Monday, 30 August 2010


Something i recently published in the church bulletin:

Failure is necessary in Christian growth
Actually that’s not completely true, Jesus did indeed increase in maturity (Luke 2:40) without ever failing – in the sense that He always trusted His Father.

However, for the rest of us, who are riddled with sin, failure is necessary. We fail in our Christian service because we don’t know the love of God from eternity past. Sin means we naturally rely on ourselves, we always think we can do it – or even – we think we can’t do it. Faith means we put all that reliance directly onto Christ and He’ll tell us whether we can or can’t do something.

When Jesus’ followers faced their first solo demon confrontation, they failed miserably (Mark 9:18-19). Jesus doesn’t accuse them of being incompetent, but faithless – worse still, a perverse generation. They didn’t rely on the Holy Spirit for help – they did not cry out to Him, and worse, they were trying to gain glory for themselves (Mark 9:34) – that’s the perversion.

Failure in our Christian service is necessary because it exposes the sin within us. If we don’t serve, then we are content to sit in our sin-bubble, our little realm where we are in total control of everything we do (or so we think). The minute we actually step out to serve Jesus, we always fail - sin is revealed. Then we are left with the choice of returning back to sin-comfort-zone or deepening our relationship with Jesus (Mark 9:29).

If we long for maturity as Christians in whatever is left of 2010, then we must begin to serve Him wherever the need arises, whether we think we are competent or not – especially in ministries that involve dealing directly with other people. Yes, we are going to fail – but the kingdom of heaven is not a meritocracy… it is a kingdom of grace. That means we can have the confidence of growing through failure, because our God is our Father who loves us and will guide us through.

So then in Zion Bishan: Let us serve and fail - then come to Jesus and serve again. In our community of grace, we must reflect the grace of God that allows failure, so that growth may result. We walk people through the mistakes that they’ve made – the sins that have been exposed, and point them back to a faithful and forgiving God – for healing and growth to begin.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Dying Inside

From my last hermaneutics lecture:

In the mediaeval period the Song of Songs was one of the most commentated-on books in the Bible: the commentary was usually allegorical in nature.

A relatively late example of this approach is found in the writings of C.H. Spurgeon, the 19th-century British preacher.

We can consider his sermon on Song of Songs 1:13, preached in 1864.

This verse reads: ‘My beloved is to me a sachet or myrrh that lies between my breasts.’

Spurgeon begins by setting out his interpretative approach:

Certain divines have doubted the inspiration of Solomon’s Song; others have conceived it to be nothing more than a specimen of ancient love-songs, and some have been afraid to preach from it because of its highly poetical character. The true reason for all this avoidance of one of the most heavenly portions of God’s Word lies in the fact that the spirit of this Song is not easily attained. Its music belongs to the higher spiritual life, and has no charm in it for unspiritual ears. The Song occupies a sacred enclosure into which none may enter unprepared. “Put off they shoes from off they feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground,” is the warning voice from its secret tabernacles.

He interprets the theme of the Song as the intimate love which the Christian believer may experience with the Lord Jesus. This is an allegorical approach.

He interprets Song 1:13 under the heads: (i) Christ is very precious to believers; (ii) there is good reason why he should be; (iii) mingled with this sense of preciousness, there is a joyous consciousness of possession of him; (iv) therefore there is an earnest desire for perpetual fellowship with him

In his detailed exposition of the verse Spurgeon applies the phrase ‘bag of myrrh’ to Christ in a variety of ways: it points to Christ’s preciousness, his pleasantness, the way he perfumes the believer’s life, his preserving qualities, his power to cleanse and heal.

In effect his interpretation involves asking two questions: What are the properties of myrrh? And (having answered that question): How does Christ demonstrate these properties?

But is this really the way to interpret the text, by engaging in a series of word associations?

Later on in the volume, expounding 2:13 (‘Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me’), and following a similar kind of exegesis, Spurgeon applies the text to the failure of the church in England and Europe to disestablish itself in the decades after the Reformation.

Christians heard Christ’s call to ‘come with me’, but did not respond as fully and as trustingly as they should have done. (Spurgeon was a Non-Conformist, not a member of the established Church of England.)

This is all very interesting: but is it what the text is really talking about?
(Most commentators on the Song today would answer: No.)


I only just succeeded in restraining myself from laying hands on people....
What response would you have given?

Sexy Evangelism

Effective evangelism is like sex don't you think?

You have to be overflowing with love and joy, etc... to be able to truly sow the seed

we are shameful, but He has gently uncovered our nakedness, and embraced and filled us - so we overflow with joy (John 4)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A feeble attempt at hermeneutics

Glen has a great series here, here and here.

Here is a simple diagram of my understanding so far...

So basically... all Scripture, when Spirit-led - points to Christ, regardless of style or genre

By drawing us into Christ, it draws us closer to one another
By drawing us into Christ, it draws us to the Father - that we can now determine the Father's will
the Father's will is not independent of Christ, neither is it individualistic - it is always corporate, but relating to persons within the community

our ultimate goal... is to follow the will of the Father, showing that we are true sons of God, united with and living as Christ

then is our 'growth' complete - cf John 4:34, Rom 8:29

since only then are we perfect in faith - fully encompassed by His love, and in total (unresistant) union with Christ, completely indwelled and constantly filled by the Spirit

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


What is church and the community?

Listening to quite a bit of Crowded House stuff...

So far what I figure...
is that church must be based on eternal Trinitarian relationships revealed to us in Jesus

There is an entrance point - that is Christ
There is a reference point - that is the Father

The church is invitational - hence proclamation
Yet confrontational - since you imply in the invite that you are not part of it

The community is perichoretic - interpenetrating, with individuals breaking down in confession and being rebuilt as a community of persons in Christ - one body

Liberalism causes the church to be informal and 'uneventful' - since there is no serious consideration of sin

Legalism causes the church to be only in the structure and events - since the leaders think they can run a system since they are not sinful

True church is a household - where there is interaction and activity
Where there is an understanding of sinful separatedness and those informal interactions or formal events are all purposeful - designed to break down the separatedness between each other, and re-reference ourselves with the Father - hence the events of the Word in proclamation, corporate study, visible sacrament, etc

All this is what it would mean to be Spiritual

The goal of church is unnatural love for one another (grace), lead and exemplified by Jesus, founded on the love for the Father, actualised by the Holy Spirit

or something like that....

Thursday, 19 August 2010

What does it mean to be faithful?

A sermon I did on 2 Timothy 2:1-13

Link here

Managed to fit in this wonderful quote from Spurgeon:
“Eternal Faithfulness Unaffected by Human Unbelief”:

“Christ sits at the receipt of sinners waiting for them to mention their wants. He is watching for you. I tell you again that he cannot reject you: that would be to alter his whole character and un-Christ himself. To spurn a coming sinner would un-Jesus him, and make him to be somebody else, and not himself any longer. “He cannot deny himself.” Go and try him: go and try him. I wish some trembling soul would at this moment go and cast himself upon Christ, and then report to us the re-suit. Come, poor quivering seekers, sing in your heart, unbelieving as you are. Oh, but if you were to perish at his feet, you would be the first that ever did so out of all those who have ever come to him; and that first man has never been seen yet. Go and try my Lord and see for yourselves. Well now, you Christian people, I want you to come also. If you believe your Lord he will be faithful to you. Suppose it is a time of trouble with you: he will be faithful to you; go and cast your burden upon him. Suppose at this time you, are much exercised with spiritual distress: go to the-Lord as you did at first, as poor, guilty, rebellious sinners, and cast yourself upon him, and you will find him faithful. “He cannot deny himself.” If my Lord were not kind to me to-night when I go to him with my burden I should think that I had knocked at the wrong door; because the Lord has been so good and so faithful to me hitherto that it would take my breath away if I found him changed. Oh, how good, how exceeding good is my Lord! I could sing that with all my heart, and I hope many of you could earnestly join with me. So how surprised you would be if I were to meet anything but love from my dear Lord after all these years of tenderness, There is no fear of it, for “he cannot deny himself.”

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Cracked Eyesight

Matthew 6:22-24 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Proverbs 22:9 9 Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor

Interestingly the Hebrew word for 'eye' is also the same word for 'spring'(as in water)

Thus if our eyes are bad - we have cracked springs - barren desert that sucks in the 'water' from others - ground that is always thirsty and never satisfies

Wherelse the Spirit will 'open our eyes' yet He also makes us filled up with living water welling up to eternal life - a fountain flowing with living water
filled to the full and able to supply others

perhaps then our natural eyes are black holes
and the eyes of Christ are truly the eyes of the Sun

God can only be God if He is the Graceful Giver

The Living God is God because of Grace

Only when God is allowed to give - can He be the undebted God

Every other 'god' feels owed - they are needy
they have to be satisfied outside themselves
They have to be paid their dues

only the Living God is self-satisfied - The Son satisfies the Father and the Father the Son

He needs not

He can give and give, and give in abundance

When we come into the Satisfied God, through His Giving Abundance,
We are Satisfied in Him,
and He is satisfied with us and in us - through Christ

here's the great Sola Series from Glen:
the rest of the links can be found on his website

Monday, 16 August 2010

Love Languages

Anyone ever posted thoughts on the 5 love language thingy?

Been wondering about it..

I figure the reason we are unable to communicate in any type of love is not because of personality types - but rather sin

since love is a fruit rather than a gift...
and because very young children are quite receptive to all the languages usually - and quite unable to give it out in any language

then surely the goal would be to find the 'right language' to minister to them
but then to grow to be able to both receive and give in every language..

after all the Spirit is a Spirit of all tongues?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The Core 'Function' of Prayer

What is the purpose of prayer?

the more I go through the Lord's prayer...
the more i wonder

I look at my son...
I realistically don't NEED him to talk to me...
in fact - things are much simpler when he does NOT talk to me..
i.e. no crying, no arguing, no talking back, etc.

If I am an experienced father, with 100s of children
I would not need to hear him speak
I would immediately 'know his thoughts'
just by looking at his actions and the time, etc..
I could tell if he was hungry, thirsty, sleepy, needed to go to the loo, sick, etc..

I could pre-empt and satisfy every one of his physical needs

so why talk?

The only reason is the answer to question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism

So that I can enjoy him... and him me...

Prayer - conversation with God - teaches us how to come into enjoyment with Him
Beyond anything else - surely this is the point

Monday, 2 August 2010

Sickness and Medicine

If everything tells the gospel

then so should every sickness and every appropriate treatment

now then we should have doctors and scientists study carefully each one
that we may apply them in relational terms..
first to God, then to each other

so for example.. leprosy being the picture of sin, cutting of from both God and man
so what is the gospel of antibiotics? how do they work?

what about bone-rotting disease - how they cripple a person
that tells us loads!
is calcium our best cure?

what about a broken bone?
healing works by just temporarily fixing both ends together
how's that for reconciliation ministry!?

so much to discover....

Sunday, 1 August 2010


What is our 'calling' in life?

A slightly informal seminar I did: