Tag: Gospel-centered

Author of Total Church has a new book

Tim Chester, perhaps best known in the U.S. for his book Total Church (forthcoming in U.S. by Crossway), is releasing a new book in the U.K. called You Can Change. You can Change is endorsed by Tim Keller and looks promising for equipping gospel-centered sanctification.

Here are the table of contents:

1.   What would you like to change?
2.   Why would you like to change?
3.   How are you going to change?
4.   When do you struggle?
5.   What truths do you need to turn to?
6.   What desires do you need to turn from?
7.   What stops you changing?
8.   What strategies will reinforce your faith and repentance?
9.   How can we support one another in change?
10. Are you ready for a lifetime of daily change?

You can see him discussing the book here: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LG74hvjgY74.

Preaching on Suffering

This weekend I preached a sermon on suffering (we will be podcasting soon). Not the most popular topic but one we can all relate to, eventually. The sermon was based on some research and writing I’ve been doing on Luke-Acts. In this message, I reflected on the numerous conceptual and verbal parallels between the suffering stories of Jesus and Paul.

My aim in this message was to develop a practical theology of suffering, not to deal with theodicy (the problem of evil). However, as with most of my messages, I am trying to keep the non-Christian perspective in view. What is it like for them to suffer? Well, there is a lot of overlap as well as some significant differences between how Christians and non-Christians should suffer. My main two questions were: 1) Should all faithful Christians suffer? 2) If yes, how can we suffer with purpose?

These were my closing comments:

The gospel offers us purpose in our suffering in two main ways: purpose that is redemptive and purpose that hope-giving. Suffering is redemptive for people who hope in Jesus. Purposeful suffering comes through Jesus by redeeming our pain and our sin. Through his life and death Jesus suffered and died in a way that no man will ever suffer and die again. Not only was he rejected, scorned and crucified, but he was also separated from his father’s love as he bore the weight of sin and evil in his death. As a result, Jesus can redeem your suffering by comforting you in your loss and pain. He is the “great high priest who can empathize with our every weakness.” He offers consolation, comfort, and acceptance in the midst of loss, pain, and rejection. He redeems our pain. Jesus gives your suffering purpose because he redeems it. He also redeems our sin, our escapism, our self-reliance, our bitterness, our pride by dying the death we should have died as a substitute sacrifice for our rebellion against a just God. Jesus offers us purpose in suffering by redeeming our pain and our sin. But that’s not all…

Jesus gives our suffering purpose through his resurrection. In the resurrection of Jesus we have the hope of no more suffering. Once and for all, he conquered death for all those who hope in him. In Acts 14:23, just after his stoning, Paul tells us: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” The kingdom of God is not escape from this world, an entrance into Nirvana, nothingness, but the renewal of all creation, bodies, culture and creation. The grand program of God is a new creation, and all who persevere through suffering by treasuring Christ, will inherit the world in which there will be no more sorrow and no more tears. Those who look to Jesus have hope in suffering, hope of final deliverance from all suffering and inheritance of a new creation. Our suffering is purposeful in Jesus’ redemption and resurrection, which makes him the center and source of all meaning. Ultimately, our suffering magnifies Jesus, in his death and in his life, as the King of the greatest kingdom to ever exist.

Of the three books on suffering that I read, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands was most helpful. In fact, chapter 8 from that book is worth a whole post. Remember, this sermon was not dealing with theodicy, but developing a practical theology of suffering. I read chapters from these three:

Tim Chester on Busyness

Tim Chester is co-author of Total Church

  1. Have you ever been irritated because there was a queue at the supermarket till?
  2. Do you regularly work thirty minutes a day longer than your contracted hours?
  3. Do you check work emails and phone messages at home?
  4. Has anyone ever said to you: ‘I didn’t want to trouble you because I know how busy you are’?
  5. Do your family or friends complain about not getting time with you?
  6. If tomorrow evening was unexpectedly freed up, would you use it to work or do a household chore?
  7. Do you often feel tired during the day or do your find your neck and shoulders aching?
  8. Do you often exceed the speed limit while driving?

If you mainly answered ‘yes’ then maybe you have a busyness problem.

  • Over a third of people agree that ‘in the evenings I am so tired I just fall asleep on the sofa’ (Jones, 2003).
  • One in five men has visited the doctor with work-related stress.
  • Sixty percent of us feel our workloads are sometimes out of control. One in five feel this way most of the time.

Read the rest