Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lavish

Some friends have written an album of worship songs called 'Lavish' that I heartily commend to you.

My pal Ellie guests singing her own song 'Joy comes in the morning' and it's a real joy to listen to her amazing voice. Connor Patterson and his brother Johnny's song 'Love' is also wonderful. It has a moving voice-over of some words from Augustine that made me cry when I listened to them 2 minutes into the song.

I spent five Soul Survivor's in the rain with Johnny and Connor and this worship album is worth all the mud and leaky tents as I listen to the fire for Jesus that now burns in their heart. Here is a request. Please give them some support by downloading it and spreading the word across Social Media. It's time for a new song writer on the British worship scene and at 17 years old Connor is quite possibly just what it needs.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thank you for the blood

'It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery'

Galatians 5 v 1

The four views…on the subject of the sacrament: 1. The Romish doctrine, or transubstantiation. This maintains the absolute change of the elements into the actual body and blood of Christ; so that though the elements of bread and wine remain present to the senses, they are no longer what they seem, being changed into the body, blood and divinity of Christ. 2. The Lutheran view, called consubstantiation. This maintains that after consecration the body and blood of Christ are substantially present, but nevertheless that the bread and wine are present, unchanged. 3. The Anglican view – that Christ is present in the sacrament only after the spiritual manner, and that His body and blood are eaten by the faithful after a spiritual, and not after a carnal manner, to the maintenance of their spiritual life and their growth in grace. 4. The Zwinglian, which declares the sacrament to be no channel of grace, but only a commemorative feast, admitting only a figurative presence of Christ’s body and blood.

John Foxe

The title of the song written by Matt Redman 'Thank you for the blood ' is a matter of crucial significance for the Christian, not least when it comes to our understanding of communion. We are immersed as a church in the letter to Galatians and yesterday, in our staff bible study, we had a lengthy and very interesting discussion about law and grace, legalism and what happens at communion.

This is how this issue came up. Galatians is about freedom from the law and Paul's assertion that we are not bound by the worship regulations of the old covenant. Hence, there is no need for men to be circumcised and former Jewish Christians kids in Galatia can now have pork pies in their school lunch boxes. The 'priesthood' of the temple has been replaced by the 'priesthood of all believers' and freedom abounds and should abound in the church. The religious traditions and ceremonial law of Judaism have been swept aside and grace set in its place. From this grace flows obedience [which comes from the Spirit -Gal 5- do listen to 'How to change'] and with this obedience joy follows.

Why then, says someone, do we still have so many religious hoopla's and do and don'ts in most churches with a special person in a funny costume to do the 'holy stuff' at communion? Surely all that went out at Calvary and wouldn't Paul be as incensed by the 'religiosity' and law-keeping of most churches as he was by the Judaisers of AD 50? We then embarked on a long discussion about what it is I do as a priest and had a debate about transubstantiation. As I was about to embark on a thorough overview of Reformation history which would have been fascinating, together with a potted history of the C of E, sadly time was up (much to the team's relief) but the thoughts have lingered.

"Imagine early Christians talking to their neighbours in the Roman Empire. 'Ah', the neighbour says, 'I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?' 'We don't have a temple,' replies the Christian. 'Jesus is our temple,' replies the Christian, 'No temple?' But where do your priests work and do their rituals?' 'We don't have priests to mediate the presence of God,' replies the Christian. 'Jesus is our priest.' 'No priests?' But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favour of your God?' 'We don't need a sacrifice', replies the Christian. 'Jesus is our sacrifice.' 'What kind of religion IS this?' sputters the pagan neighbour. And the answer is, the Christian faith is so utterly different than how every other religion works that it doesn't really deserve to be called a 'religion"

Dick Lucas quoted in 'The Gospel in Life' 

As providence would have it, I read later in the day '5 Reasons I reject the Doctrine of Transubstantiation' the contents of which fed into my already churning mind.

Our walk through Galatians continues on Sunday and please do feel free to join us and bring friends. We endeavour to not be too religious so come and see how we're doing.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The best book on parenting ever written

I have been working on a rather tricky passage in Galatians 4 (one of the most difficult in the NT apparently according to Tom Schreiner's commentary) and as part of my prep was listening to this sermon on Romans 7 to yet again try to get my head around the distinction between law and gospel. That's actually not the point of this post which is simply to share a quote that hit me (19 mins 18 sec in) that I have transposed for you if you are a parent:

' .....if you are a parent and you want to know how the gospel should shape the way you raise your kids- seriously buy Elise Fitzpatrick's book 'Give them grace: dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus'- it is mind-blowing, unbelievable and it's the best parenting book that has ever been written...that's no exaggeration, in my humble opinion.'

Feel free to listen to the whole talk on Romans 7-8 or probably better still spend the time reading the book. As ever, feel free to disagree and if you have found your 'best parenting book' already then do share it.

Persevering in prayer

'I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers'
Ephesians 1: 16

I have been reading 'Prayer ' by Keller and there is a section on Ephesians 1 that I have been mulling at the same time as coming across 'Prayermate'.  Tonight on 'The Prayer Course', in rather timely fashion, we are looking at the subject of 'Persevering in prayer'.

Here is a primer on how to set up Prayermate and do feel free to include me on one of your lists!





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For the pod: Louie Giglio @ Worship Central

Our worship team went to listen to Louie Giglio speaking at the Worship Central Conference and returned preaching his sermon to us. When a message gets 'preached forwards' I often think it's worth sitting up for. I included the 'what to do if you think you've got a bad conversion story' in my last sermon.

Praying and other things

I enjoyed this post about Prayer Mate as I am always trying to be more intentional about how I pray for others.

An BBC post entitled 'What the Bible says about women'

The latest C of E attendance figures by Diocese.

I have always tried to cultivate being a lifelong learner .

I am grateful to Darryl Dash for linking to this post and have been pondering how I am doing on the four things.

We enjoyed watching 'Argo.'

Tim Keller has some new preaching lectures and a book on preaching called 'How to preach' is coming out in 2015.

These five things are worth including when preparing a talk for youth.

I've been reading Mike Breen's 'Covenant and Kingdom' in preparation for a sermon on Galatians 4.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The unimaginable things

'Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change-the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. 

We must learn to pray. We have to.'

Tim Keller in 'Prayer: experiencing awe and intimacy with God', p.18. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

For the pod: Why we all need the gospel

This sermon by Francis Chan is one I return to periodically to shake myself from spiritual slumber. A challenging, awakening and vital word to the lukewarm.