Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How To Lead A Bible Study

I haven't watched this, but given the familiar face, I expect it'll be very useful.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

War & Suffering in OT (reading)

A friend asked:

i was wondering if you know any good books about why God allows/ initiates so much war and suffering in OT

All I could think of to say was:

I'm struggling to come up with anything fantastic on exactly that.

You might try looking at:

D A Carson, How Long O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil (IVP / Baker, 1990)

John Dickson has a book If I Were God I'd End All The Pain (Good Book co.) but I think he gives a rather unhelpful form of the Free Will defence.

You might like bits of Williams and Cooper, If You Could Ask God One Question (Christianity Explored)

It's worth saying that the problem is not confined to the OT. OT - mean God, NT God of love is a caricature.

It's also key to remember that all sinners deserve hell. Holy war is just a minor foretaste of that.

The cross shows God using suffering for good etc.

Sorry not to be more help.

Any other suggestions? What should I have said?

No comforter or friend?

I'm pleased to see that the LXX for "comforter" in Ecc 4:1 seems to be "Paraclete" and reckon that might give a nice conclusion to my sermon. There is a Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14-16)!

Jesus is also a friend in need (Ecc 4:10), one who sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24; John 15). He is the Supreme Good Samaritan - the one who helps us up when we have Fallen.

Preaching footnotes

Footnotes are not really possible nor appropriate in preaching - hence blogging!

Tomorrow, I'm thinking of using Vaughan Roberts' headings for Ecclesiastes 4:

(1) The way of the world - the absence of love

(2) The way of the wise - the centrality of love

Friday, August 06, 2010

A 9min 50sec wedding sermon on Ecc 4

Rory & Anne-Marie’s Wedding

Well, it’s an emotional day for us all.

I bet even the cake’ll be in tears!

(Boodoom choo!)

(Tough crowd)

(You are allowed to laugh in church – try to get the right moments)

Do you know the story about the Old Vicar rehearsing nervous bride for her wedding?

It’s simple, he said.

All you have to do it walk down the aisle, to the altar and we’ll sing a hymn.

Just remember that:

The nervous bride comes in on her wedding day and is heard muttering to herself all the way in:


I’m sure Anne-Marie wasn’t saying that

And even if she was, I suspect the Markhams are a determined plain speaking lot, and she might have a life-long project on our hands!

Rory and Anne-Marie chose our Bible reading from Ecclesiastes.

It speaks of the advantages of a partnership.

2 are better than 1.

That’s true, and very applicable to marriage.

Here are some of the blessings of a good marriage.

Today, Rory and Anne-Marie will become one.

The Bible says its not good for man to be alone, so God makes a helper suitable for him.

Woman is equal to the man but different – complimentary!

Imagine 2 Rorys!

Those of you who know Rory better than I do know what that would be like!

(Best man’s job to be nasty about Rory, so I’ll try to resist!)

How much better a Rory and an Anne Marie than 2 Rorys!

They’re suitable for each other, they go together.

They’ll go together like salt and pepper or a horse and carriage

Or to quote those immortal words from Danny and Sandy in West Side Story:

We go together like
rama lama lama
ke ding a de dinga a dong
remembered for ever like
shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yipitty boom de boom

Hopefully they’ll not go together like chalk and cheese or itchy and scratchy!

From now on, Rory and Anne Marie are a kind of BOGOF – a buy one get one free.

Buy Anne Marie, as it were, and you’ll get Rory thrown in.

The Bible says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”

Husband and wife become one.

Leaving and a cleaving (cleaving, separating)

It’s healthy for the parents to have a good old cry today

You might have said, “we’re not losing a daughter, we’re gaining a son” – and that’s wonderfully true

But Anne-Marie’s first loyalty now is to Rory, not to Mum and Dad.

Rory and Anne-Marie will form a new household, a new social unit, friendly and welcoming to their former families and friends, but not run by them!

There’s a sense in which Rory and Anne-Marie do have to forsake all others – at least kind of, a little bit.

From this day on, no one else is a prospective husband or wife till the current one drops off the perch.

Rory and Anne-Marie’s 1st relationship is now with one another, and that will change all their other relationships – we trust for the better.

Marriage is a life-long exclusive unique relationship.

It’s no good if you live as if you’re not married, or as if you’re married to your family and friends, or your jobs, or your hobbies, or whatever.

Remember your married!

And remember to whom your married!

So back to our reading.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work”

Rory and Anne Marie, you’ll be more effective together than you would have been apart.

Marriage is not just an addition, it’s a multiplication.

Anne Marie, you’ll have strengths that make up for Rory’s weaknesses, and presumably vice versa, too.

In our house, I come in handy for emptying the bins and lifting heavy objects.

Mrs Lloyd is marvellous and pretty much everything else.

(She even likes putting up flat pack furniture, can you believe it? What a catch is that!)

2 are better than 1!

“If one falls down, his friend can help him up”

You’ll both fall and fail many times.

You probably will have squabbled by the end of the honey-moon if you last the day!

So be quick to say sorry and forgive.

Don’t get into the blame game

Be friends!

Yes, be lovers and husband and wife and housemates, and partners, and all that: but never forget to be friends!

Help one another.

Be kind and considerate.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves”

Be intimate allies.

Be on one another’s side.

Defend one another.

At times, it may have to be Rory and Anne Marie against the world.

And Rory and Anne-Marie right or wrong.

Even when the other person messes up, be there for them, back them up.

No little comments that put him down.

No jokes at his expense.

No criticizing him behind his back with your friends.

So 2 are better than 1.

Marriage is (normally speaking) better than singleness.

But marriage is for better or for worse.

You need to be committed to this marriage even if it doesn’t work out quite as you dreamed:

If one of you, gets sicker and poorer and you think you could maybe upgrade to a better model, that’s when the solemn vows you make today will kick in.

It’s easy to be in love on your wedding day, the challenge comes when you’re tired and broke and one of you is puking up in the middle of the night again, or whatever…

But last of all, how can you make your marriage better and not worse?

Finally, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”

Until now its been 2.

Why suddenly this talk of 3?

Remember that Princess Di famously said of her marriage to Prince Charles that:

"There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”

Make Jesus the only 3rd person in your marriage.

He wont make it crowded.

He’ll make it better, not worse.

(Triangle – Jesus at the top, you 2 at the bottom) as you grow closer to Jesus, you’ll grow closer to one another too.

He needn’t come between you.

Wedding at Cana. Water into wine. Amazing transforming power.

He produced 750 bottles of the finest Châteaux Neff d’Pap

A watery marriage would be good.

A wine-filled, Jesus empowered marriage would be better.

Invite Jesus not only to your wedding, but into your marriage and lives.


Well, it’s not too late to change your minds?

You still want to get married?

Okay, let’s do it!

(Please stand)

Worth knowing

Before, God-willing, I become an Incumbent, I think I might re-read The Canons of the Church of England. There's lots of interesting useful stuff worth knowing. For example, B20.2 Of the musicians and music of the Church is quite helpful:

Where there is an organist, choirmaster or director of music the minister shall pay due heed to his advice and assistance in the choosing of chants, hymns, anthems, and other settings, and in the ordering of the music of the church; but at all times the final responsibility and decision in these matters rests with the minister.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Virtual Communion

"A retired Methodist minister is to use Twitter to conduct Holy Communion - with his online flock taking bread and wine in front of their PCs. The Rev Tim Ross will tweet out the lines of the Eucharist next month to his 357 followers, and says participants can tweet back "Amen". He hopes that it will unite the faithful across the world. 'Where it could lead, who knows? Maybe one day to a baptism by Facebook,' he said."

From The Times, Monday July 26 2010, p.9

One of the potentially many problems of this would be that they will not partake of one loaf (1 Cor 10:17).

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


As Glen pointed out on Sunday night, in Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus seems to assume that we are all (already) yoked or burdened. The only question is whether we will accept Christ's easy yoke and light burden or will stick with some ill-fitting hard yoke and heavy burden for which we were never intended.

New Family Connections

Citing Luther in The Freedom of a Christian, Glen spoke on Sunday evening of faith union with Christ as like a marriage. When I am married to Christ by faith in the Spirit, Jesus pays my debts, I take his name, I gain his wealth, his family connections and his status, just as someone marrying a royal might become royal too.

I think the passage Glen had in mind is Three Treatises (Fortress Press, 1970), p286, the section beginning "The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom".

Here it is nicked from the Theology Network site:

The third incomparable grace of faith is this: that it unites the soul to Christ, as the wife to the husband, by which mystery, as the Apostle teaches, Christ and the soul are made one flesh. Now if they are one flesh, and if a true marriage--nay, by far the most perfect of all marriages--is accomplished between them (for human marriages are but feeble types of this one great marriage), then it follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, as well good things as evil things; so that whatsoever Christ possesses, that the believing soul may take to itself and boast of as its own, and whatever belongs to the soul, that Christ claims as His.

If we compare these possessions, we shall see how inestimable is the gain. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation; the soul is full of sin, death, and condemnation. Let faith step in, and then sin, death, and hell will belong to Christ, and grace, life, and salvation to the soul. For, if He is a Husband, He must needs take to Himself that which is His wife's, and at the same time, impart to His wife that which is His. For, in giving her His own body and Himself, how can He but give her all that is His? And, in taking to Himself the body of His wife, how can He but take to Himself all that is hers?

In this is displayed the delightful sight, not only of communion, but of a prosperous warfare, of victory, salvation, and redemption. For, since Christ is God and man, and is such a Person as neither has sinned, nor dies, nor is condemned, nay, cannot sin, die, or be condemned, and since His righteousness, life, and salvation are invincible, eternal, and almighty,--when I say, such a Person, by the wedding-ring of faith, takes a share in the sins, death, and hell of His wife, nay, makes them His own, and deals with them no otherwise than as if they were His, and as if He Himself had sinned; and when He suffers, dies, and descends to hell, that He may overcome all things, and since sin, death, and hell cannot swallow Him up, they must needs be swallowed up by Him in stupendous conflict. For His righteousness rises above the sins of all men; His life is more powerful than all death; His salvation is more unconquerable than all hell.

Thus the believing soul, by the pledge of its faith in Christ, becomes free from all sin, fearless of death, safe from hell, and endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of its Husband Christ. Thus He presents to Himself a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word; that is, by faith in the word of life, righteousness, and salvation. Thus He betrothes her unto Himself "in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies" (Hosea ii. 19, 20).

Who then can value highly enough these royal nuptials? Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of this grace? Christ, that rich and pious Husband, takes as a wife a needy and impious harlot, redeeming her from all her evils and supplying her with all His good things. It is impossible now that her sins should destroy her, since they have been laid upon Christ and swallowed up in Him, and since she has in her Husband Christ a righteousness which she may claim as her own, and which she can set up with confidence against all her sins, against death and hell, saying, "If I have sinned, my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned; all mine is His, and all His is mine," as it is written, "My beloved is mine, and I am His" (Cant. ii. 16). This is what Paul says: "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," victory over sin and death, as he says, "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor. xv. 56, 57).

Impressive but dead

In his sermon on Sunday evening, Glen argued that if you mess with the heart of the gospel you risk killing the church and being left with a corpse. It might still be a big, impressive, sprawling body with much to admire, but it might still be dead.

2nd most read book in the world ever?

According to Glen, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I'm assuming no. 1 is the Bible!

Christ Alone is not narrow

In his sermon on Sunday evening, Glen argued that "Christ alone" is not a narrow statement since Christ is not narrow. It is because Christ is so great and vast, so cosmic and complete that we must say "Christ alone": he is so immense that there is no room for anyone or anything else. Additions and alternatives are superfluous, indeed, in a way even impossible, since Christ is all.

Christ or the System

In his sermon on Sunday, Glen suggested that we need to be delivered from some kind of "system" to / by Christ. He spoke of Luther's escape from the system of medival piety. Interestingly, later, he also spoke of Bunyan's deliverance from a Protestant system in which he lacked assurance.

What's your system?

What are the besetting systems of conservative evangelicals / the Reformed? Conversionism? Systems of doctrinal orthodoxy, of the 5 points of Calvinism or the Westminster Standards?

Perverse Penance

Glen Scrivner's sermon on Sunday evening (on Christ Alone from Mt 11 & Col 1), suggested that one of the perversities of a system of penance is that it tends to think of saying prayers as some kind of punishment (or a meritorious good work) rather than a privilege of grace.

Son as Camp Adjutant

I wonder if we might think of the relationship between Father and Son as somewhat analogous to that between the Overall Leader of Camp and the Adjutant?

Exactly what heresies that initially suggests to your mind will of course depend on how your camp is run and on the sins and foibles of overall leader and adjutant!

The Overall Leader and the Adjutant are ontologically equal, yet the Overall leader has a functional authority. The Adjutant exercises rule on behalf of the overall leader and runs all things for him.

Another way of saying this might be that the Son is the Executive Officer of the Trinity who carries out all the will of the Father in the power of the Spirit.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Alphabet Photography

We just splashed out on a JONATHAN and an ABIGAIL from Alphabet Photography at the knock down price of £120 for the pair (at The Eastbourne Town and Country Show in Princes Park). If the kids weren't in tow, one could spend ages having fun choosing the pictures. We both thought they were rather clever and cool and hope the kids will like them all their lives!


Mrs Lloyd and I reckon that some of this (and this, and this, and this and this, and this, and this, and this and this and this) is quite insightful about me. As Glen mentions, some of this is aspirational, of course, but I fear there's some truth in the less flattering bits too (e.g. a danger of unforgiving hyper-critical insensitive task-focused self-righteous bigotted dictatorship!). Pity the camp leaders!