Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
I have started to read Eat pray love and am enjoying it. When it arrived and I looked at the cover I suspected, just maybe, it had not been written for men. It was probably not going to be about fly-fishing for wild sea trout in Patagonia or likely to be found on the bedside table of Mark Driscoll. The clue is perhaps in the by-line 'One woman's search for everything'. However, having watched this, Elizabeth Gilbert who I had never heard of, struck me as someone who might have something quite interesting to say-5 million people think so. So far, I think she is thoughtful, entertaining and is giving me an insight into the soul of our times.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham combines the story of one of the great men of our times and pulls out some of the factors that have contributed to his greatness. The book starts with a wonderful quote from Philip Yancey:
'The giants all had one thing in common: neither victory nor success but passion"
Napoleon said 'Leaders are dealers in hope' and there is much hope to glean from reading this book. Graham's secret in many ways starts with just one thing-his passion for, love of and encounter with the risen Jesus Christ.
As in my friend Simon's book More, this account tells of Billy Graham's visit to Stephen Olford's church in Wales and his igniting by God's spirit. In some ways, that's what we all need and was the take out for me from this book. Without this sort of encounter, I am not sure all the lessons in leadership techniques and business principles ever written will turn you into Billy Graham. Only the intervention of God's Spirit can do that.
Here are some of the things that made the man:
1. His ability to confront temptation
2. His single-mindedness
3. His building of a team
4. His courage
5. Learning from failure
6. Sharpening the saw and innovation.
This book is full of insight, tons of good quotes and is in itself an igniter of fresh passion for Jesus. But, let us not forget his preaching and you don't preach like this from 21 hints on leadership but through seeking after more. Watching this, I know I for one need to do that..
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This book has been recommended to me twice in a week. One came from a retired, thoughtful and amazingly wise pastor, the other from a friend in the midst of leading a thriving church plant and in the prime of ministry.
I've just ordered it and maybe you should too?
I read this in Prospect about the TED 2009 conference. If you don't know what TED is it is an annual meeting of the world's intellectual elite's from the arts, sciences and public life. I have not had a chance to watch many of this years talks but enjoyed these:
1. Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom.
2. Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity. She is the author of Eat pray love and I found her 20 minutes captivating- not least her ability to speak so confidently and profoundly in front of an audience such as this. The question she grapples with is what do you do once you have had a creative success? I suppose it is the 'difficult second album question' answered.
3. David Merrill on 'Siftables' which are amazing gizmos.
See more talks here including Bill Gates who I haven't yet watched.
What struck me about Gilbert and Schwartz is the hint of the gospel in both. Now they didn't say it or they would change from genius to fool in a moment in front of such an audience but the creator seemed to stand behind what they were saying if you watch and listen carefully.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy some of these.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I have in the past mentioned Tribes by Seth Godin. Here is why you need a tribe and also the opportunity to get a free copy of the audiobook. I have just downloaded it into itunes and plan on listening to it on a long drive to friends this afternoon.
(H/T Steve Addison)
This week my Godfather sadly died aged 91. Sam Davies met my father in a prisoner of war camp in Korea in 1951. They were both captured by the Chinese and spent three years locked up in the most horrific conditions. Sam went on to have a long and fruitful life and he and my father remained the greatest of friends. He was a man of kindness, humour, courage and prayer.
Sam was such an encouragement to me. He wrote a wonderful book called 'In spite of dungeons' which I remember my father giving me as a teenager-one of the few I read from cover to cover. It allowed my father to tell me his own story but in Sam's words. Dad rarely spoke of events in Korea not even to my mother. It has made me reflective of our times. People grumble these days at the loss of some comfort or other but we are really a terribly indulged nation. Would we, I wonder, be able to produce men such as Sam-resilient, courageous and strong of heart should the need arise again? I hope so.
In no small part, I believe, I am where I am today due to Sam's faithful prayers. I thank God for his friendship, life and ministry.
Here is his obituary in the Daily Telegraph.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Al Mohler on Time Magazines ten ideas changing the world right now-HERE
Keller's talks called 'Preaching to the heart'-HERE
A great post on writers and messy studies and be sure to watch the photo montage and the BBC film. As someone not known for tidiness it is heartening to know that chaos and genius can at times go together-HERE
Advice for young pastors-HERE
Scheduling the unexpected-HERE
Top ten values-HERE
The devotional Christian- HERE
How to be a reader when you can't afford books-HERE
Jared Wilson is a blogger who really gets the gospel of grace. "Pharisaical legalism is just self-help without good PR" What a great line-HERE
Missional Organizational leadership-HERE
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A friend Mark, who is South African, joined our church a few months ago and lent me Faith like potatoes. It sat on the shelf in my study for months until he was desperate for it back which prompted me to watch it.
I am so glad I did.
This is a 2 DVD deal-the first is the film which is moving, but there is something incredible about then watching South African farmer and evangelist Angus Buchan telling his own story.
One thing Angus Buchan said stuck with me.
"God is not looking for your ability he is looking for your availability"
This man has radically made himself available and watching this will be sure to stoke the fire of your faith.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Some years ago, I heard Keller speak on his five questions to ask as you read the bible daily. I have these laminated as a book mark in my copy of 'For the love of God':
1. How can I praise him?
2. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
3. If this is really true, what wrong behaviour, what harmful emotions or false attitudes result in me when I forget this? Every problem is because you have forgotten something. What problems are you facing?
4. What should I be aspiring to on the basis of this text?
5. Why are you telling me this today?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I am starting to work on my next project for my IME degree. The good thing is that I can write about a question that I am seeking an answer to in my own context. This is my question:
"What is a missional church community and how are they created?"
One of the people who has been helping me to think about this is Reggie McNeal and I am halfway through his new book 'Missional Renaissance'. In doing this, I have also discovered his book 'The present future: 6 tough questions for the Church' which came out some years ago but is still very relevant.
I am thinking about his 6 questions and you might like to join me:
1. The collapse of the church culture
- Wrong question: How do we do church better?
- Tough question: How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity?
- Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
- Tough question: How do we transform our community?
- Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
- Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?
- Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
- Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
- Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
- Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?
- Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
- Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?
(H/T M Blog)
I saw some friends yesterday and they were preparing for some talks on parenting. They will be available shortly here. They recommended a book by Danny Silk called Loving our kids on purpose which you might want to check out. Other resources include Shepherding a child's heart and Boundaries with kids. We have at church in the past run the course Family Time which also seems to have been well received. This is an interesting post on emotional development. Hope some of this might be a blessing.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Our Worship Pastor Will is crest fallen. He has been up since 5.30 am in search of what he has sadly discovered are very illusive Michael Jackson tickets. 50 dates at the O2 sold out in literally seconds at between £50-200 which if you conservatively work it out will earn him £150m. This makes David Beckham's salary seem like the minimum wage.
I thought people had gone off Michael Jackson. He is a rather strange colour, has a merry-go-round in his garden and suspicions have surrounded him about his odd relationships for years. He is unquestionably a good songwriter and performer but he's not that great. I saw him in Moscow in 1994 and he was decidedly average. Also, watching this performance, I imagine doing this to 'Beat it' aged fifty may play havoc with your lower lumbar region.
But there is something going on. There must be given all the hoo-har.
I am just not sure what.
Will, sorry for your loss. Here's what your missing....
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I sometimes cite the fact that this blog only has three readers which I think is broadly true. The other day, one of my three, my dear friend Peter in Canada, said that one of the books I had recommended on the blog was his most dog-eared and read of all those currently on his desk. (Driscoll's 'Reformissionary Rev' if you are interested).
This got me thinking. I, like many a church leader, often find myself more interested in quantity than quality. I like to see bums on seats even when I know very few of them are disciples. It makes me feel like I am doing a good job and makes me appear marginally less insecure. Hence, I suppose the blog illustration. I could have a blog with ten thousand readers who found the content meaningless or three readers, of whom one reads a book they find helpful and encouraging. Which sort of blog-indeed which sort of church- would I rather have? I fear the former but am fighting it.
'Leading with a limp' may I hope be the next dog-eared book on Peter's desk. Mine is written over, underlined, bent and scribbled on. It has also taken me some while to get through it. It is a book to be chewed, prayed through and pondered.
So many leaders in the church have inner world's that are a disaster. They are limpers inwardly, desperately and often painfully but they dare not show it. The consequence is pain, disfunction and, at its worse, the abuse of those around them. Often and so ironically those who suffer most are those for whom they claim to have the most love.
One of many observations in the book is the need for brokenness in leaders. To be broken, says Allender, embraces four realities (Page 71-72):
1. I am never sufficiently good, wise or gifted to make things work
2. My failures will harm others, the process and myself no matter how hard I try to avoid failure.
3, The greatest harm I can do is to try to limit the damage I cause by not participating, by quitting or by pushing for control.
4. Calling out for help from God and from others is the deepest confession of humility
Years ago I was living in Moscow and with no idea any church would ever been foolish enough to employ me and when I even hinted that I might one day my Vicar at the time told me I was not suitable material. He was probably right. My friend Kaarina, a missionary in Armenia said to me one evening as I was reflecting on this 'David, you must first be broken'. I had little idea what she meant at the time but now I understand it a little better. I still feel myself to be unsuitable material.
This is a great book and worthy of your time. I feel changed, challenged and humbled having taken the time to read it. The last section (knowing how most read books you may never get to it) but it's worth getting to the chapter on 'Prophets, Priests and Kings'. It is amazingly insightful.
I hope and pray this may bless you.
Great lessons from great leaders (H/T Reformissionary)-HERE
Tim Keller to speak at the Hybels Leadership summit+others-see HERE
Keller coming again to the LCM on 16th April-HERE
Better than a whole year of fasting -HERE
It is not about improvement-HERE
Remember Todd Bentley? Adrian Warnock has news-HERE
Calamity beckons according to David Wilkerson and John Piper has views-HERE
No more quiet times-HERE
Will the church be the church of homosexual Christians? An insightful article-HERE
Franquiz gives a book five stars-HERE
Ira Glass on 'Storytelling'-HERE
Choice of friends-HERE
Saturday, March 07, 2009
"Most of us want God to fix every wrong choice we make without taking from us our right to choose wrongly. We want to make God into our own pooper-scooper following right behind us, cleaning up our mess. [But] God lets us make our bed and makes us lie in it." Erwin McManus
(H/T Scott McKnight)
A friend was raving about this music site called Spotify. Basically, it is a free music site with ads every 10 songs or so. I suppose it's like having a radio station that you can choose your own music. You can also sign-up and have music ad-free.
This may, some are saying, be the end of itunes but here is my caution. If none of us ever pay for music will music cease to be written or will it just become more egalitarian and less in the hands of the few? Only time will tell.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Last week listening to Tim Keller at the London City Mission he was asked about confession and failure. It was illuminating and honest. At one point, he said he and his staff sometimes gather and read 'The advantages of remaining sin' a letter by John Newton ( If you don't have these they are gold-dust- a bargain at £2.50). We did this as a staff on Wednesday and it was a profitable time.
I am getting better at working through the fruits of conferences. It takes a bit of time but is worth making the effort rather than filing the notes away and moving on to the next thing. Here is an article on 'Making the most of conferences' to help you ask 10 good questions.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
I listened to two talks recently while driving on a long journey. Both downloaded from the Resurgence website. One by Andy Davis on biblical meditation which I found very helpful. The other by Driscoll on the gospel we preach. (by the way this is Death by love in one long talk if you don't have time to read it)
One statement he made stayed with me 'God hates sinners'. This is in contrast to the smiley-faced platitude 'God loves the person and hates the sin'. By the way, he informed me this was said by Mahatma Ghandi and he humorously bellowed 'he's not on our team'!
So imagine me this morning while holding this thought and working out what I think and trying to understand it. I read in one of my McCheyne chapters '....God....hated Esau' which can be found in Romans 9.
I am embarking on a word study on the use off 'hate' in the Scripture to find out more for myself.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Here are a few quotes from Leading with a limp:
"This is the strange paradox of leading: to the degree you attempt to hide or dissemble your weaknesses, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidity you will impose-prompting the ultimate departure of your best people"
"Few know peace that is not dependent on performance"
"A good leader will in time disappoint everyone"
"In the leadership approach of a reluctant leader, it is a blessing to give away power and a calling to monitor its faithful use"
"Anyone who wrestles with an uncertain future on behalf of others-anyone who uses her gifts, talents, and skills to influence the direction of others for the greater good- is a leader"
Monday, March 02, 2009
I listened to an excellent Driscoll sermon called Trials and Scripture which gave the best overview of the prophesies relating to Jesus I have ever heard. As I follow up, I read the chapter he recommended in his excellent book Vintage Jesus which you should get hold of. I ended up reading the whole thing. I am always looking for good books to give to new Christians or those with questions. This is as good as any I have read and is both theologically rigorous and accessible.
One of Driscoll's key thoughts is that the role of the preacher is to destroy idols. Identify them, say why they are bad and make Jesus known as the solution.
This list of ways in which we find functional saviours challenged me (Page 192) and it may challenge you too:
1. What am I most afraid of?
2. What do I long for most passionately?
3. Where do I run for comfort?
4. What do I complain about most
5. What angers me most?
6. What makes me happiest?
7. How do I explain myself to other people?
8. What has caused me to be angry with God?
9. What do I brag about?
10. What do I want to have more than anythings else?
11. What do I sacrifice the most for in my life?
12. If I could change one thing in my life what would that be?
13. Whose approval am I seeking?
14. What do I want to control/ master?
15. What comfort do I treasure the most?
If you haven't read any Mark Driscoll here are all his books and I especially commend the Reformissionary Man and Death by Love. Next on my list is Vintage Church.