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Showing posts from March, 2009

Exodus: Moses, the child born as a 'type' of saviour!

Stephen Dempster continues on Exodus:
"The narrative focus narrows from a stress on births (Israelite seed in general) and persecution, to a particular birth (Israelite seed in particular) – Moses, who narrowly escapes disaster by being placed in an ark in the River Nile (Exod. 2:1-10). 
Moses' salvation from the water echoes backwards and forwards in the text; backwards to the salvation of humanity from the judgement of the flood by Noah (Gen. 6-8), and forwards to the Israelites' future escape from the waters of the Reed Sea (Exod. 14). Significantly the figure of Moses, this child born as a type of saviour figure, not only saves Israel but also embodies Israel at times.
His rescue from the water prefigures the nation's salvation from the water; his escape after the death of an Egyptian (Exod. 2:11-15) is a prelude to the Israelites' flight after the death of many Egyptians (Exod. 12:29-39); his experience of being in the desert for forty years (Exod. 2:21-25) f…

New Word Alive 2009 liveblogging #nwa9

Exodus: The fundamental task of the Christian preacher of Exodus is to name God truly

IVP put out an excellent volume of lectures from Moore College recently, Exploring Exodus: Literary, theological and contemporary approaches (eds Brian Rosner and Paul Williamson)

When reading the Pentateuch my hermeneutic is essentially founded on Jesus saying in John 5:46: "if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me". - Exodus is a book that if believed leaves us believing in Christ. And the preacher's mandate must then be to proclaim Christ, to preach Christ. Interesting other themes can certainly be found in the text but the Christian preacher who shrinks from preaching Christ has no place preaching particularly when the material is as obviously Christ-ian as Exodus!  (see also MacArthurs first preach)

The final essay is on Preaching Exodus and is by Richard Gibson, catch these highlights:
“For Christian readers, the Exodus becomes Jesus' story... the New Testament writers used Exodus texts for interpreting and proclaiming God's act in Je…

Exodus: a new humanity which is destined to restore creation blessing to the world

“...a wonderful overview of God's ultimate plan,... showing God's magnificent purpose of recovery accomplished through Christ, ultimately establishing the reclamation of a lost human dominion over the world. This is a superb book which will help you grasp God's ultimate intention.” Terry Virgo

We're starting a sixteen part series in Exodus 1-20 with our church today. I'm preaching the 4th and 14th parts. As with Genesis, Stephen Dempster is incredibly helpful for seeing how the book fits into the bigger story of God. It's easy to read the book without the broader story, but if you're going to Preach Exodus, and therefore Preach Christ from Exodus you need the wide angle lense:

"The scene of exile in Egypt provides the geographical background for the next book, Exodus. The opening paragraph of the book (Exod. 1:1-7) links the material explicitly with Genesis and focuses on the genealogical aspect of the promise with a reference to the seventy members of …

Genesis 25:19-34: The Great River of God's Electing Purpose!

The expectation is high. God has promised great blessing through Abraham’s seed. The seed has a bride, she is not just beautiful but blessed greatly, and her offspring will crush his enemy. And then, 25v21 we find that “she was barren”. Not again! Surely not! How can it be that the blessed bride whose seed will win can’t have children. We remember the command and commission to humanity to multiply and remember that this is something that requires divine intervention. The LORD closed the wombs of Abimelech’s household, and opened them. The LORD is the one who gives children. When we compare the two commissions of Genesis 1v28 and Matthew 28 it’s not that the borning is man’s work and the born-againing is God’s work. The LORD does both. And so Isaac prays and God answers. Isaac’s life is like his fathers, and the events of v21 are a condensing of 20 years from when Isaac is 40 to 60.

The Wonder of Grace
Rebekah senses the striving of her children. Twins for the first time. She inquires o…

Preaching training should include watching The West Wing

Josh Harris highlights an article on the value of the teleprompter:"When it comes to rhetoric, winging it is often shoddy and self-indulgent -- practiced by politicians who hear Mozart in their own voices while others perceive random cymbals and kazoos. Leaders who prefer to speak from the top of their heads are not more authentic, they are often more shallow -- not more "real," but more undisciplined."

I'm all for speaking without a script, but often we think it means less preparation instead of more to be able to do that. I'm all for a preacher using an outline (so long as it's one that actually makes sense) but if that's not derived from careful consideration of language, of arguments, of memorable ways of saying things then much preaching is only going to be shallow reality.

If Toby Ziegler, Sam Seaborn and Will Bailey watch every word that should be in President Bartlet's mouth, how much more should the preacher who opens his mouth to publi…

1 Corinthians 15 - Spiritual is body! (Mike Reeves)

What I'm hoping to do with my Sabbatical

On Monday I start a Sabbatical that I've graciously been granted after six years of serving with UCCF as CU Staff for Reading & Guildford and Team Leader for the South West. The plan is 12 weeks of refreshing and not very intensive study leave and 4 weeks of holiday between now and July 20th. I thought I'd let you know some of what I'll be looking at. This may or may not have an effect on my blogging here!
Mondays are for love the church - I plan to write up much of my thinking on the beauty and glory of the church. Not sure if there is a book length of material in my head but we'll see what comes out. Target about 40k words. The prospect of this is invigorating.
Tuesdays are for the evangelistic use of Ecclesiastes, what's the book about and how might we use it evangelistically among students?Wednesdays are for the evangelistic use of Genesis, key themes and how it might be used in evangelism among students, particularly how might we present the Biblical foundat…

Taking God seriously and Self lightly: Divine Comedy with Glen Scrivener

Seven Days Of Being A Father With L-Plates

Our son is nine days old and I've been experiencing the explusive power of a new affection which has kept me from doing lots of the things I might otherwise have been doing, along with the consuming power of sleeplessness which has a rabid appetite for life.

1. It's been a week of discovering my selfishness afresh. I like to think I'm not selfish but my frustration with my wife, with myself etc would suggest I have growing to do.
2. It's been a week of struggle to endure, particularly in the middle of last week we were really struggling with parenting. I've never felt so helpless and exhausted as we need on Wednesday and Thursday.
3. It's been a week of gratitute, our church family who we only joined just over a year ago have fed us and promise to continue to do so for another nine days, with our parents living 85-220 miles away that's all the more helpful.
4. It's been a week of deepening respect for our parents, both for parenting us but for their n…

I have a son: Zachary Jonathan

Fourteen days late, weighing 9lb4.5oz, 54cm long, at 8.07 this morning my son was born. Zachary Jonathan.

In all my life I have never seen so clearly, in the space of 24 hours how horrendous aspects of this world are, and then how amazing beautiful things are. I feel like we left home at midday yesterday from one universe and now live in a totally different one. And this one is more painful, more breathtaking and has a word-defying beauty that I never imagined possible.

MP3: You can't take the Bible literally (Andrew Wilson)

The Most Important Thing I Ever Learned In Ministry

I appreciate that that's a big claim (it's somewhat reduced and relativised by the fact that we're talking about 'me' - who really cares about what I've learned...), and I don't want to minimise all the other things I've had to learn (and continue to learn) but the reality is that they flow from this source. Re-reading Preaching The Whole Bible As Christian Scripture this week I've been able to see how things changed dramatically for me about 8 years ago when I first read it towards the end of my second year on UCCF's Relay programme... the way we read the Bible shapes everything else in the Christian life. Graeme Goldsworthy writes:
"The principle is simply this: Jesus says that the Old Testament is about Him. [The question is then]... How does this passage of Scripture, and consequently my sermon (etc), testify to Christ" (p20-21) I'm not sure I've ever learned anything else more vital. Seeing this, which I'm sure I would …

Believers Baptism or Infant Baptism?

On Sunday we had nine baptisms (I think) which was great - with Adrian Holloway preaching. I was struck that many of those being baptised were from Christian families. Often such people speak as if that's a poor testimony to have - but I'm a fan. What a blessing to have had parents raise them in the faith. Some had doubtless been 'baptised' as children. Some must have faced the interesting tension between honouring their parents faith, and having come to different conclusions on baptism.

A few years ago I was seriously looking at ministry in the Church of England and spend time studying the Anglican/Presbyterian position on baptism. Should be said that by that point I'd been christened and then confirmed in my early teens, before becoming a Christian at 18 and being baptised at 19. Bishop Wallace Benn conmmended John Murray's Christian Baptism to me as the book that convinced him on the issue. I read it and I wasn't. I'd not particularly found any book…

Preaching: You know its Christ when its gospel

This morning I had the priviledge of spending some time coaching one of the younger guys at our church who is preaching next Sunday (mp3). I love that guys like him get the opportunity to serve in this way. I find it strange to be referring to 'younger' - can I do that at 29... Mostly, I feel very priviledged to have been in the position of being able to offer some help...
I suggested that, having done his basic study and outline of the text, it's helpful to ask three questions:
How does this passage testify to Christ? This is the core content of the message. The Bible is always about Christ, the real question is just "How?" and the opportunity is to hold up the particular riches of Christ that this passage displays so that God's people can believe in him.What is this passage supposed to achieve? This is the application we aim for, what the passage was meant to do for the original audience is what it's meant to do for us (at least when that's read in v…

Everyone is a Theologian: A hearty Amen to Steve Timmis

Recently a clashed views with Steve Timmis's blog on "parachurch" at Resurgence, today I just want to say a loud Amen to his post on theology:
"...if evangelical theology is the truth about God in Christ, then all Christians are theologians in every sense that matters...[doctrines are to be] faced up to by a group of saved sinners as they cry out to the Holy Spirit to open blind eyes. Calvin was right in a number of things, not least when he said, “Doctrine is an affair, not of the tongue, but of life.”" See also Dan Hames at Theology Network: Why and how to do a theology of everything

FREE MP3s: Tim Keller & others from The Proclamation Trust

Tim Keller on The Biblical Pastor (and his idols!) and Planting Churches from the Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2000
Plus loads from Don Carson, Bruce Milne, Philip Jensen, John Piper, Dick Lucas...
Just register free and you can download all the EMA audio pre-2004 for free.
 ht: Colin Adams
More Tim Keller mp3s etc at

Genesis 23:1-25:18: Securing the future of the Seed

105 verses to finish the story of the coming of the promised seed..  
Unanswered questions (as posed by Stephen Dempster): what about the land and what about Isaac’s future in the land?!

Of death and securing the land.
This part of the story begins and ends with death, the generation of Abraham goes to the grave (ch23, ch25). First Sarah dies, and we find Abraham acquiring a grave, and then latterly we’re told of the death of Abraham, buried by Isaac and Ishmael in the same grave. Death is a problem for a nomadic people like the ‘house’ of Abraham – where can you bury your dead if you have no land? God has come good on the promise of a seed, but the land is further off – generations and centuries away. Can any stake in the land be secured?

The grave of Abraham and Sarah is in Canaan. Abraham goes to the Hittites, the people of the land (x3), near the oaks of Mamre where he has lived. He asks to be allowed to buy a plot for a grave, they say that they would want to give this Prince of Go…

Pentecostalism didn't really begin at Azuza Street in 1906...

Lex Loizides continues his church history blog.... The Pentecostal Power of the Puritan Movement
"The central role of the power of the Holy Spirit was a key factor to the growth of the Evangelical Churches of the Puritan era. This shouldn’t surprise us when we consider that Paul himself said, ‘My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.’ (1 Cor 2:4-5 NIV)
The power of the working of the Holy Spirit has always been God’s means of authenticating His gospel to the hearts of those who hear. What is truly amazing for anyone who examines the statements of those who witnessed the immense popularity of the ‘new’ puritan movement is the similarity of the scenes with – wait for it – early Salvationism, or early Pentecostalism...."I appreciate that to some degree it really depends what is meant by pentecostalism or charismatcism or continuationis…

BBC: Darwin's Dangerous Idea (Andrew Marr)

BBC iPlayer has Andrew Marr's Darwin's Dangerous Idea:
(available for UK til March 26th)

Summary: "He argues that Darwin's theory has transformed our understanding of what it means to be human. Over the last 150 years, Darwin's ideas have challenged the need for a creator, undermined religious authority, and provided new ways of looking at the origins of human morality."

Andrew Marr's offers a sympathetic history of the effects of Darwin's ideas in this first of three programmes.

Darwin's logic shows he had understood Christianity as a human system of thought devised for human advantage, rather than sourced from divine origin and humbling us, and thus argued his science.

Darwin's observations made about the brutality of the world are worth comparing with CS Lewis' answers in De Futilitate which would suggest missteps in Darwin's argument.

Marr concludes:
"Man is the great truth-seeking primate, Darwin has given us a great truth.  And…

Genesis 22: The Death of the Promised Seed on Mount Moriah / The Resurrection of the Promised Seed On The Third Day

In many ways Genesis 22 is the climax of Abraham’s story, a story that has essentially been about his son Isaac. The birth of Isaac passed briefly but this event a chapter later that truly pulls everything together. Abraham’s story will have three further chapters including the death of this man and his bride, and the finding of a bride for the promised seed. First though, to Genesis 22. Previously we had Abraham's two sons, one in the wilderness, one by the tree, one without inheritance, one an inheriter... How does that happen?

In Genesis 22 consider the people involved. Abraham, God's righteous man is here. So too is the LORD (Christ – v1, 11, 15, 16). Also we see Isaac, the promised seed (v2 ‘your son, your only son, whom you love’!). Isaach the promised seed carries the wood up to where the burnt offering will be made for sin (see also Leviticus 8v18). In this scene Christ is everywhere - Abraham, Isaac, the mountain, the sacrifice, the LORD himself... Genesis 22 has gos…

Why does UCCF have a Doctrinal Basis of Fellowship, and how should it be used?

Here's 27minutes of a really helpful workshop on doing unity in a Christian Union... I've deeply enjoyed working through 1 Corinthians 12-14 with Kenny in recent months and batting this key question around, the fruit has been this workshop he delivered at our CU leaders weekend. Kenny blogs occasionally.

Download MP3: We are being transformed together in the gospel.

Christian Unions unite a wide range of people; how is that supposed to work in practice?What do you think are the benefits/difficulties of having an interdenominational mission team?
- What's been your experience of this - positively and negatively?
- What do you think are the benefits/difficulties of having a doctrinal basis of fellowship?
- What do you see as key issues you would like to consider in this seminar?

1. Why do we have a Doctrinal Basis of Fellowship?
(i) It is exclusive and inclusive
(ii) It is confessional
(iii) It is a good thing!

2. Issues that arise from having a Doctrinal Basis of Fellowship
(i) Dealin…

The Gospel and Outbreeding the Pagans...

Matt raves about Voddie Baucham, and with good reason I reckon.

Have a listen to this challenge to the Southern Baptists which could be written to most of us on decline and the gospel...

How do the churches of Exeter reach Exeter? Voddie points us to the centrality of the gospel in the family. Reach men by making a big deal of being a husband and father. Say Amen or say Ouch.

And MP3: The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World at Desiring God, 2006. 
Pyromaniacs on What he must be if he wants to marry my daughter...
MP3: What he must be if he wants to marry my daughter...

Knowing God: If it's so important why isn't it more obvious?

Tom Price's straw-poll of questions that scare Christians turned up this one: If Jesus is truth, then why do so few find this truth and so many doomed to hell? Which is a re-phrase of one of Shelley's 12th question in his 1811 The Necessity of Atheism, a pamphlet that got him kicked out of Oxford University - how times have changed! He asked: If the knowledge of God is most necessary, why is it not the most evident and clearest? The Christian wants to accept the premise of this question - Jesus is truth and the knowledge of God is most necessary. How then is it that "so few find this truth and so many are doomed to hell..." why isn't it "most evident and clearest".Facing this question three years ago I noted: 
It is simply not the case that God has left us a lack of evidence. We simply find God's words distastful. Polly Toynbee and Richard Dawkins have both spoken out on this in the media in recent months. Notable atheists by confession. They have g…

Question: Help! Now I'm a CU leader will this eat my life?

Dear Joe CU-Leader,

You're a CU leader. What a great responsibility, a new domain over which to rule humbly, an opportunity to be more human (Genesis 1v27-28).  You're going to be adminstrating and facilitating mission on campus, what a priviledge! But, you may well be fearing whether you have the time to do this, wont this just eat up your life? Life was kinda busy before and now you have a few extra things to do.

Half the problem here is that most of us aren't great at using our time. All of us have 168 hours a week, whether you're unemployed or are the prime minister - everyone gets the same hours. In theory you can do a lot with 168 hours. Think of the miles that could be travelled, the words that could be written. Just add up the number of facebook and pro-evo hours and you'll see why you think you might not have time for extra responsibility...

Life doesn't compartmentalise easily - and actually most of life is meant to overlap. Time with Christians and …

UK: What do we believe? Evolutionism? Creationism? Lilyallenism?

The UK belief map on creationism, intelligent design, evolution and all that...

"Four out of five Britons repudiate creationism. Belief map shows support for Darwin's theories. God and evolution can be compatible, says thinktank"ht: funkypancake
Useful to be aware of what people are thinking.

And Emily posts on Lily Allen The Fear that 'everyone' has been buying for the last five weeks... who knows how widespread this worldview is either, but it seems to capture something of 'pop' culture of wags and mags...
"Now I’m not a saint, but I’m not a sinner, Now everything's cool as long as I’m getting thinner, I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore, I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore, When do you think it will all become clear? 'Cos I’m being taken over by the fear..."

MP3s: South West Christian Unions Leaders Conference

Last weekend was the South West CU leaders Weekend. Due to impending parenthood (we're still waiting) I didn't go to the biggest weekend in my diary... but the student missions leaders were left in the safe hands of Pete Greasley and the SW team. By the reports I've heard Pete served us very well and I'm exceedingly thankful for his partnership in the gospel with us. More from Pete Greasley and the guys at Christchurch Newport

Pete Greasley - 1 Corinthians 15 - not recorded Pete Greasley - Living in the world
Pete Greasley - "I thirst"

"We are the Christian Unions" Workshops
(1) We are being transformed - Kenny Robertson
1.1We are being transformed... together in the gospel - Kenny Robertson 1.2 We are being transformed by the word - not recorded 1.3 We are being transformed in the heart - not recorded 1.4 We are being transformed in the details of our lives - not recorded (2) We are on mission - Kenny Robertson - not recorded 2.1 We are on mission globally -…

Question: How can I know there's a God?

Some people have seemingly no interest in this question, and in that case I'd direct you to think about The Great Myth we believe, about The Futility, of Beauty, love etc. Not that I expect these to be entirely persuasive - but might suggest some further consideration is necessary.

When it comes to the question of whether we can know if there is a god.... Some suggest that there must be a god because there must be an uncaused cause at the root of the universe. That at some point something must have made everything. Someone then asks, who made god - and the reply comes, it's like asking who the batchelor's wife is. It's a category mistake, he just is.

One way often appealed to is that there must be an uncaused cause. It's the chicken and the egg defence. Things have to start somewhere, right? Richard Dawkins cites this in The God Delusion (p77) attributes to Thomas Aquinas. "The Uncreated Cause. Nothing is caused by itself. Every effect has a prior cause, and a…

Keller at Newfrontiers

Adrian Warnock begins to write up his notes from Tim Keller on preaching. I love Kellers theology of preaching so its well worth a read of Adrian's notes. Basically looks like a version of what he did at Oak Hill in November on Preaching to the Heart.

Related articles:
Jonathan Edwards - Divine & Supernatural Light which is just excellent - and is the one with the tasting honey reference

"Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind."

Lloyd-Jones on the point where you stop taking notes and just see Christ is here from the Puritan and Westminster Conference of 1976 - Jonathan Edwards and the Impo…

The Third Brother: with neither an elder brother's pridefulness nor a younger brother's sarcasm

Marvin Olasky suggests that there's an alternative to being a younger brother or an older brother (re: Luke 15), the gospel creates the third brother.... "with neither an elder brother's pridefulness nor a younger brother's shows up where we expect banality, and evil emerges where we anticipate excellence... their goal is to change hearts"

ht: Peter Benson

CS Lewis: The idea of a wholly mindless and valueless universe has to be abandoned (De Futilitate, part 3)

Part 1 - Opening our eyes to the futilityPart 2 - Interrogating the futility.
Part 3. Lewis concludes his essay De Futilitate.....

Saying the universe is futile requires us to assume that our thinking, itself in the universe, isn't futile... doing this shows we think there to be some morality and value and reason in the universe. Putting the universe on trial assumes a great deal about us and the universe. We might, however, deny that the universe has a moral purpose because of the "wasteful cruelty and apparent indifference or hostility to life". But says Lewis thats the very thing we can't do! Because "unless we allow ultimate reality to be moral, we cannot morally condemn it".

The good atheist rages defiantly his accusations towards "apparently ruthless and idiotic cosmos is really an unconscious homage" - it's worship of the universe or something behind it that is of infinite value or authority. Because, if  "mercy and justice were rea…