Monday, August 31, 2009


I preached on 2 Thes 2 last night. That's a passage. My friend's book was incredibly helpful and is my go-to reference on 'the End Times'. You should have it on the shelf (and all the others he has written!)

Ricky Gervais on why he is an atheist.

Some thoughts on the benefits and battles over the BBC.

And a new book on Calvin

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Keller on application

Some months ago, I downloaded 18 sessions on preaching. I have taken ages to start listening to it and confess the thought of so many hours initially overwhelmed me but it is truly superb stuff. If you preach you should try to work through this stuff. (You'll need to make a plan)

Edmond Clowney and Tim Keller do tag-team teaching on preaching -the Q&A's are packed with food and fuel. In the Session 4 Q&A, he spoke of the impact that Dick Lucas's preaching had on his preaching. He shared that he rises at 5am for study, prayer and mediation and everyday goes for a 40 minute run. For years, he says, (and as far as I know he still does) he would listen to a Lucas sermon a day (and other English preachers).

Not on a run, but I too for years used to listen to a tape a day on my commute to work. This series (and I listened to every one and was sad when it came to end) unlocked the gospel for me. I still do my sermon listening in the car-especially on long journeys. As C J Mahaney says in his wonderful book Humilty:

'Seize your commute' [p.73]

Session 5 of this teaching really really helped and challenged me.

"You are justified and sanctified by faith"

Most preachers preach that we are saved by faith but that Christian's are sanctified by work.

No-not at all. "Do commerce with your legal righteousness" says Keller.

He got this from reading Martin Luther's Treatise on Good Works

He also got this truth from a Thomas Chalmer's sermon called 'The expulsive power of a new affection"

You can get this download and all this teaching and the notes HERE.

It is well worth it, even if you tuck it away for a season in your life when you can give it the time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Two to watch

I have watched two things in the last two weeks on TV and as it happens they are the same as the Blue Fish who has linked them and posted about them.

Saturday Smile

Given the amazing victory in the Ashes and our sending the Aussies packing, I think it is time for a visit to the greatest commentary moment in radio history.

This always always makes me laugh and beings me joy.


John Stott on preaching.

One man's three books .

Stackhouse is sad about us not going to bookshops.

John Piper made some comments about Tornadoes that got the blog-o-sphere thinking. Here is a continuation at Don't eat the fruit.

A thoughtful bit of NT on evangelism.

I drove past a billboard in Shepherds Bush (where I saw David Gray as it happens) and noticed he has a new album out. I wondered if there was a single out. Yes there is.

The oasis dries up.

If there was a band that summed up the 90's it was Oasis. I played Definately Maybe in my car until the tape wore out and then came What's the story. I saw them once at Finsbury Park and they did not disappoint live. But yesterdays news is that they are no more. So a look back not in anger but fondness to one of the great songs- which will be sung by parents at their children's wedding's [probably to their horror] to the question, "What's this Dad and how do you know all the words?"

Happy days.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I have been praying for a pal who is leading some stuff at this. If you have 20's and students in your church I recommend this to them.

In print

My daily scan at the Times noted this comment on Edward Kennedy and the question of whether alcoholics should get new livers.

One for the pod

Listened to this a while back and when Driscoll preached on the words 'burn and dissolve' it sort of went into my bones.

The question is am I ready?

Are you?

Listen in awe to the whole thing- it may blow the plans you are making.

For those with 2 minutes 49 seconds to spend in the word and not 60 here is your shot- beware it may prompt a jiggling of the priorities.

Tell people about Jesus. Really, do this. Tell them.


I am continuing slowly through Under the unpredicatable plant which I have learnt is the only way to read Peterson. I came across this section on the Psalms and spiritual discipline that had one discipline that jumped out at me as not in the usual list:

"The fourteen disciplines most in use in spirituality are spiritual reading, spiritual direction, meditation, confession, bodily exercise, fasting, Sabbath-keeping, dream interpretation, retreats, pilgrimage, almsgiving (tithing), journaling, sabbaticals, and small groups" [Page 108]

Anyone ever read a book on dream interpretation that wasn't bought from a bookshop with a weird smell and an owner who has purple hair wearing black eye-liner?

Here are a few questions.

How many of these disciplines do you practice with regularity?

Are there key one's for you among the list?

What are the best books on these things?

For what it's worth, here are some of the most valuable books I have read on all of this if you want to learn more about this stuff:

If you want a easy-access starter, I would really commend a great book by Steve Farrar called Overcoming Overload.

Feel free to recommend a dream interpretation book that isn't bonkers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In print

From time to time the Spectator does a list and this weeks is the final part of '40 poems you should know'.

It also has an amusing article called Populist Preaching on Richard Dawkins at the FLIP Festival in Brazil.

Michael Ruse says Dawkins makes him ashamed to be an atheist.

Two views on the C of E's wedding/baptism combo.

Matthew Parris on Assisted Suicide.

For a good piece of readable history, Andrew Roberts has a new book out called 'The Storm of War'.


After my Spurgeon quote on 'Fainting Fits', I notice Dream Awakener is blogging about depression and the book Losing God.

Some things are tweetworthy

Nouwen on desires.

I really enjoyed Tribes and Seth Godin says 'Thanks for leading'. I downloaded his book free and listened to it in the car- you should too.

Tim Chester reviews a tomato.

I am attending the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in October (in Battersea not Chicago:) and here is a taster of Gary Hamel who spoke.

A final thought on 5 ways to feel scripture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Prophet, Priest and King

This is a good resource on missional communities, planting, structure and being on mission.

Fainting fits

One of Spurgeon's lectures to his students is called 'The Minister's Fainting Fits' and in it he tells of the propensity of preachers to experience bouts of depression or 'soul-trouble'. Anyone given over to the service and pursuit of following Jesus and making him known to others might find consolation in reading his wisdom from this great man who has experienced such things.

''Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few and far between, I thought I might be consolatory to some of my brethren if i gave my thoughts thereon....'

[Lectures to my students, Page 166]

Monday, August 24, 2009


Last night we had some visitors from the US in Church. They were from Washington and I said the only churches I knew of were Mark Batterson's and Mark Dever's-both discovered through the blog. One of them as it turns out was from Batterson's church and loves it and is moving the London in the autumn (that is 'the fall' if you are American!).

Here is Batterson on drawing a circle.

How does Keller's preaching work? (H/T Dash House)

Wherever Driscoll goes he speaks about Jesus

I have been meaning to read ReJesus and here is a prompt for doing just this.

A good review of Sex God

Preach like this and an extra word on preaching from Charles Simeon.

And a final thought from Augustine.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alpha @ HT

We are running Alpha starting on October 1st. If you know anyone in West London do send them to HT if you think they might want to find out about Jesus. Equally, if you want to find an course near you check out

Up front

What a time at U2.

I have seen many bands in concert but by pure grace found myself in the front row of the millenium stadium for a show that literally took my breath away.

Bono was once asked which of his songs he thought was best and, pausing for thought, he said, "We haven't written it yet". Perhaps that is their secret- a sense that their best is not behind them but before them. If only we too will challenge ourselves to take hold of what is ahead. Another quote I liked was from the Edge who, after playing with Bob Dylan, was asked "What is it like to play with such a legend?" replied "I don't know, I guess you'll have to ask him"

After breakfast on Saturday, I noticed a bookshop opposite where we were eating and in a pile of reduced titles saw 'By searching' by Isobel Kuhn which I read on the train back to London. One Hudson Taylor quote she repeated often has stuck with me, 'Learn to move men, through God, by prayer alone.'

Thanks to all for a wonderful time.

I am blessed indeed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Saints are Coming


We really are now on the countdown to U2. The train leaves for Cardiff at 1pm.

A few things to be mulling on.

Too much of the trivial?

An interview with Satan on the Church

There are lots of things I have yet to think through and one of them is clearly the death penalty. Tim Challies has an offering that I am still mulling on. I am sure you will be too.

My friend is amazed by a shrimp.

I was sad at the death of John Hughes- his movies characterized my teens. Some thoughts. (H/T Joe Thorn)

Finally, I will miss providing a Saturday smile so here is an offering one day early.


"I fear there are some Christians among you to whom Christ cannot say ["Well done, good and

faithful servant"]. Your haughty dwelling rises...thousands ...have scarce a fire to warm

themselves at, and have but little clothing to keep out the biting frost; and yet you never darkened

their door. You heave a sigh, perhaps, at a distance, but you do not visit them. Ah! my dear

friends! I am concerned for the poor, but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you in

the great day. You seem to be Christians, and yet you care not for his poor. Oh, what a change

will pass upon you as you enter the gates of heaven! You will be saved, but that will be all. There

will be no abundant entrance for you: `He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly'....I

fear there are many hearing me who now know well that they are not Christians because they do

not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart; an old

heart would rather part with its life-blood than its money. Oh, my friends! enjoy your money;

make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly, for I can tell you, you will be beggars

throughout eternity." - R.M. M'Cheyne, Scotland, 1838

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Gospel and the poor

This is really really worth watching and praying about and be sure to get the notes too here.

Tim Keller: The Gospel and the Poor: A Case for Compassion from Here's Life Inner City on Vimeo.


What I attend to

Do you wonder about technology? I guess we all swing between love it and hate it but it seems that it evolves?

This morning one of my Psalms was 19 and to practice this truth a Verse Card Maker might be the thing?

There is an interesting debate going on at Dash House about God and Evil

What do you make of the idea of on-line church?

A talk on Law and Gospel

And a final thought from Spurgeon

Oh and the beautiful day approaches:)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sunny misty morning

The brilliant Simon Klein- friend, artist, teacher, HT member and all-round musical good egg has his single out. Listen, buy and tell others.

Tim Keller on the city and the poor

This is as challenging and thoughtful as ever. 


I am off to see U2 on Saturday in Cardiff. 

A crowd of us who are going met last night and Jamie told us the story of the song 'One'. U2 had been going for 10 years and went to Berlin to record a new album. Bono thought they should try something new-the 80's were over and he wanted something fresh. The rest of the band were not at all convinced. Despite their best efforts nothing seemed to be working. After two weeks of trying, all but Bono started to wonder if this was the end. They suggested they just call it a day for the band. But Bono would not give up so he stayed in the studio and in desperation-the only 'one' of the band left fighting for its existence- wrote the song 'One'. After toiling on it all night he played the song to the band in the morning and well, I suppose, the rest is history. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Survivors

Some music thoughts

I have been listening to a few things. One (not for those offended by a lively lyric or two) is Lily Allen's new album 'It's not me it's you'. She is a poet for our times and as I heard J John once say-if you want to know what sort of country you live in listen to its song lyrics. This may shock you but it is the life so many I come across have experienced. 

I have also been enjoying this album by Ben Harper and also this rather quirky guitar duo Tegan and Sara.


I saw a friend of mine for lunch. He is a vicar in a tough part of London and I asked him about his summer. As you might expect, it involved holiday news and also a catch up on a conference he had been to with his family. He had never been to this event before and so for him it was a time of watching, learning and reflecting. 

The conference involves the opportunity to attend seminars and it was this experience that struck him. One seminar he attended was called 'Reaching out to the poor' and this is a particular concern of my friend and his wife. It was, he noted, in relative terms very badly attended (35 or so) What he then realized was that at the same time his seminar was on there was also a seminar entiltled 'Beautify' given by a well-known Christian celebrity and this had over 400 and standing room only. 

Now my friend's thought was not that it is not right to attend such a seminar but his question was merely to ask what sort of Christianity and what sort of Jesus we think we have if our hearts choose this over concern the poor?

I have been reading over the past couple of months Under the unpredictable plant by Eugene Peterson which is about Jonah. The truth is we would all rather get in a boat to Tarsish than go to Nineveh.  

It seems this conference only confirmed this reality to my friend. 

Monday, August 17, 2009


I have not been reading blogs for about a month so here are a few things that might be interesting:

Do you have trouble with criticism? Here is a bit of advice.

Some Martyn Lloyd-Jones thoughts that it is actually all about a person.

Do you think you could summarize the Gospel in 12 words?

Some Driscoll advice not to shoot other Christians.

My friend shares his passion for making bread

Do you have a ministry strategy?

I spent three years living in Russia and Jonathan Dimbleby might be a book I should go to for a update.

I only got half way through 'Getting things done'-I know it's ironic and part of my problem! Maybe according to this I should read the second half.

A final thought from the great Charles Spurgeon. 

The vital work of mission

H/T Between two worlds

Soul Survivor

A week at Soul Survivor in a tent surrounded by 10K noisy teenagers but fortunately this year not in the rain. A great time and it always fills my heart with rejoicing seeing young people come to know Jesus. The still have places on Momentum if you have students or 20 somethings in your churches.

I read my new copy of Religion Saves (and 9 other Misconceptions) which has great chapters on all sorts of things including predestination. dating, birth control (a friend sent me a link to this chapter) and the emerging church. A great reference work. 

Also, I have started reading the new biography of Wigglesworth.

Our worship was led by Ben Cantalon and his new album is pretty good. 

I must confess to being rather exhausted today.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My holiday reads

1. Netherland: If you like cricket, marital drama and New York and want to combine them all then you should read this. 

2. Barak Obama: This is the first of two books he has written (the other is the Audacity of Hope-which is named after a sermon title of Rev Jeremiah Wright) and is a truly brilliant work. I have not enjoyed an autobiography so much since 'A long walk to Freedom'. Lots of thoughts from it but one one section a load of English geology students get on a BA flight to Kenya and one of the sits next to Obama. He quotes the incident in the book which just goes to prove you never know who you are sitting next to on a plane!

3. The Man who met God in a Bar: Rob Bell put me on to Capon- he is a brilliant man. If you ever wondered what would happen if Jesus came now then you might enjoy this. I read it on the plane and found much to enjoy.

4. Letters to my Students: I always try to read a devotional book on hols and took a bit of Spurgeon with me and did a chapter a day. This was left in a box outside one of my tutors rooms at Wycliffe as one of the books he no longer wanted. If you feel you might be called to preach this is one for you-particularly the essay 'The call to the ministry'. Much wisdom, a bit time-bound in parts, but treasure indeed. The chapter on ministry and depression is fascinating too.

Off to Soul Survivor tomorrow so the blog will be quiet again for a while.

For the pod

I have listened to a few things on the pod. A Piper biography on Charles Simeon, Rob Bell on Confession (having read Driscoll on the emerging church in Religion Saves I suspect they may not be exchanging Christmas cards:) and Sam Storms on Edwards. 

I am still on Trial :)

(This talk on the New Birth is so good and clear it is going on the sidebar)

Praying the Psalms, Keller and the Prodigal God

Well, a short time away but I now read that all four of my readers missed the blog and it was one of them that prompted my return. He has just seen Keller at the Willow Creek and he is so full of praise that I thought I would share my latest Keller treat for him.

You may wonder how Tim Keller became so wise- one thing he puts it down to is:

You could do very little worse that get these two talks and put into practice what he teaches- I have been doing something a bit like this (as all good Anglican clergy do!) for some time. I am no Keller but have been blessed by taking his advice.

The books he recommends to get you into the Psalms are:

Tremper Longman How to read the Psalms

Eugene Peterson Answering God

Another piece of news. 

There is a new Prodigal God resource that looks well worth getting hold of.

So too is his article on the missional church.

May this be a blessing dear friends.

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