Welcome to the new Romans 15:8 blog for September. This will be my final blog for 2021, as I will be on a sabbatical starting later next month. I will return to full-time work on 3.1.22. I will in my January blog share some thoughts about my sabbatical, including the books I have set myself to study.
As I prepare for my sabbatical, I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to all of you who have signed up to the Romans 15:8 network. This network has continued to grow and during this summer our ‘membership’ passed the 100 mark, and currently we have 187 Church leaders and others signed up.
In terms of signing up I have always felt that in ministry it is important to mark where we stand, to slightly misuse Luther’s quote; “I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.” In addition to marking where we choose to stand, effective and faithful ministry also calls for us to make the following three steps:
- To be clear about our priorities in terms of our callings and giftings
- To be wise in the use of the resources we have.
With kind regards and shalom,
Ministry News Update
During September CMJ distributed the Days of Awe booklet/prayer resource. Also, in connection with this we along with our colleagues at Chosen Peoples Ministry (CPM) hosted the Yom Kippur prayer day in London at St. Paul’s Church, Marylebone.
Regular outreach has continued at Stamford Hill and I have had many opportunities to preach at a range of churches, including Thorpe Baptist Church, Little Totham Evangelical Church, Southend Evangelical Church and St. Georges Parish Church, Deal.
In terms of teaching, I gave a lecture on Charles Simeon (1759-1836), this was part of the Pilgrim Fathers' Tour coordinated and led by my colleague Jane Moxon. I also prepared a sermon on Mark 9:30-37, and I hope to share an outline of this in the next blog.
I am also delighted to share that our new community-based evangelist Oliver started his ministry with CMJ on 6th September. His CMJ email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Please do pray for him as he starts this new 23-month ministry project. He will be focusing upon work in the Gateshead area so if you are a Church leader in this area, please do contact him, especially if you can offer him some support and helpful contacts.
This month I would like to bring to your attention a book I read during a study day back in June at Westminster College, Cambridge. The book is An Open Heaven- A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity by Christopher Rowland (Wipf & Stock, 2002).
This book is very well researched and is written in an informative and well-structured style by Christopher Rowland, who was Professor of Exegesis of Holy Scripture (Oxford University). Rowland begins by posing the question, ‘What is Apocalyptic?’ He then outlines a range of Rabbinic eschatological teaching and links this to some degree to the teaching of Jesus and the New Testament.
The book moves forward to look at the context of the heavenly mysteries and within this major section I found that the chapter (7) titled ‘What is to Come’ the most interesting. Following on from this I did some of my own study as I reflected on parts of the Book of Revelation and Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.
At times I felt somewhat ‘out of my depth’, for example in the part of the book which that deals with the ‘Esoteric Traditions in Early Judaism’, yet, overall, this book will bring a range of insights to the reader and will stimulate further study and debate.
Monthly Memory Verse
For we know that if the tent, our earthly home, is torn down, we have a building from God- a home not made with human hands, eternal and in heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:1- Text from The Messianic Family Bible- Tree of Life Version)
Teaching Reflection of the Month
The stunning significance, beauty, sacrifice and mystery of the Incarnation has always intrigued me since becoming a Christian. I think this truth became even more special as I prepared to write my little study book on Christology (Walking an Ancient Path, Glory to Glory Publications, 2016) and I spent time reflecting on some key texts such as John 1:1-14 and Philippians 2:6-8.
As one reflects and teaches on the Incarnation and the humanity of Jesus, the following realities often come into stark focus, for example:
- Jesus shared our unattractiveness – “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2)
- Jesus shared our emotions –sadness/grief (Luke 20:41) anger (Mark 3:5) zeal (John 3:17) love (John 11:4), hunger (Mark 11:12 and Luke 4:2) thirst (John 19:28) etc. He experienced being part of a family and growing up (Luke 2:51-52). He knew temptation (Luke 4), betrayal (John 18:5 / John 19:27) isolation (Matthew 27:46) and severe physical suffering
- Jesus was a refugee (Matthew 2:13)
- Jesus was a homeless man (Luke 9:58)
- Jesus became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9).
In all of this and more we glimpse something of great significance, but perhaps the greatest challenge or outworking of the Incarnation is found in Matthew 25:40. In this verse, we see in some sense Jesus now appears in those who suffer. This truth has major implications for those who claim to be His disciples today!