Last week I attended a workshop led by James Kelly. With a commerce degree in entrepreneurship along with a Masters of Divinity and a passion for technology, James brings a unique perspective to the possibilities for church in the 21st century. After serving with his wife as short-term missionaries in South Sudan for three months, James helped launch Radiant City Church in Waterloo and is the founder of Faith Tech, which exists to bridge the gap between faith and technology. Let me share some of the things I learned.
Our life groups at Grace are a place where people can get to know others and be known by them. They’re small enough for discussion, prayer and encouragement. But our vision for the groups is to look for opportunities for neighbourhood-sized mission projects. Who can we serve in Jesus’ name? How can we reach out to people around us? How can we make Jesus known? They’re not easy questions to answer but they’re important ones to deal with if we’re going to be faithful to Jesus’ commission. Back in January, I contacted one of our missionaries, Darryl Dash, and asked if there were any ways that our life group might serve with them. That call led to our involvement in the Toronto Art Crawl in Liberty Village last Saturday. Let me share what I observed.
Remi Adeleke has done it all: scam artist, drug dealer, Navy SEAL, and actor. But it’s not so much his resume that fascinates me as what God has done in his life and what his life teaches me about how I can grow as a person. I’d encourage you to listen to Remi tell his story at the following link:
Let me share some of the things I learned from his story.
Psalms is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament book. Obviously, it has much to offer. Have you ever thought about how it’s put together? With 150 psalms, you could be forgiven for not being aware of the structure of the book. Have you ever noticed, for example, that the Book of Psalms is actually made up of five books (Psalms 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; 107-150) that most scholars believe are related to the five book of Moses? So just as we have five books of Moses to read, we have five books of Psalms to pray and sing. This is minor, though. Missing the forest for the trees in the Psalms is far more problematic in other ways because it teaches some crucial lessons about how to approach life and what to expect from it.
Over the last number of weeks, we have been looking at John 6. Just one day after the feeding of the 5000, the crowds became offended at Jesus’ teaching and largely walked away, never to return. They grumbled about Him, argued with Him, and ultimately decided that they knew better than Jesus did. Their final recorded words, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it” (John 6:60), stand as a warning to all who would reject Jesus because they’re offended at what He says. While few Christians today are offended by Jesus’ claims to be the “bread of life” (v. 35) or the “bread that came down from heaven” (v. 41), many are offended by another teaching of Jesus in this same passage. The teaching that people find so offensive, today, is the idea that no one trusts in Jesus unless God enables them to do so. Let’s look at the text again and see if that’s what it really says.
In February, I attended the Work as Worship conference organized by RightNow Media. It was a one-day event with a dizzying line-up of world-renowned speakers. I’ve also been reading in this area in preparation for a new series I’m starting in June entitled, “Let God Transform your Career.” I’d like to share some of the things I learned from the conference, but I’d also like to ask for your help. Would you take a minute to answer five short questions to help me make the upcoming series as meaningful as possible? Click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Y88QLW5
Let me share with you some of the lessons I learned from the speakers.
Sometimes, it feels like the people in biblical times had an inside scoop on faith and spirituality. We imagine that walking with Jesus and witnessing the events of his life, firsthand, would make us feel closer to Him. Yet often those people we envy are anything but models of faith. The disciples, for instance, astound us with their confusion, resistance, and lack of trust. There’s an important reason why. We need revelation more than we need experience. Take the episode of Jesus walking on the water. If we were there, it would have been memorable. But we may not have heard everything. We may not have understood everything. And even if we saw and heard everything, we may not have known what to make of it. We have something better than a view of this event, sitting by the 1st c. Sea of Galilee. We have revelation. God has given us in the gospels perfect accounts, not only recording the necessary historical details but giving us an authoritative interpretation of what we’re supposed to learn from them. Understanding this helps us to know how to read them.
On Sunday, we were away in Brampton serving at Bramalea Baptist’s missions conference. I preached and Jennifer sang in their morning services and Jennifer sang again in the evening at their short-term mission fundraising event. The reason for our involvement was their Japan focus. Specifically, they’re sending two teams to Japan to serve in two cities with which I have a deep connection. The first, Toyama, was the place where I was baptized and served initially teaching English as a new believer and recent university graduate. The second, Tsukuba, was where Jennifer and I served to plant a church. It’s exciting to see God continuing to raise up people to support the work of the gospel in these two cities.
There were three take-aways for me from the day of ministry.
Last week, I attended the regional conference of The Fellowship. Sam Allberry, of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, spoke in four sessions on, “Jesus, Sexuality and The Good News of the Gospel.” About the same time that he began to investigate Jesus and the Bible, Sam began to realize that he was attracted to men. He ended up trusting Jesus and developed deeply held biblical convictions that led him to a life of celibacy. Now an Oxford-trained pastor and author of “Is God Anti-Gay?” he is often invited to speak at conferences and universities on issues related to Christian sexuality. Regularly speaking in front of people from the LGBT community, Sam has learned to not only articulate Scripture, but to do so with love, compassion and sensitivity. Let me share some of what I learned.
In Luke 24:27, Jesus appeared to his disciples after His resurrection, and it says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” For years, I struggled to understand verses like this. Jesus spoke these words to Jewish followers who only had the Old Testament. Jesus was saying that the Old Testament Scriptures bore witness to Him, somehow, but I wasn’t sure how. There were some obvious prophecies, but it seemed as if the Bible mostly told stories about people like Adam, Noah, Moses, David and in today’s e100 reading, Daniel. How could they also be speaking of Jesus? I came to learn that one of the ways that the Old Testament points to Jesus is by laying down patterns and categories that foreshadow Jesus in a way that could hardly be coincidental. Reading the account of Daniel in the lion’s den, for instance, whets people’s appetite for someone greater than Daniel.