Monday, 19 October 2009

How not to have smelly feet

25 of us got together on Saturday for a fine breakfast.
It was superb to see the men from St Lukes and we were very glad to have Colin Tamplin with us speaking.

The title for the event came from Romans (10:9-15):
9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
So the topic was our witness to unbelievers.
Colin spoke from Acts 11:19-21
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
I found myself taking notes on a post-it note that I had already written on (oops!). So this may not be a brilliant recollection of Colin's excellet talk! But he had five points & I can only make out 4!! Anyway...

Assuming that we depend on God's Spirit in prayer living grace filled lives then we need these other 5/4 things to be effective (by this I mean faithful) witnesses:
1. Be Ordinary Men [these men in v19 were not 'professional' which after all the focus in Acts on Philip (8), Paul (9) and Peter (10) is significant. God has to do a lot to get the professionals going, yet these guys got on with witnessing to Jews in v19 and then Gentiles in v20. In the great story of the gospel Colin suggested that it will be the witness of ordinary people more than the 'great' evangelists and pastors, which will be seen to be the 'majority' of the work under God]
2. Willing to Pay the Price [they had been scattered by persecution that had arised to the gospel in the wake of Stephen's murder...end of ch7... Colin reminded us that sometimes, though we are patient, loving and kind, our 'feet' will smell. Some people hate the gospel and so will hate us.]
3. Willing to Take a Risk [it is tempting to keep your head down when you see the cost and even when you have paid it too ... once burnt, twice shy ... But they didn't]
4. Speaking about Jesus Christ [many people lives have been changed by many things. AA, Boxing, giving up smoking, drying out, 'anger management' course, a change in diet, Islam, Buddism, 'green living' etc. Why is Jesus different to any other transforming 'power'? We need to speak of his uniqueness. He is Lord. Of the cross, of eternity, of our sin, of judgment, of wrath and mercy, of God's Spirit.  Without speech (the whole 'preach the gospel and use words if necessary') people will think 'nice bloke...that is nice for him' but they will not understand the good news. v20 'the good news about the Lord Jesus' has to be spoken].

In the course of the talk Colin gave a nice short Trinitarian apology for speaking the good news:
The World began with Speech.
The eternal Son came into the world speaking. In fact he was called the Word.
The Spirit 'exhales' God's Word (Old and New Testament), and equips a speaking church.
God's work has always been done by speech.

Thanks to Pauline, Yvonne and Liz for a superb breakfast (the works!) and a special mention to Ann who was injured in the line of duty. We wish her a speedy recovery!

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