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:
Popularity: 18% [?]
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:
Popularity: 28% [?]
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.
Popularity: 47% [?]
Steve Timmis and Tim Chester co-authored a book titled ‘Total Church‘ in the UK that’s also caused a bit of a stir in the US. So much so that Crossway have published an Americanized version of the book and Acts 29 have appointed Steve director of Acts 29 Western Europe. The talks are worth listening to as the book is worth reading.
This is the first of three sessions that Steve took – all the talks are available on the Resurgence website.
Popularity: 22% [?]
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to own a Bible bookshop and what I’d sell if I did. I get this feeling more and more as time goes on and I find it increasingly hard to find good Christian books in my local Christian bookshop. It’s a little bit like mining for precious stones – there’s a lot of coal and not many diamonds. This is most likely due to profit margins, bookshops focusing on what sells. This isn’t altogether unreasonable – bookshop owners have to eat after all! But it’s a shame that the top 10 Christian books are mostly self-help books that just happen to be written by a Christian.
With the rise of the web and sites such Amazon now selling such a great range of Christian books (I love the long tail!) and providing tools and web API’s it’s now possible to create your own Christian bookshop – so that’s what I’ve done. If I had a Christian bookshop it would sell what’s in the two links at the top of this page titled ‘BOOK SHOP UK‘ and ‘BOOK SHOP US‘. I had to create two shops because Amazon keeps the markets separate. This is the stuff I really believe in and believe will really transform your life as a Christian. Clicking the links to each book brings up the full editorial along with customer reviews.
So, feel free to have a browse and let me know what you think. If you end up buying a book, I get a small cut which might help pay for my web-hosting which is no bad thing, but also you might find something you really like. Even if you only use it to read the reviews and buy the book elsewhere you still might find in helpful.
The shop is an Amazon aStore which is a quick and easy way to set up an Amazon shop front. It took a while to create and setup through the Amazon Affiliate program (UK|US) but then it was really easy to add books and create categories. It was also a little fiddly to include on the site (using WordPress), but with a little web help it worked in the end. If anyone wants to create their own Amazon aStore, I’m happy to post a ‘How to…’ guide sometime soon.
I plan to keep adding to the store whenever I come across a good book so keep coming back!
Popularity: 19% [?]
I’m not sure to what degree you can apply this to the church, but it certainly helps if like me, you’re keen on building interesting web applications. Here are some of the highlights for me from the talk:
- 20 mins: Don’t try and force a new medium to your ends, but change your business to suit the new medium (the web)
- 28 mins: Give people something to talk about – tell stories. People will tell a story about you. Give them a story you want them to tell.
- 34 mins: Don’t think “how many people can I interrupt with my message?“, but “who can I interrupt?“
- 39 mins: We have no right to build a fancy website and expect everyone to come. The rules have changed.
- 41 mins: Don’t ask “how can I find more customers for my product?” but “how can I find better products for my customers?“
If I we’re pushed on what could apply to the church (and I think we have to be careful) it would be the stuff he talks about at the end of the video. He gives a introduction to his next project called ‘Tribes‘. He says some fascinating stuff about the nature of people groups at about 50 mins. Perhaps this can help us as Christians understand the nature of people groups in our ever changing world. John Stott says that as Christians we need to be good ‘double listeners‘ – meaning that we need to make sure we take the unchanging truths of the Word and apply them to our ever changing world.
He’s actually written a book on ‘Tribes‘. You can get the book on Amazon but it’s available as an audio book that you can actually get legally and for free here. Here’s the audio if you’re feeling a little lazy:
There’s also an eBook that goes along with it that contains case studies to go along with the book.
Popularity: 19% [?]
When we become Christians do we become better than other people? It’s certainly the accusation most non-Christians level at Christians. Arrogant, holier-than-thou people who make the world a worse place rather than a better one. At church recently, the speaker asked: are we better than other people if we’re Christians? The answer he gave was really helpful; we’re not better than other people but we’re better than we would be without Jesus.
This reminded me of a fantastic quote by C.S. Lewis. He was being asked questions by the Electrical and Musical Industries Christian Fellowship in 1944 – whoever they were?
One of the questions was: Are there any unmistakable outward signs in a person surrendered to God? Would he be cantankerous? Would he smoke?
The answer he gave:
Take the sour old maid, who is a Christian, but cantakerous. On the other hand, take some pleasant and popular fellow, but who has never been to church. Who knows how much more cantankerous the old maid might be if she were not a Christian, and how much more likeable the nice fellow might be if he were a Christian? You can’t judge Christianity simply by comparing the product in those two people; you would need to know what kind of raw material Christ was working on in both cases.
Taken from: C.S. Lewis – Essay Collection and other short pieces. Harper Collins, 2000.
Popularity: 19% [?]
I’ve been blogging since 2004 through the Feed Your Soul Blog but now that we’re moving to pastures new soon, I thought it was time that I started a brand new blog. It’s called theonology, which means that it’s a mix of theology and technology – two things I’m really passionate about. By technology I mean web technology. What good stuff about God is available on the web and how should we as Christians use the web. Hopefully that’s going to be the general gist of the blog so I hope you like it.
Popularity: 15% [?]