Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tall poppy's

Image result for tall poppies

Today is the last day of John Humphrys presenting Today. I listened to his interview with David Cameron and one phrase stuck with me (it's not up yet but you should listen).

Cameron was asked by Humphreys what his legacy was (Blair has 'Blairism' and Thatcher had her 'ism' and you....?). He paused, and said that he never wanted his leadership to be about him. He then went on the talk of Gove's education reforms and the welfare reforms of Duncan-Smith. Aside from any view on these specific policies, he then said this:

'I wanted to cultivate tall poppy's'

I like that little phrase. I am now pondering it and wondering how many leaders share that philosophy? Do I?

Isn't the very nature of discipleship the sacrificial cultivation of 'tall poppy's' or is the danger of ministry that it's can drift to being more about us than about others.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


I know the blog has been quiet.

Time to crank up my writing and sharing once again.

If you've never heard a sermon on 1 Cor 7 then I preached on it the other day and it seemed to hit a cord. I don't think there are enough sermons with the word 'masturbation' in them. It was relevant to the text ( v 9)....

My holiday reading was (and still is) 'How to read the Bible Supernaturally' 

I am enjoying Driscoll's series on Proverbs and Mrs C and I are reading through this wisdom book together.  The talk on marriage is a good one.

I am reading and being blessed by R T Kendall's '40 Days with the Holy Spirit.' which someone left on our church book shelf. It's refreshing my soul.

My sister recommended this to me and it was most enlightening on 'the backstop' and other matters Irish that English people, being English as I am, think are rather incidental.

We are having our first church wedding on a Sunday. I had to ring up head office and check that it's OK and it is. Our very own 'Wedding at Cana'.

Our son has started school. He said to me 'Daddy, it not fair. I have to go to school and you get to stay home all day and play'. Not a bad line to up Vocations in the C of E......

We watched the story of Adorijam Hudson on Amazon Prime.

I recommended a book called 'The Gospel-Driven Church' to our pastors prayer whatsapp group and a number of us read it on our holidays.  Fascinating unplanned reflection on it. It's got some real nuggets to chew on and is basically a critique of pragmatic church which many contemporary churches are embarked upon to gather a crowd.

I shared the gospel today with a man and in explaining it to him I had to unpack a misleading talk he had listened to in a prosperity preaching church. I know of the church and someone once told me the congregation bought the pastor a Porsche for his 50th birthday. I always assumed that that cannot possibly be true? I am over a decade into ministry and the C of E have yet to send me the company car form. It must have got lost in the post.

Every day is grace.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Topics

1. These books were recommended to me recently. Reading good biographies has been grist to my spiritual mill down the years and it will be to yours too I pray:

Evidence not seen

We died before we came here

Hudson Taylor: A Man in Christ

2. I was single until the age of 45 and this book looks like a good one from a limited canon on the subject.

3.  I take an interest in teachers, books, preachers and para-church things. A recent thought is that if a particular speaker or guru plays a bigger part in your life and discipleship than the local church you've got something very out of wack. The problem with the big speaker or person with a ministry to ' ......' is that it too easily becomes about you and them and not about Jesus and his people (the church). By all means listen to a podcast of this or that person and try to consume a rich and varied diet of teaching but not at the expense of connecting with the people of God in a local church.

4. We're enjoying Chimerica and are watching it on C4 catch-up. We were surprised by this ad for a morning after pill. The lie is that 'you are your own master'. You're not because none of us are.

5. David Bennett's conversion and calling is fascinating.

6. I appreciate Jared Wilson's grasp of grace.

7. I have been pondering this A W Tozer quote:

'God waits to be wanted'

(A War of Loves, p.77)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thursday thoughts

1.  We have an H T Barnes hosted on July 11th to launch David Bennett's book 'A War of Loves' @ 8pm.  His testimony speaks powerfully into our contemporary debates about sexuality and identity and he will share some of his story on the night.  The book is a compelling and powerful read.

2.  On the subject of sexuality, a pal commended Jon Tyson's recent sermon in his series 'The Controversial Jesus' which they thought was the most helpful on the subject they had ever listened to.

3.  I am currently studying 1 Corinthians and recommend the short commentary by Leon Morris. He says more in one paragraph than others do with ten times the amount of words.

4.  It is Christian Aid week and I often ponder how long such a week can be sustained on a national level in a post-Christian culture. Christian Aid do amazing work but their brand is now an anathema to most of the culture who's doors are knocked on. 

5. I was recommended 'This cultural moment' as a good podcast. One for when you next walk the dog (if you have one)

6.  A couple of members of our team attended the National Foodbank Conference (we run ours here) and the quote that stuck with both of them was this:

 '...the opposite of poverty is community'

7.  An update on Lambeth 2020 which is shaping up to be a seminal moment for the C of E.

8. We are excited to be supporting (with a couple of other churches and initiated by 'The Riverbank Trust') the birth of one of these locally which I shared with our church family last Sunday.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Wednesday wanderings

1. Some wonderful folk emailed me to encourage me about how the blog had been a blessing to them down the years which has stirred me back here. The last few months have been busy, challenging and testing, at times totally wonderful and encouraging which has all led me to neglect my own ministry of encouragement here. Anyway, I am back to it if anyone is still interested.

2.  I read a story called 'The church on the porch' from a book called 'What Jesus started' in last Sunday's sermon,  It seemed to spark a cord and reading Addison's book has given me my August sermon series.

3.  I have spent the last couple of days at LC19 and was very blessed. Two things will certainly stick with me: the testimony a friend gave and Jon Tyson's talk on Hosea 10. A pal texted me to ask if I thought the conference was 'worth the money' and for those moments alone the answer is an unquestioning yes.

4.  A statement I have been pondering: 'Jesus never fulfilled his potential but he fulfilled his purpose' 

5. Here are three leadership questions to chew over on a wet Wednesday morning:

a.  What is no longer working and needs to be changed?
b.  What is no longer working and needs to be stopped?
c.  If someone replaced me what would be the first thing they would change?

6.  'Worship is a strategy where we interrupt the preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God' Eugene Peterson quoted by Matt Redman

7.  A pal is reading a book called 'Leadership pain' which I have just ordered.

8.  I listened to an interesting talk by Mark Sayers (author of this book which I read a while ago) on the five global trends impacting the church. It's worth checking out.

-Radical connectivity
-A world of competing visions
-Faltering secular revival
-A deep hunger for a better world
-The great disillusionment

9. Look out for Simon's new book 'Jesus is amazing'.

10.  What to do when you attend a Type A leadership conference and you're not Type A? The main speaker at the conference who is a remarkable man has a church of over 100K, six kids that he home schools, runs The Global Leadership Summit as a tiny sideline in his schedule, writes books by the dozen, reads the Bible for two hours a day and looks like Sylvester Stallone after all the time he spends in the gym. It's a major undertaking for me to get a pair of shoes on my two sons and get them out of the front door each morning. Mike Todd, who also spoke at LC19, had a lovely phrase 'the pace of grace'. Grace indeed......

Monday, January 14, 2019

Monday musing

1. I greatly enjoyed and was moved by 'Even through our darkness' by Jack Deere.  It's a book about struggles, sin, mixed motives and above all else how pride fights the grace of God. It is a ruthlessly honest and, at times, astounding read.

2.  We met for our first 'Pastor's prayers' this year and a pal recommended I watch Joan Bakewell's 1970 interview with Martyn Lloyd Jones. It is as good a diagnostic of our times now as it was then. We are preaching through Judges and someone after church said to me 'I had no idea there were so many parallel's with our day.' That's why I am preaching it.

3. When something big happens in the Anglican church as occurred in Oxford I go to Anglican unscripted for a briefing. Gavin Ashenden's metaphor of the ferry has lived on with me since I watched this episode. A pal said 'I'll be jumping into a life raft before we reach the other side.'

4. I read a fascinating interview with Jackie Pullinger and this quote stayed with me.

 'My message is always the same; it’s how to get us sure enough of God’s love, so we can go out and share it with the lost.'

5. I have been reading 'The Fight' by John White which is such a good little book on the Christian life for dummies. I am a dummy, pastoring a church of dummies,so I've suggested everyone read this book between now and Easter.

6. I listened to a talk on predestination and at one point Keller says: 'You find yourself laughing at the thought that God chose you'. Indeed I do- often.

7. Mrs C was captivated by 'Redeeming love' which someone gave her for her birthday. It tells the story of Hosea.

8. May we never lose our wonder....

9. This is an interesting piece about Andrew Murray if you long for your children to come to Christ and need help reflecting on how that happens.

10.  If you are a pastor worth his salt you visit with regularity the question of discipleship both of yourself and those you shepherd. This might be more the case as a new year starts.  When it comes to discipleship type A's love a program and an activity and I confess I quite like one too. But increasingly I think they are not that good at making disciples who run the race over the long haul. So what is a disciple is one of my fresh musings....

Disciples love....

Disciples are generous...

Disciples pray....

Disciples are joyful...

Disciple can let things go....

Disciple keep meeting together.....

Disciples encourage each other....

Disciples repent and break bread together......

Disciples read.....

Disciples take time to be alone with Jesus....

Disciples laugh.....

Disciples cry

Disciples eat together......

Disciples invite people in....

Disciples fail and mess things up....

Disciples often get the wrong end of the stick but with the HS help they get it in the end......