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Contemporvant Worship

18 May

Someone showed me this video a few days ago. Bob Kauflin has just blogged about it here. He includes this excellent quote from Don Carson’s book The Cross and Christian Ministry:

If the church is being built with large portions of charm, personality, easy oratory, positive thinking, managerial skills, powerful and emotional experiences, and people smarts, but without the repeated, passionate, Spirit-anointed proclamation of “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” we may be winning more adherents than converts…Do not think that you can adopt the philosophies and values of the world as if such choices do not have a profoundly detrimental impact on the church. Do not think you can get away with it. Do not kid yourself that you are with it, and avant-garde Christian, when in fact you are leaving the gospel behind and doing damage to God’s church. (p. 80, 84)

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Weird Church in Wired Magazine

17 May

Read here today about a pretty strange kind of church – one which is entirely online. I guess there may be one or two good points to be made, but with all that comes with web-anonymity I can’t imagine it’s the best way of forging meaningful relationships and building one another up as brothers and sisters… or maybe I’m just old-fashioned?

How about this from their statement of faith:

“God is revealed to seekers by many different means, including creation, the Bible, the life of Jesus and the Spirit-filled witness of the Church. St Pixels is one expression of that historical, international and universal Church. We aim to create sacred space on the Internet where we can seek God together, enjoy each other’s company and reflect God’s love for the world.”

We recognise that this statement of faith does not go as far as some Christians would want it to.  However, at St Pixels we are intentionally “vague” because we want as many people as possible to feel part of the community….

Therefore, beyond the above statement in the Core Values, there is no official view on matters of faith.

Certainly sounds vague to me! No thanks, think I’ll stick with the real thing.

Baptism

1 Mar

Got baptised last night. Here’s what I had to say:

When people ask how I became a Christian, on one level, I’m not quite sure. I was blessed to grow up in a home with parents who made sure that the Bible and the truth of the gospel was never far away, and I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t believe that I was a sinner, that God had every right to punish me and yet that he wouldn’t because Jesus had taken my place on the cross. Having said that, I do distinctly remember praying “the prayer” asking God to make me a Christian every time I was invited to at a young age, and I guess I probably was saved from quite early on, even if I didn’t fully grasp all the implications for my life.

Life trundled on and for a long time, especially as a teenager, although I didn’t have any extreme moments of rebellion, there were plenty of things in my life which didn’t commend the gospel to others. There were I think two different Toms depending on the situation. At church I was respectable Tom, always doing what I was told, and always giving the right answers in Sunday school or youth group. Then there was the other Tom at school and with my non-Christian friends. I was often militantly evangelistic, telling everyone they needed to be a Christian and they were going to hell etc with very little grace or compassion. And at the same time the difference between what I said and what I did left me open to justifiable accusations of hypocrisy.

As I’ve grown older and matured, learning how to live as a Christian in every area of life has been a slow process and it’s one that will undoubtedly continue until I die. But God is gracious, and while I still have a long way to go, I am assured that he is at work in me to make me more like Jesus.

My three years in Cardiff have been a time of huge spiritual realignment, not least as I have been forced to defend what I believe more than ever before. Yet by God’s grace I remain convinced of the reality of the death and resurrection of Christ. I came to Cardiff feeling pretty sorted about God etc – probably with a sense of pride that I came from a respectable Church, believed all the right things and I was convinced I would come along and impart my wisdom and sort everyone else out. How wrong I was. My time on the Christian Union committee was so valuable in shaping my understanding of what it means for Christians to be united for the sake of the Gospel.

So while I’m not sure of times and dates, I am absolutely sure that Christ died for me and that now my future with him is secure for eternity. The challenges, disappointments and joys of life have only convinced me further that I belong to a sovereign God who works out all things for his glory and the good of his people. With this in mind, I am being baptised today as a symbol of my life being united with Christ as I look forward to eternity. As Paul says… “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Bob Kauflin: Sure and Steadfast

5 Nov

Bob reminds us that the most important thing as a Church is to be sure and steadfast, not to seek to be relevant, cool etc at the expense of the gospel which saves us.

A country in need

5 Sep


I’ve just returned from a couple of weeks in Greece and Turkey. Apart from the 5am call to prayer, one of the highlights was a trip to ancient Ephesus. It was incredible to think that we were standing in the theatre where Paul once stood, provoking the Ephesians to riot in defence of their god, Artemis.

Throughout the country, I was struck by the huge number of mosques, and the almost total absence of churches; hardly surprising in a country which is over 99% Muslim, although many are nominal. Opperation World estimates that there were only 10 Christians in Turkey in 1960, a number which as risen to 20,000 today.

Turkey remains the largest unreached nation in the world. Strange, as for over 1000 years is was a world centre for Christianity. Of the 66 million Muslims, few have ever heard the gospel.