The past few weeks have been dominated by the preparation each week for the sermon at Church on Sunday night. I’m working on a series in 2 Peter. It’s a challenging book, both to understand and to apply. Yet it is very urgent, and the situation addressed seems very appropriate to modern Australian Christians. Peter is close to his death, he’s an old man, writing a Grandpa letter to his children in the faith. (This image came to me from my Grandpa Bill, who is always working away at his ‘jottings’). The believers who he writes to are established in the faith but are in danger of forgetting or taking or granted the realities of the faith. They recognise that Jesus is Lord but are in danger of settling into a life style that denies that practically in their lives, and most significantly, this shows up as a loss of faith in the second coming in judgement, of the Lord Jesus.
I have really enjoyed preaching through this series. I finished the 3rd of 4 last night. If you’re interested in listening they are available here. I have particularly enjoyed the refreshed perspective on preaching that I gained from the AFES Staff conference. I have spent much more time each week praying and thinking through how God is speaking to me through each passage; and then praying and thinking hard about how he is speaking to the various people in the congregation. I guess the change is that movement from simply seeking to understand the Word as a text, to hearing it as words for us. Keith Birchley’s phrase was somethings to the effect that we should stop thinking of the Word as a monument, but rather as a megaphone. I hope this sounds like something rather obvious to you, it should if you’re a Christian. But it’s amazing how easy it is to lose sight of the obvious.
As part of this I have changed the way that I try to assess how I went in my preaching. I am focussing more on my own personal conviction from the Word, and the conviction of the congregation, and praying or praising for that, before I move to pick over how I could have spoken more clearly, or explained something better. Keep praying for me in these things. I have one more talk this week on 2 Peter 3.
The other part of my time has been filled with preparation for the start of semester with FOCUS, and with the Focal Point, our mid-year conference. Focal Point starts next week. It is possibly the most important week of the year in terms of the impact it makes on people’s lives for the gospel. The whole staff and trainee team is working flat-out to get workshops, seminars, electives, talks, booklets, etc, finished.
I’m also working on some Bible Study Leader Training material for a Leaders Weekend coming up this weekend before Focal Point. The material is shaping up well but it will take a considerable amount of time to finish well. I’m trying to cover a lot of topics beyond simply ‘how to write a Bible study’. We are covering, evangelism, prayer, growing, training, pastoral care, how to co-lead/team work, etc. It will be worth the effort, but I could do with more time. Pray that students come along.
We are also getting into the book of Daniel with our UniChurch home group. I’m enjoying writing these studies, but again I’m conscious of the time pressures.
So it’s all happening…
Here is the passage I’ll be thinking about all this week, seems appropriate when life gets overly busy. It’s good to be reminded about the truth that we sometimes obscure with our business.
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2Pet 3:11-13 ESV)