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CHRIS MACLEAVY Posts

2016 Reading Challenge – APRIL UPDATE

2016 is well under way, and I’m making progress on the Challenge. Finding time to read is about to become a lot more interesting, as our third child is due at the end of April. So while the next list might be shorter, I’ll continue to post updates, as (so far) I highly recommend everything I’ve read. I haven’t listed the categories that these fit into, nor have I listed the numerous comic books that I’m reading each week, nor the texts that I’m reading for study; so this list is limited strictly to the 2016 Reading Challenge. If you read (or have read) any of these, I’d love to have more conversation about them so drop me a line! Continue reading 2016 Reading Challenge – APRIL UPDATE

Communicating for a Change

Every journey begins and ends somewhere. The same should be said for every sermon. Unfortunately, what most of us grew up hearing were messages built around several points rather than one clear destination. Andy Stanley and Lane Jones explain that the point of having points is to move people systematically through an outline of information; but if life change is your goal, point by point preaching is by far the most effective approach.

I haven’t written a hundred sermons. But I know that when I write, I have a dangerous tendency to structure a sermon too much like another one of my seminary papers; and that becomes obvious the moment its read aloud. Communicating for a Change contains so many implications, insights, imperatives, and instructions (one of them is that alliterations are much less effective than you think!) for how to carefully craft a sermon that will not only engage your audience, but actually take them on a journey that they want to remain on all the way to the end.

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Pneumatology

All too often relegated to a minor role, one of the most exciting developments in 20th century theological thought is a resurgence of interest in the Holy Spirit. While historically there have been a broad spectrum of views held with regard to the person and work of the Holy Spirit, no denomination or movement can be said to hold a monopoly on the Spirit’s activity or involvement, and the Bible itself presents no systematic view of the Holy Spirit any more than it presents such a neatly delivered package on any other doctrine. In his book Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International and Contextual Perspective Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen surveys the Biblical canon (with commentary from church history) to form a solid ‘core’ for understanding the Holy Spirit. This is followed by an examination of perspectives on the Spirit from the main Christian traditions (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Pentecostal/Charismatic) with contributions from leading contemporary theologians.

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Through the Trials

I’ve just finished reading Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. Reading about his various trials made me think of what our comment as Christians would be to him. I think a lot of us would tell Mr. Copperfield that the answer to his life’s woes is to become a Christian. Now I do agree of course that we should want and encourage everybody to know Christ, but I think we tend to sell that by making promises that God doesn’t make. We have a theology that says God will give us all sorts of blessings, and it implies – if not states outright – that when bad things happen it’s because we’ve stepped out from God’s covering or we’re being attacked by the devil. Continue reading Through the Trials

Knowing God vs Knowing about God

One of the beautiful things about Christianity is learning together in community. This week, the “Christian Classics” reading group that I’m part of began reading J.I. Packer’s theological masterpiece Knowing God. This book is a must-read for every Christian. Reading a chapter a week, I’m sure this won’t be the only post written from this rich contemporary classic. In the first two chapters, Packer defends the critical importance of the study of God. Not just for the academics or pastors, but rather every Christian should earnestly desire to know all that they can about the God who has saved them. He describes the humbling experience of coming to grasp something new of all that God is and does, and the only appropriate response in our learning – that of adoration, praise, and thankfulness.

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True Worshipers

When John Calvin wrote “we should consider it the great end of our existence to be found numbered among the worshippers of God” I’m sure he wasn’t picturing an auditorium with the house lights down, the stage lights up, and a band that is working hard to ‘create an atmosphere’ where people feel drawn to worship. At a time when worship has become an industry, Bob Kauflin (pastor, songwriter, and the director of Sovereign Grace Music) presents this incredibly helpful book that connects our practices as the gathered community of God to the much bigger all-of-life reality of worship. Continue reading True Worshipers

The 2016 Reading Challenge

This year, I’m getting together with some friends to participate in Tim Challies’ 2016 Reading Challenge. It’s simple really; I love to read, but I find I always read the same stuff. Whether you’re a light reader or do nothing but read, this is a fantastic, organised way to enlarge your scope of reading across topics and genres. Within the challenge, you can choose to read 13, 26, 52, 104, or (with extra credit) 109 books over the course of the year. That challenge is appealing to me because Tim’s plan will encourage me to read different kinds of books than I might normally read.

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Taking the Lead

It seems to me that one of the big topics being taught at the moment is that of leadership. We have books on it, we have conferences on it, and it is being taught from pulpits across the world. The message appears to be that the goal is to get as far up the church organisational structure and that the best way to do that is to develop leadership skills. A measure of how good a Christian somebody is would correlate to their position in the church. It seems to me, however, that this teaching doesn’t really reflect the teaching of Christ Himself. Reading the gospels, I find Jesus spends very little time teaching about becoming a better leader, which you would think he would want to do given that he only had three years with the disciples before he was going to leave the church in their hands.

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How Siri Helps My Spiritual Life

I’m a terrible multi-tasker. As much as I’d like to think otherwise, my brain simply can’t give an adequate level of attention to more than one or two things at a time. Most of us have been there; you’re having a time of prayer and the phone rings. Immediately, I forget that I’m spending time bringing my cares to the King of the universe, and instinctively reach for my phone. The phone call ends. I go get a glass of water, walk around the house for a bit, pack up some Lego, then eventually remember that I was praying.

I’m so sorry God! I totally forgot about you!

The distractions aren’t always the fault of my iPhone however; my brain is easily distracted by a million to-do lists for work, study, family, my own interests, upcoming events, you name it. But what if there was a way that my iPhone could be better used to clear the clutter from my brain before it takes over and I forget what really matters? Here are 5 ways Siri has helped me in my spiritual life.

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The Light Has Come

In many Protestant churches – particularly those who don’t closely follow the rhythm of the traditional liturgical calendar – Advent has faded into the background, and the gap of silence between All Hallow’s Eve and Christmas Eve is filled only with the red and green consumerism that fills store shelves from November 1. But this tradition is rich with meaning and beauty that serves to enhance the significance of not only the coming that it looks back on, but also the future coming to which it points.
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