Workshop on Biblical Exposition

Last year I attended a Workshop on Biblical Exposition put on by Simeon Trust. I compared it to the first week of my D.Min. in preaching and said:

I had a similar experience this week - almost as good in some ways, but a lot cheaper. I attended a Workshop on Biblical Exposition put on by the Charles Simeon Trust. The workshop includes instruction, small group practice, and model expositions (sample sermons that put these into practice).

Worth checking out if you ever get the chance to attend one.

Next year we're hosting one at Richview from March 25-27. It's not too soon to register. Find out more here. Well worth attending.

Posted on September 30, 2008 and filed under Events, Preaching.

Unpacking Forgiveness

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I don't think that there are many issues that come up more often than forgiveness. I sense this every time I preach about it. I can sense that I'm talking about an issue that is real for every person who is present.

Learning how to forgive isn't easy. Hurts often run deep; some situations that demand forgiveness are almost unspeakable. How does one forgive when the offense is so great, and the wound is so deep? To make things even more complicated, people who teach about forgiveness often offer conflicting answers. Not only is forgiveness difficult, but it's also frequently misunderstood.

Given these difficulties, I suspect I'll be using Unpacking Forgiveness quite a bit in the coming years. It's written by a pastor - Chris Brauns - and it reminds me what good pastoral practice should look like:

  • It's biblical - I've heard a lot of opinions about forgiveness. Brauns, thankfully, is driven by Scripture rather than his own views. It's hard to find anything in the book that isn't grounded in Scripture.
  • It's clear - There's a lot of fuzzy thinking about forgiveness. I know; there was some fuzziness in my thinking when I began this book. For instance, many of us fall into a therapeutic model of forgiveness, which makes forgiveness about our emotions rather than a relationship. Brauns does a good job of untangling the issues and clearly communicating which approaches are right, and why it matters.
  • It's practical - This is not some abstract treatise. Anyone struggling with the forgiveness can pick up this book and immediately benefit. It answers practical questions about when (and when not to) confront, how to go about forgiving, how to respond to the unrepentant, how to conquer bitterness, and more.
  • It's sensitive - Brauns sometimes has hard things to say, and when he does, you can feel him wince. He's committed to telling the truth, even though he knows it's sometimes not what we want to hear. You get the sense that he cares.
  • It's gospel-based - Brauns takes us to the gospel. Human forgiveness is ultimately related to divine forgiveness, and rooted in God's grace.

Bruans helps us understand that while we should always offer forgiveness and show love, forgiveness cannot take place until it is accepted by the other party. Forgiveness is more than an emotion; it is a transaction between two parties. This helps us avoid some of the problems that come from automatic, therapeutic models of forgiveness.

In short, forgiveness is one of the most important, practical topics out there, and Unpacking Forgiveness is the clearest, most biblical and practical thing I've read. It untangles an important issue, and I hope it is widely read and applied.

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Posted on September 30, 2008 and filed under Book Reviews, Faith.

Carson on social justice and the gospel

D.A. Carson spoke last week on some trends within the church, including this one (via):

Don said that the Gospel plus caring for the poor was an inseparable couplet. He cautioned that if the gospel was merely assumed (and not clearly articulated), our passion for social justice would overshadow the gospel. While we are not intentionally exalting social concern over the gospel, people learn what we are excited about (gospel over caring for the poor). Carson warned, "Our passion must first be the gospel and not assume it to be understood." He continued, "We must be careful to keep the gospel central and not turn our responses to the gospel as the main target."

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Not caring about social justice is perhaps proof that we haven't understood the gospel. The remedy, therefore, isn't social justice; it's to go back to the root cause and really understand the gospel.

Posted on September 29, 2008 and filed under Church, Social Justice & Compassion, Theology.

Please pray for the Stauffers

From New Lumps:

Last night at about 4:45 our precious 14 year-old daughter Emily was attacked and killed as she was out for a walk. We don't know a lot of details, but we know that two young men came upon the scene right away, but it was too late for Emily.

Please pray for this pastor and his family in Alberta.

Posted on September 29, 2008 and filed under News.

Stetzer and Sweet on the emerging church

Ed Stetzer has written a good piece on the emerging church from a missiological perspective. I appreciate Ed's approach. It's well researched. Ed is honest, but he doesn't appear to have an axe to grind.

You can read some of Ed's background or download the issue that contains Ed's article, and reactions to it, in PDF.

I was surprised to read this quote by Len Sweet about Emergent. "So far, [Sweet] asserts—rather than reach back into 2000 years of Church history, Emergent stopped at the 'liberal turn' wherein the Gospel became all social and no gospel." Sweet emailed Stetzer:

The emerging church has become another form of social gospel. And the problem with every social gospel is that it becomes all social and no gospel. All social justice and no social gospel. It is embarrassing that evangelicals have discovered and embraced liberation theology after it destroyed the main line, old line, side line, off line, flat line church.

Agree or not, it's certainly worth exploring this issue. It's not the first time I've heard this statement from someone who has been a friend to the emerging church. Wounds of a friend?

Check out more at Ed Stetzer's site.

Posted on September 26, 2008 and filed under Emerging Church, Social Justice & Compassion, Theology.