Monday, June 30, 2008

The Prodigal God


Keller's second book is out in October and you can pre-order it -HERE. Read an interview with him on it -HERE

Also, I happen to know that Keller may be on these shores so you might like to keep the 18th November clear....If you wonder why you should want to bother just listen to his talk on the Prodigal Son -HERE and the superb 'Reason for God' talks HERE. In a world full of pulpits here is one that actually preaches the Gospel.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Priests Prayer


For those of us being Ordained today here is a prayer:

" Seek it until you have it. Be content with nothing less.....Seek this power, expect this power, yearn for this power; and when it comes, yield to him"

Rev Dr David Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Off to a Priestly silent retreat....


In general terms, service is a willing, working and doing in which a person acts not according to his own purposes or plans but with a view to the purpose of another person and according to the need, disposition, and direction of others. It is an act whose freedom is limited and determined by the other's freedom, an act whose glory becomes increasingly greater to the extent that the doer is not concerned about his own glory but about the glory of the other......It is ministrium Verbi divini, which means, literally, "a servant's attendance on the divine Word". The expression "attendance" may call to mind the fact that the New Testament concept of the Diakonos originally meant "a waiter"/ [We] must wait upon the high majesty of the divine Word, which is God himslef as he speaks in his action.

KARL BARTH

Is Lakeland a move of God?

I went to a conference yesterday where Rev Dr Mark Stibbe at St Andrews addressed his view on this. In short, his answer was yes. Whilst much of what was said made sense, I am still working through the theology of impartation. There was the tacit suggestion that to get the fullness of God's power you needed to go to Florida to get it. I not quite sure about that.

I commend his talk which should be available soon- HERE.

Stibbe also recommended the following by Bentley -HERE - and a more academic paper by Dr Greig, a theologian who has been examining his ministry for 8 years -HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Potatoes

"The person....who looks for quick results in the seed-planting of well-doing will be disappointed. If I want potatoes for dinner tomorrow, it will do me little good to go out and plant potatoes in my garden tonight. There are long stretches of darkness and invisibility and silence that separate planting and reaping. During the stretches of waiting there is cultivating and weeding and nurturing and planting still other seeds"

Traveling Light quoted in 'The Contemplative Pastor' by Peterson

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Priestly read

I asked a Priest friend what to read on my priests retreat. He said quite simply. ..."Being a priest is about the gospel and being Spirit-filled....Read Romans and the best book on the Spirit you can find"

Here are my selections for books on the Spirit:

God inside out by Simon Ponsonby

God's empowering presence by Gordon Fee

Surprised by the power of the Spirit by Jack Deere

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts by Max Turner

For those off on a Deacon's retreat I read two books last year:

A faith to proclaim by James S Stewart

C T Studd by Norman Grubb

The Jesus Storybook Bible


This is one of my best discoveries of the year- The Storybook Bible (Every story whispers his name). It is written by Redeemers children's worker and has been my staple for school assemblies. If you teach children in church, want your own children to know the story of the scriptures or dare I say want to read the story yourself in a new and fresh way then you need to get hold of this.

So, I'm off now to our primary school to share another one of these marvelous stories and pray that through it Jesus may whisper his name.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Week


I take 'The Week' which usually arrives on a Friday. It covers all the main stories in the life of the nation and the world and, possibly this may not surprise you, it made no mention of the turmoil facing the Anglican church. Not the merest little highlight, not the briefest of references, not the tinniest of snippets. It even failed to make the 'Boring but important' section. Nothing. Not a jot.

Last week, we had a 2 hour lecture at the diocese about the importance of the Anglican Communion. My response at the final Q&A was that, if we are prepared to be honest, nobody really cares. The goings on of Anglicanism and a load of funnily dressed Bishops, gay or otherwise, are irrelevant to our secular public consciousness. I don't know if anyone has noticed but increasingly nobody's coming to Church.

The Week seems to have proved my point......

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Link-age

Keller's summer reading -HERE

How to mark a book( I confess I am a book marker and write, underline and fold pages so I love this article)- HERE

One man's book list-HERE

N.T Wright does comedy and his new book Surprised by Hope- HERE

Where are all the APE's-HERE

Keller takes things on the road -HERE

God's will for your life-HERE

The Telegraph leader on us Anglican's-HERE

Why Muslims choose to follow Christ- HERE

Three insights from Keller- HERE

Sabbath time

I have worked out that Sabbath is important. I have also worked out that getting away is a good thing. A third revelation is that as a Pastor I need people and places that feed my soul. I recently went to the Summer Exhibition which, with the exception of the depressing and vile Tracy Emin room, I loved. I enjoy a walk on the river. I enjoy eating food with friends. I have too, in recent years, got into the habit of having a few people on the go who teach me and feed me. Keller. Peterson, Wimber and a host of less well known people.

Recently, I have been working through this as I have been driving around over the last month- Wimber on Prayer- which I spotted collecting dust in a friends study. It has been a joy to listen to. I had forgotten what a truly gifted bible teacher Wimber was.

Yesterday, I happened upon Reggie McNeal and his talk that I would class as a MUST LISTEN. He is a teacher at Fuller Seminary and I just loved his message to Pastors and you need to find 44 minutes of your Sabbath to let him bless you (be patient the last 20 minutes is gold-dust).

Listen- HERE

A few quotes:

God takes attrendance by who's missing

Not about how many show up on a Sunday....What a small kingdon that would be"

Don't have and evangelism strategy have a blessing strategy

Only Pharisees think you can clean fish before you've caught them

Friday, June 20, 2008

Impact of Lakeland in Balham

A friend sent me some news about some things that been going on in his church. You can listen to this (Stephen Hance's talk from the 3rd June includes some extraordinary testimonies about visit's to Lakeland and Dudley and Jesus at work in the congregations lives) -HERE. I am off to a meeting a St Andrew's Chorleywood next week so I will report back.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Troubled waters

It has been quite a week for the Anglican Church and the controversy of the 'gay wedding' as it was so reported in the press. There are many within the church and its leadership who see no difficulty with the actions of Rev Dudley and would will that this sort of thing happens more not less. Giles Fraser advocated this strongly on Radio 4- HERE.

I happen to disagree with him. What saddens me is that there are few voices of orthodoxy on the airwaves and little in the press offering an alternative view.

The current challenge in the meantime is for each of us to know what we think about all this and why we think it and how we should act to those who disagree with us. So rather than lots of comment, I can simply share some resources that have helped me work out a theology on all this. The most helpful book I have found is A Moral Vision of the New Testament which is my 'go to' book on most ethical issues. If you want something with more brevity I commend Andrew Goddard called Homosexuality and the Church of England. . I also think these articles are quite interesting- HERE and this is a very thoughtful piece -HERE

We must be prayerful and loving and wise as we proceed.

Troy

(H/T J. Woodward)

What do you learn in 30 years?

Tim V-B has a good blog that I enjoy and I particularly liked this link to a man who reflects on 100 things the has learnt in his 30 years as a Christian- HERE

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

6. Where is Jesus and the Gospel?

The principle: To preach the Gospel. You may say that's obvious but most sermons I hear tell me either a self-help platitude, fail to mention Jesus and the Cross or tell me to try harder and do a few good works. None of these are good news to me nor to anyone else. Jesus is Good News, he has completed his salvation work for humanity on the Cross, it is finished and we can live in power and life from this truth and out of this truth by the power of his Spirit.

It would be easy to divide this parable (as with so many) into a religious message. The good servants and the bad servants with central conclusion that we must go on the coffee rota at church to improve our rating. That is not the Gospel. So where is it.

vs 32 'Do not be afraid'

The Lord has and will provide everything for you. Your possessions and gifts are his and they are for you to steward. You are to use them in a ministry to feed and bless and serve others.

Why does he expect so much of his disciples? Because he has done much. More than 'much' he has done everything. Where you have failed to do his will (as you and I often do), he has not and he has received the many blows that are yours and mine. " They mocked and beat him " Luke 22:63 tells us. He took the beating. His grace is sufficient. His price is enough. We serve and love and provide for others out of his strength, his resources, his life and his resurrection. That is the Gospel. Not our sacrifice but his.

Scott McKnight is helpful in his eight marks of a robust gospel and here are some useful gospel definitions.

5. Why does it matter?

Principle: It matters because as Driscol says the Scripture is not just true ...'it is helpful'. It tells us how to live well, how to prioritize, how to relate to others, how to steward the things we have. This is crucial information and we can only get it from the word of God.It matters that we know that what we believe here will count. It matters that Jesus told this story to both disciples and the onlooking crowd. Everyone needs to be in on what Jesus is telling us.

Here are 10 'It matter ...' that came out of this passage:

1. It matters because he has a ministry for each one of us to steward and resource

2. It matter that you discover what yours is

3. It matters that you let his coming again shape how you use you time

4. It matters that you know deeply his promise of 'good' for you

5. It matters that all are included in this warning and it matters if you are a believer or not.

6. It matters because believing is a matter of life and death

7. It matters that we will each be held to account

8. It matters that we are seen and are active in his service-especially if you are a leader

9. It matters that we don't wait because much is expected of us

10. It matters that he trusts us

It is here that you need to look for illustrations and for the section concerning 'resistance'. How do you get good illustrations. My experience is that you immerse yourself in understanding the culture of the place and the people to whom you are ministering.

You read books: not just theology and not just from a perspective that you have

You prepare yourself to be real

You do and see things normal people see: films, art, music

You are aware of what's happening and the questions people have on their minds. This week this might be a question my congregation might have- HERE

You read magazines and book reviews : I take the Spectator, Sunday Times, Prospect and others periodically.

You talk to people and learn to listen

You plug in across the class, age and culture barrier as best you can.

4. What is the memorable hook?

Principle: This is a decision about what your central message. If pushed, what have you concluded the passage is about and how are you going to tell people. Lots of scripture will give us choice on what we say. This passage is about service, leadership, judgement, stewardship of ministries. So what is God saying through this passage to your people for this time? If there is any challenge to the preacher it is to make what is said memorable and to raise passion and love for Jesus as a result of what has been said.

Traditional evangelical sermons would be the 'three-pointers' that in my early Christian life would all begin with the same letter. They were great sermons birthed in a great tradition.

Here is what one might do with Luke 12.

"Jesus has three things to say to us this morning...."

1. Be ready v 35

2. Be faithful v 42

3. Be grateful v 48

There are many who still adopt this style and I have done so many times. However, I have tended in recent years to offer questions rather than statements of propositional truth. A lot of preaching in our churches is to the converted (actually as this passage remind us those involved in Church activities are sometime those most blind to the gospel). The converted often just want more information we can all to easily think that they are righteous. Therefore as Keller has taught me over the years there are three-ways to live

1. Our own unrighteous
2. Our own righteousness
3. In Jesus righteousness won for as the Cross

On any Sunday we all have parts of us in category 1 and 2 and need reminding. The countless pew-filling Anglicans I have spoken to over the years will so often explain the gospel based on their own righteousness. The Gospel will offend our righteousness most severely and strangely often more than our unrighteousness.

1. The peril and loss of either having an unrighteous status if we do not yet know Christ vs 47
2. The stupidity of righteous people living unrighteously vs 45
3. The stupidity of using your righteousness to earn Jesus' grace and favour vs 48

So here I would plan to base myself around three questions?

What you are supposed to do?

Why most of us don't do it?

How Jesus enable you to do it?

Another alternative strategy would be to take the resistances and deal with them head on as Jesus tells them in the story. Preach 9 in the negative and the final Gospel point in the positive.

3. Where is there resistance to what the Scripture tells us?

The principle: The task is to identify and go for the resistance in the human heart to the truth and relentlessly expose it and its consequences. Where might we be deceiving ourselves. Where are we blind and weak. Why do we deny the reality of what the Scriptures tell us. How does this play out in people's lives?

3. Where is there resistance to Scriptural truth?

1. We don’t think we need to be prepared and to be seen by God v 35
2. We don't do what we've been commanded to v 35
3. We don’t see the reward offered to us v37
4. We don’t think the world works like God says because on our terms it doesn’t v37
5. We don’t understand what the task is and that other depend on us doing it v 42
6. We don’t see the need to protect against unexpected trouble v 39
7. We think we will have plenty of warning so lets have a bit of fun now v 45
8. We don’t think this story relates to us but is for others and that the consequences aren’t really that bad v 41
9. We don’t see that those who should know best often don't v 47
10. We fail to see and acknowledge the grace offered by Jesus v 48

2. What does the bible mean?

The Principle: What does the passage mean covers three areas. To those who heard it first and lived at the time and in the culture. The meaning to those who have interpreted it over time (The NIV Application Commentaries call this the 'Bridging Context'). The meaning to us today. As you do this work, certain themes will rise to the surface and you will inevitably bring your questions from the "What does it say?" work. Very often there is a tricky verse or two that challenges you and the commentators so try not to skip over it. In this passage on Luke 12:35-48 it is the phrase 'cut to pieces' in v 46 that will cause listeners to sit up. Rightly so. We should all sit up.

Here is the second question and I am simply posting below what I have done in the study with some links and a bit of explanation that I hope is helpful.

This is the issue of context and meaning (people who have been to theological college call this exegesis which is a posh way of saying what did it mean at the time). Once you have worked the passage you can then see what the commentators think it is all about.

But how do you find a good commentary. There are a couple of good source books: John Glynn and for the OT Tremper Longman III (cool name!). Also this post is helpful for the Gospels and Acts and collects together some Pastors favorites- HERE

So how many should you read? It depends how much time you've got and you can over do it- there is mountains of material. For this talk, I have read 3 commentaries on Luke and one specialist book on the subject at hand by my NT tutor at college

Luke by Green

Luke by Gooding

Luke by Bock

The Parables of Jesus by Wenham

I will also surf for some more liberal interpretations and perspectives but these are often covered in any good commentary.

For Luke, I usually start with Gooding but it doesn't matter. He gets to the point. What you are trying to do is lay your understanding of the passages various meanings one perspective on top of another. There will very often be broad agreement and then some differences.

2. What does the bible mean?

Is there a common theme? Well , there are two slants

1. Watchfulness for his return
2. Faithful stewardship (spiritual and material)

Who is the audience? Green helpfully says it is like having a telephoto lens that zeros in on the disciples but the crowds are still in view.

What is the theme of watchfulness about?

It is eschatological and refers to the end times. The coming again of Jesus. His concern is that he would find his servants 'ready'. (three times in vs 35-40). Green refers to the original translation 'gird you loins' in the KJV and offers a picture of hoicking up your tunic so that you are ready to get moving. This looks back to Exodus 12:8 and the passover meal prior to leaving slavery.

What does it mean to steward?

The servants have been left in charge and are given a choice on how to act. In faithfulness or in tune with their own hearts. Some do it right, some do it wrong. Notice that Jesus in v 35-40 shatters the cultural understanding of social hierarchy. The master would never serve the slaves.

What groups of people are we talking about?

At least three groups.

1. The religious scribes, elders and priests vs 45
2. Disciples of Jesus vs 37
3. Unbelievers v 46

What about Peter's question?

This is where it becomes a bit blurry. Peter wants it a nice tidy 'them and us' but Jesus doesn't answer the question but what he does say is:

1. All need to be alert
2. Heightened responsibility for leaders and disciples

Should we be scared?

It depends who you are. v 32 sets the gospel backdrop for the follower of Jesus. 'Do not be afraid'

If you are not -you need to be listening to Jesus very carefully.

Bock makes a helpful observation.…”his main principle is the kind of service we give, not sorting out who is responsible to give it”

So what about the 'cutting to pieces'?

1. Cannot mean loss of salvation but could mean loses reward. But can’t have salvation by faith and reward by works?
2. The believers are in view but ultimately rejected because they have failed in the 'doing' vs 43. This view employs a salvation by works. We know we have assurance. (Romans 8:28-30, 38-39 and Phil 1:6)
3. People are involved in the household of faith by serving and having responsibility but their description and action says nothing about their spiritual condition. This group do not lose what they had- this shows they had no proper relationship to begin with. Judas in John 6:70-71 or 1 Cor 3:14-18.

The link between the rejection and cutting up of vs 46 and the place of the unbeliever should leave those with out faith in Jesus concerns at their assigned place.

David Wenham helpfully explores the idea of the faithful leader

1. Honours the masters house
2. Feed his fellow servants (Titus and Timothy)
3. Look at how Peter finally gets it! ( 1 Peter 5)

So that is the overview of meaning.

Monday, June 16, 2008

1. What does the Scripture say?

The principle: This is the discipline of sitting before the text and reading it carefully and in detail. Read it through fully a few times. Read it in a few translations. I use the Layman's Parallel Bible and Alfred Marshall's Interlinear. Read around it so you set it in the context of what has come before and what comes afterwards. Then read each verse. How is the passage structured? How do the things said relate to each other? What answers and questions does to text offer you. Mark each thing you observe with a verse reference. Don't reach for commentaries yet (you will be tempted to)- that comes next. Pastors often skip this stage or spend very little time here because they think they already know what the passage says. Most of the time THEY DON'T.



I thought this week the blog may take us on a journey of sermon preparation for the benefit of our preaching group (we discussed these 6 questions when we last met) and any other preachers who may find it helpful. This passage on simple reading ought to cause every breathing human being to immediately stop whatever they are doing and pay attention to Jesus.



So, firstly, I have spent a good initial chuck of time asking this first of the six questions of Luke 12:35-48 and there is no way to do this both thoroughly and quickly.

I have done nothing more than let the text ask questions of itself. I greatly enjoyed the journey so far through this passage. This is worth doing JUST FOR THE SAKE OF IT and not just for sermons. Pick a passage and give yourself and hour and apply the principle shown below to it.

Pray before you start and ask God to teach you and to speak.

What does the Scripture say?

1. Be dressed for service (v 35)
2. Keep your lamps burning (v 35)

Why?

1. So that you can immediately open the door for him (v 36)
2. So that you can receive something that is good (v 37)

What is the ‘good’?

1. He will wait on the servants and have them recline at the table (v 37)

What are the conditions on this?

1. That he may find us ready (v 38)
2. That he finds us ready even if he is delayed once or twice (v 38)

What must we do?

1. Be watchful so that nothing is stolen by the thief (v 39)
2. Be ready because he will come when we do not expect him (v 40)

What is Peter’s question?

1. Is the parable for us or for everyone? (v 41)

How does Jesus answer?

1. With another question (v 42)
2. The question is part of another story (v 42-46)

What is the question Jesus asks?

1. Who is the faithful and wise manager?

What is the manager tasked with?

1. Giving the food allowance (v 42)
2. Giving it at the proper time (v 42)

Will doing the task be worth it?

1. Yes. It will be good if we are found ‘doing’ when the master returns (v 43)

What will we get?

1. Put in charge of all his possessions (v 44)

What is the choice we are given?

1. To listen to what we say to ourselves (v 45) or
2. To do what we have been asked to do (v 42)

What prompts the servant to make the wrong choice?

1. The delay of the master (v 45)
2. The servant’s violent temperament (v 45)
3. The servants desire to indulge himself and his needs (v 45)

How will he be found out?

1. The master will come on a day and at an hour when he is not expected (v 46)
2. The servant will lack awareness (v 46)

What will happen?

1. Cut to pieces (v 46)
2. Assigned in the place with unbelievers (v 46)

What divides the types of servants?

Those who know the masters will but….

1. Don’t get ready (v 47)
2. Don’t do it (v 47)

What is the consequence?

1. Many blows

Those who do not know his will….

1. Deserve punishment (v 48)
2. Don’t get so many blows (v 48)

How does Jesus conclude?

1. With an expectation and standard (48)

What is the standard?

1. Much given so much demanded (v 48)
2. Much entrusted so much more asked (v 48)

6 Questions for Preachers

I listened to this and found Driscol helpful and am trying to apply his questions for this weeks very tricky text (Luke 12:35-48).

Here they are:

1. What does the bible say?

2. What does the bible mean?

3. What is the memorable question or hook?

4. Why or how is there resistance to what is true in Scripture?

5. Why does this matter?

6. Where is Jesus and the gospel?

Go into all the world

(H/T J.Taylor)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Honest questions about Lakeland

This is an article from the editor of Charisma magazine that someone sent me:

HONEST QUESTIONS ABOUT the LAKELAND REVIVAL
-by J. Lee Grady [CHARISMA EDITOR]

The Power of Words

Saturday Link-age

Here is a selection from blogland:

Talks on parenting- HERE

Keller on how to preach the gospel. Amazing stuff-HERE

Five books worth regular rereading- HERE

Five books on suffering- HERE

Movies that make men cry-HERE

How your faith tradition influences the way you lead- HERE

McKnight on stealing other people's sermon's- HERE

A Christian worldview- HERE

How do we train C of E train Curates and Vicars? Actually it's how most people get taught. Lectures and Symposiums - Some thoughts - HERE

Driscol does a great sermon on preaching the text of scripture and the six questions every preacher should ask. However, the thing I remember about it is his description of how you parent girls as a father. If you are a dad of girls this is worth listening to- HERE (Daughter stuff 18 mins in for busy folk)

Jim Wallis on the bible being neither conservative or liberal-HERE

Friday, June 13, 2008

Holy Goat

I am doing my first wedding tomorrow. Hope for a rather more fluid performance than this.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Glory Revealed


Led what I had to confess was a 'Liturgy Lite' experience for my turn to do Evening Prayer at potty training. I am hopeless at the undefined pause at the 'red dot bit' in the Psalms in CW so thought best avoid any potential mishap altogether. Played a song from Glory Revealed which some enjoyed so here are the details. Country and Western worship inspired by scripture-what a combo.

Praise you

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sex Sushi and Salvation



I read Sex Sushi and Salvation on the tube going to Green Park and back so its in the 'quick read' category. It is similar in style to Blue like Jazz and these are the musings and travels of one man (Christian George) and his life with Jesus. Full of good observations, robust theology and some stimulating quotes. I particularly liked the story of St Francis who, standing before his Bishop and in order to declare himself free of the world, stripped naked and set off on his mission! That would have made for an entertaining Ordination!

Quotes I liked:

"When once you have tasted flight , you will forever walk the earth with your eyes skywards" Leonardo da Vinci

"Plastic surgeons are always making mountains out of molehills" Dolly Parton

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience but shouts to us in our pain" C S Lewis

"If you guys ever have kids and one of them when he's eight years old ever accidentally sets fire to the living room rug....go easy on him" Marty McFly in Back to the Future

Worth a read.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Journals of John Fowles



I was sitting in a pub in Cornwall with a great pal of mine having a drink with a friend of his and we got on a discussion about books. So, Si pipes up and asks me what my favorite novel is and I reply"The Magus" by John Fowles (which I read many years ago and greatly enjoyed). Si's pal paused and then said "..that is the most demonic novel I have ever read". This proved something of a conversation stopper on the subject of books, but fortunately we recovered well and had a very jolly time. I confess I have never viewed John Fowles quite the same since.

Imagine my surprise when the other day another Rev friend David gives me for my birthday "John Fowles: The Journals Volume 1" saying that he been enjoying them all year. I could not help but recall the incident in the Cornish pub.

As an aside, David recently attended an IME day (clergy training) and was meant to have brought one thing that signified his first year in his Curacy. Of course, rather like me, he had failed to read the blurb telling him of this and so had arrived unprepared. When the moment came for "sharing" the only thing he had with him was the journals of John Fowles. So, being quick of foot, he held them in the air and said that "journalling" had been the most significant thing (which happens to be true) but he was left hoping that his fellow Curates were not going to fly out and buy Fowles as a model of Christian journalling, But would that be so bad I wonder?

These journals were a refreshing read for one reason in particular. They were ruthlessly and shamelessly honest. Fowles commits to paper every action, thought, indiscretion, ambition and fault with compelling candor and openness. You see the state of the human heart with all its deceits and desires revealed page after page. I have no idea if Fowles could see what a self-obsessed man he comes across as with his many infidelities and opinions. This is personified by his seeming disregard for his step daughter Anna during his affair with her mother.

Here a a few things I have taken away

1. Honesty is a dangerous business and I know from my own private journals I still manage to write the idea of me and what I think and feel rather than what is actually so. Fowles perhaps does this too, but he is brave in spilling out his uncensored inner world on the written page no matter what others may think of him. Did he plan to publish the journals at the outset of all this I wonder?

2. He is a good writer. In reading the journals you can see him learning his craft over time. He consumes contemporary and past literature in his pursuit of how to write well. He works out and learns from each thing he reads and ploughs it into to his own ambitions for literary greatness. He becomes what he desires by the end. To employ the same desire to learn and consume the work and wisdom of others to facilitate the things God has set within you may be another thing Fowles can teach us.

3. Sin has a price. You can see the pain all over the page as he describes his journey into marriage.

Here are a few quotes:

"Two people, however intimate, only know each other's shadows"

"I wonder if it would be possible to love anyone purely, without the adulteration of their attractive qualities. I doubt it. Love must rest on something"

"Pringle is....well-read but unwise"

"Existence is a downhill slope"

"The other day she was almost bitterly sarcastic when I called the Jesuit priests "Father". It only seems polite to me. I don't believe in the army, but I should address the officer by his rank. The respect due to parallel worlds"

"Eileen's away in France with the Tolkein's"

And finally, Fowles enjoyed a joke and I particularly liked this one

"What happened to the Eskimo engaged couple. One day she broke it off"

Read these at your own risk!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Longer leg

God sometimes does things we humanly cannot understand. He does it in the bible a lot and he does it so that we might come to know and recognize Jesus as Lord, accept his grace and forgiveness offered to us by the cross and live our lives out following him.

Watch this from a leaders conference many friends attended in Harrogate and that I attended last year- I am still processing what I have just seen. Remarkable. Always good to remember that it is not the sign itself but the sign giver.

Thanks to my pal Mark for sending me the link.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saturday Link-age

Here are some things from around the blogosphere for your perusal

Keller on the gospel in all its forms- HERE

How to find meaning at work or not?- HERE

An email checklist- HERE

The Dwell audio -HERE

Why we must resist religious bureaucracy -HERE

Steve McCoy has some splendid book recommendations in his excellent -5 Big Books series. I have contributed a bit but was stumped by the '5 Systematic theologies'. Cookie knows his limits. Anyway, hope you enjoy: Church leadership- HERE Preaching -HERE Personal Evangelism- HERE and for you clever folks Systematics- HERE

Rebel virgins -HERE

Willow Creek and seekers (worth watching the Hybels video) -HERE

Church pirates -HERE

Looking for God -HERE

Off now for a day on diocese on cross-culture mission. ......

Lord save us from your followers

This looks interesting and will be coming our way soon no doubt. (H/T bob's blog)

Friday, June 06, 2008

A river ran through it.....

"There are many men that are by others taken to be serious grave men, which we contemn and pitie; men of soure complexions; money-getting men, that spend all their time first in getting and next in anxious care to keep it, men that are condemn'd to be rich, and always discontented, or busie. For these poor rich men, wee Anglers pitie them"

Isaak Walton 'The Complete Angler'

Foot-taps for Friday

Returned from fishing. Here is some music for a Friday before my return to the coalface

This has had over 5.8m hits on youtube- the new Weazer single



Who is the biggest rock band in the world? Maybe these guys who play Wembley tonight and have sold a mere 87K tickets.



From the biggest to the smallest. Jo, who I was on holiday and has an aspiring musician daughter. Check out her myspace page and pass it forward, she is very talented- HERE

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Music is amazing

A song to amaze you until my blogging return. It's called 'Go to hell...." . No offence meant! (H/T S. McCoy)

Wilderness

Off now for a couple of days of solitude with the fishing rod. The summer is here and the trout streams call....

Rain

I have recently watched Rob Bell's Everything is Spiritual with my friend Si and we both agreed he is surely a remarkable communicator. I would commend is as a good watch not least for it's extraordinary insight into science and God.

Here is Bell on Rain which I hope you enjoy.



I spent quite a bit of time being asked questions about God and Jesus on holiday. The prodigal son is a very good place to start. I think Rob Bell would agree. Listen to Tim Keller's spell binding talks and do read his book ' The Reason for God'-HERE

The Shack


Some time ago, Kate said before our weekly staff meeting that a book called 'The Shack' is all the rage in the US. I had never heard of it. Here is a post that opens up the debate on whether it is a good thing or not-HERE - (Peterson think it's great)

I suppose now I had better get on and read it- HERE

Book Club tonight so I may recommend it as our next read.

Dwell UK

Mark Driscol is coming to town and if you lead a Church or you think you might one day do so do go and listen to him. He is coming to speak at Dwell on 12th July. Be there and this is why....

Turkish Delight

I've been away on an adventure. Sometimes you do things not knowing how they will turn out and they turn out really, really well. You do something that teaches you things, that is bigger and more regenerating that it can ever have intended to be and that you are so glad you have now done. Where have I been? Well, on a walking holiday in Turkey. Yes, I did say a walking holiday. I went with Exodus with whom I have in the past climbed Mount Toubkal which I also highly commend.

Here are some reflections on my week in Turkey

1. There is something great in doing something that is bigger and involves more than just you.

2. There is surprise in going to a place that is off the beaten track- who would of thought that lunch with a mountain dwelling Ranger and his wife could be so special.

3. It is possible to be married for 45 years and still be in love and talking and para-gliding/diving.

4. People give of their own time to things they care about. One person on the trip teaches migrants English on a Wednesday evenings because it matters to her- not because she gets paid.

5. Stuff happens to people and, as Wimber used to say, you either let it make you "bitter or better". For quite a few I talked to it was definitely the latter.

6. Passionate people (SAS Dave) don't have time to sit around moping. They crack on and get well (or don't sometimes) as they move on , or walk on in this case, onwards and usually upwards. He was a man of many parts and never ending ditties of information and experience. His Peshwar father revelation of the last day just seemed to sum this up.

7. It is possible to be enthusiastic about the cello, the violin and being a vegetarian.

8. When you go for a Turkish bath and the man says "take all your clothes off and lie on the slab" that is indeed exactly what he means.

9. Turkish waiters in the main seem to be very annoying.

10. Walking in 37C is hard work. Now there's a surprise.

11. Read Good to Great and Water for Elephants both of which are worth putting in the bag for you summer holiday

12. Best Turkish food- Chicken with Almonds

13. Best Turkish tree- The Jesus Tree- It is actually called the Mediterranean strawberry tree that secretes a red liquid that the locals say is to remind us of Christ.

14. Most mountains in Turkey seem to contain deserted ancient cities with amphi-theatres (all least all the ones we visited). No one seems the least interested.

On the last night, we went to a French restaurant run by a Turk. On the back of the door was this quote which struck me 1. Because it was in very large letters 2. Because I normally disagree with French existentialists but chose not to on this occasion which only goes to prove I must have been on holiday.

" Don't walk in front on me I may not follow, Don't walk behind me I don't like to lead, Just walk beside me and be my friend " Albert Camus

The music of the holiday was Modern Times by Bob Dylan

Have a listen