Monday, February 28, 2011

"the sermon hangs in mid-air like the pungent remains of a flatulent child"

That is possibly the most graphically descriptive line of any commentary on preaching I have ever read, well done Myk, may the same never be said of your preaching!  :-)

P.S. Perhpas you want to feed your kids a few less raisins?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake Liturgy

I have wanted to blog meaningfully about the earthquake, but found myself inadequate, preparing for this Sunday's service has been hard enough, but unlike a blog post I have no choice about doing that. Three posts about the earthquake that I believe are meaningful and am not ashamed to be leaning on in my own preparation for tomorrow:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake: Worse This Time

Half a year after the last one Christchurch has been hit again.  This time there has been considerable loss of life, although again it is noticable how living in a developed country improves your chances in such events. Love and prayers to all in Christchurch.  Those who want to donate should go to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.  Go here to see before and after pics of the city's cathedral.

A group of new pastors I'm in touch with have been discussing what we will preach on this Sunday in light of the event.  My texts for this Sunday,
  • 1 Kings 19:9-18 (for the children's talk)
  • Luke 13:1-9 (for the grown up's talk)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Tips for Church Leaders

Thanks again to Sarah on FB :-)
If the previous post got you down, here is some hope.  


Tamaki, Cultwatch and the Herald

Once again Brian Tamaki, New Zealand's highest profile and possible richest church leader is in the news.  This time it is a Herald editorial, blasting Cultwatch for categorising Brian Tamaki as a cultist because he has denied the bodily resurrection of Christ.  The writer of the editorial appears to be under the impression that this then places Tamaki in the same camp as Lloyd Geering and other liberalising theologians in their rejection of orthodox Christian doctrine in the name of embracing the fruits of secular modernity.  Said editor displays a complete failure to grasp that this is not "Bishop" Tamaki bowing to the reason of the modern age but his out of control ego propelling him to reinvent Christianity in a way that serves his own ends more efficiently.  I would, however, agree with the nameless Herald editor that Cultwatch has been a bit slow on this one, it is not doctinal unorthodoxy that makes a cult but the systematic manipulation of the vulnerable.  True followers of Jesus are good news for the poor, they don't use the poor to bankroll their next pruchase of a Lexus.  If a pastor has a personalised number plate it should read "here to serve," Tamaki's betrays his true heart:

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Arminian Creed(?)

This tongue in cheek creed comes from an hilarious order of service from a (otherwise unimaginative) calvinist website, (HT Justin)
“I believe in God who once was Almighty, but sovereignly chose not to be sovereign; and in Jesus, my personal Lord and Saviour, Who loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life, Who came into my heart when I asked him to, and is now seated at the right ventricle of my belief in Him, Who walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way, and tells me I am His own, Who shall come again with secrecy to rapture us out of here, Whose Kingdom shall last one thousand years; And in the Holy Ghost, who did some weird stuff at Pentecost, but doesn’t do much more anymore except speak secretly to the hearts of individual believers. And I believe in this local, independent, and powerless church, insofar as it is in line with my personal interpretation of the Bible and does stuff! like; in one believer’s baptism for the public proof of my decision for Christ; and in giving my personal testimony for soul winning. And I look for the identity of the Antichrist, and know that the Last Days are now upon us. Ay-men.”
Meanwhile John Hobbins calls us to a more excellent way out of the Arminian/Calvinist debate.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two posts on Mark's Gospel

Steve Douglas discusses equal opportunity salvation,
Neither the rich nor the poor are demonized, because the author understood a focus on class or status to be missing Jesus’ point.

And James McGrath has a hunch (AKA an essay) as to how the gospel story ended in Mark's mind if not on paper.

Two posts on worship


 pic from Sacred Sandwich

I am very excited about Marc's new series on lessons from the Dark Ages for church worship.

And Roger Olsen poses an interesting question about a perplexing correlation between different churches' worship styles and their theology.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Time To Lose All That God Talk

John has been wondering about a recent CofE move to change the baptismal liturgy to something a little more accessible to those illiterate oiks who have never read the Bible, know no Bible stories, and have the theological eduation of a bean sprout.  But the problem is more widespread, if we are going to appeal to the lowest common denominator of each and every gathering we should remember that there may be someone there who doesn't believe in God at all, even in the most watered down wishy washy new age way imaginable.

Because of this all church liturgy, sermons and songs should avoid things that someone in the room might not know about and should instead revolve around sports results, discussing the weather, and gentle exhortations to drive a little closer to the speed limit, recycle anything that isn't too much trouble, and be nice to people unless you are having a bad day.  At all costs no sense of curiosity, wonder, challenge, or discovery should be risked otherwise someone might not feel as safe at church as they do in their own living room wearing nothing but their underpants and eating day old chips while watching reruns of Postman Pat.

God Changes The Past All The Time

Roger Olsen has an interesting post wondering why calvinists don't think it limits God if he cannot change the past.  But both Olsen and his calvinist sparring partners are wrong, God changes the past all the time, it is just no one ever notices because he changes our memories too! 

However, there are some tell tale signs that this goes on more than we realise.  For example, thousands of years ago when Moses wrote Genesis the world had only taken 6 days to make, but today if you examine the planet and its surrounding environs you can see it took around 40 Billion years to make.  Or if you read ancient documents you would see that the Sun used to rise up in the sky and go down at night, but today it is Earth which rolls around the Sun.  The only possible explanation is that what used to be really was then, but then it got changed retrospectively and now we are living with a new version of the past.  QED.

Of course the nice thing about having a changeable past is that when we argue about what really happened back then, we can both be right!  And as far as I remember I never lent you that $20.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Ruthless Monk Discovers Buffy

She does, and she likes it, read her theological review of watching 7 seasons of Buffy here.  She starts like this,
It's all Netflix's fault. Since both Criminal Minds and Burn Notice were on hiatus a few months ago,  I decided to give Buffy the Vampire Slayer a try. I ended up spending two months of my life obsessively watching the entire 7 seasons of what I now consider to be one of the most insightful and well-written shows ever made.  Anyone who can get past the creepy monsters, (and there were a few that even made me hide my eyes) and commit to reliving high school with the kids from Sunnydale, will be rewarded with an epic modern-day parable about good vs. evil, sacrifice, and redemption. It's also really, really funny.

Why I Love Old People

You never know what they might do.  All those years of experience and frustration can come out in the most interesting ways.  This video shows an English grandmother bashing the daylights out of a gang of six jewlery store robbers while everyone else hides out the way. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cutting Edge of the Church

A year or so ago one of NZ's top surgeons came to speak at Carey Baptist College.  A staunch and thoughtful Christian, he was asked by the interviewer at one stage, "what is it that future church leaders in this room can do to support people like you in their work?"  He looked genuinely shocked by the question, "I have always felt that pastors were far more intereted in how I could support their ministry than in helping me in mine." 

I preached an experimental message yesterday evening on Eph 4:1-14.  It was a pretty simple message really, that Jesus has given apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers to the church to edify the church to do God's work in the world.  Or put another way, it is not the job of the church to support the ministry of the pastors, but the job of the pastors to support the ministry of the church.  It is not the minister, or the youth pastor, or whoever else happens to be on stage on a Sunday meeting that is the cutting edge of the church, it is everyone else, those who spend their days at work, in school, or making home in the neighbourhood. Beyond this basic attitudinal shift what can we do to reorient church away from the ministry of those upfront on Sunday towards the ministry of everyone's everyday lives?

Let me know what you think :-)