Thursday, 27 December 2007

Expanding the vision

I did say that I wouldn't post again until January, but during the night I spent several hours awake and I had plans for posts pouring through my head. I feel a growing longing to serve people with what I trust will be biblical, helpful posts to equip us all to be those who are after God's own heart.

Yesterday I conceived this blog as mainly being a forum for posts based on my series of teaching to the men of my church on growing as men of God. During the night this phrase was dropped into my heart, I trust, by the Holy Spirit - "Why only half of My people?"

I had (and have) no answer to that. God's church consists of male and female. Male and female are made in His image, all are created for His glory and for fellowship with Himself. All are redeemed by the same precious blood, and are heirs together of the grace of life.

Also, in the church I pastor, I am giving a series of teachings on growing as women of God, and I believe the Lord would have me share some of these aswell.

But this begs an important question: what right have I as a man to bring such teaching? This is exactly the question that some people have asked in the church I pastor, and this is the answer I gave and still give:

Firstly, I do not intend to bring oppressive legalistic teaching, but to honestly and carefully open up the scriptures for the benefit of men and women.

Secondly, as a pastor, God has called me to shepherd the flock - the whole flock, not just the men. This took a real, clear leading of the Holy Spirit over a long period of time, that took me from an unbiblical view that women should teach women and I should concentrate on the men, to a sense of God's call to help my sisters in Christ reach their glorious potential in Him. Let me share the story:

A short testimony

About a year after becoming pastor I did a most terrible thing to my wife, Margaret. We had just started the men's meetings and I came home and announced to her "we need to start women's meetings so what are you going to do about it?" (yes, I am sorry, that is the way I was before I began to learn about grace).

Margaret (and I praise God for her graciousness), submitted to me and got the other elders' wives together and began to plan. After a year or so, the meetings were launched, and they were a wonderful blessing, but Margaret always sensed that something wasn't quite right - and after a while, so did the elders. As elders we sought God for revelation, and the Lord clearly spoke to us through a prophetic word in the elders' meeting - "you teach the women." I still had all kinds of objections, but I kept quiet.

After a few weeks, Margaret shared with me a vision she had of someone holding the tiller of a small boat, steering. She realised that person was her and that the boat was the women's ministry, but then she got up from the tiller and handed it to someone else. She said, "I believe the Lord is freeing me from the women's ministry, it is time to let go. But I don't know who, because I only saw the knees."

After a while I shared what God had spoken to the elders. It was like everything clicked into place. Margaret said, "The knees of the person who took the boat, they were yours. You need to lead this ministry."

And so that is how it happened. No, I am not a woman, and there are many things I don't know or properly understand because I haven't experienced them, but God's Word is God's Word and I am called to teach what it says; and so I do trust that the posts I share will help and encourage.

I have a vision that we should help each other

Much is made in the complementarian teaching about the differences between men and women, and, of course, there are many important differences. However, I found again and again that as I prepared the talks for the women's meetings they were so similar in content to those for the men's meetings.

I spoke on men of God, and on women of God; on men of prayer and women of prayer; on men of the Word, and women of the Word; on men of the Spirit, and I will soon be teaching on women of the Spirit.

Yes, there are differences, and there were different messages, but there is so much that men and women can learn from each other, and we can learn together as we seek Him together.

So, also last night, I had a vision that this blog can become a forum where, yes, I share the fruit of my study of the Word and try and bring helpful teaching, but also where through the comments we search the scriptures together.

I still have so much to learn - we all do. I am very happy to be corrected in any of the posts that are made - I am also happy to be agreed with :) !

Last night I read this challenging quote from Joyce Meyer's excellent book, Battlefield of the Mind:

"The Lord keeps revealing His secrets to those who are diligent about the Word. Don't be the kind of person who always wants to live off someone else's revelation. Study the Word yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to bless your life with truth."

I wonder if much of the problem in the teaching of manhood and womanhood has occurred because many of us simply imbibe the teachings of others, without searching the scriptures ourselves. That is not to say that some of the teaching isn't excellent, and I do have respect for people such as John Piper and Wayne Grudem - they have helped me in many areas of my understanding of many doctrines. However, we need to study for ourselves. And the truth will set us free.

So I pray that this blog will become a forum where we search the scriptures and we do each other good in God.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

After God's Own Heart

I'm starting this blog because I have been challenged and stirred by two recent blog posts which have led me to serious thinking about the issue of Biblical manhood. Before you click away and think, "oh not another site about this issue," I humbly ask you to read on.

Last week one of my friends, Scott, wrote a blog "Mark Driscoll: The reason I'm not going to Brighton 2008!" Then, on Christmas Day, Dan, my friend and partner in the ministry to publish Ern Baxter's sermons, published a post "Humour versus Holy Spirit."

I read these posts, and the comments made on them, with a very heavy heart. Both posts referred, with deep concern, to a number of comments that had been made by Mark Driscoll and others on the subject of manhood. A number of the comments on these posts highlighted the horrific impact of poor teaching about manhood upon Christian women - our sisters in Christ and daughters of the King of Kings.

Today the burden for laying down some correct teaching has been growing in my heart. Even though it is still Boxing Day in the UK, I cannot get rid of this burden.

I am no expert, but I am a pastor and I study God's Word. A couple of years ago I started showing the men of our church what the Bible teaches about being men of God. I hope, over the next few months, to edit and publish my notes from these studies, and also to publish any other helpful material when I find it. My aim, by God's grace is to help my brothers in Christ to grow to be men after God's own heart. And also to encourage wives, mothers and sisters to pray for us on our journey.

Now, I must be honest, over at my other blog (The Best is Yet to Come), I have not posted as often as I would have liked, but I do hope that I can at least post here monthly. So, please be patient, but please do visit here from time to time and, I trust this will be of help to you.

If you have any thoughts or comments yourself on this subject, please feel free to post comments below, or e-mail me.