Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Reformed Theology

Valentijn Hepp writes: "Calvinism is the broadest and deepest Christianity; or if you will, it is the purest Christianity; or, as I should prefer to qualify it, it is the most consistent and likewise the most harmonious Christianity." 

(In Beeke, Living for God's glory, pp. 38-9)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Abraham Kuyper view on the Transformationist Model

How do Christians relate to culture?

First, in every sphere of life Christians are to think and act distinctively as Christians. Second, "Christians should articulate their way of thinking. speaking, and acting...in the course of interacting with non-Christians in our shared human practices and instutions." In other words, if as a Christian I am conscious of my Christian beliefs as I am living and working, these beliefs will affect everything I do in life.

(As summarized by Timothy Keller in Center Church, p. 196.)

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Brexit

John Stevens from the FIEC gives a very helpful assessment of Brexit from an Evangelical Christian perspective which can be read here.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Cities!


I enjoyed watching this video and I was encouraged to see that this historical video from a secular perspective had no problem mentioning the Israelite Exodus under Moses. Increasingly, secular historians are accepting what we have always known - that the Bible is historically accurate!

Monday, 9 May 2016

The 9th Most Dangerous City in the World - Cape Town!

I watched this video with interest, having grown up in Cape Town, and going to school with a number of people from these communities. I was reminded while watching this of an occasion in my final year of High School in 2000 when I was invited to church with a friend from a place mentioned in this clip. I was reminded of this because there I heard the gospel preached faithfully. And watching this, while remembering this incident, brought hope in what seems like hopelessness. Christians live in these places. Preachers preach in these communities. Christ can reach even gangsters. If you're reading this, please pray for Cape Town!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Back to Basics - Part 5

Do you read the passage that the pastor is preaching on in preparation for the sermon? And do you read the passage he preached on after the sermon? All I want to do in this mini-sermon is encourage you to do that. It will help you gain a deeper understanding of what the Holy Spirit is wanting to teach you, especially when you do it prayerfully.

We are working through Genesis in the morning and Matthew in the evening and I usually preach around half a chapter to a whole chapter each week, so it shouldn't be too difficult to work out where we shall be in the Bible week by week.

Here are some Bible study questions to help you understand the passage better - slightly revised and hopefully improved.

  • Background questions:
    • Who wrote the book I am reading?
    • Who did he write it to?
    • What did the chapter mean for the people of that time?
    • What does the chapter I am reading teach me about God?
    • How does it point to Christ?
    • What does the chapter I am reading mean for me today? 
  • Questions to help me understand what the chapter means for me today:
    • Is there a command for me to obey?
    • Is there an example for me to follow?
    • Is there an error for me to avoid?
    • Is there a promise for me to claim?
    • Is there a sin for me to forsake?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Tenth Commandment

In our family devotions we regularly say the Ten Commandments together. The tenth commandment is, "You shall not covet." We've also been reading Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (not during family devotions, of course!). Veruca Salt is a notorious example of how one might break the commandment (pp. 140-141):

'Hey, Mummy!' shouted Veruca Salt suddenly, 'I've decided I want a squirrel! Get me one of those squirrels!'

'Don't be silly, sweetheart,' said Mrs Salt. 'These all belong to Mr Wonka.'

'I don't care about that!' shouted Veruca. 'I want one. All I've got at home is two dogs and four cats and six bunny rabbits and two parakeets and three canaries and a green parrot and a turtle and a bowl of goldfish and a cage of white mice and a silly old hamster! I want a squirrel!'

This really made us laugh! I don't mean to make light of sin, but using examples such as these may be helpful when instructing children. When we preach we usually use illustrations for adults. We should also remember to use illustrations such as these which children can relate to.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Back to Basics - Part 4

I gave the fourth mini-sermon in this series a few weeks ago. Here is a summary of what I said.

We said last time that we should bring our own Bibles to church. This week, I want to show you how to use your own Bible in church, especially if you are fairly new to all this!

Each week I read from a passage in either the New Testament or the Old Testament and I will usually preach from that passage. Keep the passage that I am preaching from open in front of you. As I refer to a verse, have a look at it. Become familiar with the passage and then when you get home, read it for yourself and pray about what you have heard, preferably the same day.

Occasionally I will refer to other passages in the Bible. If you are not familiar with where the books of the Bible are, I would suggest you don't turn to those other passages, but rather keep the passage I am preaching open in front of you. Write down those other passages I refer to and look at them later for your own personal study.

To help you find the books of the Bible quicker in the future, I would encourage you to learn the order of the books of the Bible. The 1689 Baptist Confession's first chapter is called, "The Holy Scripture" and there it lists the books of the Bible in the order they appear. It does this so that we can be sure which books of the Bible are included in the canon. But those who wrote these documents were very keen to encourage learning among the people of God. I am sure the list was also put there to help new converts learn where the books of the Bible could be found.

Here they are, in order:

OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations,Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John, Jude, Revelation.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Three Reasons Wrexham is a Great Place for a Christian to Live

Spring is in the air and I am feeling particularly positive about the gospel in Wrexham. Let me outline three reasons I think Wrexham is a great place for a Christian to live:

1. Compared to many parts of the UK, Wrexham has a good concentration of gospel-preaching churches in a relatively small area. These churches are linked to the FIEC, EMW or AECW. You can be choosy and still be assured of a good gospel 'feast' without needing to drive many miles!

2. These churches that you can be part of are serious about reaching out to lost people with the message of Christ. Take Easter for example. Here is just a smattering of outreaches that I heard were going on: Evangelistic Meal for mums with Maureen Wise; Good Friday service for those sleeping rough with Gus Eyre; Men's Curry & Carrom Evening; Easter Service with a meal before hand; a free Easter book table in the Central Arcade (Most popular book to be taken? The New Testament!); and Door to Door work with over 500 pieces of literature taken. Even if some of these events were of a social nature, the object for all of them was to introduce people to Jesus Christ.

3. Wrexham has a growing international community. I read a stastistic recently that said that something like 10% of people living in the immediate Wrexham area are not from the United Kingdom. My personal experience is that many of these people are open to the gospel. Foreign missions is right on our doorstep (says he who is one of those 10% who have moved into the area from outside the UK!).

So, if you live in Wrexham, pray that the Lord will use you to build his kingdom here! And if you don't live in Wrexham, why not come and be a part of what the Lord is doing? William Carey once said, "The more unreservedly you devote yourself to Jesus Christ, the more you will know his peace."

Monday, 21 March 2016

Easter & Athanasius

Ikone Athanasius von Alexandria.jpgAs we draw closer to Easter, Athanasius has some words to say to those who deny the resurrection. (Athanasius lived in the 4th Century, was the bishop of Alexandria, and wrote a Christian Classic, still read today, called On the Incarnation of the Word of God.)

"In a word then, those who disbelieve in the resurrection have no support in facts... We are agreed that a dead person can do nothing; yet the Saviour works mightily every day, drawing men to religion, persuading them to virtue, teaching them about immortality, quickening their thirst for heavenly things, revealing the knowledge of the Father, inspiring strength in the face of death, manifesting Himself to each, and displacing the irreligion of idols; while the gods and evil spirits of the unbelievers can do none of these things, but rather become dead at Christ's presence, all their ostentation barren and void."

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Knowing vs. Feeling

I found this so helpul, as Alistair Begg seems to know how I often feel on a Sunday morning!


Friday, 12 February 2016

The Creation Mandate

A week on Sunday I am beginning a new series at church on Genesis. In the first sermon I intend to answer the question, "What does 'Be fruitful and increase in number' (Gen 1:28) mean for the Christian?" Genesis 1:28 is sometimes called The Creaion Mandate. As I will argue in the sermon, The Creation Mandate is a command for Adam and Eve to spread the image of God all over the earth. For us, in the New Covenant age however, we obey this command, not by having loads of children, but by proclaiming the gospel. Therefore, you don't need to be married with lots of babies to be obedient to this command! In fact, many will forego the privileges of marriage and the blessing of children so that they may be more effective in their service to Christ.

With this sermon on my mind, I was really pleased to come across this John Piper video where he reminds Christians not to forget Kingdom priorities when making decisions about marriage and children.


Monday, 1 February 2016

Back to Basics - Part 3

I did the third mini-sermon yesterday on something so basic, but easily forgotten. Here is a summary of what I said.

Today's mini-sermon is really basic, but it's the basics we often forget: I want to encourage you all to bring your own Bibles to church.

Some years back we purchased church Bibles for visitors who may not have brought their own Bibles to church. We also give out the page number so that those who perhaps are not used to using a Bible can find the passage more easily. However, having a church Bible has had an effect we did not intend, i.e. that many who regularly attend the church no longer bring their Bibles to church.

So I'm not intending to check up on you! But I would like you consider the advangages of bringing your own Bible to church.

First, it reminds you that what we do at church on the Lord's Day is serious. We need to prepare ourselves to come to church and plan to come to church. We don't just stumble into our seat. You need to plan to bring your Bible and perhaps this small preparation will help to remind you that meeting God with God's people is a serious occasion.

Second, if you follow the sermon in your own Bible, it will help you when you read the passage again that day or later on in the week for personal reflection and prayer. Each week I try to encourage you to re-read what was preached and to pray over what you have heard. If a particular verse stands out for you during the sermon, you are more likely to remember where that verse is later if you have seen it in your own personal Bible - perhaps you can even make a mark with a pencil to remind you where it is! You can't do this with a church Bible of course!

Third, it will build good habits into your children. If you have children, you want to set a good example. You can bring your Bible and you can encourage your children to do the same. I love doing the Bible reading from the front and seeing parents help their young children follow along.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Back to Basics - Part 2

This is mini-sermon number 2 which I will deliver on Sunday to the church. It's basic, but we quickly forget the basics.

What do you think the Bible is?

Do you think the Bible is like an inspirational book that gives you a thought for the day, and if you're really lucky, a fuzzy feeling inside before you get going?

Presence Dusty BibleMaybe you think of the Bible like a horoscope that will give you some good news in the drudgery of life. Of course, if it's bad news, you can ignore it, because in your opinion, the Bible, like a horoscope, can't really be trusted.

Or do you understand the Bible to be what it really is, the very Word of God. If we remember that this book is God speaking, we'll take it a lot more seriously than we do.

We're going back to basics and this week we need to remember how important it is to read the Bible. Aim to read it every day. Find a time, perhaps in the morning, or during your lunch break or at night before you go to bed and read the Bible. Personally, I try and read a chapter of the Old Testament, a chapter of the New Testament, and a psalm. If you've never done this before, then start small and aim to read one chapter.
Pray before you read, asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand what you read. Once you have read it through, pray about what you have read. And if you're feeling really keen, you could ask these questions to the passage to help you better understand it. These are questions George Mueller used to ask the Bible:

  • Is there an example for me to follow?
  • Is there a command for me to obey?
  • Is there any error for me to avoid?
  • Is there any sin for me to forsake?
  • Is there any promise for me to claim?
  • Is there any new thought about God Himself?
Before we finish, let me recommend a very helpful little book by Andrew Wilson, called Unbreakable. This is not a book on how to read the Bible, but it is a book explaining to us what the Bible is and why we can trust it. It's well worth a read!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Back to Basics

This Sunday morning I am beginning a series of mini-sermons, going "Back to Basics". This won't be the main sermon, but will be a 2 or 3 minute slot in the service where I encourage Christians to get back to the basics of Christian living and growth.

We're going to begin with prayer on Sunday morning and I will be recommending two books:

The first is Mike Reeves' book, Enjoy Your Prayer Life. This is a short paperback which could probably be read in one sitting if you had a couple of hours to spare.

The second book is Tim Keller's book, Prayer: Experienceing Awe and Intimacy with God.  Both of these books make the key point that prayer is not about coming to "God the genie" with your shopping list, but about drawing near to your Father who you love more than anything or anyone else. Prayer is enjoying God! We were made to know God and Jesus died to reconcile us to God. When we do not pray we do not properly enjoy the benefits of our salvation!

The Bible outlines a number of ways that we can pray.

Number 1: We are told to go into the secret place.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go into your room...". It is good to get away from everything and everyone and have fellowship with the Lord on your own. If you don't know what to pray about, then I suggest you simply read a chapter of the Bible and then pray about what you have read. The psalms are particularly helpful in guiding our prayer life, a point Tim Keller makes in his book.

Number 2: We are told to pray with other believers. Acts 2:42 said that the early church devoted themselves to prayer and unless you ignore the context, it's obvious that this is talking about corporate prayer. If you don't know how to pray, you'll soon learn by hearing others pray in the prayer meeting. Sometimes I am so exhausted, spiritually, mentally and physically that I feel unable to pray. But in the prayer meeting, someone else leads me in prayer and I am able to make his or her words mine. What a help brothers and sisters in Christ can be in these times!

Number 3: We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:16-18). There is never a time that God is not with us, which means that whatever is on our hearts and minds can be committed to the Lord in prayer.

Tim Keller notes in his book that in 1945 a book was published in the United States called, Quiet Time, which encourages Christians to take time out every morning to read and pray. It became a million copy seller and has influenced Christian thought in this area ever since.

Whilst I personally try and make this my practice (often failing!), it would be wrong of me to think that once this is done, I'm done with prayer for the day. Some mornings I wake up feeling so groggy that prayer is almost impossible. But as the events of the day unfold, I find myself talking to the Lord about what is going on, and my fellowship with him is sweet.

Someone once said to me that he spent more time worrying that he did not pray than actually praying. I thought how true that was for me. But we both acknowledged in this conversation that if we turned every worry about not praying into a word of praise to the Lord, how richer our experience of God would be!

So, let's get praying!