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Showing posts from January, 2008

Review: The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

This is a really helpful little book on evangelism by Mark Dever. At 128 pages it is brief and that inevitably means it's both frustrating (you want more) and challenging (you have to think more). Above all the brevity of the book helps to make it accessible. The first Christian book I read was Bill Hybels & Mark Mittelberg's Becoming a Contagious Christian. That's a good book but Dever provides a more concise primer. It lacks the detail of John Chapman's Know & Tell the Gospel or Will Metzger's Telling the truth but that is more than compensated for by its quality.

Dever works through the general issues of evangelism from why we don't do it. This was particularly challenging to me since, like Dever, I find myself in the kind of job where regular relational non-Christian contact is difficult. Dever is known for his intentional patterns of living to help him develop relationships - I know I need to think more about how to work that into my irregular life.…

Trinitarian skylarking

The cross is foolishness. Of all the aspects of the gospel message to pick as the summary word the cross is nuts. It's weak and unimpressive. Yet, Paul summarises his message as "Christ Crucified" but we know he says all the other stuff too about God's promises to Abraham, about him being king over all, about us inheriting all things with him, about wrath and resurrection etc.

The cross makes an idiot of the world who thought they'd beaten Jesus by the cross. It also stops us being proud because no one looks big when they say that Jesus on a tree is where our hope comes from. The cross is the Bible's gospel-code. When we talk about being cross-centred we mean being about the gospel of salvation history from Genesis to Revelation.

Likewise look at Esther. Purim is the festival to celebrate the victory over the Amalekites. You'd think GALLOWS would be the symbol cos they hang their enemy and his sons on Gallows (Haman the Amalekite from the family of Agag). W…

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

I first heard about this book about five years ago when Don Carson was speaking at an UCCF theology conference and he said he was working on this. This morning it arrived! Sadly, no time to explore it at the moment, except to scan read the index for nuggets that might be relevant to what I'm currently working on.

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (editors)

Seven Days

1. Creation. "The little birds that sing, sing of God; the beasts clamor for him; the elements dread him, the mountains echo him, the fountains and flowing waters cast their glances at him, and the grass and flowers laugh before him." John Calvin, cited by Ray Ortlund. 2. The Universe. "the universe is one continuous explosion of the glorious happiness of God and that, through union with Christ, I have been included on the inside of this mega-miracle forever" Ray Ortlund3.1979-2008. The death of a celebrity I never met and of whose work I'd only seen a couple of films, but who was born a few weeks before me just makes you stop and remember that the number of your days is in the hands of God. 4.Sonship."By clinging to circumcision and the Law instead [of allegiance to Christ] the Galatians were in fact putting back the clock of salvation history" Trevor Burke in Adopted into God's family (NSBT). More on this soon. See also:
TBFP: Three Ways to Live

Review: The Supremacy of God in a Postmodern World

They say the church has jumped on the postmodern bandwagon just as the world has begun to jump off it. I'm not sure, it seems to me that postmodern thinking is alive and well in much of our culture, in our additudes to tolerance, truth and the consequent apathy to all things significant.

Thus, this short volume is helpful. It's a write-up of one of John Piper's Desiring God conferences. I've found earlier DG Conference books on Suffering and Sex to be helpful and this one joins the party.

The talks whose scripts are in the book are available to listen to and I'd already listened to several before I got hold of the book. Piper on the Supremacy of Christ is always a joy to hear and read, and here infamous for branding Steve Chalke's words about penal substitution blasphemous. Mark Driscoll's chapter on theology and contextualisation is clear and witty, and introduces his two-handed principle of essentials and non-essentials.

The key chapter for me however is by …

Preaching centred upon God

"Ultimately, preaching is a reflection of our theology of God. If one believes that God is all-sufficient, and that all things exist in relationship to him and for his glory, then preaching will center itself on God. If one has a lesser view of God, then that preacher will speak on lesser things."Daryl Dash, ht: Milton Stanley

Thinking about the preaching I do and the preaching I hear, it's all too easy for the main subject to become me or the congregation when it'd be much better if the preaching was actually about God. About his gospel, which is about him. About his Son. About his problem with us. About his salvation plan. About his glory. Easy to be desperate to find 'application' (see blown wide open - Ed Goode on Exodus 12) and things for us to do, when all that's needed is to wow our hearts with the glory of the gospel.

In Psalm 63, which my supervisior Tim opened up with me recently, I saw afresh that David's desperate situation was turned around…

Why don't Christians swear or gossip?

In a few months I'm giving a seminar on the above title.

Where to begin? First thing that occurs to me is that, in my experience, we Christians often do both - maybe we swear in our own language and we gossip with good motives, but nonetheless we do do them. We are warned about our speech - not to slander, or indulge in coarse talk or to bit and devour... but why? Why is that out of step with gospel living? How would you approach this subject? How can I give a gospel-grace motivated answer?

Answers on a postcard, or at least in comments... please!

Getting it done

“ is to no purpose to contend with the judgments of God;
for when God judges he will overcome.
Stopping the mouths of God's ministers
will not stop the progress of God's word,
for it shall not return void.”
(Matthew Henry)

Which rings true with Ed's review of Charlie Cleverley's The Passion that Shapes Nations. Many of God's ministers have lost their lives but the progress of God's word has not been stopped. I remembered that last night as we had dinner with Sim & Rebecca, remembering my own conversion - largely through the liturgy of Cranmer & co. The Bible was read week by week but not taught, yet the progress of the word could not be stopped.
Adrian asks at the Coffee Bible Club whether we read the Bible too much. Not that he's saying we have too much Bible in the church. Always need more of what God says, whether it's reading it personally, hearing it read together. Living within the sound of the word of God is the only place to live. Having…

Oodles of doodles

Lauterbach on Acts

Mark Lauterbach: "What does it look like to trust the Spirit of God? Where does my practice of the Christian life look like I believe in the present work of the Holy Spirit?"

Mark Lauterbach - Acts 1

Mark Lauterbach - Acts 2

Helpful expositions that go looking for what God is doing rather than methods for church growth.

Sacrilegious audacity

I'm working on a preach on Amos 7 for our church soon. I'm really struck by the attempts of Amos and Amaziah to avoid God's word of wrath against his people. Amos does it heartbroken and appalled, with confession of sin and appeal to God's promises and gains a partial relief. Amaziah does it by trying to silence the prophets. He sets himself up in direct opposition to God, which is what this cow-priest has been doing by ministering at the altars of Bethel. John Calvin is brilliant on this:

Amaziah was indeed worthy of being destroyed by God a hundred times, together with all his offspring: but Amos intimates that God’s wrath was especially kindled by this madness, — that Amaziah dared to put a restraint on God, and to forbid his Spirit freely to reprove the sins of the whole people. Since, then, he proceeded so far, Amos shows that he would have justly to suffer the punishment due to his presumption, yea, to his furious and sacrilegious audacity, inasmuch as he set hims…

Charlie Wilson's War - "We'll see"

Charlie Wilson's War (directed by Mike Nichols - Closer) tells the story of covert operations by the USA that supplied Afganistan with the weapons needed to kick out the Soviet Union, contributing to the end of the cold war amongst other things...

The cast is led by Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Amy Adams and the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman - who probably steals the show with an Oscar nominated performance as CIA agent Gust Avrokotos. This was the first film we've seen at the cinema for a couple of months and it wasn't a disappointment. It's a political drama written by Aaron 'West Wing' Sorkin so it'll not be everyone's idea of entertainment.

With the help of Hofmann and the story of a Zen master it's a good lesson what can be achieved when people are prepared to act, but more importantly about not judging history too quickly. Success shouldn't be celebrated too quickly, but reflected on later. In a culture that demands instant reflection on rol…

Three ways to live

I've thought this for sometime, initially because I recall someone preaching in Poland on the older son back in summer 1998, but also from some time studying Luke's gospel a couple of years ago, but Tim Keller has refreshed my thinking about it with some extra clarity.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells three parables. The first two and a half are basically the same thing repeated. Something is lost, and then found and there is great celebration. The odd thing is the chapter should end after that, but it doesn't. It doesn't because the third parable is about a man who has two sons, and there is a whole big bit about the other son. We meet the bad kid who repents of blowing his inheritance and gets salvation at his Father's feast, and we meet the good kid who has never done anything wrong, he however refuses to join the party. Tim Keller helpfully exposes the idolatry of the good kid. He's respectable. He's acceptable. He's sound. He's reliable. And yet he's …

Tim Keller (

Signs of the Spirit : Christians in the charts

Bob Kauflin - can Christian musicians play secular music for God's glory: A Christian’s success in the general marketplace is no sign one way or the other that the kingdom is advancing or the Gospel is being proclaimed. A chart-topper isn’t necessarily a sign of God’s blessing. It might be the result of savvy marketing or great musicianship.An interesting application of Edwards 'religious affections' logic on what proves nothing about the nature of Spiritual life, and what proves everything. Plenty to think about in terms of music to the glory of God - for example, what does it look like for my wife to make music to the glory of God in her classroom at school?

Seven Days

1. Illness and recovery. When the body fails I learn, the hard way, that my health isn't my god. God is. In case you're wondering how ill I was, I couldn't read and I couldn't face coffee... along with not being able to sleep, talk, walk etc. On the mend now, hence the blogging etc. Thank you to the care of my wife, prayers of staff, the wonders of paracetamol and cough mixture.
2. Relay Day. Having nine Relay and one member of staff in the house - I love that we can open up our home. And I love the way my team are going to excel at Relay 2 karaoke this year. Go South West!
3. Relay interview. That was a real pleasure, even though I kept coughing.
4.iPod. Train journeys with my fave Christmas present (from my lovely wife). That's better. Mostly re-listening to Tim Keller's Evangelists Conference & Two Sons talks, Snow Patrol, Valley of Vision and Aimee Mann.
5. Hat.It was seriously cold on Monday morning at the station. I love my hat. Catching the train on Fri…

Eyewitness accounts

Chris Hillcoat: Eyewitness accounts of the plane crash.... perspectives vary but the event is clear

"The different angles actually add to the story,
especially those inside and outside the plane."

£17.99 (24 hits the magic number)

Slowly changing together

Paul Tripp & Timothy Lane: Life is seldom simple. Growth in God's grace is a process and not an event. Tough things are not going to turn around overnight because you have entrusted them to the Lord. The Bible is honest in its description of how grave and comprehensive our war with sin is. Individuals, friendships, churches, marriages, and neighbourhoods don't turn around in a moment. The Bible describes the Christian life as a journey that often takes us through the wilderness. You will get tired and confused. You will have moments when you wonder where God is. You will struggle to see God's promises at work in your life. You will feel that following God has brought you more suffering than blessing. You will go through moments when it seems like the principles of Scripture don't work. It will sometimes seem like the wrong side wins. There will be moments when you feel alone and misunderstood. There will be times when you feel like quitting.For all that present dif…

Pastoral Refreshment Conference (UK)

Living Leadership presents The Pastoral Refreshment Conference
5-7 February 2008 at Hothorpe Hall, Leicestershire
Main theme: Enjoying God’s Grace in Leadership, and the main sessions are as follows: Grace, weakness and power, grace and glory, grace and integrity, along with a pastoral main session on loneliness and team work and an outstanding set of seminars:

1. Grace, Marriage and Ministry
Hosted by: Peter & Judy Comont
2. Faith and Doubt on theFront Line
Hosted by: Philip Warburton
3. Looking After Your Spiritual Life
Hosted by: Graham & Cate Cooke
4. Loving Your Church
Hosted by: Pete Lowman
5. Listening to Lessons from the Church Around the World
Hosted by: Jonathan Lamb6. & 9. Nurturing and Developing Leaders
Hosted by: Marcus Honeysett
7. Woman to Woman
Hosted by: Debbie Hardyman & Alison Risbridger
8. Leading with a Forgiving Heart
Hosted by: John & Alison Risbridger
10. Man to Man
Hosted by: Dave Burke


One of the great things about doing gospel-work (for lack of alternative name to differentiate from the equally gospel paid by non-christians kind of other work) is partnerships with other believers. One of the great things about UCCF gospel-work is partnerships with people outside of my local church. Two of my most beloved gospel-partners are Sean Green and Scott Taylor. And they've just started blogging. They're elders in a newfrontierschurch. I love them and I love their passion for the gospel. When we moved to Exeter it was heartbreaking to leave our local church, and just as gutting to move 150 miles away from these brothers. Reading their blogs is no substitute for seeing the gospel at work upclose in them, but it's better than nothing.

How people change

"A changed heart is the bright promise of the gospel. When the Bible talks about the gift of a new heart, it doesn't mean a heart that is immediately perfected, but a heart that is capable of being changed."

I started reading how people change today on the train to Plymouth. Interview with Paul Tripp & Timothy Lane. As they say, it's about how to apply old things in new and fresh ways.

Gospel-centred change is what we need in the church, change that comes from beholding the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus - the kind of life that can confess "I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory." - entering into the presence of God, where the blood of Jesus is poured out and because of that blood.

Guild overturns vote in favour of Christian Union

Before Christmas I reported that Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union had won a vote at the emergency general meeting called by the Guild.

Last night the Guild overturned that vote so everything is back up in the air again. As I watch from a distance without any direct involvement in the situation I've always hoped for some kind of amicable solution. Now, considering the reasons given it's hard to imagine the ECU ever being permitted to win a vote in their favour on this matter. Where things go now is anyones guess...

Dry stubble before devouring flames

Early thoughts on Amos 7 which I'm preaching on in a month... any comments welcome.
What do you do with bad news. Early on in our time living in Exeter we got a parking ticket for having our car parked opposite our house, because we forgot that it was a time-restricted bit of the road. What should we do with the ticket? Two options aren't there? Face it and pay it, or put it in the bin and hope it goes away. Bad news is never great to face but we know which one is the productive route to take.

Here we find, in Amos 7, two ways to face the problem of God's anger. And it is a real problem. Jonathan Edwards famously put it when preaching 'Sinners in the hands of an angry God': There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God. The threat of divine judgement is deadly serious and not something to be taken lightly. Amos is deeply aware of that as God's word comes again and again to him.

Martin Downes notes: Robert M&#…

FAQ: I get all this teaching but my wife doesn't...

I've been musing on this for a little while, and it'd be more pressing for me if last week's UCCF Staff Conference hadn't been written-off for me by illness. Instead of arriving home full of the word I was full of the lurgy.

But, what you you do when you're in the priviledged position to be able to go to lots of training events, conferences etc, to spent hours each day studying God's word - but your partner isn't? You get to the end of the day excited and overflowing with the stuff and yet somehow vomitting it onto your partner when they walk in the front door from a long hard day at work doesn't seem to work!

Then I thought about the effect God's word is meant to have on us. It's meant to transform us to make us more Christlike - through teaching, instructing, encouraging, rebuking, correcting us as we behold the glory of Christ in the word. So, could it be... that the best way to pass on the hours in the word would be to be changed by it. And th…

Staff Conference

Pete Dray posts five highlights from what sounds like a good UCCF Staff Conference. Sadly I spent the second half of the week in bed ill so I can't really say it was much of a week for me. Now thankfully I'm on the mend and should be back at work tomorrow. I look forward to catching up on the sessions I missed on MP3 but nothing can recover the best part of the conference, all the in-between-session conversations... Bring on '08 where Don Carson joins us.

As I reflect on the last week I guess it has been a humbling reminder of my own weakness. Heading back to the study, out on the trains and into interviews, preaching, training and mentoring it's good to remember that I break. I can't to everything. And some days I can't do anything.

Joining the not perfect church

David Field writes about being an infant-baptist in the other kind of baptit church: If the sovereign God is cheerfully taking his time advancing the empire of his Son and is doing so while (and by) showing remarkable grace to his muddle-headed and immature children then it would be silly if some of those muddle-headed and immature children were marked by untrusting hurry or ungracious judgmentalism in their relations with others.

I found that very refreshing as we continue to try and settle into life at our new church here in Exeter. (Trying to settle being my impatient way of talking about the obvious that relationships take time to build.) It's really easy to spot things that might not be the way we'd want them, or aren't how our previous church in Reading did things. I'm aware that I have the potential to make it's an absolute nightmare for my pastor to lead me rather than a joy. My sinfulness would love to grumble and pick at things and bite and devour. But, bu…

Blood, blood, blood!

It's late and I'm up at UCCF staff conference. Today we've had part 2 of Dick Lucas on 1 John (I confess no temptation to live-blog that for you, sorry!). Justin Mote on Mark. And Jason Clarke on Worship. Interspersed with an early morning run, prayer, and lots of good food and conversation particularly over a beer with Dan Blanche this evening.

In the absence of anything more substantial than a little late night rambling, here's an mp3 worth hearing from Ed Goode on Exodus 12 at Reading Family Church. All about the blood!

The Elephant of Kettering

I've been staying at my parents house for the last few days and Dad and I have been talking about Christian heroes from the county. That drew my thinking to Andrew Fuller who has probably surpassed William Carey in my heart, not that I'm really drawing lines. Fuller was the theologian-pastor behind the modern missionary movement that sent William Carey to India.

Fuller wrote: The doctrine of the cross is more dear to me than when I went. I wish I may never preach another sermon but what shall bear some relation to it. I see and feel, more and more, that except I eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man I have no life in me, either as a Christian or as a minister. Some of the sweetest opportunities I had in my journey were in preaching Christ crucified: particularly on those passages, “Unto you that believe he is Precious.” – “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” – “He that hath the Son hath life,” etc.– “That they all may be one,” etc. (19…

2 Timothy (mp3)

I had the immense priviledge and pleasure of preaching from 2 Timothy for some student weekends last term. Exeter was for a group of about 20 students in a small venue on the edge of Dartmoor, Reading was for about 100 students in a conference centre in Ledbury.

Scripts: 2 Timothy - blogged scripts

(from Reading CU)
2 Timothy 1v1-2v13- 30mins
2 Timothy 2v14-26-- 34mins
2 Timothy 3v1-17- 43mins
2 Timothy 4v1-22- 50minsMP3s:
(from Exeter CU)
2 Timothy 1v1-2v13
2 Timothy 2v14-26
2 Timothy 3v1-17
2 Timothy 4v1-22

Downes on Lamentations

Martin Downes is also writing about Lamentations:

Ask most Christians to list their favourite Bible books in order and Lamentations would appear at about the same place that the Welsh national football (soccer) team does in the FIFA world rankings...somewhere near the bottom. However, it is an important book to help us understand wrath and sin, righteousness and judgment, Law and Gospel.

Interview: David Gibson (EngagingWithBarth)

Look where you're going

They say that opposites attract. Somehow a maths graduate who can't sing married a singing teacher who can't do maths. Nonetheless my wife and I can play scrabble.

The other day when we were playing I noticed how she wrestles with the scorekeeping, which for some reason she always does. And then I realised the problem - she tries to work out the calculations by staring into space instead of at the paper where the numbers are. Everything she needs is on the page in front of her, yet she looks elsewhere for the solution. Then I realised that I can readily try theology the same way, looking anywhere except in the book that God provided. No wonder I don't get answers. The answers are in the ink. Road signs are for finding the way. The Bible is for knowing who our God is. Without it we're left with our own ideas. Without what God has revealed we're left with nothing.

The Bereans (Acts 17v11) were a noble church, they diligently searched the scriptures for life. Rubbing th…

They did not expose your sin

There have been those in recent years who have tried to say God doesn't get angry. There are others who would claim God is angry in the Old Testament but not in the New Testament. Jesus being the lovey-dovey one who never spoke about hell... right?! Actually, God's angle on the question is plain to see in Romans 3, in the Old Testament days God isn't angry enough. There is a scandal brewing because God keeps forgiving people without apparently good reason - how can he leave sin unpunished? Why is he so 'slow to anger' when the people are so sinful. In Jesus we see God's wrath turned aside from all those forgiven people before the cross, and after. At the cross we see how it's possible.

In Lamentations 2 we see what happens when there is no other remedy (2 Chronicles 36v16). When prophetic ministry is exhausted and divine patience can endure no longer. When the one who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love finally executes judgeme…

The greater laments of the Christian

This is a bit of a tangent from my posts on Lamentations, sparked by comments at Neil Bennets blog. I'm thankful for Neil's blogging and for his responding to comments.

1. Lamenting Christians? It seems to me that possibly the greatest laments are for Christians. First, there are the lamenting groans of Christians in a world given over to wrath and sin ahead of the new creation. We see the dehumanising effects of divine wrath revealed in human sin. Then, there is the even greater lament that flows from one of the most exhilarating moments of the New Testament (Romans 8-9). Paul is caught up in the clouds of joy over the way Christians are in Christ caught up inseparably in the love of God forever. A most ecstatic moment of worship. No sooner has he uttered this glorious song than he caught up in the deepest of despair over the plight of his Jewish brethren who remain given over to sin under God's wrath. His heart is broken. The tears flow, before he walks us through the sac…

Expository Preaching

Erik Raymond writes about expository preaching. It's being advocated at any number of conferences, but is the message getting through. I do find it a bit strange catching all these conference mp3s that aren't exposition. I'd love to have these guys doing that! What I've found over in the UK is that it's often much more expository series at these conferences - reflecting back on a few recently there's been Terry Virgo on Romans, Justin Mote on Leviticus have been a couple of great highlights. And I'm looking forward to Don Carson on 1 John at Easter 2008. Largely it's exposition that these guys are so good at, and it's so refreshing to go home at the end of the conference thinking I've heard the message of Leviticus!! Bring on the conferences where Mahaney teaches through Lamentations, where Dever takes us through Hosea, Piper through Exodus... or any number of variations on that theme. Things like that implicitly defend expository preaching by m…

Review: The Divine Spiration of Scripture

The Divine Spiration of Scripture - A.T.B.McGowan
Extract at IVP websiteI've done some thinking about the doctrine of scripture over the last few months and it's place in my life and ministry. In that context it was good to receive this book from IVP a few weeks ago. McGowan is Principal at Highland Theological College. The book is an Apollos one so it's got a more academic readership in mind but I found it readable. There's loads here that I found immediately helpful. Two big take homes are :1. Spirit & Scripture. McGowan calling us to set our doctrine of scripture within our doctrine of God, under the Holy Spirit. This is helpful because it allows us to think systematically from a Trinitarian foundation and because it keeps in view very clearly that the scriptures come from God., 2. Divine-Spiration. This is McGowan's alternative to translating theopneutos as 'inspiration' as some translations of 2 Timothy 3v16 do. He argues that inspiration is too sof…

The bright day

Something of a follow up to my riff on friendship at the foot of the cross last Christmas.

In Galatians 6 Paul considers the community of the cross. A member of the church sins. No shock, rather the spiritual are to restore the sinner. Like Paul with Peter they walk the one who has gotten out of step with the Spirit/gospel back to the cross. The presence of sin among Christians always has this opportunity for glorying in the cross together. In the house of law sin is an opportunity for condemnation and one-up-manship, in the community of the Spirit it is the day of grace.

Bonhoeffer: Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Christ Jesus? Thus, the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me …

Pierced for our transgressions (CHBC)

Mark Dever has started a long preaching series on the cross. Shame he's only doing three weeks on the Old Testament, but should be good nonetheless.

December 23, Pass Over, Exodus 12
December 30, Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16
January 6, Crushed for Our Iniquities, Isaiah 52:13-53:12
January 13, A Ransom for Many, Mark 10:45
January 20, Forsaken, Mark 15:33-34
January 27, Save, John 3:14-18
February 3, Die for the Children of God, John 11:47-52
February 10, Propitiation, Romans 3:21-26
February 17, Delivered Over to Death for Our Sins, Romans 4:25
February 24, Justified by His Blood, Romans 5:8-10
March 2, Condemned Sin, Romans 8:1-3
March 9, Becoming a Curse for Us, Galatians 3:10-13
March 16, Bore Our Sins in His Body on the Tree, I Peter 2:21-25
March 21, Christ Died for Sins, I Peter 3:18 (Good Friday Communion Service)
March 23, He Was Raised!, I Corinthians 15:1-8

New year, new posts

I don't really go in for new years resolutions, mostly because they tend to be 'try harder' things which are bound to fail and not really change anything. That said maybe it's a good idea to set direction of travel afresh. Here's a selection of what others are thinking. Dan Philips - Prepare to dieDavid Powlison guestblogs at BetweenTwoWorldsColin Adams - questions for preachersMatt Harmon - resolved with Jonathan EdwardsTimmy Brister - read the puritans in 2008

My stomach churns, my heart is wrung

I suppose it would be usual to start the year on a positive note. Not here! Christian Hedonists, joyseekers... turn to Lamentations at the start of 2008! Songwriter Neil Bennetts writes about laments. "when I hear the voices of theologians or songwriters insisting on the language and form of lament in gathered worship, I am naturally cautious." Should we lament? What place lamenting in the Christian life?

In recent weeks I've been studying the book of Lamentations ahead of opening it with members of my team this term. I expect I'll blog a number of times on this over the coming weeks. It's five poems, mostly acrostic, mostly of 22 verses (except ch3 which has 66, and ch5 that is not acrostic). They express the experience of the community of God's people undergoing judgement, under divine-wrath as they're sent into exile by Him for their sin. This is experiential theology. If 2007 was a year for 'recovering the glory of penal substitution', contendi…