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Archive for March, 2013

Happy Good Friday

Why is it called Good Friday?

This is why:

Worth posting again… Happy Friday all. Thank You Jesus.

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This is my favourite Gethsemane hymn and perhaps even my favourite hymn of all time.

Pity about the singing (and the finger picking). But I made this one because I couldn’t find another version set to “Kelvingrove”. If you can find one, let me know.

When you prayed beneath the trees, it was for me, O Lord;
When you cried upon your knees, how could it be, O Lord?
When in blood and sweat and tears, you dismissed your final fears,
When you faced the soldier’s spears, you stood for me, O Lord.

When their triumph looked complete, it was for me, O Lord,
When it seemed like your defeat, they could not see, O Lord!
When you faced the mob alone, you were silent as a stone,
And a tree became your throne; you came for me, O Lord.

When you stumbled up the road, you walked for me, O Lord,
When you took your deadly load, that heavy tree, O Lord;
When they lifted you on high, and they nailed you up to die,
And when darkness filled the sky, it was for me, O Lord.

When you spoke with kingly power it was for me O Lord
in that dread and destined hour you made me free O Lord
Earth and heaven heard you shout, death and hell were put to rout
For the grave could not hold out; you are for me O Lord.

Words: Christopher Idle
Music: Scottish Traditional melody (Kelvingrove)

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Lazarus not Hercules

Hercules-at-the-CrossroadsThe gospel is not ‘the clever option’ for a discerning religious consumer.  It’s “life unto the dead”.  What does that mean for our evangelism?

Many times I’ve written against ‘Hercules at the cross-roads’ evangelism. Unbelievers are not decision-makers who need to be cajoled or coerced to ‘take a step’.  Unbelievers are ‘Lazarus in the tomb’ – dead in sins and desperately needing the voice of the Son of God.

Well alright, I hear you saying…  But, Glen, at some stage you need to “close the deal”, surely.  At some point the unbeliever needs to make a choice right?  Even if it’s all about ‘receiving Jesus’, fine, there’s still something for the unbeliever to do, isn’t there?  So how do you preach that without falling back into Decision Theology?

Now before I have a stab at an answer, let me distinguish between what must happen in evangelism and what the unbeliever is capable of.  What must happen is that the unbeliever must be born again, they must be forgiven by God, they must be adopted by the Father, they must be united to the Son, they must be sealed with the Spirit, they must be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, they must be pronounced righteous (i.e. justified), they must be made a new creation.  I’m not laying out discrete stages in salvation here – I’m speaking about the same truth from different angles.  The unbeliever must be converted.  But notice this: they must be converted. No-one can get themselves reborn or forgiven, or adopted, or united, or sealed, or cleansed, or justified, or recreated.

What must happen in evangelism is precisely what the unbeliever can’t do.  I know I keep stressing this, but it needs to be stressed: sinners can’t save themselves.  Salvation belongs to the LORD.

But, having said all this, there is a call to repent.  So what does it look like?

Well think of Lazarus called from the tomb.  “Come forth” was the resounding command.  Here’s something very definite for Lazarus to do.  And he did it.  But just think… later that day, as Lazarus had the unusual experience of enjoying his own wake, he could have said: “I heard Jesus’ voice and I decided to obey” (cf John 5:25).  That’s one way of putting it.

But put yourself in the shoes of those would-be mourners, listening to Lazarus.  As he recounts how he beat death, you’d be smiling and nodding, all the while you’d know what had really happened.  You’d seen it all from Christ’s perspective.  It was the voice of the Son of God that raised him and Lazarus found himself unable to do anything but “come forth”.

Lazarus’s story is a conversion story – Jesus set it up like that back in John 5 (see v24-29).  And this story includes the perspective of the listener – a perspective which involves decision.  Every sinner has a “how I beat death” story. There are rational processes that we can reflect upon.  But all this is reflection upon a miracle.  What was actually decisive was the Word raising the dead.

So… and now, finally, I’m going to say something mildly practical… when I call unbelievers to receive Jesus, I try not to frame it as a “decision” they need to weigh up.  I announce Jesus as the Lord.  I paint Him in biblical colours, I tell them what He’s done and along the way I say things like:

“Don’t you just love this Jesus?”,
“Are you finding yourself drawn to this Jesus?”,
“Are you beginning to feel that He really is Lord?”
“Do you want Him?”

Basically I allow the word of Jesus to draw them.  (That’s the point of biblical evangelism – letting the voice of the Son of God be heard).  And then, at certain points, I’ll say “If you are feeling drawn to Jesus, that is God calling you.” Or I’ll say “If you are now sensing in your heart that Jesus really is Lord, you’re becoming a Christian. Because a Christian is someone who looks to Jesus and says “Yes, He’s the One.”  Is that happening to you?”

I’m not so much into telling them “Choose to make Jesus Lord of your life.”  I’m telling them “Jesus is Lord, whatever you feel about the matter.  If you can’t see it you must be blind.  If you can see it, that’s God opening your eyes.  Don’t refuse His Gift – receive Jesus, He’s yours.”

That’s my take anyway.  What’s yours?

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New Podcast

TEP-PodcastCover-1024x1024At Revival, where I work, we’ve just started a new podcast called “The Evangelist’s Podcast”.

DOWNLOAD HERE

SUBSCRIBE HERE

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Luke 22-23 sermon

Dali CrucifixionIt was a privilege to preach at the Crowded House on Sunday where two folks were baptised.

AUDIO

The sermon begins at about 10 minutes. (If you’ve heard me on Christ’s baptism before, you might want to skip to the 19 minute mark).

POWERPOINT

TEXT

Excerpt:

Here we have an artist’s dream. If you’re a film-maker, a writer, a playwright – you would love to depict this scene: Humanity putting its Maker on trial.  What a scenario! All the Gospels tell us about this in some detail – these show trials with trumped up charges. Because the bible makes it clear: the so called judges in these trials are the guilty ones. The one in the dock is the only innocent one. Nonetheless He stoops into the dock, to be tried by His creatures.  This is the Judge of the world, judged.

And what we see in Jesus is the most incredible stillness and poise. He is like a mirror, reflecting back the accusations of His prosecutors. At every stage of His cross-examination, He manages to get confessions out of His prosecutors! Ingenius!

The brilliance of Jesus is to allow their judgements of Him to judge them.  Their accusations only end up accusing them.  This is true any time you try to judge a great one.

If you call Shakespeare hackneyed and cliched, it doesn’t reflect badly on Shakespeare, it reflects badly on you.  If you call the Grand Canyon “a glorified ditch”, or the Great Wall of China “shoddy workmanship”, or Lionel Messi “a Sunday-league amateur” – that tells you nothing about Shakespeare or the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall or Lionel Messi.  It tells you everything about you.  

When we judge the Judge it tells us nothing about Him it tells us everything about ourselves.  Do you want to know what you’re like?  Think about this judgement scene.  The Judge of the world condescends into the dock and submits to these kangaroo courts.  And we – the judges – find Him guilty of a capital offence.  What is His crime?  To be the Son of God.

When our Maker goes on trial we find Him worthy of death?  Why? For being who He is.

In Luke 23 we see everyone making this verdict: the powerful, the weak, the Jews, the non-Jews, the rich, the poor –  everyone deems Him worthy of death.  And what is Jesus’ response?

He goes to the cross.  And as He is hoisted up He prays “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (v34)

The Judge is judged. He does not protect Himself or justify Himself.  He exposes Himself to every accusation, every insult, every blow – both judicial and physical.  And He retaliates with mercy: “Father, forgive.”  This is the heart of God for you.

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What does John 20:21-23 mean?

Messiah mints

Don’t worry, when Jesus breathes on you, it’s always minty fresh

Many will be preaching on John 20 over the next two Sundays.  Often the question comes: “What does Jesus mean in John 20:23?”  Let me give you the context.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said,“Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  (John 20:19-21)

How do we understand this?  Can Christ’s followers run out into the street and address passers-by: “Forgiven… forgiven… UNFORGIVEN… forgiven”?  Is Jesus promising a heavenly underwriting of any and every act of forgiveness?

No.  Verse 21 interprets verse 23: the disciples will forgive just as Christ has forgiven.  How has Christ forgiven?  On the basis of His death and to be received by faith.  How should the disciples forgive?  On the basis of Christ’s death and to be received by faith. So as the disciples declare Christ and His forgiveness in the power of the Spirit, the world’s response to their message will be its response to Christ (which, in turn, is its response to the Father).

Jesus has already taught them this in John 14.  When Judas (not Iscariot) asks why Jesus will only appear to the disciples, Jesus essentially answers: “I don’t need to appear to the world.  I don’t need to go on a resurrection roadshow to the nations.  You need to go on the roadshow and take my teaching with you. The world’s response to my teaching will be its response to me. So go in the power of the Spirit and take my words with you…”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:23-26)

Even before His death, Jesus has taught His disciples how it’s going to unfold.  So in John 20, when He comes and breathes His Spirit on them, He’s saying: “Now’s the time.  Go and testify. And as you go with my message, my forgiveness goes with you.”

So does this verse endorse the willy-nilly preaching of an abstract forgiveness, divorced from the Forgiver?  No. But it does give us great confidence as we share the words of Jesus.  As we offer the apostolic gospel in the Spirit of Christ we are offering divine mercy.

This verse should not so much produce confessionals as confessors of Christ.  But those confessors of Christ (which I hope is all of us) ought to know the power and privilege of offering Jesus.  To confessing Christians and to seeking non-Christian we hold out the Christ in whom is all forgiveness (Col 1:13f).  We don’t just speak about forgiveness, we speak forgiveness itself, because, by the Spirit, the Forgiver Himself is given through the gospel.

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It’s now on Youtube:

Here’s our response to the numbers of thumbs-down given!

I should probably point out that Emma’s is the most thumbed-UP video too. Which is nice. She did great!

 

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If you wanted to play it in church 5:22 might be a bit long but there’s a very natural break at 2:53.

 

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Happy Friday

 

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the-Way-LogoWhere does Christianity fit in the grand scheme of world religions?

Are we merely a branch – though perhaps the truest branch – in the family tree of “Abrahamic faiths”?

Are we a part – though perhaps the most faithful part – of a broader “Judeo-Christian” consensus?

Do we have one take – though perhaps the most complete take – on OT interpretation?

When Paul is before Felix, he makes a fascinating distinction between Christianity “a sect” and Christianity “the Way”:

I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets  (Acts 24:14).

Paul’s opponents want to understand him as part of a Jewish sect.  Paul rejects that understanding.  He follows the Way.  The Ancient Way – the Way of the Law and the Prophets.

In front of Agrippa, Paul unpacks a couple of things from that quote.  First he shows what a sect is.

…according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.  (Acts 26:5)

This is what Paul means by sect: a small part of a greater whole (in modern usage it has the added meaning of a part that claims to be the whole.)

Pharisaism is a good example of a sect within Judaism.

But Paul insists, Christianity is not a competing sect within some broader category of Abrahamic faith.  Christianity is not a smaller, more specific kind of OT faith that just happens to follow the Messiah.  Messianic faith is the Way.  The Way of the fathers, the Way of the law and the prophets. The Way it’s always been.

How can Paul say this?  Well, Paul simply explains what the law and the prophets have always testified:

I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen–  that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”  (Acts 26:22-23)

This is Christianity – the Ancient Way.  The Way of Moses and the Prophets.  This is not a sect within a larger entity called Judaism but the one way of the suffering, rising and reigning Christ – the way the fathers have always travelled.  According to Paul you cannot and must not understand Christianity as a smaller part of a broader Scriptural story, for then you misunderstand the law and the prophets themselves.

Paul says explicitly that he has not put a Christian gloss on a pre-existing sub-messianic revelation.  He is simply following the Way of Moses.

If someone does not follow the suffering, rising, reigning Christ they are not following the Way of Moses.  And, note well, this is not a new state of affairs according to Paul.   This is not Paul reading messianic meaning into Moses.  Paul is saying nothing beyond the original meaning and intention of the Prophets and Moses.

Anyone, in any age, who is not trusting in the promised Messiah is not part of the Way.  They are the sect.

That’s Paul’s understanding. Is it our understanding?  Or do we think of the Law and the Prophets as part of a broader religious movement into which Jesus fits?

 

No Jesus – our suffering, dying and reigning Messiah – is the Way.  The Ancient Way.  And there has never been any other.

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Recent Tweets

were you worth it

Classic example of how “Jesus died for you” can come across as “law”! Preachers, especially, take note.

Weeping then joy, anger then favour, mourning then dancing, the pit then the heights Ps30 One morning soon will be The Morning #EnjoyYourDay

Gal2:20 Your “I” (active subject) has been crucified & no longer lives. Your “me” (passive object) is loved and laid hold of. #EnjoyYourDay

“Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.” GK Chesterton

#5LeviticalOfferings: Old life condemned, New offered to God, Guilt cleansed, Recompense made, Peace secured. #ChristHasDoneIt #EnjoyYourDay

“Jesus the Name high over all, in hell or earth or sky. Angels and men before it fall, and devils fear and fly.” #EnjoyYourDay

It’s not so much that preachers must take their hearers on a journey. Far more they must come to their hearers from an Origin

You cant reverse engineer your gospel from the existence of hell any more than you can reverse engineer your God from the existence of Satan

In Jesus, God’s attitude towards you is an almighty and eternal YES. 2 Cor 1:19 #EnjoyYourDay

When life feels beyond u remember it always is. “But this happened that we might not rely on self but God who raises the dead” #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus is God’s gracious approach 2u *and* your faithful response 2 God. He’s God’s Yes & your Amen. 2Cor1:20 #EnjoyYourDay

“If God isn’t like Jesus, He ought to be.” Lord Byron

God the Son praying to God the Father is not a Denial of God’s oneness, it is the perfect Demonstration of God’s loving unity.

Feeling lonely and afflicted? The LORD Jesus guards u, rescues u, frees u, confides in u & forgives all your sins. #Psalm25 #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus is not sin’s under-writer. He is sin’s under-taker. #Romans6

Emma Scrivener’s #4Thought Anorexia and her Christian faith http://www.4thought.tv/themes/does-god-really-care-what-we-eat/emma-scrivener … #Stone #Cold #Fox

He’s King on high, the Seed to come, ‘God with u’, yr Sanctuary, heaven’s gift, yr Counsellor, God, Father & Prince Isaiah6-9 #EnjoyYourDay

#BritishBible “The leaves of the tea are for the healing of the nations” Anyone wanna join in?

#BritishBible “How the Blighty is fallen”

#BritishBible “Mustn’t grumble” (Numbers 14:27)

#BritishBible “Scouting Thomas” pic.twitter.com/dk5fh9lP3B

#BritishBible “That’s the Spirit!” (1 John 4:2)

#BritishBible “The guests at the wedding turned their water into whine.”

#BritishBible “They shall mount up with wings as eagles… show offs!”

#BritishBible “Blessed are the dour in spirit”

#BritishBible “Their portion shall be the outer darkness, with tutting and huffing and the gritting of teeth.”

#BritishBible Acts 8:26: “And an angel of the Lord said unto Philip, ‘Pip, Pip, Tally Ho!'”

#BritishBible Acts 8:39 “Toodle Pip”

#BritishBible Last book of the OT: Malarkey

#BritishBible “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Rude sods.”

#BritishBible 1 Peter 1:8 “You are filled with an inexpressible joy. And we’d rather you keep it that way.”

#BritishBible Rev 8:1 “There was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And no-one knew where to look…”

#BritishBible “…Terry considered making a joke about running out of scrolls but his wife shot him a deadly glare.”

#BritishBible “There is now no condemnation, only a vague but gnawing sense of utter shame and worthlessness.”

Don’t try to ‘find your identity’, God only chooses ‘the things that are not’ (1 Cor 1:28).

He’s plunged down into our death & burst through into His life. His very being is an offer: to take our death & give His life. #EnjoyYourDay

Loving that the three people who find life in Luke 23 are criminals/murderers: Barabbas, Thief on cross, Centurion.

Preacher: If u decide *b4* prep that ur going 2preach linear points, u’ve decided in advance that ur not going 2get 2excited abt the Content

My Twitter

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Perhaps one of these might be helpful to you:

An all age teaching on Gethsemane:

It’s a game of pass the parcel where the parcel is a poisoned cup. There’s a song to go with it:

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Little Fish! (Jesus is bigger than death)

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Seed Song (Jesus is the Seed who dies and rises to bring life)

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Recently I was asked what I knew about evangelistic treasure hunts. Not much was the answer. I’d read a couple of blogs here and there, but for those completely new to it, here’s a short video of practitioners from the States:

Here’s what I like…

1. They want to “take it to the streets”.

2. They believe in the universal love of God and want to express it.

3. They see people as “treasure.”

4. They want to care for whole people, not just save souls.

5. They want to be sensitive to the Spirit’s work in mission.

I affirm all these values.  But for these very reasons I want to question the practice of treasure hunting- and I mean genuinely to “question” it. I’m a newcomer to this and in no position to dismiss it. But here are some initial thoughts that explore the foundations of the church’s mission.  If this starts a dialogue about it, then good and I’m more than willing to be educated about these things… But I wonder whether treasure hunting in practice ends up undermining all the positives listed above.

1. They want to “take it to the streets”.

I’m all for taking the gospel to the streets (see links at the bottom of this post). But that’s the issue: what exactly are we taking to the streets?  What is the mission of the church?  Put it another way: For what purpose is the church sent into the world?

(Notice that this question is different to “What are all the things the body of Christ gets up to, week by week?” The church is involved in many activities, but asking why it has been sent into the world is a significantly different question.)

My expanded thoughts on the church’s mission can be found here and here but for now let me draw your attention to 2 Corinthians 4 and 5 and especially…

We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Cor 4:5)

Essentially, the mission of the church is not “service” in the abstract, with proclamation fitting underneath (see diagram).  And it’s not “service” on one hand and “proclamation” on the other (the context in 2 Cor. 4-5 makes that clear).  Mission is proclamation – setting forth the truth plainly (v2), with “service” fitting underneath.

Scrivener_what_is_our_mission-pic

Proclamation is the umbrella activity – everything else fits explicitly under the preaching of Christ as Lord.  If this is the case then the footing on which you engage the world matters.  And the footing ought to be proclamation.

In 1 Corinthians 1-2, Paul is adamant that preaching the weak-looking cross is the way forward. He contrasts it with the demands of the Greeks (for wisdom) and the Jews (for miracles) and he insists that preaching is how we engage.

In the past I’ve taken flak when arguing against “wisdom-first” mission (i.e. evidentialist apologetics).  Now, in the interests of offending all people equally, let me argue against “power-first” mission too.  As we’ll see, I’m not against wisdom or power in the cruciform sense – but I think there’s an explicit order and a context for these things…

2. They believe in the universal love of God and want to express it.

This is a brilliant value to hold.  The trouble is the practice of treasure hunting looks like it undermines that value. One of the distinctive features of treasure hunting is going after the few and passing by the many.  The beauty of open air is that it’s the one form of evangelism that seeks to be as indiscriminate as God’s own evangelistic purpose.  He has placed us where we are so that all people might find him (Acts 17:26-27). Therefore a way of evangelism (i.e. open air) that seeks to reach a locality as a locality is a wonderful reflection of God’s universal love.  If you want to reflect God’s universal love, I’d recommend open air over treasure hunting which is unnecessarily particular.

3. They see people as “treasure.”

This is nice, and a great reflection of the true meaning of Matthew 13:44-46 – we are the treasure and we need to be found.  Of course the other word – “hunt” – is not so nice.  But maybe the hunted don’t mind?

My reservation here is something that also applies to open air, but I think the whole set-up of treasure hunts amplifies the danger: non-Christians are not marks to hit, or scalps to win.  We’re not interested in “gaining converts” but in offering Christ.  If you ask me, the writing up of targets sets up the whole enterprise in a questionable way. Far better to speak from a fullness than to need responses.  It’s not about you achieving your witnessing goals, but about you emptying yourself for your hearers.  There seems a very great danger of commodifying your listeners with treasure hunts.

4. They want to care for whole people, not just save souls.

Full disclosure – I’m not from charismatic circles.  The churches I grew up in were as dogmatically anti-charismatic as they were anti-liberal.  For years I thought evangelicals were defined by what we didn’t believe in: we weren’t liberal and we weren’t charo’s. That’s my background.  And yet, very often when I’m doing open air evangelism I’ve ended up praying for someone in need – whether for physical or emotional healing or for God to come through in some situation or other.  I don’t consider myself “gifted” to heal in any charismatic sense, but I’ve prayed for it often enough. Everyone street evangelist I know ends up praying for people – for healings, for “breakthroughs” in personal situations, for whatever. You can’t offer Christ without talking to people in need, and you can’t be a Christian without wanting to help those people.

I love that treasure hunters pray for folks on the streets – I do it too.  But I have great reservations about encountering folk in order to tick off clues, and about leading with ‘power’, when Paul tells me to lead with the word of the cross (see points 1 and 5).

5. They want to be sensitive to the Spirit’s work in mission.

This is wonderful. The prayerful preparation involved in Treasure Hunting is great.  May we all learn from it.  Also cultivating a moment-by-moment dependence on the Spirit’s leading throughout our evangelism is priceless.  “Spirit, help me… Open his/her eyes” is my constant prayer in open air work.  But let’s ask: what is the work of the Spirit?

I fear that too often we make an equation between the Spirit and what Enlightenment people think of as “the supernatural“. Since modern people (Christians included it seems) have booted God “upstairs”, we consider this world as a “natural” realm of cause and effect. But then Christians come along and say “Yes, but there’s also another realm over and above called “the supernatural” and it’s all about un-natural, unexpected stuff happening.”   And so essentially Christians agree with the naturalists about the basic structure of reality, we just insist that cause and effect aint all there is – there’s also freaky stuff.

What will evangelism look like then?  Well, we’ll want to introduce unbelievers to this other realm.  And so “the miraculous” seems a perfectly appropriate way in. Trouble is, the Spirit is not so much the Spirit of “the supernatural”, He’s the Spirit of Christ.  The way the realm of the Spirit breaks into this world is in the Anointed One.  Heaven meets earth in Jesus and every meeting we try to arrange between unbelievers and God needs to reflect that.

In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul has rejected the tactic of giving “Jews” the “miraculous signs” they demand. He thinks that will undermine his message. Nonetheless in chapter 2 he says he wants his evangelism to demonstrate the Spirit’s power (v4).  Ok great. What form will that demonstration take?  It’s not in wise and persuasive words and it’s not in miraculous “powers”. It’s in preaching the cross (2:2).  There the Spirit shines His light with almighty power (1:18). There is the meeting of heaven and earth.  And Paul says, it’s very possible to distract non-Christians from that centre.  It’s very possible to empty the cross of its power (1:17).

Lest we ever do that, let’s determine to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He is the whole focus of the Spirit’s work.  Let us then, as Spirit-filled, Spirit-dependent witnesses, make  Christ and His work our focus.  That is truly Spirit-ual evangelism.

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Here are some older posts on how I try to share Christ publicly…

First Contact Evangelism Seminar

Open Air Preaching with Wesley and Whitefield

Open Air Preaching

Open Air Ideas

Open Air Doesn’t Have To Be Flashy

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Below you can watch Richard Dawkins speaking in advance of the 2011 KJV celebrations. He makes the case for being steeped ‘to some extent’ in the King James Bible.  If we don’t know the KJV we are ‘in some small way barbarian.’  But he ends by saying:

it is important that religion should not be allowed to hijack this cultural resource.

Notch it up as another Dickie Dawkins classic.  But before we laugh and point, let’s make sure there aren’t three fingers pointing back.

You see, because he’s talking about the bible the stupidity of his position is obvious.  Of course it’s ridiculous to view the bible as first a cultural resource that religion then hijacks.  Any fool knows that the bible is originally, purposefully and most meaningfully a religious text (or if you don’t like ‘religious’, say ‘spiritual’ or ‘theological’ or even ‘Christian’).  It is evident (but not to Dawkins) that the essence of the bible is appreciated only when it’s treated according to its true theological nature.  And that to read it through atheistic lenses is the real hijacking.

But Dawkins’ inability to appreciate the bible according to its true nature is only one more example of his inability to appreciate the world according to its true nature.  The whole atheistic project follows exactly the same line.  It says that everything is most ultimately a physical, chemical, biological, historical or cultural artefact, let’s not allow ‘religion’ to hijack it.  But to pretend you are honouring the world by treating it non-theologically is just as ridiculous as pretending to honour the Word by treating it non-theologically.

The only reason we don’t see its foolishness is because we have, to some extent, bought the double-decker atheistic approach.  When it comes to the world around us we pretty much assume along with the atheists that there are brute facts that are perfectly understood in non-theological terms and that we then work with this raw data to make our theological (or atheistical) pronouncements.  And even if we do dare to wear some theological lenses to view the world, we have a slight guilty feeling that maybe we are hijacking a properly non-theological reality.

But no.  You’ve got to begin by treating the Word theologically.  And you’ve got to begin by treating the world theologically.  And it’s best you do so in that order.

It’s those who fail to see the world according to its essentially theological character who hijack it.

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Happy Friday

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Talk Title: Can you find love in sex?talking-about-sex-with-your-kids

AUDIO

Marilyn Monroe: “The sex symbol becomes a thing, I hate being a thing. I’ve never liked sex myself. I don’t think I ever will. It seems just the opposite of love”

Actually Christians disagree. Christians say:

GK Chesterton: “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.”

Sex and love belong together, profoundly.

Sex and God belong together, profoundly.

To understand sex we need to understand the Christian view of God, the universe and everything. Then we can see where sex fits…

Luke 3:21-22: Jesus enters our filth to bring us to His Family.

God’s Family (the Trinity) is the origin of gender.

The way into that Family (oneness with Jesus) is the origin of marriage.

Now we can understand the Christian sexual ethic. Gender reflects the difference-in-equality of God. Marriage reflects the saving love of Jesus.

In the Gospels Jesus affirms both of these foundational points in Matthew 19.

Therefore, according to Jesus, sex is God’s way of saying to another human being “I belong to you completely, permanently and exclusively.”  It’s the most romantic view of sex imaginable.

And – more profoundly – it’s a proclamation of the ultimate oneness available in Jesus and the ultimate love He brings us into.

That’s why GK Chesterton was right: everyone knocking on the door of the brothel is looking for God.

But don’t settle for the picture of intimacy and oneness – receive the reality.  Come to Jesus and know the truth of what sex points towards.

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This is different to a version I demonstrated a few months ago.  Back then I drew the world twice – once with Adam taking it down and once with Christ raising it up.  That’s obviously not ideal – Christ saves this world.  So in this version we’ve overcome that problem with the help of a nifty fold – Christ descending onto this world to do Adam’s job right.  I much prefer this version – not least because you get to do a bit of gospel origami!

Learn how to draw 321 for yourself here.

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Happy Friday

And if that’s not your thing, then here’s the world’s most incredible buzzer-beater – to win the title, with 0.1 seconds left:

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