Saturday, February 28, 2009

We must be convinced of our need

I was sitting with a pal and reading the papers over coffee. I said, having enjoyed a particular article, "I really must read the papers more". My friend, a short while later, said "Cookie, you don't need to read the papers more. The world don't change" 

The night before I had been reading this which told me as much page after page.  It is as relevant a prophetic call now as it was in 1959 when it was first preached. 

It might just be that we haven't yet responded.

"We must become utterly and absolutely convinced of our needWe must cease to have so much confidence in ourselves, and in all our methods and organisations, and in all our slickness. We have got to realise that we must be filled with God's Spirit. And we must be equally certain that God can fill us with his Spirit. We have got to realise that however great 'this kind' [referring to Mark 9:28-29] is, the power of God is infinitely greater, that what we need is not more knowledge, more understanding, more apologetics, more reconciliation of philosophy and science and religion, and all modern techniques- no, we need a power that can enter the souls of men and break them and smash them and humble them and make them anew. And that is the power of the living God."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival, 1959

So, are you praying for more power?

Friday, February 27, 2009


I chatted to a friend at church after Live Life about reading. He asked how I read and how I know what to read. The how is a simple one-I just always have a book on the go and wherever I am will get through a few pages-waiting for the bus, standing by the kettle, waiting for a meeting to begin when everyone else is late, sitting in Starbucks-anywhere. The truth is, if you want to read you will.

Secondly, the what to read. I am just interested in books. A book like Indelible Ink is a book for readers-if you don't own it BUY IT NOW. The appendix alone is a source of enough reading to keep you going for the rest of your life. What you read does matter. John Stott in his essay in Indelible ink quotes his own words from 'Your mind matters' saying, "The kind of food our mind devours will determine the people we become". 

Selection is not a science it is a discovery. Conversations, friends, blogs, bookshops and Amazon all lead me to new books. I, like many, buy more books than I read or to put it better I very often buy a book and then read it later. When choosing what to read I will scan my shelves or the piles around me and feel prompted to a title. 

Currently, I am reading Leading with a limp and have revisited an old favorite Why revival tarries. Piper's book Finally Alive seems to be being talked about a lot so I might read it soon.

Tim Challies is a prolific reader and in this enjoyable post 'Random thoughts on reading'  he reflects on what reading is all about. It encouraged me to read more I hope it will do the same for you.


Understanding the culture-HERE

No one cares about you-HERE

Creating a culture of innovation-HERE

The gospel is the antidote to everything-HERE

Some Einstein quotes-HERE

Driscoll on Bible Study-HERE

Missiological assumptions-HERE

A good lent book-HERE

What the preacher must do-HERE

Harder work-HERE

A superstar church?-HERE

Organic leadership-HERE

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The starfish and the spider

The starfish and the spider is on lots of people's 'best-reads ever' so I decided to read it. It is basically a book about decentralized leadership, the internet, letting go of control and the power of community.

At the start of the book a contrast is made between the Spanish Army and the Apache indians. One is high control with a clear command and control structure (a Spider) the other is the opposite (a Starfish). The majority of the case studies are fascinating- AA, Wikipedia, Ebay, Napster and Skype.- starfish organizations.

My main takeout was the distinction made between a catalyst and a CEO (page 130).  The CEO is 'The Boss' and is all about command and control and power However, the catalyst is a peer, is emotionally intelligent, collaborative and about connecting. The case studies are not entirely 'leaderless' as the books title suggests- but they are empowering. 

This is a quick read and worth the trouble if only as a primer on the impact of the internet on commerce and leadership.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keller and 'Tribes'

I have spent the last couple of days with Keller. Lots of excellent stuff and far too much to mention here.  What I did notice is Keller's ability to bring the different tribes of the church together.  Yesterday at London City Mission (the talks will be on this site soon) was  full of free churchers, a few Anglicans and some missionaries. Today, he was speaking to New Frontiers, a tribe I have never spent much time with, but God is most certainly at work in this great church planting movement. I saw a couple of friends from the Vineyard in the crowd today and my old Vicar from Oxford. Tomorrow, he is speaking to the crew at All Souls. 

Tribes is something that is starting to interest me. Seth Godin has written a book called Tribes which I think might be a timely read. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

A phenomenal resource on leadership

This is a great resource and the fruit of lots of blogging labour. A collection of tons of posts on leadership and proof that quality blogging is far from a waste of time. Well worth downloading from HERE


Here are a few things:

Three kinds of men-HERE

Attractional and missional-HERE

The lie of legalism-HERE

Deliberate simplicity-HERE

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blogs I read

I thought I would share ten blogs I read. Generally in ten minutes I can click on these and very often find things of interest, books to read, thoughts to ponder, prayers to pray, sermons to listen to, quotes to quote, music to tap my toe to, theology to challenge and things to make me laugh. 

5.  Buzzard

Feel free to share any blogs you read that I may have missed and enjoy. I know there are millions out there.

Friday, February 20, 2009

((H/T J. Taylor)

Culture Making


I discovered Culture Making when it was voted the Christianity Today book of 2008 and Kingdom People picked this as one of his books of the year.

Christians talk a lot these days about 'engaging culture' or 'transforming' it. But is that really possible? The age old question of whether followers of Jesus should be contextual or different. How are we to navigate our way through all this?

This answer is with this book! Crouch's wonderful definition is culture is what we make of the world which has replaced my old best which was from Stanley Grenz ...'the way we do things around here'. I prefer Crouch's lack of passivity.

There are too many things I liked in this book. The observations on how Christians so often object to culture ineffectually-the Da Vinci Code- for example, was brilliant. The chapter on grace is beautiful and the idea which forms the books conclusion of the 3;12;120 is an idea that will percolate with me. I felt when reading it that this was really significant stuff.

This is a book to pass on to others. We have a wonderful musician and artist who has just joined our Church who, as I was reading, I thought must read this book. You will have similar folk you know.

Kingdom People has interviewed Crouch  and you might like to check out his blog.

Talking of culture, I am just loving this album.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The power of grace

Fascinating documentary on two Amish men who come to understand the gospel-Trouble in Amish Paradise. Very moving.

Abortion to improve the environment

On the back of a cereal packet I saw recently was a 'sponsor a monkey' appeal. Are not children more important than monkey's? For some, the answer is clearly no. This article in the Times quotes Jonathan Porrit on abortion and shocked me and shows the grip environmentalism has on ethical reason. 

Countdown to Sunday

This was recommended to me as the best book on preaching. It's not quite that but it's not bad. It can be read fast and has a few excellent thoughts in it. 

In the first chapter he quotes Parker Palmer in Let your life Speak, (one of my favourite books)

"There is a Hasidic tale that reveals, with amazing brevity, both the universal tendency to want to be someone else and the ultimate importance of becoming one's self:Rabbi Zusya, when he was an old man, said, "In the coming world, they will not ask me: 'Why were you not Moses? They will ask me: Why were you not Zusya"

To translate, they will not ask why did you not preach like Nicky Gumbel, Dick Lucas, MLJ, John Stott,  Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll or Rob Bell but why did you not preach like David Cooke. 

How true. 

He has a few take-outs that struck me:

1. What the text means is in large measure dependent on how it is said

2. On observation of lots of preachers, that I agree with, is a quote from Brenda Eeland about a concert pianist,  'She always practices and never plays'

3. Walter Brueggemann's three steps for exegesis; (a) a close reading of the text (b) a study of the key words and (c) discerning the text's agenda. He recommends the introduction to his Jeremiah commentary as the most helpful bit of advice he has come across.

4. The key for the preacher and in fact any reader of the bible is the question you ask. Most ask 'How? which is a question of technique and technology. You should ask 'WHY?' and that will get you on your feet on Sunday. 

This one is worth having on the shelf but if you only buy one book on preaching I commend Explosive Preaching. But, as Piper notes...'you can't teach preaching you can only help' (H/T Unashamed workman)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We sin in different ways

Here is an article from the BBC which says the two sexes 'sin in different ways'

Being attentive

I have read a number of books over the last year concerned with the inner life. The most memorable being the Emotionally healthy church and Emotionally healthy spirituality. I came across The attentive life recently and took it on a quiet day and it was food for my soul. Leighton Ford made me excited to be an Anglican even though his prayer pattern came from the Divine Hours and not the prayer book. It made me thankful for the things I learnt from the Abbot of Burford Priory while I was at college. You will need to read the book to understand why.

This is a wise and rich book. Packed with quotes, compelling honesty, wisdom and above all the testimony of a man who has run the race. He is now 76. I will work through many of its suggestions and applications over the coming months. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


What are schools for?-HERE

A life changing sermon-HERE

Stackhouse complains about Chris Tomlin-HERE

What would professionals do?-HERE

A music recommendation-HERE

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pass the bucket

Waiting for the children to arrive for pass the bucket!

A tranquil weekend with our Youth

That's me dancing in the talent contest...:)


Good books on Abraham Lincoln-HERE-and a couple more-HERE

Mark Driscoll on CNN-HERE

Christianity Today Podcast-HERE

A good John Ortberg talk 'A life poured out' I listened to driving back from out youth weekend(available on Itunes free) or on Podcast-HERE

Rob Bell on a 'thousand paper cuts'-HERE

Lloyd-Jones on a preaching secret-HERE

Amish churches-HERE

The Ignaz effect-HERE - and learning from it -HERE

Friday, February 13, 2009


       Showed this to our discipleship group and it blew them away. This is fantastic. It really, really blessed me and warmed my heart. You can get it here. Buy it NOW- actually buy two and give one to a friend. I gave mine to a chap in the pub who I have been chatting to over the past few weeks when a crowd of us go for a drink after church.  In a world where people don't read books this is a DVD alternative. Trust me you will be left speechless.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kindle 2

This post got me thinking about digital books and today I came across the Kindle 2. Will this catch on or is my library going the way of the long playing record?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This was possibly the talk that made me think the most last year. It is by Reggie McNeil, who I think teaches at Fuller. He has a new book out called Missional Renaissance and in a interview he gave about it this quote jumped out at me-so I share it.

"The issue is not the size of the crowd but the impact on the community"

Blog Sweep

I have a rather busy week so will not be posting much. Here are a few things I have read recently on the WWW.

Can we learn from atheists?-HERE

Finding God in the Shack-HERE

Some guidelines for counseling-HERE

What do we think of E-books?-HERE

Weighing alternatives with Milton Freidman-HERE

Drunk on grace-HERE

Piper on what is the meaning of death-HERE

Temptations in ministry-HERE

Monday, February 09, 2009

You might be wrong.

I did an assembly this morning on the subject of letters. Reading the extraordinary Heart of a servant leader and receiving an encouraging letter from my friend Kaarina in Armenia reminded me what a blessing letters are. I am resolved to write a few more letters.

In my search for interesting letters I happened upon this written by Lincoln to Ulysses Grant. It has the wonderful and humble admission in the last sentence:

"....I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong"

Now, you don't see that sort of line from a leader very often. 

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What's wrong with you?

I confess I am not usually writing my sermon at midnight on a Saturday. I know a few who usually are and it is not a good habit. I'm afraid it has just been one of those weeks. 

Today, driving from a visit to friends I listened to a talk and it was good one. He is a preacher with considerable unction. He said one thing that landed incredibly strongly with me when he quoted his old seminary tutor and his words are still ringing:

"Five years in what's wrong with your church is what's wrong with you"

That has left me much to ponder. Matt Chandler is worth hearing.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A tongue like a burning coal

I re-read an old journal which is a great reminder of God's faithfulness. If you don't keep a journal I commend it and the best book I know on how to get started is 'How to keep a spiritual journal' by Ron Klug (a bargain in my view at £0.89p!). One of the many things I journal are quotes from my reading. Here is a whopper:

'He never needed more preparations for his meetings than those early hours. He didn't prepare- he talked with God, and God talked with him and made his word live to him. He saw Jesus. He saw men and women going in their millions to hell. And he always said that that is all the preparation a man needs for preaching the gospel if it be done a dozen times a day. "Don't go into the study to prepare a sermon" he once said. That is all nonsense. Go into you study to go to God and get so fiery that your tongue is like a burning coal and you've got to speak...."

C. T Studd in Cricketer and Pioneer by Norman Grubb, Page 196

Sell your bed and buy this book. It will change you.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Are you called?

This is a good question. At the outset let me say that all Christians are called and some happen to work for the visible church. If your are born into Christ you may be called as a doctor, teacher, salesman or mum. All who are in Christ are called. So that is your starter for ten if you are not yet in Jesus you need to be. 

I recently spent time with someone who does not believe in the atonement, the need for salvation nor in the existence of the Devil yet has been ordained in to my Church. Words fail me (which is rare). He may feel called to being a 'Priest'- which he has declared he is- but whether he is called to gospel ministry is entirely another thing. Cranmer saw them as the same thing. He may perhaps benefit from listening to this called Born of the Gospel.

The call to serve Christ is something that in my case invaded gradually. I read a series of books some of which were more helpful than other. The standard C of E text is 'A Christian Priest Today' which was published in the late 50's and which is still considered 'today'. There perhaps lies the problem! Most helpful to me was a book called Let your life speak by Parker Palmer which I discovered reading John Ortberg's If you want to get out of the boat. I also found 40 days in the Purpose driven life a fruitful time. Most important though was a month spent doing nothing but reading Paul's letter to the Romans. Everyday, for a lot of the day, for a month I read Romans. Be careful though- you have no idea what may happen next....

Justin Buzzard recommends this book called Called to the Ministry by Edmund Clowney and I found these sample quotes wonderful. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Blog Sweep

I got the new Dido album Safe Trip Home for Christmas and Mark Greene at the LICC has something to say about it. John Piper on the greatest preacher of the last 500 years George Whitfield at the DG Conference-full audio here. I have recently discovered Matt Chandler who has given a talk at the DG on getting your church saved which would be my pick of the bunch. I think I won the loudest preacher contest in our voice classes at college inspired by Whitfield. A good review of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. John MacArthur, who has been preaching for 40 years, on his expository convictions.. Tim Keller on the Two sons and on gospel-centred ministry. Finally John Stackhouse has a memo for worship bands.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Getting things done

Last year I read half of GTD by David Allen who is the guru of administrative efficiency. This is not one of my strong cards as it isn't for many of us who would rather be with people than paper. It is a good book-I have read half of it. The consequence of this is I now have a filing cabinet and a huge pile of what Allen would call 'un-processed actions'. This is the year of the second half of the book.

Here is Allen's office to set you the vision and here is a critique of where the Allen method falls short.

The great fear with all this is that one becomes highly organized but really rather dull:)

Monday, February 02, 2009

The heart of a servant leader

Years ago, when I used to drive to work (an hour each way) I would often listen to a Keller sermon on both legs of the journey. On some occasions on one side of the tape there would be a speaker other than Keller preaching. In this category, I remember one sermon above all others and it was preached by a man called Dr Jack Miller. The sermon was called 'Covered by Jesus' love'

As is the norm, my first response was to surf the net to see if I could find any other sermons but I searched in vain. Imagine my surprise as I started reading the 'Heart of a servant leader' to learn that these two Jack Miller's are one and the same. Now I often say this, but I mean it here- this is a 'sell your bed and go out and buy' book.

The book collects together letters to missionaries, pastors, mission teams, family, friends and wisdom drips from every page. I think anyone in the business of pastoring should have these on their desk. There are so many quotable bits but here is just one I liked:

"For what it is worth, here is how I see the theological emphasis of English Puritanism: 1. Know your enemy-sin, the devil, the flesh; 2. Know your personal limitations-your particular fleshy characteristics and habits; 3. Know your Friend-the grace of God in Christ.

Personally I cannot deny that sometimes churches need that order and such an emphasis has led to revival. Still, I find myself overhelmed when I pick up a 320-page book by John Owen and find 308 pages devoted to points 1 and 2, and only 12 pages to point 3, grace and the gospel. Owen of course doesn't always do this but it seem pretty typical.

My own heart likes this order better: 1. Know your Friend; 2. Know your enemy; 3. Know your personal limitations. and I would keep the controlling theme point 1 even when talking about point 2 and 3

I pray this book might be a mighty blessing and encouragement to you.

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