Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2016

I went to church: 5 things I learned

As we've just moved from Exeter to Nottingham. I've no desire to compare our old and new church families - they're unique, similar in many ways, shaped by their respective history, people and communities.... and we're newbies in our new church just getting oriented.

In this post I want to reflect on five particular strengths that impacted me from our time at our previous church.

All churches face different challenges at different times in their pursuit of faithful communication of Christ through the words and lives of their members. A cookie cutter approach won't do, and much prayer, thought and action is needed.

I hope you'll hear questions and issues to think about here rather than prescriptive answers.
1. Gospel Environments. Everything communicates. It's possible to say true words but to deny them by the way the tone or posture they're said it. What do people expect? Is the setting welcoming or explicitly or implicitly excluding? Does what's sa…

Great is thy faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Jesus my brother,
Always to catch me when often I fall,
Bursting with joy to bring me to Thy Father
Faultless and pure; with no blemish at all.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Spirit my helper,
Promise of grace and salvation assured.
Lifting me Christ-ward when I’m worn and burdened,
Giver of peace as my heart is restored.

(Additional verses: Matt Giles)

Image: Ray - Morning Dew, Creative Commons.

We're all foreigners, widows and orphans (gospel-shaped ethics in the Law)

I'm reading Exodus with my seven year old. In chapter 2:23-25 we read:
 The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. The LORD acts and says in chapter 4:
 22 Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so that he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.”’ Which, through the defeating of the Pharaoh brings the people to worship God. There, before being taught of the LORD's beautiful means of atonement through the types and shadows of the Tabernacle and Priesthood they're given some hard-hitting case law to help them build a community life that reflects the heart of God, being "holy as I am holy..." The tone is very much …

An introduction to the Psalms

A few thoughts on the Psalms...

1. Psalms are for singing. Today some churches only sing Psalms. Certainly they were part of the songbook of the early church who were told to sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It's objected that if you sing the Psalms only you wouldn't sing the name "Jesus" though you'd sing lots of his titles and in my view develop a deeply Trinitarian worship life that is theologically and emotionally rich.

 2. Psalms are poetry. Look for lines that repeat ideas or themes. Subtle changes add nuance and weight to the lyrics. Psalms also use images and illustrations to help us not just think but see, not just reason but imagine.

 3. Psalms is a structured book. A song book can be arranged by author, title, theme etc. The Psalms are arranged theologically. In an age when we barely see a whole verse projected on screen we need to learn that songs have context – in other Bible books and within the book of Psalms itself.
 "Moses gave to the Is…

Penal Substitionary Atonement for Kids

My son and I are reading Exodus. We've reached chapter 21, the brief section of law before the instructions on Tabernacle and Priesthood. A recurring theme was the phrase "put to death" as the consequence of sin.

e.g.
v12 “Anyone who hits a person and kills him must be put to death. 13 But if a person kills someone accidentally, God allowed that to happen, so the person must go to a place I will choose. 14 But if someone plans and murders another person on purpose, put him to death, even if he has run to my altar for safety.  Which made sense to him though it feels very alien in our culture. He's got some decent redemptive history and biblical theology from the Jesus Storybook Bible, we've read Genesis and Exodus 1-20, and he's got a good eye for the shape of the story.

Then we read verse 15
“Anyone who hits his father or his mother must be put to death. Which produced one of the more viceral reactions I've seen from him in Bible reading. And a cry of &quo…

Why didn't Christ come earlier if humanity has always needed saving?

I was asked this question recently. I like questions because they help me think. Jesus is a great asker and answerer of questions. What would you say? A few thoughts.

Jesus was born, lived, died and it's claimed was raised from the dead, 2000 years ago. Eyewitnessed and leaving an impression on human history that is hard to deny.

Why then? 

Bible writers tell us Jesus came "at just the right time" (Romans 5:6) and "when the set time had come" (Galatians 4:4).

The Bible daraes to speak of a mysterious thing called time. From Genesis 1, evening and morning, seasons... not just time but a purposeful progression. Time is  a curious and intruiging thing.

But why the wait?

The misconception is that this was a delay to salvation. Salvation was, the Bible says, planned before creation, and was always available. It's clear that Enoch, Abraham and Ruth, David, Anna and Simeon and many others knew the LORD.  There was no lack in revelation. The Triune God made himself …

I went to a Cupping

On Thursday evening I went to my first Cupping. This is wine-tasting for coffee-lovers.

We gathered in the very cool offices of a local web company, a table set with boxes of with samples of some newly roasted coffees, bowls and spoons, with seven of us gathered for a couple of caffeine tasting hours.

We tried out five coffee roasted by Dave Stanton of Crankhouse Coffee. Dave is a friend of a friend, who runs his own roasting business. We buy our church coffee from him because it's good coffee, and because as people who love our city we choose to support a local entrepreneurs and culture makers.

We began by looking at the beans and seeing the difference in appearance between washed and unwashed beans. They were ground and we took in the different aromas. And then we added water and waited for four minutes. We took in the aromas again before slurping from our spoons and looking for the different smoothness, acidity, and flavours.

Dave presented us with Kenya Kainamui AA, Kenya Kia…

I went to a Corbyn rally

On Saturday I went to my first political rally. Some of our best friends invited us.

I'm not deeply political. It wasn't really part of my upbringing but I've become more politically aware over the past few years. A the same time, British society seems to have become more political too - maybe it always was and I wasn't noticing. Social media might be dominated by pictures of cats but political conversation isn't far behind that.

I vote and I've gradually reached some fairly settled convictions on the political compass though I'm still learning. I've written about the EU referendum result here for Premier Christianity.

We share similar politics to our friends, though they're far more invested in the cause than we are. I respect their views and their commitment. I find my nominal politics challenged by their living faith in it. Our friends were organising this rally - they and their son marked up with Jeremy Corbyn t-shirts. I think it's cool th…