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Showing posts from June, 2011

A Nose for Theology

Peter Leithart has a thought about noses:
"Idols have noses, but can’t smell (Psalm 115). That means, for starters, they can’t breathe in the aroma of sacrifice. So what’s the point of turning animals to smoke? It also means that they are not to be feared. If their noses don’t breathe in, they can’t breathe out either. Yahweh can breathe life into Adam; idols can’t. Yahweh’s nose burns against disobedient Israel; idols noses can’t burn, nor can they breathe out smoke and fire. Therefore: Do not fear them." See also a thought on hearing, from Jeremy Begbie on Music.

Jealousy Wins

Ron Frost on Jealousy, Beauty and God:
"Beauty and jealousy are oil and water words—they aren’t a good match—but in God they come together. God’s beauty is seen in his relational devotion—in his love. Even in our humanity we see beauty in the people who love us well. The wrinkles of a caring grandmother are winsome etchings of love to the eyes of her grandchildren; and the aging body of a devoted wife will still bring a unique beauty to her husband’s heart from their many shared years of life..."READ MORE
Elsewhere: Don't miss Marcus Honeysett's review of Love Wins

The Song of Songs: Who's being allegorical eh?

Ellen Davis, in a book review observes:
"a sexual interpretation of the Song is allowable, but scholars interested in the poet’s original intention must in honesty admit that such an interpretation is metaphorical, indeed allegorical." Very daring for her to throw the accusation hurled against the mainstream back at these modern critics: Historical and Literary study of The Song says it's allegorical to say it's just about human love!!

These are days when many resist any interpretation of The Song as about the love of God for his people... following the footsteps of Mahaney, Driscoll and Marcia Falk etc. One has to ask why?!

The mainstream historical approach held by the church for centuries (millenia) is not dead today. See it maintained by many - such as Ellen Davis, Robert Jenson... along with the Church Fathers, Reformers and Puritans. Catch it as Tim Hughes writes "altogether lovely" into Here I am to Worship (yes: that's a quote from the Bible!)…

Christ and his Church in the Book of Psalms (Andrew Bonar)

I'm enjoying reading Andrew Bonar's book on the Psalms. I came across Bonar a few years back when Tim Chester was blogging from Bonar's excellent Leviticus commentary - a book that really draws the gospel out of a book that intimidates Christians more than most! Both are freely available from Google Books which is great.

In his notes on Psalms Bonar demonstrates the importance of reading them "with your left eye on David and your right eye fully on Christ." Much like the Song of Songs this is a 'both/and' book.... though Scripture is always firstly about Christ, and only then applicable to us in Christ. Psalms are beloved for speaking to the human condition but they do more - they sing of the gospel (which of course makes them deeply applicable to all!).

As Augustine said, "the voice of Christ and his Church was well nigh the only voice to be heard in the Psalms... Everywhere diffused throught is that man whose Head is above, and whose members are b…

Hebrews: Preaching Christ in the New Testament

This week we gathered our Southern teams for an end of year get together - think lots of food and prayer and Bible, in a warehouse in a field in Hampshire... We were joined for a day by our friends from Cor Deo, with Peter Mead walking us through Hebrews.

I was particularly helped by the observations on Hebrews as a sermon, and the way this makes sense of the seemingly very hard warning passages which function as transitions between the three main movements in the sermon. An exposition of Christ, in the three main movements, unpacking three main Old Testament texts, leading us from Exodus to Sanctuary to City, to the hope of being in our home town with our God.

Here's a two minute taster of Peter Mead on Hebrews:

Download: Extract from Hebrews Pt 3

And here's seven minutes from my talk on 'room in God' with some interference in the background.

Download: Extract from Room in God on what it means to be inside Jesus' prayer life

Full session downloads
Session 1 - Dave B…

The Worst Messiah Ever?

Chris Oldfield on Jonah 3 - Resurrection & Repentance.
A good use of 30 minutes as Chris equips a group of students with the gospel.... connecting up Luke 24, Jonah 3 and Song of Songs 8....
the story of the most rubbish preacher, and the worst Messiah ever who drowned who got thrown into the sea, who got strung upon on a cross, worst rescue plan ever, the worst idea ever... the God who loves... we know a kind God.

Knowing the Heart Melting Love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

On Father's Day, on Trinity Sunday... let the gospel resound.

"Collect together all the expressions of God's love to you, and let them lie glowing at your hearts, and melt them." Jeremiah Burroughs, Hosea p182.

"How wonderful to call You Father, How merciful my Father's love. I might have hoped to be Your servant, But You delight to call me son." Matt Giles, How Wonderful

Paul prays that we'll know the full dimensions of the love of God in Christ... Sibbes calls for us to be swallowed up in the love of God. Calvin says that needs for us to be participating in the Spirit. Peter says it's about participating in the divine nature. Moses says we're just the same as everyone else if God doesn't go with us. Jesus says I will always be with you. Jesus prays Abba. The Spirit says Abba. The Father says, "Son, come in to the party".

Learning to breath Narnian air

"We must learn to trek across the Narnian countryside, swim in the Narnian seas, distinguish Calormenes from Archenlanders, and navigate the etiquette of centaurs (it’s a very serious thing to invite a centaur to dinner; they have two stomachs after all). Indeed, we must learn to breathe Narnian air, a metaphor that Lewis uses elsewhere to describe what it means to come to know God..."
More from Joe Rigney at Desiring God

A remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit.... and an imaginative university mission

As someone involved in helping to equip students to bring the good news about Jesus to students I find Michael Green's observations in Compelled by Joy helpful. (£5.84 from book depository):

Photo from the IFESWORLD stream
...here is an account of one of the most imaginative missions held in a British university in 2010. It began with a remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a house party in the vacation before the mission, where students really 'fell in love with Jesus'.This was crucial, and led to fervent prayer among them before the mission, continuing into a 24-7 prayer throughout the mission itself. The chief student leader gathered around himself people with a big vision of for the university, clever networkers and students with wide circles of non-Christian friends. The outcome was highly creative. For one thing, they opted for a lot of decentralised events which really made the week come alive.
There was no single 'big name' evangelist, but the diverse…

Abba! Can you have your Spirit coach me a bit...

"The more we come to know the Father through the Son who introduces us to him and vice-versa, the more we can respond with the love that comes from having the Creator himself care for us with a fully-informed love.  He, the one, who knows all about us—even the hairs on our head!—is not forcing distance on us. Instead he draws us near, embracing us as we come to him with our cares, concerns, and questions."READ MORE

The Resurrected Son. Christ, our Joseph

"The dead are raised!" So Jesus described his ministry. A widow's son, a vicar's daughter, and the beloved son of the heavenly Father. Paul proclaimed Jesus and the Resurrection so strongly that men mistook him for advocating two gods, Jesus and Anastasios (Resurrection). Resurrection is astounding because we all observe that it is death to die, and yet Jesus persistently challenges this notion. Death can be a precursor to life, sorrow to gladness, judgement to blessing.This is the story Jesus tells, or at least that Moses tells of Jesus as he writes Genesis 45.

Joseph is the key figure of the final quarter of Genesis, a beloved son condemned, enslaved, accused, neglected, raised up and then encountered by his killers, though they do not recognise him. In Genesis 45 we see something of the risen Joseph with his brothers. In three parts we see the response of people to Joseph. Firstly his brothers, then the Pharaoh and then his father, Jacob/Israel.

Initially we find …

I fear that many of our prayers are lost

Jeremiah Burroughs writes on Hosea 3, of how the gospel means seeking King David... which Burroughs concludes means Christ, great David's greater son. From his commentary p195:
"None can seek God rightly but through Christ, they must seek God in Christ.... You know no God out of Christ, none but he that was in the lap of Mary, and sucked her breastsl he means, none out of him. We must not, we should not, dare to look upon God but through Christ, and seek him together with David. This is the evangelical way of seeking God; when we have sinned, if there be any way of help, it must be by seeking a merciful God; thus far nature goes and msot people go no farther; yea, most Christians, though they have the name of Christ in their mouths, yet their hearts go no father than natural principles carry them. But the seeking God in Christ, is the true spiritual and evangelical way, "the mystery of godliness," to present a Mediator to God every time we come into his presence. I…

What kind of LOVE!

Three gems on the love of God.
Spend 16 minutes listening to Toby Sumpter's bible overview on love: My Song is Love Unknown (read here)An angle on The Song of Songs and the resurrection garden from Daniel Newman when she asks “I know not where they have laid him,” she is in effect asking, “have you seen whom my soul loves?”And Wes English reflects at Theology Network on Deificiation "through His transcendent love he became what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself’’

Samuel Josiah

Our second son was born yesterday morning!

The birth was really quick and we were glad to bring him home in the evening.
Very thankful for a good first night, valuing your prayers as we pursue gospel-shaped parenting and family life.

It's been great to see his older brother embracing and identifying 'Baby Sam'.

Take off your shoes

If God doesn't go with us, we're the same as everyone else. Yet new atheists claim they see no evidence for god being here. And then:
“Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” That's Exodus 3:5, Moses at the burning bush, right? Yes, but then the same thing happens to Joshua. There's no burning bush. This is Joshua 5:15 which is where my Bible read through landed me this weekend. There a man who appears to Joshua (a bit like the man who appeared to Abraham just before Sodom was destroyed). This man is then identified as "the commander of the Lord's army", whom Joshua worship and then:
And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (5:15) Has to be Jesus doesn't it. Matthew Henry: "This Man was the Son of God, the eternal Word." The same one who Jude tells us led his people out of Egypt…

A Christianity that does not need the Spirit of Christ?

"These men devise a Christianity that does not need the Spirit of Christ. [Paul] holds out no hope of blessed resurrection unless we feel the Spirit dwelling in us(Rom 8:11). These men invent a hope devoid of such a feeling.... they will answer that they do not deny we ought to be endowed with the Spirit; but that it is a matter of modesty and humility not to be sure of it.... it is a token of the most miserable blindness to charge with arrogance Christians who dare to glory in the presence of the Holy Spirit, without which glorying Christianity itself does not stand! But, actually, they declare by their own example, how truly Christ spoke: "My Spirit was unknown to the world; he is recognsied only by those among whom he abides (John 14:17)"

Says who? Don't google it.

Are you refreshing company?

Let me tell you about a guy I know. He works for UCCF and he's a member of a Newfrontiers church - and he loves those labels (Galatian 3:28), they matter a lot to him, and he cares which labels you wear too. He's interested in what you make of him almost to the point of anxious fear (1:10, 2:12) and will make much of you (4:17) though strangely you'll feel your gospel-joy lessened for being with him.... CONTINUE READING.

The Saint wades further into Christ

The Antinomian Controversy centres on a disparity between two competing versions of God's promise, one in which much is required of us, the other in which it is not. Behind the debate, two different visions of God himself. Janice Knight's exploration of this in her Orthodoxies in Massachussets studies the literature of the players in the Controversy, and those who influenced them. Study of history isn't because we aspire to the past, but to let the breeze of the centuries blow through, to lift our own cultural blinders and to humbly learn from those who knew Christ before us. The key parties in Massachussets stood on the shoulders of their teachers, Sibbes and Ames.
"Ames admits that "since our love is a desire of union with God it come sin part from what is called concupiscence or appetite. We desire God for ourselves, because we hope for benefits and eternal blessedness from him" Ames's disciples rhapsodize over the beauty of the beloved, but they also …

Your God will be My God!

The Bible tells us that we become like what we worship, what I love shapes me and my relationships with others. So it will be that the church is shaped by her vision of God. Janice Knight highlights a divide in the 17th Century church which can help us see better today. In Orthodoxies in Massachussets she compares two kinds of puritans, two orthodoxies:The Intellectual Fathers (Ames)andThe Spiritual Brethren (Sibbes).

Their Community
The Intellectuals pursed a more radical reformation of the church in England and caused them more trouble with authorities. They took a stronger lead, their "emphasis on the pedagogy of preparationism distinguished them... marking that relationship as more paternal than fraternal" (p36), whereas the Spiritual Brethren were more moderate, and relational.
Their reputations were as the learned Ames contrasted with the sweet-dropper Sibbes.
What kind of leader am I?
Am I a brother, leading as I go with people... or a guru who gathers a crowd?
The dif…