“Spiritual lessons from the hooting of a tawny owl”: Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 71

My prayer walk was pleasantly interrupted by the loud calls of a male and female tawny owl. Let me share with you what I learned from this. 

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

(Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The Road to Joy”, Acts 8.26-40

Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

A multi-cultural evangelistic encounter

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: 

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26–40 NIV11)

  • Philip
  • Question: “Why might the voice in Phillip’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of Philip?”
  • Ethiopian
  • Question: “Why might the voice in the Ethiopian’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of the Ethiopian?”
  • Spirit
  • Question: “What do we learn about the Spirit’s priorities?”

Suggestions

  1. Pray over how you can be more in tune with the Spirit’s priorities. We desire as a church to be “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). What could that look like for you this coming week?
  2. If you are an ‘Ethiopian’ seeking the joy of the good news about Jesus, what can you do this week to find out more about this message?
  3. If you are a ‘Philip’, which of his attitudes and/or actions inspire you the most? Pray over how to express those this week.

Additional notes and scriptures for further study

  • Look up parallels between this passage and the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4.
  • Philip had a powerful prophetic family, Acts 21:9.
  • We are seeing here Luke describing the expansion of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and, soon, the rest of the world (i.e. Gentiles). Act 1:8; Acts 8:4, 5; 10/11.
  • Eunuch: Deut. 23:1, Isaiah 56:3–8.
  • See parallels between this passage and Jesus explaining the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35. See also the parallel sudden disappearance (and also, 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezek. 3:14)!

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Awesome Apollos”, Part 1, “Love learning” – Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 139

Thanks to my friend Rob Payne for these observations about awesome Apollos.

    “When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.”

(Acts 18:27–28 NIV11)
  1. Learned man
  2. Self-motivated
  3. Passionate
  4. Humble
  5. Effective in public
  6. Not afraid to go his own way

Alexandria

  • A centre of shipping and trade, culture and scholarship
  • 10,000-1,000,000 Jews 
  • Library of 700,000 volumes
  • LXX translated here
  • Own synagogue in Jerusalem, Act 6.9

Learned” = logios 

  • One who has learned a great deal of the intellectual heritage of a culture; eloquent
  1. Make it your aim to be ‘learned’: more than you already are
  2. Find the right sources: institutions, books etc.
  3. Keep at it: “When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” (Acts 18:26 NIV11)

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

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

God bless,

Malcolm

“How to Ask”, John 4.43-54

Jesus wants us to ask him for things. But, what should we ask for, and how should we ask? In this lesson we do not cover everything to do with the topic, but we learn a valuable lesson from a royal official who asked Jesus for something.


Our key point today: “Requests are heard when we take Jesus at his word”

  1. Go
  2. Asking
  3. Trusting

When we go to the right source, ask and do not give up, and trust in the answers we receive, leading to faithful actions, we can expect to see God move powerfully.

What do you sense God bringing to your attention?  Are you going to him for your help, support and answers? Are you continuing to ask him for his help, comfort, wisdom? And are you acting on what you are discovering?

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The Eagle’s Eye”, Class 2. John’s Gospel series

1. Two ‘Books’

Prologue

01. Book of ___________

02. Book of ____________

Epilogue

2. Seven Signs (semeia)

Miraculous signs (semeia)ScriptureNotable featureArea of power
Changing water into wine 2:1-11
Healing official’s son4:46-54
Healing the lame man5:1-15
Feeding the multitude6:1-15
Walking on water6:16-21
Healing the blind man9:1-41
Raising Lazarus11:1-44

3. Jesus’ Humanity

  1. Grief: 11:33-35
  2. Tiredness: 4:6
  3. Anguish: 12:27; 13:21
  4. Irritation: 2:4; 6:26; 7:6-8; 8:25
  5. Suspicion: 2:24-25

4. New Life: 3.1-21

  1. “The new birth and new life require new family, and only the church can provide that.” DaSilva, Introduction to the New Testament, 447
  2. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV11)

5. Jesus is the Hero: 3.22-36

  1. Celebrate _________________________ .
  2. Refuse to entertain __________________.
  3. ____________________ the best of others.
  4. Pray to discern the___________________.
  5. Soberly___________________ and concern yourself fully with that.

Summary

  • “What has stood out to you from tonight?”
  1. Read John 4 between now and Sunday
  2. Discuss what you’re learning and your questions with your spouse/friends.
  3. Ask God to reveal what aspect of Jesus he would like you to focus on through this series.

“He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30 NIV11)

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

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: tvcochrist@gmail.com. 

Thanks again for listening. Have a super day. 

God bless, Malcolm

“A communion with a difference”: The Sunday Sample: Episode 65

I find writing songs very hard. And rather nerve-wracking. I feel more vulnerable when I am performing a song I have written than pretty much any other circumstance I experience. However, if I don’t do it why should I expect anybody else to do so? I’ve been challenging myself to write more music, even if on a limited scale. 

This last Sunday in the Thames Valley churches of Christ I experimented with the communion and a song I had written. It is by no means perfected, and, I must admit, I really don’t like the lyrics! However, I received good feedback and I’m glad I tried something creative. The recording is attached for you to listen to and let me know what you think.

Come on, everyone, let’s be more creative in 2019! What could you do in your very next service that would shake things up a little? You don’t have to throw everything out, but why not tweak something? Some of our members have been going to services for several decades, and it is a challenge for them not to become bored. We, as those privileged with leading corporate worship, have a responsibility and a privileged opportunity to help people keep their collective worship refreshed.

What have you seen done recently, or tried yourself which has been a little bit different? Even if it hasn’t worked, that’s fine. We learn from such experiences. Let me know what has been going on. Oh, and let’s stay in touch with things we’re trying on the corporate worship matters Facebook page and website. Whatever you’re doing, on any given Sunday, please post it. You might not think it’s interesting, but I’ll bet it’s different from what the rest of us are doing.

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up on www.coach.me.

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The Blend of Grace and Truth”: Quiet time coaching: Episode 70

Let’s reflect today on the perfect blend of the fullness of grace and truth which came in Jesus the Christ.  

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

(John 1:14 NIV11)

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

(Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“What are your teaching goals for 2019?”: Tuesday Teaching Tip 138

I sense that God is calling me to greater collaboration with fellow-teachers in 2019. It’s been on my heart and mind for a few months now, and I’m getting to a place of concrete action. I need more stimulation in my own teaching from personal interaction with people. I read, I do online courses, watch videos, and again a lot of exposure from many sources. However, the area I’m lacking is in ongoing discussion, feedback and, for want of a better word, banter about teaching with people of like-mind.

Thus, this year I have three objectives which I believe will greatly  refresh my teaching effectiveness.

  1. A “Teachers’ mastermind group”.
  2. A “Teachers’ network”.
  3. At least one, possibly two, teaching events.

I’ll share more on these as I develop my thinking, talk to people and refine the plans.

What are your teaching goals for this year?  Mine is to be more connected and interactive with other teachers. What about you? I would love to know.

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

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

God bless,

Malcolm 

“The Eagle’s Eye”: Class 1

Background to John’s Gospel

Introduction

“John, oh John,
Thou honourable bird,
Sun-peering eagle.
Taking a bird’s-eye view,
Even of Calvary and Resurrection.”

D H Laurance – “St John”

“In the other gospels, Jesus’ story takes place in the horizontal dimensions of the geography and history of Israel; John brings in the vertical – Jesus is above and beyond all that……John’s Jesus is nothing less than God himself, coming down like an eagle from the heights of the world above to save the reader from darkness and evil, if only we allow ourselves in faith to be found by him.”

“Four Gospels, One Jesus? A symbolic reading”, Richard Burridge

1. John’s gospel is biographic

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets…” 

 C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

2. John’s gospel is “Spiritual”

“…John, last of all, conscious that the outward facts had been set forth in the Gospels, was urged on by his disciples, and, divinely moved by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel.”

Clement of Alexandria (ca. 155-220 CE)

3. John’s gospel has different areas of focus

The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, Luke)John’s Gospel
Story parables (prodigal son, man building bigger barns etc.)
Stories using symbolism (such as the vine and branches in chapter 15 etc.) 
Teaching on the Kingdom of God
Teaching on eternal life
Short, catchy sayings (e.g. ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost’ – Lk 13).
Long teaching sections (e.g Jn 5, 6, 13-18)
Teaching on the last days still to come (eschatology).
Teaching on the last days that are already here.
Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer.
Farewell address (chapters 13-17)
Jesus’ own baptism by John.
Jesus’ interactions with John the Baptist.
Jesus’ temptation by Satan and demon exorcisms.
Satan as Jesus’ main enemy working through Judas.

4. Jesus (John 1.1-14)

  1.  His Identity
    1. “What can you see in the first 14 verses that tells us about the identity of Jesus the Christ?”
  2. His Capacity
    1. “What can you see in the first 14 verses that tells us about the capacities of Jesus the Christ? What he can do?”

Summary

  • “What has stood out to you from tonight?”
  1. Read/skim the whole gospel between now and next Friday.
  2. Discuss what you’re learning and your questions with your spouse/friends.
  3. Ask God to reveal what aspect of Jesus he would like you to focus on through this series.

“A key to spiritual growth in 2019”

Quiet time coaching episode 69

Are you ready spiritually for the year ahead? I share some thoughts prompted by a book I’ve just started reading – “Glittering Vices” by Rebecca DeYoung.

  • The New Testament uses both active and passive voice “Make every effort” (2 Peter 1) but also “Be transformed” (Romans 12).
  • Studying our sinful disorder and deformation should lead us to spiritual disciplines (our efforts) that open us to receive God’s gracious power (God’s work).
  • Grace-empowered practice reorders our desires, conforms our character to Christ, and transforms our lives.

Questions for us to consider:

1. How will I be transformed?

2. How will I make every effort?

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.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

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