empowered by the spirit for mission

Christmas – a Time to Remember the Incarnation

Christmas is not over. In fact we’re just in the middle of celebrating Christmas. Rather than just celebrating on one day it our family tradition to celebrate over all twelve days – by having some nice meals and exchanging some small gifts on each day.

The meaning of Christmas

Though we do send gifts we don’t really buy into a lot of the materialism associated with Christmas. A number of our presents are gifts given to a charity on behalf of the recipient or small gifts sold to raise money for a deserving course. For us, as for many Christian, Christmas is a time to remember the incarnation – how God was made flesh and became one of us humans.

What is the incarnation?

Joel Tarbutton is doing a series on how to walk in the ways of Christ – taking on Jesus identity and his behaviour. He sent me a link to his Christmas message looking at the incarnation – how Jesus humbled himself to take on not just human form – but that of a humble servant.

The king was born in feeding trough. This did not look like the perfect home for God – surely it should have been a more serine and sanitised home for the Son of God. Yet God comes to us as we are warts and all. We don’t have to have everything sorted out before we can come to God – he comes to us. Christ finds us in our mess before we are cleaned up and lifts us out of the muck and gives us something stable to build our lives on.

Incarnation and Kingdom

Mission is all about proclaiming God’s kingdom – a king that is willing to get involved in the mess of our lives and serving us in his selfless death.

One fascinating comment that Joel Tarbutton makes is “Christ obliterated all ideas of the sacred & the secular – the incarnation means that there is no longer secular space only kingdom space.”

It looks like he’s going to say more about Kingdom in the coming weeks. So it might be worth checking back to this page to hear his later talks.

December 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What do you do at Christmas?

I’m having a bit of break for Christmas and so thought it might be time for a reader discussion on the topic that is very topic. Simply what do you do at Christmas

Share you own experiences and ideas of how you celebrate the season.

It could be something spiritual
It could be just your own celebrations
It could be what Christmas means to you

I’ll share some of what we do and what it all means to us later

Have a good Christmas!

December 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

Church from Scratch

I’m trying to get my head around this little video from an church planting organisation called Church from Scratch. I’m not sure what the title of the video means just play it and see what you think.

It appears to make a very good point that as Christians we can ‘build walls’. I think what it is getting at is that we can be in some way isolated from the culture we are in. All our friends are Christians and we find that we tend to exclude those outside even though we do want to reach out to them. It can become a bit forced we are trying to pull people in and get them to be like us. Breaking down the walls like these is a good thing. Of course I don’t think that they mean we should lose our distinctiveness – we still need to be godly – just that we should not be unnecessarily different.

What I don’t really get is what they mean by the person going out – a long way out. If they mean leaving the church in order to plant another one then I’m not sure that this is good. If they mean sent out by the church but still in relation then I feel that I would be more comfortable with that. What we plant doesn’t necessarily need to be a clone of the church we are planting out from.

But I wonder if planting churches is the only way to break down this wall. Shouldn’t we be looking to reform what we are part of and make it more like the church we have a vision for? Do we really need to start from scratch again?

December 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)

What Religion Should You Be?

It’s a blog thing!

Have a go at this little quiz to determine what religion you should follow. I just did it and got this. I should be a Christian. No surprises there.

You Should Follow Christianity

You believe in the Holy Trinity, and that Jesus walked the earth as the son of God.
You also believe that all people sin and that God will forgive you for your sins.Your relationship with God is very important to you.You strengthen your faith through prayer, worship, and Bible study.
What Religion Should You Be?

Work is Hard. Time for Blogthings!

But look at the questions and think. There is probably more than one answer that is right. Sometimes you may not like any of the answers but you must pick one. I changed just one of my answers to one which I still thought was true and probably just as good as the one I’d picked before and look what I got.

You Should Follow Unitarian Universalism

For you, religion is about asking questions. Questions that might never be answered.

In fact, you’re more likely to consider yourself spiritual than religious.You don’t have any set beliefs, besides the belief that you should work to improve the world.

You are a true humanist who works for social justice and world peace.

Work is Hard. Time for Blogthings!

Having played around with it a bit I find it a lot easier to get Unitarian Universalist than Christian. I’m getting a bit worried now.

I think what it shows is that these ideas are not as simple as someone might first think and that Christians aren’t really as narrow as is often thought. That’s my story anyway and I’m sticking with it!

Have a go and let me know what you think.

December 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

Seven Spirits Burning by John Crowder

A book review

This is fairly scholarly expositional teaching on the Holy Spirit from John Crowder – a hyper-charismatic preacher with a Latter Rain heritage.  The odd turn of phrase did jar a little but overall I found Seven Spirits Burning surprisingly satisfying. I particularly liked the fact that it is very positive about the Kingdom of God.

Seven Spirits Burning contains some sound teaching on the seven aspects of the Spirit found in Isaiah 11:2. It shows how first and foremost the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Lord, but also how the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and finally of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. John Crowder draws on many scriptures and uses a variety of translations. He has produced some well written arguments that give some good general principles about how the Spirit works. I’ve read quite a few prophetic revivalist type books. Seven Spirits Burning is much more Biblical and better written than most.

But, as is the case with many books from these circles, I would be cautious of what Seven Spirits Burning says about miracles. For instance I wouldn’t advise pulling a wheelchair user out of their chair as a young boy does in one of the illustrations. And I am sorry but I just don’t believe some of the bizarre claims John Crowder makes; I wonder if he is actually joking, which elsewhere in the book he does admit to sometimes doing. He also tells some of the more far-fetched stories from church history as if they were facts. Nevertheless these tall stories are only a small part of Seven Spirits Burning.

If you are happy with or can cope with John Crowder’s occasional aberrations then you can learn much about the true working of the Holy Spirit from this book.


Thanks to Mike Morrell of the SpeakEasy Network for sending me this book to review free of charge.

Also check out my earlier post How to get Stoned on Jesus: Meet John Crowder and Friends for some of the more bizarre aspects of John Crowder’s ministry.

December 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

Church Weekend Away

Building according to the pattern

This autumn our church had a weekend away at Cefn Lea. We were pleased to be involved in the planning, as rather than having preaching sessions the whole weekend was much more creative.

During the weekend we learnt about the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle and the Temple in group work that involved both discussion and craft activities and together saw how these related to God’s pattern for the church in some engaging interactive sessions. Rather than having separate sessions for the children we were all involved together and Nettes and others helped resource a lot of the other sessions.

The group I was in looked at the Temple. As well as studying the patterns in our groups we also improvised a drama and did some art and craft to illustrate our presentation. The other groups did the same with some wonderful art work being produced and a wonderful piece of living art illustrating the Ark of the Covenant.

I had planned a session using De Bono Six Hat Thinking. It was to be done in small groups back in our chalets. There were a number of situations about how God might work with his people – specifically about how the church might be more inclusive. By throwing a dice people in turn had to make comments on the situations in the mode of the specific hat. This produced some really interesting comments in our group and I think it did in the other groups too.

It was tied together nicely on Sunday morning through a quiz on the relevance of the patterns we had been looking at and activities illustrating how we are living stones being built together. It was wonderful how we celebrated and prayed for each other using the photographs at the end and then broke bread in a big circle.

This was a great weekend and it was great to see all ages interacting and worshipping together.


December 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm Comments (0)