Posts Tagged ‘the gospel coalition’

Happy New Year to one and all! Can I start off my thanking those of you who take the time to log in and read some of my thoughts from time to time. I am constantly amazed at the numbers who read this blog from around the globe. It is with this in mind, alongside the launch of 20schemes, that this will be my last week blogging as Niddrie Pastor. I will leave this site active as a place to log on and find archives but, as of the 7th January, I will be blogging from my 20schemes site. I will keep you posted over the next week as I make the change. Can I encourage those of you who subscribe to the site to consider following me over to this new site. Thanks so much!

Now, the blogosphere is awash with reading plans for 2013 and, perhaps, the most comprehensive can be found on The Gospel Coalition website. Please click on the link here to find reading plans galore! There is also a great blog post form Matt Smethurst on the dangers of being sucked into Bible reading Plans with the wrong motivations. Worth a read here.

The Ligonier blog always comes up with the goods! Happy hunting for various plans here.

The 19th Century Scottish minister, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, (sometimes spelled McCheyne) who lived from 1813-1843, prepared a plan for Bible reading to take readers through the New Testament and Psalms twice a year, and through the rest of the Bible once each year. His plans can be accessed easily here.

Tim Chester has some great words of advice on his blog and his reading plan(s) can be accessed here. What I like about Tim’s is that it has a communal element to it (although to be honest every plan could be communal if you wanted it to). Worth a quick look though.

For a helpful perspective on the whole reading plan thing, Garrett Kell offers some honest and wise words on his provocatively entitled blog post, “Why I Plan To Read Less Of The Bible This year”. Check it out here.

My own personal plan is snappily called: Professor Grant Horner’s Bible reading System. Google it or you will find it on most of the blog sites above. I have been using the system throughout 2012. Basically, I read 10 chapters a day from various parts of the Bible. I have worked out that I have read the entire Bible at least 3 and a half times this past year. That’s probably more than I did in the whole of the previous 5 years! I admit that the early weeks were a struggle but, with perseverance, I managed to stick to the plan with amazing ease. I have found it particularly helpful to be able to download the plan onto my iPhone. You can download that here. As usual, the great Tim Challies has produced a list of resources to go along with the plan. These can be found here. Finally, for mutual encouragement and accountability you can access the Facebook page here.

No, it hasn’t made me Godlier or holier and no I don’t think Jesus likes me better than  people who’ve struggled through their devotions this year. At times it has been a chore but after the first few weeks I really got into the groove. Now, I didn’t use it devotionally but instead just read the chapters through at normal reading speed. Like a spiritual shower if you will! Besides this reading I followed my own personal, spiritual routine which enabled me to soak a little longer in the bath! I just found the habit of constantly reading scripture daily nice – that’s all. What I found helpful, particularly when I went through a spiritual ‘dry patch’ in terms of my own devotions, was that I was at least reading huge chunks of scripture as a matter of coarse even when I didn’t really feel like it. Make of that what you will but the point is my head was in the Bible rather than in the TV when I was having some tough times. Remember our faith rests in Christ and not on how we do in these things. Let’s all guard our hearts and watch our motivations.

I hope that we will all grow in truth and grace in 2013 as we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The ironic thing about this video is I am uploading it at 4:30am because I can’t sleep. Although, in my own defence, I am in America and 5 hours out of sync with my body clock. Enjoy this discussion on why so many of us are tired all the time. Challenging stuff personally as I work in Niddrie, train leaders and seek to establish 20 schemes as a ministry in Scotland. I may have to buy a gun and go squirrel hunting!

I was encouraged to see Thabiti Anyabwile give a shout out to the work of 20Schemes on his blog recently. Check it out here. We are praying for a new wave of gospel workers and church planters to come and help us establish healthy, gospel centred churches in Scotland’s housing schemes.

A great little article from the Gospel Coalition site on this topic. Click here.

This is an older video but I have to say that when I was at the 2012 event it was incredible to be in a stadium with 9000 (mainly) men and women singing hymns to the glory of God. It was an amazingly powerful and emotional experience.

Bob Kauflin makes some interesting points about worship at the TGC events in the USA. Definitely worth clicking on! Listen out for the most bizrre squawk at 4:40..


Have a good day!

I am a (very convinced) Reformed Baptist, ministering and working in an independent Evangelical Church. I have even written a short book on preparing people (confessing believers) for baptism. Since my move to Scotland 5 years ago I became aware of ‘Presbyterians’ of all shapes and forms. Free Church, C of S, Continuing Free, United Free Church of Scotland, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Are there more? Probably. Now, I have to confess my complete ignorance of all things Presbyterian before my arrival. My only experience of this denomination was in Brazil where, I have to say, they are doing an extremely credible job in producing serious theological study. In Scotland, however, the reputation was of people not allowed to get the bus on a Sunday, who don’t celebrate Christmas and don’t like musical instruments. So, not very ‘free’ at all then.

So, what have I learned during my stay here? I have discovered, firstly, some very good, and supportive, friends within Free Church circles in particular. I have met several outstanding men who reached out to me in the early years here and continue to be a real encouragement to me when we (all too rarely) meet up. I have met men committed to the spread of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ around our nation. I have met serious men with serious theological foundations. You know, I am sure there are some clowns in the Free Church, but let me guarantee that I know there are some clowns in the Baptist Church. People who want to fight over the last vestiges of tradition and wrap it up under the term ‘conviction’. People who want to shoot theological arrows across the denominational divide whilst Scotland burns. But, in the main, and in my experience, they are men with whom I’d gladly take my stand in the fight for souls in this nation.

Why am I writing this article? Primarily because I was reminded this week about just how gracious and thoughtful debate can be between Baptists and Presbyterians in an article published on The Gospel Coalition blog by Kevin DeYoung. Entitled, ‘Putting in a good word for Presbyterianism’ it argues the case for Presbyterian church polity. As a congregationalist (of sorts) I found the following paragraph quite enlightening and thought provoking.

I wonder if a latent Presbyterianism is already present, in practice, in many Congregational churches. Is there not an assumed intermediary step whereby the disciplinary matter is brought to the elders before it is told to the whole church? Few churches, I imagine, ask for conflicts and sins to be aired ex nihilo before the whole congregation without first having been handled by the elders. And yet that’s what Matthew sounds like if ekklesia means the whole gathered assembly. Even in Congregational churches the “tell it to the church” step usually means “tell it to the elders, who deal with the case for several months or years and then at a later juncture will bring their recommendation to the congregation to ratify their decision.” The Congregational process is similar to the Presbyterian process except the former ends with a congregational vote and includes an extra step in the discipline that, on their understanding, Jesus makes no mention of in the text.

Yes, I know it’s about polity but it did get me thinking (at least in mt own case) about how far away I am from my brothers in so many areas. Yes, I know wars have been fought over this stuff but that was another time. If the Tron debacle is going to teach us anything it is that we evangelicals of all stripes are going to have to start playing well together, and that means more than just sitting around a table and calling one another brother. Am I saying, let’s throw our convictions out of the door? Of course not. But I am saying the (metaphorical) Indians are circling the evangelical wagons in our country and they are picking us off with every attack. How ridiculous it sometimes seems to be that we are still trying to sort out who wants to use what weapon, what armour should we wear and how best to organise the defences. If you click on the TGC link to DeYoung’s paper and scroll down to the comments you will find the usual suspects turning it into a theological war across the denominational divides. But if you look closely, toward the top, you will see a two-line comment from a certain well-known Baptist that gives me hope for a continued spirit of mutual respect and collaboration. This is a great example of how we can love and support one another without feeling like we’re selling out.

2oSchemes is coming to Scotland and it may work and it may not. One conviction driving this Reformed Baptist is that I want to serve, love and find resources for any and all congregations committed to planting and revitalising a gospel centred, biblically healthy church. I know for a fact that this is going to mean working with Presbyterians of all stripes because many such congregations straddle schemes in this country. What will this collaboration look like? I have no idea. Will it work? I have no idea. Let me be clear, I want to plant Reformed Baptist churches and I will if I have to. But, I would prefer by far to strengthen existing gospel churches of all stripes and denominations. This is going to cause us a huge headache. The easy option is the planting option. But I am hopeful and prayerful that with a spirit of generosity and mutual ‘grace’ we can bring and/or strengthen gospel light in many dark communities around Scotland.

Pray for us.

There is a great article here published on The Gospel Coalition website here. Missions, training and church planting, particularly, do not have to be the domain of large churches. We are one of the smallest churches in the city (60 members) and I would hazard a guess that we offer one of the largest training places in Scotland for our type of ministry (9 full time trainees/workers and 1 church planting family). It’s hard work and messy but it can be done! Matthew Spandler-Davison (the author) and I are in the process of forming a new mission – Urban Impact Missions – with the sole purpose of recruiting, training and sending our church planters and women’s gospel workers into the housing schemes of Scotland. We want to see a gospel movement started in these desperate and forgotten places. There will be more to follow on this once we establish in more detail our aims and objectives and register our charity on both sides of the Atlantic. Please pray for us as we seek God’s glory in dark places.

I am still mulling this over in Niddrie. I am so slow to baptise here, largely because I fear doing it falsely and we end up with a community of people who ‘got baptised at the mission’ but are now nowhere with the Lord. we have seen so many profess faith over the years but 90% are nowhere. This is an ongoing battle. The attraction of baptising more people and we could baptise many) is that it makes look like a ministry is more successful and fruitful than it really is. One of the dangers, at least in my mind, of spontaneous baptism is that people do it in ‘the moment’ and don’t really count the cost of what it truly means to follow Christ and declare allegiance to Him publicly. Take a look at see what you think.

Or so goes the (somewhat daft) saying! I don’t publish too much on the issue of singleness and dating on this blog. It’s not that I have nothing to say but it is just such an emotive subject that pretty much every ‘single’ person I know will be assuming I am talking about them (which I am not). The Gospel Coalition blog has discussed the issue under the heading: “Do Looks Matter?” Read it here. It takes an interesting angle despite that fact that the piece is somewhat blown by the “pretty” couple (perfect hair, teeth etc) in the frame. I do hope they were being ironic.

Is there a “Mr or Mrs Right” out there for everyone? I don’t know. I’m not even sure I even believe in the term. There are lots of “Mr and Mrs Imperfect” out there. The question is can we learn to love and appreciate somebody who doesn’t match our expectations 100%? I know those who can’t – and they remain single. I know those who can and have learned to deeply love and appreciate one another.

I want to say that singleness is not the end of the world but I know that this is a truism seldom proffered by single people. However, it is not a disease. It’s even biblical for some! Many people set the bar too low when it comes to looking for a soul mate. On the other hand, far too many set the bar impossibly high.

Should looks come into it? Of course they should. I know I’m supposed to be all pastoral and say that it’s the inside that counts. But who wants to live with a gargoyle for the rest of their lives? The problem comes when looks are in the driving seat. When finding perfection becomes the main thing. “Well, I know someone who’s found a smoking hot girlfriend and she’s deeply spiritual,” I hear you cry. That’s a lie. We’re all ugly and damaged somewhere. The fall and our own selfish, sin stained hearts have seen to that. Even the pretty people have to fight off the ugliness at some level. Once the novelty of perfect teeth and great legs has worn off what are you left with? That’s the question. Can you learn to love that imperfect soul that lies within? Because if that is too ugly or deeply scarred then that’s when the real problems are going to begin. Real beauty will always rise to the fore even as father time does his work as the years roll by. Love at first sight is great for the movies but the reality is that intense expressions of love are forged through the trials and battles of a life together.

It’s always good to remind ourselves of the gospel when thinking of about this issue (any issue for that matter). Ugly, rotten sinners like you and I, with no beauty or attractive features, saved by King Jesus. Remember He chose us in our fallen state. He chose to love us in our ugliness. I, for one, am glad of His immeasurable grace and deep love in my life. It reminds me that any love I possess within is the result of His continuing work in my life and not because I am such a wonderful person.

A thoughtful post here from Kevin DeYoung on this question.