Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rainy days

Apparently it was the coldest bank holiday on record. We thought about lighting a fire and then didn't allow ourselves because it was August.

The picture of a hand in 'The Walk' (p.64) and its explanation of how it helps you pray the Lords prayer has stuck with me.

Matt Damon's Ice Bucket challenge with toilet water.

My Mum gave me Cook Simple  for my birthday. I cooked a spicy sausage recipe and nearly blew Mrs C's head off (a tip -use half a tea spoon of chilli flakes not 2). Yesterday, I cooked 'Penne with walnuts and gorgonzola'. Stupendous. Today, I may do something clever with a leg of lamb.

We watched Sunshine on Leith and absolutely loved it. A scene near the end made me cry and seemed to me to be a gospel moment.

I been thinking a lot of Scotland recently and the referendum, together with sandwich spread, has had me thinking about my childhood. I lived and went to school in Scotland as a laddie and one of the many helpful skills I acquired was an ability to do the highland fling.

I enjoyed this interview with Daniel Montgomery about Proof and like the thought the the best way to be a Calvinist is not to tell anyone that you are one.

Holiday beckons and so too the dilemma of what to read. I've lost my Kindle having lent it to someone at church and have since forgotten who it was. If it's you can I have it back please! This book is on my pile and may come away with me.

Faith and Fate (and the link it contains to a post called 'Will God protect my children?') has got me thinking today.

Last night Mrs C and I got a 'Text alert' to pray for Iraqi Christians from Open Doors. This morning I had a little look on their website and I learnt it was a hoax. Too late- we've already prayed which is one to mull on.

Tim Keller describes The Umbrella which disappeared long ago in the UK.

I have many thoughts having watched the Driscoll statement and was reminded of this quote which someone once left as as comment here after I had posted something about him. We are all such deeply flawed folk as pastors- as is this very 'Saulesque' man. I'm praying for him and his walk of repentance, for his church and for those he has seemingly so alienated and hurt while inspiring them to plant churches.

 “Let my name be forgotten, let me be trodden under the feet of all men, if Jesus may thereby be glorified…let us look above names and parties; let Jesus be our all in all…I care not who is uppermost. I know my place…even to be the servant of all.” George Whitfield

I have also been reflecting on On Platforms, On Self Promotion and Pleasure Complete  

One of the tasks of the week is to buy a suitcase. I have an expression I quote often 'Buy cheap buy twice'. Should this apply to luggage I wonder and should I go Samsonite or will Antler or Delsey pass muster? These are the big questions.

All suggestions and guidance welcome :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

'The Walk' and the story Jonah Kule

I sat in bed this morning and read 'The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus' in one sitting. It's a book that offers a new follower of Jesus a basic framework on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It is quite influenced by the work of John C Miller and is a very easy but weighty work that you could helpfully use in one on one discipleship. 

Essentially, it unpacks methodically prayer, reading the Bible, the life of Jesus and Romans in a very practical and helpful way and applies it into the life of a new follower. It manages to introduce a new believer to the 'the deep truths of the faith' in a way that you can then chat through and explore over a coffee with someone over a few weeks or a couple of months. I plan to read this and drink coffee with someone in the autumn.

The story above was both moving and timely as you will read. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Some random Sunday thoughts

1. I spotted a jar of Sandwich spread the other day and bought it. It's reawakened the taste of my childhood

2. Tim Keller now has all his resources on one site called 'The Gospel in Life'

3. A man who planted a church encourages everyone who is new to read this book. Just started reading it and it looks pretty good and helpful on getting set on the road of discipleship. 

4.  I am loving Bake Off. If Norman keeps it simple he may not last (but we do love Norman!)

5. Talking of simple- Bill Hybels new book is called Simplify

6.  I've been tapping my toe to Mess like me (Mrs C really like this)

7. We have been dwelling in Jer 5:22 in the Contemporary English Version:

'I'm the one who made the shore to hold back the ocean. Waves may crash on the beach, but they can come no further'

8. Barnardo O Higgins ended up in my sermon. It makes me chuckle that the first leader of Chile was actually an Irishman.

9. I have to confess to readers that my penchant for country has led me to 'Nashville'. From it, Black Roses is a stunningly beautiful song.

10. If you had £2m quid you too could have a pool like this.

Bees don't sting twice

From my Bible in one year notes this morning:

The evangelist, David Watson, used to tell the story of when he was called into the garden by the frightened cries of his daughter who was being chased by a bee. He wrapped his arms around her and then she felt his body go tense. He let her go and said to her, ‘You needn’t worry anymore, darling, the bee has stung me.’

On the cross, it was as though Jesus wrapped his arms around us and took the sting of death for us. We still die (if Jesus doesn’t return first) but, for everyone trusting in Christ, ‘the sting of death’ has been removed through the cross and resurrection. And, as David Watson said to his daughter, ‘Bees don’t sting twice’. ‘Thank God!’ (v.57, MSG).

Friday, August 22, 2014

We can't mess it up

‘In the end, the Christian concept of God’s sovereignty is a marvelous, practical principle. No one can claim to know exactly how both these truths fit together. And yet even in our own ordinary experience, we know something of how to direct people along a path without violating their free will. Good leaders do this in part-why would the infinite God not be able to do it perfectly? The sovereignty of God is mysterious but not contradictory. It means that we have great incentive to use our wisdom and our will to the best effect, knowing God holds us to it and knowing we will suffer consequences from foolishness and wickedness. On the other hand, there is an absolute promise that we cannot ultimately mess our lives up. Even our failures and troubles will be used for God’s glory and our benefit. I don’t know a more comfortable assurance than that. “God performs all things for me!” cries the psalmist (Ps 57:2)’

Keller, Walking with God through pain and suffering, Page 143

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.