• What if Everyone Was as Committed to God as You Are?

    Have you ever thought about your church and asked the question “What if everyone here was as committed to God and what he is doing as I am?”  If the people at your church were as committed as you are to the church what would your church look like? What if people at your church came as regularly as you what would the attendance look like? What if people at your church prayed as much as you did would you see God work more or less? What if people at your church gave as much as you would your church reach budget or would it be broke? What if people at your church served as much as you would your church be overstocked with people to serve or would there be a few tired people burnt out because they are the only ones serving?

    We all want our churches to be better. We all want God to move in our churches. But so many of us talk about the things other people need to do to change our church. We need others to step up, we need others to serve more, we need others to pray more, we need others to care about me more. And the list goes on.

    But what if instead of pointing our fingers at others we took a long hard look at ourselves and asked what should I be doing? Am I praying like I should be? Am I giving like should be? Am I serving like I should be? Maybe we should ask the question “If everyone at church was as as committed as I am what would the church look like?”

    We serve a great saviour who has done what we couldn’t do. He has rescued us from sin   and now we have a great hope because he raised from the dead. Let’s not be half committed to his cause but let;s radically commit to him and his cause!

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  • Two Distinct Errors in Thinking About the Holy Spirit

    A while ago I went to a wedding. The bride looked beautiful, the groom had actually showered, the music was great and there was a lot of happiness to be shared around. It was a Christian wedding and so there was the usual Bible readings, sermon, prayers which were all Gospel centered. I was talking to an old friend of mine after the service and he pointed out that there wasn’t one mention of the Holy Spirit in the service. Not one.

    Another time I had a conversation with a pastor who told me he was sad a particular minister was leaving town. When I asked why he replied “Because he is interested in the things of the Holy Spirit.” I was taken aback. Shouldn’t he have said he was interested in proclaiming Jesus?

    We Evangelicals have reacted against the excesses of the some brothers and sisters in the church who are not only spirit filled Christians but Spirit centered Christians. But we have reacted so strongly that sometimes we are wary of anything that feels charismatic.  Some of us over react and therefore we have not defined ourselves by what the Bible says but we define ourselves by what we are against. This means that our preaching and our churches are silent on the Spirit. He is, as Francis Chan has said “the Forgotten God”

    Wherever we think about the Holy Spirit we need to heed John Macarthur’s words on the spirit very carefully:

    “Two errors regarding the doctrine of the Holy Spirit have clouded the contemporary church’s understanding of His person and ministry. On the one hand, the charismatic movement is obsessed with the Holy Spirit, tending to focus all doctrine and worship on Him exclusively. The danger with an undue stress on the gifts and leading of the Holy Spirit is that personal experience is often elevated over the objective truth of Scripture. On the other hand, many non-charismatics tend to ignore the Holy Spirit altogether. Perhaps weary of the controversy, confusion, and subjectivity of the charismatic movement, too many have responded by going to the opposite extreme. They simply avoid the Holy Spirit in their teaching and study.”

    John Macarthur, The Silent Shepherd: The Care, Comfort and Correction of the Holy Spirit. 

    Are you and your church more likely to fall into Charismatic errors or Conservative Evangelical errors when it comes to the Holy Spirit?

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  • A Tribute To Chappo

    Last Friday night the world lost someone who it was not worth of having. That man was John Chapman. I am extremely thankful to God for this great man.

    John took up his first post Bible College ministry position in my home town of Moree. To this day there are still people in Moree who remember Chappo and his sermons even though he kicked off his full time ministry decades ago! This was rammed home to me when, after I preached what I thought was a good sermon, a lady came up to me and said “Don’t worry even Chappo preached a few stinkers!” I dare say she remembered the stinkers because he was an unusually gifted preacher and therefore his stinkers were very rare and noticeable by their conspicuousness!

    It was Chappo and a group of other like minded clergy who worked hard at getting Peter Chiswell installed as Bishop of the Armidale Diocese in 1976. To my knowledge Peter was the first Evangelical Bishop to be installed as Bishop of Armidale. The knock on effect of this work is that every church in the Armidale Diocese has an evangelical minister and when I was a lanky 14 year old kid and I walked in to my local Anglican church I was smack dab in the middle of a great Bible teaching church. I don’t think it is too strong to say that I am a Reformed Evangelical who tries to preach expository messages because Chappo and his band of brothers worked hard to get an evangelical installed as Bishop in the Armidale Diocese.

    When I asked Chappo about what part he played to get Peter Chiswell installed as bishop he said “Oh brother I didn’t do that much. People wanted an evangelical bishop and I just said here is our man and I prayed. That is all brother!” When I asked other people who were in the know what part Chappo played in this story they always said he was instrumental or that he was a catalyst. This goes to show how much of a humble man Chappo was.

    On Saturday night I chatted two men who had worked very closely  in various contexts with Chappo and they both remarked to me that they had never heard anyone say a bad word about Chappo. He was always well liked and well loved because he exuded love and grace to all those he met.

    Chappo’s sense of humour was exceptional. I first heard Chappo at the Moree Christian convention in a Q&A time. When he got up to answer the first question I remember thinking “This is the guy who everyone was raving about?” Just when I was settling in for a night of boredom….. BANG!!! his first one liner hit me and then the next and the next. It is safe to say I have never laughed so hard in a church Q&A ever!

    Chappo was a committed Reformed Evangelical.  I remember having him for preaching class and he would press us not to care about what the academic world said about the Bible or what the outside world thought about the Bible but to hold firm and believe the Scriptures in their entirety. One time he said that we will have to read a lot of “Liberal rubbish that is for the birds. But don’t you lose your confidence in the Scriptures!” This made a huge impression on me as a college student.

    But the thing I will miss most about Chappo is his preaching. He was a man who God used mightily to bring many people to come to know and love and serve Jesus. I thank God for his preaching. It was simple without being simplistic. It was biblical and relevant. It was engaging but Chappo never included a joke just to make people listen. Although he did tell some great jokes! Chappo’s preaching was always Expository, it was always Christ centrered and always full of grace. This is the kind of preaching I want to mark my ministry.

    I thank God for Chappo and I know that as he was welcomed home he heard these words from Jesus

    “Well done good and faithful servant!”

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  • Why You Should Listen to a Historian and Not a Hack on The Existence of Jesus

    Some Jesus deniers say that is doesn’t matter if no professional historian denies the existence of Jesus. They say academic credentials don’t matter only the arguments do.

    Bart Ehrman in his book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth shows why not listening to professional historians on this issue is ridiculous:

    “I hardly need to stress what I have already intimated: the view that Jesus existed is held by virtually every expert on the planet. That in itself is not proof, of course. Expert opinion is, at the end of the day, still opinion. But why would you not want to know what experts have to say? When you make a dental appointment, do you want your dentist to be an expert or not? If you build a house, do you want a professional architect or your next-door neighbor to draw up the plans? One might be tempted to say that in the case of the historical Jesus it is different since, after all, we are just talking about history; experts have no more access to the past than anyone else. That, however, is simply not true. It may be the case that some of my students receive the bulk of their knowledge of the Middle Ages from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but is that really the best place to turn? So too millions of people have acquired their “knowledge” about early Christianity—about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicaea—from Dan Brown, author of the aforementioned The Da Vinci Code. But at the end of the day, is that such a wise choice? Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. Again, this is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.”

    So if no professional historian denies the existence of Jesus why would anyone else?

    Do you find Ehrman’s argument persuasive? Why or why not?

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  • Does Jesus Make a Difference in your life?

    Does the fact that you are a Christian make a true difference in your life? So many Christians today live normal lives with just a bit of Jesus in them. Just enough Jesus so as to not make us look weird. Just enough Jesus so that he will not interrupt our lives. But if Jesus is who he said he is surely this is something we need to radically correct. If our lives are truly changed by what Jesus did on the cross surely our lives should show this difference.

    As you know, I have been reading Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. (This will be the last time I blog about this book I swear!) read what Chan says about living life with a bit of God added in:

    “Nowhere in Scripture do I see a “balanced life with a little bit of God added in” as an ideal for us to emulate. Yet when I look at our churches, this is exactly what I see: a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join them on their life journey, to follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before. The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life.”

    It is a challenge to live lives that are truly shaped by Jesus. Are you living the type of radical life that Jesus demands?

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  • Has the Holy Spirit Made a Difference in Your Life?

    I have been reading Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan. If you have never read any of Chan’s books they are always very easy to read as well as being very hard hitting.

    In the book Chan is getting us to reconsider how much of a force the Holy Spirit is in our lives. Here is the section that has challenged me the most:

    “You are most likely familiar with the “fruit passage” in Galatians 5, which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (vv. 22–23 NIV). You may even have the list memorized. But look over those traits right now and ask yourself if you possess each to a supernatural degree. Do you exhibit more kindness and faithfulness than the Mormons you know? Do you have more self-control than your Muslim friends? More peace than Buddhists? More joy than atheists? If GOD truly lives in you, shouldn’t you expect to be different from everyone else?”

    They are great questions aren’t they? If God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, resides in us shouldn’t we be more like God? Shouldn’t we exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit more?

    What Fruits of the Spirit do you want to see made more manifest in your life?

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  • And the Winner of The My Little Girl is a Gangsta Photo Caption Competition is…..

    A massive thank you to all those who emailed, texted or tweeted entries in to the My Little Girl is a Gangsta Photo Caption Competition. There were so many great entries but in the end the winner was Luke Wilson who sent this one in:

    Luke wins the following great resources:

    What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

    The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel

    Showing the Spirit by D.A. Carson

    A DVD of Collision featuring Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson

    Thanks for checking out the blog and look out for competitions we will run in the future.

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  • Fight for your Holiness

    Christians believe that we are right with God, forgiven and cleansed by the death of Jesus. We also think that we are sanctified or made holy by what Jesus has done. These are things that no biblical Christian would want to deny.

    But as we rightly remember that Jesus sanctifies us through his death do we also remember on the other hand that we are to fight for our sanctification?  Take Paul in 1 Timothy 6 for example:

    11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12

    Notice the verbs Paul is using here. We have to pursue, fight, take hold. They are all active verbs. Meaning, that we are not to sit back on our laurels but we are to fight to be more holy, more Christ like.

    Or take Paul in Philippians 2 for example:

    12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

    Notice what he is saying. He is saying that God works in us and we are to work out salvation. Now what does it meant to work out our Salvation? I think it means that we are to strive to live as a Christian because a Christian is one who is saved. So I think Paul is saying work it out, live it out. Live life like you are saved.

    So Christians are meant to fight for our holiness. We are meant to battle sin. We are meant to walk away from the internet when we are tempted. We are meant to work hard at seeing the good in others so that we don’t gossip. We are meant to fight to read our Bible  and fight to be encouraged by it. We are to labour in prayer. But we do this all because we have the power from God to do it!

    Here is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones say about our fight for holiness:

    “The New Testament calls upon us to take action; it does not tell us that the work of sanctification is going to be done for us. . . .We are in the ‘good fight of faith’, and we have to do the fighting. But, thank God, we are enabled to do it; for the moment we believe, and are justified by faith, and are born again of the Spirit of God, we have the ability. So the New Testament method of sanctification is to remind us of that; and having reminded us of it, it says, ‘Now then, go and do it’.”

    Martyn Lloyd-Jones Romans:Exposition of Chapter 6: The New Man, 76

    How do you fight for holiness?

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  • Spiritual warfare is more boring than you think

    Spiritual warfare is a constantly thorny topic. There seems to be people who see a demon under every bush and every spiritual attack looks like a scene from Paranormal Activity 4. (Which looks AWESOME by the way!)  Then there is other people who seem to downplay  spiritual warfare so much that it seems like we are to discount the passages in the Bible which speak of it.

    So how does spiritual warfare actually work?

    The answer is spiritual warfare is much more boring than you think! Here is what Kevin DeYoung says about it in his great book The Hole in our Holiness:

    “But we could also talk more broadly about faith in the Word of God. That’s essentially what spiritual warfare is: believing the truth of God instead of the lies of the Devil. Satan is the father of lies, and his basic weapon is deception. He lies about God. He lies about your sin. He lies about you forgiveness. He lies about the Bible. Resisting the Devil has nothing to do with haunted houses or spinning heads. It has to do with faith, trusting in truth instead of lies. That’s what Ephesians 6 is all about. Put on the belt of truth. Take up the shield of faith. Wield the sword of the spirit. In spiritual warfare you stand fast against the schemes of the devil by standing fast on the Word of God.”

    Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness, 87-88

    So, how do you engage in spiritual warfare? Believe the Gospel. Read your Bible and pray. Tell people about Jesus. Be active in church. Listen to sermons for encouragement not for entertainment and critique. Read a good gospel centered book that will help you love Jesus more. Then you will be in the thick of spiritual warfare.

    Because, in the end, spiritual warfare is more boring than you think.

    What do you think about spiritual warfare?

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  • What we are saying when we don’t share the Gospel

    It is very easy not to tell people about Jesus isn’t it? We have every excuse in the book don’t we? But have you ever considered what you are saying when you choose not to share the gospel?
    My dad grew up in Denmark after the 2nd world war. He once told me a true story that chilled me to my bones.
    At a church that was near where my dad grew up there was a young minister in charge of his first church. The church was just across the road from a train station where Nazis used to put Jews on trains bound for Auschwitz. It just so happened that the trains would leave the station at 9:10am on a Sunday morning. So just as the church was singing its first couple of songs the train would leave and the passengers who were going to Auschwitz would scream. As you can understand this would destroy the vibe of the singing in church!
    So the minister called his bishop who came and led next Sundays service. The singing started, the train went, the screams rose and the singing went down in volume. To which the bishop exclaimed “Just sing louder!!”
    Are you kidding me? Just sing louder so that singing of songs to God drowns out the screams of people going to their impending death.
    We are outraged and rightly so.
    But have you ever thought that every time you decide to not share the gospel with someone because of those reasons we all have what you are really saying to yourself is “Just sing Louder!!” Because aren’t you letting the reasons in your head block out the thought of this person going to hell?
    Do you really want to say to yourself “Just sing louder?”
    What motivates you to share the Gospel more freely?
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