A publisher's poor pitch: John Owen's work on the Spirit

The only gripe I have with Christian Focus Publication's edition of John Owen's work on the Spirit, The Holy Spirit--His Gifts and Power, is the blurb--which Owen didn't write of course!

How did the publisher ever expect it to get wide readership amongst one of its biggest target audiences today, Pentecostals and Charismatics--those who need to read this book the most--when they've pitched their back of cover thus:

"The fraud and manipulation, which abounds in the church under the pretence that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, make this book required reading. Things excellent in themselves and acknowledged by all Christians are often counterfeited; the more worthy any thing is, the more destructive is the abuse of it.
All believers must "try the spirits" because false prophets and false teachers deprive us of liberty. Some people claim to know the Spirit's inward enlightenment, but the darkness of Satan fills their imaginations. This false light is of no use to the souls of men; it is in opposition to Christ and his work. The only way to tackle this is by giving a plain and scriptural account of the nature and work of the Holy Spirit..."

The vast majority of the actual book (in Owens tone) comes across much more neutrally than this--I.e directed at every Christian, not just targetting the deluded believer or the false teacher. It is applicable to everone (Owen of course wrote before Pentecostalism existed), and it is broard in it's appeal and relevance, comprehensive on the whole topic, and targeted at general understanding.

So why create unnecessary resistance with a lead sentence using words like "fraud" and "manipulation"?!?!

The other issue is the Old English. What average Evangelical can cope with it? It needs to be made more accessible to your average Pentecostal Joe.

Thus even more reason for me to get my act together on my blog for Pentecostals and Charismatics with serial summaries!

YAY! I love a good reason to Talk Pentecostalism!

Prayer hints for the sleepless & copeless

This is awesome.

10 prayer hits that are just what we helpless and copeless need to plaster onto every wall -- home, work and shed!

For a quick taste, here are her ten leading sentences...

10. Stop feeling guilty about not praying well.
9. Thank God for things.
8. Don't stop be interested in your godliness.
7. Expect to pray short prayers.
6. Pray for your friends, family, church and government leaders.
5. Choose a time when you might actually remember to pray and try and plan to pray then.
4. Keep asking God to help you to trust him, and to teach you how to trust him in your situation.
3. Read the Bible.
2. Pray with someone.
1. Pray.

Thank you Jennie Baddeley!!!

Vanity of the mind

"Almost all that we see or hear is vain" says Owen, describing the world as full of what has it's source in people themselves; the mind is the source of all vanity with which everything is now overflowing.

As a Christian what I find challenging is tending to all the remains of this pride still evident in my thinking.

How do I do this?

At the very least I'm planning on continuing to read John Owen... Could do far worse I'm sure. But rubber needs to hit the road too, right, somehow?!

Growth in grace

John Owen says "Growth in grace depends on the use of grace".

He references 2 Peter 1:

5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

I know I've been extremely slothful in many godly virtues for many years, at the same time though wanting to grow spiritually!?!

Doing nothing while wanting God to do something seems to be the folly he's targetting.

But what do you think? Is there a balance to this, or a tension to hold together with this? Or should I just face up to my own lack of effort?

The Holy Spirit by John Owen

John Owen (1616-1683) is one of the best known Puritans, meaning I
probably don't need to introduce you to him.

But what I would love to introduce you to and strongly recommend is
his book, The Holy Spirit--His gifts and Power:

It is a seriously excellent treatment of the subject, being both
comprehensive and concise, refreshing and deeply challenging.

I lost my first copy on holidays in Sydney and straight away ordered
another one from Amazon which I now have for $20-something including

It is so good I'm tempted and now seriously contemplating serially
blogging short summaries and reflections on route during my second
read through...

Stay tuned at Talking Pentecostalism.

A list of Paul's prayers, side-by-side

It is such a worthwhile exercise to get all of Paul's actual prayers, put them side-by-side and read and reflect on them all together in one go. Here's a list i've put together. What we can learn from this for our pray is mind boggling. All of these prayers I think are for Christians, except for this first one. Even that says a lot!

Romans 10
1Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

Romans 15
5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 13
7Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.

Ephesians 1
15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[1] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 3
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[1] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Philippians 1
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.

Colossians 1
9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[2] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption,[3] the forgiveness of sins.

1 Thessalonians 3
9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

1 Thessalonians 5
23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

2 Thessalonians 1
11With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.[1]

2 Thessalonians 2
16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

2 Thessalonians 3
2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

2 Thessalonians 3
16Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

New issues & advice for grads | 21 modern proverbs for young adults

Workplace growth

  • How you respond to your boss is more important than clearing your in-tray;
relationships are the most important aspect of work.

  • Choose a job to be a Christian, not to have a career;
a Christian mindset is all about your motives.

  • Don’t go near Facebook at work;
holiness is about the things you don’t do that others do.

  • Keep going to op-shops and packing your lunch;
being difference is about all the little things people don't notice. 

Financial growth

  • Give a % of your income and increase that % the more you earn;
don’t go backwards in the grace of giving.

  • Leave your credit card at home & clear it straight-away on every use;
credit is addictive and deceptive.

  • Let your wife allocate & process your giving payments;
giving is a gift, so delegate it.

  • Every time you treat yourself to a new bestseller, spoil someone with a recent favourite;
do something about your sources of pride.

Personal growth

  • Expect more than a prang or two and a few parking fines;
you will experience significant difficulties and troubles ahead.

  • Don’t spend time listening to yourself or looking at yourself in the mirror;
you are your worst enemy.

  • Read authors you disagree with;
it helps to assume you've got at least 10% of everything wrong.

  • Whatever you want to do at the end of your life, begin it now;
if it’s worth doing, it’s worth starting on it sooner.

  • Get some ducks and draw more;
if you loved it as a kid you could do with it as an adult.

Relational growth

  • Choose friends unlike yourself;
if you know only your counterparts you’re surrounded only by your weaknesses.

  • Get to know your neighbours;
it's those in front of you that are hardest to love and who need you most.

  • When you marry you will meet yourself and your own ungodliness;
God gives us spouses to help us grow up.

  • Find a baby sitter and pay her well;
it’s better to invest in time and people than the stock market.

Spiritual growth

  • Get the audio Bible and get really used to it;
use technology to make your life deeper, not more shallow.

  • Put prayer into your early morning coffee ritual;
don’t let your top priorities compete – combine them and you’ll get both done. 

  • Leave the TV off more often and don't turn up the music;
fighting through your nothingness is your best opportunity every day.

  • Schedule time and reminders to think about the End;
being a Christian is harder than any job you will ever have.

Two young ministers

I've been emailing Dr Paul Barnett (now retired Bishop of North Sydney) and Dr Peter Jensen's (currently Archbishop of Sydney) Diocesan Registrar and Archbishop's Executive Officer, Dr Philip Selden!

They have graciously allowed me to publish their co-authored book of 1973, The Quest for Power | Neo-Pentecostalism and the New Testament.

In a series of posts featuring consecutive exerpts from the chapters and appendices of the book I've been able to re-publish the complete book.

The re-publication of this book on my site Talking Pentecostalism has been well received and welcomed, since this book is now out of print, and largely inaccessible within and outside of Australia, and some who are well read in the authors' other writings did not even know that they had produced this work in their earlier years.

The Quest for Power is particularly concise and Barnett and Jensen's insightful comments are now accessible to all. I have no doubt that they are already proving to be extremely helpful for my audience, and will continue to be so.

So I just want to say a huge "thank you" to Paul Barnett and Peter Jensen!  It is very much appreciated and I pray that God continues to spread the effect of your work and writing far and wide with his blessing.

The back blurb is now quite funny:

"In this book two younger Australian ministers, who are involved in theological teaching, share insights which have arisen out of practical experience at St. Barnabas, Broadway, where they exercise a team ministry. It is their desire to relate the truth of the New Testament to the claims of the neo-pentecostal movement."
Younger ministers indeed... in 1973! :)

To have a look, even read the thing, it's all here.

Now there's no excuse...

I've been meaning to finish reading John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion for 4 years now!!!

But one awesome recent find for my iPhone has now given me no excuse...

'Audiobooks Free' is an application that's given me the whole darn thing on my head phones... That and much, much more. You can browse the hundreds of free audios by author or genre. And all of it is the very classics and ancient texts or pieces of antiquity that you've always 'in your dreams' wanted to be able to access easily and get time to read.

So next on my list is Augustine's City of God, then it's Eusebius' History of the Christian Church.

But for now I'm midway through listening to Calvin's first book, and of course, still going... Makes washing the dishes every night even more enjoyable. I'll be at it for weeks and months I'm sure. But don't worry: I'm sure to get there before another 4 years slips by?!?!

The ultimate system for audio Word junkies

I've been a junkie of the audio Bible since casette tapes. I wore through a couple of sets of NIV audio New Testaments until I invested in excess of $200 on the whole NIV Bible on CD. That was a big investment at age 18 but they've been invaluable to this day, and still going strong, lap after lap, some 13 yrs later.

But my best mate and cousin Jim has just recenly sold me on a set of ESV MP3s that gave me the whole bible on my iPhone for only $20. Now I'm a junkie like never before!

Not only do I have the audio Bible without backgroung music, I've found the ESV translation excellent to listen to even though I've found it hard to get into when reading the text from a hard copy.

But in addition, having the ESV app right there on my iPhone means that wherever I am I can always have the option to follow along with the text while listening. These two working together, the ESV iPhone app combined with the MP3 audios from the iPod, with the absolute portability and ease of use of the iPhone, makes it the ultimate system for junkies of the audio Word. I've always got my phone with me. Now I've also always got my audio and text Word systems with me to pull out within seconds notice.

Now my son Elijah at age 5 can get his hands on all my CDs, not just Matthew or Mark if I'm feeling generous.

No singing John 3:16!?

Why don't I know any tune to John 3:16?! It's probably the most famous verse in the Bible but that doesn't make it any easier to teach to 3 and 5 year-olds. But not even Colin Buchanan has put it to song!

Would be the first verse I'd put to music if I could 1. Write music, 2. Sing and 3. Keep it simple enough for kids.

I find teaching memory verses to children really hard. So if anyone out there knows him, please put in a request to Colin for me would you? Pretty please?