Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Scriptural" Call to Worship for Harvest

As I’m not wildly impressed by the tiny Scriptures snippets suggested in Common Worship Times and Seasons for Harvest, here are some words adapted from the Good News Bible version of Psalm 104 which I thought I might use as a call to worship in our all age Harvest Family Service tomorrow:

Praise the LORD, my soul.

O LORD, my God, how great you are!
you are clothed with majesty and glory….

Vv 13-15:
From the sky you send rain on the hills,
and the earth is filled with your blessings.
You make grass grow for the cattle
and plants for man to use,
so that he can grow his crops
and produce wine to make him happy,
olive-oil to make him cheerful,
and bread to give him strength.

LORD, you have made so many things!
How wisely you made them all!
The earth is filled with your creatures.

All of them depend on you
to give them food when they need it.
You give it to them and they eat it;
you provide food, and they are satisfied.

May the glory of the LORD last for ever!
May the LORD be happy with what he has made!

I will sing to the LORD all my life;
As long as I live I will sing praises to my God.
May he be pleased with my song,
For my gladness comes from him.

Praise the LORD, my soul!
Praise the LORD!

I’m sure the whole of Psalm 104 would feel too lengthy but I think I’d like a bit more than just a single sentence. Is my attempt still a bit long?

What do you think about editing and adapting Scripture for use in worship? I’m very unhappy if it’s done for a lectionary or reading but is it okay if its for a particular purpose in a service, such as praise, thanksgiving or confession? Is some Scripture better than none (provided you don’t make a rule of excluding particular doctrines)?

I have basically edited the Psalm to keep it happy and kinda harvest thanksgivingy and relatively child friendly and understandable. I’ve wimped out from including verses like “may sinners be destroyed from the earth; may the wicked be no more” (v35) and haven’t troubled people with the “hyrax” (v18), but I would certainly be happy to pray v35 in other circumstances and I’ve noting against conies / rock badgers.

I was tempted to change the Psalm to make it more corporate too (“we”s instead of “I”s and so on)?

Perhaps there is a more appropriate passage in Scripture to use that I wouldn’t feel the need to muck about with? I’m keen for our services to begin with a call to worship from the Word of God.

What do you think? Is it okay to mess with Scripture like this? Would a hymn or poem not taken Scripture be better than a “bowdlerized” version? I would probably introduce it as “some words from Psalm 104”.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The most famous verse in the Bible

Here's the text of my handout for a sermon on John 3:16. The "D"s are stolen from 4 advent sermons by John Piper (1994). My sermon can be heard on our church website.

(1) Everyone’s DANGER:

Perishing without Christ

V18 – condemned

V36 – under the wrath of God

No automatic Christians – a real danger

(2) God’s DESIGN:

So loving the world that he gives His only begotten Son

God loves the whole world

God loves the wicked world

Giving: incarnation & crucifixion – 1 John 4:9-10

(3) Our DUTY:

Believing in Jesus

Believing certain objective truths

Personal trust and dependence – vv14-15 (cf. Num 21:4-9)

For whoever – 3:36

An ongoing duty

(4) Believers’ DESTINY:

To have eternal life

quantity & quality

10:10 – full life

17:3 – eternal life = knowing God

There was some discussion about whether or not John 3:16 is really the most famous verse in the Bible. Someone suggested "The Lord Is My Shepherd...". I reckon the Lord's Prayer may actually be better known.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Satisfactory means unsatisfactory

OFSTED has been complaining about maths teaching. According to the BBC News website:

The effectiveness of work in maths was judged to be outstanding in 11%, good in 44% and satisfactory in 40% - by an inspectorate which regards "satisfactory" as not being good enough.

Satisfactory obviously means unsatisfactory.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jesus Saved The World

John 3:17 tells us that God’s intention in sending Jesus was to save the world through Him.

Surely God’s intention was fulfilled. Jesus successfully completed his mission: what he was sent to do, he did. God saved the world through Jesus.

Clearly this does not mean that all individuals without exception are saved. Those who do not believe in the Son will perish (v16). God’s wrath remains on them (v36).

We could say that all manner of people are saved. A great number from every nation will saved. This is undoubtedly true.

Yet the verse seems to make more sense if the vast majority of humankind are eventually saved (as the gospel progresses and more and more people put their trust in Jesus).

And it seems appropriate to this verse that this world should be saved. Jesus’ death is not just about rescuing individuals but about restoring the whole cosmos. The created order will be redeemed. The curse has been drawn. God's plans for the world he made will be fulfilled.

On the great final day we will be able to say that the world has indeed been saved though Jesus.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reading on Things Charismatic

Someone asked me what he might read on questions charismatic. I’ve not read all of these but perhaps:

Don Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 (Fleming H. Revell / Paternoster, 1987)

Edmund P. Clowney, The Church Contours of Christian Theology Series (Leicester, IVP, 1996) – esp. chapters on the gifts of the Spirit in the church and the gift of prophecy in the church

Sinclair Fergson, The Holy Spirit Contours of Christian Theology Series (Leicester, IVP, 1996) – felt stodgey in places

Richard Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (P & R, 1979)

Keneth L. Gentry, The Charismatic Gift of Prophecy: A Reformed Response to Wayne Grudem (Wimpf & Stock, 1999)

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (IVP) – consult the relevant sections for a sane Reformed Charismatic perspective

Jensen and Payne, Guidance and the Voice of God (St Matthias Press) – at least a useful corrective

John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos (Zondervan, new edition 1993) – hardline, American (context possibly more extreme than the UK?)

Peter Masters – The Charismatic Phenomenon, (The Wakeman Trust, 1988) hardline

James Packer, Keep In Step With The Spirit (IVP)

James Packer, Quest For Godliness / Among God’s Giants – about the Puritans, some relevant stuff, historical approach

R. L. Saucy, C. Samuel Storms, Douglas A. Oss, and Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?: Four Views Counterpoints: Exploring Theology Series (Zondervan, 1996)

John Stott, Baptism and Fullness (IVP)

B. B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles

Any other suggestions welcome. What is the one best book from a conservative perspective?


Faith surely involves the due use of God given and appointed means.

You probably know the old gag:

A man is trapped on his roof in a flood with the waters rising around him. Men in boats and then men in helicoptors attempt to rescue him but he sends them away saying, "No, I have faith: I'm trusting in the LORD to rescue me." He dies in the flood and meets his maker and angrily asks God why He didn't save him. "I sent you boats and helicoptors", God replies, "but you wouldn't get it".

I used to think this joke attacked something of a straw man, but now I'm not so sure.

God's Words on God's Words

For anyone who might be interested (!) he's the first chapter (to be written) of the PhD I'm working on (which is intended to form chapter 2 of the final thesis). Entitled 'God's Words on God's Words: An outline and sketch of a standard Reformed Evangelical doctrine of scripture with developments from the philosophy of language and literary theory' (21 500 words). It summarises B. B. Warfield's doctrine of Scripture then summarises and evaluates the contribution that semiotics and speech act theory might make to a Reformed Evangelical doctrine of Scripture.

Christendom 2.0

What exactly are criticisms of Christendom 1 that must be avoided in Christendom 2.0?

(1) It was sometimes repressive / opressive / co-ercive. Christendom 2.0 must be voluntary through the spread of the gospel by the power of the Spirit as rulers and people become attentive to the Word of God, join the church and ask for help to be obedient to God as public as well as private persons, citizens and governors.

(2) It sometimes forgot Christ for the sake of the -dom. Christendom 2.0 must remain distinctively Christians and never compromise or sell out to the world. It must remember the antithesis, the lack of neutrality, the absolute crown rights of King Jesus to be Lord of All if he is to be Lord at all and the sufficiency of God's inerrant Word for all areas of public and private life.

Anything else or are we all signed up for this project (a.k.a. gospel work, doing ministry, discipling the nations) already?

fess up

I learnt from Mark Mason of Chichester University at Initial Ministerial Education on Saturday the expression “fess up”. I tried it out on Mrs Lloyd and a couple of people at church and it was old hat to them, but to me it was a revelation.

The phrase, which I believe is common among the young people, is not a Turkish greeting and does not involve raising one’s head gear but means to confess or admit. For example, “I must fess up at the beginning of this lecture that I am a Christian and therefore I don’t buy into all this postmodern mumbo-jumbo I am going to seek to explain to you.”

Mr Mason belongs to an emerging church and I have no idea whether they also use the expression in a liturgical context, fessing up their sins in the fess before they abs them off, perhaps? This could be a Fresh Expression indeed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

doing ministry

On page 14 of the UK edition of The Briefing (Sept 08, Issue 360) we learn that "in our last issue, we looked at the difference between stratergy and tactics. In this article, David Shead tells the story of how he was forced to change tactics while doing ministry in Slovenia."

I think it would be strategic, as I may have mentioned before (!), if Mr Shead were forced to say that he "ministered" in Slovenia. We serve people and the Lord Jesus. We do not do ministry. I hope it is a grammatical (as well as potentially a theological) crime to say that one "does ministry"?

Thanks for putting up with my rant. I feel much better now.