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God of the Nations and the Lowly – Psalm 138

Psalms

God of the Nations and the Lowly – Psalm 138 The God of the vast harvest fields, is also the gardener who tends to the individual branches on his vine.We have been working our way through the book of Acts in our weekly Bible study with the Dundonald staff and Co-Mission Resources Team.  Among the many encouragements I’ve received through Acts, is the repeated reminder that the God of the rapid spread of the gospel is also the God of the inward change in the lives of individuals; God calls many thousands to himself in a single day, and also arranges an intersection between one enquirer and a potential evangelist on a desert road.  Cities are turned upside down (right side up?!) by the good news of Jesus, while stories of one household coming to faith are also celebrated.  The God of the vast harvest fields, is also the gardener…

Praying to Our God who Hears and Acts – Psalm 86

Psalms

Praying to Our God Who Hears and Acts – Psalm 86 Our God hears and acts!There are many Psalms in the Bible in which the author tells his fellow Israelites, or even the nations around, about God, and his character and actions.  Think of Psalm 18 as one example, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (18:2).  Then there are some Psalms in which the Psalmist speaks to God about God.  Psalm 86 is one of the clearest examples of this kindThrough David’s words in this Psalm, we are reminded much about the character of God, but perhaps most especially that God hears and answers when we call to him.We don’t know the detail of the distress that Israel’s King David finds himself in as he writes this Psalm, but verse 14 suggests there is a very…

Let’s Worship our Glorious God – A Prayer from Psalm 97

Psalms

Let’s Worship Our Glorious God – A Prayer from Psalm 97 How Psalm 97 spurs us on in worship.Sometimes it’s hard to worship God or to rejoice at who he is and what he’s done for us.  It might be because of our personal circumstances; perhaps we don’t feel like worshipping God if we’re struggling, sad, or busy and tired. Maybe we hurt because of the hardships that others dear to us face, and so to rejoice in the Lord feels a bit like we’re ignoring those we love, and are blind to their suffering. Or maybe we find it hard to worship God because of the state our world; there is adversity and oppression on a huge scale, and so perhaps we’re a little bit angry at God, or at the very least confused by what he’s doing, so it doesn’t feel easy to worship God.And even though COVID-19 restrictions are…

In God We Trust – A Prayer from Psalm 16

Psalms

In God We Trust – A Prayer from Psalm 16 Using Psalm 16 as a prayer to deepen our trust in God.His promises are true, and they work!In previous generations if you said to a friend, “This is what I believe,” they’d likely respond, “Is it true? Where’s the evidence?”There’s been shift though, in western societies which means that the question, “Is it true?” has largely been replaced by another question; “Does it work?”  There seems to be much less interest in truthfulness, in the empirical facts concerning something – look at the persistent spread of false information about Coronavirus and 5G mobile technology. Today people seem to be more interested in whether a particular approach to life works. Whether or not someone will adopt a particular belief or approach to life is determined less by the truthfulness of that approach, but on “does it work?” and particularly on the…

Evangelism in Church Gatherings

Evangelism in Church Gatherings

Evangelism in Church Gatherings Download PDF Where does evangelism fit in our “regular” Sunday services?Should we try to share the gospel in church?What are the opportunities to do it?Here are some thoughts, especially for those thinking about shaping Sunday (or other day!) services in church plants.If in our churches ‘evangelistic’ meetings, and ‘evangelistic’ sermons, are thought of as special occasions, different from the ordinary run of things, it is a damning indictment of our normal Sunday services … that would simply prove that we have failed to understand what our regular Sunday services are for.Jim Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, p 55What should we expect of our church gathering?Christians have different Ideas about what the church gathering is.Church is the gathering of ChristiansPlaces like Ephesians chapters 1 and 3 tell us that the new relationship of Jews and Gentiles gathered spiritually around Christ is represented and worked out,…

Who Wrote James?

James - where the rubber hits the road

Who Wrote James? Click here for sermon recordings and transcripts from the letter of James. James is an intensely practical book, that urges us to live out our faith in Jesus in every area of our lives; our words, our business dealings, the way we manage our diaries, and more.  Even the way our heavenly citizenship shapes the way we gather on Sundays as God’s people comes under the microscope! And while those kinds of gatherings have been put on pause at the moment, spending time in Jams together means that when we can meet together again, if there are things we need to change or sharpen up, because of what God says to us through his Word, we’ll be well-placed to be able to do that. But who was James?  There are at least four men named James in the New Testament, and Acts 1:13 mentions three of the…

Live Streaming Advice for Churches

live streaming

Live Streaming Advice for Churches Among the many challenges I’m sure you’re wrestling with in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, is how to keep teaching and shepherding your flock as people self isolate, and when meeting together becomes impossible.  I’ve had lots of requests this past week for advice and tips on streaming services or sermons online, and so have been sending the following info out.  If this is something you’re looking for some information on, the following info may be useful for you or someone in your church who can investigate streaming. As it happens, I had recently bought some equipment to help with streaming training events, and we already had a variety of other gear, so our situation might be a bit different to how you might begin.  So here are some useful links, some tips for a basic setup using a mobile phone, and then a…

Learning to Pray by Leaving our Building

Dundonald Factory Demolished

Learning to Pray by Leaving our Building The Dundonald Church “Factory” being demolished. For the last 16 years, I’ve planted and led churches that gather on Sundays in hired facilities. I’ve become well accustomed to the rigours of setting up on freezing cold mornings, packing down in the dark, lost equipment, double-bookings, frustrations with other hirers (why can’t they put their rubbish in the bins), and disappointments with landlords (why didn’t they tell us the power and water would be disconnected?).And yet, I’m very thankful for the opportunity to join Dundonald Church, which owns its building, just as the church moves out of the building for two years!  Let me be clear, I certainly don’t think that churches that gather in borrowed buildings are inherently better or worse than those that meet in spaces they own.  But leaving our building has energised my prayers in a number of ways.Leaving our…

Leading Prayers at Christmas Services

Leading Prayers at Christmas Services

Leading Prayers at Christmas Services Download PDF One of the most exciting aspects of church Christmas events is the large number of newcomers who come among us.  While we want every Sunday to be a good Sunday to bring friends and family so they can hear the gospel of Jesus, at Christmas time many more guests who are unfamiliar with church and the Christian faith will join us.  This means those of us who lead in various ways in our services must be extra careful to use language that is inclusive and not alienating, and we need to work hard to minimise misunderstanding. This includes those who lead our prayers!Here are 10 tips that will help us pray helpfully and in a way that commends prayer to newcomers.Speak in plain language. This is a good discipline for any time, to work out how to communicate deep truths in accessible language! …

Thinking About Church DNA & Culture

DNA and Culture flowchart on clipboard

Thinking about Church DNA & Culture Download Completed Flowchart Download Blank Flowchart Download this Article Church DNA Arguably one of the most neglected aspects in the planning of many church plants, is consideration of the DNA that the planter transplants, and therefore the culture of the church that develops. To identify and shape our church culture with the aim of most effectively making disciples of Jesus, I have found it helpful to think about theological positions, beliefs, practices, ministry patterns, etc, as either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd order issues.  This approach is helpful in planning church plants, where decisions need to be made about almost every aspect of church life, but also in established churches where the culture can include ministry patterns that are not directed by mission, but from some other motivation. These notes are to help you use the Church DNA & Culture Flowchart Worksheet. There is also…