Catching the Wave

catchingthewaveNo new Coffee with the King devotional today, but still some reading for you – with an extract from my new book (see below). It was released this month by Inter-Varsity Press (UK), entitled Catching the Wave: Preaching the New Testament as Rhetoric. So expect to see plenty of shameless self-promotion over the next few months, since Christian publishers these days rely on authors to do a lot of the marketing!

Who’s the book for?

The primary audience is pastors and regular preachers who want to learn how to harness the power of the biblical text in their preaching. A great Christmas gift idea for your pastor!

However, non-preachers might also find it helpful as an  introduction to the ancient rhetorical principles and techniques used by the New Testament writers – and how it helps us understand and more faithfully apply NT epistles.

Although the content is still a bit nerdy, it’s written in a conversational tone and relatively free of the pretentious footnotes that were essential for the academic version published in 2014. This one’s for normal people (sample extract below.)

At the moment, the best place to buy it (for price and delivery time) seems to be the Book Depository online. I have limited stock myself, with more coming in a couple of weeks.

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Hannah’s Song – Part Five (1 Sam 3)

We’re  continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.

Today, we come to the outworking of Hannah’s song: where her little story and God’s big story intersect. It’s a famous one – a Sunday School favourite. That’s because the central human character is a child. But there’s something quite profound going on in the story.

1 Samuel 3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

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Hannah’s Song – Part Four (1 Sam 2)

We’re  continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.

God the great reverser

As we saw yesterday, God is the great rescuer. Having been rescued, we become part of God’s rescue plan. But Hannah’s song also praises him as the great reverser. That is, those who are powerful but unfaithful will be brought low; those who are weak but faithful will be raised up to be used in God’s service:

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Hannah’s Song – Part Three (1 Sam 2)

We’re  continuing in our series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. If you’re just joining us, it’s probably best to begin with the first post in the series, last Wednesday.

God the great rescuer

As we saw last Thursday, Hannah’s song connects her story with God’s story: the story of God the great rescuer, and the great reverser. We’re going to look at these two themes now.

Firstly, God has rescued her from suffering and humiliation. And so she sings about the God who’s in the business of rescuing; rescuing on a much grander scale. She starts like this, about her own story with God:

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Hannah’s Song – Part Two (1 Sam 2)

Yesterday, we began a series in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel. We looked at Hannah’s story (read it now to catch up if you missed it) and noticed that God cares about more than just ‘the world’ in general. He cares about us as individuals. But, of course, there’s also the other side of the coin, which we’re focusing on today. God’s concern for the world.

The song of Hannah: God cares about the world

So what does Hannah do next in the story? Well, she fulfils her vow – as painful as it would have been. She brings Samuel as a young boy to the temple, to live there with Eli and be trained in God’s service.

1 Samuel 1:21-28 When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22 Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”
23 “Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
24 After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25 When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

And when she does this, she sings a song about God. A song in response to all that God has done for her.

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Hannah’s Song – Part One (1 Sam 1)

We begin a new series today, in the first three chapters of 1 Samuel.

As humans, we have an inbuilt desire to connect our own, personal story to a much larger story. To see where it is that we fit. To understand how the narrative of my life finds its place amongst the life of my family, my community, and my world.

It’s why some people are so passionate about tracing their family tree. It’s why many children who are adopted seek out their birth parents. It’s why we bother learning history at school. We’re fuelled by a need to see in some way where our story fits into a much bigger story.

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Romans 8:28-39 recap (Part Twelve)

The final post in our series on Romans 8.

You’ve probably noticed by now that there was a lot of theology packed into the dozen verses we’ve looked at over the past week. And as good students of the Bible, we’ve spent some time dissecting them in the lab so we can learn about how the passage was put together. But just like biologists, although we’ve learned a lot from the dissection process, at the end of it we’re still left with a dead animal splattered all over the workbench. In some ways, the life can be taken out of the text.

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Romans 8:35-39 (Part Eleven)

Last week we saw Paul arguing for his thesis that God is working all for our good. We can be confident in the future hope Paul spoke of earlier in the chapter because:

Argument 1: God is in charge of the process from start to finish. It’s an unbreakable chain – those he foreknew will one day be glorified.

Argument 2: The cross demonstrated that God is on our side, and that he’s invested so much in us already that he’s hardly going to change his mind now. What’s more, we have the risen Jesus as our defence attorney.

Today, we come to his final argument, in the last five verses of the chapter:

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