Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Superior

'Where the Holy Ghost implants divine life in the soul, there is a precious deposit which none of the refinements of education can equal. The thief on the cross excels Caesar on his throne. Lazarus among the dogs is better than Cicero among the senators; and the most unlettered Christian is in the sight of God superior to Plato'

Charles Spurgeon (quoted in Jesus continued...Page 120)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday musing

1. The story of Joseph the Masai warrior was striking.

2. This tweet was prompted by BiOY this morning.

3. Interesting insight about parents having conversations with kids.

4. I have been dipping once again into 'Dangerous Calling' in which Paul Tripp shares his issues with anger.

'I always say it this way: "No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do." Whether you realise it or not, you are in the unending conversation with yourself, and the things you say abut you are formative of the way you live. You are constantly talking to yourself about your identity, your spirituality, your functionality, your emotionality, your mentality, your personality, your relationships, etc. You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind of gospel'

5. The Leaders Pathway is a helpful chapter in 'Courageous leadership' to discuss as a group or a team.

6. Two points that I can still remember from Sunday's sermon in Luke 18:1-8 by Will.

a. Pray always
b. Do not lose heart.

Super illustration about high climbing.

7. For various reasons, I have been thinking about goals and wondering whether or not to add any to my rather limited number. a. Keep loving and following Jesus b. Stay married c. Make some disciples 

Buy an Airstream and travel is always an option to add to the list but still stuck at three.....

8. I found myself pushing a pram around a shop listening to this song and it prompted me to start dancing. This led to a discussion with Mrs C on the way home about whether or not we would ever again go to a nightclub.

9. We are excited about the last episode of 'Line of Duty'. Cracking telly.

10. Our Church APCM on Wednesday and we have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Organic not industrial

"Never make it more complicated than loving Jesus, loving others and telling people about Jesus."

Neil Cole

'He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.’
Matt 13:31-32


Twenty five years ago, as I was starting to explore faith, I joined a little group that was called 'Mustard Seed' that met in a home on the outskirts of Newcastle-upon-tyne. I remember it was run by two dear, patient, Bible-saturated Geordie teachers and they will, to this day, not have a clue that the confused, questioning, hungover buffoon who turned up each week and seemed to understand so very little went to on plant a church. I was reminded of this as I listened to Mark Batterson's talk (which I missed as I had to drive home) on that parable that he gave to New wine leaders recently and also today as I read Ian Paul's post 'What does growth look like?'on the same theme. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday bits and bobs

1. God works through people.

'Engaging in the mission of God is not just about asking, 'What would Jesus do?' but also, 'What does Jesus want to do through me'

Jesus continued.... [page 85]

2. I am taking delivery of 'Simple gospel' today which someone recommended to me.

3. I have been reading through the Deuteronomy passages about blessings and curses and as a result have dipped into some of the writings of Derek Prince that I have on my shelves. I am now minded to find out a bit more about his life. He sounds like a posh (Eton and Cambridge), academic and very charismatically-minded chappy.

4. My pal recommended the new Jesus culture album 'Let it echo' and says it has at least four good songs on it.

5. I am reading 'The Righteous Mind' which is not a bad book if you are trying to fathom how to vote in the referendum. It won't give you the answer but it is a fascinating analysis of how politics and religion divide good people.

6. This bit from 'When men think private thoughts' has lingered with me:

'In spite of all the (questionable, I think) efforts made in our time to raise and educate boys and girls in a fashion that is free of gender identity, the fact remains that they pick up signals of differing expectations from the culture, The greatest point of demarcation has to do with emotions and relationships. 

Psycolologist Alvin Baraff writes in 'Men Talk':

Girls are taught to honor and understand their emotions. Conversely, boys are encouraged, even forced, to hold in and suppress their emotions. There is hardly a man ......today who didn't grow up hearing such admonitions as 'Big boys don't cry!' and 'Be a man!'. The commands form the young boys reality'

7. Piper speaking about 2 Cor 4:4 gave me some good things to reflect on and pray about. 'Glory' is an amazing word.

8. Visual theology looks like its worth getting hold of if you want a way in to matters and issues theological and biblical.

9. I have returned again recently to the chapter entitled 'The Leadership Pathway' in 'Courageous Leadership'. It's a very helpful analysis of how we are each differently shaped.

10. The Godly Trait is worth some of your time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Gift not guilt

'God is not now looking, nor has he ever looked, for 'helpers' to assist him in saving the world. That doesn't mean he isn't calling us to give ourselves generously to that mission or be sacrificially generous with our neighbours; it's just that he's not looking for people to supply his needs, He's not short on money, talent, or time. He  has never commanded us to save the world for him; he has called us to follow him and he saves the world through us.......

God commissioned only one Messiah, and it's not us. He calls us to be servants, not fellow saviours; stewards, not suppliers. He wants us not to be guilt driven, but gift driven; not only looking outward at the mission, but inward at his empowering presence. The question is not just, "How much needs to be done?' but "What specifically has he empowered me to do?"

Jesus continued, J D Greear

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Conversation, slow cooking and a few book recommendations

1. Ravi Zac is always worth listening to. His essay in 'Indelible Ink' led me to 'Why Revival Tarries' for which is a book I will be forever grateful for.

2. 'Jesus continued' is being eaten up one chapter at a time. I appreciated this Kenneth Latourette observation:

'The chief agents in the expansion of Christianity appear not to have been those who made it a profession or a major part of their occupation, but men and women who earned their livlihood in some purely secular manner and spoke of their faith to those whom they met in this natural fashion.'
[page 54]

3. A pal is over in England from NZ and is connecting with the 3DM movement that started in Sheffield. As I sat on a bench with my lovely friend I asked him to sum it all up for me. He told me the big idea is discipleship really boils down to just two questions:

a. What is God saying to you?
b. What are you going to do about it?

For more on this you might like to get hold of Mike Breen's material on 'Huddles'. As an aside, Steve Croft, the Bishop of Sheffield, has just been appointed to Oxford. which is tremendous news. The wind bloweth anew in the C of E ......I pray it blows over Woolwich too for that appointment.

4. I am preaching and thinking about about the link between leadership, risks and prayer on Sunday and am musing a lot about quail. Also, here's a quote I am mulling on:

'You cannot build God's reputation if you aren't willing to risk yours' The Circle Maker, Page 48

5. A conversation between Tim Keller, Michael Horton and Alan Hirsch is worth listening to.

Keller describes in particular how the open-and-affirming movement claims not to threaten the gospel but actually redefines the Christian narrative according to expressive individualism. Identity in this misunderstood gospel is found through self-affirmation and self-assertion, not self-denial. But according to the biblical gospel, we lose ourselves in order to find ourselves in serving God and others.

6. I am LOVING the slowcooker and am chewing on its lessons for discipleship. My NZ pal recommended 'Slow church' to me.

7. I had a discussion with someone recently about what my view on tattoos is. I am not sure I had a view other than my knowledge of one verse in Leviticus and I have since come across this

8. My one chapter at a time plan includes reading 'Activate: an entirely new approach to small groups' which a friend lent me. This is one I am pondering:

'Conventional wisdom: Small groups are a place where intimate relationships are formed
Reality: Small groups are a place where new friendships are formed' [Page19]'

I wonder how it changes our thinking to think of groups as primarily places of friendship?

9. Mark Howell's blog has been a blessing and I enjoyed 'Books that have shaped me'. The Emery White book 'Rise of the nones' caught my eye and went on the list.

10. One quote from this Rob Bell film called Resurrection stuck with me:

'It's easy to be cynical'

Indeed it is.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Salt

1. Keller's latest sermon in the 'Rise' series called 'Counter-culture for the common good' is on being salt and light and his analysis of what it means to be salt was so convicting for me. It probably will be for you too if you find the time to listen.