Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the little owl project

So my 365 is at an end, after just about 365 days, i guess. How does one sum up a year? How do you pull all the threads together and try to work out whats new and different and what you've learnt. More to the point why would anyone else care?

Well here are some reflections anyway...

The 365 idea was to record one moment or moments each day that were cool, that made you pleased you got out of bed and thankful for God's goodness. And it seems that most of mine revolved around people. Things people said and did and things we thought up together. Now i enjoy and appreciate a good sunset and pretty clouds as much as the next person, and i would have loved a 365 filled up with that. But it wasn't to be. But i think thats ok. We were made to be in relationships with God and with his people. We weren't made to be on our own in a little box. And i'm thankful i've got so many people who shared the last 12 months with me. Thats cool. So i guess thats lesson number one. I really need the people. As much as i enjoy spending time on my own, i really need the people. And thats cool.

I guess in some ways you could say that its been a pretty good 365 days, having something cool or good to write at the end of each day. And in some respects thats spot on, it's been a year full of God's goodness and grace in the little things. But also, there have been moments that haven't been that great, and i've clearly always been keeping an eye out for the diamond in the dust. Also, i'm pretty sure that once my 365 was having a coffee! But seriously, this year, leaving Reading, has been marked probably by more lonliness and isolation than most others. Moving to a new town and starting new job is the opposite of easy...But God's kept me going and kept me faithful. More or less everything else in my life has changed since May last year, except my most important relationship. Jesus has kept me faithful thought hard times and good, meals with friends at wagamamas and days where i didn't have a conversation. He is the rock and centre of my life, He will never change. And thats cool.

Things could have been very different in my 365 if decisions had gone different ways. If i hadn't vome to Guildford, if i hadn't found such a good church, if a million other things. And sometimes i wish that some things had gone differently, and sometimes i was glad they went the way they went. But one thing i've learnt above everything else, is that God really is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. Things could have gone diffrently in a lot of different ways in the last 365 days. But i'm glad they didn't, and i'm thankful for the the way they went and the things they've taught me. For the things He has taught me. And thats cool.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

how to say goodbye

I always feel slightly voyeuristic reading the end of 2 Timothy. Like i'm standing in the doorway of a hospital room as a father and son share their last moments together. It feels like we're on emotional ground, like if Paul and Timothy turned around and saw us, we wouldn't be welcome at all. Of course, thats not how scripture works at all, but thats the air i feel surround the end of this letter.

Of course the reason for that, is that's whats happening. Paul, who loves Timothy like a son (1:2) knows he's about to die. He's been abandoned in prison by a lot of those who supported and looked after him, and things look bleak. This is it, this is goodbye, this is i'll see you in glory. You can almost feel Timothy cradling the paper in his hand, weeping over the last message he'll ever receive from his mentor and dear friend, reading it over and over again to make sure he's got every last ounce of that Paul wants to say to him before he dies.

And what does Paul say? Paul is man, if ever there was one, who did not waste his life. Paul is a man that knew the way to inexpressible joy, and being able to be 'rejoicing yet sorrowful' was to show Jesus Christ as supremely valuable in all he did. And he faced death in the same way. Paul fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith (4:7). He had done all that was asked of him in his life, he had done all that he could do in every situation for the Lord. he had been obeidiant to the Lord in Corinth when he had to wait for people to be saved, he had wept real tears over his jewish brothers who didn't see that Jesus was the Christ. He planted churches more or less all over the known world. He'd fought the fight and kept the faith. Ans he finished the race. He did not decide near the end to give it all up. To get out of prison and enjoy his last years in the sun, to take the easy way out. He stayed faithful to the end no matter the cost.

And what's the result of that? The crown of righteousness. The very great reward. The fullness of joy in the presence of the Lord. Joy inexpressible forever and ever and ever. And thats not only for Paul, but all those who love Jesus and His appearing (4:8) What encouraging and inspiring words from Paul. How helpful Timothy must have found them, as Paul was not shaken or worried by being in prison or his impending execution, this would be what kept him going.

And what was Paul's last message to Timothy? What does he want Timothy to remember near the end of his letter? What is Paul's last request of Timothy? To preach the word (4:2). In season, and out of season, being patient and passionate, using the word to reprove, rebuke, exhort and teach. This is the Gospel that bound them together and to Jesus. This is their common bond, their common faith, their common life. Preaching the Gospel. And what an audience Paul calls upon to witness this charge. God and Christ Jesus (4:1). Thats how important this message is, that the Lord of the universe Himself is called to witness to whats being asked. Surely there is no greater audience and no greater charge. Preach the word.

Paul doesn't pretend it will be easy. What a present word this is as Paul tells us that 'the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine' (4:3). Timothy will face opposition. Tragically people will turn their backs on the Gospel to something else, something more palatable, more respectable, more believeable. Horribly they will build faith systems that pervert the Gospel to meet their own felt needs, thus turning their backs on what would meet all their needs all the time. Paul could have written this yesterday. Here's my point. As my students leave Guildford, as the week just gone marks more or less my last contact with most of them before i leave Relay, this is the charge i want to leave with them, these are the words i want them to remember me by.

Preach the Word.

In season and out of season, when you're buying Christmas cards and tinsel, when you're stocking up on sun cream, whether you feel ready or not; preach the Word. Mission weeks, freshers' weeks, carol services, teas and coffees', thursday night. Preach the Word. Please. People aren't always going to like it, people mostly won't like it. You'll be called arrogant and stupid and sexist and wooden and old fashioned. Preach the Word. People from within and without will tell you to do things differently, that times have changed, that we need to do this new thing. Preach the Word.

This Gospel is all we've got. If we change it, we lose it. If we water it down in the name of tolerance or love, we risk sending people to hell. And that is very unloving. Show the University of Surrey that Jesus Christ is the way and the truth and the life. That He the fountain of delights, and at His right hand are pleasures for evermore. Thats love, in demonstrating faithfully clearly and passionately who Jesus Christ is, that people might be saved.

Preach the Word.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

the real damage

why don't more men go to church?

If i count the number of unmarried men between the ages of 20-30 who aren't students in the church where i'm a member, i don't need two hands. This can't be good. there's a whole demographic here of people who just don't seem to go to church. a whole generation f new church leaders being lost. Men in that age range generally speaking have the highest earning potential jobs, therefore the most disposable income, but also the least amount of free time. Why would they want to waste possibly the only full free day they get by going to church? Well, obviously there are the very real and important spiritual factors that keep men from church...death and blindness don't help anyone, but we can we do, as church members to get more men into church?

Well, the first thing is probably to present the church as what it is, and to talk about it as what it's there for. The more we present the church as a sort of social club, where we gather once a week to here a nice message, eat food and hang out together the more people are going to be put off. If they want a social setting, they'll go somewhere cooler than a church! They'll go to the pub, or play sport or whatever. I don't think anyone is going to wake up and think 'i need more friends, i think i'll go to church'.

We probably also need to realise ourselves, that the Gospel, that hopefully we get taught at church is really what people need. Carl Trueman says that the church exists to prepare people to die. And i agree with him (i'm sure he's delighted). The church is there to call people to worship Jesus, and to do mission. Which is to prepare people to die. And why do people spend their money on leisure and entertainment? Why would we rather go and buy a new record then put more money in the collection on sunday? Because we're trying to distract ourselves from the fact that we are going to die. So we live for the moment, and entertain ourselves and fight to forget that all we've got is four score years and ten if we're lucky. All the while we get further and further from our deepest need, and get less and less chance of happiness. If the church isn't preparing people for what happens to then at the end of thier life then who will? And surely it's no wonder that people, men especially so it seems, stop coming.

There's nothing there for them. Just a low level social club with some low level entertainments. I can find that elsewhere thank you... We need to be faithful to what the church is supposed to be and to what the Gospel is when we talk to our non Christian friends, when we invite people to church. And more than that, we need churches that preach the Gospel, and are unashamed about what they are there for. Not to entertain. To save.

Monday, May 21, 2007

UCCF press release

Word Alive – the past and the future

Since the recent Word Alive event in partnership with Spring Harvest, there has been much print given to the reasons for the split and these have unfortunately led to a range of complexities, distortions and disputes about the issues. In the meantime, UCCF, Keswick Ministries and Spring Harvest were approached with an offer of independent, formal mediation with a view to producing a joint, clarifying statement. UCCF and Keswick both accepted this offer but Spring Harvest unfortunately declined.

Since there is now no prospect of a formal objective procedure to clear up some of the details, we see no point in perpetuating this dispute any further. We admit that we have unwittingly contributed to it by giving the impression that the Word Alive committee rejected a specific request to allow Steve Chalke on the Word Alive platform in 2007. A request for Steve Chalke to be acceptable to Word Alive (following his signing of the updated EA Doctrinal Basis) actually had been made in general but not in specific terms to the Word Alive committee on 17th May 2006. We apologise for unintentionally being misleading about this.

While there had been niggles with Spring Harvest on other matters over the years, all parties had managed to live with them. It was made quite clear to us by Spring Harvest that the decisive issue, which caused them to end the partnership now, was our refusal to allow Steve Chalke to share our platform because of his unorthodox views on the atonement and the way he expresses them.

Other statements, which we previously made, have been disputed but on reviewing those matters, we see no good reason to change them, but we will not rehearse them again here. Others are responsible for their own statements, and although they may have emerged out of genuine misunderstandings, we feel they have not helped. (We note that not everyone was in attendance at every relevant meeting.) Since we cannot achieve the all round clarity we desire, we do not want to look backwards any longer on this unhappy episode but press on towards the future, which is a new Word Alive event in partnership between UCCF and Keswick. Furthermore, we want to wish Spring Harvest well and thank them for all they have done to make Word Alive the great success it has been.

The new Word Alive event will take place at Phwhelli in North Wales (it is pronounced something like “Porth – helly”) from 7-11 April 2008. Confirmed speakers include Don Carson, John Piper and Terry Virgo. A full programme for all the family, including crèche facilities, children and teens groups as well as our vibrant student track, is currently being arranged. We are greatly looking forward to the new event and the opportunity it gives us to develop the Word Alive conference.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

living is a problem

Q3. In your opinion, why do many Christians view the Gospel as only for unbelievers?
I would guess because we are all slow of heart to see the Gospel clearly. Luther said we have to remind ourselves of it all the time and beat it into our heads continually. I am so deeply self-righteous and self-reliant that it takes effort to remind myself of the grace of God. Take that tendency in all of us and mix it with lack of reading the Bible where we see the Gospel everywhere, and you have all that you need to have a "front door to salvation" view of the Gospel. I also think God is doing this work of making us Gospel centered in a new way in our day

Dave Cruver interviews Mark Lauterbach, who's book, 'The Transforming Community' i'm very much enjoying and being challenged by at the moment. How much do i view my work, my leisure, my study, even my blogging through the Redeemer? It would seem not enough so it's great to read books by men as gentle and yet Gospel focussed as Mark is. You can read is also excellent blog here: Gospel Driven Life

Friday, May 18, 2007

the worst day ever

Frankly apalling news reaches me on the wires...the BBC have dropped Neighbours from next spring.

Response: Ed will watch the cup final on Sky Sports for the first time ever tomorrow. That'll teach 'em.

Dan Roger, at breakfast: 'i am neither a calvinist, nor a coffee drinker'

Response: Ed will boycott the drinking of tea, and mention the word 'election' every time he can when he next sees Dan. Every little helps.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


John Piper writes this about summer:

Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come—“things which eye has notseen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.

and summer itself may seem a long way off at the moment, especially given the heavy grey clouds currently hanging over Guildford, but if you're a student, then summer, whether heralded by the end of exams or the end of term at Uni, is more or less already starting. so what can we do this summer to set our minds, and keep our minds on the things above?

Keep reading the Bible.
I know this sounds like an obvious point, but once there is little work to be done, there is little routine to be kept to...and i need routine to keep me reading the Bible. last year my Graduand period (the bit in between finishing your finals and getting to wear a motarboard) passed in a haze of barbeques, football and bucky 'o hare. And none of that is bad in itself, we need refreshing after working hard, but to seek refreshment away from the Bible, away from Christ is only to turn your back on what will refresh you. Sit in the sun, read slowly, read lots, read Galatians over and over again. Enjoy the birdsong, enjoy the Word.

Read good books.
I don't think i'm ever going to have as much time on my hands as i did last summer. What a great oppotunity to read and read well. Reading Christian books must never become a substitute for reading the Bible, and it must never start to become a dry intellectual fact collecting exercise. But good books can make you long for more of Christ in your life, drive you back to the Bible to bathe in things you hadn't noticed before. Good books can strengthen your faith and your love for the Lord. Take time to read them and think about them and apply them.

Make the most of time with your friends.
especially if you're graduating, and all being flung accross the four corners of the country. Spend time with people, enjoy time with people, sit in a beer garden, lie on the grass outside mojos. enjoy the fellowship of your Christian mates, but seek out and don't waste time with your non Christian mates. Use this time to explode for Christ in your house or hall. Use this time to be braver than you've been before. Use this time to live with your non Christian friends to demonstrate that Christ is the greatest, best and most fulfilling reality there is. Pray for them lots.

Prepare for whats next.
Leaving uni is really hard. Going back home for a long time is really hard. Starting a job, even one that you love is really hard. So get ready for it. Pray into it. Think about how you're going to work for Christ next year, or study even better for Christ next year, and delight in Christ with your family. Don't waste time wishing you were back at uni, enjoy the time you've got the prepare for what's happening next...doing the other things in this list should help a bit.

It's terribly easy to waste summer. When the sun comes out i really struggle to remember the eterbal battle we're all in, to keep my eyes focussed on Heaven and not on the earthly pleasures summer brings us. Use free time wisely for Christ...don't waste your summer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How does the Holy Sprit enable and empower me to live as a Christian?

[I don't always enjoy writing my relay study responses. I alwaus enjoy the study, but taking what Wayne put into my head and getting it onto a screen is often not easy. which is why i often enjoy the personal responses the most. and here's my latest one]

I think it was CS Lewis who said that if it wasn’t for the Trinity he would still be an atheist. Slightly changing that for my own purposes I think it’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for the real and active work of the Holy Spirit in my life and on my heart, I wouldn’t be a Christian. I wouldn’t have been saved in the first place, and I certainly wouldn’t be here five years later writing this!

I believe that the Bible teaches that from birth we are all sinful, we are all born with Adam as our federal head and counted to have sinned with him because of that. Even if that’s not totally how it works it’s clear pretty early on that we’re not good people who sometimes do bad things, we are just bad people. The same is obviously true of me. I spent seventeen years actively and passively rejecting God, and then I became a Christian, not quite ‘over night’ because my salvation was, from my point of view, the result of six months and discussion and argument with my then girlfriend, but more or less. I remember about a week or so before I was saved thinking about Christians that they were a dangerous bunch, and should be locked up. So how come so quickly I believed the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit.

It was the Holy Spirit that convicted me and convinced me that all the arguments in favour of the Gospel were real and true. It was the Holy Spirit that convicted and convinced me that I wasn’t a good person but that I was a bad person, and that apart from Jesus I was going to Hell. It was the Holy Spirit that made my heart feel and know it was alive for the first time in the days and weeks after I asked Jesus to come into my life. The Holy Spirit working to show me the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The absoluteness of His glory and the horror of my sin. That’s how the Holy Spirit enabled me as Christian…He convinced me I needed to be one!

And now He empowers me as a Christian. Probably my absolute favourite single verse in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 3:18. It is the Holy Spirit who helps me to see the Lord, and it’s seeing the Lord that empowers me as a Christian. That keeps me as a Christian. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit alone that convinces me that reading the Bible first thing in the morning is a more urgent concern than checking my facebook. It’s the Holy Spirit that gets my heart excited when I see things about Jesus in the Bible that I hadn’t seen before. It’s the Holy Spirit alone who makes me want to read good books about church, or theology, or good biographies. It’s the Holy Spirit alone who gives me that sick feeling in my stomach when I’ve sinned, that feeling of disquiet when I’m sinning and the Holy Spirit alone who makes me want to do good to and for the people around me.

How can I be so sure? The Bible leaves me with little alternative. Genesis 6:5 says that the only desire of man’s heart is only evil continually. That’s pretty damning. So damning in fact that God is moved to wipe man about, except Noah, and start again after the flood. Even in the middle of explaining a parable, Jesus almost incidentally describes man as ‘evil’ in Luke 11:12. When Nicodemas comes to meet Jesus in John 3, he is told that the only answer is for man to be ‘born again’ And Nicodemas very fairly points out that man can not enter for a second time into his mother’s womb. But this is not the birth that Jesus is talking about, He is talking about being born of the Spirit. That it is by the Spirit that we are born into the new life that we need to be saved. The way the Holy Spirit worked in my salvation, in salvation itself to secure that, and now work’s in my life to make me hate sin and desire God is evidence of His work in my life and fruit of His mercy. Praise the Lord!

Friday, May 11, 2007


I think CS Lewis might have said something like 'the one who has everything and God has nothing more than the one who has nothing and God'. That really struck me reading Isaiah 21 and Psalm 73 this morning.

Isaiah 21 is taken up with oracles against Babylon, Dumah and Arabia. There's real fear and uncertainty that surrounds all three oracles, especially at the start. 'it comes in from the wilderness, from a terrible land' loins are seized with anguish...pangs have seized me'. For a while it's unclear who this terror is aimed at, so that even Isaiah is suffering from a 'staggering heart.' The tension fear and uncertainty grow, with watchmen and riders coming to and fro...and then suddenly, relief. Fallen is Babylon. Her idols are shattered to the ground. Isaiah hears from the Lord, and delivers this news. Dumah and Arabia are also targetted. Again there is uncertainty and tension (v12,15), again they will 'come to an end'. The Lord will do this.

This might seem like good new for Judah, especially since it turns out that it was not her to face the wrath of God (yet), but history gives us a slightly different story. Judah was always looking to make alliances with people to help her fight Assyria, and Babylon, who were in more or less constant rebellion against Assyria were top of their list at this time. The same was true of the more nomadic peoples of Dumah and Arabia. Judah would have been keen to enlist their help as well. So why was God going to wipe them out? Why does He give Isaiah this message?

Precisly because Judah, God's people to whom He had promised to be faithful, was looking to them for help, rather than to Him. They relied not on the Lord, but instead on some of His creation for help. They could have had real, spiritual help, but instead they went for temporal, physical help, which was to spell their disaster. Judah's end was to be Babylon's and vice versa.

Psalm 73 sees Asaph totally beaten down with woe. He sees his enemies, he sees those who disobey and don't know the Lord, and he envies them. They don't seem to be filled with care as he is, they seem to prosper. They make themselves look good by their arrogance. They lift themselves up, they out themselves down. Asaph despairs. But then...then he sees God in His sanctuary, the God for whom we have no categories, the God who was so holy that the Hebrew language had to be rewritten. Asaph sees Him, and that changes everthing (v17). He discerns the end of the proud and the arrogant and the wicked, and he envies them no more. If only Judah had done that years later. If only we'd do that more now.

It was easy for Judah to whore after Assyria, they were a bigger power, they could help them, give them freedom, surely there was nothing wrong with that. It would have been easy for Asaph to long for the apparent ease of life for those who were not involved in a struggle against sin, it's easy for us to look at people who aren't saved, and envy them. Envy the apparent care-free nature of their lives, envy their pride and their success. Only the Lord has the answer.

Only by constant, intentional time spent looking, thinking, considering Jesus in His glory will change our hearts towards Him and away from longing for the world. Away from the fear of self suffciency and toward the freedom of trusting Him for everything. We must seek and thirst for God in His sanctuary. We must pray for it, read the Bible and ask to see it, read good Christian books that will soften and warm our hearts. Thats the only remedy for the weakness and jealousy of our hearts to those who don't know the Lord, to have their end discerned, and to delight in God, and all that He is for us in Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Theology for all

I've been in my car a lot today, which has given me the chance to listen to Carl Truman's talks from last year's 'Theology for all' conference:

I've found them really helpful and thought provoking. The second talk in particular made me think more about how to pastorally apply theology. Carl's point was that the biggest theological problem for someone on a sunday morning is probably not something like the new perspective on Paul, or open theism, and there you can pretty much substitute any debate you like, especially perhaps the attack on penal substitution or our post modern society, but is more likely to be whether they love shopping more than Christ. Or that they work so hard during the week they don't get the chance to open the Bible from one sunday to the next. So churches need to talk to those problems, to the problems in the congregation. They need to talk to their congregation rather than over their heads.

Now that's not for one moment to dimish the importance of tackling things like the controversy over penal substitution and the like. They are problems which are serious and deadly and need to be fought by men in the church, and i hope i am among them, but they must be fought in a way that applies to people who have lives that are empty apart from shopping. And praise God that's what the Gospel can do.

Also a year ago today, i knew i was really really a calvinist. Hey, you can't blame me, i didn't have a choice!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

atonement delight

One of Bish's questions was 'how does it (penal substitutionary atonement) delight you?' As an unapologetic Piperan, whose dialogue is sprinkled with words like 'delight', 'joy' and 'treasure' i thought i'd think about what it is about PSA that makes me delighted. What is it that makes me want to defend this doctrine and makes me want other people to believe it as well?

You can't read very much of the Bible very well without seeing that God is a God who does not like sin. He hates sin. He hates it because of His jealousy for His own name, because it is legally and morally wrong. It's legally wrong because God Word is law and to rebel against His Word is to break that law. It's morally wrong because we were made to worship God, designed to worship God, and God is the highest moral reality there is. God is worthy of all the glory the world can offer Him...more in fact. So not to worship Him and not to give the glory in your life to Him is morally wrong. And God does not like that. And because God is perfectly just He can't simply 'forgive' sin. That would compromise His character in a way that would make Him no longer God. So God hates sin, His wrath against sin must be satisfied.

So does this make me delighted? Yes and no. Yes, because what good news it is. What God news that the King of the universe is good. And not just a bit good, not just that he has good days, but that He is morally perfect. Jesus is so pure and so perfect that when John saw Him in His glory he fell down as if dead. That's some serious holiness. How good to know, how reassuring to know that the King, the Judge is perfect, and has a perfect standard that no one will be just let off. With a flow of injustice in the world that is seemingly unstoppable, it is good news, great news, to know that the One in charge of it all is sovereign and good and just.

But there's a big problem here. And the bad news is the same as the good news. That God is perfect and just and holy. That Jesus sits on His throne judging with perfect righteousness. I've spent time reading Numbers and Isaiah recently, and it's impossible to read those books in particular without noticing the penalty for sin. The generation that The LORD rescued from Egypt with such power and glory will none of them, with a couple of notable exceptions, see the promised land. The vast majority of them suffer God's punishment of wandering in the wilderness with a (un)healthy dose of plague mixed in. God's judgement on their sin, their idolatry and murmuring was not pleasant. But it was deserved. The inhabitants of the political Israel will be judged by occupation and exile. We know for how long, but they didn't. Was this the end of God's promises to Israel? The end of His commitment to Himself and His people? Chapter forty answers those questions to a large extent, but they must have weighed heavy on the minds of the exiles as the judged away from their homes.

We're not like them though are we? We're safe from God's judgement. The Jesus of the 21st century is far more cuddly and inoffensive than the God of the old testament isn't He? Well no, that's incorrect. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He still views sin with the same seriousness. I'm not directly mentioned in the Bible, obviously, but i am there by implication. I was by nature and object of wrath, fully deserving of eternal punishment for my eternally offensive sins, fully deserving of all that Israel suffered and more. And apart from the power and grace of God, fully deserving of it. Not much delight here so far is there. The good thing of God's holiness and justice leads to the bad thing of my eternal suffering away from the goodness and grace of the Lord, away from any relationship, away from any happiness. In Hell.

So where does Penal Substitutionary Atonement come into this? I believe that it upholds both God's holiness and justice, and His goodness and love, and yet means i can know Him and enjoy Him and be in relationship with Him. How? How can God possibly be true to both His holiness and justice, but at the same time love sinners and work everything together for their good? I believe the answers lies in penal subsitutionary atonement.

The doctrine that holds that on the cross Christ was made to be sin, and that God poured out hour after hour of holy, righteous, pure wrath, what we deserved onto Him. And that He eventually died under the weight of the Father's wrath. And that this was no error, that this was the plan from the beginning. That is was Christ who was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities, and that this chastisement brings us peace (Is 53). What wonderful news. Christ became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. Isn't that good news? And what are you left with if you take away Penal substitutionary Atonement? If the cross just says 'God loves you' (and in part it certainly does) then we are left wondering where the punishment for sins has gone. The same as if the cross just tells us that Christ sympathises with us in our pain (and in part it certainly does) then we are left with the same questions. I don't believe there is any other doctrine that relates to atonement that secures both God's holiness and justice and hatred of sin, as well as His great love for us, in having His Son die under the weight of it. There is nothing else out there that so secures both those truths.

That's why i delight in tells me great, great, great things about the God i worship and about my security in Him. Why would you want anything else?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Blame Canada

Steven Lawson's new book 'The expositiory genius of John Calvin' popped through my door this week. It's really good. Lawson pastors a church in Mobile, Alabama, a place i like probably only because it's mentioned in 'to kill a mockingbird'. Lawson is writing a series called 'along line of Godly men' which in five volumes is charting the history of the church from 1400BC until now. Thats an undertaking in itself, but as a spin off from this series he's also writing 'a long line of Godly men' profiles, of which this is the first. Among the others to be written about by Lawson will be Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and Luther. Are you excited yet?

Lawson says his objective in this series is to 'raise the bar for a new generation of Biblie expositors', that is, people who will preach the Bible through verse by verse and book by book. Calvin, whatever else you make of him is an excellent example of this. On one occasion when he was forced away from his Geneva church by exile, he returned three years later, and continued his preaching on the next verse! After three years! Calvin spent years preaching verse by verse through nearly every book of the Bible. Here clearly is the example of a great man to follow.

It's probably because of the Biblical truth that he pumped out month after month from his pulpit in Geneva that the Reformation had the impact it did. Persecuted protestants from all over Europe, particularly France and Britian fled to Geneva to sit under this man's teaching. Many then turned right around again, convinced that despite the hardship and suffering they would face, the Jesus that Calvin had showed them needed to be known everywhere. Calvin didn't shy away from teaching the truth because of controversy. He saw himself as a pastor first, and to him the best way of pastoring was to teach the truth from the Bible, sometimes as often as three times a day, to counter the anti-protestant forces all over Europe. We can learn something from him here as well.

you can buy the book here.
see also: arguments for expository preaching

Thursday, May 03, 2007

winning in the rain

Kaka' is probably the best footballer in the world at the moment, but alongside that:

Kaká is a member of the "Athletes of Christ" organization.

Since November 2004, Kaká has been an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Programme. He was the youngest ambassador at the time of his appointment

Kaká's favourite music is gospel music.

Kaká's motto in life is "I belong to Jesus" and "God is faithful", which he has stitched onto the tongue of his Adidas boots.

Kaká's favourite book is the Bible.

In his freetime he likes to be in church, read the bible, and be with his family, particularly his younger brother Digão.