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Showing posts from November, 2007

The best of men have need to be awed into the discharge of their duty

Now to Paul's famous last words to Timothy. The apostles last will and testament. Before them comes a sober warning about life. This is the coffee to clear your head and prepare you for what comes next. Books abound that tell us how to live our best life now. How to have purpose on earth. But here is ultimate reality, revealed in 4v1. Paul peels back the curtain so we can see reality:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and kingdom, I give you this charge: Maybe you're familiar with that scene at the start of the book of Job – where we see the throne room of heaven. From Job's angle we see his life falling apart but from the throne room of heaven we're told what's going on.

There's another in 2 Chronicles 18 about a prophecy to judge Ahab. God sends a prophet to trap the God-hating king. It looks like a random death in a battle but Ahab was tried and convicted in the courts of heaven. Th…

Learning grace all over again

"I've discovered new depths to the power of the gospel to plumb the depths of human sin, to call it out and to minister grace and eternal life. People who were once just full of sin are now full of grace because of Jesus. It is a privilege beyond expression to serve God in ministering the gospel of grace as one of those people, to people who need to know God's glorious grace..." Shudall's reflections

Shed & Symphony

Tonight we went to see the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performing in Exeter. Prior to that we got about three quarters of the way through building our new garden shed, which amusingly appears to be a bit too small to fit our bikes in... but I'm sure the lawnmower will be happy.

Everything he knows is wrong

Had the Staff team together today to review Transformission and plan our next regional event - a Leaders Weekend in the Spring. We opened with the Bible, looking at what last night felt like strange choice but today seemed very appropriate: 2 Chronicles 32v9-23. Sennacherib, the mighty king of Assyria comes to attack Judah in the days of the great reformer Hezekiah. The story is also recorded in Isaiah 36-37 and 2 Kings 18-19. Sennacherib has swept all before him and now he arrives on the doorstep of the people of God.

Strategy 1 - v9-15, Doubt. v10 - in what are you trusting?v11 - Hezekiah has misled you...v12 - Hezekiah took away your high places, leaving you only one altar.The last of which they did in worshipful euphoria after they'd celebrated passover for the first time in years. Sennacherib sows seeds of doubt - "if only you still had your idols". Though it's clear he still thinks he could beat them. He has a whole career of experience behind him. He's like…

(more) Books...

The last six months worth of IVP books just arrived. Note that Staff Priviledge prices mean I only pay one pound in five for these. These plus yesterdays delivery will keep me 'in books' for a very long time. They also leave me with a shelf-shortage. And the new Don Carson OT/NT Commentary isn't even out yet.

We Don't Do God?

The media returned to Tony Blair's We Don't Do God statement at the weekend. Alistair Campbell commented:
"the former prime minister always asked his aides to find him a church to attend, wherever he happened to be, each Sunday. Because he's pretty irreverent, he swears a fair bit, if he sees a very attractive woman his eye will wander and all that stuff, he doesn't look like your classic religious sort of guy,"
said Mr Campbell. Which is fairly revealing about what Campbell thinks religion is supposed to look like, for right or wrong. What are the marks of real Christianity? Elsewhere, Dan Phillips is on the US election trail observing how candidates often say: "My religion will not influence me one way or the other in office." (which is to say, we don't do god...). Which he notes well:

...can only mean one of three things:
1. The speaker is a liar
2. The speaker is a hypocrite
3. The speaker can't rub two live neurons together
None of those are…

Kinder-Calvinism and Bloody-preaching

This is my kind of Calvinism:

The second way to understand the letter is to see it (along with the numerous comments that follow) as abundant evidence that, to many, Calvinists come across as self-righteous, condescending, arrogant, unfriendly, argumentative, and even stingy. The fact that we're not all that way is irrelevant in the same way that it didn't matter to Molly that I had done three things to show I appreciate her—she still felt unappreciated. Her frustration was true because, whether or not I was grateful to my wife, I was perceived as an ingrate. Similarly, the frustration in the letter is true because, whether or not the Calvinists in the letter-writer's church are good folks, they come off as proud and divisive jerks. -- Abraham Piper on kinder Calvinism.

"That is my longing for our day—and for you. That God would raise up thousands of broken-hearted, Bible-saturated preachers... What gives preaching its seriousness is that the mantle of the preacher is s…

Books

The lovely people at Good News Crossway have sent me some books to review. I'm going to go away and do that, and then I'll post some reflections in due course. This may take some time.

Scriptural Salivation

If you want stunted growth as a Christian put your Bible on the shelf to collect dust. If you want to grow then follow Calvin's wise words...
Believe nothing unless the scriptures convince you of it.... there are no grounds for believing what God has not spoken.Let the Holy Spirit penetrate your heart to persuade you... studying the word is studying a book but it is an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Act accordingly.Let the scriptures subdue your bold rebellion by showing you the majesty of God. Notice the language of, v16, rebuke and correction. God's word should require change of us since we are not living perfectly godly lives. Be like a dog. Martin Luther saw a dog staring at it's meat and wished he could be likewise with the word of God. Unwavingly salivating over the words of God written. Taking every opportunity to feast on Jesus in his word. We don't read the Bible because it's a requirement for Christians. We read it because the word that said 'let ther…

Change starts in the pulpit

Mark Dever is reading Bob Kauflin's forthcoming book 'Worship Matters':

"I know worship pastors who wouldn't be in their present church unless they were being paid. That's not good. Salary shouldn't be the primary means of determining where we serve. And you shouldn't work at a church you wouldn't attend."Don't you love to read a rarely stated but important truth put clearly? Of course, pastors can go to a church hoping to change it, but without the pulpit, in a position like "minister of music" that would be very difficult. I grew up in a church where much change was attempted by people who didn't have the pulpit... the place got repainted musically but longterm nothing has changed when the pulpit isn't gospel-driven, when the word isn't preached. Dever & Kauflin's observations hold. Jesus rules his church with the scriptures as his sceptre - preaching of the sound doctrine of the happy God must be central. As…

Sizzling scriptures

2 Timothy 3v10-17 Gospel power.

By contrast there is Timothy. In chapter 1v3-5 we're given some biography. He learned the gospel from his mother and grandmothers as they taught him the scriptures from childhood. The same way each of us learned it. One way or another, the message of the scriptures reached us whether through the reformers and bible translators, through preachers and authors, through songwriters and church leaders. Somehow, somewhere along the line the scriptures came to you. For me it was probably through the fruit of Wycliffe & co's Bible translating, the liturgy of Thomas Cramner, the songs of Graham Kendrick.... The scriptures have a two-fold effect:
Enwisening for salvation. 3v15 Equipping for living. 3v17. One message. Two effects. One gospel to start and to finish. Jesus for salvation and Jesus for living. No extras required. No more than grace just more of it. David Prior observes we never move on from the cross only into a deeper grasp of it. Why do th…

Style over substance?

2 Timothy 3v1-9, Godless folly.

Now for the dessert. Christmas pudding. We begin with fakes. My most embarrassing moment, or one of them at least, when I worked for Natwest was taking in a fake note over the counter. Faking is stupid, but it happens. Imagine you were England football Manager and someone offered you a Beckham-a-like for your team. It'd be fine for the media stuff, but on the pitch... Or imagine you started plagiarising. Imagine you were so good at it that you got all the way through to a PhD viva wit it. And then you spent four hours being grilled on what you know... and it all falls apart. Faking isn't new. In 3v8 we meet some ancient fakers. Jannes and Jambres. God had saved Egypt through Joseph but soon after they'd forgotten God. When God told them to let his people God they refused. Pharoah was given signs by Moses and his flukeys imitated Moses, move for move.

Likewise in the first century. Paul and Timothy were teaching the word but so were others. Te…

Seven Days

"Mirrors are made to teach us to delight in our own beauty"
CS Lewis.

"Everyone is godly. We all look like our gods."
Mike Reeves on idols.

"Philosophy talks about God's Omni-'s, Trinity talks about love and the gospel of grace"
Mike Reeves on Trinity

"A sinner is man curved in on himself"
Martin Luther

"Gnostics were monists who said creation is a cosmic fart"
Mike Reeves on Dan Brown's errors.

"Sin looks in, salvation looks to Jesus. Faith isn't about how much I trust Christ, it is trusting Christ."
Mike Reeves

"Atonement is an event within God and offered completely freely to us. Jesus comes into the presence of the Lord, bringing his people on his breastplate. And we find ourselves as loved as the Son."
Mike Reeves on John 17.1. Triple-Mike. Thursday & Friday with Mike on Trinity. Saturday at Transformission. Mike is 'my theology advisor' !2. Wisdom dancing at creation. A real highlight at new sta…

UCCF: Transformission mp3s

Today was Transformission, the UCCF South West Christian Unions missions conference in Exeter.

Two hundred Christian students gathered to gaze on the glory of Jesus in the gospel through the scriptures, interspersed with an hour on the streets of Exeter researching spiritual beliefs.

Many thanks to friends from the South West Missions Partnership, Sovereign Grace Ministries, IVP and IFES joined us and to the Exeter CU guys who served practically.

Mike Reeves speaking on the glory of penal substitution throughout the scriptures:
Transformission - Enjoying the cross (1)
Transformission - Enjoying the cross (2)
Transformission - Enjoying the cross (3)

Also available to download from www.uccf.org.uk

From harmony, from heavenly harmony

A little Trinitarian creation music from John Dryden for yesterday (St Cecilia's day) as heard today to Handel's music at UCCF New Staff Training on Trinity. Contrasting monadic views of god that led to music without a beat, like gregorian chanting... and trinitarian's music which is full of difference. Celebrating the nature of Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit loving one another. Woop! From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay,
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
'Arise, ye more than dead!'
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

Bible words have Bible meanings

Like, God, for example. Meaning - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Or like, Death. Meaning under curse rather than ceasing to exist.
And hence in the death of Jesus we see God bearing the curse, not some how ceasing to be. When a friend of mine objected to the idea of Jesus being God AND dying because God is eternal, part of the problem was that he was using human definitions.
But then as God says through Isaiah: ...my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," (Isaiah 55:8). That is, everything we think we know about God simply isn't true. What we need is to get our thinking about God from his word - which comes like life-giving rain to us that bears a harvest of joy (see the rest of Isaiah 55 !). Which makes it puzzling as to what I'm expecting to know of God without an open Bible? Something better than enjoying the eternal pleasures of God instead of his curse (life instead of death)? Something more powerfully revealed than what speaks of himself in his …

Transformission: Student Missions Conference

"A nominal Christian is happy to prove the importance of the crucified redeemer; but the true Christian delights in the cross, rejoices in it, glories in it and shudders at the thought of glorying in anything else."
Charles Simeon

South West Christian Unions Student Missions conference.
Enjoy the cross. Speak the cross. Live the cross.
Transformission - November 24, Exeter

What is the antidote to youthful passions?

Find that and we find the way to deal with the infection in the church, and in our own hearts. Three foundations for Pastor Tim, and for us...
V24 – To be the Lord's servant.
V19 – The Lord's firm foundation, he knows his people.
V25 – The Lord gives repentance, so we don't have to beat it out of people.
The antidote to gangrene, and more importantly to the arrogant quarrelsome teacher is the Sovereignty of God. The power of God wielded through his unchained word.The unashamed worker v24 is the Lord's servant, he must serve under the sovereign rule of God. He presents himself, v15, to God. He is not autonomous. He is dependent on the word of God. The sovereignty of God is central to the dynamics of change.

And he believes two key things that transform his ministry. Firstly, v19. That the Lord knows his people. People love to draw lines and it is necessary at times, and possible. We deliberately unite as a Christian Union for mission around the gospel. People lie about w…

We dream of idols

Hanging out with Reeves at UCCF new staff training...

When we think of “God” we don’t know what we’re talking about. We dream of idols. Look at the religions of the world and its obvious that there is no universal understanding of what God must be. Which 'god'? Allah, Zeus, Dagon??
Only in the Bible do we get the doctrine of Trinity. The Christian distinctive.
Gregory of Naziansus (the greatest ginger theologian [yet]):
when I say God I mean Father, Son and Holy Spirit. None of your divine substance stuff...
They are what they are in relation to one another: Father, Son & Holy Spirit loving one another.



* Until Mike Chalmers

Inky and Kind

Paul charges Timothy to be an unashamed worker before God (v15). Otherwise known as, 24, 'The Lord's servant' or an instrument, v21, for noble purposes. There was a task to do, and it very clearly connected to God. Change happens through people. But how?

Handling the word (15)
Ah, an inky ministry. Not just coffee and conversation or tea and sympathy, but get the Bible open. What else were you expecting me to say! Working with students it's not my job to drink coffee. I read the Bible with people. Getting God's ink into your face, and into your heart.

How do you handle the word without being ashamed? Firstly, v15 – handle it rightly. Accuratedly. Of course, Timothy's content, his message had to be the sound doctrine of the glorious gospel of God. It had to remain as the apostolic gospel. 1v13 – the sound teaching. 1v14 - The good deposit. The word would have to be rightly cut. Straightly. Accurately. That looks like it walks straight into the clinical camp. Ope…

Burn the heretics?

First the meat, now the veg. Be warned about the sprouts. What's your vision for your Hall, your street, your course, the University? Do you want to see days like those of the New Testament church? Do you want to see great growth and wonders they saw, the word spreading and many added frequently? If so expect trouble. Expect false teaching. Wake up and see it's already here. The big question is how do you deal with it? Help is at hand because most of the NT is written to correct error. Watch for the sprouts.

First let's just check what he was facing. v17. The gangrenous teachings of Hymenaeus [see also 1 Timothy] and Philetus. People who have wandered away from the truth. How? v18, they say the resurrection has already taken place. Not the resurrection of Jesus – Paul himself said in 2v8 that that has happened. More likely they were saying we have all of the future now. Not 'now and not yet'. All now.

Paul wrote to Ephesus and said we're raised and seated with…

What's Dumbledore got to do with it?

House Season 3 arrived! Woop. As House puzzles over things he stumbles over many things that might work and that might be important, but eventually disgards most of his ponderings in favour of the one thing needed.

I suppose JK Rowling did that with Harry Potter - she must have had vastly more ideas than she included in her huge books. Like that 'revelation' that Dumbledore was gay. The problem there is that she never once revealed that in the book - so surely the issue of his sexuality is up for grabs by the reader isn't it?

In preparing a talk the 'revelation' is all there. Nothing is hidden. But the preacher still can't cover everything. I remember once hearing a student scream frustration that there hadn't been much talk of the Holy Spirit in CU meetings for a few weeks - mostly because we'd been going through the early chapters of Romans. And then you hit chapters 5-8 and there's a whole lot more about the Spirit. The preacher hasn't got to…

Death, once an enemy, now a friend

Briefly, see the power of God's word! Not just to save us but to strengthen us. 2v1 – grace saved Tim and he must also be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus or to be strengthened by the grace. We sing that grace has brought us safe thus far and grace will bring us home, and yet we live like grace saves and works get us home. The challenge is to keep the Main Thing as the main thing. Grace and nothing else.

God doesn't say grace to save and then works to stay saved. No – it's grace to start and grace to finish! How? Because grace abolished death. In 2007 we've remembered 200 years since slavery was abolished. 2000 years ago Jesus abolished death. He destroyed it! 1v10. Remember Jesus!

Death faced us all but now, as John Owen put it we see the Death of Death in the Death of Christ. The Father sent his Son in love to bear the wrath his elect deserved. The curse of death earned by our sin. Our salvation was promised before time but secured in history. The result of …

What happened before the beginning?

There is a lie that persists today. The lie of Karma-Theology – that God loves good people. It's a tragic lie 2000 years after Jesus came showing us that God saves, v9, by grace. All the more absurd because God said the same to Abraham a further 1800 years before. Grace was always God's way. Yet people prefer karma. We are saved not by what we have done, but by God's purpose and grace.

a) not by works but by God's purpose
This is the killer blow to karma theology. Do we deserve to be in with God? No! v9 – it's not because of what we have done. You're not a Christian because you're good. Or spiritual. Or prayerful. Or a church-attender. Or a Bible-reader. Or an evangelist. Or because of any other thing you might do. God isn't looking at your behaviour. He doesn't save you and me because of what we've done. For some of us that is devastating because we've spent our lives trying to show we're good and religious. Grace takes the ground out f…

I ♥ doctrine

“Once you’re exposed to [doctrine], you see the richness in it for your own soul, and you’re ruined for anything else.”Josh Harris at Challies.I ♥ doctrine, sound gospel grace doctrine that is. I meet students in the UK who aren't keen on Josh Harris. It seems his books on dating (or *not* dating) aren't all that popular over here (which is probably because they're written to a specific cultural context of US homeschool kids... I dunno). But you can't beat Josh Harris' book 'Stop Dating the Church'. It's a great pocketsize book on how to love the church - and he clearly articulates the importance of being part of church where the word of God is loved, lived and taught - where doctrine matters. And I love that. I love that about Sovereign Grace Ministries . I love it about Christian Unions. I love it in 2 Timothy. And I love the sound of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists (Colin Hansen, 2008).

I love it when students…

The problem of sequel

The last two weekends I've been away at Conference centres teaching students, first from Exeter CU and then from Reading CU. We've looked at 2 Timothy. I've had four sessions at each weekend which is enough to get a taste of the book but no where near enough to explore all the detail. I'll post the scripts in bitesize posts over the coming days. Pull up a seat, grab a knife and fork and let's tuck into a roast dinner. A lavish Christmas Dinner of a book. 2 Timothy. First the tender meat, then the veg. And then tonight dessert, and finally some coffee.

If you went to the cinema this summer then the chances are you saw a sequel. Or rather, a threequel. Summer 2007: Rain and Threequels. Spiderman. Shrek. Pirates of the Caribbean. With the possible exception of The Bourne Ultimatum they illustrate perfectly the problem of sequel. The first film was great, the sequels were poor.

So it is for the church. Don Carson observes the plight of a church called The Mennonite Bret…

Click here

November in the student mission world is a busy time. Intensive training for CU mission teams and many opportunities to do exciting things. Blogging sort of slips down the agenda, so before I run out of the door to Plymouth today here's a few things I spotted: Adrian Warnock: Sports-bloggerEd's loving the God of the BibleMo McCracken asks some questions about Christian HedonismAdrian Reynolds is giggling over iPhonesJustin Buzzard hears about the god of Rob Bell who isn't angry (with anyone)Photo from the Funky Pancake.

Christianity with backbone

Charles Spurgeon on faith and election from 2 Timothy with great clarity: Oh my friend, you will never get faith by trying to make yourself have it. Faith is the gift of Christ! go and find it in his veins. There is a secret spot where faith is treasured up; it is in the heart of Christ; go and catch it sinner as it flows therefrom. Go to your chamber, and sit down and picture Christ in holy vision, dying on the tree, and as your eye sees, your heart shall melt, your soul shall believe, and you shall rise from your knees and cry, "I know whom I may believe, and I am persuaded he is able to save that which I have committed to him until that day."Spurgeon on The Sweet Uses of Adversity

"How can a man be ashamed when he believes that God has given him grace in Christ Jesus before the world was? Suppose the man to be very poor. "Oh," says he, "what matters it? Though I have but a little oil in the cruse, and a little meal in the barrel, yet I have a lot and a …

The Trumpet Sounds

More thoughts from playing in the Pentateuch last week. Leviticus 25v9 "Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land." Once every fifty years the High Priest makes his annual sacrifice of atonement (to turn aside wrath and remove sin), taking blood into the Most Holy Place and the heart of the Tabernacle/Temple, and then he emerges to sound the trumpet. Announcing Jubilee. Andrew Bonar:

Does the Jubilee represent the preaching of the gospel? Some argue that it does, because Isa. lxi. 1, 2, as used by Jesus at Nazareth, seems to be clothed in the language of the Jubilee. The true answer to this is,that Jesus was the High Priest who blew the jubilee trumpet throughout all the land of Israel, when He proclaimed, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" That kingdom which He preached brought in its train "the opening of the prison door to the bound, deliverance t…

Musing on Giants

These are some musings from playing in the Genesis sandpit with Mike Reeves and his model Tabernacle last week... This may be fairly incoherent but I'm mostly noting it so I can come back to it later and try and investigate further.

In Genesis 3 God promised a seed to come from Eve to save people. They've been kicked off the Mountain (Eden.. rivers flow from mountains, and we later find that the Gihon flows from Jerusalem... from the Temple... Ezekiel 47 etc...) and need a way to get back in. Angels block the way, as they will in the model of Eden (Tabernacle). How important it is that we're acquainted with the models so we can understand the real things (Exodus 25... Hebrews 8 etc). Big question: How can anyone get back into Eden? How can anyone get back into the presence of God? The big picture tells us that Adam fell down the mountain and Jesus will climb back up it. But there's plenty to be written from Genesis 3 before that is achieved.

Eve bears children in Genesis…

Ovey-wan!

Lunchbox - videos to get people thinking about big issues

Lunchbox has been designed with Christian Union lunchbars and missions in mind. Each film is designed to provoke questions and ideas about the subject, without trying to point people to an answer.

Lunchbox is designed for student evangelism but it could also be used with adult groups and older youth. You could use it in a seeker group or anywhere where you want to get people to think about what they believe.

Watch Lunchbox online at www.uccf.org.uk

Name UCCF: The Christian Unions next Gospel Project and win an iPod Nano

Name UCCF: The Christian Unions next Gospel Project and win an iPod Nano

Imagine the gospel in the hands, heads and hearts of a generation of students - a generation without Jesus and without hope. 400,000 Gospels handed from student to student at over 150 universities and colleges in the UK. Imagine your course mates, friends, and housemates having the opportunity to hear and respond to the life-changing claims of Jesus Christ. Imagine UCCF’s Gospel Project 2008.

Thousands of students have had a real encounter with the living God as they’ve met with Christ through his Word. 2008-09 is the year of UCCF: The Christian Unions fifth Gospel Project, and our vision is bigger and more daring than ever. In 2008–2009 Christian Unions across Great Britain will take part in a massive nationwide operation to distribute copies of Mark’s gospel on every campus where there is a Christian Union.

Gospel projects provide CUs with an accessible and contemporary-looking gospel, which is ideal for both per…

ECU Houseparty mp3s

The Dynamics of Change

There are two ways I see ministry happening. Speaking from my own experience, and observing those around me. 1. Clinical Ministry. This is short and sharp. It wants instant results and often gets them. Bible-bash the error out of people. Burn the heretics. Keep things pure. It's confident and concerned for the truth.
2. Cosy Ministry. This is coffee drinking with people. This is tea and sympathy. It's friendly but you wont see a Bible anywhere because people need some loving. When Paul commissions Timothy he calls him to 'unashamed work' which will entail 'handling the word' (2 Timothy 2v15). And, handling it rightly. It must be inky. That looks like 'clinical' ministry. But... Timothy is warned to beware of 'youthful passions', which looks like arrogance and quarrelling. The very things that are the marks of the clinical camp. The kind of approach that is most interested in seeing everything in black and white and delights to fight.

Timothy is t…

The word did everything

Andy and I have just spent the weekend on the edge of Dartmoor with the Exeter Lopes & Hope hall groups. It was great to be able to teach them 2 Timothy (me) and have Andy teach seminars on prayer and contentment. I'll post the mp3s of the weekend when I get the chance. Next week I'll be off on my own to the Reading University CU houseparty to work through the same 2 Timothy material with them (with some necessary edits to my notes).

I've felt this little last letter from Paul strike into my heart with it's message of salvation by grace and life by grace. And even more than that, the sizzling power of God's word - what he says is the way things change, he is the one who really knows his people, he is the one who grants repentance and whose word is the only remedy for sinfully itchy ears.

Blogging has been a bit light recently because I've been working on these talks, later in the month I'll probably chop the scripts up into blogsize bites which should kee…

Sandpits and giants and other tasty bites

"The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of the triviality we drink in every night" - John Piper, Hunger for God.Meanwhile, we've just had 3 days of feasting on God's word with Mike Reeves (with the UCCF South East & South West teams), particularly in Genesis but with some pioneering into the lands of dragons and giants, playing with his plastic model of the Tabernacle and the geographical details of Eden. I still need to digest that meal but it was certainly fun to have Genesis as our sandpit for six hours.

What kind of God...

Michael Ots popped in for a cuppa yesterday. He's in Exeter doing his
What kind of God...? series at the University. (follow the link to watch them)

What kind of God has only one way?
What kind of God sends sincere people to hell?

What kind of God allows violence in his name?
What kind of God doesnt stop suffering?
What kind of God doesn't make himself clear?
What kind of God limits my sexuality?
What kind of God is still relevant?
What kind of God would send his son to die?

Engaging with Barth

I don't really know much about Karl Barth, which is one of the reasons this book and it's accompanying website are going to be really helpful.

There's an all star list of contributors who you can read about at www.engagingwithbarth.com.

The book has nothing to do with me, but I did put the website together for David Gibson and Daniel Strange, the editors.

There is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice

9v35-38 The Implications – Jesus comes to give light to some, and blind others.

Jesus hears about this and follows the man up. He questions him – does he believe in the Son of Man. Jesus is revealing himself to the man. And v38, the man bows down and worships him. How else can we respond to Jesus but to praise him? To trust in him, to say he is the Lord! And this is exactly what was meant to happen. Remember back in v3, we were told that the point of this whole incident. The point was to reveal God – the light of the world shining to open the blind eyes of this man. And seeing Jesus leads to savouring Jesus – to worship.

Jesus is the light who shines in the darkness, to reveal the glory of God. And yet, in v39 exposes the religious. v39, “For judgement I have come into the world, so that the blind will see, and those who see will become blind”. They ask about themselves- “Are we blind too?”. No, they think they can see which amplifies their guit. Caught in the sting. Blinded by the gl…

Seven Days

I don't feel like my feet have touched the ground in the last few weeks. I've been all over the place and I'm enjoying it.1. Helping Hames write some lyrics by email. Can't wait to hear what you've come up with.2. The generosity of friends. I thank God for his grace in you.3. Bridge Strikes and Replacement Buses. aka, going to Falmouth to invite people to see and savour Jesus.4. Judges. I read it. I don't really understand it. But, I am glad we are not without a king. We have King Jesus!5. Fixing the blind in my office. That room is now officially usable, albeit lacking some furniture. Ideal cos I have some serious talk preparation to do in the next two days on 2 Timothy 1-4. 6. Grace books. That'll be the stack of resources next to my desk to help me with 2 Timothy 1. Like John Calvin:"...let us yield the whole to His mercy, knowing that we cannot boast of ourselves, unless we rob Him of the honor which belongs to Him. Men have endeavored to invent …

Whoever is not satisfied with Christ alone, strives after something beyond absolute perfection

John 9v13-34 The Trial – a comedy of false assumptions...

Jesus disappears from the scene for most of the rest of the story and we're left to watch people try and figure things out. What we find is a comedy of errors, false assumptions and ignorance exposed. Listen to their questions, observe their motives. What we have here is a classic sting operation, the case of the man whose sight is restored exposing the blindness of the authorities.

13-16a WRONG ASSUMPTIONS – GOD DOESN’T HEAL ON SATURDAYS?

Immediately the authorities have a problem. The ask what happened and then pronounce judgement. The man tells them what Jesus did and they declare “this man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath” - v16. There is no compassion. There is no joy. There is no awe. Rather they seek to use this amazing event to disqualify Jesus on a technicality. He healed on a Sabbath, a Saturday. And since, God doesn't work on Saturdays they say Jesus isn't from God.

They have what looks like …