Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Christmas Lists

I have just spend 20 mins doing my Christmas list for my family who have been badgering me. I can never think of anything I want. Here is an idea if you are like me. Why not get a Flip camera. You can takes films and then just plug it into your computer and bob's your uncle. How cool will that be to open on Christmas day! The books on my list are Leading with a limp, Judgement and Back of a Napkin. I have also put the new Dido album on my list which will no doubt depress me but to a good tune.

A wedding disaster

Can this really have happened? Who knows- but it certainly made me smile..

(H/T J R Woodward)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Online archive and Missiology resources

Here are a couple of resources that will keep you busy for a lifetime. The first is an online religious library of everything you every wanted to know on theological subjects. The second is a great collection of thought on the work of mission prepared by J R Woodward.

(H/T Transforming sermons)

Something ain't right

(H/T B McLaren)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

No such thing as retirement

My old Vicar John often said that "There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God". It is one of those things that he said that really stuck with me. It seems that John Piper agrees with him.

(HT Pure Church)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I spent some of yesterday enjoying some poetry. Eugene Peterson always says that if he were training seminary students he would make them read poetry for two years-I would be very glad if it was Billy Collins. I read his fantastic Taking off Emily Dickenson's clothes and I learn happily from Donald Miller that he has a new book out.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where's the outcast?

Recently, someone has become a follower of Jesus who would usually have seen himself as the outcast of the conventional church. I have been enjoying hearing his story and learning from his thoughts and perceptions of life, family, culture and faith. He tells me he is hearing a gospel that seems to him different from the one he rejected long ago and he is starting to understand and be transformed by the reality of the grace of Jesus. Tim Keller suggested on Tuesday that we must preach the gospel to those who are not yet coming and in a way that would encourage them to bring their friends to hear its message. Maybe through my new friend and brother I am slowly learning what he means.

Last Sunday, I preached on Luke 18 and 19 and where usually I would have chosen either the blind man or Zacchaeus, I decided to speak on both. They seemed to have the same things going on in their hearts but externally were completely different social beings. In fact, I think they are the Jericho opposites -but maybe that is Luke's point. In the sermon, I used a quote from the Prodigal God and two people, including this new follower, have quoted it back to me expressing their amazement and how it spoke to them.

I share it here for your perusal.

Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishoners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did (Page 15)

So there's the challenge.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Here are a few things I have been reading and thinking about:

Moths and rust-HERE

5-fold ministry appreciation-HERE

Gladwell's new book-HERE

How to teach doctrine-HERE

Working through the pain-HERE

Prodigal God review-HERE

Running effective meetings-HERE

Counting the numbers at Church-HERE

What just can't be but is-HERE

How to create a movement-HERE

Leader:It's your fault-HERE

Quotable presidents-HERE

Solving problems-HERE


Why living like Jesus is not enough-HERE

Graham Cray on Fresh expressions-HERE

Haggard back in the pulpit-HERE

Overlooking an offense-HERE

Facebook updates and twittering-HERE

Whose 'Al'-HERE

ESV Study Bible

Finally, my ESV Study bible has arrived. A friend who is a pastor and theologian mailed me this week saying:

"My ESV has arrived – WHAT A WINNER – my aim now as pastor of theology is to get as many people owning & using this on a daily basis in the church as I can. Its fantastic. One or two emphasises in the notes that aren’t mine, but overall, incredible!"

Buy yours HERE

Culture Watch: Cheat death

Culture Watch: Heaven for the Weather

If you want to understand your culture listen to it's song lyrics

The Streets "Heaven for the Weather"

I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell for the company
I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell seems like fun to me

There’s something in the sun this day, I feel it
Or maybe it’s just my hay fever
The weeds are green, the sky is shining
But it’ll soon be night which is nicer
But then cracks peel back and hell bends the room
And the devil gestures to you
You’ve never seen such a Beelzebu
And he’s telling you to make up your bean about what’s left of your evening
About whether to flake out or f*cking stay out
What do you make of this doubt?
The devil wants to know if you’re going down or up
Easy - I know what my speech should be

I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell for the company
I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell seems like fun to me

The devil beams a big beaming grin
The sort which leads you up the streets of sin
He holds up paperwork - sign the line
Let’s clash with madmen, grime is fine
It sounds all hectic, you’re having cold feet
Things are getting out of hand, you make an embarrassing retreat
Let’s ride the Valkyrie, commit a bit of sin
Turn rock to rubble, punch me in the chin
I simply, Lucifer, refuse to wind up on fire with low-life liars
Then you’re destined for the world without chores and sweating -
The eternal hell of boredom in heaven

I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell for the company
I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell seems like fun to me

You tell the devil in no uncertain terms
You’ll never be evil, you’ll never be turned
What is this evil? And who decides this?
When left to devices some humans try shit
This is the reason we should all be tied up?
We’re just normal people exploring our minds
We don’t go around here putting poison in wine
But we enjoy what we like which is not always right
People are intricate, people aren’t swines
Let’s screw the rules up and rely on our minds
Sign on the line
You sign on the line
He clutches the wine and tips it in cyanide

I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell for the company
I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell seems like fun to me

I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell for the company
I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell seems like fun to me

I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell for the company
I want to go to heaven for the weather
But hell seems like fun to me

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tim Keller in London

Spent the day with Keller who gave the first of three day conferences that will happen over the next six months and was on truly fine form. It was great to see a few familiar faces-my pal Mark was over from Amsterdam, Will up from Sussex, Simon D, Steve and Chris from Lewes, Tom from St Judes and- Atco/Heather, Lizzy, Wayne, Rob and Les from college.

Now spending the evening preparing a sermon for the girls of Wycombe Abbey on Sunday but also very quickly putting down the thoughts of the day before they depart.

The big chunk things that struck me

1. It is about being able to discern the things that truly matter and integrating any new information into what you already know or have observed. Keller is a master at it.
2. We need to disciple people better for their workplaces
3. We should preach the gospel to those who are not yet coming
4. We must be people who 'listen to the questions'. Your theology is the answers to the questions you have asked the text (Edmund Clowney)

The morning was spent with Keller telling us many things but the point that stuck is that God always tends to do a new thing-and it is not like the old. I was reminded of reading Iain Murray's book on Edwards and the impact Whitfield had on the great awakening with his radical innovation of outdoor preaching. Someone else who I have listened to recently who might be just such a radical innovator is Craig Groeschl and his book "It" and despite not wanting to like him he really impressed me. One of the many things that struck me about him was his giving up all reading for a year except the scriptures which he read until his passion for Jesus was renewed.

Perhaps he might be doing the new sort of thing that Keller was talking about this morning?

Is this the never seen before gospel initiative unlike the past but for our times and in the city? Or is it mad? (There again they thought Whitfield was a cross-eyed lunatic!).


Loving the poor.......

Extraordinary prayer.

Creative worship.....

Just a food for thought detour (Get hold of Groeshl's talk to the Willow conference if you can).

The day encouraged me 1) Due to the amazing content 2) Due to the unifying tone across the various evangelical tribes.

Looking in my notebook these are some of the things I wrote down.

-The delta effect was a Richard Lovelace term for what happens when revival comes
-"Noone ever learned they were a sinner by being told they have to be shown" John Newton
-Moralism doesn't change the heart it only restrains it
-"Get married to the area"
-Carson's four part biblical model: Creation-Fall-Redemption- Restoration
-The four planks 1. Light 2. Salt 3. Institutional Church vs Organic Church (Abraham Kuyper) 4. Disciple people for their public life as well as their private life. Do it all in a city
-Gather people by vocational field
-'Christ-haunted' Flannery O'Connor
-Non-believers should 'overhear' the gospel in our churches
-There is a surplus of meaning in the bible

He talked a lot about culture and you might like to check out Six ways to engage with culture and to read Culture Making by Andy Crouch to fuel your thinking (his Blog is on my side-bar).

He recommended a few things- the writings of James Hunter (not yet published). Also 'Soft difference' an article by Miroslav Volf which you can find the full article here-below is a great summary quote.

It might be appropriate to call the missionary distance that 1 Peter stresses soft difference. I do not mean a weak difference, for in 1 Peter the difference is anything but weak. It is strong, but it is not hard. Fear for oneself and one's identity creates hardness. The difference that joins itself with hardness always presents the other with a choice: either submit or be rejected, either "become like me or get away from me." In the mission to the world, hard difference operates with open or hidden pressures, manipulation, and threats. A decision for a soft difference, on the other hand, presupposes a fearlessness which 1 Peter repeatedly encourages his readers to assume (3:14; 3:6). People who are secure in themselves—more accurately, who are secure in their God—are able to live the soft difference without fear. They have no need either to subordinate or damn others, but can allow others space to be themselves. For people who live the soft difference, mission fundamentally takes the form of witness and invitation. They seek to win others without pressure or manipulation, sometimes even "without a word" (3:1).

(H/T Blogging Parson)

He also spoke a lot of Don Carson whose resources are all collected here and Abraham Kuyper and Alan Hirsch

Try and make the next one in Feb if you can..

Monday, November 17, 2008

Albums that went round and round

I was listening to Chris Evans on Radio 2 and he was bemoaning the fact that he was starting to like the new Dido album. It got me remembering albums of the past that really got into my inner being my having been played over and over again. There is no rhyme or reason to it- these are just off the top of my head.

Feel free to add a few suggestions....

1. Dido

2. David Bowie Ziggy Stardust

3. Bob Marley Confrontation

4. Aswad Live and Direct

5. Skids Scared to dance

6. Billy Idol Rebel Yell

7. Ted Hawkins Songs from Venice Beach

8. Bryan Adams Reckless

9. Martin Stephenson and the Daintees Boat to Bolivia

10. The Smiths The Queen is dead

11. Oasis Definitely Maybe

12. Oasis What's the story

13. Dire Staits Love over gold

14. Howard Jones Humans lib

15. Gypsy Kings

16. Counting Crows August and everything after

17. Hootie and and Blowish Cracked rear view

18. David Gray White Ladder

19. Mary Chapin Carpenter Cmon Cmon

20. 10000 Maniacs In my tribe

21. Damien Rice O

22. Avril Lavigne Let go

23. Ray Lamontagne Trouble

24. Beautiful South Welcome to the beautiful south

25 The Housemartins The people who grinned themselves to death

Sunday, November 16, 2008


One of my very few readers complained that I had failed in my blogging of late so here are a few things:

Thinking biblically about Facebook-HERE

7 kinds of pastors I'd run from-HERE

Give up-HERE

This is the motion of our next deanery synod: “This Deanery Synod (Richmond and Barnes) recognises the value and integrity of faithful, committed same-sex relationships, does not accept that they are “incompatible with scripture” and asks the Diocesan Synod to debate the eligibility for preferment and candidature for ordination of individuals in such relationships”. Those attending may do well to watch-HERE -for another view. I confess, on this one, I am somewhat at a loss for words but it is interesting to note reading HERE that Elton John seems uncertain about the nature of same-sex 'marriage'

Rowan's rule-HERE

God is useless-HERE

Learning how to pray-HERE

Learn to take criticism like a man-HERE

Lewis on the role of theology in faith-HERE

What do evangelical's do well?-HERE

Lloyd-Jones and Spurgeon resources discussed-HERE

Write better emails and receive less-HERE

One purpose

"My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ."
Billy Graham

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I have been thinking about being in the wilderness. A pal forwarded me Simon's sermon on this that had blessed him and through listening to it I brought all those I have on my heart who are in that place of the desert. There seem to be rather a lot- maybe you are one of them.

Last week's conference was good and it was refreshing to see so many good and old friends. I went away with a couple of things to ponder and pray through that may take a little time to process. During the week, I read the Discipline of Grace which explores the relationship between grace and holiness through a study on Romans-great stuff and my copy is now very dog-eared and scribbled over.

I have also managed to listen to one of these sermons by Sinclair Ferguson who is what I would call a classic preacher and teacher and handles the Bible in a way that gently warms the heart and reminds one of Christ and the Gospel. I think I like him because he reminds me of my early years sitting in the Kirk in the Ayrshire village I grew up in in Scotland.

If you have ever grappled with the question 'How people change?' you may find this is interesting. Driscoll, as ever, has lots of views-this time on the emerging church. Finally, what happens when the pastor meets the professor, an article on Malcolm Gladwell and advice on thank you notes?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Great questions for a new leader

Cornel West's great questions of Obama.

1. How deep is your love for the people?

2. What kind of courage do you have?

3. What are you willing to sacrifice for?

These are not bad questions of anyone seeking to lead others and are worth something of a ponder.

Here are Cornel's five most important books in this weeks Newsweek. The book he thinks parents should most hope to read to their children is 'The fire next time' by James Baldwin. I confess I have never even heard of it.

Oratory and feedback

Just finshed Alpha and often can't go straight to sleep so doing emails and catching up.

I watched this and was struck by many things- not least just the craft of Obama's speaking.

I speak a lot and so do many of us but here is the question.

Am I getting any better at it? (Obama raises the bar rather high!).

I recognized this challenge and realized I needed to ask for feedback.

So, in response I have decided to seek feedback out and a friend has agreed to listen to my sermons and tell me what he really thinks. I have done the same for him.

Paul says 'go into strict training'.

I need to do that if am am to preach better.

Go on then, why not ask for some honest feedback from a friend.

Here is David's sermon on Psalm 119. It blessed me so much and I hope I was able to bless him with my few thoughts.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama

Here are Driscoll's thoughts on election day and here's what we should do now he's won.


I spotted this where all the Nooma films have been collected together for you to watch. Rob Bell makes fascinating short films on a range of subjects and is also a great author. Velvet Elvis is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in recent years. He has the capacity to offend people with his theology and the way he sees the gospel which I always think is rather good. Jesus did this all the time. Bell drives some 'religious' people mad who like their bible tidy and life ordered.

I have watched most of the Nooma' films:

Parents should watch lump, kickball and rain

Disciples should watch Dust

Actually you should watch them all.

I also have taken to giving them to people instead of books particularly if you think they are not a reader.

May these be a blessing to you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

US Election, an expanding heart and Keller in town

This is interesting on the US election and prompted lots of comments with the most perceptive from Justin Taylor who posted the video. Not sure about the biblical basis for Piper's views on Palin, but as ever a man of strong opinions and thought-provoking stuff. For a different view, check out Brian McLaren on why he is voting for Obama.

I also was blessed reading this on an expanding heart and was reminded again what an impact John Stott's life has had on so many of us.

Blue Parakeet is now out and is the new book by Scott McKnight. I loved Embracng Grace which I read some months ago and here is a review of his latest.

I am going to listen to Tim Keller teach at this. Are you? Hope so.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Lives the Hebrews 12 way

(H/T A. Dunlop)


This week I took delivery of a new Tim Keller book and a the new Peterson book on the same day! Have read the Prodigal God and it's great. Buy two copies at least because you are going to want to give this one away.

Here are a few things that I have spotted:

Dawkin's steps down from Oxford but to do what?-HERE

Is Spurgeon the Driscoll of his time? See how he managed to offend-HERE

First of all know the Gospel-HERE

Tim Challies on the Prodigal God-HERE

When Christian's replace Churchgoers-HERE

22 Ways to improve your blog-HERE

The Questions have changed-HERE

Parenting talks-HERE

All of life is repentance-HERE

Discipleship the new evangelism-HERE

Praying the Psalms-HERE

(Last two items H/T T.Wax)

Saturday blog-sweep

 Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful