Christian Reflections Vol 6 No 3

1. Someone said that a novelist they knew tried to just bear one person in mind as they wrote their novel. They didn't try to cater for absolutely everyone.
Perhaps we should apply the same to our church organised events. Fresh ideas for what topics to cover and how to run the meeting could be discovered by thinking of one non-Christian friend in particular.

2. My standard line: We don't need a seeker service because our regular meetings should always be accessible to non-Christians.

My 'yeah but': Are seeker services necessarily bad? Given that the good ol' bare bones gospel *is* good for Christian and non-Christian alike, the more evangelistically bent service will be good for everyone who comes, just as the 'worship service' will be good for the non-Christian. Martyn Lloyd-Jones always ran a 'seeker service'.
I suppose I shouldn't just dismiss the idea, but should always be open to re-considering it.

3. A different angle on why we should promote women preaching to women:
-Not just because we want to prove that we aren't total misogenists
-Not just because they want to because they feel they are good at it
-Not even just because other women find it helpful
But because we are convinced that preaching is a very significant and powerful and central means of conveying the word of God. If God has given the gift of preaching to women, we should think very seriuosly about why he has chosen to. And we shoudl think very carefully about if and where the best ways to use this gift are.

4. A friend of mine currently on short-term mission in Bolivia says: If you are considering going to be a missionary consider learning some practical skills now - carpentary, cartooning, massage, whatever. You never know how they may be helpful. For example, being a skilled cartoonist will dramatically improve your ability to communicate to people when you are not very good at speaking the same language.

5. Should I consider making the time after church more conducive to pastoral and evangelistic counselling? The preacher mingling around in the tea and coffee foyer may promote chit-chat. The preacher could be set aside and a culture is promoted where people can come to speak seriously about issues raised in the sermon. This could be a far better use of time for the preacher. He could also publically invite newcomers and 'seekers' to come and see him, to make appointments during the week, publically stating that he would really like to hear about who they are and where they are from etc etc.

6. I have stated in a previous Christian Reflection (pre-Blog) that better than just discovering the Big Idea of the passage is to discover the Big Purpose of the passage (following Jay Adams). Taking this still further, we should then ask of our Big Purpose a question - Why? How? When? Who? The answers the passage gives to this question form the points of the sermon.

Big Idea - The church is one body with many parts
Big Purpose - Use your gifts to build the church
Possible question - Why?
Points of sermon - 1. God's desire 2. For the good of teh church 3. You are as valuable as other peopel in church etc etc

7. How can I explain 'dialectic' in really simple cut-the-crap terms?

8. A friend has recently proposed that a good model for the Christian life = dramatic improvisation. Not that we make up our morality as we go along, but just that there is a great deal of flexiblity in our application.
Just as an improvisor is given the general form, bounds and structure to work within, we are given the description of who we are and how we should think and be. But there is a great deal of flexibility in how we work that out.
Two things that I would say to clarify this are
a) the things that the Word of God gives as us 'general form' are far-reaching in their influence. We cannot take the 'general form' of SCripture and wander too far without distorting Scripture
b) the Spirit of God is at work in us, guiding us as we 'improvise'

9. The way to reach a person's will is through:
a) the intellect (Llyod-Jones)?
b) the imagination (Sibbes)?
c) all of the above?

10. Immanual Kant said that there were certain questions that we could never speak confidentally about because they were beyond our experience and understanding - they were off in the noumenal realm. Therefore it could end up being as logical to believe one thing or its opposite. For example atheism or theism, free will or determinism.

How Kantian am I when it comes to understanding biblical information? How often do I say: "What was the purpose of this bit of Scripture? I don't want to know anything unless it has practical application. Otherwise it is purely speculative and vain theorising." This is a pretty common evangelical argument (seen right back in Augustine and Calvin).

Can this reasoning go too far? Can it end up practically denying the significance and reality of the things the Bible tells us and become purely concerned with the speech acts of the Bible?

11. One motive for wanting to grow in theology is the desire to think God's thoughts after him. This is a wonderful thing when it is done in humility and faith. But without brokennes and dependence on grace, it is another form of legalism/mysticism/hubris.
Maybe this explains why unconverted people can be so obsessed with theology. They hunger for the sublime experience of thinking god-like thoughts.

12. As an MTS trainer I have resolved to meet at least quarterly in a 'formal' way with the wives/husbands of my MTS apprentices. Part of this should be to provide some training to them for preparing to go into ministry. But also it is an opportunity for them to hear straight from me how their husband/wife is going, what they are achieving, what my hopes and fears are.
It's pretty hard for them to only hear stuff from their husband/wife. It distances them from the apprenticeship. It puts the person doing the apprenticeship in a tought situation too.

13. Almost my entire Chrsitian life I've said stuff like,

-God is sovereign, but I don't mean 'let go and let God'

Then I stopped and wondered what exactly what 'let go and let God' meant. What does it mean? And do I actually disagree with it?

I think I actually do believe in let go and let God.

It's just that I am not a dualist. I believe that God has chosen to speak to me in the Bible. And that God calls on me to do certain things as I am able.

But my mindset is still very much 'let go and let God'. I don't do them, God is working in me to do them. I should exist and act always with that awareness and dependence.

The sovereignty of God is not just a doctrine I wheel out to comfort me when I am discouraged. It is not just a theological idea that I defend, but in day-to-day life I act as if I were 100% repsonsible. It should affect they way I think and feel and act in my Christian life all the time.

14. Words I don't like (for aesthetic or theological reasons) and my alternatives:

-I am not part of a 'missional' church but a 'missionary' church
-I am not into 'incarnational' ministry but 'crucifixional' ministry
-I am not part of an 'emerging' church but a 'reforming' church