In this post, I continue my series on Zac Veron’s Leadership on the Front Foot (see parts 1 and 2). The third section of Zac’s book focuses on six principles that he categorizes as operational for ministry that is typically already happening in a church. We’ll deal with the first three today and the last three in my next post.
Over the last few weeks, Emma and I have enjoyed watching the new TV show FlashForward. In the first episode, the entirety of humanity blacks out simultaneously for exactly two minutes and 17 seconds. During this blackout, everyone has a ‘flash-forward’, and experiences a snapshot of their own life six months in the future.
In my previous post, I mentioned a powerful and dangerous combination:
A need in the world
+ an implication of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This formula is like dynamite. Used properly, it has the power to move mountains. But unless it is handled with care, there is the potential for grave and even life-threatening danger. (more…)
I worked with a group of southern Sudanese pastors to help them to develop a discipleship training program for their churches. Remembering my own experience, I suggested that the starting point be a study explaining the nature of grace. “Yes”, they agreed, “after we have taught about witchcraft”. It seemed extraordinary that ‘Discipleship 101’ in Sudan should begin with a study on witchcraft. But as I talked with my Sudanese friends, I came to appreciate that to understand grace, we must first realize that God is sovereign over all creation and that our world is not controlled through curses and spells. True grace cannot be understood properly by those trapped in an animistic worldview.1
What the Sudanese church is learning, we are unlearning. We walk around towns and claim them for God; we seek deliverance from family curses; we release Christians from spirits of anger; we refuse to live in places where bad things have happened. Many Australian Christians share the belief of our non-Christian neighbours that evil clings to places and has to be cleansed or it will threaten the future occupants. (more…)
After a delay, I continue to blog through Zac Veron’s Leadership on the Front Foot—a series that I began some time ago.
In his introduction, Zac explains that
I can be very black and white! I have strong views and I express them in a fairly matter-of-fact way. (p. 7)
I’ll try to review similarly! But my style probably errs towards precision and details. This is a roundabout way of saying sorry to Zac for where I’ve not dotted an ‘i’ in my review.
Reading the Psalms is always a great delight. It is easy to notice when it is one of those delightful kind of Psalms. But some others, of course, take you through the valley of the shadow before the delight arrives. It certainly does come, but only as if through the darkness. I am glad not many are as black as Psalm 88; man, it must take you low, if its high point reads, “You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.” (Ps 88:18). But even these dark chapters from the Psalmist’s life can resonate with the ones the author of life is writing in your life story. In some (possibly sick) way, this can provide you some encouragement and help (although I never really understand how this works; you say to a friend, “I am feeling pretty low”, and they say, “Me too”, and you both feel better???)
The main item on the agenda at Synod yesterday was the expenditure side of the financial ledger.
But first we made some minor but important amendments to our Discipline Ordinance—the way in which the Anglican Diocese of Sydney deals with complaints about paid church workers and volunteer leaders who are accused of breaching our professional standards, especially in the area of sexual misconduct or child abuse.
I mention this as a reminder for all church members and leaders to pray for those with the heavy responsibility of overseeing their church’s or denomination’s safe ministry standards. Jesus says we must protect those who cannot protect themselves. Pray for those who oversee your denomination’s professional standards or act as chaplains to victims.
But back to expenditure. What do you do if you disagree on a judgment matter made by a leadership team or decision-making body you belong to?
On 7 May, 1867, a man called Alfred Nobel obtained patents for a very powerful and potentially very dangerous formula:
3 parts nitroglycerin—C3H5(NO3)3
+ one part diatomaceous earth
+ a small admixture of sodium carbonate—Na2CO3
This is the classic formula for dynamite. Used properly, it can move mountains. But unless it is handled with care, it can destroy lives.
Similarly, but far more seriously, there is another powerful and potentially dangerous formula:
A need in the world
+ an implication of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Think about your denomination for a moment. What are the most important pieces of legislation governing your denomination’s assembly and churches?
We call them ordinances. Not the “ordinances of the Lord which are sure and altogether righteous” (Ps 19:9, NIV); ‘ordinances’ is our fancy Anglican name for the rules that govern our denomination. Every earthly organization (and that’s what denominations are) has to have some sort of rules by which to function.
Now the latest printed edition I had of the Acts, Ordinance and Regulations of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney ran to over 450 pages, and listed 47 ordinances, not to mention several Acts of Parliament and various regulations.
What do you think are the most important ordinances governing your denomination? See if you can write down your selections before reading on.
If someone asked you to teach your church about the Holy Spirit, where would you go in the Bible? And when was the last time you taught, or were taught, about the work of the Holy Spirit?
Our first day of sitting was yesterday, and it featured mainly set pieces to get things rolling:
- the presidential address from our Archbishop, Peter Jensen;
- a fascinating ACL dinner break interview with Alfred Olwa, Dean of Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology, Mukono, Uganda;
- the Synod service sermon from Rev Paul Harrington, Rector, Holy Trinity, Adelaide (an evangelical bastion in the heart of the Australian “city of churches”—churches which are now often literally or spiritually empty).
Here are some highlights …
Another idea for strengthening families is reading something other than the Bible at the breakfast table. (It’s not often you’d see a Sola Panellist reading something other than the Bible!)
However, as you have probably guessed, I’m talking about something that aids our understanding of God—something that has provided a helpful change of pace to straight Bible reading and discussion. In other words, a bit of systematic theology.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 states that there is not a righteous man on earth. Psalm 14 states that there is no one righteous. So why does the Bible say that Noah, David and others were righteous? It seems to be a contradiction.
This is a very deep question, and a complete answer would be much too long! Nevertheless, I think that the definition of righteousness that I’ve provided so far in my series can go a long way to help us answer this question. We saw that:
Righteousness = being in line with a standard.
Which standard are we talking about? Well, it depends. What does it depend on? You guessed it: on the context!
Recently I shared two great ideas my wife came up with for strengthening family life. Now I’d like to share a couple of ideas I got from elsewhere that particularly focus on helping parents follow Ephesians 6:4 (“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”—NIV).