New Song: Baptised in Christ

Here’s a song based on Romans 6 from the new TCH Sheffield album, Dust to Life. I wanted to a write a song that did two things. First, I wanted a song which spoke of our union with Christ. It’s such an important theme and sadly under-represented in our range of songs. Second, it is striking how Paul makes baptism a reality which should shape our present experience as Christians. I wanted a song which expressed this. In other words, I wanted to write a song that could be sung when people are baptised, but also one which could be sung at any point since we sing as baptised people.

 

Here are the lyrics:

 

Verse 1
Baptised in Christ who died our death,
who took our sin and broke its reign,
in him we live, our lives made new,
baptised in Christ, we rise again.

Verse 2
Baptised in Christ, the old is gone,
no longer bearing Adam’s name,
no longer ruled by Adam’s sin,
baptised in Christ, we rise again.

Verse 3
Baptised in Christ who died to sin,
who rose to conquer death’s do-main,
so when he comes we’ll live with him,
baptised in Christ, we rise again.

Chorus 1
We thank you for the gift of life
to those once dead in Adam’s race.
We thank you for our life in Christ,
we thank you for your reign of grace.

Verse 4
Baptised in Christ, from sin set free,
no reason to obey its claims,
to righteousness we now are bound,
baptised in Christ, we rise again.

Chorus 1
We thank you for the gift of life
to those once dead in Adam’s race.
We thank you for our life in Christ,
we thank you for your reign of grace.

Chorus 2
We count ourselves alive to you,
we offer up the life you’ve won.
Help us to live as those made new.
help us to live in Christ your Son.

You can listen to, and purchase, Dust to Life on Bandcamp.

Continue reading

Bible Reading Plan 2017

I’ve posted this Bible reading plan before. If you’ve been using it then you’ll be interested in postcard-sized weekly reading plan for 2017.

Note: Those who have been following it this year will notice that the first reading in 2017 is a repeat of the last reading of 2016. I’m afraid that was going to happen eventually because a year is not a neat number of weeks. I suggest you do something special for a week then start with Genesis 1 at the beginning of 2o17.

Here’s the complete three year plan. And here it is in Word so you can create your own handy version of it in the future.

If you’re not reading through the Bible then the approach of the new year is a good time to review your Bible reading habits. Here are a couple of old posts on why that would be a good idea – Hearing God Speak and Must I Read My Bible Every Day?

This plan has a number of differences from other plans.

1. Flexibility

The plan specifies a number of chapters for each week rather than for each day. This makes it more flexible. You can read a chapter or two each day or you can read it in two or three sittings. Or you can set out reading a chapter a day and then catch up at the weekend. It means it fits more readily around people’s lifestyle.

2. Communal
It is designed to be followed with a partner or among a group of people. There is only one section each week (occasionally two shorter books). So you don’t have to read a section from one book and then a section from another book each day. It means the sections are somewhat uneven, but it makes it easy to discuss what you have been reading when you meet up with other people.

We’ve been using it for a year now and it works very well in this way. I meet up with a friend each week for lunch. It’s easy for us to discuss what we’ve been reading because there is only one Bible book to focus on.

It also means I only need look at the Bible plan once a week – I don’t need to refer to it each day.

3. Realistic
Following this plan you read the OT in three years and the NT twice in three years. This works out at about nine chapters a week. It means you are not rushing through what you are reading to ‘get it done’. I’ve found with other plans I tend to read it with my mind disengaged. This plan gives time to meditate on the passage.

4. Balanced
The plan balances OT history, prophecy, wisdom, Gospel and Epistles throughout the year. You move between genres so you’re never faced with reading OT prophecy continuously for six months.

Continue reading

Some ‘Amens’ on preaching

I want to add my ‘Amen’ to these points taken from a Jared Wilson post outlining 21 thoughts on preaching

11. A steady diet of “how-to” sermons doesn’t make Christianity more accessible or relevant to people; it actually, over time, burdens them and makes them feel constantly on spiritual probation.

12. It takes some people all the faith they’ve got that week to get through the church doors on Sunday morning. Why would we want to offer them anything but good news and the comfort of Christ?

19. Personal illustrations should mainly serve in the area of confession or self-deprecation. Always holding up yourself as a good example is a fantastic way to preach yourself instead of Christ crucified.

21. Passion, brother, passion. Give us your theology, yes. Don’t short-shrift us on the text. Don’t confuse yelling for preaching. That’s not what I’m saying. Give us your rhetoric and your logic sure, but give it to us affectionately.

You can read the other 17 points here.

Continue reading

The Glory of the Story Sample: Day 116 – Joseph’s final days

Reading: Genesis 50:15-26

Here is another extracts from The Glory of the Story, my father’s devotional introduction to biblical theology in the form of 366 daily readings which show how the Old Testament story is fulfilled in Christ. The Glory of the Story is available as a Kindle book for $2.99 from amazon.com and £1.99 from amazon.co.uk. I’m posting extracts from the chaper on the story of Jacob, usually on the first Monday of the month.

1. Joseph comes to terms with the past (15-21)
When their father dies, Joseph’s brothers fear Joseph might unleash his resentment upon them. It is a further testimony to the fear resulting from their guilty consciences (42:21-22, 28). They decide to make a candid plea for forgiveness and fall down before Joseph. So his earlier dream is unwittingly fulfilled and a dramatic arc cast over the whole story from chapters 37 to 50. Each part of Joseph’s reply provides a model for similar situations.

Verse 19 – He leaves the righting of wrongs to God (cf. Rom. 12:19; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Pet. 2:23). The brothers, of course, must look to God as well as to Joseph for forgiveness.

Verse 20 – He sees God’s providence in his brothers’ malice. When God works out his purposes using other people, often their intentions are the opposite of his. But God’s purposes prevail (cf. Is. 10:5-7; 45:1-6; Acts 2:23).

Verse 21 – He repays evil with good. Joseph both acts and speaks kindly. Broken spirits need to be treated gently and fearful souls assured (cf. Luke 6: 27-28; Rom. 12:21; Gal. 6:1; 1 Pet. 3:9).

2. Joseph comes to terms with the future (22-26)
Joseph has already made it clear that his future was with Israel not Egypt by having his two sons formally adopted by Jacob (48:1-6). Ephraim and Manasseh become two of the largest tribes of Israel. Joseph lives to see his great-grand-children by both sons (22-23). He directs his family concerning his death (cf. Jacob’s instructions 49:29-32), with a strong anticipation of a future exodus from Egypt: ‘God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (24) The instruction about his bones is a gesture of faith (Heb. 11:22) which would not be frustrated (Exod. 13:19; Josh. 24:32). So the prime minister does not die reminiscing on past glory, but looking forward to a new beginning. Genesis ends by pointing beyond its own story.

It will be 400 years before Joseph’s coffin is carried towards the land of promise, a stark reminder of how short-range our view of life and events often are. God’s purposes ripen as generations pass. We also are to live in hope, but our hope, like Joseph’s, is a long-term investment. The certain outcome, however, determines the way we conduct our lives now.

Closing thought
Don’t ask, ‘When am I going to get out of these troubles?’ Ask, ‘What am I going to get out of these troubles?’

Continue reading

A new song based on the Nicene Creed: We Believe

Here’s a setting of the Nicene Creed from the new TCH Sheffield album, Dust to Life. It’s really important for churches to confess together the truths of the faith and to do so in ways that express our continuity with saints across the ages. I wrote those lyrics based on the Nicene Creed in the hope it could prove a great alternative for those churches who say the Creed on a regular basis and those who should (i.e. the rest).

 

Here are the lyrics:

1. We believe in God the Father,
Lord almighty over all:
seen and unseen worlds created
by his will and at his call.
We believe in our Lord Jesus,
God from God and Light from Light.
Through him all things were created,
held together through his might.

We will worship God the Father, 
we will worship God the Son, 
we will worship God the Spirit, 
triune God, the Three-in-One. 

2. We believe in Christ our Saviour,
born of Mary, God made man.
On the cross he died to save us,
to complete the Father’s plan.
We believe he rose as promised,
conquered death, reversed the Fall.
Now he reigns and reigns forever;
soon he’ll come to judge us all.

3. We believe in God the Spirit,
who through prophets breathed God’s word:
through that word new life is given;
through that word God’s voice is heard.
We believe in baptised people,
sharing life with God above.
We await the resurrection;
we await eternal love.

You can listen to, and purchase, Dust to Life on Bandcamp.

Continue reading