Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2005

Grace in Changing Times

Preached tonight at Reading University Christian Union on Hebrews 13v7-9 - God's Unchanging Grace. Great to see that in changing times, at the end of an academic year, the grace of Jesus remains unchanged forever. It cannot be shaken by bad behaviour or circumstance, it cannot be improved upon. Let our hearts be strengthened by grace!



End of year meetings are photo moments. See full post for a few faces of RUCU 2005. And now they're gone. Some into the workplace. Some to "ministry". Some to return in the autumn.













Million Dollar Baby

Last night we watched Million Dollar Baby. It's beautifully filmed and superbly acted by Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman & Clint Eastwood. A tragic story about achievement, ambition, forgiveness and life (and not really about boxing). Well worth its four oscar (best Director, Film, Lead Actress, Supporting Actor) - even though it left Eternal Sunshine with just one (Screenplay).

Top films seen this year then: (in no particular order, yet) The Village, Garden State, Enduring Love, Million Dollar Baby, Closer, Collateral, Hitchhikers, Batman Begins, The Interpreter...

Most of which are really last years films. Halfway through the year I'm not very optimistic of much improvement.

Thanks Justin, book received.

At the start of this week I recieved my free review copy of Sex & the Supremacy of Christ. Many thanks to Justin Taylor for that. The book comes with a free DVD of the two John Piper's talks that are the basis of his chapters in this excellent book.

Reviewed by thebluefish on May 30th.

Desiring God are keen to make this material widely available. That being the case, you can download reasonable quality videos of most of the content, and also audios.

Conference Videos from Crossway
Conference Audios from DesiringGod.org

Team Days in Washington

Been away since Monday, in Washington (Sussex, UK) on team days with the UCCF South West & South East Teams. We looked at "The Happiness of Jesus Christ" with Jim Paul from L'Abri. See full post for photos and reflections...

*** Home now to celebrate three years of marriage! Hurray! ***












We considered the ethics of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham and of Jesus Christ. How did they determine what was good? And what is the role of happiness within that?

Aristotle considered things that we pursue for their own sake to be good. So, we pursue medicine for the sake of health. Health then is greater than medicine. But we pursue happiness for its own sake so it is a greater good.

Kant inflicted society and the church with a stoic duty. Cold rationalism, acts of goodness devoid of passion and happiness. All that counted was duty. This remains prevalent today. Thankfully the likes of John Piper are doing much to counter this as they call for a passionate joyful church, act…

The Scandal of God being Just

Everyone loves a scandal. Today's tabloids publish yet another Diana scandal (almost eight years after she died...) But there is one scandal the papers always neglect. One that is truly scandalous. One that is truly relevant today.

The hardest book I've ever read (so far) is John Piper's The Justification of God. It's also one of the best. The thesis is that Paul's concern in Romans 9 concerns whether God is righteous. Ultimately God is seen to be righteous because he acts to elevate his own reputation. This is not vanity, since God is the most valuable, most worthy being. To fail to elevate God is the essence of evil.

Over at Wood Chips and Text Musings, A B Canedy arges that The Gospel is Principally the Announcement of God's Own Justification

Very often we look at the gospel as being all about us. We focus upon our justification. Our benefits. Our standings. And to some degree that is all well and good. God's good news is greatly beneficial to us.

But, prim…

God's Global Eden Project

Yesterday was our Orientation for a summer team to Bulgaria. 10 of us will be going, and Kath and I will lead the team. We looked at Mission, Team Life, Working Cross-Culturally, and at Bulgaria.

Here's our first session, on mission. God's Global Eden Project - Psalm 67
The Talk is a complete revision of one I did on Psalm 67 for Reading University Christian Union's Weekend Away in November 2004. Looking at God's grace, God's fame and joy in God as the foundations of missions.

Enjoy! And let's go!

Tim & Dave

These are two of the guys I've discipled this year.
They're both graduating this summer. It's a sad time of year for me.

Aircon for my Soul (Part 3)

When I was first in leadership I was an arrogant idiot. I'd not have admitted that. You might not have noticed it. But I was. I was self-confident. I was proud. I was a very young Christian. Many traits remain.

During that first year in leadership, 1998, I made some right stinkers. I failed to see the big picture. I failed to see the implications of my ideas. I got it wrong. The guy who was our CU Staffworker, Chris Sinkinson, had the confidence in the gospel to rebuke me. May 1998. It was the first time that anyone had ever told me I was wrong. And for it, I am forever grateful.

I got it wrong. And the Chris picked me up and invested time in me. And he could do it because the gospel makes it possible. The gospel means permission to fail. The gospel is a display of God's perfect patience to sinful people. Its a message that says - If God can save Dave Bish he can save anyone. And it's true.

This has huge implications for ministry and ministry training. Above all it means perm…

Four, Five, Six... Listen to the good news!

Four Spiritual Laws. Five Points. Six Pictures. We love to summarise the gospel. To some degree we need to be able to do so. Perhaps our summaries don't always need to be complete. Perhaps they can't ever be complete.... without the summary being the whole Bible.

Emerging Church Blogger, Scot McKnight thinks about Jesus' kingdom and four spiritual laws...

All our so called summaries are deficient to some degree. Many are far too individualistic. Most miss enough of the glory of Christ. McKnight, if I understand him, worries that we don't start with Jesus. Ultimately the gospel centres upon the person of Jesus. I'm not sure I understand what McKnight is saying about the place of scripture and church in this. My slight concern is that he's committing a red letters error and pitting Jesus against Paul and others.

Two summaries are find quite refreshing are John Piper's Quest for Joy, for its focus on glory and joy. Too many summaries are just cold. I think Two …

Aircon for my Soul (Part 2)

When we train leaders first and foremost we are called to teach them the gospel. To apply it to their lives. The gospel is the most practical training in the universe. To have our eyes lifted from lies and sin to reality is the best food for the soul.

One of the key areas in which I train young leaders in how to handle the Bible well. This is essential training. Its essential because without the right approach to scripture we probably wont see the sufficiency of the gospel. We'll focus on minor details and miss the big picture. But there is a danger. It's my greatest fear in training leaders. That we rob them of innocence by giving them essential skills.

Let me explain. I think it's very easy to teach good technique for Bible handling without applying it. It's very easy to help people to see what passages don't say. It's very easy to foster a critical attitude in Bible reading. It's only a short step from this to loving the truth and longing to apply it. But …

Aircon for my Soul (Part 1)

You know the feeling. Its a baking hot day. And man is it today! Topping 30 degrees. A couple of hours ago I was standing in London Waterloo station waiting for my train back to Reading. I'm sure it was well over 30 degrees there. For a few minutes I dived into WH Smith, book browsing to justify my presence there. But what relief. Superb air conditioning. Thankfully the train was equally well equipped.

Good aircon on a day like this is so refreshing. Just like a log fire in midwinter. Though I'm finding that hard to imagine right now! I've spent today with the UCCF London Team. It's be a real joy. They're a great example of a group of people united by Jesus. I feel like I've been basking in the refreshing breeze of the gospel today.

My charge was to share with them about developing leaders. I struggled with pride in preparing. Torn from wanting to impress to not wanting to get stuff wrong. In the end I was arrested by the gospel of Christ.

Developing leaders is t…

Finding Life on Jerusalem Road

Tuesday morning was my final supervision with Steve before he finishes the Relay programme. 80 miles away on the South Coast Kath was doing her final supervision with Lou with a bit of pottery painting and Psalm 23. Not something that had crossed my mind to do.

Over the last two months Steve and I have been studying Luke 9v51-19v27, following Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. This big section of Luke's gospel is concerned with some massive questions.How do you inherit eternal life?
Who gets eternal life?
What is eternal life like and how does it impact life here?
Along the way we've had our gaze turned to Jesus. We've been excited at the prospect of eternal life with Jesus. We've been relieved and delighted to find that sinners like us simply get life by asking and recieving it from Jesus. I look forward to teaching the same material to Reading CU cell leaders in the Autumn.

The journey from Luke 9v51 (where Jesus sets his face to Jerusalem), and 19v27 (when he arrives) is fu…

Song of Songs

I'm working my way through the Sex & The Supremacy of Christ videos.
Here's a couple of really good resources on Song of Songs.



Andrew Jones on The Joy of Sex (BT briefing)
Note that this isn't Andrew Jones the TallSkinnyKiwi, but Andrew Jones of Grace Church Hackney.

CJ Mahaney on Sex, Romace and the Glory of God (video)
CJ Mahaney is well worth watching and listening to on this, and many other things. CJ is director of Sovereign Grace Ministries and former pastor of Covenant Life Church.

The Rejected Stone

Jonathan Edwards preached on Acts 4v11, on Christ as the stone the builders rejected. This is a quote from Psalm 118v22. These are my notes from his outline.

"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone." (Acts 4v11, ESV)
Doctrine/Teaching
Jesus Christ is rejected by people. This is easily observable in the world today. People claim some affinity to Christ but even this is a rejection of him. We cannot claim his teaching without his person. The result is that the excellency and glory of the person is rejected. People also reject his death - his primary work. Again this rejects his glory and excellency. People may not want to admit to rejection of Christ but in fact that is what they do.

Evidence
This is Edwards argument for saying the above:1. Unbelievers never give Christ any honour on account of his glory and excellency. Often Christ is respected but not exalted.
2. Unbelievers never love him on account of his glory and excell…

See His Glory!

The greatest teacher the world has ever heard
With words that still resound around the world
Calling mankind be loved and forgiven
To enter eternity with him in heaven
His miracles shine beyond anything we've seen
Free to release the captives he came to redeem
Look at his works and listen to his words
No greater man ever was ever seen or heard

The people gathered around to enquire
From dawn to dark they conspired
Seeking to kill him with total distain
They refused to believe his astounding claims
Our greatest offense is neglecting his way
God steps into creation and we turn away
No greater crime was ever done
Than the rejection of God's saving One. Those given to him, will hear and follow
Those known by him, gain eternal life
Inviting sinners, freely forever
He opens blind eyes, to see his glory
Cannot come myself nor earn a place
Takes his sovereign grace will I see his face
He was sent to be lifted up so we'd look
And see the foolish path we'd took
His greatest hour proclaims our defeat

In the bleak midwinter....

Today is probably the hottest day of the year so far here in the UK. And this morning I've preached from John 10, a confrontation with Jesus in mid-winter.

Basic Outline:HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?
1. Listen to Jesus' Words
2. Look at Jesus' Works
3. Are you a sheep?
God exists. His name is Jesus.John 10 (Script, PDF)

Batman Begins

Firstly, this is way better than all the other Batman films. This has to do with a few key things. Namely, it's excellent Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) and key cast members like Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Liam Neeson. Sadly Katie Holmes doesn't quite carry off her character.

Secondly, it raises a really interesting question. What do you do with something that is decadent and corrupt?
a) destroy it,
b) try to save it?

There is life, in the red letters

Paul writes to Timothy that all scripture is God breathed. All of it is useful to teach, correct, rebuke and encourage. All of it. These are the red letters. Words of life. Words from Jesus. Every last word of the Bible shines as a message from God. Paul goes on to say that Timothy ministers in a time where people will gather around them those who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear.

Welcome to the 21st Century! This is our age also. Since the beginning of time people have gathered around them those who tell them what they want to hear. Ego ergo Sum. It's all about me. Since the serpent decieved Eve we've not stopped.

And when someone comes along going against the grain they are marched out of court. The Old Testament recounts the tales of the prophets. Messengers from God who spoke of judgement and of the hope of salvation for sinners. The prophets were killed. Finally, God sent his Son, and they killed him to. And the apostles. And generations of Christian mart…

Taking the gospel down-under...

Andy is the Relay co-ordinator. He has been very influential in the life of Em and myself. He spoke at our wedding. Later this year Andy will leave UCCF to work for TSCF, the New Zealand Christian Union (IFES) movement, along with James Allaway and Nigel Pollock.

Jonathan Carswell's interview with Andy Shudall is now republished at Evangelical's Now. Worth a read.

(Interview previously published in theblurb as an interview with the three wise men, along with Nigel Pollock and Marcus Honeysett)

Jesus' words in red

A while back a group called the Jesus Seminar decied to colour code the Bible. Marking some parts as true, others as maybe true.... and some stuff as untrue. They took scripture and stood over it to determine which bits they were prepared to keep.

Evangelical's often read the Bible as if some bits are more important than others. A few books will appear very dogeared in most Bible's which others are untouched. We're good with the gospels and some of Paul's letters but much of the rest stands neglected.

And then there are Jesus' words in red editions. These Bibles highlight the words that Jesus said by putting them in red text rather than black. On the surface this is fine, but actually its a problem.

What it ends up doing is to say that the words in Bible that matter most are the ones that Jesus said. But the whole Bible is Jesus' words. Every last word of the Bible is God speaking. When a gospel writer selected (inspired by the Holy Spirit) what bits of Jesus'…

Study Bibles

I'm not really a fan of study Bibles, largely cos I'd rather just have the Bible text in front of me, and then turn to commentaries as and when. My impression is that a lot of the added-notes in Study Bibles is poor quality stuff that rushes into application which just isn't there.

That said, the new ESV Reformation Study Bible looks a good bet if you want one. There's a good team of pastor-scholars writing the study notes alongside a really good translation. This might be the resource that wins me over...

www.reformationstudybible.com

Update: My TruGlo ESV no longer smells quite so rancid (its the rubber cover). I'm loving using it, but the "Jesus-Word's-In-Red" is a very annoying feature. Still, big thanks to ESV Blog for it, it is by a mile the most trendy Bible I've ever owned and my friends seem to love it.

View the world from God's perspective

"How many wrestle with the apparent injustice that God is lenient with sinners? Indeed, how many Christians wrestle with the fact that our own forgiveness is a threat to the righteousness of God? ...The secular mindset does not even assess the situation the way the Biblical mindset does. Why is that? It's because the secular mindset thinks from a radically different starting point. It does not start with the Creator-rights of God - the right to uphold and display the infinite worth of his glory. It starts with man and assumes that God will conform to our rights and wishes. But in the context of Romans, the issue is: how has the glory of God been treated and what is God's righteous response to that?"
The Demonstration of God's Righteousness, Romans 3v21-26
Download the MP3

Convicting. How man-centred am I to take God's mercy to a sinner like me for granted. How distorted my view of reality that God's kindness does not shock me. How mindblowing and humbling to…

Two sins

Songs for Christian Hedonists: Two Sins, by Sam Chaplin

Two sins have we committed,
Two sins that we cannot deny,
We've turned from you, the fount of living water
And have tried to drink from cisterns cracked and dry
What fools we are, how blind we are!
Have mercy Lord, mercy on us. Forgive us Lord and help us see.
Change our hearts that we might live
For you O Lord, for you, O Lord, always Two sins have we committed,
Two sins are plain before your eyes
We've walked away from the truth that brings us freedom
And have settled for those sweet enslaving lies

Two sins have we committed,
Two sins at which you stand appalled/
We'veturned from you, our glorious Creator
And have worshipped things that are no gods at all.

© Sam Chaplin, 1999.
Jeremiah 2v12-13, Romans 1.
Recorded on Sam Chaplin: You're My Every Breath, 2001

Stupid Me

Somehow, when I sin my first instinct seems to be to realise how stupid I am. How ignorant of God's glory. So stupid to go elsewhere for satisfaction.

The greater tragedy is that my sin makes a mockery of God's glory. My pride is concerned that I have been a twit. Against God I sin. My heart ought to be more concerned for what I've done to God's reputation. O, how I scorn the one who came and died to give me himself.

All Sufficient Grace

Fallen again, forgot the truth.
Thought I knew better than you.
Closed my eyes, and turned away,
Made a twit out of myself.

Listened to me, and walked away.
Made a mockery of my king.
I've no defence, without excuse.
Fell for my stupid lies again.

Can grace extend, to cover me?
Mercy for this foolish wretch.
I run to you, the perfect one.
By your death gave me yourself.

Been so blind, been so lost,
Yet you found me and now I see.
Been so wrong, been so proud,
Humbled to meet life's true delight.

Let the world see, you rescued me.
In you I stand …

London, England

Spent today in London with Rich. Walking along the Grand Union Canal into central London wrestling with what it means to live by the Spirit. What does it mean to be people of grace not legalists. Enjoying the sunshine. Enjoying good friendship.

How to make good news bad...

The good news about Jesus isn't perverted by talking about God's anger at human sin. That is essential and undeniable. But it is perverted by turning grace into legalism. When we start imposing rules on people we do deny the gospel. As Paul writes in Galatians to add rules is to say that Christ died for nothing. And that is what I call losing the message of Jesus.



Dominic Smart writes excellently on this in Legalism & its antidotes over at beginningwithmoses.org. Dominic is pastor of Gilcomston South Church, Aberdeen and author of Grace, Faith & Glory

Sinners in the hands of an angry God?

Christian Counter Culture has sadly just published an extract from Steve Chalke's The Lost Message of Jesus (more like "losing the message of Jesus"). Chalke again quotes from Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God:"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten I thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else that you did not go to hell the last night; that you suffered to awake again in this world, after you c…

The Athlete: Discipline & Integrity

"An athlete is not crowned unless
he competes according to the rules"

2 Timothy 2v4, ESVPaul writes to Timothy to instruct him about his discipleship and the kind of people he should entrust the gospel to, future leaders of the Ephesian church. He must look for people who will be faithful, able to teach others faithfully. Paul sets out the image of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer: of suffering, of discipline & integrity, and of patience.

1. The Image - an athlete
The image is simple. Athletes who don't play by the rules don't get the prize. History is littered with fallen heroes. Ben Johnson. Dwayne Chambers. Mark Lewis-Francis. Rio Ferdinand? The simple truth is that sport rests upon fair play. It requires competitors to play by the rules. And Paul says - so too for the trustworthy disciple of Christ.

But what does it mean to have discipline and integrity as a Christian? Is integrity about being whiter than white? Does it mean being perfect? When Paul wrote earli…

Approved Workers

Just home from this week's Relay conference. This was the third and final Relay conference of 2004/5. We gathered at Quinta, Shropshire for five days to reflect on the year - about 65 graduates on our discipleship training programme plus the dozen or so staff.



The key theme of Relay as a year is the sufficiency of God's grace, in life and ministry. Living by faith in the Sovereign Lord, trusting in him to provide in all situations.

Each Relay gave a 3 minute presentation reflecting on what God has done in their lives this year. Let praise resound to God for his glorious grace. This year's Relay have suffered beyond your imagination, through illness, tragedies, opposition and more. Suffering that it seems hard to believe a group of people in their early 20's could have been through. But, in God's grace, this is what they committed to do 10 months ago. To suffer like soldiers for the gospel. To run by the grace of God. To labour for the harvest. They have suffering but…

Looking for a Loophole?

At last week's Reading Christian Union meeting the question of "Can you lose your salvation?" was raised. We were studying Hebrews 10.

What can we say about such questions? My feeling is that the question comes either out of doubt - in which case assurance is sought (and can be found). Or the question rises out of the same mentality that asks "How far can I go?" with regard to holiness. In the second case the question is seeking a loophole. How unfaithful to Jesus can I deliberately be... and get away with it?

Our speaker Andrew Waugh helpfully said that if there is a line it is the kind of thing you have to go and look hard to find. You don't stumble over it accidentally. The antidote would seem to be: look to Jesus.

When my attention is on Christ I have no desire or need to be asking about whether I could lose him. I see only him. Likewise when it comes to holiness. If Christ fills my vision then why should I be seeking to get away with sin. Sin has no appea…

Make Heresy History?

Midge Ure was interviewed on Radio Five Live this morning about the Live8 concert. In a slip of the tongue he said that their cause was "Make Government History". Got me thinking about things I've love to see irradicated.

Meanwhile in recent days I've had several of my students come and talk to me about concerns in their churches. Things they are being taught that don't seem to match up with scripture. On the one hand I'm concerned - the church ought to seek to be true. On the other I'm not surprised. The church has always been riddled with error.

I'm not so much talking about slip of the tongue error. Error that counts is the stuff that distorts the good news of Jesus. Every Bible teacher is fallible so there must be generosity and teachability. And indeed when error is identified, in word or deed the Christian goals is always restoration. We seek to be set back on the truth, to stop the drift.

Truth always exists alongside error. Little teaching is m…

The Wedding of Paul & Christina Spencer

On Saturday we were been in Bath at Paul Spencers wedding. Legendary. Great to see Ruth, Tim, James & Sally & baby Abi, Damo & Pet. Also managed to drop in to "Bar Chocolat" with Matt Dorey, catch Oli Griffiths on the phone and see Neil Pidduck at The Boston Tea Party. Great day.

(Photo: Minipics - My wife Em (that'll teach her to pull faces at the camera!), Neil Pidduck, Ruth Densham and James, Sally & baby Abi Taylor). Centre - Paul & Christina, of course)

Are you blind to the evidence?

The jury in the Michael Jackson trial holds his life in their hands. Evidence must decide his future. Matthew Syed writes in the times that religion is "never esullied by anything as sordid as evidence". Is it true? Is it just nice-but-dim to be a Christian? Is it intellectual suicide? And is it also moral suicide? Why should you believe that Jesus is the Christ? What alternatives are there?

Consider the question: Are you blind to the evidence? (PDF)

Talk script from Arborfield Church, Sunday June 5th.

Thanks to Rob

Rob Wilkerson says...

I have recently explored the world of Dave Bish's blog The Blue Fish. Dave is a fellow blogger with me, Paul Schafer and a couple of others at The Glorious Gospel of Christ. Get introduced to Dave on his blog, and then peruse his search engine for items that interest you. Dave is Christ-centered, gospel-focused, and Bible-saturated. Dave is also an editor/contributor for the Biblical Theological Briefings, a website that has occupied hours of my time as I seek to continue my lifelong pursuit of biblical theology.
We say thanks Rob!

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ: Conference Videos

Sex & the Supremacy of Christ: the website for the book - with videos of the talks from the conference... now available.

Joshua Harris says:
“Another Christian book on sex? This is so much more. . . . We don’t need another book on sex that’s all about us. We need to have our gaze lifted. We need to consider the God who made us sexual creatures for his glory. This book will help you form a Christ-centered, Bible-shaped understanding of sex. This is something we all need.”

The Words We Sing Do Matter!

When Christians gather to worship God do the words matter?
(or is it all about the music? should we raise the poetic bar? does our music express the words we're singing?)

I. The Theololgy of our Songs
Matt Redman says "I'd never write a song just to teach something, but I am waware when writing a song that it could end up teaching somebody" (p57, Ian Stackhouse, The Gospel Driven Church)
And yet, Colossians 3v16 says... "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (ESV).
Which would seem to suggest that our singing has a key part to play in teaching each other the truth. And this would seem to make sense. Graham Kendrick once quipped: "Show me your songs, I'll show you your theology" And, that what we've sung is often better remembered than what is preached, sadly.

The sad truth is that some of our songs, ev…

Diet of Bookworms

Tim Challies presents this really good book review site Diet of Bookworms

One of particular help at first visit were these reviews of Wild at Heart which became a favourite among many of my male students in recent years. Unfortunately it only confirms my fears. As well as some good honest critiques the site also recommends many good books.

I have a whole load of stuff on my shelves, some good, some not so good. I'm quite happy to read stuff that is wrong and unbiblical (though increasingly less keen to buy such stuff), but it can only be done with a Berean attitude:"Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed", Acts 17v11-12a, ESVTesting books will find some to be wanting, and others to be of great encouragement. Let everything be tested. And let us hold to what is good.

The Words We Sing

When I was a student I was a "worship leader" in our Christian Union. That was my doorway into thinking theologically. I started to wonder what it was that I was doing. My keyboard synthy sounds seemed to transfom people in front of me but was that good? What was really going on? What was I supposed to be doing?

I have found some answers and hopefully I can share some of them over the coming weeks. For now, this morning, I have questions.

When Christians gather to worship God do the words matter?
(or is it all about the music? should we raise the poetic bar? does our music express the words we're singing?)

How many of our song words would we happily use as our doctrinal statement?
(where do we find the words in the Bible? are they actually true? are our songs even coherent? and what do words like hosanna, magnify, glorify etc actually mean?)

How can our worship be used to teach each other about Christ?
(doesn't the Bible tell us to sing to each other as well as to God... h…

The World We All Want

Just got my copy of The World We All Want by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. I first saw this course as a rough Word document a few years back, still sitting on my computer somewhere. This is the polished tried and tested version, published by Authentic.

Its a great seven part introduction to Christianity that walks us through the Bible story and invites us into God's community. I think thats the big distinctive - community. Becoming a Christian is viewed not merely individualistically but as becoming part of the people of God. I need to work through the course again but from this mornings brief scan through this is excellent.

More info from The Crowded House, Sheffield. Loads of other good resources on their website too.

The Purpose-Driven God?

Many of us are familar with Rick Warren's excellent books The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church.... but what about God - what are his chief purposes? Once we have considered God then perhaps we consider ourselves and the church.

I did a study on "Divine Sovereignty" last year that centred upon Romans 9. As I worked through the passage my attention was drawn to not so much to the question of "to what extent is God sovereign?", but more "how is God sovereign?", what is it that governs his sovereign behaviour....

I was intrigued by Romans 9v14. The scene is set. Following Paul's great expositions of Justifcation by Faith and reigning in Life Paul tackles the question of unsaved Jews. Paul talks about God's grace being shown to people and then the objection rises - "Isn't God unjust?". Why? Isn't it unfair for God to save unconditionally?

He answers with quotes from Exodus 9 and Exodus 33. To add further clarity…