Monday, May 31, 2010

Why I blog

Recently someone shared with me their passion for writing. They love to write and what's more they have been brave enough to actually put some words down on paper in the hope of being published. I listened to this brilliant talk on creative writing to help me understand the writing process better. I have a number of friends facing the challenge of getting themselves published and a few more should, in my opinion, be published but have not got around to writing anything. The solution for them is I guess just to start writing something. One book you might want to check out that I haven't read but that is always quoted as the seminal text for writers is Stephen King 'On Writing'. You should also watch this truly amazing talk called Nurturing creativity.

A while ago I wrote a post called 'Why Blog?' and encouraged people to start a blog. One person to my knowledge has done so which has got me pondering not least the reality that a. People think blogging is a waste of time which I already know b. Few read this blog. The latter I know is the reality and after hundreds of posts I know of about 11 people who have ever visited here. That is a pathetically small writing vs reading return isn't it? In truth, I have no means of knowing who reads this blog and no idea if anyone has ever visited.

Here are a few reasons I keep going:

1. To share things that I discover: I love to read, to listen to music, to hear talks, to read thoughtful blog posts, to share learning, to understand culture and to tentatively study theology. These various things I discover end up on here. Two things I have enjoyed recently are reading Wild Goose Chase and listening to a great album by The tallest man on earth called Shallow Grave. His song called the Gardener is really wonderful- Bob Dylan meets Ray Lamontagne.

2. To discover new things: Stephen Covey's great book has as his 7th Habit one called 'Sharpen the saw' and the blogosphere has been for me one means by which this is able to happen. A life changing book that I read many years ago (not discovered as it happens on a blog) was Finishing Strong and the resources I glean from the blogoshere is one way I hope this may happen for me and as many I can pull along with me.

3. To encourage others and help them follow Jesus: A couple of dear friends have written to me recently sharing the encouragement they have received from the blog. One attends a very dry village church and he says the bits and bobs I post keep him running the race and are 'a lifeline'. Another friend mailed me yesterday and is reading Crazy love and is aflame with the love of Jesus and renewed in her passion to share her faith. I am much encouraged. The great thing about only having eleven readers is I know you all by name and I pray for you.

4. To share a few things I have learnt: What do you think is the question God is going to ask you? It might be "How did you get on?" and your reply might rightly be a slightly confused "With what?" - my career, my acquisition of things, my status and qualifications, my reputation? No. How did you get on at making and encouraging a disciple or two as followers of Jesus. That is the purpose of life and the best selling book in the world is worth 40 days of your time to flesh out how this works. To make a few followers of Jesus, to see them baptised and to help them to do the things Jesus commanded each of us to do. That is life. That's why Francis Chan's talk has impacted me so much. This blog can I hope in a very small way help this happen.

A movie I love is called Pay it forward which explores the idea of passing forward the good things we receive. So today I have one request- if you have been encouraged, discovered something new, read a book mentioned here or been blessed in a tiny way then why not point someone here. Post a link to Cookiesdays on your blog, your facebook page, send a email to a few people, send a link it to your pastor or someone in ministry or tell a friend you think might find some encouragement here.

Thank you my dear eleven readers I intend to keep at it- at least for the time being.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Newton and grace

John Newton is famous for his letters and I think any pastor should own a copy of them. Driving yesterday I listened to this talk called 'The principle of Christian growth' and in it three stages (among many more) were identified. Three letters John Newton wrote expand on these stages which may be worth taking some time out to read and reflect upon.

Grace in the blade, the ear and the full head of corn.

What stage are you at?

Do you have a plan for growth?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Anxiety


One of the things that I come across so often as a pastor is people (Christian and not alike) who are plagued by anxiety, fear and uncertainty over how things are going and will turn out. It is the disease of our time. Now, one solution is to take up fly-fishing (yesterday I caught five trout on the Test during the most glorious mayfly hatch I have ever witnessed.) On the other hand, you might like to listen to this excellent talk called 'The Age of Anxiety' by Beau Hughes (12.06.09) and as a follow up to read Finding God by Larry Crabb.

Larry Crab is seemingly this weeks man. A pal mentioned he was working his way through the works of Crabb who is the go-to guy on matters counselling. So, having been fishing yesterday I spotted 'Finding God' on my friend's sons bookshelf and borrowed it. He won't mind, I'm sure, he is in Australia and it will be back before he knows it's gone, however he does read the blog so maybe he might find out I nicked it! Seriously, there is much in this short and easy-read but one thing that particularly jumped out was a section on the practice in contemporary parenting of molly-coddling children.

"When parents place a premium on their children's happiness (and regard affirmation and advantages as the most important provisions the world can give to insure happiness), children are strengthened in their inclination to value self more than others. The world exists for them. Satisfaction of desires within them, to which they become increasingly sensitive, becomes their final value. They then set out on a lifelong mission of deciding how most effectively to use their world to realize their goal of comfort and joy" [Page 28]


Not only have we done this in parenting but also with the gospel as this excellent post observes. You would do well to consider which of the two gospels you read described is the one you signed up for and which is preached in your church (sadly all too often it is the first and I am sure I have on occasion preached it myself). So, if you want to become more resilient and prepare yourselves for the inevitable trouble coming your way you would do well to read 'Finding God' and reflect on its implications for how you approach life and living. It will be time extremely well spent.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Justification

I am speaking about justification by faith tonight to Live Life. This talk is about the best explanation you may ever hear and if you get this doctrine it will change you forever.

How do I know if I am Christian?

Watch all of this-it's brilliant and will answer the question for you (Questions starts from 5 min 20 sec)

Am I boring?

I am happy to announce that today is my birthday. Now, when I was 7 this was a truly marvellous event. I can still recall the thrilling moment of unwrapping my action man tank as a occasion of true childhood wonder. Here's my problem-when people ask me what do you want for your birthday I genuinely can't think of anything (except an iPad which comes out tomorrow so feel free to buy me one-I will be very happy).

So what did I ask for?  Well I have always wanted one of those suitcases on wheels and I watched this hilarious (I am sure he didn't think it was funny but it is if you are English-trust me) and thought "I'll get one of those". It has just arrived and I am having terrific fun wheeling it about our church office and enthusing about it to anyone who will listen.  They think I am insane.

I think I really am now very very dull.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blog-sweep

I meet every Wednesday with a bunch of great guys early to pray and then we have breakfast. Today, my friend was speaking about how this documentary on Matisse made him and his wife cry. He is an artist so that might just be him :) but I think I might watch it. It is part of the modern masters series.

Two other thing I have watched recently are the excellent documentary by Stephen Fry on Wagner and this rockumentary about Neil Young.

Challies book review says that this biography of Bonhoeffer may be the best thing we read all year.

Fail fast is the advice.

Three strands of biblical prayer

How and why to use a feedreader.

The Church Mouse with news of my former bishop causing a stir with his thought for a day and some depressing stats on UK church attendance.

If you enjoyed Sir Ken here is an older and just a good talk to TED on creativity (very, very funny)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rap

Dreams

I don't know but I think Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most engaging, funny and frankly brilliant speakers around. His recent talk to TED is in my opinion a must-watch and is biblical in its conclusions about education. He makes a brilliant observation about time pieces and the finale of his talk is breath-taking. He also happily quotes Natalie Merchant whose album Leave your sleep I have been enthusing about which she performed at TED.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Decision

"The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be may be the painful decision you refuse to make"

Craig Groeschl quoted in Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson (Page 156)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bits and bobs of thoughts and doings

I enjoyed Frank Skinners article in the Times about being 50. It made me laugh out loud.

In contrast, this article in the same paper on abortion was challenging stuff.

If you are looking for a good talk to listen to the Dwell Conference talks have been reposted and I particularly commend Persuasion and the two on 'Dwelling in the text'.

Natalie Merchant has released her first new album in seven years and it is amazing (28 songs for £15 but worth every penny-read a review and  listen to a song here).

I am enjoying this book on the Holy Spirit by Mark Batterson.

Finally, the Peter Cook and Dudley more clip on Rob Brydons Desert Island discs is a classic.

Enjoy the sunshine while it's here!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cupcakes

As I have mentioned here on the blog Jo, a dear and wonderful women, friend and saint in our church very sadly died ten days ago. Her funeral and thanksgiving service were on Monday and it was a truly special day. She particularly wanted us all to eat cupcakes so even I baked some which was a messy first! Jo just loved her cupcakes.

Jo's life, although only lasting 32 years, impacted so many lives and situations for good. She joined our church about 2 years ago and I had the joy of taking her through Alpha and seeing her love for Jesus grow and witnessed her use her many amazing gifts (she didn't like being described as 'amazing' as she wrote in a post once) but she was. She soon developed the most incredible friendships and served and loved others in all sorts of ways. She even bravely agreed to be in our Alpha video (Jo is the one interviewed on the balcony) sharing her testimony.

I remember the time Jo chatted with me after church and confessed that she kept a blog. Not many knew of this secret but her blog was a deeply important way Jo coped with cancer and expressed her journey of facing it. She tried to write something each day even when she could hardly muster the energy. I have many days when I have thought writing my own blog is a complete waste of time but Jo has convinced me that a blog can work for good and hers has done so incredibly already and will continue to do so. She wrote so beautifully and honestly and today John her husband has courageously done a last post of 'The Tribute' given on Monday. Do please read it and click about on her blog posts. John is going to make hard copies of Jo Blogz which is a wonderful thing to do.

As all of us mourn, I have found this talk called Death is not dying a helpful reminder and encouragement of the truth of the gospel and of the hope of things to come.

Thanks be to God for Jo's remarkable life.

The beam

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Four questions to ask a Scripture

I am working my way slowly through Doctrine and finding it a helpful read. In the chapter entitled 'God Speaks' I found these four questions very helpful on how to read the bible. This bible study 101 but I am amazed at how many Christians have so little idea and confidence about how to read Scripture. I hope this may be a help.

Making a plan to read this book slowly, methodically and with a pen in hand over the next couple of months would be time well spent.

Here are the four questions:

1.  What does the Scripture actually say?

2.  What does the Scripture mean?

3.  What is this section of Scripture teaching that apply to all God's people in all times and places?

4.  How should I respond to what God has said?

[Pages 72-75]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Francis Chan

I spent the weekend in Jersey being a best man. The speech got a laugh or two with the help of the classic book by Greville Janner 'The Complete Speechmaker'

I had a rare evening to visit another church and went to listen to Francis Chan at HTB.

All I can say is listen to this talk- it is one of the most challenging things I have heard in a very long time.

He is also the author of Crazy Love and Krish has some news on a series of films Francis Chan has made that look interesting.

I also highly commend a visit to either the 4pm or 6pm services at St Paul's Onslow Square- it is very innovative and creative service and well worth checking out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blog-sweep

I took a funeral today of a woman I did not know. One of the mourners on leaving said "Thank you for not being pompous, holier than thou and religious like they usually are and for telling us how to get to heaven". I have to say I left much encouraged.

This talk on suffering was really helpful and timely for me after the last week as was the story of the storm

Michael Hyatt is a man who has definitely thought about his travel luggage!

Gordon Brown's resignation speech was moving.

C S Lewis on three kinds of men.

Kester has written another book called Other

My friend is fighting everything not to buy an Ipad which is now on pre-order and here is a geek fest for him on using one. He will  probably also like this Kindle vs Ipad test.

The same friend is convinced the Iphone is the one Jesus would use- great stuff.

The idea of a technology basket.

Off to a wedding this weekend (unusually these days not doing it but as a Best Man-pray for my, as yet, not very hilarious speech) and have to say I am rather wishing I had Michael Hyatt to help me with my chaotic packing!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

KXC

I love it when people plant churches so news of KXC excites me. If you live in King Cross then why not visit, tell others and of course do pray for them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The three questions

This talk has a great nugget about counselling and giving wisdom to others which is as richly illustrated as ever.

Here are the pastor's three questions:

1. What's the problem?

2. What's God told you to do about it?

3. Are you going to do it?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Quiet days

The blog is quiet. My friend very sadly died this week aged 32 and so did my Aunt whose funeral I spoke at.

I will be back soon.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Keller on Revival

This talk 'On Revival' makes for a rewarding listen.

Here are the 5 marks of a 'Revived' Church so you might like to match yours against these:

1. Intimate worship

2. Deep teaching and theology

3. Passionate community

4. Concern for social justice

5. Enthusiastic evangelism