Pray for me..."

    RUCU's aim - "Making disciples of Jesus Christ in Reading Uni."

    Why do evangelism?
    • For God's glory. Revelation 4:11, Isaiah 43:6-7. Our friends were created to give glory to God, but they're not doing that. Do we love our friends enough to want God's glory in their lives?
    • Out of love for Jesus. Acts 17:16, 2 Corinthians 5:11. We know that one day we'll face judgement but we know we're in Jesus' love. We want that for our friends.
    • To fulfil God's will. Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Peter 3:9. God wants us to evangelise.
    • Out of love for non-Christians. Mark 10:21, 1 Thessalonians 2:8. Jesus had compassion on non-Christians - we should too. If we really love non-Christians, we should be delighted to share the gospel with them.

    These things should motivate us to do evangelism when we feel afraid or find it hard.

    What did Paul do to bring the gospel to people?

    Romans 1:15, 1 Corinthians 2:1, Galatians 1:11-12, Ephesians 1:13, Colossians 1:5-6, 1 Thessalonians 2:13

    The people heard it. Romans 10:14-15 and 17.


    "Evangelism is the verbal proclamation of the gospel"

    So - what isn't evangelism? Things ike social action, prayer, godly living, friendship - these all back up evangelism, but not actually are evangelism.

    Evangelism is not conversion - God does the converting.

    If cell is planning an evangeslistc programme, which of these things would be good/bad to do?

    • handing out John's gospels
    • giving people lolipops
    • hiring out a nightclub and giving Christians free entry
    • talks from the Bible
    • putting on a Christian rock concert
    • fasting, giving food to the homeless and protesting 3rd world debt
    • dinners for friends with informal gospel explanation

    What's wrong with the quote "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words"?

    What is the gospel? Jesus is Lord. Romans 10:9.

    4 things about the gospel:

    Why must the gospel include those things?

    What should our cell meetings focus on?

    RUCU Cell Leader's Training Weekend 2006. Word Workshop - How do we prepare studying the Bible? Dave Bish

    We're dealing with God's word.
    • Inspired. What does that mean? God's voice. The Spirit of God speaking to us. God's revelation of Himself. The Bible isn't just some other book. Doesn't mean it's the ONLY place where God speaks, but the ultimate, supreme authority. All other revelations are subject to Scripture. Can't separate God speaking and the Bible.
    • Infallible. True and reliable. God is able to reveal Himself, and He does. The Bible doesn't have mistakes in it. God commands His revelation be made known. As Christians we have the Holy Spirit in us.
    • Authoratative. What it says goes. If our thinking is different to the Bible's, we're wrong. We stand under it.
    • It's about Jesus. Not me! Not even firstly written to me. But it is for us.

    How do we dig deeper?

    1. Author's purpose.

    Usually ask 'what' does it say? Do we ask 'why'? Don't always get obvious statements of purpose but they're there. John 20:30-31. Luke 1:1-4. 1 John 5:13.

    Where it's not explicit, we have to dig a little deeper. Colossians 1:3-8. What's this about? Encouragement? A reminder of truth? Be nice to those who teach us?

    But what we've done here is grab it and say 'What can I get out of this?' But we need to look at the context. Find out the purpose for this letter. Written from Paul, to a church in Colossae. What's the situation of the author and the reader? What does the Bible iteslf tell us? Colossians 1:8 and Colossians 4:12. Epaphras is praying coz he's concerned about them. Are we told about any problems in the situation? Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:16, Colossians 2:18. - Threat from false teachers, pagan traditions, judging - can see why Epaphras is wrestling in prayer for them!

    Are there any repeated/key themes? Colossians 2:6-7.


    Just as you began with Christ, so continue in Him. STICK WITH JESUS!!!

    Big idea of Colossians.

    How does that, then, help us understand Colossians 1:3-8??

    With the big idea in mind, this isn't just a nice encouraging passage. It's saying,

    'you're real Christians, you've got faith, hope and love. You don't need anything else, you don't need to add to it. What you believe - well people are becoming Christians all over the world coz they believe it too - and the guy who taught it to you, well he teaches the truth, so you don't need to add anything. You don't need anything else, you're real Christians.'

    That's SO much richer than what we'd skim off the surface!

    2. Context.

    Don't read the Bible like an encyclopaedia! John 12:32 (Keeping purpose in mind.) How do we take that verse? Read verse 33- context makes all the difference!

    3. Structure.

    Might instinctively look at chapter/verse numbers, paragraph splits, headings...they're not there in the original. Not always helpful. LINKING WORDS and REPETITION. An action. Consequently/for this reason/so...

    Not just a command, a reason's given for it. If we miss those reasons, we'll end up with a list of commands. Or we'll know some theology but not know what we're meant to do with it.

    "If...then" - e.g. 2 Peter 2:4-9.

    "so that..." - we saw this in Titus.

    Connections between things are crucial. So it's helpful to have as literal a translation as possible. Other translations add some interpretation ...

    Also applies when we think about repetition. Some translations change the word so it's easier to read (not reading the same word all the time). BUT then we miss the repetition. eg. in Titus we have 'self control, self control, self control...'

    John 6:47-59 - what words are repeated? Comparison between what can be life and what can't.

    Jesus is the bread of life. This is true! Jesus came down from heaven to give us eternal life.

    Matthew 18:20- can take this (it is often taken) out of context. Look at the context!! In context of talking to a Christian brother who sins against you. Pagans and tax collectors treated as outsiders. Idea is to gain your brother, not have it escalate as portrayed. So verse 20? Referring back to Matthew 18:15-17. Connection between Matthew 18:18 and 19. ="again". It's not the fact that any 2 or 3 people have the right to kick someone out of the church! Has to be whole church.

    And our aim shouldn't be to kick someone out,

    should be to restore them.

    John 14:26. - how do we read that if we take it out of context? We could easily presume it's about us. BUT we're in John's gospel...who is Jesus talking to? His disciples. So before we think 'What does this mean for me?' we have to ask what it means for the disciples.

    So it's saying that the Holy Spirit will remind them of what Jesus said so they'll be able to write the Bible. So to us - the Bible is reliable. We need to study it!

    When leading a Bible study...

    • Want people to communicate. Group dynamics. Try and set up the environment.
    • Versions to versions - helps if everyone has the same.
    • Plan time well! Means can't cover everything.
    • Don't score all the goals. Not supposed to be giving the answers!
    • Don't always have the last word.
    • Try and keep people on the passage.
    • Confess you sins. Be honest when you make mistakes.
    • Different kinds of people. Inevitably have some who are quiet, some who always have to have their say. Don't sit opposite the person who always has to have their say!
    • Cut off tangents/trivia. Talk about it afterwards. Rub people's noses in the text. Where did they get their answer from?
    • Real, soft and serious.
    • Be specific about action.
    • Hold each other accountable.
    • Keep to time.
    • Pray.

    RUCU Cell Leader's Training Weekend 2006 - Titus 2, Dave Bish

    Titus 2
    (Bish has some very nice diagrams to illustrate some of the points of this talk but I'm not clever enough to get them on the computer!)

    We need to have a clear idea of what we're doing and how to do it!

    Chapter 2 starts and ends in the same way - you gotta teach!

    What does the task of teaching the Bible really entail? Nehemiah 8. Hunger for the word. Hunger for hours spent learning about God's word.
    Am I hungry? If not, why not? Is cell hungry?

    Get cell group equipped for mission. Demand excellence in teaching. Not performance, but truth. Things that aren't true destroy people. (Titus 1)

    Everybody is to be taught. If not taught well, they'll have bad theology.

    Start with older people in the congregation, an example to the younger. Older women teach younger women, older model the gospel to the younger.

    We need to be proactive in seeking people who can model the gospel to us, can mentor us.

    Verse 5 - these are the marks younger women are told to have. Standards for men too. Looking for ongoing, lifelong discipleship as a Christian.

    Remain teachable ALWAYS. Take every opportunity to be taught. Find people who have faced issues you're facing. People who will not just affirm you but challenge you. We don't like it, but need it. It's priceless to be able to take critique, to let people point us to the cross. The cross is where we're most heavily critiqued. Don't crticise to destroy, but lovingly correct each other. But don't just tell people the gospel, live it.

    Do we have the appropriate seriousness when we teach God's word? But also the joy and excitement?

    Verses 5, 8, 19 - common pattern to these verses. Why are these things so important to God's people?

    See the connection -


    The way we live speaks really loudly about the things we believe.

    If people aren't taught to be these things then they won't be them - they'll be the opposite - but will say they're Christians. And then the Word of God gets reviled. People won't want to be Christians.

    Titus is told to teach people so that their lives will adorn God's word. Does my life make people think that Christian belief looks good? Regardless of whether they believe in it, do people look at my life and think 'yeah'?

    Again, the bar is raised for us. But hope is not lost! God wants to be glorified. He wouldn't stake that on the way we live if we couldn't do it in His strength. Hallelujah! Verse 11 - "For" - these standards apply because of what we see in verses 11-14.

    Repetition in verses 11 and 13. There are two key fixed points in history that shape the way we live. The cross (grace), and heaven (glory). These shape the standards of our life here in the present. For what purpose? Verse 12.

    Grace saves us, and then trains us. Trains/teaches us as opposed to what? Where else do I go for teaching? Grace teaches us to say 'NO!' to the pasions/pleasures that we might otherwise follow.
    So two fixed points, one in the past and one in the future, change the present.

    Is it barking mad to build our faith around the cross? People hate/deny the gospel because it doesn't allow us to contribute anything to our salvation. They want to stand proud before God. But the cross humbles us. Everything in the past is gone. We're not a sea of individual people. We belong to each other. God didn't save us just to be in a relationship with Him individually, but to be a family of believers. A body of people who are zealous for doing good works. Not using rules/lawkeeping to be godly, but to live a new life. It's an appealing idea to be zealous for good works, but how do we get that? Don't always feel like it! Sin tells us we need to try harder. Grace tells us we're perfect and trains us to say 'no' to ungodliness. God looks at us and says 'Mine. I own you.' (WOW!!!!AMAAAAZIN'!)
    That should begin to teach us how we should now live.

    The cross gives us grace to save us and to take us home. We need to listen to grace. Grace doesn't condemn us, it convicts us of our sin but doesn't condemn. It can be uncomfortable to hear, but it transforms us.

    The chief way that will come into our lives is to dwell on God's word. Week by week, day by day, we need to let God blow our mind. The grace of God is all we need. We don't move on from it, we only move deeper into our need for it.


    RUCU Cell Leader's Training Weekend 2006 -Gospel Ministry, Dave Bish

    What qualifies someone to be a leader?

    • good public speaker?
    • confidence?
    But Biblically - Gideon wasn't confident!

    • image?
    But Biblically - David, as a shepherd, didn't have the 'classic image'.

    • spotless track record?
    But Biblically - Paul

    What does it take to be a leader for God? How do you feel now, at the start of this weekend? How do you feel about the responsibility?

    Titus 1.
    Don't just skip over the intro! Significant amount of the content of Titus is found in the first 4 verses.
    verse 1 - Paul introduces himself as a servant. Why? He tells us exactly why - the aim of his ministry is the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth. God's elect are to have faith and knowledge, and this will work out in practice as God-centredness as a way of life and hope of eternal life.

    Where do you get that hope?
    Before time, God, who never lies, makes his promise.

    When we think about what Christian ministry means/looks like, we can always think of pragmatic things to do, pragmatic ministry. BUT, Paul was Bible-centred.

    We come to serve broken, unimpressive people - but they're God's people. Not just a random group of people in cell - God's brought them there.

    Linger on that!!

    God reveals His promise through Jesus and also through scripture. If we bypass scripture we ain't got nothing to talk about!

    verse 3 - God didn't put this revelation out there and leave it. He commanded that it should be made known to the world.


    So if that's the aim, what's the qualifications?
    Qualifications are qualifications, you can't dress them up.

    Why do you think you're here?
    Could be all sorts of reasons...But what are God's qualifications for you?

    1. CHARACTER, verses 5-8
    What do all these things mean? Above reproach, blameless doesn't mean sinless. It means those who can't have a charge levelled against them. Open and honest. If rebuked, correct things. Not trying to get away with things, but trying to stay God-centred.
    Self-control. One of the fruits of the Spirit.
    Pro-active God centredness.
    Stand against the culture around us. We think we need to be relevant. But Jesus didn't blend in, He stood out. We need to stand out God-centredly. We need to take a stand. In areas of relationships and sexuality, in truth. We're called to be God-centred ALL the time, not just when we're in the presence of Christians.

    We need to have solid gospel convictions because we need to teach people. We need to be DEEPLY rooted in the heart of God's word so that the questions we ask in cell get right to the heart. Not healthy to believe what's not true. Only way the lies of sin can be dealt with is to be firm in the truth. Gospel character, gospel convictions - the two marks we MUST have if we're gonna serve as leaders.

    DO I QUALIFY? IF NOT, WHAT HAS TO CHANGE? (Resign isn't the answer!)

    verses 9-10. They connect. MUST be verse 9, because of verse 10.

    In contrast to those who teach rubbish, teach GRACE.

    Seek it, live it, teach it, show it.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    RUCU Houseparty 2005!! Ledbury, Herefordshire

    Awww wow, WHAT a weekend of teaching, fellowship, fun, learning, growing, meeting new people....and most importantly getting closer to God. I'm excited!

    You'll find below some notes from the weekend....they're not great but hopefully will encourage/challenge you in some way. They're from the talks/evangelism training sessions done by Greg or Pete (sorry, don't know surnames!) from Christians In Sport. Great stuff! And they're coming to do the mission.....let's start praying NOW for our friends!

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    RUCU Houseparty 2005 - Freedom For All!!

    Acts 16.

    The reality of what the future will be like impacts how we act now.

    "The future's not what it used to be" (Woody Allen). This reflects our anxiety...

    Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;..."

    This WILL happen. This should dominate our thinking.

    The jailor - freedom for even the hostile man.
    To be enslaved to sin meand to be living in such a way that you cannot please God.
    Real imprisonment is to be enslaved in your heart, such that you cannot free it.

    The jailor puts Paul and Silas in jail, but Paul and Silas are REALLY the ones who are free.

    There is NO CONDITION on who can become a Christian.

    Acts 16:31 "...'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved...'"

    What a privilege! What a future!
    What are your personal barriers?
    How can you take the reality of the future and make it part of your life?

    RUCU Houseparty 2005. Evangelism Training - Part 1. Pete from Christians In Sport

    What do you think when you hear the word 'evangelist'?

    Traditional idea - you don't have to be like that to be of use to God.

    We feel incompetent at telling people about Jesus - so we don't do it!

    "The best sponteneity is rehearsed."

    3 things the resurrection means:-
    1. The Cross works.
    2. There is a life to come.
    3. There IS a day of judgement.

    It's simple! How can people not be Christians when they see how simple it is? Because faith is not just about understanding, it's also about caring about it!

    Find out just how simple it is...
    Two Ways To Live!!!

    RUCU Houseparty 2005! Freedom By Grace. Greg from Christians In Sport

    Acts 15.

    Our society/culture yearns for freedom. Freedom to do what we want, how we want. The world says 'Freedom doesn't come by living as a human being, but as a human doing'.

    Acts 14:26 "From Attalia they saile dback to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles."

    Opening the door of faith...Exciting!

    Acts 15:1 "Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: 'Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.'"

    This throws the church into turmoil. Paul and Barnabas were furious.

    Is Grace enough??? YES!!!!!!!!

    Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
    We have freedom in Christ! He knows our hearts!! It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!!!
    How do we add things to the gospel?
    How do you feel and react when you stuff up as a Christian?
    Remember grace!!!
    Hebrews 4:16 "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

    RUCU Houseparty 2005 - Freedom Opposed

    Acts 17:1-10.

    "The best laid plans can go to waste." We can feel like this when we're talking to people about Jesus...

    Looking at Acts, doesn't look like the plans are coming together. In Luke 21:12 Jesus says "...they will lay hands on you and persecute you."

    How do we hold together the reality that Jesus is BOTH King AND the suffering servant?

    Today's socieety:- "Whatever works wins". "You've got your belief, I've got my belief - great, everyone's happy."

    Why do you want to be a Christian? Why do you want Jesus in your life?

    Genuine Christian faith is NOT based on what you GET from Jesus. We don't love Jesus because of what he adds to our lives. It's because He is supremely worthy of our love.

    The gospel collides with a secular culture
    Acts 16:16, 19 - we see the love of money, exploitation. The slave girl incident is a little spark but starts a huge fire - city riots. It's interesting that being motivated by money can often lead to this sort of behaviour.

    Opposition is caused by thedevil. 2 errors we can make - 1 is to speak about him too much, and the other is not to speak abot him at all...

    The devil is real. Bible makes that clear. But God is effortlessly more powerful.

    When opposition comes it is a faith centered on Christ and His glory which equips us ot keep going.

    Persistence, Priorities, Perspective.

    Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. What is your light in the dark when things are going wrong? For Paul and Silas it was Jesus.

    Paul and Silas could have avoided this Acts 16:37 Paul says "They beat us publicly without trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison". Why didn't he say this earlier so they could have been released earlier?!
    Acts 16:40 - who do they go to see when they first get out of prison? New Christians - they want to encourage them.

    The Gospel collides with a religious culture
    Acts 17:5. Jealousy. So their response? Riot.

    As the gospel goes out, people are changed. Culture is shaped by the people IN the culture, so if people are changed, the culture will change. People won't like that! People don't like change!
    As Christ is preached, the culture wil come into collision with that.

    What does this mean for us at uni? What's the culture at uni all about? How am I gonna stand?

    Think about hill walking - when you get to the top you get chance to look back at where you came from.
    What's happened so far in Acts? The gospel advances despite opposition. Jesus steamrolls through it. In fact, he uses it!

    Shawshank Redemption quote:- "The music was in my heart and my head. That's the one bit they can't take."

    People can't take truth from us! And God is truth! And He lives in our hearts through faith and NOTHING can separate us form the love of God. Hallelujah!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Barcelona - Creation again!

    Haven't quite got a title for this one yet either. Wrote this in response to being so struck by some of the conversations i was having with people as a result of the questionnaires. People who wanted proof that God existed - and all i wanted to say was 'Look around you!' or even - 'Look AT you!!'

    Creation shouts Your glory
    Magnifies your fame
    Gives us joy in knowing
    The wonder of your name.

    It proves your very existence
    More than any history book
    It’s there for all eyes to see –
    Holy Spirit, make them look.

    Let them see the beauty
    Of the glowing colours of spring
    Marvel at the autumn leaves,
    Winter snow, summer sun, birds that sing.

    Let them wonder at creation
    And in creation see
    The glory of a maker
    Who loves His humanity.

    28/9/05 Barcelona.

    Barcelona - 'Saviour'

    I woke up one morning having not slept very well the night before and i really just wnated to go home. basically, i felt rubbish and i didn't wanna be doing the mission anymore. I'm not gonna hide it- that's how i felt! It was blatantly the devil having a go but it hit me REALLY hard, probably coz i'd been SO 'up' so far in the mission. So i prayed that i'd feel better but even as i prayed i knew i was praying half-heartedly. So i prayed, "God, please will you break my heart again today with the message of what You've done for me..."

    Be careful what you pray for...

    That morning we studied Mark 15. And as i read about Jesus going to that cross again it hit - completely as if for the first time - the meaning of it. I was completely speechless! (Which i know is a big thing for me!) It really hit me, as if i'd never heard it before. God broke my heart. And i wrote a few poems ove the next day or two around that theme. They're kinda similar, but also kinda different. They're not perfect, but in their imperfection they express i guess the fact that my head - and heart - were whirring.


    Cry the blind.
    Blind hearts,
    Blind minds.
    Why, Lord?

    Jesus, You are King,
    Everlasting, never changing.

    Jesus You are powerful -
    Stormy waters You still.

    Jesus, You are Holy,
    Of praise, so worthy.

    So why, Lord?

    Why stand and let the monsters
    Why, Lord?

    Demonstrate Your power, Lord,
    With a thunderous roar
    Rip open the heavens
    Tear apart the earth.
    Let them see the might,
    The power You are worth.
    Bring an ending to the dawning of any new day…
    Why don’t You, Lord?

    And Your answer…

    By my wounds, you are healed.


    My cry is…

    Mocking, scorn,
    Rejection, hate,
    Laughter, denial –
    ‘We want blood!’ –
    They cannot wait.


    Rumours, lies,
    Envy, deceit,
    Chaos, malice,
    Power of injustice
    Given by a ruler, weak.


    Spitting, hitting,
    Humiliation too,
    Beating, whipping –
    Soldiers, rulers, people,
    Who know not what they do.


    Pain, turmoil,
    Screams, shouts,
    King, creator,
    Silent remains –
    Lord, tell them what it’s about!


    Hung, pierced,
    A body in strife
    Caused by those
    To whom You gave life!


    You die.
    Thirst satisfied.


    A thunderclap
    Curtain torn
    Stone rolled back
    No longer mourned
    Death defeated
    Life with no end
    Hallelujah, Lord!
    My knee I bend.

    But wait.

    Looking, searching
    A bloodthirsty crowd
    Shock, horror –
    I’m screaming as loud


    Forgive me, Lord.

    And as each day
    In my sin
    I shout anew
    I’m sorry.

    Bended knee,
    Life restored,
    Sins forgiven,
    Washed anew,
    Purpose known,
    I stand in you,
    And cry instead

    He is risen!

    28/9/05 Barcelona

    Barcelona - Notes from "How To Prepare an Evangelistic Bible Study" - Susanne Koch and Jo Wilson

    God does the work! (Breathe a sigh of relief!)
    Prepare the Bible study for yourself.
    PRAY! (And again, and again, and again!)
    Ask God to reveal the truth to you.
    Read the passage AS THE PASSAGE (often the passages we read/study with people evangelistically are ones we’ve read loads of times before and so we read it, think we know what it says, and then tell people what we think, using our wisdom! But you could be telling a 22 year old student something you learned about that passage when you were 5!)

    Read it as if you’ve never read it before.

    Once you understand the passage for yourself, think about what you want others to get out of it. What’s the main point? Have this in mind whilst preparing the questions. But keep praying! Then observation, interpretation, application. Think about questions – how do they help someone understand the main point?

    God is speaking to us as we read his word. “opening the Bible is like opening the lips of God.” It’s exciting! It’s exciting that God speaks to US while we’re preparing something for others to hear. And this reminds us that it’s the Bible that will speak to people, not us.

    We often interpret a passage before we’ve actually observed what it says. If we observe badly we interpret badly and don’t learn.
    Context, structure, little words, repetition, comparison/contrast, characters, circumstances…

    WHY is this passage in the Bible? What does it mean? PRAY!!!

    What does the passage teach us that we can apply to ourselves today? Is there something we need to change? What do we learn abut Jesus?

    Barcelona - Mission Reflections

    Ok so the weekend fiesta had started. The city was partying. It was a fun atmosphere. But a few of us were sat down by the port, and whilst we could hear the party going on in the city just behind us, where we were sat was really calm and peaceful and it was lush just to sit and watch the sea, to hear it, and to feel the 'cool' (this was Spain, remember!) evening breeze. It was weird, being caught between the calmness and the party.

    I loved that time, as we sat there in God's creation reflecting on the week just gone and all the amazing things God had done and just having a great time of fellowship. And this was the result...

    Mission Reflections

    In the heat of the sun
    There’s a coolness
    As Your soft breeze floats over me.
    In a partying city
    There’s a calmness,
    As Your sea brings serenity.

    In pressure and persecution
    There’s refreshment
    As Your Spirit restores my soul.
    In the barricades
    There’s a breakthrough
    As Your love makes people whole.

    In hard times
    You are faithful
    As we look to You for strength.
    In good, great times
    There’s rejoicing,
    As we are truly blessed.

    In the pendulum of mission
    There’s a steadiness
    As we seek Your Spirit’s flame.
    In Salvation
    There’s joy everlasting –
    Father, aid us in shouting Your name!

    23/9/05. Barcelona.

    Barcelona - Creation

    I love creation. I love the fact that it displays God's power so immensely, so beautifully. I love the creation God's given us. Not just in the world, not just in the animals around us, but also in US. Human beings. I love the way He's crafted us, too! And one day it just struck me more than usual, along with the immense desire to serve my creator God. Always. Not got a title for this one yet...

    Your Creation shouts Your power,
    Proclaims Your majesty.
    I marvel at the beauty -
    Thank you for the beauty –
    With the gift of sight, I see.
    As in the beauty of creation
    Your power I’m blessed to see,
    So let others see that power and beauty
    In my life, in me.

    23/9/05. Barcelona.

    Barcelona - Notes from “How do we share the gospel?” training session. Dorcas Gonzalez

    Mark 2:1-12.

    LISTEN to people.
    If we don’t, they don’t listen to us and we don’t know what their needs are.

    The point is JESUS!

    Talk about His characteristics both as God and man.

    The Crucifixion.

    Jesus once asked his disciples “Who do you think I am?”
    We can use examples, like Jesus used parables. We can use His parables.

    Barcelona - Snippets from “What is theGospel?” training session. Jose Luis Montoya

    2 Corinthians 3-4.
    1 Corinthians 15


    If we only understand the gospel as a way of living, we are talking only about values.
    If we have hope only for this life we are to be pitied. Would just be like any other ‘-ism’ – communism, atheism…just a way of life.

    BUT the Gospel transcends life. Jesus is the author of our faith.

    The cross explains who Jesus was and how he got there. In the work of Christ we understand our own spiritual state.

    Romans 1:16-17 “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
    Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”

    It's simple and it's great!

    Barcelona - 'Obrando Tu...'

    The theme song for the mission was ‘Obrando Tu'. Its first two lines are “Obrando Tu, quien impedira?”, which (roughly) translated means “Working with you, who can stop us?” What a mission song! It was really catchy and I coz wanted to speak as much Spanish as I could I kept chanting it, learning a new line every day! Here it is (and, Spanish speakers, if I've got any of the translation wrong please tell me so i can edit it!)

    Obrando Tu, quien impedira? (repeat x4)
    Eres Senor, eres Dios de amor
    (You are Lord, you are God of love)
    Estas conmigo dondequiera este
    (You are with me wherever I go)
    Antes de Ti, ninguno se formo
    (Before You, nothing was made)
    Despues de Ti, ningun otro habra.
    (And after You, there will be nothing)

    What a song! And it struck me so much I incorporated it into a poem…

    Obrando Tu, quien impedira?
    When with you we walk
    And of you we talk,
    You bring light and hope
    To our path.

    Obrando Tu, quien impedira?
    You show us the way
    And guide day by day.
    We’re weak,
    But strong in Your power.

    Obrando Tu, quien impedira?
    Death is defeated
    There’s no end to Life.
    Impossible? No!
    All things with You.

    Lord help us remember
    And live in this truth –
    Obrando Tu
    Quien impedira?

    Barcelona - Highlights from "Why Do We Do Mission?" Toni Coulton

    Everyone has a ‘mission statement’ these days. It’s taken the world 2000 years to catch up with the church!

    Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

    Why? Well, it’s a command! But also – Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We have this to share with people!

    2 Corinthians 5:11 “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.”

    Mission isn’t something we do to earn something from God.
    We don’t FORCE people to become Christians.
    Mission shouldn’t be a burden
    Matthew 28:18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” – What a boss!!!
    Matthew 28:20 “’…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” – We’re not alone!

    It’s not us serving the world, it’s us serving the King.

    Matthew 28:20 – “always”. Continuous tense, not future, not past.

    Jesus uses two pictures to help us understand fellowship:-

    Fishermen. Go out in groups together. String nets from one boat to another. Sometimes they catch nothing, other times they couldn’t carry it they caught so much. They never knew which way it would go. We don’t know, so great to work as a group. Fish don’t want to be caught. We have a small window of opportunity. Be friendly, understanding. Commend them to God! If we don’t ask, they have no opportunity.
    Sower. Working alone, as we do when we talk to people.

    Barcelona - Confession Time..

    To be honest, when Jo came to plug this trip back in June I knew she was coming, I knew why, and before the meeting I was thinking ‘well it’ll be nice to see Jo and nice to hear about what she’s doing but I won’t be going.’ And I wasn’t even gonna be going to the meeting! I’d arranged to go out that night so wasn’t gonna be going to CU – only went coz I wanted to see Jo!

    But while she was talking about it I really felt God speak to me. I can’t remember much about the rest of the meeting, I just remember feeling that God wanted me to go to Barcelona. I tried to ignore it at first but He wasn’t having any of that…!

    So I prayed about it for a couple of days. Then bit the bullet and said I’d go. Then as summer went on I started thinking, I really can’t afford to go! And I really couldn’t, it wasn’t just an excuse! But partly through not wanting to let them down and partly through holding on to what I’d felt back in June I decided to trust God to provide.

    And he did! And has done since! It’s very weird going to the bank, taking money out, going back later and the balance being the same as before you took the money out, when you know nobody’s put any money in!

    Before Barcelona...

    In the couple of days leading up to Barcelona I didn’t wanna go. I’d not long come back from Forum, I’d had a busy week trying to sort out my dissertation and I hadn’t done all the data collection I needed, and I needed more time. I’d had a very busy summer, I was tired.

    But oh, I’m sooooooo glad I went. It’s confession time again:- I’ve never wanted to go abroad to do mission! Whenever any have been plugged before or people have asked me to go I’ve said no. Partly because I immediately think ‘oh I can’t afford that’. Or partly because I just can’t be bothered! But mainly because I’ve always said ‘no I’m not called to go abroad!’ Dunno why I’ve always said that. Just another excuse!

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Barcelona...The Evenings

    On some of the evenings we held evangelistic events. We had 2 Grill-a-Christians, a Spanish supper, an international supper….people came! People listened! And on the other evenings we ate together as a team. We were well provided for by one church in particular who cooked for us on I think four of the evenings. Amazing hospitality and the gratefulness for us being there was very humbling indeed. On the Friday evening of the first week we went to the fountains at Plaza Espanya. Amazing! And another great time of fellowship.


    We were able to do questionnaires in the second week coz there were lots of people at La Central who spoke English. Doing questionnaires was another big thing for me. I hated doing questionnaires before I went to Barcelona! Whenever we did questionnaires at uni in Reading during missions I’d always find some way of getting out of it! I hated it. But the thing is, in Reading, it’s pretty easy to get outta doing it coz the CU is big enough that there’s always someone else to do it….in Barcelona that wasn’t the case! So I did it. And….WOW! God blew me away, completely. I couldn’t believe the conversations I was having. Couldn’t believe the things I was saying! I had to be completely dependent on God coz I felt so scared about having conversations with people and praise God he’s faithful and I had some immense conversations. Of course, I had some not-so-great ones too! But my challenge now is to keep praying for these people, to keep praying that they would read the gospels I gave them, that they would open their hearts up to Jesus, that they wouldn’t shut out God’s voice.

    Barcelona...The Afternoons

    And then in the afternoons it was off to the campus. We spent the first week at Mundet campus and the second at La Central. Both amazing. I loved these times too. I love the fact that the Gospel message transcends cultures, transcends languages. We didn’t speak the language but we were able to do mime, and communicate the gospel that way. And because we couldn’t speak the language, we couldn’t share our faith with anyone. That was a bit hard, coz we have this perceived idea that mission is all about telling people verbally about the gospel. We couldn’t do that. So what could we do to do something effective? We could pray for those who WERE having conversations. I know I learnt a lot about prayer that week. I think we all did. We prayed so much, coz we weren’t taken up with having conversations. And I believe we saw the benefits of that.
    We had people watching the mime, people engaged in conversation, people going to the Bible studies, the dance classes, we did mime in the packed canteen and everyone stopped talking (and some stopped eating!) to watch, people came to the concert and loved it…it was immense! People took flyers, CD’s, tracts…people came to the stand to ask us questions about who we were/what we were doing.
    Misconceptions were broken down. People were told the gospel!

    Barcelona...The Theme

    The theme of the mission was ‘Imagina’ (Imagine). We had t-shirts with ‘imagine there’s no heaven – John Lennon’ written on the front and ‘imagine there is’ written on the back. We put posters up everywhere we could. The flyers all had the logo on too. Such a great title for a mission. Even as a conversation-starter with someone. Imagine you could have eternal life….just imagine. And now imagine you ACTUALLY CAN! Imagine there’s truth, real truth, and you can know what it is. Imagine freedom. Imagine peace. Imagine real love. Well guess what, you don’t have to imagine these things. You can have them! And you don’t have to imagine they’d be free. Coz they are!

    Barcelona....The Mornings

    Obviously with so many students and so many universities we couldn’t hope to reach them all in the two weeks we were there, so we focussed on two. In the mornings we met for worship, Bible study and training, together as a team. The Spanish students who could joined us as well, which was GREAT.

    I loved the times we spent together in the mornings. I loved the fact that we could stand there and sing praises to God, singing the same song but each in our own language. It was a very special time and made met think of what heaven might be like.

    And I loved being able to learn the Spanish words to a song I already know, and praise God in Spanish! And I loved learning Spanish songs!

    I loved the fellowship. I loved the fact that, despite the language barrier (few of us spoke Spanish) we were able to communicate. We shared something special, we’re brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s so special to be in a country you’ve never been to before, with people you’ve known only a day, and feel completely and utterly at home. Thank you Lord!!

    The training covered various things – from ‘Why we do mission?’ to ‘How to run an evangelistic Bible study’ to ‘Roman Catholicism’. All great.

    Barcelona...The Mission Field

    There are thousands upon thousands of students in Barcelona. And Spain generally is a very Catholic country, so there are few Christian students. In Reading we think we’re a small fish in a big pond, with a CU of about 100 in a uni with 15,000 students. Well in Barcelona, the Christian students represent an even smaller fish in an even bigger pond! We get one non-Christian along to an event and we’re disappointed. They get one non-Christian along and they rejoice! We have much to learn from that…

    We also have much to learn from their passion, in the face of the immense mission field that they face. Their passion for Jesus and their love for each other.

    Barcelona 2005...God's soveriegnty

    What was amazing was that most of us coming from abroad had never met most of the others before and yet everyone clicked from the first day and got on so well, which proved that even that was so of God, he’d definitely brought this team together.

    The Spanish people were SOOOO welcoming as well, which definitely helped!

    And so each person from abroad stayed with a Spanish family. scary! That was my first thought, anyway, but all the families were lovely and the family I stayed with are probably some of the nicest people in the world ever! They seriously couldn’t do enough for me and were just amazing. In 1 Peter 4:8-9 it says this: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” I SO felt that while I was staying with them, they were amazing!! And they told me I’ve always got a home in Spain, which is very nice!

    September 2005 - Mission in Barcelona. Intro...!

    WOW! This was SUCH an amazing time. Read my other blog for a rundown of how I felt after I landed back in the UK. I learnt SO much on this trip to Barcelona. I learnt more about God, I learnt more about myself, I learnt more about the gifts God has given me and I learnt that God is doing stuff in me and I dunno what it is but it’s ok! I can still feel him working, I’m still processing everything that happened while we were there.

    Ok so the ‘mission team’ was made up of the Christian Spanish students, part of the GBU (or CU) out there, the GBU staff workers, the IFES crew, and people who came from abroad to help them out (of which I was one!)

    FORUM NOTES - Richard Cunningham, 2 Timothy 3:10-4:18

    Paul writes this as he contemplates his execution. 4:6 “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering and the time has come for my departure.”
    In Paul’s final letter, what do we expect?
    Timothy has people around him who aren’t interested in key doctrines. The dying man says to the young leader – CONTINUE IN WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED, CONTINUE EVANGELISING, CONTINUE TO SUFFER FOR THOSE THINGS…

    -Continue in the gospel that you’ve become convinced of, that captivated you. Continue in the good stuff!

    There’s always a danger we move away from what we’ve learnt. We partly define ourselves by what we’re reacting from. There’s that pattern in the church, of a move away from orthodoxy, from the cultural narrowness of church. There’s a danger of polarisation. Either “That’s a great Bible-teaching church” or “That’s a church really led by the spirit”.

    BUT there’s a deliberate closeness between the word spoken and spirit or breath. “A Spirit moving on the waters, and THEN GOD SAID…”
    You can’t get a wedge between God’s word and His Spirit.

    Make sure you attend a church where you’re taught, corrected and rebuked in the Word of God.
    Make sure small groups prepare each other for mission by preparing from gospel itself.
    Read Bible everyday. Read all of it.

    2 Timothy 4:1-5. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

    We have to be willing to offend. People cannot be absorbed into the family of God. Yes, we need to be loving, but people need to BELIEVE for THEMSELVES.

    2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”

    WOW! But, there is power to suffer, power from God,
    2 Tim 1:7,8 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

    “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”

    “When I am dying
    How glad I will be
    That the lamp of my life
    Was blazed out for Thee”


    Letter ends on grace. “Grace be with you”.

    “He giveth more grace as the burden increases
    For out of his riches in Jesus
    He giveth and giveth and giveth again.”

    Paul’s dying words? Memorable. Hard.

    God’s Holy Spirit-breathed word. Powerful. To be obeyed.

    FORUM NOTES - Vaughn Roberts - 'Pure Sex'

    We live in a society obsessed by sex. By the age of 18, we’ve seen roughly 9,000 acts/suggestions of sex in the media!!

    The world says ‘you haven’t lived till you’ve had sex’. And we believe it!

    BUT, it MUST make sense to live according to the maker’s instructions…

    There’s a misconception in our culture that society is for sex, and Christianity isn’t. That’s not true either!

    What about homosexuality…? Since the fall, the whole of creation is out of joint. So people may have desires that feel natural, but just aren’t. But anyway, Christianity is INCLUSIVE. God loves all his people. He hates sin, yes, but he loves his people despite their sin, because of Jesus’ work on the cross. And he hates all sin – lying as much as acts of homosexuality.

    Our society ahs a generation growing up very cynical of marriage. But whatever they say, it’s NOT just a bit of paper.

    “Co-habitation is a trial marriage, that turns out to be a trial and not a marriage”

    Marriage is for life. It’s based not on feelings but on commitment. Not on passions but on promises.
    “You know I love you, I always will. My mind’s made up by the way that I feel.” But if your mind’s made up by the way you feel, it’s not clear you’ll always love that person…

    FORUM NOTES - Vaughn Roberts. ‘Pure Sacrifice’

    The cross is CENTRAL.
    Guilty, enslaved, alienated, dead…..UNTIL WE’RE REBORN IN JESUS!

    Matthew 7:11 “Though you are evil…” The Bible assumes we’re evil! There’s no question! As a result of the fall, we are. We don’t do what we want, we’re just followers. We’re trapped by our sin, by our own desires and greed.

    Substitution! Jesus took our place on the cross. In the supreme demonstration of God’s love Jesus took our place on the cross.

    The achievement of the cross? SALVATION! We’re justified! “God, he say I’m alrite”!!
    We have reconciliation with God through Jesus. We have assurance of eternal life in heaven.

    We must be messengers of this.

    September 2005. UCCF Forum, Shropshire

    I’d volunteered to help cook at Forum and after the second week of camp was well up for it! Couldn’t wait to be in the kitchen all day and hopefully being a blessing to those I was with, showing them the joy it is to serve our Lord in any way possible.
    And, when I got there, discovered I was on shifts! So wasn’t spending the entire day in the kitchen after all. I have to admit, I was ever so slightly disappointed..! But as I was doing the morning shift it meant I got to go to the evening meetings and some of the seminars in the afternoon (if I wasn’t asleep!).
    As last year, the meetings were all awesome.

    August 2005. EMW Outdoor Camp:- 14-16 Year Olds

    What a week! Brief rundown…

    Thursday (two days before camp): Ceryn told assistant ladies leader can’t make it due to illness and asked to fill that role.
    Friday (one day till camp): Ceryn’s feeling really ill. The cooks Abi and Rachel are up till very late getting the food sorted!
    Saturday (first day of camp): Ceryn’s on a bus up from South Wales with some of the campers. The weather’s atrocious. And when arriving at Lampeter to change buses, it’s discovered the bus for the onward journey hasn’t been booked…
    Meanwhile, the car the cooks were travelling in breaks down almost before they set off and their dad has to hire a van to drive them (and the food!) to camp…

    Sunday: Whilst playing games on the beach, one of the lads falls and dislocates his knee. Monday:- After a five hour hike, we return to site to find that the oven isn’t working and dinner’s gonna take a little longer than expected…

    Tuesday: The chaplain has to go home as his wife and son aren’t well.

    Wednesday:- More antics with the oven! Ceryn’s got impetigo (but doesn’t know it yet!) Thursday:- The gas goes completely! Which means no oven, and no hot water…

    Friday:- Ceryn’s told she’s got impetigo.

    Saturday:- Break camp, and get ready for the next one…! Week 2 starts…

    What a week eh?! Thankfully week 2 wasn’t as crazy as that. But it was a perfect example of God’s faithfulness and the fact that, no matter what plans we make, He is in control and will have His way. Proverbs 19: 21 says: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s will that prevails.” So true! Let me run through that week again for you…

    Thursday (two days before camp): God knew this was gonna happen!
    Friday (one day before camp): as above!

    Saturday: He is the God of the weather and kept us safe in the bus on the way up. The problem with the un-booked bus was sorted, too. And praise Him that at such short notice a van was hired and Abi’s dad got them safely to camp, and travelled back safely.
    Sunday:- Praise God that he was airlifted out safely and even managed to re-join the camp for the rest of the week!
    Monday: Praise God that the campers were amazing during this time and not once complained about having to wait for their food. Instead, they actively joined in games and spent the time getting to know each other and forming friendships. Amazing!
    Tuesday: Praise God that the chaplain was able to get home safely to care for his wife and young son, and that we were able to re-arrange the camp timetable to include whole-group Bible studies instead of meetings.
    Wednesday/Thursday: Praise God that it was (finally!) sorted out! And that the people on the adjacent campsite were kind enough to let us borrow their oven.
    Friday:- Praise God that Ceryn was able to (finally!) get hold of some antibiotics and remain on the second week of camp.

    And what else can we praise God for?
    That all the campers and officers were kept safe during the activities – gorge walking, mountain climbing, abseiling/rock climbing, canoeing, swimming…
    That there was a tremendous atmosphere on camp all week not just amongst the campers but the team of officers as well.
    The so many of the campers benefited spiritually from the week, that some re-committed their lives to Christ and at least one gave their life to Him!
    That despite it being, practically speaking, one of the worst camps ever in terms of nothing going right, spiritually speaking it was one of the best camps ever! God is faithful!!!!

    August 2005. EMW Outdoor Camp 17-19 Year Olds

    Week 2 was for 17-19 year olds. It was a much smaller camp and so the campers were able to build on and form strong friendships. Praise God he kept us safe during the week, especially on the night we had a big storm. Praise God so many of the campers found the week beneficial to their walk with God. Hallelujah!
    God really worked on my servant heart during this week too! Having been so heavily involved in the running of the first week, I found it really hard to take a step back in the second week and be behind the scenes. On the first few days I was really struggling and not enjoying it at all! But God made me realise that I was still serving Him, and in fact I learnt so much that week about serving Him with joy in ALL that we do. And I shared my time in the kitchen with the cook, Derek, who I learnt a lot from, and who never stopped talking about Jesus, so I couldn’t stay grumpy for long…!