A few weeks ago, Apple took the covers of the much awaited new iPhone. It didn’t quite live up to all the hype (iPhone 5 anyone?) but did mean that Apple remain top dogs in the Smartphone market. Much less eagerly awaiting was the news a day later that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple had died after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Even his enemies admired his bullish determination and technological savvy.
Steve Jobs was undoubtedly a prickly character, as testified by many who had to work or trade with him. In the height of the battle between Apple and Microsoft, the adage was that Microsoft had terrible software but a very amiable CEO (Bill Gates), while Apple had great software but a nightmare for a CEO. He was intense, driven and totally single-minded, which is why in many ways, Apple products turned out so well. They weren’t designed by committee, they were designed by a PR genius. Steve Jobs had a knack of knowing what people wanted when they didn’t.
As the new of Steve’s death spread across the web, the talk he gave when he was given an honorary degree at Stanford Uni went viral. In it he expresses his philosophy about life, death and everything else. Here’s a quote:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
He’s right about the first bit. No one wants to die, or few people do, but I think he’s terribly wrong about death being the single best invention in life. The reason no one wants to die is because death is the ultimate enemy, not a great invention. In fact, ironically, the death of Jobs has meant the techie world will be worse of without him for many many year. Death has a nasty habit of clearing away the best as well as the worst. Death is always unbelievably tragic.
I also think he’s wrong when he says that no one has escaped death. The Bible’s view is diametrically opposed to Steve’s. The hope of Christianity, the central hope is that death is not a full stop, it’s not the end, but a beginning of something greater.
The great news of the Christian gospel is that everything sad will not remain sad, but one day come untrue. Tim Keller notes that right at the end of the Lord of the Rings, there’s a brilliant insight into the Christian hope:
In the last book of The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee wakes up, thinking everything is lost and discovering instead that all his friends were around him, he cries out: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” (Tim Keller)
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Every Wednesday at church we have what we call Wednesday Night Central. It’s a mix of Bible teaching (seminar style), discussion and prayer. Because we’re a new church and quite small (40-50) and we only get 20-25 for Bible Study, we thought that having a midweek meeting all together was the best solution for where we’re at. And it’s worked really well so far. Here’s this week’s talk together with notes.
Here’s the audio of the talk (Click the play button)What is Worship?
And, here are the notes:
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A few months ago I spoke at the church plant we’re involved with on the subject of ‘worship‘. I’ve been given the job of worship leader at Christ Church, something I’m quite new at. The aim of the talk wasn’t to talk about the techniques of worship (I have little to offer there) but to look at what the Bible says worship is (and isn’t).
Here’s the audio of the talk (Click the link)What is Worship?
And, here are the notes:
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A few weeks ago I spoke at Trinity Baptist Church on the subject of the Shekinah Glory of God. The Shekinah Glory being “the radiance, glory or presence of God dwelling in the midst of his people.” according to the New Bible Dictionary. Basically the talk became a walk through of five passages in the Bible that talk about God dwelling with his people.
I called the talk Two gardens, two mountains and a city. The two gardens being eden and gethsemane. In Eden God walks in the garden in the cool of the day. God dwells with his people but when mankind sin they’re banished from God’s presence. However in Gethsemane Jesus says: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death“. This time God is in effect banished from the garden, from the presence of God so that we could come back in.
The two mountains were Sinai where God appeared before Moses and the Israelites in terrifying glory and the mount of the transfiguration in the Gospels where Jesus appears with similar power. The contrast there, is that while God demonstrated his transcendance to the Israelites (God is holy), in the person of Jesus, God demonstrates his immanence. A touchable God now dwells with his people. The city points to the New Jerusalem in Revelation when God finally dwells with his people permanently.
If you want to listen to the talk, you can download it here:
If you’re a visual learner, here’s a word cloud:
I read C.S. Lewis’ sermon/essay The weight of glory for the talk and throught I’d post that on here as well.
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Four Ways ‘New Calvinism’ is So Powerful
- Old Calvinism was fundamental or liberal and separated from or syncretized with culture. New Calvinism is missional and seeks to create and redeem culture.
- Old Calvinism fled from the cities. New Calvinism is flooding into cities.
- Old Calvinism was cessationistic and fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. New Calvinism is continuationist and joyful in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
- Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.
The issue I have is that this is just bitesize revisionist history. The message that comes out is that Calvanism 1.0 was a bit rubbish and now we have shiny new Calvanism 2.0 which is far better than the old one. Now I don’t deny that there weren’t problems with some of the reformers or their ideas, but at least be a little be more grateful for the theological shoulders that you’re now climbing all over.
The other issue I have is to assume that all calvinists who want to engage with culture are Pentecostal. Now I appreciate that there are many movements that are reformed and pentecostal and believe they’re doing a great work. But there are just as many culturally engaged calvinists who aren’t Pentecostal. I think times have changed and rabid cessationism is a thing of the past, but there are many practical cessationists who may believe that God can work through miracles today but feel that those miracles are somewhat less common and they’re still movers and shakers in the calvinistic world. Tim Keller and Mark Dever spring to mind. To say that historic Calvinism was ‘ fearful of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit‘ is simply ignorant of most of their works as well.
And this leads me to a few more concluding comments. I find it quite hard to accept that traditional calvinists were supposed to have fled the cities when Calvin spend most of his life reforming Geneva and also find it hard to see how calvinists seperated from culture when their main aim was to see its reform.
All in all, I love the resurgence but comments like this are simply not very well thought out.
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Scientific triumphalists may realise that what they saying about the origin of the universe is ludicrous. Yet they persist because of their fear of the alternative explanation – God.
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I’ve been listening to some lectures from the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Orlando, Florida recently. They provide all of their lectures free through iTunesU which is pretty decent of them. Frank James III on The history of Christianity II is especially good and works through reformation church history from Luther to the enlightenment. Church history done well is incredibly engaging and James does it well. He tells the story of the reformation and beyond in a very engaging way.
One thing that surprised me when listening to these talks was how some godly men in church history had good marriages and how some had very bad marriages. I’ve always assumed that godly men will always work hard at having good marriages. And that’s definitely true for people like Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards. Their marriages are a great template for other ministers of God’s Word to base their lives on. But by contrast John Wesley and George Whitfield had very bad marriages and their preaching tours gradually became longer and longer as they tried to stay away from home! This definitely shows that there are many men of God with fairly large blind spots. We’re not to idolise anyone or we’ll be very disappointed.
Connected with all this is the recent news that John Piper is taking a sabbatical because of “several species of pride in [the] soul“. He also explains the other reason he’d like to step aside from public ministry; to work on his marriage. I quote:
No marriage is an island. For us this is true in two senses. One is that Noël and I are known inside-out by a few friends at Bethlehem—most closely by our long-time colleagues and friends David and Karin Livingston, and then by a cluster of trusted women with Noël and men with me. We are accountable, known, counseled, and prayed for. I am deeply thankful for a gracious culture of transparency and trust among the leadership at Bethlehem.
The other way that our marriage is not an island is that its strengths and defects have consequences for others. No one in the orbit of our family and friends remains unaffected by our flaws. My prayer is that this leave will prove to be healing from the inside of my soul, through Noël’s heart, and out to our children and their families, and beyond to anyone who may have been hurt by my failures.
Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments. (John Piper’s Upcoming leave)
Having spent last week listening to the successes and failures of men of God throughout church history to get their marriages right, I can’t help but be incredibly impressed by John Piper’s attitude. Most good marriages aren’t good without hard work and also without a realisation of the problems you need to work through. As well as learning from church history about what makes a good marriage, we can also learn from godly ministers like John Piper.
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Really think about this! It took us two decades or more of Internet advertising to finally come to ads that can do more than dancing monkeys or whcak this mole or whisk us away to another website.
At least I don’t click on Banner ads and display ads when I am doing something. The reason is that it takes me away from my current attention or focus!
Of course, it is silly since we always have the Back button to get back to where left off. But psychologically, it just doesn’t work.
Add to this the fact that I, like a trained monkey, know that if I click on the link all it will do for me is to take me to another site where they will surely sell me something. Pavlovian memory keeps me away from that dang display ad!
Maybe I am not in the mood for being sold. May be for ……about 99.99% of the time!
On the other hand, if the ad becomes interactive and seamlessly does a lot more than just hawk me stuff, I will be more interested in interacting with brands, movies, or in other words, the guys who spend the big bucks on advertising – Soap, Shampoo, Beer and Automobiles.
Google Search Ads never made sense for Dove Shampoo or Soap for example or banner ads so far! The iAd technology includes built-in support in the iphone OS for streaming video, shaking, location based calls, etc making it a truly interactive. personalized experience.
For example, a Toyota or a Ford ad for a car will recommend dealers near you since they already can get your location!
Mobile advertising is going to leapfrog over Internet advertising and bring in the big spenders!
In about two years time we will be talking about how Apple completely changed advertising. Mark my words!
“During [the twentieth] century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport—the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.
I expect that history will show “normal” mainstream twentieth century media to be the aberration in all this. ‘Please, miss, you mean they could only just sit there and watch? They couldn’t do anything? Didn’t everybody feel terribly isolated or alienated or ignored?’
“Yes, child, that’s why they all went mad. Before the Restoration.”
“What was the Restoration again, please, miss?”
“The end of the twentieth century, child. When we started to get interactivity back.”
– Douglas Adams – 1999 – How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet.
Great article about Apple iAds. The article comes from this blog post. Forgot to link to that in the original post.
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Christian apologetics has always really interested me. While to a certain extent, no-one is going to be convinced into the Kingdom, apologetics does have a very important role to play in explaining that believing in the God of the Bible does make sense of our universe. There have been some great apologetic material produced recently too. Tim Keller’s Reason for God is available in most book shops and does a great job at answering critical questions such as Why does God allow suffering in the world? and How could a loving God send people to Hell?
There have also been lots of good debates between atheists and Christians but none have really caught my attention, mainly because they all seem a bit rigged. However Collision, the Movie sounds very different. Christopher Hitchens has been labelled one of the four hoursemen of Atheism along with Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. A militant atheist who has written a book entitled God is not great: How religion poisons everything. You don’t write a book with a title like that unless you want to attract attention! Doug Wilson is a reformed American pastor and apologist who’s also written many books.
Why is this debate so interesting? Well first off the movie isn’t just a debate, it’s a documentary. You actually see how each of these guys live and find out a little bit more about them other than just their debating skills. Secondly, it’s about a tour of debates and not just one debate. Neither had met each other before the tour even though they’d both contributed to a book debating atheism/the existence of God together before. And thirdly, they actually respect each other and have a laugh together. The film shows them laughing together in the pub. It all makes for a very interesting film. The film is only available to buy at the moment. I’m hoping that someone like the BBC buy it so that more people can see it.
Here’s a 13 minute clip from it.
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Thanks to WPTouch at the click of just two links in the WordPress admin panel I now have an iPhone enabled view of the Theonology blog. If you have an iPhone why not try viewing this site in mobile Safari? I still can't quite believe how easy it was to get this working. It shows how far open source blogging has come that this sort of thing is so easy to get working.
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