Showing posts from August, 2016

Reading Challenge Book Reviews Part 2

I'm using Goodreads to do something of a reading challenge this year (I want to try and read 50 books in a year but it's not looking likely). So for the second time I'm posting some mini-reviews of what I've been reading. This time we have a Daniel theme. See if there's something for you.

1. Seeing Things God's Way by Bryson Smith
This is an excellent little study book for individuals or groups on the book of Daniel.

Each study is entitled with one word, e.g. Courage, Humility and Hope. That word is the focus of that study, which is in turn the focus of the section of Daniel. The intention is that these are relatively simple studies and, given the the complexity of some of Daniel, this is admirably achieved. The study is always rooted in the text, is usually helpful in the linking the text to life through Jesus.

There are helpful notes for leaders (and readers) at the back, which give a little more background and detail and there is a helpful summary of the compli…

Destroying God’s Temple

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV)

The Church of England is often described in positive terms as a “broad church,” meaning that people with different views can find a home within the same denomination. In some ways this is true. The Church of England has not formally pronounced on every doctrinal issue and required its members to subscribe to its view. However, the church does have a confession of faith in the Thirty Nine Articles, which you’ve been hearing about if you’ve been in our morning services. These articles are affirmed by the clergy and referred to in canon law as the basis of our belief under Scripture.  We may be a broad church, but only within these parameters.

This sort of breadth is a good thing. Too often Christians have divided from each…

Article VI: The Holy Scriptures

Article VI basically addresses what you take as your authority.  In other words, what reveals God to you. What do you listen to, to know what God says?

1. Take the Bible as Your Authority

The article is fairly clear that Holy Scripture – or the Bible – is our authority.

HOLY Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

This is the language of 2 Timothy.  So in 2 Timothy 3:15 the Scriptures – actually here Paul is referring particularly to the OT, but by extension this refers to all the Bible – the Scriptures have the knowledge, the information, to make us wise for salvation.  And then in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul makes clear that Scripture is sufficient for the Christian life.  Scripture contains everything we need to know to become a Christian and everything need to know to …

A Beginner's Guide to Church Revitalization: What Makes a Church Need Revitalizing (Part III)

Having considered problems with doctrine and holiness that can lead to a church needing to be revitalized, I want to move on to mission and evangelism. In short, the church that has given up on making disciples (Matt. 28:19) has essentially given up on it's reason to exist.

Mission and Evangelism
Now I'm aware of that there's a big discussion around the mission of the church, the missio Dei and so forth these days. So I might as well nail my colours to the mast and say that it seems to me Jesus gives a mission to disciples to be disciple-makers in Matthew 28 and that this is to be enacted as his disciples are his witnesses to the world (Acts 1:8). This is what you see happening in Acts and being worked out in the letters. That this can be nuanced in all kinds of ways is certainly true, but if we lose our commitment to seeking to persuade people of the truth of the message of Jesus Christ and then teaching them to live that out, then we have truly lost the plot as a church.

Letting Jesus Down

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32 NIV)

The US presidential candidate Donald Trump has recently been in the news talking about his faith. As part of that, he revealed that he doesn't really ask for forgiveness. Now I don't know much about Donald Trump, but I do know we all need forgiveness. You don't have to be a Christian for long before you realise that you regularly let your Lord and Saviour down.

Perhaps Donald Trump's attitude is a little similar to that of the apostle Simon Peter. When Jesus tells Simon Peter that he has prayed for him, because Satan is going to attack and cause him to let Jesus down, Simon Peter is bullish. He says:

"Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." (Luke 22:33 NIV)

We've all been there. We're confident in ourselves and confident that w…

Salvation to the Ends of the Earth

My apologies. I've got a little behind on the blog recently, so I'll be doing some catching up! Here's something I wrote for the church magazine.

[The Lord] says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6 NIV)

As Christians, we have the most incredible and the most important news to share with the whole world. In Isaiah the Lord describes this news as salvation and it is not just for Jews, but for non-Jews (Gentiles) all over the earth.

In the NT we find that it is Jesus who fulfils this as “the source of our eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), for he is the one who died for our sins to save us from guilt, death and judgement. Paul takes up the verse from Isaiah to show how Jesus commanded him to take this message of salvation all over the world.

Then Paul and Barnabas ans…