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Sink, Splutter or Swim – Student Survival 2012

I am pleased to have Dave Gobbett guest blog for me today. Dave is the associate pastor with responsibility for students at Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge, in England. Sink, splutter or swim? The opening weeks at university can be a challenge of Olympic proportions. And while three or four years on everyone can see the difference between a now thriving spiritual Michael Phelps and a barely surviving spiritual also-swam, back on day one, everyone looked the same. Same bright eyes full of opportunity, same anxious anticipation at the prospect of leaving home, same exhilaration at being let loose in a kitchen for the first time. For the Christian student, additional early emotions await. Excitement: how might God use me this year to be salt and light for him at college? Nervousness: how will my faith survive the belligerent attacks from lecturer or roommate? Realism: how will I resist the varying temptations in...

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The Gospel in Contexts

“What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Tertullian’s famous question has remained relevant through the years as the church has grappled with how to respond to the pagan academy. As someone who has spent most of his life in “Athens” (most recently near Yale University), I now find myself in a sort of “Jerusalem.” Four years ago, I moved to a “Jerusalem,” a culturally Christian environment (across the street from Wheaton College). That journey has afforded me the opportunity to compare the experience of communicating the gospel in two distinct contexts. Continue reading article at Leadership Journal....

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Simeon in the USA

The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for June 2012. A group of pastors gathered in Wheaton, outside Chicago, in May for a three-day course on Bible exposition. Vaughan Roberts from Oxford and yours truly provided the instruction sessions and expositions for this course, but the real heart of this Simeon Trust workshop is the small group ministry that takes place. Dave Helm, head of the Simeon Trust in America, has provided a wonderful set of material and a framework which serves many pastors up and down the country to encourage them to preach the word faithfully. We are called to ‘Stay on the Line’, that is say neither more nor less than what the Bible text says. To that end we are to discover the ‘Melodic Line’ of a book, and passage, its overarching theme, and the main point that binds the whole message together. We can do this...

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A Relationship with Jesus

What does it mean to “have a relationship with Jesus”? And how do you develop it? Christians often talk about having a relationship with Jesus, but it is not always clear what exactly that means. The passage we are looking at on Sunday, John 15:1-8, is a key passage for establishing the nature of that relationship with Jesus, as well as showing us how to develop it. To prepare for Sunday you might ask yourself questions like these: How is my relationship with God? How can I develop my relationship with God? Is there someone I know who is interested in having a relationship with God that I could invite to church? And you might like to read through John 15 in preparation for Sunday asking these kind of questions of the passage: What does Jesus mean by being the true vine? What does it mean to remain or abide in him? What is the worldview picture of reality that he is...

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Work at the Crossroads

The story is told of Charles Spurgeon visiting a family.  There was in that household a domestic servant – paid salary – who had recently been converted.  As a faithful pastor, Spurgeon began to enquire as to the girl’s spiritual state.  What reason did she have to be confident that she had not only professed a nominal faith in Jesus, but she was truly now born again?  “Well,” the reply is said to have come, “now I clean under the rugs.” Christian life is for the whole of life! Perhaps few principles are less frequently articulated, and more in need of being communicated, than that Christ is all in all, and that the freeing rule of Jesus applies equally to the world of work.  Consider: most people in most churches spend most of their time not in a worship service.  Consider: how much of what we teach during a worship service actually...

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Suffering Revisited

Suffering is hateful. Bloody. Nasty. Indiscriminate. Horrible. Just ask Job if you don’t believe me. For all the books out there on suffering — and there are many — it is a topic that will not go away because the easy answers do not work. Typical evangelical answers to suffering fall into two categories. First, there is the empathy category. In this approach our goal is not to provide an answer but to provide a shoulder. We ‘come alongside’. We listen. We mourn with those who mourn, etc. The other category, though, is the answer category. Here, perhaps not at the moment of suffering, answers of various kinds are attempted. If you want an insight into just how difficult this topic is compare C.S. Lewis’s brilliant The Problem of Evil with his later (and more personal) A Grief Observed. The storms The reason why I am thinking about suffering, and revisiting its answer, is because of all the...

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Solid Foundation for Dynamic Fruit

I have just returned from the latest “Together for the Gospel” (T4G) conference in Louisville, Kentucky. We took about six or seven of our team down this year and used it as an opportunity to catch up with some ministry partners, listen to teaching, and spend time building connections within the team. The theme for this year’s conference was the “underestimated” gospel. I came away with the perspective that solid foundation leads to dynamic fruit. For those of us who love metaphors, you will know that that is a mixed metaphor: still, the principle that firm commitment to theological (sometimes unfashionable) truth is the way to see fruit was evident and much on display. Lane Dennis, President of Crossway, shared about the impact of their ministry with his remarkable example of winsome, godly, seasoned kindness. Mark Dever warned us compellingly of the dangers of an unregenerate membership. David Platt preached passionately – an overused word but in...

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Five Ways Pastors Can Improve Their Apologetic Preaching

Last week The Gospel Coalition ran a series of five articles on apologetics and included a piece I wrote on “Five Ways Pastors Can Improve Their Apologetic Preaching.” You can view the complete series below: Fides Quaerens Intellectum: What Is Presuppositionalism? by William Edgar Questioning Presuppositionalism by Paul Copan Answering Objections to Presuppositionalism by K. Scott Oliphint How Pastors Can Make Time to Talk with Skeptics by Daniel Strange Five Ways Pastors Can Improve Their Apologetic Preaching by Josh Moody ...

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The Great and the Good

When John Stott’s memorial service in America took place, I was fascinated to hear the influence of British evangelicalism. Person after person who spoke talked about how some of the luminaries known to readers of this paper* — John Stott, Dick Lucas, and others — have had an outsized influence on developing a thinking person’s approach to biblical Christianity. The work of The Simeon Trust generates similar conferences to that of The Proclamation Trust and frequently quotes Dick Lucas aphorisms. Sharpened appreciation I suspect I always knew that being bused from my school to hear preaching of this kind of quality as a teenager was a privilege, but the years (and the distance) have sharpened that sense of appreciation. There are, of course, many great preachers here, and (again) readers of this paper could list their names as well as I can, not forgetting Tim Keller who spoke at the memorial service. And yet I wonder, sometimes, with...

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Tebowing!

One of the strange delights of living in a country where you did not grow up is the joy of exploring a whole different sporting culture. For instance, take basketball. Well, when I went to school, basketball was played as distinctly second-rate also-ran game. For an Englishman I was not that bad. But I remember an American we had with us who was on our team and seemed to spend the whole time running up and down putting the thing in the appropriate basket. I could catch, pass, but throwing the ball through the rim was a whole different ‘ball game’. I find that games which I played growing up can engross me when I watch them, if I have a moment to spare, even on TV. But if I did not play it myself, it’s all I can do to stop myself from yawning. But watching games ‘live’ is a different...

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