Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Best reads of 2019

I am not sure I have done a Best Book list these last couple of years despite having read a few books. A two and four year old have restricted my Christmas blogging and, if I'm honest, the last couple of years are a bit of a haze. So this is by no means an exhaustive pile of the things I've read, but it's a taste of what's been shaping me.

'In the Days of Rain: a father, a daughter and a cult' is a wonderful and disturbing book about growing up in an English brethren household in the 50's.

'Before the days draw in: my ordinary journey towards an extraordinary God' is a beautifully written adventure telling of life as a clergy family written by one of our saints here in Barnes. If you are a Pastor, or definitely if you are married to one, you should read this book. Barry and Mary Kissell's faithful life story should be read, absorbed and spread far and wide.

'David Cameron: On the Record' explains the story behind the pickle he got us all into.

'Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity' is a book about the stages and seasons of life and meaning.

'Translating God: Hearing God's Voice for Yourself and the World around you
' is a book by a prophet and contains lots of holy ghost stories, some of which left me slightly scratching my head. Why? I think the specificity of the way he hears God's voice was a challenge to my own experience of the prophetic.

'The Art of Neighbouring' is contextually American but has some good insights to offer

'The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world' is a reworking of Ortberg's classic but contains lots of good stuff on the spiritual disciplines

'The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for people who can't get their act together' is a book that every imperfect follower (of which I am certainly one) should read.

'Even in our darkness: A story of beauty in a broken life' which I read in 2018 but its message still haunts and disturbs me, I hope in a good way.

'Holy Fire: A balanced Biblical look at the Holy Spirit's work in our lives' is possibly the best accessible one stop shop book on the Holy Spirit to come out in recent years. Kendall is a 'Calvinist Charismatic' which aren't two words that often go together. R T is one of the people I couldn't have run the race without.

'Love church: Join the adventure of Hope' is a book by my pal Tim about planting the HTB way. It's a good story.

'God has a name' is another book by John Mark Comer that is worth some time.

'The Burden is Light: Liberating your life from the Tyranny of  Performance and Success' is the book that gave me the most stories and little 'aha' moments this year.

'The gospel comes with a house key: Practicing radically ordinary hospitality in our post-Christian world' by the excellently named Rosaria Champagne Butterfield and is a book about hospitality as one of the marks of the gospel. She is a deep gospel-soaked woman who writes movingly.

'The Gospel Driven Church:  Uniting church growth dreams with the metrics of grace' was read by most of my Wednesday morning pastors prayer group and we all were blessed by it.

'The Fight: A practical handbook of Christian Living' is a classic discipleship book and one that any new or growing disciple would do well to get under their belt.

'Uncover Mark' we read in our home with a crowd. Food, sharing, the word, prayer, tears and laughter. Use it for wonderful stroll along the path of discipleship for a short season with a gang of saints. Good to read with a crowd or one to one.

'Judges for you' is a belter. I preached through Judges this year and it was extraordinary. A note if you are thinking about doing the same maybe don't plan 'The Levite and the Concubine' to land on Mother's day. Actually do- someone became a follower! However, you've been warned.

'The War of Loves' is the best and most compelling addition to the canon of books about sexuality and the gospel. A very real, honest, theologically rich and challenging read for all of us who will be grappling with these questions in the years to come.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Monday musing

1. I hope you are deciding how to vote and are speaking constructively to others. Our church hall turns into a polling station which seems to have happened rather a lot recently. My sermon yesterday was my last in a series we've been in all year on 1 Cor.  I shared that I have been praying Mich 6:8 during this season and you have to decide who you feel (however inadequately) can best deliver justice in this land.  Politicians show a widespread inability to be honest with facts and crazy with finances. McDonnell questioned by Marr about the WASPI women and how he proposed to pay for this, given it's not in his 'fully-costed grey book', replied '....with headroom'. Marr responded while frowning saying 'It's the equivalent to 3/4 of the current education budget'. Oh said McDonnell when told it would cost 59bn and we only have 6bn in reserves. 'We'll borrow it then.'  Similarly, Johnson asked about HS2 costs this morning said they were north of 100bn when currently they are forecast at 82bn.  If any of us ran our personal finances like this we'd be in penury.

2. The BBC has an interesting post about unity.

3. Lots of vicar pals had their Carol Services yesterday. I think it's a bit early but there you go.....

4. This song might be one we sing a bit over Christmas

5. Interesting C of E thought for this election

6. I will be preaching on 1 John 1:1-4 at our Carol Service.

7. Someone who our church is putting through St Mellitus wanted something to help her with Church History. I gave her the six DVD set called 'The History of Christianity'.  You'll do well to find a better overview than this so put it on your Christmas list.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ten thoughts for a Tuesday

1.  Recently, I shared the not very profound insight about the C of E that if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting what you're getting. Mark Sayers book 'Reappearing church' shares this sentiment and captures lots of the material from his podcast This Cultural Moment. It's an important book. We are planning to use it as a read for our early morning pastors prayer group. Buy this book, read the first chapter, follow the suggestion that you select some people to gather with who want renewal and then commit to actually gathering. I have discovered over thirty years that the kingdom comes to those who turn up. Church- we need to raise our game, get accountable, start to pray earnestly and trust in God to move his hand. BBC news website today tells me child poverty is on track to reach 34% by 2023. Blue, Red or Yellow are not going to sort this fractured land- the gospel is. Awake o sleeper.....


We will not experience renewal by following the same patterns of life and ministry that are not delivering renewal

(Reappearing church: The Hope of Renewal in the Rise of Our Post Christian Culture, Page 11)

2. David Keen hits a political observational nail on the head with this post about 'Families'  and a post on marriage discrimination.

3.  Someone in our church family told me that this book might very well be changing their life. They have only read half of it so we laughed together and we agreed we'd reserve judgement until she's actually finished it.

4. If you know a better story to illustrate the reality that we belong to God then do let me know. I read it to church on Sunday and made myself and everyone else cry.  It's on pages 81-84 of 'Proof'. Read out in the context of the gospel and I would beg to suggest it's hard for someone not to get  saved - it might even be you  :)
Image result for proof montgomery"

5. A kid at school has been giving our son an occasional hard time. We've all been praying for them. Today, by the providence of God, the mum of the child asked me to drop the them at their class as she was rushing to work. As we waited outside the classroom, Christmas came on the agenda which is apparently about elves and Santa.  I said simply 'Christmas is all about Jesus and it's amazing that God is alive, he's come to us and his name is Jesus'. She pondered this thought and said, beaming, 'Christmas is Jesus' birthday'. In that brief moment, I felt I'd got one over on the elves...

6. My daily devotional is 'Seeking God's Face'. It has a prologue written by Eugene Peterson that I happened to read for the first time. It moved me and if you read it might move you too.


Yesterday, someone arrived at the Vicarage door who has been around the edges of our church since I planted it. They said 'I am sorry I don't come very often but your a good Vicar and the Vicarette is fantastic. I'm not sure how you describe her [Vicarette will do].....Anyway, I took this photo and have been meaning to frame it and give it to you for ages. Your church is doing a good thing'. That was quite encouraging.

8.  Someone else arrive on the doorstep who was homeless. We invited her in, made her a cup of tea, heard the story, shared the gospel, prayed for her, booked the hostel, gave her the Vicarette's favourite coat, and then, as she was leaving, I sensed the half read book by my bedside was for her not me. At very least, the subtitle resonated with her.

Image result for manna farrar"

9. I am planning to read a very thin book called 'Creative Minority' today.

10.  I heard Bishop Nazir Ali speak on Saturday who had many reflections on the state of the C of E. His big idea was hospitality and I felt prompted to buy a book that's been on my radar for ages. Why not invite someone into your home for a meal and see what happens.....
The Gospel Comes with a House Key: A Book Review

Luke 24.....'did not the word of God burn within us while we were with Him'