Monday, August 30, 2010

For the pod

I have been doing quite a bit of driving recently and so have caught up on some talks.

Ortberg is always worth a listen and this exposition of Psalm 23 called 'The rest of your life' blessed me. Find out where we get the expression Type A personality.

One of the things on my mind is church planting and "Why plant churches?" is a good question that TK answers so well. Also 'Messengers' is profound.

A couple of sermon's too from Matt Chandler- The afflictions of Christ and Identity

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Should they be banned?

We had a lively discussion over lunch about drugs and sport. One of our number at church is an Olympic athlete and we had a heated debate about whether or not those who have broken the rules should be given a second chance. I listened as the discussion became more and more animated. There were broadly two views:

1) No second chance because the rules are the rules and you knew that so tough.
2) There are some occasions when mitigating circumstances permit a second chance and shouldn't everybody be allowed that? Even if you broke the rules knowingly but then you repent isn't that then OK?

When my moment came, I said that listening to them reminded me of the theological and pastoral complexity of the issue of remarriage and divorce. Some have a clear line in the sand that says never divorce. Others say that there are circumstances where a second chance is allowed (for more detail on this particular issue go here). 

So, is God the God of grace and the second chance or is he the God of the law? 

What about if he's both?

This goes some way to explaining what I mean.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Blogsweep

1. Kester has posted Stephen Fry on 'What went wrong with Christianity?" which I have posted before which if you missed it is worth watching. He seems not to be a great fan of the Catholic church?

2. Seth Godin has caused a stir on the web about publishing and Michael Hyatt has a response. It's a fair point that most blogs don't have 485K readers. This has about 11.

3. Randy Alcorn author of numerous excellent books- on suffering, heaven and many other subjects tells his story- Part 1 and Part 2.

4. My friend has just moved to be a Vicar in Brussels and I enjoyed this post from someone who has just started to blog from there.

5. Seeing the good in another's ministry is necessary but J D Greer observes there are too many 'Small applauders'. 

6. I always like a list of books and from this one I am going to read Rework.

7. Lesley posted 'I can still love my mother and disagree'

8. A reflection on 'Living without physical intimacy' (H/T Challies)

9. Mouse on bonkers Koran burners

10. I close, as I often do, with a bit of Edwards for you to ponder and chew on.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One person

I have been meeting early most mornings with others over these last few weeks to pray.

We then go for coffee.

During one of these coffee times a friend read me the story of the founding Vicar of my church Holy Trinity Richmond -a man called Evan  Hopkins. It is worth sharing this wonderful life story.

"In this day, September 16, 1837, Evan Henry Hopkins was born in Santa Ana, Columbia, South America. His father was supervising a silver mine there; Evan would be eleven years old before he went to live in Great Britain, the land of his citizenship. Another ten years passed before Evan became a citizen of a greater kingdom: the Kingdom of Heaven.
He was baptized and confirmed in the usual way, but this young man, who would write a classic on life in Christ, showed little evidence of spirituality. He studied science at college and accepted work in Dorsetshire, England. There an uneducated coastguard taught him about salvation. The man, who had himself just become a Christian the day before, pointed Evan to the Bible text, "the blood of Jesus Christ [God's] Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:9) Evan took the words to heart and his life began to show Christ's influence.
The young man could have pursued his engineering studies. Instead, he felt a strong sense that God wanted him to study for the ministry. Obedient to this inner prompting, he attended King's College, London and grounded himself in the word of God while gaining practical experience by preaching in the city. He was ordained as a priest in the Church of England.
It was when he was thirty-six years old, that he attended a lecture given by the American Quaker Robert Pearsall Smith. Smith insisted that like justification sanctification, too, was to be received by faith. Evan was convinced. He went home and told his wife. Together they talked and studied until late that night. "Oh, I was so hungry," she wrote. "At last, quite simply, but very really, I too took God at His Word, and accepted Christ as my indwelling Lord and Life, and believed that he did enthrone himself in my heart."
Evan took part in holiness conventions over the next three years. He was closely connected with the Keswick movement which spread the idea that Christians have to reckon ourselves dead to sin in Christ and rely on Jesus to live his holy life in us, rather than achieve holiness by futile efforts to imitate Christ.
He wrote the book The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life teaching that: "There may be a good deal of outward activity in work that is really good, and yet no 'fruit.' What the apostle desired on behalf of the Colossian converts was that they might be "fruitful in every good work" (Colossians 1:10); in other words, that their service should be the direct outcome of a Divine, indwelling, vital principle."
"The branch bears [fruit], but the root produces it." And that root is Christ. "Everything needed for continual growth, for perpetual freshness, and for abundant fruitfulness are found in Him. All power, all grace, all purity, and all fullness, absolutely everything to make all grace abound towards us, in us, and through us, are stored up in Him who verily dwells within us."
"The truth is, we need two powers: a power to remove the hindrances, and a power to produce the fruit; a power to separate us from the evil, and a power to transform us into the good. This twofold power is found in Christ. There is the power of His death, and the power of His life."
Evan died in 1918 but his book remains highly valued in holiness circles."

What struck me about this fascinating man who went on, with others, to found the Kessick convention is that is all started with his conversion. One man, himself only converted the day before and here I am carrying on ministry in Richmond 100 years later.

A convention that hosted Martyn Lloyd Jones, Dick Lucas, D A Carson and John Stott started with one man.

One conversion. One simple man, a coastguard, armed with the gospel and everything changed.

So it's not about the numbers.

It's about Jesus and his sovereignty.

But oh may the coastguards arise this day across this city I pray.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is the bible about?

As readers may know by know reading Romans and Tim Keller's series on Galatians changed everything. Here is a great post and the film it includes I strongly recommend you watch.

What's it about? It's all about Jesus.

(H/T Jared Wilson)

Monday, August 23, 2010


Thanks to those who prayed me for the over the weekend as I preached at a wedding. Songs of Songs is a gift for a sermon and speaking about sex (eros love) went down well with my very posh listeners and the Lord gave me grace to make Jesus known. There are lots of old boys now dusting off their KJV's to read Song of Songs in the hope of enhancing their marital hanky panky! Tons of fun.

I have to bang out an essay for my MA this week.

"Teams are the future of parochial ministry?"  Discuss

Sticky Teams has been a good read for this (it has an American context so some of it doesn't translate but contains some good wisdom)

Sticky Teams from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our God

I have been staying with my pal who is a surgeon but when he is not doing that he leads worship in his church. We were both enthusing about Our God by Tomlin and Redman  and he put me on to this in the New Song Cafe which helped him learn it. Enjoy.

Saturday blog-sweep

1. Bill on some amazing feet.

2. Introverts in church

3. A place for quotes

4. Keller on Unfashionable

5. The three best words

6. The defence of the realm

7. Plodding visionaries

Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping Mum

August at Live Life has been a month of fun (Christians having fun-now there's an idea?)

Last night we watched the brilliant Keeping Mum. It stars Rowan Atkinson, Kirsten Scott-Thomas and the legendary Maggie Smith.

As you may know, I have been immersed in Song of Songs for my providential wedding preach and in one scene Rowan Atkinson reads Song of Songs so beautifully while watching his wife prepare for bed. It ignites his love. It's truly moving in the midst of this rather silly but wonderful comedy. Atkinson plays a Vicar which is also fun.

God's timing amazes me sometimes. Of all the films, of all the texts and of all the weeks I watched this film.

I found a lovely Lewis quote in my preparations too.

"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust them, it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things- the beauty, the memory of our own past- are good images of what we really desire, but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of the flower we have not found, the echo of a tune which we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited"

[Song of Songs Iain Provan]

Here's a thought. Why don't you read Song of Songs. Who knows what might happen?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The choice

This is worth a listen.

"On The Choice this week, Micahel Buerk talks to Romy Tiongco. 

He spent a lifetime fighting poverty - first as a Catholic priest, then as a Christian Aid worker. Where he comes from - the Philippines - poverty is made worse by violence and corruption. He'd taken it on as a young man, before moving to this country with his wife. When he decided to return to the Philippines he did not realise it would draw him back into a dangerous and murky world and present him with the most difficult choice of his life. After his best friend was killed, the people called on him to challenge corruption by standing for political office - a choice that would put his own life on the line."

Soul Survivor: The bible in one year

I went to a great Q&A discussing the vision of Soul Survivor and it was very honest and frank. Mike's hope and passion is for the lost and SS gives young people a place to experience God, bring friends, have great fun and hear the gospel. They have done this pretty well and successfully down the years. He is more challenged by discipleship and admits they have done less well on this.

This year was back to basics with very good talks given by Andy Croft of Jesus in the four gospels (Servant in Mark, King in Matthew, Humanity in Luke and God in John) and also the launch of the Soul Survivor Bible in one year initiative. Happily they sold 3.5K copies just in the week we were there and I managed to sell 22 to our teenagers who have all resolved to give it go. Even if they only do a month it may be one more than they are doing at the moment.

We are starting on September 1st so why not join us.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

For the pod

I am preaching at my second cousins wedding on Saturday and as providence would have it my MP is the best man. The text chosen for me is from Song of Songs so I have revisited Driscoll's talks once again. Little Foxes is worth a listen if you are married, would like to be married or are just finding it tough being married.

Brian McLaren's interview with Scott McNight is causing some comment in the blog-o-sphere.

The talk was part of the Q conference held in Portland and the speaker list is a very very rich seam and some of these are well worth having on the iPod for the next long car journey (or many journeys once you see the list!). You can see all the talks here so take your pick.

Sometimes songs get into one's being. Chris Tomlin's Our God is just such a song that we sang over and over again last week. Somehow singing these words with 12k teenagers hoping and praying for their generation was an awesome thing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blessed thoughts

I have spent the last week in an agricultural showground with 12k teenagers at Soul Survivor and thought a reflection was in order. Some time ago I heard an American Vineyard pastor called Carl Medearis speak at a Leaders Conference and on the second morning he started his talk by saying he had made a discovery. He said he was speechless at the knowledge that Christians in the UK were still permitted to work in schools and do assemblies. He told us that if this were so in the US he would do nothing else but work with young people. I share his sentiment and I think SS is the movement working with and inspiring young people with most effectiveness and impact in our nation.

1. Born again: My old college principal used to say that to survive in ministry you had to know why you get out of bed in the morning. One of the things that gets me up is seeing people come to know Jesus. On the first evening at SS Mike Pilavachi gave the simplest and clearest exposition of the gospel from 2 Cor 5:21. 242 young people responded and hundreds more during the week (the number I realise may not correspond to the rejoicing in heaven) However, the gospel is a power and I saw this power manifest in young people's hearts and it was a glorious thing to witness.

2. Born of the Spirit: When I was at Vicar factory one of the silliest things I read was an article saying there was no such thing as the gift of tongues today. This was in 'The Briefing' (a good journal I'm sure on many things) but it struck me that the author may well be something of an authority but on this he missed the mark. In fact, sadly he hadn't even seen the mark-that was his problem. I am passionate about Scripture but also passionate about not being ignorant about the Spirit.

Why am I reminded of this? Well, the subject of tongues got my story of the week when Mike Pilavachi told a testimony from 2009 in his talk on being filled with the Spirit.

"A church in Yorkshire has a link with a Romanian church and had their youth pastor visiting them and took the youth pastor to SS. He found the ministry times very hard because he did not believe the gifts were for today, which is what he had been taught. On one evening, he was so disapproving he decided to leave the evening meeting. As he was walking out of the tent, Mike began to speak over the microphone in tongues. Mike noticed that his tongue seemed and sounded different but continued to speak it. This stopped the Romanian young man in his tracks for what he was hearing as he was walking was an 11c Ancient Romanian prayer. As if that was not incredible enough, this very same 11c prayer is the one the Romanian youth pastors father has tattooed on his back. With this, not surprisingly, God awakened this young man to the reality that the gifts are indeed for today"

For more on this, particularly if you are a sceptic, you might like to read Surprised by the Spirit by Jack Deere.

I went to a very helpful seminar Mike gave on hearing God and liked his expression 'blessed thoughts' for those pictures, verses and senses that may not be prophetic but are still good.

3. Born of Tears: The talk that rattled everyone's cage was given by a Canadian woman from the Salvation Army called Danielle Strickland. I pray it will bear much fruit. Tears were a major part of our week. One of our young people, a wonderful Frenchman, did nothing but cry all week. Not just crying, weeping (but as I explained to those who wondered what was happening "Weeping in a good way"). He would periodically say just one word 'Wow' and then continue weeping. The peace and grace of God was at work in so many young people and it was a glorious thing to witness.

4. Born to Action: The thing I love about SS is that we are all encouraged to get up and do something. Soul Action exists to this end and do watch the film on slavery.

5. Born to Create:  Many of our young people spent the week wearing Kiro glasses. These are made by a great couple running a great business so do go and check them out. They make great presents so do buy something.

A awesome week and thanks to all my glorious team who made it all happen and to Adam and Gen for years of prayer, encouragement and sowing.


Someone said they missed the blog which was nice. I missed my Saturday blog-sweep so here is a Tuesday one.

1. I have been journaling pretty solidly since 2003 so am always interested in those who put pen to paper over the long term. I enjoyed this called 'Winters of my life'

2. Six books to help you understand the bible better.

3. The Middle Easy is complex and 'From the eyes of hope' is an effort to aid understanding particularly for young people.

4. Tim Challies has some interesting thoughts on technology.

5. Clayboy has some views on bad journalism and the iPad

6. Anyone who has read A million miles which I have banged on about a lot might like this post that tells you about Bob who has kids who invite world leaders to stay.

7. Randy Alcorn has been reflecting on C S Lewis and his impact on his life- Part 1 and Part 2.

8. Some time ago I read the inspiring and brilliant Tough Choices -the autobiography of Carly Fiorina. This caught my eye on the recent resignation of the HP CEO.

9. Some grammatical gun violence.

10. As I do often, I end with a bit of Edwards.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Off to Soul Survivor for a few days.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dead dudes

A pal when he preaches and has cause to quote someone who is no longer living often says "Some clever dead dude.." and then he elaborates on the 'who' and 'what'.

One of my 'dead dudes' is Martyn Lloyd Jones and I recently drove across London listening to one of his sermons on my iPod. It's strange isn't it that a man who died 25 years ago is now able to be downloaded onto an iPhone. I wonder what the good Doctor would have made of that?

A warning- he is very much of his time but oh so worth a listen in the way he handles and reveres the Scriptures and makes the gospel known. He was arguably the greatest British preacher of the last century. If you want to give a dead dude a go you can download a sermon or two of MLJ here.

Here is a section from one of his sermons on Revival.

"We must  become utterly and absolutely convinced of our need. We must cease to have so much confidence on ourselves, and in all our methods and organisations and in all our slickness. We have got to realise that we must be filled with the Spirit. And we must be equally certain that God can fill us with his Spirit. We have got to realise that however great 'this kind' is, the power of God is infinitely greater, that what we need is not more knowledge, more understanding, more apologetics, more reconciliation of philosophy and science and religion, and all modern techniques-no, we need a power that can enter into the souls of men and break them and smash them and humble them and then make them anew. And that is the power of the living God. And we must be confident that God has this power as much today, as he had one hundred years ago, and two hundred years ago, and so we must begin to seek the power and to pray for it. We must begin to plead and yearn for it. "This kind' needs prayer"

[Revival Page 19]

Monday, August 09, 2010


"4 million people will require food aid for the next three months" John Humphrey's this morning on 'The Today Program', Radio 4

You may like to give some of your money away and you can do so here.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Thoughts on the Leadership Summit

You can view highlights here but my pal Pete in Canada attended this week and sent me his thoughts. Well worth attending if you lead anything and you can do so in October here:

"A quick email - saw on your blog someone's feedback from the Summit - having just been there myself some very, very quick observations:

Bill Hybels - very good, basic but excellent - sets the theme "How do we get from Here to There"
Jim Collins - lots of good points
Christine Caine - a revelation!  She can preach and she loves Jesus, knows the Bible and takes action
Tony Dungy - OK
Adam Hamilton - an important talk about how leaders fall - salutary and good to have there
Zhao Xiao - huge disappointment, I made no notes at all, no leadership content, more like a biased and sanitised history of China with no mention of the persecuted church, and to cap it all although with the best of intentions it was poorly translated.  Take a break from the conference here and have a walk/pray/talk...
Andy Stanley - as always clear and practical, but could have done with more time
Erwin McManus - very little
Jeff Manion - excellent, probably the talk that set the conference theme of "From Here  to There" - will be the talk of the Summit for many or most
Terri Kelly - OK
Daniel Pink - Interesting points
Blake Mycoskie - great guy and good stuff on giving
Jack Welch - so much to learn from him
T.D. Jakes - how hard it must be to follow everyone else and close the Summit!  He had some great stuff to say about Passion - the fuel in the engine; and about the difference between Confidents, Constituents and Comrades
All in all well worth the time
There was an excellent drama - made me cry with laughter - and some good music too"

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Saturday Blog-sweep

1. Donald Miller on doing just one thing and De Young on how he goes about it.

2. Love, Jealousy and Wrath.

3. Tony Morgan summarises The Leadership Summit talks (highlights here) which happened this week and which I am attending in October here. There is more than a leadership nugget or two. I was unsure about T D Jakes being on the bill but liked this observation from him:

"When Jesus picked the 12 disciples he didn't pick one rabbi"

4. Randy Alcorn on praying for Christopher Hitchens

5. John Stackhouse on "What is a Church?"

6. Steve Furtick on Psalm 48 and reviewing faithfulness. If you want a good talk to help you do that- I listen to this a couple of times a year.

7. Hyatt on trusted advisors

8. Keller on movements

9. Two Fair Dollars a Day on giving fatigue.

10. Finally, some wisdom on what it means to be a workaholic

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Anne Rice

I confess I had never heard of Anne Rice until I watched I am second.

It's no longer there.

The Church Mouse will fill you in on her story that is currently all over the Christian news.

What interests me is the very fact that she is no longer on I am second.

What does that say?

Maybe she doesn't want to be and that's a fair cop, but it begs the question of whether or not her being a follower of Jesus was her initiative or that of God.

I favour the latter (as does Article 17.)

The trouble with the net is your story lives on even if you change your mind.

Fortunately, God doesn't change his. Or maybe you think he does?

I admit that I am a Once saved always saved man, much helped years ago by R T Kendall and for the best explanation of predestination you could do no better than listen to Grace- therefore holy.

Glorious grace.

What would I do without it.

Endless love

Today is a wedding day.

To conduct a marriage is a wonderful thing.

When I was preparing this dear couple the one thing we had not discussed was music. So, thinking they may not have given this much thought I went with my suggestion that the bride might want to walk up the aisle to this....

"Oh we've thought of our songs" was the response.

So rather than Pachelbel or the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba the bride will enter to this. We will then sing 'Your love is amazing' and 'Shout for the Lord".

The brides sister will then sing.....

I will then preach the gospel of Jesus Christ from Romans 12:1-13 and then the bride and groom plan to dance down the aisle to.....

Joyful, joyful indeed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What is necessary?

‘The spontaneous expansion of the Church reduced to its elements is a very simple thing. It asks for no elaborate organization, no large finances, no great numbers of paid missionaries. In its beginning it may be the work of one man, and that a man neither learned in the things of the world, nor rich in the wealth of the world…..What is necessary is faith. What is needed is the kind of faith which uniting a man to Christ, sets him on fire’

Roland Allen, The Compulsion of the Spirit (The Forgotten Ways, Hirsh, Page 84)

Something's gone wrong here

(H/T Take your Vitamin Z)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Get it sorted

When we left Vicar factory a pal and I agreed to periodically offer each other just one instruction. This was born out of knowing  how our characters operate. My instruction to him was to be "Let it go...." because he often has something that he just needs to lay down and move on from. His to me is "Get it sorted...." because my friend knows that there are always one or two (or seven things) that might possibly need my attention.

To this end, two things have come into my life that are promising to assist a September relaunch of my organisational ability. Now, I am with Marcus Buckingham who suggests we put are energies into our strengths and should not get hassled about the stuff we are rubbish at.

Realistically, I will never be David Allen and nor do I want to be. Being hyper hyper-sorted has always struck me as perhaps causing one to be ever-so slightly dull. I fear I may always be someone who would rather be chatting than filing. And to be honest, more filing in my life will surely make me even duller than I already am. But I am attempting to notch up from a 3 out of 10 to possibly a four on the admin front.

If you need help on this too then here are my two top-tips:

1.  Do it tomorrow:  A friend recommended this and it has a brilliant thesis. Most things can wait until tomorrow but plan what it is you need to do today and then actually do them. Simple huh. Worth a read this one and it may be just the sort of productivity book that people like us can cope with.

2. Toodledo:  A friend was recently despatched from here to Bristol for training in the ways of the C of E. In order to get sorted as he and his family moved he downloaded this app. He was transformed and became obsessed by getting little green ticks on the things he did. The principle is whenever you think of something 'toodledo it' and then have a 'Do it tomorrow' folder in which you list the 'must do' stuff.

Do these two things and before you know it you will be Steven Covey.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Seek it

I prayed this prayer at the end of my sermon and someone asked for a copy so here it is:

"Seek it until you have it
Be content with nothing less
Seek this power
Expect this power
Yearn for this power
And when it comes, yield to him"

Without the chaos

I chatted to a friend who has been away at New Wine. He has never been before but has spent a lifetime attending plenty of rock, dance and music festivals. As I recommended he attend, today I asked him how he found things:

"It was like being at a festival but without the devil's chaos"

I preached yesterday and surprised everyone with a narrative sermon on Acts 11:1-18. I am still working out what I think but the feedback was quite positive. As part of my preparation I listened to this  and this on the baptism of the Spirit (v 16) and this is very helpful too. It is interesting to hear Piper admit that he had changed his view.

I have been really enjoying And the lamb conquered and particularly a wonderful interpretation of Psalm 23. This is also worth a listen- Here is love.

I have downloaded the new ESV+ app which includes the study bible and is a pretty incredible resource to be able to carry around on your phone.

On our 10.5 mile walk my pal recommended 'The empty raincoat' and another friend recently recommended to me John Goldingay who has written a Wrightesque series called 'Genesis for everyone'. I first came across Goldingay when a friend gave me a copy of 'To the usual suspects' saying that it was the best thing he has ever read.

Apparently, today we should be excited about the new 'Arcade Fire' album called the Suburbs. I confess I had never even heard of them.

I am clearly getting old.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Asking good questions

I meet with three friends every eight weeks or so to pray (the 'so' is fairly, perhaps too, flexible we reflected). We have done this for years and we usually gather over food on a weekday evening and talk about the state of our hearts and lives. Some time ago we decided to have a day away to do a bit of in-depth friendship, prayer, walking and of course we included in our planning a good lunch. We think we walked 10.5 miles yesterday so we now all have sore feet.

The plan was to ask each other some good questions so I put a list together. "How are things?" is a rubbish question and I hope my list is a little more focussed. Feel free to ask yourself these or even better give someone permission to ask them of you.

1. Am I a slave to work, habits, friendships or hobbies?
2  What are my priorities?
3  Where am I sinning?
4. Where am I demonstrating faith? Where are the areas of life that I am putting myself in the place where God must show up?
5. When did I last speak to someone about Jesus?
6. Do I pray about the money I spend?
7. Is there anybody I fear, dislike, disown, criticise, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so what am I doing about it?
8 What do I complain about?
9. Is Jesus real to me?
10. Do I insist on doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
11. What am I excited about and why?
12. How do I spend my spare time?

13. Do I go to bed on time and get up on time?
14. Do I thank God I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisee who despised the publican?

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