Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Troubled times

This morning I read of the alleged murder by beheading of American Journalist James Foley. I had in mind Cranmer's very challenging post from yesterday quoting the exiled Archbishop of Mosul.

The Bishop of Leeds has rightly asked of the government 'What's the plan?' in his recent letter to the PM:

Dear Prime Minister,

Iraq and the Islamic State

I am conscious of the speed at which events are moving in Iraq and Syria, and write recognising the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges faced by the international community in responding to the crises in Syria and Iraq.

However, in common with many bishops and other correspondents here in the UK, I remain very concerned about the Government’s response to several issues. I write with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to put these questions to you. 

1. It appears that, in common with the United States and other partners, the UK is responding to events in a reactive way, and it is difficult to discern the strategic intentions behind this approach. Please can you tell me what is the overall strategy that holds together the UK Government’s response to both the humanitarian situation and what IS is actually doing in Syria and Iraq? Behind this question is the serious concern that we do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamist extremism as it is developing across the globe. Islamic State, Boko Haram and other groups represent particular manifestations of a global phenomenon, and it is not clear what our broader global strategy is – particularly insofar as the military, political, economic and humanitarian demands interconnect. The Church internationally must be a primary partner in addressing this complexity.

2. The focus by both politicians and media on the plight of the Yezidis has been notable and admirable. However, there has been increasing silence about the plight of tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced, driven from cities and homelands, and who face a bleak future. Despite appalling persecution, they seem to have fallen from consciousness, and I wonder why. Does your Government have a coherent response to the plight of these huge numbers of Christians whose plight appears to be less regarded than that of others? Or are we simply reacting to the loudest media voice at any particular time?

3. As yet, there appears to have been no response to pleas for asylum provision to be made for those Christians (and other minorities) needing sanctuary from Iraq in the UK. I recognise that we do not wish to encourage Christians or other displaced and suffering people to leave their homeland – the consequences for those cultures and nations would be extremely detrimental at every level – but for some of them this will be the only recourse. The French and German governments have already made provision, but there has so far been only silence from the UK Government. Therefore, I ask for a response to the question of whether there is any intention to offer asylum to Iraqi migrants (as part of a holistic strategy to addressing the challenges of Iraq)?

4. Following on from this, I note that the Bishop of Coventry tabled a series of questions to HM Government in the House of Lords on Monday 28 July. All but two were answered on Monday 11 August. The outstanding questions included the following: “The Lord Bishop of Coventry to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling here in the UK a fair proportion of those displaced from ISIS controlled areas of Northern Iraq.” I would be grateful to know why this question has not so far been answered – something that causes me and colleagues some concern.

5. Underlying these concerns is the need for reassurance that a commitment to religious freedom will remain a priority for the Government, given the departure of ministers who championed this. Will the Foreign Secretary's Human Rights Advisory Panel continue under the new Foreign Secretary? Is this not the time to appoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom – which would demonstrate the Government’s serious commitment to developing an overarching strategy (backed by expertise) against Islamist extremism and violence?

I look forward to your considered response to these pressing questions.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines 
The Bishop of Leeds

We must pray in these troubled times.

A redeemed life

'The basic conviction of a Christian is that God intends good for us and that he will get his way in us. He does not treat us according to our deserts, but according to a plan. He is not a police officer on patrol, watching over the universe, ready to club us if we get out of hand or put us in jail if we get obstreperous. He is a potter working with the clay of our lives, forming and reforming until, finally he has shaped a redeemed life, a vessel fit for the kingdom'

A long obedience in the same direction, Eugene Peterson, p 64. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The best prayer quote you'll read this summer

'Prayer is rebellion against the status quo' 

Tim Keller

The most excellent way

From my Bible in one year notes this morning:

'The great evangelist D.L. Moody was once staying with a group of friends in England. One evening they asked Henry Drummond to read and expound on a portion of Scripture. After some urging, Henry drew a small New Testament from his pocket, opened it at 1 Corinthians 13 and began to speak on the subject of love. D.L. Moody wrote in response:

‘It seemed to me that I had never heard anything so beautiful. The one great need in our Christian life is love, more love to God and to each other. Would that we could all move into that love chapter and live there.’

We get an idea of what Henry Drummond must have said that evening in his book The Greatest Thing in the World. He writes: ‘What is ... the supreme good? You have life before you. Once only you can live it. What is the noblest object of desire, the supreme gift to covet? In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul takes us to Christianity at its source; and there we see ‘the greatest of these islove.’ Henry Drummond divides this chapter into three parts, as we shall see in the New Testament for today.

God is love. We deceive ourselves if we think we can love God and hate other people (1 John 4:20). Love should be number one on our spiritual priority list. It should be the main thing in our lives. Love is, indeed, the greatest thing in the world. It is, in the words of St Paul, ‘the most excellent way’ (1 Corinthians 12:31).'

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our wedding in 3 minutes

Here it is in three minutes.

How to chat to people at work about Jesus

I found this post very helpful- 21 ways to "Provoke the 1 Peter 3:15 Question".

I think about all the times I engaged with folk in my workplace down the years. This would have been a real help to me. Hope it is a help for you as many of you return from holidays and to your workplaces.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

For the pod: Conquering insecurity

'He who marries the spirit of the age, widows himself in the age to come'

Pete Greig

I keep this blog as a resource for myself and for anyone else who may be interested. It's my public filing cabinet. I couldn't care less how many readers I have but I do care about my readers and often take much encouragement from them. It is especially encouraging to me when someone writes or tells me that something they found here or that I have recommended to them has blessed them. 
  • I posted a talk by James MacDonald and a pal and his wife listened to it and have since been listening to all sorts of teachings from Walk in the Word. Mrs C does find JM 'a bit shouty' as may you, he is at times, but he is someone who preaches the Bible with great power and very often with helpful application. My friends recommendation to me were two talks called 'Conquering Insecurity'.
  • I gave 'A long obedience in the same direction' to someone in our church and they told me they found it a real blessing. This may be one to read as part of your 'secret place' time or to take on hols.
  • Someone told me this morning they listened to R T Kendall's three talks on Romans three times this week. The fact that over 200 stood in response to his altar call shows this teaching demands a wider audience- especially for those yet to comprehend the message of God's grace. 
  • A friend saw the quotes from 'Proof' I posted and as a result bought the book. They texted me this:   '....haven't got to page 81 yet and already in tears'
  • A Vicar pal in NZ listened to Archie Coates and took great encouragement from it. 
  • Giving counsel to a man I prayed for this morning- I recommended he listen to 'Running with the witnesses', by John Piper. In fact, as I reread 'A long obedience' I see I need to listen to this sermon again and think it's one we will listen to on holiday. 'The letter to the Hebrews defines our program: 'Do you see what this means-all the pioneers who blazed they way, all the veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running- and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no  parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished the race we're in' (Heb 12:1-2), A long obedience in the same direction, p 18. 
So thank you for reading and for being a me I will keep posting the bits and bobs I find, books I read and recommendations that I receive. Click about and see if you find something you like and I always appreciate your prayers. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday blog sweep

All weeks are full of good and bad news but recently the bad from the Middle East seems to be so very dominant.

Like you, I googled the Yazidis to find out more and the BBC was helpful.

5 Things you can do for the Christians in Iraq

A number of people have asked me about Cliff Richard and like you my hope and prayer is that it is not true. The Independent in this article is very critical of both the police and the BBC.

Worship leader and church media pundit Viccy Beeching shared her sexuality struggles this week and here interviewed on C4 News.

Former Boxing promotor Frank Maloney revealed his changed gender.

Robin Williams died.

Of all the posts I have read Russell Brand's was moving and ends with this:

'What I might do is watch Mrs Doubtfire. Or Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting and I might be nice to people, mindful today how fragile we all are, how delicate we are, even when fizzing with divine madness that seems like it will never expire.'

This one entitled 'Robin Williams Jonathan Edwards and Heaven on Earth' also lingered with me.

To mourn or not to mourn will provide some food for thought.

This post caught my eye and questioned the priorities of white American evangelicals in light of Ferguson.

Rachel Held Evans wrote on racism.

Thomas Creedy reviews R T Kendall's 'Holy Fire'

As many holiday a post on 'How to escape being too busy to get anything done'

The latest HTB plant in Spitalfields gets some noise in the Standard. There are many things I have been called in my time but hipster is not one of them! Great team so do pray for them as they launch and perhaps a touch of hipster in the C of E makes for some interesting times ahead. Its both interesting and challenging the way the journalist reads hipster Christianity and being liberal on human sexuality as one and the same thing.

I read this post by Matt Walsh, a Christian conservative blogger, on Robin Williams and depression which has caused a mighty stir across the pond and will prompt you too to react in one way or other. For what it's worth, it seems to me to lack compassion and also to be ill-timed.

I have been pondering this review of Myron Penner's 'The end of apologetics' and the idea that what is needed in apologetics is not the genius but the apostle. For listeners - he is interviewed here.

We watched the film One chance (the story of Paul Potts) and it made me cry.

We have taken delivery of the film Calvary.

 We enjoyed All the little lights.

A reflection on Ebola and Christian Missionaries

A new version of Left Behind will have us all revisiting our thoughts on the rapture.

The bizarre- and costly- cult of Dawkins.

My sister was gripped by reading this on holiday.

'Ask John Piper' marked its 400th episode with this one.

I've been thinking and chatting about 'The price of fame' since I watched it with Mrs C.

I dabble from time to time in books on leadership and this one caught my eye.

Soon we won't need mobile phone chargers because Bat tat's will do it for us.

I love these photos which are interestingly called Earth porn

Finally, Mrs C and I will be doing this in the autumn.

At the end of a long week, I remember who is ultimately in charge and breath a grateful sigh of relief it is not me and just let this song wash over me. You can do that too.

h/t Ann Voskamp

Monday, August 11, 2014

A good company

'There may be religions that come to you through quiet walks in the woods, or by sitting quietly in the library with a book, or rummaging around in the recesses of your psyche. Christianity is not one of them. Christianity is inherently communal, a matter of life in the Body.....Jesus did not call isolated individuals to follow him. He called a group of disciples. He gathered a crowd.....Privacy is not a Christian category. We are saved from our privacy by being made part of a people who can tell us what we should do with our money, with our genitals, with our lives. We have been made part of a good company, a wonderful adventure, so that we no longer need "mine"

William Wiillimon and Stanley Haurewas, 'Lord teach us'

Quoted in 'Proof: Finding freedom through the intoxicating joy of irrestible grace', p 101

Saturday, August 09, 2014

For the pod: R T Kendall on Assurance

Here are three wonderful talks on Romans 8. If you struggle with knowing if you are saved or not then spending time with these three talks should be a help to you.

Part 1

Part 2 (I am told 200 stood to give their lives to Christ at the end of this talk)

Part 3

Saturday blog-sweep

The new has been horrific this week and these two posts caught my eye The silence of peaceful muslims and Some hard truths behine Israel/ Gaza and Isis/Iraq

Gay, Christian and ...celibate

Driscoll has hit yet more choppy water and this article Not our problem sums up the problems and lessons.

Rowan Williams on the Christian life

One simple leadership tip

For any budding apologists, this book looks worth checking out.

Don't shoot down new ideas

The story told in Proof  (p.81-83) about a trip to Disney world made me cry.


I read this prayer from George Whitefield on Steve McCoy's twitter feed and it blessed me:

'God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love and a single eye and then let men and the devil do their worst.'

This (via J D Greear) made me smile

Eric Metaxa tweeted why much of the Islamic world is such a problem....."It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it" G K Chesterton

I presided at a wonderful wedding yesterday and the bride came down the aisle to an instrumental version of Oceans. This song seems to have followed me everywhere over the summer and its words are gently seeping into my heart.