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‘Book of the term’ review: Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice

Ever read a Christian book? SKG is launching a ‘book of the term’ to encourage us to make the most of the good Christian books out there. If you haven’t – it’s ok – we’ll start together! If you have, it would be great to read this with your fellow SKG friends and discuss together.

The book for this time is about evangelism, and a lot of people have read it and say it’s great. I’ve been wanting to read this book after hearing the author himself being interviewed about his book in the London Men’s Convention 2016 last May. The fact that I put it off until now - now that I must read it to write this book review - shows my laziness in evangelism! I don’t find it as scary to answer objections towards Christianity now (after some input from great resources and speakers in my uni days) but I still find sharing my faith hard. That’s because I don’t even meet people in the first place! But wherever you’re at, this book will offer fresh encouragement or timely reminders.

Inline images 1

I’ll point to three places that particularly struck me:

  1. The coming judgment as motivation (from chapter 2)

It’s not the first time I came across this (I read it also in Don Carson’s The Intolerance of Tolerance), but here’s a quote from American atheist writer Penn Jilette that struck me again:

I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize [convert]. […] If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward… how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? (p.38)

Even from a secular or rationalistic perspective, the fact that there’s judgment alone is enough for us to warn people of it. It is a loving thing to do, though of course the disturbing things about hell force me to talk about it lovingly and sensitively.

  1. All personalities work! (from chapter 6)

I find chapter 6 particularly helpful and creative. Rico Tice names 4 individuals from the Bible of different characters, but whom God used to bring more people to know him. Peter is direct, Paul is a listener and a reasoner, the ex-blind man from John 9 is ‘testimonial’ (i.e. has a testimony that invites more questions than usual), and the woman at the well in John 4 who invited lots of people to ‘come and see’. Therefore the point is, although some of us may have gifts that are more obviously fitted for evangelism, God does provide us a unique personality to speak about Jesus (and to have chances to do so).

  1. Even today! (from chapter 7)

I’m also spurred on by chapter 7. It ends ‘there’ll be someone you could ask [to read the Bible one-to-one with] today.’ (p.93) Sadly, working full-time in a church means I meet much fewer non-Christian friends, and I miss my university days where every other day I could have a chat with someone from a different background. Maybe even in a foreign language!  But I am still spurred on to keep contact with old friends and meet new ones, and ask if they’d like to know a bit more about what I believe by meeting up. Maybe one thing we can do is to talk about different religions in general, and then consider Christianity via reading the Bible together.

**

Recently a speaker (Phil Moore from London City Mission) asked us church apprentices in a workshop: Which door is the hardest door to knock during door-to-door evangelism? Well, the first one! But after that, we start to focus less on the anxiety and more on the joy of loving people by listening to them, and holding out the Christian hope to them.

I hope this book will help you have your first Bible conversation/study!

Rico Tice. Honest Evangelism: How to Talk About Jesus Even When It’s Tough. Epsom, Surrey, England: The Good Book Company, 2015. 112 pp.

 

by Brian Mak

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Why lead on a Christian summer camp?

The days are getting longer and we’ve all started wondering what we’ll be doing over the summer. And as the summer approaches, for many of us at church that will mean praying and preparing to serve at a summer ‘camp’ (sometimes also called ‘ventures’ or just ‘holidays’).

If you’ve not been on a Christian summer camp before, you might be wondering what all the hype is about (and what an earth even happens - are people spending seven days of the year singing Kumbaya in a field somewhere?).

Here’s the inside scoop on what happens at a summer camp, why they’re so great, and why you might like to get involved.

What happens…

A bunch of young people, aged anywhere between 8 and 18, get together for a week. These guys travel from all over the UK (or perhaps even further afield) and take over a boarding school or a campsite for a fantastic time away.

Lots of fun is had, from wide games to water sports, from football to fancy dress: there are activities for everyone to enjoy! It’s a week of fun in the sun (Great British weather permitting), playing sports, doing crafts, exciting off-site activities, and lots of getting to know one another better.

Most importantly, God’s word is taught. Through main-meeting talks, afternoon seminars, small group Bible studies and even casual discussions, a summer camp gives young people the opportunity to engage with God’s word and learn lots! Often a camp will have a theme for the week, or will go through a particular book of the Bible, as well as potentially offer topical seminars discussing issues that are relevant to the lives of these young people.

Why it’s great…

It’s really fun! It’s a week away from the busyness of life, nasty London air, and all the other things that we love to moan about. At summer camp you have a week full of great fun, time away, and a chance to enjoy some of the Great British countryside.

It’s really encouraging! Not only do you get time to spend a week in the Bible, with more time than usual to hear God’s word read and taught, but you also get to enjoy young people engaging with God’s word and asking big questions about how to live for Jesus.

You get to meet Christians from all around the UK, from lots of different backgrounds, and be encouraged by how Christ is at work in their lives. Lots of lifelong friendships are formed at summer camps - between campers or leaders - as you partner in gospel work together.

Why you should get involved…

It will grow you spiritually. As you help teach younger Christians the truths of the gospel, and discuss how to live for Christ, you will grow in your own convictions of the truth and authority of God’s word. And as you seek to serve, you’ll be pushed to depend on the Lord in prayer, trusting him to be at work for his glory.

Your efforts will help grow others spiritually. Coming from a non-Christian background, I was able to explore the claims of Jesus for myself at a summer camp that a friend brought me along to. Many of the young people at these camps are not followers of Jesus, but may have questions and want to find out more, and you could have the joy of sharing the gospel with them! And for lots of the campers who have already put their trust in Christ, spending time with older more mature Christians can be a real help to them being encouraged and inspired to keep living for Jesus.

Camps need leaders! With such amazing work going on at these camps every year, it is clear that the camps need lots of hands on deck to happen. The Bible needs to be taught, food needs cooking, small groups need leading, fun needs organising, music needs playing… there are loads of ways that you could help! If being a leader straightaway sounds a bit daunting then lots of camps have a ‘junior leader’ team (or similar category) where you can enjoy lots of Bible study, get your hands dirty with practical service and try your hand at leading a few activities through the week. So why not get involved?

How to get involved…

Convinced that a camp is an excellent way to spend a week of your summer? Good.

There are lots of camps to choose from, but if you’re interested in getting involved, chatting to your Bible study leaders or the person you’re reading one-to-one with is a good place to start.

At SKG this week we heard more of how best to make use of long student summers, and what camps other church family members are serving on this year. Don’t miss out! Be thinking and praying about how you could be involved in this ministry this summer.

 

Clare Dooley, Student Team Apprentice

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What’s worth skipping church for?

It may make you shudder to think about exams and deadlines, but in the student world the workload has begun to build – it’s already nearly March! It’s often hard to come along to church and SKG when you have those essay and exam burdens hanging over you, and it gets more difficult as deadlines get closer. So how are we supposed to do well in university and keep plugged into church at the same time?

I don't know all the answers, but I'd like to encourage you with why it's so important to come to church and SKG every week, especially during exams. And I want to challenge you with the dangers of not doing so (but mostly encourage).

Here are three truths to help us out.

 

The Bible commands us to keep meeting together

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Many of us will have heard this a thousand times, but it doesn't make it less true. We cannot stop meeting together! Not for a month, not for a week. When we skip church and SKG we miss out on chances to encourage one another. We need to meet together so that we can spur one another on.

In a sense it's a very simple command, and when we flip it upside down and realise what not meeting together means it's a sober warning! How seriously are you going to take this command? The writer to the Hebrews even stresses that we should increase meeting together and encouraging one another as the Day approaches! The ‘Day’ it’s referring to is the day when Jesus Christ returns, which leads us onto…

 

As Christians we should live with an eternal perspective

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

I don't know if you know, but CCM has a little “motto”, and it’s 'Living Now for Eternity’. It's a very appropriate little line because if you're a Christian, there’s no area of your life that you can separate from your life in Christ - you must live life now in light of heaven. Jesus has saved you from death to life on the cross! You've been adopted, and your life is Christ’s. If you trust in him, your home is in heaven and your priority is God's glory! The earth will pass away and you won't take anything from the world into eternity.

So look to the day you go to heaven, not the day you graduate. Your biggest problem isn’t getting a 2:2, it’s your sin, and on that final day it’s not your degree certificate that you’ll lay before the Lord. You’ve already been given the best qualification you'll ever receive! These incredible truths mean you are free to work hard for the Lord and no one else, you are free to rest, and you are free to come to church even when you have an exam the next morning.

And so look to what is unseen! Come to church and SKG every week so that we can point each other to eternity and remind ourselves who our lives are for. Build up those treasures in heaven. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8v36.

 

The Lord is Lord of our studies

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:1

God is always working for the good of those who love him, which is one of the most reassuring truths when you don’t receive a grade you were hoping for. And although he sometimes works out his plans in ways that we cannot understand, we must not forget that he is in charge! We're often so focused on our own achievements that we rely on being self-sufficient and it causes us to forget God in our studies despite the fact that he is Lord over them! As the verse above says, unless the Lord does his work, our efforts will be fruitless. When our trust is rooted in Christ’s achievements and not our own, we can go to church and SKG with the assurance that God has our future in his hands and he’s going to do what’s best. God cares infinitely more about how hard we work than the grade we get at the end, so we can work joyfully and rest joyfully.

An outworking of depending on the Lord during busy periods of university, and especially during exams, is to continue meeting as brothers and sisters in church. And what’s more encouraging than meeting with those who are in the same situation?!

 

Final Tips

  • Working constantly and not resting is unwise, and it really will have a negative effect on your work/exams. No one can work all the time, we’re not made to. No one can work all the time, we’re not made to. It may help to listen to Phil's sermon on rest.
  • It’s already been said, but meeting with other Christians is extremely encouraging, especially during an exam period. It’s good to remind each other of the above truths and pray for each other when we’re forgetting to fix our eyes on eternity!
  • Lastly, working hard for Christ during university whilst being committed to church and having an eternal perspective is possible. Ask older Christians for advice when you can feel yourself caring more about your exams results than your relationship with God.

 

So let’s resolve together to keep coming, especially when deadlines pile up! When you see someone missing at SKG, why not give send them a text to encourage them? It’s hard not to take our eyes off of our future here on earth, but Jesus may return tomorrow and that’s something we need to be even more prepared for.

In short: work hard for the Lord; keep coming to church and SKG. Our end goal is heaven, not a degree.

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How to love someone for more than just one week in a year

by Brian Mak

 

After a week of waking up at 7am every morning to an unrelenting alarm clock to attend your Christian Union’s prayer meeting, finally you could enjoy some peaceful sleep over the weekend. But it would be careless to keep our spiritual alarms off at this point! If we think all our work is done from this point on, our labour over the five days could be in vain, humanly speaking.

James may be asking about the reliability of the Bible. Mary wants to read a book of the Bible together. Jane from the feminist society said she’s up for coffee to chat more. We want for them all to keep asking questions about Jesus and see for themselves, but it probably won’t happen unless we put conscious thought and concrete action to it.

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Pray, and pray specifically

The harvest is there, but it belongs to the Lord, not us. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Prayer asks the Lord to draw people to him, not to our ego.

Doing so specifically also sets us up to expect better how God would answer prayers. So instead of praying ‘I pray you’ll bless James’, perhaps you could mention the specific thing he is struggling with: ‘I pray Lord that you will clear James’s doubts about the reliability of the Bible. Or even pray God’s words back to him? ‘Lord, I pray that you will give him the certainty of the things that are taught (Luke 1:4), not from human traditions and philosophy, but from Christ (Colossians 2:9-10).

  1. Follow up ‘case by case’

Not everyone is on the same page. Jane may be far from willing to come to church. It is unloving if we insist upon it against her will. Meeting for coffee over a few times may well be the best thing to do, in showing God’s love to her through us, and listening to her genuinely.

  1. Invite to church

But eventually we do want them to visit the closest thing to heaven, in this world – that is, the church. All the promises of Christ applies to his church, which is united to him even now (e.g. Ephesians 2:4-7)!

If they’re not ready for a Sunday service yet, maybe try International Café on Fridays, or Honest Questions on Tuesdays? There are also evangelistic talks like beer and butchery on 2 Feb, Thursday evening.

  1. Plan ahead

I had a friend who was on the verge of declaring faith in Christ after mission week last year, and we met up once more. But with other things I gradually forgot about him and didn’t catch up with him until end of term, when he has already made his next steps and is about to leave the country. The period of 4 months from mission week also meant it was harder to talk about spiritual things. As far as I’m aware, he is not a Christian. I should have planned a next meeting with him when I met up with him that first time, and perhaps also a secondary date in my schedule to remind myself to ask him how he’s getting on with his questions in mission week. Perhaps you can think of a better schedule than I could!

  1. Expect without despair

Ultimately the Lord is sovereign and it could seem that none of our prayers are answered. Mary could read another 3 books of the New Testament and still remain unconvinced. She could even have come to church but drift away again. But don’t despair - Jesus tells us to expect that in the parable of the sower (e.g. Mark 4)! There will be seed that is planted on rocky ground and scorched because ‘it had no root’ (4:6), or that is choked by riches from thorns on thorny ground. It is what we should expect as faithful servants of Christ. But what a comforting thought that we can rely on Father God on his most just judgments, and he will lose none whom he has given to the son (see John 10:28). Therefore, we can also expect that some of our friends will be among those whom are given to the son!

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How to Avoid Turning into the Grinch over Christmas

How to Avoid Turning into the Grinch over Christmas

(or, Keeping Going Spiritually over Christmas)

I hate Christmas. There, I’ve said it. It’s not that I don’t love my family; I totally do. I love catching up with friends, too. I love the cheesy Christmas music, the delicious food and fabulous church services pointing me back to Jesus. Not to mention the presents. It’s so much fun buying and giving presents! Nevertheless. I hate Christmas. Bah. Humbug.

Okay, hate may be a bit too strong. Christmas is probably my least favourite holiday. I should admit that I’m not a big fan of holidays in general. There are two main reasons and one common result.

1. Reason #1: Goodbye Routine – Strip away my work routines and meetings and it’s so easy to go to bed later and later… and get up later and later. And somehow, I just don’t quite get around to opening God’s Word and praying to him. It’s not that I won’t do it. I’ll just do it later. Actually, I may as well leave it for tomorrow morning now… Inexplicably I simultaneously find the time for boxsets, video games and sometimes even the Evening Standard…

2. Reason #2: Goodbye Church Family – I love my church family. I love the encouragement of meeting with and praying with brothers and sisters in Christ. But all too often I fail to arrange to spend time with Christian friends over the holidays. Then when Christmas arrives nearly everyone heads back to their families anyway, so hanging out with friends is almost impossible.

3. Common Result: Goodbye Spiritual Warfare – Sadly, more often than I’d care to admit, this is the result. Good disciplines melt away and old sins rear their ugly head. When I finally return to work, I find myself physically rested but spiritually drained.

 

So what? Well. Join me as I campaign against holidays in general and Christmas holidays in particular… Hmm. Maybe not. The Christian life is described in Ephesians 6:10-20 as one requiring spiritual warfare, and for me this time of year can be an intense struggle… so here’s some suggestions for thriving over Christmas instead of just surviving:

1. Prepare for battle – Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail. Plan. Plan your holidays. Not just where you go, but what you do and who you’re gonna do it with. Plan time with Christian mates. What Christian books or Christian biographies can you read? Can you set aside a few hours for prayer or even a whole day? How about reading through a whole book of the Bible? I read the whole of Isaiah out loud one Christmas (I didn’t realise how long it would take when I started… I eventually finished several days later... I suggest you start with a shorter book of the Bible!) Obviously plan time for enjoying God’s good gift of creation too (boxsets, etc…) You can even plan time when you have nothing planned. Don’t waste your holidays. Plan time for intentional spiritual refreshment. Prepare for battle!

2. Don’t march on an empty stomach – At some point most of us will be feasting on a Christmas roast, yet a number will be spiritually famished. Some will be going back to families who lack our appetite for God’s Word and in-depth Bible teaching, or who don't believe at all. We also may not have access to a local church. Or at least not one with decent preaching. Well, fight to keep feeding yourself from God’s Word. And why don’t you supplement your spiritual diet by downloading some CCM talks or arming yourself with the CCM sermon app. Just don’t march on an empty stomach.

3. Leave no soldier behind – I mentioned this under Prepare for Battle but it’s important enough to warrant its own point. Why not plan to spend some of your holidays with some Christian mates who you can encourage spiritually and who can encourage you spiritually. It’s harder at Christmas but even if you live miles away from Christian mates you can still normally arrange a phone call or a Skype. Which Christian friends can you serve in this way? Who will be going home to non-Christian friends and family? Why don’t you arrange to read the same Christian book or the same book of the Bible and then chat about what you discover? Let’s look out for each other over Christmas and leave no soldier behind.

There is much more that I could say about holidays and about rest, but for me these are some of the most important things I need to hear. When you’re next chatting to a friend at CCM and the conversation turns to Christmas, why not mention those three suggestions: Prepare for battle, don’t march on an empty stomach and leave no soldier behind. I guarantee you’ll have a better Christmas! If you want to keep thinking about this then here’s another article. But for now, let me close by pointing you to this prayer on thanksgiving but applicable to Christmas.

Have a very Merry Christmas and come back rested, fired up and ready to serve!

Rejoice in the Lord always,

Loz

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