Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

An education

Piper in this talks about truth.

Ruthless honesty is a rare thing and this morning listening to Lynn Barber on Desert Island Discs I think I heard someone who is prepared to tell it.

An Education was one of the best films I have seen in a long while and is the story of her early life. I doubt she would ever win the Piper award for Christian living (not when she tells you the number of people she slept with at Oxford which made me choke on my cornflakes it was so many!) but she is prepared to look the questions asked of her in the eye and answer them. As a journalist and possibly the greatest interviewer of her generation one might have expected as much.

How deeply refreshing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Soul Survivor

Many seem to be away at this time of year at church holidays. I have friends at Kessick, New Wine and Focus and many more involved in kids camps across the land. My time under canvas will come in a couple of weeks when I take a crowd of 30 to Soul Survivor. I am really excited and would ask you to pray for the thousands of young people who will encounter Jesus during this time. Pray for me as I lead and serve my team and our great crowd of yoof.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prayer does matter

I was blessed by listening to 'A Father who is able' and have been thinking quite a bit about prayer. We are preaching through Acts and prayer seems to underpin so much of what happens. On Sunday, I quoted a story my pal tells here of a booklet he was given by his father that describes the Welsh revival. This is the Welsh pastors account from his journal:

For fully six months we continued in prayer every night, and the effect of that blessed time is evident even now when the wave of another revival has almost submerged everything. The after effects upon God’s people were very great. Speaking for myself, my own heart and life were searched as never before. Was I fully surrendered to the Lord? Where was the power that should be in my ministry? Was I fully assured of salvation? Had I received the Holy Ghost? The outcome of it all was that I yielded wholly to God, casting away all known sin and making God’s glory the one aim of my life and ministry. What an experience followed! What joy!”

Prayer is so important and as it happens this recent post,  Terry Virgo on Prayer , has some great wisdom to impart. Also, do download his wonderful talk on Elijah which is worth taking some time to listen to.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Now you do it

Friends at church have been enthusing about a church they visit in France. I love it when people find a church they can be enthusiastic about and hope that ours is becoming just such a church. Anyway, on Sunday they thrust a book in my hand and told me I had to read it. It is called 'Now you do it' by Brian Richardson and was given to them by their French pastor. The subtitle of the book is 'A challenge to plant new churches'.

Now I know I am prone to enthusiasms but this is a book I read in two sittings and is the best single- volume book on leadership, church, vision and planting that I have come across in some time. It is only 111 pages and it is wonderfully simply written (which is its great strength) and is also infused with the wisdom, experience and faith of its author (who has been planting churches for 40 years). 

You should read this if:

1. You are a church leader and want fresh vision of what can be 

2. You are a leader in the making with a bit of 'I just wonder if...' going on in your heart.

3. You think you are not a leader but having read this you may well discover you are. May it be so I pray.

A super, super little book.  

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rise up and build

I gave a copy of Donald Miller's 'A thousand miles in a million years' to a friend. They texted me this having read it  'Fantastic- laughter, tears-you could have warned me..' I tried to.

Good stories are important.

Now, are you old enough to remember the classic jean ads that Levi produced in the 1980's that made 501 the jean of choice? Sadly I am. I have ever since followed this brands fortunes from a distance and how fashion seems to periodically look with favour on them. Jeremy Clarkson did at one point cause them an unfortunate sartorial dip. Why am I telling you about Levi's? Well, this post really moved me and I do recommend that you watch both films. We are preaching through Nehemiah which is all about rebuilding a city and this is a story of it intentionally starting to happen.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, thow Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer usuffer derision.” 18 And I told them vof the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Neh 2: 17-18

These Levi films reminded me of the difference between a good story and a bad story. Donald Miller talks about this so profoundly and the joy it is to see a good one birthed from the bad. I hope I am in the birthing good stories business and I believe we can all be. Something resonated deep within me when I watched the story of Braddock and read Miller's book about the things that may lie ahead for us in 2012.

Maybe they will with you too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Prayer-Does it matter?

John Ortberg's books have been a great blessing to me- especially 'How to walk on water....'

He is quite simply a great and able bible teacher.

I listened to a talk recently and I commend it to you. It is called 'With'

A friend spoke of being blessed and much encouraged by another talk in the series called 'A Father who is able'

So, as things for many get a bit less active why not make August a month of prayer and these talks may help you get started.

I plan to work through the whole series if I can.

Saturday Blog-sweep

What is next after capitalism

Anne Jackson's blog has a nice observation on humility.

7 things to do to simplify your life. (H/T Dashhouse)

A dear pal asks which Jesus are you preaching?

A bit of encouragement to tell stories.

I saw the film Inception this week and here are some thoughts on it. Do see this incredible film.

Some Peterson wisdom on the institutional church.

A man with an inspiring vision for Mongolia.

The house you are building

Schedule time to work.

And a little bit of Edwards to get you thinking on the decrees of God.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


A great pal who now lives in Canada first introduced me to the idea of the memory verse on an Alpha course 20 years ago and he is a happy reader of the blog. Every now and then he mails me his summary thoughts on my posting. Here is his latest:

"Two posts have recently got me thinking.
The first concerning verses/passages worth memorising.  As you know I am a great fan of memorising Scripture...  Might I suggest the following are worth the effort:
The prologue to John's Gospel, 1:1-18
Romans 5:1-11
Philippians 2:1-11
Colossians 1:15-20
Plus individual verses like: Genesis 15:6; Judges 6:14; Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 29:11; Micah 6:8; Zephaniah 3:17; Matthew 20:28; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 11:1; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:7 - to name a few.

Second - the question of which one book you would recommend to folk going to seminary....
I thought about "Knowing God" by JI Packer, or "The Divine Conspiracy" Dallas Willard, or "Christ plays in ten thousand places" by Peterson - and all of them are good.  But I wonder whether a less "heavy" tome is what is needed to help someone who is in a crisis - a book that they might be likely to read at such a time.  My humble suggestion is, "The Jesus I never knew" by Yancy - all about Jesus, written to keep a person focused on the essentials, easy to read yet very profound, and the author himself confessed it was written in response to theological training that had undermined his faith."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A third option

"These are two common directions in our culture. The first, common in fundamentalist circles, crushes the soul under the weight of academic truth and proud obedience. The second, popular among church renewal advocates, creates an illusion of life that honours the deadly virus of selfishness by calling it a different name.  Neither addresses us as thoroughly fallen creatures. The first approach seems to imply that we can pick ourselves up from where we have fallen by a mere act of will. The second defines our helpless condition as morally excusable and therefore values God's help above his mercy.

But there is a third option-an approach that equips us to dive into the cesspool of the human heart, find hidden treasure and come up laughing. The third option comes to grips with a reality that the other two either trivialize or ignore- an utterly false way of thinking about God, ourselves and others that I call the fallen structure of the human personality. This third option requires that we face the fallen structure in all its loathsome, stubborn, wicked power and submit to a painful process of dismantling"

Finding God, P. 63

Monday, July 19, 2010

Joshua's day and night

A while ago I was impressed to hear that someone in our church was committing Psalm 119 to memory. I have for a while been challenged about the task of getting the word into my soul through committing selected passages to memory. This is no easy task.

We have just completed preaching through Joshua and one of the verses that tee's up the whole story is 1 v 8 when the Lord says to this great leader- get the word into your bones- and do this all day and night. Quite an ask you might say with all the other things he had ahead.

Having watched this (which has really stuck with me) I was thinking through what my cluster of texts might be. Piper suggests Psalm 23, 46, and 1. Also Romans 8 and 2 Cor 5 v 21.

Here is some more help that you may want to take some time to read of listen to.

Why memorise scripture?

How do you memorise scripture?

Also, Peterson's chapter on the Lectio Divina is excellent in Eat this Book.

Why not get 2 Cor 5 v 21 into the hard drive of your brain today as a starter for one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


My friend dropped his iPhone in a cup of tea. No surprise that it now isn't working.

I was talking to another friend who was recommended this as the GTD for disorganised people. It is brilliantly called 'Do it tomorrow'. He also really enjoyed reading 'The Holy Spirit in the Life of Jesus' recently on a 10 day Ignatian silent retreat.

Piper on getting scripture into your head.

Bill on motivating Generation Y

Maximum security creativity.

Men who stare at screens

When there is no name people say anything

Kester's book Other is reviewed.

Iphone bible apps review.

And in case you missed it Keller on prayer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leaders are readers

A pal rang me to say he had been deeply challenged listening to this on the qualifications for being a pastor. At one point, it is strongly advocated that leaders need to be people who read constantly- and read deeply. Catherine Bramwell-Booth would I think agree:

"Reading: You have not much opportunity for receiving help from meetings. As an FO you are always giving and seldom getting, but I would say, make the very most of the chances you do have. Go to the officers meetings with your heart prepared, for we often miss what God has made ready because the vessel is not open to receive.

Now, wise reading will do much to make up for this lack. Read the bible, of course. Take it in more than a mouthful at a time, and not only when you want it just to give out again.  Read it, seeking for the personal application of what you read. Have always one helpful book at hand, or if possible, two; so that if you do not feel inclined for one, you can read the other.

It is amazing how much you can read in a little time. I learned while I was in the field to read snatches, and I have been thankful ever since. You are a captain, so can make your own plans. Why not decide to read a one meal in the day? Let each have a book. You get plenty of occasions to talk, and would not I think, miss to opportunity for conversation.

When visiting means a long walk in the country, have a book with you, and talk it in turns to read aloud. This should be a book kept to read together on such occasions. You will also find that a chapter the last thing at night helps drive our the petty worries of the day, besides sending you to sleep with a helpful thought in mind.

I would never say read fiction, except when on furlough, and then choose wisely. There is so much that is helpful and soul-nourishing, and heart-inspiring in the experiences, thoughts, and doings of real men and women, that the Salvation Army officer is the last person in the midst of his work should live in an imaginary world"

Letters, P 16

I think she would have a Kindle app on her iPhone? I might take issue on the question of novels, even though personally I tend to read mostly non-fiction. I liked this quote about novels.

I have this on my kindle which I am enjoying.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

First things first

I have been enjoying the 'Letters of Catherine Booth' (£0.01p). She understood what it means to put 'First things first' long before Stephen Covey made millions writing a book about it. I wonder if she gave him the title?

"Be wise. Take proper care. Get sleep and food regularly; for in order to get the most done, you must go to work in the best way, even with regard to the body.

Beware of spending too large a proportion of your time and strength on matters of secondary importance. Learn to distinguish what is vital from what is merely incidental; and, above all, resolve by God's help at all cost to keep first things first"

Letters, P.14

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 12, 2010

One book for a pastor

A sad weekend saying farewell to Adam and Gen who have been leading our youth work here for over five years. I will truly miss them. They are off to theological cemetery and then Vicardom in the good old C of E. As a gift I collected together a pile of books to send them on their way-Peterson, MacDonald, The letters of Catherine Booth and John Newton and various others essentials.

John Wesley said he was a man of one book but what if you were allowed just one other. Here is my question for you:

"If a pastor was to read only one book in their time at college to prepare them for ministry what should it be?"

Sunday, July 11, 2010


"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding in life at things that don't really matter".

Tim Kizziar quoted in 'Crazy Love'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Six bits of mountain chat

One of the great things is being able to chat and share some learnings from our years as we huff and puff up the mountain. Each of us who gather each year are different and so this makes for lively jousts over news, views and theology. There are always a few nuggets worth sharing.

1. Communication: If you are in the business of communicating then you might like to check out 'the art of communication' in The marriage book. One of our number presented it to a group of doctors (by showing them a segment of the DVD) and they found it to be incredibly helpful. You may too. Are you a fixer, a tangent taker, an advice-giver, a re-assurer or a problem-solver?

2. Reformation: One friend said this that I will just leave you to ponder "If Luther had read Philemon the reformation might never have happened." It might, as it did for me, prompt you at least to read this rich letter.

3. Suffering: Another mountain friend runs Release International (check out the website) and he told a story of some Chinese pastors who met with some American Pastors. The question the Chinese pastors asked the Americans was this, "What were your wounds for Christ this week?" It's quite a question isn't it?

4. Leadership: Walter Wright in this excellent book says there are only two things a leader HAS to do. 1. Set the vision 2. Say thank you.

5. Interview Question: "Are you passionate about the things we are passionate about?"

6. Sabbath: "Don't call it a day off- call it 'Rest'"

Friday, July 09, 2010

Mountain resources

Well, I have returned from my weeklong mountain top annual retreat with my dear friends. We walk up mountains, we pray, we share the story of the last year of our lives and we laugh and we cry. This is our ninth year of gathering and we intend to do it until we die. Gordon MacDonald in his wonderful book speaks of 'the happy few' as being those you run the race with to the end and my six friends are just such men. I am so grateful to God for them and their encouragement.

One of my jobs of the week is to collate all the resources that have impacted our years and to share them here-so here goes.

1. Technology:  Things is a Mac interpretation of the GTD system and my pal says that it has revolutionised his life. He also loves Doodle and Google translate.  He managed to have quite a meaningful chat with a Latvian man on the vicarage doorstep using it. Stumbleupon is apparently very good for those downtime moments. I bigged up the Kindle app on the iPhone.

2. Books: I like to survey the meaningful reads. This book is apparently the most incredible help on communicating with children and a must-read. The Full Circle is a great read suggesting our times have  become Greek. If you want an excellent read about Hamas this is recommended. One friend spends his life in airports and enjoyed the Flip side. If you enjoy reading about science Bad science is good. One of our number recommended this on understanding the British. The Dawkins Letters  by David Robertson is a great apologetic. Crazy Love was discussed a bit too and I recommended Mere Churchianity to give to someone who had recently converted to atheism in one of our churches (in an otherwise very encouraging year for this Vicar:)

3. Films: Up was the favourite watch of the year of the assembled. We discussed a few more and some recommended Hidden, Babettes Feast, Son of Man,  Four Months Three Weeks and Two Days (we have two doctors in our number who spoke of this- it is not a family film) and L'Amants de Pont-Neuf 

4. Music: I enjoyed listening to Sara Groves and heard the story of Jesus Blood never failed me yet which was new to me.

I have a few more musings but these will become posts in time I suspect.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


"Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don't have to trust in God if the unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don't need God to help them-they have their retirement plan in place. They don't genuinely seek out what life God would have them live-they have life figured and mapped out. They don't depend on God in a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God."

(Francis Chan on the markers of the lukewarm in Crazy Love)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The lamb has conquered

The lamb has conquered is the new Vineyard UK album and here is the story. I love my Vineyard brothers and sisters and have been so blessed over the years by their passion for Jesus. Spread the word.


My holiday challenge laid down by Eugene Peterson was to memorise Ephesians 1:3-14. I laid aside my normal McCheyne bible reading routine and thought it would be easy. I found it really really hard-try it on your summer break. Anyway, while I was battling with my addled brain a few posts happened.

Do you ever send an email? The COO of Facebook says this may become a thing of the past as part of the social revolution which Bill has posted. 

Someone's favourite book in May suggests we could all do better at communicating particularly in my line of work.

My friend laughed out loud reading John O'Farrell on the educational arms race in West London called May contain nuts

The big international news story was Obama and his General and Michael Hyatt has some learnings for us.

Ten questions for a spiritual conversation (H/T Challies) from Don Witney and it reminded me of this great talk on Edwards and the disciplines by him that I listened to a while back.

I have just bought the Gift on the Kindle as people keep referring to it. It is about creativity and this  music video is a terrific example of good creativity. Scott Hodge has some thoughts asking if you are Most or some?

Piper on productivity

I've added a link to the Nines to the sidebar which has plenty to check out if you have nine minutes to spare.

A Guardian article about the new book Pornland

A free audiobook of A W Tozer which is worth having.

35 things about Moshie Rosen and a good post about Brian Mclaren who I hear is sadly poorly.

The final word goes to C S Lewis on the difference between friends and lovers.

A few holiday reads

Well, I am back from the sun but only fleetingly as I am off on retreat with Men on Mountains next week.

I did read a few things while I was away.

The Journals of John Fowles Volume 2: I have posted about this before when I read Vol 1 but Fowles is the most extraordinary character. These are his journals kept over 40 years and in them he is candid, funny, critical, self-obessed, selfish, judgemental and at times breath-takingly arrogant. As someone who jots with regularity in a moleskine these are nonetheless an example of ruthless honesty and brilliance in the art of writing. You cannot help but get drawn into Fowles's world- the second volume is rather full of health problems, worry and stress about his garden but I much enjoyed them. Worth popping both in the holiday bag and you'll make a new roguish friend.

Crazy Love: I took all sort of other books with me but ended up reading my friends copy of Crazy Love. I recently heard Chan speak at HTB and his book is no less challenging. I have a few sermons that are imprinted on me and my old Vicar's sermon on Rev 3 is one of them together with Keller on the same passage. This book is a very very challenging read and the chapter on being 'Lukewarm' is enough to bring anyone who professes to love Jesus to a standstill and then to their knees. The last chapter full of biographies was deeply moving. Read this at your peril-you have been warned.

A resilient life: I love reading McDonald and revisit and return to this often. What makes this read unique is that it is the first book I have read from cover to cover on my Kindle iphone app. It may be rash to say but I may be converting to the virtual book. My only dilemma is you don't have something physical to share at the end so you can't pass it forward but my Kindle purchases will be on the up I suspect.

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