But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)
On the 9th of September we witnessed a declaration of love and a commitment to love when Laura and Toby got married. On that day they promised to love and remain faithful to each other until death parts them or Christ returns.
The question was not “do you love”, but “will you love” – everyone loves the bride and groom on their wedding day; they’re both young, well-groomed and glowing! But the question is will they continue to love each other when the looks fade? Will they love each other in times of sickness, adversity and poverty?
It’s easy to love the lovable, but the true measure of love is its ability to love the unlovable. In Romans 5 Paul describes the nature and extent of God’s love in terms of our sin. It is while we were still sinners that God demonstrates his love by sending Christ to die for us. It was while we were in a state of rebellion, shaking our fists at him, that he sent his beloved Son to take the punishment that we deserve so that we can be friends with God again. That is true love!
We have recently come across a number of people claiming that our resources should not teach children that they are sinners, but only that God loves them. But if the magnitude and nature of God’s love is defined by Paul in terms of our sin then to fail to teach sin is surely to reduce the magnitude and nature of God’s love. God then becomes nothing more than a lover of the lovable!
Grace is amazing precisely because it “saved a wretch like me”. And the reciprocal is also true – those who have been forgiven much, love much (Luke 7:47). For anyone, including children, to understand God’s love, they first need to understand that they are not lovable outside of Christ. Tim Keller put it like this,
The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.
[The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God]
If we don’t teach our children that they are sinners then anything we teach about God’s love will be at best a faint glimmer of the reality and at worst a blasphemous perversion.
Brenda’s in Africa!
Brenda Beckett, our latest recruit, has now settled into her new home in Cape Town together with her new pug puppy called Pearl! She’s hit the ground running and already had meetings about a possible training opportunity at one local church and been given a few modules to lecture at George Whitefield College starting January 2018. This is a very good connection for TnT and we are delighted with the gospel potential of this partnership as she will connect with many ministry trainees from various African countries who study at George Whitefield College. Brenda has also been hard at work on new products for our 3-11 year range of Mustard Seeds resources.
It’s been a very productive summer. We managed to publish another product in the 3-11 year range and also the first in our new range for 11-18 year olds.
Samuel forms the critical link between the period of the judges and kingship in Israel. He was a man called by God to faithfully speak God’s word to his people.
We’re very excited about 10 Doctrines in our new range for 11-18s. As the title suggests it focuses on ten key Christian doctrines. We made the decision to broaden the product from its original target of 11-14s as there is very little in the market for either age group and some churches need to cater for the entire range.
It follows a very similar format to our 3-11 range with a leader’s devotional study and then separate sections for those teaching younger and older teens. It’s another cost-effective and highly adaptable resource.
The range will include intensive studies in 1 Peter, Hebrews, Ephesians, Colossians, Romans and a number of other epistles. We will also produce a comprehensive Bible overview to cater for teens who are new to church and the Bible and some topical studies. You can see detailed product descriptions for each of the above by clicking the relevant product image here: www.mustard-seeds.net
We don’t do much training over the summer in order to focus on publishing, but the new training season started in September and it’s jam-packed until December with a different event every Saturday as well as a full weekend in Minsk, Belarus and a week in Kigali, Rwanda. There are also very few open spots between January and April!
Rory has already run our first South West London event based at his home church in Kingston-upon-Thames. It was great to be able to draw other local churches in and to get some training done with our own teachers. He also ran an evening at Emmanuel Wimbledon which was very warmly received. They have just started using our Mustard Seeds resources.
Then it was across to Dublin for the fourth and final in a series of events that we have been doing in partnership with the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland. The last Saturday in September was our first event in Manchester at New Covenant Church. It was another good, well-received day with talk of a repeat booking and a further booking confirmed in The Wirral for February 2018 ‑ really encouraging to see people travel from as far as The Wirral and Derby to attend the training. www.tntministries.org.uk/partnership
We’d love to give away 12,000 lessons this year! With sincere gratitude for your prayerful support.
Rory, Kim, Laura and Brenda
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