Welcome to my third blog posting on the Romans 15:8 leaders network page. I am encouraged to see new leaders signing up to this page, and I hope I may see some you at the CMJ Conference in a few days time? The Conference begins on Friday July 6th and there are still a few last minute places left. Please visit the Conference page for booking details. However, if you are unable to attend then please note that all the three main teaching sessions are being recorded and if you are signed up to the Romans 15:8 network, you can get these CD recordings for free! Simply e-mail the CMJ office and confirm your postal details and the office team will send to you your complimentary set of teaching CD’s.
Teaching Reflection of the Month
My teaching reflection this month once again is taken from some preparation work I have being doing for (hopefully!) a new CMJ book- “100 Days with Acts”. The teaching is based on Acts 13:4-12.
Here Luke details how the mission journey begins with a sea crossing from Seleucia (the sea port of Antioch) to Cyprus. We cannot be sure why Cyprus was the first destination for this mission journey, but possibly it connects with the fact that some of the believers who were scattered following the persecution that arose as a result of Stephen’s martyrdom settled in Cyprus. Also some believers from Cyprus went to Antioch and began to reach out beyond the Jewish communities (see Acts 11:19-20).
While this mission work in Cyprus is clearly the beginning for a new mission initiative within the emerging early Church, nevertheless the pattern of going first to the Jewish Synagogue (:5) remains central. This pattern reflects Paul’s understanding of and commitment to the Gospel imperative of “…first for the Jew” (Romans 1:16).
As they traveled through Cyprus they encountered a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet. This encounter has echoes of an earlier mission encounter when Peter confronts Simon the sorcerer (see Acts 8:9-25). This confrontation and the following demonstration of the LORD’s power (:11) was instrumental in leading many to believe in Jesus, including the Proconsul (the Roman overseer of the Island) Sergius Paulus.
In reflecting on the reading I am thinking about how mission work in new areas often needs new methods and new ways of building genuine encounters with people. The message of the Gospel never changes, it is eternal. Yet the way (the methods) and style of communicating the timeless Gospel message may well change for each new context and for each new generation. If this is the case how can we as Church leaders and mission practitioners be relevant, flexible and innovative in sharing the Gospel while remaining faithful to the changeless Gospel message?
The term I use to refer to non-Jewish people is the term Gentiles. The term Greeks (see Acts 11:20) or Hellenists is used in some translations. Other possible terms could be ‘those from the nations’ or the simple descriptive term ‘non Jew’.
- From here in Acts 13 onwards Saul is referred to now as Paul. Saul is his given Hebrew name and this later name Paul reflects the Gentile context. We are not sure why Luke uses the name Paul from this point, but maybe it reflects the fact that much of the new mission work was primarily but not exclusively within a mainly Gentile context. Some suggest that the name Paul was given to mark the effective sharing of the Gospel which Saul (Paul) had pioneered in reaching out to the Proconsul Sergius Paulus.
Ministry News Updates
As mentioned in the welcome, the CMJ Conference and the Youth Conference are ‘ready to go’ and we are looking forward to hosting colleagues from CMJ Israel alongside regular and new participants to the High Leigh Conference Centre from 6th - 8th July. The main teaching themes will be based on Ezekiel 37:3, Mark 8:29 and Acts 16:30.
The outreach in London focusing primarily on those linked to the ‘New Age Movement’ which attracts many Jewish people went extremely well. Our CMJ Community Based Evangelist (London), Tania, provides a report of this in the current edition of News and Views which was sent out on 20th June.
My colleague Jane Moxon has returned from her sabbatical.
Sadly Kent and Shawna Spawn (from Beit Bracha, Galilee) who were going to lead some UK based deputations meetings immediately following the Conference are unable now to do so as they are on compassionate leave. Please pray for them. The planned meetings will go ahead with other CMJ staff stepping up to cover.
- The new Olive Press Research Paper (Issue 34-2018) was published and sent out on 20th June. The paper by former CMJ staff member Simon Hawthorne is titled “The Messianic Pendulum- Swinging between hope and hurt: 135-2000 C.E” and is an excellent overview of Messianic hope (or the lack of it) within Rabbinical Judaism. Please note that most previous Olive Press Research Papers are available to download for free. Click on the resources page of the CMJ UK website. Also if you have enjoyed reading this new research paper by Simon you may be interested to download an earlier related paper by Michael Eldridge (Issue 9, 2011) which deals in detail with the story of Sabbatai Sevi and its significance for today.
The book tables at the CMJ conference will be stocking a number of new titles selected by CMJ staff and supporters.
Monthly Memory Verse
“Your testimonies are wonderful. Therefore my soul obeys them. The unfolding of your words gives light, giving understanding to the simple.”
(Psalm 119:129-130- Messianic Jewish Family Bible)