Facts and figures
Some more detailed analysis of EMA to follow but – to be perfectly honest – this week's posts have been written prior to the EMA as we anticipated having NO time this week to keep the blog up to date. Here are our facts and figures for the EMA for 2013, correct as of Thursday of last week.
We have 1,225 delegates from 5 continents, 24 countries and – within the UK – 645 churches.
- Here is cause for encouragement. There are at least 645 (and, of course, many, many more) churches in the UK for whom faithful Bible expository ministry lies at the heart of what they do. In this sense, the EMA crowd is self-selecting. That's a lot of churches and is one of the most thrilling statistics we have.
- Here is cause for prayer. What are 645 churches amongst a population of over 60 million (1 for every almost 100,000 people). Of course there are more churches preaching God's word faithfully than are here at the EMA, many more. Even so, this hardly represents a picture of a church mobilised to reach the country for Christ.
Join me then, in thanking God and praying. If you're interested, here is the Google map of where delegates are coming from in the UK. It hardly warrants close analysis because (a) the EMA crowd are not representative of every Bible believing church and (b) our database is not always up to date. However, especially in the SE, spot the holes!!
Interesting also that we have a number of refused visas from those who hoped to come but have not been allowed, despite attending the EMA in the past. Please do pray for a more measured response from UK Government on such permissions.
Thinking about the British Museum and DayOne's excellent book (as you do), I remembered this article by Walter Kaiser on top 15 biblical archaeological finds. Go to p22 of the online magazine. It's really good background for preachers and church members. Nothing quite beats seeing the objects themselves and four of Kaiser's top 15 are here in London.
Already anticipating 2014….
What the miracles don’t prove…
I’ve noticed that preachers often follow a miracle passage by saying, “…and this shows that Jesus is God”. My problem is this: I may be perverse, but it seems to me that it doesn’t do anything of the sort. Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, and others did miracles, and we don’t conclude that they too are gods.
Surely it would be truer to say that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” and this is why he did miracles (Acts 10:38). Each miracle is a signpost, a pointer to something not only of Jesus’ identity, but also his work. And they are different. When Jesus heals a leper, the ‘shape’ of the miracle shows us something of his work of undoing the infectious and isolating power of sin. When Jesus feeds a large crowd, we learn that he is the one who feeds and sustains the people of God through the ‘wilderness’. When he raises the dead, it is a pointer to what he does spiritually and will one day do physically, in the resurrection. And so on. Each one shows that Jesus is God’s Spirit-anointed instrument to do some part of God’s rescue work.
Oh, true, together with his claims, his purity, his teaching, and above all his resurrection, we may see that they were pointers to his deity. But let’s not overload individual miracles with a burden they cannot bear.
What is marriage?
That’s the title of a book I’m reading at the moment, written by three American academics (Girgis, Anderson and George, pub. by Encounter Books, subtitle: Man and Woman: A Defense). It’s my current ‘train book’ on my commute home. They defend the traditional view of marriage from an entirely secular viewpoint. Christians will therefore conclude that there is a lot more about marriage that can and should be said from Scripture. Nevertheless I’ve found it helpful. In particular it’s helped me get clearer on one particular question: exactly why is it that legislating for same-sex marriage will change marriage for everyone else? That point has been made by C4M and others, and I’ve felt myself agreeing with it without exactly being certain why. Maybe you have been ahead of me on this, but I couldn’t quite answer to my own satisfaction those who retorted: how does granting marriage to a few thousand gay couples in reality threaten what marriage is for the heterosexual majority?
The authors helped me on this by spelling out that legislation for same-sex marriage will likely lead in due course to the definition of marriage being settled by that which opposite-sex and same-sex marriages have in common. And that cannot amount to anything more than emotional union with the presumption of some (undefined) sexual activity. The key thing that this removes from both the legal and commonly assumed definitions from marriage is any remaining trace of the fundamental and organic relationship of marriage to children.
Here’s what this made me think about preaching and pastoring on marriage. I wonder if in the past I have focused my preaching and pastoring too much on marriage as ‘emotional union with sexual activity’ and too little on marriage as fundamentally and organically about children and their socialisation and (supremely) their upbringing in the faith? If that’s right then perhaps I was unwittingly influenced too much by our secular society’s undue focus, which has been growing over decades, on the ‘personal fulfilment/satisfaction’ aspects of marriage. The Lord can use even our society’s drifts into foolishness and sin to bring us new light on his good gifts and how to teach them in proper biblical proportion.
Please pray for the EMA today (Friday)
Please, can we ask you this week to pray for the EMA? You may well not be coming, but even so, we still covet your prayers. Each day this week we will post a particular topic to pray for. Today we're praying for Spirit of God to be at work.
We're not under any illusion. A gathering of such people is anathema to Satan and we should expect him to be 'prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour' (1 Peter 5.8). However, we also know that the King and Saviour Jesus has tied up the 'strong man.' We would like to invite you to pray for the Spirit's refreshing, transforming, conforming work in the heart of every delegate, speaker and worker. We would also like to invite you to pray against the 'rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.' May we all put on the full armour of God to take our stand 'against the devil's schemes.'
Please pray this with us this weekend.
Thank you for praying.
Please pray for the EMA today (Thursday)
Please, can we ask you this week to pray for the EMA? You may well not be coming, but even so, we still covet your prayers. Each day this week we will post a particular topic to pray for. Today we're praying for the EMA added value services.
- We're delighted that this year tenofthose will be presenting our reinvigorated Bookstore. We have over 1,000 selected titles from 45 publishers. No doubt there will be some missing, but we've put together a selection panel to make sure we have books for ministers as preachers, for ministers as congregation leaders and for ministers as disciples of Christ. It's important to be hitting every one of those targets. The Bookstore is also open to the public. Please pray that this will be a really good service to the delegates.
- Through the Bookstore we count it a joy to support an overseas project, this year the Johannesburg Bible College. We plan to send them resources to use in townships and conferences with pastors from poorer backgrounds. Please pray that this initiative will be a success.
- We are including a Christianity Explored consultancy service. Pray for those manning it and that it will be a useful addition to the EMA.
- Our International reception recognises that many delegates come from overseas. Please thank God for them and pray that the three days together will be a significant time.
- We also have a pastoral team available at the end of each session. Please also pray for them; that they will be well used and will give wise and godly advice.
Thank you for praying.
Please pray for the EMA today (Wednesday)
Please, can we ask you this week to pray for the EMA? You may well not be coming, but even so, we still covet your prayers. Each day this week we will post a particular topic to pray for. Today we're praying for the EMA speakers. Our conviction is that we believe the Bible is God's written word and, by the work of the Holy Spirit, as it si faithfully preached, God's voice is truly heard.
Here are a list of EMA speakers. Please can we ask that you pick out one or two and pray for them specifically? Thank you.
Main session speakers
- Mark Dever
- Paul Mallard
- Vaughan Roberts
- Dan Strange
- Rico Tice
- Garry Williams
Seminar stream speakers
- Christopher Ash
- Ed Brooks
- Mark Dever
- Angus MacLeay
- Pete Nicholas
- Adrian Reynolds
- Celia Reynolds
- Ed Shaw
- Charlie Skrine
- Dan Strange
- William Taylor
- Tim Chester
- Jago Wynne
Thank you for praying.
Please pray for the EMA today (Tuesday)
Please, can we ask you this week to pray for the EMA? You may well not be coming, but even so, we still covet your prayers. Each day this week we will post a particular topic to pray for. Today we're praying for the EMA organisation.
When we were used to running the EMA at St Helen's, everything worked like a well oiled machine. We knew what had to be done where and when. This year, at the Barbican, everything, and we mean everything, is new. Even things that, to outsiders, may look the same, have had to be replanned under the bonnet from scratch.
- Please thank God for all the work that has been done by our able team, led by Rachel Brabner, so far. We've known God's help meeting deadlines and getting things ready.
- There's still lots to do this week. We've got a secular venue staff to liaise with and witness to. We've got caterers, photographers, sound engineers, video people, stage hands, stewards, greeters, prayer teams, musicians, bookstore staff and many more to organise, brief and oversee. And that's before we even try to keep the speakers in order!
- Please pray that not only would the staff team here handle the new venue well, but that we do so in a godly way. We want to serve Christ by being like him.
- Do please also pray against crises and difficulties. We believe in the significance of getting together 1,100 gospel men and women and that the devil would love to disrupt us.
Thank you for your prayers.
Please pray for the EMA today (Monday)
Please, can we ask you this week to pray for the EMA? You may well not be coming, but even so, we still covet your prayers. Each day this week we will post a particular topic to pray for. Today we're praying for the EMA delegates.
We have something like 1,100 people coming to the EMA next week (Monday through Wednesday). We have prayed and planned this conference so it will encourage those in Word ministry, and the test is, of course, whether it does just that. So, please do pray for the Spirit's work:
- pray for safe journeys and the ability for people to arrive freshly enough to benefit from the three days together
- give thanks for those who are encouraged in ministry, that during this EMA they will be able to encourage others and be enabled to walk even more closely with Christ
- remember those who are struggling in ministry for all kinds of different reasons. Pray that this EMA will be just the tonic for them and that God would ordain meetings and encounters which will be just what they need.
- please pray that people will be able to sift well so that they can remember, reflect on and apply that which is useful and discard that which is not.
- pray for teachable hearts. It is remarkable how battle hardened ministers can be when we get together. We tend to listen critically and we are praying that those who attend will listen with hearts ready to receive what the Lord intends to teach. Join us in that prayer.
- please pray for newcomers. We have about 300 people coming who have not been before. We long that they would feel right at home from the off, benefit from the conference and discover and build relationships that will last.
Thank you for your prayers.