Are my sermons boring?

Posted on July 13, 2020 
Filed under Resources

“In recent months several people at different churches have told me how bored they are by the sermons they hear on Sundays.

Now, if you’re a preacher, ‘bored’ is a term likely to immediately trigger your defence mechanisms. You’ll likely want to jump at the comment and eagerly condemn such ungodly attitudes. And yes, when some people say ‘I find the sermons boring’ they mean the sermons fail to entertain them. In this case repentance is required – there are many ways to be entertained but sermons aren’t one of them. No one should expect entertainment when God’s word is preached.

However, this criticism of sermons isn’t always or wholly the fault of the listener. …”

Helpful questions from Steven Kryger at Communicate Jesus.

Some recent US Supreme Court decisions on law and religion

Posted on July 12, 2020 
Filed under Culture wars

“The approach of the official end of the judicial term in the US Supreme Court has seen a number of important law and religion-related decisions handed down in the last week.

We have seen decisions relating to access to abortion; to whether the US government can require religious bodies to fund abortion and contraception; to the provision of state funds for religious schools; and to the question of whether discrimination law can be applied to teachers of religion at religious schools. …

Each of the four cases here would warrant (and no doubt will produce) detailed academic commentary. But here I will simply flag the case and the general outlines of the reasoning for those who want to read more.”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster notes four important decisions made by the US Supreme Court.

Loving the Liturgy

Posted on July 10, 2020 
Filed under Opinion, Resources

“Churches returning to physical services after the pandemic lock-down are having to be creative and adaptable under the present restrictions.

With singing not allowed, many are re-discovering the benefits of using liturgy in our corporate worship.

Is this something to be regretted, a backward step, or something to be grateful for?…”

– At Church Society’s blog, Andrew Cinnamond shares some reasons this can be a very good thing.

The minister drought and what to do about it? – with Phillip Jensen

Posted on July 10, 2020 
Filed under Resources, Sydney Diocese

From Dominic Steele:

“The minister drought and what to do about it? – with Phillip Jensen

There’s been an across the board drop in people stepping up to serve in full time ministry roles whether as senior pastors, assistant pastors or people putting themselves forward to study at theological college.

We had the Principal of Moore Theological College, Mark Thompson on The Pastor’s Heart a few months ago and he said that enrolments are down for theological colleges across the western world

It’s very different to twenty years ago, when all the talk at Moore College was of continued growth.

Humanly speaking Phillip Jensen was the person in Sydney used by God most significantly to prompt the explosion in gospel workers.

We ask Phillip what are the factors that have contributed to the slump, and what needs to be done?”

– Watch or listen at The Pastor’s Heart.

Related:

Where are all the senior ministers? – Bishop Peter Lin.

CMS NSW/ACT gives thanks for response to Lasting Hope Appeal

Posted on July 9, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Good News

From the CMS NSW and ACT branch:

Praise God that we have exceeded our $1.6 million target, to support CMS missionaries as they share the hope of Jesus! Thank you to all those who have been praying for the appeal – and for everyone who gave in support.

You will know that CMS has faced significant financial challenges amidst the COVID-19 period. It is a great joy and encouragement to know that our Fellowship is responding to these challenges together, as we trust in the God who provides for all of our needs.

But our work is not finished yet. During COVID-19, our branch faced a number of unexpected expenses – the high cost of airfares at short notice, loss of income from the CMS Conference Centre, and additional housing for missionaries who were unable to leave or needed to return to Australia – these are just a few examples. …”

See more here.

Bible-touring bishop to hang up his boots

Posted on July 7, 2020 
Filed under People

“There’s a wistful note in Bishop Paul Barnett’s voice when he says that, after 30 years, his tour-leading days with his wife Anita are done. …

The 84-year-old historian and author has loved bringing the Bible to life for people, enjoying their fellowship and making deep friendships with their ‘much loved’ travel guides.”

– The Barnetts’ tours have been such a blessing to many. Judy Adamson at SydneyAnglicans.net has the story.

A Glimpse of a Disciplined Life

Posted on July 5, 2020 
Filed under Encouragement, People

“One thing that always fascinates me when I read biographies is learning of other people’s habits. That’s especially true when the subject is extremely disciplined.

Tim Chester’s Stott on the Christian Life is not quite a biography of John Stott, but it’s not far off. He gives an interesting glimpse of Stott’s normal, well-disciplined routines. Here is what his life looked like…”

Encouragement from Challies.com.

(Photo: Langham Partnership.)

Hidden behind the bannered slogan

Posted on July 5, 2020 
Filed under Culture wars, Opinion

“Being truthful makes a person or a group trustworthy. To be trusted, an openness and honesty is required. To present a truism but then hide other agendas may attract listeners at first, but when what is hidden is exposed, trust will be lost, cynicism will grow, and the community will be wounded.

As a church leader I should know. I have felt betrayed by the hidden evils perpetrated by the groomers and paedophiles that have haunted the darker corners of church history.

Perhaps, naïvely, I thought such evil could not exist where Christian slogans were so righteous. While the slogan may be right and good, life offers evidence of the insidious nature of those who hide behind slogans with ulterior motives. …”

– Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers cautions against naïvety.

Psalm 136 and The bread and butter Christian

Posted on July 5, 2020 
Filed under Encouragement, Theology

“How much is thankfulness part of your life as a follower of Jesus? How much, in our current situation, are you tempted to grumble? How much do you focus on the negative and lose sight of the positive?

These questions are significant because giving thanks to God is the mark of a follower of Jesus. Or conversely, the mark of a pagan mind is a lack of thankfulness. See what Paul says in Romans 1:21a: ‘For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him….’

It is for this reason that I think Psalm 136 is such important teaching in our current climate…”

– Encouragement from Ben George at The Australian Church Record.

Nothing takes God by surprise

Posted on July 4, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Encouragement

“Nothing takes God by surprise and the ministry he has entrusted to his people remains the same: ‘this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world’. …”

– Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, is praying for a Corona harvest.

Have No Fear by John Lennox – review by Ed Loane

Posted on July 3, 2020 
Filed under Apologetics & Evangelism, Resources

“This little book has been produced to help Christians have the confidence and tools to witness to those around them about Jesus Christ. Lennox, as a leading apologist, has written a simple and clear account of the why and how of personal evangelism. …”

– At Church Society’s blog, Dr Ed Loane provides a brief and encouraging review of Have No Fear by John Lennox.

Plus, Alex Keen reviews Sharing the Gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness by Tony Brown.

(Both books are available from Reformers Bookshop and The Wandering Bookseller.)

Are we there yet?

Posted on July 2, 2020 
Filed under COVID19, Sydney Diocese


“The latest changes to the Public Health Orders for Places of Worship have plunged churches into a further round of calculation and cleaning as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease.

The changes are being brought in amid continuing concern about the situation in Victoria where another wave of community transmission is emerging. …”

The latest COVID-19 update from the Diocese of Sydney includes videos from Bishop Gary Koo (Chair of the diocesan COVID taskforce) and Youthworks’ Ed Springer.

GAFCON devotions with Bp Michael Nazir Ali

Posted on July 2, 2020 
Filed under History, Resources, Theology

For the month of July 2020, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is writing and recording daily devotions (“Lift up your hearts”) for GAFCON.

Read/listen or subscribe here.

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