Rejoice in the Lord!

“I have been feasting on Philippians in recent months, meditating on Paul’s command to, ‘rejoice in the Lord’, found in 3:1 – and then intensified in 4:4: ‘rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice!’

Here are six reflections. …”

– Godly encouragement from Peter Adam at the Gospel Coalition Australia.

The Vulnerables. Our Heritage Builders!

Attending a recent investment seminar with a group of retirees, I was asked whether I was a skier.

I was astonished that many of my fellow attendees said they were skiers! Then the speaker added, ‘a skier is one who Spends the Kids Inheritance’.

Government policy in Australia is that Pension Funds must be spent and not used as a means of passing on an inheritance.

Up till this year this policy has proved a boon for the travel industry.

Our population is ageing and this has led to the construction of many retirement villages (in the US there are whole gated suburbs which allow only limited access of children at certain times of the year). Even Church services have become filleted by the use of ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ as descriptors.

The poet Coleridge wrote ‘what a melancholy world without children, what an in humane world without the aged’.

Today I want to write about the importance the Bible gives to the place of grandparents as heritage builders. The Bible only uses the term grandparent twice, but speaks often of forebears, fathers’ fathers and children’s children.

In Proverbs 4:3-9, Solomon says, ‘when I was a son with my father David, the only son of my mother, Bathsheba, my father, David, your grandfather, said to me and I pass this onto you’.

We may not value David’s fathering, with the affairs of state and defending his throne he must have been distracted, but Solomon remembers his influence and now passes it onto David’s grandchildren.

My father, your grandfather taught me:

Proverbs 4:5, get wisdom and insight whatever the cost. Prize her highly, make her your priority, v.8. Thus when God invited Solomon to ask for anything this urging of his father drove Solomon’s request for wisdom.

Proverbs 4:6, he told me in almost romantic terms, wisdom is to be loved, never forsaken, embrace her and stay faithful to her.

Proverbs 4:8, wisdom is the source of blessings beyond measure, v.9 she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.

That is what Solomon remembers of his father and passes onto his father’s grandchildren.

In his Tyndale commentary on Proverbs, Derek Kidner writes of the influence of the grandparent, that they demonstrate a love of the best things, transmitted by personal influence, along channels of affection!

Urge on our grandchildren that wisdom, referencing God, is the best foundation for a meaningful life.

I offer these reflections:

The most effective youth workers and counsellors at the Katoomba Youth conventions were a couple who were then in their 60’s. Age is no barrier to effectiveness. From my observation this couple remembered names, listened well, spoke but didn’t dominate the conversation and, as far as I know, never criticised the present in the light of the good old days. They were bright and outgoing.

Filleted services are understandable but unfortunate, the young and old are impoverished by this lack of access to one another. The generations need to mix, how else can we fulfil Psalm 78?

I had an elder who used to say, ‘I’m giving while I’m living, so I’m knowing where it’s going’.

The next generation will inherit wealth eventually, so why not direct it their way while you are alive? Encouraging Bible College gap years, short term mission visits, intensive years in Christian colleges, participation in ministry apprenticeship schemes, could all benefit from grand parental financial support.

PRAY! Regular prayer for grandchildren that they will be born from above and that in whatever vocation they choose they will faithful servants of the Kingdom.

In the first 9 chapters of Proverbs there are 4 direct quotations, the criminal gang in 1:11ff, the tragic son in 5:12ff, the seductive harlot in 7:14ff and here, the only positive words quoted, the words of Grandpa, 4:3-9.

They are well worth communicating by personal influence, along channels of affection.

David Cook.

(Image: St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.)

What Makes a Man — or a Woman?

“When it comes to understanding what it means to be a man or a woman, we live in a confused and confusing time. Distinctions that were obvious to previous generations are no longer so clear. The reasons for this confusion are complex, and addressing the question requires not only wisdom but also courage.

When faced with confusion, our first goal is to bring clarity. …”

Here’s a helpful article by Joe Rigney at Desiring God.

Review: Come, Let Us Sing by Rob Smith

“Of making many books on worship, there is no end. Surely all has been said and done?

But given that ‘sung praise’ (we will come to the use of the term ‘worship’ later!) is so essential in our churches, and such a vital part of Christian life and ministry – as well as being such a divisive and vexed topic – and, knowing the qualifications of the author for writing such a book, I looked forward with anticipation to Rob Smith’s latest. I was not disappointed. …”

– At The Gospel Coalition Australia, David Roberston speaks highly of Rob Smith’s “Come Let us Sing”.

Church and the Emergency Online Provision

“Many of us are very grateful that during the COVID-19 pandemic the technology has been available for the broadcasting of church services and the connection of members in Bible studies and other programs online. It has enabled us to continue to sit under the word of God and, albeit in an attenuated way, to enjoy fellowship with one another. …”

– Moore College Principal Dr. Mark Thompson reminds us that there is something better than ‘online church’. Long for that!

The State of Theology in the USA

“What do Americans believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible? Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research partnered to find out. These are the fundamental convictions that shape our society.”

– This year’s results have been released and make interesting and concerning reading.

What can we learn about prayer from Ephesians?

From Lionel Windsor at Moore College:

“Prayer: What are you doing when you pray? Who are you praying to? Why does it matter?

Here are three key reflections on the topic of prayer in Ephesians in my series Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians.”

– See them at Forget the Channel.

Church Society launches The Global Anglican

During a live event this evening, Peter Jensen, Alfred Olwa and Sammy Morrison joined Lee Gatiss and Ros Clarke for the re-launch of Church Society’s theological journal.

Established as Churchman in 1879, the new journal is now known as The Global Anglican.

The launch issue may downloaded here from Church Society.

Preaching the Wisdom of Proverbs

“Having won the NRL Premiership for the second successive time in 2019, the Coach of the victorious Roosters, Trent Robinson, was asked what he would do to win three in a row in 2020.

The coach responded that he would do nothing differently because 2020 would be different, different schedule of matches, injuries and weather conditions. The prize, he said, would go to the team which adapted best to change.

None of us could have anticipated then, how different 2020 would be to 2019.

None of us can predict with certainty what a day will bring but God knows and orders all things and,  a Bible reading in the morning may become exactly the word from God we need to hear for that particular day. That is why we need to pay more respect to the random nature of the book of Proverbs.

There are three ways to preach the book of Proverbs …”

– At The Expository Preaching Trust, David Cook shares some helpful tips on preaching from the Book of Proverbs.

Also on Proverbs:

When Solomon’s Fool Created a Social Media Platform – Tim Challies.

“The fool of the book of Proverbs is a vivid illustration of practical atheism, for this foolish man lives as if there is no God and as if God isn’t concerned about human behaviour. The fool may not actually deny the existence of the divine, but he practically denies it by choosing to live according to his own way rather than God’s. Though wisdom is available, personified in the form of a woman who cries aloud and begs everyone to follow, the fool chooses to go his own way instead and displays all the devastating consequences of such rebellion.

Solomon’s fool is relevant to every age, and certainly not least to this age when we have such ready access to forms of communication that in any other era would be considered the stuff of science fiction.”

Sydney Church History

“In 1965 John Stott, the Rector of All Souls Langham Place in London, visited Sydney to preach on 2 Corinthians at the CMS Summer School.

‘I heard only one of those Bible studies but I was so taken by the way he stuck to the text and stayed with it. He could show you the logic of the argument in the Scriptures, prior to that I had tended to get an idea from the passage and to leap all over the Bible supporting the idea from other parts, so that the people I taught knew the ‘idea’ but not the passage from which it came or how that passage fitted into some overall argument from the Scriptures. It is to John Stott I owe what ability I have to expound the Bible.’

Those were the words of the esteemed Sydney evangelist and preacher, the late John Chapman…”

– David Cook writes to remind us of our history, and how God works. At The Expository Preaching Trust.

(David Cook has served in parish ministry, as the Principal of SMBC, and as the Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.)

Locating Singleness in Genesis 2

“I would say we’re pretty well versed in what Genesis 2 says to the married person. But what does Genesis 2 say to the single person?…”

– At The Australian Church Record, Simon Flinders points out something you might not have noticed before.

Expository Preaching on the wane? — David Cook

I studied at Moore Theological College from 1973 to 1975, under the principalship of D.B.Knox.

Those who studied at Moore under Dr Knox always anticipated his Doctrine 1 lectures, held twice a week for the whole of first year.

Dr Knox would usually open the lecture making reference to our text, ‘In understanding be men’, by a former principal of Moore, T. C.Hammond.

These remarks would usually take about 10 minutes and then the rest of the lecture consisted of questions and answers.

Knox would occasionally correct Hammond, who wrote his book on an ocean liner, travelling from Ireland to take up his appointment in Sydney.

Dr Knox would say, ‘the archdeacon may have been seasick at this point’.

What impressed me was that Knox, who rarely corrected Hammond, did so on the basis not of the Anglican doctrinal standard, The 39 Articles, but on the basis of God‘s Word, the Bible.

That was Moore’s enduring legacy to me, through lecture room and chapel service, the Bible was taught and preached as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

I have recently been part of a committee discussing what it means to be ‘reformed’.

The 5 Solas have been referred to, but finally, I think we have come to the conclusion that the foundation of Reformed theology and conviction, is that the Bible is God’s breathed out word and is our final court of appeal.

We believe what we believe, because that is what the Bible says.

This was the core of Luther’s argument with the Roman church in the 16th Century.

When called upon to retract his writings, Luther said, ‘Unless I am convinced by the text of the Scriptures or clear reason, for I do not trust in the Pope or the Councils alone…I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything…’

It is the influence of the Reformers and men like D.B.Knox, which have led me to seek to have the Scriptures at the centre of my life and preaching.

Calvin referred to the Bible as a pair of spectacles, ‘which dispel the darkness and give us a clear view of God’.

The point of these remarks for preaching is that we preach the way we do because of what we believe about the Bible and how God reveals himself. J.I.Packer said, ‘the text of the Bible is God preaching to us’.

The faithful preacher will be God’s mouthpiece, by explaining, expounding, declaring the Bible.

How foolish to have a word from the mouth of God and to displace it with our own thoughts and inclinations!

Does your preaching show your respect for God, your desire to honour him, by faithfully and engagingly proclaiming the Bible?

Is this consistently true, every time you take the pulpit?

My current screen saver is a quote from the late R.C.Sproul:

‘I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests his power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a programme, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it, His Word!’

David Cook.

A Thin Gruel For The Soul

“The great Christian philosopher and theologian, Dallas Willard, once wrote that every compelling and coherent worldview must address four questions:

What is reality?
What is the good life?
What is a good person?
How does one become a good person?

Christianity, including the Anglican way of following Jesus, has answers to these questions. Reality is the unshakeable Kingdom of God (Hebrews 12:18-29). The good life is not about consumption, but rather righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). The one who is blessed by Jesus (in every counter-intuitive and counter-cultural way he names in Matthew 5:1-12) is the good person. And one becomes such a person, a “disciple” according to Jesus, by denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24).

Sadly, you will find no answers to these questions in What do Anglicans Believe: A Study Guide to Christian Doctrine from Anglican and Ecumenical Statements, published by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) last week …”

The American Anglican Council’s Canon Phil Ashey points to a better way than a new book which has just been published.

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