Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Greatest Discovery of your Life

'My greatest joy as a pastor is seeing people come alive in their spiritual gifts. If there ever has been someone I knew who had the spiritual gift of faith and intercession, Curtis was he. Curtis was an older gentleman in our church who had worked more than thirty years in the Veterans Affairs hospital. One day, in his late fifties, he listened to a message by Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle on how God answers prayer. Curtis confessed he'd never seen God clearly answer a prayer in his life, so he set aside five minutes a day to pray for others.  That grew to ten minutes, then half an hour, then eventually an hour and a half each day. He developed a large email chain in our church that involved hundreds of people praying around the clock for one another's needs. At every stage of our church's growth, he bathed our steps in prayer. He spoke prophetic vision into my life, and into the future of our church

Curtis has gone to be with Jesus, but he remains for our church an example of the extraordinary accomplishments God brings about through those who pursue his mission in step with the Spirit.'

Jesus continued, Page 133

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday musing

1, I recently preached a sermon on Ephesians 3 and then birthed another talk on Ephesians 1 inspired by a passage in Peterson's book on Ephesians called 'Practice Resurrection'. What studying these two passages did was lead me to parts of the NT where Paul prays and then to Don Carson's book 'A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and his prayers' 

....Shall we not agree with J I Packer when he writes, "I believe that prayer is the measure of the man spiritually, in a way that nothing else is, so that how we pray is as important a question as we can ever face. Can we profitably meet the other challenges that confront the Western church if prayer is ignored as much as it has been' [p.17]

I am planning to spend a week on each passage and have been blessed by my first week on 2 Thes 1:2-11.

2. I spoke on 1 Cor 13:4-7 and was stuck again by how poorly I love. So many of those phrases set the bar very high and I am mulling on particularly on pride and envy. Although I do feel fairly secure and don't expend much energy looking sideways this post entitled '5 signs you are an insecure leader' fell in the the mix of my mulling.

3. John Irvine, whose preaching I sat under for many years, used to say 'there is no retirement in the kingdom of heaven'. John Piper in this post agrees with him. Life begins at 70.......

4. Someone recommended 'Europe: In or Out' by David Charters to me which I have downloaded on the kindle.

5. 'The bathroom debate' on the other side of the pond is unquestionably coming our way.

6. Evangelism: never the first word in a conversation?

7. Perfectionism can be a dreadful cross to bear and here is a book about it. One to read if this is your cross.

8. John Irvine's sermon on 'Evangelism and the Spirit's anointing' (15.6.16) is worth listening to just for the lovely story about Tony the builder.

9. I rather like the look of this little book called Happy Hour about parties.

10. I cooked Mary Berry's 'Lentil Cottage Pie' which is actually rather good. The lentil doesn't have very good press but in this form it is delicious.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

For the pod: The Trinity (in a way you can comprehend)

Here are the talks from our church weekend away. I can't recommend these highly enough and listening to them will help you love Jesus more and know Him better,

Talk 1: The Trinity and Grace

Talk 2: The Trinity and Worship

Talk 3: The Trinity and Mission

If you only had time to listen to one, then Talk 2 is great teaching and ,as Will-I-am might say, 'it's fresh'.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fire

I am happy to report that blessing does indeed follow battle. We had a terrific church weekend away and it's fair to say that we love our church family.

Will graced us with three stunning talks which I will post soon.

This quote among many has stuck with me:

'The most important thing about you is what you think when you think about God'
A W Tozer

He recommended 'Trinity and Transformation' by T F Torrance for anyone who wants to dig a bit more after our weekend.

Today is Pentecost, and 'More: How you can have more of the Spirit when you already have everything in Christ' is only 75p on Kindle.  At that price do get hold of it.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Eugene Peterson on the 'autonomous idealists'

As we prepare for our church weekend I was touched by this account in 'Practice resurrection: A conversation on growing up in Christ' about church. Eugene Peterson quotes a pastor friend who wrote a letter to a man who was ticked off with the church and had decided not to participate in worship:

'In his letter my friend confronted the man first by agreeing with him: 'I agree. It's very hard to participate in church over time and retain your humanity. You correctly deplore what you criticize.' Then he followed up with a blunt question, 'Yet do you worship with a congregation, scrub its floors, change its babies, face its crises, humble yourself to its relational intricacies? The Jesus you admire did. He honored and observed worship and community. He formed a new communion while honoring the old. He lived as a participant. It was not from without but from within the "people of God" that he confronted sin. And it was not from without but from within that he was censored and killed. It's  the church  that he came to build that killed him, not a network of autonomous idealists'

Then he zeroed in : 'The church is woefully sinful, distorted, and inadequate. In its seasons and centuries it is often in bed with commerce, the military, and the political establishment.. or just as bad, opportunistically leeching superficial life out of them by reactionism. But it's still in the bowels of the church to be worshipers, that God has chosen to work, live, and sometimes be crucified. It's the church, that Jesus says he will build, and that hell will not prevail against'

P.82

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Six bits and bobs

1. There is a great quote about the church in 'Practice resurrection' but I haven't got time to type it all out.

2. I had a 'Pastor meeting people who aren't Christians' encounter today and this post really helped me think differently about it and as a result it went well. Reading good blogs can actually make me a better pastor every now and again- perhaps?

3, I found this post about 'Loving the sinner, hating the sin' and interesting exchange and found myself reading through the comments box with fascination.

4, Matt Chandler (a mega-church pastor in Texas) thinks this is the best talk on pastoral ministry he has ever heard. I should probably listen as I am in pastoral ministry.

5. If you preach then this quote is one to think on:

''You may want your listeners to take notes on much of the sermon, but when you get to Christ, you want them to experience what they were taking notes about"

Preaching, Tim Keller, p.22

6. I had a surprise and wonderfully refreshing chat with a dear friend tonight that was a lived experience of the Proverb that I read and prayed this morning from my BiOY. :

'A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed' Pr 11:25

Jesus truly is risen from the dead.......

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wednesday wanderings

It really has for so many reasons been one of those couple of weeks. Battle precedes blessing, I pray, as we head off for our church weekend.

1. Giles Fraser comes out for Brexit. The article I posted cites Tony Benn's questions, which I first read in his 'Letters to my grandchildren'  and have always thought were rather helpful on the nature of democracy. They are pretty good questions to ask during the current debate, whatever side you lie on, and asking them and the answers you come to may help you if you are undecided.

2, I read this sentence in 'More' and it has got it's way into a talk I am doing tonight on Ephesians 1:

'Hunger for God is an authentic sign of the work of the Spirit' (p.162)

If you want a great read on the Spirit, with Pentecost coming n'all then do get hold of this.

3. The final of Masterchef made me cry and I will tell you why in my talk tonight.

4, This is a prophetic insight given the C of E's week of prayer for the nation:

'Ask God to make you all that the Spirit of God can make you, not only a satisfied believer who has drunk for himself, but a useful believer who overflows the neighbourhood with blessing .....[seeing some visitors in his church he directed his words to them] what a blessing it would be if they went back to their respective churches overflowing; for there are numbers of churches that need flooding; they are dry as a barn floor, and little dew ever falls on them. Oh that they might be flooded.....What a wonderful thing a flood is.....Oh for a flood of grace! The Lord send to all churches a great spring-tide.....so may it be, may all who hear me this day get your share of the streams. Oh that the Lord may now fill you and send you home bearing a flood of grace'

C H Spurgeon quoted in 'More', Page 50

We are praying tonight at 7.45 for an 8pm start.....

5. I have been reading the 'Wedding blessing' liturgy and am turning over the word 'resolved' in my mind,

6. I read 'Practice resurrection' on Ephesians last night and it kindled a little fire in me.

7. 'The Bible is not a book to carry around  and read for information about God, but a voice to listen to. I like that,'

Practice Resurrection, Page 33

Thursday, May 05, 2016

10 things for a Thurday

1. A thought on the why of Donald Trump

2. I enjoyed reading about Untied Pursuit. Their album Simple gospel is blessing me.

3. I read such a wonderful illustration of what 'glorious riches' means in Eph 3:14 in Peterson's 'Practicing resurrection'. He writes so beautifully. You'll hear it on Sunday.

4. My ethics tutor Andrew Goddard has written a booklet called 'The EU Referendum: How should we decide?'. I am ordering a copy.

5. The theme of our church weekend is the Trinity and we're excited Will is coming to speak.

6. I love Darryl's post on 'Failure'

7. Simon's book is helping me again as I try and grasp the 'More' of the Spirit. You should also read his new book called 'Different'.

8. I am reflecting on the quotes from Andy Stanley who I could not be more different from if I tried. However, there is a nugget or two here that are worth pondering if you have ever grappled with what it means to be in community.

'You can't do in rows what you can do in circles'

9. I should probably stick these 12 questions on my wall and pray that asking them every once in a while might make me a better leader,

10. I am loving Jane Rice's 'Slow cooker' book and her fish curry is a belter (do it with 2 Green chilies not 5 though)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Eugene Peterson and Bono


Were it not for Eugene Peterson theological college would have killed me off before the race had even started. Thankfully, I found his complete theological teaching on tape in the college library and listened to every lecture he gave at Regent Vancouver over a period of two years. He was my Professor, Pastor, Teacher, Counselor, Father and Friend. I have since read all his books- many of them more than once. It is not an exaggeration to say I own him my life......