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Showing posts from February, 2012

Michael Green on Evangelism (mp3s)

Michael Green is an evangelist, but in his own words "the term is too restrictive. It does not tell you who I am: a husband, father, grandfather and sports enthusiast. I am both an academic and a pastor, both driven and lazy, both humble and proud, both sociable and reclusive. I am a mixture. We all are. But at the core of that confused middle wihch is myself, there is a passion burning. It has been burning since my late teens, sometimes brightly, sometimes smouldering dully. It is simply this: I have found treasure - by no skill of my own - and I want to share it as widely as I can." (Compelled by Joy, Green: 2011)

Photo from the IFESWORLD stream

Michael is prolific and one of the most energetic 80somethings I've ever met. He came to spend a day with us in Exeter between speaking at the Edinburgh and Liverpool Uni CU mission weeks. It was an honour to have him with my team and half a dozen students on the subject of evangelism.
And you can eavesdrop here:
Evangelism 1: …

Of H&M, Ben & Jerry’s and HDTV

The world is full of alluring things. This is a beautiful world and our hearts seem made for beauty.

The world has been populated with attractive things since the day it was made, since the Triune God made fruit good to look at and juicy to taste, since he made the hairless bipeds with all their curvy gangly bits that fascinate human eyes and captivate our hearts.

Beauty leads our hearts in all kinds of directions but what should most win us?

Read the rest of my article at What You Think Matters

Jesus + Abortion

"A baby in the womb is the same as a baby in a mothers arms".

Abortion has become a seemingly acceptable part of life in Britain. Must we swim with that tide? Or could we stand against it? I listened to Katia preaching at Newfrontiers' 15-19s conference, Newday on "Jesus + Abortion". 

Katia is a student on the Newfrontiers Leadership Advanced course I'm doing, a small part of which includes peer review of one anothers preaching to provide constructive feedback and training. We couldn't find much to suggest because we each felt ourselves deeply addressed on this emotive subject.

We have to think better about abortion. We have to live better on this issue.

We tried to give constructive feedback but mostly we felt personally addressed by God through her excellent and thorough preaching.

Its a half hour preach followed by a testimony and Q&A.
Download mp3: Jesus + Abortion by Katia Yeghnazar

We Gospel

Everyone has something they struggle with. New hearts live in bodies still awaiting resurrection.

Peter ran scared of his own people. Repeatedly. Of the cross. Of Christ being for all nations not just the Jews.

What will they think?

I met with a student leader today over coffee, with Galatians 2:11-3:1 open on the table.

Some characterise Galatians as a harsh letter but no one harshly says "the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me" - those are words of worship that come from a tender heart.

In Antioch Paul was in the room. Paul doesn't cast Peter out, but reminds him again of Christ.

Paul is heart-broken and confused by Peter and the Galatians, as we might be of ourselves.

How did I just do that.... again?

The Scriptures give us a window on an face to face pastoral conversation between two apostles. One "gospels" the other. Condemning him, but not condemning him, and drawing him back to the condemned and risen Christ.

Its the old old story. Hear it ag…

Hell: Because Love Wins

Last week I did a seminar for the Exeter Uni CU on 'what about hell?'

This shouldn't be easy to think about, and it isn't.

We watched the video below to get us thinking - asking ourselves where the "me too!" moments in the video are, and where the "what, no!" moments are. What resonates and what raises questions for us.When someone puts the issue out there its good to hear what's being said.

I wanted us to think about how we feel about hell, or more broadly the prospect of divine judgment (since our doctrinal basis of fellowship only specifies: "The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God's just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.")

Emotionally the subject is difficult, very difficult, personally. Its about people I know who today refuse to come to Christ (i.e. repent).

It's about how we sit between the final Hallelujah chorus (Rev 19), a…

We believe a better gospel than this

I've nothing personally against whoever is behind this video (below), it just makes me sad to see the good news painted so small. I know I've spoken badly myself, and believed this sort of message at times too.

A friend's four year old daughter followed Godwin's Law:'He doesn't really love Jesus, does he? Is he a Nazi?"

The problem is when our beautiful Saviour Jesus is reduced to the cold and functional and logic solution to a problem... rather than being the one who is sent out in love from his generous Father in the power of the Holy Spirit to give himself for us and to us, to catch us up into the sweetness of the life and love of the Triune God.

Better stories and reflections on this:
Geoff Youngs comments: "If God is a perfectionist, the response from earth to his coming is more likely to be “Cripes let’s hide"Alistair Roberts: "We need an evangelical gospel message all about astounding divine love in Christ, not impersonal divine logic…

Communicating for a Change: Andy Stanley

Is it acceptable that huge amounts of energy is poured into someone preparing a sermon that is promptly forgotton, not talked about and may not change lives? 

Now, of course, preaching isn't primarily about conveying information but it is about communication - of Christ. And what if that doesn't actually happen? As a preacher I have to ask myself - why might much of what I say lost? How could even the main point of my sermon be missed? Might it be because I need to communicate better.

As a 32 year old with over 250 sermons under my belt in church and student contexts.I'm thankful for a lot of input on Biblical accuracy but feel need for more help in actually communicating.
, there is obviously an enormous amount for me to learn

Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley & Lane Jones comes very highly recommended. I feel like I've benefitted from it since long before reading it, as people have commended it to me and shared the lessons they've learned. Over the la…

This may be taken allegorically

Ideally a film should show and not tell. Better for action to tell a story than to need a voiceover.  Occasional commentary is ok, but excessive use is annoying and ought not to be necessary. The Bible is packed full of narrative and most of it doesn't include explicit explanation of the events. Leaving people often to avoid narrative because they don't know what to do with it.

Then Paul takes on some of that narrative and says "this may be taken allegorically". He's zoomed out to look at a story arc from Abraham and his two sons through to the church situation in the first century (and today).

Alarm bells sound over breasts that represent the two testaments of the Bible and little foxes who represent sexual temptations - depending on which way you're over-reading The Song of Songs. Permit allegory and you let people make a text mean whatever they want... perhaps a Scripture-writing apostle can do it, but we better not. What's going on?

The fear of alleg…

Of Lovers and Whores: Jeremiah Burroughs on Hosea

"This is the work of ministers to tell people what riches of mercy there are in God, and that all the treasures of those infinite riches of the infinite God are in Jesus Christ, and to be communicated through him." 

This was the aim and achievement of the puritan Jeremiah Burroughs, gospel preacher. In the preaching represented by this 134 page book he holds out Christ, from Hosea 2:14-23, with warmth and tenderness and prophetic insight, to the hearts of his listeners.

£4.50 + p&p (20% discount codes often available online).

Of Lovers and Whores: Jeremiah Burroughs on Hosea 2:14-23

Cover design: James Watts.

FP Impact: Church History & World Mission

For the past three years I've had the privilege and pleasure of introducing Newfrontiers FP Impact interns to 'Church History and World Mission'. It's a one day thing so it's a high altitude survey, that dips into things rather than really dwelling on them.

These are the notes:
Extracts from key figures in church history

The aim is to see the battle for The Triune God through church history, to do some historical theology by reading old texts, and to see where some of the moves have been in the mission of the church from early strength in North Africa and Turkey to the seeping influence of Aristotle and the warm glow of the puritans.

Preacher: proclaim the word of God!

Mike Reeves on Trinitarian implications for preaching:
When I am invited to preach somewhere, things go like this: READER: (reads set Bible passage very nicely and then says) This is the word of the Lord. PEOPLE: mumble LEADER: Thank you, Reader. And now, I’m afraid, Reeves is going to come and try to explain that passage to us. REEVES:(thinks to himself) Oh no, I’m not! This isn’t going to be some English Comprehension exercise. I intend to proclaim the word of God! (walks to pulpit/lectern, trying to shake off grumpiness) I know, it’s a bit pedantic, but it comes from the fear that we’ll merely study the Scriptures as interesting texts instead of hearing them as God’s very words that hold out Christ and draw us to him. For the Spirit breathed out those words that we might fix our eyes on him, the one who reveals the Father to us. Charles Spurgeon, the twinkle-eyed master-preacher of the nineteenth century, put it like this:
The motto of all true servants …