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How to be a radical disciple

How to be a radical disciple.

A few weeks ago, it was wonderful to have Jarrod Cooper with us, to speak at our Foundation event, for leaders.  We were so blessed by Jarrod’s ministry and I have asked him to share a few thoughts this week, as a guest blog.   I hope this encourages you too, to be radical in your discipleship.

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Radical disciples

God did not ask us to make ‘church members’, count ‘decisions’, or even have people say, ‘the sinner’s prayer’, (not that I’m against any of those things necessarily). He actually told us to be to make disciples.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me!” Matt 16:24

A church member in some of today’s circles is more like the member of any social club. Some want to go to a certain church because it’s cool, big, glitzy or because it’s small, comfortable, not too demanding. All this has little to do with the real walk of faith and the real JESUS. In the gospels we find that Jesus-followers entered into a deeply life changing arrangement.

The disciples had to be…

Available

Busy people gave up their jobs and plans to follow Jesus after a single request. Would you or I? He may not require everyone to give up their careers, but all will have to make space for the learning and mission of being a disciple.

Teachable

Jesus told them, “I will make you fishers of men.” It was clear He was going to teach them. A disciple, by inference, has a teacher. If you are the leader, that’s you! Are we discipling our church members or filling in databases and doing hospital visits? Every church should be a training ground and every Christian a soldier either in, or preparing for, battle.

Breakable

Talented Peter went through some deep, humbling experiences. Disciples accept humility and brokenness as part of the journey. Pride is at the root of all sin and must be winkled out. God will line all of us up for some rejection, failure and being overlooked. Are we teaching our people to handle it? Are we preaching brokenness and teaching repentance? Are we confronting sin? We’ve all got to pass that test (or keep retaking it!)

Correctable

True discipleship involves some straight conversations. ‘Iron sharpens iron’, but soft, PC, marshmallow conversations rarely change anyone deeply! Our society is so hooked on approval that often we don’t know what correction or discipline looks like any more, so we call it rejection. But correction is not rejection, it is protection. And discipline is not disapproval, it’s the removal of stuff that is going to harm you! “God disciplines those He loves” (Hebrews 12:4-11) Are we raising disciples who will embrace correction and find life in it?

Connectable

Jesus called His disciples “to be with him”. Friendship with a more experienced man or woman of God and a group of fellow disciples is a vital part of healthy growth. Are we allowing a few to get close, to walk the walk with us, and not just listen on Sundays? You can’t be connected to everyone, but we all can disciple a few.

Sendable

Another new word! Jesus “sent them out”. Are we sending the troops somewhere, adventuring selflessly as part of a vision bigger than ourselves? Every true disciple is a missionary.

So are we raising disciples or gathering members? Some of us need to change the polarity of our relationship with our church members, because it should not be the leaders who are chasing around after members.

Instead, the leaders should be saying to others, “Follow me, and I will make you…” (Matthew 4:19). Leaders of the Church of the future won’t simply be carers and counsellors (though both are necessary), but pioneers who get a vision, make it plain for all to see, then march off to a brave new world with disciples following. In this way the Church will become more of a movement than a hospital. An army on the front line, not cadets locked in their barracks!


 

 

 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Easter, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing

Jesus will meet you at your point of need – Mary Magdalene’s story

I have spoken before about some of the losses our family has faced. In the immediate aftermath of a bereavement, without God’s help, it can feel as though life cannot continue without that loved one. However, thank God for His Word that sustains and holds us together during the very darkest times of our lives.  

As we prepare to celebrate Easter, I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of the friends of Jesus; the disciples, the people who were his companions during his life on Earth. I have been wondering what they must have felt after he was executed? What was it like after Jesus was resurrected? How did they feel when they saw him again for the first time, since the atrocity of his death? 

Mary Magdalene was one of those friends. She was a woman with a dark past whose life had been changed forever after an encounter with Jesus. Although she must have known he was the messiah, did she experience any doubt after she witnessed his death? We do not know what she felt, but did she wonder if Jesus was really coming back? Did she experience despair and grief? Even when we know the truth, in the dark experiences of our lives, it can be easy to focus on the circumstances of what we see.   

Whatever she felt, whether it was hope, or hopelessness, we know that on Resurrection morning, after Jesus rose from the dead, everything changed. Matthew 28 says, ‘Suddenly, Jesus met them’.    

This word ‘suddenly’ is very important to me personally, because it reminds me that just at my point of need, just when I need him most, that is when Jesus appears.  
For Mary Magdalene and the others who saw the risen Christ, when Jesus met them, in an instant, hope and peace was restored, they could see a future. They knew they would get through this. In that moment, they experienced the resurrection for themselves.  

This is what Easter means to me. The resurrection was not just an event in history, it was an event which brought hope to the friends of Jesus, hope to all who witnessed it and hope for today’s world, thousands of years later.   

Whatever you are going through, even if it seems like an impossible situation, the death and life of Jesus reminds us that there is a future and that because of the resurrection, whatever life brings our way, we can have hope and peace. When Jesus meets us, everything changes.

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness

How to have hope.

Our country has been rocked by a terrorist attack.

Although I am from France, I have lived here for more than 40 years and my wife and I raised our family here. The UK is our home.

I was in France in November 2015, when terrorists attacked Paris.  I was in the middle of an exciting week of mission at my brother’s church and we were seeing incredible miracles, lives set free and people commit their lives to Christ.

We were full of excitement at what God was doing and then we heard the horrific news. Our hearts were broken, just as they are today for the people of London, for all those who have been injured, for all those who have lost someone.   

We have seen some incredible acts of bravery, a MP who fought to save the life of an injured police officer, doctors, nurses, police and ordinary members of the public who have put their own lives at risk, to help protect ours.   

We are so thankful to live in a country that is able to respond quickly and with deep compassion in the face of a tragedy.

As Christians, we sometimes wonder what to say in the face of such a terrible situation. But on the Sunday morning after the attacks in Paris, our church in France took great comfort from God’s Word, in Psalm 37.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong 

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.  

The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. 

Let us always go to God’s Word for our answers.  His Word (John 1:5) says that the darkness in the world will get darker, but that darkness will never extinguish light. In fact, that light (His light) will continue to shine brighter and the darkness CANNOT overcome it. 

That is where I get my hope.

Let’s pray with passion for our world and all those who are suffering and grieving today.   

And may God’s light, his in-extinguishable light shine ever brighter in the middle of the darkness we see.

Capture

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope

Heaven is real

Last year, I told the story of losing our son Jamie when he was 13 months old. Our hearts were broken and as I cried out to God and asked Him to bring Jamie back, I felt God speak into my spirit; ‘He will not come back to you, but you will go to him one day’.
I learned later that these were the words God spoke to King David after the loss of his own son. Over the years, those words have given me great hope and comfort, because they remind me there is a world beyond this one.  I believe we will see Jamie again one day.

If you have lost someone you love, I would like to encourage you to know and believe that Heaven is not a myth. Heaven is real.

The Scriptures give us quite a lot of detail about Heaven.  Heaven is where God lives (Psalm 23:1) and Heaven was designed for us.   God does not need a place to live, He is self-sufficient, but He made Heaven for us.  God’s heart was to create a home and a family and God loves us so much that He has adopted us into the family so we can spend eternity with Him.   But He also gave us a choice.   Where we spend eternity will be determined by the choices we make in this life, whether we choose to accept the free gift of Jesus, or not.

What is Heaven like? 

Jesus said that He would go to prepare a place for us (John 14:3) and in Revelation 22, we are given a beautiful picture of a place with trees and a river ‘clear as crystal’ which flows down the middle of the street.  Heaven is also described as a place where God’s people will live with Him forever, and where all tears, grief, pain and death will be wiped away.  It is a place where the ‘old order of things has passed away’.  (Revelation 21).   If you are like me, sometimes you might think, ‘Lord, it’s dreadful down here…’ But the thought of a perfect world to come with no pain, gives us great hope.

Living for today

Although we look forward to eternity with great expectancy, it is still important to live with our purpose while on this Earth, to be fully present in the life we have been given.  It is ok to dream and look forward to a day when we can take off our ‘suit’ of flesh and blood, but we should not forget that God has a purpose for us now.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul says that we are ambassadors of Christ.   If I were a political ambassador, it would mean that I had an important purpose, but that ultimately I was the citizen of another country.  The same is true when we are Christ’s ambassadors.  Our appointment and purpose is from God and we have a heavenly assignment, to speak God’s heart to the country and situation we are currently in.

If you are in a difficult situation or have lost someone you love too, can I encourage you, Heaven is real.  As believers, it is a place we can look forward to with expectancy.   I believe that I will one day be reunited with both my son and grandson, but until that day, let’s live for the here and now.

Let’s make it our goal to share this truth, this hope with as many people as possible, until the day God finally calls us home.


 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness, Hope

Forgiveness in the face of evil

Last week I wrote about learning to forgive myself (by God’s grace) after our son passed away in 1988.  Forgiveness can be a  very powerful tool in restoring relationships (and our lives).  This week, I am very pleased to hand the blog over to our family friend, Marcus Mosey, who, through a family tragedy has also learned about the incredible power of forgiveness.

Marcus writes;

On 21st December 1988, something happened that would change our family and my life forever.

I was 16. My 19 year-old sister, Helga, had been home for just a week before Christmas and was heading back that afternoon from our home in Birmingham to the USA. We had fought like cat and dog (her being the aggressive cat!). For the first time in years, that week I had experienced a loving, caring sister. On the departure day I didn’t want her to go back to her gap-year au pairing job in New Jersey. But I needed to do some Christmas shopping, so I headed into the city, and promised I would be home in time to say goodbye.

Later that afternoon, I returned home, having totally forgotten that my sister was due to leave for the airport at 2pm. She had gone.

Afternoon turned into evening, and I sat upstairs watching something on the old TV set. Suddenly the programme that I was watching was interrupted with a news flash. A plane had come down over a town in the Scottish Borders. I experienced a fleeting sympathetic grief that anyone with half a heart would have in such circumstances – a deep sadness for the unknown families of those affected. I remember thinking, “Some people are going to have a miserable Christmas and New Year….”

Over the next hour, we found out out it was my sister’s plane, Pan Am 103, that had come down over the sleepy market town of Lockerbie. Our lives would never be the same.

In the coming days and weeks, many facts were established. Bodies strewn over the beautiful Scottish Borders countryside were recovered, along with parts of the plane and people’s luggage. Memorial services were attended by politicians and dignitaries, private funerals and wakes took place in the U.S., U.K. and other countries . For weeks, months, years, this event occupied front covers and columns of newspapers and featured heavily in the media. Even to this day. But for me, I had to deal with the grief of losing my sister and also the fact that I didn’t keep my promise – to get back from shopping before she left. I never said goodbye. I wished I had told her that I loved her; that I forgave her for the years of pain she put me through, but I didn’t. Somehow I had to forgive myself, and also the perpetrators of this deed. So I prayed. I asked God to help me to forgive.

God came.

He came. And all sense of hatred, revenge and unforgiveness towards the perpetrators (whoever they were) just dissipated within this amazing force shield. He had us. He had me.

 But I still struggled to forgive myself for not keeping my promise. Strangely, it was easier to receive God’s help to forgive others than it was to forgive myself! It was like I had this self- disappointment attached to me, on a leash. It would just be there, wherever I went, even though I didn’t want it. Then, one morning a few months later, I woke up and it was gone. I was no longer feeling that sense of shame and regret. It was just gone! I was free.

As a family, we have seen amazing things happen around the world as a result of the Lockerbie air disaster; so many great things that God has brought out of such a dark event. Many children’s lives in Asia have been transformed because of my sister’s death.

But for me, the greatest act of God is that I have not been overcome with unforgiveness and anger. Instead, I have been able to walk on from that evening before Christmas in 1988, free from bitterness, able to forgive. Most importantly, to forgive myself, because God already had.

Marcus Mosey, June 2016


 

 

Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Miracles

Learning to forgive yourself 

I shared last week about the loss of our son Jamie and the way our lives as a family were changed forever. In the weeks and months after Jamie died, our pastor John Mosey was a wonderful friend. He helped us with the many practical arrangements and he led Jamie’s funeral service, providing a great deal of comfort and support in a terrible time.

On Dec 21, 1988, in the same year that Jamie died, a Pan Am plane exploded over Lockerbie, killing everyone on board. John’s 19 year old daughter Helga was one of the victims. I remember the day we received the news and I drove to John’s house. John and his family knew Helga had been on the plane, but John was on the phone in the hallway, trying to confirm some more details. ‘I am so glad you are here,’ he said. ‘You know what it feels like to lose a child’.  

The circumstances were very different. Jamie had died from an unknown illness and Helga had been killed in a suspected terrorist attack. But now, in the same year, both families were facing the indescribable grief of losing a child. 

News of the Lockerbie disaster was in every newspaper and John became known at the time, for saying he would forgive the people who had taken his daughter from them. Our family did not have anyone to forgive in the same way, but as the years went by and I continued to carry a great weight of grief, I wondered if I did need to forgive someone. 

In April 2016, RT Kendall came to visit UCB. I spoke about his visit in another blog post  but I did not share at the time, how much this visit impacted me. RT was filming a TV programme for UCB TV, but we asked if he would share something for UCB’s team leaders also.    

RT spoke for a little while about forgiveness and encouraged our team to forgive those who had hurt them. He then said he wanted to pray for those who needed to forgive themselves. This was a very important moment for me personally, as although many years had passed since we had lost Jamie, I had carried a silent burden of guilt, wondering if I could have done more? Could I have spent more time with him? Could I have done things differently?

RT’s time with us and his powerful prayer, was a moment of breakthrough in my life. Over the next few days, I began to realise that I felt totally free. By the power of God’s grace, I was finally released from a burden which I was never meant to carry. God had shown me that I needed to forgive myself. 

I believe that God wants all of us to be totally free, to not carry guilt and shame from the past, into our present lives. I thank God for sending Godly people into the ministry of UCB, who can show us more about God’s wonderful healing power. 

Jesus came to set the prisoners free. If we choose to accept it, we too can live in total freedom. 

Christianity, Faith, Forgiveness, Hope

When you lose the most precious thing in the world.

In February 1988, our lives as a family were going well. We had three beautiful children and I was moving up the ladder in my career with a retail chain.  

Our three children, Natalie, Jamie and Richard
 I have always been an early bird and my morning routine before leaving for work, was to check on our youngest son Jamie, who was 13 months old. On the morning of February 9, I left for work but for some reason that day, I did not check on him. I arrived at work and just after 9am, I received an urgent phone call from a neighbour who said, ‘something has happened to Jamie, you need to come home’.

The details were not clear at that point, so I jumped into the car and drove home, like I have never driven before. As I was racing along, the word ‘death’ kept coming into my head and I screamed out to the Lord, ‘No, Lord…no, this CANNOT be true’. 

As I arrived at home, the front door was open, the paramedics were working on Jamie and I could hear the desperate cries of my wife. I still did not know what was going on, but I learned that our son Richard who was 10, had found his brother unresponsive in his bed. The paramedics took Jamie to hospital, blue lights and sirens blazing and my wife and I followed behind in the car. When we arrived at Casualty, we were met by the doctor and were not allowed to see Jamie while they worked on him. Eventually a doctor came out and we could see by the look on his face, that it was not good news. Our beautiful son had died at 13 months old, from sudden infant death syndrome. 

We were numb, confused, angry and had many questions. Jamie had been for a routine check-up just a few weeks earlier and was fine. Had we done something wrong? Could this have been stopped? It felt as though we were trapped in a nightmare and we struggled to understand.

The hospital staff eventually told us that Jamie’s body was in the Chapel of Rest and asked if we wanted to see him. My wife did not feel able to go, so I went to spend some time there on my own. As I stood there, my heart cried and ached and I said, ‘God, I KNOW you can do this, I know you can bring him back’. As I prayed, I suddenly felt a strange tap on my shoulder. I immediately looked around but no one was there. This happened 3 times and each time, there was no one behind me, but then very clearly I felt God speak into my spirit. I cannot say for sure if it was an audible voice, but I know God spoke: 

‘He will not come back to you, but you will go to him one day.’

I learned years later, that these were words spoken by King David in 2 Samuel 12:23, after he lost his own infant son. Although I did not recognise at the time where the words came from, I knew God was saying there was nothing more we could do. He had taken Jamie home. In one sense, it released me from the burden of praying for God to restore Jamie to us, but that did not stop us from feeling the desperate agony of grief.  

Jamie

In the days ahead, although our lives were shattered, we tried to keep things as normal as we could for our children, Richard and Natalie. Our church family gathered around us and our pastor, John Mosey was a wonderful friend, supporting us through the many practical arrangements we had to make. Little did we know that John would face his own terrible family tragedy toward the end of the year, but I will talk more about that in another blog post. The church’s support was incredible but we still had so many questions. I felt God speak to me clearly one day; Stop asking me why. Ask me what I am going to do through it. 

Two weeks later, I had been due to speak at our church. Our pastor said I did not have to do it, but I was able to share a short word on Romans 8:31: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us’. I asked our church family to pray for us and I also encouraged them to be as normal as they could with us. We didn’t want people to stay away or think that we did not want to see their children or their babies. We knew this would be an important part of rebuilding our lives.

Throughout all that time, I can say that I felt God was lifting me. I had to grieve but I also had the responsibility of caring for my wife and children too. My mother gave me a copy of the famous Footprints poem  and I knew that despite our shock and grief, God was carrying us through the darkest time of our lives. 

Today as a family we live and enjoy a good life. It is a different life which will always be scarred by losing Jamie, but we are not broken. We have been through many stages of grief and up until recently, I was struggling with many private emotions. In a future blog post, I will share more on this and how I feel God has set me free from the burden of guilt which I carried for many years.   

If you are facing your own tragedy today, then if you are a believer, you can know that God is with you and will carry you through it. As believers, we are not protected from pain and we should not con ourselves and think we can go through this life without heartache. But God can hold us together powerfully through the most terrible times of our lives and give us strength to keep going.    

After a terrible loss, your life may never be the same again, but with God, it can still be a good life. He is the reason for our hope and we know that one day we will see Jamie again.