Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raised with Christ


This blog started in a library when I was bored at Vicar Factory. A student had explained to me what a blog was and were it not for them I would still be utterly ignorant. They were, as I remember, American and generally on matters of a technical nature the other side of the pond is often a step ahead. This is certainly true of blogging.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, were it not for the adventure of the blogosphere, I would never have discovered Adrian Warnock's splendid blog and would certainly never have read his book which is called Raised with Christ . This is a book about the resurrection. I do remember not long after being born again someone suggested I read the classic tome 'Who moved the stone?' and whilst it is indeed a classic I don't think I read much of it. Dare I say it, it really is rather dull.

This cannot be said of Adrian's book. As a doctor, preacher, prolific blogger and father of five quite how he found time to write a book is a miracle all of its own. The first section of the book gives a very helpful overview of the evidence for the resurrection and everything in the book is steeped in Scripture. The second half explores the implications of the risen Jesus and covers justification, prayer, the new birth, mission and the end times. This work includes so many references to all the people I enjoy reading-notably Piper, Edwards and Lloyd-Jones. I found the chapter on the Holy Spirit to be particularly helpful and would set it up there with More as one of the most helpful things I have read on what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Adrian is clearly a man with a deep love of the word but also a passion for more of the Spirit. A man after my own heart.

I loved the section on Revival. As a church, we are planning to pray through the night tomorrow and excitement is steadily building. The wonderful account of the revival that took place in Coleraine in Northern Ireland in 1859 warmed my heart greatly and I am now praying for the same and more for Richmond and London in 2010 (Page 170).

As Adrian notes in his introduction, there is very little material written on the Resurrection. This, I have no doubt, will become a go-to reference work for many and is a great read for all who want to be challenged to live more wholeheartedly for Jesus. To conclude, I don't think there are too many of us who have bothered reading both volumes of the life of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones but I know for sure Adrian is one of them (and he might agree that it is a shame Iain Murray failed to acknowledge MLJ's charismatic credentials). Anyway, it seems appropriate to end with a quote from the great man.

'Has he whispered to you, has he spoken to you? Pray for His blessing, seek it, be desperate for it, hunger and thirst for it. Keep on praying until your prayer is answered......Be satisfied with nothing less. Has God ever told you that you are His child? Has He spoken to you, not with an audible voice, but in a sense, in a more real way? Have you known the illumination, this melting quality? Have you known what it is to be lifted up above and beyond yourself? If not, seek it; cry out to him saying,"Speak, I pray Thee, gentle Jesus" and "Sue him for it" [Page 225]

If you want a post Easter read this may well be the one. Jesus is risen indeed!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Leading on empty

I have been reflecting on the news that John Piper is taking eight months out having watched him be so honest before his church.

For those who don't know him, Piper is the 'Lead Pastor', as the American's say, of Bethlehem Church and the founder of Desiring God. He is a prolific writer and international speaker. I discovered him through my love of the works of Jonathan Edwards and his book God's passion for his glory.

I have no doubt that Piper is far from perfect. He comes across as a man of very strong views that he often offers with great passion.


By his own admission, ministry is all-consuming and, as he says, all of us must be sure to have our priorities in the right order: God, wife and family, ministry/work. Piper has such a profound anointing and is very 'famous' in his own circles. Most preachers, if they are honest, want to be famous (Bloggers too, that's why I consciously don't have any 'blog stats' for this site). Preachers do have a few people who may listen to the sound of their voice but they are always keen for a few more. Of course, it's about the lost, the church and God's glory but given the choice a big crowd is always better than a small one.

What is our greatest danger? As this post reminds me, it is Pride.

What a thing then to lay it all down.

What a thing to give up your public platform, your fame, your writing, your whole ministry to the glory of God.

Piper is not perfect. Nor am I. Nor are you. But he is prepared to let it all die and face the trouble and uncertainty that may now come.

In a meeting last night, my 'Lead Pastor' read a quote from the journal he wrote on a recent visit to the Congo.

Jesus promised his followers that they would be three things:

1. Absurdly happy
2. Entirely fearless
3 Always in trouble

I am going to read one book as a result of this that has been recommended to me a few times. It is called Leading on empty. If you are a Pastor or if you are not but you are a sensing that you are losing your edge, getting stressed, have your priorities misaligned, are not sleeping or are aware of your pride then maybe we should read it together.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Drawing things out

I had a great visit to friends and came across a thing called Bamboo.
My Vicar pal in his past life was a cartoonist and artist and has incorporated this gift into his new discipleship course. It allows him to get all Rob Bell Everything is spiritual on his listeners and draw to teach his people. If you draw (which I don't) you might find this something to add into the armoury.

I am happy to announce the introduction of another friend to the land of blogging. He will be very Un-ambigous.

I listened in the car on Saturday to the Art of Remembrance by Matt Chandler-this is preaching that really goes after the idols.

Live life (our discipleship community) are going to be immersed in Galatians next term which I am excited about. Tim Keller's enormous series on Galatians transformed my understanding of the gospel. I listened to it driving to and from work some years ago and have never been this same since. It may be the best $67.50 you will spend.

Here is a taster called Justified Sinners

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My brother is never my enemy

John Mumford is the National Director of the Vineyard and is an enormous encouragement to many of us. This is both moving and thought-provoking.



(H/T IGod)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hopeful Catholicism

In anyone's estimation it has not been a good fortnight for the Catholic church. Just when I was about to think it was all lost, along comes the most glorious, hopeful, spirit-filled, joy-leaking, creative, inspiring man who confirms that good wins and Jesus reigns.

His name is Frank Cottrell-Boyce and he's a Catholic and if you do nothing else this week give yourself the treat of listening to him on Desert Island Discs. (Only two days left so hurry...)

"Who's he?" you ask. Well, he's a screen writer, husband, father of seven and lover of Jesus.

I didn't know of him. Half-way though I learnt he had written God on Trial which is one of the most spell-binding things I have ever watched on TV.

As a representative Catholic he might have been on trial himself to some this week.One of his choice of records was fascinating-an Irish girl telling the story of John the Baptist. Again, a wonderful if not slightly weird listen. 

He said so many interesting things. When asked why he stayed in Liverpool rather than move to London he said, "If you want to see the world standing on one place to see it is a pretty good way to do it"

I always look forward to the book choice and his I think I am going to read just because he was such a delightful man. It is almost certain to be a great and pleasurable read.

By the way, if you want to explore Catholicism more here is one man's current adventure called 'Learning about Catholicism'.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bits and bobs of thoughts and doings

I have to say it has been rather a busy week. People often say to me in my line of work,"Must be a very busy time of year for you". I am not sure it is much busier than usual but there you go. 


I am still pondering tweeting. I think I have a rather dull life and am struggling to write anything I think anybody would be faintly interested in. Maybe it might cause me to be more interesting? Doubtful.


I am half way through The Rage of God and will offer thoughts shortly.


My friend texted me from Hong Kong asking me a question about music. I recommended Mumford and Sons (as an aside, not that I like to claim to be an early adopter, but they were mentioned on Cookiesdays when they were no more than a Myspace page-today they were played on Radio 1 as a drove to do a funeral). Anyway, my friend wanted to know what else I recommended. I think I suggested David Ford and I have been listening to The Be Good Blue Tanyas which I have rediscovered on my ipod. 


I have seen this before but it is great stuff.


My pal rang up and asked me a question yesterday. He is teaching a discipleship course and has got to the subject of the Cross. The course material doesn't like the term sin as it thinks our culture doesn't understand what that means. Instead it says there is 'Grace and ungrace'.  'How do you repent of ungrace?" was my response. Ungrace is surely a place (which I rather like as a term) but to get to grace you still have to repent and believe. You can't repent of a place or am I missing something?


The Church of England funeral is a funny beast. Burying someone you never knew is always an odd experience but a wonderful chance to share people's lives and share the gospel.  Very often so is the choice of music. Today's last tune was 'We'll meet again' sung by Vera Lynn


Maybe we will.










Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Driscoll on Anglican's

My pal listened to this talk Driscoll gave to the Sydney Anglicans and loved it. He gave 18 points on the subject of Reaching the next generation and I think he challenged and offended just about everyone (in a good way!).

Linchpin

Seth Godin is a leader, blogger, entrepreneur and thinker. I enjoyed reading Tribes last year and his latest book Linchpin is about leadership and creativity.

"What we want, what we need, what we must have are indispensable human beings . We need original thinkers, provocateurs and people who care.....Every organisation needs a linchpin, the one person who can bring it together and make a difference. Some organisations haven't realised this yet, or haven't articulated it but we need artists" [Page 8]

Godin keeps himself a step-ahead. It's his personal brand identity and is the reason why millions read his blog each day. In this book, he tells us that the world has changed. A complete paradigm shift has occured of how we work, how we earn our livings and how we lead our lives. The problem is that most of us haven't noticed and it's certainly not in the interests of our employers that we do.

Godin has a lot of views on teaching.

"What they should teach in school

Only two things

1. Solve interesting problems
2. Lead" [page 47]

He goes on to say that "Leading is a skill, not a gift (Romans 12 might put a different slant on this statement but I'll let it slide) You're not born with it, you learn how. And schools can teach leadership as easily as they figured out how to teach compliance"

This is a good and thought-provoking read. The writing style does have the feel that Godin has pasted together a load of blog posts (maybe he has?) and this does at times make his argument a little disjointed but it left me with lots of 'that's an interesting thought' moments.

I preached on Joshua 6 on Sunday and asked how differently you would lead life if you already knew victory was yours. Godin argues the same about life in the workplace. Right from an early age we start having our homework marked and wait around for the exam results to be pinned on the headmasters door. We are disempowered early and if we are not careful most people choose a whole life of waiting for a C+ rather than choosing an A.

"My heroes Roz and Ben Zander wrote an incredible book called The Art of Possibility. One of the most powerful essays in the book describe how Ben changes the lives of his hyperstressed music students by challenging each of them to 'give yourself an A"[Page 59].

I think Godin believes most if us should be doing something different. The system wants us to be drones and most people seems to be happy with it. My friend when we discussing this book admitted as much. But we needn't settle for it and Godin would be really pleased if having read his book we decided not to be. I've been a drone and I heartily commend a non-drone life choice.

"Loving what you do is almost as important as doing what you love, especially if you need to make a living at it. Go find a job you can commit to, a career or a business you can fall in love with"[Page 228]

This book is worth buying just for the bibliography but I am happy to tell you it worth reading for many more reasons that that.

Read it and become a linchpin.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An Amazon objector

I read this by Robert Crampton in the Times and it made me smile.

Talks for the pod

I have been doing a bit of driving in recent days which is when I listen to talks:

How the cross converts us by Keller

The call to preach by Matt Chandler

The call to endure by Driscoll

A dear lady in my church recommended Michael Ramsden's talk on the Good Samaritan which is also on my list.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A New Kind of Christianity

A pal has preached an amazing sermon that includes a thorough critique of Brian Mclaren's book A New Kind of Christianity. This is a great example of preaching that truly contends for the gospel.

Do not miss this one it is very, very good- 'Treasures old and new'

Purpose


Leaders that last is a book packed with wisdom.

In the chapter on purpose, he commends the idea of writing down a purpose statement. I did this quite a few years ago having been forced to do it on an expensive leadership program my firm sent me on.

It is one of the most helpful things I have ever done .

The book that Kraft recommends to help you in this task is one I have never heard of. He writes:

"One of the best books I have found on the subject of formulating your purpose is The Path by Laurie Beth-Jones" [Page 45]

($0.08 on Amazon!)

Buying this and booking some time out in your schedule with a Moleskine might be just the launch pad you need.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Rage against God

Chrisopher and Peter around the Christmas table must be a lively affair:)


(H/T Justin Taylor)

Solomon among the Postmoderns

My sister, much to my parents dismay was a punk from 1977-1979. The whole deal-tartan trousers, purple hair and a leather jacket with 'Joy Division' written in large white letters on its back. I can still see it now. She often now complains that today's teenagers don't have that same 1977 fire. I tend to agree.

The reason is perhaps postmodernity.

What's that you ask? Well, on one level its a load of French philosophers with too much time on their hands drinking coffee who thought too much (Michael Foucault being most prominent). Their central thesis is that truth is relative. A postmodern really really dislikes the absolute.

'Modernity is a clock; postmodernity is a turbulent stream...In a word, modernity is mid-twentieth century Detroit; post-modernity is Vegas' [Page 58]

In Solomon among the Postmoderns, Peter Leithart looks at the history of philosophical thought covering its three giant pillars; the Enlightenment, Modernity and the current season of Post-modernity (or are we now in post-post?). He looks at it rather cleverly through the book of Ecclesiastes and as a study grappling with big thoughts this a pretty good one. It did lose me in parts but in the main it was very accessible and a good primer.

There a lots of good stories, the best of which was the story of Duncan McDougall. In 1907, he discovered that humans at the point of death lost weight. Dogs when they die don't apparently. He concluded that this must be the departure of the soul. He was so fascinated by this that he decided to discover the weight of the human soul. 21 grams is the answer. [Page 108]. How cool and mad was he!

If you are interested in philosophy and want to cover it all in 160 pages then this is the read for you. If my sister reads it, it might go some way to explaining to her why there are no bands as good as the Ramones and why it is no one goes on marches any more. Ah marches-remember those.

The times they certianly have a changed.

Enjoy.




Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moments

I loved this on moments


(H/T Culture Making)

Blog-sweep

Some intersesting thoughts on the Church and Facebook

Books according to Seth Godin should be an experience

A few things on evangelism- a talk by Joe Boot and a discussion on the reason for decline and the future of vocational evangelism.

A post on the on-going shocking revelations of the Catholic church. On a lighter note, Giles Coren's article in the Times on the Vatican's chief exorcist is very amusing.

Neil Cole on disciple-making

Piper is coming to England 

A book getting some blog reviews is Steering through chaos

A post about defining Luddites and if you know what Jott and Evernote are you are clearly not one (one for the App geeks and I know you are out there!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Leaders who last


I am enjoying Leaders who last by Dave Kraft.

"Here are some obvious contrasts in the way we need to lead today in contrast to the ways we've led in the past.

Past Leaders                      Future Leaders

Organisational                     Relational
Operate in committees         Operate in teams
Command and control          Permission-giving
Degreed and elected            Gifted and called
Linear and pyramidal           Over-lapping circles
Share propositional truth      Tell stories
People of the written page    People of the screen
Tightly structured                 Highly flexible
Emphasise position               Emphasise empowerment

[Page 23]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The gospel in life

This new Tim Keller discipleship resource called The Gospel in Life looks great. Watch the trailer to learn more. One of our home groups have been going through the Prodigal God teaching resource and found it to be excellent so this looks like more good stuff.

Getting the Church Praying

I have been reflecting once again on the Leadership Conference and particularly on the issue of prayer.

Pastor Agu is the leader of Jesus House and since coming to England from Nigeria in 1993 they have planted 480 churches in the UK. He is a weighty leader and at one point I think the things he said about the UK had a prophetic tone to them. He said something like:

"We have come to you with the gospel for you sacrificed much to bring it to us and this land will again be used by the Lord"

He tells his amazing story here and do listen to it.

There are lots of helpful things around about church planting like these 5 Qualities of a Church Planter. However, so often prayer is not given primacy and one of the secrets of Jesus House is their commitment to and passion for prayer.

What does that look like?

Well, twice a year they fill the Excel Centre from 8pm until 8am and 40k attend. Yes that number is 40k. No surprise really that the wind of the Spirit is blowing through this church movement.

This challenged me greatly and Pete Greig, Prayer Director at HTB, helpfully gave a fantastic talk on called Getting the Church Praying. This will certainly give you some excellent fresh ideas and you never know very soon you may need to be booking the Excel Centre yourself.

I hope so.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Missional Ministry

I am often commending talks.

If you wonder why God is using Mars Hill so powerfully and want to know how, why and learn some of their lessons then here is one talk on "Missional ministry" that is a must.

I found it extremely helpful and encouraging and hope you will too.

One for a car journey perhaps.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Invictus

If you get the chance do see this film. Unashamedly feel good and uplifting but also a wonderful study in leadership and the nature of hope. Made me cry in parts. I know, I know- I'm a big softy.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 08, 2010

Blog-sweep

If you dismissed the Ipad maybe you might have been hasty?

Can anybody start something with a bit of passion? Crush it says yes.

If you want to know about the new Brian McClaren book then this review is good and you should also download and listen to this excellent sermon on Matthew 13 v 33- The Leaven of Heaven

Struggle with the email- I must confess I do. Here is a bit of advice on getting some Email sanity

Chris Tomlinson's Crave

It seems to be a sweep of sevens....



And a best book called Mastering the 7 decisions.

If you love the outdoors like me then you might want to read The Wild Places.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gospel and Character

Sometimes it is the things you remember after the a conference that stick.

Hillsong Church London has a remarkable story. Planted less than 10 years ago in the Dominion Theatre it now has a congregation of over 10k and most of those are in their 20's.

In this interview, Gary Clarke who leads this church said a couple things that he concentrates on as a leader.

1. Hospitality: For most of the years he has had 75 people through his home a week (Yes, I did say 75).

2. Gospel and Character: He also said this "I am only concerned about 2 things- preaching the Gospel accurately and my character-the team can do everything else."

Well worth visiting perhaps if you want to learn a thing or two about reaching this generation with the Gospel (particularly if you lead a church with an average age of over 55?-just a thought).

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Saturday smile


(H/T Vitamin Z)

One to get and one to give

Today is 'World Book Day' so the Times tells me- but it appears according to the website to have happened on Thursday-but let's not be picky. This article asked various literary and celeb types how they would use their voucher.

So the book challenge is this: one book to give away and one you might hope to receive.

1. Give: I think I would give Peter the Great by Robert Massie. This towering biography of one of the giants of history is a blinder. Peter's leadership literally picked up Russia, which was facing East, and plonked it down facing Europe and to be honest the world has really never been the same since.

2. Get: Recently, I read Linchpin and it has a great bibliography as a last chapter. One of the many books Seth Godin recommends is The Gift by Lewis Hyde and this book appeared again on my radar in this Times article so it has gone on my 'get' list. As a back-up, this article is also worth reading and here is an extract:

"I’ve just read a remarkable book, Whoops! by John Lanchester, that in elegant phrases and witty analogies, explains the crisis to the economically dyslexic in a way that actually sticks. So, to my amazement, I finally grasp stuff such as leverage, credit default swaps, derivatives and am angry with my ditsy former self who dismissed these as the domain of the boring City types you get lumbered with at parties."

So as a second 'get' Whoops seems the best thing to read if you want to demystify banking, finance and economics. Buy me either:)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Tweeter

I am now a tweeter. I thought I would add one more voice to twitter but have not yet quite worked out the point of tweeting.

We'll see how it goes....

Here are three things from the Times:

1. Apparently the Dalai Lama tweets so I am not alone!

2. Antonia Senior has some advice for Google and it's all about trust.

3. Frank Skinner on wanting brownie points for persecution as a Christian.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Avatar

I think I am the last to have seen Avatar. Driscoll thinks it is the most demonic film he has ever seen.

Don't know what anyone thinks?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Much encouraged

I have had a splendid two days with 1000 leaders of my nations church and seen God at work in power-encouraging, reminding, teaching and blessing.

What a great gift HTB is and such a joy to spend time with so many friends. A ton of my Vicar Factory year were there.

There are too many things to blog on so all I say to you is download all the talks:

1. A simply brilliant talk on leadership from Nicky
2. A wonderful interview with Sandy Miller
3. Gary Clarke of Hillsong and Pastor Agu of Jesus House were inspiring and are so clearly bringing hope and transformation to this city and nation. Truly remarkable leaders and men of God.
4. A great talk also on multi-site.
5. Best talk I have heard from a Bishop in a long time

This afternoon I listened to Pete Grieg teach on prayer. If you have not read Red Moon Rising you should do. Pete founded the 24/7 prayer movement.

He ended by telling us of a recent prayer meeting in Haiti. Have you been praying for this nation? Believe me, God has heard and is on the move and it seems appropriate to share and a really good way to end these two days.