Study Update

By the way, I should mention I have completed all my essays for this semester. Not very happy with the last one on infant baptism – I kind of ran out of time – so it is a bit pedestrian and predictable. David said he wouldn’t be happy with my essay either. I wonder why?

Anyway, there remains my exam on Ruth in Hebrew on Jan 20, 2006.

Must get on…

Study Update

Preaching to the Elderly

As far as church is concerned, the Christmas season has really begun! Last night I conducted a service at a residential care home a stone’s throw from DFC (and believe me, stones get thrown around there!) DFC usually takes a service there once a month, but last night was the Carol Service.

Quite a gang from the church appeared and quite a number of residents turned up in the lounge. So, some carols, readings and then a 15min preach on Matt. 1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Preaching to the elderly presents a different challenge to preaching in the church. There are practical problems: getting residents assembled in one place, preaching so that they can hear (I am usually a bit loud anyway, but I have to turn it up even more!), keeping it short enough so that I get to the conclusion before some start to drop off(!), leading the singing without instruments (getting the pitch and pace right). Interesting.

Well, I enjoyed it. Everyone else seemed to as well, though it was difficult to tell how the message itself is received. The staff provided a cup of tea afterwards – can’t be bad!

The elderly are often treated as less important, both in society and in the church. I say this because ten years ago, when I was into the seeker-sensitive thing, we were often urged to ‘target’ evangelism and worship services mostly to the thirty-somethings. At the time I could see the cold logic of it from a demographics point of view. However, I was always a little uncomfortable with it. Now I am deeply so. I met too many aging refugees from churches which had implemented seeker-sensitive services aimed at a particular niche market. People are people, made in the image of God, no matter how old. No one is too old to hear and receive the gospel. No one is a lost cause by virtue of age. A leopard can change its spots. An old dog can learn new tricks. An old person can be born again.

We must trust that God will bless the preaching of his word wherever the opportunity arises.

PS. Sorry to miss Ant’s Woodlands housegroup Christmas bash as a result. (Techically, I’m still on your list, am I, Ant? Please?) I gather it was a blast…

Preaching to the Elderly

Freedom and Opinions

Well, yes. I’m all for free speech. And blogging is good for it. People can express their opinions, get things off their chests blah blah blah.

Trouble is, I’m getting the impression that some people believe their opinion is sacrosanct. To challenge it is to violate some holy law which must be punished.

The reason I have a problem here is that I happen to believe that all opinions have weight, and that weight is determined by the veracity of the information it is based upon. Needless to say, some opinions can be found to be very light indeed upon inspection. Consequently, it is my opinion that all opinions should be subject to fires of enquiry. What is left standing is then worth something of value. Unfortunately not everyone agrees. Some believe that the quantity and volume of opinion is what matters.

As I have mentioned before, Jesus did not come full of grace and opinions. He did not tell the pharisees in John 8 that they will have an opinion, and this opinion will set them free. He spoke of truth.

There is a story behind this little comment, but we need not go there. Just to say, for what it is worth, that truth matters above all opinions.

That’s my opinion.

Freedom and Opinions

Seven Things

John has tagged me with this a few days ago,

1. Seven things to do before I die
2. Seven things I cannot do
3. Seven things that attract me to my spouse
4. Seven things I say most often
5. Seven books (or series) I love
6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)
7. Seven people I want to join in, too

Hmmm. Oh, alright then. Here goes…

Seven things to do before I die:

1. Visit Australia
2. Understand the Apostle John’s Revelation
3. Write a book of some sort
4. Bag all the Munros
5. Read the Works of John Owen
6. Go to the North Pole
7. Visit Nepal

Seven things I cannot do:

1. Play football
2. Avoid detail
3. Hit a golf ball straight
4. Dance
5. Comb my fringe
6. Lick my own nose
7. At the moment, undertand Hebrew!!!!

Seven things that attract me to Susan:

1. Smile
2. Daft, at suitable moments, of course.
3. Spiritually minded
4. Tres clever
5. Strength & determination
6. Skin
7. Something I won’t put here!

Seven things I say most often:

1. Um
2. Hmmm…
3. Good grief!
4. It’s after 8 o’clock! (getting my daughter to move in the morning)
5. It’s time for bed!
6. Coffee?
7. Sorry?

Seven books (or series) I love:

1. Tolkien’s LOTR
2. Asimov’s Foundation series
3. Bonar’s Diary and Life
4. Murray’s biography of MLJ
5. Knowing God by Packer
6. Resurrection and Redemption by Gaffin
7. The Christian’s Great Interest by Guthrie

Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had the time):

1. Matrix
2. Minority Report
3. Lord of the Rings
4. Lost in Translation
5. Bourne Identity
6. The Talented Mr. Ripley
7. Chocolat

Seven people I want to join in:
1. Jon
2. Alistair
3. Steve
4. James
5. Ant
6. Rob
7. David

Go on! You know you want to!

Seven Things

More on Crucifixes

I have been following yesterday’s story of the girl and the crucifix with some interest over the last 24 hours. I has been an eye opener. It made its way from the local press to the national press, TV, radio (go to 1hour 40mins in to get the discussion) and from their across the pond to news sites. Of course from there it has found it’s way on to american blogs. You can find an ever growing list of them here.

It’s pretty amazing. The writers range from “concerned culture watchers” to proud white supremacist racists. On another front, Susan tells me that the school has been getting hate mail from these and other sites.

Of course this is a story which has taken on a life of its own. The facts of the matter have largely become irrelevant. Instead readers and “commentators” simply reveal their own agendas for debate.

Easily the most worrying thing has been the tendency of commentators to claim Christianity as their own in their battle against other ethnic groups and cultures. There is shocking racism. More importantly, they display a complete ignorance of Christ, of what Christianity is, and what the weapons of warfare are. In one discussion I got into, it was said

Christendom has been under attack for decades and since people have lost their faith due to this relentless attack, the west is buckling.

But of course, people don’t lose their faith because of ‘relentless attack’. People lose faith because they love the world and lusts of the flesh too much. (One thing I have noticed on some of these sites that claim to be defending Christianity is the number of links to pornographic girly websites!) In contrast, trials prove faith. And so, the quote goes, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church”.

The real power of Christianity is not found in defending pointless meaningless, symbols. In making stands on this the enemy simply laughs, gives Christians a kicking, and then marches on. The stand is made by faith in Christ, proclamation of his word, faithful obedience to him while living lightly to the world.

I don’t care about culture and ethnicity because the Bible tells us there are only two kinds of people in the world: those in the church, the kingdom of God, and those in the world. The latter is doomed to judgement. If there is a reason that “Christian culture” (and frankly I don’t care for that term – it is an abuse) is buckling it is because it is rooted in the world. I want no part of it.

More on Crucifixes

What Makes Good Preaching?

J. C. Ryle, writing of Hugh Latimer, says:

[W]e are poor judges in these days of what a sermon ought to be. A modern sermon is too often a dull, tame, pointless, religious essay, full of measured, round sentences, Johnsonian English, bald platitudes, timid statements, and elaborately concocted milk and water. It is a leaden sword without point or edge: a heavy weapon, and little likely to do much execution. But if a combination of sound Gospel doctrine, plain Saxon language, boldness, liveliness, directness, and simplicity, can make a preacher, few, I suspect, have ever equalled old Latimer.
(Five English Reformers, p. 110)

What Makes Good Preaching?