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from his book, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Missions

Great if you’re near Sydney and can get there. But don’t miss out, even if you are further afield (like us). Buy the dvds. (buy resources from previous equip conferences and order the current ones)

I’ve been encouraging people to listen to Peter Brain’s Summer School 2010 talks which are on Romans chapter 8.

– No Condemnation (no guilt anymore…who’d not want that?)

– Led by the Spirit

– Freedom in Frustration

-More than Conquerors

Enjoy!

Read and be encouraged by a summary of the Bishop’s notes. (Then download them and read them at length):

We aren’t naturally thankful. Dostoyevsky said, “I believe the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped!” The fact that we must invest a considerable amount of energy in training our children (and let’s be honest, ourselves) to be thankful confirms the accuracy of his observation.

Thankfulness is a response to God. Unthankfulness is sin: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1: 21

Unthankfulness plays a major part in the downward spiral of sin so chillingly (yet realistically) tracked in Romans 1:18-32. (HINT: read it) Thankfulness however, plays an important and powerful role in our growth in obedience and Christlikeness.

Giving thanks to God for both His temporal and spiritual blessings in our lives is not just a nice thing to do – it is the moral will of God. Failure to give Him the thanks due Him is sin. It may seem like a benign sin to us because it doesn’t harm anyone else, but it is an affront and insult to the One who created and sustains us every second of our lives. And if, as Jesus so clearly stated, loving God with all our heart, soul and mind is the great and first commandment, then failure to give thanks to God as a habit of life is a violation of the greatest commandment. (Respectable Sins pp. 81-82)

Many scriptures speak of thankfulness: 1 Chron 16:8, Ps 95:1-2, Eph 5:19-20, 1Thess 5:18 are just some! Music, singing and prayer are good ways to encourage thankfulness. The more we do it, the better we become at it. (Peter’s saying ‘Practice makes permanent’ applies here) Each day we can find many reasons to be thankful to God. Being thankful was very important for the Samaritan leper in Luke 17:11-19. It was the means by which he received the greatest blessing: salvation.

The notes then go through several of Paul’s prayers and words which demonstrate the how and why of being thankful. There are many blessings which come to us when we learn this. Some are: we will be less likely to be thrown off balance by good circumstances, or led into bitterness by tough circumstances; thankfulness will serve as the means of overcoming crippling doubts (because we are focussing on the trustworthiness of our Father). Thankfulness plays a pivotal role in Christian ethics and church life (Col 3:1-16) and in family and work and community relationships (3:17-4:6).

Here are some practical suggestions:
a.    Practice turning a verse or truth from your daily Bible reading into a prayer of thanksgiving.
b.    Every Sunday, look for a reason to thank God. It may be a fellow Christian’s faithfulness, it may be the words of a hymn, a truth from Scripture or the sermon. Remember, practice makes permanent.
c.    Every Sunday, look for a reason to thank someone you met with – you might do this personally, by phone or by (e)mail (better if it is handwritten).
d.    Each day, morning and evening, actively thank God for –
•    What He has done to bring you to Himself
•    What you have seen in creation, experienced in dealings with others, or enjoyed in His daily provision.
e.    Collect the words of songs and prayers of thanksgiving that you could use from time to time, especially if the way is lonely or tough for you. Remember, God uses and blesses our initiative, planning and means to help us grow.

This summary is bare bones; if this is speaking to you please bother to get the notes or download and listen to the talk by Peter Brain!

Recommended book:

Jerry Bridges: Respectable Sins – confronting the sins we tolerate (Navpress 2007)

All the Summer School summaries in one place

Armidale is a different place in the holidays. It’s quiet. Until uni goes back it will maintain that laidback air. I like.

One of the treats of hanging around during January is the Bishop’s Summer School which he’s run each year now for 4 or 5 years. The title for this year’s school was “Four Attitudes that can Transform Your Life”. Peter’s gift is as an encourager but he doesn’t neglect truth in order to make you feel good.

Here is the introduction. I intend to post a summary of the talks over the next couple of days. (the audio and notes are available on the St Pete’s website)

It has often been said that ‘all truth is God’s truth’, and this should not surprise us, since God has given us two books by which we can discover the best ways to live. The books of Creation and Scripture, whilst not being equal, are complementary. The Bible will always be the final authority and arbiter for Christians, since it is the revelation of God’s mind (Deut 29:29; Psalm 19, 119; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Yet, the creation around us bears eloquent testimony to God’s ordered handiwork (Psalm 19; Romans 1:18-20) and commends (in fact commands – Genesis 1:26) the exercise of our minds in understanding the creation. This will, of course, include how we tick as men and women both physically and psychologically. How we rejoice in the discovery of penicillin and antibiotics, surgery, optometry, palliative care etc. These discoveries are not found from the special revelation of the Bible, but from the general revelation of creation (in the discovery of antibiotics) and the human body (in the development of surgical treatments).

In the matter of the mind the same is true. During the past decade, the ‘positive psychology’ movement, emanating from Dr. Martin Seligmann in the USA, attitudes once neglected and sometimes denigrated, that had their roots in a Biblical world view, have not only been rediscovered, but taught and encouraged in the field of psychology and public mental health and well-being.

Four of these are thanksgiving, forgiveness, contentment and perseverance – the focus of our Summer School during this week.

Part 1: Thankfulness

Part 2: Forgiveness

Part 3: Contentment

Part 4: Perseverance

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