Here are the details of two conferences in March at which I’m speaking …
I was speaking at a conference recently and said the following. Legalism says, ‘You should not …’ while the gospel says, ‘You need not …’. In other words, the gospel does call us to a certain way of life, but it enables to embrace that life as bigger and better than the false promises of sin. Someone emailed to ask how this applied to reading the Bible every day. Should we stop saying, ‘I must read my Bible everyday.’ Should we say instead something like ‘I want to read my Bible everyday.’ Here’s how I answered.
Consider what is meant by the phrase ‘I must read my Bible every day.’ Is it the equivalent of saying, ‘I must drive within the speed limit’ or is it the equivalent of saying ‘I must eat every day’? The former is legalism. The latter is true godliness. We read the Bible because it nourishes us and because it tastes like honey.
That said, I do think there is a place of duty (otherwise we might end up only doing the right thing when we feel like it). I sometimes distinguish between ‘bad duty’ (i.e. Pharisaic legalism) and ‘good duty’ (which is from faith). Good duty is faith saying, ‘I don’t feel like doing this, but I believe that if I do it then I will find blessing.’ In the case of reading the Bible, faith-based duty might say: ‘I don’t feel a hunger for God’s word at the moment, but I believe that if I read it then it will produce faith, and faith will give me a delight in Christ and hunger for more of him.’ So in practice I read my Bible each day whether I feel like it or not. (But if I miss a day then I don’t make a big effort to catch up because the point is not ticking off a list of chapters, but encouraging faith.)
Another way of looking at this is to encourage people to read their Bibles by highlighting how it is a solution. ‘Do you feel spiritually dry?’ ‘Do you feel anxious?’ ‘Do you feel despondent?’ And so on. The answer to these issues is faith in Christ and embracing the treasures that are in him. And faith comes by hearing (or reading) the word of God (Romans 10:17).
See also this post on Hearing God Speak.
I’ve always thought someone should write a book or blog entitled ‘Missional church – by those who have to clear up afterwards.’ This book is not quite this. It is more ‘Missional church – by those with children in tow’.
It’s a series of reflections on being missional while caring for young children. It’s full of practical wisdom and inspiring stories.
I did find it light on theology. There are some proof texts, but little serious engagement with Scripture. Indeed stories of direct words from God out-number passages expounding Scripture.
Nevertheless I’m sure it would be an encouragement to many missional mums.
The book is entitled The Everyday Gospel: A Theology of Washing the Dishes and it’s published by 10OfThose.
One of the things I stress in my book on busyness is the importance of sleep. We are finite creatures and we need to accept our finitude. One key aspect of this is our need for sleep. It’s very easy for Christians to spin rhetoric about the merits of getting up early to pray or staying up late to study. But to resist our God-given need for sleep is to reject our finitude and think we can be gods. God gave us 24 hours each day and the need for sleep. If you feel the need to cut back on sleep so you can do more then you’re trying to do more than God expects of you. The question is Why?
Here is my favourite kind of article – one that confirms my prejudices! It highlights research that shows that cutting back on sleep is bad for us.
On 16 October my book Ordinary Hero: Living the Cross and Resurrection in Everyday Life will be published in the US for the first time from The Good Book Company.
Here’s a three-minute video of me talking about it.
Here’s what some nice people say about it.
Tim Chester is rapidly becoming one of the leading young English- speaking Christian writers. His prolific work has an accessible style which has clarity and is very thought-provoking. This book is no exception. Tim encourages us to live heroic but ordinary lives that are full of the extraordinary hope that comes from believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. –Adrian Warnock, blogger and author of Raised With Christ: How The Resurrection Changes Everything
Tim Chester brings us to the foot of the cross and challenges us to live our lives from there. In his direct and yet compelling style, Chester writes with real insight and honesty into the struggles of the Christian life and with a vivid hope for its joys. He shows again and again the way in which the cross of Christ not only showers on us the grace of forgiveness but also teaches us how to live. –Dr Michael Jensen, Lecturer in Doctrine, Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia
This impressive book emphasizes what really matters that the truth of the cross and resurrection is to be lived as well as believed. Tim writes with a simplicity and directness that demonstrate how the cross and resurrection impact every corner of our lives and set us free to live as we should. If you read each chapter slowly and prayerfully, and determine by God s Spirit to follow what the Bible teaches, you will be on track to live a life of true discipleship. –Jonathan Lamb, Langham Partnership
Essentially, while the ESV Study Bible focuses on exegesis, the Gospel Transformation focuses on biblical theology and gospel-centred application. It is perhaps an over-simplification, but the ESV Study Bible will address the question, ‘What does this mean?’ while the Gospel Transformation will address the question, ‘What does this mean today?’ (Click here for a fuller comparison.)
The introduction says: “The goal of the Gospel Transformation Bible is twofold: (1) to enable readers to understand that the whole Bible is a unified message of the gospel of God’s grace culminating in Christ Jesus, and (2) to help believers apply this good news to their everyday life in a heart-transforming way.” (vii)
Each chapter has notes which show how the passage points to Jesus. “It should be emphasized that placing every text in its redemptive context does not mean that every text mentions Jesus. Rather, every text relates some aspect of God’s redeeming grace that finds its fullest expression in Christ.” (viii) So this is not just a matter of identifying speculative allegories, but instead showing how “God’s Word predicts, prepares for, reflects, or results from the person and/or work of Christ.” (ix) The application is not simply about identifying What and Where to put the Word into practice, but also Why and How. This involves emphasizing the motivation and power of grace.
I have not read all the notes, but what I have read looks good. It reflects good Christ-centred biblical theology.
My complaint would be that at times the notes appear somewhat thin. Perhaps this is inevitable – otherwise the resulting book would be very thick! I had a particular look at a couple of books I’m working on – 1&2 Samuel and Titus. The comments on Samuel are good, but they tend to comment on the story as a while without much engagement with the text itself. My fear is that this will make the comments ‘samey’ without the colour and texture that the text itself brings. Again the comments on Titus are good, but somewhat thin. For example, the only comment on the crucial agenda-setting introductory paragraph of Titus is “Opening”!
But as a guide to the general reader the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible will be a great help. I already know who I’m giving my copy to.
You can make up your own mind with this 70-page sample or watch this introductory video …
Here’s a fascinating and disturbing article (and be warned – it is disturbing) on the prevalence and impact of viewing porn among teenagers written by the former editor of the UK ‘lads mag’ Loaded. The article is from the online edition of the Daily Mail which seems to have missed the irony of juxtaposing this article with a side column full of salacious celebrity gossip!
The Guardian newspaper has an interesting collection of visual representations of the Bible data (of varying value). My favourite is the first which shows the extent of biblical inter-textuality. The chapters of the Bible are represented along the bottom and every cross-reference is represented as an arc between the two chapters. The colour varies depending on the proximity.