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Unbelievable 2014

12 Jul

Intro from Justin Brierley and the president of BIOLA University, Barry Corey.

 

Opening address – Oz Guiness (OCCA)
“Can we really change the world? Or is this just a cliche?”
Oz poses the question, were the victors of WW2 really that Christian, one asked after the war by people responding to Churchill’s speech before the Battle of Britain.
Can God and His message change the world? Yes!
The Gospel is the first truly global religion. Most diverse religion. Bible the most translated book in the world. In some areas the quickest growing religion. The most persecuted faith in the world.
Evangelism is outstripping discipleship, let alone discipleship that can deal with the modern world.
We need to explore the transforming power of the Gospel.
We are in the world but not of it. We must remember that, as Paul said, we are not conformed but transformed. The problem is that these are very easy to say but not so easy to do.
We need to remember to engage with the world. This is the whole point of apologetics. W do not declare the Christian faith in an abstract form that the world cannot understand. We need to engage with an understanding of what the world is saying and thinking.
We need to explore the spreading nature of the gospel. We need to recognise that there is nothing wrong with leaders. That includes recognising the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom spreads in ways very different from the world.
Oz points out that Europe has been evangelised twice and poses the question posed by T S Eliot and others “Can the Western Church be warmed again?”

 

Seminar 1 – Craig Hazen (BIOLA)
“How do we know the tomb was empty?”
Craig shares his experience of being dropped in to a “Barbecue a Christian” event (1 hour Q&A followed by BBQ wings). His experience about these Q&A sessions is that the questions seem to have become more stupid. There are a small finite number of questions that can be asked and very few people who ever ask any difficult questions. Our aim must be to answer with gentleness and respect.

Christianity doesn’t really fit into the model understanding of what a religion is. 1 thing that sets Christianity apart is that it is testable, you can offer up evidence for and against.
1 Cor 15:12-19 hangs Christianity by a single thread, that of the resurrection. Why would Paul do this? Because Paul had met the risen Jesus and was convinced that this thread as actually pretty robust.
There are 12 known historical facts concerning the resurrection. These are facts that are agreed by almost all the most devout Christian AND the most ardent atheist (www.garyhabermas.com).

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1 – Jesus died by crucifixion. Crucifixion had built in observable evidence for when the person had died, that they no longer raise themselves to breath.
2 – Jesus was buried. There are specifics that can be argued, like how and where, but Jesus’ burial is accepted.
3 – Jesus’ disciples lost hope after Jesus died.
4 – The tomb as empty. Evidence appears in all reputable historic sources.
5 – Disciples REALLY believed they saw the risen Jesus.
6 – The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers, including going to their deaths for doing so.
7 – The message of the resurrection was the central message of the early Church. The could have focussed on so many other things, but they focussed on Jesus’ resurrection.
8 – It was proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried. You don’t go to somewhere where it is easy for people to disprove a false teaching and proclaim it.
9 – Because of all of this preaching about resurrection the Church was born and grew.
10 – Sunday became the primary day of worship. Christianity was born amongst Jewish people, who celebrated on a Saturday. It is not an easy cultural thing to give up.
11 – James, Jesus’ brother, was a skeptic and yet converted when he believed he saw the risen Jesus.
12 – Paul also converted after he met the resurrected Jesus, despite being. Christian killer beforehand.

We then go through the chart that deals with the various theories that people have used to try and explain Jesus’ resurrection.

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And here is the final piece of the handout that we received from the seminar.

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Seminar 2 – Clay Jones (BIOLA University)
“Where is God when disaster strikes?”
We are surrounded by evil. There is moral evil, like gossip, child molestation etc, and natural evils, like earthquakes, floods etc.
4 things to think through:
1 – Understand why do we suffer for Adam’s sin?
2 – Understand humaniy’s depravity
3 – Understand the value free will
4 – Understand the value of eternal life

1 – Why do Emma suffer for Adam’s sin?
Everything started off perfect. Then the Devil comes in and suggests that God is holding Adam and Eve back. Adam and Eve ate the fruit and we now have death in the world.
Adam and Eve are our historical parents. We inherited our soul and our consciousness from Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve can only reproduce themselves, they cannot create anything better than themselves, so they reproduce fallen beings like themselves.
“The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing.”
Our understanding of “You will surely die” is that it means that they will die naturally at a ripe old age in their sleep. But that isn’t what God said. God said they will die, with no specifics of how.
The reason we struggle with being tied to Adam and Eve is that we have a culture of individualism. But we are linked with Adam and Eve and everyone else.
Without Christ humanity’s seed deserves to die. In Christ, being born again, means that we have an organic link with Jesus.
The lesson from this is this – Hate sin!
2 – Understand humanity’s depravity
Both Calvin and Arminius believed that humanity is terribly depraved and sinful.
The Holocaust saw 6 million Jews murdered. about 6 million Slavs and disabled people were also killed. Auschwitz was able to kill 4000+ per day. There were 10,005 concentration camps in existence.
The question after all of this is – Is this inhuman?
The answer is no, because it was mans that came up with it and acted it out.
In the Soviet Union the Ukrainian genocide of 1926 killed between 5 and 7 million people by starvation. Is this inhuman? No, humans did this.
The Japanese empire undertook “The Rape of Nan King”. Was this inhuman?
A Chinese emperor buried thousands of scholars alive.
In Rwanda 800,000 were killed out of a population of 8 million, a decimation.
Turkey killed 1.2 million Armenians.
The USA have killed 55 million babies through abortion.
Studies by historians say that it is the average member of the population that commits genocide. Iceman, the man who ran Auschwitz, was considered to be a normal person. An Auschwitz survivor commented that humans are victim, perpetrator and spectator at the same time.
To deny that humans can be born incapable of committing genocide is to suggest that some can be born innately better than others.
Paul says in Romans that no one does good, “not one”. Good acts do not make good people.
Why do people who break some laws obey others? It is out of self-interest. 1 John says if we hate our brother then we are a murderer. If we hate our brother, why don’t we murder them? Because it is not in our best interest. It is a cost-benefit analysis. When people decide to break the rules it is because they think they can get around the cost.
Is this a dangerous message? Yes, but it’s one that Jesus told.
Struggling with sin is a good thing, it is a sign that you are born again. If we don’t struggle with it we have a problem.
Studying human sinfulness shows how sinful humans can be, shows how patient God is, justifies God’s judgement, it unsettles our worldliness, it increases our desire for Jesus’ return.
When we realise there are no good people we realise that the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Becomes meaningless.
3 – The value of free will
E.g Hurricane Katrina – a city built below sea level with sea defences that were known would not stand up to a serious storm.
Forcing us to obey God’s rules does not make worshippers.
God gives us enough information that those who want to believe will have their beliefs justified, but not too much that those who don’t want to believe are compelled to believe.
The process of life is learning that sin is stupid, so that we won’t rebel against God in eternity.
4 – The value of eternity
Eternity dwarfs our sufferings into insignificance.
We were built to rule (Genesis 1) and are called to rule with Christ (2 Tim 2:12). Life is preparing us for this.

 

After the lunch break we all gather again in the main hall and listen to Peter Kerridge, head of Premier Radio. He says that he hopes that events like this encourage us to take our Christian faith into our everyday lives. He also shares about how he hopes the new Premier website will help the Church to communicate well in the internet age.

 

Seminar 3 – William Lane Craig, Jeff Zweerink and Craig Hazen (as moderator)
“Is atheism winning the battle for science?”
WLC says that he is really encouraged by the conversation that is happening between theology and science.
CH asks how we respond to people who find out we are religious and respond by saying that they don’t need it to get through life, but good for us if we do.
JZ says that a belief should be based on where e evidence points, so his belief is not just because he was taught to believe.
WLC looks at the way the world has looked at where the attitude “That’s good for you” comes from. That religion and faith are not matters of truth but matters of emotion. So when we make assertions about God we must remember that we are not talking about matters of taste or sentiment but of fact and should be stated as such.
CH asks whether our use of the term “faith” hinders how we talk about it.
WLC says that he rejects the way that atheists talk about faith, as belief in something blindly regardless of the evidence.
JZ comments that the true understanding of faith, as shown through the gospels, is nothing like this. But sometimes the Church can misrepresent this faith and make it out to be how atheists represent it to be.
They talk about the relationship between science and theology, particularly the way that many think that they are at war with one another, when actually, whilst there is an overlap, they also deal with different aspects of life.
WLC talks about scientism, the belief that science explains, it can explain everything. He comments that it finds itself wanting, as it is a belief in something that cannot be proven to be possible, something that they argue against when they argue against God.
CH asks what Hawking, Dawkins et al are on about when they write about creation. JZ comments that they are very prone to declaring that philosophy is dead or pointless and yet go on to philosophise throughout their books about how the universe came into being.
CH poses the question in the title: are atheists winning the argument for science?
JZ says that he believes that all the discoveries over the last 100 years point towards fitting within a theistic/Christian world views, rather than an atheistic one.
WLC points out that science has a “self-correcting mechanism that, when it goes off track, kicks it back on track because science cannot deny the facts that are out there.
We then go into a Q&A element

 

We finish with a panel discussion.
The first question tackled is “how far can you take reason towards belief?” Tim McGrew comments that you can go all the way on reason and evidence. Ruth Jackson says that faith, as it should be described, is not the blind faith that Dawkins suggests it is.
The final question asks about apologetics in the Church and how to bring it into churches today.
David Robertson says that it should exist in the church, or else the church is dead. He prefers to call it evangelism. He and others point out that any time we speak about our faith we should always point to the Cross, the resurrection and the message of the gospel, and we should be aggressive in doing so as so few people, even those in churches, truly know it.

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Mission and Ministry in schools

8 Feb

Just realised that this post, from 8/2/14, hasn’t been posted. It is notes from an diocesan schools work conference.

~ ~ ~

Recruit

James 3:1
CofE – provides activities for 407,000 under 16s
1 in 4 primary and 1 in 16 Secondary schools are CofE schools, nearly 1 million pupils.
Chelmsford has 140 schools, around 30,000 pupils.
Christian teachers change lives – introduce Christ
A Christian teacher could be the only experience of Christianity, Jesus and the Bible that a child has in their lives.
http://www.transforminglives.co.uk
http://www.transforminggoverning.co.uk
45% of teachers leave teaching during their first 5 years.
Churches need to recognise who has the skills to support schools. It shouldn’t just be the clergy. Look for what skills people have, not what they don’t have.
Churches also need to look to support the teachers in the congregation, maybe not asking them to be involved in Sunday School but letting them receive and recharge to prepare for going back to school on the Monday.

~ ~ ~

Resource

Reality check – where are you at?
Revelation – what works for you?
Ready to go – what is your dream for the future?

~ ~ ~

Recognise

Is the criticism of Church involvement in schools valid?
NSS document – Evangelisation rather than education?
What is it about the gospels that make us want o go into schools?
Two views of education
– Moral education in a secular society (1974) – Paul Hirst
Christian teaching is a nonsense, there is no such thing as Christian maths.
– “A man that looks on glass, On it may stay his eye; Or if he pleaseth, through it pass, And then the Heaven espy” – George Herbert

There is no such thing as neutral!
“Listen to the revolutionary granny telling stories” (poster from China, 1965)
Bookseller of Kabul (Asne Seierstaf, 2001)

Kingdom Theology
The Christian faith informs how church schools approach education and the values they hold.
YouTube – The classroom and the Kingdom of God

Spiritual DNA: you were born for this – Acts 17
Charles de Foucauld – living out the Kingdom in his life

“What motivates Christian educational practitioners” – D17

How would you express your reason for doing what you do in Christian terms?
How would you express it without using Christian language?

~ ~ ~

Faith in Schools presentation

Recommended resource – Truetube (wwe.truetube.com)
(I have written very little else as I work with Faith in Schools and knew most of what was spoken about in the presentation)

~ ~ ~

Havering Schools Outreach presentation

Praying for your schools is key
Be clear about who you are and what you are doing
Be a constant for young people in school
Learn to serve your school, learn their ethos

~ ~ ~

Being a Christian witness in a secular and multi faith society

2 differences about Christianity
1 – Divinity of Christ
2 – Certainty of salvation

Religion is the only thing that speaks to every human’s deepest fear – death. If you are confrontational towards a person’s faith then they will react as though you are attacking their life after death.

~ ~ ~

Help! We have a school in our parish!

We tend to do much better by not doing certain things than doing other things.

We don’t need to “DO God”, God is already there.

It’s about supporting the education of the children, not about preaching eternal damnation on sinners!

God converts, we don’t have to expect to see a “return” on our effort because it will all happen in His time. We are merely a channel for Him to move.

Multi-faith approaches can often mean that rather than no one getting a chance everyone gets a chance, including Christianity!

Get the school bulletin to keep informed about what is going on in the life of the school.

Chelmsford Anglican Bible Conference 2013

19 Oct

Mark’s Gospel is the focus for today, with a theme encompassing Identity, Call, Service and Mission.
John Richardson does a quick intro, followed by a welcome from Bishop Stephen Cottrell. Bishop Stephen starts by welcoming our speaker, Rico Tice, and then comments on the possibility of hosting future CABC events in Chelmsford Cathedral, a venue that could host 3 times that of our current venue. The view is that we could easily fill that number of spaces.
Bishop Stephen then speaks about the evangelism training currently going on in the diocese.
He then turned to Mark 1:32, pointing out that wherever Jesus was, people gathered. He also points to v.35, and how another strain within all the gospels is about Jesus’ prayer life, and how this is an example to us. He then moves on to bringing out the humour within the gospel, of how in v.37 the disciples say “everyone is looking for you” and Jesus replies “Let’s go somewhere else”.
Bishop Stephen then points us to Mark 10:21, the story of the rich young ruler, and points out that even though Jesus knew that the man was unable to do what was asked of him, He still loved him.

After a time of sung worship, John Richardson gets up and speaks to us about the story in Mark 6 about the feeding of the 5000, pointing out how God seeks to feed those that need nourishment, as an introduction to Rico coming to share with us.

Session 1
Rico asks us to look at Mark 4 and reminds us that we are to be disciple-making disciples, like a river, not a reservoir. We may not all be Bible teachers, but we are all called to be Bible sharers.
Bible teaching goes out at 4 levels: from the front, in small groups, 1-to-1 and on your own
Rico reminds us that we need to get our expectations right. He also points to the recurring theme of Power In Weakness in Mark.
In Mark 3 there is opposition and misunderstanding (they wanted Jesus dead and say He is out of His mind). Jesus’ response to misunderstanding and opposition is to teach, teach, teach (Mark 4:33).

This work is disappointing:
Mark 4:15 – the seed bounces off the path. The self-righteous are the ones who’s hearts are hardened.
v.16-17 – persecution breaks some people. The Gospel is not “Lord, I’m empty, fill me” it is “Lord I am an offence to you, rescue me”. Mark 6:14-29 – John the Baptist killed by Herod, a heck of a disappointment!
What are your daydreams? What are your nightmares? Are you ready to have your heart broken? Mission is heartbreaking work.
v.26-29 – The law of the field – we plough, we sow, water, wait and then harvest.
The farmer has to trust that the word is doing it’s work.
Mission is NOT instant! We need to be patient.

There is a dramatic harvest (v.30-34). The Kingdom comes because the word is planted. We need to remember that the power is in the Word. Not the buildings, not the singing, the Word.

Session 2
Back after the coffee break and we look at 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 and ask the question “Who is at work in the work of evangelism?”
We are called to preach Christ (v.5), God opens the eyes blinded by Satan (v.6). The God who, in Genesis 1 said “Let there be light” shines a light that points us to Jesus as God. We can’t turn the light on, only God can! Conversion needs a miracle!
How do we preach Christ?
We preach straight, we don’t spin (v.2). We preach it all, not just the nice bits! Wrath and judgement (1 Thessalonians 1:10) as well as love and grace. Preach that forgiveness is needed.
Got did it for us, so he can open the eyes of others as well (v.1)
We need to pray (v.3 & v.6). The primary evangelistic tool is prayer. Our primary event in mission should be the prayer meeting!
The results belong to God (v.6). If we think they belong to us then we will change the message to gain results. If we change the message we stop preaching Christ!
Mark 1:1 – as the disciples look at Jesus they don’t see who He is. Jesus had authority (Mark 1:21-22, 4:35-41) which opened people’s blind eyes. When God opens up blind eyes, we keep on preaching Jesus!

Session 3
Back after an M&S lunch and, after some sung worship, we resume our look at Mark.
You can do it – the phrase that comes from the whole of Mark’s gospel.
In Mark 5 (v.21-24) Jairus comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his daughter. Would you fall down at the feet of someone who was just a carpenter? In v.36 Jesus responds to the news of her death by saying “Don’t be afraid; just believe”. Would a carpenter make this sort of promise? Would anyone, unless they were sure of what was going to happen? Jesus tells her to get up and shows his authority as she gets up, back from the dead.
In Mark 8 we see how people view Jesus. In v.27-30 we see that people (some…others…still others) are blind, but then Peter has his eyes opened to who Jesus is. Yet, just verses later, we see that whilst Peter has got who Jesus is, he doesn’t understand what Jesus has to do. His eyes are blind to the truth.
Rico reminds us that works do not win us salvation. Only Jesus’ death can win us salvation because only Jesus can pay the price for our sin and only through Christ’s resurrection can we come to new life.
How does God feel about me today? Delighted. Why? Because He is delighted in Jesus, and we related to God through Jesus and what He has done!
Do we realise that the Gospel is both true AND wonderful? God knows what we’ve done, he clears up the mess and he loves us anyway!

Session 4
Who is blind in chapter 15? Pilate (blinded by his fear of what others think), the soldiers (who thought that the legacy of e cross was Jesus’ clothes) and the priests (who declared he should prove himself by saving himself, when Jesus’ way of showing He was the Messiah was by not saving himself).
Who could see? The centurion, the gentile leader of Jesus’ killers.
What is the call?
John speaks of how high (The Word made Flesh), Luke about how wide (the Good News is open to everyone), Matthew how deep (Old Testament prophecy fulfilled) and Mark how low (servant of all).
Christian greatness is in serving and giving our life away.
True freedom is freedom from ourselves, in order to live for God and others!
Christian leadership is by service (Mark 10:43-45)

If we have Identity and Mission but forget Call then we end up with cheap grace.
If you have Identity and Call but no Mission then our faith becomes works-based and either become self-righteous or unable to believe we can be saved.
If we have Mission and Call but no Identity then we are nothing more than relativists as Jesus becomes nothing more than A way, not THE way.

Unbelievable The Conference 2013

25 May

Lots of plugs to start us off!

Opening address by Alister McGrath – Joy, Meaning and Purpose: What our culture needs to hear from Christians

Why apologetics matters
We can be a channel for God to reach out and touch people’s hearts and minds.
Something wonderful has been entrusted to us. It’s like holding a diamond up to the light, we are holding Christianity up to be seen for what it really is.
We need to connect with our culture and be able to talk about the Gospel and Christ in words, images and stories.
There are stereotypes of Christianity in our culture that need to be changed.
We are called to be an “ambassador for Christ”
We need to translate the Gospel into words and terms that ordinary people understand. Use of vocabulary to describe our faith is very important. How will we unpack Incarnation, Justification etc in basic English?
We are to defend our faith against misrepresentations. We need to be confident in the Gospel and in the God who stands behind the Gospel.
We are to commend our faith. Don’t restrict ourselves to other people’s agenda, we must enable all of Christianity to be seen and talked about.
We need to make the point that Christianity is more than simply being true, it is something that transforms our lives. We need to show Christianity for what it really is.
Each of us can do something about making Christianity known by the world.
2 Corinthians 12 – My grace is sufficient for you
God empowers us to do things that we never thought we could do.

Seminar time! We are split into 3 different seminar groups, so I won’t be able to cover all that is going on.

Seminar A
Fuz Rana – Science and Faith in conflict? How science reveals the rationality of the Christian faith.

Fuz starts with a quote from Alister Mcgrath’s book “The Twilight of Atheism”
Science and religion are viewed like this: Science involves reason, evidence, logic and testing. Religion involves faith, dogma and superstition.
However, 33% of scientists believe in God. 14% believe not in God but in a Universal Spirit or Higher Power. (Pew survey in the USA)
How can someone be a person of faith and a scientist?
The Christian worldview is compatible with the preconditions necessary for the operation of science.
Science is impossible outside of worldview.
What is science? Facts of nature, methodology, methodological naturalism.
Methodology – making observations; develop models; confirmable, falsifiable predictions; test with experiments.
Assumptions – The physical universe is real. the universe is good, valuable and worth studying. Laws of nature (patterns, order and regularity). Exist and are the same throughout the universe. Physical universe is intelligible. Humans have the ability to discover me characterise the universe.
Is science compatible with Christianity?
Christians believe the universe is real, creation is good, God is revealed in nature, God is a God o folder, God’s providence ensures the uniformity of nature, humans made in God’s image, humans have dominion over creation.all this is compatible with science.
Is science compatible with naturalism?
Troubling questions for naturalism:
Why not a chaotic universe, if it is without purpose?
How can humans think rationally and deliberately? (Given we are created and run by random biological processes)
Darwin had doubts “Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind?”
Naturalism “steals” from Christianity.
Science is a natural outlook on I’ve,
Recent scientific advances support Christian theism.
Cosmological, teleological and ontological.
Cosmological – need for a first cause.
Research de on starters that the universe has a beginning. Matter, space, time and energy.
Cosmology proves there is a beginning and a need for a first cause.
Even if we accept the multiverse model, it still needs a beginning.
Teleological – design
Universe’s fundamental parameters must be fine-tuned.
It has dimensions, force constants and particles.
Ontological – the existence of the argument for God proves the existence of God
Fuz now focusses on biochemical design
Chemical evolution is inadequate.
William Paley (who wrote Natural Theology) suggested the “Watchmaker Argument”. We know a watch is created, so there must be a creator.
Cell’s chemistry shows tell-tale features of human designs:
-Irreducible complexity
-Chicken and egg systems
-Fine-tuning
-Optimisation
-Information systems
-Genetic code
-Quality control systems
Critics respond that when scientists talk about biological processes in engineering terms it is a metaphor, not a reason to suggest design. But these processes are being used BY scientists AS machines, so showing that they description is not merely a metaphor.
It’s now getting very scientifically technical. I will try and make sense of it put can make no promises! (I failed!)
Biochemical engineering to create self-replicating cells synthetically may well have many ethical questions, but is also a huge pointer to the fact that creation NEEDS an intelligent creator!
Questions:
-Evolution
Fuz states that he believes that the theory of evolution does a great job of explaining speciation but falls down when it comes to arguing for changes from one major group to another (micro good, macro bad)
-Bad design
If there is a challenge to the design argument it is the evidence for “bad design”. Fuz says that very often when people refer to a “bad” design they are failing to fully understand the design and that what may seem to be bad is actually optimal. “Bad” designs can also point to the idea of entropy.

Seminar B
Trevor Stammers – Abortion: What every Christian should know
An emotive subject.
Trevor starts by showing us pictures, first of Harold Shipman and then Kermit Gosnell
Shipman was “front page news” but Gosnell wasn’t. Shipman killed the elderly, Gosnell practiced illegal and despicable abortions.
Trevor quotes from an article that argues for the “abortion” of new-borns, referred to as “after-birth abortion”.
If people are to accept abortion as ok, they must also be able to argue in favour of late abortions and killing new-born babies.
Abortion is defined as the deliberate termination of a pregnancy with the primary or sole intent to prevent it resulting in a live birth.
Abortion is the most common surgical procedure in the world, 42 million per annum.
Approx 200k in the UK.
1 in 3 women of reproductive age have had an abortion in the UK.
1 in every 4 pregnancies in the UK ends up being aborted.
Why?
A – The continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman greater than if the pregnancy was terminated.
B – there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
Abortion for handicap can be performed until birth.
C – the pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week.
Abortion for rape?
– less than 1% of abortions are performed following rape
– rape sacrifices a second innocent victim (should the baby die for the crime of its father?)
– although scant evidence, that which exists shows that 75% keep the baby
How is it done?
– up to 9 weeks – medical abortion (pills)
– up to 16 weeks – surgical aspiration
– after 16 weeks – induction of labour with “ensured” death of the fetus. This is generally caused by stopping the heart of the fetus.
Complications of abortion
1 – premature birth
More than 50 established papers in peer-review journals have established this link.
Increased risk increases with number of abortions – doubling at around 2-3 abortions.
Women requesting abortion are rarely told about it.
2 – mental health consequences
25 year longitudinal birth cohort study of 1265 kids in NZ.
History of pregnancy/abortion/no pregnancy over 15-25 year interval.
Data on childhood, family and confounding factors.
Results:
– controlled confounders
– significantly higher dependence on drugs etc
3 – demographic changes
How is it justified?
1 – “A woman’s right to choose”
2 – Children should be wanted
3 – No return to “back street” abortions
4 – contraceptive failure (up to 75% of abortions because of this)
Biblical principles
– Inviolability of life – made in the image of God, killing an innocent human being.
– shedding innocent blood is a serious sin (Psalm 105:38).
– Jesus’ human life began at conception and His innocent blood was shed so that no other innocent blood would have to be.
Modern philosophers would argue that babies have no right to life. (Personal thought, where does that fit in with basic human rights?)
Christian response
– carry our cross (including sexual purity, generous giving and prayer)
– speak up in defence of the weak (get informed, write letters, blogs and social media)
– bear one another’s burdens (volunteer for a pregnancy crisis centre, donate baby clothes)
Women must have ALL the facts, not just the ones deemed appropriate by the bodies responsible for abortions!
Trevor says that, in his view, we behave politically towards sex insanely!

Before we break for seminar 3, we are back all together in the main room. Justin reading out some of the tweets from the day. And the good news for those of you that haven’t made it this year is at there will NOT be a DVD of the talks for this year, as they will all be available online, for FREE!!!
Justin also speaks to Zoe from RE Today (www.retoday.org.uk), talking particularly about their resource “Science and Belief”.

Seminar C
Amy Orr-Ewing – C S Lewis and suffering
Suffering doesn’t happen in a neutral, abstract vacuum of philosophising. Pain and suffering is a living reality for everyone!
We must be careful not to rush in with an intellectual argument.
But the idea of suffering is an abstract thought for some, leading to the question “If there is a loving God then how can there be such suffering and pain?”
The issue of human suffering is deeply baffling.
Why does God allow suffering? Atheists argue that either He is loving and not able to step in or able to step in but not loving enough to do so.
If real evil exists and we see it as wrong then that presupposes a Christian framework.
How does morality evolve? Is it from personal opinion? Is it from societal opinion? Or is it given by God?
The Christian answer to pain and suffering needs to be put in context with other positions.
Naturalism – denies the existence of evil. It as that the world is neither good nor evil and thus what happens is what we should expect to happen.
Pantheism – ultimately the goal is oneness with The One. Therefore all distinctions are illusory. And so good and evil are illusions. “Thinking in opposite categories is alien to our thought.”
Islam – fatalistic religion. A transcendent god who is in control of the universe. Stronger than Calvinism on predestination. God decrees both good and evil.
Christianity – The Bible doesn’t deny pain and suffering. The Bible talks of a good God creating a good world with creatures made in His image, with the capacity to love and to choose. In order to be able to love, man MUST have to have the ability to choose. Because humans have free will, they are able to abuse this. God does not step back and observe the pain and suffering of humanity. He steps in to time and space in the form of Jesus and experiences life with us before suffering, dying and rising to make it possible to get back to God in spite of the pain and suffering.
Why is it that God sometimes intervenes and sometimes doesn’t?
Karma, the law of cause and effect, is an Eastern philosophy. But in the Bible Karma is not how suffering is described. Luke 13:1-5 says that suffering is a consequence of the fall (so suffering WILL happen) but no one suffers just because of what they have done. However, suffering is prophetic of the future that can come if we are not made right with God.

The final session is a Q&A session with 5 of the main speakers (sadly Amy Orr-Ewing had to leave early, so was not a part of this)
Q – How can people prepare themselves to respond when non-Christian friends object to your beliefs?
A – Do your research so you are able to respond with information. Having support (church, Christian friends etc) is important as being a Christian apologist can be a lonely experience.
Q – How should we respond to the media, who can come across as overtly atheistic?
A – Not respond like with like (don’t try and get celebrities on side to promote Christianity) but keep plugging away and showing Christianity positively. Possibly respond, when programmes you don’t like are on, with positive suggestions of improvement, showing good, intelligent Christian alternatives for them.
Q – In the light the recent killing “in the name of Islam” in Woolwich, how can we best respond to Muslims?
A – Offer comparisons between their faith and ours. Things like Allah being unknowable and God being knowable through Jesus. Open dialogue.
Q – How do you do apologetics with apathetic students?
A – Get people talking. Encourage engagement with student life (being salt and light)

Recommended books from today
Ron Nash – Faith and Reason
Alister McGrath – C S Lewis: A life
Hugh Ross – Why the universe is the way that it is
C S Lewis – A grief observed
Pete Grieg – God on mute

Youthwork Summit 2013 Live Blog

18 May

So, I’m here in the plush chairs and looking forward to what the guys at Youthwork Summit have prepared for us.
The atmosphere is bubbling with conversations and clearly lots of expectant youth workers.
This should be a good one!

This blog will be updated after every session, so roughly every hour.

The welcome is FAR too enthusiastic for early on a Saturday morning.

Seth Pinnock – We are all ambassadors of the Most High God, gathered to get our marching orders.

Martin Saunders – This year’s theme is “Greater” as we admit that youth work is getting tougher, but our God is greater!

Session 1:

Slam theology – Conrad Gempf and Harry Baker
“Romans 8, Colossians 1”
He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world
He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.

Future proofing your youth work – Dr Patrick Dixon
All big trends are related
Fundamental truth – Life is too short to do things you don’t believe in
Society is breaking families apart. The breakdown of families is a crisis in this country.
Not only working with kids but working with their parents, helping them to learn appropriate boundaries in life (especially on Internet).
All youth people are conformists. We need to set a faithful example for them to follow.
We are programmed to make a difference. Each person able to seize own destiny.

Let Muslims change you – Tim Fawsett
Love thy Muslim neighbour
How do we respond when we think about Muslims?
How do we reach out to Muslims?
How can we be Christians with Muslims?
Share the best of our faith and let them share the best of theirs.
Do we want to love Muslims?
Do the images we associate with Muslims actually represent who Muslims really are?
Could the Good Samaritan become the Good Muslim?
We should be prepared to go to the crazy, scary places and share life with Muslims.

Apologetics for the apathetic – Ruth McGarahan
In the 1990’s the church was losing 10,000 young people per week.
40-50% will fall away.
Judges 2:10
1 Peter 3:15 – Always have an answer ready
Young people are not too young to critically engage with theology.
Questions are really important as they make people think.
Questions can get rid of assumptions and faulty logic.
Questions can expose motives and show that we care.
Do it with gentleness and respect

Disrupting chaos – Dr Kate Middleton
Young people are often overloaded by their emotions.
Young people are developing in their understanding of sexuality and identity.
We need to help young people in dealing with these things.
Young people may be able to do some things better than adults, but they are NOT adults!

Broken sex – Beth Stout
1 in 3 13-17 year old girls has been pressured into having sex when they didn’t want to.
The questions from young people, not just those outside church but also inside, about sex are no longer whether sex outside of marriage is wrong, but more nuanced about what counts as sex and what you can and can’t do when.
Average teenager watches 90 mins of porn per week.
Young people aren’t just asking about boundaries to know what they are, but are wanting to know what other people think.
Our job is NOT sex education. Our job is to share what God thinks about sex and relationships.

Session 2:

Slam theology – Conrad Gempf and Harry Baker
“Romans 8, Colossians 1”
You will do greater things than these

Meet the parents – Dave Sharples
Spoke with passion about reaching the families in our communities. Through reaching the families we can make a difference!

How the other half learn – Oliver West
http://www.oliverwestfootnotes.com
Different people learn in different ways. How we communicate can help or hinder others from learning.
Linear, consecutive word creation (writing in sentences) can work for some but not for others.
Some people are visual thinkers.

Hope in the inner city – Camila Batmanghelidjh
Neglect can lead to deformed brains due to a lack of interaction.
An excess of fright hormones can deform the brain.
Receipt of love releases oxytocin, enabling the body to deal with fright hormones and pain far better than those that do not experience love.
Sharing love with young people enables damaged young people to heal.

Growing up poor – Katie Rice & Lillie Jenkins
Families on benefits are more likely to miss a meal than those not. In single-parent families they are twice as likely.
Churches serving lunches can help to feed the poor.
We NEED to feed the children!

Your youth group can raise Lazarus – Lydia Corbett
Do we bring the power of the Holy Spirit into every day youth work experiences?
Do we turn to prayer first when someone gets injured?
Have we put the Holy Spirit in a box by having “ministry times” rather than allowing Him to be seen in our regular walk of life?
Signs and wonders are for the non-believers, not the believers. So why aren’t we letting the non-believers have a chance to experience Him?
Lazarus will never be raised if our expectations are not already raised.

Session 3 – The Takeover

In this session the young people take over and speak to us about what they are doing and challenge us on what we can do to help them and other young people.

Sean Donaldson and Luke Lonergan
Christian website for Christian young people, by Christian young people.
http://www.forchristianteens.com
2 passionate guys wanting to follow God’s call to start a revolution.

Nahum – young person in Egypt
Just listen to the young people. Listen to what is stopping them from getting closer to God.
Shine with the light of Jesus, whether in a free society or in a society where freedom is curbed.
People don’t need to hear about the light, so much as see it.

Leanne Jones
Young people have always been inspired by their youth leaders. It is time that youth leaders got inspired by their young people.
Hope are running Mission Academies to encourage young people to choose their mission field and get stuck in.

Luke Jones
Keep on going, helping young people who need the support of their youth worker.

Jaden and a girl who’s name I can’t remember!
Mentoring – “first learn stand, then learn fly”
How can people learn to stand if there is no one to teach them?
Mentors help us be the people we are. Without our mentors, where would we be now?
Who’s life could you change?

Jacob Lloyd
Role models helped Jake deal with the issues in his life.
Youth workers, keep on pressing forward as role models for your young people

Session 4:

Slam theology – Conrad Gempf and Harry Baker
“Romans 8, Colossians 1”
He must become greater.

Followship – Jill Garrett
Almost every leader is a follower, for we are all called to be disciples of Jesus.
How do leaders help others to be better followers?
What does being a “great follower” look like? What is a great follower?

People asked the question – What would inspire you to follow someone?
1 – Ability to manage and engage people (listen, involve, trust, appreciate, have fun, they care)
2 – Personal makeup (honest, open, respectful, committed, focused, determined, courageous, humble, patient, vulnerable, energised, reflective, passionate, non-jargony, curious)
3 – A novel outlook (look laterally, bend rules, love pressure, highly accessible, strong visionary, “customer obsessed)

The key drivers of follower engagement include:
I know what I am expected to do
My manager or someone at work cares about me as a person and as a worker

Qualities of followers
focus on community
self awareness

Faith in Crisis – Gavin and Anne Calvert
Do not be ungrateful for that which you do not have. Be great full for that which you do have!
Where is God when we suffer? He is holding our hand!
There is a heresy around the Church right now – the prosperity gospel!
Life doesn’t get easy when we follow God, but when life gets hard we must press in and push on towards God.
Through Jesus God has declared “I am with you!”

Dealing with your dark side – Rachael Costa
Rachael talks about OCD and the way that it can affect people’s lives. About how it can take control and dictate behaviour.
We all have our dark side. OCD is the way that some people deal with their dark side. The question we have to ask is how do we deal with our own dark side?

Praying without ceasing – Celia Apeagyei-Collins
Prayer is driven by passion. It is driven by need. Prayer is driven by desperation.
Prayer is a conversation with God about supernatural things.
Why do Christians wonder whether their prayers will be answered and yet will not tell God some bad things about Himself?
We pray because we have no alternatives but in God!

It’s not your ministry anyway – Danny Curtin
“Young people are worth more than all the gold in all the world…because they are children of God.”
“God isn’t the it you do before getting on with it…God is the getting on with it!”
Our ministry belongs to the Church and the people being ministered to before it belongs to us!
Young people are the experts about how to reach their peers.
We should accompany, call, form and then send young people.
http://www.millionminutes.org
It’s not your ministry, it’s bigger than that!

Session 5:

Rachel Gardner and Tony Campolo have a conversation about how we can be the Church with conviction and authenticity.

RG – The promise that God wants to to greater things through us can start to feel like a pressure or an obligation.
We are not called to be world changers and the hope of the world any more than the last generation.
What does it mean to be a person of authority?
Matthew 16 – Peter declares Jesus is the Christ and is given the authority of the keys to the Kingdom.
Why don’t we pick up the authority God gives us more often?

TC – We are saved by grace, not by works. God loves us just as we are, we don’t have to become something we are not.
Power is the ability to coerce. Authority is something you either have or don’t have, you can’t be given it by being put in a position.
The Church doesn’t sacrifice enough in love. Loving sacrifice gives us the right to be heard!
If you’re going to follow Jesus, how sacrificial will you be?
We gain authority from living authentically.

RG – We must take care not to make a god of authenticity

TC – Quotes St Augustine “Love God and do as you please” – the meaning being that the more we love God the more we will want to do the things of God.
If it doesn’t bring you joy, don’t do it.
The secular society is not listening to the Church nowadays. The Pope has said he wants the Church to become poorer – to earn the right to be heard.

RG – I want a daily “Gandalf moment” where I can declare “You shall not pass”, standing between the world and young people.

TC – Titles and testimonies give you authority. If you have to choose between the 2, choose the testimonies!

SoulNet session 6

8 Feb

Sunday morning 2 – Ali Etheridge

Psalm 42 – crying out for depth

Relationships are shallow.
For all the social media and methods of communication, 53% of young people would say they are lonely.
We need to be deep youth workers, making deep relationships with our young people.
Young people see God as a therapist and a butler: there at their beck and call to help them and there to listen to their problems, but nothing more.

Chasing for width rather than depth, rather than depth over width, leads to poor soil that won’t grow anything.
Depth comes from finding our identity in God’s love.
v11 – When we put our hope in God we go deep with Him.

Our call is to raise up a generation of deep young people.
When deep calls to deep we keep going, because He keeps going.

SoulNet session 5

8 Feb

Sunday morning 1 – Mike Pilavachi

In our weakness God shines through.

1 Samuel 16 – Samuel anoints David
David wasn’t the oldest, the biggest, the best looking. He was the one after God’s own heart.
David stayed faithful and did the little things well.
Don’t let negative comments rob you of God’s calling on your life.

Psalm 27
Don’t decide not to be afraid, but remember who you put your faith in.
Choose to dwell in the house of The Lord (v4)

Recommended book:
Celebration of discipline – Richard Foster

Archbishop Cranmer

Musings, rants and mumblings about stuff. Some of it might actually make sense!

The days

Lover of life, Jesus, dogs, R&B and hiphop, dancing, travelling and exploration. Roamer, foodie, servant of God, reading geek, type one diabetic, singer, Greek mythology enthusiast. Peace-keeper, light-giver, paediatric nurse. London-liver, Norfolk-bred, daydreamer.

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