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Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator

Benedict Cumberbatch is a popular young actor with a cool name.
You may remember him from his roles in Sherlock, Star Trek – Into Darkness, and The Desolation Of Smaug.
Perhaps you can’t be a magnetic thespian, but with if you go to this link you too can have a cool cumberbatchlike name.
Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator.

This is Bunsenburner Chesterfield signing off.

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His Be The Victor’s Name – Zac Hicks’ New EP

a4227812251_2As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Zac Hicks has released an EP, the first recording fruits of his work with Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in the US.
His Be The Victor’s Name features six tracks, five which substantially use old hymn lyrics as their base and one completely original. All feature new music by Hicks and others.
The emphasis is on freedom through the finished work of Christ, which is always a welcome theme.
The EP arrangements don’t readily suggest how some of these would transfer to congregational singing (or contexts with modest instrumental or vocal leadership).
They’re lyrically strong, but melodically nothing’s grabbed me and buried its way into my unconscious yet.
One Way Love, for instance seems to be more driven by phrasing than melody as a song.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I think the piano driven Once For All is a strong track.
Overall the EP is very well produced with hints of organ even peeping their way into the instrumental palette.
Lead vocals from Hicks and collaborator Julie Ann Vargas are strong and clear.
All in all an encouraging start for what hopefully will be a longstanding partnership between Hicks and Coral Ridge.

For $5.00US on bandcamp you can’t go wrong really.

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Every Church A Church Planting Church

At mgpc we’re pursuing the principle that healthy churches have an interest in other local churches that are growing towards viability.
In other words, we actively support a church plant.
The ways we express that may vary over time.
Presently we’re partnering with a church in Adelaide.

In this post on Daryl Dash’s blog the following suggestions are excerpted from a book by J.D. Payne.

  • calling out missionaries who will consider church planting as a ministry option;
  • providing ongoing prayer support for church plants and church planters;
  • encouragement and association with the church planting team;
  • pastoral mentoring and accountabliity;
  • training, such as paying for planters to attend conferences and training events;
  • resources and financial help;
  • constant recognition of the church planters.

Among the goals of the Presbyterian Church of Australia’s Mission To Australia I hope we can convince all our local churches that supporting church planting is not second-mile work, is not an optional extra, but is a key marker of what it is to be a healthy local church.

You never know.
Maybe some flourishing, forward-looking church somewhere will contact us in Mount Gambier and offer some support and resources to help us grow a second congregation or a local church plant.
It would be an answer to prayer.

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The ‘Softer’ Prosperity Gospel

You won’t find too many folk supporting the most strident form of prosperity gospel.
However there’s a softer, less strident form which can find its way into gospel affirming churches.
You’ll hear Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13 a lot more often than John 3:16 and Matthew 6:33.
It’s not that the gospel is denied.
It’s that it is assumed, and in its place practical messages are preached that never explicitly ground their lessons explicitly in the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection.
(A post like this won’t usually find itself linked to on our town’s Citywide Church Facebook page.)

From the 9Marks blog:

While evangelicals have traditionally decried the prosperity gospel in its “hard” form, there is a softer form of this teaching that is all too common among us. Often undetected by Bible-believing Christians, it assumes the gospel and leads its adherents to focus on things like financial planning, diet and exercise, and strategies for self-improvement. In contrast to the hard prosperity gospel, which offers miraculous and immediate health and wealth, this softer, subtler variety challenges believers to break through to the blessed life by means of the latest pastor-prescribed technique.

Here are some tell-tale marks of soft prosperity gospel.

1. Soft prosperity elevates “blessings” [even ‘prospering’] over the blessed God.
2. Soft prosperity detaches verses from the redemptive framework of the Bible.
3. Soft prosperity diminishes the curse that Christ bore and the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
4. Soft prosperity relies on pastor-prescribed therapeutic techniques.
5. Soft prosperity largely addresses first-world, middle-class problems.

(Read more explanation at the 9Marks blog post by David Schrock.

While never being so crass as to claim Jesus died and rose again simply so local businesses could have a healthier bottom line, soft prosperity will emphasise better business results as the answer to our prayers instead of growth in more Christ-like character in adverse circumstances.

We need a biblical gospel which exhorts people to know that Jesus died and rose again to make them a transformed person, not just comfortably well off.

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Where The Earth Is Prosperous, But The Spirititual Ground Is Barren

Jared C Wilson provides a quote that pertains to the New England territory of the USA, once a place of revival, now renowned as a region of spiritual deadness.
It reminds of Mount Gambier.
So many founding families rich in faith, so many descendants far from God, settling for the material prosperity of the region instead of a relationship with the one from whom all blessings flow.
I love to see people getting fruit for their labours, but the need of Mount Gambier is not more prosperity.
Yet, as Wilson observes, our hope for the region is based on the same power that saw people of faith settle here generations ago.
The Holy Spirit.

“But what a dead and barren time has it now been, nor a great while, with all the churches of the Reformation. The golden showers have been restrained; the influences of the Spirit suspended; and the consequence has been, that the gospel has not had any eminent success. Conversions have been rare and dubious; few sons and daughters have been born to God and the hearts of Christians not so quickened, warmed and refreshed under the ordinances, as they have been. That this has been the sad state of religion among us in this land, for many years …”

This is a description of New England — of Massachusetts, specifically. Dry, spiritually parched, not much receptive to the gospel. It is a description of New England in the early 1700-s.
Then, as now, the spiritual landscape was discouraging. But then the Spirit did something extraordinary through the work of Jonathan Edwards and others in Massachusetts specifically and New England in general. This passage quoted is from W. Cooper in his Preface to one of Edwards’s works, describing the state of the place before the Spirit began His Great Awakening.
Now, as then, we are dry.
Now, as then, we only need the Spirit’s inclination to see revival.

Because of this, now, as then, things are not hopeless.

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Presbyterian Proverbs

Lots (not all) of these aphorisms resonated with me.
Most pastors (and active church members) will recognise what’s described here.

Presbyterian Blues

aesops Greek Fables (close enough)

An advantage of being in the same church for a long time is that you have an opportunity to see things play out.  You can observe parenting and then watch the “parented” children grow up.  You can see folks go from young parents to empty nesters.  You can see all sorts of people just passing through. In short, you’re around long enough for time to tell its story.  And if it told proverbs about Presbyterian church life, they might sound like this.

  1. One who speaketh in his first Sunday School class will evaporate like the morning dew.   It’s uncanny – visitors who enter by sharing their brilliance in their first Sunday School class won’t be around for long.  And, really, you don’t want them around for very long.
  2. Better an early grave than the sneer of an alpha church lady.  Thinking of confronting her? Just…

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