The Power of Connections (Acts 8) 

This post has been adapted from notes I used to speak on my time in Vietnam at Oasis Lunch Club at All Saints, Wellington (13/09/16). All scripture references are from the ESV.

The Bus Station at My Dinh. Connecting people to the rest of Vietnam.


Acts 8:1-22: The Power of Connections.

Today I would like to talk about the power of connections. Connections are important. As a former Councillor, and someone who loves networking, connections are vital for business, politics and communities. Often, we think of connections as being important with regards to a person’s status. For some, lunch clubs for the elderly like these are lifelines for people who need social events to help them integrate better with others. I thank God for the work here.

In today’s reading, we read about Philip the Evangelist’s encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch (a man with a great connection to royalty). Philip, as we will see, was a man who loved to connect people to God, and to the wider Church.

In Acts 6, when it seems that prejudice is starting to creep into the Church because of problems with the distribution of food to Greek-speaking widows, Philip and a few others are drafted in by the Apostles to help solve a problem. Sadly, many communities are defined by racism or other prejudices, but of course, we must never in the Church allow ourselves to reach this point. We must break down barriers to inclusion in our Church community in order to maintain our integrity in witness to others.

Further on, in Acts 8:4-5, Philip goes to Samaria to connect the enemies of the Jews to Christ. This was a direct command by Jesus Himself in Acts 1:8, where Jesus told the disciples to make more disciples of those outside of their own community. Philip gladly does this, and sees fruit that is later confirmed by Peter and John. For some, mission is to those in our close communities, but for others it is further afield.

For me, my role was to help influence the next generation of Vietnamese leaders through English Teaching, and serving in Ha Noi, Vietnam, as part of a missions programme to the City, through Lichfield Diocese’s St Chad’s Trust. This organisation connects young people aged between 18-35 to wider mission opportunities, including our partner dioceses in Singapore, Canada, Germany, South Africa and Malaysia (hope I didn’t miss anyone?!)

Vietnam is an amazing country of some 90 million people, with a strong history of conflict (China, France and America), but also one of traditional family virtues and ancestor worship. A one-party communist state, it has seen great poverty since the Fall of Saigon in 1975, but currently looks to develop thanks to greater ties with the U.S. and Britain etc. Amazingly, the gospel seems to be less restricted now than it was, and I thank God for the witness of faithful Christians during the last 40 years.

My role as an English Teacher was to help connect the Vietnamese to better standards of living through ESOL. There is a great demand for the learning of English, and I was privileged to be able to teach not only children, but also adults through discussion groups. I also helped prepare some Vietnamese young people for an English Summer Camp in Singapore.

Ultimately,the vision is to shape Vietnamese culture for Jesus, connecting people to God, and Vietnam is seeing new generations responding to the love of Jesus Christ. But what does this mean for us? Is mission just in Asia, or Africa? No. Mission is where we are now. You and I are called to connect people to Jesus in our communities also. When I was in Vietnam, I felt very isolated, and in a sense felt pretty disconnected to various people. Who are the disconnected in our community? Maybe you feel disconnected or alone… I often felt alone, but our connection to Jesus keeps us. It is our responsibility to identify these people, and find ways to include them by learning their language.

Moving to our key passage in Acts 8, Philip meets an individual in a desert. Sometimes, God sends us to places that don’t make sense. Philip is leading many to Christ, but the Spirit tells him to go to an individual. Why? Because individuals matter to God. Philip then uses the Old Testament to connect them to the story of Jesus, who in turn uses his influence to potentially shape a country. The desert place makes no sense strategically to us, but God values individuals. Whether it’s the disabled or elderly etc., people matter to God. Don’t underestimate anyone.

Finally, he comes near to the man to connect him to God’s Son Jesus. The Eunuch naturally makes a connection between water and baptism into God’s family (amazing that God sends Philip to a desert, but next to a water spot!) Our relationship to God is the most important connection we can ever make, but it can only be made by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Psalm 145 encourages us to declare God’s acts to future generations. If you’re a believer in Jesus, keep looking for people to connect to God’s story. That might be your neighbours, or God might send you overseas. Who knows? It doesn’t have to be preaching; just share your story of how God impacted your life, and how through His cross and resurrection He transforms those with no connections or many. If you’re not a believer, I want to encourage you to connect to Jesus today, by asking Him to forgive your sin and come into your life. Will you do that today?

Rethinking Leadership Book Day 2

This is the second post of an e-book I wrote during my time in Vietnam. All bible verses courtesy of the English Standard Version. You can find the pdf. version at about.me/jeremydillon

DAY  2 THE  LEADER’S  IDENTITY Mark  1:4-11 

Affirmation  and  encouragement  are  really  important  for  leaders.  Throughout  my  life,  I  have been  surrounded  by  those  who,  even  though  others  may  not  have  seen  it,  affirmed  my potential  as  a  Leader.  The  first  people  to  influence  me  for  Christ  were  obviously  in  my  first Church  back  in  the  UK.  The  Rock  Methodist  Chapel  was  quite  an  exciting  place  back  in  the day,  with  around  40  people  gathering  for  worship  near  the  Estate  I  and  my  friends  grew  up on.  It  wasn’t  a  particularly  rich  area,  and  a  number  of  people  I  know  have  died  through  drug or  alcohol  misuse,  but  it  was  the  place  I  called  home.  I  had  spent  the  previous  two  years  in hospital  after  an  horrific  accident  that  left  me  partially  sighted,  and  with  huge  anger  and identity  issues. However, as  I became  a  Christian  at  the  age  of 18, God really  started to  speak into  my life  through  leaders,  and  to begin  to  affirm  my  identity,  and my calling  into  Christian Leadership  and  Ministry.  However,  as  we  will  discover,  the  calling  is  not  always  clear,  so let’s  take  a  look at  what  our reading  says  about  encouraging  and affirming others:

 1)  Leaders  encourage  and  affirm  others  in  their  love  for  God  and  His  people (verses  2-3).  John was  called  as  a  Prophet  to  the  nation of Israel,  calling them  back  to God.  His  was  an  unusual  ministry,  but  affirmation  of  young  leaders  often  involves  us being  able  to  discern  what  God  is  doing  in  a  new  generation,  as  we  will  see  later.  It  is vital  to  healthy  Churches  that  we  encourage  youth,  and  the  Bible  does  much  to  point this  out  to  us,  as  well  as  ways  that  they  in  turn  can  encourage  older  generations.  In fact,  John’s  ministry  would  seek  to  unite  generations,  and  we  must  do  likewise (Malachi  4:6).  One  of  the  most  famous  leaders  to  encourage  God’s  people  was Moses,  who  encouraged  the  Israelites  to  remain  loyal  to  the  Lord  as  they  entered  the Promised  Land. In Deuteronomy,  he  affirms  Joshua  as  a  Leader,  but  also declares  that Israel  should  choose  between  life  and  death,  and  follow  the  Lord  wholeheartedly,  lest they  fall  into  idolatry  (Deuteronomy  30:15-20).  In  the  New  Testament,  Paul  spends time  encouraging  young  leaders  like  Titus  and  Timothy  to  continue  the  good  work  he started throughout  the  Roman  Empire.

 2)  Leaders  have  a  healthy  sense  of  calling.  John  the  Baptist  was  different,  but  had  a really  great  understanding  of  his  place  in  the  story  of  God.  He  was,  like  Jesus,  a miracle  baby  (Luke  1:13),  but  when  his  younger  Cousin  shows  up,  he  concedes  that his  ministry  is  to  promote  the  work  of  Christ,  and  not  Himself  (John  3:30).  At  a  time when  the  spiritual  and  political  life  of  the  country  is  in  turmoil,  and  pretty  corrupt, John  appears,  minus  the  ego,  to  ‘prepare  the  way  of  the  Lord’  (Luke  3:1-5).  A  healthy sense  of  self  means  that  when  someone  comes  along  that  ‘threatens  our  ministry’,  we are  not  worried  about  others  stealing  our  ‘position’.  In  John  3,  when  his  disciples  see Jesus  having  success  in  baptising  people  in  the  Jordan,  John  reminds  them  that  He  is just  a  messenger  (John  3:28).  It  often  amazes  me  how  John  can  be  so  humble,  given that  he  is, in  effect,  giving his  ‘Church’  away. 

3)  Leaders  know  who  they  are  in  God.  The  Bible  says  that  Jesus  came  from Nazareth  in  Galilee,  to  be  baptised  by  John  (1:9).  As  we  know  from  the  conversation between  Philip  and  Nathanael,  Nazareth  was  a  dump  (John  1:45).  Many  of  us  often feel  that  our  backgrounds  are  a  barrier  to  effective  ministry,  but  God  chooses  us because  He  loves  us  (Ephesians  1:4),  and  not  because  we  are  special  (1  Corinthians 1:26-31).  Look  at  what  happens  in  this  chapter.  Heaven  opens,  and  the  Guy  from  the bad  neighbourhood  is  revealed  by  A  Heavenly  Voice  to  be  the  Chosen  One  of  God! Talk about a recommendation! There is a famous saying in England that you can take the man out of a place, but you can’t take that place out of the man, meaning that your  background  defines  who  you  are.  Not  for  Jesus,  and  not  for  the  believer  either! King  David  was  a  Shepherd  boy  who  became  a  King.  Levi  was  a  Tax  Collector, hated  by  the  Jews,  who  becomes  an  Apostle  and  whose  name  will  be  written  on  one of  the  gates  of  Heaven.  Paul  was  a  persecutor  of  Christians,  who  murdered  the  very friends  of  Christ,  and  yet  God  made  him  into  a  best-selling  author  and  master  church planter!  The  first  verse  of  this  book  proclaims  the  good  news  of  Jesus  Christ.  What  is the  Good  News?  That  God  has  come,  in  the  form  of  a  Human,  and  given  people  like us  the  right  to  be  the  Sons  of  God,  through  our  faith  in  His  work  on  the  cross  (John 1:12)!  It  doesn’t  matter  if  you  come  from  Hanoi  or  the  outskirts  of  Harlem,  NYC; God wants  to use  you! However,  Mark,  the  writer  of  the  gospel  we  will  be  studying  through  this  book,  was originally  NOT  affirmed  by  the  Apostle  Paul.  After  deserting  Paul  and  his  Uncle  Barnabas on  their  first  missionary  journey  around  what  is  now  Turkey  (Acts  13),  the  latter  decides  to give  him  a  second  chance,  and  encourages  Paul  to  do  likewise  (Acts  15).  However,  rightly  or wrongly  (and  there  are  arguments  for  both  points  of  view),  he  decides  to  say  no,  which  leads to  a  huge  fight  between  two  men  who  have  suffered  together  for  the  gospel.  Barnabas  and Mark  head  for  Cyprus,  and  Paul  recruits  Silas  to  journey  with  him,  sent  out  by  the  grace  of God (Acts  15:39). Paul’s  attitude  toward  John  Mark  is  quite  incredible  really,  given  that  when  Paul  was  looking for  refuge  with  the  disciples,  it  was  Barnabas  who  listened  to  his  story,  and  took  him  to  see Peter,  convinced  that  Paul  was  legitimate  (Acts  9:26-27).  Barnabas,  which  means  son  of encouragement,  was  the  affirmer  in  those  early  days,  and  probably  why  the  disciples  chose him  to  affirm  the  work  of  the  Holy  Spirit  among  new  converts  in  Antioch  (Acts  11:22).  Paul does  change  his  attitude  later,  however,  as  he  declares  to  Timothy  (another  young  man  he wants  to  affirm  in  his  leadership  gift-  see  2  Timothy  1:6-9)  that  Mark  is  now  useful  to  him  in his  ministry.  It  may  take  years,  but  sometimes  we  need  to  acknowledge  and  affirm  others  in their  God-given  role.  All  credit  to  Barnabas.  He  saw  potential  in  Mark,  and  had  the  patience to  train  him. As  I  said  earlier,  I  have  had  many  people  both  encourage  and  affirm  me  in  my  calling,  but also  who  have  had  the  patience  to  train  me,  despite  my  many  issues,  and  in  spite  of  what  I would  call  quite  an  unorthodox  path  at  times.  A  few  years  ago,  despite  the  fact  that  I  was  at my  lowest  place  emotionally  and  spiritually  in  some  ways,  God  called  me  to  be  involved  in pioneering  ministry  online  with  my  previous  Minister,  Rev.  David  Lingwood  in  Stoke-onTrent,   UK,  who  had  the  breadth  of  understanding  to  see  what  God  can  do  through technology.  He  retires  this  year,  but  will  always  thank  God  that  he  gave  me  the  opportunity to  explore  ministry  and  what  God  can  do  when  we  are  open  to  His  call.  I  thank  God,  that  in many  ways, the  Church here  in  Vietnam  actively  encourages  the  contribution  of youth,  and is actually  forced  to  rely  on  its  young  people,  given  its  unique  mission.  It  is  my  prayer  that  all generations  will  be  involved  in  seeing  a  Church  that  impacts  the  City,  and  that  more  people will  be  released into  their  God-given calling. 

PAUSE4THOUGHT 

1) Think  about  leaders  in  your  own life.  Who affirmed you?  Who  didn’t? 2) What  do you  think  are  the  effects  of affirmation on an organisation?  Does  it  matter? 3) What  areas  do you  feel  you  could  be  more  encouraged  or affirmed  in? 4) How can you  be  more  affirming?

Rethinking Leadership Book

During my time in Vietnam, I undertook a 7-month writing project for young leaders called “Rethinking Leadership”. This is a daily devotional based in leadership lessons from the Gospel of Mark. I have decided to post each day here on this blog, along with some pictures of beautiful Hanoi. Due to sensitive material, some names and places have been edited. It is also available as a pdf. at about.me/jeremydillon. All scripture courtesy of the English Standard Version (Crossway).

RETHINKING LEADERSHIP DAY 1:INTRODUCTION: 



Recently,  my  Sister  asked  me  a  really  difficult  question.  I  had  messaged  her  to  display  my frustration  at  the  direction  my  life  was  going,  and  how  my  true  passion  lay  in  leading Churches. What qualifies you to be a Leader?, she asked. Wow, I thought. That’s a good question,  and  impossible  to  answer  without  sounding  like  I’m  applying  for  a  job,  or  trying  to sound important.  So,  what  does  qualify  me  as  a  Leader?  Is  it  my  experiences  in  political  office,  giving speeches  and  talks,  or  working  with  churches  around  the  world?  Is  it  my  training  in community  leadership,  pioneering  online  ministry,  or  mentoring  youth?  Partly,  but  that’s  not all  there  is  to  it.  Firstly,  because  we  are  all  leaders  in  one  way  or  another.  In  the  Church of England,  there  is  often  a  mentality  of  ‘Clergy  first,  Lay  people  Later’.  However,  this  is  most unbiblical.  The  scriptures  declare  that  we  are  all  part  of  the  Royal  Priesthood  (1  Peter  2:5), and  ALL have  a  responsibility  for influencing others.  Influencing  others  is  why  leaders  exist. However,  the  Church  does  need  great  leaders,  and  we  can  learn  from  leaders  throughout history,  if  we  are  to  build  a  strong  legacy  for  the  future.  The  Bible  is  full  of  Leadership,  both good  and  bad,  but  I  felt  led  to  write  this  after  speaking  on  the  Book  of  Mark  during  a  year serving  in  Hanoi,  Vietnam,  and  to  look  at  the  way  Jesus’  leadership  ministry  can  help  us today.  Hanoi  is  the  perfect  place  to  rethink  most  aspects  of  life,  given  its  troubled  past  and developing  nature,  and  so  I  decided  to  write  some  thoughts  on  the  subject,  both  for  local youth  there,  but  also  for  anyone  willing  to  listen.  As  a  daily  devotional,  it  uses  the  scriptures as  the  foundation  for individual  or group study,  with  questions  after  every  chapter. Despite  the  fact  that  God  has  ordained  certain  people  to  have  authority  over  the  Church (Ephesians  4:11-14),  it  is  for  the  very  purpose  of  releasing  others.  Jesus  released  and empowered  people.  He  didn’t  amass  a  following  for  His  own  sake  and  fame,  but  saw  the potential  in  others  to  help  build  His  Church.  Remember  Simon  Peter?  Not  exactly  the ‘Leader  of  the  Year’  award  candidate,  was  he?  And  yet,  everyone  has  the  capacity  to  lead others.  Are  you  a  Parent?  LEADER.  Are  you  the  only  Christian  in  your  place  of  work,  or University?  LEADER.  You  see  where  I’m  going  with  this,  right?  My  Sister  would  give  many leaders  a  run  for  their  money  as  she  balances  being  a  Mother  and  Wife,  with  the  pressures  of serving  a  ministry  outreach  for those  with learning  difficulties  and  other problems.

 Everyone  on the  planet  has  some  kind  of influence  on  other  people.  Many  people  who live  in Hanoi  come  from  small  provincial  towns  and  are  first-generation  believers,  but  it  is  my desire  to  enable  them  to  think  much  bigger  about  their  place  in  the  world;  to  empower  them as  leaders  in  a  changing  nation.  To  think  of  themselves  as  leaders,  and  not  followers.  And yet,  as  I  said  earlier,  God  does  call  certain  people  to  lead  His  Church.  However,  this  book  is not  just  for  Church  leaders.  Many  in  the  Church  are  called  to  lead  in  the  workplace,  and many  of  the  lessons  here  can  be  translated  into  the  context  of  business.  As  a  former politician,  and  someone  who  has  studied  and  worked  in  the  media,  it  is  my  passion  that  the Church  be  active  in  these  areas,  as  well  as  in  education,  sports,  and  other  areas  of  influence. As  a  volunteer  for  the  Diocese  of  Lichfield’s  St  Chad’s  Trust,  I  am  privileged  to  serve  under my  current  Pastor. These  are  exciting  days,  and  it  is  my  prayer  that  in  this  new  season,  both  he  and  the  young people  he  leads  would  discover  God’s  ongoing  will  for  a  Country  that  is  changing  all  of  the time.  I  thank  him  for  the  opportunity  to  serve  his  congregation,  and  for  his  sacrifice  to  bringthe  good news  of Jesus  to the  people  of this  beautiful  nation. Let  us  learn  to lead  together. 

Jeremy  Dillon  
PAUSE4THOUGHT

  1)  What  is  a  leader in  your  mind? 2) Do you  consider yourself  a  Leader?  If so, why?  If not, why  not? 3) Who are  the  leaders  who have  most  influenced your life? 4) Take  a  look  at  some  of  the  famous  leaders  in  the  Bible  in  the  list  below*,  or  in society  that  you  know  of.  Discuss  why  they  are  positive  or  negative  examples  of leadership.  What  inspires  you  about  them?  What  do you  dislike? *  David,  Moses,  Deborah,  Paul,  Peter,  James  the  Lord’s  Brother,  Ahab,  Saul,  Samuel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Miriam, Aquila and Priscilla. 

Love and Trust

FB_IMG_1465052483934*Originally posted in Vietnam*

Hey everybody.

During my study for a book I’m writing on leadership, I felt led by God to look at the nature of love between the man and his wife. For this study I looked at Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31 (I want to encourage you to read these, because they say a lot about what we need to look for also). As someone in my mid-thirties and single, I’m not an expert on married life, but there are lessons from these scriptures that we can apply to our journey together as a Church, and also whether we are single, dating or have been married for years.

You’ve heard about the Proverbs 31 woman? The woman all godly men want to marry? The woman all godly women want to be? Well today, I want to introduce you to her husband: The Proverbs 31 man. Let’s take a look at Proverbs 31:11-31
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (ESV)

Wow! What a Woman! I can hear single guys the world over fighting to get a look at this magical lady, and wondering how they can get her phone number hehe. However, to be the kind of man that even stands a chance with this wonderful lady, you’re going to need something special. To be a Proverbs 31 guy, we will need three qualities.

1) Trust. Verse 11 says that the man trusts his wife. Trust is key in any relationship. The kind of trust that Peter showed in Jesus when he was called out upon the water, and the kind of trust shown by the Wife in Song of Solomon (2:5-6). Many relationships can be harmed by a lack of trust, especially if there has been something to damage the relationship. I have struggled with trust in previous relationships, especially if my partner’s previous boyfriend’s are still close to them. This can also be true of our relationships in Church, where someone may have hurt us, or abused our trust. We must forgive for the sake of our relationship with each other, and also our relationship to God.

2) Release. Being able to trust others means that we can release them in to the calling that God has for them. Verse 23 says that the man is a City Elder, known throughout the land. This is a hard job, full of pressure and responsibility (I know, because I used to do this job!) However, because he trusts in his wife to build their home and to bless the community, he doesn’t stop her from fulfilling her role as provider. In fact, he is fully aware of her abilities, and lets her get on with it. Empowering is also important in the Church, as we recognize other people’s ministries. John the Baptist could have held on to his ministry, but knew Jesus was going to fulfill His role as Messiah, and not John. This is hard if we don’t trust others, but it is something we must do, unless we discourage them, and kill the seed God has planted in their heart.

3) Affirm. Verses 28-29 say that the family rises up to praise the wife for her great job well done. Affirmation is something sadly lacking from many Churches (and marriages), but it is really important if we are to encourage each other in faith. Married men, do you praise your wife? Do you tell her she is beautiful, and that you wouldn’t wish for any other? Do you comment on her great cooking, or her devotion to the Lord, or do you put her down? Do you criticize her, or do you let her know that you are thankful for her role in your life? If not, do it. Why? Because God is all about affirming His creation. In Genesis, it says God called His creation good. He delights in it. Zephaniah 3:17 says the Lord dances over us, because He delights in us. When He creates Adam, he says that he is made in the Lord’s image. He affirms His creation, and pours into him his purpose and divine love. Adam then follows by saying the same thing about Eve, that she is part of him. Telling people they are special, whether it is the love of your life, or the Pastor for preaching a great sermon, or for those who serve us on a Sunday is okay, as God wants us to encourage each other. Today, I want to encourage you all to live lives of love, and to seek God’s best, whether single or married. Amen.

Anglican Identity

*Originally posted in Vietnam.*

Hey guys, 

Just some thoughts for you as you consider you ‘Anglican identity’.

The History of the Church, whether Anglican, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist or whoever is really all about connections. Recently I have been studying the book of Ephesians, and realised that Paul is incredibly clever at connecting the history of the people of God to modern day thinking.

Read Ephesians 2:11-end.
http://www.esvbible.org/Ephesians+2/

In this wonderful letter, Paul starts by telling Ephesian believers, who are under persecution in a City run by idols, that they are connected to an all-powerful and loving God, who forgives and blesses. Knowing we are loved and supported is important, especially when we come under attack. He then talks about how Christianity is related to the story of the Jews, which is really important because some of his audience were Gentiles, who had never known what it meant to be from that culture. They didn’t have a history of godliness but Paul had to use his great skill to connect the dots for them. He wasnt preaching something totally new, but something that built upon prophesy in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus. This stops us from going off-season, and into error.

We are not called to hide, but to go out and change society. We do this by being committed to the Church, which is God’s body, and allowing ourselves to be shaped by teaching (Ephesians 4:11-14). How connected are you in terms of bible reading, fellowship groups or even encouraging others? Affecting culture is very key to Anglican theology, as it teaches us that we are not alone, but part of a wider network. The Anglican Church here has two congregations, connected to a diocese, a province and a communion of 85 MILLION people. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! The book of common prayer also connects us to our rich history, and we should not lightly throw it away just because we see something new. Always check things with scripture, like the Bereans in Acts 17:11.

However, not only are we connected to God and to the Church through the cross and the Spirit, but we are also connected to a world mission to our communities. For Paul, it was Ephesus; a really important city of trade in their region. For you it’s one of the fastest growing cities in South East Asia! Are you excited?? In Ephesians 3:10, Paul writes that the Church is God’s microphone to the world, which shouts about the love and hope of God we see in chapters 1 or 2. This hope is for Jew and Gentile, Black, white, English, Vietnamese, Singaporean and even the Chinese! As Anglicans, you are connected not only to a rich history of tradition and culture, but mostly to a God who wants you to impact your country for Him. Amen.

Leaders

FB_IMG_1465052639237Originally posted in Vietnam…

Hey guys,
Just reading Jeremiah in my daily devotion, and thinking about leaders. Please feel free to comment:

Everyone of us, whether a parent, teacher, pastor, lawyer or even a friend has the power to lead and influence others. Today’s reading shows how seriously God viewed the role of Israel’s leaders, and blamed them for the downfall of the country. Let’s take a look:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23 ESV

 Whether it is a church, business, school, family or friendship, we believers have the responsibility to speak God’s life into situations and our areas of influence, even if it means being unpopular. Israel failed because its leaders were ungodly. This affected everyone. How will you lead today?

Embracing the silence

When you think of Heaven, what comes into your head? Angels? Worship? Noise? The Bible is full of pictures of Heaven, and they are usually about sound and lots of people making noise. In Revelation 8 though, it says that for 30 minutes, there is silence.

Silence makes some of us feel uncomfortable. I need sound to feel safe, and often turn on the TV just for some sound. However, silence is often a great chance for God to talk to us. We often think of prayer and worship as a time of loud singing or dancing, like when David danced before the Ark. This leads to many thinking that silence means our faith must be dead. But the same man who danced before the Lord also wrote that he would keep a quiet heart. Both are important, as in Psalm 23, it says God led David before ‘still waters’.

Why is silence or stillness important? It is because God wants to show us or give us something new. For the Angel in Revelation 8, it is a bowl to fill with the prayers of God’s people, which eventually show God’s power. For Elijah in 1 Kings 19, it was to give him a new mission after seeing great power against the prophets on Mount Carmel.

Silence before God means turning aside to hear God’s voice. Moses ‘turned aside’ to see the burning bush in Exodus 3, and even Jesus turned aside to see Bartimeaus healed from blindness. If we are to see great things, let us spend time in quiet and silence with God’s word, that He may show us something new. Amen.

Visions of Vietnam…

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Been back in the UK for a few days, and thought I would give you a glimpse of Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vietnam is changing fast, and is so different to how we imagine it from TV or Hollywood. The West is opening up to her, and challenges lie ahead for this developing nation, fresh from 40 years of poverty. More thoughts to come soon…

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