Bible Story Telling

30 06 2011

When Sam Chan was up for the SMBC Mission week we had plenty of discussions about a method of Bible study he referrred to as ‘Bible story telling.’  He led one of our Growth Groups in a study on Isaiah 55 and people raved about it. One person said to me it was the first time she understood something from Isaiah. I tried not to take that personally considering they had heard me preach a number of sermons on Isaiah. Anyway I am exploring this method to try it with a Growth Group I am starting next month.

Here’s a link to a talk by John Gill. Sam learnt this method from him.


Tim Keller on the ‘Story of Jesus’

16 04 2011

This is well worth watching

Reminders are more effective than rebukes

14 02 2011

Some very words from Tullian Tchividjian. Go here for the full post.

The Puritans used to say that far too many Christians live beneath the level of their privileges. Therefore, I need to be told by those around me that every time I sin I’m momentarily suffering from an  identity crisis: forgetting who I actually belong to, what I really want at my remade core, and all that is already mine in Christ. The only way to deal with remaining sin long term is to develop a distaste for it in light of the glorious riches we already posses in Christ. I need my real friends to remind me of this–every day. Please tell me again and again that God doesn’t love me more when I obey or less when I disobey. Knowing this actually enlarges my heart for God and therefore shrinks my hunger for sin. So, don’t let me forget it. My life depends on it!

In her book Because He Loves Me, Elyse Fitzpatrick writes about how important remembrance is in Christian growth:

One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification.

Christian growth, in other words, does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners. I need my family and friends to remind me of this all the time.

Realizing the Colossian Christians were being tempted to buy counterfeit versions of salvation (self-improvement and freedom through rule-keeping being the main ones), Paul repeatedly reminds them of the treasure they already have in Christ. His point: don’t buy false versions of what you already have. In 1:9-14, Paul sums things up by saying, essentially, “You will grow in your understanding of God’s will, be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding, increase in your knowledge of God, be strengthened with God’s power which will produce joy filled patience and endurance (v.9-12a) as you come to a greater realization that you’ve already been qualified, delivered, transferred, redeemed, and forgiven (v.12b-14).

Paul understood that Gospel-driven change is rooted in remembrance.

The ‘Ideal’ and ‘Reality’ lag and tension in church life

19 01 2011

In a meeting with the Lakeshore admin assistant today we were discussing one of the many rosters at Lakeshore that we are constantly trying to find people for. There never seems to be enough people for all the ‘necessary’ aspects of church life.
It turned into a helpful chat about one of the realities and tensions of church life. There always is and always will be a lag or chasm between the ideal and the reality in so many aspects of church life. We reflected on the reality of the tension this creates in that we are wanting to work towards the ideal but will constantly be faced with the reality. For example there will never be enough people to fill all the rosters. Even when more people come along to church it somehow creates more work so there are more people needed.
I moved to reflect on the fact that to be able to be in any kind of leadership position in church you need to recognise this tension and have a capacity to live with it to be able to sustain a healthy attitude. We want to work towards the ideal but be content (ie not grumbling against everyone as if they are all ‘lazy good for nothings’ and having a ‘what’s going on in this church’ attitude) with the reality of limited resources or capacity.
Is this what Jesus was recognising when he said in Matthew 9:37:- “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few?”

Character exposed in suffering

16 12 2010
Tullian Tchividjian

Some quotes from Tullian Tchividjian from this sermon.

“Character is demonstrated more by our reactions than our actions.”

‘The flavour of a tea bag comes out best when put in hot water.”

“If you do not go to your grave confused you do not go to your grave trusting God.”

“Suffering doesn’t rob you of joy idolatery does.”

“If you are suffering and you are bitter or joyless then it means you’ve idolised whatever it is you are losing.”

“In the crucible of suffering you either become bitter or better.”

“You come from the womb with nothing and you go to the tomb with nothing.”

“You have everything you need already in Jesus.”

“Bitterness or joylessness in suffering happens when we’ve held on to something more than we’ve held on to God.”

“How is your present disappointment, discouragement or grief a window on what has actually captured your heart?” Paul Tripp

Soft Addictions stalling growth

4 12 2010

I don’t know who this person is but I found this a helpful quote:-

“People who stall in their personal growth work often have counterproductive soft addictions that stand in their way of growth and having the life they say they want. It can be a simple thing, such as watching TV instead of finishing a project.” ~ Judith Wright

Who is in control of my life?

27 11 2010

This is part of what I shared in a recent sermon from James 4:13-5:11.

This week I had some bad news about my health. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and the specialist has been telling me that because we caught the disease early and I am on medication which has shut down the symptoms that the future is good. This week he told me that one of my fingers is deformed even though he said that wouldn’t happen. Also my liver tests are showing signs of my liver being intolerant to the medication that is keeping the symptoms under control. That was a major blow for me. How foolish of me to entrust myself to the specialist. Yes he may know more about my health than I do but he is no more in control of my body than I am. It is God who is in control of my body and so I should entrust myself to him. It has been another oppurtunity to be reminded that my life is in God’s hand not mine and so I need to be constantly dependant upon Him.

It is possible for us as Christians to fall into practical atheism, we say we believe in God but we act as though we don’t. And what has James been saying through the whole book? Belief must be seen in actions.

What have you planned lately? Did you consider whether it was God’s will for you? Did you examine the Bible as you planned? Did you submit the plans to God in prayer? Did you take time out to pray about it?

What action have you taken lately? Did you consider whether it was God’s will? Did you take time out to pray?

God is in control and we are not. We must submit all of our lives to him. I have freshly learnt this lesson.