Friday, 30 December 2011

Boxhill on Boxing Day... Well almost.

On 3rd March I'll be doing five 8 mile loops around Boxhill. The first on foot, the second, third and fourth on a bike and the final lap back on foot again.

As a result, I thought I'd go and check out the course.

It's not as bad as I feared, but the circuit finishes with a gentle but relentless 2 mile ascent (about as steep as the worst part of Kendrick Rd in Reading).

After running round once, I have that depressing feeling that I have a lot more to do before the course becomes my friend.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Abraham and Zechariah: More in Common than You'd Think

Abe, Sarah and Isaac
Here are some parallels between Abraham, the great patriarch and Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist:
  • Both are priests. (Gen.12:7, (Lk.1:8-9)
  • Both are men of faith for many years, are old and have no children because their wives cannot conceive (Gen.18:11, Lk.1:7)
  • Both have a messenger from Heaven to tell them that they are going to have sons through the power of God (Gen.12:2, Lk.1:11)
  • Both express incredulity at the promise of God, (Gen.17:17, Lk.1:18) but whilst Abraham is let off, Zechariah should have known better with all that history behind them.
  • Zech, Liz and John
  • Both Abraham's son, Isaac and Zechariah's son, John will live lives that prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. Isaac by the story of his life and John by preaching a baptism of repentance (Lk.1:76-77).
  • Both Abraham and Zechariah have their eyes firmly fixed not on their earthly prosperity, but on the salvation of God and Heavenly destiny (Heb.11:10,16, Lk.1:68-69,78-79).

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Another International Christmas Day Lunch

Another International Christmas Lunch at [address removed for security reasons].  India, Nigeria, Malaysia, Botswana and Ghana were all represented around the table. Malaysia brought music, Nigeria brought poetry, Botswana and Ghana brought games and India and the Home Team brought food.

I thought I had been abstemious with the amount of food I bought this year, but I still have a barrel load of left overs! It's already freezing and will not reappear until at least half way through April!

As you can see from the photo, we forgot to pull the crackers until half way through the meal. I am particularly proud of the table decoration. I'm discovering creative talents these days, I didn't know I had.

Happy Christmas.

What do Santa and the Living God have in Common? Less than You Think

Great poem. Not your usual predictable anti-commercialist tirade. Makes you think.

[Author's script here]


Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Perfection and Powerlessness of both Creation and Law

This morning I listened to a classic of Christian Literature: Athanasius: On the Incarnation. You can pick it up for free (along with lots of other stuff), here.

One of the things that struck me was that Athanasius appears to be saying that as sin increased, so revelation (grace) increased to curb our corruption and point us to God. In other words, Adam understood very well the way of salvation through Christ to the Father and that it was not ignorance (as so commonly assumed) that lead him and Eve astray, but deliberate disobedience of the full revelation of God in Christ to him (Ps.19:1-2, Rom.1:19-20), hence such a mighty curse. He says:

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Not What I Was Expecting...

Back in September I declared some goals I wanted to achieve between now and the end of the Autumn Term. How have I been getting on?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Carol Time!

At our church carol service on Sunday, we saw a video put together by the great Josh John:

The music in the background

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Meditation: The Heart of the Giver

It is more blessed to give than to receive is a phrase you hear a lot at this time of year and it’s not just from clever kids who want to blackmail their parents into getting them presents! It's something we genuinely believe to be true.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Towards a Better Answer - Maybe
There'll be some things I write here that I'll unreservedly regret, others only half so. This post is an example of the latter.

Maybe this isn't quite right either, but it is an improvement on the previous post - I hope.

As I understand it, angels did sing as Jesus created the universe - Job 38:7, but their song fell silent at the shock of Adam and Eve rebelling against God - for now not everything was good, some things were really, really bad. That song was silent for thousands of years (Rev.4:8,10)

However they break forth in new song when the eternal Son returns to Heaven, the glorious victor - triumphing over sin, death and the devil and being given all authority and power by his Father (Rev.5:9).

But maybe I'm still barking up the wrong tree.

Believe it or not, I'm not big into angelology.

Friday, 2 December 2011

From Idolatry to Ideology aka From a Rock to a Hard Place.

In a sermon I listened to recently, a passing comment was made that Israel gave up worshipping idols after the Exile. Up until that point, they had been repeatedly warned by the prophets not to go "whoring" after images of created things - contravening the second commandment (see Exodus 32 for the most famous example).

That didn't mean that everything was OK though...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

34 and Counting

Yesterday I turned 34.

Most of the day was average.

Amongst the cards there was this "true to form" poetic offering from mother:
Great oafs from little infants grow,
It is a truthful saying.
Full four and thirty years have rolled,
And all of us are praying
That Rich will ever greater grow,
In oafishness and knowledge,
By cycling much and preaching loud
And eating bowls of porridge.
My favourite gift was this one, a new addition to the staffroom cupboard, decorated by a very dear friend. Hopefully, having my name on it in big letters means it won't go walkies:
I like to think of myself as a Bob Parr.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ascension @ BTF Tomorrow Night

Today at RFC, Dave Bish preached an outstanding message on the Ascension! Whether you were there or not, do go to the church website and download it, there is much there to enjoy and meditate on. Worth a(nother) listen, imho!

In God's beautiful timing, tomorrow night, we'll be thinking more on the event of the Ascension at Biblical Thinking Forum (@Church office), joining up some more of the dots and seeing more of how this incredible event fits into the big picture of all that the Father, Son and Spirit are up to in history and how we get our lives in sync with this awesome and glorious reality.

If you want to catch a flavour of what we'll be talking about, click here for a copy of the notes.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Secular Pseudo Saviours

In last week's sermon at church, Sitho explained how Jesus is the true and final prophet, priest and king. Listen again here.

It got me thinking, (yes dangerous I know), because one of the popular myths of our time is that as a society we have left the ridiculously primitive and superstitious ways of our Neanderthal forebears behind in favour of more civilised, enlightened and sophisticated modes of existence. Or to put it another way, the human race (in the West at least) has finally "grown up," and in doing so, thrown off the shackles of religion in favour of a narcissist voyage of discovery. (There is of course some truth in the fact that humanity is "growing up," but that can remain for another post...)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Seed of the Gospel

This blog entry comes to you from my smartphone on the train as I'm trying to maximise my use of time and fit everything in! What a frenetic world it is!

It seems to me that one of the nasty bi-products of the otherwise good debate that continues between creationists and evolutionists is that we spend so much time trying to shoehorn evolutionary theory into Genesis 1 (or vice versa depending on our starting point) that we lose sight of what God most importantly wants to tell us in Genesis 1, namely about his glorious gospel.

Genesis 1 is like a seed, out of which the great Tree of Life that is the gospel of Jesus Christ grows and flourishes.

A seed may not look like the tree it will one day become, but the essential DNA is there, all that's needed is water, food, sunlight and a gardener.

The world of Genesis 1 is like a seed which the eternal Son shines upon as he takes hold of it, feeds and waters it, with the ultimate aim of seeing his loving Heavenly Father's purposes flourish.

Genesis 1 has all the elements of the gospel, it's just that we need new eyes to see.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Who Did Ezekiel See?

Shame that in this interpretation, the Man looks more like a grandfather than a son.

The Glory that Ezekiel meets in Ezek.1, is not an impersonal light-bulby type glory, but a personal one who later in Ezek.3:23 stands and talks with him.

In fact, He looks similar to the Man, Daniel sees in Dan.7 and the Man John meets in Rev.1 and given that only God can deal in the impossible - like being eternal - I reckon they are all appearances of the same person. Yet no one has ever seen God (John 1:18)

So no prizes for guessing who I think it is - the eternal second person of the Trinity joyfully and obediently revealing His unseen Father to the world and fulfilling all his Father's purpose (Matt.11:27, Rev.1:17, Heb.1:3).

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

What Do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have in Common with an Ox, a Lion, an Eagle and a Man?

If you're familiar with the writings of the early church, you'll know that they associated the gospels of Jesus with four living creatures: an ox, a lion, an eagle and a man. Depending on who you read, you will associate the different animals with different gospels for different reasons, and who knows - perhaps there's meant to be a certain ambiguity to them, it keeps us human control freaks humble and on our toes.

James Jordan (no prizes for guessing that I side with him thus far) sees Matthew with the Ox, Mark with the Lion, Luke with the Eagle and John with the Man. The Ox being symbolic of Priesthood and Sanctuary, the Lion of King and Kingdom, the Eagle of Prophet and World and the Man of Messiah fulfilling the first three restoring us to fellowship with God.

(If you didn't know anything about what I have just written, don't worry, neither did I until about 5hrs ago! But if you're like me then this is interesting stuff.)

These four animals connect back into the Old Testament both to the visions at the beginning of Ezekiel (see also Rev.4:7) and to the layout of the camp of Israel in the Wilderness. Jordan writes:

Monday, 17 October 2011

Behold Your God: Biblical Thinking Forum Handout

Last week, a bunch of us met to think about five ways Jesus fulfills the prophetic Old Testament hope.

For those interested, the handout is available here.  It's for note taking rather than doing the job for me, so only if you know where I am coming from will it really be any use to you. Feel free to use if you would like.

That said in summary:

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Theology For All The Senses

James Jordan's teaching has begun to have a significant impact on the way I read the whole Bible. Not that I've stopped thinking for myself, or that I unquestioningly agree with all he says, you understand. Why is that?

R. R. Reno puts it well in his forward to a book celebrating the life ministry of this man still living.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Something Fishy

Have you ever wondered why Christians adopted a fish as their first ever brand logo? Reasons abound on the interweb, and I have no reason to disagree with them, but I wonder if it also goes beyond the pragmatic (avoiding persecution) and the practical (using his disciples' own jobs as a convenient illustration on how to do evangelism) to something that expresses the deep, broad sweep of God's actions in history - his plan of salvation. Let me explain...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

I Almost Fell For This One...

Checking email on my phone is a new world for me and as a result, this phishing scam almost reeled me in, beware...

We detected an unsuccessful login attempt from an unfamiliarlocation. For the security of your account, kindly Re-Login Below 
Secure Login 
The Google Team.

Link sends you here:

Only when I noticed the web address had nothing to do with Google that I actually smelt a rat!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Was Jonah the Prophet Merely Racist?

In an attempt to achieve some of my goals, I have combined them! So out running this evening I took some mp3s on Jonah. The bad news is: I pulled a muscle - ridiculous. I wasn't even straining and I ended up spraining! Most frustrating I can assure you. I had to hobble home in front of all the kids playing football! :-( Anyway, that's not relevant to this post...

When most of us think of Jonah the OT prophet, we tend to cast him as a Jewish nationalist / racist. It's obvious isn't it? Why else would he want to run away from God's command to go to preach salvation to Gentiles at Ninevah?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Testing 2

Whilst eating my porridge with cranberries, I thought I would see if I can upload a photo to my blog via iPhone. So here's my dinner from last night - a Chinese recipe: Liver, broccoli and ginger soup. :-) (Yes, I know I'm sad!)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Gained Time Goals: Progress Check 1

So, it's been just over a week since I publicly stated some goals for this term.  How have I gotten on?

Well, progress has started slower than anticipated due to unexpected visitations.

My new training app
On Monday, the lovely OfStEd gave our school "the phone call" so I was on bestest behaviour all week! :-S Whilst optimistic, we can't assume anything and await the formal publishing of the report - a few weeks from now.

As a result, I'm on track with the 1/2 marathon training, (no pun intended) grasping the nettles, literally (and it hurt for over 24hrs afterwards) in the back garden, and I've begun to plough the streets of Whitley in prayer, in hope of a new harvest, but the rest remain, as yet, untouched.

We have my housemate's stag do this weekend. So I doubt we'll see any acceleration in progress just yet. :-)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011

An RFC First... I think.

Mark Amos, a member of our church, has had his first article posted on the NewFrontiers theology blog!

This is jolly exciting!!  Why not go and have a peek...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Gained Time Goals

Now that I'm part time at work, I figure I should probably have some goals to help me focus in the gained time!  So here goes, by Christmas I hope to have:
  • Improved my running up to half marathon distance. (I am currently so unfit I can barely complete 5k without collapsing and I've signed up for the Reading Half Marathon and another duathlon next Spring to encourage some umph creation!)
  • Finished listening to James Jordan preaching through the OT prophets (almost a sermon every weekday night between now and December! :-S
  • Planned Biblical Thinking Forum 2012.
  • Transformed the back garden into an "eat your heart out Eden Project" masterpiece.
  • Finished at least three books that I've started reading, but haven't yet had the discipline to complete.
  • Walked down and prayed for every street in Whitley
Feel free to ask me how I am getting on and I'll try not to get defensive if I'm not achieving (any of) them in the way I had envisaged.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

True Equality Without Fudging DIfferences?

If you're like me, then you will say a hearty "Ay-men!" to the belief that the true God is a loving community of three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You'll also "big it up bruv" (I've been working with adolescent boys for too long!!) when you hear someone say that within that divine community there is equality of personhood, but distinction and subordination of roles. The WILL of the Father is worked out through the OBEDIENCE of the Son in the POWER of the Spirit.

But here's a question. How do you maintain that distinction and subordination without somehow losing the equality? The reason I say that is because in this shadow world where we now live - temporarily, we talk a good game about the equality of humanity but in truth, we don't really believe it. We value some people more highly than others, we just do. The President of the United States is more important than an anonymous nobody fleeing the famine stricken plains of East Africa.

How do you avoid mapping that fallen assumption onto your view of God?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

I'm in Good Company

Andrew Wilson is doing an interesting series over at the NewFrontiers thelogy website on one of the paradoxes in the Church, namely: if Christians really believe in the authority and clarity of the Bible, why do they disagree (and fall out) so much about what they think it's really saying?

It's a good question.

As he writes, he cites examples of things he has publicly taught in the past which have turned out to be plain wrong...

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Bridegroom Builds the House, the Bride Beautifies it

Whilst it doesn't apply any more in some "modern" cultures, in many parts of the world, when a man leaves his parents to marry and set up his own family, he will build a house from scratch himself.

Then, dowry paid, he will welcome his bride into that abode and she will take that house and by the work of her hands and the fruit of her womb, beautify it (or to give it a bible term - glorify it) and make it not just a house, but a home - full of life.

Irony & iPhones

My mobile phone contract came up for renewal, so I've just come into the 21st century and got an iPhone. I was only able to get the 3GS if I wanted to upgrade free, which I did!

Before I made the leap, I got salivating by watching the following video. Would be interested know if you saw the same irony I did.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

A Same-But-Different Beginning

Today started as any other, although for me it marks the beginning of a slightly different journey.

If I had said nothing, you probably wouldn't have noticed any change whatsoever, but today I become 0.8 of a real teacher as I go part time.

The theory being I'll work 9-5 Mon-Fri and take nothing home at evenings and weekends (other than in exceptional circumstances). This would leave me free in the evenings for more theological study and pastoral care.

The challenge for me will be in making sure I fill the free time with the right things and knowing when to say no.

It's exciting, but (now it has arrived it's) also a little daunting, as I don't really know where it will lead just yet.

Also, if you suddenly get the impression that my gifts and general hospitality towards you are not as generous as they used to be, you're probably right. Please just smile understandingly. It won't be because I don't love you as much. :-)

PXR Borneo 2011

I forgot to mention that I'd be out of the office for a month or so in Borneo, although those of you who read here regularly might have spotted clues in some of the July posts.

School-trip-tastic it has been. We visited these places, with the help of these people.

Some of the many highlights for me were - in no particular order:

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A National Hero

Today Britain lost one of its best defenders (2Ki.2:12, Isa.31:1).

Radio 4 paid homage to John Stott CBE on the Today programme, but as is the way with modern media, by lunch time, he had been all but forgotten, just a page remains.

He came to our house when I was a young whipper-snapper, (yes I am name dropping) and apparently (although you understand I find this hard to believe), I incited my brother to call him "stupid head." Not the finest hour of my childhood. As you can imagine, my parents were absolutely mortified. Stott himself was, as you would guess, incredibly gracious.


This is clever, but it's a shame that the conclusion has been disemboweled of any moral force.

Something else to make you think:

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

In Other News...

...I'm generally not into nepotism or cronyism, but... my brother preached a sermon recently on Psalm 73. He's definitely much better at being concise and getting quickly to the point than I am.

20mins of time well spent here.

Holiday Reading Options

Wondering what to take along with my Bible on expedition as reading this year:

The front runners are:

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Family Event: "Walk Thru the Bible" 9-10 September

If you're like me then one of the things you think about is how to communicate the great story of God that is the Old Testament to people of different ages and backgrounds who have never heard it before. What are big themes and the simple keys that unlock great swathes of text? What do I need to know so that I / we can experience the journey through the Old Testament as a voyage of discovery rather than a frustrating road to nowhere? And how do I do that without making it cheesy or condescending?


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Classic Comody

I find the two Ronnies and their team of writers hard to beat when it comes clever word play and scenarios. Here are three of my favourite examples:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Government's Religious Equality Consultation Closes 15 July - Have Your Say

The government is garnering opinion here regarding religious equality and how it can be legislated for.  Consultation closes tomorrow, (15 July). Why not log on and have your say?

Below are my "shoot from the hip" responses to the questions they asked

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Eyes of Fire

All of us do stupid, ill-judged and impetuous things.

Sometimes we get away with them, sometimes we don't. In certain cases, that moment of inattention, folly or impatience gets caught on camera and broadcast to millions of people all around the world:

I've had more accidents and even more close shaves in a car than I'd like to admit, so I'm willing to bet that the emotional well-being of the France Television Driver at the centre of this incident will be broken into tiny little bits, and that's before you start to consider the ruin incurred by any subsequent legal action.

Monday, 4 July 2011

South Reading Churches Funday Promo Video

This Saturday is the big South Reading Churches Funday. A free event for the local community. I'll be MCing. Should be a blast.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wedding Address for Mr & Mrs Riches

The following is based on one of their readings: Revelation 21:1-4. For those interested it's my first ever address with a chiastic structure!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Richard Vs. Richard

No this isn't a personal take on Romans 7, but a juxtaposition of two famous Richards. First Mr Dawkins on keeping religion out of science and politics and second Mr Warren on a life of purpose. PS I haven't watched them, so don't ask me about them just yet.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

NewFrontiers in a Nutshell

I love being part of a group of people who love Jesus and who are both so local and so global. Watch on...

From Newfrontiers on Vimeo.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Three Most Important Unions

Ron Frost in his doctoral dissertation quotes the following from Sibbes. I thought it was rather good:
Whence [how] is it that we are sons of God? Because he was the “Son of Man,” - “God in our Flesh.” There are three unions, the union of natures, God to become man, the union of grace, that we are one with Christ and the union of glory. The first is for the second and the second for the third, God became man that we might become one with God, God was “manifested in the flesh” that we might be united to him and being brought again to God the Father, we might come again to a glorious union.
Other quotable nuggets include:

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Medium Is The Message

As a kid, we didn't have a colour TV in our house until 1987, we only got a video in 1990. So, up to the heady age of 13, if I wanted to watch something like Battlestar Galactica or Thunderbirds, anything that took place over dinner time, I had to negotiate with Dad and Mum.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Great Digital Disconnect

Funny isn't it, how what would be considered at best weird and at worst outrageous in real life, is fine, ney encouraged, in the strange world of virtual "reality":

Friday, 17 June 2011

"Build Down" to Borneo

For those of you who didn't know, I'm off on a busman's holiday to Borneo, South East Asia this August, taking a bunch of boys from school on a Leadership and Personal Development Expedition provided by these guys, who I must say are very good!

To that end, I have begun a weight loss campaign, for two reasons:
  1. I've not been doing as much triathlon training or racing this year, which, of course, wouldn't be a problem except that I've continued to eat like an Olympian and as a result, my belts and shirts are groaning under the strain!!
  2. The high humidity of the Asian jungle with all its creepy-crawlies will be much harder to endure if I am carrying more natural "insulation" than deemed necessary.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

To Which City Do You Go?

Andrew Marr has done a very interesting documentary on the rise and nature of the megacity. He points out that it seems to be humanity's destiny to move from the village to the city (available until 26-Jun-11).

What makes me smile, is that this is nothing new. The Biblical plumb-line is clear, we are not seeking a return to Eden. Humanity is moving from a rural setting (Gen.2:8) to a city (Rev.21:2).

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Motorcade and Wisdom of God

I've blogged on 1 Kings 19 before here.

Elijah meets the Word (Christ) in the cave, who tells him to go out and stand in the presence of the LORD (Father) who is about to pass by. What follows is wind, earthquake and fire before the peaceful and gentle, (but by no means quiet) voice of the Almighty is heard.

Why the wind, earthquake and fire?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Becoming What You Behold

I realise that for most people in the world, this image commemorates a glorious exodus from a dark age of myths. I just think it's tragic. Isa.44:20

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Cheesy Start, But A Good Ending

My housemate, Freddy forwarded me this video. It starts off as classic Christian cheese, but the ending is quite powerful. Have a watch:

1 John 2:1-2

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Monday, 6 June 2011

On Being Like God

If you've been taught that the essential thing about God is the omni-powers (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence etc) then 2 Peter 1:4 poses a problem.

Peter tells us that Christians will share in God's divine nature. Now, if God's nature is primarily a list of omni-s then sharing in God's nature means we will become omni-beings, but that poses at least two problems:

Sunday, 5 June 2011

On Giants' Shoulders

Following on from "The Breeze of the Centuries" (Some quotes here), Mike Reeves has published the second book in his trilogy of great historic theologians: On Giants' Shoulders.

Included here is Karl Barth, whose great 13 volume life work "Church Dogmatics" is something I have recently purchased.

Feeling intimidated by it, I thought I would poke my nose into this latest Reevesian tome to see if I could glean any hints and tips before I pack my theological rucksack and head out to scale this Eiger of a work! I'm pleased to say, I found encouragement, for he said...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Savouring the God Revealed by Jesus

Today saw me with friends in London at a conference at All Souls church. It was hosted by UCCF's Theology Network and CorDeo.

Unfortunately, signal failure between Maidenhead and Slough saw me miss the first one and a half sessions. For those interested, all four talks can be found here.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Bankruptcy of Humanity's Navel-Gazing

Back in 2002, the BBC aired what became an award-winning four part documentary series by Adam Curtis called The Century of the Self. It's probably my favourite documentary series to date. Although if you watch it, I'll understand if you think I'm odd. It's available on YouTube and I blogged some thoughts on it here back in Sept 2009.

The rise of psychoanalysis provided another bag of sand for the foundation on which the temple of atheism is being built. If he takes fallen humanity seriously with all its selfish contradictions, the best the psychoanalyst will ever be, is a prophet of doom.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Truth and Lies All Mixed Up

What would you say if someone showed you this. To be sure there is truth in here, but it's mixed up with so much misconception. Unravelling it is quite a task:

A Thought on The Great Marriage

It's interesting to note that when God makes his salvation promise to the human race after the fall in the Garden of Eden, he doesn't include Adam, he only includes Eve (Gen.3:15). Why is that?

This isn't because God is giving Adam the cold shoulder treatment, rather he is pictorially presenting a spiritual truth, namely, that Adam is (spiritually) dead. He can no longer bring life and health to the human race. Yes, he and Eve will have children, but his offspring will be spiritual stillborns and will not inherit eternal life. If they want eternal life, Adam, Eve and their descendants will have to seek it from a source other than their biological father.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sibbes' Prayer

I found this prayer of Richard Sibbes (1577–1635), quoted in the introduction to Ron Frost's doctoral dissertation, which Dave Bish kindly forwarded to me recently. I've copied and pasted it here and attempted to keep the style whilst "bridging the language gap" for the sake of those reading this who are not familiar with ye olde Englishe, (e.g. those in our church family whose first language is not the same as mine). I apologise in advance for anything lost / disfigured in the bridging process. :-)
Gracious and holy Father who has...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Jonathan is a Type of John the Baptist

Jonathan, the son of Saul, is, unlike his father, quite a man of God. He sees what God is doing and rather than getting in the way, he does all he can to ensure it comes to pass. As I've pondered this, I'm beginning to think that Jonathan's life be a prophetic picture (a type) of John the Baptist. Here's a comparison, by no means exhaustive - feel free to comment with observations:

They are both born into a royal household.
Jonathan, the son of King Saul - 1Sam.14:40
John the Baptist, tenuous I know, but related as a cousin of Jesus who was a direct descendent of King David - Lk.1:35-36

Friday, 20 May 2011

Am I Antichrist or Just Struggling With Sin?

A friend of mine told me that in their lifegroup discussion of the recent sermon I preached, they discussed the difference between someone who is antichrist, and someone who is struggling with sin. It's an important distinction to make. If, as a Christian, I give in to sin, does that mean my heart is antichrist?

These kinds of of discussions can be fraught with difficulty and need a lot of pastoral wisdom and my desire is to comfort the disturbed, but also disturb the comfortable. So, given that my sermon threw up the discussion point, here is a slightly more thought out version of what I might have said, had I been in on the coversation...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Looking Forwards Not Backwards

A spin off meditation from Sunday's sermon:

I know it's stating the obvious, but no one drives anywhere by looking into the rear view mirror, for the simple reason they will soon hurt themselves (and others) or if they're really unlucky, kill themselves (and others).

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Wheat and the Weeds

At last night's Biblical Thinking Forum, we talked about how God's people have always been in conflict with Satan's people. It was a great session - possibly my favourite from the year so far! I think people are beginning to understand the way my quirky mind works! ;-)

Here is a copy of the handout - feel free to steal / rehash etc as appropriate.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Forsaken the World : Rooted in Christ

Sermon Notes on 1 John 2:15-27.

John has been going through some tests whereby Christians can see if their confession of faith is genuine and also see who is trying to lead them astray into a false gospel. Here are two more: 1. How you love the world, 2. How you discern and deal with the antichrist.

Do not love the world (v15-17)
Love of the world and love for God are mutually exclusive, (Luke 16:13): “No servant can serve two masters, but there’s more to it than that – if we love the world, the Father’s love is not in us. We’re not really saved.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Clothing Share

Something a bit different from the Bible in a year plan... (If you want to hear more on Saul and David, come to the next Biblical Thinking Forum.)

Psalm 104:2 talks about how Israel's God - Jehovah - wraps himself in a garment of light. Clothing in the Bible is less to do with avoiding lust and shame, (something that the legalists and moralists would lead you to believe) and more to do with glorification, authority and position.

So that the LORD is wrapped in light in this Psalm is not because he is feeling exposed, but because he is highly exalted and truly glorious!

Having recently read Ruth, my mind went straight back to the moment when Ruth asked Boaz to spread his garment over her (Ruth 3:9) i.e. to become her kinsman redeemer and marry her. Boaz duly and speedily did so. That is a picture of Christ and his church.

The garment of righteousness Christ gives to his church is not so much one that she walks off with, but one that she joins him inside. The two become one flesh - wrapped up in glorious holy light - united together forever - Rev.7:15 - in the kingdom of Christ and his Father.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Jesus - Time and Eternity United As One

In his book Beyond Smells and Bells, Galli quotes Pope Benedict XVI (before he became pope). The Scripture refs are my own insertion:

Cosmic time, which is determined by the sun, becomes a representation of human time, [Eccl.6:12] which moves towards union of God and the world, [Rom.8:21-22] of history and the universe, of matter and spirit - in a word, towards the New City whose light is God himself. Thus time becomes eternity and eternity is imparted to time.[2Cor.5:4]

Galli picks up the significance of this with reference to the incarnation - the Son of God becoming like one of us - when he says:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Beginnings of Promise

1 Samuel 9-10

I find Saul a tragic, but fascinating character. He begins with such promise, but ends in such ignominy. How can one do that? Especially when God is in control? There are loads of things I don't understand. This is one of them.

Rather than say anything more, I'll repost something I wrote 18 months ago, It's my best guess to date at trying to understand how it could all go so terribly wrong...

Premature Kingship

1 Samuel 5-8

Often sin is not taking the wrong thing, but taking the right thing at the wrong time. It was always God's intention to share his divine nature with us (2Pet.1:4), but Adam grasped for it at the wrong time, he didn't want to wait for God's appointed time (Gen.3:6).

When Moses gave the Israelites the Law, he said they would have a king, (Deut.17:15) but they now demand this good thing the at the wrong time and with the wrong motives.

Monday, 2 May 2011

To AV or not to AV?

I can't in all honesty say I have wrestled over the question if AV vs FPTP, but I have pondered it a little with the help of these guys, had brief chats with friends who know a lot more than I do and come to a conclusion in time for Thursday's referendum. I'll let you guess what it is. :-)


Judges 3-4

It would appear, according to Samuel's opening comment that appearances of the Son of God were not common in this period of Israel's history. He was no doubt so appalled at the spiritual adultery of his people and especially his priests that he withdraws from them.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Hannah and Mary both Top of the Pops

It is certainly possible that Samson (Jud.13:24) and Samuel were contemporaries, James Jordan thinks so.

Both Hannah, who gave birth to the great judge and deliverer, Samuel, and Mary who gave birth to the true and better Samuel aka Jesus sing about the birth of their sons.

One can't help but feel Mary had studied Hannah's song before she thought up her own with the help of the Spirit. Hannah sings:

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Help to Keep My Hand on the Plough

I was recently asked for some prayer points. Thought I'd share them here.

Blest Pair of Sirens - Not As Weird A Title As You Might Think

If you, like modern scientifically-biased me, were a little bit confused during the Royal Wedding yesterday by the piece "Blest Pair of Sirens," fear not, I did a little research...

It was a poem written by the great Milton and set to music later by Parry (of Jerusalem fame). In Greek Mythology, Sirens were bad news, but in this poem, they are symbolic of word and rhythm redeemed and put into the service of praising God. (Milton seems to have pre-empted Piper on his explanation of 1Cor.3:21-23 ;-)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Building Up the Father's House

The book of Ruth feels like a wonderful little oasis of personal life that we can relate more easily to than all the killing and political machinations going on in the surrounding books. But let's be careful, lest we are too readily satisfied, interpreting this book in our own sentimental, romantic image and not looking for anything of greater depth.

Whilst the book is called Ruth, this is in a sense misleading, for it is about how God uses Ruth and Boaz to restore Naomi (Ru.4:14)

Monday, 25 April 2011

Neo-Evolution or Self-Deification?

Interesting TED talk. Quite why he feels you have to believe in evolution to have an opinion on the debate of human (self) improvement aka evolution, I'm not sure, but it makes for interesting listening.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Meditation: Treacherous Son of God - Beloved Son of God

If you've seen films like The Passion of the Christ, you'll have met Barabbas portrayed as something of a mad character. Symbolically and theologically, this is probably appropriate, but on the day to day surface of things, if you're going to be prominently involved in any kind of credible insurrection against the Romans, you need to have some (worldly) marbles.

So consider him a moment and his brief meeting with Jesus.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Can It Get Any Worse?

Judges 17-18

Don't know about you, but when I read through Judges, I am struck by how the people only behave (at least in public) when they have a strong leader i.e. a judge in place. Once he (or she) goes, they descend into idolatry and chaos again. There seems to be no godly self-governing principle and (therefore) no appetite for transmitting the knowledge of God to the next generation.