Saturday, July 25, 2009

Easily in but not easily out

I have been blogging for two or three years. In my corporate days, I was Belbin tested and came out as a 'Resource investigator'. 

What's that?

Well, in terms of contribution I am apparently: 

'Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative, explores opportunities, develops contacts

My weaknesses are, so I learn:

'Over-optimistic once initial opportunity has passed'

Well, there you go. So, in a way, blogging suits me because I like to discover new things and enjoy sharing them with others. Some blogs are full of opinions but this is not often the case here. Usually, I just share a few discoveries, recommendations, books, talks and posts. I hope that it all broadly helps people live better, read more widely and love God more. Who can tell if that is the case. I don't get blog stats or know if any one reads anything I write-if they do that's great.

However, recently I have been thinking about the internet, blogging, iplayer, facebook, twitter and so, as it turns out, has Tom Wright. 

Here are his musings.

I also read this very amusing article by Rod Liddle on Twitter and Facebook but his conclusions had a sting in the tail that seemed to hold truth.

"This is the generation which has bequeathed to the world reality television, the cult of the celebrity, first-person confessional journalism and the mass hysterical emoting at the funerals of people they have never met, let alone known. I suppose, if we were to grope for a reason, we might say that it was the first generation for a very long time which lived without the depredations of war and thus the prospect of imminent death; which threw off the notion of a higher authority than itself and was schooled in the art of self-expression rather than the acquisition of knowledge."

So here's the rub.  I am going to stop blogging for a while. I have a big project on Jonathan Edwards to do and so much to read. Listening to this talk also helped me reflect on the use of time and about prayer and really landed on my heart. As it happens, I am preaching on the heart tomorrow morning. 

I know my four readers may be a bit sad. But it is good to take a blogoliday and I think I will be back. 

Who knows and maybe with something different

We'll see......


I have been off the blog for a few days. I have been on study retreat (actually had it in the diary for next week so caused myself a huge amount of stress!)

It was worth it. 

Gary Jenkins taught us on basically the failure of the Church of England to reach white working class people with the gospel. The story he tells (and you should certainly read his paper) is very challenging. 

This video is called 'No man is an island' and it moved me.

Seth Godin, a consistently brilliant thinker, has some thoughts on social norms. It has got me thinking about the cliques in my own church in light of Gary's challenge and has caused me to question a few assumptions.

I seem to know a lot of guitar players and muso's. This is one that you are going to watch and I am too. It's called 'It might get loud'. 

By the way, did I mention I am going to see U2 in August :)

One of the most entertaining people at college was a chap called John Zahl and his dad has written a great book on grace called Grace in Practice. I am always banging on about grace and as far as I remember so was John when we were studying. The imonk liked it a lot.

If you are an innovator this might be a book with a silver lining.

Tim put me on to this resource that is available free until the end of August.

And a final thought from the great Charles Spurgeon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Commando Chaplains

A friend recommended this as a good watch.

Another blogger

Mark has started a blog :)

The Grove Booklet

You perhaps have to be a certain age to know what I mean by 'Brodie's notes'. These were an invaluable resource for those of us who had not read the holiday book or the Shakespeare play when the prospect of an exam was looming. What better then than someone else who had read the book for you and told you in a few brief pages what it was about (leaving you plenty of time to muck about not working in the holidays). Thinking about it, I suppose now it is the internet that does this for you. Oh well.

Imagine then, you have a huge theological subject (Divorce, Abortion, War in the Old Testament etc) and don't have time to spend three years in Oxford reading all about it in the Bodlein library. Cue the Grove Booklet. These are a series of short summaries on every topic under the sun that can be read in an hour or two and tell you most of what you need to know. For non-reading sorts or short on time folk these are excellent primers on every area of ministry. (Available on ebooks for use on your kindle 2)

These are available on every subject you can imagine just click around the site and see what strikes you. Here are a just few:

So next time an ethical question assails you unexpectedly, or a pastoral issue or a leadership challenge or a spirituality thought-reach for a Grove booklet. My Vicar Factory friend Sean wrote this one on Medical Ethics.

One of these little books may just be an information life-saver you need.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I only read books on holiday...

For many, a couple of weeks away is the only time you might get to read some books. I read this in the Times and it got me thinking of all the things that I might read I about, would it be a book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge?

It got me thinking of some books you might like to choose for the beach bag.

1. Shantaram- This is a cracking read and tells the true story of one man's adventure in India. I read it on the beach in January and have since passed it on to a few others and they have loved it.

2. The Prodigal God- I am always hopeful of reminding people of grace and my question to you would be why on earth have you not got around to reading this yet? I know, because you haven't had time. Then take it to the beach:)

3. The Great Bridge and Endurance are two of the Time's re-reads and maybe they are worth reading at least once which I for one have not done.

4. Lloyd Jones: the first forty years- this was last years summer read and I have to be honest I could not put it down. If you are a preacher with a passion for the gospel you may not be able to either.

5. On fire for God- this is a little book by John Pollock I remember reading very soon after I became a Christian and it captivated my heart. It tells the stories of the great missionary pioneers in roller-coaster narrative. The chapters are short so you could do one a day without too much difficulty. Only 1p on Amazon!

6. I looked over my shelves and remember I especially enjoyed these two and thought they might be ready for a re-read- Nicolas and Alexandra for the history buff which tells the extraordinary story of Rasputin and then for a weird but wonderful novel A prayer for Owen Meany- These are true classics.

Happy reading.


Twitter John Piper and Prayer-HERE

TED comes to Oxford-HERE
Schiori, American Anglicans and all that heresy stuff. Is this it?-HERE and HERE

A Christian life reading list-HERE

Ten ways to improve your preaching by 20%-HERE

Some great Bible resources-HERE

A Monday Driscoll bellow-HERE

Communion on the moon-HERE

This might be the book about Jesus you need to read-HERE

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lewis awakened

This morning I awakened early to this story and it prompted me to reach for the my copy of Great Revivals and read again the chapter on the Hebrides. It seems ridiculous in these godless days to think that the 'Fear of the Lord' may still be alive enough in some not to want to shop instead of worship. One Scottish minister on Lewis spoke on Five Live with holy words. 'Are you better off now that you have ignored God and the bible?"

The answer is quite clearly no.

But this was not a debate about the Sabbath. To understand it you have to know the hand of God on history. Two women, Peggy Smith and her sister Christine started to pray in 1949. They waited and they prayed and then the Spirit came.

"When Duncan [Campbell] and his friends gathered at the church in the morning, the place was crowded. A stream of buses came from every part of the island, yet no one could discover who had told them to come. A butcher in his van brought seven men from a distance of seventeen miles: all seven were gloriously converted. Now revival was really under way. The Spirit of God was at work. All over the church men and women were crying for mercy. Some fell into a trance, some swooned, many wept.'

Great Revivals Page 114

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Singing in the rain

Yesterday evening was one of those evenings. It was the Monk Club music festival in Terrace gardens in Richmond and it ended up being a joyous affair.  At the start of the evening it looked as though rain may well stop play. However, instead of abandoning hope, possibility was birthed as we moved from the rain to the inside of a wonderful cafe and then the singers sang, the musicians played and we, young and old alike, looked on in delight.

The Monk Club, run by Simon Klein and friends, celebrates music, community, creativity and life in this fine city we live in and brings together all sorts of musicians once a year for a festival. Somehow, as I looked on at Simon and his band leading us all in song and all the joy in this tiny cafe I caught the tiniest glimpse of heaven and of grace. There were probably no more than 40 of us but it seemed like a mighty throng in such a small space. 

Trevor spoke about Karis Kids and we passed round the plate for them, Patrick and his friend on the Sax did an impromptu set with Patrick's very talented daughter Emily (check out her myspace page) and Tim, Ted, Katie, Andy and  Mike on base and Wurlitzer played too. And of course, Beth and Lizzy deserve special mention for their excellent backing vocals sung with Simon's daughter Sarah (which included at one point some excellent doo-wop dance moves).

And here is the good news. We had such fun that the cafe asked us all to do it again in August. Do come (but not too many of you or we won't fit in!)

Buy the way, The Simon Klein Band has an album out called Puppet and you can download Berlin Berlin here. 

Tell everyone.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tom Wright on schism in America

Tom Wright wrote an interesting piece in the Times this week in the issue of American schism.

The essential men's movie library

It is Friday so if you feel the urge maybe you might rent a movie you haven't seen before or go out and buy one at lunchtime. Anyway, here is plenty to click around.

(H/T J.Thorn)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Obama and missing school

Jonathan Edwards

When you say this name to someone who is English they think you mean the triple jumper. In fact, he is an 18c pastor and theologian widely considered to be one to the finest American minds there has ever been. His name was never once mentioned to me by anybody at Vicar Factory (apart from one person who is mentioned later in this post). Nor, as it happens, did they suggest the wig and 'bib' as a jaunty look for the about town, modern London cleric. I discovered Edwards reading Pollock's biography of George Whitfield and Keller constantly quotes him in sermons so I bought a set of his sermons and started to read. The Church of England is kindly putting me through my paces doing an MA and for my next essay I am exploring some of the work of Edwards. 

Edwards was a genius. He thought and studied for 13 hours every day. No blogs, no mobiles, no important meetings -just study and prayer and preaching. He would perhaps consider what we now call ministry to be the strangest of things. He had so many thoughts all the time about everything that he had to take a pen and ink-well with him when he went walking in the woods. (No Bic biros then!). He also had a saint of a wife by all accounts who allowed him to study all the time. 

There are so many things worth mentioning about him. Recently, I have been pondering his 'Resolutions' which are worth a lengthy glance and we could advance no further than here and be the richer for it. He read through them once a week (and clearly wasn't much of a laugh on a Sunday -No.38!).

So, can I commend this fantastic man to you and here are some ways to get into him:

1. The iphone crowd may prefer a listen to start with and the resources here are the best introduction I have found. The Don Whiney talk on Edwards and the disciplines may get us all reading our bible and praying more attentively?

2. John Piper's book has a good introduction in God's passion for his glory

3. Three biographies you might check out. The Iain Murray I loved but more recently Marsden has produced what is widely considered to be the definitive work now in a shorter version. I might choose this as a first buy.

4. The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards contains many of his classic works. Recently, I read one called 'Hypocrites and prayer'. He wrote America's most famous sermon known as 'Sinners in the hand of an angry God' which if you have liberal sensibilities may shock you with the view that God is not an 'anything-goes' kind of guy.

5. The God-centred life is a great starter so is the Reader

6. If you really get into Edwards you may end up like my friend Steve doing a Phd on him and if you do then the resources of Yale will be all you need.

I hope this may introduce you to this amazing man. He's well worth the trouble.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The Bishop of Kensington gave a wonderful sermon declaring the gospel at my friends ordination and used what follows as one of his illustrations. I thought it was so good I thought I would share it with my four readers. (I am pretty confident he doesn't read my blog but you never know?)

GREEN BAY, Wis. - Ten-year-old Kennedy Corpus has a rock-solid excuse for missing the last day of school

Her father, John Corpus of Green Bay, stood to ask Obama about health care during the president's town hall-style meeting at Southwest High School on Thursday. He told Obama that his daughter was missing school to attend the event and that he hoped she didn't get in trouble.

"Do you need me to write a note?" Obama asked. The crowd laughed, but the president was serious.

On a piece of paper, he wrote: "To Kennedy's teacher: Please excuse Kennedy's absence. She's with me. Barack Obama." He stepped off the stage to hand-deliver the note — to Kennedy's surprise.

I thought he was joking until he started walking down," Kennedy said after the event, showing off the note in front of a bank of television cameras. "It was like the best thing ever."

Reasoned from the scriptures

I spoke Acts 17 on Paul explaining and proving from the scriptures and used some of the following references. Five people this morning wanted a copy of them so I post them for any others. These can be found in printed form in Vintage Jesus which is a book that should be on your shelf.

The fact that Jesus was foretold is a 'slam-dunker' in the argument for following him. Perhaps why Paul was so keen on reasoning with others perhaps using these (among the 315 he could have chosen!)

1. 4000BC Adam and Eve receive prophecy about Jesus born from a woman. (Genesis 3:15)

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and

hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Galatians 4:4) “But when the

time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law...”

2. 2000BC Abraham receives prophecy that Jesus would come from his son Isaac not

Ishmael, Isaac’s son Jacob not Esau, Jacob’s son Judah not any of the eleven brothers.

(Genesis 12:3) “...all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 17:19)

“...your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my

covenant with him as an everlasting covenant...” (Genesis 49:10) “The scepter will not

depart fro Judah...” (Matthew 1:1-2) “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son

of David, the son of Abraham...”

3. 700BC Isaiah prophesied that Jesus mom would be a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) “Therefore the

Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a

son...” (Matthew 1:18) “This is how the birth of Jesus came about: His mother Mary was

pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with

child through the Holy Spirit...”

4. 700BC Micah prophecies that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2) "But you,

Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will

come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from

ancient times.” (Luke 2:4/7) “So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to

Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.”

5. 700BC Isaiah prophecies Jesus would live without sinning. (Isaiah 53:9) “...he had done

no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:21-22) “To this you were

called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in

his steps. „He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."  

6. 700BC Hosea prophecies Jesus’ family would be refugees in Egypt. (Hosea 11:1) “When

Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13) “

angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. „Get up, he said, „take the child and

his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you...”

7. 400BC Malachi prophecies Jesus would enter the temple. This is vital because the temple

was destroyed in 70AD. (Malachi 3:1) “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare

the way. Suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple...”There was an old

sage called Simeon who was looking for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:27) Moved by

the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. Then the parents brought in the child Jesus...”  

8. 700BC Isaiah prophecies that John would prepare the way for Jesus. (Isaiah 40:3) “A

voice of one calling: „In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the

desert a highway for our God...” (Matthew 3:1-3) “In those days John the Baptist came,

preaching in the desert of Judea...this is he who was spoken of through the prophet

Isaiah...prepare the way for the Lord...”

9. 700BC Isaiah prophecies Jesus would perform many miracles. (Isaiah 35:5-6) “Then will

the eyes of the blind be opened and the deaf ears unstopped. Then will the lame leap like

a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy...” (Matthew 11:4-5) “Go back and report to

John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have

leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached...”

10. 500BC Zechariah prophecies that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey.

(Zechariah 9:9)  “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey...” (Luke 19:35) “They brought it to Jesus, threw their

cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.”

11. 1000BC David prophecies that Jesus would be betrayed by one of his friends. (Psalm

41:9) “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, who has shared my bread, has lifted up his

heel against me.” (Matthew 26:49-50) “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, Greetings,

Rabbi and kissed him. Jesus replied, „Friend, do what you came for.”

12. 500BC Zechariah prophecies that Jesus would be sold for 30 pieces of silver and that it

would be thrown on the temple floor. (Zechariah 11:12-13) “I told them, „If you think

best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it. So they paid me thirty pieces of I took

the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord the potter.” (Matthew

26:14-15) “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you? So they counted

out for him thirty coins.” (Matthew 27:5-7) “So Judas threw the money into the

temple...they decided to use the money to buy the potters field...”

13. 700BC Isaiah prophecies that Jesus would be beaten and spat on. (Isaiah 50:6) “I offered

my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not

hide my face from mocking and spitting.” (Matthew 26:67) “Then they spit in his face

and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him...”

14. 1000BC David prophesies that they would gamble for his clothes. (Psalm 22:18) “They

divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (John 19:23-24) “When

the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, divided them into four shares, one for

each of them, with the undergarment remaining...Lets decide by lot who gets it...this

happened that the scripture might be fulfilled...”

15. 700BC Isaiah prophesies that Jesus was be hated and rejected. (Isaiah 53:3) “He was

despised and rejected by men...” (Matthew 27:39-44) “Those who passed by hurled

insults at him...the teachers of the law and elders mocked him...heaped insults on him.”  

16. 700BC Isaiah prophecies that Jesus would not defend himself. (Isaiah 53:7) “...yet he did

not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the he did not open his

mouth.” (Matthew 27:12) “When he was accused by the chief priests and elders he gave

them no answer.”

17. 1000BC David prophecies that Jesus would be crucified. This is vital because crucifixion

was not known yet. (Psalm 22:16) “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men have

encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Luke 23:33) “...there they

crucified him...”

18. 700BC Isaiah prophecies that Jesus would be killed with sinners. (Isaiah 53:12) “..was

numbered with the transgressors.” (Matthew 27:38) “Two robbers were crucified with


19. 1400BC Moses prophecies Jesus’ bones would not be broken. (Exodus 12:46) “Do not

break any of his bones.” (Regarding the Passover lamb) 1000BC David prophecies the

same thing. (Psalm34:20) “He protects all of his bones, not one of them will be broken.”

(John 19:33-36) “...they did not break his legs...these things happened so that scripture

would be fulfilled.”

20. 1000BC David prophecies that Jesus would be forsaken by God. (Psalm 22:1) “My God,

my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me...” (Matthew

27:46) “...Jesus cried out in a loud voice, „My God, my God, why have you forsaken


21. 700BC Isaiah prophecies that Jesus would die. (Isaiah 53:8) “For he was cut off from the

land of the living...” (Luke 23:46) “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he

had said this, he breathed his last.”  

22. 700BC Isaiah prophecies that Jesus would be buried in a borrowed tomb of a rich man.

(Isaiah 53:9) “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his

death...” (Matthew 27:57-60) “There came a rich man from Arimathea...he asked for

Jesus body...and placed it in his own tomb...”

23. 1000BC David prophecies Jesus would be resurrected. (Psalm 16:10) “...because you

will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” (Acts 2:24-

27) “But God raised him from the dead...David said about him... „because you will not

abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

24. 1000BC David prophecies Jesus would ascend into heaven taking many souls with him.

(Psalm 68:18) “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train...” (Ephesians

4:7-8) “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why

it says, „When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train...”

25. 1000BC David prophecies that Jesus would sit at the right hand of God. (Psalm 110:1)

“The Lord said to my Lord, „Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool

for your feet.” (Hebrews 1:3) “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at

the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

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