Should women work?

I’m sorry, that was a deliberately provocative title. Of course they should. The real question is how should women work?

A few years ago I was asked to address this question with the ladies from my church. I asked each of them to write down on a piece of paper what they felt the most valuable thing they had ever done. I never collected the papers in, so I don’t actually know what they said! But I then passed each lady a second slip of paper. This time I asked them to write down how much they were paid for this ‘most valuable thing’. This time I did collect the papers in.

I read them out: “Nothing; nothing; nothing; nothing; nothing…” and so it went on – all eighteen women wrote exactly the same thing – apart from one who wrote ‘a box of chocolates!’

Their responses forcefully made the point I had been hoping would become clear: What work should a woman do? A woman should do the most valuable work that God equips her for and gives her opportunity to do.
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Why do you go to church?

This definately falls into the “don’t know whether to laugh or cry” category, but watch this video, and you’ll see what I mean.

But there is an important point here, isn’t there? Rather than point the finger at churches, let’s examine our own hearts. Why do you go to church? I’m sure you could give me some answers: fellowship, worship, hearing the Word read and preached. You probably know Acts 2:42 well enough to know that your answer correspond very closely to that text. And so it should.

But let’s me a bit more specific. Why did you go to church yesterday? Habit? Do take part in the service or some ministry? To meet friends? Because it was Sunday?

It’s easy to lose the big picture on a day-to-day basis, isn’t it? It would be wonderful if I could tell you that yesterday I woke up bright and early, delighted that it was the Lord’s Day, and I could spend a day set apart, worshipping Him, being with His people, speaking to others about Him, praying to Him, giving to Him, serving Him. Instead, I woke up wondering vaguely whether how many times I could afford to press the snooze button on the alarm clock.

Acts 2:42 does not only tell us how the church should behave – it tells us how we should respond. So if by the grace of God we are fortunate enough to go to a God-centered church, let’s “be filled with awe”, let’s “continue to meet together” – midweek as well as the Lord’s day. Let’s ensure we have “glad and sincere hearts”. Let’s “praise God”. And let’s do that every Sunday!

Co-operating with other evangelicals

I came across this broadcast from 9Marks Ministries this morning. It’s a a recording of a discussion made up of Ligon Duncan (Presbyterian), Al Mohler (Southern Baptist) and C J Mahaney (Sovereign Grace [charismatic]). It’s a wonderful conversation: thoughtful and challenging yet always good-humoured and sometimes actually hilarious. You can download it for free on the 9marks site, but as it is a 30meg download, I thought I’d give you a little one minute sample, which will download in a snap. The first voice you’ll hear is C J Mahaney, the rest is from the chairman, Mark Dever.

I particularly appreciated the celebration of strong convictions (something usually not heard in discussions on unity and co-operation), and the frank and very helpful discussion on why a man could preach in a church, but not be a member of it.

I preached on Ephesians 4 at the start of New Year, and verses 13-16 make it clear that true unity always goes together with maturity. Listen to this broadcast, and you’ll see why.

Worship Wars

Thankfully, it seems as though Worship Wars are starting to peter out, though occassionally some try and re-ignite them. Mark Lauterbach has a wonderfully balanced piece about these darker days. Let me give you a few excerpts, then you can read the post for yourself.

…the Gospel is a simple message and it can be applied in any culture. It is not time bound nor culture bound. Two centuries ago it showed up in hymnology. Today it is seen in the contemporary style of music.

Most of the wars about worship were about style. Sadly, no one really cared for the words being sung. Granted, much of the contemporary music being advocated was “songs that express how I feel about Jesus” — and much of the hynology had far more substance. But that was rarely the battle…

…unbelievers are not impressed with our style. What captures their hearts is not our great musical productions or coolness of music — they are captured by the love of God’s people, by their sincere and passionate joy in whatever they sing. They sense the active presence of the Spirit.

Where have all the academics gone?

Yesterday I was looking rather jealously through the list of leaders who form the council of Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Their website states their council is made up of “leading pastor-theologians who reflect major ecclesiastical and ministry networks”. That got me thinking. What equivalent do we have here in the UK?

I didn’t get much further than the word “pastor-theologians”. I know of few who could claim that title (John Stott, Donald McLeod and possibly NT Wright are three exceptions). 17 of the 22 Alliance Council members have PhDs – how many British church leaders do you know with doctorates, or even have written good solid books? Is it no wonder that the UK church is struggling, and good British theological colleges are rarer than hen’s teeth?
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Skipping church at Christmas?

There’s been a great deal of hot air generated by the number of churches who have cancelled their Christmas services. Most who have followed this route are holding Christmas Eve services instead, as those who usually attend would not be willing to attend on Christmas Day. A Willow Creek spokeswoman made this clear:

“If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don’t go to church, how likely is it that they’ll be going to church on Christmas morning?” (source: CNN)

Frankly, whether Willow Creek has its services on a Saturday or a Sunday, does not matter one iota to me. The Biblical mandate to meet on the Lord’s Day is given to the Lord’s people, not to the unchurched or to seekers.

Willow Creek and other places like it are just being true to its vision. Despite it’s name, it’s not a church – it’s an outreach centre. An frankly, an outreach centre can have its meetings on any day that it chooses.

But it’s impossible to imagine that church leaders would want to prevent people who think that worshipping God together with His people is just about the best thing they can do on Christmas day?
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UCCF and local churches

There’s an interesting interview with UCCF director, Richard Cunningham over at Adrian Warnock’s blog. It’s interesting to see Adrian’s perspective (with his roots in NFI). His comments that in the past there has been some CU’s who have not been very accepting of people from charismatic backgrounds. were accepted by Richard, which I suppose adds some balance to the fact that many reformed conservatives feel equally excluded, a point which Richard also touches on later.

But of most interest are Richard’s very encouraging answers are to do with the way that CU’s (should) relate to churches. Here are some highlights:

The Christian Unions is a partnership between students, staff and supporters all of whom are encouraged to be committed to a local church. A CU does not have the breadth and depth of age, maturity and gifting to be a substitute for church… The health of many CUs is greatly affected by the presence of lively, Bible teaching churches in the vicinity.

There are 2 main pitfalls. One is when a CU misunderstands itself and begins to ape a church by putting on more and more meetings… This could lead to some students not having enough time to get involved in a local church… The other is when a local church misunderstands the nature of a CU and criticizes the existence of student led bible study groups…

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