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Showing posts from July, 2008

Three Ways to Live

This post from my own blog, June 08
The story so often referred to as the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, isn't about the prodigal son at all. Its about the older brother. Jesus is telling it to Pharisees and scribes who pour scorn on his partying with tax collectors and sinners. He tells them about a hedonistic rebel who is completely unworthy of the love of the father, but who gets it entirely by grace. The whole point is to set up the sting in the tail. The older brother is none of that. He is dutiful, obedient, not reckless. Surely deserving? But it's the older brother (ie, them!) who misses the love of the father because he refuses his grace. Talk about a shock. The ones they despise most get in on the love and celebration of God. While they, for all their religion, miss it.
Why does the obedient son miss out on what the disobedient one receives? Three reasons:He has no real relationship with the father. He is a son but he talks in terms of serv…

The Great Fulfilment

Last week I spent a glorious few days teaching on how to develop and use Bible overviews to leaders from 14 countries. It was humbling and instructive to hear the difficulties of standing for Christ in the Ukraine, the difficulties of knowing so few other believers in Italy, the challenges in nominal orthodox environments. And as for praying in all those languages - wow!

The thing that hit me most was that even senior leaders sometimes struggled with principles for applying the Old Testament. I have seen it in the UK too. I discovered a temptation to circumvent the single biggest Old Testament application principle which is that Jesus Christ is the New Covenant between Humankind and God, and that Jesus Christ is the New Israel of God.

The temptation is to take the Old Testament text and say either that the New Testament equivalent of national Israel is the Church, or that it is the current nation state in Palestine. And therefore to take whatever is written in the Old Testament about th…

Bible Before Blog

Several people over the last few months have told me either that a post on my own blog is not theologically nuanced enough for them, or that I didn't include enough exegesis when making a provocative comment. I agree. The reason is not that I think theological nuance or good exegesis are unimportant - actually the exact opposite - but that they are impossible to deliver in a blog. Not if the blog is going to be readable, anyway.

For all its ability to communicate widely and brilliantly, the blog has some glaring inadequacies. For the serious communicator the worst is that blog posts will always struggle for detail and nuance. A blog is not a book. Nor a sermon. At its best it can be a conversation when comments are posted and responded to, but we should never assume that blogging can give us the kind of depth a book can.

It is, however, incredibly addictive and potentially time-consuming. I recently asked a pastor what he thought the big dangers of the internet are for himself and h…

This Week's Guest Presenter...

Every week the popular satirical news quiz "Have I Got News For You" features a guest presenter to add to the fun. Dave Bish is on his holidays and fancied using the same idea on the Blue Fish while he is away. So I will be filling in for a few days.

Dave asked me to use this first post to introduce myself. Which I reckon breaks the first rule of good Christian blogging - don't let it be about you, but about God and the greatness and glory of his grace. But it's Dave's blog, so here are a few details about me:

My name is Marcus Honeysett. I was a colleague of Dave's in the distant past when we worked in the UCCF together. I've written a couple of books, one on culture, one on grace and joy, but my passion is preaching the Bible and training others to do so.

Any preaching worthy of the name should be gospel-soaked, truth-soaked grace. Applied as powerfully as we are able to the heart so that we, and our hearers, not only understand the word but do as it comma…

Without doctrinal clarity movements become bad institutions...

One of Mark Driscoll's penetrating observations of Newfrontiers is that as a movement it needs to nail it's doctrine. He observed that when something is small it can get away with verbal communication and unwritten assuptions of what the doctrine of the movement is, but that if it's to grow beyond 'the founder and his friends and family' then these things have to be written down. This danger lurks for newfrontiers a movement devoted to honouring Terry Virgo and those gathered around him - for the movement to really honour him it needs to grow well beyond those relationships and out live him.

Driscoll notes rightly identifies a suspicion in newfrontiers that if you write things down you become an institution - (I'm guessing grounded in the old Baptist roots of some of the founders?). Driscoll however says that if you don't write down tightly your doctrine it's not that you avoid becoming an instution, it's just that you become a bad institution. To st…

The Dark Knight

After all the hype the lights went down and the noise began. An audio visual assault that provides significantly more than most summer blockbusters. But then this is action film by Chris Nolan with Bale and Ledger.

Understandably all the talk has been about Heath Ledger's performance, and on this occasion the talk delivers. I imagine sentiment plus the performance may well equal an Oscar for him. It would be deserved. He's surrounded by a solid cast in Bale, Caine, Freeman, Oldman, Gyllenhaal and Eckhart.

The film continues with the good vs. evil theme of Nolan's reboot. This time things aren't as simple as good and bad, justice and revenge. The Joker arrives bringing devilish chaos: “Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Nolan's Gotham is outwardly worse than our world. It is a dark world that needs a white knight who will come and save it, not som…

Emerging bridges over troubled Anglican waters?

Bishop Alan relays some of Brian McLaren's teaching from the Anglican Lambeth Conference (interesting in itself to have the king of emergent on stage with the liberal anglicans):
"Most postmodern people don’t relish being far from God, bereft of hope and roots, isolated from loving community, part of the problem rather than the solution. But neither do they want to be religious fanatics, cultists, Us and Them dualists, Church hobbyists, Judgmental fantasists. They need authentic, sane, vibrant faith. Angicanism at its best is well placed to provide safe space to grow this: A gospel which prioritizes Jesus and the kingdom more than institutional religion, with a servant concept of ministry. A safe platform from which to develop creative fresh expressions of Church. A multicultural family, with global flexibility. A liturgy that at its best exibits mystery, beauty, rootedness, intelligence and clarity, biblical coherence, as opposed either to absolutism or bigoted, mean spirited…

You can change (Tim Chester)

Tim Chester's You Can Change completes my holiday reading list... having greatly appreciated Tim's Good News for the Poor, The Busy Christians Guide to Busyness and Total Church, plus the works of these endorsers this looks like a key read.

“A book about Christian growth that is neither quietistic nor moralistic is rare. A book that is truly practical is even rarer. Tim Chester’s new volume falls into both categories and therefore fills a gap.” -- Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

"There are few books that are shockingly honest, carefully theological, and gloriously hopeful all at the same time. Tim Chester’s book, You Can Change, is all of these and more. He skilfully uses the deepest insights of the theology of the Word as a lens to help you understand yourself and the way of change, and, in so doing, helps you to experience practically what you thought you already knew. The carefully crafted personal ‘reflection’ and ‘change project’ sections are w…

On my holidays I mostly like reading books on the beach

So I'm gathering the books I'm going to take on holiday with me.

Wesley Owen tells me that the one Christian book I should read this summer is The Shack (at least their Bristol shop is full of copies of it and big 'must read' signs). And Eugene Peterson says it's the new Pilgrems Progress... which is glorious praise if true. And yet Christian fiction usually smells like Contemporary Christian Music - often average, and in the Christian bookshop because it's not good or engaging enough to be sold in Zavvi. Mark Driscoll just says 'don't. Walter Hanegar says it's "spiritual comfort food loaded with theological trans fat". Challies on the Pilgrems Progress comparison: "neither as good nor as original a story and it lacks the theological precision of Bunyan’s work". I'm not opposed to reading it but if it's content is that messed up, and it's not actually all that well written there are plenty of good novels yet to be read…

"This is British public transport - we don't even make eye contact, let alone speak!"

Out of curiosity I'm tempted to get hold of this...
How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends.

" Devon, ...a new welcome pack for Polish migrant workers advises them that a good way to start a conversation is to remark on the weather."
Don Gabor suggests...
Don't open with a complaint, it sets the toneAvoid politics and religion, they are sensitive subjectsKeep strong opinions to yourself, you don't want to offend.Would be a shame to avoid all the subjects that matter to people, but I guess we can start with the little things...

Don Gabor on 50 ways to improve your conversations

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

The Dark Knight is almost here after a record breaking opening weekend in the USA. Boxoffice isn't everything - the previous record was held by the woeful Spiderman 3 - but the trailers make this look really good. Refresh your memory of where things were up to with Tom Price's thought-provoking article on Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins. Nolan also directed Insomnia and Memento.

What if...

We, in Christian Unions, started to think of everything we do as missional? (We do already think this way - but for all the positive signs and good outworkings of this I'm convinced that there is a need to go up a gear - Mark Driscoll gave this critique to Newfrontiers, and whilst in some ways I do think UCCF as a mission agency is ahead of Newfrontiers being intentially missional and engaging with culture there is no room for complacency and plenty of room for progress)
We abolished 'CU Evangelism Secretary' because the CU President is responsible for evangelism... Everything we did was tailored towards intentionally driving us to mission? Mission was the focus of our prayer? Each week we could share the story of how people became Christians? We understood that having the Bible taught was about transforming and equipping us for mission as lovers of Jesus?We engaged with the false gospels preached on our campuses, of acceptance, shame, ambition, salvation by graduate job, s…

How to do unity in a Christian Union, in practice...

I want to address how this can be done. Our fellowship is based on matters in the closed hand. It is vital that members understand this. Inevitably this means that we need to live with differences on other matters. That’s easy to say when someone else has to live with things not being done the way they’d want, it’s harder when it means things aren’t done the way I want.

The turn over of people means that no local policy is set in stone, review will be necessary. The urgency of the mission means that taking lots of time every year to review this from scratch would be a waste of time and a distraction.

Here the overriding principle must be love. This would be to use 1 Corinthians 13 in context, not for marriage but for Christians relating to one another in the body. Primarily in the local church, but the principles extend to Christians Unions as a subset of the local churches. Here the principles are of trust and seeking to benefit others ahead of ourselves. This means I would rather be…

"What is at stake is... the justification of God's claim to reveal himself to the world as its God"

John Piper probably sowed the seeds of Calvinism for me when I read Let the nations be glad(in 2001) . Probably Christ Wright (whose position on sovereignty I'm not entirely sure of) sealed it with his 'The Message of Ezekiel' (published later that year - and imho one of the best of the BSTs). The helpful thing here is that both of them are into missions. The stereotype persists that Calvinism is anti-missions. You'd think Andrew Fuller & William Carey had done away with that lie 200 years ago, but there you go.... 'my' calvinism has always been missional.

In Ezekiel, God's intention that 'They will know that I am the LORD' is a recurring phrase in Ezekiel. It occurs 54 times. If anything won me to Calvinism this was it. God's overarching concern for his own glory, and for his name to be known blew away my assumption that I was the chief beneficiary of the gospel. This re-wrote the boundaries I'd thought of and made everything substantial…

How to do unity in a Christian Union, in principle...

What kind of unity are we talking about? Not the kind of unity that creates a local church, but rather a student-led partnership of students who belong to local churches who form a mission team for the collective benefit of the local church. This being the case there is probably some difference in the kind of unity required. A local church by necessity probably has to tie down fairly closely what it means and thinks about certain things so that it doesn’t spend all its time caught up in debates and controversy.

A Christian Union has a clear purpose of doing mission together. Historically what unites such a group has been divided between Primary and Secondary beliefs. The Primary beliefs being those listed in the UCCF Doctrinal Basis of Fellowship, a document that describes itself as detailing fundamentals that form the basis of fellowship. This is akin to Peter and Paul sharing the right hand of fellowship in Galatians 2. This list of convictions is supplemented by various statements a…

Too Many Hours

The band Em used to be in have just released their first album. You can hear an excerpt from the one song I wrote that's on the album: Too Many Hours

If I'm honest I don't like the way they've arranged what is meant to be a lonely, dark and depressing song. The arrangement is bright and full of sounds... A bit like preaching Ecclesiastes with a grin. But there you go!! Respect to them for the hours they put in - and the other tracks are probably fine.

FYI these are the lyrics:
Always soul-searching when I am all alone, Head full of questions and nobody to answer them. Spent too many hours staring into space, Met too many people who don't know the way. When you're watching the clock, time never passes. When you've got nothing left to do, feels like freeze frame. Spent too many hours... Are there too many hours alone? Are there too many nights gazing at the sky? I need the answer, give me the answer, I need the answer! Always soul-searching, when I am all alone…

Not quite the same

So, Radovan Karadzic has been impersonating the Archbishop of Canterbury...

Karadzic 'worked in Serb clinic'

Mark Driscoll @ Newfrontiers (MP3s now available)

"The Christian life must be lived through the local church"

Jonathan Leeman writes provocatively on Individualism and Community. Leeman says that todays problem isn't individualism but rejection of authority, repentance of which means real belonging to the church:

"The Christian life must be lived through the local church because that's what Christ has made us-members of his body. To claim that I belong to the church without belonging to a church is equivalent to claiming that I have been granted Christ's righteousness without seeking to put on that righteousness in ethical living. The imperative necessarily follows the indicative. We're called to submit to the authority and discipline of a local church because we have submitted to the authority and discipline of Christ. Indeed, to say that Christians should belong to a local church merely because it's advantageous to living the Christian life misses the point that the church body is now part and parcel of a Christian's very identity. An adopted son attends the fami…

Summer 2008 @

Summer update at is now live... information on new resources from John Frame, A.T.B. McGowan, the Preach the Word series and Carson & Beale's Commentary of the New Testament use of the Old...

Scrivener on Two Ways to Preach

I think this question, asked in reference to David & Goliath illustrates well what a preacher should be aimimg towards...

"Are we battle weary
drill sergeants briefing the troops
from the King's manual,
or are we joyful heralds
of the King's victory?"

The former comes naturally, the latter is much harder work - but is surely what the church needs to be hearing week on week.

Review: Worship Matters (Bob Kauflin)

A guest post by Derek Bish: The controversy over how Christians should or can worship an awesome and glorious God continues and the place of music in all that is still core to what some would describe as "worship wars". Indeed Kauflin does use that phrase in this excellent and inspiring book based on some 30 years experience as both songwriter and worship leader. Bob Kauflin opens his heart and his Bible to share what he has found to be the important things that he has learned and puts it in the context of an intensely practical and thoroughly well thought out analysis of the role of the worship leader in today's Church. Recognising the tensions that exist in individual and church responses to style, content, context and delivery he takes an even handed approach throughout but ultimately comes down firmly in favour of the view that music-based worship, in whatever form that takes, must be from the heart or it is meaningless.Of interest to all who lead worship, play or si…

Pullman, Rowling & Lewis...

Over recent years I've read the Chronicles of Narnia books, His Dark Materials and most of the Harry Potter books... (I gave up after five because of the apparently exponential growth in book length). Caleb Woodbridge asks Are C S Lewis, J K Rowling and Philip Pullman overrated?

ht: Facebook.

Teach The Bible, or Preach The Christ?

This captures a challenge I'm currently facing... Michael Jensen: "I was speaking with a prominent English conservative evangelical not so long ago, and we were talking about preaching. He had a gripe: the phrase 'bible teaching' has crept into the evangelical vocabulary to describe what used to be called 'preaching'. A church is great, we will say, because 'the bible teaching is excellent'. But, he said, the vocab change is significant: it represents a shift to a more cognitive, flat and explanatory style of discourse. The hearers will not be exhorted or edified so much as 'taught'. What's more, and perhaps more seriously, we talk less of preaching Christ, but of teaching the Bible. A subtle but significant difference perhaps?"(ht: Stephen Murray)I'm looking for someone to come and speak at a student leaders weekend in Spring 2009. What I want is someone who will thrill us and engage our hearts by preaching Christ from the s…

Seeing & Savoring Jesus Christ DVD

There is no more important issue in life than seeing Jesus. Seeing Christ’s self-authenticating glory saves and transforms us. When we see Jesus as he really is, we savor him above all other things as one in whom a diversity of excellencies comes together in beautiful, glorious harmony.
This series of six 30-minute messages proclaims the biblical portrait of Jesus Christ, the glorious Lion and Lamb, in the hope that all might see and savor his glory.

Loving my wife

When I got married if you'd asked me how I would best love my wife I would probably have said 'by telling her the gospel' - telling her everything I learn at conferences, loading the house up with books...

Six years later I'm inclined to think that at least 99% of the way I'll love my wife is by living sacrificially, listening, being patient, being kind, not speaking on so many of those occasions where I might be tempted to correct, challenge, critique etc, doing the washing up, being generous to her...

Back then I would probably have looked at my 29 year old self as having gone liberal (further evidence being that I don't think the Christian life consists entirely of 'doing evangelism' but that's for another post). From here it feels like I've gone a bit more human.

Sure I still share some of the conference stuff, and we have (a lot more) books in the house. Now though I view a conference as a service to help me grow in love and the test of any co…

A mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam

At Homegroup this week we watched Louie Giglio's preach 'Indescribable' which looks at the way the universe tells of the glory of God, climaxing with the Cross. During it he displays this 1990 picture from Voyager.

Carl Sagan: "We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspende…

This is the acid test of a truly Reformed ministry – that other believers need not be Reformed in order to be respected and included in our hearts.

"What unifies the church is the gospel. What defines the gospel is the Bible. What interprets the Bible correctly is a hermeneutic centered on Jesus Christ crucified, the all-sufficient Savior of sinners, who gives himself away on terms of radical grace to all alike. What proves that that gospel hermeneutic has captured our hearts is that we are not looking down on other believers but lifting them up, not seeing ourselves as better but grateful for their contribution to the cause, not standing aloof but embracing them freely, not wishing they would become like us but serving them in love ...take your Reformed theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone." Ray Ort… - Table Talk with Terry Virgo

Preach the word. Save the world.

I've spent about 12 hours on the train in the last two days. Not overly exciting but a real joy to be meditating on Mark's gospel as I've travelled. I've been going over some material I'd put together for new Christians and beginning to develop that into a series of talks that I'll be using in the autumn.

It strikes me that Jesus is much loved. Understatement. Wherever you go, however unpopular his church sadly is, people love Jesus. But which Jesus? What looks like it's genuine love is often just echo-chamber devotion to Jesus - a Jesus that suits us, a Jesus that fits our aspirations. This is often a far cry from the one who is the image of God. Often the Jesus people love is made in the image of our sinfully marred selves.

Coming to Mark's gospel we find Jesus on his own terms, stating 3.5 times the purpose of his coming (three times is first coming, and a bit about his second coming). The first centres on Jesus who came to preach. He also came for sin…

Driscoll on 1 Timothy

I had Mark Driscoll for company on my train journeys this week... On 1 Timothy 2v1-10, which he summarises as being about Jesus and people, and two problems for the church namely men and women. And Sound and demonic teaching in 1 Timothy 4. Clear, creative exposition and a little edgy in places. Reminded me to love Jesus more, to love doctrine and made me think I want to spend some more time in 1 Timothy soon.

"The church is the cosmic showcase of God's mercy"

Jesus is head over the church (1v22+5v23). Through the church the wisdom of God is manifest (3v10) and God is glorified unimaginably through in the church (3v21). The church submits to Christ (5v24) and Christ loves the church (5v25). Christ so loved the church that he gave himself up for her (5v25). And Jesus will present the church spotless (5v27) as a bride on her wedding day. Christ (5v29) nourishes and cherishes the church. And marriage is given to teach us about Christ and the church (5v32).

And we see: God has blessed the church in Christ with every blessing (1v3). He chose the church before the foundation of the world to be blameless (1v4). He lovingly predestined the church (1v5). The church has redemption by Christ's lood and the forgiveness of sin (1v7). God revealed his will to the church in Christ (1v8). In Christ the church obtains her inheritance (1v11). In Christ the church is sealed with the promised Spirit (1v13).

The church was dead in sin and under wrath (2v1) bu…

Love the Church (John Piper)

The church of Jesus Christ is the most important institution in the world: "The assembly of the redeemed, the company of the saints, the children of God are more significant in world history than any other group, organization, or nation. The United States of America compares to the church of Jesus Christ like a speck of dust compares to the sun. The drama of international relations compares to the mission of the church like a kindergarten riddle compares to Hamlet or King Lear. And all pomp of May Day in Red Square and the pageantry of New Year's in Pasadena fade into a formless grey against the splendor of the bride of Christ. Take heed how you judge. Things are not what they seem."

Download mp3: John Piper, The Cosmic Church, Ephesians 3v10, March 1981

Greatly encouraging me this afternoon as I work on my seminar on 'love the church' for Forum 2008.

Bible study that goes (just a little) beyond good grammar

When studying the Bible obviously understanding the grammar is necessary to understand the words God has spoken. But if that's as far as we get something is missing. The Bible is a book about Jesus. In it we see Jesus. When people see Jesus this is what happens...

- "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined!"
- When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

And need to be reminded that the one they see can provide atonement, has risen from the dead and holds the keys to death itself. That's how it went for Isaiah and for John.

The alternative is for me to be hard-hearted. That happens too. That would be Bible study that leaves ambivalent, or offended, or unaffected.

I want to read the Bible with an Incline-my-heart, savour-the-taste, fall-down-dead kind of attitude that encounters Jesus, worships him, delights in the atonement he provides and is transformed to live.

Vintage Church

I have the impression that much of the raw content of Mark Driscoll's three talks this week at Together on a Mission are taken from one of his forthcoming books, Vintage Church (January 2009).

In addition to showing the connection between Jesus & The Spirit and The Church & The Spirit in Luke-Acts, and the marks of churches and movements he challenged approaches to church & culture.... four angles.
First, church as a bomb-shelter. Lots of we/them language. Preaching against culture and not engaging with it. No evangelism. Hiding from the dangerous world. It's pharisaic. Culture as enemy. E.g. classic fundamentalism. Second, church as mirror. Imitating culture. Culture as master. E.g. Classic liberalism.Third, church as parasite. Entering culture to take from it without giving anything. Church seen as a nuisance and drain on the community.Fourth, church as city within a city. The City of God within the city of the world. Bible believing, grace-practicing and revealing…

Christianity & Liberalism

This wont be very popular but sometimes things need to be said. These are observations made with sadness.

Firstly there's this from Gene Robinson who says that the Bible is too small a box for God - his God gave us the Bible in the first century because humanity couldn't handle the greater gospel he'd reveal in the 21st Century that would (conveniently) approve of Gene's chosen lifestyle. Gresham Machen said: "it will be said, Christianity is a life, not a doctrine."Secondly, there's been the Anglican decision-making on women bishops - conveniently mirroring recent cultural shifts in the West. [It seems that Dave Warnock, who didn't really appreciate my employers stance on penal substitution last year, doesn't like the network my church is part of either (newfrontiers and women). Mark Driscoll would observe that the Church of England is doing 'church as mirror', reflecting culture rather than being defined Biblically. Warnock is offended an…

On Mark Driscoll at Brighton

I have never heard someone speak so carefully and prophetically as Mark Driscoll has this week. He's laid out a Biblical approach to mission and then provided a sharp analysis of both the strengths and weaknesses of newfrontiers. The positives are good encouragements and the critiques have been extremely penetrating. Here is a man who has come in, studied us, understood us and not been afraid to address our blindspots and pressing issues.

Mark Driscoll's 3rd session in which he speaks into where newfrontiers needs to go to avoid turning into a museum/institution and rather to stay as an on-mission movement. This challenges my part within my local church but also my role as leader of the movement that is UCCF South West. I feel my lifestyle, my work-rate, my pace, my preaching all challenged by Mark Driscoll. Not to imitate him - I am me not him, but with an urgent mission to be getting on with this charismatic calvinist is feeling the call to make the most of these days. DWYL.

Others at Together on a Mission

Hugh Bourne takes a more critical approach to newfrontiers, and a more positive one. I'm due to meet with Hugh in the coffee break tomorrow which will be good. Adrian Warnock continues to report including this from last night's talk by Terry Virgo. Also looking forward to seeing my friends from Sovereign Grace Ministries who'll be popping in for the day.

Mark Driscoll - we blog him, he blogs us

Mark Driscoll posts his reflection on spending time with newfrontiers. Glad he's enjoying it to. And he notes that much of this afternoons material can be found in his forthcoming 'Vintage Church'.

He highlights: "Yesterday, for example, a pastor from Africa shared a prophetic word about the Father’s love for Jesus his Son and it was incredibly biblically rooted and emotionally moving."Spot on. It was incredible!

Mark Driscoll: "Not my sexiest preaching"

Because Mark Driscoll is totally on fire when preaching about Jesus in the Book of Revelation, and all we've had is the Spirit and being intentionally missional. I skipped the evening session today to sit around a dinner table with six other members of our local church to try and begin to talk through what Mark Driscoll's afternoon message means for us.

The (sinful) instinctive is to think about teaching it to others, but the real deal is to go and live it ourselves. That's going to mean breaking through being British (which Driscoll exposed us for - as in, one of the reasons Britain is non-Christian is that you're British and so you don't talk to people) and starting to be more human, to engage with culture and genuinely contextualise - showing that the gospel is relevant. We don't need to make it relevant - it is. We need to show it. This was Driscoll as heard before but you could tell he had studied us to know where to aim his message.

So far Mark Driscoll has…

Reflections on Day 1 at Together on a Mission

I've just had breakfast at the start of Day 2 at TOAM. What a first day! I'm not going to write up all the sessions because you can get that from the UK's answer to Tim Challies. It's been great to hang out with the family, to worship (led by Simon Brading with a great combination of brand new and 'classic' songs that focussed us very clearly on Jesus) and to hear three outstanding preaches.

Stephen Van Rhyn and Terry Virgo were excellent with their preaching from Daniel 1 (particularly God-centred) and Acts 6-7, but the stand out was what everyone had been waiting for, Mark Driscoll's afternoon session.

He began with a little autobiography and thanked us for what he was learning from being with us. And then gave one of the boldest openings "There are five problems charismatics fall into. You have avoided four of them". What followed demonstrated great gospel-confidence, great desire to serve, great testimony of a man who had researched those he'…

Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart

The key to 'understanding' the Bible isn't IQ it's the heart. The key issue when it comes to man and God is the human heart. Those who can't understand it fail because of unbelief in their hearts. Those who are blind are ‘unbelievers’ – 2 Cor 4. Those alienated from God have darkened understanding because of ignorance caused by hard heartedness – Ephesians 4v18. (Just pause for a moment and shudder at the prospect of having a hard heart... how awful that would be, how terrifying to be ignorant and therefore to be alienated from God.)

Like Marcus writes: Knowledge, for Christians, is not an academic category, it's a moral category.. The Pharisees (John 5) had an abundance of information and expert education but no eternal life. Conversely those who do understand do so only because the Holy Spirit shines light into our hearts to see clearly God's self-revelation of his glory in the gospel of Christ.

It’s not that Christians are cleverer, it’s that God is gracio…

Punditry and Preaching

I'm staying with these lovely people tonight on my way to Brighton... Since I'm using their wifi tonight why not go visit Scott's blog. Scott has about 15 readers and you could do worse than increase that for him! His punditry and preaching blog is worth a read

Revive your soul, Bible study that thrills

Draft notes for a student seminar on Bible study, for Bath CU in October 2008.

God gave us a book. A library of narratives and letters, poems and proverbs. Words matter. Form matters. The way words fit together, the pictures they paint and the propositions they state. Christianly speaking, reading matters. And if you've gotten a few lines into this blogpost then you probably can read.

Problem is that being able to read isn't enough when it comes to The Bible. Mere GCSE-style English comprehension is not even close to being enough nor is it a remotely appropriate way to treat the very words of the Sovereign Saving Creator.

Basic handling of grammar is helpful as far as it goes - the ability to understand words is going to be useful. Take the two books I'm reading now, Martyn Lloyd-Jones 'Preachers & Preaching' and Dostoyevsky's 'The Karamazov Brothers'. Basic literacy wont be enough to read either but should be enough to guess the subjects of both. The…