reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The missing piece #2

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 0 comments
Being with OICCU bods this week also made me reflect on how a bad doctrine of creation used to affect me at university (and, I fear, for some time after that!)

You know Mark 4. You sow the word and "all by itself" the word grows into a plant that bears fruit. I really believed what I thought this passage was saying. That is - you just plant the word. Don't intefere with it as it beds down, and it might grow into something in the future. Who knows?

Like all the best lies this is nearly true. However, what it led me to do was this type of thing: ask friend to event, sit with them all the way through it, never mention it to them again. Or perhaps a token "what do you think?" Or, share 2 ways to live, and then on my way. Job done. No interfering, God's word will work. Just get the friend along. Just get them to hear. The word, for me, became some sort of magic spell - nothing to do with understanding, grasping, applying - nope just expose to the word and the magic happens. Conversion was a type of spell that "happens" totally separately to the person actually being, you know, a person. Whether they understand - almost irrelevant. Well, not irrelevant but a separate issue. And, of course, this theology was backed up by stories of people whose eyes were suddenly opened in later life to something they heard in their 20s, and it, handily affirmed me in just being able to get on with my life and avoid embarassing spiritual conversations.

Now - don't get me wrong - God miraculously saves through opening people's eyes. BUT, and this is what I failed to get - this doesn't generally happen through people having some experience separate to being a person (although, of course, it may) It comes about through God's Spirit acting on the person being a person: through their conversations, thoughts and emotions. Through the love of their friends, the Gospel "making sense" through the witness of creation and so on. I didn't do follow up well because I expected it to happen "magically" apart from me and my friend being friends - people.

I'm not explaining this well. But seeing creation as God's and people as in his image, although fallen, has also helped me think through the major debate of OICCU days - just words or actions too? In fact, it is all to do with just treating people as people: loving them, befriending them, sharing what is important to me with them, and loving them enough to push on a bit in getting them to talk about the Gospel.

People are made to hear the word of God. People are made to hear the word of God. God's word does his work in the lives of people. Grace isn't magic that happens separate to their humanity. Their humanity is made to see and accept God's grace.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Grace Roadshow goes on...

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 2 comments
So - first of all an apology. I blog a lot about grace here, but as a nice friend pointed out to me recently, this blog has actually been a little bit ranty recently. So - I apologise. I'm still learning, and if I have offended you, I really want to say sorry. Sanctification, so far, incomplete.

Since I last blogged I have been travelling the country. Off to North Wales for New Word Alive which was awesome, and cold. Seriously, cold. I have never been so cold in bed in all my born days. Nevertheless, it was a great time to learn and be reminded (I love that Terry Virgo talk about Romans 7) to spend time with friends, and have the joy of seeing my parents, and discussing what they were learning too. The Relay Workers did an excellent job of stewarding, and I basked in their reflected glory, I had late night conversations, embarassed myself by not being funny, and thought about sovereignty. I also saw John Piper in the flesh: he's just a person! Who wears a tie! All the time!

After a recovery weekend spent under 2 duvets beside a radiator and trying to communicate through endlessly chattering teeth, it was back to North Wales for my speed awareness course. Coming back from Bangor a few weeks ago I was flashed by a speed camera - through roadworks - and the lovely North Waleians allow you to go on a course instead of getting points. We discovered "the reasons why people speed". Unsurprisingly it's because they want to get places quicker. 60 quid well spent.

Next - a return to Dyke House - I have now spent 13 nights there this academic year. It was great to hang out with OICCU reps and see how the Gospel still goes forward in that great university. I think what I was most encouraged by was how different the now undergrads were from me. I was a Christian at uni and lived for Jesus cos I thought I should - these guys really had a passion and belief that their friends, even the furthest away, could and should come to know Jesus. And I don't mean the college. Its a big mission year next year - and I'm praying that the Gospel of grace - so offensive to the Oxford mindset - knocks the university upside down!

Then off to Oxford - how I have quite got myself into this I don't know - to sit on a planning committee for an IFES Europe discipleship conference. IFES is a great movement. But man alive we are only scratching the surface of the Gospel need in Europe. An inspiring guy from Poland who pioneered the movement there when it was still illegal to be a Christian, talked to us about Ezekiel chapter 3 - talking to a people who will not listen - and how it is so like doing student ministry in Europe. We also had useful chats about Relay Homestart and how to make it bigger and better.

The mixture of visiting OICCU and IFES made me ready to pray for some of the excellent high calibre students of Oxford to throw their lives away to get the Gospel to the students of Europe. I'd love it( and am praying for it) if we had days like the first days of the movement, when the best and strongest committed their lives to students from other cultures hearing about Jesus and growing in him. I long for Homestart to be a vehicle for that more and more - please pray with me.

So - hopefully news and helpful thoughts will be the order of the day instead of ranting from now on: hope this helps you pray!

Friday, April 04, 2008

The missing piece #1

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 2 comments
One of the things I am so grateful to God for, is what I have learned from much valued UCCF colleagues about a doctrine I have never really through through before - the doctrine of creation.

This is basically the idea that while creation is fallen it is good and it is still God's and he, in fact, still works through it. It has all sorts of implications, especially as we think through what it actually is to be a human being, and what our role is in God's creation.

Before being challenged by my coleagues in this area, I basically bought into a theology that said, creation is fallen, God is redeeming it through the Gospel, therefore it is possible to simply prioritise "Gospel" work above "normal" work and order your life simply to provide enough "Gospel" opportunities. Now I am seeing that God actually has a role for us in creation, which the Christian, having been recreated in Jesus to be fully human, can begin to undertake. This does, of course, include evangelism. But life becomes a lot more interesting and complicated. More on that in another post.

When you begin to see something somewhere, you begin to see it everywhere, and I want to start a blog posting series on all the places I have now begun to see the importance of a solid doctrine of creation popping up.

And so, first, a relevant one to my last post: I have a bad doctrine of creation when I am not bothered about giving boring talks because "after all I am faithfully preaching the word." Now, dear reader, don't get me wrong here, I haven't had a huge paradigm shift - speakers must, please Lord, teach the word. But, it seems to me, we may have bought in so hard to the "God's words does his work" theology, we forget and separate that from the reality that we are speaking to human beings, and God's word speaks to them as such. A right viewing of them as God's good creation means that God word works not just in some mysterious separate spiritual way, but as humans are interested in it and understand it and think about it and apply it.

Some of the preaching theology I used to have- just get the words out there and something weird will happen - is to be honest "pseudo gnostic". We are not just teaching the Bible. We are teaching people the Bible, and we are not just waiting for something spiritual to happen to them outside their real humanity.

So next time I give a boring talk, less whining for me, and more doctrine!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 11 comments
It's a long time since I had the experience, although it brought memories flooding back of being a staff worker...recently for the first time in ages I spoke at a Christian event where quite a number of individuals sat and talked, laughed, left the room and came back and ignored me while I was speaking.

So I was offended - and I need to get over that.

But what I was doing was a kind of led Bble study from the front. And said-same people in the time they were supposed to be looking at God's word (ironically in a passage that itself describes God's word as more precious than gold, and sweeter than honey) messed about, some of them didn't even pick up the printed out text to read it, and talked about all manner of things except the Bible.

I mean, fair play if you don't want to listen to me - I can be boring and irritating sometimes - but to so blatantly ignore God. It makes me sad. Gutted really.

This makes me sadder: we then had a 40 minute "worship" time where the same people passionately cried out to God to change them, help them, grow them from the inside out. He's happy to. Through his word. The exact process the passage , Psalm 19, describes, in fact.

There was endless praying for anointing and blessings and all manner of things. But little respect for one of the greatest blessings God has given us - his precious word.

It makes me sad. I guess I'm a little cloistered these days, not having seen that "theology" in action for a while, I assumed it wasn't really out there any more. But it is. With a vengeance.

Passionate "worship" without a regard for God's word. It needs a modern day minor prophet.

It makes me sad. How many riches are there in God's precious word if we will only actually look at it, dig into it and treasure it. It is restoration for the soul, and light to the path.

So sad. Pray with me for a generation who will see that what God has to say to us is infinitely more important than what we will sing to him.