Monday, July 30, 2012

What do we believe?

I have been reading 'The 39 Articles' (I know I need a hobby).

In this article by J C Ryle he observes that most people sitting in pews in church have little idea what it is they actually believe. I must confess, until I embarked on ordination, I had not the slightest clue what the C of E did or did not believe apart from knowing it was all contained in the Book of Common Prayer. The truth is there are also 39 'articles' fleshing out the key doctrines of the C of E. As Bishop J C Ryle interestingly observes, most people couldn't tell you what they believe 'if life depended on it' and it surely does (John 1:12 and Romans 10:4).

'It is not enough to say that everybody who goes to church is a true Churchman. That reply, I think, will content nobody. There are scores of people occupying our pews and benches every Sunday, who know nothing whatever about religion. They could not tell you, if life depended on it, what they believe or don't believe, hold or don't hold, think or don't think, about any doctrine of Christianity. They are totally in the dark about the whole subject. Politics they know, and business they know, and science perhaps they know, and possibly they know something about the amusements of this world. But as to the composition of a true churchman's creed, they can tell you nothing whatever. They go to church on Sundays; and that is all. Surely this will never do! Ignorance, complete ignorance, can never be the qualification of a true Churchman.'


It seems to me that according to Cranmer and Ridley, if you are an Anglican one of the many doctrines you hold to is that of 'Election' which is among the most brain-chewing, grace-inducing and interesting of theological truths. Now if the idea of election doesn't start you on a road to grappling with doctrine I'm not sure what else will. Interestingly, a pal I spent last week with listening to Chan said that one of the impacts of his teaching was the awareness that his understanding of his faith and his doctrine was, to use his words, 'a little thin'. Chan has a phrase he used over and over again:


'When I started reading the Bible for myself and seeing what it actually said.....


My friend, prompted by Chan, asked me if I could recommend anything for him to read to better understand doctrine. I recommended he start with 'Knowing God'. It's a life-changing read.


I have been pondering Article XXVII and its implications as I often do:


PREDESTINATION to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God's purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feeling in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation or into wretchlessness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God 


Piper says we must 'Be careful how we talk about the doctrine of election' and it's worth a watch.


You might also like to listen to this Tim Keller sermon entitled 'Predestination'.


Here's the thing. Theologian's are ordinary people (my friend is one and he used to be a butcher!) who start to read the Bible and other theological books by insightful dead men and women and then practice thinking deeply about the big questions of life, God and how we should live and respond to him. You might be one of those people and have just never have realised it and it starts with braving reading a few thicker than average books. 


-Doctrine by Wayne Grudem or his longer Systematic Theology 
-The Institutes by Calvin
-Christ plays in ten thousand places by Peterson
-Early Christian Mission by Schnabel
-God's Empowering Presence by Fee
-The Layman's Parallel Bible
-Early essays and other short pieces by C S Lewis
-Christian Theology: An Introduction by McGrath
-The Essential Jonathan Edwards Collection
-The Way in is the Way on by Wimber
-Doctrine by Driscoll
-International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Bromiley
-The Puritans: their origins and successors by Lloyd Jones
-Introducing the New Testament by Drane
-An introduction to the New Testament by Moo and Carson
-The Cross of Christ by Stott
-New Dictionary of Biblical Theology
-Dictionary of Paul and his Letters
-Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
-The Sermon on the Mount by Lloyd Jones


It really isn't as scary as you think I promise and you never know what may come of it once you read a bit and pray. You could as an alternative buy some Logos Bible Software which comes with more thick books in digital form than you could read in a life time.


You may also like to enrol yourself on this Saturday morning adventure from September which a friend has just done. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sun, tents and Francis Chan

I have just got back from New Wine where Francis Chan has been teaching us for a week. He has said no to all speaking engagements for over a year but felt prompted to say yes to us. We now know why. If you want a flavour of what it was like you should listen to Why we all need the gospel and if you haven't read Crazy love then do take it on holiday with you.

"Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust in God if the unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them-they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live-they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God in a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God."

(Francis Chan on the markers of the lukewarm in Crazy Love) 

He has left me and all of us with lots of processing to do and you can get hold of the talks here which I do commend highly. (For what it's worth and it's just a thought, if New Wine really wants to be 'a movement' it might do well to decide at some point soon to give its content away free)



If you want more teaching from Francis Chan that is free then you can download it from here and here and he also writes a blog here.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blogoliday


Saturday blog-sweep

The real problem with these families is that they are poor


I believe the ulterior motive is the demonisation of the poor, with the aim, in the long run, of simply slicing off these families at the bottom of what we think of as "society". Thereafter, terms like "fairness" and "empathy" and "all in this together" can be bandied around pretty freely, because the evidence of their extinction will no longer exist. The problem families won't count – because they severed the social contract with their criminality and un-neighbourliness.


Dealing with difficult people


There are some folks, that no matter what, will react negatively to any and every idea, proposal or change. In a certain way, these folks can be helpful. We all need people who can look down the road and help us avoid some of the pitfalls. But mostly, without redirection, the reflexively oppositional are a drain our emotions, progress, and morale. As a leader, you need to know that the reflexively oppositional exist; they will curtail and undercut any opportunities for growth and development and then ultimately blame the leader when things don’t get better. If one thing is true about the reflexively oppositional, it’s that nothing is ever their fault. 


Top ten theological books that shaped my life


I love to make top ten lists.  Neurotically so.  I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.


Where was God when I'm hurting?


After a few short years on earth, years often filled with struggle and pain, I believe God’s plan is that we will spend all of eternity in that other world where neither time nor sorrow lives, and none of these earthly struggles will have any ultimate significance, except perhaps how we used them to more deeply 
commune with God and with each other.


21 things they don't tell you about church planting


People you think will be supportive often aren't, and people you don't think will be supportive often are.

Piper and Keller on Sanctification


Pastor you must fight for the time to read


My bucket leaks, even when it is not pouring. My spirit does not revive on the run. Without time of unhurried reading and reflection, beyond the press of sermon preparation, my soul shrinks, and the specter of ministerial death rises. Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.


Three important questions to keep your church on mission



  • In the past week, how have you done life with other followers of Jesus? [Community]
  • In the past week how have you been a blessing to the world?[Mission]
  • In the past week, what has God been teaching you through prayer, scripture and worship? [Discipleship]
  • Friday, July 20, 2012

    Time

    'The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now'

    Rick Warren

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Three of Seven

    I am not sure they are related but here are three things that warrant a mid-week flag-up:

    1. The Trinity: There can only be a few Christian's who haven't spent some time getting their heads around this one. It's a crucial doctrine. I was always told that managing to think up a sermon illustration for the Trinity is always destined to end in heresy. Surprisingly, this discussion between Carson, Keller and Piper is utterly void of mentions of water, steam and ice........

    2. Liberalism: If you take an interest in matters C of E you will know that we like debating things in synods and passing resolutions with lots of clauses and sub-clauses. We then go into recess (code for no-one wants to make a decision) and reconvene a few months later and get another whack of hotel bills that the church commissioners can ill-afford. All the while the churches mission is being ignored.

    The Episcopal Church in the US has just had one of these and they decided to approve a liturgy for same-sex blessings which is interesting. This is clearly not driven by tradition or Scripture so it must I assume be passed by reason. Whether God also approves and agrees with the reasoning is a matter of some debate across the water and that depends on how you view the Bible- among other things. This resolution has precipitated an article in the NYT entitled 'Can liberalism be saved?'. You should read it and the responses that have ensued. It's the debate of our times. In all the pieces, I thought the comment by Rachel Held Evans that stated 'I believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus' as the mark of her evangelicalism was absolutely fascinating. Is this not surely the mark of her Christianity? If you don't believe in the resurrection what exactly are you believing in? You should read all these responses and take some time to reflect on them. This is an article of some consequence it seems to me.

    3. Seven Habits: I was sad to hear of the death of Covey. If you haven't heard of him or read him you may not be alive but if in fact you are you should take 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People' on holiday. It is the backbone of any management course you will ever go on (and believe you me I have been on more than a few in my time). For me, the most important habit has been 'Sharpen the saw' but I am sure you have your favourite and in many ways without that habit you probably wouldn't have this blog. David Keen reflects here as does the Harvard Business Review here.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    Daring to hope

    “The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time. This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.” 


    Tim Keller, The Reason for God



    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Revival


    Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows Himself.
    - Leonard Ravenhill


    Religion wants you to spend your hours planning what Sunday will look like.
    Revival wants you to spend your hours DOING what can’t be done on Sundays which is BEING with those who won’t show up on Sunday.
    Religion wants you to spend hours building a platform so that you can lead thousands to Jesus.
    Revival wants you to spend hours leading one to Jesus.
    Religion wants you to research what Cool Church X is doing in hopes you can do it almost as well at your church.
    Revival wants you to stop looking for inspiration and start developing some perspiration.
    Religion wants you to stuff tons of Bible knowledge in your dome so it spits out your pinhole.
    Revival wants you to take the BS out of Bible Study and apply what the Word says not talk about it.
    Religion wants you to find healing through a taxing set of hurdles and obstacle courses so you can get right with God and his people.
    Revival wants you to find repentance and healing through His kindness and grace.
    Religion wants you to feel the weight of your sin and believe you are not capable of ministering to people.
    Revival wants you to know the weight of your sin was carried by Jesus to the cross and you can minster out of your brokenness.
    Religion brings YOU.
    Revival brings CHRIST.



    (via Ragamuffin Soul)

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    It's all about Jesus

    'An evangelical is a plain ordinary Christian. We stand in the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. We can recite the Apostles and the Nicene Creed without crossing our fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Having said that there are two particular things we like to emphasise: the concern for authority on the one hand and salvation on the other. For evangelical people, our authority is the God who has spoken supremely through Jesus Christ.....I want to shift the conviction from a book, if you like, to a person. As Jesus himself said, the Scriptures bear witness to me. Their main function is to witness to Christ. '

    John Stott, Christianity Today, October 1996

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    Olympics Prayer Flashmob

    Do put the word out about this great prayer event for this great city and for the Olympics on July 14th. Post it on Facebook and tell friends, churches, neighbours......

    Prayer is the furnace dear friends so do feel excited at what God is about to do and you might like to read why Leonard Ravenhill thinks prayer really really matters.

    For the pod: Steam at twenty below

    Many years ago I was part of the tiny church community of St Andrew's Moscow just after the wall came down. We were about 20 in number and we used to stand around afterwards in 20 degrees below and watch the steam rise from our coffee cups. We were Russians, Kenyans, Ukrainians, Canadians, Americans, Ugandans and a few Englishmen and women. The liturgy was exactly the same every week and was delivered just as you would expect if you have ever visited a C of E church near you, the hymns were tuneless,  and sermons were a tad forgettable yet well-meaning but I can confidently say God was by his grace powerfully at work in all of us. There were 'better' churches more like the wonderful evangelical one I had left behind in the UK that I could have attended with 'sounder' teaching, warmer buildings, less dull PCC's and many more people. I had been a Christian for less than two years at the time and my heart was rather a mess. However, after a few visits to other churches, I resisted the 'better' more sparkly, frankly easier and less frustrating options and instead went where I felt 'called'. I also have the claim to fame that I ran the first Alpha course in Russia in my flat in 1994.

    As an aside, one of Furtick's words to church planters is don't plant a church unless you know you're absolutely called to it- because it's just too hard. Thus far I would attest to that but also to lots of joys. It does help when the most unlikely people in your church share their prophetic dreams with you about your church plant and your call to plant it but that's one for another time. Jesus needs to call you by his word to take the initiative to plant something (this happens over years) and you need to respond in hopeful obedience when the time is right and when you hear him. Furtick seems right- if you haven't heard him then probably don't do it. I hope I've heard :)

    When I wasn't at church in Moscow, I was trading containers of cigarettes with men who wore dark suits and carried guns. I could tell you stories but you wouldn't believe me. I think I learnt more though and was prepared for ministry through this season more than anything else I have ever done. I sometimes worry at young Christians seeming desire for the glitz, the emotional and the cool as though it's in these things that God is properly at work and through which resilience and character is formed. It's formed in the desert place and the tough reality of the market place in my experience.

    Why am I telling you this? Well because it's big conference time. The truth is the Hillsong Leaders Conference will never ask an Anglican Vicar of a church plant of 20 in Barnes to come and share what he has learnt about following Jesus over the last two decades. They will only do that if I make it 'successful' and then and only then will the phone ring. Grace and success are not it seems to me always happy bedfellows. Works and success I get - plenty of hours, techniques from the world, plans, goals, resources, and driven-ness can make lots of things big and shiny and noticeable but not grace. Grace so often tells a different story. There are so many people I know who can tell extraordinary stories of God and his work in people's hearts but are never going to be asked onto a big stage to tell them. Don't get me wrong, I desire to preach to as many people as will listen but I am not sure my character is yet ready for a stadium gig. A vicar pal attended a summer conference a few years ago and was struck that the seminar given by a Christian celebrity about 'how to be truly beautiful' had 450 women in its tent and the one he and his wife were in on how to more effectively love the poor had just 30. My friend's have never sadly been back to that conference.

    Some do get to speak on the big stage because by some measurement they indeed have been 'a success' and rightly many of them are people with something to share. It is also very costly to be given such a platform as I know from friends who have been given one and it's a huge responsibility that you really don't want unless you have the character to cope with it. Here's the thing- the steam you see at Hillsong is not that from 20 below coffee in a freezing church hall- it genuinely seems to be actual dry ice. Is dry ice perhaps the new prosperity gospel's incense? Now don't mishear me, because I think you should watch this talk called You're never really ready- it has some great wisdom in it and there really is a reason why they picked Furtick and not you or me. I have, as you know, been mightily blessed by this amazing young preacher and think everyone should read Fresh wind Fresh Fire. I also think Hillsong, despite all the corporate bling, is a movement being used powerfully by God to do so much good. But it's interesting to reflect on just how pervasive 'success'  and 'prosperity' is to contemporary church culture and to beware of it's potential grip on all our hearts.

    Now, just so I'm prepared if Hillsong do ask me next year (I will check the diary and see if I am available) then what do you think- dog collar or no dog collar? Check out the venue just for starters- it looks like the set of the new U2 world tour. The band actually disappear into holes on the stage!

    Listen to the talk and feel free to offer views.

    Sunday, July 08, 2012

    A word beginning with 'T'

    "I have never had clarity. What I have always had is trust"

    Mother Teresa quoted by Steve Furtick

    Saturday, July 07, 2012

    Saturday blog-sweep

    I was at Wimbledon yesterday and managed to be interviewed on Five live not once but twice ( was also on ESPN and chatted with Pam Shriver). Amazing day. Got a plug in for Barnes:)

    Now before fame goes to my head on to the sweep

    Let's abolish retirement

    Retirement is not as old as you think. According to the Bible, God expelled Adam from Paradise with the terrible words: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground." And that's more or less how it was until about a hundred years ago. Most people worked till they died. Pensions in the UK date from 1908, and the cost of the first pension schemes was tiny, as the retirement age of 70 was 20 years beyond average life expectancy. Retirement was for heaven – if one
    had lived a virtuous life.


    Why women still can't have it all


    In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be—at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long.


    Galatians in 30 Tweets

    For starters, here’s a one-tweet summary of the letter:
    Jesus’s astounding grace is to be admired and appreciated, not added to. #Galatians
    What follows are 29 more designed to walk you through six red-hot, gospel-rich chapters, each with a Galatians hashtag. Grab a Twitter account and help us get #Galatians trending today, if you would.
    This year some evangelicals are displaying a pessimistic sense of decline. Internally and externally, Christian denominations are "sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed." Amid despair, Baylor professor Rodney Stark's The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion (HarperOne) provides long-term perspective. It is WORLD's 2012 Book of the Year.


    Afraid of Grace


    To accept grace meant I had to first accept the depth of my sin and brokenness. It meant replacing the center of my life with God and his grace instead of me and my effort. It meant God got the credit and the glory, not me.


    Fresh expressions


    "The proportion of fresh expressions of Church compared to parishes is 38.6%. If compared to the number of churches, which might be a closer comparison, that proportion is 30.4%. Either way, about a third of the ecclesial bodies in the diocesan family are current or recent fxCs [Fresh Expression Churches]." Research Paper by Church Army, Summer 2012.


    Beautiful eulogy via Joe Thorn

    Thursday, July 05, 2012

    Can't do it alone

    1. If Gideon has taught me anything in the last year it's that Christian leadership is having confidence in God and what's more God having confidence in me. I am having as much trouble getting my head around that as Gideon did. God has confidence in his sons and daughters.

    2. I watched a film with friends that is as good as any I have watched in ages. It's called 'Moneyball'. It moved me. Been deeply pondering the line and lyrics from this beautiful song that say '...can't do it alone'.

    3. I recommended 'When revival tarries' to a friend and they read a passage out loud to me in our church office. If you are a preacher and you haven't read it it might explain why people haven't been saved in greater number through you and I. Stunning book. You've got to love the word 'Unction'...

    This is what was read to me:

    'Brethren, we could well manage to be half as intellectual if we were twice as spiritual. Preaching is a spiritual business. A sermon born in the head reaches the head. A sermon born in the heart reaches the heart. A spiritual preacher will under God produce spiritually-minded people. Unction is not a gentle dove beating her wings against the bars outside of the preacher's soul; rather she must be pursued and won. Unction cannot be learned, only earned by prayer. Unction is God's knighthood for the soldier-preacher who has wrestled in prayer and gained the victory. Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks, but in the prayer closet. The meeting is won or lost before the preacher's foot enters the pulpit. Unction is like perfume. Unction is like dynamite. Unction comes not by the medium of the bishop's hands, neither does it mildew when the preacher is cast into prison. Unction will pierce and percolate. It will sweeten and soften. When the hammer of logic and the fire of human zeal fail to open the stony heart, unction will succeed.'


    4. Someone gave me Future grace yesterday and told me to read it. They also listened to 'In whom I am well pleased' and it made them weep.

    5. I read a quote recently that I have not been able to shake off.

    'It's not what you've been saved from that matters it's what you've been saved for'

    You were saved for something. That's pretty exciting don't you think? Pray about your 'for' and the Lord will show you and lead you to walk in it.


    Wednesday, July 04, 2012

    Walk and pray


    'Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view, that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension' - Jonathan Edwards

    Our Plant plan and budget was approved by the Holy Trinity Barnes PCC yesterday so thunderbirds are go!

    A while ago I preached a sermon about prayer and quoted the principles from The Sacred Pathways and remember being absolutely amazed by how many people came to speak to me afterwards. I think people have a view that the Christian life is one than can solely be worked out sitting alone, probably early in the morning, reading a bible trying to pray intentionally and often unsuccessfully for five minutes at the end. Now, of course time in the 'secret place' is good but there was something very freeing that happened when I gave people permission to 'walk and pray'. I don't think it had crossed lots of people's minds that you can talk to, listen to and love God whilst on the move. Here are '9 reasons to pray with your feet'

    Prayer (I think, hope and believe) has been crucial to my dream to plant a church. I have been walking and praying and walking, fishing and praying for many years (I am someone who walks in the water rather than 'Walking on the water' :) In recent months, we have as a team been pacing the land in prayer and this has even happened, at times, in the middle of the night. So do please feel duly encouraged/invited/commissioned to walk and pray the streets of Barnes (map provided but note Holy Trinity is not yet on it) and please walk wherever you are and pray for me and the plant and the dreams we are dreaming. Jon a Vicar pal of mine loves to do this and has prayed for me lots and loves to pace the streets of London in prayer. 



    The book Long wandering prayer tells the story of a defeated pastor who decided to shelve all his own efforts and programs and instead wandered and prayed and the impact was amazing not just in terms of fruitfulness for his church but also in the soul of the man who had decided to pray this way. As Hansen writes, ''Prayer comes to us from a people who spent the first thousand years of their existence living in tents'. And my loyal readers will know, once a year I spend a week with six others (The Men on Mountains) holding my life to account before them walking, climbing mountains, confessing, thanking and praying.  

    Mark Batterson is the author of 'In a pit with a lion on a snowy day (which I banged on about for months) and he has captured all this in his latest book The Circle Maker. So why not pace out your neighbourhood, your parish, your church plant that is not yet, your building you don't yet own, your community centre, your school, your workplace and dream a few dreams and pray a few prayers and then just see what happens. 




    Tuesday, July 03, 2012

    Pearl of Great Price

    'Liberalism believed that you had to change Christianity to make it more acceptable. Orthodoxy believes that the gospel stays the same; we need to find better and more effective ways of presenting it. Christianity does not need to be made more attractive; it is attractive. If there has been a failure in this regard, it is that Christians have failed to appreciate this attraction for themselves and to take the trouble to explain it to others.........That attraction is supremely the person of Jesus Christ. It is the "pearl of great price," something that is recognised to be worth seeking and possessing, and whose possession overshadows everything else'

    Alister McGrath, Christianity Today, June 19th 1995

    And thanks to Krish for sharing this on how one might actually go about 'taking the trouble to explain it to others'

    Monday, July 02, 2012

    The Board of Gratefulness

    'History in all its details, even the most minute, is but the unfolding of all the eternal purposes of God. His decrees are not successively formed as the emergency arises, but are all parts of one all-comprehending plan, and we should never think of Him suddenly evolving a plan or doing something he had not thought of before'


    Joni Eareckson Tada founder of Joni and Friends starts her essay called 'Understanding God's Sovereignty' in Indelible Ink with this quote from the book by Boettner that she says transformed her world. The essay goes on to tell the moving and sad story of her accident (diving into the sea and hitting her head on a rock causing her to be paralysed from the neck down) and how God has used her disability for his glory in amazing ways and has worked it for good. As we all know, unforeseen tragedy can and does strike and only then perhaps do we really face, as Joni did, some of the deepest questions of our faith and of God's nature and purposes.

    I was reminded of Joni's story and her coming to speak to us at Vicar factory on the subject of disability as I watched this moving film.


    Sunday, July 01, 2012

    Save yourself some grief

    A friend wrote this quote on a bit of paper and stuck it on her kitchen wall so her three sons could muse on it over their breakfast cereal:

    'He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the grief which he purposes to remove.'

    Dr Samuel Johnson