Thursday, April 29, 2010

One for the pod

Kester had a great post on Gordon's bigot moment.

I again left my essay until the last minute so am reading my way slowly through these posts called Inside the mind of a procrastinator. (I know, I know, why not just get on with the 'To do' list instead of reading a blog about it. Here stands the problem!)

I had a very long drive so got to do some listening:

John Lennox on Transforming our workplaces (scroll down to 13/02/2010)

Driscoll on Legalism is absolutely superb and he manages to reveal the capacity of everyone to become religious (as you will discover he does not mean this in a good way!)

I also downloaded Keller's Q&A's which cover just about everything you have every wondered about, so listen to them on shuffle on your ipod and be blessed (or better still give them to a friend with questions).

Still waiting to listen to Seth Godin on Linchpin.

Happy listening.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sandwich woman

I awoke to hear on the Today programme that Alison Pearson, the Daily Mail columnist, has quit her job due to depression. Here is an article from the NY Times called Mind over meds that is an interesting take on the place Western culture (and Alison) finds itself in:

"…psychiatry has been transformed from a profession in which we talk to people and help them understand their problems into one in which we diagnose disorders and medicate them."

Alison Pearson below seems to prove the cultural problem:

"The typical female of my age has been dubbed Sandwich Woman because she found herself in the middle of two demanding generations. 
Sandwich Woman postponed having her first baby till her 30s to get her career established. She and her partner couldn’t afford a house to raise kids in on one salary, so she had to keep working. 
Then, just as Sandwich Woman got the kids sleeping through the night, one of her parents fell ill. As the modern family is so dispersed, chances are your mum and dad don’t live round the corner any more.
So Sandwich Woman had to drive hundreds of miles to keep an eye on a confused or ailing parent, then race back again to collect the kids from school. Somewhere in between there was a job to be taken care of. 
And a man. Life is no picnic for Sandwich Woman — though let me tell you she would dearly love to have time to go on picnics with the kids, in summer, when the weather gets nice. 
Is it women who are mad, or is it the society we live in? We always suspected there would be a price for Having It All, and we were happy to pay it; but we didn’t know the cost would be our mental health. "

Read more:

(H/T Buzzard)

Monday, April 26, 2010


When a man, by constant contemplation of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord, finds himself so inflamed with the love of God and man that he cannot bear the thought of any man living and dying without the knowledge of God, he may begin to bear the Cross of Christ. If, as he bears it, this longing for the salvation of all men fills all his thoughts and desires, then he has that one thing without which no man can truly be a messenger of Jesus Christ. (Stephen Neill, quoted in The Gagging of God)

(H/T Dash House)

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I was in the car listening to the radio and this is what stopped me short: Goldman Sachs reported first quarter profits of £2.25bn. That figure just couldn't be right could it? Surely I had misheard. Didn't we bail out all the banks? Didn't Lehman Brothers go bust? Aren't we in the deepest recession since the 30's. Don't we have a national debt of £168bn?

I hadn't misheard.

As todays Rich List shows that there are a few who have a lot. They always have done but they seemingly now have even more.

"The richest people in Britain have seen a record boom in wealth over the past year. Their fortunes have soured 30% even though much of the UK is struggling to recover from recession...." (Sunday Times April 25th 2010)

Urgh? I am confused and just can't be any more because it is making me angry. I am reading Whoops and Injustice. I will let you know what I discover.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Being lied to

“Over the course of these fifty years I have seen both the church and my vocation as a pastor in it relentlessly diminished and corrupted by being redefined in terms of running an ecclesiastical business. The ink wasn’t even dry before I was being told by experts in the field of church that my main tasks was to run a church after the manner of my brother and sister Christians who run service stations, grocery shops, corporations, banks, hospitals and financial services. Many of these experts wrote books and gave lectures on how to do it. I was astonished to learn in one of these best-selling books that the size of my church car park had far more to do with how things fared in my congregations than my choice of texts in preaching. After a few years of trying to take all this seriously, I decided that I was being lied to”[
(Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Injustice: Why social inequality persists

I listened to this on Radio 4 driving this afternoon (you should too) which has some stunning stats on British inequality and injustice.

Injustice: Why social inequality persists is certainly a follow up read to the Spirit Level which I have been banging on about to anyone who will listen. Daniel Dorling is a geographer which is a very fine thing to be. Guess what I read a University?

No jokes please


I have been writing my essay and you will be happy to hear the end is in sight. Here is the question I have been pondering,

"Is a pastor or a CEO better equipped to lead a growing church?"

As part of this I have been thinking about Vision and some words of John Ortberg were helpful to me.

One reader complained about not being able to comment so I have unblocked the comments (the arrival of Chinese porn with regularity made me turn to moderation so we will see how we go)

We are re-doing our church website. If you have a favourite church website then feel free to post a link to it and tell me what you like about it. One I liked was CCK in Brighton and especially the idea of a testimony on the home page.

A great picture Safe on Daddy's arm and Two essential traits of great leaders

Justin Taylor explores the future of books.

If God wants me happy why am I suffering so much?

McClaren somehow lost his way and here are some thoughts on how it happened.

The work of God in the life of a leader might be a good listen?

I watched this and was left thinking why not get on with it instead of faffing around on you iPad to do list!

Finally, if you like finding new blogs then Adrian Warnock has a selection from his time at New Word Alive that I may look at when I have time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Developing leaders

I am immersed in reading and writing about Triperspectivalism.

This is about Jesus being a prophet, priest and king.

Leaders tend to be one of these three and here is a chart that helps you work out which you might be.

Just politics

Krish Kandiah taught me evangelism and apologetics at Vicar Factory and is great blogger and writer. One of his passions is that we should all be much more fully engaged in politics and not just when elections come around. He has written a book called Just politics that you might want to read over the next couple of weeks. He also offers Ten reasons Christians must Vote.

One way to cultivate an understanding of politics is to read more about it. Here are five of the books that got me interested and engaged with politics.

1. One of us: I did my university dissertation on Thatcherism (remember her!) This is a highly readable biography by the brilliant Guardian journalist Hugo Young. It gives an amazing insight into both the woman and her political philosophy.

2. The Alan Clarke Diaries : These are now infamous but Clarke wrote so well and his descriptions of his time working in the cabinet helped me understand what a complex and difficult task we give to politicians

3. All too human: This is a gripping account of the Clinton years that I found hard to put down. This is the West Wing before it became television.

4. Letters to my Grandchildren: Tony Benn is one of the greats of British politics and he is nothing if not consistent. These are a set of letters he wrote to his grandchildren and encapsulate the things he has given his life for and still believes.

5. The Long Walk to Freedom: This is quite simply a book everyone should read at least once in their lives.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More than letters please

Now I do love the C of E but so many things need re-branding. So much needs a complete overhaul. So much is so out of touch and incomprehensible it makes me scream at times.

Take, for example, the title of our annual meeting or should I say our A.P.C.M (Annual Parochial Church Meeting). It doesn't trip off the tongue now does it? One dear lady wondered why no one under 40 comes. "Perhaps it's in the name" I gently advised her.

We like a set of letters as descriptors in the C of E. They often make me smile. If you are wanting to be selected for ordination you are a sent on a 'BAP' (Bishop's advisory panel). One group of well-meaning folk called their group 'F.O.C.A' which, if you are in Merseyside, I think might mean something other than 'Fellowship of Confessing Anglican's.

So, just a word if you are thinking up a new C of E working party or campaign. Please choose your letters carefully and, if possible, here's some advice- don't choose any at all.

Just to prove that the C of E is not the only Church that seems, at times, completely nuts, try the 'Snake handlers' for size. (But it might liven up General Synod :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010


'We cannot overemphasise bringing men and women to new birth in Christ. Evangelism is essential,critically essential. But it is not obvious that growth in Christ is equally essential? Yet the church has not treated it with an equivalent urgency. The American church in particular runs on the euphoria and adrenaline of new birth-getting people into church, into the kingdom, into causes, into crusades, into programmes. We turn matters of growing up over to Sunday school teachers, specialists in Christian education, committees to revise curricula, retreat centres and deeper life conferences, farming it out to parachurch groups for remedial assistance. I don't find pastors and professors, for the most part, very interested in matters of formation in holiness. They have higher-profile things to tend to. '

Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection, Page 5

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ten on Leadership

I have been doing an essay for my MA (thanks to the good old C of E) on the leadership module and am pitching Bill Hybels against Eugene Peterson. I am enjoying it. Here are some of the books I would have on my shelf if I wanted to grow in my understanding of leadership:

3. Good to great Collins

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Losing heart

Today we discussed why so many get discouraged in ministry and generally in their walk with Jesus.

First a confession. I bunked my Greek class (fortunately no one reads this blog so I should be ok) Anyway, all was not lost after a fantastic start to the day studying 2 Corinthians 4 with Paula Gooder when one Greek word was all I needed. It will keep me going for some time.

This passage is all about keeping going. The word for 'lose heart' in Greek is 'egkakew' which is the word used for the pain a women feels in and prior to child birth. It is the pain that proceeds the joy. The joy a mother feels once the baby is placed in her arms. The pain that was so real at the time but is so quickly forgotten.

So if you are losing heart or are in pain be encouraged. The joy is coming. Joy, such amazing joy. It really really is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The ten steps to vision

A great days training on leadership today. I have been reading 'Relational leadership' by Walter C Wright. Here are his ten steps to vision.

1. Who are we?
2. What is important to us?
3. Where in the world are we?
4. Where do we want to be?
5. What can we do?
6. How should we do it?
7. When will we do it?
8. Who will do it?
9. How are we doing?
10 Was God pleased?

(Page 83)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Three pastoral acts

“Three pastoral acts are so basic, so critical, that they determine the shape of everything else. The acts are praying, reading Scripture, and giving spiritual direction. Besides being basic, these three acts are quiet. They do not call attention to themselves and so often are not attended to. In the clamorous world of pastoral work nobody yells at us to engage in these acts. It is possible to do pastoral work to the satisfaction of the people who judge our competence and pay our salaries without being either diligent or skilled in them. Since almost never does anyone notice whether we do these things or not, and only occasionally does someone ask that we do them, these three acts of ministry suffer widespread neglect.’

Eugene Peterson, Working the angles, Page 3


Maybe because bloggers are spend more time on the net than most we are perhaps a tad more techno geeky. I have to confess I enjoy reading an iPad review or two and some of the early feedback from the US on how people are finding it is good reading. I am now wondering if I too will join the hordes and buy one of these seductive new machines when they are released here some time next month.

Of all the things I have read, Michael Hyatt's review has been the most thought-provoking and  I commend it to you. He thinks the iPad is ...'an elegant solution in search of a problem'

As an aside, I am glad that the Church Mouse is confused and pondering [as I was] about 'Shoe-throwing' and it's implications.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

All things to all people

 “I want to prepare like an evangelical, preach like a Pentecostal, pray like a mystic, do the spiritual disciplines like a Desert Father; art like Catholic; and social justice like a liberal”

Mark Driscoll [quoted in the Shaping of thing to come, Page 27]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shoe throwing and the B&B

One on the big issues of the last couple of weeks is the Chris Grayling, Christian B &B's and gay paying guests. I am not going to comment much-for that you should read 'Should a gay hotel owner be allowed to ban homosexual guests?'.

Watching this week's Question Time it is clear that it is now untenable in the public square to offer an alternative view (with the exception in part of Janet Daley who cited the interesting dilemma of competing principles) Objection was left instead to a member of the audience.

This morning, listening to the radio, I heard that a judge has said the muslims are able to throw shoes as an act of protest and has dismissed the Met's case against the shoe throwers because it is part of the tradition of protest in Muslim culture.

“The court accepted that the earlier shoe-throwing incident was simply a ritual form of protest and therefore not a criminal act of violence,” Holt said.
Judge Denniss agreed that the act of shoe-throwing should not be considered in a charge of violent disorder against the student because it was “a symbolic” political gesture." Times-online

I am pondering this one.


I am going to be rather busy this week so may not be posting as much- I have an essay pending. I'll try though.

A selection of Ten Million words reads: Drive, Sons of Hamas, The Checklist manifesto, Intellectual and Society and I especially love this one.

A good piece of helpful reflection from Ed Stetzer.

And a dose of Piper on a thorny theological issue

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Spirit Level

There is much to decide and praise God we have the freedom to choose who governs us.

A few things to fuel the fire of making a decision:

1. I am enjoying 'The Spirit Level' as my election book and am now mindful of the argument the authors put forward. Which of the parties offer the prospect of a more equal society?

2. Watch this for the three party leaders seeking the Christian vote.

3. The Westminster Declaration is an initiative to be aware of.

4. As well as the popular press, Heresy Corner, The Church Mouse and Cranmer will keep you posted on most of the issues.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Rage against God

I first became aware of Peter Hitchens through his appearances on Question Time. He is a right-wing columnist, author and international journalist and he writes a column for the Daily Mail. He very often says things that offend audiences. Now at this point, you may have already stopped reading but please don't.

Peter Hitchens has written a book about God. The reason for writing it seems to be to contradict and challenge the views of the primary nemesis in his life- his brother Christopher. Christopher, probably the better known of the two, has become famous as one of the New-atheist's. He has also written a book called God is not great and has made a movie with Doug Wilson called Collision.

The Rage against God is not an apologetic nor is it a work of theology, it is a spiritual life story. I can't see Christopher falling to his knees in repentance due to his brother's argument but, as I have witnessed on many occasions, the story his brother tells may soften his heart a little. Peter tells of his rejection of God at the age of 15 and his ceremonial burning of a KJV Bible and then his earnest pursuit of Marxism as the answer to the world's woes. His heart begun to change age 30 on holiday while looking at Roger Van de Weyden's Last Judgement.

Peter Hitchens talks often about 'religion' and very little (unless I missed it) does he speak of Jesus. He loves church buildings and hymns and tradition but aside from his art gallery moment it is not clear how his spiritual encounter has worked itself out in his life. I enjoyed this book for a very particular reason that will most likely be less interesting to you. Hitchens uses as his main argument in favour of God the example of the failed atheism of Russia in the 20th Century. He lived in Moscow for many years , as did I (seemingly at the same time though we never met), so his story-telling on this had great resonance with me.

Sometimes I don't finish books but I did finish this one. I am glad I did too. On the very last page, Peter describes a simple meal he had with his brother in Washington DC. Through this meal he comes at last to a place of peace with his brother and lays down the war he has fought with him for nearly 60 years. Maybe this is the moment I had been seeking for all the way through the book, a Jesus moment. I think I found it and it really moved me.

You can watch the story of the book here .

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I have just returned from a couple of days in Norfolk. I'm feeling refreshed and full of sea air.

I was chatting with a friend and he said 'The difference between Labour and the Conservatives is that one is trading on hope and the other on fear' Apparently, my friend could be George Osborne as this post says exactly that.

Make the Cross Count is worth checking out as the election hots up.

Kester has some thoughts and The Church Mouse offers a general election survival guide.

I was interested to see how Barak Obama keeps in touch by reading letters.

Michael Spencer has sadly died. He was a great blogger who challenged many with his thoughtful and brilliant musings. This post offers a selection of his writing- do read some of them. Also, look out for his book called Mere Churchianity.

I have discovered a new site called Head Heart Hand

Ben Arment who writes a blog I enjoy has a new book out called Church in the Making and is launching SoChurch.

Tim Challies 10 Million words is also a site worth checking out from time to time if you are a book person.

I have been thinking for quite some time about John Frame's Triperspectivalism- I know I need to get out more. Jesus was Prophet, Priest and King- see which most fits you. Justin Taylor today also has a post on it so it must be the thought of the moment.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Recently, we have tackled some challenging passages.

I preached on Joshua 6 and some may have wanted to avoid vs 21. I tried to, but in the end I took it on,

'They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it-men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys'

It is called 'The fall of Jericho' and you can listen here.

I also commend the sermon by Adam on Ananias and Sapphira called 'No room for falsehood' which you can also find here.

A commitment to preach the whole counsel of Scripture will lead you to difficult but at the same time hugely rich places.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

You reign

I saw a pal who is a dear friend, a doctor and a worship leader. He is passionate about worship. Really really passionate.

He is always singing a song, not literally, but there is always a song on his heart. So yesterday, my Godson and his dad were singing their song of the moment- they were beaming and it made my heart sing. Like father like son!

Anyway, he always does me a 'mix-tape', as we used to call them when such things existed, and on his latest this song was that favourite song.

Somehow, it seems right for Easter Day.

He is risen indeed!

(If you don't know what that means then this talk might be helpful to you)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Atheist and the Archbishop

In today's Times there is an interesting interview with Philip Pullman about his new book about Jesus. I spotted his new book 'The good man Jesus and the scoundrel Christ' this week in a bookshop window. It struck me that it is much easier to re-write the story than to face its implications and also interesting to see that it all came from a challenge from Rowan Williams.

Also from today's Times the first reviews of the iPad and a really good one here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

"Lives depend on it"

Steve Furtick challenged me today to "Shut up and invite people to receive Christ" and he may challenge you too.

We are gearing up for some all night praying. If you come at 3am there will be a man playing the guitar rather poorly leading the people of God in worship. I wonder who? It's all guitars to the pumps I'm afraid! A few weeks ago we preached on Acts 4 as we go through the whole book and at the end of the service felt a call upon the intercessors. They came forward- a lot of them. The mark of the Spirit upon them was tears. Lots and lots of tears. So, as a result, tonight these very same people are doing what God has called them to do. Get us all praying and seeking Him.

Here is the story of the 1859 Coleraine Revival in Northern Ireland I mentioned yesterday that may encourage and excite you if you are coming tonight:

"A schoolboy in a class became so troubled about his soul that the school sent him home. An older boy, a Christian, went with him, and before they had gone far, led him to Christ. Returning at once to school, this new convert testified to his teacher, "Oh, I am so happy. I have the Lord Jesus in my heart." These artless words had an astonishing effect; boy after boy rose and silently left the room. Going outside, the teacher found these boys all on their knees, ranged along the wall of the playground. Very soon their silent prayer became bitter cry; it was heard by another class inside and pierced their hearts. They fell on their knees, and their cry for mercy was heard in turn by a girls' class above. In a few moments, the whole school was on their knees. Neighbours and passers by came flocking in, and as the crossed the threshold came under the same convicting power. Every room was filled with men, women and children seeking God"

Raised with Christ [Page 170]

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