The #WhatStopsMe Conversation

Many people have big questions about life, the world around us, why we are here and if there is something more than mere existence. All of us have our ideas and opinions. We want to share them with others and to hear what others have to say. However, for many of us going along to a church and talking about these things in the context of Christian faith and the Christian God is just something we cannot see ourselves doing. Continue reading

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God unchanging (God is Sovereign Part 5)

If you want to impress people with your learning than you can always tell them that “A natural implication of God’s aseity is his immutability.”[1] That sounds impressive doesn’t it?  If, however, you want to come across as a normal member of the human race and you want others to understand you then you can say that because God is sovereign, independent, without rivals and self-existent (aseity), this means that he will not change (immutability). Continue reading

Real Prayer is Controversial

Prayer is in the news and it’s controversial. The Church of England have created an advert to promote their new website campaign #JustPray. They hoped that an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer would be shown in cinemas before screenings of the new Star Wars film. Problem, the cinemas refused to show the advert in case it caused offence. Continue reading

The end or is it (How The Resurrection helps us make sense in the midst of terror)

Introduction

The events of last weekend brought great terror and distress. It wasn’t just the events themselves but the fear of further terror.

Last weekend reminded us that life can be distressing, confusing and terrifying. It’s not just those big events. There is the fear of sickness, death, unemployment. The distress of being hurt, let down. The regret of failure.

 Read Mark 15 :42-16:20

  • What happened? –Making sense of extraordinary , confusing, terrifying events

 

Mark 15:42-47 Jesus is buried

Normally the Romans left the bodies of executed criminals to decay. But the family could request the body from the magistrate.

The body is requested by Joseph of Arimathea.  He was one of the Sanhedrin.  He was looking for God’s Kingdom. Something had happened to draw him to Jesus.

Jesus is wrapped in cloth. The body is laid in a tomb cut into the rock. A stone is placed across the entrance

Mary and Mary Magdalene are watching

Some of us will closely identify with the two Mary’s. You feel sad and helpless. Things look bleak.

Mark 16:1-8  The Tomb is empty

The women wait until after the Sabbath and then they go to the tomb. They want to anoint Jesus’s body with spices.  On the way, they realise that they have a problem. Who will move the big stone. But the stone has already been moved. The tomb is empty. The body is gone.

There is someone there, a man dressed in white. It’s an angel. He tells them that they are looking in the wrong place for Jesus. Jesus is not dead, he is risen!

The angel tells the women to go and tell Peter.

They run back in terror. They say nothing to anyone on the way.

This is where Mark initially finishes –there is an epilogue but this is the main part. In fact, there has been some dispute over verses 9-20 because not all the old manuscripts have those verses and because the writing style changes abruptly from the rest of the Gospel.  It’s worth saying at this stage that this should not alarm us if we are concerned about the reliability of Scripture. In fact, we can be amazed at the way Scripture has been preserved. There were all of these scrolls and copies flying around the ancient world and you might think that there were lots of opportunities for bits to go missing or get added. But in fact the manuscripts agree consistently. There are only two passages that have caused major debate, this one and John 8.

Neither passage actually contradicts or adds to Scripture. It’s likely that John 8 is genuine but may have got moved from its’ original location. Mark seems to include a postscript that summarises the other Gospel accounts to tell us what happened next. Maybe Mark himself added this in on request (we shouldn’t be surprised to see examples of interaction between the New Testament authors and their audience resulting in second drafts. God’s inspiration works through the normal human writing process) or maybe it was added as a postscript by those responsible for taking the gospel out. But it gives a reliable account of the days that followed, leading to Jesus; ascension.

BUT the main story still finishes with this terror and confusion. They have news but they don’t know what to do with it. It is in fact good news but at first they are just overwhelmed by how big, how great how awesome this is.

We have to start somewhere and awe is the right place. Wisdom starts with fear of God. It starts when we recognise that we are not in control. We cannot manipulate or control God. We must simply trust him in every situation.

Mark 16: 9-20 The picture becomes clearer

So the postscript pulls together the loose threads. It draws in the other Gospel accounts from Luke and John. The risen Jesus meets them. He gives them a job to do. They are to go and proclaim the good news. He gives them the authority and the power to be His witnesses.

They can live and rejoice and witness because He lives.

And we too!

  • Because He Lives…..

 

Because He lives I can face tomorrow

The Resurrection tells me that death is not the end. The Resurrection tells me that the chaos and terror of Friday 13th November is not the end. The resurrection tells me that evil men do not win. The Resurrection tells me that God is in control, that Jesus is King and I can go into this week knowing that he will be with me.

Because He Lives All Fear is gone

The Resurrection tells me that I do not need to fear. I do not need to fear opposition. What is the worst thing that a bully can do to me? What is the worst thing that persecution can do? The worse thing they can do is to kill my physical body. But death does not have the last word. Jesus has defeated death and so he will take me safe through death to be with him and on to the great day of resurrection.

The Resurrection tells me that I do not need to fear death. We fear death because death is to do with punishment. Death is the penalty for sin. If we die without knowing Christ then death leads to judgement and to eternal separation from God. But if we die in Christ, then the punishment has already been taken. He took the penalty on himself. And so death will be temporary and then we will be with him.

“There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18)

Conclusion

Do you know him. Do you know Christ and the power of His resurrection in your life?

 

 

More Leadership jottings

Occasionally we include some practical tips for people involved in leadership and change management, whether in a church, workplace or other organisation. Here are some more thoughts. Hope you find them helpful Continue reading

Plant Sandwell

Our friends at The FIEC have created a fantastic resource to encourage churches to pray for Church planting. It’s called Go Into and it’s a set of 50 fact cards about places around the UK which would benefit from church-planting Continue reading

The remedy to fear…or does what we believe really affect how we live?

paris 15

It’s on a Friday night when you click on the news feed and hear about Kalashnikov yielding gunmen rampaging through a European city that you know whether or not what you believe really affects how you live. Continue reading