Monday, May 28, 2007

“You’re supposed to be helping him, ‘getting him off the streets’…”

Here's a refreshingly unacademic post worth a read from the blog of Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing; it's a piece written by Rachel Hughes, a youthworker in Peckham, and speaks of the realities involved in reaching unchurched young people with the gospel - always an exciting thing! It's a conversation between Rachel and two young people at one of the youth clubs she runs, and it rings true with what is fairly normal outside middle-class Britain I guess. I'm always indebted to having the camera zoom-out and being reminded that there is more to Christian ministry than student work.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Something For The Weekend...

'Humility is not a mere ornament of a Christian, but an essential part of the new creature.'

Richard Baxter

Bish has a great post here on the soaring and sobbing of the doctrine of election as we read Romans 9-11.
Al Mohler has some interesting observations on the increasingly popular
(yet as yet absent from my bookshelf) The Dangerous Book for Boys here.
HT: Ed

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Music in a CU context...

At Focus tonight we're looking at Romans 14, as Paul shows how the gospel affects how we relate to brothers and sisters who have different views on disputable matters (in the passage it's food and special days). Where often such differences can quickly end-up causing frustration and friction, Paul calls all to seek the edification of others, following Christ's example. As Paul has shown since the start of Romans 12, the gospel brings about sober-minded selfless thinking with enemies, with authorities, and here across individual churches.

In the context of Christian Unions, student mission teams dedicated to speaking the gospel of Jesus Christ across campuses and colleges, often secondary issues can hamper such critical primary aims. One of these issues is often music/worship; does the way we concieve of music at our CU meetings hamper whether our brothers and sisters feel held back, restricted, left out, relegated, ignored in the work of the CU? The great thing about Romans 14-15 is that everyone is addressed and called to be selfless, which like the marriage in 1 Cor 7.1-4, is the result of gospel-thinking in the believer.

Mark Stone, a UCCF staff worker in the north-east, did a really practical seminar session on the topic of leading music in a CU context, up here in Durham in November. You can download the two files here (1) and here (2).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bits and Bobs...

Martin Downes hosts an interview with Carl Trueman here who has some important things to say about humility. The internet is a unique portal, where words can be seen by all and brought up long after they were issued. We had a quotation on our bathroom door back home that read 'Keep your words tender, for tomorrow you may have to eat them'. It's true; the bathroom quote page rarely lies.

HT: The Bish

Also, the latest press release from UCCF on the Word Alive issue can be found here.

The definite lack of original content on the blog in recent weeks has been due to the fact that revision is well underway for finals (finishing June 1st). However, I have posted two pics of my own handcrafted dinner-for-one from Saturday night. On the left we have leftovers of my homemade lemon ice-cream, and on the right we have a fish-finger, peas, and lettuce sandwich, with added mayo.

A Year Ago: At church we were looking at God's sovereignty and suffering; where the rubber hits the road and theology is shown to be truly practical.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It Makes Sense...

We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it... Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.

J. I. Packer, Knowing God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The skill of humility...

Yep, that was intentionally ironic. Five suggestions from Michael Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Durham, on staying humble...

1. Thankfulness... 'Thankfulness is a soil on which pride does not easily grow'.
2. Co
nfession... be honest about your sin; criticise yourself in God's presence.
3. Accept humiliations... however hard that may be.
4. Don't worry about any status you have apart from how you are in God's sight.
5. Use your sense of humour:

'Laugh about things. Laugh at the absurdities of life. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your own absurdities. We are, all of us, infinitisimally small and ludicrous creatures within God's universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself.
Ramsey's words as quoted by John Stott.

Creation waits with eager longing...

BBC Washington correspondent Matt Frei has an interesting article and film on how climate change is dividing evangelicalism in America here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Packer on the Word...

Mark Driscoll blogs on a lecture he observed from Jim Packer (or 'J.I.', if you know him well) here. Reading Knowing God again has made me realise how brilliantly rich Packer's writings are. You just long to keep devouring the pages as he throws his flashlight on the glorious God of the gospel, inviting us to grasp something of who God is, and marvel and change. Driscoll writes that Packer's address ended with three exhortations, which I'll quote here:

  1. The hope of our glory must always lie beyond this world and to nurture that hope a reading of the Puritan Bunyan's book Pilgrim's Progress is essential.
  2. Total and continual immersion in the Psalms is exceedingly good for the soul and too infrequently practiced.
  3. Studying the lives of those who faithfully handled God's Word is helpful and Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones must be included at the top of that list.
HT: The Resurgence

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Gardeners' Questiontime

Reading Genesis 3 again this evening with pizza and brothers.

It simply sums up in narrative form the absolute arrogance of human rebellion, the casting aside of the Creator God and the willed decision to become gods ourselves. Sin is in essence an act of revolution: to replace God with myself.

The woman, knowing that the serpent had outlined that eating the fruit will make them 'like God', still chooses to eat of the forbidden tree. That's despite both the implications laid out by the serpent and it being an act of straight-forward disobedience to God. The narrative also picks out the subtle exchange of authority from what God has said, to what humanity judges to be right; the woman sees the fruit looks good, 'a delight to the eyes' (3.6) and that it is able to make one wise, and it is this that takes preference over obeying God's word.

The clear difference between the actual command God gives in 2.16-17 and the woman's version of what God said (3.3) is peculiar (the lack of 'neither shall you touch it' in the original). Sure, woman hadn't been created when the command was given, suggesting man had passed the command on, but either he'd got it wrong, or she'd not paid enough attention to it. Either way, God's words are not as familiar to the couple as they need to be, considering they are the very words of the God who created them, the very words that previously spoke life into nothingness. Consequently the serpent is able to cause mass confusion by first questioning God's word (3.1: 'Did God actually say...') and then casting doubt on the reality of God's judgement (3.4: 'You will not surely die...').

He's made God out to be incoherent, twisted in intention, and a liar. To read this passage is to see graphicly in a snapshot moment how sin works. And it's easy to point the finger and throw our hands up at this evil anonymous passerby, whom we call 'sin'. But in reality it is us, our hearts, it is me who does this. And then I remember that moment this afternoon when I doubted whether the real world actually needs the gospel. Or that time yesterday when I was reluctant to believe God's desire that I be sanctified was true, rather fancying my own will for myself. Or when I questioned whether the Bible was clear in what it said.

I love that closing line from Chris Tomlin's song 'Indescribable', it speaks so simply of the wonder of Jesus' death for sinners, sinners like Adam, and sinners like me.

'You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same; you are amazing God'

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Goldsworthy and the Bible...

Having spent most of the last few weeks trying to submerge myself in the writings of Graeme Goldsworthy for my dissertation, I'm now a massive fan of his work. He's passionate about understanding the Bible as a whole, and a whole that points to Jesus Christ, which is what he calls biblical theology.

Justin Buzzard interviews Goldsworthy on his blog here and it really brings out Graeme's heart for biblical theology to be pastoral, that every Christian might long to see how the Scriptures testify to Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Faithful workman...

John Stott announced his retirement this last week, at the age of 86. Imagine spending a lifetime devoted to pointing to someone else. A life well spent.

“If He is not who he said He was, and if He did not do what He said He had come to do, the whole superstructure of Christianity crumbles in ruin to the ground.”

Basic Christianity

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Probem solving...

"The greater the problem, the greater the gospel.
The smaller the problem, the smaller the gospel.

"We need to be very clear on the problem, and its magnitude, to understand and be thrilled by the gospel that solves it... many heresies stem from having the gospel without a problem. To have a Jesus who is the ultimate answer, but to not understand the problem, means we come up a problem resembling whatever
we think the world's greatest problem is."

Michael You

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Being Fishers of Men...

I like Mark Driscoll. He's a thirty-six year old pastor of Mars Hill church (not to be confused with Rob Bell's Mars Hill Bible Church...) in Seattle, Washington. For those of you who like the labels, he describes himself as first Christian, second evangelical, third missional, and fourth reformed. Apart from that you really need to listen to him to see what he's like.

He's big into church planting. A good thing. And he's big into reaching the totally unchurched. Those for whom church is another world. Church planting for the unchurched. Bigtime. To blow away those cobwebs, take a look at an eight-minute video he made for a church-planting conference here. He also said this:

So the question is if you want to be innovative: How do you get young men? All this nonsense on how to grow the church. One issue: young men. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. They’re going to get married, make money, make babies, build companies, buy real estate. They’re going to make the culture of the future. If you get the young men you win the war, you get everything. You get the families, the women, the children, the money, the business, you get everything. If you don’t get the young men you get nothing. You get nothing.

He's got a point, and he's doing everything he can in response to it.