Bearing Witness to Christ’s Love (2 of 2)

In this video, evangelist and apologist Michael Ramsden challenges his listeners on what price they’re willing to pay for the gospel. Do we love the gospel more than life itself?
The talk was given at The Cape Town 2010 Congress organised by The Lausanne Global Conversation. Length—15:02.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Bearing Witness to Christ’s Love (1 of 2)

In this video, Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria (a Muslim majority area) talks about sacrificing one’s life for the gospel and his personal experiences representing Christ in the midst of persecution.

This talk was given at the Cape Town 2010 Congress organised by The Lausanne Global Conversation.
Length—11:37.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

When to stop serving in church

I’ve griped before on serving in church. Those who don’t haven’t quite grasped the nature of being an imitator of Christ, who came to serve and not to be served. Sadly,  those who do contribute to their local congregation don’t always have the purest of motives.

I’m not wise enough nor have I had enough life experience to exhaust all the possible wrong motives we may have for doing what we do. I’ve come up with 3 situations in which it would be opportune for a Christian to quit doing what they’re doing. It need not be permanent—a break long enough to examine one’s own heart and repent should suffice.

When you’re not in it for the Father’s pleasure

Remember when you were a kid and you presented your parents with artistic masterpieces? You were completely unself-conscious about the disproportionate human limbs and incongruous colour of the family pet. It was simply a pleasure, not a means to an end.

Are you disappointed that no one notices all the work you put in? Do you feel you can’t stand the people you’re serving or serving with? Or do you pat yourself on the back, thinking it was awfully nice of you to have done such an unpleasant task? Then stop.  Stop if you can’t go up to your heavenly Father and unabashedly say, “Look what I did today!”

When you can’t see yourself doing something else

So you’re thrilled by what you’re doing, but what if you’re asked to do something else? Maybe your area of ministry is being discontinued, or more hands are needed elsewhere. If that prospect seems unthinkable, then stop. You’ve made an idol out of your service. The God you’re serving is greater than the task you’re accomplishing. He is pleased by your faithfulness in the work, and not by the work itself.

When you can’t see someone else in your place

This is related to the previous point, which assumed that your place would remain vacant. But what if someone is called to replace you or work alongside you?

I struggled with this particular issue. For over 3 years, I was the sole person in charge of our church website. A while back, two other volunteers joined me and I found it oh-so-hard to give up exclusive control (I eventually did, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this). The sky didn’t fall on our heads and it was great to have less to think about, even though I had to tweak things every now and then.

Conclusion

I hope reading this post hasn’t left you feeling guilty. God has an infinite willingness to forgive His wayward children and to welcome into His family those that aren’t part of it. Repent, and trust in His Holy Spirit to work in you.

Another collared cat

Wikileaks the cat and her collar
Wikileaks the cat and her collar

My brother and I are repeat offenders when it comes to cat adoption (taken as either humans adopting cats or the other way round). Our latest is Wikileaks the white and honey-coloured kitten.

Said kitten first came to our notice in mid- to late November, when Cablegate was unfolding, hence the unfortunate appellation. I don’t know if she’d been meowing at every door in the neighbourhood, but at ours she found friends of her species. The occasional table scraps she received outside the house gradually became left-over cat food administered inside (ostensibly because a horrid kitten stole Wikileaks’ food more than once; the truth is our hearts were warming to this possibly abandoned/ neglected kitty).

Wikileaks the cat catching some sun in her pre-collar days
Wikileaks the cat catching some sun in her pre-collar days

I’d often let her sit in the warm house for an hour or two before putting her out into the cold. One evening in the week between Christmas and New Year’s day, I put her out just before going to bed at close to 11pm. She was still at the door when my brother returned some twenty minutes later. He let her in and she hasn’t left since.

This past Monday she was spayed, putting an end to the four-week long misery we (humans and felines alike) endured of having a cat in heat. Our previous kitten Tempesta was subdued by the operation. Wikileaks was the exact opposite, contumaciously clawing at her collar with all four paws (I didn’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry, so I did both alternately). She has since resigned herself to its pesky presence, and we can all now enjoy some peace and quiet.

Come, listen, put into practice

These are notes from the sermon What are you building your life on? (length 41:04) by Josh Harris and based on Luke 6:46-49.

In his introduction, Harris tells of upbringing in a subculture of the Christian subculture, a ‘double bubble’. As a result, he never considered that the parable of the builders applied to him. However, the opening verse tells us that Jesus was talking to religious people (who called Him ‘Lord’) and not to pagans. The parable is a warning to nominal believers.

Harris highlights three principles from the passage:

1. Come to Jesus

It is possible to make our Christianity about things other than Jesus Christ. Harris uses an apt illustration from the Amish practice of rumspringa, in which teens given the chance of leaving the community choose to stay for reasons other than God and His word.

Only by turning from sin and turning to Christ can we be saved.

2. Listen to Jesus’ words

Jesus’ words aren’t only those highlighted in red in the gospels—they’re the entire Bible. Additionally, listening to Jesus isn’t about accumulating Bible facts. Harris tells a most humourous fictional story to drive this point home (at 21:30 in the audio).

The Bible is the story of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ.

3. Put into practice

Not putting into practice Jesus’ words does nothing for you—like watching an exercise video from your couch.

You can fool everybody, but you can’t fool the storm. The storm hit both houses, but only one was left standing. Genuine faith in Christ is that which is standing despite the storms of life, the greatest of which is death.

If you’re built on the rock, you can be assured that nothing will separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

The days of creation

These are notes on part of a sermon by Tim Chester.

The sermon, entitled A Theology of Washing Up (length 51:27 ), is about the sacred/secular divide in general and how to wash dishes to the glory of God in particular. While the entire sermon is definitely worth a listen, I shall focus on a portion of it (19:52 – 26:00) where he points out patterns in the creation narrative I’d never noticed before.

In days 1-3 God takes what was formless and gives it form; in days 4-6 He takes what is empty and fills it. He orders the chaos and He fills.

Additionally, in the first three days God separates and names.

Day 1: God creates light and dark Day 4: God creates sun, moon and stars to fill the heavens
Day 2: God creates water and sky Day 5: God fills the water with fish and the sky with birds
Day 3: God creates land Day 6: God fills the land with animals

The task given to humanity (Gen 1:28) mirrors God’s own creative activity: to govern and to fill. It’s no surprise that Adam’s first governing activity is to name the animals created on days 5 and 6. God begun the naming, but extended it to mankind made in God’s image.

Fascinating!

Raising spiritually successful children

What are the common characteristics of children who grow up to become spiritually mature adults? The folks at LifeWay Research set to find out, surveying 500 parents of 1005 children ages 20-35. The findings can be summarised in the following statistically significant factors, which I hope to recall if I ever become a parent:

The spiritually mature adult children while they were young children: Continue reading