Sunday, March 30, 2014

The end result

'The end result of mission must not be a better church. The end result of mission must be a changed community.' 

Quote from Verge 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Decoupled

Like Krish in this post (do read it in full), Coldplay has been a significant soundtrack to my life and seeing them play Wembley was a memorable evening.



Mrs C has a Paltrow cookbook that she brought as part of her dowry and not long ago I was flicking through its pages. What a perfect life she seemed to have. Married to a seemingly normal rock star, healthy kids, beauty and fame and all wrapped up in home made food bliss in the LA sunshine. How sad when your moments of escapism from a wet evening in West London come back at you with the ever so sad truth that things that seemed so perfect actually weren't.

I am sad for them, as am am for all who have to go through what they now do. Celebrity or not it's always a hard road when a marriage fails.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Samaritan?

This post by Cranmer is destined to cause much blog-o-sphere comment. Thought-provoking stuff for a wet Wednesday which is why Cranmer remains one of the Renaldo's of the Christian blogging world. You will need to click the links in the piece for the background story to all this.

Postscript

World Vision have in fact reversed their decision so I don't know what that says about Cranmer's parable and who the supposed good and bad guys are in the story? Also, this demonstrates the power of influential bloggers and the twittersphere to impact large organisations and charities whereever you stand on all this. A thought from Kevin de Young on the why,  a counter thought from Rachel Held Evans and Thomas Creedy collects lots of things together.

The Art of Celebration


I usually have a CD on the go in my car and this is the one of the moment. If you have not discovered these wonderful Irish worshippers then I commend them to you.  An album to listen to loud and sing-a-long in the car over and over and over. Splendid stuff that's currently warming and stirring my heart.


Monday, March 24, 2014

For the pod: Alpha TV

Like many churches we run the Alpha course in a local deli. We have supper together and then we watch a talk on DVD. I love preaching so not speaking at something is not my natural inclination but playing the talks and discovering young, new and gifted speakers has been a complete joy this term. They are doing the speaking on our course far better than I ever could! We have had guest speakers via DVD download or you can stream on wifi and Alpha seems to have taken on new life. (I have done Alpha many, many times down the years and ran it first in my flat in Moscow in 1994).

You may not know about Alpha TV which is a way of running Alpha for yourself in your home through streaming. Us Vicars get set in our ways and so it's well worth an overhaul on how you do things and tapping into Alpha TV to see what's new and what you can learn and encourage whoever runs Alpha in your church to do the same. There are tons of testimonies and new things that if you haven't looked for a while are worth exploring. With Alpha TV, you can now gather some friends in your home and then bring them all to HTB for a fantastic day of teaching on the Holy Spirit as we did on Saturday. I am gathering with a few Vicar pals to see what we can share with each other about running Alpha and how we can benefit from each others learning.

Some of the talks and speakers we have been blessed by are these. They are worth watching whether or not you plan to run Alpha:

Amy Orr-Ewing 'How and why should I read the Bible?': This is a terrific on the Bible and the story about the dove is one not to miss.

Toby Flint 'How and why should I pray?': LOVED the story about his boy-band audition.

Naomi Trenier (do read her story called Beautifully broken'How and why should I do tell others?': So refreshing, honest and real. This is the second talk she has ever given and she gave it to 500 people on the most recent course. She also did a talk on Saturday called 'What does the Holy Spirit do? which is worth watching once it is upload.

Friday, March 21, 2014

For the pod: 'The best talk I've listened to in 20 years'

My pal sent this text to me this week:

'At New Wine Leaders. Listening to Jon Tyson- on culture- the single best talk I've heard in 20 years! Utterly breathtaking. I'm undone'

It seems that we should all be making time to listen to this one.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Church planting far and wide

Here is a film of the hopeful and inspiring story of church planting that's happened down the years through HTB.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Keller learnt to give it some time


“Before I was even sure where I stood in my own faith, I was asked to lead a group and was provided with a set of Bible studies entitled Conversations with Jesus Christ from the Gospel of John by Marilyn Kunz and Catherine Schell. It covered thirteen passages in the book of John where Jesus had conversations with individuals. Those studies helped my group uncover layers of meaning and insight that astonished us all. Moving through these accounts of Jesus’s life, I began to sense more than ever before that the Bible was not an ordinary book. Yes, it carried the strange beauty of literature from the remote past; but there was something else. It was through these studies of encounters with Jesus that I began to sense an inexplicable life and power in the text. These conversations from centuries ago were uncannily relevant and incisive to me-right now. I began to search the Scriptures not just for intellectual stimulation but in order to find God.

I was taught that patience and thoughtfulness were keys to insight. At one point I went to a conference for Bible study leaders. I’ll never forget one of the exercises. The instructor gave us one verse, Mark 1:17 (ESV): “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” She asked us to spend thirty minutes studying the verse (which, naturally, was taken from an encounter with Jesus). She warned us that after five or ten minutes we would think we had seen all there was to see, but she challenged us to keep going. “Write down at least thirty things you see in or learn from the verse.” Ten minutes into the exercise I was finished (or so I thought) and bored. But I dutifully pushed on and kept looking. To my surprise there was more. When we all returned she asked us to look at our list and circle the most penetrating, moving, and personally helpful insight. Then she asked us a question: “How many of you discovered your best insight in the first five minutes? Raise your hands.” No hands. “How many after ten minutes?” One or two hands. “Twenty?” A large number now raised their hands. “Twenty-five?” Many of us now raised our hands, smiling and shaking our heads.

Those initial experiences with patient, inductive study of the biblical text changed my spiritual life. I discovered that if I spent time and assumed the proper attitude of openness and trust, God spoke to me through his Word. They also set me on my vocational course by giving me the tools to help other people hear God’s Word through the Bible. For nearly forty years I’ve been teaching and preaching the Bible for people, but the basis for every talk, lecture, or sermon has always been what I learned in college about how to sit with a text and carefully plumb its depths.”

Encounters with Jesus, Tim Keller, Page x-xi, 

You should read this book. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Amazing grace moments

Watching this story will amaze, move and bless you and this one might spur you to something daring and risky.

I have the song 'Ever be' on my heart at the moment.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Complete helplessness


'Not because of anything you have done' 
2 Tim 1:9
'God saves sinners in virtue of his own purpose and grace, and not in virtue of their good works. It is the undeserved freeness of the gospel which offends. The ‘natural’ or unregenerate man hates to have to admit the gravity of his sin and guilt, his complete helplessness to save himself, the indebtedness to the cross. This is what Paul meant by ‘the stumbling block of the cross
Many preachers succumb to the temptation to mute it. They preach man and his merit instead of Christ and his cross and they substitute the one for the other’in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:12; cf. 5: 11). No man can preach Christ crucified with faithfulness and escape opposition, even persecution.' 
(2 Timothy, Stott, Page 43)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Necessary homework

I found this post by John Stackhouse helpful and timely for me on the issue of writing and speaking about homosexuality. A theologian pal Sean has written an interesting piece for the theological journal Anvil.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Don't sit about

'No man has a right to be idle...[W]here is it in such a world as this that health, and leisure, and affluence may not find some ignorance to instruct, some wrong to redress, some want to supply, some misery to alleviate?'

-William Wilberforce

Quoted in the truly excellent 'What's best next: How the Gospel transforms the way you get things done' by Matt Perman. 

If you want to get better at not doing stuff but doing 'the right stuff' then you would do well to give this book some considerable attention and time. It's such a helpful read for those who wonder how their work can count for the kingdom. 

Friday, March 07, 2014

Ministry is about fishing

1. As both a fly-fisherman and Vicar I loved this post. If more people fly-fished with world would be.....

2. The expression 'Charge the darkness' is on my heart having been to listen to Gary Haugen on Sunday at HTB. You should watch this interview and also should think about reading The Locust Effect..

3. My friend Bob recommended Epic Grace: Chronicles of a recovery idiot. What a truly great name for a book.

4, Another Vicar pal is being deeply impacted by reading Dangerous Calling.

5. We are working through the Ten Commandments inspired by our friend J John and we've got to adultery. Such a good staff meeting on the subject yesterday run by Pete.

6. I am reading this as my Lent read.

7. I am so encouraged that people have downloaded the BiOY App. Our OT reading today was about bodily emissions...and the atonement :)

8. I was invited today to attend a free lunch for local pastors  at which an American chappy called Randy Clark was speaking. I was much encouraged and saw a few pals to boot which is always the best thing about a free lunch-if indeed such a thing exists :)

9. A Vicar pal's tip on parenting a young family was to read the book 'A good enough Dad'. His kids are now grown up and are also following Jesus which says something about his parenting skills.

10. I'm still very much enjoying and being encouraged by What's best next.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Single Thing

'Q: For Christians who want to be productive and make the most of their time, what is the most important piece of advice you would give?

A: To every day think about what is the single thing you could do today that would serve God and your employer or audience or family. And if you think about one thing you can do, you'll increase the odds that you'll do it. Just do it. Instead of putting it on a list, pick one thing and do it.'

Mike Anderson of Politico quoted in 'What's best next: How the gospel transforms the way you get things done' by Matt Perman

A piece of early advice-read this book. It is so helpful. 

A review to follow soon

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

How can you read the Bible all the way through?


Just want to let you know that two and a half years after you first recommended it, with several stops and starts and very non-religiously, I have worked my way through Don Carson’s ‘For the Love of God’ and as a result have read my wonderful Bible from cover to cover. I never thought I could end up loving God’s word the way I do so just wanted to say thank you and share such a moment with you and hope it encourages you.

A Friend's Text Message  (last week)

You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God

Bible in one year, 4/3/14 (Today)

Last Sunday a lady in our church called Ann bore testimony to the healing of her mother Cynthia [who we had prayed for] from stage 3 ovarian cancer that had spread to secondaries. We were all stunned, amazed, encouraged and greatly humbled as a community- as indeed was her Doctor. Praise God.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. The danger of Lent is that it can be turned in a feast for prideful or poe-faced weird religious people to act even more religiously than they already do. Those outside the faith looking in witness a God who requires you to give things up and who doesn't like chocolate. An already incomprehensible thing looks even more so to our post-Christian culture. 

So what's the point of taking Lent seriously?

There are many reasons. My answer would be that to take Lent seriously is to have a plan [afresh] to love God more fully and serve him more heartily at the end of it than you did at the beginning. Otherwise, to be honest what's the point. Lent is very often linked with the disciplines. If you don't know what these are I do recommend the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Witney as your Lent read. The disciplines, practiced rightly and from a place of grace, are absolutely crucial to your growth and sanctification as a follower of Jesus. Also, you might want to dedicate one day in Lent to retreat and do this exercise that I called 'The art of self-leadership'

One of the ways you might employ a specific discipline is to MOT your Bible reading. We are as a church getting back to basics and I am encouraging everyone to develop the habit anew of reading Scripture as a central and core part of their lives. 

Here are three ways you can do this:

1. For the Love of God: This is a simple Bible reading method employing the scheme of Scottish preacher Robert Murray McCheyne. If you read its four chapters every day you will get through the OT once and the NT and Psalms twice every year. You might do this in two years or four if you just want to read a chapter a day as Mrs C is planning to do!  I have done this three times and each time took between 18 months and two years to read it through. Grace abounds when it comes to my Bible reading!

2. The Bible in One Year:  More recently, I have been using the 'Bible in one year' app on my phone and iPad. This gives you an OT, NT and either a Psalm or Proverb each day. It then has a commentary and some prayers. This is great if you have a commute or find grabbing the same time each day difficult. Just plan to hit the app once a day and try and clear 15 minutes to pray and listen to God's word. The great advantage of this app is it's easy.

3. YOU version: This is the world's most popular Bible app and contains a font of resources including lots of different reading plans and also audio options. 

If you can keep a journal at the same time that's a plus. There is something good and faith-building about having a record of the things God has spoken to you and the prayers you have prayed down the years.

I am praying that by the end of Lent that our church, like my friend, may ignite afresh with a love for God's word and in the Spirit's power. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

The Prayer Course

You might want to use this prayer resource produced by Pete Grieg in your church or small group.

Details here.




Saturday, March 01, 2014

Saturday blog-sweep

If Philip Seymour Hoffman isn't happy what hope is there for the rest of us

A new Q marks the spot including the latest Steve Chalke prompted hoo-ha about the Bible. Christianity Magazine has a Bible Debate and a good response from Andrew Wilson

The new president of Ukraine is a baptist pastor.

Trevin Wax's perceptive application of Daniel 3

Why being alone scares me

Fascinating piece by Abraham Piper on leaving the faith of his parents and being converted reading Romans . Do forward this helpful wisdom to anyone struggling with a child who has walked away from faith or keep it on file if such a time should come.

Life as a church planter

We all love a time management tip or two

Tim Challies says 'The Economics of Sex' is the most interesting thing you will encounter all day

A moving post entitled 'What we are saying when we don't mention the gospel'

An interesting post about Tim Keller and God's wrath

Dash House put me on this this post about what TEDx presenters do that preachers can learn from.