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The Final Muppet Movie Parody Trailer

Everything that wouldn’t fit in the other parody trailers makes it into this one.
Australia has to wait until January 5 for this.

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Bob Kauflin Reflects On His Recent Visit To Australia

Bob Kauflin provides some perspectives as a result of reflecting on his recent engagement with the Sydney (and Brisbane) evangelical church scene.
Here’s a couple.
Read the rest here. (And follow a link to Bob’s video of his encounter with a kangaroo.)

Emotionally engaging and physically expressive singing is meant to go together with theologically rich, gospel-centered teaching.
I spoke with numerous people around Sydney who said Christians there often attend two churches. They go to a church with solid Bible teaching but subdued singing in the morning and a church with passionate, physically expressive singing but weak teaching at night. Christians shouldn’t have to make that choice. And I said so in two of the messages I gave. Those who know God most deeply through his Word and want to honor him most sincerely with their lives should present the most compelling example of praising God with their whole being, in and outside our gatherings.

Reacting to what other churches are doing wrong is not the same as pursuing what is biblically right.
It’s one thing to say we don’t want to be as wild emotionally or as dead liturgically as the church down the street. It’s another thing to say we want to promote biblically informed, natural, whole-hearted responses to God’s glory in Christ. Reactions don’t necessarily lead us in the right direction.

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Five Reasons Why God Calls Us To Wait (via Paul Tripp)

Last Sunday some of our adult Sunday School class started watching a parenting video by Paul Tripp.
That means we’ve got some more Tripp fans around the place.
Here’s a recent post of his from The Gospel Coalition.
The immediate applications are to pastoral ministry, but readers will quickly observe they are also relatable to everyone else.

In ministry you will be both called to wait and also find waiting personally and corporately difficult. So it is important to recognize that there are lots of good reasons why waiting is not merely inescapable but necessary and helpful. Here are a few of those reasons.

Because We Live in a Fallen World

We are called to wait because the broken condition of the world makes everything we do harder. Nothing in this life or in your ministry really functions as originally intended. Something changed when sin entered the world, and in rebuking Adam, God summarized that change: “cursed is the ground . . . through painful toil you will eat of it. . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you. . . . By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Genesis 3:17-19). Sin brought friction and trouble and pain and sweat and a thousand other “thorn and thistle” complications to absolutely every aspect of life. We find ourselves waiting because everything in a fallen world is more laborious and entangled than it really ought to be.

Sin also put greed and fear and arrogance and jealousy and self-worship into the souls of all who live this thorn-and-thistle life. We must wait because, by being selfish, impatient, competitive, driven, anxious, and angry, we make life and ministry harder for one another in an endless variety of ways. This is why the seemingly easy leadership conversation becomes the full-blown conflict, why the once-sweet ministry relationship gets stained with hurt and acrimony, and why the church at times sadly functions as a tool of personal power rather than an instrument of worship and redemption.

Processes and people are all affected—everything and everyone has been damaged by the Fall. We must wait, because in a world that is broken, everything we do is harder and more complicated than it was ever meant to be.

Because God Is Sovereign

We must wait because we are not writing our own personal and ministry stories. Life does not work the way we want it to, in the time we want it to. You and I do not live in the center of the universe. That place is forever occupied by God and God alone. Our individual stories and the stories of our churches are part of the great origin-to-destiny story that he alone authors. Waiting becomes immediately easier when you realize God is sovereign (and you are not) and when you further reflect on the reality that he is the ultimate source of everything that is wise, loving, and good.

Waiting, therefore, is not a sign that your world is out of control. Rather, it is a sign that your world is under the wise and infinitely attentive control of a God of fathomless wisdom and boundless love. This means you can rest as you wait, not because you like to wait, but because you trust the One who is calling you to wait.

Because God Is a God of Grace

Waiting is one of God’s most powerful tools of grace. It’s important to realize in your ministry that God doesn’t just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.

In calling us to wait, God is even rescuing those of us in ministry from our bondage to our own plan, our own wisdom, our own power, our own control. In calling us to wait, God is freeing us from the claustrophobic confines of our own little kingdoms of one and drawing us into a greater allegiance to his kingdom of glory and grace. Waiting is more than being patient as situations and other people change. Waiting is about understanding that you and I desperately need to change, and that waiting is a powerful tool of personal change. God is using the grace of waiting to change us at the causal core of our personhood: the heart. Now, in ministry, that’s a good thing!

So We Can Minister to Others

Waiting is central to any ministry activity. If you are truly committed to being part of what God is doing in the lives of others, you will be willing to wait. Personal heart and life change is seldom a sudden event. Usually it is a process. You and I do not determine when and how the winds of the Spirit will blow, and people do not often become what they need to become overnight.

This means that in ministry we are called to have the same conversation again and again. We are called to pick that person up after each failure, to be willing to forgive and forbear, to remind him or her once more of God’s presence and grace, and to be willing to have our lives slowed down and complicated in the process. People of grace and love are always people who are willing to wait.

For the Increase of God’s Glory

Finally, we are called to wait because everything in life and ministry exists not for our comfort and ease but for God’s glory. The whole redemptive story is written for one purpose and one purpose alone: the glory of the king.

Waiting is hard for us because we tie our hearts to other glories. We so often are tempted to live and minister for the glory of human acceptance, of personal achievement, of power and position, of possessions and places, and of comfort and pleasure. So when God’s glory requires that these things be withheld from us—things we look to for identity, meaning, and purpose—we find waiting a grueling, burdensome experience.

Waiting means surrendering your glory. Waiting means submitting to his glory. Waiting means understanding that you were given life and breath for the glory of another. Waiting gives you opportunity to forsake the delusion of your own glory and rest in the God of awesome glory. Only when you do that will you find what you seek, and what you were meant to have: lasting identity, meaning, purpose, and peace in Christ. In this way waiting is is much more than a burden for you to bear; it is a precious gift for you to receive with joy.

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‘This Is Discipling’ Video

Stefan gave me the link to this video, which makes a couple of nice points.
It dabbles in the current apostolic nonsense and underplays the role of the gathered worshipping church, but does emphasise the need to make disciples in a most evocative way.

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Sojourn Music Reformation Day Sale

Sojourn Music is selling both volumes of their Isaac Watts hymn re-envisioning project: Over the Grave and The Water and the Blood as a single download album for just $10US or buy both CDs and get download files for $12US (plus postage). You can even buy vinyl versions if you’re that retro.
That’s 23 tracks for just $10.
And these folk know how to set old song words to new contemporary tunes.
On their page there’s also a link to pre-order their soon to be released Christmas album.
Have a listen.

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Dictionary Of Christian Spirituality – A Book Review

The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality
(Gen. Ed., Glen G. Scorgie, Zondervan, 2011)

What does it promise?
Thirty-four ‘integrated perspective’ essays (contained in the first quarter of the book’s 850 pages) and then nearly seven hundred alphabetically arranged entries on subjects and persons that pertain to Christian spiritual formation, contributed by over 200 writers from a wide spectrum of the protestant and evangelical Christian tradition.

What I appreciated.
The comprehensiveness attempted and achieved. I am not an expert in Christian spiritual formation, but leafing through the dictionary section there are entries dealing with names often referred to in such works: Oswald Sanders; Martin Luther; Ephrem the Syrian; Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Eugene Peterson; Henri Nouwen; Flannery O’Connor; John Calvin; Francis of Assisi; Horatius Bonar; Hildegard of Bingen; John Milton and many, many others. Subjects include: Celtic Spirituality; Russian Spirituality; Fruit of the Spirit; Death and Dying; New Age Spirituality; Detachment; Retreats; and more. Some of these I’m familiar with, others not, this dictionary is a ready reference to use instead of Google to find out more when people like these are referenced. Entries typically include detail about the individual and their contribution to the subject of Christian formation, with references to other relevant entries and suggested further reading.
The temptation is strong just to flip from entry to entry. It is a very browsable book.
The essays in the first quarter of the book include: Old Testament Foundations of Christian Spirituality; New Testament Foundations of Christian Spirituality; Human Personhood; Survey of the History of Christian Spirituality; Contours of Evangelical Spirituality; and more. Again, each essay attempts to provide historical context to the subject at hand providing and insight into overall development and differentiated expressions within the Christian traditions. Sources and suggestions for further reading are provided. Evidence of up to date scholarship abound.

What I’m not sure about.
The value of this book will vary somewhat depending on where the reader identifies their marker point of ‘classic evangelical spirituality’ (from the book’s summary blurb). The book includes contributors which entail a very broad evangelicalism. This reader understands that it is possible to appreciate insights and practices from other Christian traditions without endorsing those traditions wholesale. The same would be maintained about scholarship which emanates from those whose understanding of Christian faith and spiritual formation differs from my own.
So, as with all texts that embrace broad scholarship, and by their definition are introductory by nature, critical reading and interaction are called for. Even those determined to undertake an antagonistic attitude to the subject would find it a ready source of contemporary reference material.
That note being made, the Dictionary Of Christian Spirituality looks a fine introductory resource on the subject of Christian spiritual formation for pastor, scholar and general readers interested in the subject.

(The review copy of the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality was provided by Zondervan’s Koinonia blog as part of a blog tour to mark the book’s publication. There was no compulsion for this review to be positive.)

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The Civil Wars Cover Billie Jean

For your afternoon listening pleasure.
The Civil Wars cover the Michael Jackson song Billie Jean. (On Later With Jools Holland)
Really, they’re all over it.

Here’s another video with all three songs they performed on this particular episode.
Two of their original tracks and then you can hear Billie Jean again.