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Showing posts from June, 2007

Now that's what I call worship

Jesus' blood never fails me

Today is my fifth wedding anniversary. Five years ago I entered into a covenant with Em for life. She walked into a church in Bristol to the sound of Delirious' Jesus Blood Never Fails Me. We made promises, exchanged rings. And celebrated with friends and family.

A friend assured me beforehand that marriage is what happens when you get two sinners living under the same roof. And he warned me that would be hard. Because we are sinful people. I've found myself needing to be forgiving and to be forgiven. But how is that possible? Is forgiveness a commitment to forgetfulness? And what if you can't forget?

Today I think we're in danger of losing what it means to forgive. It seems to mean something like amnesia. God takes sin and forgiveness more robustly. Forgiveness is not easily acquired. It's a rare jewel. It should be highly sought after.

I wont win my wife's forgiveness of me by romance and charm or the flowers that I don't buy often enough. Those things are g…

Religious Affections

Grace that gets under your skin

I love the book of Jonah. I love it because it shouldn't exist. God sends a prophet to preach but he runs the other way, has to be chased with a storm and swallowed by a fish before he's prepared to do what he was originally told to do. When he finally preaches in the evil city of Nineveh everyone repents. Everyone puts their trust in God. Quits sin and looks for mercy. That's at least 120,000 people seeking repentance in a day (3v9), and God grants repentance relenting from wrath towards them (3v10). I don't think you'd find an evangelist who wouldn't come in from that kind of days work and be absolutely exhuberantly overwhelmingly delighted.

And yet (4v1) Jonah is devastated. He's exceedingly angry. Makes you think why does God bother? Surely he could find a prophet who'd do the job and be glad when things turn out well. But this prophet is furious. Enough to die. And he has stern words with God for it. He states what we've all wondered since the b…

Joyfully reformed

Mark Dever begins a 10 part blog series on : Where'd all these Calvinists come from? I'm happy to bear the nickname Calvinist and there all sort of influences that have brought me to that position. See also Young, restless and reformed. Terry Virgo today : Anyone in newfrontiers would know how much we treasure these doctrines. I am not sure that someone would feel they couldn't join us if they were not reformed. We have never said you have to be reformed to belong. But it is widely known and understood outside our circles that we are reformed and charismatic. That's how people see us. I have often said that I don't know how people who don't fully believe in the sovereignty of God can sleep peacefully at night.

Sadly today the man with a good reformed name Jonathan Edwards, walks away from God. His testimony that "his inner sense of God’s presence was fictitious". Commented on by : Mike, Adrian. Shows to me the importance of having good deep foundation…

The Holy Spirit

One of the sad things about leaving Reading soon is the distance that puts between myself and some dear partners in the gospel. People like Sean Green from Reading Family Church. Whatever the distance we share the unity of the Holy Spirit but I shall miss the warm gospel-friendship I've received from Sean and his fellow elder Scott. In July I'm speaking to our 'blueprint' group at Arborfield and in my preparation was greatly encouraged by this Sean Green - The Holy Spirit.

A fire that should set the world alight with passion for God

The Embers of Preaching and
the Flames of Piety
- Pete Sanlon."To put it bluntly—a sermon that does not stir up a deeper love for Jesus is not a Christian sermon. It may have many excellent features and could possibly be a good lecture, but it is nonetheless a failure as a sermon." More from Pete's blog - Grace City : Augustinian Attitudes for Today

Searching for splendour

"We are constantly looking for splendor; and nothing appears to us more incongruous, than that the heavenly kingdom of the Son of God, whose glory is so magnificently celebrated by the prophets, should consist of the dregs and offscourings of the common people. And truly it is a wonderful purpose of God, that though he has the whole world at his command, he chooses rather to select a peculiar people to himself from among the contemptible vulgar, than from the nobility, whose high rank would have been a greater ornament to the name of Christ... And certainly, though this appointment of God contradicts our senses, we discover not only blind arrogance, but excessive madness, if we murmur against it, while Christ our Head adores it with reverence."Calvin on Luke 10v17-24.

How great it is that Jesus reveals himself not to the great and the good, but instead to little children. It is the Father's pleasure. It is the Son's joy in the Holy Spirit. Let us also rejoice! What gr…

Humbling effects of Election

A while ago I wrote about how we should approach teaching on Election in Romans 9 with heartbreak and hallelujahs. Sorrowful over those who do not share in an inseparable relationship with Jesus, soaring in joy over the wonders of the salvation we have received by grace.

You may not agree with my conclusions on Romans 9v1-18 and you may be eqally humbled by your own understanding of this passage or this doctrine. Nonetheless, I want to share the way this affects me. In 9v1-18 we see that God has revealed himself much to the Jews yet many don't believe. Why not? Not because God's word has failed but because God never promised to save everyone. Rather he saves by his choice before birth, independent of human desire or effort. Salvation then is by God's free choice in a way that brings most glory to himself. He makes it evident that hardening the Egyptian king would make him famous as would saving his own idolatrous people. There is wisdom far beyond us in this matter.

We may p…

Being Thrilled

"What thrills me is a local church full of individuals celebrating the triumph of grace, knowing what it is to be a son of God, full of the Holy Spirit, enjoying personal fellowship with God in an intimate way and also reveling in a huge picture of our world mission to glorify Jesus among the nations, and the vast place of the Church in world history. That vision is both intimately personal and massively broad -- both things thrill me." -- Terry VirgoAmen!

Confident Christians love the church with the word

Christians are confident people. Not self confident. We're confident in the blood of Jesus. His death in our place that gives us confidence to enter The Most Holy Place. The presence of God that was previously marked No Entry can now be entered boldly. What should we do - draw near! Come on in. We have a perfect prayer life since Jesus is always interceding there for us and he calls us to enter in ourselves. Consider Tim Chester & Andrew Bonar on Leviticus. The blood leaves us humbled and deeply sin-conscious. Devastated by our evil hearts as we see our sin through the cross of Jesus. And yet, made perfect and made alive by the same Jesus!And then, we live in he light of this. What does confident living look like? Hebrews 10v23-25 : Let us... v23, Hold unswervingly to the hope we profess Why? because he who promised is faithful. that is : because God's promises are reliable. v24, consider how to spur one another on towards love and good deeds. To stir up outbursts and over…

Terry Virgo Interview

Made Perfect Forever

I'll post a few extracts from talks I preached at the Reading University Christian Union Summer Houseparty. This from the first session :
Here. At Hebrews 10v14. Here's the biggest thing to remember! Everything else will be application. And that application is vast. Get this: 10v14 :

by one sacrifice he has made perfect for all time those who are being made holy.

Chew on that. Compare with the old. One sacrifice. That makes people perfect. Forever. Gaze into the mirror of scripture and see how the world really is. See what Jesus has done. Who is made perfect? "those who are being made holy" That is those on a trajectory towards God's ways. Not those who work but those who live by faith in the high priest Jesus - as we'll see in chapter 11.

This is total confidence that you are made perfect by Jesus blood. Notice the tense - "made perfect". That means already done and see how long it lasts? "forever" ! What does it mean to be made perfect? The…

The Worth of Christ : better than all you can have

This was going to be part of a preach next Sunday. I think it'll have to stay in the study cos there's too much else to say in 20 minutes from Luke 9-10... I guess that's part of the discipline of preparation.
He's been calling people to follow him for sometime, and then someone agrees to come. What's the first thing you do? Logically, celebrate. But Jesus doesn't do that. He starts spouting small print. Advising that following Jesus is costly, leaving home and family behind. You have to ask, what's he doing?

But then you see? He's just set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9v51). Why? Not for tourism. He's going there to "be taken up". Which means to die, rise and then ascend to heaven. Going there will mean great sacrifice so it's not all that strange that those who follow him will also carry a cost.

There's something else too. Telling us about costs when he wants us to follow tells us about how good it is to follow. Following Jesus…

The weight of evidence is overwhelming

John Buckeridge reviews Pierced for our Transgressions in Christianity Magazine

The first thing that strikes me is that it's a bit of a unbalanced review - almost half of it is dedicated to a critique of a small section in the book on particular redemption, which the authors say they expect people will not have been expecting but that they wrote to get people thinking about how belief in penal substitute effects other beliefs. This is an annoying feature which makes you feel like the reviewer hasn't read the book carefully as he accuses them of opening a can of worms. That said - there have been plenty of conservative reviews of The Lost Message of Jesus that focus in on just one page of that book, which could be claimed not to be it's central theme either!

The review is broadly positive towards Pierced for our Transgressions. This is the magazine that Steve Chalke writes in so that's a bit of a surprise! However, when it comes to the detail it's not quite so clear. …

FAQ: I'd rather do evangelism than my course

This will look like a follow up to The Heart of Art and the seminar I've been asked to teach, but actually it's not. I started writing it a month ago. I put it out now as a potential sketch of the issues and for your interactions... Very much a first draft.

Luke Wood wrote: "...what about the actual studying? Not to suggest that any of the organisations mentioned above would discourage students from their studies; but when they carry a message so thrilling and an ideology so engaging that my degree frankly looks boring, my question has often been "how can I get enthusiastic about my degree?" ...It would seem that being able to engage through service with an amazing mission actually gave me impetus for my degree, without necessarily the time to do it."
Pulling this thing together is a vital thing. I've been trying to get students to think about what studying Speech Therapy, History, Film Studies, Biochemistry and other things to the glory of God looks like…

On eagles wings

Book two begins. The commission stands. The promise stands. The Israelites are multiplying. They're fruitful. Imaging God by increasing. However they don't have dominion over the land - they're enslaved under the dominion of the Egyptian King. That King is trying to kill all their sons. That's bad news. A people don't multiply without children. And the promised 'seed' wont come if there are no sons. Then one son is miraculously saved. This Levite child 'Drawn-Out-Of-The-Water' is rescued from the waters of the Nile, adopted into the Kings house and nursed by his own mother. That child grows up and has his own son called the Foreigner. The people cry out to God and God hears.

Chapter 3. God reveals himself to the Waterboy. He is the God of his Fathers, the God of Promise. He is Exists. He is The God. Moses doubts the people will believe him, and that he could speak to them. Undetered his brother Aaron is appointed (4v14).

Chapters 7-12 battle commences…

Don't go sinning your life away. Jesus is better.

Ed Goode - Hebrews 8 (mp3)
Reading University Christian Union
June 14 2007
"If you read the Bible, people sin and people die. And it's a bit more complicated than that. But that's the gist of Genesis 3 to the end of Revelation"

"I don't want to sin my life away. I don't want to diminsh the work of Christ for me. I want to spend my life telling people about Jesus. I want to spend my life enjoying God through Jesus Christ"
Read more Christian Hedonism from Ed Goode

The Heart of Art

What does it look like to be a Christian artist - or indeed a Christian in any sphere of life?

We have to wrestle with this. I have to wrestle with this because I just got asked to do a seminar on it at Forum 2007 - specifically on the issue of how to glorify God on your course when you'd rather be doing evangelism...
"Thinking Christianly about my course when
I would rather do just CU stuff!"

Julian Hardyman has written well on it in his book Glory Days, and UCCF's Interface Arts have been doing some great work too.

See also this new resource at The Gaius Project : The Heart of Art - Jason Harris
HT: Bob Kauflin

Esther Cell Notes

Esther 1-3
Esther 4-7
Esther 8-10

We've been studying this book in Reading's CU cell groups this term. A challenge to look at a book with no mention of God and yet it is shot through with God's promises when we read it in the context of the rest of the Bible. And wonderfully, the key seems to be in the genealogies...

25 Things About Sin


It's been controversially in the headlines over the last year but Pure is definitely worth giving some attention. It's a course on God's view of sex and relationships designed to equip Christian students to live distinctively for Jesus. Linda presents a gospel-centred grasp of this important topic and you can hear her humour and personality coming off the pages. The original resources were taken offline a while back so they could be republished more professionally. They're now available again: Pure: Sex and Relationships God's way.

Primarily suitable for youth groups, students and young adults but anyone could find it beneficial.

Three Minutes

September 2000. I arrived at Relay 1 to spend 10 months with UCCF. I arrived thinking I'd made it and also that I was about to be found out and sent home. Proud. Arrogant. And woefully ignorant. I knew I was saved by grace but was clueless about life by grace, and was holding firmly to my own plans for my life. That was my first day in Grace School.

Seven years and 16 Relay conferences later my 10 month plan has gone out of the window. My pride remains but God's lavish grace has poured much contempt upon that and increased my joy.

My two years as a Relay were foundational for my work in and out of UCCF and for my marriage these past five years. I will always treasure Relay, I hope in a godly way. I confess that I asked Andy Shudall how staffworkers get onto the Relay team the day before I started as a CU Staffworker. Not by human decision or desire, but of course, by grace. I'm glad he didn't hold my inquiry against me.

At the end of my third of two years on this team I f…

Where do you want to go today?

Today I'm mostly working on Hebrews 10-12 for the upcoming Reading CU summer houseparty along with a few bits of admin.

In the middle of the day I managed to get out and have lunch with a a RUCU Alumni at Microsoft in Reading. Very nice. And encouraging to talk with him about marriage, work, church and Devon. It's great to see former CU leaders going on daily with Jesus.

Including verses 42-47

Adrian Reynolds writes up some reflections from his recent series of talks on Pentecost. Day of Fire:"My last talk focused on Acts 2.42-47 because I wanted to show the youngsters how being in Christ is a community thing - we are connected into fellowship and all that entails. Most interesting session! The continued growth of the early church seems to be less about evangelism (though Acts clearly makes this clear as a priority) and more about the church being what she ought - it is when the church is most together that she is most effective as a witness (v47) - this is a very challenging idea indeed."I find this inclusion of verses 42-47 to be very helpful. The coming of the Holy Spirit has been speculated on much and often the focus has ended up being less on Peter proving who Jesus is, and more on the tongues spoken. Aside from that there is world-changing impact from the formation of the church.

Today we spent the best part of 8.5 hours with our church family which has been…

All our theology is the cross

"Evangelism is the most basic form of theology. Without the announcement of God's victory over sin and the revelation of His own character Christian theology would not have had anywhere to start. Over the centuries, most significant theological reflection has been related to this evangelistic task. Think of the way in which the doctrine of the Trinity was formulated, or the deity of Christ or the doctrine of justification. In each case, issues of salvation were at stake. That is why Martin Luther once wrote; "All our theology is the cross." Without the cross Christian theology could not get started. Unless our theological ideas and speculations somehow relate to the cross then they may be another example of idolatry."
Unnatural Enemies: Why Theology & Evangelism belong together (David Gibson & Chris Sinkinson)

Will I fall away?

Mike Kendall at Reading CU - Hebrews 5-6
An outstanding warning against spiritual laziness.
Mike is pastor of St. Neots Evangelical Church.

The Cross & Christian Ministry

The Cross and Christian Ministry is, I think, one of the best books on Christian service. It comprises of an exposition of 1 Corinthians 1-4 by Don Carson. But there's a problem. It cost's £9.99 ($20?), has a stinker of an academic cover and is only available on request from it's publisher IVP.

In late 2006 I asked them why this is. They responded by saying that since Don Carson no longer comes to the UK regularly the demand for his books has fallen. Fair argument I thought.

Last week I checked his itinerary afresh...

In 2007 Don is speaking at events and conferences in the UK inCardiffExeter (Doubting Thomas, St. Leonards Church - June 9th)Bath Word in Action, 10-13 JuneCheltenham Bible Festival, August
Leicestershire - Proctrust, November
Northern Ireland - at the castle, December
In addition to which he'll be at new Word Alive in 2008. That seems rather often to me.

The temptation presumably would just be to get the current version back in print. But... as mentioned it…

Seeing yet not seeing

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho

A Biblical Theology Briefing
Joshua 5:13-6:17
Graham Beynon
Minister, Avenue Community Church, Leicester
"This land of Canaan is to be God’s kingdom: that is the place where he rules, where he is king with his people. That’s the big picture of what’s going on in the Old Testament. God rescues a people who’ll have a relationship with him and takes them to live with him in his kingdom. This conquering of Jericho is part of that process...

I don’t want to minimise our shock over the events of Jericho and the total annihilation that takes place. But what I want us to see that anyone who has a problem with Joshua over this actually has more of a problem with Jesus. Remember Marcion who had such trouble with the destruction of Jericho, and threw away the OT, he also had to edit the NT, he cut out anything about judgement. He ended up with a very short Bible, because from beginning to end the Bible says God will not allow a rebellious world to rebel forever. He will not …

The Inestimable Value of Jesus Christ

Seven Days

1. This morning I feel ill. Eugh :(
2. This morning 24 Day 6 has finished.
3. This morning I go to Relay3, my 16th and final Relay conference. Four hours in the car combined with point 1 probably isn't ideal.
4. This morning my wife went and purchased medication for me ♥
5. This morning it's the birthday of Megan, Tom, Mike, Ed, Ames and Chris. Thank you facebook for the reminder.
6. This morning I am glad to be alive. Genuinely. Today is another day to hear God's voice. And another day of the forever in which Jesus blood has perfected me. Amazed.
7. This morning I'm glad of God's grace in my weakness.

Dan & Steph Williams!

FAQ: Christian Union Leaders Falling Away?

Fifteen years ago I was learning four languages. My first language, English. French. Latin. Spanish. The reason for this was apparently my aptitude for French, leading to me studying the latter two. Today I speak only English. Why is this? It is not because I was learning too many languages but rather that I simply stopped speaking them when I was no longer taught them.

Today I barely remember any Latin. One phrase I know is: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. This however I learned from The West Wing. It's meaning is: After, therefore because of it. And it's a logical fallacy - to presume that because one thing follows another it is because of it. I studied Latin because I was good at French. One followed the other because of it. Doesn't always work that way.

There is a statistic that floats around at this time of year warning that vast proportions of Christian Union leaders fall away within five or ten years. The claim is spurious since the research has never been done. Indeed th…

Who does Matthew think Jesus is?

"Single-handed, Chris Wright leads the reader convincingly and attractively into the whole sweep of 'biblical theology'. And he does it with a rare combination of the passion and excitement the man who loves and lives by the Bible with the calm common-sense of the responsible interpreter who is truly in tune with his text."
RT France, on Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament, Chris Wright

Chris Wright provides a valuable resource in approaching Matthew's Gospel with the Old Testament in view. I'm not going to rehearse his arguments here but I'll admit I've found him very helpful in understanding who Jesus is in the light of the promises of God.

The book that opens the Christian New Testament starts with "The Genesis of Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David". Though many of us probably skip the genealogy it should be our first point of careful study. The line is traced from Abraham to David, David to the …