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Showing posts from May, 2013

You then my son

I've been re-working my way through 2 Timothy lately and two things have particularly struck me freshly. I'm sure I saw them a bit before but they feel clearer and more helpful now. Most of this is in chapters 2-3.
These are just my scribblings.

1. Christian life is Exodus.
I owe this observation to John Stott in his BST on 2 Timothy. And from this I note:
2v10 Paul works for the sake of the elect. The Exodus tells of the liberation of the chosen people.2v12 Paul's goal is that the elect will reign. The Exodus established Israel as a royal people.2v19 Paul applies the rebellion of Korah to the false teachers Timothy faces (Num 16). The Lord knows his people, so keep your distance because the ground swallows up rebels.2v22 Paul tells Timothy to flee (Exodus) from youthful passions.3v8 Paul compares the fools in the church to Pharaoh's wise men in Exodus 7. Messianic mimics who copy the plagues and make life even worse. More frogs!So... Christian life is union with Christ…

I am empty. I have nothing. I am here.

Ordinarily who wants to watch the middle part of a trilogy? You need to have seen part 1 but you know that when it ends you'll probably not have a lot of resolution. Most of the time we live in the middle part. Things don't resolve. A little action and progress happens, the story advances... but questions remain without answers, and we continue to live as "hope-based creatures" do, longing for "all the sad things to come untrue."
I'm in the middle. The middle is bewildering but you can drop an anchor and find something/where/one to cling on to.

This post is derived from my sermon "Bitter Sweet #2 - God in the pain?" on Ruth 1:6-22 - Frontiers Church Exeter. Download mp3: God in the pain (31mins). Follow the Bitter Sweet series at Frontiers Church including sermon mp3s and daily Bible meditations via our church blog.

There's pain in life. There are some people who somehow escape the horrors of life in this broken world and get to debate phi…

Leaders should be those broken as bread, so others may come and eat

I've been reading Michael Bull's book God's Kitchensince a kind brother bought it for me recently. 
Presentation matters: It's a very well designed paperback book - Bull is a graphic designer as well as a theologian. Words should be delivered with music appropriate to their subject. It's build with short chapters on big themes in the Bible, and in particular themes around food. A most noble subject to write a book about! There are hints along the way about how to make the most of food, about how knowledge is eating, and the place of food in mission.
Disclaimer: To be honest, I'm still trying to get my head round large sections of his thought and ideas and I'm not sure if I ever will.  Bull builds on the maximalist interpretation of Peter Leithart and James Jordan. I find them a little outlandish in places and priceless in others. They love story, and images, and really love what the Bible says and I like that. As with every meal: eat the meat, spit the bones…

How can a God of love allow suffering?

Bath Spa University Christian Union hosted an cafe style evening event for their University on the vital subject of suffering. I gave a talk, everyone had a chance to discuss their response, and took questions via text message before hanging around to chat for a while. We attempted to explore the unavoidable issue of pain in our lives, why we desire a better world and what we might do with Jesus in the middle of all of this.

DOWNLOAD mp3: How can a loving God allow suffering - talk (35mins) and q&a - (10mins)

My basic approach was to tell some of my own stories - suffering isn't an abstract thing, it's personal and painful. I wanted to hear some of the responses that people instinctively make to suffering - acknowledging in our response the reality and wrongness of suffering -- and so making profound assertions about what kind of world this is. Among others I sought out the voices of Richard Dawkins, Marcus Brigstocke, Glenn Hoddle and Martin Luther before turning to see Je…

Try Praying?

This is the view from my bedroom. And, more than once it's been a helpful prompt as I open my curtains.

In a sense it's aimed at me, but really at my friends, my neighbours...

I'm not critiquing the church over the road - they've just got me thinking. For that I thank them.

In our city where a few thousand will be in church meetings each week but the best part of 100,000 wont be... Try Praying leaves me asking these and more questions...
What is prayer?Pray to whom?Why pray?Pray what?And who are you to tell me to pray? How would you answer those?
In a Christ-haunted (to use Flannery O'Connor's term) culture 'try praying' has a broadly Christian meaning, and we might only need to awaken people to do it. But in a post-Christian, Christianity-inoculated culture things are surely very different.

If the banner gets people asking questions like that then all well and good...

But might it just be more very well meant irrelevance?
Christians really want everyon…

Jesus wept

it's a pregnant phrase that should end with...
I'd like to say: "a spreading goodness" - shouldn't that be true?
But it's concluded instead with violence and evil and wickness from the hearts of humanity.

Sounds like the evening news but it's ancient words from the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis, a book shot through with emotional resonance with the contemporary world.

It's another question to ask whether its historical - and that question is really important. But hear the story.

In a world full of evil what's the God-word?
What are the next three words, or the next six words, or the next eight words...?

"The LORD regretted..."
" grieved him to his heart..."
"I am sorry that I have made them..."

Stick that in your theological assumptions pipe and smoke it for a few minutes.

Can such be said of God? 
He says it of himself.

He weeps. And acts with Salvation through Judgement…