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Showing posts from July, 2013

Joining God in the renewal of all things

Some excellent resources from Trinity Grace Church, New York. on a big vision for life in this world.

MP3: Resurrection Culture - Renewal - Jon TysonMP3: Resurrection Culture - Renewal - AJ Sherrill
"The gospel is for all things, everything was made by and for Jesus, holds together in Jesus, will be reconciled in Jesus. The creator and the redeemer are one and the same."

A culture of renewal:

"Can we have vocationally minded pastors and theologically minded entrepreneurs, and sermons in which as people listen they're coming up with new business ideas..."

Renewing education:

 Renewing (traditional) fine art:

"The role of the church is to implement the victory of God through suffering love." NT Wright

Jon Tyson asks these questions:
1. Ask, what's wrong? Act to confront it.
2. Ask, what's missing? Take initiative.
3. Ask, what's good? Get behind it.
4. Ask, what's confusing? Clarify and compel people.

"Culture is to bring order out of …

The Psalms are Christian (Mike Reeves mp3s)

The Psalms are many people's favourite book in the Bible but can we read them as a whole? How do they speak of Christ?

My favourite book on the Psalms is Andrew Bonar's Christ and his people in the book of Psalms, which is available as a free PDF on Google Books.

If I had to listen to something on the Psalms, then these mp3s from Mike Reeves would be my pick.
Mike is the author of The Good God (UK) / Delighting in the Trinity (US) and after many fruitful years on the staff of UCCF has now been announced as Theologian-at-large for Wales Evangelical School of Theology. He says: "we long to fuel love for Christ, the reformation of the church and the spread of the gospel." I think these mp3s will do a bit of that!

Download mp3s
Psalms - introduction
Psalms are Messianic Psalms are Messianic Q&A Psalms - Book 1 - part 1
Psalms - Book 1 - part 2
Psalms - Book 1 - part 3 Psalms - Book 2 - probably a musical term
Psalms - Book 3 
Psalms and Law 1 Q: Best book to read on the law Ps…

Are we creating safe places for real questions from real people, for doubts and journey and unresolved mess?

Today I had my final regular meeting with Toby. He's been a member of my church Community Group and served as the president of the Evangelical Christian Union at Exeter University. I hope it'll be a lasting friendship, though he leaves the city this weekend.

Over the past couple of years we've met, eaten, shared life and hours and hours of conversation about his questions and doubts, no question unaskable - though I don't claim to have every answer. We've talked about leadership and relationships, and together we've devoured Galatians and half of Genesis.... It's been fun.

I find some young leaders with tender hearts are prone to disqualify themselves. They need space to work through their questions and the implications of knowing Jesus. I hope I've helped Toby with that.

This morning we met at The Quay in Exeter. Ideal in a "heat-wave".

We chatted about his future aspirations before being interrupted by an uncharacteristically friendly Brit …

Connect: how to double your number of volunteers

Churches (and my work with Christian Unions) are all about volunteers. If people don't serve nothing happens. A church can staff some things (when the people give):
"those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." A church may staff some administration too but few can do much more than that. Nor would it be healthy for a church to collectively decide to give a fortune to staff things when the body could collectively serve one another.... besides which the Sunday meeting of a church has opportunities for everyone to serve in some way.

The opportunity is great. A church exists to give the people of its city (town or village) the opportunity to encounter Jesus... (likewise a CU for a University)...  Men and women who know the service of Jesus for them delight to serve others. But how do we facilitate that? How do we help people serve?

Nelson Searcy is pastor of The Journey in New York City. This book has the feel of a book built on theological foundatio…

The same old story, retold

A rare cinema outing last month reminded me that classic stories can be told again and again. The superman story, this time as Man of Steel, doesn't get old. Most retellings are imperfect and this one was a mess in places, but the key elements pull deeply on our hearts.

Much more must the Christian story be retold in each generation. Not so much with better effects and a few different philosophical murmerings (as with Man of Steel), perhaps more like Homer's Odyssey becoming O Brother Where Art Thou? Some hard work is needed because this is an eternal story for all cultures - the truest story, the true myth, that introduces the Triune God to his world, and opens our eyes to where we find ourselves.
“The core issue of contextualisation is the effective retelling of the story of God in our culture.” (David Capener) There are lots of ways of doing this. Differences might be subtle rather than obvious - and the Christian knows that what they say still has to represent Christ truly…

Harmonising the gospels?

My friend Adrian Reynolds cautions against the practice of harmonising the gospel accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I want to heartily agree. It's noble to try and fit the pieces together, and as he notes it's useful to demonstrate consistency between the eyewitness accounts.

The message can however become blurred if we combine all the accounts. We hear noise and obscure the intention of each author to show us a different angle on Jesus. There is another way! The beauty of the gospels is partly they they give four consistent but diverse accounts to lead us to belief in Jesus. Each has particular emphases to show us about the person and work of Jesus because only looking at one facet of a diamond never reveals its true beauty.

So, assure yourself that they're consistent and coherent (by reading them).

And then come and enjoy the differences. Earlier this year as students across the country dug into the Uncover Luke's gospel I set them an exercise o…

MP3: Jesus wants the rose

Download: Jesus wants the rose (mp3)

"There was once a dream that was Rome, you could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish. It was so fragile and I fear that it will not survive the winter."

The dying Marcus Aurelius speaks in the film Gladiator. A hope. A dream. A whisper. Such was Ruth's story. Last night she'd gone to see Boaz. The proposal moment in her story. He'd accepted her invitation to marriage but then said: there is another person more eligible than I. We must ask him first. Boaz lived by the law of God that reflected the heart of God to provide for the orphan, the widow and the foreigner.

And so she goes home, hoping that her dream will not vanish, her fragile hope for the future.

The morning comes and Boaz gathered the closer redeemer and 10 others at the town gates of Bethlehem. Twelve, with the town and Ruth in the background. Shrewd Boaz offers the land of Naomi. God's story isn't ethereal spirituality it's…

Jesus wants the rose

UPDATE: MP3 Sermon from July 7th 2013 - Ruth 4:1-12 Jesus wants the rose (33mins).

Matthew Henry writes of unlikely biblical heroine Ruth:
"She was never said to be beautiful; if ever she had been so, we may suppose that weeping, and travelling, and gleaning, had withered her lilies and roses" Ruth is a ruin, she was childless after ten years of marriage, and then widowed, and now living in a community where she's a vulnerable outsider.

In Ruth 4:1-12 Boaz pursues marriage to Ruth. Another doesn't want her, but he wants the rose. And he takes up the full force of the heart-of-God-revealing-law to protect her and provide for her and give all that he has to her.

Boaz wants her, withered as she is. Much more does the true and greater Boaz, Jesus want us. Boaz, forefather of Jesus foreshadows him. An example but husbands, but first an invitation to all of us.

With all our shame, with all our "if you really knew me you'd know" fear of rejection. Jesus wants…

You gave everything for me

"[Jesus] looked, like Boaz, with compassion on the deplorable state of fallen mankind. At a vast expense he redeemed the heavenly inheritance for us, which by sin was mortgaged, and forfeited into the hands of divine justice, and which we should never have been able to redeem.

[Jesus] likewise purchased a peculiar people, whom he would espouse to himself, though strangers and foreigners, like Ruth, poor and despised, that the name of that dead and buried race might not be cut off for ever.

[Jesus] ventured the marring of his own inheritance, to do this, for, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; but he was abundantly recompensed for it by his Father, who, because he thus humbled himself, has highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.

Let us own our obligations to him, make sure our contract with him, and study all our days how to do him honour."

Matthew Henry, Commentary.