Monday, June 21, 2010

Blogoliday

On the seventh day

Well, it has been a busy year for Cookiesdays and I hope there has been a blessing or two for my eleven readers. Thank you for all your encouragement. The blog will be quiet for a bit. As a parting shot, Bill posted this fascinating film which is a summary of this book called Drive which might be a good read.



You might like to check out these blogs until service is resumed and the sidebars always have constantly changing things to explore.

Seth Godin

What's best next

The Church mouse 

Theresurgence

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Family



(HT Adrian Warnock)

A few bits.

Just a brief few things.

My pal always chooses good titles for his sermons and one of his latest he called "How to peel a banana". Do listen to it.

Some friends were talking about how much they enjoyed this documentary about Stevie Winwood called English Soul.

I am so enjoying Limbs and branches do check it out.

A few apps to explore. Audio books gives you access to countless classics. Also liking Dropbox and Instapaper.

My copy of Mere Churchianity has arrived which I am looking forward to reading.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The England Team

A friend sent me this text today:

'The England team went to visit an orphanage in South Africa this morning. "It's good to put a smile on the faces of people with no hope, constantly struggling and facing the impossible" said Jamal Umbobo, aged 6.'

Friday, June 18, 2010

Anyone heard of Green Day?

Here is my challenge which you'd think would be an easy one.

I was supposed to be taking my nephews to see their favourite band Green Day but they have stood me up in favour of their sports day. Egg and spoon beats American punk rock at Wembley Stadium. Kids eh. In truth, American Idiot was their favourite album last year-now they have moved on to JLS. Something of a genre shift you might think but eight months is a long time in a small lads life.

Now, you'd imagine I would be able to offload my 4 tickets but I currently can't give them away. Nobody has heard of Green Day let alone wanting to buy my tickets off me. How can you not have Dookie in your CD collection? Someone out there must have heard of Green Day other than me because they are playing an 80k seat stadium? I have even tried to give them away on facebook and can't shift them.

Basket Case and the Time of your Life. Ringing any bells at all?

Oh well, I might have to go on my own.

Talking of music our worship pastor has a guitar habit and just loves getting new guitars. His last one was an 1890 beauty. However, he is still resisting my request for banjo led worship. I think this will convince him to extend his stringed instrument collection a little further. Once he's watched this how will he resist?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Football vs God

(H/T IGod)

One for the pod

If you lead a church there is a enough wisdom in this one talk to keep you jotting thoughts in a moleskine for quite some time. Here's an idea- make a coffee, sit in your study, listen attentively and then reflect , write and pray.

If you don't run a church then listen and then send it to your Vicar and if your do then send it to your Bishop.

Blog-sweep

I spent years working in an office and Seth Godin wonders why we still do that?

Some advice on training children with money.

How to know if you are not an empowering leader.

Mouse has some thoughts on the Church and the media.

I'm going to the GLS Summit this in October at St Mark's in Battersea for my annual reminder that I am not called to lead a mega-church. Do come and keep me company and be reminded to and it will be a blessing- it always is to me.

Michael Hyatt probably is capable of running a mega-church with all his bags and technology and he has some wisdom on Plan B

Finally, some interesting observations on being bored.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Banana

Radio 4 told me this morning that they spent £200m on the Blood Sunday Inquiry. I'll say that again. £200m.

Yesterday, I got into a discussion with my neighbour and her amiable friend and at one point I said "I am a banana" to make a point about the gap between what I might think and what is the reality. You probably had to be there but it was a fun and interesting discussion. My neighbour makes glassware and sells her work here .

We talked a lot about truth which reminded me of this excellent talk 'Absolutism: Don't we all have to find truth for ourselves?'


While driving on Sunday afternoon, I caught the amazing story of Kim Fook the child from this famous photo from the Vietnam war. It's called 'The girl in the picture'.

Also, you probably don't want to miss Frank Sinner on Desert Island Discs.

If you want a stunning talk on the Cross then go no further than this given by Driscoll at Saddleback.

I recommended I am second to someone at church as both great film and story-making and moving content-not least the tale of the lead singer of Korn Brian Welch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Postsecret

My friend rang me to talk about Postsecret this afternoon which I have posted about in the past. Fascinating and worth a look if you haven't seen it before.

Memory

A dear girl in our church is leaving us and I have seen her grow up in Christ amazingly while she has been with us. As she leaves, I wanted to give her something of value as a parting discipleship gift as she moves on to a new home, new job and very different life.

What to give her?

Most of what little I know I have gleaned from others. While I was at Vicar Factory I happened one day upon a series of box-sets of teaching given by a man called Eugene Peterson at Regent Vancouver. At the time, I was very disappointed with the teaching I had received and mystified by what my place of supposed theological learning had come up with on their menu of things it thought we needed to know (there was an exception or two thankfully). The fact that people rarely refer to their notes ever again should be a clue. I am still amazed at some of the content they filled our hours with.

Peterson says theological colleges are the very worst places to go to learn about God. Thankfully his set of tapes tucked away in the corner of my college library saved me-they really did- and I immersed myself in this man and his wonderful teaching. Everywhere I drove for two years I listened to Peterson and read all his books such that he became my spiritual father and friend. I did try to share my secret discovery and enthusiasm with my friends but they largely concluded that "He's boring" or they said they had no idea what he was on about. I guess they must have found other mentors (or maybe they didn't)

Why am I telling you this (again)? Well, while reading Soul Care the other day I came across this bit of wisdom from Dallas Willard.

"This practice of memorizing the Scriptures is more important than a daily quiet time, for as we fill our minds [with these great passages] and have them available for our meditation, “quiet time” takes over the entirety of our lives...."

This one sentence reminded me of something Peterson said in his teaching called Soulcraft (do you think he and Dallas might be friends?) He said that if you were to memorise one piece of Scripture in the bible it should be Ephesians 1: 3-14. He set this task as his one piece of course homework for his class of students and told them it would change their lives.

So that is the task I set my friend as my parting gift (together with committing Proverbs 3:2-11 to memory).

I saw her this week is she is on her way.

Why don't we all join her. Park your dutiful quiet time for June and learn these verses. Trust me it will be hard. But if you do it it may resource you for a lifetime. Do one verse a day. Write it on paper, put a note on your iphone, mull on it, write it on your doorposts (or fridge) and let it 'dwell'. This is perhaps what Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is on about?

You might also like to read Practice Resurrection which are those Soulcraft talks published as a book. I have been reading each chapter slowly and am loving it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How are you with failure?

How many risks are you taking? When was the last time you did something new? Are you ready to push the boundaries even if you might fail. Watch this and then try something amazing- it might not work out- but then again......

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blog-sweep

I've given the blog a new look!

Just a few bits and bobs today.

I got a first for my essay on "Who is right Eugene Peterson or Bill Hybels?" so feeling momentarily chuffed.

Love these amazing things including a new hotel idea in my own fine city.

This album called Limbs and branches is a beautiful thing that you should own

I sent this talk to a few folk on how to love your wife- it's a belter.

Bishop Nick on baby scan Jesus

It is good to know that happiness is the end of creation.

A new book from Marylinne Robinson who is always worth a read.

Jenny has written a great post on a project called Restored.

Finally, some people think they are 'called' and here is Martin Luther on whether you've got what is needed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grace and the chairs

Well, it is a minor event in comparison to other landmarks in world history but this is my thousandth post.

So what to write about?

Well, why don't I tell you about grace (again).

What's so amazing about that you ask?

Well, at Live Life this term we are studying Galatians. A dear man has been coming for the last few months but I hadn't seen him for three weeks. I had started to think, as pastor's sometimes do, maybe he won't come again. Imagine my joy to see him spin into the church car park on his bicycle.

He's had a life has my friend. Quite a life.

He set about helping me set up as he has been doing.

Moving tables and chairs and setting up the small group rooms.

The talk was given by Josh and it was about faith. It was also about the difference between law and grace.

My friend listened. He really really listened.

At the end of the night he came up and spoke to me. He seemed stirred.

I asked him why he hadn't been coming to church.

He said the only reason he had been coming early and helping was because he thought that's what he was supposed to do in a church. He thought that's what Christian's do. Strivingly effort-filled good stuff. He had ceased to see the point in it so had stopped coming.

Then he said this,

"I don't have to move chairs do I?"

"No you don't" I replied.

"It's all about grace isn't it" then he paused and said....."that changes everything doesn't it"

"Yes" I replied "That changes everything. Jesus changes everything"

Grace- that's always the ticket.

God must be constantly astonished how often we still manage to make it all about the chairs.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Blog-sweep

My friend was very excited about the new iPhone. I was just heartened that even Steve Job has a technical hitch. There's hope for us yet.

A good review of Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer. He defined what it meant to write a good blog and sadly died of cancer before his one and only book was published. You should have this one on pre-order.

This is good comedy on Airlines.

Kester's book called Other is now out.

If you are parenting kids you probably want to read this.

I liked this on Megachurch pastors.

I listened to both these talks recently on a drive and they blessed me and made me think.

I read this book once a year or so and did so again yesterday. It is one you might consider giving to a new Christian and is written by one of the wisest men alive. 110 pages and it takes about 1 or 2 hours to read.

The producer/ manager/ leader distinction made me think.

And a final thought on selfish Brits.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Proverbs: How to read it

One or two have started this great journey in Proverbs. First some things that you might need.

1. A bible that you are happy to mark up

2. A pen!

3. A concordance (this is a guide to finding verses but you can use biblegateway as an alternative if you are studying online.)

4. A moleskine

What I recommend is an initial read through which will take a couple of hours ( or the equivalent of an Eastenders omnibus ). Mark each verse with a category and these are as good as any. The main category marking up will be from Chapter 10 to the end but mark the first section as appropriate. The end result will be a book full of verses with W for wisdom, A for addiction, H for heart by the side etc.

The Heart

Once this is done then you can look more closely at each theme. I recently looked at the heart. I wrote out each verse with an H by it and meditated on them and thought about their meaning (This article on Soul Care by Dallas Willard might be a help here do take some time to read it).

"The people to whom we minister and speak will not recall 99 percent of what we say to them. But they will never forget the kind of persons we are. This is true of influential ministers in my past. The quality of our souls will indelibly touch others for good or for ill. So we must never forget that the most important thing happening at any moment, in the midst of all our ministerial duties, is the kind of persons we are becoming."

Once I had done this in Proverbs, I looked up 'heart' in my concordance and turned up every reference in the N.T. This is an interesting article that might assist your heart work.

Now I know for some time might not allow this so one friend is working slowly through 'Making life work' chapter by chapter and he is finding it really rewarding. The chapter on discipline even prompted him to go on a bike ride!

I hope this study will be a fruitful one.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Word and Spirit

My post on preaching yesterday prompted a good and interesting question from a reader that I have been pondering.

"How could 'a man of the word' preach a message from the word that was not also of the Spirit since the Spirit inspired the word - and how could a 'man of the Spirit' preach something of the Spirit that was not also of the Word, since the truly Spirit-inspired preacher is a preacher of the word, and not his own thoughts.

Word and Spirit are vital but is it really possible, even theoretically, to have one without the other?"


I rarely do theology on the blog largely because there are far more capable people than I who I like to point you too- this is a place of resources and not my wisdom ( because there isn't much of it sadly). The last big debate on Cookiesdays was "Would Jesus wear slacks?" which is not exactly something Karl Barth ever addressed.

Firstly a point of clarification. It would have been more helpful for me to say 'people more focussed on the Spirit' and 'people more focussed on the Word' in my last post and my interest is I supposed one of measure. I desire preaching that is full of the word and full of the Spirit. In simple terms, my reader is absolutely right - it is not possible to have the word without the Spirit. However, the Church in the 20th century following the Azusa Street awakening and the birth of pentecostalism has debated the question of what it actually means to 'have the Spirit' or 'be Spirit-filled' and whether there is there a difference? Is a preacher who is 'Spirit-filled' a better one than one who is not? Can you be Spirit-filled and not Word-filled and focussed? If we receive the Spirit when we a born-again then surely we are all equally Spirit-filled? What about the Spiritual gifts in Romans 12 and 1 Cor 12 and are they all for today? There are lots of questions but being Word-filled and Spirit-filled sounds like the best combination.

We are currently preaching through Acts and only this morning discussed the next text in our series which is Chapter 8 and verses 15-17 are often cited by pentecostal theologians:

'When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had only been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit'

One definition of preaching used in the 'The Beauty of a Sacrificed life' is the Philip Brooks phrase 'communicating truth through personality.' So we must first have truth- I learnt in this sermon that Tom Wright recently said that having visited many charismatic churches in the UK almost all of them he visited failed to refer at all to the word in their preaching. Spirit-filled but word absent-is that possible? Also, in this definition is 'a personality' that is hopefully 'full of the holy Spirit' (Acts 7:55) as was said of Stephen or the seven 'who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom' (Acts 6:3) This was something that was tangible to those who observed them. Dr Luke clearly writes that these people had something of God that was able to be seen and experienced that was possibly something more than presenting a three point expository sermon read from a piece of paper full of wisdom gleaned from multiple commentaries (which are of course the thoughts of men but can often be wise, wonderful and full of insight).

Anyone who has been around preaching and preachers for a while will have experienced preaching that seems to have been given an additional measure of power and testimony that seems Spirit-given. I remember hearing this man (this recent talk is well-worth a listen and reflecting on) tell a large gathering of Pastors that he fasted and prayed in tongues constantly for eight months asking God for a greater anointing of the Spirit (Luke 11.) He seems to have a few stories to tell as a result including people being raised from the dead but interestingly having heard him preach I would describe him very clearly as Spirt-focussed?

This is a huge subject that has sadly at times divided the church and to this day sometimes separates the tribes in evangelicalism. I can only skim the surface in this post. Here are some things to help you explore this more. Martin Lloyd-Jones is one man who thought about all this more than most during the 20th Century and his book 'Joy unspeakable' and this excellent talk called A passion for God's exalting power will give you an overview of his conclusions. I recently read Francis Chan 'The Forgotten God: reversing the tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit' which I found helpful. Also, this excellent book called More has really really helped me understand what is means to receive more of the Spirit when we already have everything. It includes the wonderful stories of preachers like Billy Graham and George Whitfield. The EMA conference this year is on the Holy Spirit which is an encouraging thing and might be worth anyone interested in these matters attending.

I am not sure if I have answered the question so if any of you wise folk out there can help then feel free to chip in. I'm keen to learn and hear from others.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Who is the best preacher in the church of England?

The truth is I have absolutely no idea.

Some years ago I listened to Tim Keller say that he primarily listens to British preachers which surprised his audience. For years he listened to a Dick Lucas sermon every morning on his run. It got me thinking of others who he might like to listen to. I would certainly recommend my friend who has blessed me much and I would also recommend David White who has just taken over as Vicar of St Andrew's Chorleywood.

So often preachers divide into two camps. Men of the Word and Men of the Spirit. If you have just the word the tendency is dryness (all cheese no pickle.) If it's all Spirit then it tends towards being all mustard no beef. You need both (Rowan as it happens agrees with me).

The Beauty of a sacrificed life will I pray lead you to hunger for God's word.

Inextinguishable and unbeatable will I pray lead you to pray for the overflowing of the Spirit.

Both these men preach with both barrels and Keller may like to pop them on his iPod-do tell him if you see him.

Feel free to recommend any preachers who you think I should have on mine.

Five more books (from a friend)

A dear Vicar friend who is one of the reasons I am still running the race sent me his five reads after my kindle list the other day:

1. Reversed Thunder, Eugene Peterson - on Revelation. Only complaint "too short"!

2. Ten stupid things that keep churches from growing, Geoff Surratt - humourous, to the point and helpful

3. The Prodigal God, Tim Keller - awesome, challenging, practical

4. Silver birches, Adrian Plass - not one of his silly diary things, this one deals with bereavement and other "real" issues

5. Living water, Brother Yun - excellent short chapters on Yun's teaching

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Think

Today a friend has decided to read a book I recommended which is always a blessing. A life that never reads C S Lewis, Eugene Peterson, MLJ, Jonathan Edwards and Gordon MacDonald would in my view be the poorer. These are a few of my people. My friend who I have been staying with tells me of one of his new people is Larry Crabb. He has become a Larry Crabb bore in the time since I last saw him (in a good way!) and is reading all his books.

Why bother reading such people and their writings? Well, they help you think. Love God with all your heart of course (the dear old C of E needs to do this more) but also a mark of our love for Jesus is to love him with our 'minds'. We must think things through, grapple with them, work them out for our selves. There are a few giants who have done this for us which is a help to someone as dim as me. Reading them is one way we can 'Think' clearer and love more.

This conference seems to have grasped this and it's film makes the point well.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Reading on the go

Leaders are readers is an often touted truth and as with most touted truths there may be something in it. I was chatting with a leader recently who is says he's reading more because of his iPhone and he's recently downloaded some kindle books (ebooks available from Amazon) using the kindle app. What were his criteria for choosing what to read? According to him, books with short self-contained chapters make for the best on-the-go reading.

So here are five I thought of to get you started:

1. Axioms: This was the choice of my friend for his first kindle book. In it Bill Hybels offers his 75 pithy leadership mantras. You can read one chapter in the time it takes for the 33 bus to get to Hammersmith and then you can share it with the bus-driver to help him reach his leadership potential. Bill has some good things to share that are well-worth knowing.

2. A Resilient life: This is Gordon MacDonalds amazing reflection on what makes for a fruitful life. He has learnt so much from his famously imperfect life as a pastor and there are some real wisdom treasures to be discovered here.

3. Run with the horses: Have you read Jeremiah? No I thought not but one way to do it is in the company of Eugene Peterson in this wonderful book. I was much blessed reading it.

4. Listening to your life: Frederick Buechner is a writer of profound beauty and insight. I spent a season of my life reading his books and this is a good way to taste his wonders.

5. A Purpose-Driven Life: I spent a happy 40 days some years ago in the book that is now the world's best seller. It seems to be ideal for our short chapter criteria and there are some wonderful insights to be discovered if you take the journey.

Feel free to recommend your kindle iphone choices

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Proverbs: iPod starter for three

Put these on your iPod and get yourself enthused about the benefits of some time getting wiser in Proverbs.



Proverbs

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction"
Proverbs 1 v 7

How many of us when asked what we wanted by God would say "Wisdom please"? Knowing that this is not my default setting , I have spent quite a bit of time in Proverbs this year. This is a remarkably unread book in these days that is packed with wisdom for living life well and fruitfully. But how do you begin to read it? Well this great post is very helpful and suggests that this book...'only repays long study' and is also a mini-guide to life. So you probably need to plan, as I have, about a year in this book and then keep coming back to it over and over again- currently I feel I am only just getting started.

I first came across Proverbs as a new Christian reading Bill Hybels book Making Life Work in a home group which, though rather schmaltsy (is that a word?) in parts, is a good beginners guide to this book. A good one stop shop is Derek Kidner on Proverbs. The really grown-up guides are the very thorough commentaries (Part 1 and Part 2) by Bruce Waltke which are a must I think if you plan to teach this book to your church.

These talks were incredibly helpful to me as car listening last year and from them I learnt the idea of marking up each proverb by category-the heart, work, friendship, wisdom, guidance etc and I have been through the book doing that. Don't be scared to take a pen to your bible (see my scribbles).

Doing a study on these things when you are young is a mighty blessing- our youth group are currently doing this. I sadly am old and now own a travel suitcase with wheels but some of you aren't and also some of you now have the opportunity to teach these to your children. First though, teach them to yourselves.

I recently took delivery of this series of talks for the second time having listened to them six years ago. I had lent them to my friend and he had distributed them across his very large church for them never to be seen again. He has kindly sorted me a new copy which arrived last week and it is like being reunited with an old friend.

So why not join me in this journey with Solomon and his pals. This book is meant to be studied in community (in our church, on-line and international all count so shall we do this together?) Lets start with 'Fear' by listening to the talk or one of the three posted above and doing a first mark-up on the Fear of the Lord (FOL) through Proverbs.

You never know after all this we might even all end up a bit wiser?