• Church Musicians, Lets Cut the Acting

    I have been a church musician for about 18 years now. I have played in front of ten people and I have played in front of ten thousand people. God has blessed me with great opportunity to serve his people through playing guitar. Which I am eternally grateful.
    Over the years I have seen in myself and other church musicians either a rock star mentality that lacks humility or a phoniness where you look the part of a “worship leader”, “worship guitarist”  or “worship musician” (i.e. eyes closed, head back, suitable hip yet not revealing attire, etc.) and yet your heart is far from God. Does this last sentence mean that I think all church musicians that have their eyes closed have hearts far from God? No not at all. But I have been around enough church musicians who do look and act the part on stage but when they speak they confess their hearts are from God or they live lives that are far from giving glory to God.
    Let me be blunt  it is stupid to raise your hands, close your eyes and look like you are worshiping God when you are leading people in God’s praise if your heart is far from him. I don’t really care if you close your eyes or raise your hands that is not my point. My point is the emotion that you are displaying when you lead God’s people in song has to come from your emotional connectedness to God and not because you saw some worship person act like that on a YouTube clip.
    Church musician, the biggest gift you can give your church is not your hip clothes that give you that cool “I want you to think I have got bad hygiene but I really don’t” look if you are a guy. Or that “sweet kind of sexy but very wholesome” look if you are a girl. The biggest gift you can give to your church is not whether you are raising your hands or not. Or whether you look like you are in touch with God when you sing.
    No, the biggest gift you can give to your church is a passionate love for Jesus and a life committed to his glory. If you live in that way it won’t matter if you have the clothes or the right vibe because you will be giving people the kind of leader they need one that is passionate about Jesus looking great and one that is not concerned with how they look.
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  • What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

    One of the most frustrating things can be prayer. I know we all struggle to find the time to pray but do you find that when you do pray that sometimes you don’t know what to pray?I find this especially true that I don’t know what to pray for the people at my church.

    One of the things that I do when I don’t know what to pray is pray one of Paul’s prayers (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 1:3:9-13 ,2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Colossians 1:9-14, Philippians 1:9-11, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Romans  15:14-33). What could be better than praying the prayers that are in scripture for each other?

    The prayer that I like most our of the above list is Ephesians 3:14-21. It reads:

    14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

    The two things Paul is praying for is firstly, that the Ephesians would have Christ dwell in their heart more. This is akin to asking God to change their life so they are more centered on him. And secondly, that they would know the love Christ more and more. What great prayers to pray!

    Next time you are praying why not pray this prayer for the people at your church if you get stuck for things to pray for?

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  • Do You Have to Believe in a Historical Adam to Believe the Gospel?

    Whether Adam and Eve and were historical people who sinned against God is of great contention in evangelical theological circles today. Some say that Adam and Eve were just metaphors for Israel or the whole human race. Others say that we have to hold onto a literal Adam and Eve or we forsake the gospel.

    Last year Tim Keller wrote a brilliant piece called Sinned in a Literal Adam, Raised in a Literal Christ, In this article he says evangelicals should hold onto a literal Adam because of the trustworthiness of Scripture, the teaching of the New Testament and because of the nature of the Gospel itself. Keller closes with these words: 

    When we believe in Jesus, we are “in Christ” (one of Paul’s favorite expressions, and a deeply biblical one.) We are in covenant with him, not because we are related biologically but through faith. So what he has done in history comes to us.

    What has all this to do with Adam? A lot. Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians 15 about Adam and Christ that he does in Romans 5.

    For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor 15:21-22).

    When Paul says we are saved “in Christ” he means that Christians have a covenantal, federal relationship with Christ. What he did in history is laid to our account. But in the same sentence Paul says that all human beings are similarly (he adds the word “as” for emphasis) “in Adam.” In other words, Adam was a covenantal representative for the whole human race. We are in a covenant relationship with him, so what he did in history is laid to our account.

    When Paul speaks of being “in” someone he means to be covenantally linked to them so their historical actions are credited to you. It is impossible to be “in” someone who doesn’t historically exist. If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work “covenantally”—falls apart. You can’t say that Paul was a man of his time but accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching.


    Keller has nailed it. If you don’t have a literal Adam and Eve with a literal fall you are actually denying something close to the heart of Paul’s teaching and if you deny that you are probably denying the gospel.

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  • An Argument for the Existence of God from Beauty

    Our recognition of Creativity and beauty is one of the many reasons I think God exists. What advantage does recognizing creativity or beauty have in the survival of the fittest? But, if there is a creator God we should expect to be blown away by creativity and beauty because he has been creative in creating this beautiful world and therefore creativity and beauty have intrinsic value because they point us to our great creator God.

    If you are an atheist or an agnostic how would you respond?

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  • Bible Reading Plan for the Month of March

    Bible reading is so important for us as Christians but a lot of us don’t know where to start or what to read next. It is for these reasons I will be posting Resolved’s Bible reading plans for each month. Please give these plans to anyone who it may help.

    The Bible reading plan and instructions for March are below. If you want a hard copy of this plan right click and save this Resolved Bible Reading Plan For March.

    Read the Bible passage that is assigned for the day of month (e.g. read 1 on the 1st of March and 15 on the 15th of March) and meditate on what hits you from the passage about who Jesus is and/or what he has done for us. Thank him for his these things and then pray the prayer below that is based on Ephesians 1:16-19 for yourself and two other people at your church. Tweet what you are getting out of these readings using the hashtag #jesusthekingoftheworld

    1. Mark 1:1-20
    2. Mark 1:21-45
    3. Mark 2:1-10
    4. Mark 2:11-28
    5. Mark 3:1-18
    6. Mark 3:20-35
    7. Mark 4:1-20
    8. Mark 4:21-34
    9. Mark 4:35-41
    10. Mark 5:1-20
    11. Mark 5:21-43
    12. Mark 6:1-29
    13. Mark 6:30-56
    14. Mark 7:1-23
    15. Mark 7:24-37
    16. Mark 8:1-21
    17. Mark 8:22-9:1
    18. Mark 9:1-32
    19. Mark 9:38-50
    20. Mark 10:1-30
    21. Mark 10:31-52
    22. Mark 11:1-19
    23. Mark 11:20-33
    24. Mark 12:1-27
    25. Mark 12:28-44
    26. Mark 13
    27. Mark 14:1-42
    28. Mark 14:43-72
    29. Mark 15:1-20
    30. Mark 15:21-47
    31. Mark 16:1-8

    Pray this prayer based on Ephesians 1:16-19 for yourself and two others at your church every day for the month of March.

    Our great Lord Jesus,

    I give great thanks for _____. I thank you that you have called him/her to know, love and serve you and you have given them every spiritual blessing in Christ! I thank you for the way you are using them in large and small ways at Resolved and in Sydney.  I ask that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened in order that they may know the hope to which he has called them, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe.




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  • Are all religions just culturally conditioned?

    One of the things that irks most people today is to say that there is only one right religion. I mean how arrogant is that! As a Christian how can I say that my beliefs are better or more truthful than a Muslim’s beliefs or a Buddhist’s beliefs?

    One of the biggest objections to the idea of exclusivism (the belief that there is only one God and there is only one way to that God) is to assert that all religions are just culturally conditioned responses to reality. The argument goes like this: I am a white western male and therefore it is obvious that I would be a Christian because generally white western males, if they are going to believe in something, they will believe in the Christian God. But if I grew up in Morocco I would be a Muslim because most males in Morocco are Muslim. Therefore if this is true then this proves that all religions are culturally conditioned responses to reality and we should not say one is better than the other!

    Here is how the great philosopher Alvin Plantinga responds to this objection:

    “Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would have been quite different. But the same Goes for the pluralist.. If the pluralist had been born in Morocco he probably wouldn’t be a pluralist. Does it follow that… his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief producing process?’

    Alvin Plantinga, A Defense of Religious Exclusivism, p. 205

    In this quote Plantinga points out that the objection cuts both ways. For example, if an atheist student had been born in Morocco, then he probably would be a Muslim, not an atheist!  Does it follow that his atheist beliefs are merely conditioned by his parents or peers?  As Tim Keller observes “You can’t say, ‘All claims about religions are historically conditioned except the one I am making right now.’”

    All people whether they are Christians, Muslims or atheists are products of the cultures they were raised in. But atheists would never want to say that their atheism is merely the result of cultural conditioning.

    When we go down the road of claiming that those who disagree with me only believe what they believe because of their culture or upbringing or some because of ignorance I am not giving their position any respect.  I am simply patronizing them and really I don’t care about them or their position I am just trying to be right.

    Are religions culturally conditioned. To certain extent yes. But that doesn’t mean that there is no one true religion.

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  • How to Talk About Change in Your Church

    People, especially church people, hate change. We don’t like change because we are comfortable with the way things are. But what if what you are doing needs a significant overhaul? What if things are broken and need fixing?

    One of the questions leaders have is how do you introduce change especially when people are generally resistant to change. Here is what Andy Stanley has to say about how  to introduce change:

    “The most ineffective way to begin a conversation about change is to talk about what needs to change. You should never begin a conversation about change by addressing where you are now. You should always begin with where you want to be. When you begin a conversation about change by discussing what needs to change, you generally begin with something that someone is emotionally invested in. That’s a recipe for failure. Or termination. During my first two years of college, I knew I needed to change my study habits. Actually, I didn’t need to change them; I needed to have some. Anyway. Nothing changed until I decided to go to graduate school. Once I got a clear picture of a preferred future, my behavior changed. That’s what vision does. It allows me to see where I am in relation to where I need to be. Reminding me of where I am and then telling me I need to change is neither compelling nor inspiring. But pointing me toward a preferred future and helping me discover what I need to do now in order to get there … that’s different. So the best place to begin any conversation about change is the future. What could be. What should be. Perhaps what must be!”

    Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

    What great advice! Make the people taste the vision and point out the things we need to get there!

    How will you use in this piece of advice in your church?

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  • Why all Christians Can be Courageous

    Fear is a commodity that is highly traded in our world. We are told to be scared of terrorists, persecution, bacteria etc. But one of the biggest things we fear is people. It is hard to lovingly confront someone even if you are right. It is hard to stand up to people and take a stand. But all Christians can and should be courageous.

    In Joshua 1 we find an Israel that had every reason to be afraid. Their leader Moses is now dead, they are about to declare war on a number of nations, they had just seen a whole generation of people die in the desert. But God tells them to be strong and courageous 4 times in chapter one. But why should they be strong and courageous?

    In vs. 6 God says: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” The Israelites should be courageous because God promised their inheritance, and God is faithful and keeps his promises.
    And continuing in vs. 7 God says “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” The Israelites should be courageous because they have the very words of God!
    And in vs. 9 God says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Why should they be courageous? Because God is with them wherever they go.
    God is Faithful to His promises, He has a track record for proving it, and He is always with us.
    These words to Joshua apply to us as well.
    In the New Testament:
    • God promised to bring a Saviour, and He did. He’s given us the Spirit to give us words, and His words will go out from our mouths and ‘never return empty’ (Isaiah). And so we can be courageous for God because he keeps his promises!
    • We remember that we have the word of God in the Bible that encourages us and spurs us on!
    • And in Matthew 28 God is with us wherever we go! Imagine that, the God of the universe is with you! Who should you fear if he is on your side?
    Application – how do these three points help us?
    • God gives us words, by His Spirit, and His words never return empty – take confidence in this.
    • God’s word is with us and if we are doing things in accordance with his word we are smack bang in the middle of his will for our lives. So therefore we have courage when we are doing what he call us to do!
    • Whenever we enter into situations where we need courage we are never alone God is with us!.
    The world tells us to look for courage inside yourself. The Bible tells us to look to God for our courage.
    If you look to God for courage you can be courageous irrespective of how you feel at the time. 
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  • When Poor Preaching Destroys the Biblical View on Gender

    Every few years there is a debate on the gender roles in Christianity. This is a good and necessary discussion to have.

    It has been said by complementarian Male pastors that a lot of women feel forced to step up into a role that they don’t feel comfortable taking on because the men in that role are doing a poor job. This idea was confirmed to me by Clare Smith, a woman with a PhD in New Testament. This is an excerpt from her book God’s Good Design:

    I have never felt that I have nothing to contribute. Because of this, as well as being convinced it is not God’s will for me to do so, I have never felt the need to teach the Bible to men or to be a leading elder in a church. I have had to ask myself if I wanted to do so — because invitations have come — but making the decision not to do so has not been a difficult one. I realize this is not always the case for some women who say they feel ‘called’ to those ministries.

    My decision has been difficult only when — if I can be brutally honest, brothers — I hear inept preaching from a man. I do not mean your average run-of-the-mill preaching, where the preacher loves the Lord and loves his word but there is something lacking in the power or passion or application of that word. I mean preaching where the clarity of God’s word is obscured, or where error is proclaimed as truth, or where the preacher preaches himself and not our wonderful Saviour. It is then that I feel the rub of the different God-given responsibilities of men and women that prevent women from preaching to mixed congregations.

    Of course, I realize the pride inherent in such a complaint. And I realize it is not only women who struggle with poor preaching. But perhaps this is a good place to remind those brothers who are preachers that you serve your sisters, in a way that you do not serve your brothers, by being the best preacher you can be — because if there is no lack in the pulpit, your sisters will be less tempted to want to fill it.”

    Clare Smith God’s Good Design pg 230-231

    Does that sting?

    One of the biggest questions I get asked about what the Bible says about gender is “What if a man sucks at preaching/leadership and there is a woman that is better?” Great question. The answer is not for the Bible to be thrown out but for men to step up and lead and preach well.

    Pastors’ are you tempting women to enter into unbiblical roles for them because you aren’t preaching or leading well?

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  • Are you Still Using Your Greek?

    One of the things I learnt at Bible college was New Testament Greek (I did a year of Hebrew but I really didn’t learn it!). One of the questions that gets thrown around between pastors that I meet is “Are you still using your Greek/Hebrew when you prepare sermons?”. To our shame the answer is usually no.

    I read this quote by John Wesley on a blog by Ray Ortlund:

    “Do I understand Greek and Hebrew?  Otherwise, how can I undertake, as every Minister does, not only to explain books which are written therein but to defend them against all opponents?  Am I not at the mercy of everyone who does understand, or even pretends to understand, the original?  For which way can I confute his pretense?  Do I understand the language of the Old Testament? critically? at all?  Can I read into English one of David’s Psalms, or even the first chapter of Genesis?  Do I understand the language of the New Testament?  Am I a critical master of it?  Have I enough of it even to read into English the first chapter of St. Luke?  If not, how many years did I spend at school?  How many at the University?  And what was I doing all those years?  Ought not shame to cover my face?”

    John Wesley, “An Address to the Clergy,”

    Ortlund then finishes the blog by saying:

    I do not believe that every minister of the gospel, to be faithful, must know the original languages.  But many should and must.  It is the standard.  Yes, let’s make room for special cases.  But they are special cases.  And if we have had the privilege of studying the Bible in the original texts, the Lord has given us a stewardship to cultivate, not neglect.

    This rebuked me because I find I use the Greek knowledge that I have only when I really have time. But using the Greek will help me with exegesis and it is a privilege  Consider this preacher thoroughly rebuked!

    Pastor, are you using your Greek/Hebrew that you learnt at college?

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