“I am he who searches hearts and minds”

Tom McGuirk opened the Friday morning session at the “Alpha and Omega” leadership conference in Izmir. A few notes on his presentation follow……

The churches mentioned in Revelation 2 & 3 are inspiring in their faithfulness despite persecution and opposition. Yet they are also a helpful call to soberness,

“Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.”

(Revelation 2:20 NIV11)

Jesus has a passion for the church, his bride, and will do whatever it takes to help her be pure and inherit the promises he offers.

Why would we tolerate the sin that enslaves when promises like these are available?

“To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one ‘will rule them with an iron sceptre and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star.”

(Revelation 2:26–28 NIV11)

Victory over sin is available. It will take:

  1. Believing that change is possible. Past ‘failures’ do not mean victory is not possible now. If God is with us all things are possible.
  2. Investing the effort and getting our hands dirty. It might be hard work, we might be misunderstood or even opposed, but it is worth it. God will honour our efforts.
  3. Being honest about our own struggles so that we do not feel like hypocrites when talking to others about their sin. And doing this not for the sake of example, but because a life of purity honours God.
  4. Recognising the problem is sizeable and urgent. Complacency about sin is not becoming for a follower of Jesus. The long-term effects on current and future members could be catastrophic. The younger generation are the most vulnerable.

Questions to consider:

  • Do we need ‘purity groups’ in our churches?
  • Do we have people who we can count on to listen to us confess our sins and temptations?
  • Are we intentional about using scripture to help our spirit be strong against temptation?
  • Are we making best use of software on our devices to block unhelpful materials?
  • What are we doing to equip parents in the church?

Tom spoke passionately and from the heart. I am grateful for his honesty and openness.

God bless, Malcolm

Turkey Conference – Prayers Requested

On Thursday 7th February I’m travelling to the “Alpha & Omega” conference in Izmir, Turkey.

It’s a gathering of leaders from all around the UK, Ireland, other parts of Europe, Scandinavia, the Nordics, and the Middle East.

We’ll be learning from one another and visiting several Biblical sites located in that part of Asia Minor. Please pray that I and all who attend will return with our faith refreshed and our hearts purified.

Where wifi permits I’ll be posting updates as we go.

God bless, Malcolm

The last time I was in Ephesus, 12 years ago. Andrew, Simon and I sang “The impossible dream” in the amphitheatre. I wonder what the Apostle Paul would have made of that!

“Dealing with distractions”

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 67

How do we stay spiritually focused when distractions are dominant? I bring you a slice of my own experience from a recent prayer walk through my neighbourhood.

If Paul and Silas managed to stay connected to God whilst in prison (Acts 16:25), and Daniel found the discipline to pray despite his life being in danger (Daniel  6:10), it must be possible to remain close to God no matter what else is going on.

I would be grateful for your feedback and experiences. 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

 

Music in this episode courtesy of: Life in Romance by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Artist: http://www.twinmusicom.org/

“When God is Silent”, a new book by Douglas Jacoby

Doug’s new book

The Problem of Human Suffering

We inhabit the same world Jesus did—one of pain, joy, surprise, suffering, and wonder. At times life is good, joyous, and fair. At other times it’s dreary, unfair, and hard. We may pray with little sense that God is listening. In many ways, divine silence is part of this life. It can be deeply unsettling when we have been wronged, misrepresented, defrauded, violated, or betrayed. Inwardly or perhaps vocally, we cry out for divine justice. To hear nothing in response is difficult, even disorientating.

In this work, Douglas addresses questions we all ponder:

• How long should we keep praying if God is not answering?
• If a person with mental illness commits suicide, can God have mercy on them?
• What about tsunamis, floods, and other “acts of God”?
• Why does God allow the death of the innocent?
• Why wouldn’t an all-powerful and all-loving God prevent humans from doing evil?
• Is there purpose in suffering and can good come from it?

You can order it from the publisher’s website here.  

God bless, Malcolm

A NEW CAROL, “BETHLEHEM: CITY OF JOY”

Each year I set myself a Christmas carol challenge. Two years ago I wrote a piece for a quartet of men to sing. Last year I wrote a song for myself to sing with piano accompaniment. This year I’ve decided to write a congregational carol.

It’s called “Bethlehem: City of Joy!”, based on Luke 2:8-20. I made it deliberately very simple and easy to learn. The lyrics are not particularly deep.  Celebration and joyful energy are meant to be the feelings behind the carol.

You will see that it has a simple set of harmony parts. I am teaching the congregation to sing those to the best of their ability, but, more importantly, if the worship team can sing the parts that should be enough to make the carol work.

A PDF of the lyrics is here: Bethlehem Carol lyrics

A PDF of the sheet music is here: Bethlehem Carol Sheet Music

Recordings of the various parts are below:

All four parts:

 

Alto:

 

Bass:

 

Soprano:

 

Tenor:

 

You are very welcome to use it or adapt it if you think it would be helpful for your services.

I’d also welcome some feedback and any ideas for possible improvements.

Many thanks. God bless, Malcolm

“Where should the shock come?”

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 133

My friend Stefan Wolmerans preached recently using a video illustration with a sizeable shock factor.
It made me consider how we decide where to put our surprises in our lessons. At the start, later, at the end? Where would you put it?

Croatia’s win against Russia in the quarter final on Saturday sent them crashing into the semi-final of the World Cup, but these firefighters had to rush out to an emergency moments before the crucial penalty. As the Zagreb Fire Department watch the final penalty by Ivan Rakitic the callout bell rings, launching the firefighters into action. Without hesitation and without even glancing back at the screen they race over to their protective gear and get it on within seconds of the bell ringing.
At the start?
“Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” (Luke 15:11–12 NIV11)
Later on?
“In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:30–34 NIV11)
How do you decide where to place the surprises in your lessons?
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

“A Gethsemane Devotional”

Quiet Time Coaching, episode 62

My wife and I were privileged to be in Israel for two weeks recently.  One of the highlights was a communion service in Gethsemane. Douglas Jacoby shared some thoughts before we took communion. I recorded the audio in the hope that it will give you special spiritual fuel for your next devotional time with God.

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

“How to thrive spiritually”

Quiet time coaching: episode 61

On a recent tour of  Israel, I spent some good time with my old friend Douglas Jacoby.  We discussed the Psalms and he mentioned the book he’s written on them called “Thrive!”. I bought a copy and started reading it straight away. It’s been blessing my spiritual life and I thought I’d bring you a brief description and review of the book for today’s quiet time coaching episode.

Please let me know what you think of Psalms, books on the Psalms, and Douglas’s book if you’ve read it.

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