Thursday, February 28, 2008

Preaching

Some powerful words on preaching from William Willimon of Duke University:

‘In that moment when the congregation settles itself in the pews and all is quiet and expectant as the people look to you, you are the preacher, the essential link between them and the good news. Without you the good news is not news. No one hears or believes it. Call it a burden, call it a privilege, a duty. You know that it is worthy of your best talents, worthy of a lifetime’s labour and dedication. On any Sunday you can give your all and still know the words deserves more. It is no small task that the church has set upon your shoulders. Being called to preach the gospel, you can do no more than to promise as long as you have breath, and there is someone to listen, then by God’s grace you will give them the Word’

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mumford and Sons

I saw my pal Simon recently and he had just been to see Mumford and Sons in concert. He confessed it was a long while that he had been to a 'gig' but said it was amazing. I met these great and talented brothers at a conference I went to recently and think they deserve some recognition so, on my blog that I know very few read, I thought I would give them a plug. I am going to try and go and see them soon. They have real real talent

Bob Newhart

Found this on a blog from Mad TV and it really made me laugh- hope you enjoy it. I also love the song from the film Once which won the best song in the Oscars. It's called 'Falling Slowly'

A treasure trove



I know I am very boring and tend to bang on about things I am enthused about but this is a truly extraordinary book. Keller has written this as his best attempt to explain Christianity to the sceptic and he does it brilliantly. He is unapologetically aiming at people who think and are prepared to be challenged at at intellectual level. Chapters on the bible, suffering, hell and exclusivity engage directly with the objections of our times to the Christian faith. But this book does more than just provide intellectual information and, in it's second half, Keller's words and observations touch the heart.

I finished reading this book in my local coffee shop and the chapter entitled 'The Dance of God' brought me to tears- not something that happens often to me when reading. This book reminded me why I do what I do and awakened afresh my passion to tell others about Jesus and all he has done. I have bought a load of copies and intend on giving them away. This is classic that I hope will be widely read and deserves to be noticed. If I have anything to do with it it will be.

Here Keller speak about it himself at The Reason for God site and here are some words from it's introduction:

Only if you [believers] struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive....But even as believers should learn to look for reasons behind their faith, skeptics must learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning. All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs....Every doubt...is based on a leap of faith.
- p. xvii

The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it. How do you know your belief is true? It would be inconsistent to require more justification for Christian belief than you do for your own, but that is frequently what happens. In fairness you must doubt your doubts. My thesis is that if you come to recognize the beliefs on which your doubts about Christianity are based, and if you seek as much proof for those beliefs as you seek from Christians for theirs--you will discover that your doubts are not as solid as they first appeared.
- p. xviii


Please, please please go out and buy a copy, read it and be open a door to something you haven;t seen or understood before. This book may just change your life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sharia and history

I read an article recently that reminded me of the practice of suttee in India. When faced with the prospect of a two tear legal system General Napier had a clear response.

....any chronicle of Britain's past is his response to the suggestion that the practice of suttee be allowed to continue, as part of a sort of “parallel jurisdiction” to the law he was asked to police as the Commander-in-Chief of the Queen's Forces in India. Napier listened politely to the request and replied: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

It is sad as Michael Gove notes that our leaders have a limited knowledge of history.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reason for God and other matters


I have been away for a few days in Cornwall which was fun. On one day, I went to Padstow and while eating my fish and chips on the quay a seagull took it upon itself to pinch my cod in batter. I confess, I find seagulls slightly unpleasant, a function of watching Hitchcock as a child. Otherwise a relaxing time of rest. My holiday reading was 'The Kite Runner' which if you have not read it yet do. It is a haunting book and if you can't be bothered to read it watch it on film. I have now started 'A thousand splendid suns' which looks equally as good.

Well, A Reason for God has arrived at last and I am 50 pages in. Keller has not disappointed so do go out and get a copy, give it to friends and if nothing else it will make you think. This is a very important book and a good answer to Dawkins and his gang who would have us believe the opposite of what this book is saying. If you are interested check out what Dawkins thinks at Ted Talks.

Also worth checking out is Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell which is now out on DVD.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Juno



Juno is a great movie. Amidst a sea of rather uncreative, unimaginative and mediocre films comes this happy but real tale. Superb script, excellent soundtrack and Ellen Page plays the title role wonderfully. Do make the time to go and see it and I hope it warms your heart.

I have to do a project for another degree the Church of England seems to think I need. Does the church really need people with more degrees or more passion for Jesus? Anyway, I am doing something on preaching and have surveyed my church and am now starting to do a bit of reading. I am currently reading Communicating for a Change and also Positive preaching and the Modern mind. I apparently have to have not less than twenty books on my bibliography.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Courage

'Courage is fear that has said its prayers'

Karl Barth

Mass-market

Keller is going mass-market and his fame has now spread to Newsweek. Perhaps he may actually be the next C S Lewis but , as he says, he would be horrified to suggest such a thing.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rowan

What is the Gospel? "Trust Jesus when he tells you what God is like" according to my Archbishop. I thought I would post a few things he has said that are thought-provoking in the midst of his sharia trouble. What is the church? A community of people grateful for the gift of Christ. What does it mean to be emergent? Being baggage free.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Reason for God

Here are the chapters of Keller's new book:

Introduction – All doubts are leaps of faith


PART 1 - The Leap of Doubt

1. There can’t be just one true religion.


2. A good God could not allow suffering.


3. Christianity is a straitjacket.


4. The church is responsible for so much injustice.


5. A loving God would not send people to hell.


6. Science has disproved Christianity.


7. You can’t take the Bible literally.


Intermission


PART 2 - The Grounds for Faith


8. The clues of God


9. The knowledge of God


10. The problem of sin


11. Religion and the gospel


12. The (true) story of the cross


13. The reality of the resurrection


14. The Dance of God


Epilogue – Where do we go from here?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

King's prayer


For my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. prayer was a daily source of courage and strength that gave him the ability to carry on in even the darkest hours of our struggle. I remember one very difficult day when he came home bone-weary from the stress that came with his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In the middle of that night, he was awakened by a threatening and abusive phone call, one of many we received throughout the movement. On this particular occasion, however, Martin had had enough.

After the call, he got up from bed and made himself some coffee. He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God: "Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone.
Later he told me, "At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: 'Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.'" When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.

From 'How we open our hearts to God' by Coretta Scott King

Juno


I have heard lots of good things about a film called Juno that comes out this month. Here is the trailer.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Dream

I went to preach at Christchurch Fulham yesterday and it seemed to go OK. My text was Deuteronomy 6 which I have been thinking about for a while. I started the talk with a story about a dream, one Martin Luther King had, and today I was reminded of a sermon I listened to 3 years ago that I still clearly remember given by a Swedish pastor called Andrew Thompson. It is a profound picture of what the church should be and is told in the form of a parable. It is called 'What is the Holy Spirit saying to the Church'. I think you too may remember this dream long after you hear it. I hope so.

Living



"You must live in the world today as you wish everyone to live in the world to come. That can be your contribution."

Alice Walker

Leaders

This is an excellent article on mobilizing leaders. Also an early review of the new Keller book called A Reason for God. Be sure to get a copy on pre-order from Amazon with delivery due on Feb 15th.