Friday, September 23, 2016

Nehemiah as a type of Christ

The book of Nehemiah is often preached for leadership tips or with a view to a building project. It occurred to me today that I don't remember thinking about Nehemiah as a type of Christ in any sustained way.

But of course when you begin to think about it, it is pretty obvious. Who is it who leads and defends and unites people, faces down their enemies, guides, restores and blesses them? Who builds the kingdom and the city of God? God's people have been to some extent restored, the promises of God are partially fulfilled.

I thought The NIV Proclamation Bible might be the place to look for the book of Nehemiah in its salvation-historical context, how it points to Christ etc. Peter Adam gives just over a page to Ezra-Nehemiah. Jesus is not mentioned.

For my money on this particular point the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible does rather better on how the passage might be preached. Jesus is the ultimate saviour the people of God need and he is building us as living stones into his church.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Psalm of the Week

I am planning a sabbatical, and whilst there is a great danger of too many projects which don't really come off, I am thinking of having a Psalm of the week.

One could pray and sing it each day. Maybe have a memory verse from it.

Perhaps jot down some uses of the Psalm: for thanksgiving, confession, supplication and so on, and pray through those.

Maybe do a little bit of study and make some notes of headings and so on. It wouldn't be madness for example for a minister on sabbatical who is doing some travel and study to also listen to a sermon a day and write down the structure and anything that strikes him.

Above all this might do good to one's soul, but after 12 weeks of sabbatical you might have some groundwork done for a major sermon series too.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Relating to others

Some jottings from a sermon preached by The Revd Vaughan Roberts on Romans 12:3-end at St Ebbe's Church, Oxford.

So often a disjunction between what we believe and how we behave

Living in the light of the gospel, the practical outworking of what we believe

Specific application of the principles

Relational focus

In the light of the gospel, the Christian should be:

(1)   Defined by grace (v3)

What’s your self-image like?

How do you view yourself?

V3, “For by the grace given me…”


V2 – the change of our thinking applied in v3, think of yourself with sober thinking

An example of the renewal of your thinking

Define yourself in accordance with the gospel of grace – no merit involved

Faith is an empty hand held out to receive a gift

You are a sinner saved by grace

It’s grace all the way down

This prevents too high a view of ourselves or too low a view of yourself

(2)   Committed to community (vv4-8)

A profound challenge to our individualism

Think of yourself as member of a body

Church is not just somewhere I go or something I do. It defines who I am.

We belong to one another.


Putting number 1 first.

Me time.

Not me but we.

If I am joined to Jesus, I am joined to all his people down the ages and around the world.

Diversity and unity.

When we freeze water, we make ice cubes – all the same.

When God freezes water he makes snowflakes – each unique.

7 gifts mentioned. Eph 4. 1 Cor 12. All 3 gift lists different so not meant to be exhaustive.

A wide ranging list.

Verbal gifts and non-verbal gifts

Word gifts

1 to 1, small groups, children’s work, whole congregation

In accordance with the faith

Practical service / ministry

Every member ministry


Ministers: The whole church

Get on and do it.

If you’ve got a gift, get on and serve, use it.

Some are particularly gifted at giving.

In charities, often 80% of the giving comes from 20% of the people

Whether or not you are thanked

Not a one-man show

Church not like a concert – interaction, fellowship

Coffee an integral part of church

Remember who you are – not just an isolated individual

Could you aim to be here a little earlier? Conversation before the service


(3)   Marked by love (vv9-16)

Devoted to one another

You are not the audience at church – you are family – blood brothers and sisters

Status at church – classify – pecking order

(4)   Wedded to non-retaliation (vv17-21)

Your enemies?

Not only counter-cultural but counter-intuitive

Very hard to hate those you’re praying for God to bless

A tricky phrase

“Measure of faith” in Romans 12v3c is a tricky little phrase. According to Cranfield, measure has 7 possible meanings, faith 5, of 2, making 70 possible interpretations! (Stott, BST, p326)

Romans 12:3-end - a handout

Romans 12:3-21 (page 1139)

Relationships Transformed by The Gospel

Vv1-2: Our relationship with God – consecration and transformation

V3: Our relationship with ourselves – humble and grateful sober judgement

How you think of yourself (v3) is an outworking of the transformed thinking of v2 – “in view of God’s mercy” – a sacrifice

Grace excludes boasting (v3) – the empty hand of faith nothing to be proud of

Vv4-16: Our relationship with one another in the church – loving service

One body, many parts; unity and diversity (v4). Every member ministry

A devoted church family (v10) – not me but we

Vv14, 17-21: Our relationship with our enemies – seeking peace not vengeance

Very realistic – v18, “if possible, as far as it depends on you…”

13vv1-7: Our relationship to the state – submit to the authorities

13vv8-10: Our relationship to the Old Testament Law – love your neighbour as yourself

13vv11-14: Our relationship to “the day” – put on the armour of light

14-15: Our relationship with “the weak” in the church

(These headings owe a debt to John Stott’s highly recommended Bible Speaks Today commentary published by IVP)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

What I learnt at the Sussex Gospel Partnership meeting yesterday

Amongst many more important and useful things, of course.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a switch which allowed them to lock their bedroom door without leaving their bed.

This and much more from The Revd Simon Allaby of Turn The Page.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Productivity tools

I read Getting Things Done a few years ago and found it immensely helpful but I am not as diligent at using its systems as I should be.

I've been reading Tim Challies' helpful little Christian book on productivity, Do More Better.

He suggests you need 3 main tools:

(1) A task management tool. For this I have a notebook but I often fail to review it as much as I should or to write everything in it. There are also some Postit notes on my desk right now and a pile of papers on the floor I need to get to.

(2) A scheduling tool - a calendar or diary. For this I use a paper diary, which seems to work pretty well and is often faster than the electronic devices other people sometimes use. Though it might be handy to have something Mrs Lloyd could easily look at or add to say online rather than waiting till I'm back home or indeed one of us having to go and fetch it!

(3) An information tool. For this I have a filling cabinet, a very messy desk, the computer and some use of notebook and diary.

Challis recommends doing all this digitally using:

(1) Todoist

(2) Google Calendar

(3) Evernote

Does anyone have any experience of using these?

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Why it's mad not to go to church

From The Rectory

In this article I tell you why you must be mad not to be in church on Sunday. Sort of.

Of course if you’re not a Christian believer, I don’t expect you to come to church. You are always most welcome, but I could see why you might rather not. I hope you’ll read on and see why you might like to join us.

But if you call yourself a Christian, I must say I really can’t understand where you would rather be.

Now, you might choose a different church for whatever reason. I would be sad about that, but I get that you might seek out the kind of music or preaching or children’s work you like. I think it’s a huge shame to drive past the parish church, but I could understand it. Frankly, in some circumstances I might even do it myself.

But what I can’t understand is calling yourself a Christian and failing to go to church on a Sunday at all – at least most of the time. Sure, now and then you might be ill. Sometimes there will be something urgent and important to do, of course. If you are an A&E doctor or one of your animals falls into a ditch, of course you might have to miss church. But you wouldn’t want to.

Why? Let me offer two reasons.

First, because church is meeting with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family and families get together. Failing to go to church is like belonging to a family but never turning up to the Sunday lunch mum and dad put on. You miss out. And your family misses out. We need one another. And a big part of the purpose of church is to encourage and help one another. Unless we are at the same local fellowship most weeks, it’s very hard for us to love and serve each other in the way the New Testament requires.

But it’s not just that. Going to church is something very human, but it is also something superhuman. It is more than any mere club or mutual support society. The second, and in fact the primary, reason why we go to church is to meet with God himself. Yes, God is everywhere. God does not live in the church building, sure. But the gathering of the people of God around the Word of God is where our Lord has promised to be with us in a special way to bless us. He speaks his Word to us. We speak to him together and sing his praises. When we receive the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion we receive Christ by faith in our hearts in a unique manner. And there is no such thing (ideally) as a solitary Communion service. As we meet together God renews his commitment to us and we renew our commitment to him. We’re equipped for his service in the week ahead.

The amazing teaching of the New Testament is that each Sunday (“Lord’s Day”) service is a mini outpost of heaven itself. God comes to us, which makes church heaven on earth. Our fellowship is not only amongst ourselves but with all the saints in glory (the Christian believers who have gone before us down the centuries), with the angels and with the church here on earth around the world. Or perhaps better, to put it the other way around, in our worship we “Lift Up Our Hearts” such that by the power of the Holy Spirit our service takes place in heaven itself. Warbleton or Bodle Street Green or Dallington churches are gathered up into the throne room of heaven for an hour or so each Sunday. And we would be mad to want to miss that. It might not always seem the glitziest show on earth, but it is literally heavenly. Or so we believe by faith, if not always by sight.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

The Rev’d Marc Lloyd

The busiest church term ever?

It struck me at the prayer meeting last night that we have a pretty busy term coming up.

Of course in the Sept - Dec period you probably have harvest, remembrance and Christmas to think about.

School things get going again.

We also have our annual gift day. And a service for the bereaved. And a service to commemorate an airman who died in the parish.

Then there's the parish contribution and budget for 2017 to set.

Autumn calls for a church yard clear up.

We have deanery and diocesan synods.

The Gospel Partnership Annual Conference.

There's a deanery teaching day.

It's the Churches Together Annual Dinner.

There's a church bbq and bonfire.

Our termly book group needs fitting in.

There's a craft evening in the planning.

We happen to be welcoming a new archdeacon too.

And, what I think has made it extra busy is that since May, if I have thought of doing something I've tended to think, well, to organise and publicise this really well we ought to do it after the summer holidays.

So we are having a new Bible study at the rectory.

An any questions evening.

An evangelistic astronomy evening (which of course needs a dark night).

All the committees and regular meetings that have taken August off kick in again too.

See you in the new year!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

I feel therefore I am

The Revd Dr Joe Boot was very interesting on the subject of Engaging Secularism at The Sussex Evangelical Ministry Seminar yesterday. The audio ought to be available in due course. And I am looking forward to reading in his big book, The Mission of God.

Of the many striking moments, I jotted down two thoughts:

(1) The creed of our age might be defined as "I feel, therefore I am". We have absolutized our feelings.

(2) Since man is made in the image of God, the human I is irreducible. Human beings cannot be fully explained in terms of anything else, for example, our material composition. Humanity is comprehensible only with reference to God.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Creation sacramental

Boersma writes:

this-worldly, created realities participate in the heavenly, uncreated reality of the eternal Word of God. Created being is merely derivative, and it receives its value from the divine "real presence" that gives it existence. To be sure, speaking of creation as "sacramental" in character has its dangers. When doing so, we should be careful not to undermine the qualitatively different sense of sacramentality that we encounter in Christ and in the church's sacraments, most notably baptism and the Eucharist. Kathryn Tanner's distinction between "weak" and "strong" participation, or we could say a weak and a strong sacramental presence, is important. We don't want to lose the distinct salvific character of the church. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the Christian tradition has rightly worked with a sacramental metaphysics, assuming that the appearances of the physical realities around us not only point to, but also make present, greater and more significant realities than the appearances themselves.

Sacramental Preaching p.xx citing Tanner, Christ the Key, CUP, pp11-12

Allusions in Revelation

According to Eugene Peterson, in the 404 verses of the book of the Revelation, there are 518 allusions to other Scriptures.

Foreword to Hans Boersma, Sacramental Preaching p.x

Bible as sacrament


Eugene Peterson quotes Hans Boersma's summary conclusion:

Christ himself is hidden in all the Old Testament. The biblical text is a sacrament, and Christ is really present in it.

Foreword to Hans Boersma, Sacramental Preaching: Sermons on the Hidden Presence of Christ (Baker Academic, 2016) p.ix