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Archive for April, 2013

EvangelismWhat do you associate with the phrase “man-centred evangelism”?  What would self-centred evangelism look like?

I have a tract in front of me. A fairly innocuous cover – it could be about anything.

Open it up and straight away you’re confronted with death and judgement. When we die we will open our eyes either in a state of supreme happiness or unbelievable anguish. There is no annihilation, no re-incarnation, no escape.

The next page tells us How to be sure of heaven. There follow nine numbered points. These include (among other things) ‘repenting’, ‘coming’ to Jesus, ‘trusting in’ Jesus, ‘looking to’ Jesus, ‘receiving’ Jesus, ‘confessing ‘ Jesus, and ‘reading your Bible and praying every day’. These are all separately listed under the heading ‘How to be sure of heaven.’  The work of Jesus is mentioned in the midst of a couple of these points – His death on “Calvary” is instrumental in your forgiveness and something you must realise and trust in.

It concludes with a sinners’ prayer.

Now… let me say I love first contact evangelism, I love tracts.  I use them often. I’ve just been out door-knocking our parish and found it a very fruitful time. I don’t fault anyone for a sense of gospel urgency and a desire to reach out.  So let’s not get hung up on the particular example, but let’s talk about the theology behind it.

The theology fueling this is not confined to tracts. Some folks seem to reverse engineer their gospel from the throne of judgement.  And they bring it all back to here and now and me.  The logic goes like this:

In the future there will be a judgement.

Today you can prepare for that ‘great assize’ by making some changes.

By the way, in the past Jesus did some things that open up the possibility for your salvation today.

But anyway, back to today.  Back to you.  Here are the nine things you need to do

There are numerous problems here, but let me name some of them…

The entire presentation is not an announcement of good news. It is an ultimatum.

It’s not about Christ and what He has done, it’s about you and what you must do.

Your problem, in these presentations, is not really Christlessness.  It’s the future flames which you want to avoid if you know what’s good for you.

God’s solution – salvation – is not knowing God through Jesus (John 17:3), it’s escaping hell. Meaning…

There is no obvious connection between believing in Jesus and being saved (apart from Jesus’ atonement being instrumental somehow).  Therefore…

Trusting Jesus becomes about trusting a mechanism of atonement, not a Mediator who atones.  Furthermore…

Faith in Jesus is blatantly a means to another end: escaping hell.  Which means…

No love for Christ is being encouraged, only love for self.  Thus…

True faith is not being elicited here.  You can tell this because…

Christ in His word is not creating faith (He and His work are barely mentioned), the evangelist is commanding faith.  But…

Faith is not a response to commands, it’s a response to promises.  Similarly…

Faith is not a contribution we make to our salvation (along with 8 other steps we need to take), it is the gift of God that comes as Christ, in His gospel, takes hold of us.

That’s what evangelism is then – placarding Christ.  And yes, talk about judgement – but talk about the condemnation that is our Christlessness, now and eternally (John 3:18). Talk about salvation, but talk about Christ as our salvation.  And talk about repentance and faith, but talk about it in the context of Christ offered to you.  Don’t make it your offering to Him.

If we fail to be thoroughly Christ-centred in evangelism we will be man-centred, no matter how much we quote the King James Bible, no matter how fundamentalist we sound, no matter how proud we are of ‘preaching the hard truths.’  Without Christ it always comes back to me.  Only Christ-centredness is true God-centredness.

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More Tweets

twitter-icon“Dear God, once again, I’m *really* sorry for that sin?” “What sin?” (Hebrews 10:17) #EnjoyYourDay

Passionless gospel preaching should be an impossibility. Should be.

Documentary on Isaac Newton says he spent his latter years as “a lonely old man”… Like his god then.

Coming to Jesus is not about taking on another burden. It’s about receiving the one yoke that fits well. (Matthew 11:28-30) #rest #easy

Isaiah 60: Now that the Light of the world has risen for you, YOU shine with radiant glory. #passiton #EnjoyYourDay

Poor? Brokenhearted? Mourning? Bound? Christ is good news, comfort, gladness, freedom, a robe of praise & righteousness #Is61 #EnjoyYourDay

We don’t have to come up with God, He comes out with Himself.

If u find yrself thinking: “I’ll sort this problem out myself” consider that “sorting things out yrself” might be yr Real Problem

What every Christian can pray: “You, Lord God, have looked on me as though I were The Most Exalted of men.” (1Chr17:17) #ClothedInChrist

We spend our lives trying to become wise, righteous, special, free. We have it all in Jesus: 1Cor1:30 #EnjoyYourDay

Christ says “I have surely seen yr affliction & have heard yr cry. I know yr sufferings & have come down to deliver u.” Ex3 #EnjoyYourDay

Since sacraments are visible words of divine promise it’s ridiculous to sideline them in the name of “faith alone.” >>

<< If you want faith – unleash the promises.

Faith cannot rest in a mechanism of salvation. Faith is receiving a Messiah who saves. Preachers: ensure you preach *Him*

Spring=just a taste of what’s coming: “the desert shall blossom abundantly & rejoice with joy & singing.” Is35 #EnjoyYourDay

The horror is, the law does not find fault with what Gosnell was doing, only where he was doing it: Doug Wilson Article … #Gosnell

“Sorry, snowed under” “I’m not a miracle worker” “I wish u hadn’t told me that”: Things u won’t hear from Jesus. #TalkToHim #EnjoyYourDay

Happy ‘Kill The Dragon Save The Girl’ Day. Google’s icon is a nice representation of St George (and the Bible!)

Just imagine it: the Father selecting a sacrificial Lamb “for your sake” – His precious, eternal, spotless Son. 1Peter1:17-20 #EnjoyYourDay

Someone just commented on Emma’s blog: “Is Glen Scrivener your dad? He sometimes preaches at our church.” Time to start jogging.

A life of faith, hope and love isn’t the price of salvation, it’s the prize: yours for free in Jesus (Col 1:3-6) #EnjoyYourDay

Slavery this side of sonship = death (older brother in field) Slavery the far side of sonship = real life (younger brother in father’s robe)

“I’ve died and gone to heaven” – words describing a euphoric experience. Words describing every Christian. Col3:3 #EnjoyYourDay

Preachers: tomorrow you are not simply transferring information. You are heralding the Word. #OfferChrist

Good news: Am about to preach in a pulpit used by Wesley. Bad news: He was subsequently chased out of church & nearly killed by the locals

Monday morning is Not ‘same old, same old’ – the old is gone, today is brand spanking new: Lam 3:23. #EnjoyYourDay

You can be a cool, detached know-it-all. Or you can be a preacher. Not both.

Preaching is not a performance but it is performative. It mustn’t be affected but it is effectual.

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Ephesians 4:1-6 sermon

MonkeyGoneToHeavenHave you ever said the phrase “I’ve died and gone to heaven!“? Think of a time when you might have said “I’ve died and gone to heaven!” The dream holiday, the dream job, the dream boyfriend or girlfriend. The day the dream came true you died and went to heaven.

The book of Ephesians begins by saying “The Christian has died and gone to heaven”…

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ChristOldTestament2The Real Presence of the Son Before Christ: Revisiting an Old Approach to Old Testament Christology by Charles A. Gieschen

Gieschen’s conclusion gives his reason for writing:

If we are convinced that the Son is central to the identity of YHWH as he speaks and acts throughout the Old Testament, we can and should show forth the pre-incarnate Son when preaching from the Old Testament. To do this we do not need to have a messianic or typological prophecy in the text, nor do we need to set up elaborate comparisons between God in the Old Testament and then fast-forward to Christ in the New Testament. We can also let those to whom we preach see Christ by showing them the real presence of the Son in Old Testament events and speech.

Interesting within the article is Gieschen’s recognition of Augustine as deviating from the christocentric OT interpretation prevalent in the early church:

It was Augustine who solidified the position against seeing the Son, or any other person of the Trinity, as visibly present in the theophanies of the Old Testament. He argued that the manifestations of God in Old Testament events were mediated by angels:

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, since it is in no way changeable, can in no way in its proper self be visible. It is manifest, accordingly, that all those appearances to the fathers, when God was presented to them according to his own dispensation, suitable to the times, were wrought through the creature. And if we cannot discern in what manner he wrought them by ministry of angels, yet we say that they were wrought by angels. (On the Trinity 3.21-22)

Augustine, writing between A.D. 400-420, is obviously reacting against those who were using the theophanies to prove the created nature of the Son or the difference of his essence from the Father. Unlike the Formula of Sirmium in the mid-fourth century, which included anathemas against anyone who denied that it was the Son who appeared to Abraham and Jacob, Augustine called for a much more moderate understanding:

We should not be dogmatic in deciding which person of the three appeared in any bodily form or likeness to this or that patriarch or prophet, unless the whole context of the narrative provides us with probable indications. In any case, that nature or substance, or essence, or whatever else you may call that which God is, whatever it may be, cannot physically be seen; but on the other hand we must believe that by creature control the Father, as well as the Son and the Holy Spirit, could offer the senses of mortal men a token representation of himself in bodily guise or likeness. (On the Trinity 3.25)

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Hebrew-BibleI am not at all naturally inclined to study languages myself so I’m not writing as a language buff. But I think “correctly handling the word of truth” means a certain level of knowledge about the way that word was written and how it can and cannot be handled.

What is the semantic range of this word? Do I realize how meaning can change depending on which prepositions are attached or what verb stem it’s in? Do I at least understand the arguments for why the New World Translation gets John 1:1 wrong? I think a pastor should have a handle on this kind of stuff – not that they can necessarily weigh in with great scholarship but that they at least know why the NIV says what it says and can justify it if they disagree.

And it can have revolutionary significance.  Think of Matthew 4:17 – the Vulgate says ‘Do penance’ but when Luther sees it’s actually “Repent” it becomes the very first of his 95 theses.

I’m not saying someone can’t have a hugely powerful ministry without knowing the original languages (who can deny that in places where the church is growing fastest, pastors very often don’t). And I’m not saying every pastor needs to get to the level where they do all their prep and quiet times in Hebrew. But if our pastors have been given significant formal preparation for word ministry then studying those words in the original languages should be a key component of that. It’s surely not right that pastors have a hundred opinions on the new perspective but don’t actually understand the linguistics behind “pistis Christou” for instance.

I think the tools of a pastor’s trade are words – the bible’s words more specifically. I wouldn’t have confidence in a car mechanic who said “We just need to twist the doo-hickey until the thingumy-jig pops out.”

I’m not suggesting that pastors need to be fluent or anything like it.  You don’t need to be able to speak these languages or hear them or even write them.  Just to read them, painstakingly slowly and usually with some bible software close to hand!

But it pays off. Very quickly you’re able to see a thousand links that are there to see in the original languages but (necessarily) obscured by translations.  Let me give some examples:

Last week I preached on Isaiah 2 and then 1 Corinthians 7:

Isaiah 2:

All translations conceal just how much ideas of highness, loftiness are repeated in verses 11-17. Reading this in the Hebrew definitely allowed the word to dwell in me more richly. I was more impacted by the word because of reading in the Hebrew.

Searching for a theology of trees and hills was easier to do with knowledge of the Hebrew. (Of course it’s not impossible to do without Hebrew but it takes longer and you end up relying on things like bible dictionaries – and I’m never sure if I’m always on the same page as the bible dictionary contributors (esp on OT)).

In v10, ‘The Rock’ vs ‘the rocks’ – I might decide to prefer ESV because of many factors, but surely the best factor is that the Hebrew says bazur not bazurim. This was a key point in my sermon – a big talking point afterwards. I’m glad I know something of Hebrew when those conversations come up. If you’re going to argue for Christ in OT (which I am), the majority of your biblical scholarship / commentary help is at least 300 years old. It’s brilliant stuff, but a lot of the contemporary stuff is just not that interested in christocentric detail. But, learn Hebrew yourself and you’ll see it on every page.

1 Corinthians 7:
There are so many minefields here – and so many ethical issues that depend on language debates. I’m nowhere near in a position to contribute to these debates, but it’s very helpful to be able to follow them especially when I’m telling certain people they can’t marry or can’t divorce and telling them on the basis of these ten Greek words which have multiple interpretations.

e.g. what’s the difference between ‘separating’ in v10 and ‘divorcing’ in v11-13? What does it mean for the woman not to be ‘bound’? in v15? Is that relevantly similar to the word for ‘bound’ in v39? Your stance on divorce and remarriage is fundamentally affected by that question.

Now the language alone is not going to decide it and not everyone needs to have language knowledge. But I’m recommending an investment of time in languages that better places you to think through all these issues.

On the one hand learning languages saves you time. It really does – searches are far faster, technical commentaries are much easier to read. If you’re at all interested in the detail of the text, knowing some Greek and Hebrew makes things faster not slower. On the other hand, it slows you down in the right way. Reading the passage in the original allows you to see details and emphases and repetitions that are necessarily filtered out in translations, to see things of Christ that aren’t usually picked up on. It comes home a bit stronger. Maybe none of that will translate to the pulpit, but it translates to my heart – and that’s good for my ministry.

So here’s what I’m saying: It is a tremendous help in correctly handling the word if you know enough about Greek and Hebrew to at least be able to read the technical commentaries and use the bible software. This will mean that, with help from commentaries and Bibleworks etc, you are preparing sermons from the Hebrew and Greek and not simply from the English translations. I really think this makes a significant difference to your word ministry. Enough difference that it is worth the expenditure of, say, 160 hours in training – i.e. 4 hours a week (2 in classroom, 2 in homework) for 40 weeks or something? To be honest you could probably get away with less. And you do NOT have to be a language buff to be able to get to this level. I am in no way naturally gifted for languages, but I found huge payoffs in forcing myself to do it.

Now put that 160 hours (or less) in context. I’ve spent many times over that amount in studying church history, many times over that amount simply reading theologians, simply reading systematics, simply reading Christian paperbacks. I’ve spent hugely more time blogging!

I’m not talking about secret knowledge that takes decades of training and special anointing. I’m talking about learning alphabets and a bit of vocab, learning some verb and noun tables and then figuring out how clauses and sentences fit together. Most of that is dead boring – but these are the nuts and bolts of God’s revelation to us. And pastors deal in God’s revelation. Yes we deal in people and that is crucial (Tit 1:6-8). But we also deal in the word (Tit 1:9). We find time for all sorts of other nonsense in preparation for word ministry (JEPD anyone?!) languages is a really good investment of time. If you have the chance to do it, do it.

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TEP-PodcastCover-1024x1024The church has been sent as God’s missionary organisation to the world. What does that mean for church? What does it mean for evangelism?

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Happy Friday

And the conspiracy theory flowchart (some swearing)

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cartmanThis follows on from my series “Why be good?

Kath has been writing about obedience and asking what’s helpful in seeking to love an obedient life.  It’s a good question, because people in the Bible seem pretty thrilled by the idea. The Psalmist sees the law as eminently loveable (Psalm 119:97), Paul calls it “holy, righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). Jude, Peter, James and Paul all introduce themselves as “Slaves of Christ” in their letters.  They love obedience!  They have seen an awesomely attractive vision of life and they’ve submitted themselves to it with joyful abandon.

We don’t like obedience – as a rule. (If it were a suggestion, we’d be much more amenable).

Why don’t we like it?

  1. We’re not any good at it. I’m always inclined to hate something I’m bad at. (I’m afraid there’s no real solution to this one – we’ll always be really bad at obedience.  All of us.  Until we die. But it’s we who are bad, not the law).
  2. Obedience feels like it’s taking us away from the good life. We imagine that God has set up an arbitrary set of hoops for us to jump through. We imagine he’s not really interested in goodness, in justice, in flourishing, in cosmic shalom.  We fear that he just sets little tests for the world in order to sort out the pious wheat from the irreligious chaff.  It rarely occurs to us that God has laid out “The Good Life” for us.  We consider it to be merely “The Hard Life.”
  3. Law sounds like the opposite of love. Somehow someone convinced us that law and love are on opposite sides of an unbridgeable chasm.  They must have had their bibles firmly shut at that point because law and love go together everywhere you look in Scripture. But, according to the caricature, over there are law people obsessing over irrelevant duties, but over here, we’re just liberated lovers, leading with our big, warm hearts. In this world, the word obedience definitely belongs over there. But notice too – in this world, both sides of the supposed chasm are far from self-forgetful gospel faith.
  4. Works seem like the opposite of faith (rather than the fruit). In our minds, we set up the difference between gospel faith and legalistic religion like this: YOU are faithlessly busy.  I am trustingly inactive.  God prefers my internal “faith” to your external “works”.  Notice though, that this understanding is actually Christless – it makes me the Saviour, through my cognitive contribution.  But the gospel is that we’re saved in spite of our inactivity and in spite of our busyness – we’re saved by Christ. It’s not really our faith that saves us (as though God prefers internal mental assent to external physical acts!) It’s Christ who saves us and sets us on our feet as children of the same heavenly Father.  Now that we’re in the family, how could obedience be a dirty word?  All of a sudden obedience makes sense.
  5. Obeying God seems besides the point, perhaps even Pharasaical. If, in the gospel, my goodness is irrelevant to my standing with God, we very quickly ask the question “Why be good?”  We rarely round on the question and ask an equally incredulous: “Why on earth be bad??” (We don’t react that way because we’ve bought into lie no. 2 – we think that badness is a kind of delightful naughtiness). Positively speaking, it rarely occurs to us to answer the “Why be good?” question with an emphatic: “Because goodness is good!”  Or “Because Father knows best”.  Or “Because the life of Christ works through us!”  Or “Because there’s a world out there to bless!”

Once the incentive of heavenly reward is absent we seem to lose whatever interest in obedience we might have had.  But that’s not a sign that we’re too focused on the gospel.  The very opposite – it’s a sign that we haven’t allowed the gospel to properly re-calibrate our thinking.

It’s the legalist who sees obedience as an arbitrary set of hoops to jump through.  Legalists are like the older brother of Luke 15 – happy to prove themselves by jumping through the hoops. The licentious are like the younger brother of Luke 15 – happy to find themselves by casting such burdens away.  But both of them completely misunderstand obedience.  We should think of obedience as one way – a beautifully attractive way – of characterizing ‘the father’s house.’  Yes it is a place of love, blessing, security, celebration, joy, mercy, peace, etc, etc.  But it’s also a place where the beautiful will of the Father is done.

On this understanding, legalists are like the older son, self-righteous in the field. The licentious are like the younger son, lost in the far-country. The true position is to be a sinner robed, in the father’s household.  But just imagine that younger son, the morning after the feast.  With what eagerness he will serve his father now!  He’ll get it wrong.  He’ll have to learn. But obedience in the father’s house is not a dirty word, it’s the very atmosphere of home.

It’s true that there is a slavery on the near side of sonship and that is spiritual death.  But there’s a slavery on the far side of sonship and it is life and peace.

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christ-and-mosesSeems like, these days, we’re all reading our Old Testaments as though they are Christian Scripture. And if there are a few old fogeys holding out against the tide of “true and better” typology then – c’mon baggy, get with the beat.

This is cause for some celebration. It’s far better to preach the Old Testament as thoroughly Christ-focused than to give 25 minutes fit for the synagogue followed by a 5 minute icing of penal substitution.  But… I’m not sure the current fad for re-reading the OT through typological lenses will be able to carry the day unless we believe that the OT saints were themselves Christ-focused.

On the Gospel Coalition website, Mitch Chase recently wrote “Preach the Old Testament As If Jesus Is Risen.”  In it he makes the excellent point:

If your hermeneutic is grammatical-historical but not christological, you’re not reading the Old Testament as the apostles did, as Jesus taught them to read it.

Amen, Amen.  Unfortunately though, the whole article is framed by a depiction of the OT as a dim cavern which needs the blazing torch of the Christ-Event to illuminate it.  Yet, just last night our home group looked at John 5 in which Jesus puts things exactly the other way around.  Moses casts light on Jesus – and if folks don’t trust Moseshow will they ever believe Jesus. (J0hn 5:37-46)  The whole re-reading paradigm would have Jesus saying “I understand that you didn’t get the dim, dark witness of Moses, but let me shine a light on Moses.”  No, He says, “My Father’s testimony through Moses illuminates me.

Why is this important? Well, there are a couple of dissenting voices in the comments, who are coming from a different place than me, but they are sounding some quite understandable gripes about a, now fashionable, “Everything’s-a-Type-of-Jesus” hermeneutic.  They want to honour the intention of Moses and the Prophets and not simply jump to Jesus (by which they mean, Jump via some leap of desperate hermeneutics to Golgotha). Well, who can blame them?  They have a terrific point.

If Moses and the Prophets aren’t saying what we’re saying, then we’re just twisting the Scriptures aren’t we?

But when Paul preached Christ – His death and resurrection – from the OT he insisted “I am saying nothing beyond what Moses and the Prophets said would happen.”  (Acts 26:22)  Yes his interpretation was Christ-focused. But it was also wedded to authorial intent.

So how do we keep those two things together: Christ-focus and authorial intent?  Only by saying that the OT in its own context is consciously a proclamation of Christ – His sufferings and glories.  Without an insistence that the Hebrew Scriptures are already and intentionally Christian – without maintaining that ‘the lights are already on’ – then the “true and better” typology stuff will be good for a sermon or two, but it won’t transform our preaching or our churches.

I’ll finish with that same caution from David Murray here:

I’m massively encouraged by the church’s renewed interest in preaching Christ from the Old Testament, and especially by the increased willingness to see how Old Testament people, places, events, etc., point forward to Christ. This “types and trajectories” (or redemptive-historical) hermeneutic has many strengths.

However, I’m a bit concerned that an overuse of this tool can give the impression that Christ is merely the end of redemptive history rather than an active participant throughout.

Puritans such as Jonathan Edwards were masters of balance here. In his History of the Work of Redemption, Edwards shows Christ as not only the end of redemptive history, but actively and savingly involved from the first chapter to the last. He did not view Old Testament people, events, etc., as only stepping-stones to Christ; he saw Christ in the stepping-stones themselves. He did not see the need to relate everything to “the big picture”; he found the “big picture” even in the “small pictures.”

I’d also like to encourage preachers and teachers to be clear and consistent on the question: “How were Old Testament believers saved?” The most common options seem to be:

1. They were saved by obeying the law.

2. They were saved by offering sacrifices.

3. They were saved by a general faith in God.

4. They were saved by faith in the Messiah.

Unless we consistently answer #4, we end up portraying heaven as not only populated by lovers of Christ, but also by legalists, ritualists, and mere theists who never knew Christ until they got there. Turning back again in order to go forwards, may I recommend Calvin’s Institutes Book 2 (chapters 9-11) to help remove some of the blur that often surrounds this question.

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dawkins_southparkYesterday, Richard Dawkins drew much criticism for the following tweet:

Andrew Brown of the Guardian tells of the fall-out.

Seems to me one response would be to point to this Dawkins tweet from last month:

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander I’d have thought.  The supernatural (for want of a better short-hand) might seem absurd to the naturalist, but, well, it would.  But you can’t do theology by common sense either – and certainly not naturalistic common sense!

Anyway, perhaps the best response is just to list some of Dawkins’ other clangers from the last few weeks and let them speak for themselves…

[now deleted] What kind of person throws chewing gum in the streets, where it sticks to shoes? What kind of person chews gum in the first place?

Greetings to all atheists. But please, not so many athiests, aethists or aetheists. Greek theos: god. Hence theist. Hence a-theist.

I re-tweet for a reason. I know not everybody likes it. They are free to unfollow.

Comparisons often made of Jesus with Horus, Dionysus, Krishna etc. Any real scholars out there confirm each one? pic.twitter.com/IuN1u7McNq

then, when called on such tired and lazy comparisons…

Was it seriously not obvious that I posted that set of other gods because I was SCEPTICAL of the alleged similarities to Jesus?

If you’re used to the obscurantist smokescreens of religion, the sudden shock of the unambiguously clear voice of reason can SEEM aggressive

Dear Americans, please understand that “grade” as in “7th grade” is not part of the English language. Please state the child’s AGE in years

People outside America truly don’t know what “7th grade” means. In Britain we’ve “Year 10” but don’t expect others to know what that means.

If you only care about communicating to Americans, “7th grade” is fine. But there’s this obscure little place called The Rest Of The World

I’m NOT arguing for British English. “Year 10” not part of the language either, which is why I wouldn’t use it in an international medium.

“Hit a home run” great metaphor, understood internationally. But “7th grade” conveys precision. Don’t you WANT to be understood outside US?

Struggling with London tube notice: delays because “customer” taken ill on train earlier in day. Sorry for sick passenger, but why DELAYS?

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Exodus 3 Sermon

Exodus 3

TEXT

POWERPOINT

AUDIO

This is always the way: God the Father sends God the Son to be with us in our suffering and to bring us out that we might worship the Father in freedom and joy.

Exodus is the story of this Figure from the bush: the Angel, the Great I AM: He leads the people out of slavery and into salvation.

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Evangelist’s Podcast 4

TEP-PodcastCover-1024x1024In the week of the deaths of Margaret Thatcher, George Beverly Shea and Revival’s own Ken Coventry, we discuss death and our legacy beyond…

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Happy Friday

Is this the world’s worst music video?

Some Brian Butterfield goodness (his stuff runs out after the 10 minute mark).

Older Butterfields herehere and here.

Some Look Around Yous.  And perhaps my favourite Serafinowicz

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you shouldnt have[A repost from the early days of the King’s English]

On the King’s English I’ve been thinking about a triune creation.

In the beginning

Let there be light

Let us make man in our image

Be fruitful and multiply

Behold, it was very good

God rested

The Breath of Life

It’s really striking me how profligate is the triune God of grace.  The Father, Son and Spirit bubble over in love.  A unitarian god needs creation.  And all relations between such a creator and its creature are quid pro quo arrangements.  The triune God does nothing about of necessity.  It’s all about gift and free overflow.

We can genuinely say “You really didn’t have to.”  And the Lord will reply, “I know, but I wanted to.”

So my friend, whoever you are.  Know in your heart: You are entirely unnecessary.  Entirely.  Unnecessary.  You are a profligate extravagance, a superfluous addendum, a needless flourish.  The Lord, His universe, His church, His kindgom purposes could so easily do without you.  You are completely surplus to requirements.

And you say “I need to be needed!  If my children don’t need me, I’ll fall apart.  If my church doesn’t need me, I’ll crumble.  If my work doesn’t need me, who am I?”

But you don’t need to be needed.  You only think you need to be needed because you’ve forgotten you’re loved.  So let me remind you…

You are wanted.  You are desired.  And not for anything ‘you offer.’  You are surplus to requirements.  But our God doesn’t deal in requirements, He enjoys the surplus.  He delights in you.

Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.  (Eph 2:4-5)

You are entirely unnecessary, but utterly loved.

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Here Carl Trueman speaks about Luther’s doctrine of the Word and our need, today, to recover a theology of preaching.

The Word of God transforms the reality of the world. That is the power of preaching, that is the power of the pulpit…

I’m convinced that while much time is spent at seminaries, rightly, teaching the technical aspects of preaching… it is equally important that preachers understand the nature of the theological action which they perform when they stand in a pulpit.

It’s a vital, vital need.  I think evangelicalism would be transformed if we came to a deep appreciation of what preaching actually is.

Here’s my effort on Theology Network to bang that drum….

It is often said that the real issue in preaching is not ‘How to?’ but ‘How can?’  How can a preacher stand before a congregation and dare to speak ‘In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’?  The ‘How can?’ is by far the more pressing question.  And yet, in the textbooks, at the conferences and in preaching groups it seems the ‘How to?’ is the perennial concern.  Notes or full script?  Powerpoint or no?  Topical sermons or lectio continua?  These questions abound.  Even issues like ‘how to address the heart?’ or ‘how to preach wisdom literature?’ threaten to drown out proper theological reflection.  All the while the ‘How can?’ question stands above our practice demanding an answer.

Our silence on this issue could simply reflect the pragmatic spirit of our age.  We want to know what ‘works’ so we can copy it.  But I suggest there is a deeper problem.  Fundamentally we have an impoverished theology of revelation which fails to appreciate what evangelicals from another age held dear – namely that God Himself addresses us in preaching.

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Seminars on Luther’s Theology of the Three-fold Word

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John 21 Sermon

John 21

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POWERPOINT

Twice in this passage Jesus is called “Lord”.  And what have the disciples experienced to make them call Him ‘Lord’?  Have you noticed? In this story He spends the whole time serving His friends.  What kind of LORD is Jesus?  He provides the catch, He provides bread and fish of His own, He provides the fire, He cooks the breakfast.

It harks back to one of the most astonishing things Jesus ever said.  Back in Luke 12 Jesus had said that when He, the Master, comes again…

…He will have His servants recline at the table and He will come and wait on them. (Luke 12:37)

When the Master comes: He will serve His servants. Isn’t that astonishing?  You’d never believe that was true, except that Jesus said it.  And then, Jesus did it.  Because here He is at the barbecue, apron on, tongs in hand.  He provided the catch, He provided the fire, now He’s cooking it up saying “Come and have breakfast!”

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Tweets I Tweeted Earlier

follow-jesusWithout trinity, creation demands response. With trinity, creation demonstrates initiative.

Without trinity, the 1st implication of creation = “our owing”. With trinity, the 1st implication of creation = “God’s flowing”.

Without trinity, creation means “God calls the tune”. With trinity, creation means “there’s Music to be shared”

Jesus is your Brother. He is not ashamed of you. Heb 2:11 #EnjoyYourDay

If ur in on Jesus, ur in on Everything. ‘The Father himself loves u b/c u’ve loved me & believe that I came from God.’ Jn16 #EnjoyYourDay

At an art gallery, fearing that my gospel explanations can be as impenitrible to the uninitiated as these explanatory panels. #LordSaveUs

“Individually objects have their own semiotic value but extended over a ‘field of research’ they become pts of connectivity.” #ArtGallerese

“She investigates the language of psychogeography and landscape exploring the mystery of narrative embedded in social ritual.” #ArtGallerese

“Implied absence & fragmentation is played with, charged against areas of patterning & layers of paint.” #ArtGallerese

As a teenager just said to me: ‘If your God starts to sound like Allah, your *Christian* theology has taken a wrong turning.”

How’s your relationship with God? As good as your Priest’s – Heb 5:1-9 #EnjoyYourDay

Thru wilderness trials the Father promises: “My Presence (Christ!) will go with you and I will give you rest.” Ex33 #EnjoyYourDay

‘Let’s take the whole rationally ordered, rationally comprehensible cosmos as given then turn our guns on the ‘supernatural.’ #atheism…

‘Let’s assume ‘the natural’ is a neutral realm understood by all then try to build towards ‘the supernatural’ #christlesstheism…

‘In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God… The Word became flesh & we have seen His glory’ #Christianity

A minor key, made majorA major key made minor… Why is minor ‘sad’ and major ‘triumphant’? >>

<< MINOR is when the 2nd Member of the triad descends (cross). MAJOR is when the 2nd Member rises again (resurrection).

The Son of David has a great “largeness of heart” (1 Kings 4:29). There’s plenty of room for you. #EnjoyYourDay

We don’t derive God’s three-ness from the economy while deriving God’s one-ness from philosophy. Both are fully revealed in the gospel.

In other words: In ‘Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ we see the one God just as clearly as we see the three Persons.

Nice to see the Churchman’s lead article this quarter: “The OT is explicitly Christian” by Andy Savile.

We’ve seen the future: BBQs on the beach, country walks, heart-warming talks, feasting and face2face with Jesus, #Resurrection #EnjoyYourDay

“Materialism is an explanation for a world we don’t live in.” Grt article on the absurdity of ontological naturalism

Someone just told me of a play abt Jesus: “It’s not controversial, it’s v faithful.” At least 1 of those descriptors must be false.

The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. Rom8:11 #EnjoyYourDay

When “conservatives” picket a funeral it’s #Westboro. What shall we call it when “liberals” picket a funeral? #Leftboro?

MT “@RichardDawkins: You can choose to claim to hold a belief. But can you choose to believe?” <– At least he’s a *Reformed* Atheist

Trois, Deux, Un…

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