Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Belief

Sally Phillips interviewed by Joan Bakewell about her faith.

Steve MCCoy offers his best albums of 2013 which is always a good read.

Also, a good article called 'It's the gospel -so take it or leave it' by A N Wilson in the Telegraph.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Earthrise



Maria Popova has a great post today about Earthrise. Do watch the short film- fascinating stuff.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Keller on Christmas


'The message of Christmas is the world, human life, is a dark place, and the more you look for the solutions and the more you think about it, the darker it gets. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Russell and a tremendous amount of respect for Huxley and all those guys who would press you and say, ‘The world is a dark place. Let’s not get out from under it. Don’t you feel it?’
The message of Christmas is … Unless God has sent his Son into the world, unless God has revealed himself through the Son who he sent into the world, there is no light for the world. Huxley would say the same thing. Russell would say the same thing. That’s the message of Christmas. Right here. Don’t you see? Don’t you understand why people do run off to the mystics, they do run off to the politicians, they do run off to the therapists, they do run off to all these people trying to get meaning in life? But there is no light any other place. That’s the message of Christmas. You know what that means?
It means, first of all, if you do not know God personally, if you have no confidence that Christmas really happened, if you just think it’s a nice idea, but you don’t really know that it really happened, you don’t know that God really sent his Son into the world to live and to die on earth for us, if you don’t know that, don’t you understand there’s really no way you should take Christmas and use it the way we do to make chirpy, groundless little statements about how if we just hold hands everything will be all right? If we just get together in a circle and love each other everything will be all right. You can’t do that.
Here’s why: Christmas won’t let you do that. Christianity is not sentimental at all. Every other kind of non-Christian philosophy tries to console you like this: They say, ‘Buck up. Things aren’t that bad. In every cloud there is a silver lining.’ Christianity is far more realistic than any non-Christian philosopher or any non-Christian is really prepared to be. Christianity would never say, ‘Oh, things aren’t so bad.’ Christianity says, ‘Things are just as bad as the worst and most pessimistic analyst says they are.Nevertheless …’
You see? Nevertheless … Christians will not be chirpy. There’s no sentimentality. There’s no nostalgia about the message of Christmas. Not at all. It says, ‘The world is dark.’ Human life is a dark place. That’s where the comfort is, if God has actually done what Christmas has always said he had done. Apart from that, every smart person knows there is no hope. There is no light. Don’t you see? Unless Christmas is true there is no light at all and there’s no comfort, so stop being chirpy. That’s what Christmas says.
When it says stop being chirpy, what you can do is you can put it something like this: If there’s a God, if he sent Jesus Christ into the world to die for us, if he was born as a baby and he died for us, and he rose triumphant over the grave, and he is Pastor of the heavens, and now he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and he’s ruling all things until he puts everything under his feet, and someday we’re going to rule and reign with him … If that’s true, there’s light and there’s comfort. If that’s not true, there’s no comfort, there’s no light.
Tim Keller via Daily Keller

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Good Christmas Videos

Here are a few good Christmas films for use in services, as reflection or just for interest.

A great 'Best reads' list

I have been much encouraged by Justin Buzzard in recent years and he always produces a good reading list. Here is his '2013 Best Reads'. His book 'Why Cities Matter' made the CT Merit Awards and adds to the canon of books on why all of you who are thinking of 'moving to the country' shouldn't. Maybe 2014 is a year for all those who have already done so to think about moving back?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ten things for a Monday

1. Such a relief Sam Bailey won X Factor (Don't know what came over me -I voted for the first time:). Anybody else suspect Nicole thought she was the star of the show? A lesson to myself on how easy it is to think I and not Jesus and the people I serve are the centre of things. This song reminded me of Bonnie Tyler but now I'm showing my age.

2. Lovely story here about grace

3. Ann Voscamp put me on to how to see how long you might live

4. Fascinating couple of articles in this months Prospect. One called 'Ye of little faith' has some interesting stats and another describes the idea of atheist clergy.

5. Christmas in a nutshell  and the very clever Boy in a Billion

6. If Jesus had been born in Sweden he might have been considered gender neutral.

7. The Archbishop on how he makes decisions (Do watch)

8. What we get wrong about gift giving

9. The greatest obstacle to personal happiness

10. Five ways to love your neighbour this Christmas

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday blog-sweep

Archbishop Justin and others in the Speccy on what he would tell his 14 year old self

Interesting concept of the poverty of ambition.

$50m for couple whose prenatal scan turned out to be incorrect. This judgement will surely make Doctors more pessimistic and abortions more numerous.

If you have kids do check out these bible stories and listen to them together.

A reflection on Tom Daley

A brace of good posts from Cranmer: one about the 'selfie' and the other about the church of scientology. 

I enjoyed this ad. It will make you feel Christmassy.

This incredible film will make you feel grateful. For all sorts of reasons it made me cry.

You might be crazy to plant a church if......

Evernote is the way to get paperless for 2014.

A very cool drumming film

Tim Keller suggests not to start writing a book until your 50's which is good news if you, like me, have not got around to writing one yet.

Beautiful film of a a day in the life of a mum and a piece about ageing supermodels.

A thought-provoking ditty about generosity.

As readers know I just love a 'Best books' list: from Christianity today, Tim Challies, Amazonthe Gospel Coalition, Echoes and Stars and the NY Times

Friday, December 13, 2013

The reluctant convert

I am truly savouring 'In search of deep faith' and don't be surprised to find it on my list of books of the year. The best reads are those that you don't want to end. The subtitle of Belcher's book is 'A pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity'. It is that indeed.

Here is the moment C.S Lewis bowed the knee. First he did so to the existence of God and, in time, he would also acknowledge the reality of the risen Jesus Christ. And the rest is of course history:




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Floating

During our study of 2 Timothy 3 this morning we watched this clip from Dynamo (he's a magician from Bradford and is all the rage- think Paul Daniels for the One Direction generation).

Should we be free to say anything we like?

Eric Metaxas on the top five books for non-believers.

Kevin do Young thinks this might be the best sermon he has ever heard. I haven't listened to it but such a bold claim made my ears prick. I wonder if you agree?

How to find your leadership style

One more thing- we've got our website up and running (having had just one page for over a year). I would say if you are a church planter worry about people first and websites second but you like us probably  need a website eventually in these social media days.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

For the pod: Two ways to live

I had a bit of a moment yesterday. All 'moments' as I see them are comprehensions of the truth and power of the gospel of grace. I had it reading this and I am still reeling from it all. You, like me, may have grappled to understand Romans 7 and the chapter about Robert Louis Stevenson in Belcher's book was such a help to me.

The highs and lows of outward circumstances so easily buffet us- as James warms. Our internal lives buffet us too. That's why we need to constantly remind ourselves it's not about us, that God is good, that hope is ours and that this is not all there is.

I want to recommend a sermon called 'Two ways to live' because it hit both Rachel and I so powerfully as we listened to it together yesterday. Why bother listening? I would say just for the illustration on parenting and why kids fall away from church which I know is a concern for many of my readers. It's preached by a dear pal call Peter who has walked with me and prayed for me down the years. My next listen of his is going to be 'Taking the enemy down'. As it happens, he ran my Alpha course in 1991.

Do pop a few of Peter's talks on the pod for the train and car and you well be well-taught and much blessed......

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Tuesday Tour

I've been finding it hard to put down Jim Belcher's new book. One to read (especially if you love or know Oxford).

Women (and quite a lot of them) speak in church- here's a 101

I've been enjoying Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve who is a lovely fellow. Ten years ago this sort of program would have been presented by Sister Wendy and now the presenter is an atheist.

If you are a goal-setter Michael Hyatt has some advice.

A pal really thought the Nicky Gumbel sermon I posted (and which he downloaded) was not at all good and that Nicky's exegesis was very poor indeed. I wonder who gives you constructive feedback when you run a mega church?

A friend put me on to a new blog called Refractology which I have been checking out.

Mums

Do please pray for Mark Meynell and his family who have announced here that they are moving on from All Souls and who has suffered from depression for some time. He is right up there on what it means to write a good blog.

One to show at a Carol service?

I constantly give thanks for J John who shared the gospel with me nearly 25 years ago. He's speaking here this weekend and I read it is fully booked. Keep running John - keep running.

If I know anything it's in part thanks to the Doctor.

The Foodback

Finally a festive quote about Jesus from another of my encouraging and wise cloud of witnesses.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The world is rather different

Over ten years ago I left the world of marketing.

This post got me thinking quite how much has changed in a decade. The way we communicate with people about the things we want them to be interested in and buy is completely different from 10 years ago. If I spent my marketing budget  (which was £millions) in the same way today as I did then it would be a colossal waste of money.

Now I live in church land.

Most churches I know are doing broadly exactly what they did ten years ago.

Most Dioceses spend their budgets in the same way they did a decade ago. (There is just less of it).

Just a thought to ponder.....