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Showing posts from February, 2016

Who do you love? (Seminar for CU Hall Group Leaders)

“Jesus… friend of sinners.” Luke 7:34  - a friend isn't someone who hands out tracts and leaves, its someone who reclines at table all night, who is there for people, who is the person people will go to when everything goes wrong.
 “We are ambassadors for Christ… we put no obstacles in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry…” 2 Corinthians 5:20, 6:3 - what obstacles block the way?
 “To the Jews I became a Jew… I became all things to all people that by all means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 -- all, all, all... to save some... what preferences do you need to give up? What culture to adopt? Think about Hudson Taylor who immersed himself in the culture he was sent to.
 “Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8  - you, you, you... who do you love so much that you share your life and the gospel with them?
 “Let …

Life for the unlikely, riches for the impoverished, welcome to those who wander: Seven words on God's Purpose of Election

I love Paul's teaching on 'God's purpose of election' in Romans 9-10. Among my favourite chapters of the Bible. It's hard teaching for many reasons but when you get past some of the preconceptions it's a heart-felt meditation from someone overwhelmed by God's grace to them while wrestling with the reality of friends who've also heard of Christ but not responded to him.

Seven words to consider.

1. Emotion
Paul has unceasing anguish and sorrow for his friends who don't know Jesus. This is the emotional spectrum for talking about election. This is not one for little boys to argue about, it's for the big hearted who are ok with crying.

2. Change
Paul sets up two categories of people:
(A) Flesh, works, hardened, vessels of wrath, not loved, not God's people...
(B) Promise, calling, compassion-receivers, vessels of mercy, loved, God's people.

And the point is that people move from category A to category B. I'm not persuaded these are intend…

Four things to consider about Faith at Work.

If you follow Christ how does that shape your work? Does it make a difference? Can it make a difference? We need to throw away the sacred/secular divide that says faith is for church and work is secular... the church contends with the notion that faith is private saying that faith must express in the public square. That probably looks very ordinary, speaks to motivation, purpose, attitude.

This is incomplete but a beginning...

I'm intended to work and my work is good.
God's design for this world was for humanity to work, to classify, to write poetry, to work the land, to cultivate and civilise... so that a wilderness is transformed into a formed and filled world, a garden city. Work, however grand or mundane can contribute to that. I should ask myself - how my work can do that? And perhaps, whether there's a way I can do more...

The only things out of bounds are those which would go against that mandate - though seeing that is probably not always easy to discern. Paul says…

Some Trinitarian Moves

If Trinity then...

The Father and Son enjoy an eternal conversation by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit conveying the Father's love for the Son, and the Son's delight in his Father.The gospel says the Spirit unites us to the Son and brings us inside this relational dance. I pray in the name of Jesus to the Father who is now also my Father. I join with the Son's Spirit-filled 'Abba'. Instead of dutiful submission to sovereignty, we're invited to ask from our generous father who is Lord of Heaven and Earth. As the great Triune/Tabernacle hymn puts it "Before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea, a great high priest whose name is Love..."

If only the Son makes the Father known then the content of preaching must be the Son. The tone of preaching is invitational. The posture of preaching is not over-bearing and superior but alongside others. "I've heard of Jesus, I need to repent to him, come to him with me...&…

Basic Christianity is Trinity

I was once advised that if talking about my Christian faith with a Muslim I should avoid John's biography of Jesus. All that Trinity in page 1 of his gospel will just cause trouble. Don't go getting into a God who has a Word and all that! Well meant advice, but I'm not sure it works or is necessary...

So we turn to Mark's gospel. Mark 1:1 "The begining of the gospel of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God."

In our attempt to avoid the Trinity we find that God's Saviour (Jesus) is the Christ (the one anointed by the Father with the Spirit), and is the Son of God (the Father). He's also swiftly announced to be the Lord coming to live among us, the Spirit-baptiser and the beloved Son...

Matthew fares little better - Jesus is God with us, and by the time his book is done this Jesus is sending people to immerse people into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And as for Luke, Jesus is the Son of the Most High, the beloved Son at his baptism, son in hi…

Love that says 'No' to my gods

A rich young man came to Jesus and asked him 'how can I win?' (how can I inherit eternal life?). What would you say? I was raised with a worldview for winners... triumph for the strong and the able. But Jesus' offers a worldview for losers, life for those who can't, don't, won't.

The man who met Jesus was moral but Jesus said to him, in love: Morality doesn't cut it, money is your god, turn from it. 'Repent of your god and receive Jesus.' The man left disheartened. Our gods go deep, our hearts love them. What's ringfenced from Jesus in my life? What can't Jesus say no to? What would be hell for me? For you? Will we let Jesus challenge our autonomy... our freedom... sexuality... sources of significance... cultural norms... rights...

Jesus said - how difficult, how difficult, more: how impossible for people to enter the kingdom, to be like children who just receive the gift that Jesus offers. Man cannot do it. Man does not need to do it. You …

How to win? The good news that of a worldview that isn't just for winners.

"And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing..." Mark 10:21 In your worldview, how is the win gained?

 - Money for performance?
 - Fame for performance?
 - Plaudits for performance?
 - Autonomy for performance?
A heaven for good people, for the deserving?

Worldviews that depend on these sort of pathways to winning force us to strive... lead elite athletes to cheat.. and to believe that the end justifies the means.

The question was asked of Jesus (Mark 10v17) – how do I inherit eternal life? Or, How do I win? 

(A question for a different post is: what is the win?)

Jesus looks at him, loves him, and speaks. There's one thing that's necessary. He should sell all his stuff. Not because you can sell your stuff to gain this, but because it exposes the one thing he can’t let go of. What’s the one thing Jesus wouldn’t be able to put his finger on in your life? To have your heart he’d want your heart – would you trust him with your life? Could …

"This is my daily bread, your very word spoken to me"

BB Warfield wrote:
"...what Scripture says, God says... whatever it may be found to say, that is the Word of God." This is derided as Bibliolatry. Book-worship.

Others say - we don't need more Bible, we know the facts - we needs skills and practical help.
Others say - God speaking! Exciting... spurious... weird...

But, if Warfield is right we're rejecting God if reject God's word... and we're distancing ourselves from God when we go Scripture-lite.

For me, lack of Bible in my life leads to lack of faith - since the voice of God brings faith. I drift from Christ. I drift from believing what the gospel reveals of Christ.

I'm studying 1 Samuel 15 this week ahead of preaching on it soon.

In this story King Saul is confronted for disobeying the voice of God (which came to him via judge-prophet Samuel and the Pentateuch). He denies it, protesting than not only is he obeying but he's also worshipping. Samuel replies - do you think God wants your worship if …