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.