Friday, July 20, 2007


Please pray for:

Bulgaria itself, this is such a hard place to do evangelism for a lot of reasons i don't want to write about in an internet cafe...but yeh, pray!

The Camp. We're nearly half way through now, i'm so tired, and i'm still in the 'wow God's doing all this cool stuff in me' zone rather than the Mattew 24:14 zone...maybe thats kinda ok, but i'd rather be in both.

For Craig who's leading the camp, for his health and perseverance.

For the guys from Bourgas.

For the Christian Bulgarians here, for their growth and perseverance

For Natalya, Danni and Christina in my small group.

Praise God for:

The fact this camp is happening and their are non Christians here.

For the two American teams who are here, their support and friendship.

For the Bulgarian Christians

For the Gospel, that it works, even here, even with people like me saying it.

That God is bigger than refreshing!

there are many things i would like to say to you, but i don't know how

See y'all soon, as our Tennessee would say!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Brighton and Bulgaria


I was in Brighton on tuesday for the first day of Together on a Mission and Mobilise, the Newfrontiers Leaders' and Students' and Twentys conference, which is being live blogged here. I love Newfrontiers vision and passion for the local church, and, as it turned out this week, the not so local, as delegates gathered from 53 nations. Which was very exciting. I was sadly only there for the first two sessions, but it was still very much worth it. Steve Van Ryn took us through Exodus 32, looking at the lessons to be learnt from Moses and Aaron, which was very challenging, and then in session two Rob Rufus... well, he didn't preach, but kind of shared testimonies of the Spirits power from his own life, and exhorted us as to how important real, lived out, Sprit filled faith is, as opposed to mere intellectual assent of the facts. He then prayed for the Lead Elders of the churches. Now, nine times out of ten, i'd want a session like that to involve some exposition, which Tuesday's did not. I think this was the tenth time. The Holy Spirit was there in power and moving in people, in me, in ways He hasn't done really before, which was very exciting. I'd dearly love to have stayed longer in Brighton but sadly i can't because tomorrow i'm off to


For the second time, to help out at an evangelistic English camp for Bulgaria students. Now, i am looking forward to going, i love travelling, and i love the Gospel, i'm looking forward to getting on to the plane opening up a book and relaxing for a while. I'm all ready at the moment on a practical level, but i've not had a great time with the Lord this week, my eyes aren't really firmly fixed on Him, so some prayers in that direction would be much appreciated!


This morning i finished Isaiah. I think it's probably just sneaked in front of Exodus as my favourite Old Testament book. When i come back i'll try to write something worthwhile about what i've learnt from it, and why i love it so, but i want to leave with one thing that struck me recently: Isaiah 62:11, talks of Israel's salvation coming. It talks about salvation as a man, as a He. His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him. Salvation is a man, salvation comes through no other name except the name of Jesus. Salvation comes from Him, this man, who we could have met and talked to and touched if we'd lived two thousand miles away two thousand years ago. Salvation comes through Jesus, comes from Jesus, and comes from Jesus coming. What encouraging words, and what a great truth.

Monday, July 09, 2007

On statements of faith

There are many, many reasons why i love Christian, confessional, statements of faith and think they are altogether neccesary for a church or parachurch organisation. Here are four of them:

The Gospel is precious. We need to defend it. As Paul said with his closing words to Timothy, there will be a time when people will no longer accept sound doctrine but will instead surround themselves with teachers who will tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-5). We have reached that time. Inside the church people are sneering at central, orthodox, Biblical doctrine as rarely they have done since the Reformation. Even something as straighforward, as vital as penal substitutionary atonement is no longer safe from this tidal wave of pride and ignorance. Statements of faith that reflect what the Bible says about such matters will protect a church or organisation from this kind of suicidal folly. Thats obviously what they must do primarily. They must reflect the Bible's position on a number of important issues, and communicate them clearly. The Bible is there to be understood...lets understand it and defend it. We mustn't be afraid to use non Biblical language to define what the Bible says. The word Trinity isn't in the Bible itself, but you can be sure that our God is a triune God, and we need to defend Him as such.

The Gospel is precious. We need to display it. Much like the crown jewels are safely in cabinets that can not be breached, but can be seen though, we need lost people to know what we believe. Statements of faith are an evangelistic tool. If non Christian students want to know what UCCF stands for, they need only to log onto the website, find the DB page, and there it is, in all it's glory. And i really do mean glory. When i spoke at RUCU the other week, i got such a rush of adrenaline and feeling of joy signing a DB for them. I could have been offended: 'i used to help lead RUCU, now i'm a relay worker...who are these guys to question what i believe?' (I do wonder, incidentally whether thats what keeps many people from signing a DB, but anyway), but instead i felt such joy. Yes! i cried. Yes i believe these truths by the grace of God and i want to display them and write my name on them! Thank RUCU for this chance. Statements of faith display the glory of God to all who look.

The Gospel is precious. We need to hold people accountable to it. My heart is a sinful place. If it wasn't for the Lord, there's no way i'd wake up a Christian each morning, no way i'd want to embrace and delight in Him. No way at all. I need to be held accountable to what will save me from Hell. I loved that when i was a Relay worker at any point during the year Bish could have pulled out a DB and challenged what i believed about it, in response perhaps to a pastoral issue, or a sinful habit, or even just for a chance to rejoice. That sounds like a prison? It is a prison! And goodness me it's a prison i need to be in for the rest of my life if i am to have any hope. Oh tether my heart to yours Lord that i might live. Keep me in the prison, the joyful, life giving, yoke-easy, burden-light prison that i need to be in. Never let me move away from the Truth.

The Gospel is precious. We need to build our friendships on it. I have more in common with the brothers and sisters i'll meet in Bulgaria next week than with some people i've known since i was four. And to type that hurts me and makes me want to tell all my friends about Jesus. Which is a good thing. The Emergent Village website says this: you won’t find a traditional statement of faith here. We don’t have a problem with faith, but with statements. Whereas statements of faith and doctrine have a tendency to stifle friendships, we hope to further conversation and action around the things of God. Isn't that just plain odd? Of course, i'm not advocating that we drop all our friendships with people who can't sign statements of faith...but for that to appear on the website of a popular Christian movement is very very sad. I am blessed with some great friends. There are three or four people who i count as my best friends, and i love them dearly. I love their company, their sense of humour, the things they can do that i can't, i love that they make me want to be a better person. But what do i really love? Man, the conversations that we can have, the life giving, encouraging, edifiying and affirming conversations because of what we believe. Imagine trying to have a conversation like that with someone who claims 'not even to understand what the Bible means'. Paper thin. Hopeless. I would hate it. My best friends encourage me, and hold me accountable because of our confessional stance on the truth. If they fell into unrepentant sin i would let them know...i would literally Bible bash them, because i love them, and they need to know the truth. I hope, and know, they would do the same. Confessionality gives us that. And i never want to lose that.

A couple of disclaimers:

We must never think that just because we've signed a statement of faith we are saved. It's about the heart, not about the pen. I believe that being able to wholeheartedly and in good faith sign a statement of faith is a good sign you're saved, but lets not confuse the fruit with the root.

The things outlines in our statements must reflect the Bible. Must must must. Or we may as well sign receipts when we come into membership. If you can't find what your statement of faith in the Bible throw it away, open up the Word, and start again.

I haven't mentioned church discipline, but i think thats fairly easy to imply from points two and three. Well, probably fomr all of them.