• What You Have To Know About Our Culture’s Preoccupation With Sex

    We live in a world where sex is everywhere. It seems every magazine has a sealed section about how to have hot sex. Sex sells everything. People pay for sex or pay to watch people get naked and have sex.

    But what does our cultures preoccupation with sex say about us and our culture? In the middle of last century C.S. Lewis said this about the culture’s preoccupation with sex:

    “You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act–that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food? And would not anyone who had grown up in a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?


    One critic said that if he found a country in which such strip-tease acts with food were popular, he would conclude that the people of that country were starving. He means, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease act resulted not from sexual corruption but from sexual starvation. I agree with him that if, in some strange land, we found that similar acts with mutton chops were popular, one of the possible explanations which would occur to me would be famine. But the next step would be to test our hypothesis by finding out whether, in fact, much or little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed that a good deal was being eaten, then of course we should have to abandon the hypothesis of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same way, before accepting sexual starvation as the cause of the strip-tease, we should have to look for evidence that there is in fact more sexual abstinence in our age than in those ages when things like the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual indulgence far less costly within marriage and far safer outside it than ever before, and public opinion is less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than has been since Pagan times.”

    C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 89-90


    Lewis shows that our preoccupation with sex shows that our society is broken. That we are defined by sex shows that we are enslaved by it. The gospel shows us that our identity is not formed by or based on our sexuality. It is based on the fact that we are made in the image of God and he has redeemed us through his son. Only through that lens can we see our sexuality in the light that we should see it in.

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  • The Kind of Prayer that Kindles Revival

    A praying church is a church that is a fearsome weapon for the growth of the gospel. But what kind of prayer should we pray if we want to see our city impacted with the love for Jesus for God’s glory? Tim Keller in his awesome book Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City says this about the type of prayers we should pray if we want to see revival come:

    To kindle every revival, the Holy Spirit initially uses what Jonathan Edwards called “extraordinary prayer” — united, persistent, and kingdom centered. Sometimes it begins with a single person or a small group of people praying for God’s glory in the community.

    What is important is not the number of people praying but the nature of the praying. C. John Miller makes a helpful and perceptive distinction between “maintenance” and “frontline” prayer meetings.1 Maintenance prayer meetings are short, mechanical, and focused on physical needs inside the church. In contrast, the three basic traits of frontline prayer are these: 1. A request for grace to confess sins and to humble ourselves 2. A compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church and the reaching of the lost 3. A yearning to know God, to see his face, to glimpse his glory These distinctions are unavoidably powerful. If you pay attention at a prayer meeting, you can tell quite clearly whether these traits are present.

    In the biblical prayers for revival in Exodus 33; Nehemiah 1; and Acts 4, the three elements of frontline prayer are easy to see. Notice in Acts 4, for example, that after the disciples were threatened by the religious authorities, they asked not for protection for themselves and their families but only for boldness to keep preaching! Some kind of extraordinary prayer beyond the normal services and patterns of prayer is always involved.


    How does what Keller says effect the way you will pray in the future?

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  • Is God Arrogant?

    Some people find the idea of God demanding we worship him uncomfortable or plain wrong.  It seems like God is arrogant. I mean If I said “I am the greatest in the world worship me!” you would find me arrogant wouldn’t you? Well the same goes for God than doesn’t it? Or does it?

    Paul Copan in his book Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Answers the question “Is God Arrogant” like this:

    Pride, we know, is an inflated view of ourselves—a false advertising campaign promoting ourselves because we suspect that others won’t accept who we really are.2 Pride is actually a lie about our own identity or achievements. To be proud is to live in a world propped up with falsehoods about ourselves, taking credit where credit isn’t due.

    What then is humility? This involves having a realistic assessment of ourselves—our weaknesses and strengths.

    Well, then, is God proud? No, he has a realistic view of himself, not a false or exaggerated one. God, by definition, is the greatest conceivable being, which makes him worthy of worship. In fact, our word worship is a kind of contraction of the Old English word weorthscipe—or “worth-ship.” So if an all-powerful but despicably evil being demanded our worship, we shouldn’t give it to him. He wouldn’t be worthy of worship.

    So God can demand our worship because he alone is worthy of our worship!

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  • Has Radical Feminism Failed Our Women?

    It seems today that radical feminism is assumed as correct. Now I do think that feminism has brought good changes to our society that I, as an Evangelical Christian Pastor, can wholeheartedly agree with and applaud. But it does seem that some secular women are arguing against radical militant feminism because it is not offering the kind of life that they want as women.

    A case in point is Rebecca Walker. She is the daughter of Alice Walker, prominent feminist and author of The Color Purple. Here is how Rebecca describes her experience of her mothers radical feminism:

    I was raised to believe that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. But I strongly feel children need two parents and the thought of raising Tenzin without my partner, Glen, 52, would be terrifying.

    As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families.

    My mother’s feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn’t even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her.

    I love my mother very much, but I haven’t seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son  –  her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology.

    Here is how she describes being a teenager under her mother’s “care”:

    A neighbour, not much older than me, was deputised to look after me. I never complained. I saw it as my job to protect my mother and never distract her from her writing. It never crossed my mind to say that I needed some time and attention from her.

    When I was beaten up at school  –  accused of being a snob because I had lighter skin than my black classmates  –  I always told my mother that everything was fine, that I had won the fight. I didn’t want to worry her.

    But the truth was I was very lonely and, with my mother’s knowledge, started having sex at 13. I guess it was a relief for my mother as it meant I was less demanding. And she felt that being sexually active was empowering for me because it meant I was in control of my body.

    Now I simply cannot understand how she could have been so permissive. I barely want my son to leave the house on a play-date, let alone start sleeping around while barely out of junior school.

    A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.

    Although I was on the Pill  –  something I had arranged at 13, visiting the doctor with my best friend  –  I fell pregnant at 14. I organised an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl. I don’t remember my mother being shocked or upset. She tried to be supportive, accompanying me with her boyfriend.

    It seems to me Alice Walker was raising her daughter in line with her radical feminist principles. But I think we can all agree that a sexually active girl at 13 who at 14 has a self organised abortion shows that bankruptcy of this kind of radical feminism.

    Rebecca Walker than closes this piece with a devastating critique of radical feminism:

    The ease with which people can get divorced these days doesn’t take into account the toll on children. That’s all part of the unfinished business of feminism.

    Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: ‘I’d like a child. If it happens, it happens.’ I tell them: ‘Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.’ As I know only too well.

    Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.

    Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

    But far from taking responsibility for any of this, the leaders of the women’s movement close ranks against anyone who dares to question them  –  as I have learned to my cost. I don’t want to hurt my mother, but I cannot stay silent. I believe feminism is an experiment, and all experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations.

    I hope that my mother and I will be reconciled one day. Tenzin deserves to have a grandmother. But I am just so relieved that my viewpoint is no longer so utterly coloured by my mother’s.

    I am my own woman and I have discovered what really matters  –  a happy family.

    It seems to Rebecca Walker at least that radical feminism has failed our women.
    Make sure you read the whole article here.

    Rebecca Walker has also has written two books on feminism:

    To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism

    Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence

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  • Why Pastors Must Cultivate A Passionate Love For Jesus

    Pastoral ministry is hard work. It is hard work because there is always more going than merely the here and now. One of the hardest things to do in pastoral ministry is to work out of a love for Jesus and the gospel.  Paul Tripp in his book  Dangerous Calling says this about the the shaping of ministry by the heart of the Pastor:

    You see, it is absolutely vital to remember that a pastor’s ministry is never just shaped by his knowledge, experience, and skill. It is always also shaped by the true condition of his heart. In fact, if his heart is not in the right place, all of the knowledge and skill can actually function to make him dangerous.

    What should a pastor’s like look like? Tripp says this:

    The pastor must be enthralled by, in awe of—can I say it: in love with—his Redeemer so that everything he thinks, desires, chooses, decides, says, and does is propelled by love for Christ and the security of rest in the love of Christ. He must be regularly exposed, humbled, assured, and given rest by the grace of his Redeemer. His heart needs to be tenderized day after day by his communion with Christ so that he becomes a tender, loving, patient, forgiving, encouraging, and giving servant leader. His meditation on Christ—his presence, his promises, and his provisions—must not be overwhelmed by his meditation on how to make his ministry work.

    But why is it vital for a pastor’s heart to be filled with the love of Jesus? Tripp explains:

    You see, it is only love for Christ that can defend the heart of the pastor against all the other loves that have the potential to kidnap his ministry. It is only worship of Christ that has the power to protect him from all the seductive idols of ministry that will whisper in his ear. It is only the glory of the risen Christ that will guard him against the self-glory that is a temptation to all who are in ministry and that destroys the ministry of so many. Only Christ can turn an arrogant, “bring on the world” seminary graduate into a patient, humble giver of grace. Only deep gratitude for a suffering Savior can make a man willing to suffer in ministry. It is only a heart that is satisfied in Christ that can be spiritually content in the hardships of ministry. It is only in your brokenness in the face of your sin that you can give grace to the fellow rebels to whom God has called you to minister. It’s only when your identity is firmly rooted in Christ that you are free from seeking to get your identity out of your ministry.

    What are you doing to cultivate a passionate love for Jesus?

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  • The Sin of Plagiarizing Sermons

    I went into this particular church for the first time. I had been interviewed to be on staff as a student minister and then I heard the preacher and his sermon convinced me not to take the position.

    No the sermon wasn’t heretical

    No the sermon wasn’t terrible

    But the sermon was plagarized

    I had heard this particular sermon a few months ago from another man who I know got it from a preacher in the states. When I confronted the Preacher who was interviewing me he didnt think preaching someone else’s sermon was a big deal. When I told  the search committee why I wasn’t taking the position no one seemed to mind that this man had plagiarized the sermon.

    With the advent of the internet and podcasting plagiarism in sermons is continuing to go through the roof. I have heard of more than my share of Pastors with theological degrees from great colleges plagiarizing sermons.

    But is this such an issue?

    I think it is and here is why:

    1. The pastoral task it to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-5) so there is a biblical command that you preach. But it is the content of what you preach that matters. The content is meant to be the word. I think that implies you have spent good amounts of time studying the text of scripture yourself and have let it shape the sermon. You haven’t merely downloaded the sermon  and become a human speaker for someone else.

    2. The congregation is paying you to preach. So there is a sense in which you are taking money under false pretenses if you plagiarize sermons.

    3. The sermon is meant to be from your heart to the congregations heart. Out of love for God and your congregation you are meant to preach.

    4. The heart of a pastor is corrupt when he plagiarizes a sermon because he thinks that faithful preaching isn’t good enough. That is why he plagiarizes the sermon because he thinks that what the congregation needs to is a killer sermon replete with great illustrations, awesome applications and a few great jokes. But in the end faithfulness not flair makes a good preacher. It is love for your congregation not laughter from your congregation that matters.

    If you are plagiarizing sermons you are robbing your church and yourself of great time in the word. Repent of this sin and take Paul’s words to Timothy to heart:

    In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

    2 Timothy 4:1-5

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  • Check Out These Theological Titles Coming Soon

    One of my disciplines that I try to keep is reading. I try to read every day for at least an hour a day. Sometimes I make the quota sometimes I fall far short. For me as an avid reader in theology it seems like the end of 2013 is going to be a great year for new theology books. Here are some of the books I am looking forward to reading:

    The book I am most looking forward to is edited by my friend Jonathan Gibson and his brother David. It is called From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective and with contributors like  Henri A. Blocher, Sinclair B. Ferguson, Paul Helm, Robert Letham, John Piper, Thomas R. Schreiner,Carl R. Trueman , Lee Gatiss, Donald Macleod, J. Alec Motyer,  Garry J. Williams it will be the book on definite (or limited) atonement

    N.T Wright has three books coming out. If you know anything about theology you will know that his books always cause debate! His latest book in His Christian Origins and the Question of God series is Paul and the Faithfulness of God which will be a demanding and yet important read. His other books are Paul and His Recent Interpreters and Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 which also will be required reading for anyone wanting to keep abreast of new studies in Pauline theology.

    The New Studies in Biblical Theology series has two books coming out to go along with it’s vast array of great books it has released. The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of Incarnation  Is written by Aussie Graham Cole and another Aussie, Brian Rosner, has written Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God. I have heard first hand some of Brian’s material in this book and it was amazing and this boo looks like it will be a cracker of a book!

    Anthony Thistleton has a book on the Holy Spirit entitled The Holy Spirit: In Biblical Teaching, through the Centuries, and Today coming out in June. If you have read any of Thistleton’s other work I am sure you will concur with me saying this will be an exhaustive and illuminating book.

    On a more popular Level but still good for pastors to read a three books one by Jared Wilson entitled The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry which seems to join the growing ranks of books addressing the spiritual needs of pastors. Matt Chandler has book coming out called To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain which is based on the book of Phillipians. And finally, Tullian Tchividjian’s latest book lands early October and it is called One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.

    Which one of these book are you hoping to buy and read?

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  • 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.

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  • Please Pray For Our Bible and Theological Colleges

    I love the theological college I went to. I love the faculty, I love the things I learnt there, I love the people I met there. If you have been to a bible/ theological college I hope you love the one you went to as much as I love the one I went to.

    Every week I pray for my college. One of the things I pray for every week is that it would stay theologically strong. Satan would love to see any theological college turn into a theologically liberal college.

    Here are the powerful words Albert Moher wrote about the place of theologcial colleges in the life of the church and how liberal theology can creep into them:

    Theological education is a deadly serious business. The stakes are so high. A theological seminary that serves faithfully will be a source of health and life for the church, but an unfaithful seminary will set loose a torrent of trouble, untruth, and sickness upon Christ’s people. Inevitably, the seminaries are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.


    Sadly, the landscape is littered with theological institutions that have poorly taught and have been poorly led. Theological liberalism has destroyed scores of seminaries, divinity schools, and other institutions for the education of the ministry. Many of these schools are now extinct, even as the churches they served have been evacuated. Others linger on, committed to the mission of revising the Christian faith in order to make peace with the spirit of the age. These schools intentionally and boldly deny the pattern of sound words in order to devise new words for a new age — producing a new faith. As J. Gresham Machen rightly observed almost a century ago, we do not really face two rival versions of Christianity. We face Christianity on the one hand and, on the other hand, some other religion that selectively uses Christian words, but is not Christianity.


    How does this happen? Rarely does an institution decide, in one comprehensive moment of decision, to abandon the faith and seek after another. The process is far more dangerous and subtle. A direct institutional evasion would be instantly recognized and corrected, if announced honestly at the onset. Instead, theological disaster usually comes by means of drift and evasion, shading and equivocation. Eventually, the drift accumulates into momentum and the school abandons doctrine after doctrine, truth claim after truth claim, until the pattern of sound words, and often the sound words themselves, are mocked, denied, and cast aside in the spirit of theological embarrassment.


    As James Petigru Boyce, founder of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, argued, “It is with a single man that error usually commences.” When he wrote those words in 1856, he knew that pattern by observation of church history. All too soon, he would know this sad truth by personal observation.


    Please read the rest of the article called Confessional Integrity and the Stewardship of Words and please pray that our theological and bible colleges would remain faithful to God’s word. 

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  • Pastors You Must Fight For Your Time to Read

    Reading is essential for pastoral ministry. It is where we are refreshed, it is where our ideas and theology are honed. It helps us think more deeply about scripture, theology and our work.

    My great hero Charles Spurgeon was a great reader and a great preacher. When he preached on  2 Timothy 4:13  (“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments”) Spurgeon said this:

    We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them.

    Even an apostle must read.


    Some of our very ultra-Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot and talks any quantity of nonsense is the idol of many. If he will speak without premeditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains—oh, that is the preacher!


    How rebuked they are by the apostle!

    He is inspired, and yet he wants books!

    He has been preaching for at least thirty years, and yet he wants books!

    He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!

    He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet wants books!

    He had been caught up into the Third Heaven and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books!

    He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!


    The apostle says to Timothy, and so he says to every preacher, “Give attendance to reading” (1 Tim. 4:13).

    The man who never reads will never be read.

    He who never quotes will never be quoted.

    He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own.

    Brothers and sisters, if great men like Paul and Spurgeon took time to read ordinary men like the rest of us must make time for it too.

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