David's Blog

Overview of Paul's letter to Philippians for Sunday mornings and Home groups



Here's a very helpful overview of Paul's letter to the Philippians which we are currently looking at on Sunday mornings and in Home groups. You can find the video by clicking on the link that follows below:

Every book of the Bible in One Word

Here's an article from the Gospel Coalition which suggests on particular attribute or characteristic of God particularly revealed in each book of the Bible - you can find the original article here: 


Every Book of the Bible in One Word

God reveals himself through his Word. When he speaks, he teaches us what he is like, how he acts, and how he desires us to respond. As a whole, the Bible is about God. It’s about God the Father displaying his glory through God the Son by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
The Bible is one book made up of 66 books. Each book has a major theme that emphasizes an aspect of God’s character or a way he is working to carry out his perfect plan. What follows is an attempt to capture these themes. These themes are certainly reductionistic and required me to make a few tough choices, but I hope you’ll be helped by considering them.

Bible: God of Jesus

  • Old Testament: Anticipation
  • Gospels: Manifestation
  • Acts: Proclamation
  • Epistles: Explanation
  • Revelation: Consummation

Law

  • Genesis: God of Promise
  • Exodus: God of Power
  • Leviticus: God of Purity
  • Numbers: God of Perseverance
  • Deuteronomy: God of Preparation

History 

  • Joshua: God of the Land
  • Judges: God of the Rebels
  • Ruth: God of Redemption
  • 1 Samuel: God of the Heart
  • 2 Samuel: God of the Throne
  • 1 and 2 Kings: God of Israel
  • 1 and 2 Chronicles: God of Judah
  • Ezra: God of the Temple
  • Esther: God of the Gallows
  • Nehemiah: God of the Wall

Wisdom

  • Job: God of Pain
  • Psalms: God of Praise
  • Proverbs: God of Prudence
  • Ecclesiastes: God of Purpose
  • Song of Solomon: God of Passion

Major Prophets 

  • Isaiah: God of Glory
  • Jeremiah: God of Weeping
  • Lamentations: God of Faithfulness
  • Ezekiel: God of Visions
  • Daniel: God of History

Minor Prophets

  • Hosea: God of the Unfaithful
  • Joel: God of the Locusts
  • Amos: God of the Oppressed
  • Obadiah: God of the Mountain
  • Jonah: God of Compassion
  • Micah: God of Justice
  • Nahum: God of Wrath
  • Habakkuk: God of Sovereignty
  • Zephaniah: God of Judgment
  • Haggai: God of Renewal
  • Zechariah: God of Restoration
  • Malachi: God of Worship

History 

  • Matthew: God of the Jews
  • Mark: God of the Romans
  • Luke: God of the Outcast
  • John: God of the World
  • Acts: God of Power

Pauline Epistles

  • Romans: God of Righteousness
  • 1 Corinthians: God of Holiness
  • 2 Corinthians: God of Weakness
  • Galatians: God of Justification
  • Ephesians: God of Unity
  • Philippians: God of Joy
  • Colossians: God of Preeminence
  • 1 Thessalonians: God of Encouragement
  • 2 Thessalonians: God of Admonishment
  • 1 Timothy: God of Godliness
  • 2 Timothy: God of Endurance
  • Titus: God of Works
  • Philemon: God of Reconciliation

General Epistles

  • Hebrews: God of Fulfillment
  • James: God of Trials
  • 1 Peter: God of the Persecuted
  • 2 Peter: God of Patience
  • 1 John: God of Love
  • 2 John: God of Truth
  • 3 John: God of Discernment
  • Jude: God of Protection

Prophecy

  • Revelation: God of Eternity
I found the process of reflecting on God’s message in each book deeply edifying, and I would enjoy hearing any ways you can improve this list.

A Poem for Good Friday

Click on the link for a poem for Good Friday  by Mark Greene of LICC :

It's called The Mirror

Gender identity - some helpful books and articles

Following on from the morning sermon on Sunday March 11th here are some books and online articles that might be helpful for those who want to read  further about the issue of gender identity and the Christian's response not only to the issue but to those wrestling at a personal level. Generally speaking they are written with a view if I may borrow from one of the publishers to helping Christians 'think biblically, act wisely and relate lovingly' when it comes to that response.

***
Books:

Transgender - by Vaughan Roberts - published by The Goodbook company  (a good  place to begin)

God and the Transgender Debate - what does the Bible actually say about gender identity? - by Andrew T Walker published by The Goodbook company

A Better Story: God, Sex and Human Flourishing by Glynn Harrison published by IVP - you can find a very comprehensive guide to the overall content of the book here:   https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/a-better-story-god-sex-and-human-flourishing/

Online Articles:

Gender - where next? - personal journeys, radical agendas & perplexing dilemmas by Christopher Townsend - an article published by the Jubilee Centre which is a Christian social reform organisation that offers a biblical perspective on contemporary issues and underlying trends in society, of relevance to the general public. You can find it here: Gender - where next?

The modern crisis of identity - who am I today by Glynn Harrison (again published by Jubilee Centre and found here :   The modern crisis of identity

Some other helpful articles on the Gospel Coalition Website can be found here:

How writing on transgender changed me   - this is an interview with Andrew T Walker  about his book God and the Transgender debate.

What Christianity alone offers Transgender people  an article by Sam Alberry

What does the Bible say about transgenderism - an article by Kevin DeYoung

Sexuality & Gender - an online report published in 2016 by The New Atlantis which examines findings from  the biological, psychological & social sciences. I haven't read this lengthy piece of work but a number of the books and articles above make reference to it.
You can find the report here Sexuality and Gender


Beware the power of entertainment!!

For a society like our own where there is no end to the entertainment available to us via screens, here is an important reminder from Tony Reinke of Desiring God of the powerful grip such visual media can have on our hearts if we're not careful. Definitely worth reading and pondering. The original article appeared here: Desiring God article



A movie so good it ruins you.
Would you watch it?

Article by  Tony Reinke    Senior writer, desiringGod.org

It’s the question the late David Foster Wallace puts before every reader of his novel Infinite Jest, the Shakespearean book title that doubles as the name of a movie within the encyclopedic tale.
In the story, the movie Infinite Jest so captivates hearts and eyes that no other entertainment can compete — the McGuffin of the novel, the plot-trigger for bigger themes to center on. “A lot of the book is about an art film director who comes up with a film that’s so entertaining that anyone who watches it never wants to do anything else,” said Wallace in an interview. “Then the interesting question becomes: If such a thing exists, do you avail yourself of it or not?”
“If a movie were fatally good and lethally entertaining, would you see it?”
In the novel, even the U.S. government does its best to investigate the addictive movie and its consequences. Body strapped to chair, electrodes stuck to temple, a lab mouse of a man watches the movie, narrating to researchers the opening scene, that is, “before the subject’s mental and spiritual energies abruptly decline to a point where even near-lethal voltages through the electrodes couldn’t divert his attention from the Entertainment.”
Having seen the film, and wanting nothing more than to watch it repeatedly, the “victims” are consigned to psychiatric wards. “The persons’ lives’ meanings had collapsed to such a narrow focus that no other activity or connection could hold their attention. Possessed of roughly the mental/spiritual energies of a moth.”
If a movie were fatally good and lethally entertaining, would you see it?

Death by Candy

In Wallace’s 1996 interview with Judith Strasser on Wisconsin Public Radio, he voiced his personal anxieties over our amusement culture. The book is “a kind of parodic exaggeration of people’s relationship to entertainment now,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s all that different.”
He was sounding an alarm.
In the novel, U.S. and Canadian relations are strained to the point that certain Canadian elements attempt to broadcast the movie into the U.S. as cinematic subterfuge — an attempt to get America to “choke itself to death on candy.”
Wallace has managed to create a metaphor for America’s entire entertainment industry in one seductive film — so seductive, that the great challenge for the U.S. government is determining how to warn people not to watch the film without causing everyone to rush out to see it immediately.
“I think a lot of this sort of hugger-mugger in the book comes down to the fact that the government can’t really do a whole lot. That our decisions about how we relate to fun and entertainment and sports are very personal, so private that they’re sort of between us and our hearts,” he says. “In fact, there’s a fair amount of high comedy at the government, going around ringing its hands trying to figure out what to do. These decisions are going to have to be made inside us as individuals about what we’re going to give ourselves away to and what we aren’t.”
The novel is a pointed question to America’s citizens: Will they “have the wherewithal to keep from entertaining themselves to death?”

Screens Better Than Life?

The novel was future looking, out a few years, but not too far. We’re living in his future, and he intended his alarm to ring loudest today. “The book is meant to seem kind of surreal and outlandish at first and then, in sort of a creepy way, to seem not all that implausible,” he said twenty-two years ago.
“At some point we’re going to have virtual reality pornography. I would just invite you to think about, given the level of people whose lives are ruined just by addiction to video peepshow stores now — what sort of resources we’re going to have to cultivate in ourselves and in our citizenry,” all to not give ourselves over to this technology? “I mean, maybe that sounds silly, but the stuff’s going to get better and better and it’s not clear to me that we, as a culture, are teaching ourselves or our children what we’re going to say yes and no to.”
“By indulging in the candy of entertainment, we are left with a weakened appetite for our daily devotions.”
Without being anti-entertainment or anti-TV, Wallace could sound the warning. “I think somehow, we as a culture have stopped or are afraid to teach ourselves that pleasure is dangerous, and that some kinds of pleasure are better than others, and that part of being a human being means deciding how much active participation we want to have in our own lives.”
“We have to reevaluate our relationship to fun and pleasure and entertainment because it’s going to get so good, and so high pressure, that we’re going to have to forge some kind of attitude toward it that lets us live.”
He was right. Media continues to get better and more vivid. CGI effects are becoming more moving. Movies more stunning. TV dramas more compelling. Actors more persuasive. “We’re going to have to come to some sort of understanding about how much we’re going to allow ourselves, because it’s probably going to get a lot more fun than real life.” He was speaking of TV, movies, gaming, and mass media, but even social media and the Internet, while democratizing voices, would not make our screens less addictive, and Wallace knew it.
Screens will become more fun than real life. “And the better the images get, the more tempting it’s going to be to interact with images rather than other people, and I think the emptier it’s going to get. That’s just a suspicion and just my own opinion.”

Media Temperance

All of this was more than theory for Wallace, who ditched his TV. “I don’t have a TV because if I have a TV I will watch it all the time.” And that’s the simple self-awareness needed in the video age.
“I don’t own a TV, but that is not TV’s fault. It’s my fault,” he reiterated. “After an hour, I’m not even enjoying watching it because I’m feeling guilty at how nonproductive I’m being. Except the feeling guilty then makes me anxious, which I want to soothe by distracting myself, so I watch TV even more. And it just gets depressing. My own relationship to TV depresses me.”
Not all of our TVs should go in the garbage, but we should all cultivate media self-awareness. This is where media temperance begins. Not by asking: “Prove to me my shows are sinful”; or “Give me media diet intake restrictions”; or “Prove to me my gaming is wrong.” It starts with self-reflective awareness as we seek to preserve higher pleasures by saying no to lesser indulgences.

Endless Good of TV

The problem with video gaming is not that gaming is evil, but that it’s immersively good. Gaming franchises are getting bigger as gameplay becomes more lifelike. We live in an age when all the aesthetic manicurists of digital visual pleasure culture have reached staggering heights of power and influence. They’ve never been better. And they’re getting better.
The problem with TV is not that TV is evil, but that TV is endlessly good at giving us exactly what we want whenever we want it. Our in-demand platforms continue to bulge with options, new releases and classic favorites from past generations. As the whole history of TV is offered to us, our new TV releases are getting more complex and textured, more graphically stunning, demanding more immersion and focus from viewers.
What it all means is that we, the viewers, are lured with ever more glittering bait to passive drift into an escapist dream from our boring lives with “whispers that, somewhere, life is quicker, denser, more interesting, more . . . well, lively than contemporary life.”
Daily life will never compete with the tele-visual magicians of Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Hollywood, and HBO.

Going Forward

I’m not suggesting that indulging in entertainment will leave us with no time for our morning devotions. I’m suggesting that by indulging in the candy of entertainment we are left with a weakened appetite for the solid nourishment of our daily devotions. The greater danger. We are not meant to barely survive with the spiritual energies of a moth, but to flourish in the alertness of the Spirit’s presence.
“Not all of our TVs should go in the garbage, but we should all cultivate media self-awareness.”
If Wallace were still alive, he’d certainly still be calling for us to walk out such a thought experiment to challenge our entertainment diets. But Christians are equipped by Scripture to take up the conversation from this point. These are very personal decisions between us, our hearts, and our God, all for the sake of our soul and for the sake of our kids, protective convictions that will make it possible for us to truly live, and to give our hearts away — not to a flickering screen that cannot love us back — but to give ourselves away to the spiritual pleasures of a Savior who promises to love us back because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Some thoughts on how to read the Bible with profit

Here's an article from Simon Wenham who works for RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) and which was published in their Slice of Infinity emails which they send out to anyone interested. It was published under the title 'An Experimental Fellowship'. You can find out more about RZIM & Slice of Infinity here http://rzim.org/

“The Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation.” —D. L. Moody
The Bible may be one of the best-selling books of all time, but it is a resource that polarises opinion. Some atheists are strongly opposed to it, as they maintain that scripture contains unhelpful, ill-informed, and incorrect teaching that is positively harmful for today’s society. Others take a more disinterested view of it, as they see it as a largely irrelevant piece of literature from a more primitive time, which inevitably contains an eclectic mixture of both good and bad instruction. By contrast, Christians believe the Bible is not only the word of God, but it is completely indispensable for all of humanity.
In truth, of course, many believers find parts of scripture difficult. Some of it is hard to understand or relate to, and the teaching doesn’t always have a lasting or deep impact. One obvious reason for this is that people have busy lives and whilst they often invest a great deal of energy developing their professional skills or taking part in hobbies or leisure activities, they simply don’t spend much time reading the Bible. Another reason is that often Christians only engage with scripture in a fairly surface-level way, like a sportsperson preparing for a contest by training in a manner that provides only limited improvement.
RZIM Chaplain, Tom Tarrants, suggests that people should look to the example of George Müller (1805-1898) for guidance in this area. The latter was an evangelist who achieved fame not only for helping hundreds of thousands of British children in his orphanages and schools, but also for his steadfast faith that the providence of God would meet the considerable needs of his many ventures. Yet he is less known for the life-changing discovery he made in 1841, which lay behind the deep joy and faith that defined and drove his ministry.
Although he had routinely prayed each morning for over a decade, he realized that his mind often wandered and it could take some time before he was conscious of any comfort, encouragement, or humbling of his soul. He eventually came to the conclusion that “the first great and primary business” he needed to attend to was the nourishing of the inner self, so that the soul became “happy in the Lord.”(1) This, he stressed, was far more important than focusing on how to serve or glorify God, because reaching the unconverted, helping others, and improving one’s character or behavior were all dependant on being spiritually nourished and strengthened.
In order to achieve this, he stressed that a believer had to enter an “experimental fellowship with God,” which required reading and meditating on the Bible. This process involved, firstly, asking for the Lord’s blessing upon his scripture and then to meditate on the word “searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.” Asking the Spirit for help in considering God’s word, pondering over it, and applying it to his heart, he almost always found that within a few minutes his soul was “led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication.” In other words, despite not giving himself to prayer, the meditation almost immediately led him to it. By speaking to his Father and friend about the things brought before him in the Bible, he found that he was “comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed.” Furthermore, the process also ensured that the teaching would sink in, rather than disappearing from his mind like water through a pipe.
After he had been doing this for some time, he would move on to the next part of the passage turning it “into prayer for myself or others as the Word led,” whilst continually bearing in mind that the object of the meditation was to gain food for the soul. In doing so, he was able to achieve a “peaceful if not happy state of heart” that he claimed was vital for his ongoing ministry. Indeed, he explained that the blessing he received gave him the “help and strength” to “pass in peace” through the deeper trials of life.
What astonished him most of all about this revelation was that he had not heard about the approach from any believer, whether in print, public ministry, or private conversation. It was as plain to him as anything, that this had been taught to him by God. Furthermore, such was the “immense spiritual profit and refreshment” that he derived from it for over forty years that he “affectionately and solemnly” urged all believers to do the same.
If you find the Bible difficult, or doubt its power, or simply want a new way of reading scripture, then why not try Müller’s approach for yourself? Not only did this “experimental fellowship with God” provide him with a deep happiness in his soul, but it was also the foundation upon which he was able to do some amazing things, often in the face of considerable challenges. After all, as he pointed out, “How different it is when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials and the temptations of the day come upon one.”

Simon Wenham is research coordinator for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Europe.

(1) Quotes taken from G. Müller, Autobiography of George Müller (London, 1906), 152-154.


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