Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Worth Chewing Over

How good is it that Phillip Jensen, who has been called "a once in a lifetime preacher" should put together his thoughts on preaching so that others may benefit?

In this book, you get Phillip Jensen's ideas, skilfully organised by Paul Grimmond, one of Jensen's admirers and followers.

Grimmond is well-placed to do this, because he has listened to Jensen speak for more than 20 years and has put his principles into practice in his own speaking ministry.

Tim Challies says that the image Jensen uses to depict preaching is too complicated and not one that people will be able to remember. He contrasts this with the simple, effective and memorable image of the trellis and the vine in Colin Marshall and Tony Payne's earlier companion volume to this one. He expects that image will be used by many to depict the administrative work in Christian ministry (trellis work) versus the task of drawing God's people into his kingdom through evangelism (vine work).

However in this book, the straightforward image used of an archer (the preacher) and his arrow (the sermon) is made more complex by Jensen's depiction of the arrow's head, shaft and feathers as illustrations of the elements of a sermon as message, exegesis and theology. But is it as hard to grasp as Challies makes out? I think that it is unpacked fairly clearly, and is a useful device for reminding us of all that is needed to create a successful message which challenges listeners to action.

The most helpful aspect of the book is the definition of preaching which forms the backbone of its contents. In chapter two Jensen gives us the preacher's mission statement:
My aim is to preach the gospel by prayerfully expounding the Bible to the people God has given me to love.
Through the rest of the book, Jensen explains his image of the arrow, showing how a Bible teacher needs to craft his sermon to make it achieve its goal, and takes apart his mission statement, bit by bit, and finally reassembles it.

Every speaker would benefit from reading The Archer and the Arrow because it compels you to think through the process of constructing a talk, while reminding us that the Christian preacher's aim is to enlist followers of Jesus, not to show people how clever we are.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Maitland Evangelical Church website has been remade and looks good. Simple, but effective. They're also letting us know they are around on facebook and Twitter. Kevin Reid is the webservant. I like his personal website, too which is called Grace Transforms. He has quite a few thought-provoking articles on his site. It is enriching to be partners with people and churches like these folk.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What should church be like? Do you think that this video portrays church as it should be? Could our church be a church like this [with an Australian accent]?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Top Ten Myths About The Resurrection

Did the resurrection of Jesus really happen? This should be a question that everyone and especially every Christian, should ponder.

Is it true? If it isn't, Christianity is meaningless because this teaching is the lynchpin of the whole story.

Mike Licona has made ten little videos in which he dispells some of the myths that people believe about the resurrection.

If you are really sharp, you might notice that the link is to another site pointing to the site where these ten videos are stored. This is because the hosting site doesn't seem to have a handy index to the videos!

These are the topics that Dr Licona discusses in his series of ten videos:
Myth 1: Contradictions in the Gospels
Myth 2: Pagan Parallels in the Mystery Religions
Myth 3: The Fraud Theory
Myth 4: Hallucinations
Myth 5: It's a Matter of Faith
Myth 6: Apparent Death Theory
Myth 7: It Was Merely Legend
Myth 8: Science Proves that Resurrections Cannot Occur
Myth 9: Not Enough Evidence
Myth 10: Lost Gospels

You will notice that each video gives some information quickly and then focusses on a set of DVDs on the topic. I have not yet seen the longer program, but if it is as good as the tasters, it should be terrific.

I'm convinced that Jesus really did rise from the dead and is alive today. I'm also convinced that the resurrection is by far the most logical explanation of the data we have concerning Jesus Christ.

What about you?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Top blogs

Two of our Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches pastors are writing quality stuff. Others may be, too, but these two are well worth following.

Science and the Gospel is an intriguing series in which Chris Little, pastor of Albury Bible Fellowship, is considering how faith in Christ transforms our view of science, through the lens of Two Ways To Live. His blog has lots of other great articles, too, on quite a variety of subjects.

Dave McDonald is another FIEC pastor, who is writing about his experiences as he undergoes chemotherapy for “inoperable” lung cancer It is not gloomy, but can be both confronting and compelling. Dave is currently on leave from Canberra's Crossroads Christian Church.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Outstanding resource

Getting more deeply into your Bible is an outstanding series of articles by Geoffrey Grogan, a Bible scholar who died recently. His son John is progressively releasing these articles which really do live up to the claim of helping you to get more deeply into the Bible. Highly recommended.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Genuinely free book

So often free book offers turn out to be less than free. And, all-too-frequently, in fine print, near the end of the offer is a line which says
available to US residents only
which really cheeses off this Aussie!
But George Verwer's offer is genuine. I received my copy a few days ago. George wants to get as many people as possible to read Fred Heeren's Show Me God. (I have inserted the link to the Amazon product page, so that you can peruse the book, and also read the mainly positive reviews.)

The book's subtitle is What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God. In the book, Heeren shares interviews with leading cosmologists and gives his own interpretation of how what they say and what the Bible says about creation can be harmonised.

I thought this short review from an Amazon reader was worth quoting:
I bought this book because I was having some serious doubts about God and Christianity. This amazing book cleared up all those doubts! When I finished reading the book I couldn't believe how clear everything was. There is no way anyone can read this book and be neutral about whethere or not there is a God. It is an amazing book and I highly recommend it for anyone. (Christen Humphries)

To order a copy, head to George's own webpage and follow the instructions.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Loving your "earthly dearest"

C S Lewis

When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.

Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all.

When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for reminding me of this quote from C S Lewis, sums up what Christopher Ash says in Married For God.

Ash challenges us with the thought that the main purpose of marriage is not to meet our needs, nor to stop us from being lonely. But he also says that when we truly put God first, we may find these things as byproducts (or, we may not).

Ash's book has some interesting questions at the end of each chapter. Some of them make you think about the nuts and bolts of the chapter you've just read, while others are designed to stimulate more open-ended thought.

It is a well-chosen book for getting us thinking, in preparation for our Making Good Marriages Better conference with Jim and Lesley Ramsay.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Underneath and undergirding the many books of the one Bible is the motif of God's grace: his favour and love to the undeserving says Dane Ortlund in his blog with the intriguing title of Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology

His article The Grace of God in the Bible shows how grace is the grand subject of all 63* books of the Bible.

His list has been carefully thought-out, and is a convincing summary of each book's teaching on grace

* The books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles were not originally divided into two volumes.

Making Good Marriages Better

Our church is hosting a marriage enrichment conference on Saturday, 25th February, with Jim and Lesley Ramsay leading.

Lesley and Jim have been married for 41 years ... 40 of which have been spent working alongside one another in pastoral ministry! They have 4 adult children, and 9 gorgeous grandchildren. They now live in Terrigal where Lesley enjoys reading novels and making quilts, Jim enjoys sudoku and the quest for the perfect lemon meringue pie, and they both enjoy the beach.

They have asked us to read Christopher Ash's book Married For God to prepare for the day's teaching.

I got my copy today from Pilgrim Books, which is now located in the All Saints Cathedral Church Hall in Bathurst.

I am one of the odd people who like reading the acknowledgments in books [and also stay to the very end at the movies].

Christopher Ash's thankyous didn't disappoint, and i like the way he ended them:
Above all I want to thank my dear wife Carolyn for showing me so much of the joy and purpose of marriage in practice as well as in theory.

Thankyou for your patience with an imperfect husband who pontificates about marriage while he ought to be getting on and living it.

Looking forward to the rest of the book and sharing the marriage enrichment day with my wife, Joan.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I've got my doubts

If you have yours, too please don't feel guilty or beat yourself up.
What can we do when we have questions running around in our minds which are worrying us?

Michael Patton has some helpful suggestions for what to do when someone is struggling with doubts. And he admits that he has been through this, too.
I've put some of what he has written into the first person, but his article is written from the point of view of helping someone else. I hope you'll read what Michael has to say, but here are a few gems:

Doubts are often the birth-pangs of deepened faith.

Embrace the central teachings of the Christian faith: don't get hung up on small, less important issues, which may be intriguing, but are not worth being overwhelmed by.

Doubt is not unbelief. When yo uare struggling with doubt, don't write yourself off, and start living as if you are no longer a Christian. Continue to live as a Christian, even if you don't feel like one anymore.

Sometimes people doubt because they want to sin, and are trying to justify this biblically. A man who has his eyes on someone else's wife, may be experiencing doubt, because he is dwelling on his lustful thoughts and attempting to somehow make it OK.
if there is something that we know we are supposed to be doing, and we are not doing it, doubt will soon spread, and the crisis of faith will be hard to overcome.

I am a perpetual doubter learning to live with it. I don't rejoice in my doubt and don't wish it upon anyone else. However, I have come to realize that it almost always makes my faith stronger in the end, so long as I am not apathetic. This perspective can help us deal with others in their doubts.

I hope these thoughts may be helpful to someone.