7/31/2011 10:41:00 pm

Women in Church Leadership

Posted by Tom French |

So over the next few weeks, among other things, I've decided to spend time thinking about women in ministry and what roles are open to women in the church. I've heard a lot of the arguments that are against female eldership in the church. I'm really keen to hear arguments for female eldership.

I know there are a bunch of you readers and friends who think women should be allowed to do everything. I really want to agree with you. I'm finding it difficult to justify biblically.

So convince me. If you use biblical arguments you'll be more convincing.

Right now, if I had to plant a church, I wouldn't have the highest levels of leadership open to women. Should I really rule out half the population?

7/30/2011 11:35:00 pm

Machette

Posted by Tom French |

I watched Machette. It was awesome.

That's all I need to say.

7/29/2011 11:20:00 pm

Father God

Posted by Tom French |

I was leaving for work this morning. And as I was walking out of the door I said to my father "Bye God." I can't remember what I was thinking about before that but I'm pretty sure it must have been God. Dad felt that I may have overestimated his role in my life.

Frued would have been pleased.

"The mechanic says, 'If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?'" - Chuck Palahniuk, "Fight Club"

I'm happy I both my dads are good. However one is better than the other and would certainly win in a fight.

7/28/2011 11:54:00 pm

John Stott - 1921-2011

Posted by Tom French |

Light Cross

“The modern world detests authority but worships relevance. Our Christian conviction is that the Bible has both authority and relevance, and that the secret of both is Jesus Christ.” - John Stott


I heard today that John Stott died. It's sad news. John Stott was one of my heros. Over the last ten years I've loved reading his books and listening to his preaching. He has been probably my favourite writer, preacher and theologian since I was introduced to his work in early 2002.

It was reading Evangelical Truth before starting bible college that I realised there were other people who believed in Jesus the same way I did. What Stott described in the book described how I felt about faith. He spoke about a faith that loved Jesus and held firmly to the Bible. A faith that was real and vibrant and tied to God's personal revelation to us through his Son and his word. I read the book and felt like I had found home.

While I never met him, John Stott always struck me as a man who I would like to be like. By all accounts he was humble, gentle and caring. I heard a story once from someone who met him at a conference that at meal times he would only take small amounts. He did this because he knew there were people in the world who didn't have enough to eat, so he would not take more than he needed in solidarity with them.

He had a great heart for the poor and was so influential in the evangelical world in showing that biblical faith is faith that loves the poor and works for justice. He showed that you did not have to sacrifice orthodoxy for justice and mercy.

Most of all he loved Jesus, and that shone through in everything he he wrote and said. He loved to show us Jesus as he showed us his word.

He also loved birds.

I am very thankful for the life and ministry of John Stott. I'm sad that he's no longer here. I very happy for him that there is no where now he'd rather be.


Quote and photo from this blog.

7/27/2011 11:33:00 pm

The Centrality of the Cross: Part One - Church

Posted by Tom French |

Light Cross

I started writing this in February last year. It wasn't meant to be huge. Then it evolved into a monster and I didn't touch it for over a year. Still I didn't want all that typing to go to waste, and I still agree with myself. So I've touched it up a bit and here is part one of my two part series on the centrality of the cross.


When I made my Hillsong post a while ago I mentioned that I thought that it was important that the Cross is mentioned in every church service. In the comments, not one person agreed with me. While this sent me into an apoplectic rage in which I blocked the IP addresses of everyone who disagreed with me and then sent letter bombs to their houses, it also got me thinking about whether or not I was just being a superstitious legalist, as if saying a particular formula of words will make a church service orthodox and pleasing to God. I went to church the next Sunday watching to see if we mentioned the cross. Happily we sung about it, and the Pastor talked about it in his sermon.

But what if it hadn't been mentioned? Would I need to start wondering if my church was a church of heresy? Would I need to sit down with my Pastor and ask him to make sure the church was preaching Jesus?

After thinking about it for a while, I'm still of the view that the cross needs to be talked about and that it should be talked about every week.

I think perhaps what I said about needing to mention the cross in every service in the Hillsong post, needs elaboration. I reckon I need to elaborate for myself, if nothing else.

For starters I want to make clear that when I say the Cross, I mean the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's short hand for the historical event where Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who is God incarnate, was put to death through crucifixion on a Roman cross, only to be physically resurrected on the third day after his death.

This event was a universe shifting occurrence. It's through of this momentous act of God that he makes peace between humanity and himself, by taking the punishment for sin upon himself. And it is out of this act that God draws his children to himself, Christ wins a bride for himself, and the Church is born.

The question is, why do I feel like this needs to be mentioned in church every time we meet together? Is this a requirement of a good church, or just an ideal to be aimed for?

To put it as simply as possible, I think it is out of the Cross that the church finds its identity, and so it needs to be regularly talked about.

But, you might say, I find my identity in where I was born, who my family is, what has happened to me, who my friends are, what job I do, what hobbies I have, what pain I have had to endure, and more. It’s not like I have to mention this every day to remain being who I am. Why should the church have to talk about its defining event every time it meets to retain its identity? Whether you mention defining events or not, they are part of you, nothing will change that.

I guess the difference is between mere history and fact and what you actually value. For instance, the fact that I was once robbed in the street when I was younger, for years had an affect on how I felt in public, and it probably still, to some degree, has an affect on how I respond in situations where I feel threatened. It is an event that is part of who I am. But that said, it’s not an event that I feel particularly attached to, and it not one that I hold on to so it can keep forming who I am.

On the other hand, when I was 18 God called me into full time ministry to young people. This too is a defining event, it has changed the course of my life. Unlike being robbed however, I want this to keep defining who I am. As soon as I forget that call, I forget why I do what I do. When I doubt why I am where I am, and if I really should be living the life I am, I go back to that event and am reminded that “Yes” this is what God called me to. It’s an event I need to keep central because it is important to my identity.

Similarly the cross is a defining event for the church. We need to keep going back to it because it informs who we are and where we’ve come from. For individuals it is important to remain vigilant in telling ourselves the stories that we want to form and inform our identity. For the church it must be doing the same thing. But more so, because a person is only one person only they, the individual, has to decide what events to draw life from, the church is made up of many individuals and all of them have the chance to speak into what should define the church. Deliberately talking about the cross regularly will help everyone in the church remember what is central to who we are. It is our story of value and identity.

Some people will ask, however, why always talk about the cross? There is more to Jesus than the cross. Similarly there is more to the church than the cross. The church needs to be focusing on Jesus rather than just the cross.

My response would be, as I think I responded in the comments, while there is certainly more to Jesus than the cross, there is never less to Jesus than the cross.

Jesus’ teaching is vital for the Christian to know how to live. His miracles point us to the marvellous kingdom that is breaking into this world. His practical love for all people gives us the example we need to go and practically love just like him.

However, it is the death and resurrection of Jesus that sets him apart from all other holy men and wise teachers who have walked the earth. It is the death and resurrection of Christ that sets God apart from the pantheon of gods who are worshiped every day all over the world.

If Jesus did not die and rise again, then his claims of divinity were misguided, and foolish. If he didn’t die and rise again, his assertion that he is the judge of the whole earth is positively foolish. If Jesus didn’t die and rise again, then the life that he calls us to becomes an impossible burden. It is only through the power of the cross that we can live as followers of Christ.

If Jesus didn’t die and rise again, then God has not come to be with us in human form, he has not fully suffered as one of us, and he has not beaten death on our behalf. If Jesus didn’t die and rise again, then God has not graciously taken our sins upon himself, and he is still holding our sins against us, storing up his wrath. He is not a loving and gracious God but an angry or unconcerned God.

There is more to Jesus than the cross, but there is never less to Jesus than the cross. Take out the cross and you have no Christ.

It’s the reason the writers of the New Testament keep coming back to the cross. It’s why Paul says: “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2

It’s why Peter says: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” – 1 Peter 1:18-21

It’s why the writer to the Hebrews says: “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant… he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” – Hebrews 9:15, 26-28

The cross is central, it defines our faith, it defines us. It puts us in our rightful place and God in his. It shows us the depths our sin and the greatness of his love. The writers of the New Testament kept coming back to the cross because they understood that there is nothing greater and nothing that helps us see who God is more clearly.

With this in mind we see that the cross is the central point in the defining narrative of the church. Out of the cross the church gains it's existence and identity. Just as any intentional community needs to remember it's defining stories, and reasons for existence, whenever it meets the church needs to be pointing itself back to its point of definition – the cross of Christ.

If we want to teach Jesus clearly, if we want to preach him faithfully, if we want churches that are centred on Jesus, then we need to always centre ourselves on the event that the Bible is centred on and on which Jesus centred himself on; his world changing, life bringing, glory radiating, sacrificial death and resurrection.


In part two I’ll look at how you keep the cross central to your teaching, using the examples of teaching on evil, dealing with other faiths, and care for the poor.

Photo by djking

7/26/2011 11:02:00 pm

Winning Strategies

Posted by Tom French |

I'm having a debate with another single guy at church at the moment about who has the better strategy for getting into a relationship.

His strategy is to wait until a woman comes to him and let's him know how much she loves him, and then they'll go out, get married and live together happily forever.

My strategy has been a little more proactive. Asking girls on dates, getting set up, going on dates, stuff like that.

The two strategies basically boil down to do nothing vs do something.

I took a poll of some single and married people last night and they all said that my strategy is better than his.

His comeback was "But look you're single and I'm single, so obviously your strategy is as effective as mine."

He has a point there.

So judging by our scientific observation of our lives, those options don't work, the answer has to lie outside of our two approaches. I wonder if there's a third strategy something that is neither doing something nor doing nothing. Therein, lies the secret to true love, I'm sure of it.

7/26/2011 10:50:00 pm

Database

Posted by Tom French |

We'll y'all seem pretty excited by the idea of me going to a database meeting. But sadly, I didn't go. I was home sick today with a case of the poos.

The silver lining to the brown cloud was that I could lie around at home and watch DVDs and stuff. And that I did. I watched Layer Cake, Hollywoodland, Q&A and two and half episodes of Friday Night Lights. I also couldn't resist spending a few hours doing work too, so I sent a whole bunch of emails. Oh and I slept on the couch and ate mashed potato. So apart from being sick, it was a pretty good day.

I went to the chemist and bought medication for my ailment, in case I was need to perform on stage at short notice this evening (turns out I didn't, funnily enough), and I decided not to become friends with the pharmacy sales assistant because poo pills are a bad foundation for friendship.

And that's the story of my day.

7/25/2011 11:34:00 pm

Social Media Lovin

Posted by Tom French |

We had a talk today at work about how we should use social media to promote work. So I decided today to have another week of blogging. This actually has nothing to do with work and doesn't promote it at all. But I was reminded that I have some social media to attend to. I'm terribly bad these days. I think it's partly because I've been spending a lot of time working in the office which doesn't give much food for blogging. I do still watch a lot of YouTube and my new friends, Vimeo. But I don't want to just post videos all the time. Anyway, I promise to blog every day this week.

I won't give you anything if I don't. You can give me grief.

Tomorrow I have nothing on my work agenda except a meeting about a database. I pretty sure it'll be awesome and I'll want to blog about it. I may even promote my workplace. "Let us minister to you, we're getting a database that's so awesome we'll know more about you than Facebook, Google and spam mailers put together!"

But just before I go, while I am blogging about blogging and videos and stuff, this video is pretty rockin'. Violent, but rockin'.

7/25/2011 12:38:00 am

Not that I know of

Posted by Tom French |

I meet a lot of new people. Often in the context of somes sort of Christian ministry. And they often ask me, "Are you married, do you have any kids?"

I almost always say, "No wife and no kids... at least, not that I know of." I always think it's funny, then I realise it's more awkward than funny for the other person and then I get awkward.

But then I forget and I say it again next time I meet someone.

7/18/2011 12:56:00 am

How to Meet the Queen

Posted by Tom French |

I've been doing more video making. This time with Bevis. We filmed last Wednesday. I finished editing today. It was all for work.

So here you go my lovely blog readers, How to Meet the Queen parts one and two. (Yeah, cop that Harry Potter, I bring out both parts on the same day!)

Part One:



Part Two:



I hope you've found it helpful.

7/16/2011 10:42:00 pm

Trolling Saruman

Posted by Tom French |

Just one more reason to love the internets:

7/14/2011 12:35:00 am

Deathly Hallows

Posted by Tom French |

Harry Potter

***Spoilers contained within***

I went and saw the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 tonight.

It was a fittingly awesome. Very dark. Very serious. It looked spectacular. Ron, Hermione and Harry are competent actors now. And the story is great.

I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this film was the pace. Generally the Harry Potter films have been about cramming as much of the story in as possible. This film they really took their time. Yates allowed for there to be plenty of silence between lines. People didn't spend heaps of time explaining things. We could take time just to watch magical visual effects and the battle of Hogwarts. It made the whole thing feel grander.

One of the things that Harry Knowles pointed out about Transformers 3 is that it takes people 3 seconds to process a shot. Which means that Michael Bay had to slow down his editing in the action sequences so that we didn't get lost. That totally changed up how Bay did action, and it made Transformers' action sequences a whole lot more fluid and comprehendible. I think it made them the best action sequences in the francise.

For Potter, I think it may have had a similar effect. The whole film felt like you could just take your time to absorb everything. It was quite special. I good way to say goodbye.

I must say, I think I may have mentioned it before, but Harry Potter is quite the Christ figure. I came out thinking "Goodness me, JK Rowling has to be a Christian."

And it turns out, she is. She said this after the last book came out "To me, the religious parallels have always been obvious, but I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going." I guess I missed that piece of news.

About her faith she said "It's something I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that's very obvious within the books." (From here).

It is tempting, as a Christian who works with young people to exploit Harry Potter's obvious Christ connection. And perhaps I will. But that always seems a bit lazy to me. I'd rather be inspired to create art that points people to Jesus and appreciate art that is inspired by Jesus than just use other people's art where Jesus makes a cameo appearance.

I guess, thinking back to where Harry started to where he's come to, it's nice. I remember someone telling me back in 2003 that when Harry Potter ends, he's going to encourage everyone worship Satan. Instead Harry Potter ends by defeating evil through sacrificial love, and not by killing his enemy through being more powerful, but by dying himself. Love wins. And as Lesley pointed out, when Harry dies, where does he end up? Kings Cross. That's pretty spectacular for a book encouraging kids to worship Satan.

Someone must have written an interesting academic thesis on it. I'd like to read it.

Anyway, it's a pretty awesome movie. It ended well. Go see it.

7/11/2011 11:10:00 pm

It's the right thing to do

Posted by Tom French |

I like the carbon tax.

I'm happy to pay more for my pollution, though I might end up ahead because of this scheme.

I'm excited about the innovation into clean energy that this should promote.

I wish we weren't so selfish and the questions weren't "How much will this cost me?" but "How can we do the right thing?"

I think Julia did well on Qanda tonight. Especially the last 10 minutes, though I think perhaps that may have been set up the the producers. Letting the last question come from that kid who is "the future", pure political gold. But she still did well, and I enjoy a big finish anyway.

I think I might eat less meat.

I'm also planning on catching the train to work tomorrow. But that might be because I enjoy the sleep in the train gives me.

7/04/2011 04:49:00 pm

Too Late Hours

Posted by Tom French |

I must secure more time for private devotions. I have been living far too public for me. The shortening of devotions starves the soul, it grows lean and faint. I have been keeping too late hours. - William Wilberforce

7/03/2011 01:33:00 am

Fancy Schmancy

Posted by Tom French |

So I bought myself a Canon 7D last Saturday. I have been thinking about buying one for about a year now. Finally I actually got around to getting it.

It's a very nice camera. Too nice for someone as unskilled as me. I got it for it's video capabilities, which are pretty sweet for a camera of it's price range. It's a DSLR camera so it's not primarily designed for video stuff. But it does do very good stuff.

When I was in the shop the woman showed me everything I needed to buy. Thousands of dollars worth of camera, lens, bags and filters. She said "Is there anything else you need?"

"I just need to know whether to buy it today or not." I said.

"Tell you what, if you buy it today I'll throw in a free dvd."

So I bought it. Who can resist a free dvd?

I went and played with it on Sunday. Me and one of the kids in the youth group made a video. I pretty much shot the video with the settings on straight out of the box. It's not a very good video but I learned a few things. Firstly I need to work on my focusing skills. Secondly, colour correction, better dynamic range and getting a good ISO is also important. But I'm looking forward to improving, which I'm sure I will.

Anyway, this is what we made.



This morning I was waiting to get picked up by Dan and April and spied some good mist, so I went and photographed it. This was one of the better ones I think. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm pretty happy with the camera.

Morning Mist

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