Following the cloud

Following the cloud

People allow their lives to be directed by all sorts of things. Some people follow careers, some follow sports, some follow money, some follow pleasure, some follow happiness.

But as for us, we are (or should be) following the cloud.

I am alluding, of course, to Numbers 19. When the cloud rested over the tabernacle, the people remained. Whether it was a day or a month or what the Bible describes without further definition as “a longer time,” they stayed put. But as soon as the cloud lifted, they set out, and kept on following the cloud until it came to rest again.

Jumping off a cliff (update)

Jumping off a cliff (update)

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I wrote a blog titled “Jumping off a cliff.” In it, I talked about our decision to step out of leadership of the church we had planted many years before in obedience to God’s call to serve him on a wider basis.

No salary, no pension, still kids to support. All those thoughts went through my mind, believe me. But the same God who began to supply my needs as a penniless student and carried me (then us) through so many challenges since has - guess what - showed himself faithful. When we look back on God’s track record of faithfulness, why do we ever doubt? Probably for the same reason the disciples doubted Jesus’ ability to feed the people with seven loaves when just a few days before he had fed an even bigger crowd with only five. In truth, we are all doubting Thomases, to one degree or another.

Dumbing down or calling up?

Dumbing down or calling up?

Just the other day, I had a discussion with a good friend. He was expressing his frustration with the popularity of certain Christian media personalities who have the ability to attract enormous crowds, sell millions of books and take in vast offerings, without seemingly having the capacity to make a single decent Biblical or theological point when they preach.

Some people seem to think that we need to adjust our preaching in a downward direction in order to accommodate the fact that we live in the age of attention deficit. It’s a little bit like the idea that the purpose of a youth group is mainly to provide light spiritual entertainment for teenagers who would never have the ability to sit in church and listen to a proper Biblical message. Doing this, I suspect, will produce a generation of youth group graduates who want to be entertained the rest of their lives. Or a generation of millennials who are checking their phone throughout whatever shreds of truth are left coming out from behind the pulpit.

Church or crowd?

Church or crowd?

There are two types of congregation, in my admittedly simplistic definition, and the best way of differentiating between them is by asking a simple question: is this a church or is this a crowd? 

The difference between church and crowd is summed up in one word: discipleship. 

This was on my mind this week as I attended a dinner honouring a number of men who had been through a discipleship programme run by the church we are working with this winter. They have run this course for the last thirteen years. A lot of men have been through it, and it has had a deep impact on the life of the congregation (and before I proceed further, let me make it clear women are disciples also!).

How to win your battle

How to win your battle

A man testifies to being immersed in crisis. He cries out to God so intensely he can hardly talk. At times, all he does is moan. God helps him by keeping his eyelids propped open, and miraculously holding up his hands so they do not become numb and fall. He wonders if God has forgotten him.

But something happens. He decides to start moving beyond his complaints to thinking of all God has done in the past. And the more he thinks about it, the more his spirit revives.

The man’s name is Asaph. His testimony is recorded in the seventy-seventh Psalm.