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Showing posts from December, 2009

Of Carols and Links

One of my favourite songs at this time of year is O Come O Come Emmanuel. It may not be the most popular of carols (after all, it's really and advent carol rather than one for Christmas), but it is one which is both musically beautiful (at least in my rather subjective opinion) and, even more importantly, theologically rich. Over at the Gospel Coalition, J.V. Fesko (academic dean of Westminster Seminary California and author of Justification, one of this years best theological books) explains the theology behind the hymn. Have a read, it might help you see O Come O Come Emmanuel in a whole new light.
Whilst on the topic of seasonal songs, Justin Taylor has been highlighting a few good Christmas albums recently and giving free downloads of some of the songs. The albums include Advent Songs from Sojourn Music, Silent Night from Red Mountain Music (which includes a great contemporary recording of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, another of my favourite advent hymns), Savior from Sov…

What God Has Said and What God is Saying

As Pentecostals we like to emphasize what God is doing now. We're hugely concerned to point out that God is actively involved in the world He has created. We affirm that He intervenes miraculously and that He is a God who is not silent but who speaks and continues to speak.
Our belief that God still speaks today is linked very much to our belief in the gift of prophecy and the office of the prophet for today. Through prophecy God speaks directly and clearly; through (tested and accepted) prophecy we can know that God is speaking. No Pentecostal could deny that God speaks today.
Yet sometimes we can go a bit overboard. Sometimes we can be so intent on focusing on the fact that God still speaks today that what He is presently saying becomes the be all and end all. We can place so much emphasis on the present tense of God's speech that we get distracted from what He has said in the past. Yet, in reality, we can only know with confidence what He is saying today if we know what He ha…

Understanding the Gospel

If you want to judge how well a person understands the gospel, ask him what he makes of the death of Christ, and what the message of the cross is. The real Christian answers that while the message of the cross is foolishness to some and a stumbling block to others, to Christians it is the saving wisdom and power of God (1 Cor. 1:18-24). The confession of the real Christian is 'far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world' (Gal. 6:14).
Sinclair Ferguson, in his Foreword to The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness, by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington, page 12.

Considering Apostleship

The latest Link has the story of a recent symposium considering the subject of Apostleship. 'The conclusion was reached that an Apostle’s ministry and function is fundamentally future-focused, ultimately, driving towards God’s eternal purpose for the Church.'

On Seasonal Traditions, helpful and otherwise

Today I bought a Turkey and started listening to Christmas music. It's the sort of thing one does in the middle of December. For some reason or other this is probably the most traditional time of the year. What other season has its own special foods and songs, parties and concerts, fun and chores? At what other time of the year does nearly everyone decorate their house in a particular way? Christmas (at least in western culture) is a time of traditions.
Seasonal traditions at home are (or at least can be) fun. But what about seasonal traditions in church? Well, of course they can be fun too, but is that the point? Can we go beyond what's 'fun' in our December church traditions and think instead about what's appropriate and helpful?
The majority of the month of December is in fact not part of Christmas at all; rather up until the evening of Christmas Eve the traditional church calender is in the season of Advent. I think Advent is probably best known in British cultu…