trials for license

A song with a story: It Is Well…

Last Sunday I was on the Atherton Tablelands for this year’s round of my Trials for License. A process that people who want to become ministers in my denomination are forced to endure (thus the name) during their candidacy. It was fun. The Tablelands are a nice part of the world. I spoke at the Youthgroup up there about using Facebook for Jesus, and did a couple of different sermons (one in the morning, one at night).

My morning sermon was on Psalm 122. A song of ascent. A song about the security God’s city offers his people in the OT, and I talked about how Jesus changes the idea of security and “God’s place” in the New Testament, especially in John 4 (talking to the Samaritan woman about where to “worship”) and John 14 (talking to the disciples about not being afraid because they have the Spirit).

I talked about what it means to not fear, and to put your trust in God for security in a fallen and broken world. And I talked about Horatio Spafford as an example… Horatio wrote my favourite church song of all time, a song that does stir me emotionally, mostly because I know this story, and as I sing it I marvel at his ability to write these words when he did.

Mars Hill put together (or at least uploaded) this little snap shot of the story behind the song.

Amazingly powerful stuff.

Trials and Tribulations

After a few days holidaying in Airlie Beach and catching up with friends in Townsville, which have been really nice, tomorrow sees me “trial for license” – part of the ongoing process of becoming a Presbyterian minister.

I’m preaching at a fairly old school Presbyterian Church in Townsville in front of a few members of the North Queensland presbytery who will “appraise” my performance and pass judgment on my ministry suitability.

I’m preaching on the Beatitudes. Here’s a paragraph from my sermon.

“But I want to suggest, at this point, that we’re not looking at the beatitudes right if we understand them as a set of rules to follow to be part of God’s kingdom. I grew up thinking that the word “beatitude” was a description of what these verses mean – I thought they were a set of instructions for how we should behave, and what our attitudes should be. The beatitudes. But I think the meaning of these verses does hinge on what the word beatitudes actually means. It’s latin. It means “blessings.” And it picks up on that repeated “blessed are” phrase at the start of each verse.

The beatitudes aren’t about what we have to do to be in the kingdom – and in fact, as soon as we read them that way we’re slipping into the same trap as the Pharisees. We’re making rules and regulations for belonging to the kingdom.”

Then I say that the beatitudes are about God’s blessing of us, through Jesus, whose life and ministry are modeled on the beatitudes. Doesn’t seem heretical to me… how about to you?

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