Formation: Apprentices Set Loose!

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Just one day into my new position as CSBC apprentice, I (Lauren) was sent along with Luke to Formation, a Living Leadership conference in Leicestershire. We arrived at the centre, in the middle of nowhere, just in time for lunch. Barely an hour later, we were straight into the first session, ‘Growing into Spiritual Leadership’. This set the precedent for the whole conference; it was absolutely packed with teaching, both talks and interactive seminars, as well as times of worship and prayer together.

Just one day into my new position as CSBC apprentice, I (Lauren) was sent along with Luke to Formation, a Living Leadership conference in Leicestershire. We arrived at the centre, in the middle of nowhere, just in time for lunch. Barely an hour later, we were straight into the first session, ‘Growing into Spiritual Leadership’. This set the precedent for the whole conference; it was absolutely packed with teaching, both talks and interactive seminars, as well as times of worship and prayer together.

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It was a great help to be able to meet up with so many other ministry trainees starting the same sort of work in churches across the country. There were about 40 apprentices there this year. Knowing that there are others around doing the same work was encouraging and exciting. We intend to keep in contact as a group, forming a support network, which will hopefully be particularly helpful to those who are the only apprentice in their church – although some are in teams as big as 7 or 8! It was refreshing to see so many young adults, many fresh from university, keen to serve the Lord in their churches over this year.

There was a clear focus throughout the sessions on the wonderful truth that everything we do is entirely dependent on God’s grace, not on our own efforts. Of course they weren’t telling us not to make an effort – quite the opposite! There were many challenges put forward: are we simply doing the right thing or are our hearts in the right place too? Is it our primary purpose to glorify and grow God’s Kingdom? Are we willing to step outside of our respective comfort zones for the sake of serving the church to our utmost capability? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We were certainly left with a lot to think about, knowing how easy it is to just do as much as we feel we can do, rather than how much we are called to do.

We were also given some fantastic encouragements. We looked at the first two chapters of 2 Timothy across the two morning sessions. It was a fantastic reminder that God has equipped us for the work he wants us to do –

‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.’ – 2 Timothy 1:7

This is the Spirit we have been given and this is how we are to go forward in our ministry. We shouldn’t shy away from areas of service that we are uncomfortable with. We weren’t given a spirit of comfort and self-centeredness. We were given a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. That’s not our own power, or our own love, but the power and love that come from the Holy Spirit and therefore we are called to behave in accordance with those. By the grace of God we have been given these positions in the church and by His grace we step out in faith to find out what he has in store for us this year!

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In the final session we looked at Philippians 3:1-14 and were shown that there was, in fact, only one command in the passage, found in verse 1: ‘rejoice in the Lord!’ Once we grasp the truth that we are working under God’s glorious grace, there is only one attitude to have towards our work – joy in the Lord!

I think it’s safe to say that we’re already looking forward to part 2 in March, for more great teaching and finding out what God’s been doing with each new apprentice!

 

Life Matters 'What is Life for?'

2013-06-19 The "Life Matters" team were out on the Guildford High Street again today.  We'd been praying for good weather and for 120 homemade, iced cupcakes that we could give out to the unsuspecting public. The Lord provided all we needed! He's good at that isn't He?

The weather was wonderful and an abundant supply of colorful cakes were delivered to the church by the generous folk who baked them.  Isn't it a great thing how God's people can contribute to building His kingdom in so many different and unique ways?  After preparing the goodies and spending some time in prayer, we made our way out to the cobble stones of Guildford's main shopping strip.

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Our last outing, at Easter time, involved giving out hot-cross buns and asking the question:  What one question would you ask God?  This time our question was: What is life for?  Once again people were more than happy to take a cupcake and offer a variety of opinions on our question: "For fun..."  "To do good to others..."  For family and friends..."  "To make a difference..."  "To make money..."  "To enjoy yourself...".  Interestingly, there were also some blank stares:  "I don't know...  I've never thought of it before..."  Some people even turned the question back on which wonderfully provided the opportunity to share what life for a follower of Jesus IS for.

Next week we will be back at Costa Coffee on Swan Lane in the Guildford town center for a free lunch and short talk addressing this question. Our prayer is that many curious hearts will come along to the talk as well as the "Just Looking" series of further questioning and exploring of the Christian faith at Costa Coffee in the following weeks.

To find out more about Life Matters visit http://www.lifemattersguildford.co.uk/ or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lifemattersguildford?filter=2

"Will You Be My Facebook Friend" by Tim Chester

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“The Facebook comments wither, and the tweets fall, but the word of God stands forever.”

Just before writing this I received an email to say I had won tickets to go and see the Apprentice You’re Fired! Coming from an Apprentice fan I can’t express how excited I was and had to seriously restrain myself from jumping up like a caffeine fuelled Gazelle in the middle of Cafe Nero. Next thing I found myself logged onto Twitter and tweeted:

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The instancy of Social Media is our ticket to sharing with the world everything we’re doing 24/7. This example shows how I therefore had the chance of telling not just one person but everyone who followed me.

The most popular social networking site with over 500 million users is Facebook. It’s become one of the major necessities in modern life. It reflects the boom of the digital era and the hold it has on our culture today.

As someone who only said goodbye to the Uni life a year ago, I felt the thick of it. As a student I experienced the lure of Facebook, spending endless amounts of time scrolling through Facebook statuses from expressions of joy that the sun was out, to someone who had just eaten the best slice of Banoffee pie they’d ever had.

“Will you be my Facebook friend?” by Tim Chester helps highlight the key issues with Social Media, in particular9781906173852 Facebook. How we should be using it as followers of Christ and how the amount of time we spend on it is beginning to have long term effects on real face-to-face communication.

One of the dangers that Tim Chester points out is how it has affected our ability to focus on just one particular task. It’s influencing the way we consume information. We need things in shorts bites or we’ll lose interest. For example, as I’m writing this, I’m needing to make sure this post isn’t too long before you switch off (here’s hoping you’re still with me...). The book is also very nicely condensed to only 48 pages. So no excuses not to read it!

Another key area that is brought to light is how Facebook encourages you to create an image of yourself in a digital world that revolves around you. You have the power to select who to be friends with, how good you look in your profile picture and so on. However by doing this we risk trying to play God. God is the one who created you, me and the world we live in. Therefore he is the only one who has the right to be in control.

So are you finding yourself wasting away hours on Facebook? Do you feel a buzz for every ‘RE-TWEET’ you receive? This very practical book is a necessity for any regular user of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. It helps put into perspective our incentives for using it and challenges us to ensure we do not fall into the lure of the digital world. Tim Chester doesn’t aim to discourage you from using Facebook but to be aware of the dangers and how we can use it as an opportunity to display Christ working in us rather than it becoming an episode of ‘This Is Your Life’ (one for the older generation).

This is the CSBC book of the term. If you would like a copy see David Skull

For His eyes only: The secret world of the Christian

3854242-596672-top-secret-rubber-stamp My wife eats healthily.  I don't.  She loves salads with a variety of wholesome, healthy vegetables and fruit.  I love cheese on toast with lots of mayonnaise.  She loves nut-loaf which is a combination of seeds and nuts and lentils all mixed together, seasoned and baked in the oven.  I enjoy meatloaf with lots of ketchup.  She enjoys herbal tea.  I enjoy strong coffee with full fat cream and brown sugar.  She enjoys frozen pureed banana.  I enjoy Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. My wife eats healthily.  I don't.

As I think about the contrast between my wife's eating habits and my own, I'm reminded of the contrast between what Jesus teaches, about how His people today should live their lives, and what society teaches.

It's very different.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches His disciples that their motivation for doing good - specifically "giving to the needy" should be genuine and only for the eyes of their Heavenly Father in secret, and not for the eyes of their fellow man.

Our society teaches something different.

There is a program on tv right now called the Apprentice.  Some of you might know it. Occasionally, my wife, Naomi and I watch it.  Ok we watch every episode.  Anyways, the basic idea is that there are a number of business candidates trying to win a series of business related tasks that are all part of an interview process that the boss, Sir Alan Sugar is conducting to determine who will win the £250,000 first place prize and the opportunity to start a business with him.  But the thing about the show is the extent to which each candidate says and does things to try and promote themselves.  I mean seems extreme.  And this is probably one of the reasons why the show is so popular and entertaining.  I mean they say things like, and these are direct quotes:

"I'm a great of my generation."

"I just feel my effortless superiority will take me all the way."

"I'm business perfection personified."

Maybe these quotes are slightly exaggerated by the editors to attract attention but there's no denying what's being said. It's shameless self-promotion and NOTICE ME talk. And sadly, more and more, this is what society is teaching.

So, for Bible believing Christians, the idea giving to the needy in secret or doing good of any kind for that matter - for His eyes only - is a very difficult challenge.

So what can we do?

We must, of course pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us.  Help us recognize the temptation to say something or do something that might draw attention to ourselves. And the subtle strategies of our evil, deceiving hearts don't help either do they?  And we need to take precautions.  Maybe we need to have a kind of "motivation check" in place. It doesn't have to be complicated.  Maybe just a simple question like:  "Have I done every reasonable thing I can to give in secret?"

Of course we will never be able to do this perfectly in our lifetime as we battle with our desire to be promote ourselves and seek after recognition.  All I can say is,  thank goodness for God's grace and forgiveness through His son Jesus!  But also, thank goodness that we can be free from the horrible burden of thinking we must get others people's recognition and approval for the good we do. Thank goodness that the only eyes we need to live out our Christian life in front of are the eyes of our Heavenly Father.  Our Father who sees all the good we do. Even the good we do in secret.