Political Polarisation

I write this blog after much prayer, hugely concerned by the ongoing polarisation of our society.

Many blame the current political situation, but I think this is too easy to do.

Our nation has always been divided over politics, but never have I seen such disdain and hatred for those ‘on the other side’ of the debate.

Something of real significance has changed in our cultural psyche, as a nation we have forgotten how to empathise and we have forgotten how to compromise for a greater good. 

Politics has become dangerously personal and I am genuinely terrified as to where we are heading.

So what has changed?

Some say the rise of individualism, other’s blame the advancement of technology?

Both have isolated the masses into virtual groups of shared opinion, with little interaction with those who think differently.

But I feel that such theories overlook the most significant change in our society for over a millennia – the decline of Christianity.

file-20190513-183096-712xq8

The Christian world view is built on the fundamental belief of our Trinitarian God – Three distinct persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) yet totally one.

Less than one generation ago millions of us would meet in our local churches every Sunday and worship the God of  both ‘diversity and union’.

We were all taught values (albeit not exclusive to Christianity) of Grace and Mercy, humility and empathy and we were called to follow Christ’s example and love the unloveable, defend the weak, seek justice and love our enemies.

Church played a huge part in building the tolerant and prosperous society that we all once lived in and there is no coincidence that the tragic decline in church attendance has led to opposite social outcomes.

But to what end?

We can of course look to other monotheistic religions whose deities are of singular personhood (and thus hinder any diverse expression), or we can collapse under the self-indulgences of polytheism?

We can continue to experiment (as we are) with secularism, but this has never ended well. Historically Atheist regimes unite their people under tyrannical oppression, or they simply collapse under the inevitable lawlessness of hyper individualism.

So what are our options?

I suggest coming back to church.

177200705_IFhero

Friends, I am not arguing for a theocracy, neither am I declaring a perfect state under a Christianised culture (we are all sinners). I am just highlighting the obvious social problems that follow when the God of the Bible is rejected and His church neglected.

History will tell you that Christianity builds a healthier society, it promotes both “Unity not uniformity, Diversity not disorder” and it does this because it is uniquely built on the truth of who God really is.

It is only in Christ that we can begin to love our neighbour as ourselves, (whatever their difference) and reverse our social decline.

Bear with each other and forgive one another, if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:13-14

An Oasis of teenage Christian Liberty – EMW Camps 2019

EMW Camp‘s provide an oasis of Christian liberty to our teenagers.

For one week they can gather together safely and study the Bible with friends, free from the mocking voices they face back in school.

It is such an important week for our campers!

Last year God moved in a powerful way with six campers professing faith (three of which have been baptised since).

You can read more about this week  here Being in the Presence of God

Could we see God move in the same way this year?

68680195_10156228381831922_8802804939400151040_o

We all arrived at camp a year older (some may say wiser), and exhausted!

Junior officers had just got their exam result and were preparing for university, senior officers had recently bought houses and even got married in the weeks leading up to camp.

I had arrived gasping for breath after dealing with a number of seriously draining Pastoral issues.

We came excited – but were praying for an easy group of kids!

The theme of the camp was “Space” and the team got to work decorating the meeting areas with stars and planets and fairy lights, it looked amazing and the theme did a great job supporting the ministry.

Our campers are often one of just a handful of youth in their church and perhaps the only church attendee in their entire school. For them being a Christian is incredibly lonely. So I wanted to teach Biblical truth that they could take back home with them that would both reassure and comfort in their times of need.

After much consideration and in light of the theme we created an “Intergalactic Prayer Warrior training camp”. We took instructions from Star Fleet Command (Matthew 6:9-13) and over ten messages and studies we could see ‘How great is our God’ and how mind blowing it is to call Him ‘Father’. We studied God’s Kingdom and how to live it out in our daily lives (back at home and at school) and how to deal with temptation, peer pressure, assurance and loneliness.

The theme played right into the content and on Wednesday night they watched Indescribable, a short lecture that again magnified God in the creation of the cosmos and revealed His matchless condescension in the person of Christ.

The campers had a great time going to the beach and Ice-Skating, we enjoyed tournaments, fancy dress and crafts, we even wrote a camp song. But the real joy for me was seeing God work among us.

The dynamic was different this year, our camp sold out within a day of opening. Those lucky enough to get in were from church families. They were all well behaved and studious children. But this presented an array of other challenges. Their questions were deeper and more profound, they knew the Bible and understood the seriousness of their salvation.

But such blessings can create huge stumbling blocks to faith. Those naive to the truth come as blank canvases, others who have grown up in the church are wise to the gospel and question everything.

Church kids often feel that their faith is not as genuine as those around them and as a result lack assurance. They wait for the defining “experience” (which some may get), but until that day comes (if it comes) they question everything at the slightest of doubts.

For these reasons children raised in Christian families are often harder nuts to crack!

68995821_1175337252666570_1249432086922657792_n

The first half of the week we were overjoyed at the behaviour and ease of the campers, but knew that many were not saved, so as officers we wrestled in prayer. 

It took until Wednesday for God to move among us and this year He chose the dorm studies to make a real impact. The officers excelled this year, they had worked so hard in their preparation and came with many notes and questions for me. It was a delight to see their enthusiasm rewarded.

What I found most interesting was the similarities between those campers who professed faith. They all suddenly became aware of their eternity and feared the reality Hell. This was clearly a movement of the Spirit as “Hell” was not the focus of the week (it was prayer). 

On the Thursday night we were singing hymns by the camp fire and a young man came to speak with me. It was his first time on an EMW camp and at 13 years of age, his last with our group. He told me how shocked he was by our first meeting on the breakfast table where I asked him so bluntly if Jesus is His Lord and Saviour. It made him think all week about the reality of his eternity without Christ. He asked me how He could be saved and I had the great privilege of leading Him to the Lord. Walking back to the dorms our camp leader was having the very same conversation with another young man who was in tears of joy knowing the assurance of God’s love for the first time. 

After my last message on the Friday morning I asked all those who had heard God speak to them this week to meet me after the service. Fourteen stayed behind…!

Fourteen soul’s who had either felt great assurance or had committed their lives to following Jesus for the first time. Hallelujah.

69594114_10156253210256922_959048278593241088_n

Friends, what you see above is the power of the EMW camps! They are intense weeks of Christian liberty where God truly blesses souls with assurance and salvation!

As churches we need to remember that our youngsters are the first generation for a millennia to grow up in a non-Christian culture. The EMW Camps offer an oasis of  for these kids and I do not believe that any of us truly understand how much they need (and appreciate) the week.

The commitment and love for Jesus shown by many of our campers is of such great encouragement, the church has a bright future ahead of us, but more can be done to support this amazing work!

As we plan for next year I pray that you can support the EMW Camps by ensuring that the youth in your church come and even ask the unchurched youth in your community to join us. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Gospel.

I want to close by saying a huge thank you to our camp leaders, officers and cooks who worked so hard during the week. 

Another great privilege of being a camp chaplain is to see them mature and grow spiritually each year and use their gifts to glorify God.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” Psalm 85:10-13