To the Bride and Groom

Last Friday one of my younger brothers got married.

He has no friends, and so I got the job of best man. Obviously the trademark of a best man is the speech – I have to be honest I found this a very difficult task. You have to be funny but sincere, relate memories but embellish them a little, criticise but not cause the bride to immediately regret her decision, bring to light revelations but not be inappropriate. It is a tall order.

I imagine many of our readers don’t know my brother and so I won’t bore you with the speech. However, I would like to pass on the advice I passed onto my brother. It is simple advice, and you have probably heard it before, but I believe it to be important advice and so repetition is no bad thing.

There are three pieces of advice I ended my speech with:

  1. Resolve problems between yourselves first

If you didn’t disagree during your wedding planning and marriage classes, you will soon after you are married. It is inevitable that when two sinners live in close quarters with each other that there will be differences of opinion.

Image by Gareth Weeks
Image by Gareth Weeks

It is important that when these disagreements, fights and fall-outs happen that you resolve the problem between yourselves first.

I am not neglecting the wisdom and experience of parents, friends and family. I praise God for all of the godly married couples I have learned from and who have helped my wife, Tracy, and I by passing on advice. However, when you have a difference of opinion with your spouse those people should not be your first port of call – your spouse should.

If your family, parents or friends are your first port of call when difficulties arise your marriage will no longer include just two people. If, in the ‘heat of battle’, you include others in your complaints about your spouse there are no longer only two people dealing with an issue.

Subsequently, when you and your spouse come to resolve the problem it will not be the two of you discussing it – it will be you plus your mum and them plus their friend. This is difficult terrain to negotiate.

Tracy and I realised that we were falling into this trap when we discussed problems with sentences like ‘my sister said…’, ‘Tim Keller explains…’, ‘my mum told me…’ We were bringing additional people into our marriage.

Resolve your problems between yourselves first.

  1. Talk to each other

This may sound like a strange one, and I know Tracy and I found this a strange one.

Before you get married you don’t live together – this means that you spend lots of time apart, and when you are together there is always a ‘home-time’. Therefore, what time spent together is often spent talking – relating stories, planning the next date, telling jokes, complaining about work, etc.

You would imagine this would only increase as you move in together, but strangely enough the opposite happens. As you move in together all of a sudden you are with each other all the time. You go to bed together, you wake up together, you eat together, you watch TV together, etc.

This means you can’t say ‘I watched this amazing programme last night, let me tell you all about it’ because the likelihood is that your spouse was sitting beside you watching it too.

This means that when you get married and move in together it is vitally important to work hard at finding things to talk about, and then talk about those together. This is only exacerbated by tiredness and familiarity. Therefore making it all the more important to be aware of it.

Communication is the key to maintaining a relationship – so ensure that you communicate with each other, and often with words.

Talk to each other.

  1. Read Scripture and Pray 

This is the life blood of a Christian marriage.

If you approached any Christian couple that you knew and asked them how often they read and prayed together they would probably say ‘not enough’ (at least if they were being honest). I know that Tracy and I find it a constant struggle in our marriage – to carve out time to read and pray and then to cultivate the energy and desire to do it.

It will be a constant battle to create time to do this, especially as children, job promotions and aging family members come along. Nevertheless, it is something that must happen in a Christian marriage.

Whether you manage to do it every week, once a month or once every six weeks – it must be something that you do. It is of no benefit to put it off until you will be able to do it every week.

Reading Scripture and praying together is a wonderful exercise and creates a marriage strengthening bond between husband and wife, and between husband and wife and God. Hence, it is vital that we read Scripture and pray together.

All of this advice came off the back of those words uttered by God in the Garden of Eden, ‘Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24 ESV).

There was a new family unit created that day, and each and every time two people join in marriage a new family unit is created (Mt. 19:5; Eph. 5:31). In the creation of a new family unit there is an opportunity to put into practice these actions I have mentioned above.

My wife, Tracy, and I have tried (and often failed) – but when we implement these things into our marriage we notice the difference. My humble advice to my brother and now to you is to implement these things yourself in your marriage – you will notice the difference.

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Resources For Spiritual And Intellectual Growth: Bible College

I have had the enormous privilege of attending two Bible Colleges in my, admittedly, short life. So far.

collegebuildingI went straight from school, at 18, to the Irish Baptist College to study for a Bachelor of Theology and I have just finished my first year at Union Theological College where I’m working towards a Master of Theology in Missiology.

I enjoy studying theology at an academic level (in my own unusual way) and both levels have stretched me spiritually and intellectually in different ways. It would be no good trying to compare the two. Studying as a postgraduate is vastly different from studying as an undergraduate because as a postgraduate you choose what you study whereas undergraduates have little choice (some, but not a lot).

I really enjoyed the structure of my Bachelor of Theology, it was all course work assessed so there was never HUGE exam pressure just a lot of manageable essay deadline stress. My Master of Theology course is very similar: all course work assessed, three essays per module, four modules, and a 20,000 word dissertation. I get to choose my own questions for all essays and my dissertation so it’s quite specialised but allows me to research the things I’m interested in. Also, having a supervisor is amazing, they’re super helpful!

Image by Albert Bridge
Image by Albert Bridge

Perhaps academic study isn’t your cup of tea but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo any kind of theological education. Both the Irish Baptist College and Union Theological College offer Christian Education Courses which I would encourage you to think about and pursue. If you have the time and money it would be a valuable investment that will be sure to pay for itself in terms of spiritual and intellectual growth.

But if academic study does appeal to you then contact the Colleges and get some more info. You can even contact me if you think I could be of any help. We need more Christian academics who can engage charitably and critically at the highest levels, so if you think God has gifted you in this way pursue it!

Tell me the old, old story

At the prayer meeting in my home Church we still use the ‘Mission Praise’ hymn books.

Very often we sing songs from ‘Mission Praise’ that we don’t sing on Sundays. These songs are usually the older generation’s favourites. One such favourite is Tell me the old, old story. The chorus is:

Tell me the old, old story

Tell me the old, old story

Tell me the old, old story

Of Jesus and His love

This old story of Jesus and his love is of course the gospel.

If we are honest with ourselves, candidly honest, from time to time this story can get a bit old. We have heard it a million times growing up through: Sunday school, children’s meetings, youth groups, summer camps and teams. And now we hear it every Sunday in church.

To be sure, it is a tragic thing to say that God’s lovingly gracious redemption of rebellious sinners through the sacrifice of his one and only perfect son gets a bit old. But we are sinful creatures who frequently catch ourselves chasing new ideas. The result of these sinful tendencies is that the gospel almost becomes passé, boring, old.

You may be beginning to worry where all this is going – but don’t fear, I am not going to try and offer a new gospel. But I do hope what I share below makes the old, old story feel new and fresh for those of us feeling that way.

If you have been reading my blog posts regularly, or connected with me on Facebook or twitter, you will have gleaned that I love reading. I am currently working my way through The Gospel as Center (please forgive the American spelling, I have).

The Gospel as Center is a collection of essays that seek to unpack and explain more fully The Gospel Coalition’s foundational documents. Therefore, a variety of contributors have completed essays on a variety of topics and it has now been released in this helpful volume.

As you may have guessed, there is an essay called ‘What is the Gospel?’ This essay has been written by Bryan Chapell. Chapell is an excellent preacher and writer – his book Christ-Centred Preaching is one of the best preaching books available. However, I still had that same dread in the back of my mind that I was going to read the old, old story.

I was pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t that Chapell had come up with some new and fascinating aspect to the gospel that I had never thought of before. It really was the old, old story. But the way it was framed was immensely helpful, and removed any boredom that I anticipated.

I will not regurgitate all that Chapell said, I’ll encourage you to get your hands on a copy of this book instead and read it for yourself. Nevertheless, allow me to whet your appetite by sharing his excellent framework. There are three strands to this framework:

  1. What God requires, He provides

This section really was the old, old story and even the phrase which entitled this section was familiar to me.

Chapell works through God’s holiness, our being made in his image and the fall. In short he shows how we are incapable of providing what God requires. All is not lost though, because God can provide what he requires. Indeed he does.

Chapell then presents Jesus in all of his wonderful facets – those facets that we are aware of – his humble birth, obedient life, sacrificial death, miraculous resurrection and glorious ascension.

Christ in all his beauty is what God requires and is what God provided.

  1. What God provides, He perfects

This second section caught my eye – God perfecting Jesus? This is a little strange, but it is not where Chapell takes us. Instead, our eyes are directed toward the glorious truth that this salvation which God provided will be perfected in us. In other words this section is speaking of sanctification.

This discussion begins with the great truth that we will be kept spiritually safe by God until we die or Jesus returns. God will keep us until our salvation is finally accomplished. He will perfect what he has provided.

This is then fleshed out in our personal lives through our union with Christ and the family privileges we enjoy because of that union.

However, there is also a cosmic aspect to this section. Chapell says, ‘The One who came to save sinners provides a salvation so grand that it restores the whole earth, involves our whole being, and lasts for eternity’ (pg 132).

God will certainly perfect that which he has provided.

  1. Whom God perfects, He uses

Finally, Chapell ensures that we understand the part we have to play.

In no way can we provide our own salvation, and in no way can we bring this salvation to perfection, but gloriously God can and does use us.

The three aspects to being used are individually, corporately and redemptively. These three aspects cannot be separated. As we are used individually, we are used corporately and all of this is for God’s great and redemptive purpose.

In his great goodness God sees fit to use those he has perfected.

As Bryan Chapell relates it, the gospel is God providing what he requires, God perfecting what he has provided and God using those he has perfected.

I admit I have not, and cannot, do justice to all of the nuances, details and explanation that Chapell offers in this essay. However, I do hope that I have given you yet another framework with which to learn, remember and share the gospel.

This framework certainly made me pay attention, and glory in the wonder of the gospel like I used to. I pray that this old, old story never gets boring for me – but when it does I pray God may open my eyes to see the gospel afresh.

In my home church there used to be a senior youth club on a Friday evening. Each evening at some stage there would be a short Bible talk. It was an evangelistic outreach from the church, and a relatively effective one in my eyes. This meant that the Bible talk often revolved solely around the gospel. One leader in particular used to actually make a point of reminding the young people that they were hearing the same thing. They were hearing the old, old story, the same message that has been proclaimed for thousands of years by the church.

We must never change this story, the gospel. But what we can do is present through different frameworks. I thank Bryan Chapell for this framework:

  1. What God requires, He provides
  2. What God provides, He perfects
  3. What God perfects, He uses

Resources For Spiritual And Intellectual Growth: ICM Books

I love books. I have many of them. We talk about books a lot here on the blog (maybe too much!). But God uses books to grow us as Christians, for starters he has given us the Bible (which is basically a book of books and the book of books!) but he has also blessed us with a plethora of great books (written by Christians and non-Christians alike) that the Holy Spirit uses to transform us little by little into further conformity to the image of Christ.

logoIt’s difficult to overestimate the value of good books, however, it’s always best to pay as little as possible for good books because let’s be honest: books can be pretty expensive. And when you buy loads that adds up to loads of money.

For this reason we recommend you buy your Christian books from ICM Books; a local Northern Irish book shop located in Lurgan, County Down.

9 times out of 10 ICM beats other book shops hands down so go local, it saves you money!

ICM Books is one of the biggest independent Christian Book sellers in the UK and is situated in the heart of the Northern Ireland countryside. ICM Books began in the mid-1990s selling used books and it has grown to a purpose built warehouse stocking over 10,000 Christian books and media.

The ICM Books Warehouse, which opens Monday to Saturday from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm with late night opening until 8.00 pm on Thursday evening, is a family run Christian business which seeks to put good Christian books into the hands of Christians at the best possible price. We desire to give the highest possible standard of customer care and we aim to give 100% satisfaction to every person who purchases from us.

ICM Books sells Christian books, CDs and DVDs not only to individuals but also Christian books shops, churches, fellowships and other Christian Organisations.

We in ICM Books hope that you enjoy your shopping experience with us and if there is anything we can do to improve our service to you, do please let us know.

Happy reading,

From all at ICM Books

School’s out for the summer: What to do with my free time?

Over the past year I have found myself with slightly more free time than I have ever been used to. This has both been a blessing and a challenge. What to do with our free time can be a difficult question to answer, especially if you have lots of it.

Around this time of year the working population of the church struggle much with jealously. University students are finished until late September, and within the next few weeks GCSE and A Level students will be finished until the end of August. They have three or four months with almost nothing to do (from my experience anyway).

This begs the question ‘what to do with my free time?’ I wish to share four lessons I have learned over the past year.

  1. Doodled Desks 2Rest

This may seem like a silly lesson to learn (particularly for those people who only get a couple of weeks off every year). But, it is an important lesson.

Having a lot of free time can make it difficult to rest. You can very easily fall into this rut of feeling like you have lazed about, not done much and so don’t need to rest. On occasions this can be true, but if we are careful to implement a pattern of rest in our week we can be more productive on other days.

After a period of intense study, revision and examination it is important to rest our minds. Leave the books down for a while, and focus our minds on other less taxing things (like a novel, DVD box-set, movie, photography, etc). Likewise, it is important to let our bodies rest too. You may be young and have more energy than someone who works 8-6 five days a week – but you still need to let your body rest. Finally, it is important to let your soul rest too. Primarily this can be done through meditation on Scripture and Jesus and time spent with your church family in worship. This is all the more important if you study away from your home church.

We must take time to rest when we have time to spare.

  1. Plan

This is incredibly important if we are going to make any use of our summers.

If we do not make plans then nothing will get done. To think that tomorrow I have loads of time to read my Bible, visit my friend, help my mum out in the house and then go to the church prayer meeting isn’t going to ensure that I get all of that done. However, if I plan these things – read my Bible in the morning when I get up (even if that is 10:30), lunch with my friend at 12, help my mum all afternoon and then I’ll be ready to go to the prayer meeting 8.

Even if it is a relaxing day where you don’t want to do much, plan it. It sounds a bit silly to plan to do nothing, but if you don’t the chances are you will end up doing something.

Planning is not something that students and young people are renowned for, but if we were to plan our days, weeks and summers even slightly better we could get so much more done.

  1. Serve

You are very unlikely to enjoy this much free time again and so it is good to use it wisely as well as enjoy it. Therefore, it is good to serve.

There are many different ways we can serve. There are lots of charities that are happy to take volunteers, family members are always keen to make use of your spare time for you and lots of you have probably signed up to do a summer team or help out at your own church’s Holiday Bible Club.

However, there is another way to serve which gives a little back to your home church. Approach your pastor and offer your services, you’ll be surprised how much stuff goes on in church between the Sunday services.

You may be able to visit some of the older people in the church who aren’t very mobile and can’t get out much. This may seem daunting at first, but after a cup of tea and a bun you are more than comfortable enough to listen to a testimony of God’s love and grace over many years.

Perhaps you are more private or shy and would like to do something behind the scenes. There is no better way for you to serve your church than to pray. I once read a group of people who met every Tuesday just to pray for the elders of their church. You could do that, or pray for the sick, or the children, or those on summer teams, or for friends, or for family who aren’t saved, or whatever else you would like to pray for or your pastor suggests.

If you drive you could offer your services to the church. You could take people to hospital appointments, to visit family, drop people to airports who are going on short-term mission teams, take housebound people out for an ice-cream and so on and so forth. Offering to give lifts to people is a great way to serve, get to know people and to pray for them after you drop them home. This year I was able to take a fellow church member to a remembrance service, it was great to spend time in the car getting to them better and to be able to serve them by taking them somewhere they otherwise wouldn’t be able to go.

There may be other things you could do in your church – just ask…and then serve.

  1. Learn

Finally, learn through your free time. Now this certainly depends on why you have free time – if it is through illness or unemployment lessons to learn may come thicker and faster. But even through summer breaks there is opportunity to learn.

There can be spiritual learning – about God, learning to love the church (even the old people who wear hats and suits), learning to serve and give yourself, learning about yourself (sinful tendencies, how selfish you are) etc.

There can also be practical learning – learning to be disciplined, learning to use time wisely, learning how to find things to do etc.

Ask God to teach you and you may be surprised at what you’ll learn.

These are lessons I have learned more acutely over the past year, but I also learned them during my summer breaks after exams and during university. The chances are you will not always enjoy this much free time, but when you do why shouldn’t you make the most of it?

What are you to do with your free time? I can’t tell you exactly what you should do. But I would encourage you to rest, plan, serve and learn in your free time.

Review: The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

“I love this place and hate it, because it is full of words.” (p. 555)

I was nineteen years old when I had my first encounter with The Book Thief. A good and trusted friend told me that she didn’t like it because it was about Nazi Germany and had very little to do with stealing books. As a result, I didn’t read it until very recently.

I was startled to find that, indeed, the novel has an awful lot to do with book theft and has a lot to say about the power of words. Not only that but I couldn’t put it down. I absolutely love The Book Thief. Needless to say, I don’t give much credit to my once good and trusted friend’s opinions anymore.

book thiefAs I have already mentioned The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany in 1938 and concludes in Germany in 1945. It tells the story of a girl named Liesel Meminger who is deposited on Himmel Street where she is cared for by her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann.

Liesel quickly befriends a local boy named Rudy Steiner, who once painted himself black with chimney soot to look like Jesse Owens and is now considered a little mad by the rest of Himmel Street. Incidentally, Himmel translates to heaven, an ironic name given the events of the novel.

What makes this book interesting is its narrator. The story is told from the perspective of Death, otherwise known as the Grim Reaper. This lends the narrative a certain morbid hopelessness, especially when Death recounts the gassing of Jews in German concentration camps:

“Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks.” (p. 373)

The Second World War and the Holocaust are cast in a new and, altogether sobering, light when seen through the eyes of one who bears souls away. Even Death sounds exhausted by the sheer loss of life during that period of time. It is this line in particular that I found most striking:

“For me, the sky was the colour of Jews.” (p. 372)

From the outset, Death is singularly fascinated by the colours of the day. He records them as he collects each soul, a simple pleasure for one with a daunting task. So when Death describes the sky in this almost offensive manner he is referring, of course, to gas chambers and concentration camps, to ghettos and Stars Of David.

In a novel that deals with the horror of war and grief it is surprising how little God is mentioned. And when He is, it is typically cavalier:

“God never says anything. You think you’re the only one he never answers?” (p. 373)

It is interesting, in a book that deals with the power of words, that Zusak chooses to silence the most powerful voice of all. I can understand how someone can look at the events of the Holocaust and believe that God isn’t answering prayers. It is hard to see God in this evil period of history. But that doesn’t mean He was silent. God never stops talking. He created the world using only words (Genesis 1), gave life to man with His breath (Genesis 2:7) and the gospel of John describes Jesus Christ as “the Word.” (John 1:1). We refer to the Bible as God’s Spoken Word. Ours is a God of speech.

Ultimately, and not entirely unexpectedly (since the blurb on the back will mention this, depending on your copy), the novel ends in tragedy. Without going into detail there is, however, a glimmer of triumph. This is a novel that finds hope in words, in the enduring power of books and ideas. While one man uses his words to control a country, Liesel finds that they can be used instead to plant friendship and love.

Finally, if you have seen the movie allow me to encourage you to read the book. It is a beautifully written and powerfully moving account of one of the worst wars in history.

Resources For Spiritual and Intellectual Growth: Socrates in the City

I’m taking a couple of weeks away from blogging so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some videos and resources I’ve benefited from or simply just enjoyed, I hope you do too!

Bust of Socrates, Image by Eric Gaba
Bust of Socrates, Image by Eric Gaba

This week is Socrates in the City.

The Greek philosopher Socrates famously said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Taking this as a starting point, Eric Metaxas thought it would be valuable to create a forum that might encourage busy and successful professionals in thinking about the bigger questions in life. Thus Socrates In The City: Conversations on the Examined Life was born.

SITC have a number of quality videos available free online that are well worth your time viewing, so if you happen to have a free hour or so and want to learn about something new (or old) then give one a watch!

The Butler: Two Models of Evangelism

WARNING: This post contains spoilers.

The Butler is a film based on a true story.

It follows the life of a black man called Cecil Gaines who impressively serves eight Presidents during his tenure as a White House butler which covers the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Cecil is originally from the Deep South in America. He was born on a cotton farm – but due to a tragic turn of circumstances (the rape of his mother and the murder of his father) at a young age he is taken from the fields and trained as a butler inside the house.

As Cecil matures into a young man it is evident that the man who killed his father is keen to kill him too. So he leaves the farm and finds work as butler elsewhere.

His skill and expertise as a butler is spotted quickly and before long he is serving in a fancy hotel in Washington DC. This is where he is spotted and invited to join the housekeeping staff of the White House.

During his time in Washington, Cecil meets and marries Gloria and together they have two sons, Louis and Gloria.

The primary backdrop of the film is the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther-King.

There is a stark contrast within this family in their approach to this issue:

Cecil is content to serve white Presidents in the White House, using all the skill and expertise he has gained over the years. He has a hope and a trust in those who hold office. He works close enough to them to know and understand that they feel deeply about the Civil Rights Movement and are often distraught at the tragedies they witness. Therefore, Cecil is willing to quietly work to the best of his ability – putting on display the inherent equality black people possess with white people.

Cecil’s son does not agree with his father’s approach. Louis, when he is old enough, chooses to travel south again to study. However, study is not the real reason for his move – the real reason is that he wishes to join the Civil Rights Movement. He wishes to be proactive in protests, explicit about his desires and bold about the abuse that is taking place. This bravery/youthful angst (take your pick) certainly catch the eye of the media and the government, but it also costs him dearly (imprisonments, beatings, death threats).

These two men certainly want the same thing; they just go about it a different way…

As you have probably gathered from the title of this post, I see two models of evangelism here.

Cecil models the quiet, persuasive, rub shoulders with the other-side kind of evangelism. In modern terms this could be called incarnational evangelism – putting flesh on what we believe, putting a life on display.

This kind of evangelism is certainly in vogue today.

This quietly influential evangelism was also in vogue when it came to the Apostles. We see this especially in the book of 1 Peter. This is what Peter has to say to his readers: ‘Beloved…keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God’ (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). This is almost a perfect description of Cecil’s approach to the Civil Rights issue. Peter goes on to give this startling advice to wives which further supports this quietly influential type of evangelism. He says ‘wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives’ (1 Peter 3:1 ESV).

This was how Cecil chose to go about dealing with the Civil Rights issue – win people over without a word. And for eight Presidents he did that.

As we have seen briefly from 1 Peter, this is a biblical way to approach evangelism. To win people without a word, to quietly influence their lives with yours, to behave in such a way that people will glorify our Father.

However, Louis, Cecil’s son, had a different approach. Louis models the bold, declarative, preach-at-the-other-side kind of evangelism. Traditionally, this would be seen to be the Gospel Meeting on a Sunday evening, or the preacher standing on a street corner on a Saturday afternoon, or the church blanketing crowds with gospel leaflets.

This style of evangelism has very quickly fallen out of vogue today.

However, what we find as we look back into Scripture again is that the Apostles made good use of it too. This is especially true in the book of Acts. Acts is quite a spectacular book which recounts the formation of the Church of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the features of this account is the number of ‘speeches’ included.

In the first speech in Acts, Peter the Apostle stands up and declares to the crowd gathered the salvation that is to be found in Jesus Christ. He leaves them in no doubt as to their guilt, saying, ‘this Jesus…you crucified and killed’ (Acts 2:23). The same happens toward the end of the book, in Acts 17:22ff. Paul stands up and makes the Athenians aware of their ignorance. The book of Acts is peppered with people standing up in the face of those who are in the wrong, outside of Christ and in danger of perishing.

This is how Louis approached the Civil Rights issue – proclaim the truth, live boldly in front of everyone using the mouth God has given you to share this message with words.

As we have seen briefly from the book of Acts the Apostles executed this type of evangelism with the aim of seeing the church grow and the gospel spread.

You may now think ‘which one is he going to suggest as the best way forward?’

Unfortunately, I am going to have to disappoint. I am going to sit on the fence in this one, or more accurately I am going to try and knock the fence down!

There is a lovely scene near the end of The Butler. Cecil and Louis have not spoken for a long time because of their differences – but as we see Louis in front of a crowd stirring up a protest, we also see Cecil walk round the corner to join the protest.

There is a meeting of minds – Cecil has joined the protest, but Louis has joined the government (running for a seat in congress). They have both seen the merits of the others approach and have adopted it.

It is similar when it comes to evangelism. Both of the models we have mentioned are equally valid. There should be no fighting, no refusing to talk, no back turning on brothers and sisters who choose to do it differently. In fact, it should be the opposite. We should be joining our brothers and sisters who do it differently.

Both approaches are needed, because both approaches reach different people.

The Butler illustrates two equally effective models of evangelism which need to be used in tandem – the quietly influential alongside the boldly declarative.

Summer Bible Conference

Christians who read blogs tend to be Christians who enjoy a good Bible conference!  At least that is true of us here at Gospel Convergence.

Image by Gary Potter
Image by Gary Potter

What’s even better is a free one – and that is what we want to share with you today.

Every year Great Victoria Street Baptist Church holds a summer Bible conference with excellent preachers and teachers invited year after year.

This year they have Pastor Rupert Bentley-Taylor speaking.  He will be dwelling on the theme of ‘God and His Church: Great Victoria Street, Ephesus and Jesus’.  We are sure this will prove to be an interesting and encouraging theme for God’s church here in Northern Ireland.

The conference will run from the 6th June to the 9th June.  This is short notice, but we would encourage you to at least try to make it to one of the following meetings:

Friday 6th – 8pm

Saturday 7th – 6pm (There will be some light refreshments served at 6 before the meeting begins)

Sunday 8th – 11am and 7pm

Monday 9th – 8pm

All of the services will be held in the main hall at the rear of the building and all would be made most welcome.