Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to be a Completely Ineffective Church Member Part 1

How to further the metamorphism to being a real sloth in the church.
The articles that appear in this series are a manifesto for utter ineffectiveness in your local congregation. For maximum impact of this ineffectiveness policy, these articles are best read with a lukewarm cup of coffee and some seriously heavy eyelids.
Of course should you yearn to serve King Jesus and be an effective church member to the glory of God, then you will need to have your brain well and truly in gear and by God’s grace seek to do the complete opposite of what you read.
Should you feel your toes jumped on by size ten hobnails, the best way for continued ineffectiveness is to complain to the writer. Don’t at any cost ask yourself could this be me, or get down on your knees and repent.

Listen Only
It is vital in your quest to be an ineffective church member that you specialise in gathering a host of Bible trivia, numbers of verses in the Bible (31,202) and the like. All these little juicy ditties that you glean you must store away in the deepest recesses of your mind so that you can keep the minister and elder busy with quick fire questions during the annual pastoral visit. This approach will make sure that they don’t get round to that awkward question, “How is God’s Word shaping your life these days?”
A collection of Bibles with unthumbed pages will be of great assistance in your journey towards utter ineffectiveness. The Bible you keep in your pew must have extremely small print so as to distract you during the reading.
Personal Bible reading is where you master the art of listening only. Only read your Bible at times of the day when your eyelids need propped open with matchsticks. This dosy interaction with the Scripture will help establish an impenetrable force shield for every encounter with the Word. By all means read the Bible every day. Big chunks are best and scan reading an essential. It is fundamental that you avoid asking any life-changing questions like, “What does this mean for me?”
Be on your guard at family worship for the Word can get a little prickly here and insist on taking root, especially when dad has pointed out how it applies to your family. At this stage it is paramount that you channel all thought power into how many Rice Crispies are left in the box.
Sabbath day will be your biggest test to see if you are going to graduate in the “listen only” course. If during the Scripture reading or sermon you feel any pangs in your heart, it is imperative that you quickly calm things down in your mind with a review of the spiritual things that you do, church Sabbath School, CY etc. and how you are definitely better than all the other young people. When the minister gets to the application bit and you begin to feel a certain sense of “he’s speaking to me” now is the time to start counting the cracks in the plaster or doing imaginary dot to dot with the bits of fluff on Mrs Brown’s big black bushy hat.
Pivotal in your downward spiral into the abyss of ineffectiveness is to give the minister marks out of ten for his sermon each week. Over lunch ask everyone how they thought the minister got on. Floating this question week by week will soon have a whole family on the path to increasing ineffectiveness. Avoid at all costs allowing anyone at the table to be super saintly and ask, “How did the Word challenge you today?”
Rather than taking notes on the sermon the way others seem to be doing, it is best that you engage in creative mind capturing doodling. This will give the impression that you are concentrating while at the same time stemming the flow of truth to the heart. Never go back over your notes no matter what your housebound gran asks you when she does her usual Sabbath evening inquisition about the sermon.
Remember only listen. You simply mustn’t let it in. You must wriggle and squiggle like mad to keep that life changing Word at bay. As soon as you start on the slippery slope of putting the Word into practice the ICMC (Ineffective Church Member Society) will have you thrown out if they can muster up the enthusiasm.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is it Nothing to You? Book Reminder

From time to time I hear the question asked, How does a man stay fresh in the ministry? The question is so very relevant for often in the daily plod of ministry it is so very easy to become professional, tired and weary. When the clouds gather for me I go again to the cross. I make the reading and studying of the gospels my focus. I also like to read something devotional that will help stir up great thoughts of the Saviour. To this end I have found the trilogy of the late F.S. Leahy so helpful. I have just finished reading again "Is it nothing to You?" It was published by Banner back in 2004 and is a little gold mine of heart warming devotions on the "unchanging significance of the cross." I guess one of the reasons that I enjoy these books so much is that I had the privilege of having the author as my Theology prof at seminary. I can hear him say the words and having known him I know that they are not words that simply sit as ink on paper, but words that flowed out of a ministry that was constantly filled with the life invigorating freshness of the gospel. This is a short book - about ten chapters. Take one chapter a day before breakfast and before reading and praying and by the grace of God you will find your heart strangely warmed within you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"I Hope he's proud of me"

Less than 24 hours after the tragic death of legendary road racer Robert Dunlop his young son Michael stood on the winners podium of the world famous North West 200 having won the 250cc event in style. The young man wept openly as the victor's wreath was hung round his head. Later in an interview it was obvious that the winning of the race was hollow for a young man who was mourning the loss of his father. As the BBC interview drew to a close the shy young man quietly said, "I hope he is proud of me."

Michael's sorrowing statement echoes out the heart of humanity. That longing to be accepted, that deep desire to be thought well of, that someone might be proud of us.

Of course the reality is that of our selves before the heavenly Father there is nothing in us for Him to be proud. Our sin has separated us from Him. Naturally we are far from God, without hope in the world. But the good news is there was a son of whom a father was deeply proud, there was a son whose father delighted in him and the victory he had won. That son was and is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has received the victor's crown. He has defeated sin, Satan and death. The Father said of Him, "This is My beloved Son. With Him I am well pleased." And the good news is - that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, God will accept, oh indeed delight in because of the finished work of His dear Son. There is a way for ultimate acceptance and peace. To be reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Book Review "The Reason for God" T. Keller

I have for the past year or so been a TK fan. His preaching is so on the button when it comes to Biblical accuracy and communicating in the 21st century. He is often my running companion as I listen to one of his sermon's on mp3. Having listened to his unique and winsome style of communicating the gospel in a way that touches down in the mind of post modern man it was with great excitement that I purchased his new book, "The Reason for God" subtitled Belief in an Age of Skeptism. It is published by Dutton in hardback. I presume a paperback version will eventually appear. I recommend you buy a hardback copy for your self as this is one to read every year if you are serious about proclaiming the Good News either in preaching or personal witness. The paperback versions will mean that you can spend some of your hard earned cash in buying a bundle for giving away to unconverted neighbours and friends. Keller answers the questions that people are asking in the most disarming manner. This book of just over 290 pages divides into two parts. Seven chapters under the theme of "The Leap of Doubt" where he deals respectfully with all the questions that are set before you every day E.g. Is there only one true religion? Why all the suffering? How could a loving God send people to hell? Can you really trust the Bible? The second half of the book consisting of seven chapters is under the theme "The Reasons for Faith." In this section Keller deals with the knowledge of God, the problem of sin, religion and the gospel etc.

One of the things that you will find reading or indeed listening to Keller is that he always has interesting and surprising ways of presenting truth.

This would be a great book for you young guys to read through together and discuss how you will put it into action. For any preachers who read review this - you simply have to read and reread this that something of Keller's technique of disarming the defeater ideas of the world might rub off on you. If you are looking for the book to take on holiday with you - this is the one. Perhaps you should pack a few extra paperbacks if they come out soon so that you can give them away to any who ask "what's that your reading?"

Since I am pretty wick at book reviews why not listen to the man himself at