Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Everlasting arms

Song of the month for me. Could potentially sound overly fuzzy/cheesy (and subject to the 'God is my boyfriend' critique), but I think it does capture my current sentiments fairly well. :>

Everlasting arms
Come all who are weary
Battle worn and weak
Come all of us broken, tired and in need
I for one am weary lonely and afraid
So let us run for shelter
In the Saviour's warm embrace

Come one and all
Let us fall into the
Everlasting Arms
I'm running into the everlasting arms
I'm falling into eternity's embrace
Where I'm safe
Here my heart has found its resting place

Here we find our healing
Here we find our peace
Wrapped in your unfailing love
Surrounded by your peace
So I for one am letting
All my walls fall down
In this place of safety
This child is finally found
So come one and all

And I am finally home
No longer alone
You surround me
All around me
With your love

Here in your everlasting arms
I'm running into your
Everlasting arms
I'm falling into
Eternity's embrace
Where I'm safe
Here my heart has found its resting place
Here my heart is found its resting place

Vicky Beeching

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your hand of mercy

An old Emu song that has been resonating with me these few days. (Hard to find the music for it though!)

Although we had no claim
you held Your hand of mercy to us.
What we receive for all our work
on earth is pain and death.
Your love we do not deserve.
We could not save ourselves.
And yet You gave a gift of life
through Jesus hanging,
bleeding on a cross.

In selfishness and sin we have been
blinded from Your truth.
We hate, we hurt, we hide from You
pretending we’re in control.
But please now open our eyes.
Replace this heart of stone.
Make us Your new creation and let
nothing keep us from
the love of God.

We praise you God our Father
for the gift of Your dear Son.
for Jesus Christ who shared our earth
and died that we might live.
And now You’ve opened our eyes,
Replaced this heart of stone,
Made us Your new creation
and now nothing keeps us from the love of God.

Although we had no claim
You held Your
hand of mercy to us.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 07, 2010

the irony of salvation

Reading this caused me to pause and wonder at Jesus once again...

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
- Matt 27:41-42
Precisely because he chose not to save himself, he saved others. He saved me! He is the King, not just Israel, but of everything. And because he chose not to come down from the cross, I believe, I trust in him. There's nowhere else to go. God came down, in the person of Jesus, so that I might be lifted upward to see him, and look forward with hope to the redemption of the cosmos.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off the cuff on pastoral ministry

I read a few pages of Brothers, We are Not Professionals this morning. And I am struck again by how anyone could aspire, attain to pastoral ministry. Piper says of those of us in this vocation - "we do not try to secure a professional lifestyle, but we are ready to hunger and thirst and be ill-clad and homeless". He goes on to list daunting statement after daunting statement - we are to pant after God in prayer. We are to weep over our sin. We are to be God-besotted lovers of Christ. We are afflicted but not crushed, always carrying in our body the death of Jesus. And on it goes. Is there any "professionalism" in any of this? Who is worthy of such a calling?

Elsewhere, Carl Trueman has an interesting trilogy of posts calling the pastor to be a jack-of-all-trades in an age of increasing specialisation and fragmentation. I remember once reading somewhere else where this particular person opined that a pastor should be well-versed not just in biblical studies and theology, but abreast of the latest developments in politics, aware of cultural anthropological and sociological theory, be well-read in the field of bioethics, ready to involve himself in all sorts of socio-political activism etc. etc. Just reading it was exhausting! And obviously unrealistic. Nor does it quite seem to reflect the biblical emphases on the qualifications of pastoral ministry. Nonetheless, it is true that a pastor, as Trueman points out, should at least be seeking to read his context and culture as best as he can, to be aware of current affairs and of history, to be cognisant of a diversity of trends; in other words, to be at least competent over wide subject areas - a GP if not a specialist doctor. And you still have to think. Who is worthy of such a calling?

Then I read Kevin DeYoung's advice to young pastors - part 1 & part 2. It's the sort of common sense we need, Number 4, for instance. That the priorities of the pastor should be proclamation, prayer and people still ring true even if it's not new. OK, so now that sounds simple, right? Then I think of how exhausting it is to plod on, wrestling with exegetical difficulties, stressing over the packaging of that sermon or Bible study, despairing over some theological or ethical Gordion knot. I think of my own prayerlessness. I think over how I could have encouraged that person better, handled that person better, counselled that person better. And the refrain remains: who is worthy of such a calling?

And then I turn to Ed Stetzer's interview with church planter Darrin Patrick. DP laments the fact that "most pastors don't know how to build systems, structures, and processes that are not contingent upon them. Most pastors can care for people, but don't build systems of care. Most pastors can develop leaders individually, but lack the skill to implement a process of leadership development." And I think, hey, wait a minute, that's exactly the sort of thing I'll be weak at! Who is worthy of such a calling?

Then I suddenly hear the music playing softly in the background on my computer.

Spirit of grace, You’ve shed Your light
Upon our darkened eyes, unveiling Jesus Christ
Come change our hearts, conform our ways
To honor Jesus’ Name, His glory our refrain
Let His love compel our own
As we worship at His throne

Only Jesus!...

Who can be in pastoral ministry on his own? Indeed, who can be a Christian on his own? None of us. Only when we derive our identity not from ministry success or some similar thing, but from the fact that we are loved by God and are called his child because of the death of His Son, only then can we go on. Who is worthy of such a calling? Only Jesus. And therefore, only because of Jesus can we be counted similarly worthy.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Not yet dead

Nope, this blog isn't dead, yet.

I did toy with the idea of completely calling it a day, but when I've been poring through the archives, I was actually surprised. Mostly, pleasantly surprised. There are a lot of thoughts (and memories) crammed in there!

It was a really interesting exercise actually. Some posts I remembered distinctly. Some I don't remember writing at all. Quite a lot I still agree with, but would now refine or nuance it more. (But you can't say everything!) Maybe one or two which I would now throw away. Some of my convictions have strengthened. Some of my convictions, relaxed a little. What is especially interesting is what I have chosen to say, and not say, on this blog. What you get, I think, is a true shape of my thoughts, but not the complete shape. For eg., there's one period where you could reasonably infer I was becoming quite "emerging", which isn't the whole truth. I was fascinated by that particular stream, and tried to be generous with it, as I try to be with all things. But I don't think I was as "emerging" as it might look.

The main point is that writing still helps me to focus my thoughts and to do some thinking aloud. It's a good discipline to try to maintain. I know I just won't be able to keep up a good pace of blogging with my schedule nowadays, but I want to keep on trying to write and reflect in this space. I often still do have lots and lots of thoughts floating around in my head which needs some space to breathe, and this is still the ideal place for it.


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Keep going - Acts 18:1-23

Sermon on Acts 18:1-23. (I'm aware my blog has been nothing but a sermon repository lately!)

Was pretty tired, so by the time we got to the evening - I was finding even singing difficult!

Sermon prep. I think I figured early on that this passage functioned as encouragement, so getting the main point wasn't quite as hard as the last sermon. But trying to figure out the constituent parts as well as appropriate illustrations/implications/applications turned out to be hard work! I was much more indebted to the commentaries this time around; in fact, I think I was a bit too reliant on them. For background on Corinth, I looked at Scot Hafemann's entry on the Corinthians in Dictionary of Paul and his letters. For theological insights into the text, Peterson (Pillar) and Larkin (IVPNTC) were helpful. I also thought of specific people in the congregation as I wrote this. If time permitted, I would have liked to spend an additional minute or so thinking through the socio-political consequences in our context as the outworking of point 4.

Pacing of this sermon could have been better too. On the whole, I thought this passage came up at an opportune time though, and I hope that every single one of us, me included, were encouraged by this portion of God's word. God was gracious, for I know at least one person for whom this struck home.

Weary in the city?

A tourist's guide to Corinth (v.1)

What does God say?
1. Keep trusting! Because God is always working out his plan wherever we are (v.2-4)
2. Keep persevering! Because God's gospel always provokes division (v.5-8)
- The watchman in Ezekiel (rf. Ezekiel 3:16-21, 33:1-20)
3. Take courage! For God is with us always (v.9-11)
4. Be confident! For God can and does use anyone to advance his purposes (v.12-17)
5. Be thankful! For God is all of grace (v.18-23)

Keep going!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Latest sermon - Gospel unleashed!

My latest sermon, on Acts 16:6-40. This was recorded, as is custom, at the first/morning service.

I was unwell that day (at the 2nd service people commented on how tired I looked), but I don't think I realised how low on energy I was until I listened to myself here! I'm pretty flat. At the evening service apparently I was a bit more alive. Thanks to a couple of friends who showed up for moral support.

In terms of prep, surprisingly, I barely consulted any commentaries for this one. Graham Beynon in the Explore Bible reading notes (April-June 2010) and a sermon by Sinclair Ferguson which I listened to were largely helpful. Whenever I looked at a commentary, it was FF Bruce in the NICNT that I turned to, which gave useful background info. Sermon structure was especially hard to crack; took me ages to find something for the sermon to hang on. This is the longest sermon I've ever written.

There was a powerpoint, which was basically the map, and some Scripture references.

Here's the outline:
Gospel Unleashed!

Intro: words words words

The gospel is God's heart for the world (v.6-10)

The gospel is God's power
...to open hearts (v.11-14)

...to unite believers (v.15)

...to liberate (v.16-20)

...that provokes (v.21-24)

...even in bleak times (v.25-34)

The gospel drives Paul's actions (v.35-40)

Song sung in response: Be Thou my Vision

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Facebook

Friday, April 23, 2010


Been playing catch-up all month long. With plenty more to do.

Labels: ,