Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Courage for your ‘new scene of action’ (2011)


Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Deut 31:7-8


"Moses encourages Joshua. Observe: 

1. Though Joshua was an experienced general, and a man of approved gallantry and resolution, who had already signalized himself in many brave actions, yet Moses saw cause to bid him be of good courage, now that he was entering upon a new scene of action; and Joshua was far from taking it as an affront, or as a tacit questioning of his courage, to be thus charged, as sometimes we find proud and peevish spirits invidiously taking exhortations and admonitions for reproaches and reflections. Joshua himself is very well pleased to be admonished by Moses to be strong and of good courage.

2. He gives him this charge in the sight of all Israel, that they might be the more observant of him whom they saw thus solemnly inaugurated, and that he might set himself the more to be an example of courage to the people who were witnesses to this charge here given to him as well as to themselves.

3. He gives him the same assurances of the divine presence, and consequently of a glorious success, that he had given the people. God would be with him, would not forsake him, and therefore he should certainly accomplish the glorious enterprise to which he was called and commissioned: Thou shalt cause them to inherit the land of promise. Note, Those shall speed well that have God with them; and therefore they ought to be of good courage. Through God let us do valiantly, for through him we shall do victoriously; if we resist the devil, he shall flee, and God shall shortly tread him under our feet."

(Matthew Henry- Complete Commentary on the Bible)
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Friday, 17 December 2010

The Glorious paradoxes of the Incarnation

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Justin Taylor quotes Spurgeon and Storms on the Glorious Paradoxes of God Incarnate:


Charles Spurgeon preached in 1858 on the wonderful paradoxes of the incarnation:
Infinite, and an infant—
eternal, and yet born of a woman—
Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast—
supporting the universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms—
king of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph—
heir of all things and yet the carpenter’s despised son.
Sam Storms also reflects on the paradoxes:
The Word became flesh!
God became human!
the invisible became visible!
the untouchable became touchable!
eternal life experienced temporal death!
the transcendent one descended and drew near!
the unlimited became limited!
the infinite became finite!
the immutable became mutable!
the unbreakable became fragile!
spirit became matter!
eternity entered time!
the independent became dependent!
the almighty became weak!
the loved became the hated!
the exalted was humbled!
glory was subjected to shame!
fame turned into obscurity!
from inexpressible joy to tears of unimaginable grief!
from a throne to a cross!
from ruler to being ruled!
from power to weakness!


Liam Garvie quotes Jonathan Edwards on the Glories of the Incarnation:

“How astonishing is it that a person:

  • who is blessed forever and is infinitely and essentially happy should endure the greatest sufferings that ever were endured on earth!
  • who is the supreme Lord and Judge of the world should be arraigned and should stand at the judgment seat of mortal worms and then be condemned.
  • who is the living God and the fountain of life should be put to death.
  • who created the world and gives life to all his creatures should be put to death by his own creatures.
  • of infinite majesty and glory, and so the object of the love, praises and adoration of angels, should be mocked and spit upon by the vilest of men.
  • infinitely good and who is love itself should suffer the greatest cruelty.
  • who is infinitely beloved of the Father should be put to inexpressible anguish under his own Father’s wrath.
  • who is the King of heaven, who has heaven for his throne and earth for his footstool, should be buried in the prison of the grave.
How wonderful is this! And yet this is the way that God’s wisdom has fixed upon as the way of sinners’ salvation, as neither unsuitable nor dishonourable to Christ.”

Jonathan Edwards, “The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Way of Salvation,” in Works (Edinburgh, 1979), II:144


Monday, 13 December 2010

Scripture and the Sermon

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 A preacher can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice, at 11.30 on a Sunday morning, following the singing of hymns. Yet when a preacher fails to preach the Scriptures, he abandons his authority. He confronts his hearers no longer with a word from God but only with another word from men. Therefore most modern preaching evokes nothing more than a wide yawn. God is not in it.


Haddon Robinson (Expository Preaching)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Hitting the road



Well we're hitting the road this evening for our Christianity Explored weekend away.

Please pray for us, particularly that the participants would find these few days really significant in their own journeys.

Pray also for those not able to come with us, that they wouldn't lose any of the momentum and would hit the ground running when our group meets again on Thursday.

We've been very much reminded recently of the reality of spiritual warfare, and our utter dependence on the Holy Spirit to convict, convince and convert- so we'd really value your prayers.

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Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

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"This ancient document is the most excellent epitome of the things most surely believed among us. It is not issued as an authoritative rule or code of faith, whereby you may be fettered, but as a means of edification in righteousness. It is an excellent, though not inspired, expression of the teaching of those Holy Scriptures by which all confessions are to be measured. We hold to the humbling truths of God's sovereign grace in the salvation of lost sinners. Salvation is through Christ alone and by faith alone."


C. H. Spurgeon
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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Paul Mallard @ Airdrie Baptist

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Looking forward to this. you can hear some of Paul Mallard's sermons on the Gospel Coalition site here.
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Update: Theme title for the weekend: "The Greatness of God and the power of His Word"

Monday, 18 October 2010

Disagreeing in love

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Multiple Sites: Yea or Nay? Dever, Driscoll, and MacDonald Vote from Ben Peays on Vimeo.

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Well today I’m posting a video which at first glance has no real relevance to my own context. I don’t know of any multi-campus churches in the UK, certainly not in Scotland. It’s never been a topic for discussion or debate in my own circles.  

What this video, and some of the other recent Gospel Coalition videos do offer though, is a real, robust, discussion. A willingness to land a few punches, and take a few, that we might see who’s position can take the strain and stay standing. Another good example of this is Driscoll, Harris and Francis Chan discussing Chan’s decision to leave Cornerstone, which relates to my blog post here.

I’ve found this willingness to disagree and debate, in the context of Christian love and genuine mutual respect very refreshing. Modelling this kind of robust yet gracious discussion could prove to be a real blessing to the church. I’m not convinced that ministers are well enough equipped to deal with such discussions with their own deacons\elders. We may not end holding hands and singing Kumbaya but our relationships can be strengthened by such dialogues, if they are handled well.

For what its worth on the issue of multi-campus, I’m leaning towards Dever. I thought some of Driscoll’s points were pretty weak. I’m an introvert too, and without doubt far less able to process numerous thoughts at the same time than he is. Nevertheless even with me there is a dynamic at work between the congregation and myself as I preach. I can sense when I’m losing them, even if I often lack the capacity to get them back! More importantly when I’m preaching to them, I’m praying for them. I’m looking them in the eye, praying for them, and pleading with them as I preach to them.

I also worry that multi-campus may serve to lead people into thinking that real fellowship with real people isn’t essential. If a video-linked (big-name) preacher is just as good or better than an ordinary preacher, preaching within a fellowship he knows and loves and lives with, then why not just go the whole way- stay home and stream a great service to the comfort of my bedroom? 

Wouldn't that be a whole lot easier?
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Friday, 8 October 2010

Spurgeon on grace and faith

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"By grace are ye saved, through faith" 
                                 (Ephesians 2:8 )

THINK IT WELL to turn a little to one side that I may ask my reader to observe adoringly the fountain-head of our salvation, which is the grace of God. "By grace are ye saved." Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God. Tarry a moment, then, at the well-head. Behold the pure river of water of life, as it proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb!

What an abyss is the grace of God! Who can measure its breadth? Who can fathom its depth? Like all the rest of the divine attributes, it is infinite. God is full of love, for "God is love." God is full of goodness; the very name "God" is short for "good." Unbounded goodness and love enter into the very essence of the Godhead. It is because "his mercy endureth for ever" that men are not destroyed; because "his compassions fail not" that sinners are brought to Him and forgiven.

Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God's grace in us. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. "No man cometh unto me," saith Jesus, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him." So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved "through faith," but salvation is "by grace." Sound forth those words as with the archangel's trumpet: "By grace are ye saved." What glad tidings for the undeserving!

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Thursday, 30 September 2010

Exclusivity: How can there be just one true religion?

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'How can you possibly claim that your religion is the only true religion?'


How would you tackle that question from the pulpit, or in the staff-room at work?
Here's Tim Keller's typically thoughtful response:


Exclusivity: How can there be just one true religion?



Wednesday, 29 September 2010

His steadfast love endures forever

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Psalm 100. Print it, read it, love it, live it.


A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Free Online New Testament Greek Course

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My intention upon entering pastoral ministry was to study the Greek of any New Testament passage I prepared to preach on. Well, I've failed. Miserably. But this free online animated course, put together by Dr Ted Hildebrand, has really helped revive my efforts.

Enjoy!
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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Classic sermons and articles

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Important sermons and articles that are worth reading as recommended by the likes of Kevin DeYoung, Mark Dever, John Piper and Bruce Ware.

(HT Justin Taylor)
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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Preaching from the Parables with Peter Grainger

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.Here's a date to mark in your diary if you live within travelling distance of Edinburgh. Peter Grainger is leading a seminar on 'Preaching from the Parables' on Saturday 6 November at Charlotte Chapel.

Peter recently spoke to our church leaders about preaching from 2 Timothy 4, and we were greatly encouraged and challenged. I'm sure this will be a wonderful day for novice and experienced preachers alike.



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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Constrained by love

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Currently reading, and loving, this biography of Robert Murray McCheyne.


Here's the story behind the cover:

'The rusty key symbolises some aspects of the security found in Christ's love. The key was allowed to rust because, once it was used to lock securely, it was never required again. 

In the same way the believer is secure in Christ's love, Christ does not let the beloved slip from His grasp, but holds them firmly throughout eternity.'




Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The few things that truly matter

From Airdrie Baptist Newsletter 22 Apr 10

I read recently of a Christian man nearing the end of his life with terminal cancer. He was asked about his faith and said as time went on he believed ‘more and more about less and less.’ This man clearly had come to the realisation that only a very few things are of eternal significance. Only a few things really matter. This is true as we face death, but also if we want to know fullness of life. John Piper says:

“You don't have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things.”

What are these few things that really matter? Paul says:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.”
(1 Cor 15:3-5)

We need to know that Jesus died for our sins; not for his own (he was sinless), not because of a random serious of events or just as a victim of people’s corruption. Jesus death had a purpose- to atone for the sins of all believers. Secondly he was raised. Death couldn’t hold him, he conquered the grave. Thirdly all of this happened ‘according to the Scriptures,’ God is proved faithful, faithful to his people and faithful to his promises.

Do you know these few truths? Are you mastered by them? Do they thrill you? Do they cause you to leave your old sinful life behind and daily make him your Lord and King?

If so, Jesus victory over sin and death is your victory too.  If so, you will know him forever. What you really need to know, in life and in death, is Jesus.

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:8)

Grace and peace,

Ross

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Husband- how do you rate as a lover?

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I had the privilege of conducting a wedding ceremony a couple of weeks ago, and am preparing for another in the near future. The more I see suffering and sickness and sadness in pastoral ministry, the deeper my appreciation of the profundity of the marriage vows.

"For better, for worse,
for richer for poorer
in sickness and in health"

The weightiness of these words perhaps doesn't fully strike the excited young couple on the mountain-top experience that is their wedding day, but it is a staggering commitment to make before God and man.

There's no doubt our world acknowledges the importance of love, a listen to the charts or a walk through a bookstore will leave us in no doubt about that. But the problem is that the world is utterly confused as to the nature of love- what love is. It's not a fluffy feeling which is here today and gone tomorrow, nor is it lust. Love is a choice, a decision. We must decide daily to love our spouse for better for worse, for richer for poorer in sickness and in health.

One resource I've found recently which is a great help in walking through the implications of this, is Wayne Mack's 'A Homework Manual for Biblical Living (vol 2 family and marital problems).'

I've scanned a page which highlights the importance of deciding to love- when it's easy and when it's costly. It also helps us husbands to examine ourselves honestly. How are you doing?


(Click on the picture to enlarge)
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Monday, 26 July 2010

New John Piper sermons

After 3 weeks off on holiday, I’m back today. I found these new sermons by Piper a really energising and enthusing launchpad into my own study and prep. They were preached at the EMA last month, you can download other talks from the conference here.











Whilst Piper was in the UK he also preached a message on ‘The Gospel and Racial Harmony’ at Jubilee Church in London. You can find that message on Adrian Warnock’s blog here.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

South African sermon - PJ Smyth

 The eyes of the world will turn to South Africa today as Holland and Spain battle to be crowned world champions. It's been interesting to see so much of the television coverage devoted to the politics and history of South Africa, and so I was fascinated to listen to this sermon from PJ Smyth. It's entitled 'What would God say to president Zuma', apparently with Zuma in attendance.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Pastor - die with your boots on


You're either going to go out like Judas or Jesus—that's how your life is going to end. You're going to go out like Jesus, faithful to the end, whatever the cost, or you're going to go out like Judas, prematurely, tragically, rebelliously, shamefully. I want you to keep your boots on, finish strong, run your race, see it through to the end, be a completer, a finisher, a closer of the things God has given you to do.




'Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord."'

Colossians 4:17


'For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.'

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Pastor - give thanks for the gift of your gospel ministry


Only when we ask why Christ has appointed a Gospel ministry can we begin to appreciate what the call to the ministry is. Then, having been called to the greatest office in the world, how can a man stoop to become a king?

Paul O’Driscoll (borrowing a bit of Spurgeon!)


'I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.'

Ephesians 3:7

Friday, 2 July 2010

Pastor - suffer well


None of us takes to the cross naturally. Sacrifice hurts, and the hurt is real. But there is a deeper desire in us than that of simply avoiding pain. We want to do the will of God…
 
… Many people do not think about suffering when they think of Christian service. This is a big mistake. All through the New Testament we are told that if we are faithful to God, we will suffer. When we do Christian ministry, we take on the mantle of Jesus, the suffering servant. The long list of of his sufferings for Christ that Paul gives in his epistles are very vivid. In fact, he describes his personal sufferings as Christ’s own sufferings (Phil 3:10, Col 1:24-25) indicating that suffering was an aspect of his union with Christ. IF we do not anticipate suffering, we could be disillusioned when it comes or try to avoid it through disobedience.
 
But suffering is not easy. Those who make love their goal in life are going to hurt deeply when they are rejected, unappreciated, exploited, or opposed by the very people they seek to love. But that is the lot of God’s servants.
 
However as we face the prospect of suffering, God will remind us that, just as Christ’s sufferings produced great glory, our sufferings will also bring great glory to God.

Ajith Fernando in Jesus Driven Ministry (p52-53)



'Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.'

2 Timothy 2:3

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Pastor – value rest, and recreation


Preachers, by Lack of Exercise and Recreation, Tend to Melancholy

There can be little doubt that sedentary habits have a tendency to create despondency in some constitutions…

…To sit long in one posture, poring over a book or driving a pen, is in itself a taxing of nature. But add to this a badly ventilated chamber, a body which has long been without muscular exercise, and a heart burdened with many cares, and we have all the elements for preparing a seething caldron of despair…

…Let a man be naturally as blithe as a bird, he will hardly be able to bear up year after year against such a suicidal process. He will make his study a prison and his books the warders of a goal, while Nature lies outside his window calling him to health and beckoning him to joy. He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy.
A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills or a few hours’ ramble in the beech woods’ umbrageous calm, would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.

Charles Spurgeon from When a Preacher is Downcast



Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Monday, 21 June 2010

Pastor – pray!

  
Prayer is the splicing of our limp wire to the lightening bolt of heaven. How astonishing it is that God wills to do His work through people. It is doubly astonishing that He ordains to fulfil His plans by being asked to do so by us. God loves to bless His people. But even more He loves to do it in answer to prayer.

For example, God knew that His purpose was to increase the men of Israel. But He said, “this also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do it for them: to increase their people like a flock.” (Ezekiel 36:37)….

…A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit –which is the only kind that matters- knows neither God nor himself. A pastor who does not know the rhythm of desperation and deliverance must have his sights only on what man can achieve.

John Piper as quoted in brothers we are not professionals


The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16b

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Pastor – live what you preach


It is absolutely unethical when one is so busy communicating that he forgets to be what he teaches…

Nothing is more dangerous than to have a bunch of high-flying feelings and exalted resolutions go off in the direction of merely eloquent speaking. The whole thing then becomes an intoxication, and the deception is that it becomes a glowing mood and that they say, “he is so sincere!"

Soren Kierkergaard as quoted in Calling and Character


You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-- you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Romans 2:1-4, 19-24

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Pastor – preach the word


[Superficial preaching] breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is. ‘Seeker-sensitive’ preaching fosters people who are consumed with their own well-being. When you tell people that the church’s primary ministry is to fix for them whatever is wrong in this life- to meet their needs, to help them cope with their worldly disappointments, and so on- the message you are sending is that their mundane problems are more important than the glory of God and the majesty of Christ… that sabotages true worship.


In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Pastor - love your family

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There are times when it seems like you have to choose whether to be a good dad and husband or a good pastor. Good pastors choose to be good dads and husbands.

Taken from 9 Marks 'What are some practical ways for a pastor to love his family?'

An overseer... must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)
1 Timothy 3:4-5
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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Does membership matter?

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From Airdrie Baptist Church Newsletter Sun 16th May 2010

Today we will be welcoming Jo and Elizabeth into membership of the church. God-willing we will welcome a number of other new members in the coming weeks.

This should cause us to think about the significance of church membership; does membership matter?

We can certainly say that the church matters. The church is called ‘the Bride of Christ’ and the ‘Body of Christ.’ We cannot claim to love Christ if we do not love his Bride, his Body. To love and serve Christ we must love and serve the Church. Real relationship with Christ demands real relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But does membership matter? Can’t we be committed without formally recognizing it, much like you can commit to your partner without making them your spouse? “We don’t need a bit of paper for our relationship to work” is a common mantra today’s society. Much as I believe marriage matters, I believe membership matters. Here are 5 reasons why:


1. We get to publically ask for God’s Help in being faithful to our church family

Loving, forgiving, serving. Being a church member is about more than singing the songs and enduring the sermons! It’s hard, and we need God’s help. As we welcome people into membership we acknowledge that.

2. We get to declare publically that we’re not ashamed of our church family

If someone is committed to me- I want them to feel comfortable stating that in a crowd.

3. It avails us of the benefits (yes benefits!) of church discipline

Discipline may not seem desirable, but imagine where you would be (who you would be) without it. We need discipline. If you are not in membership then technically you are not under the authority of the leadership of the church. (Read 1 Cor 5 or Matthew 18 for more)

4. It means we can have a say in the direction and decisions the church takes

Imagine the church were considering appointing a minister who believed something utterly abhorrent to the Lord. You should have a say in that. Baptists are big on the ‘priesthood of all believers’ therefore Baptists are big on church membership.

5. It acts as a witness to non-Christians

In an age of what Mark Dever calls ‘Commitment-phobia’ to commit to something (especially something unfashionable) is a real witness. To see people who have nothing in common with one another but their love for Jesus, committing to one another, is a great testimony to the power of Jesus in their lives.

Next Week- Is membership meaningful?

Grace and peace,

Ross
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Monday, 10 May 2010

Post Election Blues

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Well I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that the election proved to be a bit of an anti-climax! Here are some reasons to be thankful for the Lord Jesus in the aftermath of the election.

1. He Wins!

No need for wheeling and dealing, no bargaining or bartering. Jesus is victorious. No discussions, no deliberations, no concessions, no compromises. He wins. His victory is decisive, complete and eternal.

Death has been defeated, every knee will bow and tongue confess that he is Lord.

‘He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.’ (Colossians 2:13-15)

2. He understands

One common complaint (rightly or wrongly) is that politicians don’t really understand what it’s like to be an ‘ordinary’ person. The public perception is that they have never had to struggle to pay the bills, to face redundancy or live in a community with serious social problems.

How good to know that Jesus understands. He took on flesh. He was born into poverty in an occupied land. He faced injustice, and temptation. He suffered; he was misunderstood, mocked, and murdered.

Not only does he understand, but he sees all that we face, and he hears our cries for help when we call on his Name.

‘…we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:15)

3. He knows the way ahead

Not much was clear in the election, but what was obvious, was that the British public are not completely convinced by any of the politicians or parties wanting to lead our land. Who knows how best to proceed, what decisions will lead to a future of peace and prosperity in a confusing and confused world?

The Good Shepherd knows the way ahead, and continues to lead his flock to green and pleasant places. He is never surprised or worn-out by the journey. He is always in control, always leading and guiding.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

(Psalm 23:1-3)



4. His Kingdom is Coming

As Christians, we are not just citizens of the United Kingdom. We are, in Christ, citizens of heaven. And what a future we have. Though we are grieved by the problems of our own nation and world, we await a day where we will live in the fullness of that other Kingdom. There will be no more sin or sickness, poverty, injustice, disaster or death.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Phil 3:20)

What cause we have to be a thankful people!

Grace and peace,

Ross

Friday, 7 May 2010

John Piper leave - prayer points



Watch this and learn how to pray for Piper (and other pastors!)

1 Thes 5:25!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Matt Redman on romance in worship

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Continuing on from thoughts on the overly-feminised church, Matt Redman discusses romanticism in modern worship songs. I was very impressed by his candour and humility in this interview. See what you make of it…


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

(Just) a few good men...

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Our youth Fellowship Group are looking at Complementarianism verses Egalitarianism (great summary paper here) a week today, prompting a bit of online study on my part. My Googling caused me to stumble across this website bemoaning the lack of men in today’s church and positing some solutions to the problem.

I certainly agree with the problem, there are too few men in today’s Church. There are too few men reaching non-Christian men with the gospel, too few men leading well in the home and in the church, too few –Christian- men marrying Christian women.

We should of course be profoundly thankful for godly and gifted women, but a lack of masculinity in the church is nonetheless a serious concern. And more feminized the church becomes, the more self-perpetuating the problem.

I agree with the sickness, but not the remedy:


In my Go for the Guys Sunday Action Plan, I advocate a one-point sermon, ten minutes in length, built around an object lesson.

Surely churches need more time in the Bible, not less?! Surely Scripture offers a corrective to any imbalanced church, including the overly feminized church? Here we find a Sovereign, almighty, fearsome God; calling people to repentance and faith in Christ, and summoning them to fight the good fight like good soldiers of Christ Jesus. Here we find a summons from the Lord to go into the world in his Name on a mission to see souls saved and God’s Kingdom come.

If we don’t know and love our Bibles, we won’t know and love our God- that is not the answer to any of our problems.

Speaking to men like they are women is a problem.

Speaking to men like they are children is not the solution.

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Francis Chan moves on - raising some fascinating questions

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Francis Chan is stepping out in faith... from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Francis Chan has announced his decision to move on from Cornerstone Church, without being entirely sure as to where he's moving on to.

This kick-started a fascinating conversation over at expository thoughts about when (and how) elders are called to leave a church.

Are elders\pastors responsible for double standards here- we would not expect the Lord to speak to a church member about moving to another church simply because things are tough, it's 'time for a change' or they just don’t feel at home- unbiblical we might say. Yet we then move on citing those very reasons.

Maybe a (paid) pastor is different, as there's no space for stepping down for a while? Maybe our first ministry responsibility is to our family, and if they're struggling we can feel free to move on?

So what do you think, should we 'nail our feet to the floor' until we are kicked out, or die, or does the Lord really lead most of us on subjectively after a few years hard-graft?

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Monday, 19 April 2010

t4g conference audio

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Monday is an unusual day for the preacher. Even after a ‘good’ Sunday, the day after the battle is filled with dangers. Achan fell into sin after the fall of Jericho (Joshua 7), Elijah prayed that he might die shortly after the victory at Carmel (1 Kings 18\19) and the tired pastor can just as easily sink into sin or sadness when the spiritual focal-point that is the Sunday passes.

For this reason I always try to make sure I listen to some good preaching to strengthen and stir me spiritually on a Monday morning. This morning I’ll be downloading something from t4g.

Here are some links should you wish to join me:


Mark Dever- The Church is the Gospel Made Visible

RC Sproul- The Defence and Confirmation of the Gospel — What I Have Learned in 50 years

Albert Mohler- How Does it Happen? Trajectories Toward an Adjusted Gospel

Thabiti Anyabwile- ‘Fine-Sounding Arguments’ — How Wrongly ‘Engaging the Culture’ Adjusts the Gospel

John MacArthur- The Theology of Sleep! (Mark 4)

John Piper- Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?


Some written summaries of the messages here and here.


Some personal reflections:

‘We were together for the Gospel” Colin Adams gives his personal highlights

Derek Thomas reflects on t4g here and here, before coming to the conclusion that these are ‘encouraging times.'

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Monday, 12 April 2010

Amazing Grace

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The sinner, apart from grace, is unable to be willing and unwilling to be able.
..W.E. Best

Grace is not a reward for faith; faith is the result of grace.
John Blanchard

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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Sunday

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The New Testament preaches a Christ who was dead and is alive,
not a Christ who was alive and is dead.

(James Denney)

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Good Friday - Great Faithfulness

"All I have needed, thy hand hath provided..."


"All I have needed, thy hand hath provided..."



HT: Craig Dyer

Monday, 29 March 2010

John Piper's 8 month break

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I've just read about John Piper's decision to take an 8 month break from public ministry. I'd recommend you read more at Adrian Warnock's blog. I simply want to quote a little of Piper's own reasoning here:

 I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

I am (again) inspired by Piper's courage and humility. Please take five minutes to pray for Piper, and for all in public ministry who are greatly grieved by their own character failings- remembering that most of us are not in a position to take such a lengthy break to do battle. And finally pray for gracious, loving and forgiving churches.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Palm Sunday Sermons

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If your church is anything like ours, Palm Sunday is a day when the children participate in an 'up-front' way during the service. Little hands wave palm branches with vigour then little lungs sing well rehearsed songs. Sunday school teachers, parents and members alike all smile encouragingly, perhaps even giving a little wave.

We all love it, and so we should- but Palm Sunday is for grown ups too!

Here's some great preaching by Alistair Begg on the Triumphal Entry from Mark 11 (for grown ups.)


Palm Sunday Perspective, Part One, A

Palm Sunday Perspective, Part One, B

Palm Sunday Perspective, Part Two

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Benny Hinn's wife files for divorce

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Read his letter open letter here.

Whilst I'm a million miles from Benny Hinn theologically, I'm desperately sad to read this. It's a personal tragedy for another family and it's also damaging to the cause of Christ, because the reality is that the watching world will simply read of another Christian preacher getting divorced and think- 'whatever they're preaching doesn't really 'work'.'

My other concern is that in our anonymous online era, we will probably now have a wave of reformed cyber-smugness, further reinforcing the grace-less stereotype that we reformed evangelicals struggle to free ourselves of.

Irrespective of what we think about Mr Hinn, let's get praying for Christian marriages.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

How true, how telling

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“He that hath slight thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God.”
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Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Trellis and the Vine

This book dropped through my letterbox this morning:



Rarely have I come across a book which has received such lavish praise from people I greatly respect. Looking forward to reading it..

Oh and if you'd like to read some reviews or order it yourself- you can do so here.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Pleading the Promises in Prayer

I heard recently of a project within the Church of England recently whereby people were invited to text their prayers to the C of E assured that a bishop would pray for each one. (More here.)

I don’t have any strong objection to such a scheme, but it made me wonder how often our prayers are little more that short texts hastily fired heavenward. We’re used now to sending little abridged texts, twittering or facebooking brief status updates.

Real relationships however are only grounded in real communication.

There is certainly a time for short, direct, to-the-point prayers. Jesus often prayed this way. But he also carved out time to spend alone with his Heavenly Father, and we must too. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us of the importance of reading and reflecting on the promises of God, and then wrestling with our Heavenly Father in real, pleading, prayer:

"The Fathers used to use this great term- 'pleading the promises.' You never hear it now. Why? Because people do not really pray any longer, they send little telegrams to God. They think that that is the height of spirituality. They know nothing about 'wrestling' with God and 'pleading the promises'."


Who knows what the Lord might do in our individual lives, and the life of our fellowship, were we to read and to wrestle like that!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Say it like you mean it!

Here's a wee video for those of us who are tired with humility being confused with uncertaninty, and conviction with narrow-mindedness.

I found it both funny and inspiring.


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Preach the Word



This article by Steven Lawson is well worth reading from start to finish, but here's a sample:

A heaven-sent revival will only come when Scripture is enthroned once again in the pulpit. There must be the clarion declaration of the Bible, the kind of preaching that gives a clear explanation of a biblical text with compelling application, exhortation, and appeal.

Every preacher must confine himself to the truths of Scripture. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. The man of God has nothing to say apart from the Bible. He must not parade his personal opinions in the pulpit. Nor may he expound worldly philosophies. The preacher is limited to one task — preach the Word...

...May a new generation of strong men step forward and speak up, and may they do so loud and clear. As the pulpit goes, so goes the church.

Saturday, 20 February 2010







Had the privilege of attending the 9 Marks Conference at Charlotte Chapel last week. Found it challenging, stimulating and encouraging in equal measure. The talks and Q&A sessions are now available for download at Charlotte Chapel's website here. Details below.

• Session 1 - A Theological Vision - Churches that Display God's Glory + Slides + Q&A
• Session 2 - Preaching and Biblical Theology + Q&A
• Session 3 - Gospel, Conversion and Evangelism + Q&A
• Session 4 - Membership, Discipline and Discipleship + Q&A
• Session 5 - Leadership + Q&A
• Session 6 - Covenanting Together + Q&A