The people of Israel in the first century had been living under foreign occupation for over 500 years. The glory days of King David and Solomon had long since passed, and they were longing for a better time. They had every reason to expect a better day would arrive, for the great prophet Isaiah predicted a time of grace when the Spirit-anointed Messiah would come, bringing freedom to his people: (more…)
Organizational unity instead of gospel unity is death. The failure of Christian ministries, be they church or para-church, commences when they lose their direction and become organizations that demand organizational unity over theological unity in the service of the gospel.
We look at the great churches of the past and lament their decline in congregations or worse in gospel ministry, theological faithfulness or moral integrity. However, the same can be said for many para-church ministries set up in previous generations by Christians that today are hardly recognizable as Christian at all. Some even go out of their way to hide their Christian foundations. (more…)
(This article was written for our free Home Group Leader’s Monthly Digest. To subscribe, just complete the form below the article.) (more…)
For Sydney Anglicans (and interested observers): Phillip Jensen is part-way through a short series on the imminent election of a new Archbishop. This time is what an Archbishop is:
A good starting place is the Bible’s view of leadership, seen pre-eminently in our Lord Jesus Christ and taught to us in the appointment of elders and deacons in 1 Timothy and Titus. The character and convictions of a man are the mainstay of selection criteria, rather than any particular competencies. The particular competencies listed for Timothy and Titus to look for in an elder, are to “manage his own household well” and to be “able to teach” the truth and “rebuke those who contradict it”.
The ministry of an Archbishop is different to ‘managing the household of God’ but cannot be less than that. It is different, because like Timothy and Titus, the Archbishop is not leading a single church or even a parish but a diocese of parishes and churches as well as all the associated para-church ministries (schools, retirement villages, theological college. etc) that support the parishes in their ministry of the gospel.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the election, the role, and in praying for the candidates and the synod members making the decision, go read the full article (NB. the first article is about the political process, and is worth a read too).
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (more…)
I had the privilege of preaching Isaiah 50 on a weekend away not long ago. It contains the third of the servant songs, and what particularly struck me was the way in which the Servant describes himself. (more…)
Geoff Robson has just written about the contact he had with a man called Russel that changed his life:
The Russell I’ve been thinking about is a man who changed my life. But I don’t even know his last name, and I met him just once more than 15 years ago.
I met Russell in the food court at Westfield Miranda – not usually a venue for life-changing encounters. I’d just finished lunch and was heading for the escalator when Russell politely stopped me and asked if we could chat. Russell was a Christian, and he wanted to talk to me about Jesus.
But I wasn’t interested.
Go read the whole story. It’s a really encouraging read.
Discipling my four children is possibly the most challenging (and certainly the most humbling) experience that I have ever had. Because they share a house and most of the day with me, they know me and my faults better than anyone else. How many times have I questioned the wisdom of this arrangement? Did God factor in who I really was when he put these little disciples in my home? Yet there they are, day after day, with no place else to be but under my care and discipleship… watching, watching, watching me. And (gulp) imitating. (more…)
Over at the Gospel Coalition blog, Matt Smethurst has a summary of a recent lecture by Don Carson’s on suffering, and the 6 pillars of a Christian view. As Carson says:
Christian worldview rests on huge, biblically established, theological frameworks—all of which have to be accepted all of the time […] And this massive structure is stable and comprehensive enough to give you a great deal of stablility when you go through your darkest hours.
The post is a good read for the general outlines, and has a link to the video too. Also worth checking out on the topic is Carson’s book, How Long O Lord? As Matt says, this is preparatory work to do before suffering overtakes you:
Every believer, Carson concludes, would do well to ponder these six pillars prophylactically—before the evil days come. Only then will we be best positioned to face the complexities of suffering with stability, humility, compassion, and joy.
The arrival of a first-born child into a family is one of the greatest moments in all human experience. It rates with marriage as one of the big milestones in a person’s life. As such, it is particularly important that the Christian believer should understand it from a spiritual viewpoint, setting it in the context of his or her faith, and therefore relating it to God through Jesus.
As I write this article I am preparing to give what will most likely be my last Mid Year Conference Talk. It is a sad moment for me.
This has been a week of retirements. On Thursday my brother Peter officially retired as the Archbishop of Sydney. With him the Chancellor of the Diocese Acting Judge Peter Johns has also retired. There comes in life a time for the changing of the guard, of letting go of our responsibilities that others may take up their opportunities to serve, bringing fresh energy and fresh ideas to the tasks.
This is more than people retiring because they are getting too old to do the job. This is the intentional outcome of the training up of the next generation to take over. Christianity will be here till the Lord Jesus returns and so every generation must raise up the next generation to take responsibility and leadership. The church without a youth group will have no family ministry in the next generation, and no old people in the one after that. It is critically important to always invest in the next generation (Ps 78:5-7). (more…)
There are already several available ways to read The Briefing. Some readers like to get the printed version in the post; some prefer to download a PDF; and some read the articles as they become available here online at this site. (more…)
Should Australians be upset that one of the new ministers in the Federal Cabinet swore his oath on a Qur’an?
This week as the Governor General swore in the new cabinet, Mr Ed Husic, chose to swear on the Qur’an rather than the Bible or make an affirmation. A ‘non-practising’ Muslim from Bosnia, Mr Husic was sworn in as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband.
Swearing is a strange symbolism, by which we persuade and reassure people of our integrity in making promises. Christians should not need to swear for we should be people of our word. As Jesus said in response to pharisaic hypocrisy, “Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”; anything more than this comes from evil (Matt 5:37, cf. Jas 5:12). (more…)
Timothy Raymond over at Credo Magazine has a collection of excellent resources for tender-hearted Christians struggling with assurance:
Call it “melancholy”, call it spiritual depression, call it excessively introspective, Bible-believing Christians have always recognized the category of the tenderhearted soul. This is the true believer who is nonetheless overly anxious, almost obsessive, about his spiritual state. Everybody around him will quickly identify him as a godly Christian, but for whatever reason, he can’t see it. Often he lives in constant fear that he is among the self-deceived to whom Jesus will one day say, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). In the curious providence of God, I have several individuals in my congregation who fit this description. And on not a few occasions, I have found myself in this category.
Read the full post, and check out the books, articles, and lectures he recommends.
Over the course of nearly 20 years in children’s ministry (not including his own childhood), Bruce Linton realized that the establishing principle behind starting a children’s ministry in a church is usually this: noise must be contained so that we, the grown-ups, can get on with church. (more…)