Thursday, 28 February 2008

Being a part of someone elses evangelistic efforts

Two amazing things have happened this past week. You may remember that I posted a while back about a conversation I had with some Muslims about the gospel. It turns out that one of the girls I spoke to is a friend of Fay, one of the girls in CU. Later that week, they ended up having a really indepth conversation about the gospel in which Fay was able to explain to this girl how it all works! How amazing is that? There I was thinking I was talking to some random students, but God was working behind the scenes so that the conversation we had was the catalyst for the opportunity that Fay needed to be able explain the gospel to her friend!

The second amazing thing that happened this week was that I got to explain the gospel to my Personal Tutor at university! Wow! He told me that his sister recently became a Christian and although he read the Bible a bit over Christmas he couldn't understand how to reconcile it with his scientific understanding of the world. He had loads of questions which I was able to help with. I went in expecting to get my exam results (I did!) but I left having also told him the gospel and how I could believe in it as a scientist. I suspect that this conversation wasn't a flash in the pan conversation but part of a much bigger evangelism chain that his sister had already started - I'd be very surprised if it wasn't his sister who'd encouraged him to read the Bible over Christmas.

These two things made me think. Jesus talks in John 4 about how one person sows and another reaps. Chains of evangelistic opportunities will happen in peoples lives - I've been part of two this past week! This has really encouraged me. We're not working individually in sharing the gospel with people - in the same way that I was able to explain the gospel to someone's friend or relative, there are people out there who might be right this instant explaining the gospel to my friends!

After very few proper opportunities to explain the gospel to friends back home before I left for university I'm tempted to feel like giving up on any hope of seeing them come to faith in Jesus. But how wrong is it of me to think like that?

If you've had a similar experience to me, pray for your friends! I'm praying for my mates. We should obviously seek opportunities to continue explaining the gospel to them, but we should also be praying for them and expecting someone to come into their lives to explain the gospel to them! God is more than capable of bringing people into their lives who can continue explaining the gospel to them!

But before we start to think that we can forget about doing evangelism ourselves, flip this idea around. Do you ever have random opportunities to share the gospel with people you come into contact with? Do you ever pass up on these opportunities, thinking it's not really your place to tell them the gospel or that it's not a good time? I know I am definitely guilty of this. But just think, this person I have come across might be just one conversation away from putting their faith in Christ - how do I know? Telling the gospel to this person might be an answer to someone else's prayers or it might be a catalyst for someone else closer to them to be able to explain the gospel!

So next time you have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone, do it! And if you lose contact with friends, don't lose hope of them coming across Christians and hearing the gospel again - pray for God to bring people into their lives who will share the good news with them!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Some thoughts on 2 Peter

By now I'm sure you must be aware that I spent the past weekend at the UCCF New Leaders Training in Liverpool. Throughout the weekend, Tim Rudge (UCCF Field Director) opened 2 Peter to us in four talks. Unfortunately I missed the first talk on 1:1-11 (any ideas for where I could get an mp3 would be appreciated!) but here is a brief summary of what I learnt from the talks. Any thoughts/comments much appreciated!

True Truth

Tim showed us in the talk on 2 Peter 1:12-21 that the gospel is a true truth which we need to remind ourselves of iso that we should become established in it.

But how do we know it is true?
  • 1:16-18 show us that Peter and the other apostles were witnesses to Christ's majesty at the transfiguration (Mk 8:34-9:10) and that they heard God quote Psalm 2 over Jesus during the event. This quote shows that Jesus is indeed God's promised Son who had finally come and will rule and judge the world.
  • Peter also writes in 1:19-21 that the church has something even more sure than their testimony in the fact that the Scriptures were both inspired by the Holy Spirit and the people that wrote it down were carried along by the Spirit whilst they were writing it. It was God's exact words that they wrote down and it was God making sure that they wrote them down accurately.
And since we know that it is true, we need to remind ourselves of the gospel so that we might become established in it. We must be studying the Bible each day.

Dodgy Dealers

The second chapter of 2 Peter is a warning passage. It doesnt say to do anything, rather it tells us to watch out for false teachers. If we are to become established in the gospel, we must be on our guard for false teachers who twist the scriptures.

But what do false teachers teach? 2:1-3 says they deny the Master who bought them, but what could that entail?
  • They might deny the work of Christ . This could be by either adding to it, saying that Jesus' death and resurrection is not sufficient for our salvation, or by taking away from it, saying that Jesus was not God.
  • They might deny the sovereignty of Christ. This could be in saying that Jesus won't return to rule the planet and judge it.
  • They might deny the salvation of Christ. This could be in saying that God has freed us and therefore we are free to sin as much as we like.
They will do it by secretly introducing destructive heresies, taking people to hell. They will be in churches, and the elect might be convinced enough to be thoroughly shaken, but as Mark 13 points out, it won't be possible for the elect to be led astray.

Look at the contrast, the gospel truth purifies (1 Pt 1:22ff) but twisted truth taught by false teachers will deceive people and lead them astray.

But Peter encourages nervous Christians, God will judge these people. 2:4-9 show that God will judge
  • the powerful. Angels are powerful and impressive, but they are held in chains if they disobey. The powerful and impressive false teachers will be held in chains too.
  • the popular. Noah preached righteousness and people despised and ignored him. God judged the more popular people in the world and will judge the popular false teachers.
  • the blatant. God rescued Lot from a burning city where the sin was so blatant. God will save his people from blatant false teachers and will judge those false teachers.
But we were reminded to remember this with humility and not arrogance. We shouldn't be judging people inside the Christian Unions for doing things differently - one of the strengths of the CUs in our universities is that they are non denominational and we agree on what matters (maybe sometime soon I shall write a post about what it is worth agreeing to disagree over and what isn't worth agreeing to disagree over in our CUs, as it is good to be reminded!)

Glorious Hope

2 Peter 3 reminds us that throughout all our trials (which we will face) with false teachers we have this glorious hope of the return of Christ for which we can truly look forward to.

But sceptics will scoff about it. 3:1-4 says that they will use a couple of arguments, but will ultimately be motivated by their own evil desires. They might use the argument of time - ever had someone ask you mockingly "Where is Christ?" or "When will he return?" this is what he's talking about! Or they might use the argument of observation, pointing out that "there's no evidence for there being a God."

In both cases, the sceptics ignore some pretty key stuff. 3:5-10 shows us what they ignore.
  • The time argument forgets that God has a different relationship to time than we have - with him, a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day (3:8). He is also patient, not wishing anyone to perish and allowing everyone to have an opportunity to repent, so he restrains his anger for the time being, although Christ will return one day to judge the world.
  • The observation argument ignores that God rules the world through his word - he creates, judges and sustains through this word. He will judge the world through this word too.
So what will these sceptics see? 3:10-13 show us that Christ's return will be unexpected, will bring destruction (not disappearing, but be laid bare before God), will bring judgement and will bring renewal (a new heavens and a new Earth, which will be the home of righteousness.)

How should we, as Christians, live in light of this?
  • We should long for the day (3:12-14). What we desire rules us. Spend time in the word of God and long for the day.
  • We should live for the day (3:14). We should be spotless, blameless and at peace. But don't just abstain, do things too - serve, love and care. This is how the early church grew (along with being filled with the spirit and preaching the word of God to the lost).
  • We should speed the day. The gospel needs to be preached to the ends of the Earth before Christ returns. Can we make that day come sooner by taking the gospel out? What a motivation to take the gospel truth to the far reaches of the world.
What an awesome book!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Forum 2008



UCCF Forum promo video is now online. Forum 2008 is going to be awesome - John Piper and Graham Daniels speaking, loads of awesome seminars and camping! Plus I'm in the video 3 times :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

First Contact Evangelism

Just finished Action Group with University of Manchester CU. Before heading out we looked at God's part and our part in evangelism. We learnt that our part is essentially just to get out there and tell people the gospel (Matthew 28:16-20 and Romans 10:11-17) and that it's God's job to save people (Acts 4:10-12 and Revelation 7:9-10) - what a well timed reminder for us just before we head out to the daunting task of telling complete strangers the gospel!

Seven of us headed out in pairs and a single. We had some pretty cool conversations with many different types of people. I spoke to Muslims for a half hour showing them how that as God is both a perfect judge and loves us perfectly, the only way he can reconcile these two characteristics and forgive people of their sins is through Jesus taking the punishment for our sins on the cross. How exciting to be able to tell this to Muslims on campus!

Several other great conversations were had and we all became more confident in sharing the gospel with students.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

New Evangelism Podcast



UCCF have released their second Evangelism Podcast. This time, Clive Parnell speaks to Mike Reeves (UCCF's theological advisor) about our missionary God. I haven't listened to it yet, but I will do and I recommend that anyone who is involved in a CU should too!




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Sunday, 17 February 2008

UCCF's New Gospel Project "Free" - First Look!

We were privileged at the North West UCCF New Leaders Training weekend to be the first bunch of students to see the unveiling of UCCF's latest gospel project - Free (we didn't pay, Free is the name of the project!) The idea of this gospel project is to take the gospel of Mark, put it in a contemporary styled booklet and hand 400000 to the university CUs so that they can hand one out to every student in a university hall of residence in the UK.

This is an awesome undertaking in any case, but when you remember that this is the very word of God being placed in the room of every first year at university it really is amazing and I'm deeply grateful to UCCF and their supporters for taking the effort and putting up the cash for this project! Just think what would happen if the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of even a few of those that receive the gospels so that Jesus walks of the pages into their hearts and minds - I think we would see something close to revival in some of our universities!

I guess we won't know the level of success of any gospel project until we reach heaven but I do know of someone who's financial supporters are almost entirely made up of people who came to faith through a previous UCCF gospel project - so they do work!

Please, please, please join us with praying that these gospels would
fall into the right hands and that the Holy Spirit would open their
eyes so that they can see that it is the truth, place their trust in
the Lord Jesus as their personal saviour and have eternal life.

In terms of the design, I think the "Free" gospels look pretty amazing. There are six different covers which CU members are reminded not to try and collect as therefore only a fraction of the students in uni will get the gospels, which would be a disappointment. The covers are completely black with a bombed(?) stencil of Free on the back - very chic - and the inside pages are emblazoned with doodles around the block of text. The doodles are on twelve different themes (life, freedom etc) at relevant stages in the narrative.

On a side note, as far as I am aware, there is still a fair amount of money to be raised for this gospel project, so please support the efforts of one staff worker and two Relay workers to raise money - if Nick Warner raises more money than the Peter Dray and Sarah Dawkins, Peter has to wear a tutu for a day and Sarah has to dress up as a banana. If Sarah and Peter raise more money, Nick, a die hard Blackburn Rovers fan has to wear a Burnley (hated rivals of Blackburn) shirt for a day. Check out the Facebook group for more details! Last time I checked, £150 had been raised and Nick was losing.

Check here for more details about the gospel project.


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Friday, 15 February 2008

New Leaders Training

As some of you might be aware, I have just finished serving on the executive committee (exec) at University of Manchester Christian Union and the new exec have taken over. This weekend I am fortunate enough to be able to join up with some of the new execs from around the North West at the annual UCCF North West Region New Leaders Training. It's going to be fun!


Things I am looking forward to:

  • Tim Rudge talking on either 1 or 2 Peter - either way, the teaching will be UCCF ace-tastic and I haven't studied either of the possibilities, so double bonus!
  • Meeting some of the people on the new execs at Salford and Bolton and becoming even more excited about work with them and serving them next year on Relay
  • Leading a seminar with Zac Wyse for the new Evangelism Coordinators in the various CUs in the region. What a privelege to be able to help them as they begin to form ideas of what they will be doing evangelism-wise with their CUs this year.
  • Cooking! Never worked in a big kitchen before but I'm on the cooking team
  • Bookstall. UCCF event always have opportunities for buying good IVP books at low, low prices. Having said that, I will try and hold back from bringing too much conference bounty home.
  • Train journeys. We travel from Manchester in approximately 1 hour on a locomotive train. Get to hang out with some of the new UMCU exec.
  • Meeting new people. UCCF events are basically large family gatherings and I am looking forward to meet some more of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It's also cool when you get to meet people you've already met at Forum, Biblical Evangelism, last years NLT etc.
Will fill you in on all the delights of NLT and of the Truth? when I get back!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Relay!

Awesome news. Just been officially accepted onto the Relay programme with the North West team. I'll be working in Salford and Bolton universities. Am very excited about it, if a tad concerned about having to do something like this.

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theologynetwork.org

Woop! At long last, theologynetwork.org has been launched. So from now on I will mostly be spending my bus journeys to uni learning about theology. That might sound pretty dull, but basically its learning more about God i.e. who he is and what he's done for us. I think I'm going to start by spending a bit of time looking at the cross and justification, which is, I think you'll agree, slightly more worthwhile than staring out of windows at stationary traffic.


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