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Showing posts from June, 2009

iPreachers and the Podcast Pulpit

I think preaching is really important. Paul's final chapter of the New Testament centres on a charge to 'preach the word'. The preached word is the heartbeat of a local church life, as God comes to address his people.

Today we can download Piper, Driscoll etc and spend our weeks listening to their sermons. My guess is that there are some (young/male) Christians who spend all week working through the archives of these guys, and then whole loads more who've never done that. I used to listen to quite a lot of their mp3s but I think I can probably count on one hand the number I've listened to this year. I still download sermons to aid my own sermon preparation, either to help with my exegesis, as a form of audio commentary, or to help with my communication skills by exposing me to different ways of preaching. I also download for more educational reasons from Theology Network, Bethinking etc, but a Sunday sermon is surely meant for something more. Something special goes…

The Unquenchable Flame: Introducing the Reformation

Mike Reeves' book The Unquenchable Flame is out, and Theology Network has a whole host of resources to accompany it

'With the skill of a scholar and the art of a storyteller, Michael Reeves has written what is, quite simply, the best brief introduction to the Reformation I have read.'
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC

Very much looking forward to reading this whenever my copy arrives from IVP.

Seven years married!

The man said,

"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

...This is a profound mystery—
but I am talking about Christ and the church.
However, each one of you also must love his wife
as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Jesus is Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-36)

MP3: Jesus is Wisdom - Dave Bish (20mins)

These are my notes not a script so please forgive lack of detail:
Ever felt out of your depth – in need an expert? Try Parenting. Or, see Gordon calls Sir Alan. Everyone’s an expert in the age of Google and Wikipedia. Progress or regress? People build libraries – curiosity killed the cat, but I don’t see cat’s at uni in the SW. Curious like Zach. God made us to be wise – but wisdom is to be received not grasped.

Proverbs read wrong is holy self-help. Not in church! Proverbs is about Jesus – how to live, not what you expect – Proverbs 8:22-36 hear the supreme expert – hear wisdom speak, speak to all of life. Makes British Library and Internet look like a post-it note.

(muchly helped by Matthew Henry in this section, Henry notes these five characteristics)
Listen and hear: First, His personality.
V22 brought forth by the LORD, V24 given birth, V25 given birth, V30 at his side
Zach not concept, photos, …

No Cross, No Christianity

I nicked this idea from Mark Meynell, in comments on my blog a couple of week ago, but it bears repeating:

No cross, no… divine justice (Romans 3:25-6)
No cross, no… divine love (Romans 5:8)
No cross, no… cancelling of the law (Col 2:14)
No cross, no… defeat of the devil (Col 2:15)
No cross, no… reconciliation between people & God (Eph 2:11-22)
No cross, no… access to God (Hebrews 10:19)
No cross, no… one to open the scrolls of history (Revelation 5:2-6)
No cross, no Christianity (The Bible)

We never move on from the cross,
only into a more profound understanding of the cross.
—David Prior, BST 1 Corinthians

The Gospel is Relevant

John Piper on gospel relevance: "If you want to be relevant, say, for prostitutes, don’t watch a movie with a lot of tumbles in a brothel. Immerse yourself in the gospel, which is tailor-made for prostitutes; then watch Jesus deal with them in the Bible; then go find a prostitute and talk to her. Listen to her, not the movie. Being entertained by sin does not increase compassion for sinners."

And Sean Green's Chronicles of Reading: "There is loads going on in the town and Christians need to be engaged with it.”

Fighting for my cause?

Jason Weber at Hope for Orphans, has some great principles, applied to adoption but worth extending to any other issue we hold dear that our church might not...
"...the people who tend to damage the church the most are generally the Christians who are the most passionate for a cause."1. How many biblical things do our pastors teach on each week that they wish we would “get”?
2. If everybody in my church “got it” then why would God have placed me there?
3. In my frustration with church leadership, have I slandered them or given in to the temptation to complain?
4. Am I talking to others about this rather than to the One who could actually do something about it?

There are x,y and z things that I wish churches and leaders would get but the way I go about making the case matters hugely. Am I actually going to persuade anyone by what I'm saying? Am I responding to a strongman or a strawman - when I make my case am I responding to the real world? What would what I'm asking …

Penal Substitution: A doctrine disliked

From a lecture for PGP Training Course, June 2009, The Centrality of the Cross.

JI PACKER - ‘propitiation… is central’ (Knowing God). The NIV uses the phrase “sacrifice of atonement” four times, with a footnote: “Or as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin” which offers a definition of what is meant. The ESV uses the technical term propitiation.

Garry Williams: “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit together purposed that the Son should become a man and as a man bear on the cross God's just punishment for sin in the place of sinners.”
We need to be careful about how we describe this.

Steve Chalke says:  “[Father] brought about the violent death of his Son” leading to an infamous allegation that mention of Punishment leaves Jesus as the victim of “cosmic child abuse”.  John Stott:  “We must never make Christ the object of the Father's punishment or the Father the object of Christ's persuasion, for both [the Father] and Christ were subjects …

Terry Virgo on Elijah

#1 - The Voice of God - 1 Kings 17:1 Download #2 - A Man Who Stood Before God - 1 Kings 17:1 Download #3 - A Man of Personal Obedience - 1 Kings 17:1-17Download #4 - I Have Commanded a Widow to Provide For You - 1 Kings 17:7-16Download #5 - Trusting Through a Trial - 1 Kings 17:8-24 Download - Download video #6 - If the Lord is God follow Him - 1 Kings 18Download -Download video #7 - Mount Carmel - Gunfight at the O.K. Corral - 1 Kings 18 DownloadDownload video #8 - Elijah Prays for Rain - 1 Kings 18:41-46DownloadDownload video

I don't think there is any such thing as an "evangelistic opportunity"

The way we think about our default position governs how we behave in any given circumstance. The student's default was like Paul's in Athens. There was no point at which he wasn't open and ready to take initiative for the gospel. Our default position determines:
1. What we do while waiting.
2. How ready we are to speak to the kinds of people who come across our path, and how ready we are to go looking for people.
3. How ready we are when God brings the unexpected our way.Read the rest: Marcus Honeysett: Default Position - Acts 17:16-21

Esther: A Christian Story

I've been studying The Book of Esther for several years. I love it because it's Christian Scripture and it's because it is brilliant literature.
Here's a resource I've compiled from my studies:
Esther: A Christian Story (pdf)

Thanks to Ed, Carolina, Andy, Joe, RUCU Cell Leaders, Jim, Kenny, Claudia and FCE Student Disciplers amongst others whose interactions over this book have sharpened my thinking, and with whom I've had the joy of being urged on by the kings command.

Song of Songs 3:6-5:1 (Reading Family Church)

Here's the Sunday morning preach mp3 from Love the church weekend at Reading Family Church. One of the many reasons I love Newfrontiers is that it's made up people who love the church. In view of some of my recent study and the passion for church that I share with RFC elder Sean Green, it was an honour to serve them by preaching the word on Sunday morning.

I turned to Song of Songs and didn't follow the popular line taken by the likes of MacArthur, Mahaney and Driscoll. I'm happy to derive lessons for marriage from the Song but convinced that firstly we must read it about Christ and his bride, the church. I outlined my reasons for this during the Saturday sessions of 'love the church' weekend.

MP3: Love the church - Song 3:6-5:1 - Dave Bish (40mins)

This is the ultimate song, like the Holy of Holies… the Song of Songs.
3:6 – see the column of smoke in the wilderness, it’s the LORD (Ex 13:21, Mark 1:3)
3:6 – he sme…

Love the church Q&A

I'm trying to remember the questions from our Q&A session at the end of love the church, I think these are most of them...
How do we fit together thinking about universal and local church - can we just say we're a member of the universal church? It's true that Christians are to be in the universal church, but the church appears in the world in local congregations under leadership. The church is the context of the Christian life, in relationship with other Christians. NT letters are to local churches, Jesus ministers to local churches and can shut them down. How can we encourage diversity in the church? My consideration here is that since the all tribes and tongues and cultures will be present in the universal church in the new creation there's no reason why there shouldn't be diversity in the local church, the gospel transcends cultural barriers. Ethnicity and culture is permeable. If the demographics where our church is located are not diverse, don't expect…

Love the church

Home from a great weekend in Reading catching up with a lot of old friends and serving Reading Family Church, audio and some notes to follow

Yesterday about 45 gathered for 'Love the church' at the church offices, where I spoke at two of the three sessions. It was a joy to speak on my favourite subject and to air some of the study I'd been living with over the last few months. I also enjoyed Richard Walker on 'I belong to the church' particularly his emphasis on church and Trinity.
The first session was a rough overview of the centrality of the church from The Man and His Bride in Eden to the Wedding of the Lamb in Revelation, exploring the romantic comedy of their relationship via Hosea and Ezekiel, landing up in Song of Songs.My second session explored the command in 1 Cor 14:1 to 'Pursue love and eargestly desire spiritual gifts' under the title 'ambition for the church'.This morning I preached Song of Songs 3:6-5:1.It was such a pleasure to conti…

mp3: The Darwin, Dawkins Debate: Has Science Killed God? (Andrew Wilson)

mp3: The Darwin, Dawkins Debate: Has Science Killed God?

It's 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin, 150 years since he published "The Origin of Species" and 3 years since Richard Dawkins proposed "The God Delusion". Following this line of thinking, many people are now asking, in terms of belief, whether "Science has killed God?" But is an atheistic view of the world as inevitable or reasonable as is commonly supposed?

Andrew spoke to a similar title in Exeter in November 2008.

mp3: One Kind of God, Three Kinds of People (Stef Liston)

Peter Monkman wins Award

Peter Monkman was Head of Art at my old school from 1994-2004 during which my sister and I studied the subject. She's now a Head of Art too. He now works at Charterhouse, Surrey.

BBC News reports he has won the BP Portrait Award this year.

“When a man has climbed up into the pulpit… it is [so] that God may speak to us by the mouth of a man.“

Colin Adams is talking vanishing pulpits with Alistair Begg (see also Erik Kowalker O Pulpit where art thou?), and Glen Scrivener provides a theology of preaching at Theology Network.

Title: Calvin.

Thirsting for God: Sight of The Cross (William Cowper)

Heard an evangelist attempting to turn people to Christ today by using the 10 Commandments to prove they are sinful - with some success it would seem. God works in mysterious ways... and I praise God for this evangelist. But, I can't help but think William Cowper gets it clearer....

"It was the sight of thy dear cross..."

I thirst, but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share;
Thy words, Immanuel, all forbid
That I should seek my pleasure there.

It was the sight of thy dear cross
First weaned my soul from earthly thing
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings

I want that grace that springs from thee,
That quickens all things where it flows,
And makes a wretched thorn like me,
Bloom as the myrtle or the rose.

Dear fountain of delight unknown,
No longer sink below the brim:
But overflow and pour me down
A living and life-giving stream.

For sure, of all the plants that share
The notice of thy Father's eye,
None proves less grateful…

I'm yours for two trillion quid! Cristiano Ronaldo and Gordon Brown, Chick Flick and Sermon Intros

Developing a gospel-methodology (Exodus 18)

Exodus 18 – Trinity on Mission. I'm preaching Exodus 18 in July, some initial reflections.

Question: How should we run a church?
By tradition? That’s ok if your tradition is the ‘apostolic teaching’ but if it’s about doing things how we’ve done them before then the odds are we have diverged from scripture and will miss the wind of the Holy Spirit.By sentiment? It’s nice but you don’t let Gordon Brown carry on just because he waited a long time to get the job.By democracy? The problem here is that the majority is often wrong. Try the spies of the promised land for example. Since when did people know what’s good for them. Besides which, though it’s good for people to be involved isn’t the direction of the gospel receiving from the top rather than popular opinion deciding. The early church looks for qualified people from among themselves to be appointed by leaders - and sometimes they pray at seem to know...By gifting? Having one key person around who everyone gathers. This is fun in…

The Centrality of the Cross

On Monday I'm giving a lecture on The Centrality of the Cross for the Pennisula Gospel Partnership Training Course. I'm pretty much ready but, if you were me - what would you say? What are the issues? How would you argue the case?

(all of which is assuming that the cross is actually central...)

Lewis Roderick preaching at Christchurch Newport

I'm a big fan of Lewis Roderick who is an Associate Staff Worker for UCCF in London, you can listen to or watch him preaching on Acts 17:22-34 last Sunday. He's also one of the Prognosis bloggers.

Christchurch is part of Sovereign Grace Ministries, a reformed charismatic network similar to Newfrontiers.

Proverbs 8: Wisdom at Creation

I'm preaching Proverbs 8-9 at the end of this month, and in November. Googling around I found a few references to it... Firstly, there is Michelangelo who famously portrays creation in the Sistine Chapel, notice the woman 'wisdom' next to God as he creates. Secondly, William Cowper wrote a hymn based Proverbs 8:22-31

Ere God had built the mountains, Or raised the fruitful hills;
Before he filled the fountains That feed the running rills;
In me, from everlasting, The wonderful I AM,
Found pleasures never wasting, And Wisdom is my name.

When, like a tent to dwell in, He spread the skies abroad;
And swathed about the swelling Of ocean’s mighty flood;.
He wrought by weight and measure, And I was with him then;
Myself the Father’s pleasure, And mine, the sons of men.

Thus wisdom’s words discover Thy glory and thy grace,
Thou everlasting lover Of our unworthy race!
Thy gracious eye surveyed us Ere stars were seen above.
In wisdom thou hast made us, And died for us in love.

And couldst thou …

Galatians: Biblical Theology and the role of the Law

Australian Newfrontiers blogger Mick Porter is blogging through my favourite New Testament book, Galatians. In Part 12: Biblical Theology and the Law, he offers these diagrams and conclusions:

* Despite what commentaries by some very respected authors say, we were not all under law before Christ and the law is not the universal form of slavery that all people are under today if they don't know Christ.
* Salvation history is vitally important - Paul's arguments in Galatians have everything to do with the order in which things have taken place from Abraham to Christ.
* The role of Israel prior to Christ is essential for all Christians to understand. Israel was the son living under a guardianship waiting to enter the inheritance - and the law was the guardian. The inheritance came but they were unwilling to give up the guardian. Gentiles were under slavery to idols, were offered positions of sonship, but threatened this by also starting to place themselves under the guardian.


The second part of our weekend with John & Sue Hosier was a little 'cheese and wine' evening in Exminster (classy, eh!) with some of the other leaders from the church family. Having heard John's 15 reflections on 40 years in ministry and knowing John would be preaching on Sunday this was Sue's opportunity to share with us. These are the headlines.

Saved not just busy.
Enthusiasm for church.
Rejoicing in the gospel.
Visionary - see it.
Amused at people and life.
Nourishers, plan to be hospitable, and nourish souls.
Tender - better to be naive than cynical.

Long suffering, endure.
Evangelists are a rare breed, value them, and do the work too.
Adventurous not timid or boring.
Devoted - everyone is, but what to?
Even tempered with the flock.
Serve in love.
Happy in God from the inside.
Intercession - he intercedes for us!! - be prayerful too.
Patiently endure with people and circumstances.

I love hanging out with Christians who are older than me. I have so much to learn from …

Superlative Sunday: Jesus loves the church, me too!

What a morning! A time of worship with gospel-saturated songs and prophetic words, followed by the brilliant John Hosier on Ephesians 3:7-13 which on a mere wordle style analysis was emphatically about Christ and the church. Definitional preaching that held Christ up for us to believe in, to revel in, to see!

 John preached the same message at CCK Brighton last month. I'll add a link to todays version when it goes online later this week.
"We cannot afford to be casual about the local church""The United States of America compares to the church of Jesus Christ like a speck of dust compares to the sun." (Piper, quoted by Hosier)"These are my people" (...and this is my crowd. These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights.)And he read the Nicean creed! Could make a case for the Athanasian given its Trinity Sunday, but hey - a creed in Newfrontiers is cool. As John says, sure we don't make a habit of reading them but we really really believe them.

Piper is…

The Church thrives by virtue of her union with Christ (Mark Lauterbach)

I cite this at length because Mark isn't blogging anymore and this is brilliant. 
Mark Lauterbach, pastor of Grace Church San Diego:

"The temptation of my heart is always to take a work of God and turn it into a self-improvement project. Acts is about the continuing work of Christ to build his church by the Spirit of God and through the witness of his people. Human servants are all over – but Luke wants us to see this is the work of Christ. My heart wants to turn it into a blueprint for what I need to do... Acts 2:42-47 is the end of a passage about the pouring out the Spirit of God by the exalted Christ. It is about how the Spirit of God is the active presence of God in this last chapter of history... Acts 2:42-47 contains no exhortations. It is a description. It is a description of what it looks like in a local church when the Holy Spirit is active.

These are vital signs. “Vital signs” is a medical image. Doctors look for vital signs in a patient. They look for a strong pulse…

John Hosier and 40 years in ministry

John Hosier, Bible teacher, 'retiring' elder of CCK Brighton is with our church family this weekend which is brilliant. Yesterday he shared lessons from his 40 years in ministry.

The Leaders Poole carries highlights from the same material.

Tim Keller on Writing a Sermon

1. Two weeks ahead: Four hours of Bible Study / exegesis.
2. A few days before: Moving from 'what does the text say' to 'what does it mean to me' (life related)
3. The Day before: Six hours editting it down.
4. On the day: Four x1 hour preaching it. BigThink

Never yet had to preach a sermon four times in one day, though our church is going back to back services in the autumn so twice is going to become more common. I'm definitely a get ahead kind of person - the four hours at least two weeks ahead is a great idea.

Step 2 seems the really hard step - turning an outline of the passage into an applied sermon, Keller excels at this. And then editting is definitely time consuming but pays great dividends for making the word stick.

Can't help but think it's all too easy to go from Step 1 to Step 4 without doing 2 or 3 at all.

So far Step 4 has only ever been preach it once, though we're going back-to-back services in September so here comes preaching twic…

Vote and Pray

Matthew Henry on 1 Timothy 2:1-2:

Here is a charge given to Christians to pray for all men in general, and particularly for all in authority. Timothy must take care that this be done. Paul does not send him any prescribed form of prayer... Paul thought it enough to give them general heads; they, having the scripture to direct them in prayer and the Spirit of prayer poured out upon them, needed not any further directions. Observe, The design of the Christian religion is to promote prayer; and the disciples of Christ must be praying people...

Pray for all men, for the world of mankind in general, for particular persons who need or desire our prayers. See how far the Christian religion was from being a sect, when it taught men this diffusive charity, to pray, not only for those of their own way, but for all men.

Pray for kings (v. 2); though the kings at this time were heathens, enemies to Christianity, and persecutors of Christians, yet they must pray for them, because it is for the pub…

Martin Luther on 'this royal marriage'

Not Charles and Di, or Charles and Camilla... Christ and the Church:
“Who can even begin to appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can comprehend the riches of this glorious grace? Christ, the rich and divine bridegroom, marries this poor, wicked whore, redeems her from all of her evil, and adorns her with all of his goodness. It is now impossible for her sins to destroy her, for they are laid on Christ and swallowed up by him. She has her righteousness in Christ, her husband, which she now can boast is her very own… through our marriage all that is his is mine and all this is mine is his..[she] says… ‘my beloved is mine and I am his’” Like the angel says: "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb."
And the church is very much invited, she's the bride.

FREE Download Seven D.A. Carson Books

12 Steps to Soul Winning

Merrie Theologian turns evangelism trainer:

See the other 10 steps at 'Soul Winning Made Easy'

The Day After Tomorrow?

In 2004 Roland Emmerich brought us Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal entertaining us with the possiblity of the jet stream moving and bring a new ice age to much of the northern hemisphere.

BBC has a documentary on The Jet Stream and us which illustrates the British obsession with the weather and our reasons for interest in it. The Weatherman says the future of the Jet Stream is the biggest question for the future of humanity.

Perhaps not quite the biggest, but no doubt it has the potential to make some difference. The Met Office and Co now need to be able to predict the future - which is one of the helpful uses of maths and at the same time something that we're unlikely to ever accomplish. The Jet Stream will move north, and south... the universe seems wired for repetitive cycles of things and we find ourselves living in the middle of it, searching for something solid to grab hold of.

On  iPlayer until June 7th for those in the UK.

Does Chris Moyles Love the Church?

HT: @JoelVirgo yesterday. Chris Moyles on Radio 1, 1hr 10mins into the programme talks about watching a service from Kingsgate Church in Peterborough on BBC1 recently.

He's blown away by a meeting that is "all about Jesus, baptism and having a Happy Day" and notes that he wanted to play the Hillsongs song "Mighty to Save" on his show, but didn't think he could get away with it because of all the stuff about a saviour...

Chris, I'm glad you enjoyed it and would happily assure you that what you saw isn't all that rare. Yes there is plenty of dead-christianity around but rumours of the death of the church are exaggerated. She is very much alive.

Watch That's the Spirit on iPlayer until June 7th.
Simon Mayo on the future of religion, 1hr 50mins into his programme on Tuesday


Love the church (The Song 3:6-5:1)

Thoughts welcome on this sketchy outline which should fit somewhere in the upcoming 'Love the church' weekend.

Intro: Do you know the love of God? We all want to be loved. Exploring this in our experience and culture - the desire for acceptance and appreciation. Perhaps some critique but mostly I want to draw on the good of this.

Not just any man: The LORD (smoke in the wilderness), The King (David’s son) who comes and dies for the one he loves, the aroma of the wedding is the aroma of Jesus' death. He comes for his bride - the day of his gladness... the wedding supper of the lamb.

He’s not besotted with ‘you’ (The Song isn’t "Jesus and me"); Christ is besotted with the church whom he loves. He is totally captivated with her, his death has made her shiny and beautiful.

So, be part of the on…

Review: Planet Narnia (Michael Ward)

By Jove, I waited a month for this book to arrive and it was worth it. Michael Ward is a man immersed in CS Lewis' work and in the process came across a key that unlocks the depths of the Narniad. The bulk of the book explores The Planets in the Lewis writings generally, in the Narniad and the theological implications. Brief treatment is given to the context Lewis wrote into, and the connection between his book Miracles and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I neither know Lewis or Medieval literature enough to truly evaluate the claims of the book.

I'm drawn in by Ward's observations about The Planets, but perhaps more captured by the ideas of how to communicate ideas in apologetics, in narrative and in imagination. He observes Lewis moving from Miracles to The Lion using the imagery of Jupiter (though 'it is not true') to communicate powerfully and imaginatively the same message. It's a softer approach but more appealling - though there is something inviti…

Terry Virgo interviewed on The Church by Mike Reeves

The latest Mike Reeves interview is up: 
Theology Network tabletalk: Terry Virgo on The Church.
Some priceless stuff in there.
Mike has also interviewed Terry on his other great passion, grace.

Transcript by Dan Bowen

Going to University? Free Student Cook Book and Video Resources

Going to University in the autumn? Or, a church student or youth worker, pastor, parent, grandparent...?

Check out 44 videos to prepare you for student life from Andy Croft (Soul Survivor), Lou Fellingham (Phatfish), Roger Carswell, Krish Kandiah (Evangelical Alliance), Cathy Burton, Terry Virgo, Graham Daniels many others... and order free copies of the student cookbook with recipes from The Vicar's Wife Elisa Beynon, 

Get ready to go!

Review: Just Do Something (Kevin DeYoung)

In a universe without God it really doesn't matter all that much what you do. If there is a God then that begins to raise questions about what to do with my life? Much of the questions about this are new questions, no-one has to ask career questions a few centuries ago - you'd just do what your parents did, nor marriage questions in some cultures - your parents could sort that for you. We are where we are though.

I picked up Kevin DeYoung's previous book 'Why we're not emergent' at Together for the Gospel last year. Some of the emergency engagement went past me, having not read much of that myself, though I liked the chapter the doctrine of scripture. His next book is much smaller and hits the question of guidance, walking between charismatic paralysis and its non-charismatic equivilents. The simple fact is that there's a lot of tosh in the evangelical mind about guidance concerning dreams, visions, fleeces, impressions, doors, verses-out-of-context etc. No…