The Blessed Life

“Lent is traditionally a time for reflection and prayer. Over the next few weeks on the Church Society blog, we will be reflecting each weekday on some of Jesus’s first words, and his last words, as well as pondering what the Bible says about the spiritual life. That is, we will be reflecting on the Beatitudes from Matthew 5, Jesus’s words from the cross in the Gospels, the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5, and the so-called seven deadly sins…”

– At Church Society’s blog, Less Gatiss beings a series for Lent.

What issues most concern U.S. pastors in 2020?

Within their own churches, a majority of pastors consider reaching a younger generation (51%) and declining outreach and evangelism (50%) to be major concerns.

One-third of pastors are also concerned about declining or inconsistent volunteering (36%), stagnating spiritual growth (34%), and declining attendance, while one-fourth are concerned about biblical illiteracy (29%) and declining/unpredictable giving patterns. …”

– Read it all at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Emphasis in colour added.)

Misunderstanding is no Medicine

“What is it with our humanity that we struggle with the nice guy, the good woman, the gentle friend, the wise guide?

Is jealousy the problem? Is it the confronting reality of what we should be, but aren’t, that finds in us an unhelpful reaction? It is an odd thing to find ourselves not liking a person because they are delightful, or truthful, or good, or servant-hearted, or kind or more.

There is something perverse in us when we despise others for qualities we would otherwise admire and be proud of in ourselves. …”

– Rick Lewers, Bishop of Armidale, continues his series of articles written to help people come to know Jesus.

Videos from the 2020 Priscilla & Aquila annual conference

Moore Theological College has posted the videos and notes from their 2020 Priscilla & Aquila annual conference.

See them at the P&A website.

As well as the Plenary sessions, videos or audio files of the Electives are available.

Training ministers of the Word in a semi-literate world

“While in Australia we take for granted that our schooling system will produce people with good comprehension skills and critical thinking, in Congo and in many parts of the majority-world, this is not the case…”

– Bishop Malcolm Richards, Director of Moore College’s Centre for Global Mission, seeks your prayers and partnership.

Walking with the Suffering Church during Lent — GAFCON

GAFCON is producing daily devotionals to which you can subscribe.

During Lent 2020, there is a special focus on walking with the Suffering Church.

Updated Christianity Explored website

Christianity Explored Ministries have updated the Christianity Explored website.

Take a look.

How can pastors support couples in our churches impacted by abortion

“There are women in all our lives and churches who have had an abortion. Men, women and children who have been touched by abortion – in our workplaces, churches and families.

Senior pastors need to stop turning a blind eye to this subject and talk much much more about abortion in church.

New Testament scholar and former nurse Dr Claire Smith says we are currently not meeting this pastoral and evangelistic need. …”

– Dr. Claire Smith speaks with Dominic Steele at The Pastor’s Heart.

Also at The Pastor’s Heart this week, Dominic speaks with Mez McConnell and Matthew Spandler Davidson about Abuse in the church – with particular reference to recent events.

A Short Book About Paul: The Servant of Jesus — review

“Historians don’t merely assemble a puzzle. Before considering how the pieces fit together, they need to determine which ones belong in the box. Some subjects offer an abundance of resources, while others leave us wishing for more.

The historian and theologian Paul Barnett combines mastery of his craft with a subject that provides plenty of pieces for someone who knows where to look. The result is that this portrait of the Apostle Paul, while relatively brief … offers a rich presentation of his life and work.”

– Moore College’s Philip Kern reviews A Short Book About Paul: The Servant of Jesus by Paul Barnett. At SydneyAnglicans.net.

Book availability.

Nexus20 — How to Save a City

The Nexus20 conference is set for Monday 23rd March at a new location: Moore College – and at a new time: 2:00 – 8:00pm.

From the Nexus website:

“No matter where God has placed us – in the suburbs, in the inner city, in a regional or rural area – our task is to bring the message of salvation to the people we’ve been given to serve.

At this year’s Nexus conference, we’ll be thinking about what it means to be part of God’s extraordinary saving purpose in the particular place we’ve been given to reach, how important the local church is in that purpose, and how God uses decidedly ordinary people and methods to do extraordinary things.

Our focus this year will be on how to bring salvation to our particular city (of Sydney) and the challenges we face in our gospel fellowship (that is, among Sydney ministry workers, many of us Anglicans).

But as always, we’ll be having this discussion with one eye on the broader fellowship around Australia (and beyond) who tune in to Nexus via Livestream. Our hope is that by talking honestly and theologically about our own patch, we can encourage, challenge and stimulate everyone to do the same, wherever God has placed us.”

– Watch the promo video, and register, at the Nexus website.

Feeling anxious about ‘You’? Why modern Identity can be crushing

“Whereas as our ancestors drew their identity from their place in society, we moderns are liberated from that dependency. We can be our own people. We don’t care what others think.

Except we do.

If we’re to feel good about ourselves, we crave other people’s validation. We need it, if we’re to feel worthy. …”

– Akos Balogh writes about identity and security at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Jesus the People Person

“You would expect that if God showed up in the world that there would be something to indicate his arrival. A virgin birth was a pretty good clue along with the centuries of prophesies about his coming.

My assumption would be, if God was to join us, His teaching would be significant. Indeed God joining us has shaped western society – our ethics, our politics, our literature, our culture, our relationships and brought untold blessings to the world.

I reckon if God is God then you’d also expect He’d perform some miraculous indicators of His presence.

Well for the past few weeks I have been trying to introduce you to the God who visited, to Jesus Christ, for whom the press is very mixed. …”

Bishop of Armidale Rick Lewers continues his series to encourage people to consider Christ. Previously, he has written about ‘Jesus the Teacher’ and ‘Jesus the miracle man’.

Some Best Practices for Public Reading of Scripture

“I’m convinced that the public reading of Scripture is an important and too often overlooked aspect of our worship services. We spend considerable time preparing sermons, prayers, and music for our gatherings, but often Scripture reading is reduced to something mechanical. Like most things we do, with some attention, we could improve a bit in how we read the Bible in our churches.

What follows is something I wrote up for our church …”

– At The Gospel Coalition, Erik Raymond shares some helpful thoughts.

Related:

The Art of Reading Aloud – Clifford Warne.

“Master communicator and story-teller, Clifford Warne teaches how to read the Bible aloud, sound natural and make the meaning of the text clear.” – from SydneyAnglicans.net.

Image: Clifford Warne and Toto on Anglican Television’s Sing Me a Rainbow, with thanks to Reason for Hope on Vimeo.)

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