Sunday, December 24, 2017

Free

‘The gospel makes us Christians, not ascetics. Jesus Christ did not die and rise for you so that you would stress out about whether your being spiritual enough. So take a nap. Go for a walk in the woods. Play with your kids. Eat some chocolate. Watch a good movie. Christian, you are free’

Gospel wakefulness, p. 111

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Awake

Happy to announce James Randle Cooke has arrived and everyone is doing pretty well. I’ve been able to sit for an unnervingly peaceful amount of time in the hospital and have a bit of a read. 

As a consequence, I have been mulling on these:

 ‘Signs you have not experienced gospel wakefulness:

1.  The gospel doesn’t interest you- or it does, but not as much as other religious subjects

2. You take nearly everything personally

3. You frequently worry about what other people think. 

4. You treat inconveniences like minor ( or major ) tragedies. 

5. You are impatient with people

6. In general, you have trouble seeing the fruit of the Spirit in your life ( Gal. 5:22-23 )

7. The Word of God holds little interest

8. You have great difficulty forgiving

9. You are told frequently by a spouse, close friend, or other family members that you are too “clingy” or too controlling. 

10. The idea of gospel centrality makes no sense to you. 

Gospel wakefulness, p 72-73


Monday, December 18, 2017

Monday musing

1.  Our second son will have arrived by the end of the day. 

2.  ‘This is in fact the thrust of the gospel: it is Christ’s work that saves, not yours’

Gospel wakefulness, 27

3. Another Jared Wilson on my radar is his latest ‘Imperfect disciple’. 101 reviews on Amazon. 

4. My grieving friend has been listening to and blessed by Cory Ashbury’s ‘Reckless love’

5. The dance, during our Family Carols, made me weep. My friend told me to ‘man-up’. Tears really are ok. 

6. Mrs C lent over to me during church yesterday and whispered ‘God’s word this Christmas is that he’s come to make his home among us and he’s calling each of us home’

7. Our son, given the choice of a baby brother or a Paw Patrol car, would find it a hard call. Fortunately, he’s going to get both. 

8. Debbie McGee should have won Strickly. 

9. Yesterday we sang: ‘He didn’t want heaven without us so he brought heaven down’

10. I’ve developed a liking for the Cadbury’s mini roll. What a magnificent culinary invention. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

When was I saved?

‘If you asked me today when I was saved, I would answer, not entirely humorously, “about two thousand years ago”. Indeed, because I have been predestined for salvation by the one who foreknew me before I was born or had done anything good or bad, and because the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, I don’t need the security of the date of my new birth. I only need the security of knowing he whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to safeguard my life for all eternity’

Jared Wilson, Gospel wakefulness, p.30

Saturday blog-sweep

Mission Impossible: The C of E's attempt to woo new members

Tim Challies Collected Best Book Lists 2017

Buzzard Best Books 2017

'My secret is that I need God'

Asian Christianity and Christian History (h/t Jesus Creed)

R C Sproul (1939-2017)

Is Jerusalem Important?

Who is going to be the new Bishop of London? (Gavin Ashenden is a hoot and when his hut door blows open it's the sort of thing that makes me fall in love again with the good old C of E )

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Is that a glory cloud?


As I may have mentioned a Vicar pal sent me a link to a discussion about 'a glory cloud' that appears periodically in a church the other side of the pond. He's been very taken with the whole idea and has been willing his own 'glory cloud' to settle over his gently declining church of 70. It was 120 before he brought his powerful anointing to bear on things.

Anyway, the other morning he was leading worship and quite amazingly he saw a cloud coming through the open doors at the back of his sea facing church and he thought- finally it's happening! It was only once the 'glory cloud' got nearer to him and began to smell of sausages that he realized instead of a 'glory cloud' it was in fact his youth worker barbecuing below.

Undaunted, he waits on patiently for the glory to fall......

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday musing

1. 'Love Big Be Well' may very well make it as one of my books of the year.

2. Speaking of books, a pal put me on to a fellow called Ryan Holiday who produces a monthly book recommendation email that I now enjoy. It's where I discovered 'The Shepherd's Life'. These are his Best reads of 2017.

3. If you want a stunningly good talk on calling then 'Real Security and  the Call of God' is for you.

4. I am engaging in a more real way with the incarnation as we have a baby which is due to arrive any day.

5. My devotional for 2018 is 'Seeking God's Face' which I began in Advent. I've done a few years of BiOY and sensed it was time for something new.

6. I am mulling on the fact that I am just as loved by Jesus even though less people are coming to our church than a year ago. Surprisingly, no one is interested in inviting me to speak at a conference to share the profound things I am learning about my heart, myself and the gospel as I reflect on the nature of Jesus's upside down kingdom. My friend, mentor and fellow race runner is pastor of a slightly declining church too so we make an interesting pair in this season of our lives.

7. I have been really enjoying cooking recipes from Leon One Pot.

8. I've been wondering what Eugene Peterson would say to my pal who told me his church has grown so much he no longer has time to work on sermons. He is a far more gifted leader than I and a very good big-hearted friend and encourager. He tells me he now uses superb sermon outlines of a gifted mega-church pastor and his folk absolutely love their content and the church is growing even more. So many things to muse on from these couple of sentences. Now, I've googled the preacher in question and he has written a blog post complaining about 'pastoral plagiarism' by other pastors. I then googled his name and 'sermon outlines' and discovered his own website sells PDF's of his talks. If you sell PDF's of your own talks then it should not be a huge shock that people then preach and use them? I could write so much more on this but I won't....

9. 'Our entire story is predicated on the assumption that we're massive screw-ups. What's supposed to be unique to Christians is how we’re the first to recognize the trouble we're in, the first to cry uncle. If we want to lead in anything, it's this prayer: Help me, I've made a mess of things.

And boy, how often have we made a mess of things. We've screwed up more than a few of the basics: neglecting care of the poor and the children, failing to nurture creation, participating in systems of power rather than sacrificially laying down our power for others. And yet this is why we need the church all the more. This is not the time to surrender the whole idea of church, nor is it time to retreat into empty theological ideals or rhetoric that have nothing to with our place and our neighbours. We don't  need religious platitudes. We need an actual community of friends who take responsibility for..... [fill in the place name of your church]' 

Love Big, Be Well, p.26

10. This is a good piece on the Pope wanting to change the Lord's prayer.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Long term

'You should have a fifty year plan- a vision for growth over a long period of time as you embrace your weakness'

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, p 27

Monday, December 04, 2017

Work advice

I spend quite a bit of time chatting to people about their work and careers. I enjoy this and feel I have a little to contribute as I have had what some term 'a proper job' before becoming a Vicar.  However, I am bluntly aware that the work place I left aged 35 is now so very different and the idea of a 'career' is for most a pipe-dream.  So how do you navigate such an uncertain future and how do you make a plan with such a variety of options?

Seth Godin is one person who helps me stay connected to 'the workplace' and to the world of ideas and marketing in which I once worked. His post 'Reading at Work' has a list of twenty books he thinks we should all be taking a look at and making time to read with colleagues at work.

I've put 'The True Believer' on my Christmas list.

Weakness is the way

'There is widespread desperation for power, but an equally broad neglect of the patience it takes to bear kingdom fruit. We want the promised land without the testing of the wilderness; we want to have a voice that powerfully proclaims truth without first learning to be 'slow to speak' (James 1:19). Jesus attacks our shortsighted impatience and calls us into the long way. He calls us to the way of power found in weakness that comes only from a long obedience in the same direction'

p.38

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb


Some wise retired Anglican sages put me onto 'The way of the dragon or the way of the lamb'. It's an important read for those of us who pastor churches or aspire to:

'In a culture drunk on power and in need of an intervention, the church has too often become an enabler. In many places, churches openly affirm the way from below. Instead of being told how desperately I am in need of God, I am repeatedly told how much God needs me . Instead of being exhorted to pick up my cross and follow Christ, I am told that Jesus wants to be my partner in the plan I have to rid my life of struggles and challenges.. We hear gospels of moral ism, centering on my power to become a better person and we hear sermons offering up God as merely another resource along my journey for successful and happy living. Sermons become pep talks amid a quest for power and significance. Instead of worship being an invitation to come before God in humble awe and reverence, worship becomes an experience meant to lift us above the travails of everyday life and give us a sense of transcendence. Instead of hearing God's vision of redeeming all things in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, we hear of the pastor's vision to grow an even bigger church that does bigger things so that he can be powerful with him'

p.12