I’m privileged to have been invited to speak in Harrow at the North-West region of the London International church of Christ this Sunday, 1 October.
 
It’s a special service called, “Reconnect”. The idea is to reconnect with former members of the NW congregation. If you’re someone who worshipped with us back in the day, would you consider coming along and reconnecting with us? I’d love to see you.
 
The lesson will focus on God and his desire to reconnect with us as creator, truth-giver and love-giver.
 
The details are in the accompanying pictures. Feel free to pass it to anyone you think might be interested.
 
Penny & I will both be there.
 
God bless, Malcolm
Date: 1st October 2017
Time: 11:00-12:30
Event: "reconnect" - 1 October, 11am
Topic: reconnect
Venue: Harrow High School
Location: Harrow
UK
Public: Public

What to do when you don’t know how to love God

Three tips to find and grow that connection with God

Connection Crisis

It’s awkward when you don’t know how to connect with someone. Even more so with God. How can we connect with the awesome, pure creator of all we see and cannot see? Let’s talk about that today.
 

Mexican Standoff

I’ve just returned from a few days in Mexico where I was attending a conference on worship. I speak no Spanish and most of the people there spoke no English. In my home church culture, we hug one another as a greeting. But I noticed a lot of cheek-to-cheek kissing going on in Mexico. The women did this with one another and with the men. The men held out their hand to other men in a clasp-like manner and then hugged. I clumsily imitated them. Once I kissed a woman’s ear instead of her cheek. Another time I trod on a man’s foot as I attempted the hand-grip and hug. Coordination was never my strong suit!
 

Shunned No Longer

I was embarrassed about my mistakes and my clumsiness. However, no one shunned me. I was not avoided in case I trod on someone’s foot. Everyone embraced me eagerly. I relaxed, kissed and hugged, and gradually got better at it. I was reminded that God will never shun my attempts to communicate, not matter how hapless.
How are we going to connect with God? By embracing the ways he has taught us to connect with him. And doing so consistently. Practice makes perfect in many things, and our relationship with God is no exception. Here are three ways to connect. If practised regularly they will help you to develop a deeper connection with God over time.

Three Tips

1. Open your heart to God. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalms 34:18 NIV11). Give him your deepest fears and dearest hopes.
2. Praise God. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalms 145:18 NIV11). The word, ‘call’ is ‘qara’ in Hebrew meaning to praise the qualities of YHWH.
3. Pray with others. “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” (Psalms 34:3 NIV11) Find a friend to pray with and glorify God together.
 

Conclusion

Connection with God is possible. He made us for this very purpose. But we’re limited in our understanding of how to do so. Never fear. God has left us with a huge book with helpful examples, instructions and principles. Put the three above into practice this week and see your connection with God grow and grow.
 

Question

What helps you to connect with God? What have I missed that could help other people?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

Tuesday Teaching Tips Episode 76: “How to preach for the first time” – Part 2

Seven more tips for first-time speakers

What’s the best way to approach preparing your first sermon? I offer seven more tips to help first-time speakers.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

Three Ways To Protect Your Healthy Spiritual Eyesight

What a mistaken contact lens order taught me

What we look at affects us. Visual images influence us emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. If that were not so, we’d not have photographs framed. Nor would companies spend what they do on advertising. We cannot always control what we see, but we do have a choice about what we look at. 

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I’m writing this blog in Guadalajara where I’m attending a conference for leaders of corporate worship. I flew here wearing spectacles instead of my normal contact lenses. That way I didn’t have to bother with taking the lenses out so that I could sleep on the plane.
 
This morning I put in my new contact lenses. Instead of the expected clarity, the world went blurry. I was confused. Looking at the box I realised I had ordered the wrong lens prescription. Instead of -2.50 in one eye and -2.25 in the other I had bought +2.50 in one eye and +2.25 in the other. The exact opposite. Instead of making my eyesight better they made it worse.
 
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I removed the lenses, muttered darkly about my folly, and ordered the correct lenses online. In the meantime, I will make do with my spectacles. Not the worst situation in the world. But a waste of £45.
 

Out of Focus?

By ordering the wrong lenses I made a decision that impaired my sight. As soon as it became obvious I corrected it. But do we have the same urgency when it comes to spiritual sight? Do we even notice when our spiritual vision is out of focus?

We Have a Choice

We choose where we ‘look’ spiritually. It is our responsibility. Job acknowledged his ability to make such a choice when he said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” (Job 31:1 NIV11) Easier said than done, of course! What can we do to make sure we are protecting our spiritual eyesight?
 

Three Tips

1. Surround yourself with spiritually healthy people. “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” (Psalms 101:6 NIV11) When we surround ourselves with people who ‘see’ right, we’ll ‘see’ better too. The healthy example of others inspires and instructs (1 Cor 4.16). Jim Rohn said something similar when he said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Who are you spending time with? Are they lifting your vision or depressing it?
2. Ask God for insight into his word. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalms 119:18 NIV11). Reading the Bible is never enough. We need spiritual insight. When you open the Bible, take a moment at the start, or when you hit a tricky section to pray and ask for God to help you understand what he is communicating. God will help us ‘see’ his word more accurately and clearly if we ask him.
3. Deal decisively with sin. “And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” (Matthew 18:9 NIV11). We should not kid ourselves. Sin blinds us to God, his promises and his love. If you’ve been finding it hard to ‘see’ God clearly, take a moment to reflect if there’s been some sin in your life. If so, be decisive and ruthless about removing it.
 

Conclusion

A friend of mine recently described what it was like to be temporarily blind. He felt confused, insecure and afraid. God never intends for us to feel this way. His dream is that we feel confident, secure and loved. What we look at, where our focus is, on what we set our attention has an enormous impact on the clarity and health of our spiritual sight.
 
My contact lens order mistake cost me £45. The costs of spiritual un-sightedness are much higher.
 

Question

What do you think of the three suggestions above? Are there other practical actions we can take that I’ve missed? What helps you to maintain clear spiritual vision?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

I’m waiting for a connecting flight from Mexico City to Guadalajara where Frank will be picking me up. What’s the main question on my mind as I go off to pray in a deserted departure lounge at 4 AM? It is this. Why has God brought me to Mexico? What does he want me to learn?

Please continue to pray for Andy & I that we’ll bring back what we need.

God bless,

Malcolm

I’m waiting to board at Heathrow. Mexico here we come. I’m reflecting on some of the questions, ideas and feedback I’ve received on the Corporate Worship Matters Facebook group page.

Let me know what you think of the ideas and what you’d hope Andy and I can bring back from the conference that’ll be useful to us in the UK & Ireland.

God bless,

Malcolm