• Links of the day 16/05/2011

    Anne Jackson writes a very sobering account of her divorce called Why God Hates Divorce

    I love this post about pastoring where you are from Mark Batterson!

    This video is amazing! Pray for Leonce Crump and Renovation Church

    Whether you battle with pornography or not. You should read this post

    Have you ever thought “Anglican Primate? Does that mean there is a monkey leading the Anglican church?”

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  • Links of the day 13/05/2011

    Here is a bit of shameless self promotion. The Geneva Push has put out an mp3 of myself and Guy Mason talking about what we would do differently if we were to plant again.

    You can download an mp3 Tim Challies latest book The Next Story at Christian Audio

    Mission Australia is after warm blankets for the homeless in Sydney. Can your church help?

    Dan Kimbal writes a great piece about Universal Reconciliation

    The father of the modern day evangelical social justice movement Ron Sider asks “Are you in danger of neglecting evangelism in your passion for social justice?”

    Redemption church are giving away some great books. This is a great way of getting people following you on social media!

    Tim Challies is reading and blogging about Machen’s  amazing book Christianity and Liberalism. If you have read this book buy a copy and read it with Tim!

    Kevin Deyoung has a great post on possible errors in biblical interpretation

    This is just an amazing version of the great song Is This Love by Corinne Bailey Rae

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  • Day four at Capitol Hill

    This was the day I got to experience a Capitol Hill Baptist Church service along with a Sunday school class and a members meeting.

    The Sunday school class was led by Associate Pastor and Elder Deepak Reju. He was lecturing on discipleship and it was great to see how Capitol Hill train and care for the people that want to go deeper into theology and ministry in their congregation in this way. Next was the service and honestly, I was disappointed. I was told it was conservative but it was too conservative for me. Dever preached a great sermon, the singing was great but there were just a few cultural things that I just didn’t dig. Among the things I didn’t dig were the high cultural forms of music, language and attire. In the middle of the service I was thinking of all my non Christian friends who of them would feel comfortable at this service? Sadly, I could only name one. This made me sad because the biblical content and the gospel preaching was very clear and winsome.

    After the service the lead pastors were invited around to Mark Dever’s house for lunch and we were able to ask any question we wanted and give any feedback we though could be helpful. It was great to hear what people liked about the service. I decided to go for the jugular and express my concerns about the culture of the service. To this Mark responded not with the defensiveness that I have experienced in so many Christian leaders but with open and honest engagement with what I said. We disagreed to be sure but I was encouraged by this brother’s modelling of humility and leadership.

    Just before the service the elders met together talk about the upcoming service and a few other things. Once again these brothers modelled humility, respect and candour that was extremely refreshing.

    The night service is CHBC’s ‘family time’ it is time for them to pray together, to sing together and to hear a short talk from Gods word. The prayer time was done mainly by the congregation with floating mics going out amongst them. The guy who preached the sermon (I forget who it was) was given a really tough text (I forget what the text was too but it was a few obscure verses from the Old Testament) and it made me think about Dever’s nine marks, two of which are Expository preaching and biblical theology. I thought about these two marks because I thought the preacher was given a text which made it really hard for him to preach expositionally and to do biblical theology.

    After the service was the members meeting where we could really see congregational church government at work. Every prospective member was introduced to the members by way of having their photo up on the screen with their email. The elder who interviewed them for membership gave a short bio and testified that they professed to be a Christian. The members were then asked if they had any questions and then a vote was taken as to whether they would be accepted into membership. Now CHBC makes a huge distinction between elder led (congregationalism) and elder governed (the elders are the final authority in the church) church government. For me this distinction broke down at the members meeting because when the members voted on each prospective member they were really only voting that they accept what the elder have put forward. So the elders really were still governing with the members merely affirming the decision that was made. There was no way that the congregation could have decided about each new prospective member and so therefore they were not the final authority even though it seems like they are. A fuller discussion about church government will have to wait till another blog.

    Points of learning

    Confidence and criticism: Dever is confident you can tell that after 1 minute with him,. He speaks directly and passionately. He is not arrogant but humble and he is a blast to be around. This combination of confidence and humility allows him to lead his church strongly and yet not be offended when people (like lanky Aussies) criticise him. A leader must have enough confidence to speak clearly and lead strongly and yet have the humility to accept criticism graciously. This is a tough balancing act which I know I am still working on. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to be confident and yet humble.

    Giving people a go: One of the great things about Dever is that he gives others a go at things which he could d like preaching. But as I have stated I thought he gave the guy who preached on Sunday night an impossible task. When we give people a go at doing stuff our job as leaders and pastors is to make their job as easy as possible.

    Hearing the congregation: Even though I do not think congregationalism is biblical (but that’s for another post) I do love how congregationalism allows members to have a significant voice in the direction of the church. I want to think about how Resolved can be a church which really listens to its members and yet is led well by its elders.

     

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  • Links of the Day 12/05/2011

    Robert Gundry has an article in Themelios on The Hopelessness of the Unevangelized which is a great reminder of the biblical truth of hell and judgement. After reading this I wanted to go out and tell someone about Jesus!

    I found this blog by Justin and Trisha Davis. It is a blog about keeping your marriage safe, pure and free from adulery. Justin was in ministry and had an affair with a member of staff. This blog is sobering.

    Still on marriage, Tony Morgan has been married 20 years and shares 20 tips for your marriage going the distance

    A great blog by Perry Noble about Church Decline

    Over at Desiring God there is a great video featuring Alan Hirsch speaking on Risk Averse Christians

    Did you know that R.C Sproul was thanked in linear notes of a Van Halen album? I didn’t either until I had read this

    Here is a great spoof video of Obama talking about Osama. The guy in the video nail Obama!

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  • How to be a really cool worship leader

    1. Get your look together.- If you are a guy you need to look a bit like Brian McFadden. You know the look, clean enough that your girlfriends mum approves but dishevelled enough to let everyone know you are legit. If you are a girl put on so much foundation that your face literally shines and wear clothes that look like you just shopped at Jeans West but make sure you wear a long sleeved t-shirt under that top to make sure you nail that sexy and yet pure look that is in nowadays.
    2. Get your stage presence right. – If you are the worship leader when you are not singing in the fast songs make sure you jump around and yell really thoughtful stuff like “lets get our praise on!” cause you know that what Jesus would have done if he lead worship. On the slow songs make sure you close your eyes and lift one hand to the sky. That’s right stop playing your guitar and lift one hand to heaven(We can’t hear your guitar out the front anyway because the sound guy knows your guitar is only there for show and has silenced it. Why do you think there are seven other guitars on stage?). If you are a backup singer sing off mike alot but when you do this make sure you have your eyes closed for slow songs and for fast songs jump around like you are the second coming of Kriss Kross.[1] Also punch the air to emphasize words because the words are so meaningful and scriptural.
    3. If you are going to write a new song, forget about theology. Who needs it anyway? Theology just divides and anyway didn’t God say somewhere that knowledge puffs up and like you know Christians shouldn’t wanna be puffed up? Just write something really catchy tunes using only G, D Em and C chords (if you want to transpose these chords just use I, V, VI, IV chords of any key).
    4. Remember it is all about having a great time. You are the worship leader, if people go away with smile on their faces you have done your job perfectly. So if that happens give yourself a pat on the back, cause you deserve it. Because in the end it is all about you right?

    Disclaimer: This blog was written after watching some bad contemporary worship on YouTube.


    [1] If you have never heard of Kriss Kross you need to please take three minutes to bless yourself and listen to their song Jump

     

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  • Links of the day 11/05/2011

    Here is the roundup for today:

    Take a look at this very interesting trailer about Evolution and the Bible

    Here is a great post on Obama by Jonathan Chan

    Here is an interesting Vanity Fair article on Katy Perry. Check out what she says about her Christian parents.

    This a heart wrenching and yet hope filled blog about a couple who lost their newborn child.

    An article about the lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler and Abortion

    A great post on Luke Luke 18: 9-14, grace and Justification by Sproul

    A quote from Carson about reading from Trevin Wax

    Communicate Jesus displays 10 different church welcome packs

    My friend Mat Freeman hipped me on to this great article about pornography by Al Mohler

    And finally here is Osama Bin Laden’s last Facebook status update

    Enjoy!

     

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  • I love Colbert!

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  • Links of the day 10/5/2011

    It seems like everyone is talking about Sex.

    The Resurgence is:

    9 Myths about Sex and Relationships Amongst Emerging Adults

    Sammy Adebiyi and his guests are doing a great job blogging about sex. Check out his blog:

    http://www.sammyadebiyi.com/

    There are a bunch of great talks on Scripture from Carl Trueman and G.K Beale at the Desert Springs Church website:

    http://www.desertspringschurch.org/blog/?p=1840

    Scott McKnight on What Love Wins tells us about Christians

    Tony Morgan blogs about a hilarious conversation with his Son

    Have fun and share your favorite links of the day!

     

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  • Book reviews for April

    I try to read a lot and it seems I am always looking for short punchy reviews of books that I may read. So at the end of every month I will write a blog reviewing the books I have read in the past month so that people can be informed of what I think are worthwhile books to read and books to avoid.

    With that in mind here is April’s selection

    A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story. By Diana Butler Bass

    Butler Bass seems to be the wonder woman to Tony Jones’ Emergent superman. I say that because just like Jones Butler Bass writes very engagingly and polemically from within the emergent/neo liberal stream. In A People’s History of Christianity, Butler Bass writes a self confessedly selective book on church history where she “sidesteps issues of orthodoxy and instead focus on the moments when Christian people really acted like Christians, when they took seriously the call of Jesus to love God and love their neighbours as themselves”(15)[1]. For the rest of the book Butler Bass narrates church history with a bias towards reporting on instances of women in leadership, social justice ministries and people banding together in monastic communities. A few important insights are gleaned from these narratives, namely, that Christians all throughout the ages have seen Social Justice as a significant outworking of the gospel. But the bias that is inherent in this book I found distorted history instead of illuminating it. For example, Origen (42-45) is praised for his reading of his serious reading of the biblical text which does not collapse into literalism. But there is no mention of him being deemed a heretic for his teaching of apokatastasis (universalism) which had him condemned as a heretic in the 6th century. Peter Aberlard (112-117) is praised for using doubt as a “tool to find faith” (113). Butler Bass ends the account of the changing views that Luther and other Reformers had towards marriage and sex (188-192) with “When it comes to sexuality and family, Protestants are always willing to change the rules.” This neglects that fact that the Reformers changed their views on sexuality and marriage to come more into line with the Bible not the culture and so would not be willing to change their views on sexuality to be more in line with Butler Bass’ Episcopal Church. This is a book which is a fun and yet extremely frustrating read and because of its liberal bias it is not a book I would recommend for anyone looking for an overview on the last two thousand years of church history. That book would be Turning Points by Mark Noll

    The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism by G.K Beale

    Inerrancy is such a hot button issue nowadays. Professors in America are being fired for denying it, people are confused on what inerrancy really is and the list of people that are arguing against it seems to grow faster the list of people who can’t stand Kyle Sandilands! With this in mind I was really looking forward to reading The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism by G.K Beale. I thought it would be a theological and exegetical defence of inerrancy but it wasn’t. It was Beale writing on a selection of issues that impinge on inerrancy not the stout defence of inerrancy that is needed. His first two chapters deal with Peter Enns and his view of myth, story and the inspiration of the Old Testament. These are great chapters if you have read books that say there are myths in the Old Testament but the Bible is still inspired or you are at university or a theological college and you are getting fed this kind of junk from an Old Testament lecturer. The next chapter on Isaiah is helpful for showing how, as evangelicals, we must hold to one author of Isaiah who wrote the entire book if we are going to argue for the authority of the Bible. The next two Chapters on Old Testament cosmology were good in showing how the Old Testament temple  reflects biblical cosmology and therefore when the biblical authors are talking about cosmology they talk about it in ways that show the cosmos to be a temple and so their point is theological not scientific. The first appendix deals with with postmodern interpretation of the Bible especially in relation to the Old Testament in the New; the second is the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.  The third is a series of quote from Barth about what he believed about the Bible which shows how dangerous he really is!

    This book has a bunch of great things in it especially for the theological student. These are issued that deal with inerrancy but the book itself is not a thorough defence of inerrancy.

    He is Not Silent by Albert Mohler

    If you are a preacher you should buy this book! In typical brash and straight up style Mohler delivers a theological exposition and defence of expository preaching in a postmodern world. He is very engaging and challenging all the while being extremely encouraging! If you haven’t read a book on preaching in a while or you are discouraged in your pulpit ministry then this is the book you need to buy and read!

    Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

    Trust agents is a book about using the web to build influence and trust amongst those you are trying to reach with your product or message. It is a New York Times best seller and is well written and chock full of useful information about how to use the web to make yourself and your product known. This is one of the best books I have read on social media. If you want to find out about utilising social media to your advantage buy this book and read it!

    Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics

    This is the best book on Paul and the Law! As many of you know Paul, the law and Justification have been hot topics for quite a while. There have been many good books on the topic but this one stands head and shoulders above the rest for a few reasons:

    1. Westerholm is unbelievably fair when he summarizes those who he disagrees with. He argues their case so well that sometimes you are left thinking “that guy has got it all together”.
    2. His third section where he takes on the New Perspective is gold. He brilliantly shows what the Paul meant by righteousness, justification and the like in an easy, clear and compelling way.
    3. His humour is superb! A lot of the times academic books are dry, dull and lifeless. This book is anything but that and that is because Westerholm occasionally writes little humorous turns of phrase or sentences that will have you at least chuckling along with him even if you don’t agree with him on the point he is making!

    In summary buy this book!


    [1] Numbers in parentheses are page numbers of the books in review

     

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  • Day Three at Capitol Hill Baptist

    Day three was really when the conference proper started. We kicked off with a Q&A session about the Elder meeting with Matt Schmucker. As I said in my previous post the elder meetings that Resolved has and that CHBC has are very similar so there were no burning questions that I had to ask or get answers to in this section. After this Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker took us through a potted history of CHBC. This may sound boring but this might have been the highlight of the weekender for me. To hear a Pastor like Dever talk about where the church was and hear about the battles he fought and what he did and why was amazing. It helped me, as a young pastor, to think about my ministry in the long term not in the quick battle.

    Here are the sixteen lessons that Dever has learnt in his time at CHBC:

    1. Consider future generations in decisions the church makes

    2. Be straight forward with your search committee, even telling them the things they may not like about you. This helps put the candidacy in Gods hands not your own

    3. As a candidate tell the church what they can or cannot expect from your wife

    4. Move slowly. Generally speaking, don’t plan on changing any practices in the beginning. If there’s something you will change immediately, tell them before they hire you.

    5. Every element of the public service teaches and leads the congregation. Therefore, it should be given elder/pastoral oversight.

    6. In your services, beware of entertainment culture; beware of manipulating emotions.

    7. Be deliberate about each gathering of the church. What is its purpose?

    8. Beware of sacred cows. Choose your battles wisely.

    9. Promote congregational singing! Consider the advantages of music that is mere and enhancing

    10. Clean your membership role as quickly as you can

    11. Ask yourself, what am I doing to raise up future pastors?

    12. Consider whether or not members of the church know what’s expected of them as members. Is there a church covenant? Is it used? How do you teach your church what it means to be a member? How are these lessons reinforced?

    13. Don’t lead your church through change before they are ready. Don’t lead your church through change before there is a consensus

    14. Expect to be opposed from unexpected places when leading change.

    15. Once, maybe twice, in the process of transition, you may have to be willing to put your job on the line.

    16. Always hold your job with a loose grip

    At lunch we had assigned seating and on each of tables was a staff member so we could ask any questions we had. After lunch we had a session on church discipline by Jonthan Leeman. The main things I was reminded of were:

    1. You need to think through what membership looks like in your church

    2. You need to have a process of church discipline

    3. Church discipline doesn’t need to be done quickly in all circumstances

    4. You need to teach, teach, teach and teach on church discipline before you do it.

    We also received a free copy of Jonathans book The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love which I will read and post a review of soon. We then had elective sessions, I chose to go to the one on choosing elders. I was reminded that an elder is first and foremost a pastor and he needs to be doing pastoral work before he is asked to be an elder and he needs to be able to handle the scriptures and theology well. We then broke for dinner and after that we went to the membership classes.

    Points of learning:

    Time – the whole day it was stressed to look at ministry as a long term thing. It is a marathon not a sprint. I was thinking about Resolved and it encouraged me to think I will be at Resolved for decades and even though I want things to happen in Acts like proportions what I need to remember is that gospel work should be viewed over months, years and decades not hours, days and weeks.

    Teaching before change – I want things to change now! But if we take the long term we can teach, teach, teach and teach about a change before it happens. Dever said to teach on something so much so that people will ask “Why aren’t we doing that?” and then you know it is time to change.

    Intentionality – Dever is intentional about everything. He has thought deeply about everything to do with the ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist and he has implemented it all. I have been challenged to think deeply about everything we do not just the things I like to think about.

    Surround yourself with the right people – It is not good enough to say we need an elder/youthgroup leader/pastor you need the right one. The best ones are home grown. I saw this as everyone on pastoral staff at CHBC has at least been an intern at CHBC.

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