Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Bible in my life

"My trust in God's word is greater, my submission to God's word is deeper, and my love of God's word is sweeter as a result of reading this book. For these reasons, I cannot recommend it highly enough'

David Platt on 'Taking God at his word'

I am giving a talk as part of a Lent series for 'Churches together in Barnes' and the title I have been given is 'The Bible in my life.'

I often like to read a new book about a subject area I am speaking on and spotted this on the book table last Friday. I think it will be good sustenance for me as I prepare this talk and might be a good Lent read if you are looking for something to ignite your Bible reading.

I am not sure I have the talk honed yet but my four points (which may well change) are:

1. The Bible reveals Jesus
2. The Bible has authority
3. The Bible speaks and calls
4. The Bible points us to the Good news

I am giving the talk at HT Barnes @ 7.30-9pm on Thursday 18th February and you are very welcome to come and listen.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Monday musing

1. I went to listen to Kevin de Young preach (and a nice chap called Julian Mott). It's probably not going to do me any harm putting myself in the way of some teaching on repentance. It was nice being able to tell Kevin that his books, reading recommendations and blog have been an encouragement to me over the last few years.

2. This post comments on how easily we can be critical of other churches and traditions.

3. I picked up a book called 'Wisdom in Leadership' from the bookstall on Friday:

'God saves people through the gospel.

'One of the difficulties is that it doesn't sound all that powerful on paper. There aren't any bells and whistles. It seems a bit mundane, even un-powerful, to describe our calling as people telling people some news about what's already happened. But that's exactly what God asks us to do. It seems like weakness to Jews and foolishness to Greeks. But it's actually the power of God.....

.....If people were to look at your programs, or your events, or your one-to-one ministry, would they be able to tell you that you trust the gospel as God's power to save? Or would they conclude that you're trusting in something else?


4. Here is a very scary thought. It is possible to preach the Bible and tell other people what they should be doing and be not doing that in your own life. In fact, you can be living antithetically to the things you teach others that they should be doing. What Simon Walker would call a misaligned 'front and back stage' If you teach the Bible this capacity for delusion should both humble you and bring you a fresh sense of the fear of the Lord.

5. I was blessed listening to Nicky speak on 'A Year of Jubilee'. Loved the story about how the Bishop of Islington got started as a worship leader and the amazing illustration "Why didn't you tell me about Jesus"...impacted me.

6.A can't get this quote out of my head: 'Believer, when you are on your knees, remember your are going to a King. Let your petitions be large.' C H Spurgeon

7. True Valour is a compelling read and is immersing me in the story of Ruth and Boaz.

8. As I shared communion yesterday, the song 'Good good father' was being sung behind me and it felt like a holy moment. 

9. Anybody can have affair.  a. Be in the word b. Be accountable to others c. Intentionally avoid temptation d. Trust God's grace. Gordon MacDonald's 'Rebuilding your broken world' had a deep impact on me when I read it and describes how he repaired, repented and reflected following his affair. 

10. Francis Chan has a thought on homosexuality.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

A word to myself: 'Don't screw it up'

“This very day, every man—whether a global leader or an unknown tradesman—has an opportunity to show the world that the gospel does not kill pleasure or aggressiveness. Rather, as [Jonathan] Edwards has shown, it frees Christians to experience true pleasure and to act in manly ways for a far greater cause than ourselves. We grieve the trajectory of modern men, and we feel special pain for the wives and children who are, through no fault of their own, deeply damaged by the sins of men. In a broken world, we pray to God to show the world a better way, a greater joy, and a magnificent Savior, who delights in taking sinful men and turning them into agents of his glory.” 

I remember reading a page in Steve Farrar's book that I have never forgotten. He talks of the capacity of Christians to sin, fail and fall- particularly with regard to sexual sin and adultery. He deals too in the book with abusive leaders and those who get seduced by money and power. He ends the page saying that if you have read it and you think that this could never happen to you, then you are exactly the person it is likely to happen to. It could happen to me- I have no doubt of that. I have just ordered a few copies of Farrar's book to give to friends and people at church and for myself as I have recently given my copy away. I have also got on the phone and email a pal or two and see how they are doing.


Someone I looked to (from afar) and have been taught the Bible by has felt compelled this week to resign his church, ministry and is under the 'Clergy Discipline Measure'.  I have no idea of the details and they don't really matter and my prayers are for him and his family. However, I do know that he was meant to 'Finish strong' and tragically, for whatever reason, hasn't.

This year, I have heard more accounts of struggles in leadership and with sin in the lives of church leaders than I have in all the years since I have been ordained. As a result, we have called an interim meet-up of 'Men on Mountains' to check how we are all doing. I know myself pretty well and know how easily I too could fall and disappoint and mess it all up. Indeed, that would be almost inevitable without the friends I have in my corner dusting me down and looking me in the eye and checking I'm OK.  Grace and humility is the Jesus way. I so need more grace and more humility if I am to have any chance of 'Finishing Strong'.

Pray for me. I need it. We all do.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The missional ordeal

Thanks to Justin Buzzard for this excellent quote:
“We have a friend who says she believes churches should get Bible teaching ‘on a need-to-know basis.’ In other words, a church should open their Bibles together and learn from Scripture according to the contextual challenges and ordeals they are currently facing together. Sadly, many Christians don’t ‘need to know’ what they hear each Sunday, and so they retain very little of it.
Now, we recognize believers should have a clear, consistent biblical worldview, and we can’t offer Bible teaching based only on felt needs and areas of immediate interest. But frankly, we’d rather teach missionaries, disciples who are hungry for Bible teaching to sustain, enrich, and guide them in the missional ordeal, than churchgoers who have little motivation for hearing the truth. And remember, unused truth is lost truth. It doesn’t matter how true we believe the Bible to be, or how effective and gifted our teachers might be. If our congregations are not engaged missionally…they will have little need for our teaching.” -Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch

Monday, February 01, 2016

Monday musing

1. Carson's 'Picture two Jews' story hit my heart when I watched it. It will yours too.

2. I reflected afresh on the impact Simon Walker had on me as an ordinand as I reread his book and thought about my own leadership. I do aspire to be as 'undefended' as possible which I always found a helpful leadership descriptor.

'If you want to know who someone is, do not look at them- instead, as my first boss said, 'Look at the spaces between them and others'. It is in the space that we will come to see who they are. It is the relationships that a person's character is revealed and their identity shown.' 

Subversive Leadership, p. 52

3. I enjoyed watching this about the Cayman Islands.

4. Transexuality is seemingly the chattering classes and Hollywood's subject of the moment. Melanie Phillips has a view.

5. I'm being blessed and helped by 'To die is gain'

6. I am preaching on Phil 2 and this post suggests humility=transparency.

7. I am pondering the curious maths of a growing church.

8. The main reason people leave a church

9. I am speaking at a Watoto event at Greycourt school tomorrow night.

11. 'Spotlight' film review  (h/t Jonny Baker)