Teaching the Children

This is a brilliant talk about parenting by Sinclair Ferguson. It will be well worth a listen, whether you have children or not, because it shows how the church is so important to parenting. Every one of us at church has a role to play in the Christian nurture of the children.

Our task as parents and families is not to see how the church of Jesus Christ will fit into our family life, but to fold over our families into the life of the family of the church… Your family will not last long. Your marriage will not last long. If I understand Jesus aright, however difficult it is for me to get my head round it, if there’s no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven, if everything these human relationships are intended to satisfy will be fully satisfied in the glory of Christ and the fellowship of God’s people, then I need to see that my family takes a secondary place to the church family. The church family alone will last for all eternity. My family as it’s presently structured will last only until the death of its members. You see the worldly way of thinking is that we view eternity in the light of time. The biblical view is that I view time in the light of eternity. Therefore, as a parent my responsibility is to fold my family into the life of the church…

Listen to the whole thing here:

Just Do Something – A Review

There is, no doubt, a big decision you have to make in life. Where should I live? What career should I take? Who should I marry? These are indeed huge questions to ask but how do we go about knowing God’s will for our lives?

There are a million confusing methods floating around Christian circles: sensing promptings from God, reading into unusual coincidences, flicking open the Bible and pointing at verse at random to give us the answer.  The list can go on.

‘Just Do Something’ is here to address all that. It is a book about God’s will and the Bible’s teaching on decision-making.

This book very clearly helps you understand what you need to know about God’s will and how you should make decisions. Kevin DeYoung sets out to clear up common misconceptions about how Christians (and all human beings for that matter!) should make decisions. And then presents the liberating solution to your problem.

Brace yourself; this book will do 3 things to you:

  1. It will kick you out of a paralysis and fear of making the wrong the choice.
  2. It will enlighten you to what the scriptures have to say about God’s will for you life.
  3. It will equip you with the correct thinking and practical tools in how to make these big decisions.

Personally, I found this book incredibly helpful as I was making big decisions in my life. It helped me make godly choices and transformed my whole approach to God’s will.

So as you sit here reading this, perhaps you are thinking, “What is God’s will for my life?” Well, I can tell you I have the answer. Kevin DeYoung has the answer. So if you want to know: just do something. Just read this book.

Andrew Kueh

What a minister is… and what it means for you

This might surprise you, but I don’t have a “job”. I say that because a “job” suggests I get paid to do something. I think it’s important that we don’t see the Christian ministry as a “job”, but as an “office”. An office is a position of trust, in which someone else’s authority is to be exercised. The risen Lord Jesus has entrusted the task of ministry to certain people, called “elders” (1 Peter 5:1), “overseers” (1 Tim 3:1), and “ministers” (2 Cor 3:6). So, I don’t get paid a “salary” by an employer, but a “stipend” that helps me carry out the office Christ has entrusted to me.

My main task is to: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you” (1 Peter 5:2).

Now, the apostle Paul tells us how he did that in the church in Ephesus; he shepherded them both publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20). It’s obvious how we do that on Sundays through teaching, but how about from “house to house”? In the past, one of the ways ministers have sought to do this is through pastoral visits. A pastoral visit is what it sounds like – the minister comes and visits you in your house. Now that might not be something you’re very used to today; the idea of your minister coming to visit you might feel like you’re in trouble! But that’s not the intention at all. Rather, it’s a way for the minister to get to know his flock, and to see how he can help, encourage and pray for them.

I’m hoping to start doing this a bit more regularly on Thursday nights (and maybe Tuesdays). So, don’t be surprised if I mention I’m planning to call by on a Thursday. If you have a question about something I’ve preached on, try and remember it and ask me about it when I visit. Please don’t think I’m too busy to bother with your questions. I’d love for you to ask me for help from the Bible if you’re trying to make decisions, or share things I can be praying for you; remember, my calling as a minister is to speak the Bible into the details of your life.

The one thing about sexuality that Christians just don’t get

This is a very important video that explains why it’s a big mistake for us to talk about “gay Christians” and even “heterosexuals” and “homosexuals”. The speaker, Rosaria Butterfield, was converted from a lesbian lifestyle. She explains that “gay” is an identity label that the world has given us, and will interfere with embracing our identity in Christ.  I’d highly recommend anything written by her.

Here are two of her books:

Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, which tells her own story.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thoughts-Champagne-Buttefield-6-Jul-1905-Paperback/dp/B011T74D78/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510226219&sr=1-2&keywords=secret+thoughts+of+an+unlikely+convert

and

Openness Unhindered, which are more of her thoughts on sexual identity and belonging to Jesus.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/openness-Unhindered-Rosaria-Champagne-Butterfield/dp/188452799X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510226159&sr=8-1&keywords=openness+unhindered

Why you should care about church history

I know history isn’t most people’s favourite subject. In a world of twitter, Whatsapp, and Instagram, it feels hard enough to keep up with what’s new, let alone with what happened 500 years ago. News headlines grab our attention. We read them on our commute. They’re pushed at us in our news feeds. If offered a choice between something “old” and something “new”, nine times out of ten, we will pick what’s “new”. But what if we’ve been tricked? What if we’ve been conditioned to get this completely the wrong way round?  What if our obsession with the “news” isn’t a sign of our cleverness, but of our foolishness?

Think about it. Have you ever tried to read a 1-month old newspaper? It feels pretty pointless, doesn’t it? Why? Because one month later it is mostly irrelevant.

God encourages us to show respect for what’s “old”.

Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set (Proverbs 22:28)

Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life (Prov 16:31)

As we run the Christian race, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses from church history, watching us (Heb 12:1 and all of chapter 11).

Of course, that doesn’t mean what’s old is automatically right. The past is full of sinners just like the present, and people got it wrong in the past as often as they do in the present, but the past is a place where God has lots to teach us.

So, maybe, rather than switching on Good Morning Britain or BBC Breakfast, or Capital FM, and drinking in what’s “new”, we will be better able to serve Jesus Christ, if we drink in what’s “old”; maybe the voices of Christians who have walked this way before us will be more useful than the voices of DJ’s and presenters sitting on breakfast couches.

Through [Abel’s] faith, though he died, he still speaks (Heb 11:4).

What you want at church

Here’s a quote I read a while ago, but that I find helpful to keep reminding myself of. It’s by Flannery O’Connor, who was an American novelist. She said:

“In education, tastes are not to be consulted; they are to be formed”.

O’Connor was thinking of the classroom when she said this. Her point was that teachers are unwise to simply give children what they want, because what they want is exactly one of the things that needs educating! If teachers gave children what they already liked, almost every classroom in the country would be filled with children watching TV and playing computer games. No, the aim of the teacher is to teach her students to like new things, things they didn’t know they’d like.

What’s true in the classroom is also true in church. The church’s job is not to give people what they already want. It’s not to carry out a survey and run things in the most popular way. The church’s job is to teach people God’s ways, which often don’t line up with our own. See Acts 14:13-15 for a good example of this. It’s exactly when the church refuses to give us what we want, that we’ll start to learn how satisfying God is, and how glorious Jesus Christ, his Son is.

This means as you come to worship God at church, even when you don’t “like” it – maybe, especially when you don’t “like” it – remember,  God is at work, teaching you new wants, which are much more satisfying than your old ones. “In education, tastes are not to be consulted; they are to be formed”.

Sing up!

Do you like music? Funnily, today, we’re surrounded by music; everyone’s got headphones in and their own personal playlist. But our relationship to music and singing is more likely to be as a consumer than a producer. Many of us have probably been to weddings of unbelievers, where no one sings the songs. Or we’ve watched athletes or sportsmen awkwardly sing their national anthems. Singing today is mainly an activity to watch and listen to, rather than participate in. People a hundred years ago would think it very strange that when we say “play music” today, we mean press a button.

In this day and age, one of most important things you can do on Sunday is to sing. The Bible treats singing as a command; It’s your Christian duty. “Shout for joy to God… Sing the glory of his name!” (Psalm 66:1-2). Open those lungs. Let it go! Bellow! If doing that makes you feel uncomfortable or awkward, let me encourage you to keep working at it!

Why? Because there’s something about singing to God in worship that combines our hearts, minds, souls and strength in a unique way. We’re told to love the LORD with all our heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:33), and in the act of singing our minds are engaged, our hearts are stirred, our physical strength is exerted, and the deepest parts of our soul are reached. Singing well isn’t about hitting the right notes (though it helps!), but about throwing yourself in to the act out of love for God. Saved sinners make the best singers!

I’d love us to be a church, where what strikes people isn’t the quality of the music, but our desire to sing up and sing out.

Once or Twice?

At All Nations, we deliberately have two services on Sundays – a morning service at 10.30am and an afternoon service at 4.30pm. These services aren’t for two different congregations (like a shop, extending its opening hours to get more business!). They are for us as a church to worship God twice together (like a family eating two meals together, rather than one).

Maybe the idea of going to two services on a Sunday is new or a bit unusual to you:

– “Why would I do that?”
– “I’m going to feel tired when I get there”
– “The children won’t be able to cope”
– “I don’t have time for that”

 

Well, this is why we do it: going to church twice on a Sunday helps us use Sundays in the way God intends, better than one (see Exodus 20:8-11); it helps us maximise the day. As your minister, I am confident that you will grow more spiritually as an individual, as a family, and as a church, if you commit to come to church twice rather than once.

Now, I can sympathise with the second and third reactions above (though, not the fourth). At times, coming to church twice on Sundays can feel inconvenient. It can mean saying “no” to children’s birthday parties. It can mean less free time on Saturdays, because you’re getting your “work” done then. It can require all kinds of readjustments, and children aren’t usually on their best behaviour at 5pm! But when something really matters, we’re happy to put ourselves out and our families out. War forces soldiers to show discipline. The incentive of a gold medal drives Olympic athletes to train hard. The prospect of a good-harvest helps hard-working farmers handle inconvenience (see 2 Tim 2:3-7). Well, we’re living for Christ’s eternal kingdom, aren’t we?  What we do with our Sundays is a very practical way of showing what our priority is to a watching world, ourselves, and our children.

I’d love us as a church to get the most we can out of Sundays.

Here’s a link to a helpful article about one lady’s experience of deciding to come to church twice:

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2017/08/the-blessing-of-sunday-evening.php

The Westminster Shorter Catechism – a recommendation

I highly recommend this little book. It’s a true Christian classic. It was written by a group of English and Scottish ministers in London during the English Civil War in the 1640s. I don’t know what you would choose to write about when a war was on, but these men wrote 107 questions and answers about God and our relationship with him, all in under 50 pages.

The Bible says: “In your thinking, be mature” (1 Cor 14:20). How are you going to do that? Well, this booklet is one of the best things I can recommend to help you.

I like to think of the catechism as a training programme for the Christian mind. If you go to the gym, you need to have a plan, and you need to follow that plan if you want positive results. If you just rely on the spur of the moment, you’re not going to lift the hard weights, or push yourself to run hard; you won’t keep it up, and you’ll stay flabby. In the same way, our Christian minds need exercise to help us grow strong and think God’s ways not our ways. I think the best way to use this catechism is as your training programme. That means it’s not an “easy” read, to relax with on the beach; you can’t skim read it and get the benefits, anymore than five minutes at the gym is going to help build your biceps.

No, this is a book to keep coming back to. It’s a book to read slowly and carefully and thoughtfully. Read through it again and again. Look up words you don’t understand in a dictionary. Look up the Bible verses and think about how they prove the answer. Ask questions. Ask me at church why it answers things in that particular way. Use it to direct your prayers sometimes. Take a question and thank God for the Bible truths unpacked in the answer. You can even try and memorise some of your favourite questions and answers. If you use the catechism like that, it will do wonders for your Christian mind.

A lot of Christian books published today you can skim through and you may learn one or two interesting things. But this booklet is different. It’s one to keep nearby your Bible. My copy has been my companion for years now, and is grubby, held together with tape, and covered with coffee stains. It’s given backbone and fibre to my Christian mind and thousands upon thousands of others. “In your thinking, be mature” (1 Cor 14:20).