Search:
test

Preaching Ecclesiastes in a Secular Age

A new series on Ecclesiastes begins this Sunday at College Church.  Ecclesiastes has a unique voice in the context of our secular age.  There have certainly been significant contributions made in recent years to the “God debate.” Some interesting conversations about that debate would be spurred by reference to Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (Yale University Press, 2009), a publication of Eagleton’s lectures at Yale for the 2008 “Dwight Harrington Terry Foundation Lectures on Religion in the Light of Science and Philosophy.”  Perhaps few, if any, readers would agree with everything that Eagleton says, but his telling, often funny, sometimes bromide-laden, always insightful, demolition job on Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (or as he suggests calling them “Ditchkins”) is compelling.  Eagleton’s main point is that most new atheists have what he calls a “superstitious” view of God. Instead you might reference books by James W. Sire (Why Good Arguments Often...

Continue Reading

Some Thoughts on Christian Weddings

Two Principles: Marriage is a creation gift from God (Genesis 2:18-25). That means that you don’t have to be a Christian to get the benefit of marriage. This is something that God – as an expression of his loving goodness – gives to all his creatures made in his image. It is a part of the natural created order, and like the sun and the rain it falls on the just and the not so just. But marriage is more than a creation gift; it is a message about Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). Within the created order, God in His providence invested a type, a foreshadow, a sign to point to Christ and his love for the church.  Many times in the Old Testament, and in the New, the relationship between God and his people is compared to a marriage relationship. This is not just a cutesy metaphor.  Marriage, in a very real sense,...

Continue Reading

Vacation

With summer officially upon us, here are some ways to make the most of your vacation/holiday: 1. Rest For the inveterate workaholics the idea of any sort of break can seem faintly guilt inducing. Remember that rest is God’s idea, a creation ordinance, affirmed in the Ten Commandments, and a part of expressing the gospel by resting in God’s sovereignty. So rest. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting up really late (if you have young children that’s never going to happen anyway), but it might mean going to bed early. And perhaps an afternoon nap. 2. Relax Relaxation is not the same as resting. Relaxation might well involve some pretty vigorous exercise. Or it might involve consciously giving yourself to think through some things in your life in quiet. It might mean ‘getting away from it all’ mentally as well as geographically enough so that you do not have the needs of the office, or the home, constantly consciously...

Continue Reading

God-Centered Living

Here’s the why and how of God-centered living. Why? We are made by God. We are not our own. Whether we live abundantly wicked lives, or good old fashioned clean living lives, a life that is not surrendered to God is not life as the Bible defines it. We are the walking dead even if we physically live if our life is not God-centered (Ephesians 2:1). Take the illustration of someone renting a room in someone else’s house. They may keep their room clean. They may not trash it or play loud music at 3 in the morning.  But if they do not pay rent, they are, however nicely, living in a room that is not giving what they owe to the owner of the house. Similarly, if we live nice comfortable lives but don’t give our due to God, then we are not living life as designed by the Creator. Jesus...

Continue Reading

The Ideological War in the Aftermath of September 11

With the recent renewed furor over the legacy of 9/11, I was interested to dig around and find what I had posted about it for our church in New Haven soon after the original 9/11.  Yale sends a lot of people to work in Manhattan so in the immediacy of that terrible event New Haven was in mourning with lots of connections to the workers in downtown Manhattan. I remember coming out of our apartment and seeing a Yale undergraduate sitting on the steps of the house – we were renting a multifamily at the time – and my wife noticing that she was simply sitting there weeping uncontrollably.  This didn’t seem normal and when she told me I immediately switched on the news channel on the TV and saw one of the buildings with a plane stuck in the side of it. Sometime later, I thought some ideological reflection on what 9/11 was going to do to us would be helpful.  This...

Continue Reading

Environmentalism USA

The growing environmental crisis in the (Mexican) Gulf, following the breakage of the BP oil pipe, is doing something unexpected to evangelical environmental concerns: there is a developing tenderness. Dr. Moore, Senior Vice President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes winsomely and captivatingly about his epiphany after his recent exposure to the issue in the Gulf area. Liberal agenda? For some reason, being willing to say that polluting things is bad, makes people sick, and ruins peoples’ lives can sound to some ears like a ‘liberal’ agenda. I’m not sure why. Well, I could have a go at explaining it, extrapolating from various historical antecedents and shifts in emphasis from a God-centred gospel to a social gospel, or that tendency for the discussion to be hijacked by those with Mother Earth, Gaia, ‘crunchy’, organic, no-deodorant kind of agendas. But, on the other hand, millions of barrels of oil spilling into the sea is a...

Continue Reading

The Ten Commandments of Preaching

I recently did a seminar on preaching for the European Leadership Forum in Hungary–http://euroleadership.org/. I used the pneumonic ‘E-X-P-O-S-I-T-O-R-Y’ for the ten commandments of preaching. These are some of the notes from which I spoke. E—Evangelistic. Gospel preaching must have an evangelist edge. You might not have an altar call but you’ve got to call people to the altar. X—Excellence. It’s hard work. You need sweat to make it sweet. P—Proclamation. Certainly, all preaching is dialogic in mood though monologic formally. But there is an essential authority to the preaching of God’s Word. God’s Word need be preached winsomely but must not be preached wimpishly. O—Organization. Structure and lack of it is the hidden failing of many an otherwise good sermon. S—Scripture. Preaching is to bleed the Bible. If as JI Packer says the Bible is God preaching then preaching is re-preaching the Bible. All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for: not just...

Continue Reading

George Whitefield: the First Blogger

Whitefield’s journals have long occupied pride of place on the eighteenth century section of my Church History bookcase, snuggled up nicely against Jonathan Edwards (co-laborers), and jostling happily against the rather different Benjamin Franklin. Whitefield is the model par excellence for all mass movement evangelists, from DL Moody to Billy Sunday, to Billy Graham. Whitefield has sometimes been described as ‘the divine dramatist,’ and however controversial that appellation was to generations of evangelicals who have lauded Whitefield’s spirituality and not just his rhetoric, there is little doubt that he was golden tongued.  Mind you, it helps when your message is basically ‘be born again’ in one form or another over and over again as you itinerate around the British Isles, and across the eastern coast of America. Whitefield was a social activist, if such an anachronism be allowed, as well as an evangelist. He founded a well-known orphanage which became the...

Continue Reading