Tuesday, 4 June 2013

New Newsletter!

So I have finally got my new newsletter out. It should have been a few weeks sooner, but the end of term is a month sooner in Sweden (they only have 2 terms of school), so by the time we were back from the honeymoon and the blessing in England, we both realised exactly how much work we had to do. Including a new newsletter for those of you who have been praying for me and supporting me in different ways.

I will post soon with details about the wedding, and the blessing with pictures but for now I wanted to give you access to my new newsletter and update you on a few more things. Here is the link to the PDF that you can download. 

I have also been talking a lot about how this would be a weekly blog and I would be sending a lot more updates your way. That was the plan, however things haven't happened that way, and I am just reflecting now on what has stopped me from doing that. One of the reasons that could contribute to it is a fear that a lot of people in ministry have, and that is the fear of failing, or the fear of being wrong. 

My first blog, Writings of a recently born-again Christian, had a lot more theological content and I felt more confident. I was new to be a Christian and I felt I couldn't really go wrong, but now I am in a position of authority in some way, I am on a leadership team of a church and sent as a mission partner to another country. In a sense I have a way to fall if something I say isn't really right. 7 years ago, if I was wrong I was new and humble enough to be corrected. But shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't I be in a position of having more humility now? Shouldn't I be more accepting that I am human and can make mistakes? Instead it seems I have fallen into the trap of being proud of where I have gotten to, and have a fear of losing this. So much that if I am quiet then I can't say anything wrong. 

Now some of you might think that, yes, that is fine, proverbs 17:28 says 

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;
with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Which has its place, for sure. If you go back one verse it talks of how the truly wise have fewer words today, and in the next chapter of proverbs, we read that fools have no understanding, they just want to air their own opinions. Now I know I might upset some friends who are also bloggers, but this has been on my mind when I have considered blogging about a subject. I don't want to come across as just airing my opinions, but for what I have to say to have some kind of theological base. I have seen all to often in the Internet where someone has made a comment that is not quite theologically accurate whether it was a mistake or they meant to write it, to have the comment section full of other believers correcting them in full 'preaching' essays, or some judging fools telling them they are blaspheming and have somehow lost their salvation by writing that post. Very rarely do I see loving comments, or intellectual conversation around the subject. And to the onlooking eyes, which could easily be from someone who is considering the Gospel as truth, this is not giving a good picture of a Christian set apart for Christ.

I am very aware that I have lost my cover of being a new believer, so I can't hide behind that, but I think seeing those responses has put me off my desire for blogging about relevant subjects of how we can respond to our culture through our faith, in a world where being a Christian is harder and harder, and people are choosing to live easier lives within the distractions that the world has to offer. But I also remember that 7 years ago, my blogging sharpened my understanding of scripture, because conversations would lead me there. It also gave me the desire to know more, which was a factor in leading me to retrain as a youth pastor, and work with the awesome youth I work with now. 

Those who know me, know I am an extrovert and need to process outwardly. I also encourage people to question things. Even ask the hard questions of our own faith, to challenge of belief so that we can end up in closer relationship with Jesus. I am reminded of the man who doubted Jesus, and said 'if' you can... Then in his repentance declared 'Lord, I belief, help my unbelief.' How many of you readers need to pray this once in a while? I think in the Christian lifestyle, nothing is simple. Things happen daily to shake our faith in Jesus. And it is in those times we need to pray this pray. 'Lord, I believe in you, I believe you love me, and died for me, despite what I see in the news of the hurt and pain. Please Lord help my unbelief and help me overcome my doubt.' When we doubt we lose hope, and without hope we lose sight of Jesus, and His work on the Cross. If we weren't to doubt I often wonder what the result would be. We would have our faith, but our relationship with Jesus wouldn't go anywhere. It's like having a friend who you know is there, but you have no interest in knowing more, knowing why they do the things they do, or what their aim in life is. It's almost like a dead end. This doesn't fit into what Jesus says a life following Him would look like. He says that He came so that we could have life, and have to the full (John 10:10), so lets ask ourselves the questions, and expect answers that go beyond our wildest dreams, answers that will open up our minds and see what God really wanted for His people, and we might even catch a glimpse of heaven.

However, I have seen this with pastors who are well know for their evangelism, and have done great things to open up faith, who have really asked these questions and helped people find answers and have been victimised by their church, but when newcomers ask the same questions they are praised for it, encouraged to ask these questions. Something doesn't seem right there. If anything, the pastors who are asking these questions are leading by example of a living faith in Jesus, who satisfies our every need.

So I want to blog more, and write about relevant subjects about faith in our culture, but I am afraid when I see pastors being accused of heresy because they want to reach out to more people. I believe the Gospel is relevant to all people, but everyone comes from a different angle, and views Christianity and the Bible differently, so we need to find out where people are at. I know I am blogging with the risk of people challenging me, and I am open to correction in my writings, but I know by looking through the Acts of the apostles that we need to take risks to challenge this generation, the next generation and many generations to come. I, like every single person on earth, am not complete, I am still being created. I will not be finished until my last day on earth, and I am learning constantly through experiences and passing these on. So please remember this when you read this blog and all other blogs for that matter. 

My prayer, is that we are all in 'iron sharpening iron' correspondence, and critiques can be given in love and received in humility. We might not get it right, but that's why we have Jesus to correct us and set us straight. We can't get it right on our own. Ever.