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The Foundation of Orthodoxy & Orthopraxy

Live Life! God's way

What is the foundation for orthodoxy and orthopraxy? In other words, what do right doctrine and right practice rest upon? The apostle Paul answers this question in verses 11-14 of Titus chapter two.

He has been urging teaching, teaching that lines up with sound doctrine (orthodoxy) but is evident through sound living (orthopraxy). There’s a clear word of instruction from the Lord through his apostolic servant that Titus is to dispense to the congregations scattered across the island of Crete. Our recent posts have explored the conduct of older men, older women, younger women, and younger men, and even slaves. All this teaching is to be affirmed and confirmed through the exemplary conduct and convictions of the missionary-equipper, whom we know as Titus!

Why teach these groups? Why insist on evident gospel-centred living in the lives of those who profess to know God? The whole foundation of Paul’s ministry is…

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Live Life! God's way

integrity – definition – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness: “he is known to be a man of integrity

If there is one quality that seems to be in short supply today, it is the quality of integrity. Every day our news media feeds dump more stories about this lack in a variety of people in a variety of spheres. Politicians, preachers, educators, etc–the list varies from day to day but the core issue remains the same.  ‘Mr. X has resigned due to …..’ ‘Mr. Y has stepped down after…..’

Honest? Strong Moral Principles? Morally Upright?

So how will this be achieved? Why does Paul, the apostolic foundation-layer call Timothy to seek men who are respectable? Why does reputation matter?

A lack of respect for the messenger translates into a lack of respect for the message. A leader doesn’t cease to be a…

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The Appointment of Elders

Live Life! God's way

As the Apostle Paul hands off ministry responsibility to one of his ministry successors, he tasks him with the pivotal responsibility of appointing elders. Every local gathering of God’s people requires oversight.

Paul was a foundation layer (Ephesians 2:20) for the church. His doctrine and practice along with that of the other ‘usual suspects’ namely Peter, James, John, etc provided a foundation for the church from the 1st century until now.  We are long past the foundation stage of the church. The building, being erected of living stones, continues to be built as the Master Builder, Jesus Christ, continues to construct people into a hell-defying assembly!

The essential task of leadership selection and appointments must occupy a portion of every current leader’s attention. The next generation of leaders must be called, equipped and tasked with furthering the work of the gospel locally, nationally and internationally.

Titus was to follow a…

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So, How Many Angels Can Dance On the Head of a Needle?

Study & Teach God's Word

Scholars, at times, ask and explore silly questions! The classic medieval question often cited as being a prime example of ‘wasted thinking’ was ‘How many angels can dance on the head of a needle?’ Isaac D’Israeli, the father of British Prime Minister Benjamin D’Israeli, lampooned the Scholastic philosophers of the late Middle Ages, notably Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224-1274), who was famous for debating metaphysical fine points. In several volumes, Aquinas discussed several propositions about the nature of angels.

Perhaps Thomas á Kempis was thinking of such wasted mental energy when he wrote, “What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters when our ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment Day? Neglect of things which are profitable and necessary and undue concern with those which are irrelevant and harmful are great folly.”

The Bible gives us clear direction as to the substance of our thinking. Consider…

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Magnifying God

Live Life! God's way

I wonder how often Mary, the mother of Jesus, had heard Psalm 34:3. With only 150 psalms in the repertoire and a schedule of reading through the sacred Scriptures, she may well have memorized this text.  The NIV translates it ‘Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” Having been raised with the KJV, I can more easily recall “O magnify the LORD with me and let us exalt His name together.”

Isn’t this text embedded in the Magnificat? Isn’t she inviting her cousin Elizabeth to do just that–to magnify the LORD with her and join her in exalting His great name.

Reread Luke 1:46-55 and notice with me some of the highlights of this poetical composition, sung by a Spirit-filled teenager in the home tucked away in the hill country of Judea.

The MAGNIFICAT psalm, for that’s what it is, is focused upon the LORD. Sixteen…

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The Joy of Classical Theism


In the past month or so there has been a little bit of discussion of the question of ‘classical theism’: the belief that God is simple, eternal, unchanging, impassible and so on. I had never really examined these kind of ideas until about five years ago when I began to read Augustine’s Confessions as part of the UCCF staff study programme. Since then I have become convinced that the God of ‘classical theism’ is the God of the Scriptures, revealed in and by Jesus Christ.

This is, to most modern ears, including my own, a counter-intuitive notion. How can the God of redemption be unchanging? How can the God of the cross be impassible? How can the God who displays love, justice, mercy, grace, wrath, holiness, power, wisdom and knowledge be simple? To believe in classical theism and to read the Bible through that lens requires a kind of mental…

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Sweeter Sounds Than Music Knows

Live Life! God's way

On my other blog, I reflected briefly on the expression ‘Christmas is….’ Check it out here if you’re interested.

Today’s Olney hymn was penned by John Newton as he reflected on the Incarnation. He includes the birth of Christ but draws us to consider His death. After all, Jesus came to ‘save His people from their sins.’ He was born to die. Reread Matthew 1 and 2 or Luke 1 and 2 and you can see in His name, in the gifts brought by the wise men, in the songs sung by Mary, Zacharias and Simeon, prophetic anticipation of His death.

How shall we respond to such a Saviour? Newton pleads with God–‘Lord, unloose my stammering tongue, Who should louder sing than I?’ While musical artists, who too often may blaspheme the name of God, opt to produce a ‘Christmas album,’ let those of us who have experienced saving…

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Singing Without Understanding?

Live Life! God's way

I confess. I’ve sung lots of choruses and hymns without understanding. Have you done likewise?  Thankfully, there have been worship leaders, in various settings, who’ve unpacked the truths of the text as part of our worship experience. They have read Scripture, defined terms, tied the hymn or chorus to a particular Biblical event or explained the occasion in the composer’s life when the words were first written down.

What does the children’s hymn ‘When He Cometh’ reference in Scripture? What are the ‘jewels’ that He is coming to make up? When will that happen? Do any other Scriptural texts help unpack this truth in a field of theology filled with conflicting interpretations?

I’ll leave you, as the reader, to sort through the answers while I move on to post a hymn on the same text, penned by John Newton.

Malachi 3:16-18 This is the text upon which John Newton reflected…

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Abbreviated Worship?

Live Life! God's way

Are God’s children ever guilty of abbreviated worship? Do we ever rush through the process of worshiping God in spirit and in truth? Many times we must plead guilty to such a charge.

We abbreviate prayers. We abbreviate services. We abbreviate hymns. Many of the original composers of solid hymns throughout church history would marvel at how many stanzas we have left out. I recall one funeral I conducted years ago, when the other officiant decided that four verses of ‘How Great Thou Art’ were too many. Which one should he drop? He felt the one which declares, ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in….” I was preaching on the gospel, so I opted to reinsert the text as part of my sermon that day!

I’ve shared in worship services in other cultures, where they practice what…

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Jonah – More of An Environmentalist than an Evangelist?

Live Life! God's way

How would you describe the prophet Jonah from the pages of Scripture?

a) a prophet?

b) an evangelist?

c) an environmentalist?

In 2 Kings 14, we meet Jonah in the context of the history of the nation of Israel. The nation is divided at this point with the Northern Kingdom known as Israel and their Southern counterpart, Judah. If Jonah had a contemporary LinkedIn account, I’m sure he’d describe himself as a Spokesman and Servant of the LORD. He spoke for God as a prophet and had been used to predict a remarkable restoration of the boundaries of the northern nation. 

Here’s a map to show the restoration under Jonah’s preaching –

His joy and delight was in serving Goduntil he was commanded to head to Nineveh in an evangelistic mission. ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it!’ Jonah resolutely refuses and sets his…

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