Congratulations Jacob.

Jacob Cerone has passed his oral defense for his thesis, and a hearty congratulations is in order. He blessed me with a copy of his thesis a few weeks ago and I am 1/2 way through it. I admit upfront that his technical application and understanding of ancient languages in the way he engages with Jonah is way above my pay grade. I am however enjoying his thesis, for it compels me to engage and learn at greater depth. Technical aspects aside, his in-depth study is readily accessible, informative and easy to read. Jonah was one of my favorite Minor Prophets, and when I took that class it was a toss up between Jonah and Micah when time came to do my major assignment – Micah won that round.

P.S Jacob, rumor has it you once said you would not shave till you finished your thesis. Inquiring minds want to know if its still coming off? Or perhaps, you had another thesis in mind?

Taking the Gospel to the Highways, Byways and Back-blocks to every child, woman and man.

I was browsing the internet for “Urban Chaplaincy” and found a number of sites like this one, which promotes “Street Chaplaincy.”  I followed their training links and found this fantastic statement, which was penned by Reverend Carment Urquhart who started Perth Bible College in 1928. 

The shame of a world not yet evangelised should rouse us to vigorous activity. It is our business to publish the Gospel of Jesus Christ among all nations: it is God’s business to see that we are able to do it. …The regular ministry cannot supply this need. Where are the men and women whom God desires to be trained in our institute for “the greatest work in the world”; the preaching of the gospel both within and without our State?

Street Chaplaincy is a way of taking the Gospel into the outer parts of our world. The power within this missional statement is an eternal command, to go…get out…take the message with you… tell others about God’s eternal love for his creation.

Worshipers called to worship.

There is a lot of talk going on around the blogosphere, articles being written in journals and sermons preached on what is ‘true’ worship. It’s rightly noted that ‘true’ worship involves how we live our day to day lives, 24 hours a day, engaging in the world we live in. It’s noted that worship is not ‘just’ the gathering together to sing songs to God, listen to a sermon, and in general think that is worship.

In my day to day travels, I see two extremes of this played out. The first is where the Sunday meeting (or any other meeting) is where it all happens. Everything else that we do and experience during the week is detached from our worship. The second extreme is where others discard the need to meet as a church, and discard the meeting: where songs are sung, prayers are prayed, and sermons preached – and discard the notion that that what goes on during the meeting is worship.

Dave Black in his latest post writes, (I’m not sure if this is his words reflecting on a lecture he attended, or is repeating what Daniel Block said) 

At the very least, we must acknowledge that we come to the gathering as worshippers and not simply to worship.

In the OT, the people of God worshiped God through their lifestyle, a lifestyle that was in accord to how God called them to live; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Within the context of life, there was the calling to gather together and worship together, God. This specific gathering among other things involved prayers, singing, sacrifice, proclamation and blessing. And it was acknowledged as worship. Worshipers of the one true God, gathering together to worship the one true God, so that they could go out and continue to worship the one true God throughout the week.

And so, we find a continuation of this theme in our Christian era.  Together, we are worshipers of the one true God, gathering together to worship the one true God, so that we can go out and continue to worship the one true God throughout the week.Our gifts, talents, abilities and ministries operate not only within the church meeting; they operate and are to be used throughout the week -24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in our work, home and leisure. It’s true that our meetings are to be participatory meetings – its also true that our whole life is to be one of participation – one where we connect God in all we do, say and think.

Worship is not about the Sunday meeting and what happens in it; but, its all about the Sunday meeting and what happens in it.  Worship is not about our day to day lifestyle; but, its all about our day to day lifestyle. Lets not pit the one against the other – rather as Scripture does, lets acknowledge its both!

The promises of God are tied into the one great promise.

It’s important to note that the promise of God in Scripture, is that God promises himself to us. That if we seek him with all our heart, strength and mind; we will receive the desire of our heart – which is God himself. Everything else flows out of that awesome promise.

What are my gifts, talents and abilities; and am I being faithful?

Today we heard a message on the 3 managers who each received a sum of money to invest while the boss was away. During the sermon, the preacher used this story of a 9 year old Amira, who went on to win the 1013 Dutch Talent show.  And wow, can this girl sing. Like our preacher, I was more than a little jealous. Why is it that some people get freaky gifts and abilities like this 9 year old girl to teach herself to sing, while watching utube video’s; and others like myself, whose shower turns itself off.

And that is the point. We are not to look at others and wish we were like them. Instead, we are to look to God, and ask him to help us to be all he has made us to be. What are our own gifts, talents, abilities that make us who we are. Are we using them to the best of our ability. Do we stretch ourselves through pressing into God, and asking him to equip and anoint us to use those gifts and talents for his glory.

As our preacher said, this subject isn’t a subject he often thinks about; but, because its in Scripture, indeed we should think about it. What are the gifts, talents and abilities that makes you, you! What are the gifts, talents and abilities that God has given us, that he wants us to put to use for his service and glory?

It’s a big question, and one that made me seriously stop, and reflect and make some notes about my own: Gifts, talents and abilities. And what am I doing to put them into action?  Ouch!

Delayed, but, never late. The God, who answers our prayers.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I turn closer to 50 more so than ever before. Last year my wife gave me a Koorong gift card, which somehow got misplaced. Koorong for my overseas friends, is an Australian Christian book shop. Anyways, one of my favorite prayers is Lord, you know where I placed such and such, can you show me where it is. And normally, the place where it is, comes to mind, or I just notice where it is.

But, the heavens seemed awfully silent regarding this card, and throughout the year, I would remember it missing (normally when I seriously needed it) and pray for the Lord to show me where it was. Well, today, I cleaned behind my tool chest and found it at 2pm. The expiry date on the card was the 7th of Feb, 2015 and I had 4 hours before the shop shut.

The irony was, there was nothing really that I needed at the book shop, at this point in time. Though, if anyone would like to sponsor me the collection of Barth’s dogmatics, I would not say no. But, I had to use it today, otherwise, the card expired and I didn’t think that was a good stewardship of someones gift. So I settled on two books, which I will talk about in a future post.

But for now, I want to talk about prayer. God doesn’t waste any of our prayers. We may think he has ignored them, or not heard them; but, scripture tells us that God hears our voice. Particularly if we pray sincerely and within a Godly framework. We may think that he is delaying his answers, but, the reality is, he is never late. And I for one, am thankful, that he is in control.

Ironically, I received some further good news afterwards this afternoon. Which, I will report on also at a later date. But, it too is in regards to the God who delays his answers – but, in the doing so, is never late.

Writing is good medicine.

The Time posts an interesting article about the therapeutic benefits of writing. On a personal note,  I have found writing to be extremely helpful and therapeutic.

Talking about difficult experiences can be a way of easing the emotional pain of trauma, but the latest research shows that expressing emotions in words can also speed physical healing. The study is the latest delving into the mind-body connection to suggest that expressing emotions about a traumatic experience in a coherent way may be important to not just mental but physical health as well. It showed that the calming effect of writing can cut physical wound healing time nearly in half….A week later, Broadbent and her colleagues started photographing the wounds every three to five days until they were completely healed.  Eleven days after the biopsy, 76% of the group that had written about trauma had fully healed while only 42% of the other group had.


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