Sunday, November 15, 2009

Proverbs 8 - The Man Who Knows

Download mp3s from our latest Proverbs sermon, 8:22-36 -
Jesus The Man Who Knows.
First Service mp3 (35mins)
Second Service mp3 (37mins)
I reference Hymn 52 Wisdom by William Cowper from Olney Hymns


V30-31 LUKE 10V20-24


He is the man who knows. Robbie Williams returns and in his song Bodies declares that he knows what we want: “All we ever wanted was to look good naked” I don’t think he’s quite getting at what Lily Allen was in her song last year, where she told us she would take all her clothes off because that’s how you get famous – though he might be alluding to that a bit. What he’s actually getting at is our desire for acceptance and intimacy and relationship. Looking around the world, and looking at my own heart: I think he’s right.
We do want to be free from guilt and free from shame. We want better relationships. 
The question I have for him, is why? Why is it that we want this? 
And I think the answer is found in asking what’s most fundamental to life, what’s foundational, what’s the beginning of it all? 
See, if everything comes back to an explosion or equation, then what basis at all is there to say that reality is about relationships? 
Others would say, really it’s a distant divine or an abstract truth that is ultimate – but again, why would we be wired for relationships? 
The Christian alternative and answer is that what’s most fundamental is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Three persons, one God, in perfect loving relationship from eternity past. That leads to a world where personality and relationship make sense. 
Everyone has a creation story, and this is ours....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding Joy Together (Marcus Honeysett & Derek Cross mp3s)

Last week I had the pleasure of inviting Marcus Honeysett to be with my team for a few days. Marcus is the author of Meltdown and Finding Joy, the third longest serving member of UCCF staff, and now director of Living Leadership. He's also a brother whom I love to spend time with.

On the first day we considered the importance of small groups and training encouraging leaders. Catch a flavour from Jim Walford's blog: Bible study isn't for education....  We sent Marcus to speak at the Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union on 1 Peter 3 on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday I invited guests from local churches, as an opportunity to serve them but also for them to be among us and bless, challenge and provoke us. We reflected on the joy of the LORD and missions, these were interactive sessions with about 20 people so the mp3s may be a bit disjointed in places...
Joy & Missions 1 (mp3)
Joy & Missions 2 (mp3)
Joy & Missions 3 (mp3)

Thursday was just the South West team again and we reflected upon the work of the Spirit in our lives:
Walking in the Spirit (mp3)

I enjoyed having Marcus with us and hearing more about the work of Living Leadership.

If you like Marcus' angle on stuff then you'll appreciate the ministry of Derek CrossSermons by Derek Cross and others at Woodlands Evangelical Church :

Ephesians 1v3,11-14: Included in Christ for the praise of God's glory (mp3)
Ephesians 1:5-6: Adopted as God's sons (mp3)
Ephesians 1:7-8: Forgiven by God's grace (mp3)
Ephesians 1:8-9: Involved in God's great plan (mp3)

Romans 7:6: The way that is new (mp3)
2 Cor 3:6: The way that is life giving (mp3)
Galatians 5:16: The way that overcomes sinful desires (mp3)
Galatians 5:26: The way that continues to rely on Christ (mp3)
Ephesians 5:18: The way that powers through (mp3)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Christianity Explored (1 of 5)

First night of Christianity Explored, talking about "What is Christianity?" from Mark 1:1 
Probably about 20 people there - mix of Christians and guests. Some good questions after the talk... ...why people pray, what the resurrection is about and how we can know if it happened, what's it like to know God... and are we meant to take the Bible literally...

A Very British Theology for a Cold Winter's Day

This morning when Brian knocked on the door it felt like winter for the first time. The skies were clear and blue - the kind of morning I love. Good to feel the sensation of coldness. I'm glad this is a universe with colour and temperature and that sort of thing. And I don't really mind how cold it is, if it's sunny and dry...

As a quirk of the way God has arranged the clouds the British are at the whim of the jet stream and get pretty variable weather, and lacking enough philosophy or imagination we end up talking lots about the weather. This a way to get over our sometimes cold demeanor and facilitate small talk, and it's ok.

Feeling the chill in the air this tweet rang in my ears:
RT @edstetzer Just walked outside to discover that it is, once again, colder than a legalist's heart. And that is cold. ;-(
The winter can teach us about our hearts and drive us back to the gospel, as Richard Sibbes says:
"when we feel ourselves cold in affection and duty, the best way is to warm ourselves at this fire of his love and mercy in giving himself for us." (The Bruised Reed)
The cold has other spiritual uses too.
  • As I stepped outside I saw my breath for the first time this autumn, and then it was gone. As James 4:14 says - "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes". I learn the brevity of my life.
  • And I learn the emptiness of sin, the fleeting pleasures of gain from lying are vapour also.
  • The cold also speaks of death, as the leaves fall from the trees into a season of curse that awaits the day when it will be "winter past and guilt forgiven". Creation waits (Romans 8:19) for the warmer days of new life in the Spring.

See previously Why does it always rain on me? A brief theology of rain.


How can I know if God exists? (Don Carson)

How do I know God exists? from A Passion for Life on Vimeo.
ht: Saint Beagle
From A PASSION FOR LIFE vimeo pages

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Harri Blogs!

This year I have the privilege of supervising Harri Guyer on the UCCF Relay programme. She's also a member of our home group and a welcome visitor to our home on regular occasions. A month ago Harri expressed a little surprise on having been mentioned on my blog, now she's started her own.

Harri Guyer's blog

Good to have another blogger on my team. Jim Walford has been in the game for a few weeks now and delivers some quality stuff every Friday.

Proverbs 7 - Temptation

Download MP3 - Temptation: Proverbs 7 - Stu Alred (first service)
Download MP3 - Temptation: Proverbs 7 - Stu Alred (second service)

Intro: Temptation
1. The Fool
2. The Victory
3. The Fight

Stu's notes on his blog

I felt the challenge of this message - where is my heart? It's easy to look out the window and see the fool but the reality is we're all caught in sin and don't even know it, we're all fools. We're not the wise son - only Jesus is - he is the one who should live and yet he dies, while we should die we live. He is our substitute and our example - and in him and with his word we can live! Stu stood with us as one of us in this which I really appreciated, the preach was clear and directed me to Christ. Which is what I needed, though I don't always realise that.

This sermon is a good example of the benefits of preaching back-to-back. The first sermon was good - it has some real gospel-bite, but the timing slipped a bit so that the ending was a bit rushed. The repeat and the in-between feedback served to improve things (not that the first service people will have missed out - God was with us all morning!). The second preach was better and those benefits will serve the church next time too. The art of giving feedback to a brother knowing that he's standing to preach again in an hour is an exercise in love that I'm thankful to receive when I've preached and honoured to be able to give to my Proverbs team mates Stu and Andy whom I respect and value incredibly. It's a joy to serve the church family with them, and to know the service of all the members of the church who contribute to the rest of the meeting to build up the church.

Also today: Marcus Honeysett preaching in Cambridge on Finding Joy in Jesus
Sermons by Derek Cross and others at Woodlands Evangelical Church
And Glen Scrivener on opening the Bible to find Jesus

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Breeze of the Centuries: Introducing Great Theologians - From the Apostolic Fathers to Aquinas (Mike Reeves, January 2010)

Mike Reeves lets slip some information about his next book in his interview with Martin Downes, out in January I can't wait to get my hands on: The Breeze of the Centuries: Introducing Great Theologians - From the Apostolic Fathers to Aquinas

"’s moronic to cut ourselves off from the wisdom and lessons of the bulk of the church. If we forget church history, we just leave ourselves victim to our zeitgeist... I’m hoping it can do something to rescue us from being prisoners of our age."

I know what I'll be spending my Christmas money on! Here's the blurb:

Is ‘newer’ really ‘better’? We often assume so, but if we do treat the past as inferior we will ignore the legacy of history, and thus will find ourselves stranded on the tiny desert island of our own moment in time. In particular, this applies to Christian theology, which should be thought, and lived, corporately by the church down through the ages.
The remedy to ‘chronological snobbery’ is, as C. S. Lewis put it, ‘to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds’. Such is the motivation behind Michael Reeves’ introduction to a selection of influential or significant Christian theologians.
This accessible and informative volume covers the Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas. Each chapter begins with a brief biography and some background, then surveys each theologian’s major work or works, gives a timeline for historical context, and ends with guidance for further reading.

This is going to be a major help with the church history lectures I'm preparing to teach in March.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sunday's coming (Proverbs 7 - Temptation)

Stu posts some notes ahead of Sunday where we reach Proverbs 7.

"Replace sin with Christ. Replace lies with truth. Declare what is true of you in Christ. Declare what is not true. Meditate and pray over key passages of God’s word. Ask God for more faith and more of him!"

And then let the honey set with some sweet words on 'the joy of the Lord' from Marcus at Digital H20, including these great questions for discipleship:

1. What are your Christian disciplines (for want of a better word) like? Are you enjoying the word and praying? If not, what is the block?
2. What is your worship life like? Do you ever diarise regular time to adore God and his Christ?
3. Is the reason for perceived lack of Christian joy spiritual, or is it possibly medical? Or circumstantial? When someone feels they have to "work it up" but their circumstances are difficult or they are struggling with depression it can just feel like a demand to climb an unclimbable mountain
4. Is the person rehearsing to himself what the Lord has done. Ps 103 is a good place to look for an example of someone feeling unjoyful who does that
5. Is the person reflecting on the promises of God to him and the benefits that Christ provides - adoption, forgiveness, new heart, new home in Heaven, the Holy Spirit, etc, etc
6. Is the person sticking at it, or is there a danger of assuming there are quick fixes and that getting to joy shouldn't be a fight? I recommend John Piper's book "When I don't Desire God - How to Fight for Joy"

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Death Reigned MUCH MORE Life

Yesterday we were together as a team having spent a day considering joy and mission with @marcushoneysett, with a few guys from my church also among us for the day. We lingered together with God at the end of the day, worshipping and praying and enjoying God together, and I had a minor epiphany whilst sharing Romans 5:17

"For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."

I'm studying Genesis with the staff this year (and beyond!) and we've recently done Genesis 5. There's much there to learn about Enoch the son who walks with God and gets back to God without taking us with him, and about the hope of the coming son Noah who will bring relief and rest to a frustrated creation.

Everyone else in the genealogy dies. It's relentless. Death reigning because of the sin of one man. Wave after wave of death comes, one smack in the face after another, and another and another... How much more relentless will be the waves of life that come through the one man Jesus Christ to those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness!

And we don't work for this - it's a free gift, something to receive abundantly. We need only ask and He will give the Holy Spirit without restraint and full of generosity.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Christianity Explored

Tonight we're gathering the team from the Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union who will be running Christianity Explored from next week at The Imperial pub - an opportunity to prepare and pray as well as eat together.

Please pray for Catherine, Helen, Harri, James, Will and myself as we serve together. Harri and I are speaking through the course on alternate weeks, and doing a Q&A each time together. I'm going first, with Harri sharing her testimony...

1. Which God are we talking about? (Mark 1:1)
2. Isn't Christianity all about being religious? (Mark 2)
3. Jesus died. Why? (Mark 15)
4. Jesus rose from the dead. How? Why? (Mark 16)
5. How to make the most of your life? (Mark 8)