God’s Missional Agenda

When it comes to our spiritual lives, it’s more or less a universal tendency to compartmentalize. We recognize there’s both a personal and a communal aspect to the Christian life, that there’s a vertical and a horizontal dimension, that there are the things to be done within the walls of the church and things to do beyond those walls.

But so often we view these as competing priorities, failing to see all the ways in which they’re mutually reinforcing disciplines and practices for followers of Christ seeking an integrated way of life.

Prayer and action… can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation. If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service. And if concrete acts of service do indeed lead us to a deeper solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the oppressed, they will always give rise to prayer. In prayer we meet Christ, and in him all human suffering. In service we meet people, and in them the suffering Christ.

If we really understood this, we’d be on the whole a lot less frazzled, a lot less weighed down, a lot less distracted with endless “busywork” for God. And we’d be able to set aside more or less fruitless debates about the prioritization of evangelism vs. social action, or prayer vs. service, or community vs. mission, and get on with participating in Gods missional agenda.

SNAP

SNAP September 13

  • Please pray for SAMS Mission Director Bishop Ken and Chris Bloomfield from Fivemiletown Parish as they share in various ministries and identify and prioritize projects during their trip to Paraguay and Peru. Pray that the time spent with people will be an encouragement to all.
    Thursday 5th:Flight to Amsterdam and Lima. Arrive in Lima 18.05   Stay overnight Lima.
    Friday 6th:Depart Lima at 8.35 for Asuncion.
    Saturday 7th:Meeting with Mags and Gwen, Bishop Peter and Sally Bartlett and others.
    Sunday 8th:Sunday morning worship. Bishop Ken to preach. 15.40 Leave on bus for Iguazu to arrive about 21.00hrs. Meet Claire Holmes.
    Monday 9th:Day off to see the famous Iguazu Falls. Travel to Concepcion on the overnight bus (9 hours)
    Tuesday 10th:Full day in Concepcion for time with Claire, Gillian Neill, and Bishop Andres. In the evening Bishop Ken speaks at church meeting. Travel on overnight bus to Asuncion.
    Wednesday 11th:Depart Asuncion at 10.55 for Lima. Arrive Lima at 17.50 Stay for 3 nights.
    Thursday 12th:Friday 13th: Programme is being arranged by Paul and Sarah Tester and will include identifying possible projects, meetings with Bishop Bill Godfrey, visit to the Seminary, visiting some churches and meeting with leaders.
    Saturday 14th:Depart Lima at 20.15
    Sunday 15th:Arrive Dublin.
  • Give thanks for the ministry of Cecilia through the Red Box Project. In the midst of a growing ministry pray for Cecy. Pray for Peter Harrison who departs on 9th for the RBP. Peter is participating with SAMS as part of his university degree placement. He will be working in a variety of settings, but specifically pray for him this month as he arrives in Argentina and settles.
  • Give thanks for the ministry of Alec Deane and The Garden Project. Within the UK and Ireland the new SAMS resource is beginning to be used in various churches (do you have it?) please pray for a generation to be inspired through the written and visual resources.
  • Pray for Claire Holmes in Concepcion as she disciples adults in the church, leads bible studies, visits parishioners and provides pastoral support.  Pray for wisdom and stamina for Claire and ask that the Holy Spirit will continue to fill and empower her. Pray also for Gillian who is presently working alongside Claire as a SAMS volunteer. Give thanks for the teams who have visited this summer as part of Mission Paraguay. They were a real boost to Claire and Pastor Andres as they accompanied them on their visits to the surrounding communities.

  • Pray for Ana María the Head of FEISA and also the Coordinator of the Academics Department.  Ana has been working in FEISA for 13 years teaching several of the Diploma courses, such as Didactics, Educational Theory and Christian Worldview.
  • The Rt Revd Abelino Apeleo in Chile asks us to pray for local pastors that God would stir up evangelism, discipleship, stewardship and social outreach programmes. Pray with Abelino for the youth of Chile. On a personal note please pray for Abelino and his wife Paty for the constant challenges they face in ministering to the different churches, each with its own set of issues. Pray too for safety on the journeys they make by car as they have not yet been able to purchase a four wheel drive vehicle for the rural areas.
  • Gwen & Mags had a sad start to the month when one of their annexe pupils was killed when she was knocked down crossing a road on the way to a sports competition. She was in 9th grade (15 yrs old) and the top pupil who was working hard to get into a good secondary school. She was the adopted daughter of a single mother. The mother is a Christian  and it was very moving to see her so firm in her faith. The girl was also a Christian. Pray for Gwen & Mags who have had some tough moments recently but in among them the Lord has sent encouragements. Give thanks for ex pupils who are strong in their faith and active in their churches. Gwen & Mags note that in many cases some of these people who have been pupils never seemed to listen much or show interest in spiritual things. It’s so good to see how the Lord’s word doesn’t return void.
  • Pray for wisdom and direction from God for the SAMS General Council meeting on 26th September.

Within or Without

Lots of people in churches use the terms ‘Mission and Ministry’ interchangeably, but the concepts of the two and how we practice them within the church are different.

Mission, is really God’s Mission: The redemption of the world. We were created to be in perfect relationship with him, but we do fall short. The Church is to be God’s partner in that Mission by proclaiming the Kingdom of God in both word and deed. We are to follow Jesus’ example of healing, feeding, teaching and preaching, especially to those who are not already within the church.

Ministry, on the other hand, is the work of the church – the activities that keep us going. Ministries provide a very important function within the church, but more for those who are already there or visiting. These are very necessary for the church to function through worship, administration, programming, maintenance, teaching and more.

The fine line between the two comes into play when we think of the people who are not yet followers of Jesus Christ but do visit or attend church. Some of our church ministries can be instrumental for helping people to become disciples. Ministries of a church are certainly necessary and good, so please keep doing them. Where the distinction is important, however, is when churches believe that their ministries (Bible studies, Sunday School, etc) are all that the church needs to be doing.

The difference between mission and ministry reflects an internally focused church and an externally focused church. Where does your church focus your time and efforts? For the people who are already there, or on the people who still need to find their place there? If it’s only on the people who are already there, your church is missing out on a huge part of what discipleship means. When we become disciples, our calling does not end there. Part of being a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ is making new disciples. And making new disciples requires going outside the church.

Take a moment to reflect on your own church’s programming. Who are the main beneficiaries? Your own members? Or those who are not yet members or may never be members? There are always more people who need to know the loving grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What are you doing to reach out to them?

More Like Jesus

Setting the scene:

Paul founded the church in Galatia – a huge Roman province. Paul insisted that

repentance and faith in Christ was all that was needed to receive this new life with God – but now some Jewish teachers were insisting that non-Jews needed to be circumcised and observe Jewish laws. Paul is not happy and suggests if that is true then why not go the whole hog and castrate yourself! (Gal 5.12)

So, Paul in chapter 5, begins a magnificent dialogue on ‘freedom in Christ’. Christ has saved us to set us free – not to live permissive, indulgent lives – but freedom to live as God’s children. Paul contrasts two lists of behaviours, the first are the result of fallen human desires. The second set are the result of faith in Christ and the impact of the Spirit upon our lives.

‘Fruit’ is an old metaphor – but one that was obvious in the agricultural setting of Israel. Jesus also spoke about ‘recognising a tree by its fruit’ (Matt 7.16).

  • Which of the ‘fruits’ listed in v22 do you feel are least evident at this point in your life?
  • Which of the fruits would you like to be most evident in your life right now?

What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

In what sense does the Holy Spirit ‘teach us’? How does the Holy Spirit transform us? How does the Holy Spirit help us to pray? The Holy Spirits role is to make Jesus real to us and to make us like Jesus.

The Holy Spirit ‘teaches us’ by helping us to make better sense of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. This includes helping us understand the meaning of scripture but also growing through this understanding. But the Spirit can also ‘teach us’ by providing Christ-like understanding of issues and situations. The Holy Spirit transforms us by prompting and even cajoling us to become like Jesus. Negatively he makes us aware of un-Christ-like attitudes and actions but also increases our distaste for them – thus he helps us break free from those things which hold us back.

Positively he fills us with both a desire and the power to become more like Jesus, although according to 1 John 3. 2 this process is not complete in this earthly life. When it comes to prayer, the Holy Spirit helps us by awakening in us a longing to know God better, but also gives us the assurance that prayer is worthwhile because he helps us know God loves us deeply (Romans 5.5; 8. 15 -16). Sometimes the Holy Spirit shows us how to pray by giving us insight into the subject for our praying. Then again the Holy Spirit can prompt us to keep praying or give us a sense that we should leave our prayer with God.

The late John Stott observed that the Christian life is life in the Spirit and it would be impossible to be a Christian, let alone to live and grow as a Christian, without the ministry of the gracious Spirit of God. All we have and are as Christians we owe to him.

G8 : Awareness – Focus – Prayer

All of the world’s eyes will be on Co. Fermanagh during this month. As representatives of the Body of Christ SAMS wants to encourage you to be aware of the significance of this gathering, focus during the month of June on this gathering and pray. We along with the whole of the church across the nations have a responsibility to pray for all those who are in authority over nations and this is a clear opportunity and privilege to do so.

Why do we need to pray for the G8 Summit?

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

(1 Timothy 2:1–4).

These Heads of State each carry enormous responsibilities and huge pressures of the world, its difficulties and its problems on their shoulders. So, we are calling you, as a member of the Body of Christ across the nations to stand together at this time and pray in the months coming up to, during the G8 itself and in the days after.

Regardless of denomination or background, God has called us to pray for our leaders so please stand with us in unity and pray for the G8.

Please follow this 8 Day Prayer Guide and join us as we pray:

  • That as leaders come into Northern Ireland they would come into the presence of God, receive God’s help and be blessed
  • For God’s protection, that everyone will be kept safe and well throughout their stay
  • That they will receive wisdom and insight from God
  • That God’s will is done as they discuss issues that are of global importance
  • For their families and personal lives

This is a moment in history, a great opportunity. As they gather we should pray for God’s will to be done – ‘for justice to roll like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream’ (Amos 5:24) and for God’s Kingdom values and purposes to be expressed through their decisions.

Please us the prayer guide for the month of June pre, during and post the G8 itself.

Background

G8 stands for the ‘Group of Eight’. First held in 1975 in France and has since become the annual summer summit of Heads of States of 8 Nations. These nations include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK and USA. Originally established to overview global economic developments, it has extended itself to cover almost all of global affairs.

  • Between them, the 8 Heads of State, although only 14% of the world population:
  • Represent the majority of the Un Security Council. Represent about 51% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011.
  • Are the main financial givers to the World Bank and IMF. Control 96% of the world’s nuclear weapons

Members

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, USA and the EU.

Each one of the eight nations holds the presidency of the G8 for a year, 2013 is the year of the United Kingdom’s presidency. The Presidency is responsible for hosting the G8 and also for setting the agenda for the Summit. David Cameron has already set the agenda for 2013 and he aims to use the Presidency to ‘help generate growth, jobs and prosperity for the long term…(by) focus on open economies, open governments and open societies to support free trade, tackle tax evasion and encourage greater transparency and accountability’.

Congratulations to Noel, Lynn & Johnny

SAMS wants to take this opportunity to say a really big thank you to 3 very special (and sore) SAMS supporters who ran the 2103 Belfast marathon on Bank Holiday Monday 6th May. After tramping the streets of North, South, East and West Belfast the 3 amigos completed the race and devoured every piece of food placed in front of them later that evening as they shared their experiences over a meal with Geoff and Jill Hamilton. The money raised will be supporting the ministry of Claire Holmes in Paraguay.

 

F & D Challenge

Read the following quotes and be open to what God might say to you through them.

Choose the most encouraging quote and then choose the most challenging quote for you at this time.

  • In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.
  • Faith…comes only when the outward fact penetrates to the inner heart of man and takes possession of him there — and this is the work of the Spirit.
  • When you are deluded and full of doubt, even a thousand books of scripture are not enough. When you have realized understanding; even one word is too much.
  • For those with faith, no explanation is necessary. For those without, no explanation is possible.
  • Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.
  • Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.
  • Seeking to know is only too often learning to doubt.
  • Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.
  • It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My belief is born of a furnace of doubt.
  • I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind.
  • It is the dull person who is always sure, and the sure person who is always dull.
  • Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.
  • Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
  • Faith is the master, and reason is the maid-servant.
  • God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him
  • Fanaticism is…overcompensation for doubt.
  • Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them.
  • Faith is the refusal to panic.
  • I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe.
  • Remember that what you believe will depend very much on what you are.
  • We are born believing. A person bears beliefs, as an apple tree bears apples.
  • We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.
  • Only he/she who believes is obedient. Only he/she who is obedient, believes.
  • It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.
  • Few really believe. The most only believe that they believe or even make believe.
  • Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts.
  • Belief is reassuring. People who live in the world of belief feel safe. On the contrary, faith is forever placing us on the razor’s edge.
  • Faith is much better than belief. Belief is when someone else does the thinking.
  • For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.

Grappling, Wrestling & Letting Go!

“In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit.”
Brennan Manning

“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”
N.T. Wright

“In Christ, for the first time, we see that in God himself there exists–within his inseparable unity–the distinction between the Father who gives and the Gift which is given (the Son), but only in the unity of the Holy Spirit.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar

“The Spirit of God breathes inspiration, while the carnal mind breeds vanity.”
Fred C. White

“I once faced a temptation that was so persistent and so overwhelming that I literally believed my whole world would go dark if I refused to give in to it,” he said. “All I could do was scream to the Holy Spirit to keep me from it.”
Wesley Hill

“Surprisingly, the Christian faith today is perceived as disconnected from the supernatural world – a dimension that the vast majority of outsiders believe can be accessed and influenced.”
David Kinnaman

“The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no spring within his breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment, unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.”
A.W. Tozer

“The touchstone of the Holy Spirit’s work in us is the answer to our Lord’s question: “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” Our Lord makes human destiny depend on that one thing, Who men say He is, because the revelation of Who Jesus is is only given by the Holy Spirit.”
Oswald Chambers,

“Fruit is always the miraculous, the created; it is never the result of willing, but always a growth. The fruit of the Spirit is a gift of God, and only He can produce it. They who bear it know as little about it as the tree knows of its fruit. They know only the power of Him on whom their life depends”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“It is easy to use the phrase ‘God’s will for my life’ as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. … My hope is that instead of searching for ‘God’s will for my life’ each of us would learn to seek hard after ‘the Spirit’s leading in my life today.’ May we learn to pray for an open and willing heart, to surrender to the Spirit’s leading with that friend, child, spouse, circumstance, or decision in our lives right now.”
Francis Chan

ABIDE

ABIDE

What does God want us to do with our lives? The answer is this…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2).

That means the old way has to go…

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24).

So what does that mean for you and me today?

Spiritual transformation is so clearly demonstrated in the words of Jesus in John 15 (KJV). Jesus uses the word abide 9 times in 6 verses. The above question can be answered with one word and that word is abide.

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