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Posts Tagged ‘God’

… or more accurately, praise to God who created the world that we live in and enjoy.

Just one of God’s landscape paintings…

Following on from my tongue in cheek Jacana story yesterday, this morning I read this from Vivien Whitfield commenting on Psalm 104 in SU WordLive.

As a keen birdwatcher I regularly feed the birds in my garden and record those which come. It’s fun to watch their different characteristics. Greenfinches sit guzzling on the seed feeder. Tits fly in and out again quickly. I have seen collared doves appearing to plead with me to put more food out. And yet all the birds fly off when I go out into the garden. They depend on me when the surrounding food supply is low, but they’re wary of me as well. Perhaps that’s a good illustration of how humans are with God. We depend on him for everything and yet there’s a right wariness too – which comes through clearly in this psalm.

Yesterday we had a plump woodpigeon perching on our decking fence patiently waiting for untidy feeders like the sparrows and coal tits to dislodge seeds on to the ground so it too could feed. I’ve also been excited about the beautifully coloured goldfinches that come regularly to feed from the niger seeds this year.

Then there are the bossy noisy starlings, the bullying jackdaws and the imperious magpies that disturb the quieter robins, collared doves, tits and dunnocks.

Please take time to read Psalm 104 today. God has given us an amazing world to live in.

The Earth reflects the amazing creativity of our God. We destroy and exploit it at our peril.

Another quote from SU WordLive this morning

 

 

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Jesus had a habit of answering questions with his own rather challenging questions.

But then God has given us a lot of clues about how to live our lives in relationship with him – and in community.

In the Bible, starting with Genesis, where we find the Ten Commandments we find a good starting point…

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

  2. You shall make no idols.

  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

  5. Honor your father and your mother.

  6. You shall not murder.

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

  8. You shall not steal.

  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  10. You shall not covet.

And then throughout the rest of the Bible!

Which is why Wycliffe Bible Translators exists: to enable all peoples to engage with the Bible in a language which speaks to their heart. It’s how God shows us humans how to live in his creation.

So when the young man got up from his bench, saying goodbye to Jesus… I wonder what he did next?

 

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… and setting the right priorities.

 

God of Mission

As I wrote last weekend, it’s not original. I like to give people these seven words and ask them to make a sentence… or two… or maybe more. Most sentences make sense, but I believe only one combination of these words is correct.

What would you come up with?

This blog is called John 20:21. That’s the verse where the resurrected Jesus walked through a locked door to say to a bunch of fairly frightened disciples:

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

God the Father had sent God the Son into the world as a human baby initiating a massive change in his relationship with the world and the peoples of the world that he had created. If we tie John 20:21 in with Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:8 (not to mention many more references throughout the Old and New Testaments), we see Jesus initiating another new stage in which he gives his followers down through the ages an awesome responsibility! A responsibility to be totally involved in what God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are doing.

So what’s the answer to the seven word Mission Puzzle?

I was prompted to blog by another blog post entitled As the Father sent me written by Martin Lee (Executive Director of Global Connections). You can read more about Martin at the bottom of As the Father sent me. He starts like this:

Please help us in OUR mission – the cry of many mission agencies and committed missionaries. Evangelicals have always been and will always be activists. Yet it is so easy for the emphasis to be on my mission, my calling, my sending, my ministry and when this happens it should fill us with concern.

Does this fill you with concern? If you work for a mission agency or a church… have you ever been guilty of this possessive emphasis?

Have you got a sentence from the puzzle picture above that you are happy with? Reading Martin’s blog will certainly help!

After some references to early 20th century theology, you will find this…

God is a missionary God. ‘It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church.’

And later…

We are called simply to be part of God’s mission as we follow Jesus who said: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ It’s not the church of God that has a mission, but the God of mission who has a church.

And he concludes…

UK mission agencies and churches probably need to think much more carefully about the key implications of their role in God’s mission. It is not about MY mission and the promotion of what we are doing, but the work of the Kingdom.

So I’m thinking where does the mission agency that I have been a member of since July 1988 fit in? Have I been guilty in my roles in mobilisation and church engagement of pushing Wycliffe’s vision at the expense of God’s mission?

While I’m sure I often got it wrong, I’m actually encouraged by a memory from the early 2000’s when we held a series of Vision Lunches around Ireland. More than once invited ministers commented that it was their first experience of being asked by a mission agency “How can we help you?”

Wycliffe Bible Translators exists to enable all peoples to engage with the Bible in a language which speaks to their hearts

So how do we do that?

Well… since the God of mission has a church, Wycliffe’s aim is to serve the church, both in the UK and Ireland – and in the many countries where people groups still wait to receive God’s word in their heart languages.

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A Mission Puzzle

 

God of MissionIt’s not original – although the photo is – but I like to give people these seven words and ask them to make a sentence… or two… or maybe more.

Most sentences make sense, but I believe only one combination of these words is correct.

Have a go.

In a couple of days I’ll blog on this topic again inspired by a blog I read last week

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Third in a series on First Steps NI 2016…

Assaalaamalekum mbokk yi.
Maangi leen di nuyu ci tuuru Yàlla boroom jàmm.
Maangi tudd Clare Orr. Irland laa joge waaye Senegal laa liggéey leggi.
Maangi liggéey ci mbiru alphabetisasyon, mooy nga xam ne nu danu jappale ay nit ngir ñu mënu bind di jàng ci seeni làkk. Fi ci Senegal lu ëpp benn ci ñaari sunu reewandoo mënuñu bind, mënuñu jàng.

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Clare was one of the First Steps team at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church on 6 February 2016. Her topic was literacy and Scripture engagement- and here’s some of what she shared with us…

How much of that were you able to understand? Probably not very much, if any. Maybe a few words of French! That was Wolof, Senegal’s main trade language. If we want to learn, we need to understand the language. We’re here today to hear stories of how having access in the mother tongue to information, whether it’s God’s word, health information, schooling or Christian resources, helps us to be able to learn, to grow in our faith and to improve our lives.

What I’ve just said in Wolof is this:
Welcome. My name is Clare Orr. I’m from Northern Ireland and work in Senegal.
I work in literacy, which means helping people to learn to read and write in their own languages. In Senegal, fewer than one in two people is able to read and write.

Nowadays, lots of children go to school. The numbers of children in schools in Senegal has risen and primary school enrolment is currently around 80%. Yet, the literacy rate remains low. When children start school, what language do they understand?

Maybe Wolof, or Jola Kassa, or Manjaku. Senegal has more than thirty languages. Children understand their own language and maybe Wolof or another Senegalese language. They don’t understand French. Nobody at home talks to them in French. Yet what language do teachers speak and teach in at school? French. This is a huge problem. A child who doesn’t understand French, can’t learn in French.

It’s not that education isn’t possible in other languages. Learning can take place in their mother tongues, and this is something Wycliffe members are involved with in Senegal.

For the past few years, literacy classes have been offered for children in the Manjaku language. These classes aren’t part of the formal curriculum. Instead, the children come back in the afternoon, when normally they would be off school, and learn to read and write in their own language. Originally, parents were suspicious, thinking that learning Manjaku would hinder their children’s abilities to learn in French. However, parents are now realising that their children are advancing in French more quickly because of these mother tongue classes.

Famata, a 17 year old, didn’t understand much French, did badly at school and therefore had dropped out a couple of years previously when she became pregnant. When Manjaku classes began in her village, she went to the classes, and was able to follow them and learnt well, even encouraging the others in her class to keep up their regular attendance. Thanks to the confidence that this gave her, she was able to return to French school, and was near the top of her class there. She dreams of being a teacher some day.

As one Manjaku parent said, “The step backward into their tradition means they are in a better position to then step forwards.”

Of course, it’s not only children who can benefit from learning to read and write in their mother tongue. Coming back to the Manjaku, Lamine, the leader of the literacy team, spoke of how happy the people in one village were to have a class in their mother tongue rather than in one of the neighbouring languages. One learner said, “We have this proverb that we always take the flash-light of others to light the room. Now we have our own torch to shine on our path so we know where we are going.”

Clare with one of the Ebola posters

Clare with  Ebola poster

Ku la abal i gët, nga xool fa ko neex.
If someone lends you eyes, you will look wherever he wishes.

By enabling people to read and write in their language and by giving them new ways to engage with Scripture in the mother tongue, we are helping them to look with their own eyes, and through their own eyes to come to know the God of the Bible for themselves.

You can read about how Clare’s work helped prevention when Ebola threatened Senegal in 2014.

Find a Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland First Steps day near you!

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God brings people together and when he does: he speaks, he stirs and he sustains

Niall starts us off with a Bible reflection

Niall Lockhart starts us off with a Bible reflection

First Steps was hosted by Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church on the edge of Belfast, N. Ireland on Saturday 6 February 2016. Niall Lockhart is the minister at Ballyhenry and we asked him to start us off with a Bible devotional. It was great: it was devotional but also packed a challenging punch for us all, both staff and participants. Thank you, Niall, for allowing me to blog excerpts from your talk.

God brings people together. It’s the story of the Bible. But in a very down to earth way it’s also the story of Wycliffe here in Ireland.

God is on a mission and through Wycliffe God is bringing people together. People from different church backgrounds (it’s one of the great strengths of Wycliffe), people of different ages, with different skills and backgrounds, people with different personalities. People who end up in different roles, some going and some supporting those who go, an incredible diversity of people who can find their place and call in an organisation like Wycliffe.

God brings people together, just as He has done here, today.

And when God brings people together God works. Now God can work in all kinds of ways.

When God brings people together: God speaks.
Turn to Nehemiah chapter 8. Verse 1:
‘All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel … (verse 3) … He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of all the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.’

The came together and God spoke to them. God has brought you together here today. I want to encourage you to anticipate that God will speak to you today.

But secondly in the Bible when God brings people together: God stirs.
The book of Acts is a book about mission. In Acts chapter 4 we find the early mission movement facing extreme pressures. There was an enormous need for God’s word to be proclaimed, and yet resources were few and obstacles were many.

But look at what happened in verse 23 and following:

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them … (verse 29) … Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.’

They came together and God stirred. Gave them a new vision of who He has, and gave them a new boldness and energy in the work of mission. God has brought you together here today. I want to encourage you to anticipate that God will stir you today.

But thirdly, and finally, we discover in the Bible, that when God brings people together: God sustains.
Turn to John 20 verse 19.
On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After He said this, he showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’

Those first disciples came together. Carrying their own weaknesses, their own personal failings, their own limitations, their own fears. And when they were together the risen Lord Jesus met with them. He breathed His Spirit on them. And as He sent them He promised to sustain them. He promised to sustain them with what they needed most. His presence.

Friends, God has brought you together here today. I want to encourage you to anticipate, yes that he will speak, yes that He will stir, but also to know that He can and will sustain you. Amen.

Find a Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland First Steps day near you!

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The story is told of a father attending a parent teacher event. His child asked the father to make sure that he saw her story which was posted on the classroom wall – and he found it. It was beautifully written and very well illustrated, but there was no punctuation. The story was almost incomprehensible.

We need punctuation in our lives and our work as well as in our writing. If there are no pauses for reflection or spaces for rest – we’re in trouble. So that’s what I did with some colleagues last week: we put in some punctuation.

We took time out of the office to spend time both individually and as a team to listen to God so that our lives and our work might be more comprehensible.

Time out

Last week the Wycliffe team based in N. Ireland had an away day with a friend called Anne who opens her home for retreats… for punctuation. On the theme of the new year, Anne shared a poem by Joyce Rupp called Freshness.

Freshness

The repeated verse struck me…

a new year is moving in

just as surely as the winter

walks along in snowflakes

I imagined a fresh fall of snow on the ground, pure white, no muddy smudges, no footprints – I saw a new untouched fresh page for 2016.

my God is moving in again

and just like winter snow

he breathes my life full freshness

In my new 2016 life, there will be more than one fresh page to write on: my personal relationship with God; with my family; with my church; my role in the Wycliffe N.Ireland Church Engagement team…

It was a day well spent in rural Raffrey. I plan to put in the punctuation again… soon.

 

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