Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wise Men

You have until the end of the year, I believe, to listen to Rev'd Dr Steve Jeffrey and 2 other pannelists discussing the Magi on Radio 4's Beyond Belief (using i-player).

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry, Worldly, Physical Christmas To You!

Commenting on the conclusion of Ecclesiastes, Jeffrey Meyers says:

“We need to stop compartmentalizing the world. God’s covenant with us is his covenant in Christ with all creation [Col 1:18-23]. In this biblical context, one shouldn’t even raise an eyebrow that Solomon sings the praises of work, wife, feasting, and drinking wine. If that seems too physical, worldly, or unspiritual, maybe it is time for us to get a grip on what the Bible says is truly spiritual.” (Table in the Mist, p205)

Doug Wilson calls it "appalling" to think that all we want for Christmas is a glass of lukewarm water with Jesus!

Feast to the glory of God, with grateful hearts.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Fabulous Four

"John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Abraham Kuyper, B. B. Warfield, Reformed theology's Fabulous Four"

J. I. Packer, Foreword to John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (p. xxv)

Packer on Frame's Perspectives

Father, Son, Spirit
control, authority, presence
event, word, person
circumstantial, verbal, relational
normative, situational, existential
belief, obedience, participation (p. xxiv)

"The perspectives that perspectivalism highlights are in truth integral to the God-man relationship and should be prized as such." (p. xxv)

From the Foreword to John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God

John Frame's The Doctrine of the Word of God

Prof D. A. Cason says: "The fourth volume in John Frame's Theology of Lordship series, The Doctrine of the Word of God, is the best of them - and that is high praise."

From Rev'd Prof J. I. Packer's Foreword: "The author ventures the opinion, "I think this book is my best work ever," and I agree." (p. xxiii)

Richard L. Pratt Jr says: "In my estimation, there has never been a book that deals with the Word of God so carefully, thoroughly, and practically. You will never forget this book."

The Nation's Favourite Carols

Results of a You Gov poll from a list of 20. HT: Church Mouse

The top 5:

1. Silent Night (20%)
2. Come All Ye Faithful (10%)
3. Away in a Manger (6%)
4. Once in Royal David's City (5%)
5. Little Town of Bethlehem (5%)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

John 3:16 - The Greatest Gift

God willing I'm going to speak on John 3:16 in our all age service on Christmas day. I'm not planning to mention this, but I think its quite good. There seem to be a number of different versions out there in cyberspace:

GOD -- The Greatest Lover
SO LOVED -- The Greatest Degree
THE WORLD -- The Greatest Company
THAT HE GAVE -- The Greatest Act
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON -- The Greatest Gift
THAT WHOSOEVER -- The Greatest Opportunity
BELIEVETH -- The Greatest Simplicity
IN HIM -- The Greatest Attraction
SHOULD NOT PERISH -- The Greatest Promise
BUT -- The Greatest Difference
HAVE -- The Greatest Certainty
EVERLASTING LIFE. -- The Greatest Possesion

Monday, December 20, 2010

Infant Baptism Prep

Some thoughts on the

Baptism of a child of Christian believers

(in the Church of England)

and Christian parenting

A quick summary of the Christian faith / good news of salvation: Two Ways To Live – The choice we all face - http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/

The C of E Common Worship (modern language) order of service – http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/initiation/baptism.html - note especially the declarations and promises that parents and godparents have to make

Some stuff from the C of E website about baptism, FAQs etc. - http://www.cofe.anglican.org/lifeevents/lifeevents/baptismconfirm/baptism1.html#bap

The C of E’s webpage for godparents - http://www.cofe.anglican.org/lifeevents/baptismconfirm/godparents.html

Ideally according to the C of E there would be at least 3 godparents, traditionally 2 of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. The parents may be godparents for their own child providing there is at least one other godparent. Godparents need to have been baptised. The Canon law of the C of E states: “The godparents shall be persons who will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities both by their care for the children committed to their charge and by the example of their own godly living.” (canon B23)

In the baptism service we give thanks to God for our children, pray for them and dedicate them to God. But baptism is much more than a service of thanksgiving and dedication or a naming ceremony – or an excuse for a party! A service of thanksgiving / dedication might be a suitable alternative for those who don’t feel they can makes the declarations / promises / commitments required in a baptism service. On thanksgiving services see: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/initiation/thanksgiftchild.html

The Bible commands Christians to be baptised (Matthew 28:19). Jesus welcomed little children to come to him (Matthew 19:13-15). In the New Testament households were baptised and it seems highly likely that these included the children of believers (Acts 16:15, 31-34). God’s promise is for our children too (Acts 2:38-39).

The child is baptised on the basis of the parent(s)’ profession of faith (1 Corinthians 7:14). We assume that the children of believers have (infant) faith (Psalm 22:9-10; Luke 1:44) and belong to God’s family.

Baptism is a sign / symbol / picture. It is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament sign of circumcision that indicated membership of God’s covenant people (Colossians 2:9-15; see Genesis 17). The church is the new family of God.

Baptism is a picture of a spiritual wash, cleansing from sin, a fresh start, forgiveness (1 Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Corinthians 6:11)

Water is also a sign of life

Baptism is a sign of union with Christ (Galatians 3:27-28) in his death and resurrection, dead to sin (its power and penalty) and a new transformed life in God’s power (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12)

Baptism is not an automatic / magical guarantee of salvation (1 Corinthians 10 especially verses 2 and 5). We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Baptism is God’s sign / seal / stamp / mark on us (like a badge). We are baptised in the Triune name (Matthew 28:19) and therefore bare God’s name. We are marked as his: he owns and claims us. We represent him – we carry his name with us. His good name depends to some extent on us.

In baptism God assures us that we are his children with whom he is pleased (cf. Mark 1:11)

Baptism places us under covenant obligations / establishes a contract / agreement. We enlist as soldiers in his service. Baptism is a pledge of loyalty, an oath of obedience / fealty.

In baptism, we welcome our children into God’s family. Baptism effects and marks our (formal / public / legal) entry into the (visible / historical) church (on earth). We are enrolled as part of God’s people, members of his covenant community, enjoying its blessings. (Therefore it is appropriate that baptisms should take place in a main Sunday services. A Thanksgiving service could be private family affair at another time / place). We are to accept the leadership / discipline of the church’s Elders / ministers. We would expect to see you regularly in church and would be concerned to help you follow through on the commitments made at the baptism.

Children are a great blessing and a great responsibility

Christian parents are to treat their children as (child-)Christians, bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4; Deuteronomy 6:7).

We assume our children have (child-like) faith that we pray and trust God will bring to increasing maturity (just as he is doing with us, growing us in the faith). They and we need daily to repent and believe the good news, choosing to live with Jesus as our Lord. We want them to grow up never knowing a day when they haven’t trusted in Christ.

Our children need discipleship / nurture / training / help, which is primarily parents’ responsibility (Proverbs 22:6)

E.g. Regular Bible reading, prayer, discussion / natural everyday chat / teaching, singing, grace at meal times, weekly attendance at church, personal example

Find ways of family prayers etc. that work for you – e.g. prayers (for the day) at the breakfast table, a Bible story and a “thank you & Good night” prayer at bedtime

Make God, your Christian faith, church etc. a natural and happy part of family life

Loving discipline / correction / training for increasing “independence” (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17)

The church promises to help and support parents as much as it can. Do ask if there’s anything particular we could do / you’d like to pray / talk about

E.g. HT Toddler Club, Crèche / Sunday School, Family Services etc.


The Christian Resources Centre, Seaside Road – a mixed bag of stuff, of course - http://www.christianresourcecentre.com/

The Good Book Company - https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/

David Helm, The Big Picture Story Bible (Crossway)

Sally Lloyd Jones, Jesus Story Book Bible (Zondervan)

Music CDs e.g. Jonny Burns, Colin Buchanan, EMU – J is for Jesus, Jesus is the King, A Very Very Big God

Further reading:

For a further introduction to the Christian faith: John Chapman, A Fresh Start (The Good Book Company)

Douglas Wilson, Standing on the Promises of God: A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing (Canon Press)

Rachel Jankovic, Loving The Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches (Canon Press)

Ann Benton, Aren't They Lovely When They're Asleep?: Lessons in Unsentimental Parenting (Christian Focus)

Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Shepherd Press)

Weekly Communion

From Keith Mathison's review of Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, eds., The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes (Broadman & Holman, 2010) available on The Gospel Coalition website.

James M. Hamilton Jr. is tasked with looking at the Lord’s Supper in Paul. His thesis is that “Paul’s words in 1 Cor 11:17–34 explain that the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of the gospel made by those who embrace the gospel, those whose identity is shaped by the gospel” (p. 68). Most of the chapter is a fairly standard commentary on the Eucharistic texts in 1 Corinthians, with primary emphasis on chapter 11. I only wish more space had been devoted to 1 Corinthians 10:16–17. Interestingly, Hamilton makes a strong argument from Paul for weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. Responding to one potential objection, he writes, “If it is objected that this would diminish its significance, my reply is simply that those who make this argument typically do not claim that weekly observance diminishes the significance of the preaching of the Word, the prayers of God’s people, the singing of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and I doubt they would be disappointed to have weekly baptisms!” (p. 101) As I have argued myself for weekly observance, I can only encourage Hamilton in this effort.


The final chapter in the book, by Ray Van Neste, answers a number of practical questions about the observance of the Lord’s Supper in the context of the local church.... ...he argues strongly for weekly observance of the Supper (pp. 370–4).
(emphasis added)

Pulpit Plagiarism: an acknowledgement

Mmm. I'm not sure I really buy this from the great Prof Don Carson on the wickedness of pulpit plagiarism. I tend to think that what we want is the best possible sermons. The sermon is not an academic essay. It seems to me that citing sources or flagging up "borrowings" might detract from the whole thing. It doesn't seem to me that the preacher is claiming originality for his outlines, forms of expression etc. Sure, you shouldn't tell other people's personal stories as if it happened to you on the way to the church: that would ammount to lies. Save your footnotes for the blog, I reckon.

Revd Dr Tim Keller talks sense on the subject when, whilst warning against plagiarism and especially failure to grapple with the text for yourself, he says:

we must be careful not to over-react. I don’t think anyone expects oral communication to have the same amount of detailed attribution as we expect in written communication. To cite where you got every allusion or basic idea or general illustration in a sermon would be tedious. A certain amount of leeway must be granted. Also, if you take a basic idea or illustration and “make it your own,” I don’t think you have to give attribution. Often the preacher you fear you are stealing from got that idea from some Puritan author and re-worked it into more contemporary form. And the Puritan might have gotten it from someone else. In fact, in the act of preaching, we often say something that we know we heard somewhere, but we can’t even remember where we got it. Again, I think we need to be charitable to preachers and not charge them with plagiarism for every un-new idea. Brand-new preachers, especially, are going to do a lot of copying of preachers that have influenced them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deathbed conversion?

I have just been listening to a sermon preached by Rev'd Richard Bewes. In it he speaks of those who think they can always become Christians later on in life, perhaps even on their deathbeds. He said that as a clergyman he has seen hundreds of people on their deathbed. Richard Bewes said it is likley that when you and I are on our deathbeds we will be so pumped full of drugs that we wont be in any position to decide what we want for lunch, let alone where we should spend eternity.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I'm planning to preach on Luke 2:1-20 at our Midnight Communion Service on Christmas Eve and enjoyed reading this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Porn Profit

According to Don Carson, "More money is spent each year on porn in the USA than on alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs combined".

Purity in the age of Porn (Matthias Minizines) p4, Carson speaking in a conference in 2008

Suspend Your Belief?

It matters what we sing, right? Especially in public worship? Words that we sing are likely to stick in our heads and affect our thinking.

How much do we care about the words of our carols? Should we avoid singing ones that might be untrue or unhelpful? Should they come with a health-warning from the front? Or does everyone take them with a pinch of salt anyway, and is that okay?!

What's all this talk about snow ("In the bleak mid-winter" etc.)? Was it (likely) to have been snowy in Bethlehem when Jesus was born? Does it matter? Am I being too literal minded there?

Surely the little Lord Jesus did make some crying Away In that Manger, didn't he? Does it not undermine the reality of the incarnation to think that Jesus didn't cry?

What if there were not 3 kings of Orient and they weren't kings?

Is Good King Wensuslas bad?


It would appear that my friend Jonty Allcock has written a book on the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) aimed at teenagers. Dan Green says its a good read. Better order a copy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The liturgical provision for...

Archbishop Cranmer complained:

the manifold changings of the Service [in the pre-Reformation liturgies], was the cause, that to turn the Book only was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.

The Book of Common Prayer, Concerning the service of the church, page ix

It took more time or trouble to work out what you were supposed to be reading than to read it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Unto Us A Child Is Born

I'm thining of preaching on Isaiah 9 in our Christmas Carol service and wondering if we should try to play this video from Handel's Messiah with what seems to be called Kinetic Typography, which I think means you see the text on the screen in an interesting way fitting in with the music!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Nativity

I'll be interested to see The Nativity, a drama about the birth of Christ, Mon 20th - Thurs 23rd Dec, 7-7:30pm, BBC1. Let's hope it gets people talking about Jesus.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

St Mary's, Warbleton

You can now find some details of St Mary's Church, Warbleton (where I am due to be the incumbent) on The Church of England's A Church Near You website.

License to...

In case you are interested, my licensing as Priest in Charge at Warbleton & Bodle Street Green is being planned for 7:30pm on Wed 26th January at Warbleton Church (Church Hill, Warbleton, East Sussex, TN21 9BD) followed by a reception at Bodle Street Village Hall (BN27 4RE).

I think we probably need to know numbers, so please let me know if you'd like to come.

(There's been a bit of confusion about the time, but I think a 7:30pm kick-off has now been finalised).

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Gags

Of course, Christmas sermons don't need spicing up with lame jokes, but just in case:

Q: Why doesn't Santa allow his helpers to ride on his sleigh?
A: Elfin safety

And thanks to Paul Huxley for commenting the following classic:

Q: How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?
A: Deep and crisp and even

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!

Bookings are now open for The Best Week of the Year: Danehill 1 Venture 2011. A fantastic life-changing Christian holiday for 11 - 14 year olds.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ordinary Time

Just worrying away at the Common Worship calendar and lectionary. By my calculation, about half the year, something like 27 Sundays fall in Ordinary Time (5 Sundays from the day following Candelmas / The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (2nd Feb) to the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday and 22 Sundays from the Monday following the Day of Pentecost to Advent).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A prayer (possibly in the spirit of Ecclesiastes)

William Laud may not have been entirely a hero, but I quite like this prayer of his (quoted by Kidner in BST on Ecc, p110):

Grant, O Lord, that we may live in thy fear,
die in thy favour, rest in thy peace,
rise in thy power, reign in thy glory.
for thine own beloved Son's sake,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Message of Ecclesiastes

As I've been preaching through the book of Ecclesiastes, I've been helped by Vaughan Roberts' sermons (on the St Ebbes, Oxford, website). He suggests that two key messages of the book are:

(1) Face the Facts: Don't be Naive

(2) Fear God: Don't be Cynical

The book calls us to a mature, realistic faith that is able to live with questions, tensions and lose ends with practical wisdom. The Teacher would have us recognise that life is neither entirely starightforward nor entirely meaningless. The book encourages trust in God and enjoyment of life without ignoring the frustrations and difficulties of life. Believe, but not make believe.

The Cost of Living In The Countryside

As I am soon to move to the countryside, I was interested to read that it costs up to 20% more to have what people think one needs for an acceptable standard of living in the countryside compared to in an urban situation. (This seems to be largely due to the fact that a car is seen as essential in rural areas and homes are often more expensive to heat).

Sadly, I don't think this'll be reflected in my stipend!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Gideon Learnings

A few quick jottings of things we might learn from Judges 6-8:

Failure to listen to and obey God can lead to his judgement and to obvious defeat

We should worship God our Redeemer alone

When we are in distress we should cry out to God

God is all powerful and in control

With God, all things are possible

God can make the weak, fearful and insecure, strong and bold

God + 1 always = a majority!

God works through weakness so that he gets the glory (cf. Christ, the cross)

But God may also use our skills and abilities, such as cunning, planning, diplomacy etc. Sometimes these things are good and necessary.

We ought to trust God, take him at his word, believe his promises and do as he says, not demand miraculous signs

God is gracious and kind even in the face of weak, imperfect faith. He knows about our weakness and fear and may choose to encourage us.

We need to always remember our dependence on God. It is no good acknowledging him (formally with our words) when it’s too late if our actions, attitudes and words (or silence) have tended to deny him.

Even great and godly leaders can have serious weaknesses, character flaws, sins and problems. We must beware of worshiping our leaders or trusting in human beings.

Leaders should beware of arrogance, pride, love of money etc.

Believers can be terribly inconsistent and still be real believers.

We can be ensnared by the (lovely, precious) things we think we want.

Rural Ministry Seminar

You are warmly invited to:

The Rural Ministry Seminar

This is intended primarily for ministers of rural churches of any denomination, but space permitting, others are welcome.

9:30am Coffee available

10am - 4pm Tuesday 1st March 2011

Venue: Warbleton area, between Hailsham and Heathfield in the lovely Sussex Countryside (Warbleton Church Rooms, Church Hill, Warbleton, East Sussex, TN21 9BD - subject to numbers).

Cost: £5 including coffee, biscuits, soft drinks etc. & materials. Please pay on the door. Please bring a packed lunch or head to a near by pub.

Speakers / facilitators:

Rev'd David Hall is the Vicar of Danehill with Chelwood Gate nr Haywards Heath in East Sussex where he has ministered for over seven years. During this time the churches have seen significant growth, including in the music ministry and amongst children, young people and families. David is also a training incumbent supervising a curate. http://allsaintsdanehill.org.uk/. David's first degree was in Business Studies with Marketing Honours. After graduation, he joined the graduate training scheme of a top-ten public relations consultancy, before moving into a management role advising major companies on everything from consumer PR to crisis management. He has met with and learned from Christians all over the world from Africa to North America and firmly believes that small rural churches can have the ministries of large ones!

Rev'd Dick Farr was the senior minister of 3 growing evangelical churches in rural Essex for 19 years (Henham and Elsenham with Ugley in the Diocese of Chelmsford on the north Essex Hertfordshire border from 1990 - 2009) working with an ordained and lay team. http://www.heuchurch.co.uk/index.html He is currently the Associate Vicar at St John's, Tunbridge Wells. http://www.stjohnstw.org/

Please spread the word.

Please comment or email me (marc underscore lloyd at hotmail dot com) if you are interested in attending. Booking is essential. Places may be limited.

Please let me know if there are particular issues / questions you would like to see addressed. I will let the speakers know in advance and we will try to cover as many as possible.

Practical and theological issues will be discussed. Sessions will include material on Understanding The Rural Context Today and Ministering in a Rural Context Today as well as considering the particular challenges and opportunities of life and work in the countryside and of being responsible for more than one church building / congregation etc.

There will be some substantial plenary input but also lots of time for comments, questions, discussion and real interaction etc.

Other events may be planned in the future if there is an interest in some kind of on-going group / regular meeting.

Watch this space for more details.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Me / We

In his sermon last night, Rev'd Trevor Parkin pointed out that "Me" turned upside down is "We". We often need that 180 degree change of mind from me and my personal concerns and so on and to us and our needs.

Tomato wisdom

Last Lord's Day, I preached on Wisdom from Ecclesiastes 7.

A member of our congregation suggested to me that wisdom and knowledge might be distinguished thus:

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing that it doesn't belong in a fruit salad!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What to say to the JWs?

Mrs Lloyd would like to know, please, with special reference to the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bible verses are required.

"Please go away and never come back" is also being considered.

Jono has suggested that perhaps we should put them in the bin and take them to the dump. A guest suggested that perhaps they should be recycled, though not in a Buddhist way, of course.

Pagan Eucharist

I heard a report on Radio 4 this morning of a pagan wedding service where, amongst other things, the couple ate bread and drank mead to represent the body and blood of the earth. The reporter mentioned that the rituals seemed largely to have beeen borrowed.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A New Name on the blogs

Mrs Emma Scrivner has entered cyberspace. Watch that space!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Towards a humbler science

Although its not cheap and I fear I may not agree nor find it entirely inteligible, this might be an important new book for Dawkins et. al. to get their heads around. It also might have some important things to say about the difficulty of proving causation. Discussion of it on Radio 4's Thinking Aloud made me wonder to what extent causes might (just) be thought of as God's habits or the way he likes to do things, as a rule, though I don't know what the authors would make of that idea as compared to convetional scientific orthodoxies, which they regard as unproven and perhaps unprovable. One of the authors described himself as agnostic but he said that he thought it was absurd to claim that science somehow ruled out faith.

The case for an evening service

The Old Testament commands morning and evening sacrifices on the Sabbath.

Psalm 92 (For the Sabbath day) v2.

Do Not Clap!

Apparently John Chysostom once preached a sermon against interupting the preacher with applause which was itself interrupted by applause!

Preaching Questions for "Us"

Some of these may be (!) leading questions and I ask them to myself too!

Do we contemporary British Conservative Evangelicals generally believe, with Luther and Calvin and the Reformed tradition, that the Minister's preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God?

How does our preaching compare to the preaching that is preserved in the written Word of God? Does our preaching tend to over emphasise instruction and application over and against the Bible which speaks the Word of God of Christ? Do we tell people about Christ (or indeed other things) or do we aim for them to see / hear / meet / taste Christ?

How is it that in the past preachers seem to have given fewer specific applications and instructions concerning marriage in their sermons, and yet many hearers had better marriages?

Does our preaching tend to produce an effect at the time, to be affecting there and then? Are we over concerned that our preaching should be memorable or helpful later rather than moving?

Do we preach to the heart, mind, will, affections, conscience, inner / whole person?

Is our preaching mainly thought of as a natural or a supernatural event?

Is preaching basically teaching with application or a visitation of Almighty God?

Would our people call our preaching powerful or rather faithful and clear? What do we pray for? If God were specially to bless your preaching one Sunday, what would that look like / how would you know?

Do people call your preaching somewhat engaging and interesting? Do people call our sermons "nice"? Are you satisfied with that? Would people say the same of the Sunday papers? What are your great aims and ambitions for your preaching?

Do people love to hear your preaching because it is the voice of heaven on earth? Does it contain the deep and infinite or is it rather light and breezy, even at times frivilous?

Does your preaching ever batter or break or thunder?

Is it clear from your preaching that you can see far more than you can express and that you know there is much more that you cannot see?

Is our preaching a tedious, pedantic, dull Bible class? How concerned are we to show our workings or to do the work?

How much warning, promise, encouragement, comfort and rebuke is there in your preaching? What replaces them?

Do we tell jokes and entertain and lighten it up or rather is our preaching basically a serious, solemn business? Is our preaching terrible, awesome and wonderful? Does it have a gravitas without pomposity or pretense?

When did someone (including you) last cry or cry out durring one of your sermons? Are people (ever) heart-broken or over-joyed when you preach? Are people appreciative of your sermons or rather silenced and awestruck by Christ as a result? Does our preaching tend to produce love, joy, faith, sorrow, zeal or rather smiles and nodding heads and better informed sinners?

When preparing our sermons do we hunt great game and make sure that we roast it and serve it up?

Is prayer the chief part, or indeed hardly part at all, of your preparation? Could it be said of your preaching that you "have not because you ask not"?

When you preach do you realise that you stand between your hearers and God on the brink of eternity? Do you preach as one who has the 4 Last Things (heaven, hell, death, judgement) in view or as someone looking at the prospect of some grand and beautiful scene to which he invites his hearers?

Do we read the great preaching of the past who move you?

Is your preaching consistent with your life? Do you ever speak of Christ outside of the pulpit as you seek to in the pulpit? Do your people sense that you have a moment by moment sense of what you try to say on a Sunday and that it moves you yourself?

Do your people want to hear 2 of your sermons on a Sunday? Why not? Would your people come to hear you midweek?

You are concerned for people to come to your church, but would it be worth their while?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keeping going as a Christian

I liked the way Tony Baker's headings fell out of the text of James 1 on Sunday morning and were memorable:

(1) Look forward (to the crown of life God has promised) v12

(2) Look within (to temptation from your own evil desires) vv13-15

(3) Look up (to God the giver of good gifts) vv16-18

Better Wise Up!

God-willing I will be preaching on Ecclesiastes 7 on Sunday morning.

I may or may not to some extent plagiarise Vaughan Roberts' sermon from the St Ebbe's church website that goes:

(1) Embrace suffering (vv1-6)

(2) Avoid temptation (vv7-10)

(a) Extortion / bribery

(b) Impatience

(c) Anger

(d) Nostalgia

Above all, (3) Fear God (vv11-18)

(4) Accept limitations (vv19-)

Reccomended Reading

As I think about moving on to become a "senior" pastor / incumbent / proper "Vicar" in a rural setting a friend reccomended the following reading:

George Herbert, The Country Parson, naturally, though some people want to kill him!

And the Letters of Samuel Ruthford for the sake of pastoral conselling / conversations / preaching that is full of Christ and moves affections and will etc.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Some jottings for a sermon on John 14vv1-14. The audio should appear on our church website in due course.

John 14:1-14 - Antidotes to Troubled Hearts

How to face the future / live without the physical presence of Jesus

V1 – “Trust in God; trust also in me”

3 Reasons for confidence in Jesus:

(1) Jesus promises us a prepared place in his Father’s house in heaven


Plenty of rooms

Jesus prepares a place for us by going to the cross

Even for rebels and failures (13:38)

Heaven being in the Father’s house with Jesus (Phil 1:23)

(2) Jesus is the true and living way to the Father (vv5-11)

A unique exclusive claim: Jesus personally is the only way

An inclusive invitation: a way open to all (v2)

The Way for the lost; direction

Truth for the deceived, ignorant, confused; meaning; real, authentic; reliable

Life (1:3-4) for those dead in sin; abundant (10:10) / eternal life (17:3)

We can know God the Father (v7) because Jesus perfectly reveals the Father (vv9-10) – mutual indwelling (vv10-11); to know God, look at Jesus

Jesus words and works are from the Father and prove he is the Son (vv10-11)

(3) Jesus will do even greater things through his disciples when they ask in his name in prayer(vv12-14)

“anyone who has faith” (v12)

“because Jesus is going to the Father” (v12) – cross, resurrection, Spirit

“asking in Jesus name” (v13, 14) = according to his will (1 Jn 5:14)

for the Father’s glory (v13)