Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life Goals

I am in Derbyshire with 350 clergy at our (once every five years) conference. Southwark Diocese covers half of London and about 5 million people. Too many thoughts to allow myself the liberty of sharing them with you.

One benefit has been some brief time to review where I am and where I am going. This post I came across called Life Goals helps you if you are the sort of person who plans to get stuff done with the time you've got. I have been mulling on the Yongi Cho quote that says "God doesn't answer vague prayers".

My current Life Vision written while I was on this only has five things on it so I am feeling a slightly under-goaled.

Maybe I will come up with a few more:)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Things to make you smile and think

Yesterday, I went to one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. I am a Friend of the Royal Academy and Anish Kapoor is something you should not miss. It is worth coming to London for:) Stunning. One exhibit literally made people smile as they entered the room.

Afterwards, I went to Hatchards and bought the latest book by Tony Benn. It is a really interesting read. I also looked at the new (re-released and 750 pages) biography of Cardinal Newman. Too many pages for my but passing interest I fear.

If you want a view on the new Dan Brown book here is a reflection.

I met a friend for lunch and he recommended this which had been recommended to him. I now recommend it to you but have no idea what it is like...

Another friend, who is a huge John Mayer fan, recommended his new single. The Stereophonics have a new single out too which I have been humming all week.

Finally, here is a bit of Tony Benn.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random acts of kindness

I read this which tells me of our potential new PM's 'Anglicanism'

Every couple of months I have a look at the TED blog.

It was recently held in Oxford and sadly no one wanted to spend £4K to buy me a ticket:(

From this came a talk on an amazing swim and one suggesting that the internet is a random act of kindness.

I hope this blog is at times a random act of kindness and that it brings one or two some wisdom or joy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Tolstoy on ultimate purpose.

Today, I had to get my car MOT'd so I had an hour in a coffee shop waiting and reading. I took this , recommended by my NT tutor as the best book he had recently read on leadership. This is one for the shelf and a huge help in the healing process after the freneticism of Axiom.

Dash House has some interesting links.

A couple of things about words. One about a dictionary and the other about language.

Seth Godin shows us that soon everything will be measurable.

Matt Chandler on devotions and an interesting piece on reading scripture.

Deep Church is the book of the moment that is being read and raved about in blog-land.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Assisted suicide

This debate is now raging. This the comment today in the Times and I listened to this on Five Live. It is important to have a voice and have a view on this escalating ethical issue in the public square. Eva Schloss, a holocaust survivor, said last night something that has stuck with me.

"We must fight for life with our very last breath"

The on-going debates around the start of life are now moving to the end.

The Evangelist's notebook

I have been thinking and reading about evangelism.

The Evangelist's Notebook by John Peters is a good read and is helpful. John is the Vicar of St Mary's, who run the excellent Life Course (watch the film) and he is a truly effective evangelist and global church planter. It is well worth listening to him preach- particularly on the Spirit.

He structures his church using the thought that people are generally in one of three categories. (Driscoll does a similar thing )

John, using Ephesians 4, speaks of :

1. Adventurers

2. Carers

3. Truth-tellers

He calls this the Big Idea and explains it more in the book.

This is a quick and worthwhile read, especially if you are an evangelist!

Eva's story

Last night I saw a play in Richmond Theatre about the holocaust. It was very moving and very shocking. The highlight was the interview and Q & A at the end with the subject of the play Eva Schloss- now 80 and a survivor of Auschwitz. This was an encounter with a piece of history and a person of history that we must never forget.

I plan to read her two written accounts which are called Eva's story and her new book 'The Promise'.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The state of things

A friend sent me these two articles- one about a hotel and the other about a nurse. He is going to write to his MP.

Alpha October 1st

If you are not coming back but just coming for the first time then you might want to do that via Alpha. A helpful way to explore the questions of life and to encounter the church (that is a group of people not a service or a religious-looking intimidating building).

Register by contacting HERE

'Back to Church' Sunday

It is 'Back to Church' Sunday next week.

The training, so says the You tube video, is this:

"Would you like to come to church with me?"

Simple and not very complicated. Do ask someone and all welcome at HT.

Ruth Gledhill tells me that one Bishop thinks the C of E should be more like Aldi and less like M&S. As ever, the C of E assumes we live in Christendom, which I am not sure we do, but that is a debate for another day. Here is Mike Breem to explain what I mean. To be missional, the church must go to the world, not assume it is the job of the world to come to the church.

A Vicar pal has just been to the missional communities conference as St Thomas Crooks. They have launched 8 since he was last there in April and are doing mission and teaching others to do mission too. A great place of passion and the gospel. They have a Visitors' weeks which I may check out.

Reading the Shaping of things to come is a good place to start on all this.

Here's the film:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Girls aloud and other matters

Tonight I am off to see Girls aloud, Jay-z and Coldplay at Wembley.

This documentary called Imagine about Jay-z was fascinating. Alan Yentob talking to Puff. D and Jay-z generated this quote:

"We do more that make music, we inspire culture"

Jay-z is worth $500m and has sold 50m albums. Should keep him in bling for a while one would imagine.

I watched Awake with friends which is a film if you like a twists and turns thriller. They were doctors so liked the medical setting.

Glory revealed 2 is out. It has some great songs -if you like Country and Western worship:)

I am reading Eats, shoots and leaves. A great book for pedants.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


We have a 'Big questions' sermon on Sunday on Science etc. Here is that evolution thing debated.

Deep Church

Cramner on Rowan and Economics and a shocking piece called Blood money

The C of E radio ad. Yes really.

I am visiting someone next week who wants to know what it means to be a member of our church. Good question. It is discussed here.

Battle at Kruger

My friend Pete mailed me this incredible film.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three marks of the leader and why 'Myers Briggs' won't find you one.

In Leading out of who you Simon shares his dislike of psychological tests, as does Eugene Peterson in Soul Craft (I listened to almost every teaching from Peterson that was in my college library -I should have probably gone to Regent but they don't train Church of England Vicars!)

Here is how Simon sums up his concerns-personality tests discourage responsibility, discourage change and discourage truth. The reality is that leadership is about:

1. Taking responsibility

2. Embracing change

3. Telling the truth

'Taking responsibility, embracing change and telling the truth are three of the fundamental requirements of a leader; yet these processes [personality tests] encourage almost the opposite. In fact, the more one looks at them, the more one sees that their interest may lie less in encouraging change of responsibility, but in giving their clients something which they need and value: Control . Control of who they employ, where they employ them and how to get rid of them if they need to......Tens of thousands of people are recruited against such measures-measures which are measuring something, arguably, false; a concept that personality is fixed and can be put in a test tube and measured, a concept that was, by and large, rejected by academics decades ago.'

He concludes with this great observation,

'Perhaps that is why corporate organisations are not interested in leaders whose character has been formed by long suffering; instead, they are interested in people who fit into their boxes. Would Mandela or Ghandi or Churchill fit well on the Board at Disney? Or Microsoft? Or HSBC? I suggest they would they would not even get appointed; they would be opposed at every vote. They would fail every test, be registered as risk takers, radicals mavericks and black balled. Jesus was after all-it was the religious board members who killed him'


Monday, September 14, 2009

What do you want to do with the power?

Simon Walker has written a great book that I am revisiting (it is now very marked and under-lined). He taught one of the most helpful programs at Vicar factory. His book Leading out of who you are is well-worth exploring.

"It is for this reason and this reason alone that the moral character of the leader is the most fundamental condition which will determine the quality and legitimacy of their leadership. The conviction that you lead out of who you are is not merely leadership theory-it concerns the very well-being of the led. It is itself an ethical imperative that followers must demand in their leaders. For this reason too, no amount of leadership development courses, training materials, books and resources about how to create vision, how to influence followers, how to set and achieve goals, can offer much to the legitimacy of leaders today. Almost exclusively such materials work on the assumption that accumulating more power is a good thing- and they are designed to empower the leader and enable them to become more personally powerful. And whilst this may offer some strategies about different ways to use power, at the end of the day, they do not and, indeed cannot touch the deeper moral question that lies in the heart of each leader. What do you want to do to people? This is the question that lies beyond the scope of the training institution or the academy"

[Page 18]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vision Casting

We had a visitor to HT from the States who goes to National Community Church led by Mark Batterson in Washington and another from The City Church. Happily they enjoyed their time with us.

Here is Batterson with 12 minutes on 'Vision Casting'. It has a quote from Paul Yongi Cho (leader of the largest church in the world) that has stuck with me.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Saturday Blog (ish)-Sweep

Sometimes I do wonder about the internet and the bother of blogging but I think as it indicated here- the internet changes all the rules.

I know of very very few English pastors who blog or know what a blog is. One who happily does wonders about the idea of an internet proposal.

The news item of the week that I have been pondering is the new legislation on children that has provoked Matthew Parris to strong and sensible words.

Brian Mclaren is rather foolishly observing ramadan. (Making the gospel 'new' was and is a rather tall order...)

Amena Brown reminds me of the power of the spoken word.

My ipod song of the moment is Dream Catch Me.

A free copy of the book Fight Club

One of the preachers I enjoy listening to is now on-line and his sermon on Joseph called 'When God wants a man' blessed me.

A friend insisted on showing me this John Martyn song 'May you never' and the smile on Kathy Mathea's face and the final comment at the end are joy. A moment of musical genius. While you are on this- check out Iris Dement singing 'Our town'.

If you haven't watched Kung Fu Panda you should. It made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Seth Godin suggests that it is not how many people who read your blog that matters-it's who. What you need is clout.

I have been reading this because I am speaking to a group of about communicating better as a church. What struck me is that this book, whilst having quite a few interesting thoughts, fails to mention Jesus once (unless I missed it). Is this an example Jesus-less consumerist Christianity that Peterson wrote his three (one, two, three) books to American Pastors about? I know it's a book about marketing and it does offer help and insight into that, but to assume we know the Jesus you are communicating without you articulating him can quickly find us in a place of creating a Jesus 'product' and not a lot more.

This on the other hand mentions Jesus in every chapter and I am loving it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Alpha Ad

This is the on-line Ad for Alpha. Spread the word and pass it forward.

Monday, September 07, 2009

One verse

R T Kendall in Out of the Comfort Zone (Is your God too nice?) writes this:

'The verse I have sought to govern me more than any other is John 5:44. I was initially influenced by the Authorised Version: 'How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?' This translation stresses the honour that only God- not people-is prepared to bestow, that we should seek his pleasure and approval alone. Most versions translate 'the only God', which does not change the aforementioned meaning. But if there is a blessing that comes from seeking only his approval and not the affirmation of each other, I for one want this"

Do you have one verse that guides you?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Piper on prosperity


The conversion of the KKK

Justification: Most readers may not want to spend an hour looking at a debate on the New Perspective. However, it is a good was to assess your understanding of the word 'Gospel'. If you want a primer here might help and I found it to be helpful. We had a talk at college and I just about understood what the clever folk were on about. I have explored it more since then and increasingly think that church leaders (I include myself here) need to better get their heads around this debate. NT Wright is the theologian of the moment and is hugely influential. I would commend listening to this in tandem with Keller's talk 4 of 'Preaching to the post-modern world'. Go crazy and read it (watch it) on a study day.

Understanding the bible as story.

Finally, how do you enter a strange new world?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Election, success and the Shack ( Oh...... and the ice caps are melting)

I've been in the car for quite a few hours so listened to a few things. My highlight was this series by Keller called 'Arguing with Jesus' and the sermon on 'Predestination' was so very helpful and a real blessing. You know you can a be sportsman and be generally good and then hit a ball onto the 18th at the Open and everyone goes 'Goodness me'. This is one of those preaching moments.

I have just read Outliers which I gave my sister for Christmas and saw on her bookshelf. It is an exploration of success. As with all Gladwell's books, it tells interesting stories about the now famous 10k hours, Bill Gates, Korean pilots, growing rice and KIPP schools. However, the quote that stuck with me was right at the beginning and simply concluded that community is healing.

'No one was used to thinking about health in terms of community' [p.10]

You need to read the tale of Roseta so I won't spoil it. The conclusion's are a bit fuzzy but seem to be 'Work really hard and look for the opportunities that present themselves'. Overall I think it is worth the read and is fascinating in parts.

I also got around to watching 'The incovenient truth' which I recommend.

The planet is getting warmer, everyone is still driving very large cars that gulp petrol and that means that we are all going to overheat and drown-quite soon according to Al. He is very annoyed we won't face the truth. A bit like sin really.

Listened to Driscoll on 'Friendship' which is, as you might expect, not a walk in the sweet and nice friendy park but is excellent stuff.

Talking of friends, I had a long chat with some of mine about the Shack which Trevin Wax has just reviewed.

Finally, Cranmer made me smile.

Thursday, September 03, 2009



Tim Chester has some thoughts on a Nooma and 4G's

A prophetic observation from Stott

We were discussing church processes as a staff as we have been challenged by more people coming and how to organize ourselves better and differently. This came to mind on Prophets, Priests and Kings. Which are you?

You're beautiful

This post got me thinking about this song we sang at Soul Survivor.

The first time I sang it I couldn't helping thinking through the words.

So firstly, two plusses. One is that Phil Wickham who wrote the song is giving it away. Now that's a nice bit of grace and jolly generous of him. He has an album called 'Sing-a-long' which you can download here for free. And I am sure by now this song is being sung up and down the land.

All I am saying is think it through. My counsel is see what you think- explore the scriptures (Psalm 8 might be a start) and learn to think doctrinally. I, like Matt, loved the Wimber song and it was important to me and emotionally I think that you need to let your heart see the beauty of Christ. This can be hard if you are a stubborn heart-hearted man like me at times. Sometimes though, when I sing words that tell me what I do ('Look in to the sky...etc) which immediately makes me think "Do I do that?", it doesn't help me worship Jesus- at least the first time I sing it.

I liked the line 'You bled you died and you rose again for me' and, in days of so much pain and tears and heartache, the thought of no more tears is a wonderful hope and truth.

Nonetheless, maybe Matt and Phil should chat?

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wednesday smile

I know it is usually a Saturday but sometimes you need to smile in the middle of the week. This caught in me in one of those moments and made me chuckle. Reminds me of Christmas with my grandmother who always insisted we all watch 'the Sound of music' when 'the Great Escape' was on the other channel. A spoon full of know how goes:)


What does it mean to see prayer as justice?

Forgotten God

My copy of this book has just arrived. I'm excited about reading it.

A missional handbook you might want to read.

Are you trying to find God's will. This might give you some pointers.

And how some leaders enter into their sanctification.

Some alternative axioms

After reading Hybels I needed the counsel of one of my mentors. I've never met him but his wisdom helps me-he is called Gordon Macdonald. His book of axioms is called A resilient life and it is soul food. This morning, I slowly read the chapter entitled 'the value of lingering'.

MacDonald talks about friends. He quotes Malcolm Gladwell's book the Tipping Point who says we have a maximum of 150 people with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship. This is called our sympathy group (those we would feel comfortable joining for a coffee if we saw them in Starbucks) But there is a more intimate group says Gladwell.

"Make a list of all those you know whose death would leave you truly devastated"

This, he says, are deeply involved mourners.

'When I harshly critiqued myself twenty years ago on the paucity of my personal friendships. I imagined my own funeral and who might come. I suspected that there might be a modest crowd, but I had a hard time identifying those who might qualify as deeply involved mourners. They would be those with whom I had lingered, and I hadn't done much lingering up until that point in my life." [p.208]

I need to give some thought to lingering. Actually I just need to do more of it.

You need to own MacDonald's book. In a world of axioms of busyness and performance it will bless you.

It really will.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

One for the pod

This talk from Proverbs on planning is worth 40 minutes.

Do we need axioms?

I have been doing a strange thing. Reading a Peterson book at the same time as reading Axiom by Bill Hybels. I am afraid Eugene passed out in horror somewhere halfway down the first page but I kept reading. Hybels is the CEO of Willow Creek in Chicago and, were he not doing this, he would probably be running Coca Cola or be President of the United States.

His book convinced me I will never run a mega-church and some of the truism's he quotes made me scream a very loud NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. (Hire 10's for example). This is a book of 76 catchy one-liners that Bill tells 'the team' he leads and applies into his own life. Don't get me wrong, there is lots of wisdom in this book, he is clearly an incredible chap and, as with all Hybels books, there is some great stuff amid the stuff that leaves your scratching your head. However, the question never far from my lips is, "Are we making disciples or widgets?"

This book is familiar territory for me. I spent 13 years in a blue-chip environment and Bill sounds like my old CEO. My question is should he be sounding like him? I confess, and correct me if I am wrong, I now see myself as doing something rather different and so my heart and personality lie with Peterson and less so with dear old dynamo Bill.

Despite my reservations, it has a place on my shelf and I fear I may even return to it-quite often in fact. If you lead anyone, there will be some truths that will help you in this. I have given it to a friend on our team and I know he will be quoting these lines at me until Christmas:)

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