• Is the Campaign for Archbishop of Sydney Hurting our Christian Witness?

    Even though I am not an Anglican I have been watching the race for the archbishop of Sydney with a bit of interest. Why I hear you ask? Because whoever my Anglican brothers and sisters to nominate to be the next the Archbishop of Sydney will invariably be one of the most influential men in the Australian church if not the world. I have been praying daily for my Anglican brothers and sisters and their monumental decision.

    The two early candidates have been Rick Smith the Rector of Naremburn Cammeray and Glenn Davies the current bishop of north Sydney. I really don’t know either of these men very well. I have chatted with Glenn a bit and I have spoken on camps where Rick’s eldest daughter (who is a very impressive young lady!) has been one if the participants but that is all.
    If I had to vote I am not sure who I would be voting for in this two horse race but some already do and this is a good thing. However there has been the type of talk over social media that has been disconcerting to this outsider. It seems people have been saying “Glenn/Rick would be a good Archbishop of Sydney but….” After the but the well meaning brother in Christ ( I have only noticed men getting into this) will offer up the reasons why Rick or Glenn shouldn’t be the next Archbishop of Sydney. What concerns me is that for political expediency some of us are dragging a brother in Christ through the mud. I am left wondering if Jesus would condone this kind of mud slinging.

    I think my Anglican brothers need to take a leaf out of Ronald Reagan’s book. Reagan held to what was know as the the 11th commandment which stated “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” Why should Reagan not speak ill of any Republican? Because Reagan was a Republican and he knew that to publicly attack a fellow republican was to some extent publicly attack the Republican party. Reagan wrote in the autobiography “An American Life: The Autobiography“:

    “The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.”

    When Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976, he declined to attack his opponent. “I will not put aside the 11th commandment for anyone,” Reagan said in announcing his candidacy.

    Whether you are in Glenn’s camp or you are Rick’s fanboy doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. What matters to me is that in attacking Rick or Glenn publicly you are attacking your (and my) own team. You are attacking another Christian and in some sense you are attacking  Christianity.

    Guys the world is watching. I can only shudder to think of the news stories that would come about if the media got a hold of some Facebook conversations on this topic.

    If you want Glenn to win tell us about what a great theologian he is and the wonders he has done for the gospel in Australian and global Anglicanism. If you want Rick to win tell us about how under his brilliant leadership he has taken his church from a small church plant to a multi-site and multi-ethnic church boasting many congregations and hundreds of members. But let us not attack the brother we are not in favour of having as your next Archbishop of Sydney. Lets have a new 11th commandment.

    You may also like:

    What the next Archbishop of Sydney can’t be

    Please Pray For Our Bible and Theological Colleges

    Small Shifts in Doctrine May Destroy the Future Church

  • Why you Shouldn’t Tweet During Sermons

    It seems like tweeting during sermons is the thing to do these days. On Sunday night my Twitter feed is clogged with the ubiquitous hash tag #sermonhighlights. Usually the tweets are a little quote from the sermon which has hit the tweeter. The tweeter is trying to share what they are learning with their followers. This is a commendable thing.
    I used to tweet during sermons until a friend of mine challenged me about it. After his loving challenge I stopped tweeting during sermons.
    Here is why I think you shouldn’t tweet during sermons. You shouldn’t tweet during sermons because God is speaking! If God is speaking we shouldn’t be distracted. If God is speaking we should be intently hearing his word and applying it to our lives.
    The fact that God is speaking means that we should focus on his word. Come to church, turn off your phone and focus on his life giving word!
    Anyway, no one really cares what you put on Twitter.
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  • Pastors always look better on social media

    Here are list of things that you will never see a pastor put on Facebook or Twitter:

    “We had the lowest attendance ever but the gospel was preached!”

    “I am really bombing on this camp I am speaking at”

    “I am burnt out and I want to quit ministry!”

    “My wife is going through post natal depression and I am struggling.”

    “My Church wont seem to grow no matter what we try.”

    No here is what we (and I am putting me square in the middle of the we) put on Facebook and Twitter:

    “Please pray for me because my church has grown from 10 to a quarter of a million in 24 hours and I really need wisdom on how to pastor them.”

    “How good are the first 9 chapters of Chronicles? God’s word is amazing!”

    “Can’t wait to preach at John Piper’s church’s youth group. I am humbled by the opportunity”

    Granted, these posts are sarcastic posts that I have never seen on social media.  But I have seen and I have posted things that are very close.

    I have been challenged over the past few months to think about why I post what I post on Social Media I especially have been challenged by how my posts affect others. Sure my church is going great at the moment and I want more people to come to it but would posting how awesome my church is going discourage a godly and faithful brother in Christ who is struggling leading a church that is elderly and dying no matter what he tries to do? Putting up a post about my great wife could be cute or romantic but how does the single person who is struggling with their singleness feel when they read that post? How does the man who is married to a woman who is going through post natal depression feel when he reads my tweet about my amazing wife?

    I am not saying that we should never put things on social media about how great my church is or how awesome our spouse is but we should check our hearts before we post. We should ask what is the motivation behind posting this tweet. Is it to show the world that I have arrived  that I am awesome and that my life is fantastic? Or is it for a more noble reason? Also, ask this question before you post “Would I say what I am posting to all my Facebook friends or Twitter followers if they were right in front of me”? If not why would I post it online for them to read it?

    Twitter and Facebook has shown me for who I am in the past. That I am really quite narcissistic and this narcissism is deadly to my soul. What about you? Do you need to change they way you use social media?

  • Why Podcasting Could Destroy your Faith

    I was at a good church, the minister was a great man of God. He was godly, humble a good leader and extremely likeable.  He had taken this almost dead church to be a thriving church. Almost everyone loved his preaching. That is almost everyone except me. I had gotten into podcasting great preachers about a year before I started not appreicating this man’s great preaching. I was subscribing to about 40 podcats (yeah you read that right). I was listening to all the big names like Piper, Driscoll, Mahaney, Macarthur, Chandler, etc. When I came to church my pastors preaching wasn’t as dynamic and riveting as the guys I was podcasting. Sure he was faithful but I wanted more. No, I needed more.

    What was the issue here? It was me. I was judging the sermon on how much it entertained me. I was listening to Podcasts for entertainment not for spiritual change. The things that I remembered from the podcasts and commented on was the funny/touching/gripping illustration and not how the word through the preacher had changed me. I was hooked to podcasts as entertainment and preaching was primarily a performance. A performance where if the preacher didn’t grip me it was his fault.

    Every week God was speaking at my local church through the preacher and I prepared my heart to be entertained and when I wasn’t entertained I grew cold to the preaching. What a sad state I was in!

    I was not being fed spiritually because I had the wrong expectations, I was not being fed spiritually because I was judging the preaching rather than sitting under it.

    And it all came from listening to podcasts in the wrong way.

    I think people being bored with the preaching at our local church is a huge issue today. One that is born out of an entertainment, me first culture combined with a listening to preaching for entertainment.

    Should you listen to podcasts of the greats? Sure if you want to.

    But why are you listening to them?

    And what are you doing after you listen to the podcast?

    Are you listening to the podcast because it is fun or because you want to encounter God in his word?

    Are you coming away from the podcast and repenting of sin and being inspired to tell the world about Jesus or are you laughing at the joke the guy cracked on the podcast.

    If you listen to podcasts for entertainment you will start judging all preaching by whether it is entertaining and you will take this attitude into your local church and you will become like I was, selfish and self centered, thinking the preaching was all about me.

    By all means listen to great preaching through podcasts but don’t listen to be entertained listen to be changed.

     

  • Every church must do social justice part 4: The witness of History

    The early church in Greco roman world were notorious for bring stingy with how they gave their bodies away sexually and promiscuous about how they gave their money away. The Pagan Emperor Julian said this about Christians and their charity “Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity . . . These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their agape . . .”[1] Did you see what has happened because of Christians attitude to the poor the emperor is proclaiming the merits of the Christians!

    This kind of promiscuity with money and possessions was preached in the puritan era of the church. Jonathan Edwards, a man whose preaching was notable in its orthodoxy and whose theology is a passionate and yet extremely balanced and carefully weighted exposition of biblical truth nevertheless can say this “Tis the most absolute and indispensable duty of a people of God to give bountifully and willingly for the supply of the wants of the needy.”[2] For Edwards, one of the ways the church (notice the language of a people of God) displays the gospel is in its attitude to the poor. For Edwards it is the riches we behave been given in Christ which forms the basis of why we give generously to the poor. Speaking of Jesus Edwards says: “Consider that silver, and gold, and earthly crowns, were in his esteem but mean things to give us, and he hath therefore given us his own Son. Christ loved and pitied us, when we were poor, and he laid out himself to help, and even did shed his own blood for us without grudging. He did not think much to deny himself, and to be at great cost for us vile wretches, in order to make us rich, and to clothe us with kingly robes, when we were naked; to feast us at his own table with dainties infinitely costly, when we were starving; to advance us from the dunghill, and set us among princes, and make us to inherit the throne of his glory, and so to give us the enjoyment of the greatest wealth and plenty to all eternity. Agreeably to 2 Cor. 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” Considering all these things, what a poor business will it be that those who hope to share these benefits yet cannot give something for the relief of a poor neighbour without grudging! That it should grieve them to part with a small matter, to help a fellow servant in calamity, when Christ did not grudge to shed his own blood for them!”[3]For Edwards, as well as for us, the basis for social Justice is the Gospel it is not in competition with the Gospel!

    The last person from the history of the church I want to look at is the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  Spurgeon was known as the prince of preachers by many who heard him and yet he was no mere orator. He was a man who was possessed by the gospel so much so that he not only preached it with passion and compassion but he defended the truth of the gospel like a young lioness defends her cubs.[4] This is significant because here is a man of very strong reformed theology who defends the truth but when found in the midst of the squalor of inner city London in the 19th century Spurgeon not only preached the gospel but he also did many started many organisations that cared for the poor and needy. Here is a list of the works Spurgeon started:

    • An almshouse for needy Widows[5]
    • A free school for poor children[6]
    • A theological college to train young men who couldn’t afford to go to university
    • In 1867 an orphanage for young boys[7]
    • In 1879 An orphanage for girls[8]
    • A fund for the poor [9]
    • A Sunday school for the blind[10]

    So alongside his preaching and defending of the gospel Spurgeon showed a deep concern for the poor which overflowed in social justice.

    This all too brief survey of church history shows that Social justice and the gospel go hand in hand and therefore we cannot say that if we do social justice we will neglect the gospel because that statement is historically unfounded. We have also seen that the church throughout the ages has cared for the poor as an outworking of its adherence to the gospel


    [1] Quoted in Keller, Ministries, 108

    [2] Edwards, Jonathan, Christian Charity: or, The Duty of Charity of the Poor, Explained and Enforced. In The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1974), 163

    [3] Edwards, Christian Charity, in Works,

    [4] See Murray, Iain. The Forgotten Spurgeon. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1966),

    [5] Dallimore, Arnold, C. H. Spurgeon: A New Biography [Moody Press: Chicago, 1984)],125

    [6] Dallimore , C. H. Spurgeon,125

    [7] Dallimore , C. H. Spurgeon, 126

    [8] Dallimore, C. H. Spurgeon, 129

    [9] Drummond, Lewis A. Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1992),437

    [10] Drummond, Spurgeon, 438

     

  • Christian girls, Facebook and sanitized pornography

    Recently I sat down with a young dude who is struggling to be a Christian. Not struggling because he has some doubt or struggling because he has gone through pain in his life but struggling because he has sin in his life.

    He has the sin all guys struggle with. He has the sin of lust and that sin creeps up every time he goes on Facebook. You see the girls he is friends with on Facebook seem to have their profiles laden with photos of their latest trips to the beach where they are in their bikini’s or photos where they are posing provocatively for the camera.

    I want to ask the question: why if you are a Christian girl why would you put a photo on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet of yourself in a bikini or a provocative pose when you know it is going make a brother in Christ stumble?

    Sure, my friend has a lot to work on. He needs to work on his theology of sin and atonement as well as working on having a huge dose of self control as well as a revved up prayer life.

    But really girls do you need to have that photo on Facebook?

    Do you need to prove to the world how sexy you really are?

    God loves it when women dress modestly.  (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

    That doesn’t mean unfashionably.

    That just means that you realise that your body is not your own and you are to honour God with your body(1 Corinthians 6:20). You also realise that your body is meant to be for your future spouse not for every person to ogle at.

    Girls and guys please lets us not cause our brothers and sister to struggle. Go through your Facebook photos and please delete any pictures which could cause someone to stumble

    Do this because you love your brothers and sister in Christ and you want to honour God with your body!

     

  • How I am using Google+ circles

    Google+ is the new thing on the social media block. I love it and my wife is sick of hearing about it! It has a lot of features that I have yet to tap into but these features make it look a lot better functionally then Facebook. (I still love Facebook and Twitter though!)

    The great advantage that Google+ has over Facebook is its circles feature. If you are not on Google+ when you post a status update on Facebook all your “friends” can see it. Google+ circles means that you can group friends according to what they are to you. For example I have a Resolved circle and a friends circle and a networking circle etc. People can be in more than one circle also. So when I put a post on Google+ I can select a circle and only the people in the Circle I select will see it.

    This means I can have a series of posts going out to my networking friends about what I am doing and what Resolved is doing. I can then have a series of posts trying to inform people of what is happening is at Resolved in the Resolved circle and I can have some discussion starter type posts in my friends circle.

    Circles gives me the opportunity to target different groups of people and use it as a tool to connect these people with Resolved which is what I want to use my social media for.

  • Integrating Google +, Twitter and Facebook

    I just started using Google + and it looks awesome!!! But as soon as I was on there I was frustrated because I had my Twitter and Facebook accounts linked so that I could just open up Tweetdeck and type a tweet and it would go to Facebook and Twitter but then I had to cut and paste my tweet to Google +. But now I don’t have to do this!

    If you want your Google+, Twitter and Facebook accounts linked go to https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hbgcgahdbgbdenffckohanhobdcnkoip and download SGplus which is a tool which lets you post something on Google+ and then it automatically Tweets it and Facebooks it!

    By the way I would love to keep the conversation going on Twitter, Facebook and Google + so please feel free to add me!