Monday, 29 March 2010

John Piper's 8 month break

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

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


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Benny Hinn's wife files for divorce

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

“He that hath slight thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God.”

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!