Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Wednesday's reflection on Colossians 1:3-14

Read Colossians 1:3-14. v3-8: Who's faith, love and hope can you thank God for? Thank God and pray for v9 for them.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tuesday's reflection on Colossians 1:3-14

Read Colossians 1:3-14. v4 & v8: Paul had only heard about the Colossians from Epaphras, he'd not met them. Who have you heard about that you could pray v9 for? Pray for them now.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Monday's reflection on Colossians 1:3-14

Read Colossians 1:3-14. v10: How does v10 compare to your priorities for your life and those of other Christians? Pray that your priorities would be shaped by Paul's priorities shown in this prayer.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Questions about Transgender

It's been talked about more than ever. Friends and family members will have been asking us questions. People we know and love are struggling. Want a good introduction from a Christian perspective? Listen into Vaughan Roberts speaking here.

Friday, 12 August 2016

ECC Spotify Play Lists

For ECC the very kind Emily West has created a series of Spotify play lists to accompany some of our recent sermon series. Follow the links below to enjoy

Friday, 5 August 2016

What have the staff team been reading this last year?

You may or may not know (or care!) that the Emmanuel Bristol staff team meets up each Wednesday for training and prayer, and that one of the things we do together is discuss the next part of a book that we've been reading. Our hope and prayer is that this will better equip us in serving the church families we're part of.

Here's what we've read over the last academic year (2015-16) in case any of it might interest you! Do ask any staff member which they would most recommend - each of the books have their own fans and detractors among us...

If you wanted to read any yourself do visit our friends at 10ofthose (who stock most of them) - or ask to borrow a copy from one of us!

We always start the year with a book about pastoral ministry. This year we benefited from the insights of The Message author and translator Eugene Peterson:

"Pastoral that aspect of Christian ministry that specializes in the ordinary. It is the nature of the pastoral life to be attentive to, immersed in, and appreciative of the everyday texture of people's lives - the buying and selling, the visiting and meeting, the going and coming."

Eugene H Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, p.112.

We then went all theological to think through recent discussions around the doctrine of justification with the help of Stephen Westerholm's short but tightly packed book: Justification Reconsidered. 

"We learn most, it seems, from those with whom we differ. They may see what we have missed. They may see correctly what we have misperceived. And even when we are convinced that the misconceptions are theirs, the raising of fresh questions invigorates our reading of familiar texts..." 

Stephen Westerholm, Justification Reconsidered, p.vii. 

Kate Wharton's excellent book Single-Minded was next to increase our insights into what its like to be single:

"Ever since God declared that it was "not good" for Adam to be alone, human beings have being living alongside one another, sharing life together. I need other people in my life. I need them to offload to after a bad day; I need them to work alongside me in ministry; I need them to share a bottle of wine with me as we put the world to rights; I need them to point out to me the parts of my character that need working on; I need them to celebrate with me when good things happen; I need them to spend my days off and holidays with; I need them to give me a hug and tell me everything's going to be OK."

Kate Wharton, Single-Minded, p.173. 

We like to make sure we read some church history and this year we learnt about the very early church by asking the question Who Chose the Gospels? as we read CE Hill's fascinating book:

"In one sense, of course, the answer to the question: "Who chose the Gospels?" is, everybody who has know something of that indemonstrable power and majesty and, like Aristides, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement, and countless others, has chosen to live by their telling of the story of Jesus. But second century Christian leaders would have said that neither individuals nor churches had the authority to "choose" which of the many Gospels they liked, but to receive the ones given by God and handed down by Christ through his apostles."

CE Hill, Who Chose the Gospels? p.246. 

We started 2016 reading a classic - John Murray's Redemption Accomplished and Applied. 

"...the commanding insistence of the Scripture is that in justification it is the righteousness of God which is revealed from faith to faith, and therefore a righteousness which is contrasted not only with human unrighteousness but with human righteousness. It is righteousness which is divine in quality."

John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, p.120. 

We then turned to what is fast becoming a contemporary classic - Bishop Tom Wright's Surprised by Hope. 

"...what you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that's about to fall over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that's shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that's about to be dug up for a building site. You are - strange though it might seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself - accomplishing something which will become, in due course, part of God's new world. Every act of love, gratitude and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one's fellow human beings, and for that matter one's fellow non-human creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed which spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honoured in the world - all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation which God will one day make."

Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope, p.219.

We kept our focus on the future post-Easter with CS Lewis' The Great Divorce. 

"...any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) has not been lost: that the kernel of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him in 'the High Countries."'

CS Lewis, The Great Divorce, p.8.

We then read a brand new book with a provocative title by Jonathan Grant: Divine Sex. 

"We think about Scripture's teaching on sexuality as a 'list of rules' rather than as a coherent picture of the 'good life.' If Christian instruction about sexuality is just a moral code, then we are tempted to question why these rules are so important. But those who hold this perspective lose sight of the fact that these are not just rules. The Christian vision of sexuality is the gracious provision of a loving God who invites us into a life of flourishing via participation in his own character, the relationships within the Trinity, and the reality of the kingdom of heaven as it takes shape on earth."

Jonathan Grant, Divine Sex, p.126. 

Around about the time of the referendum we ere reading Mark Dever's short booklet God and Politics which included helpful insights like this:

"....Christians are like cockroaches. We can survive anything by the grace of God.'"

Mark Dever, God and Politics, p.29. 

Our final book of the year was incredibly powerful as we learnt from nineteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon's experience of depression in Zack Eswine's Spurgeon's Sorrows.

 "We do not profess that the religion of Christ will so thoroughly change a man as to take away from him all his natural tendencies; it will give the despairing something that will alleviate that despondency, but as long as that is caused by a low state of body, or diseased mind, we do not profess that the religion of Christ will totally remove it. No, rather, we do see every day that amongst the best of God's servants, there are those who are always doubting, always looking to the dark side of every providence, who look at the threatening more than the promise, who are ready to write bitter things against themselves...'"

Charles Spurgeon in Zack Eswine, Spurgeon's Sorrows, p.38. 

At various stages we have also read each of the following shorter articles. All worth a read. All free!

What about last year? Read this.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Wish you were here...

Greetings from Keswick! A group of around 20 Emmanuelites are enjoying ourselves on Week 3 of this year's Keswick Convention. You can listen into some of the teaching we've been enjoying here. You could even think about joining in next year.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Praying with Paul

This Sunday we start a new sermon series (taking us through to the end of August) looking at the prayers of the apostle Paul. He can't seem to stop breaking into prayer as he writes his letters to churches and we're going to benefit from the insight he gives us into why and what we should be praying today.

Good background reading for the series can be found in Don Carson's book A Call to Spiritual Reformation available here.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Psalms for the Trenches of Life

We were reminded yesterday that the Psalms aren't all songs of praise but include songs of lament too. Matt Searles has set many of these to music and at EB & ECC we listened in to his setting of Psalm 13. He comments:
In a society uncomfortable with brokenness and suffering, and in a church culture where struggles and doubts may not always seem welcome, the psalms are a precious gift, as God gives us words to pray to him in all seasons of life. 
The psalms teach us authentic spirituality – that brokenness is not a sign of spiritual failure, that sadness is not a denial of the gospel, that tears are not incompatible with the hope of resurrection we have in Christ. 
Jesus doesn’t say ‘Come to me you who are happy, come to me you who have everything sorted out, come to me you who have all your questions answered.’ Jesus says ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ 
My prayer for this album, and for the accompanying devotions, is that these psalms will help us engage with God in times of trial, and come to Jesus Christ who gives rest to weary souls.
Listen in - and order your own copy - here. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Could we take up this opportunity?

This week the new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and our Archbishop, Justin Welby, launched a new scheme to allow community groups to directly sponsor a refugee family. The Archbishop said:
“The Full Community Sponsorship Scheme presents churches and other civil society groups with the opportunity to provide sanctuary to those fleeing war-torn places. 
Refugees, like all people, are treasured human beings made in the image of God who deserve safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish.
It is an enormous privilege to welcome a family to live in a cottage in the grounds of Lambeth Palace. I am hugely grateful to the Home Office and Lambeth Council for their tireless work and support in enabling this to happen.”
Could we get involved in this here in Bristol? Full details are available here.