This book was published after Lewis had died. They are letters apparently to a fictional character called Malcolm, hence this book is listed as fictional. However, there is much of Lewis in here – from veiled references to past tragedy’s (the loss of his wife and even possibly his illness towards the end of his life) and his openness about prayer. There is much in here to chew on – Lewis’ defence of the liturgy as worship, and even his defence of the doctrine of purgatory (Dante’s not Thomas More’s). But most of all you see the human side of Lewis – the one who struggles in prayer as we do; but yet who also has those WOW moments when the Lord moves powerfully. A valued book to have on prayer.
Mmmm, not sure what to say about this book. The best way I personally can describe it is that it is a book coming in on the back end of a conversation which began 9 YEARS AGO!. This book is out of date – by three years. What I mean by this is that people like Mike Riddell (The Prodigal Project , Deep Stuff , Threshold of the Future: Reforming the Church in the Post-Christian West), Gerard Kelly (RetroFuture: Rediscovering Our Roots, Recharting Our Routes) Eddie Gibbs (Church Next) Alan Jameison (A Churchless Faith) & Pete Ward (Liquid Church) to name but a fraction of the books on my bookshelf published between 1999 & 2003. Reggies book adds nothing to this conversation. Back in 2003-2005 we were involved with a fledgling missional church. I really struggled to finish this book or motivate myself to read it, which was disappointing. But this may not be old hat to you. If you are new to missional / emerging thinking then this is not a bad place to start.
Watch this at your peril – HERE
“What I’d really want to do is say to the next generation, I want you to know your Bibles inside out and upside down in the original languages as thoroughly as you can. I also want you to get on your knees and learn how to pray and not just 5 minutes here and there but serious prayer for God’s world, God’s people, for anything and everything that’s going onwards. And the third thing is I want you to learn how to love people. Some people are naturally loving and they may need to learn other dimensions, some people are a bit shy and don’t quite know how to do it or they don’t terribly like people that much & if you’re going to be a Christian leader the bible, prayer and loving people.“
Listen to the whole interview HERE 2008JulySlipstream - fascinating!
Challenging Stuff HERE
Listen to or Read HERE
Do you & I feel that we have conquered the world? Each morning as we wake up do we look forward to our day knowing we have the victory over everything that could possibly be thrown at us? Do we as a people, as a church look like we have conquered the world?
Or is the opposite true. Do we wake up each day feeling that the world will conquer us? Does the church look like the world has had its way with us?
Too often the latter is true – we look like a people who have been conquered by the world, both in our personal lives and in the life of the church. And that, according to the writings of the apostle John, means we have lost confidence in the work and power of the Holy Spirit.
Our Epistle reading from 1 John 5 begins right in the middle of a developing argument from John.
In verses one through eight of chapter five he has been talking about talking about faith – that faith in Christ Jesus gives us the incredible status of being children of God. And this status – by having faith in Jesus Christ, means we have conquered the world – v4 says for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
So – as believers we MUST be conquers of the world because we have ALREADY conquered the word. Verses six to eight begin the explanation of HOW we have conquered the world – the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ – the one who was baptized, who lived and died for us and who has been testified to by God through the Holy Spirit. To believe in Jesus Christ – to accept the testimony of the Gospel means we have conquered the world.
We should be both as individuals and as a people of God radiating the victory of Christ in the world – unafraid of what the world can do to us as Christian’s – living life to the full in the commands of Jesus.
This is where we now begin our reading. V9 of 1 John 5 sees John beginning to explain more about the witness of Jesus Christ.
Of course, the witness of the apostles and others has testified to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for us, – and many have believed. But that is not the only testimony we have as Christians. In fact, it is not the primary testimony we have.
God HIMSELF testified to who Jesus was – and this is the greater testimony.
Many of us may have begun our journey’s to becoming believers because someone witnessed to us. We liked what a person said about Christianity and we became interested. We read some literature, or we went to church. But then we cannot remain believers through just the testimony of others We must move to accepting the GREATER testimony of God himself.
God testified to who Jesus was in scripture; At his baptism God speaks from heaven “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” At the transfiguration God speaks from the cloud “This is my Son; with him I am well pleased – listen to him.” And Jesus himself says in john 15:26 When the advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, He will testify on my behalf.
It is when we accept the testimony of God that we are converted and receive the Holy Spirit. This is what John means by He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.
When we believe we no longer believe because of what others have told us – or because of what we see at church – we believe because the Holy Spirit IN us testifies to the truth of God’s own testimony – that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for us.
There is a wonderful illustration of this is John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Having spoken to Jesus she runs to her town telling the people that she may have found the Messiah. The town’s people go to Jesus. Then in v42 of John 4 they say to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
It is that this point that we have conquered the world. At this point, through the Holy Spirit working in us – we should realize that whatever the world is going to do to us – whatever the enemy, satan, may try and do to us cannot succeed because when we are in Christ and we have the victory.
We really should be the happiest, the most peaceful, the most joyous, the most generous, most secure people on the face of the planet.
As believers we should have within us the daily testimony of the Holy Spirit confirming and encouraging in us the truth of Jesus Christ.
It is a spiritual work that we must have as Christians if our lives are going to be lived in the reality and truth of a world conquered by Jesus Christ. Without this spiritual work in our lives we will always feel conquered by the world.
Jesus knew that after his death and resurrection, despite the fact that he had conquered the enemy, the world who remained in rebellion against God – and satan, would turn on and try and destroy the disciples.
That’s why we have this remarkable prayer of Jesus in our Gospel reading. Chapter 17 is one prayer – with three parts. Firstly Jesus prays for himself – that he would glorify the Father and the Father glorify him. Then he prays for his disciples – which is our reading this morning – and then he prays for ALL who will believe in him in the future.
For his disciples – for those who followed, he prays for protection. He prays that they will remain in the world – in order to declare the gospel – and that the Father would PROTECT them from the evil one.
Jesus – the holy one – asks the Father to protect the Disciples from the evil one. He does not pray that the Father protect them from persecution – or bad days – or disease or even death – but he prays that the disciples would not fall back into the ways of the world and be destroyed by the evil one.
Jesus is entrusting his disciples to the Father. Jesus knows his disciples are at risk. The world who hates them will threaten them and abuse them. The disciples are being sent into this world and they need protecting. The disciples, because of Jesus, no longer belong to the world. In other words, this world is no longer the place or sphere that determines who they most truly are. What they need is help from being pulled back into the world.
While this prayer is for the disciples the same is true for all of Jesus’ followers.
When the world comes against you and I – we have as our shield firstly the intercession and prayer of Jesus Christ who has asked the Father to protect us. As believers we are no longer of the world – under it’s destiny or power – but instead we are under Christ. Secondly, we have the inward testimony of God himself through the Holy Spirit that the victory is won and that Christ has conquered the enemy. As Paul says in the book of Romans The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
This is how we are to live daily.
The issue this morning for each one of us is does the Holy Spirit testify to our spirit that Jesus is the Christ – the son of God. Are we allowing the Holy Spirit within us to give us life and the power to conquer the world?
In order for this to happen we must learn to submit to God and his will. And it is a learning process; a daily process – as the Apostle Paul says, we need to take each thought captive for God in every area of our life – in every decision we make – in the very words we chose to speak, or write or email. In how we treat others. We will never be able to experience his victory, or the effects of his conquering of the world in our daily life if we are still holding onto things that we know we should not be doing. We cannot be doing things that are either dishonest, or ungodly in our daily life and expect to feel that the world has been conquered. We cannot receive from him if we know that each day, in one or more areas of our life, we are lying to God.
Jesus’ prayer of protection for the disciples was that they would not be drawn back into the way of the world – that they would not fall. It’s about living our life in honesty, transparency & truth; at home, at work & in our community. Not cheating or hiding or fiddling the figures, or telling white lies, or deceiving people, or putting on false fronts, or the happy face when your sad, or the sad face when your happy.
As believers, if we are feeling that the world is conquering us each day, if we do not have the testimony of God in us that says Jesus Christ is God and He has the victory and I fully believe this to be true; it’s not that we do not have the Holy Spirit – it is almost certainly that we need to let go of something which is preventing the Holy Spirit from doing his wonderful and powerful work in us.
It is when we have nothing to hide – nothing to fear – it’s when we are transparent before God that we can live fully in the victory of God – that we can live having conquered the world in faith instead of the world having conquered us.
So this morning, if there are things that we know should not be in our life – let us let them go – give them to God – ask God to come and release them from us. Say sorry to him for having held onto them. If necessary let’s ask someone from the church to pray with us.
And then, or if there is nothing that we are holding onto, ask God that, through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us, we might know the victory of God through faith – that from today our life will lived no longer as people who have been conquered by the world, but as people who have conquered the world in Jesus Christ.
Without revealing the plot – what is interesting is the discussion of science and faith. There are some very interesting ‘dialogues’, summaries and suggestions regarding science and faith – obviously which comes from Dan Brown himself. One very interesting suggestion is that the ‘scientist’ in the book (who is also a priest) manages to create something from nothing in a lab – thus proving Genesis.
The interesting issue is that while the scientist priest thinks his discovery will enhance and solidify faith and God’s existence – others in the church believe it would diminish and undermine faith – and thus the battle begins.
There are many half truths, misrepresentations and inadequate thinking to frustrate Christians in this book BUT some of the questions raised are worth engaging with.
…. at least that is what Michael Patton says on his blog. He writes that the emerging church…
assumed that Evangelicals would listen and exit the building with them. But what happened was not unlike a disrespectful teenager who thought that he suddenly had it all figured out through a series of unadulterated epiphanies. He tugged on the shirt of his parents letting them know how much more he knew than them and he was blown off because of arrogance. “Tsk, tsk” was the reply, “I remember when I thought I knew it all.” While the Emerging Church, as well as teenagers, do have some very good things to say and should be listened to, it is the (almost total) disregard of Evangelicalism’s values that caused them to lose their audience. Evangelicals were offended.
This is a good (fun?) article which has some intense truth in it. Read it all HERE
What a great title huh! And what ARE the ten stupidest mistakes? Trying to do it all; Establishing the wrong role for the Pastors Family; Providing a second rate worship experience; settling for low quality in children’s ministry; promoting talent over integrity; clinging to a bad location; copying another successful church; favoring discipline over reconciliation; mixing ministry and business & letting committees steer the ship.
Over all the book is OK. In my own opinion I don’t feel that the book fulfills the potential the title gives. However, there are some good chapters in here -Trying to do it all; Establishing the wrong role for the Pastors Family & promoting talent over integrity are the best chapters of the book. Pastors should stop trying to DO everything and learn to delegate – and then NOT to interfere just because it is done differently. The pastors role at home and how ministry effects his wife and family is KEY. And the chapter on promoting talent over integrity is good. We are too easily swayed by gifting – often promoting the gifted volunteer quicker than we should and without due attention or discernment to the persons spiritual life.
The other chapters I did not thing were the MOST stupid mistakes that could be made and the content was not that good.
Even so, I would tentatively say that the cost of the book is worth the three best chapters, especially for those coming into the ministry.
Duane Elmer is a colleague of Don carson at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. I first heard Duane Elmer when he taught on a course I did in 2005 at Ywam, UK. We were a class of 15 and Duane spent an entire week teaching on Cross Cultural Conflict, and Servanthood.It was quite simply awesome! Duane is a missionary. He has lived in South Africa and has traveled widely teaching missionaries on culture. check out his other books HERE & HERE.
This book is especially good. His main thesis is this: we cannot serve someone we do not understand and we can’t understand someone until we have learned about, from and with them and we can’t learn about someone until there is trust and in order to build trust the person we are speaking with needs to know we accept them and value them as a person and before we can communicate acceptance the person must experience our openness to them and openness requires that we are willing to step outside our comfort zone to initiate and sustain relationships in a world of cultural differences.
Each letter which is in bold is a chapter where Duane unpacks that concept. This is not just a book for missionaries and cross cultural studies it is a book for all people in all situations. It is one of the best books on humility as a leader and cultivating servanthood in the church.
I was never worried myself by the words lead us not into temptation, but a great many of my correspondents are. The words suggest to them that someone has called ‘a fiend-like conception of God,’ as one who first forbids us certain fruits and then lures them to taste them. But the Greek word peirasmos means ‘trial’ – ‘trying circumstances’ – of every sort; a far larger word than English ‘temptation.’ So that the petition essentially is ‘Make straight our paths. Spare us, where possible from crises, whether of temptation or affliction.’
(taken from Letters To Malcolm – Chiefly On Prayer – pg28)
This morning our Men’s Breakfast Bible Study which meets from 7am-8am finished studying the gospel of John. we began studying John in April 2008 – it’s taken us one year to journey through this great gospel -each study being around 50 minutes long. During this past year i have had the benefit of reading a number of commentaries cover to cover. I’ll post some book reviews later but some of the commentaries I used and read were…..
HERE Audio and type
I was tempted just to re-read Paul’s sermon from last week because it fits exactly with today’s readings – about love. But I thought I had better say something different!
God Loves me. God loves you. Familiar words. Comforting words. We use these words regularly as believers to encourage and comfort one another. We say this to unbelievers in our evangelism – God loves you, he wants you to come to him.
Yet I wonder if we have ever fully realized the immense and powerful consequences of these words.
The infinite God of the whole universe LOVES YOU AND HE LOVES ME.
Our Gospel reading begins with a stunning statement from Jesus – As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
Let these words echo in your spirit for a moment.
The way that Jesus loved his disciples was not LIKE, or a mirror of, or a sample of God the Father’s love – it was and is the SAME way that God loves Jesus – a love which comes from the eternal Trinity – a perfect, holy, complete love.
How does Jesus love his disciples as the Father loved him? Jesus holds NOTHING back in his love.
Our Epistle clearly lays out this principle. John asks “what is love?” And the response is “That God loved us by sending Jesus to die for us.” The template of love is the sacrificial love of the Father – the Father who sacrifices his Son for us and the Son who sacrifices his place in heaven to live on earth, to be separated from the father and to die for our sins.
While we may know people who seem to love much, often we give our love hesitantly, or falteringly, or fearfully, or half-heartedly or even with conditions, Jesus gives his love fully, completely, unconditionally, sacrificially and willingly to those who follow him. It is not a bit of his love, or a sample of his love, or a taste of his love – Jesus loves us COMPLETELY.
This is the template to which we are to hold up our own love FOR God – our love of our spouses, our love for our parents, our love for our children and even our love for our enemies. That’s the template. That’s the standard.
That is the incredible commitment of Jesus’ love and that is the love, he experienced from the father – nothing held back.
If Jesus’ love for us is complete and total – nothing held back – then we really cannot say we have received a bit of his love, or that we have some of his love.
The love of Jesus MUST transform us – if we say we have Jesus’ love – if we say God loves us – we are saying the complete, unconditional love of Jesus, of God has come upon us. If we cannot say that then we have not understood the love of God for us.
God’s love HAS to be transforming – to encounter the living God cannot leave us un-changed – it cannot. Giving our life to Jesus is not just a verbal transaction; “Lord forgive me, I believe in you and want to confess my sins to you.”
These words begin an eternal transaction where our acceptance of Jesus puts into motion a move in the spiritual realm whereby we are no longer under the sentence of death but have been given life; where it is declared to the principalities and powers that we are now children of the living God and our future is to be with him.
God’s love HAS to be transforming because how else will be we obey v12 of our Gospel reading – Love one another as I HAVE LOVED YOU. Or v11 of our epistle reading Beloved, if God loved us we also ought to love another.
Firstly we can only do this because of the Holy Spirit. As Paul said last week, God asks the impossible of us – if you love me you will obey my commandments. But the very next words from his mouth are “And I will send you the Holy Spirit.”
In order for us to love each other in the way that Jesus loves us and in the way the Father loves Jesus, requires New Birth. It requires us to start again.
We, the church, you and I are to Love one another in this complete, unconditional, self-sacrificial love that has no limits – even to the laying down of ones life – remember Jesus’ words love one another as I have loved you!
This is a COMMAND – not an option. You have no option as to whether you will love me to the point of laying down your life for me – and I am going hold you all to that!!
– and I don’t have an option in loving you. It is a command – a moral obligation as followers of Jesus. we are undeserved recipients of God’s love and we in turn are to love others whether we think they deserve it or not.
Augustine said it well when he wrote: love is so much the gift of God that it is called God!
This love that we are talking about – this Trinitarian love which stems from the Father is also meant to be the source of our unity as believers. Our unity is not in our styles of worship. Or in our theology. Or in whether we accept people. Our unity comes FROM a love that is ABIDING IN, REMAINING IN CHRIST.
This is what Jesus means by Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus loved us by doing only what the Father said. We are to love one another BY doing ONLY what Jesus says.
John emphasizes this in his epistle. God sent his only son into the world so that we might live THROUGH him. Remain In Him, Abide IN Him, live THROUGH him. For John unity is remaining in and living through Jesus – doing only what Jesus and his word says to do. To depart from that is to step outside of Christ – and any unity outside of Christ and his commands cannot be true or lasting unity. And to try and build unity on social issues, cultural norms or anything outside of Christ will fail.
The love that Jesus speaks of here is a love that is rooted in obedience to the ways of God. If you separate this love from the commands of the living God then it is no longer the love of God – but the love of man. If we decide to love others on our terms or on the cultures terms it is not the love found in scripture.
We are to love one another so completely that when we see one of us doing something which is not Christ like, or that goes against the teachings of Jesus then we are tell each other. We are to say, Jesus said we are not to do this – please stop it because by doing such a thing you are no longer abiding or remaining in Christ. The love that Jesus says we are to love one another with includes warning our brothers and sisters when they do what is not acceptable in the Bible. We warn not to condemn but because we love them as Christ loved us.
John Wesley’s love for others is evident when he said:
‘In plain terms, wherever I see one or a thousand men running into hell, be it in England, Ireland, or France, yea, in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America, I will stop them if I can: as a minister of Christ, I will beseech them, in his name, to turn back, and be reconciled to God. Were I to do otherwise, were I to let any soul drop into the pit, whom I might have saved from everlasting burnings, I am not satisfied that God would accept my plea, ‘Lord, he was not of my parish”.
Or Charles Spurgeon who said…
If people are determined to go to hell at least let them leap over our bodies to get there.
Of course, there are days when we do not love or show love. Our hearts are not completely redeemed – as Luther said we are both saints and sinners – we still sin. But when we fail to show love we are contradicting our new birth.
This is why we must take sin so seriously – it is not just ‘I’ve had a bad day today’ but ‘Today, by not loving, I have broken Jesus’ command to me – I have denied my new birth. The full weight of God’s anger should fall upon me.’ But the we say ‘praise God for Jesus Christ, my redeemer, my savior for I can confess to him that I have not loved and he will forgive me because he has taken the full weight of God’s anger against sin on my behalf.
Confession of our sins is so important – it sets us free – it reconciles us to God.
This type of Love – the love we are commanded to love each other with – a love which abides and remains in Christ will grow in us as we mature as believers and as we daily seek to put Jesus and his words into action in our lives. And as we seek to exercise this love as we seek to ask the Holy Spirit to increase this love is us we will begin to show signs of it’s effect in our life. We will have a spiritual security which will bring us peace because we will know that we did not chose God but that God has chosen us. We will begin to bear fruit in our lives. And this fruit is not just about bringing others to know Jesus, although that’s part of it – one writer has said that the person who is born of God is a window through which the love of God shines into the world. But it’s also a fruit in our everyday lives, fruit at home, at work, with family and friends, as a husband or wife, father, or mother, son or daughter, employee or employer. And this fruit we bear is not temporary but John says it will itself remain in Christ. Finally John says we will no longer have fear in our lives. Imagine living life without fear – even the fear of death will leave.
One, early church father said that because God is love the one who lives in Love reaps the fruit of life from God. While still in this world, he even now breathes the air of the resurrection.
So, Jesus’ command to us – Love one another as I have loved you…
Let’s do it.
A fascinating Podcast by Paul Blackham HERE - which I totally agree with. Incidentally, you can read more about this position in Steve Levy’s book Bible Overview – a book which Paul contributed to (Paul writes a great question and answer appendix in this book).
There is much in this book that Christians, the Church (big C) and the church (congregations) can learn from Shane Caliborne. A passion for the poor, widows and the fatherless – a drive to show God’s love in the community – a desire to support and protect those who are defenseless or who are in need. This is the call of the athlete who is participating (Caliborne) to the armchair athlete who talks the talk but does not get off his butt (majority of church).
This book is filled with stories which will invoke a range of emotions – laugh, cry, angry and sad. You should also come away from this book with some admiration for Caliborne – not many Wheaton grads will want to go to India and work with lepers, the poor and destitute, the workers of sweet shop workers (he spent three months with Mother Teresa).
In saying all this – here is my problem. In Shane’s desire to love as Jesus loved – to have the compassion that Jesus had on the poor, he never speaks of the Jesus who said that those who did not believe would go to hell – or be burned in the fire or thrown out into the darkness. In the three months he spent with Mother Teresa, he never mentions that as he washed lepers, or tended to their needs he told them that they must give their lives to Jesus Christ, for that would be the most important thing for them to do.
Shane is part of the Simple Way community – a ‘modern monastic’ movement. He runs the Alternative Seminary, which, while he does recommend Walter Brueggeman & Dietrich Bonhoeffer he also recommends Marcus Borg and NO major Systematic theologian.
What we need is the PASSION of Shane Caliborne, with theology. Why can’t we do the practical work of Shane Caliborne and Simple Way alongside reading John Calvin, Wayne Grudem, Charlie Hodge, Matthew Henry, Richard Baxter, Stott, Packer etc, etc. Surely being in the community helping and loving people is important – but more important than feeding the poor is that people know Jesus and secure their eternal destiny. It is one thing for people to be feed – its another that people will full bellies are still destined for eternity without God.
That it what I see at thewayofjesus.com – practical action with theology. I didn’t see it in The Irresistible Revolution.
Wright makes the statement in his new book that Justification and righteousness, when used by Paul the Bible do not mean the same thing. Justification is a declaration which grants a status – a status which comes from being declared righteous. Justification does not denote an action which transforms someone. Now Wright’s major point is that this righteousness is NOT a moral righteousness – a mistake which he says Piper makes:
John Piper insists that God requires a moral righteousness of us, and that since we have none of our own God must reckon or impute such a moral righteousness from somewhere else – obviously within his scheme, from the righteousness of Christ. But righteousness within the very precise language of the courtroom which Paul is clearly evoking, most obviously in Romans 3, is not ‘moral righteousness’. It is the status of the person whom the court has vindicated. And yes, God has vindicated Jesus himself, by raising him form the dead, as is said explicitly in 1 Timothy 3:16 but indicated also in Romans 1:4. And yes that vindication is indeed the context within which the vindication of the believer is to be understood.
Very interesting!! I am about to start the exegetical part of the book – which I am looking forward to!
Not for me. This was just another book on prayer (not that reading a book on prayer is bad – Miller says nothing bad, or unhelpful or unbiblical). And I am sure many would find much in this book of help. I just found it rather uninspiring, espeically against some of the classics out there.
For me the talk did not match the reality about the book. I struggled to finish it, and was glad when I had.
But I was wrong.
This is an awesome resource for new Christians, or apprentices looking for an introduction to systematic theology. This past year I have worked a lot with John Frame’s book Salvation Belongs To The Lord which itself is a condensed summary of his much larger books. I found Frame at times clumsy and not clear on a number of issues. Grudem is neither of these. His larger Systematic Theology is excellent and despite its immense readability it is still a tad daunting to tackle if you are starting to study doctrine. This little volume is SO accessible and SO clear that this is now my first choice for any apprentice I might have in the future as an intro to doctrine.