Best of the blog – 2007

Best of the blog – 2007 January 21, 2013

As regular readers will know I have been digging further and further back into the archives of this blog, so now it is time to share some highlights from back in 2007 which in Internet years is decades ago! I have already posted about 2012, 2011,2010, 2009, and 2008. I hope these posts give some sense of the journey that this blog has been for me. It is striking how certain themes are returned to, in some cases something that becomes a major theme later on appears briefly in a previous year.

2007 would prove to be a vintage year! Perhaps the most important year of my blogging life to date. As would often be the case I extended my Christmas break into January this year, but then took up my autobiographical story series (which I STILL haven’t finished!) with a post entitled My Story Part Five—Learning to Value Being, Not Doing. I did not return to my story again this year, so this remains surely the longest running, as yet unfinished, series on my blog. I am sure that I will eventually return to this and catch up to the current day. In that post I talked about the value of silence and reflection.

In one of the shortest, but most personally challenging posts of the year, in the second post of 2007 I shared some Reflections of a Returning Blogger, citing Scripture that said few words were wiser than many. I suspect this contributed to a trend this year on my blog to shorter posts and, hopefully, to more careful consideration of what I say.

In February I began what would be an extended series on preaching with two posts that quoted the Together for the Gospel Statement Article 4, John Piper, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Expository Preaching.

I also mentioned that I had just heard a new book on the atonement would soon be released—Pierced for Our Transgressions. Little did I know then just how much I would be focused on that subject that year. I shared the audio of a talk I had given late in 2006 for Jubilee entitled What is the Bible?

I remember being stirred to ask Should We be Optimistic or Pessimistic About the Future? and challenging my readers to find a quote I was sure I had once read from Spurgeon. That readers’ challenge remains open and can be answered via e-mail on reading Spurgeon’s Prediction of a Future Revival. I did manage to find one quote where Spurgeon asks the question Will More Be Saved Than Lost?  It was also great to publish the news that I was able to play a small part in restoring the works of Charles Simeon to a larger audience.

I seem to have become  somewhat distracted from my posts about preaching, and only quoted C. S. Lewis on the Need for Plain English Preaching all month. I did quote one of my greatest living hero’s impressions of one of my greatest preaching heroes of the past—I am speaking, of course, about John Piper on Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

In March I returned to the subject of preaching, and there were a significant number of posts which culminated in Ten Conclusions About Expository Preaching. In the middle of this I wrote about The Risks and Rewards of Using Technology in Sermon Preparation.

I posted about the The Attributes of God and the Trinity, which included the audio of another talk I had given at Jubilee late in 2006.

One of the traditions of this blog is that every now and then I engage in a gloves-off debate with the Pyromaniacs. In March, one of these was summarized in a post I entitled Am I a Thrill Seeker?

If I remember correctly, that debate with the Pyros was, at least in part, sparked by possibly the most controversial post of the year anywhere in the Christian blogosphere. It was published over on Desiring God, and my reflections on it were entitled John Piper Hears The Voice Of God.

That was a hectic blogging month, but nothing would prepare me for what was to come in April, especially as I had written many of my forthcoming posts on atonement in a single sitting and thought I would have a quiet time as my editor faithfully published them all for me. That series on Atonement was ongoing for much of the rest of 2007 and links to all the posts can be found on another page.

After Easter I considered some readily available information about a significant controversy that had risen to the fore again and now threatened to split the Evangelical movement in two. There seemed to me to be an unfathomable reluctance in certain UK Christian media outlets to cover it. I wondered if some news desk decisions were being influenced by certain commercial relationships. In the end, after much deliberation and with the support of my spiritual mentors, I did the first real piece of journalism I had ever done and broke the story that the split between Word Alive and Spring Harvest was not as amicable as many had understood. Suddenly, UK Christians were turning to my blog to read the latest developments and varying opinions of key figures on both sides to whom I tried to give a platform.

Looking back, as messy as that time was, I really don’t regret the decision to break that story. My sources were several and impeccable, and without looking for gossip, I had heard rumors for several months. Interestingly, I subsequently discovered that at least one person had hinted at the same story on their own blog before me. (Sadly I cannot now remember the link to that.) I didn’t expect the level of public debate between the two sides that would occur, nor the phone calls I would receive from key players on both sides to explain their version of events to me. I felt like something of an agony uncle at times, and knew far more details about the situation than I would have wanted to publish or it would have been beneficial to publish. Splits are always painful. This was the first one that played out in front of the amassed Christian blogs.

I was glad of one thing—the secular media did not pick up the story, although in a sense it shows how irrelevant we have become to their perception of our culture. I really didn’t expect to have such a role, and I very much doubt that there will be too many times in the future when I will find myself doing a similar thing.

You can trace the story as it emerged here on my blog in the following posts:

The interesting thing was that I was, as I already said,  in any case, in full flow in a series on the atonement. So, with the whole blogosphere lit up on this issue, the blog posts I had already written seemed so much more relevant.  That series is one of the bits of writing I am most pleased with looking back on it.

Somehow in the midst of all that, I also blogged about other subjects. Notably, the following posts reflected on other debates, and also how we can cooperate together despite certain differences:

I also blogged a fair bit about the resurrection, including the following posts, which led directly to me writing a book on the Resurrection:

May was not as controversial a month, but the posts on the Atonement continued right into July. I did a multi-part inteview with Terry Virgo, shared two of his sermons, and introduced his blog in these posts:

I very much enjoyed talking with Liam Goligher, in a wide-ranging multi-part interview, as well as The Authors of Pierced for Our Transgressions.

Also, I was fascinated to come across a sound bite that has lived with me since—”We need to show the people we understand what it’s like to be unbelievers.”

Before going on a summer break, I ended with a post which expresses clearly the driving passion behind my life—I DON’T WANT BALANCE, I WANT IT ALL!

Other than that, and the posts on the atonement I listed in yesterday’s review, July was totally dominated (and rightly so) by the Together On a Mission Conference. This was the year that Driscoll came and urged us as a movement to consider the future. It has big ramifications, and the posts make interesting reading today.

In August I also did a mini-series of quotes on the Calvinistic doctrines, otherwise known as TULIP—just in case people thought I was just some kind of wacky charismaniac. The posts were:

Another really interesting thing happened during the “silly season” of August. All the big guns got involved with a big debate with each other about baptism. It was a historic first and of great interest to the rest of us who did not dare to express an opinion! I provided excerpts of all the key posts linked on the following page.

I spent a lot of time quoting from a book Justin Taylor produced—a lightly edited John Owen. These can all be read on the category page for posts labeled “John Owen.” In November, I gave John Piper on N. T. Wright the same treatment.

I also wrote a post titled Blogging, Discernment, and a Book by Tim Challies which managed to provoke the Pyromaniacs, review Tim’s book, and muse about the best approach to blogging for Christians—all in the same post! It was not long after that when I made the important decision to remove comments from this site because I just wasn’t managing to find the time to moderate them properly. This was announced in Thanksgiving and Some Changes Around Here.

Terry Virgo hasn’t found out and stopped me yet, but I managed to let everyone into the Secret of Newfrontiers—if you want to know what that is, you will have to read the post. I was also able to share an interview with a man who has a unique perspective on our movement, having been in it for decades before officially leaving, while remaining our very good friend. I am, of course, talking about Greg Haslam, who is currently occupying D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ pulpit in Westminster Chapel, London.

It was very moving to be able to visit the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. I was also able to return to London in time to renew my acquaintance with Mark Dever, and to listen to him preach. Here are the posts:

In November, I met Mark Driscoll in the flesh for the first time and shared the following posts about the meeting and his sermons there, as well as mentioning a couple of key ones from his home church:

December saw me take an early and well-earned break.  Its exhausting to me just reading about that year of bloging!

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