Thursday, 16 April 2009

Dawkins' Dinosaur

It struck me today that Prof. Richard Dawkins is clinging to his Modern worldview with all his might. Whilst he would like to throw all the evangelists out of Oxford with their tails between their legs (I forget where he said that now), quite some of his colleagues over at Oxford are Christians, Muslims or followers of various other faiths.

Prof. Dawkins wants to keep his nice neat and tidy worldview intact, and who cam blame him! Being shifted from the foundations of your world is painful. At least he is being entirely consistent with his worldview.

We see another worldview being gradually eroded at the moment. The worldview of the modern capitalist. Many people were living happily in the world where they could increase their debt safe in the knowledge that their salary will increase, that their bonuses will be paid and that their investments will be safe.

What happened is that they re-mortgaged their houses to fund lavishness, took out loans to pay for stuff they do not need and then lost their jobs and ker-splat, their worldview of stress free debt living crashed around them. They say we have a lot of stress here in the West with our lavish rich lifestyles whereas in poorer parts of the world stress is quite unheard of. Could this be because we have a worldview that just does not work?

When a person is Born Again, something happens to their worldview. They change from being naturalists to super naturalists. They change from unbelief into belief. You could, I suppose, say that their synapses in their brains form different pathways. Their whole worldview changes almost instantly. They will almost certainly retain aspects of their old worldview. I suspect that if Dawkins became a Christian he'd be a great fan of systematic theology and might join say the Metropolitan Tabernacle, where everything is nicely crossed and dotted and just so.

My question to the blogosphere is this. When or if the capitalist worldview finally fails, when big banks really do vanish and people can not get to their money (because it no longer exists), where will the church of Jesus Christ be?

Will we be offering a worldview where your prime reality will not be stolen? When all the idols of the FTSE100 and hedge funds and property fail to deliver, will the church of Jesus Christ be ready to preach Christ, who will never fail?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, lets make the church of our generation ready to cope with whatever will come next. Every now and again huge paradigm shifts in peoples worldviews occur, WW1 and WW2 were one, the great depression was another, the fall of communism changed the worldview of missions of people. It may well be that we are looking at such a paradigm shift now, so lets be ready in season and out of season to proclaim the gospel.

In Christ.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

New Word Alive

My family and I just returned from the fantastic New Word Alive conference (is that the right word for it?) in North Wales.

Thanks especially go to all the childrens workers there, you were all fantastic in taking my three little lads off of me and my wife so we could attend some talks.

New Word Alive is on next year, more info HERE

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Genesis TV

I was blessed today to have the opportunity to appear on the Simply the Truth show on Genesis TV.

The topic of the show was Theology. What is it, who should do it and why should they do it. Here's my take.

Theology is literally the study of God, more than that however, Christian Theology is the study of the Bible within a Christian worldview. We start with the premise that there is a God, that He has revealed himself in the scriptures and in His Son, Jesus Christ. Theology then takes this premise and constructs a worldview based on it.

This is why Theology is so important. Your worldview, your beliefs, will affect your actions. If what you believe about God is wrong, then your actions will potentially be equally wrong.

My fellow-guest was a brother in Christ called Jeremy Walker, Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church. A very fine and solid guy, I hope to meet him again.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Sermon on Psalm 75

I preached this at Twynholm Baptist Church on Dec 28th 2008

Comments and criticism are both very welcome!

Psalm 75

So Christmas is over, and we find ourselves in the limbo period between Christmas and New Year, the time when some of us will have to work, unsure of what exactly to do because there’s hardly anybody else in the office and everything is shut down. A time when we’re still eating the leftovers from Christmas dinner. Working out how to use the new gadget we were given, saying our goodbyes to family and friends.
Perhaps you had a lonely Christmas this year, and you’re wondering what next Christmas will bring.

But I wonder, did you at all feel that God was closer to you this Christmas? Perhaps you know some people who attend church regularly and yet do not believe the gospel. Perhaps they attend a Catholic church with ceremony and ritual, smells and bells and yet they do not have the kind of faith that the Bible speaks of.

Like almost all religious people, they are grappling with an attempt to try and get closer to God. The tower of Babel, the idea of a special meeting place, a temple or a sacred spot. Man has for millennia tried, in vein, to draw near to God.
Psalm 75 is a psalm about God drawing near to us.

This morning I want us to look at three ways in which I believe this Psalm tells us about God’s nearness.

1) What nearness to God’s name means.

2) Consequences of God’s nearness.

3) Our response to Gods nearness.

It is not clear exactly what was happening when this psalm was written. It is likely that there was a conflict about to happen, or perhaps a siege. In the midst of uncertainly, the psalmist wants to reassure the people of Israel by reminding them of God’s past deeds, that he is close to them. He wants to remind them that God is in control when everything around them seems like chaos. And he wants to remind them that it is God who ultimately decrees victory and God who will judge his enemies.

1st point - What nearness to God’s name means.
1We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.

When the Psalmist talks of God’s Name, what does he mean? We use this language even now. When we talk of a new actor or singer you may say that they have made a name for themselves, that is, they have a reputation of being good. If your local butcher is caught up in a food poisoning outbreak, they may be concerned that their good name or their reputation may be brought into disrepute.

When we talk of God’s name we mean his reputation, all that we know about him, all that has been revealed about him. All that God has made known about God. All that has been said about God by his people and in his word.
And what is said of God and what is in his word is confirmed to us by his deeds, as the psalmist wrote:

2 We recount your wondrous deeds..
The psalmist could have had many wonderful deeds in mind and we’d hardly be stuck for any ourselves.

He could have been thinking about the exodus from Egypt, an event that would be foremost in any Israelite’s mind when God’s wonderful deeds were being discussed. Perhaps he was thinking about the defeat of God’s enemies when they entered into the promised land.

They remembered God’s wondrous deeds and this gave them strength and confidence because they knew that the God who conducted these wondrous deeds in the past is the same God who presides over them now and who will do forever more.
God’s wonderful deeds are plenty. And from these deeds we can learn that our God is not like the deists believe, that is a God as a creator who wound up the universe, stepped back and let it tick. We learn that God is active in his creation, he is involved. He not only sustains it but he is also in complete control of it. We learn that He is near.

What does it mean that God’s name is near? Why do we even need to say this as God is omnipresent, He is always near, there is nowhere where God is not.

We can trace this nearness and distance from God to the fall in Genesis 3: 8 “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [1] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

God was walking in the Garden, I believe in expectation of fellowship with Adam and Eve. Yet they hid themselves. God was close, even walking near to them and yet there was a distance between them. Similarly we know that God is close to us even now, and yet we experience distance from him.

Kit Kulver calls the meeting of God and man sacred space. The Garden of Eden was sacred space, until Adam and Eve’s sin drove a separation between them and God, this same sin and separation is what still separates us from God now. Whilst God is always near as he is omnipresent, we are still distant from him because we deny him, we offend him and we disobey him.

When we read in this Psalm that God was near, then what we can understand is that at certain times, when it pleased his Good will, God would show his nearness to those who love him, to his own people in that he did mighty deeds to come to the aid of his people and show his glory to creation. God is near to us in his providence at all times, but far from us in his relationship to us.

But of course, this Psalm talks of Jesus Christ. For he is the most magnificent way in which God has come near to us. We just celebrated this with Christmas. The time when the great Christmas verse, john 1:14 is remembered, that the word became flesh. The time when God gave his son and an infant was born, the time when God dwelt with us, coming near to us and displaying his mighty deeds to us.

Consequences of God’s nearness.
We cannot talk of the almighty being near to us without thinking about what this means for us. I think there are four aspects of God’s nearness that we should look at.

The first aspect is The nearness of God’s name in providence.
2 “At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
3 When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
it is I who keep steady its pillars.

Who is it who sets the time of judgement, who is it who keeps the earth steady when it totters? It is God.

It is our sovereign God who sets a time, in the future, when his grace will abide on some and when his wrath will abide on others for all eternity. Of course the Earth and it’s inhabitants quake and are under judgement even now. Sometimes the earth literally quakes but all the time, somewhere in the Earth there are wars, famines, disease. The past 100 years have seen two world wars, the use of two nuclear weapons, acts of terrorism like we have never before seen. Complete ruin has threatened us many a time. And yet through all these things, we can be assured that the Lord will keep the pillars, that is the order and the life of men and the church steady. He does this because he has set a time to judge and that time has not yet come. He does this because he is patient with is, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

God holds back the evil of man so that instead of asking why Hitler was so evil, we can ask why he was not even worse that he was. It is because God restrains the evil of man, that whilst the earth and its inhabitants may totter, order will be maintained.
This is a great hope for all those who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a great hope because when all around us things seem to be going wrong, when banks totter on the brink of collapse, we can now that God is still in control.

We do not know what 2009 will bring. We cannot predict what the recession will do to our economy, or if there will be another terrorist attack. We should not take notice of so called prophecies of the Lord’s return, for that is God’s business. But there is one thing we can predict for 2009. We can predict that the God will still be God, that his church will stand and that his people will rejoice in Jesus Christ.

Because God is near, we can also know that when we take risks for the gospel, when we talk to friends at school about the gospel, stand up for what is right or make decisions that may make us unpopular, we can know that God is still in control, even if the risks we take look , from a human point of view like failures, God’s sovereignty, his complete control of all things, will decree that all things work for good for those that love him.

But let us remember that there is a day coming when God will finally judge. The bible calls this the great and terrible day of the Lord. Great because Christ will return for his church, terrible because he will also judge the wicked.
The second aspect is The nearness of God’s name for the call of the gospel.

Israel’s enemies were mocking her, saying “where is your god” blaspheming him. This is what God has to say to them:

4 I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
5 do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with haughty neck.’”
Indeed, in the previous psalm, Psalm 74 the psalmist reminds God how his enemies micked him and questions how long Good will allow this to continue, He asks “how long will you enemy mock you”

Even when this great and terrible day of the Lord comes, there will still be those who boast, who lift up their horns. But as a little crab who lifts himself up on his legs and waves his tiny claws when threatened by a man is laughed at by the one taunting him, so the Lord will have the last word with the proud and arrogant and the mockers on that last day. The Lord is not one to be mocked, as Spurgeon said “Impudence before God is madness”.

What is the source of this boastfulness, of this pride? Gods delay of judgement, an evil heart, seeing the wicked prosper, material possessions? The proud and boastful man may seem great to some, but he over estimates himself and God has something to say to him.

God says Do Not Boast, Do Not Lift up your Horn in pride. Do not speak back to God.
This is akin to the call of the gospel. A call to humble yourself before almighty God, to understand your place before God and understand who God is.

We find a parallel to this psalm in the magnificat, Mary’s song of praise found in Luke chapter 1.

51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

How are we to not boast and to not have pride unless we first come to realise our desperate position before God?

The wise criminal, when he comes before the judge will not come with arrogance but with remorse, he will come and admit his guilt and plea for the judges mercy. He will not boast of his wickedness, because the one who he sits before is the one who has the power to jail him or to set him free. God is our judge and as psalm 145:18 says, we are to call on him in truth. He hears the desires of those who fear him, he hears their cry and he saves them.

Proverbs 3:34 says that The Lord mocks those who mock Him but that he gives grace to the humble.

Well there are those enemies of God who will not heed this advice. The unwise criminal who approaches the bench arrogantly, unaware of his judgement.

So the Psalmist responds to what God said in verses 2-5 and writes this:

6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.
8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.

The third aspect is The nearness of God’s name for the judgement of his enemies.
This response was most likely aimed at Israel’s enemies. I think the essence is that whilst the armies were revelling in their pride and their strength, the Psalmist is saying that it is God who causes nations to rise and to fall. It is God who hands out victory and he is unlikely to give it to you! He is warning them that whilst they may be revelling now, they will soon get so caught up in it that they will not see whats coming next.

Where are we to look for our promotion, for climbing the career ladder, for getting good gain in life, for our victory?
How large was the mighty German army? How extensive wad the soviet empire and how many millions of troops did Saddam Hussein have at his command? Yet in spite of their greatness, all these armies and empires fell. For one reason or another, they collapsed and are relegated to the history books.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.

This is a warning of the tendency of a prideful soul to forget about it’s dependence on God. Israel’s enemies were only there because God had put them there. If they had victory, it was because God gave it to them.

It is God who raises up and God who executes judgement and lest we think we may escape his eyes and his judgement, the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord has a cup. In fact, we know that the Lord had two cups. He has a cup of mercy and a cup of judgement. Here the psalmist is telling of the cup of judgement.
How does he describe this cup?

It is full of foaming wine mixed with spices. Why is the wine foaming? It is strong wine, the action of fermentation has made the wine foam. The wine is mixed with spices. This is not sour wine, it is good wine, pleasing to the taste and intoxicating to the soul.

In their ignorance, the proud and arrogant are drinking it down. They are drunk with it, having a great time believing they are the masters.

The dregs are the nasty bits at the bottom that should have been left in the bottle when the wine was poured. But in their drunkenness the arrogant and the proud continued drinking, even drinking down the dregs at the bottom of the bottle.

These dregs are the Lord’s judgement. The humble one will have seen the dregs coming and would have escaped, but the wicked, oblivious to the coming judgement, revelling in their pride, drink them down readily.

This is what pride in ourselves and arrogance towards God leads to. When you forget about dependency on God and believe that you are the source of your gain, or when you hate God and lash out at him your pride and hatred so blinds you that you do not see the dregs, that is, the judgement that is coming.

This is a dire warning to boast no more, not to lift up your horns against God but to remember that it is God who lifts up and God who will judge. It is a warning to God’s enemies that God is not a foe they must battle against, but a merciful God, who waits patiently for his people to gather around him.

Our response to Gods nearness.
The final aspect is The nearness of God’s name for the salvation of his people.
How are we to respond to these things?

This section of the psalm is a personal response. We know this because the first line says “But I”, it is singular and in the first person.
9 But I will declare it forever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.

And as much as the response that the psalmist penned is a personal response, so a personal response is demanded of us also. We can give one of two responses.
If you are not a Christian then your response should be this.

You should understand that God’s name is near to us for our salvation. God’s name became flesh in Jesus Christ and he dwelt among us, displaying his mighty power first hand. He then died on the cross and rose again in glory.

God came near to us in Jesus so that he could save us, What Jesus Christ did on the cross was to drink down the dregs of God’s judgement, to the very last sip, he said this in John 18:11 when he said

“ shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

He drank of this cup of judgement so that whomsoever believe in him would not perish with the wicked, drinking down the dregs of God’s judgement, but they would drink of the cup of God’s mercy and have everlasting life.
What are we to do to receive this everlasting life? We are to boast no more, we are to not lift up our proud horns to God but we are to come to him as the wise criminal comes to the Judge, in repentance, in sorrow for the sin we have done and ready to receive mercy so that instead of being sent down, we will be lifted up with Christ in glory.

If you are a Christian then your response is to Declare forever the praise of God, how do we do this? By worshiping God with our brothers and sisters in Christ and by telling others of his mighty deeds in Jesus Christ.
In the final verse of Psalm 75, the psalmist writes this:
10 All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.
There are two ways of looking at this last verse. I think both are valid.
First we can take this as a final word from God, assurance that he will take down the wicked and that he will lift up those who have found their righteousness in Jesus Christ.

The other way of looking at this is again in our personal response as Christians. We are to do all we can to cut off the ways of the wicked. We can do this by not walking in their evil ways, by not heeding their pleas to join them in their evil. We can do this by doing what is right, by defending the weak and by proclaiming the truth. When we do these things we have the assurance from God that those who boast only in Jesus Christ will be lifted up.

It is my hope that in 2009 one of two things will happen to you. If you are a Christian, I hope that you will praise God for the things he has done in your life, that you will join with the church in singing praise to the God of Jacob.

If you are not a Christian, it is my hope that you will boast no more, that you will lay down your pride and repent and believe the gospel.

Friday, 18 July 2008

The more the merrier?

I have recently seen a few adverts for "Christian Services". One such advert attracted my attention as it was about prayer. Now I am not good at prayer, it is one thing that always slips my mind and so anything that helps, I like.

This, however, was a little strange.

There is a company with whom you sign up using SMS, you then send them a prayer request and they will send the request to lots of other people, lets say 200 other people. In return you have to agree to pray for the next 5 requests that you receive as a text message.

The idea is, I guess, that when you are in a crisis you will almost instantly have a few hundred people praying for you.

This is what Jesus said:

But you, when you pray go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is on the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Matthew 6:5-6

So we see that our Father sees in secret. Since He not only sees in secret but he knows our needs before we even know them. Matt 6:7 says "...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

Yet it is good to pray in groups, to share ones needs with God's people.

Does it some how make a difference if lots of people pray for something? Are you more likely to receive whatever answer you would like if this happens? Is it better to have 10 or 100 or 1000 people pray for you and your needs or is it fine just to pray yourself?

Thursday, 17 July 2008


Rowan Atkinson-Williams has today decided that 'Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims'. It must have taken all the power of his mind to figure that out. Of course it is offensive to Muslims. I deny their prophet, their god and their koran. I believe that their religion is false and leads only to destruction. Obviously their doctrine is also offensive to me, they deny Christ's deity, they deny the trinity and they deny Christ's work on the cross and His resurrection.

Here is the original article from the Daily Mail (sigh).

His solution:

"an alliance between the two faiths for 'the common good'."

What is the common good? He does not say.

I don't have much more to say on this at the moment.. Maybe after a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


Well that's it, the first year of LST study has come to an end and it only seems like yesterday that I was a newbie there.

Some great lecturers have been Tony Lane for Doctrine. Tony is a sold guy who is professor of historical theology who specializes in Calvin (yay!). Sonja Jackson for Cross Culture and Mission, hew enthusiasm for mission and her experience really were fantastic. Alison Lo, OT lecturer, fantastic walk through the Covenant with her and she gave me good marks for my essay. Chris Jack, Discipleship. Chris brought Luke 14 down on the class with a punch, shocking some, comforting others. Finally my fantastic Formation tutor, Conrad Gempf who may even be reading this.

Thanks to everybody else at LST as well from Phil in the bookshop to the maintenance guys, the kitchen staff, admin and everybody else. See you next term!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


I have just finished listening to Piper's fantastic 9 part series on TULIP. It's available HERE

Well, what can you say? It's fantastic. Well worth a listen, even if you're not a Calvinist.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

New Tribes

We were blessed with a visit from some missionaries that we support who work for New Tribes Mission. They are living with the Inapang tribe in PNG where they have translated the scriptures into their previously unwritten language, Itutang.

They report that they recently had 80 (Yes EIGHTY) baptisms.

Their story is nothing short of amazing and we were praising God that even in the remotest part of the world He has sheep that He sent His Son to die for.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Doctrine is like Jenga

A good friend commented yesterday that Christian Doctrine was like a wall. You can take some bricks out and the wall still stands.

Thinking about this further, perhaps it is more like jenga. You can take some bricks out of a jenga tower and it will stand, albeit precariously. But some bricks support the whole tower and, if you remove them, the tower collapses. But even if you take away too many bricks that are not that important, you still loose the tower.

So, what jenga bricks can you take out of the tower of doctrine before everything comes crumbling down around you?