Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where the light is


My friend bought me this DVD and it arrived recently from Amazon. I now understand why he was so insistent I watched it. Sometimes, you witness people who are such masters of their craft that it leaves you rather speechless. This concert is just such a musical moment. If you know a muso, a guitarist or someone who derives pleasure from rock, acoustic or blues then bless them with 'Where the light is'. They will thank you-trust me.

If you have no idea who John Mayer is here he is singing 'The heart of life'...

Spaghetti

I went to listen to a well-known American preacher recently and he said that if you want to communicate well then find some people who do it and learn from them. He said that he learnt his trade from American stand-up comics. To this end, I enjoyed watching Malcolm Gladwell (author of the Tipping point) speak about spaghetti sauce as the source of happiness. He is a real communicator. Not only is it interesting stuff but he is a brilliant at conveying it. It's called 'What we can learn from Spaghetti sauce' and if you've ever wondered why American's have so many varieties of everything here's why.

Also, the Desiring God conference audio is now available in audio and video for ipod download HERE and to keep your toes tapping my friend Pip discovered this rather good tune called 'Fade into you' by Mazzy Star. Enjoy.




(HT: Buzzard for the DG Conference)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't panic

Simon Walker of The Leadership Community whose work blessed me greatly at college has some analysis of the current crisis. If you haven't read his book 'The undefended leader' it is well worth it. Read his thoughts- HERE

Three things a leader needs

John Calvin wrote "It is evident that man never attains a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God and come down after such contemplation to look at himself". I have had one passage that I have been contemplating for few months now-1 Samuel 30:1-8

So what are the three things I think I am learning from it?

1. To cry

David knew how to weep. vs 3

2. To be strengthened

David knew how to strengthen himself in the Lord vs 6

3. To inquire of God

David knew to ask vs 8

So. perhaps the Lord has been teaching me that ministry is about tears and facing loss, about learning how to find strength and about remembering to ask before I act.

The learning-process is for me a slow one.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The power of thank you

Three minutes that reminded me to say thanks-HERE

In Blogland

Here are a few things to peruse:

20 books to read in your 20's (if like me you are perhaps just a little over this then read them anyway!)-HERE

What happens when you feel all washed up-HERE

Signs of the people-pleasing Pastor-HERE

Doubting and faith-HERE

Keller on not changing the Gospel-HERE

Reading the bible in a different way-HERE

Deep-HERE

Paul Johnson in the Spectator on Bishops-HERE and Rowan on Bankers-HERE

Things only Christians do-HERE

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mission in Luke Acts

Listened to this on my journey to see my friend's in Bournemouth. Driscol preaches with such fire and zeal he sounds like he may be in danger of blowing up. He often says things that many may disagree with but he is someone who knows what he believes and preaches it. His lack of passivity and compelling passion for Jesus is an admirable, courageous and rare thing.

There were many things that struck me in this long talk but here's one thing I remember. God called Mark Driscol to plant Mars Hill Church with 'an audible voice'. He says it twice. Listen to his story-HERE

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You said

Sometimes a worship song 'becomes' worship as you watch it A friend sent me this and I think it demonstrates what I mean. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And the lamb wins



I have some news. For the very first time I have been mentioned in the preface of a book. One line- but it's a start and I also think I spotted a funeral story I recognized. My dear friend Simon has written his third book. If you have not yet discovered the first two then they are More and God inside out and you really should have done by now. God inside out is the best book I have on my shelf on the Holy Spirit and sits next to Gordon Fee as my go-to reference work on the subject. In times where there is lots of nonsense written and spoken about many things you need to find a wise biblical teacher and Simon is one of them.

And the Lamb wins is a book about the end times. If you think there is some nonsense on the Spirit then try the end times. Every nutter with a blog in Christendom has written their ten-penny worth on the subject and never has there been a better time for such a reasoned work on this important area of theology. The Lakeland summer demonstrated that without sound doctrine and firm biblical foundations Christian's can easily spin-off into gnostic la-la land. It need not be so.

Simon addresses some important questions and, as an Amazon reviewer says, "this is a book for our times":

Try these for size:

What happens when we die and what is death about?

Where can we find hope?

How do we navigate the millennium maze?

What does it mean to be living in the end times?

What will heaven be like?

Who goes to hell and what happens?

What about Israel?

What will it mean to be judged?

Now, I don't know about you but these seem like questions that I really ought to get my head round. How I lead life in light of these important biblical realities is surely going to be of consequence. As someone who now buries people and prepares them for death I can tell you that most people are woefully ignorant of these things and have developed a post-modern pick and mix 'I hope it will be OK' view of life and death. Is it not true too that even we in the Church often live far from these end time truths and were we to do so we would be much more fruitful?

James Whyte wrote this recently in the Times about Christian's and his point, though barbed, has a ring of truth to which we should all listen. Here's what he says on heaven.

"I do not mean to pick on Roman Catholics. All Christians fail to act on their avowed beliefs. Suppose you believed that Heaven exists and that only some of us will qualify to live in it for ever, as the vast majority of Christians claim to. How would this affect your behaviour?

It would depend on what you thought were the admission criteria for Heaven. But whatever you took these virtues to be, they would utterly dominate your life. When everlasting bliss is on offer, nothing else matters at all. People who believed in Heaven would surely act quite unlike those who do not."

Simon deals with both heaven and hell in this book and does so with real clarity. He beautifully ends his chapter with a Lewis quote from the Last Battle that I will leave you to enjoy. I learnt so much from this book and it has ordered and explained these subjects talked of so often in Scripture in a very accessible way. Simon uniquely marries theology with pastoral reality that demonstrates that it has been lived as well as written. I also loved his excellent sub-headings such as 'Biblical bingo' and 'Does my bum look big in this?

Probably the most costly chapter is the one on Israel. As it turned out, Simon explored this subject at the same time that I was reviewing my thoughts on the subject at the prompting of a close friend and with the help of Dwight Pryor. Reviewers often say 'this chapter alone is worth the price of the book' and in this case it is true. Most readers I imagine will be in the replacement camp with Tom Wright (differing from Edwards, Simeon, Spurgeon and many others by the way) but you may not remain there having read this or a very least I hope be persuaded that there is another credible view.

This book is a gift to the Church. I hope you will read it and be blessed and changed.

If you are a blogger please read and review it and pass the word forward.

News of this book needs to get out there because it really is very very good.

Good ideas

I do sometimes miss working in my old life of marketing. To keep in tune with business and what's up I occasionally read a blog by Seth Godin. He has recently published his favorite posts of the last two years. He is an engaging, thoughtful and creative thinker. It's worth checking out his Best of the Blog

Monday, September 22, 2008

Do-it-yourself

This is a great quote from Andy Stanley that is worth a ponder.

"If we got kicked out, and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he or she do? Why don’t we just walk out, come back in, and do it ourselves?"

(H/T Strategy Central)

J I Packer on the ESV Study Bible



(H/T J.Taylor)

Elder brothers



Our text yesterday was Luke 15 and the talk included lots of pictures of prodigals, including this one which I had not seen before. What struck me about this picture by Tamara Paetkau was not the younger son but the elder one working in the field in the background.

Following a week of financial turmoil I have noticed some financial righteousness in myself and others that seems important to acknowledge. Some in our society have indeed been neglectful by borrowing money and acquiring possessions they could not afford. Lots of people have been citing the past, their grandparent's prudence and rediscovering words like 'shrift'. The sentiment is that people had it coming. Of course, it seems unjust for those who have squandered resources to be let of their debts. It seems wrong that someone else will have to pay. But this is can quickly turn (perhaps especially among Christians) into the voice of the elder brother.

This is a time for the Gospel not recrimination.

Is this not the perfect picture of the Gospel. That's why the good news is often so offensive to the religious.

Why not use the times to explain the good news using Luke 15? What joy it is for the debtor to be set free and return repentant. Be reminded too that the lamb is already here for those who have been the good stewards. Just beware of missing it.

You see, our God is indeed a Prodigal God and I am once again thankful for it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Musical men & women & Presidents

I was around at some friends and they had 'This is your life' playing by Amy MacDonald. It is a smashing album and I have been really enjoying it.





Another pal recommended John Mayer to me but particularly his live album. In fact he was so enthused about it he bought me a copy the DVD there and then on Amazon. It's called 'Where the Light is'. He is a very very talented man.

Also, do check out an excellent series on BBC4 on Presidents and Hollywood by Jonathan Freeland and the uncanny similarity between this election and West Wing.

My worship album of the moment that I am enjoying is by Kathryn Scott, particularly the song 'I belong' inspired by Romans 8. As it happens, I listened to it on a train from France having just finished listening to a sermon series by Keller on Romans 8 'How the Spirit transforms' which I recommend too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Around the bazaars

Thinking about the banking crisis-HERE

What's missing from your ministry?-HERE

Rob Bell's 5 E's-HERE

C of E apologizes to Darwin (no I'm not joking!)-HERE

Mega-church numbers stall-HERE

Books you should read on Christ and Culture-HERE

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Keller and Clowney on Preaching to the Post-modern

An amazing free resource now available on itunes. Get more info HERE

Crunch

A couple of interesting articles that have caught my eye in the midst of the economic turmoil. One in the Telegraph by Jeff Randall and James Whyte writes an unflattering piece in the Times -he does not think believers actually believe.

Chatting to the dear old saints at our Communion service this morning they were all wondering where the $85Bn for AIG had come from and where was it before someone gave it to a badly run insurance broker.

Anybody know?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Famine

The Scriptures often talk about famine. Joseph was tasked with making provision for when the times became hard in Egypt. It is therefore interesting to watch our times. XL last week and Lehmans this week and who knows what will be next. So easily things get swept away. Pensions, savings, stocks, houses.

So my question to myself is in what do I trust?

Do I really trust Christ with everything?

Could it all be swept away and would I still stand faithfully?

At times like these, we need to be reminded of the Gospel. In fact, we always need to be reminded of the Gospel. We must preach it too. Perhaps now more than ever. I read this recently and it realy stopped me in my tracks. Is this really the Gospel? Can the news really be this good and if so why don't I tell more people? See if it has the same impact on you:

Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.”

—The Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 60

(H/T Of first importance)

And for the visual among you here is Mark Dever on the same subject.



(H/T J .Taylor)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Three questions

Driscol's three questions:

1. ‘What do people want to have more than anything else?’

2. ‘What are people most afraid of?’

3. ‘What do people make sacrifices for?’

(HT Blogging Parson)

Evangelistic musical dancing?

This is almost unbelievable. Perhaps more dancing in Church like this is the secret to more growth? Apparently available for bookings...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting too busy?

Enjoyed listening to this 'Thought for the day'

The Radical Reformission


I've finished Radical Reformission which seemed a good book for this time of year. I often just look back through the book and see what I underlined. Here's some of the things

1. Reformission requires that every Christian and church realize that missions is about not something they do but something they are

2. In Reformission evangelism, people are called to come and see the transformed lives of God's people before they are called to repent of sin and to trust in God

3. One of the fascinating things about Reformission evangelism is that lost people actually function as missionaries themselves before conversion

4. In Reformission the line is blurred between evangelism and discipleship, enabling non-Chirstians to learn a great deal about Scripture and the Christian life before making a decision for Christ.

5. Ruts: (1) separating from culture like a Pharisee (2) blending into culture like a Sadducee (3) ruling over culture like a Zealot (4) ignoring culture like an Essene

6. I like the postscript "The words printed here are concepts. You must go through the experiences" Augustine

Buy it-Read it-Think about it-Pray it in

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gates and Seinfeld

All I can say is ehhh? I am an Apple user and here is Microsoft's new big-name and big-budget ad starring Gates and Seinfeld that I read about in the Week. It's truly incomprehensible but maybe that's just because it's American and doesn't translate? Now, having worked in marketing for over 10 years and visited the US many, many times I have to say that hasn't helped me much and I am really none the wiser.

What to say?

Read what Tim Keller said to the families at 9/11

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Culture


Andy Crouch has a new book out called Culture Making that seems worth a read and also his article in CT. Talking of culture, have you read the Shack yet? I know I have been banging on about it but I just think Pastors and Christians need to have read it. Driscol disagrees but he thinks its a work of doctrine and not a novel. It's coming your way as the Spectator shows in their interview with William Young called A Pilgrim's progress for the 21st century. Read the Shack and then you can make up your own mind. Two million in Americas already have.Also Ghandhi's seven deadly sins and the futility of football.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Barth on Scripture

When we come to the Bible with our questions—How shall I think of God and the universe? How arrive at the divine?—it answers us, as it were, "My dear sir. these are your problems: you must not ask me! Whether it is better to hear Mass or hear a sermon, whether the proper form of Christianity is to be discovered in the Salvation Army or in 'Christian Science.' whether your religion should be more a religion of the understanding, or of the feelings, you can and must decide for yourself." The Bible tells us not how we should talk with God but what he says to us; not how we find the way to him. but how he has sought and found the way to us.

Blog-sweep

Some views on where should you have your church office? An interesting perspective on time. Driscol shakes up the Sydney Anglicans into more effective evangelism. One women (much read and commented on in blogland) explains "Why I walked out of church". What are we to do about that nasty bit in the bible about the genocide of the Canaanites? What's the missing virtue in leadership? How do we reach mastery? Finally two things on Sarah Palin. -her spiritual story and Chuck Colson shares his thoughts

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wild at heart in Wales

We had a great men's weekend away in Wales. It is a bit of a shlep to get to but the experience was more than worth it. We did have an early disappointment of the pub running out of lamb shank and I am not quite sure if Pete has yet recovered. The highlight for me was 'gorge walkng which involved jumping into waterfalls in a wetsuit and silly hard-hat. On Saturday night we went down to the beach, built a fire and drank a beer and had good chats and fellowship. We also has some time to worship and pray. Generally, tons of fun and I highly recommend it for any mens group. Actually the truth is our women go every year so we were just keeping up so it's not gender-based!

Here's what we did. A couple of lads got us all organized (thanks to Pete and Jonathan for their efforts), booked the place which is called the Christian Mountain Centre, sorted a minibus and that was it. They have an amazing team of '20 something' outward bound types who sort the activities and tell you what is going on. You need to take a day off on the Friday but our men managed that and loved the time away.

Do think about it.

You will love it and it will be a blessing.

Benched

A talk by Reggie McNeal had a great impression on me. I think think this is the sort of thing he is talking about. The church not as an impoverished thermometer with a leaky roof but as a blessing. Enjoy and be inspired I pray


Benched from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.

(HT Joe Thorn)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The power of questions

Found these and liked them.

General Questions:

What are we doing that we should stop doing?
What are we not doing that we should start doing?
Who is doing something we need to learn from?
What are we doing that has gotten stale?
What area of ministry is under-resourced?
Where have we experienced inappropriate spending drift? Who is going to help cut expenses and when will it be done?
Are we avoiding any problem issues?
What are our blind spots?
What ministries are struggling? What changes are we making to them in the next 30 days?
What do we have to celebrate?

Questions About Our Staff

Here are 10 questions about staff. They could also be applied to volunteers.

What staff member needs developing? Who is going to do it and when?
What staff member has more to offer than what she is currently doing?
Who are the future stars? What opportunities are we giving them to grow?
Who should have been moved or removed but hasn’t been?
What volunteers or staff deserves recognition and/or promotion? Who is going to recognize them and when?
Which staff members are at risk of burning out? How will you help them?
Who has hit a leadership ceiling? How can you help him overcome it?
What are the next ten staff positions we hope to fill?
What are the ten staff positions that could be (should be) eliminated?
What is our written action plan based on the previous nine questions?

Team Member to Team Member:

How is your relationship with God?
When is the last time you failed?
What faith risk are you currently taking?
What hard decision have you been postponing?
Who is speaking into your life and what are you learning?
What is your biggest vulnerability?
What are you dreaming about that you haven’t told anyone about yet?
If God would bless anything you did, what would you attempt?
Do you have any ongoing sin issues? What are you doing about it?
Are you doing what God has called you to do? If not, what can we do to help you to find the right fit?

ESV Study Bible


I have had a weird day off this week- Wednesday lunchtime to Thursday lunchtime- all due to our men's weekend away in Wales tomorrow (that will be another post!). Anyway, I went to see a pal in Oxford and as ever we talked about many many things. This morning somehow we got talking about the new ESV Study bible which my friend and I both enthused about but he has pipped me and has got his on pre-order. If you own no other Study bible this might be the one to get. They have a range on Amazon and both he and I have gone for the pucker, last a lifetime, full monty, be on your study desk for ever leather version. He told me that J I Packer who has been very involved in this considers it to be the culmination of his life's work. (If you are online to order this- be sure you have also pre-ordered The Prodigal God which comes out in October)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How to read the bible

I am a fan of McCheyne as I often say, but here is an interesting post on how you might read and live the bible more effectively. It is called 'The world's best bible reading program'

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Would Jesus wear slacks?


Here's the thing.

On Sunday, I had an unusual morning in that I was not preaching or leading the service. So I arrive at church in a joyous and free demeanor in my jeans. For some unfathomable reason, our dress code is that we wear non-jeans and we look what, in dreadful modern sartorial vernacular, is called 'smart-casual'. A mark of my 'gas-mark three' evangelicalism perhaps?

As it turned out, my Sunday was far from a rest. Trevor, who was due to lead the service, was called up to the band due to a lack of a guitarist and I was sent in to bat with 30 seconds notice to lead the service and communion.

All went well as it happens. Not bad I thought from a standing start. Give yourself a pat on the back.

This was the feedback. (This of course did not come to me directly-we are remember Anglicans).

Could I please not wear jeans when I minister communion?

Three people fed this back to our church office.

Fawn slacks yes jeans no?

Now of course I know that some might be offended by my jeans. Maybe I do indeed look offensive in jeans. Many under 40 would suggest the reverse and are deeply offended by the very existence of the slack. What if I too am deeply, unbearably traumatized by the beige slack?

(I could at this point make a case for liturgical robes as some might but I won't)

But my big question is why no jeans?

Can anyone tell me where in the New Testament there is a distinction made in dress between slacks and jeans at the Lord's supper? Khaki allowed but denim bad. Sounds a bit Levitical to me?

Is this a real issue that should concern me or is it, as I suspect, religion?

The preacher as it happens was wearing a T-shirt and 3/4 length shorts? Mandated dress for bread and wine but not for preaching God's word?

Should I wear jeans next time or return to beige slack mediocrity?

What trousers would Jesus wear? Linen perhaps given the weather

Views please

Monday, September 01, 2008

Blog-sweep

A few things have caught my eye. If you are looking for a good page turning novel Shantaram has been recommended to me twice this week.Resurgence have had a redesign which is worth checking out and especially the talks from the Dwell UK conference which I attended. The two must-listen talks are the gospel of grace vs religion of works and preaching Jesus but I intend to listen to them all over the next few months. Rob Bell has a new book out which looks worth checking out. Bonhoeffer on the task of the preacher. I really enjoyed reading Skidelsky's article called 'The return to goodness' which is an excellent commentary on contemporary liberalism. You need to subscribe but why not take Prospect for six moths and see how you get on. New Douglas Moo commentary on Colossians

Josh Harris has been running a series on preaching notes and Keller has now posted his which should be a treat. It's worth checking out the whole series.

Why the Christian always has a life on Plan A and a new book from David Allen whose book Getting things done I have found a really useful read over the summer and now have a gleaming new full filing cabinet to show for it! It's called Making it all work.

I am immersed in a 5000 word essay which has to be in in two weeks so the blog may be a little slow in the coming days. I will try an post a bit though.