Archive for May, 2009

I’ve been memed…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 28, 2009 by stephengardner

Over at Hebel, Matt Moffitt has embarked on a great little exercise. Its called a meme apparently.


Matt’s requirements are:
i.    To list a helpful book I’ve read from this category
ii.    Describe why I found it helpful
iii.    Tag five more friends to spread the meme love

1.    Theology
There are two books that have changed my life dramatically. The first of these is John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. Everyone knows it’s a classic, and almost every man, woman and child has read it. But, this book for me marked a turning point in my life. I had read it on and off for a period of 2-3 years as someone quite ready to give up the faith. Then one day I read it and could not put it down, I realised with a new clarity what Jesus had done. The words that changed me are still underlined in my book—I remember reading them for the first time so clearly:

“This is how the Apostles saw it. Herod and Pilate, Gentiles and Jews, they said, had together ‘conspired against Jesus (Acts 4.27). More important still, we ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Heb 6.6). We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old Negro spiritual asks. And we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there.’ Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).

(The Cross of Christ p.59)

I was brought to tears, stopped reading and prayed and my life was never the same again.

2.    Biblical Theology
As a young punk trying to work out how to make sense of the OT I met with an old minister to read According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy. Sure, Goldsworthy’s stuff is bread and butter in most of our churches, and books like climax of the covenant take Biblical Theology to the next level, but I’m so thankful to God for the bedrock laid by Goldsworthy. It’s a blessing to have his efforts so much a part of the theological landscape of the church circles I move in.

3.    God
I’m currently in a reading group that has just about finished The Trinitarian Faith by T. F. Torrance. I’ve found it profoundly helpful in grasping the beauty of the Nicene-Constantinople statements about God. It has opened my eyes to the richness of the creed, it has helped me grasp God’s being more clearly and it has helped me understand the Church’s involvement with the Triune God. Great book!
Yet, I’m hoping to soon finish The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God by R. P. C. Hanson. It promises to trump the Trinitarian Faith, but I feel like I cant claim its significance until I’ve finished it…bummer
4.    Jesus
Like Matt and Byron, there was no way this book was never going to make this list. This is the second book that has changed my life, Jesus and the Victory of God by N. T. Wright. Simply put it is a masterpiece! No book has helped my reading of Scripture more. No book have I referred back to more. No book have I recommended more. It is sweet sweet honey to my lips… It helped me understand the gospel stories and then in turn made me love and appreciate Jesus more! Read it! Read it! Read it!

5.    Old Testament
Again, like Matt, I cant go past Dumbrell’s The Faith of Israel. I have flicked back to it again and again to help understand the entire OT.

6.    New Testament
Resurrection of the Son of God, N.T. Wright. A massive, sweeping account of the New Testament understanding of the Resurrection explained within its Second Temple setting. Widely received and an instant classic on the topic. While I didn’t find it his most grabbing book, it did help me get the uniqueness of the Resurrection and how it truly is an amazing hope for a broken world.
7.    Ethics
Over summer I was greatly encouraged by reading No Rusty Swords, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s a funny book, part biography of Bonhoeffer, part a collection of his letters and lectures. Bonhoeffer is someone I deeply admire. The man’s life was such a struggle in understanding ethics so that any study of him is a helpful study in ethics.

8.    Church History
The Christological Controversy by Richard Norris. One of the first books I read at college last year. It truly helped me grow in my thankfulness for the heroes of the early church. It caused me to reflect on the depth of their task in coming to grips with the magnitude of the incarnation. A real highlight was reading Mileto of Sardis and his homily on the Passover
9.    Biography
Not a massive biography reader…But I have dipped in and out of John Stott’s biographies by Timothy Dudley Smith. My father put me onto Stott years ago and he has had a real influence on the both of us. I hope to grow old like him, he is a beautiful man…

10.    Evangelism
Promoting the Gospel, John Dickson. Someone told me not to read this because it was heretical…so that made me want to read it more! Totally glad I did, I think John is bang on and does a nice task of fitting evangelism into how we think about God
11.    Prayer
I need to read more on prayer. I like Matt’s idea of An Australian Prayer Book, because when I think about it, it really has taught me a lot about prayer. It has been particularly helpful in causing me to confess my sin to God. Other than this A Call to Spiritual Reformation is something else I’ve found helpful… but like Chris kept putting it away…maybe it was a tad boring!

So, now I have to choose five likely candidates to be memed…
I’d love to hear what books have shaped, Mark, Nick, Doug, Greg, Geoff

With all this meming my dreams to put up the posts I promised yesterday will be a little delayed…stay tuned


coming up @ All Things New

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2009 by stephengardner

Gday all,

Just a quick note about the what’s in store for the next few days.

The Pilgrim’s Podcast will be doing our first external feature on Monday. Mark and myself will be chatting to Christian Anderson about whats going on down at Newtown Mission.

King St Newtown

King St Newtown

You can now find  The Pilgrim’s Podcast on iTunes…spread the word

pplogo2-150x150I’ll be starting a series of reflections (funnily enough called All Things New) on Isaiah…

Scroll of Isaiah from Qumran

Scroll of Isaiah from Qumran

As well as some general ideas about Church and Worship…

In exciting news, Matthew Moffitt has won the first ever prize for being the 50th comment on All Things New. Stay tuned, there will be another prize for the 100th…

Thats all for now.



10 Reasons Why I Love the Nicene Creed

Posted in Church with tags , , , on May 28, 2009 by stephengardner

I have not always had a deep love for the creeds, even now I’m not sure I would call it a deep love, in the same way I think about my wife, or Jesus…But, I have come to appreciate the richness of liturgy and in particular, the Nicene Creed…At the moment, here’s why I love it…


1. It is thoroughly Trinitarian
2. Scripture points to it and it points to Scripture
3. As the Church continues to proclaim it, I like to think we honour our dead brothers and sisters who fought for it
4. It guards the doctrine of God
5. I feel like I’m joining in with the saints throughout the ages when I say it at Church
6. It reminds me that I worship the Spirit as well
7. Sometimes, I think in my head as I say it; ‘yeah, I do believe in the Church’
8. It has stood the test of time
9. It is something all Christians can declare. I love that it therefore, promotes true unity
10. It just sounds awesome when a full congregation bellows it out…

Love it or hate it, why?

Why we don’t need new creeds

Posted in Church with tags , , , , on May 26, 2009 by stephengardner

I recently heard a Christian, in fulltime ministry, dismiss the need for ‘old creeds’ on the basis that today’s church should look to produce new creeds, defending the faith from modern errors. True, there are lots of errors out there today, but the comment shows a naivety of the richness, timelessness and dare I say it, authority of the Creed.

While it is a defence against the errors of Arianism, at its core, the Nicene Creed is a positive declaration about the being of God. It is a powerful proclamation that God is the Triune creator of all.
Get it wrong and you get Him wrong. It seems to me that while there are always an abundance of errors coming left, right and centre, few have challenged the Church like those that led to the formulation of the Creed. And not all challenge the very being of God.


Of the contribution the Nicene Creed has made to our understanding of the doctrine of God, T. F. Torrance has this to say:

It was a turning-point of far-reaching significance, with conceptual irreversibility. When the conception of the oneness in being between the incarnate Son and the Father was formed and given explicit expression in the clause homoousios to patri, a giant step forward was taken in grasping the inner ontological coherence of the Gospel as it had been mediated through the apostolic Scriptures. Once that insight had been reached, the Church could not go back upon it, because the evangelical substance of the faith, with its distinctively Christian doctrine of God, had been secured in its mind and understanding in a permanent way. ‘The Word of God which came through the Ecumenical Synod at Nicaea abides forever.’

(Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith. T&T Clark 1991)

If we get our doctrine of God wrong everything falls apart, and what we have in the Nicene Creed is a thoroughly relevant, thoroughly positive declaration to the world about who God is in His being.
I think, that to throw out the Nicene Creed for more ‘relevant’ declarations shows a great deal of arrogance…What do you think?

Episode 2: Sam Russell, Coffee & Church Planting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2009 by stephengardner

The Pilgrim’s Podcast episode 2 is now up on the Podcast page.


Episode 2 features our first official guest (sorry Prash), Sam Russell. Sam is a fellow second year punk from MTC who amongst other things has recently joined a brand new church plant in Kingsgrove.

Have a listen to hear what’s been happening in Sam’s life,  what’s going on in Kingsgrove and where to get the best coffee in Sydney…


Every Body Counts…

Posted in Church with tags , , , on May 22, 2009 by stephengardner

If I have learnt one thing from my time at CCIW it is the importance of every single bum on the pews at Sunday services. My minister and friend, Andrew Katay, has an unmatched zeal for counting, re-counting and re-re-counting the numbers of everybody at church. And I think I have now caught on…
On Sunday mornings I serve at St Albans Five Dock (part of the CCIW family), where on a good day we have 25 bums on pews at the 10am service, a great Sunday will see 30!
3510496239_3eb544934a_mWhen church is this small every body seriously counts. The jump from 25-30 doesn’t sound too great but the difference those 5 bodies bring to the service is significant. The music is better, the sermon feels less awkward and new comers look more comfortable.
This got me thinking of a recent Sunday spent in a church, at the other end of the spectrum, where there are around 400 people at their equivalent service.


But I was surprised to hear, when chatting with the Senior Pastor, that there are no checks in place to count the exact number of people at church. And in conversations I had with church members, a number of them spoke of it taking 6 months to hear of friends moving on from church. You might ask ‘well they cant have been too close can they?’ But that’s beside the point, every body at your church is a somebody with their own story. They are worth fighting for regardless of the size of your service. It really hit home to me that, even when your numbers are big, everybody counts.

If you’re at a bigger church I’d love to hear your thoughts on how (if?) you go about counting numbers at services and, how you ensure you know where your people are…
Thanks for reading.

Blogging Etiquette

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 20, 2009 by stephengardner

As a ‘long time listener first time caller’ when it comes to blogging I am interested in thinking through what makes for good blogging etiquette. Over at Hebel, Matt Moffitt has posted some wise thoughts on good blogging, here and more recently, here.


As a total hack at blogging I’d love to hear from you. What are your top 3 suggestions for a brand new blogger to help generate a healthy blogging culture?