House of Tweet


What's the place of "apologetics"? I debate the issue with Tom Price (@abetterhope) http://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/Apologetics-sermons-rarely-work  If by "apologetics" you mean "persuasive, thoughful, contextualised

Tweeporia


Today proves it beyond question: Jesus was a pedobaptist pic.twitter.com/9WG5qDrDDy — Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) April 2, 2015 Wait a minute. Did Jesus wash His own feet? It's hard to picture it. If He didn't then

Recent Talks


Born Sinking Into Quicksand (Hebrews 2:14-18) Jesus Going Up - His People Going Out (Matthew 28:10-18) Evangelists' Podcast: Answering Unbelievers' Top 4 Questions Evangelists' Podcast: The Place of Apologetics - part

The Place of Apologetics in Our Proclamation


I've been involved in a couple of discussions about apologetics with Tom Price from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. It began when David Meredith tweeted out this: #Apologetics sermons at #Easter rarely work! Warm

"The Sacrifice" by George Herbert


"The Sacrifice" by George Herbert: OH all ye, who passe by, whose eyes and minde To worldly things are sharp, but to me blinde; To me, who took eyes that I might you finde: Was ever grief like mine? ... Judas, dost thou

Tweetsalot


"They begged for rescue - they got a #Cannonball." Epic video with @GuvnaB. WATCH in HD https://t.co/ByBPd9Vki0 pic.twitter.com/krV8fGJogA — Glen Scrivener ن (@glenscrivener) March 24, 2015 Feeling thirsty? Hungry?

Faithfulness or Fruitfulness?


It's a question commonly posed among Christian ministers: Am I called more to faithfulness or fruitfulness? When you realise that there can be great "ministry successes" based on "secret and shameful ways", you start to prize

Easter Resources


Check out our Easter Spoken Word videos BREAD OF HEAVEN and CANNONBALL Plus, here's some stuff you're welcome to rip off if you like... . Gethsemane: Here's an idea for an all-age sermon / school assembly. It's a game of

House of Tweet

Posted on by Glen in pastoral theology, tweets | Leave a comment

What’s the place of “apologetics”? I debate the issue with Tom Price ()

If by “apologetics” you mean “persuasive, thoughful, contextualised gospel preaching” then Yay Apologetics! But 1Cor1&2 rules out Something

If apologetics = “evangelism in the mode of answering Qs” I am 100% pro-apologetics. If it’s separate then it’s “evangel +”

-Today gospel preaching isn’t working
-U sure it’s the gospel that’s being preached?
-Oh sure, I’m talking about *evangelical* churches
-Hm

-Yeah we still believe in preaching but we need more
-Like a prayerful, loving community living it out?
-I was thinking of a new website.

Jesus doesn’t so much make safe passage for us back to heaven. But He has made treacherous passage for Himself down to us. #EnjoyYourDay

In Christ ur members of God’s flock, purchased by God’s blood, fed by God’s word & surrounded by God’s grace. Acts20 #EnjoyYourDay

- I fear the church will miss the next big move of God.
– Impossible, the church IS the move of God.

It’ll be alright in the End. If it’s not alright now, it’s not the End. #EnjoyYourDay

Astonishing to think that God remains Giver even in judgement: “He gave them over… He gave them over.. He gave them over…” Rom1:24,26,28

We’re all cut from the one cloth (Adam).
We must be clothed with the One cut (Christ).

Want proof of ‘the Divine’ breaking into this world? Look to the virgin womb. The empty tomb is more abt ‘the Human’ breaking into the next

#Exodus12 It’s not the quality of your life ‘in here’ that counts. It’s the quality of His death ‘out there’ that saves #EnjoyYourDay

By the Spirit of the Son you have a new spiritual heart-beat: Abba, Father… Abba, Father… Abba, Father… (Gal 4:6) #EnjoyYourDay

In Athens – Paul was not channelling Socrates but Elijah.

He didn’t rescue u so He could delight in u. He delighted in u & so rescued u. Ps 18. U’ve been loved at your worst. #EnjoyYourDay

Naturally the human race casts God as a hard task-master, not because He is one, but because it suits us to quietly despise and dismiss Him.

“The LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 32:10) #EnjoyYourDay

Not just net gainers. Even our greatest suffering redeemed 2 greater glory: More than conquerors thru Him who loved us! #EnjoyYourDay

“You are my Beloved Child, I’m thrilled with you” – the Verdict we all want from the Father we all crave. And it’s ours in Jesus #EnjoyYourDay

Only Sinners love (Luke 7:36-50). Therefore every sin is an opportunity to know yr indebtedness and the forgiveness of Jesus #EnjoyYourDay

“My child, get up” He will say. And u will rise 2 feasting joy, complete astonishment & face-to-face with Jesus (Luke 8:40-56) #EnjoyYourDay

Who qualifies 4 Christ’s Kingdom? The powerless, the wicked, the little children: Lk18:1-17. Don’t reach up, receive where u r #EnjoyYourDay

“Now death is but a Jacob’s ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting.” Spurgeon

Exodus: Abraham’s seed (God’s son) Redeemed from Slavery(1-6), thru Judgement(7-14), into Dependence(15-18,24), Love(19-23) &Worship(25-40)

I find Twitter discussions are often more fruitful than blog discussions since each side engages each point as the dialogue develops.

Blogging debates can easily become two guys shadow-boxing in their own corners. Twitter forces you to engage each point as it arises.

You know the tree of life in the garden of God? That’s not just for religious art. That’s for *you* to eat from (Rev 2:7) #EnjoyYourDay

Your sorrows He carries, your infirmities He takes up, your sins He bears. (Is 53) Your weaknesses only draw Him closer #EnjoyYourDay

He’s the Judge of the world, the Revelation of God and a gentle, lowly Rest-Giver: Matt 11:20-30. #EnjoyYourDay

If you’re going to sing to your plants “Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles” is best. It aids germannation.

Gangrene costs an almondy leg.

“Which” magazine have me ranking colas all day long. It’s soda grading.

I dunno if it’s high cuisine but asparagers is definitely on the haute-istic spectrum.

Threshers wined me up

An ancient shoe-makers guild? Load of old cobblers.

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Wait a minute. Did Jesus wash His own feet? It’s hard to picture it. If He didn’t then He only got dirtier as He cleansed the rest.

#ThingsJesusNeverSaid “Now that I’ve washed your feet, you wash mine.” #GraceRunsDownhill

Our God is none other than the God of the Cross – the God who has pledged His own being for us with every drop of His blood. #EnjoyYourDay

If you want to know why Jesus died I’ve got two words for you #1PUN

#TGIGF ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power & wealth & wisdom & strength & honour & glory & praise.’ (Rev 5:12)

Just did the “Which Good Friday character are you?” quiz. Thought I’d definitely be the crowd. Funnily enough I got “Jesus”. –Gal 2:20

“He made Himself nothing/He humbled Himself/Even death on a cross. Therefore *HIM* God exalted.” The cross is what it looks like to be God.

Today is the real ‘compare & contrast’ with Islam. For the Muslim, judgement day is a Friday in the future. For the Christian it’s all past.

For the Muslim, an unrighteous substitute died for righteous Jesus. For Christians, righteous Jesus died as a substitute for unrighteous us.

Reading the passion narratives is a great reminder that the cross achieved nothing. Jesus dying accomplished everything.

Creation – in Christ under Adam
Incarnation – Christ in creation as Adam
Cross – Christ for creation as Adam

Resurrection – Christ over creation by Spirit
Pentecost – Christ to creation by Spirit
Return – Christ through creation by Spirit

“But we had hoped…” (Luke 24:13-35) What have you hoped in? It will be transformed and more than restored by the risen Jesus #EnjoyYourDay

The 7th day. Rest. Completion. The old order summed up and brought to an end. Tomorrow: a whole new world.

Resurrection does not correct or counter the way of the cross, it forever crowns the way of the cross.

We’ve seen the future: BBQs on the beach, country walks, heart-warming talks, feasting and face2face with Jesus, #Resurrection #EnjoyYourDay

Yes the resurrection vindicates the atonement of the cross. But so much more: it vindicates The CHRIST of the cross and His Way of the cross

It’s not so much a case of “the cross worked” as “The Lamb has conquered – in all His sacrificial Lamb-ness.”

Once again – the cross didn’t do anything. The Lamb did everything.

John 20: Jesus rose with scars and calls His followers the way of the cross (John 21). #EasterMeans the Lamb reigns

Romans 8: it’s our unshakeable resurrection hope that sustains us to suffer ‘like sheep to be slaughtered.’ #EasterMeans the Lamb reigns

1 Corinthians 15: Resurrection means we can now ‘die every day.’ #EasterMeans the Lamb reigns.

Phil2: The resurrection vindicates the self-emptying Slave/Sacrifice & now Paul & Tim pour themselves out. #EasterMeans the Lamb reigns

Phil3: “I want to know Christ & the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.” #EasterMeans the Lamb reigns

Rev5: The Lamb stands at the centre of the throne so that all creation sings of His sacrifice. #EasterMeans the Lamb reigns

They didn’t seek 1st the Kingdom, they fled the King. Yet the King pursued the disciples thru death 2 find them & say “Peace” #EnjoyYourDay

The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. Rom8:11 #EnjoyYourDay

The question “Does God exist?” doesn’t make much sense on a Christian understanding. Everyone’s got a god. The Q is Which god is really God?

Isaiah 60: Now that the Light of the world has risen for you, YOU shine with radiant glory. #passiton #EnjoyYourDay

Our Spiritual Doctor has a prescription: “Take to aspirin’ and call Me in the mourning.”

“There’s no team in Ai.” (Joshua 7:3)

Customs official at Munich Airport: “Strange, you Australians usually come in Oktober.” All I could do was apologise.

I love collecting Hebrew words – can I get an Amen?

Depict Europe’s tallest mountain? I’m drawing a blanc.

Tried ordering from “Pistachios To You”. It’s driving me nuts.

Recent Talks

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Born Sinking Into Quicksand (Hebrews 2:14-18)

Jesus Going Up – His People Going Out (Matthew 28:10-18)

Evangelists’ Podcast: Answering Unbelievers’ Top 4 Questions

Evangelists’ Podcast: The Place of Apologetics – part one

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The Place of Apologetics in Our Proclamation

Posted on by Glen in apologetics | 12 Comments

I’ve been involved in a couple of discussions about apologetics with Tom Price from the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. It began when David Meredith tweeted out this:

I enthusiastically retweeted it. Tom pushed back and we ended up having this discussion.

That got picked up by folks at Premier Christianity and so we wrote a couple of brief defenses of our positions. Now I didn’t choose the wording of the “motion” and wish it had been different, but we ended up debating the proposition: “Apologetic sermons rarely work.” My case for the affirmative begins like this:

Being ‘anti-apologetics’ is like being ‘anti-good works’. Who could possibly be against good works? Well, every Protestant is – if those good works are placed on the wrong side of the line. Good works are great. But their proper place is on the far side of knowing Jesus.

Revelation is exactly parallel to salvation (John 17:3) – to know God is to be saved by him and vice versa. Therefore, just as we don’t work our way towards God (and get topped up by grace), so we don’t think our way towards God (and get topped up by revelation). The arrow must come all the way down. Gospel preaching, then, is not bottom-up philosophizing, it’s top-down proclamation.

In hindsight I wish I’d stated in the clearest possible terms that what many consider to be “apologetics” is simply what I’d call thoughtful, responsive, contextualised evangelism. If all a person means by “apologetics” is simply answering people’s questions then sign me up – I’m a keen apologist.

But the trouble is that apologetics has, unfortunately, become something else – something in addition to gospel proclamation. And wherever people want to make a case for another kind of proclamation other than a top-down declaration of God’s word, then I take issue.

You can read the whole of my piece, Tom’s defense and the lively comments thread HERE.

As a taster, here’s my comment on Acts 17:

If you ask me Acts 17 is a classical apologist’s one shot at a Scriptural example – and in it, Paul does the complete opposite. He babbles on about Jesus and the resurrection in the market place (*not* the most reasonable starting point for the Athenian philosophers!) When asked to step back and give the big picture he is very rude to them. He tells them how superstitious they are. He is incensed by their idolatry. He doesn’t think “Ooo, look at all these potential stepping stones to truth faith.” He thinks “Look at the ignorance.” He makes fun of the fact they’re so ignorant, they’ve even got an unknown god. So he tells them “The one thing you guys know is that you don’t know God.” Then he declares God to them in a way that is 180 degrees different to their understanding of God and the world (we live in his world, he doesn’t live in ours, etc, etc). Yes he quotes their poets (I quote pop culture too!) but he quotes them *against* the prevailing cultural narrative. He then does an Adam and Christ christology (which none of them would have thought “reasonable”). Then he announces that they must all repent of their ignorance because God has raised this man from the dead. Says who? Where’s your proof Paul? No that *is* Paul’s proof. He announces the resurrection (without any supporting evidence whatsoever!) and expects them to repent. Some do! Others want to continue dialoguing – Paul doesn’t seem interested at this point so he leaves.

If you’re an apologetics-lover I’d say:

1) Make sure you understand what it is I’m opposing. I love, practice and completely endorse engaging with non-Christians and non-Christian world-views – I just want to make sure my “answering words” are gospel words. Click the apologetics tag here and see that for every post about rejecting bottom-up philosophizing there are five posts on positively engaging with culture, science, religion, atheism, the news, etc.

2) Realise I’m not at all “anti-reason”. I just happen to think that the race of Adam is anti-reason. The word of the cross is the very definition of rationality – it’s just that the wisdom of this world will never agree with it.

3) The Bible’s verses about our hostile minds and the stark opposition of the gospel to human philosophy need to be faced with the utmost seriousness (e.g. Romans 1:20ff; 8:9; 1 Cor 1-3; 2 Cor 10:4-5; Eph 4:17-19; Col 2:8-9). Paul is ruling out something here. Make sure you’re not doing the thing he’s opposing.

4) If you’re lifting high the name of Jesus, you are my brother/sister and I thank God for you. Be blessed.

“The Sacrifice” by George Herbert

Posted on by Glen in creative, Cross, poetry | Leave a comment

“The Sacrifice” by George Herbert:

OH all ye, who passe by, whose eyes and minde
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blinde;
To me, who took eyes that I might you finde:
Was ever grief like mine?

Judas, dost thou betray me with a kisse?
Canst thou finde hell about my lips? and misse
Of life, just at the gates of life and blisse?
Was ever grief like mine?

Then they condemne me all with that same breath,
Which I do give them daily, unto death.
Thus Adam my first breathing rendereth:
Was ever grief like mine?

Behold, they spit on me in scornfull wise,
Who by my spittle gave the blinde man eies,
Leaving his blindnesse to my enemies:
Was ever grief like mine?

The souldiers also spit upon that face,
Which Angels did desire to have the grace,
And Prophets, once to see, but found no place:
Was ever grief like mine?

O all ye who passe by, behold and see;
Man stole the fruit, but I must climbe the tree;
The tree of life to all, but onely me:
Was ever grief like mine?

In healing not my self, there doth consist
All that salvation, which ye now resist;
Your safetie in my sicknesse doth subsist:
Was ever grief like mine?

Read the whole astonishing poem

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Posted on by Glen in tweets | Leave a comment

Feeling thirsty? Hungry? Spiritually empty? The sure mercies of Christ are yours: Isaiah 55 #EnjoyYourDay

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Rom 16:20). #EnjoyYourDay

Consent is a dumb *foundation* for morality. This guy consented to being set alight http://t.co/iDtLAyHPJy

Evangelism is not individuals shoving people through the front door.
It’s the whole church family hospitably showing folks round the house.

God has given u His all – His very Heart – on the cross. He gave it while u were His enemy. What will He now withhold from u? #EnjoyYourDay

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation… Then I will teach transgressors your ways & sinners will turn to u” (Psalm 51) Restored to Reach

Pastor: Please feel Very free to wear Whatever u like when u preach. We’re VERY relaxed.
Me: Cool, Dog collar it is.
Pastor: Errrr…
;-)

Does heaven seem closed to you? No, Jesus has torn it open & brought u Home: Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Heb 4:14; 6:19; Rev 4:1.#EnjoyYourDay

We tend to sneer at the older hymn writers for saying *Heaven* is our home. Maybe we should learn from them. Home is where Jesus is, right?

O surpassing lovingkindness!Christ received nails in His undefiled hands& &feet while on me without pain or toil He freely bestows salvation

Happy St Cyril’s Day!

All things are yours – all theology, the whole world, the future – and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. 1 Cor 3:21-23 #EnjoyYourDay

God does not treat you as your sins deserve (Ps 103:10). He treats you as Christ’s righteousness deserves. (2 Cor 5:21) #EnjoyYourDay

“The one trying 2b a Christian is trying 2 hold on to something. The one who IS a Christian feels that they’re being held by something.” MLJ

Spring=just a taste of what’s coming: “the desert shall blossom abundantly & rejoice with joy & singing.” Is35 #EnjoyYourDay

Jesus is not nice. He’s ferociously good, fiercely protective, jealously loving. His love is bloody. That’s why u can trust it #EnjoyYourDay

It’s not “born sick, commanded to be well.” (Christopher Hitchens). It’s “born perishing, freely offered life.”

Everyone knows that’s a baby’s position *physically* – the Christian says it’s spiritually/morally true too

Rejecting original sin means embracing a magical dualism – that our spiritual state is detached from our perishing physical state.

Most objections to original sin assume an Adam&Moses paradigm, not Adam&Christ.

Monday’s not the 1st day of the week. It’s the day after you’ve received a massive Raise and a stunning Promotion. #EnjoyYourWeek

Some preach a consumer Christ; others respond by preaching a compulsory Christ. Better to preach a compelling Christ.

We don’t *love* what’s compulsory.
We love what’s compelling.

“Who He is, we become. Where He is, we dwell. What He has, we inherit. What He’s done, we possess.” #UnionWithChrist #EnjoyYourDay

Don’t feel Jesus in your heart? First know that you are on His. (Ex 28:29; Heb 7:25) #EnjoyYourDay

Nothing a resurrection won’t fix. #EnjoyYourDay

Evangelism is “supply-side” communication. The gospel creates its own demand

Put it another way – evangelism is, properly speaking, sowing. Not necessarily reaping.

Since evangelism means giving not getting it’s vital that it springs from fullness, not need. In other words, we need Happy evangelists.

On RTing praise- isn’t there a clear difference btw a fawning compliment and a tweet-length review of a resource u’d encourage folks to use?

I understand the distaste for broadcasting what ought to be a nice person-to-person moment of appreciation but I don’t get the blanket bans

Some preachers of ‘sin as idolatry’ draw from a deep well of Augustinian affective theology. Others sound like they’ve read a paperback.

When ‘sin as idolatry’ is preached by the latter, the solution often comes across as a stoic resolve to engage our hearts Less.

Nothing against paperbacks just an observation that some idolatry-speak springs from deeply affective theology&some seems to say “Love LESS”

He came to a poor teenager, a northern backwater, a ravaged people. He came to diseased, dying, damned sinners. He’s for 4u #EnjoyYourDay

In Heb2:10-18 Christ’s death = victory, liberation, propitiation&sympathy. Above all else it’s our High Priest taking us thru death to glory

We lose a Lot of bible richness when we think only of propitiation – as though the slaughtered goat is all that’s going on at Yom Kippur.

Some atonement debates sound like “Which animal is most important on the Day of Atonement?” when it’s the High Priest Himself who is central

My future inheritance = Grandpa’s stamp collection. Oh, and the universe. Oh, and GOD! Yes GOD! (Romans 8:17) #EnjoyYourDay

Our lives are mist, smoke, breath, spilled water, evening shadow, fading flowers, homeless wandering. Any other powerful biblical images?

God prefers IN to THROUGH. We want salvation THROUGH Jesus, God offers it IN Him. We want God to work THROUGH us, He wants to work IN us.

Therefore there’s something profoundly Christian about Kant’s categorical imperative: to treat people as ends in themselves.

One thing Trinitarian theology does is to say that God has an IN relationship with Jesus before and beyond it being a THROUGH relationship.

Allah & Jehovah (of the JWs) treat Jesus as a means to other ends. No wonder their followers are similarly used not cherished in themselves

And likewise, those followers use their God for other ends. Only the triune God can prize others & be prized without it turning manipulative

Job 19: Not a Replacer, a Redeemer. Not in the clouds, on earth. Not as spirit but in my flesh “I will see Him.” #EnjoyYourDay

Only Jesus saves. When u do some comparative religion u realise that’s not a narrow-minded statement of faith but a simple statement of fact

#WhatWouldGoggleboxThink is a pretty good exercise for a preacher. At least for gauging our level of communication with the wider world.

Did the sun come up this morning? Then God’s not going to break His covenant with your Royal Priest (Jer 33:14-22) #EnjoyYourDay

The Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing your full redemption. And God aint gonna lose His deposit. #EnjoyYourDay

If you want to reach someone’s heart – don’t be surprised if, first, you get under their skin.

#1Sam16 Bad news: u’ve not been chosen as King. Good news: yr Brother has & He shares His royalty & victory with u #1Sam17 #EnjoyYourDay

At Christmas, preachers are – rightly – reminded that we must hold Christmas and Easter *together*. Three months on, it still holds true.

Easter is to be declared in the power of the Spirit (by word&sacrament).
It’s not to be debated in the power of the flesh (by argument).

The difference between flesh and Spirit is not the difference between ‘outer’ and ‘inner’.
Far more it’s ‘arrow up’ versus ‘arrow down.’

In this sense, Spiritual is much more about externals – the Word coming to us “extra nos”.

“Grace alone by faith alone” applies as much to revelation as it does to salvation – because they are essentially the same thing (John 17:3)

What kind of God is broken apart so the wicked can feast on Him? What kind of God is poured out so you can drink? Your God #EnjoyYourDay

Typical! Today the skies are clear and I can’t see the equinox anywhere! Can someone tell me where I’m sposed to be looking??

As the tribute band played Hoppipolla I thought “Close but no Sigur.”

- I refuse to give estimates.
– Can I quote you on that?

Judas should have known – you can’t Double cross the Son of God.

I asked my Picture Framers to make me some bespoke ones. They asked “How many?” I said “25 this second!” Boy did they get animated!

Phew! Survived Pamplona. Dodged a bullock there.

Off to the hunting world championships in Istanbul. Getting my game fez on.

- What qualifies you as ‘a man with a van’?
– I’m an excellent note taker
– How does that help?
– I’m brilliant at so fa removal.

Hear the one about the pygmy baritone? It’s a little bass.

She said “You have no sense and no cents.” Her arguments were always add homonym

Faithfulness or Fruitfulness?

Posted on by Glen in ministry, pastoral theology, union with Christ | Leave a comment

vine2It’s a question commonly posed among Christian ministers: Am I called more to faithfulness or fruitfulness?

When you realise that there can be great “ministry successes” based on “secret and shameful ways”, you start to prize faithfulness all the more.

When you see dry-as-dust ministers making no impact but claiming a justification in their plodding “faithfulness”, you might start to prize fruitfulness.

Which is it?

Three initial thoughts:

1. If the purpose of the discussion is to make ministers feel better or worse about themselves, it’s almost certainly the wrong discussion. If it becomes about managing our own egos in ministry then we’re already on the wrong footing. Too often we take sides on this one because we want to insulate ourselves from critique (if we’re ‘faithful’ but fruitless) or to congratulate ourselves (if we’re ‘fruitful’ but faithless).

2. The benefit of the “faithfulness” side is that it prioritises what God is doing in us before it considers what God is doing through us. This is good. God does not treat His children as means to an end, but as ends in themselves. The faithfulness crowd focus – or at least should focus - us on what God is up to in their own walk with Jesus before they ever consider “bums on pews.”

3. The benefit of the “fruitfulness” side is that no-one can be fruitful without abiding in the Vine. It’s possible to be a stone-hearted servant lacking any kind of vibrant relationship with Jesus. “Faithfulness” can become a cloak for “doing your duty” and all the sins of the prodigal’s elder brother come into play. The fruitfulness crowd focus – or at least should focus – on an expectant and lively communion with Jesus that just does bear fruit. It’s not the busyness of the builder, laying brick upon brick. It’s the organic growth of the branch that will be fruitful in connection with the Vine,

So it seems like both sides have good points to make: faithfulness makes me think of God’s work in me before all else. Fruitfulness makes me think of my position in Christ before all else. But in practice I find that both positions can unwittingly distract us from our true focus. The faithfulness minister can be too keen to protect their own ego when proper critique and hard questions may be in order. The fruitfulness minister can end up viewing “abiding in Christ” as a means to their real end – ministry “success”.

But if John 15 is properly in view then the faithfulness minister is directed to the true nature of faithfulness – not bricklaying obedience, but intimate communion. They are also challenged on the issue of fruitlessness – not, notice, “numbers.” But still, we should be asking about fruit. Galatians 5 fruit is a good place to start: love, joy, peace, etc… Jesus does not merely say “Plod along, the outcome is immaterial.” He said “If you make your home in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (v5)

Does this fruit go beyond character formation? Well Jesus did say that the fruit itself will abide (John 15:16). It is people who abide in Christ – not simply your Christian character. Therefore it is appropriate to ask “Are others growing in the Vine through my ministry?” No? Then something’s up. And Jesus tells you – abide in Him (v4), let His word abide in you (v7), pray (v16), love (v17) and you will bear fruit: promise. True faithfulness does result in fruitfulness.

And for the fruitfulness crowd – remember: the fruit is not the point. The Vine is. It’s easy to get convicted about our lack of fruit in ministry and to make that the reason we return to the Lord. Well praise God that something reminds us to commune with Christ. But desire for results isn’t the best motivation is it? Let’s never seek fruit for the sake of fruitfulness. That would be like using your spouse simply to have children. The truly faithful do not seek first fruit – they seek first the Lord. In Him – and only there – they are fruitful and multiply.

Easter Resources

Posted on by Glen in creative, Cross, My videos, poetry, sermons, songs, videos | Leave a comment

Check out our Easter Spoken Word videos BREAD OF HEAVEN and CANNONBALL

Plus, here’s some stuff you’re welcome to rip off if you like…

.

Gethsemane:

Here’s an idea for an all-age sermon / school assembly. It’s a game of pass the parcel where the parcel is a poisoned cup. There’s a song to go with it:

 

.

Also for Maundy Sunday, I love this setting of When You Prayed Beneath the Trees.

Forget the singer, Christopher Idle’s song’s in my top 5 all time hymns.

 

Cross

Seed Song (Jesus is the Seed who dies and rises to bring life)

 

.

Resurrection

Firstfruits

 

Easter Morn (the song that became ‘Firstfruits’ – no round)

.

Little Fish! (Jesus is bigger than death)

 

Some Easter Sermons

Hebrews 2:14-18 (Last Sunday’s sermon)

Some Talks By Others About Death (and Resurrection)

Dev Menon: Death Part 1 (Good Friday)

Dev Menon: Death Part 2 (Easter Sunday)

John Behr: Death the Final Frontier

John Behr: Taking Back Death

 

Videos

Some Easter .

 

Cannonball – The Way Out Is The Way Down

Posted on by Glen in creative, My videos, poetry, videos | 1 Comment

Feel free to DOWNLOAD the video and use it in church / youth group / wherever.

And here’s me explaining the teaching behind the video

Our other spoken word videos:

 


Original Sin: What’s not to like?

Posted on by Glen in 321, evangelism, gospel, pastoral theology, sin | 4 Comments

Original sin is a bit of a passion of mine (committed sin too but in a different way). I bang the ‘original sin’ drum in posts like these:

The Good News of Being Condemned Already

Original Sin (for the Evangelists Podcast)

The Importance of Adam

I’d love to see a proper renaissance of this teaching in our evangelism. Unfortunately Christians shy away from it for several reasons – not least a loss of confidence in the historical Adam. But let me leave that to one side and here sketch out three good reasons our culture ought to resonate with original sin and then address three dumb reasons why it really doesn’t.

Three Reasons Our Culture Should Love Original Sin

It’s holistic

We all know that we’re perishing physically. We’re born into a terminal condition called life. The Christian faces the fact that we are whole persons. We refuse to believe in a divorce between our physical state and our moral/spiritual state. We’re born perishing – that’s just a fact. There’s no need to appeal to some other magical realm where we remain pristine and virtuous. Original sin treats us as whole people – dying on the outside, dying on the inside.

It’s communal

Yes we live in an insanely individualistic age but actually the language of community is hugely prized. We’re in this thing together. That’s what original sin says: We’re all in the same boat. No use pointing at the bad folks over there. I am them and they are me and we’re all in a mess. Original sin levels the playing field and brings us together in the same place – a place of authenticity…

It’s authentic

These days authenticity plays really well. If you can fake this you’ve got it made. Well here’s a doctrine that says we’ve all got deep, deep issues. And no-one can claim an exemption. Nobody’s perfect. Here is the death of all judgmentalism – no-one has achieved a different class of moral existence. All those religious types who think they’re better than others are, beyond question, hypocrites. Original sin says we’re all the black sheep of the family, so let’s stop pretending to be ‘on the side of the angels.’

Having said all this, here are Three Reasons Our Culture Hates Original Sin

We think we’re immortal (The myth of limitless potential)

Modern westerners are in complete denial about our creaturely limitations. We spend our lives seeking to avoid and reverse our mortality. Actually we don’t face our physical perishing so it’s no wonder we can’t face our spiritual perishing either.

We think we’re islands (The myth of individualism)

For all our talk of community, our doctrine of humanity is thoroughly individualistic. I might like to get together with others, but it’s my personal desire here that’s important. I’m a community kinda guy. That’s how roll. When the community starts making claims on me, I cool off big time. When you start telling me of my corporate identity and responsibility, I’m likely to get pretty offended.

We think our decisions make us free (The myth of choice)

It’s so incredibly stupid and enslaving and obviously untrue but we are captivated by the idea that we create our own identity through the exercise of our personal choices. I know, I know – the multiplication of choices mostly ends up paralysing us (see, for eg, this TED talk on the Paradox of Choice) but still the mythology persists. And the  slogan “it’s your decision” is so overwhelmingly persuasive it seems impossible to counteract.

But…

Let’s keep holding out the holistic, communal, authentic side of this message and let’s keep chipping away at the delusions we tell ourselves: that we’re immortal; that we stand alone; that we create ourselves. Let’s point out our mortality and our limits. Let’s highlight the failures of individualism. Let’s spotlight the slaveries we bring on ourselves precisely when we make our bold choices.

And all the while, our goal is not to burden people under the conviction of sin but to awaken them to the reality we all face. The whole point is to wake up the world to the obvious: we’re sick. To embrace this truth is not our damnation, it’s our salvation. For Jesus did not come for the healthy but the sick. He did not come to call the limitless, individualistic self-creators but only original sinners.