Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Shelter in the time of Storm, Paul Tripp

Every now and then you come across a book and you think - everyone needs to read and inwardly digest. This is one of those books. It is a series of 52 meditations on Psalm 27. A few of the reflections are poems - but don't let that put you off - they are super and prise open the thoughts. Each of the short chapters can be read in a new minutes but the outworking will take the rest of your life. Each chapter is filled with Paul Tripp's inimitable heart revealing style. As always he gets to the sin under the sin and it looks as if he is reading your mind.
If you are looking for presents for someone for the weeks ahead and you really love them - by them this book. Not only is it filled with nuggets of wisdom on psalm 27 - it will also in a by the way sort of manner teach you how to ponder the Scripture and let it seep into your life.
Cracker book to use as part of your personal devotions, family worship or a study with someone.
I have been raving about this book to family and friends. My raving went off the raving scale when I read chapter 50 this morning, "What gives the psalms their meaning and depth? The thing that the psalms point to again and again isn't a thing at all. No it is a person, and His name is Jesus. It is not as if some of the psalms are Messianic; all of the psalms point to the person and work of the Saviour in some way! Psalm 27 is a powerful example."
That reason alone is sufficient for me to say - there is only one thing that I want to sing on this earth - the songs of Zion and as I sing to pray - LORD - rivet this truth deep into my soul that I may know day in and day out shelter in the time of storm.
Dear Mr Tripp - I doubt that you will ever read this blog - but if you do - please please make it the work of the rest of your days to do the same for all the rest of the psalms.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Church Planter, Darrin Patrick

I have to confess it was the online movie type trailer that made me buy this book on church planting. And like all movies - the book is better. Darrin Patrick is vice president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and the founding pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis. Although you will find nothing particularly new in this volume it is draws together many aspects of planting into one volume. I agree with Tim Keller (I am sure he is glad about that!) "Church planters should all read this."
The book is divided into three main areas - the man, the message and the mission. The book commences with a rivetting preface in which he calls men to be real men and not "bans". That is Patrick's way of speaking of men who never grow up and are still playing about with games consoles and not being real men. The second chapter on call to ministry is well worth buying the book for. He says that any man interested in being a church planter should be willing to take hits in decision making. I would take that further - any man considering the ministry in any shape or form - if you are not up for the tough time, the slog, the plod, the pain, the tears, the heartbreak - then forget it - be a postman - at least you will only get bitten by dogs. Other chapters in section one include - qualifications for ministry, what it means to be skilled in ministry and what it is to shepherd the people of God. Chapter 7 on being a determined man is a super chapter filled with Biblical reasoning on why to keep on in the ministry and how to.
In the second section - chapters 8-12 (The Message) you can see that this guy really does know his stuff and has gleaned amongst the "Big boys" for his theology. His chapter on Salvation Accomplishing is John Murray's classic Redemption Accomplished and Applied in jeans and t shirt. In Chapter 10 it is clear that Patrick knows the things to beware of out there - moralism, relativism etc. and once more has some cracker footnotes. In dealing with exposing sin he quotes the Shorter Catechism and John Knox and that in itself gains him kudos. His chapter on Idol Shattering is classic Keller - calling preachers to expose the sin under the sin.
In the final section - chapter 13-17 the writer deals with mission. Chapter 13 did concern me somewhat when he quotes Theresa of Avila and Hans Kung. But don't let that put you off the book. Chapter 14 on the church and mission lacks a covenantal approach, but his classification on types of churches is helpful and challenging. Chapter 15 on contextualisation will no doubt raise a few eyebrows for some but there is much here that is very thought provoking about reaching the masses with the gospel. Patrick does well in keeping away from the dangerous edges of contextualisation. The final few chapters on care and city transformation conclude the book.
All in all - a good read. You will not agree with everything and strongly disagree with some things (E.g. his comments on the Sabbath). But this is well worth the read. Why not team up with a few others to read and discuss.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sad Day for Scotland

Many mornings I feel like weeping when I tune in the to BBC4 news and so was the case today. I woke to hear that the Free Church of Scotland is changing their position on worship. According to the highest court of their church each session is now at liberty to use materials other than the psalms for use in worship and also allowed to use instruments in public worship if they so wish. Why would the BBC cover such information? Like many across the land they think that this is a nice movement with the times. Personally I would be very afraid if the BBC commented with even the slightest tone of favour of anything that I did. What the public wants seems to have won again - after all one of the arguments of the men for change was that somehow singing psalms was keeping people away.
When the church develops a loose approach to what should happen in public worship history seems to show that this is the beginning of times of decline. I trust and pray that this is not the case for the Free Church, but only time will tell.
So very quickly changing to letting a session chose for itself could become a total abandoning of the book of praise (no matter what is presently placed in church order) that Christ has commanded for the exclusive use of His church. Soon the people of God may not know these words that Christ Himself sang knowing that they were filled with Him. Soon the people of God may not know the joy of having these words embedded in their minds for the day of trouble.
What a sad day for Scotland. Thank God some still hold to the Biblical teaching of non accompanied exclusive psalmody. And those who do stand firm - don't ever feel ashamed or that somehow Christ is limited by the singing of psalms - you stand with the vast majority of the history of the church of Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 05, 2010

This little church had none - Gary Gilley

This is the third in a series of books by Gary Gilley. And you have guessed it the two previous ones were called "This little church went to market" and "This little church stayed at home." These classic books are no fairy tale laughing matter - but serious truth that the church must grasp. The author has a wonderful gift of putting his finger right on the trouble spot in the modern church. He has a knack of not only identifying what is going on in the church by way of being influenced by the world, but also how to get out of the mess. The present volume divides into three parts: Obstacles to the truth; The way back and Evangelism. In the first section 6 present day threats to evangelical church life are described: Seeker sensitive adjustment, The Emergent church goes ancient, Invasion of paganism, The prosperity gospel goes mainstream, The challenge of pragmatism, and The new atheism. In the second main section the writer describes how only a renewed confidence in the Word of God and pastoring with open eyes are the way back from the mess that the church is in in many places. The final section is a cracker on apologetic evangelism and a must for anyone interested in reaching the lost. Three of the final 4 chapters are written by co author Jay Wegter.
If you are involved in ministry in any form you need to read this book and the two previous volumes. If you are a young person who imagines that your church is fuddy duddy and why can't we do what other churches are doing - YOU NEED TO READ THIS and be thankful to God for what you have. Every pastor preacher needs to read these and be aware of the threats that are out there and can so easily creep into the church.
This book is a wonderful gift to the church for inoculation or recovery. Switch off the TV, log off the computer and read!