Recently, a good friend who is a pastor asked me to jot down reflections on my experience of being single so that he could use them to help struggling single women in his church. One of my first thoughts was: why should singleness be an issue, or an aspect of life that I am asked to frame myself in? (more…)
It’s hard to manage expectations about how much our regular church meetings are for evangelism!
Last weekend, I received this feedback from a very mature and committed member, via our comment cards.
This is the final post in my series on Bible memorization. Today I’ll talk about the “why” of memorizing Bible passages and the impact this has had on me. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.
God’s word written on three-by-five inch index cards: it doesn’t sound like much of a weapon. But there I was, sitting on the floor, staring out the window, repeating words scribbled on the index card in my hand: “…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own…” (Matt 6:34 NIV).
It has been drilled into my head that 1 Samuel 17 is not about me overcoming ‘giant’ problems in life. I’ve been telling people that for years, ever since I read Graeme Goldsworthy’s preface to Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. But, what I couldn’t concisely say is what the story of David and Goliath is about. (more…)
We Christians today find ourselves at a very contested intersection with science and ethics. The amount of conflict is partly because in a post-Christian society there is no longer any shared ‘moral grammar’ about the common good. Our world has not just drifted from but also actively rejected many of the beliefs and virtues that largely derived from the Christian world view of previous centuries. (more…)
As someone committed to the verbal inspiration of Scripture, I have always thought it best to use biblical words in biblical ways. It sort of seems self-evident. (more…)
Mark Thompson on humility vs. ‘humility’:
Humility like Christ’s means a genuine willingness to serve no matter the cost because of the value placed on others. No opportunity for service is too demeaning. Such humility, if ever you should come across it, is immensely attractive to Christians (do you have someone in mind right now?) and even to the outsider. It commends the gospel in a way that self-regard, no matter how carefully disguised and nuanced, simply cannot. Yet sometimes what at first glance might seem to be humility turns out to be something different altogether.
Do you believe in the power of the word? These guys do.
I wish we’d taken his name and number, or asked him to write up his story. (more…)
Joanne Jung takes some advice on small groups from the Puritans:
Here are a few questions the Puritans found useful in conference, redesigned for our contemporary understanding:
- What does God want you to know about him? About yourself?
- For what is the soul thankful?
- What are the words or actions that demonstrate your soul’s love for Christ?
- What is your soul afraid of God knowing?
- What stands now between God and your soul?
Consider asking these types of questions and, more importantly, answering them with attentiveness to your own heart and the hearts of others. In good company and conference the goodness of God and the struggles of life meet in loving acceptance, godly direction, and transforming community.
In recent decades, the fights that many churches have had over musical styles have been termed the ‘worship wars’—typically cast as a battle between traditionalists on one side, who wish to retain the noble beauty and heritage of historic church practice, particularly in music; and modernizers on the other, who want church services to be contemporary, relevant, engaging, and so on. (more…)
Tim Challies has an interesting reflection on God’s holiness:
Holiness is a difficult term to define. Most Christians know that a dimension of holiness is God’s set-apartness, his being essentially different from everyone and everything else, but there is far more to it than that.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
There’s a story about John the apostle as an old man, recounted by Jerome.1 Whenever John’s disciples carried the frail apostle in to their meetings, he would say, “Little children, love one another”. Every. Time. (more…)
As a preacher, I work hard to maintain good habits in preparing a sermon. Translating from the original Greek or Hebrew text, engaging with the commentators, creating a clear structure for the sermon, and finally, figuring out how to communicate God’s word in an enlightening fashion (as opposed to a dry and boring one). (more…)
“…whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers. ”
Israel’s great King Solomon is remembered primarily for two things: his wisdom, and the temple that he built in fulfillment of the promise that God made to his father David (1 Kings 8:15-20, cf. 2 Samuel 7:13). Soon after its completion, Solomon dedicated it for use in Israel’s life (1 Kings 8:12-66). As Solomon prayed at the temple, he reflected that its completion was not simply the fulfillment of a promise, but an event with cosmological significance. The God who could not be contained by the highest heaven (1 Kings 8:27) had nevertheless come to his people, and made his dwelling place among them. The temple is called the ‘house of Yahweh’ eleven times in these central temple-building chapters (chs. 5-8). This is more than a symbolic statement: Israel was a nation who lived their lives in the presence of God. (more…)
In our previous post, we looked at a story that has often been used as analogy for the way that Christians can use secular wisdom in gospel mission and ministry. This is the account of the Israelites, plundering the gold of the Egyptians as God rescued them from slavery (Exodus 3:19-22). The analogy works because at least some of the Egyptian gold probably ended up being used to worship God (Exodus 25:1-8). But keen readers will notice that there’s another place the Egyptian gold ended up too: