VOX LIVE Blog: Sligo15 (Day Five)

Thursday 16 July

One of the teams enjoying the Quiz Night on Wednesday evening!

One of the teams enjoying the Quiz Night on Wednesday evening!

VOX magazine is LIVE at New Wine Ireland's Sligo 15 conference this week.  Through the VOX Blog we'll be bringing you highlights each day and taking a closer look at what happens behind the scenes.  We'll find out  about New Wine Ireland's passion for God's Kingdom and discovering about their focus on Worship, Prayer, Outreach and Kids Ministry.

09.11 Good morning Sligo!  it is Thursday morning and we're excited about what God is going to do on the fifth day of the New Wine Ireland summer conference.  It's a busy day so keep calling back to the blog for highlights throughout the day!  

10.08 Greg Venables reads from Mark 4:35-42. At the start of this morning's Bible Session. We know the story so we need to read it very carefully.  Jesus said, "Let us go over to the other side."  Keep that in your mind. Our general theme is how do we grow into maturity.  Jesus wants us to stay childlike but not childish and He wants us to grow up.  This morning we are looking at the issues of suffering, pain and sorrow.  Christ went down to death itself and came out in glory.  2 Corinthians 4.   If you are feeling afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, then you are in good company.  

1) The storm often lies in the path of obedience.

Judges 6:11 The people of Israelites were going through a rough time.  Every time they harvested the crops the Midianites came down and stole the crops.  Gideon was so afraid that he was beating out the wheat in the wine press.  When we are afraid, we do silly things. Then the angel appeared and said, "The Lord is with you, mighty man of valour."  Gideon replied, "If the Lord is with us, why has this happened."

2) The storm can make you think that Jesus doesn't care.  If the storm makes you seek out Jesus, then it is a blessing because it takes you to the very place you need to get to.  It takes you to the safest place in the world.  We always begin with our selves.  The lesson of maturity is: begin with him.  What is the problem with us? The answer is pride! Why are we not hungry?  Because we are full of the things of this world!  We are so full of internet, TV, travel and more.

3) You only learn to trust God by trusting God. It is one thing to swim on two chairs in your bedroom.  It is quite another thing to get into the sea and swim! And sometimes you only learn to trust God when you have no other option.  What happens when you have nothing else?  The storm may be the blessing that leads you to that place. 

4) The storm reveals the real enemy - our lack of trust in God! 

5) The storm teaches us something new about God - He is much greater than we think.

6) No storm can destroy God’s purpose for your life. 

7) It is much better to be with Jesus in a sinking boat than apparently safe on the shore. 2 Corinthians 1: 8 - 11 - these things happened so that we would not rely on ourselves but on God!  Read a summary of Greg's message here:  All through the storm.

A Culture of Honour

11.47 Full house for Priscilla Reid's seminar this morning.  Looking forward to hearing about a Culture of Honour!

We mustn’t underestimate the importance of culture in our churches.  Visitors are looking around to see: what sort of people are they and could I fit in here?  It is good to be intentional.  What kind of atmosphere do we want to create?  We all have blind spots when it comes to the culture of our churches.  If there is a lack in our churches, we need to take responsibility for us.  We can’t point the figure at other people!

We need to be counter-culture - attitudes between genders, races, across-generations… we need to be those who say, “This is what the family of God looks like.”  In our culture, there is often a culture of suspicion and dishonour.

12.20 The Bible has a lot to say about honour.  The first person we are told to honour is God.  If we truly have a sense of honouring God in our lives and in our corporate lives together, the rest of the honouring should flow naturally from that.  We honour others because we first honour Him.  (Love God, Love your Neighbour). 

The Bible also talks about honouring elders, widows, the government, parents, marriage, relationships before marriage... The Bible also talks about honouring the more "humble" parts of the body.  People question their sense of worth and value because they can’t do certain things.  That’s how we need to be counter culture.  That every single person in the church is honoured and valued.

1 Samuel 2:30 Those who honour me, I will honour.  The Lord also says that He will give the poor and needy a throne of honour.  Honouring in our churches has got to go beyond our borders.  We need to learn to honour those who God honours.  One of the ways we do that is to be servants of the poor.

Romans 12:10 Honour one another above yourselves.  Out do one another in showing honour.  I think that is hugely counter-cultural in Ireland.  Both north and south, we find that really difficult. We are embarrassed to sing someone’s praises. 

12.30 God honoured humanity at the cross.  He valued us enough that He would give His Son to die for us. That was honour where it was not due.  We can think we should only honour someone who “earns” it.  We need to value people and honour them even when they don’t earn it.  When we get how much we matter to God, we start to look at other people with different eyes.  

What is a culture of honour?

  • A culture of prayer
  • A culture of thanksgiving
  • A culture of honour between leadership and congregation and vice versa 
  • We need to learn to receive honour when it is given.
  • Learning to fail well - being willing to apologise.
  • Giving as warm a welcome to a homeless or smelly person as to a friend (not showing favouritism).  We either totally overwhelm people or we don't welcome them at all.
  • Be careful about the assumptions you make.
  • Actively listening with gentleness, kindness and respect.
  • Acts of service - don’t just pray for something, do it.
  • Protecting people from themselves (for those who can't say no).  Making sure people don't burn themselves out.
  • Saying "Thank You" and showing appreciation for those who serve - if I’m cleaning the toilets and you are preaching the sermon, we are both serving the Kingdom of God. 
  • When you are getting older, to pass on leadership.  There must be honour across the generation.  We need to train, mentor and then release the younger generation.  But we also need to honour the older generations.
  • Learning how to deal with conflict and confrontation - how to disagree agreeably
  • Forgiveness is an important part of honouring
  • Encouragement is a vital part of honouring.

Caution:  God at work!

14.45 It was inspiring to hear stories of God at work around Ireland during the first seminar of the afternoon.

For Martin and Stephanie hearing that their tiny baby could have a syndrome that was "incompatible with life" was shocking and devastating but after weeks of prayer, and the faithful prayers of their two-and-a-half year old daughter, Hannah ("Baby, be normally") the next scan was clear.  

"We were reading 1 Samuel about Hannah's prayer and decided to call him, Samuel," explained Stephanie.   Little Samuel Kingston was born at the end of December 2009.  Although taken ill shortly afterwards, he recovered fully and is now a happy and healthy five-year-old.  "We need to share our stories - these are God-incidences not co-incidences," Martin added.

Margaret from Killarney was taking a friend for lunch in Cork when she noticed the petrol light was flashing.  With about 20 miles to go she decided to risk it, planning to stop at a petrol station on the way home.  But they stayed longer than they had originally intended and found themselves driving home after dark.  

"Every petrol station we passed, was closed," Margaret said.  "I began to pray Psalm 23: 'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want'.  My friend was not a Christian but I challenged her to believe with me for a miracle - that God would not let us be stranded on the side of the road.  87 miles later on an empty tank of petrol, we arrived safely home in Killarney and my friend came to know the Lord!"

For Eddie from Cork, coming to know Jesus 20 years ago turned his life upside down. He was on fire for God and wanted to tell everybody about what God had done in his life.  But then a few years later, he had a breakdown and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. "I was a Christian and I thought I was finished. I kept asking, 'How did I end up here?' he shared.  

Slowly Eddie realised that God wanted to heal the trauma from his childhood.  "It was very tough and God had to re-build my life from the foundation up.  The healing can take years but there is a plan.  And God uses the weakest vessels. I've learnt to trust in Him because He is amazing!"

16.00 The afternoon finished with more stories from some of the evangelists who have been taking part on the New Wine Ireland's Evangelism Training Course over the last two years!  

Colum, a butcher by trade, left school at 16 and had no computer skills. "I wrote out my essays by hand!  I’ve found I’ve been able to share my faith with the people I work with and with customers. I've even offered to pray with them. Before this, I would never have done that."

Robert from Portadown (originally from Monaghan) shared, "I’m from a farming background.   I used to be in the business of harvesting crops - now I’m in the business of harvesting souls! It is amazing how God works in your life. I've started a new Messy church as a result of the course (now with 140 people coming!).  God has set me on fire for this."

Sandra from Kesh in Co Fermanagh said, "God has given me permission to try things.  I’ve had a learning curve, doing things I would not have had the opportunity to do or be comfortable with like preaching and doing kids talks.  We are learning from each other and the camaraderie has been really good."

Willie added, "The first weekend, we had to prepare a sermon and then say our sermon to our small group.  I had never preached a sermon before. It was daunting but then I thought, 'Everybody here is on my side.'  When I did it, it was like a legal high!

"I’m doing this course because I want to be equipped when questions come to give a good account. I’m not a great reader so it has been a challenge.  It is forcing me to learn but when I’m doing it, I’m enjoying it."

Check out the New Wine Ireland website for more details of the Evangelism Training Course. 

19.22 Evening Celebration in The Arena at IT Sligo and looking forward to hearing from Karl Martin from Edinburgh.

Most of us know what do to but most of us don’t have the courage to do it.  We belong to the Bride of Christ.  We are supposed to be as good as it gets and many people think we are hypocritical, judgemental and anti-gay.  There is a wold out there that has no hope unless we step up and start living.  We need to embolden our bold and encourage our courage!

Hebrews 11: 1- 3 and Hebrews 12: 1 -2.  There is a prevalent voice which says be fearful and be careful.  We are protecting ourselves against everything and yet we have more allergies and infections!  The word of God says, “Be more faithful and be more bold.”  God is asking us to grow some faith muscles. He wants to display His glory through us. If your faith is not beyond you, it is not faith.

The truth is we have a Father who is completely dependable who will do what He has said He will do. Faith is an all-in thing.  It is an I’m-up-to-my-neck thing.  If I could drown in faith, I would.  The world says be more careful, the word says be bold!  The trouble is faith leaks.  We get distracted.

Hebrews chapter 11 can be the inspiration and it can be demoralizing.  Hebrews 12 is the tutorial.  You have to run!  God didn’t call you to limp or to coast.

  • Fix your eyes - stay focused on Jesus
  • Free your life - get rid of anything that distracts or entangles
  • Focus on your lane - don't try to run someone else's race.
  • Finish the race -  God is looking for a generation that will finish a race, not just start well.

If not you then, who?  If not now, then when?

21.05 Read a summary of Karl's message here: Emboldening your bold