Thursday, March 31, 2011

Desert Island Discs

Good news to report. The doctor made a mistake and misread Trevor's scans (which is not something any of you want to be put through). The senior consultant has now given him the all-clear. Praise God and a wonderful mountain moving answer to prayer!

If you were having a competition for the best program on the radio it might well be Desert Island Discs. A remarkable life story told through eight records. Radio 4 are uploading all the past episodes from the archive over the next few months- what a treasure trove:)

Thursday thoughts

Trevor, who I work with, is having an urgent MRI today. Please join me in praying for him and Kate and their boys.

Only a few bits today.

A friend said the WordLive email she gets every Monday is a real blessing to her and has been particularly this week. You can sign up for it for free.

Another pal has just started a new job and is working out how everything operates and how his new organisation and its people tick. At Vicar factory, we often had visiting speakers and one of them when I asked him what was the most helpful book he had ever read told me it was "How to win friends and influence people' by Dale Carnegie. My friend is now off to buy it.

A dear lady gave me 'Sunlight for cloudy days' this morning after our prayer meeting. We are both huge fans of Spurgeon.

This line she showed me really hit home.

"It is more honourable to save a soul from death than to rule an Empire. Such honour all saints may have"

[Page 113]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's love got to do with it?

My step by step walk through Romans has come to possibly the most treasured but complex verse in all the Scriptures- Chapter 8 v 28. It is timely for me as I have some big decisions to make in the next few weeks and it seems right that I am now dwelling in this text. This mornings sermon has deeply impacted me because it is about the nature of love and we would all do well to listen to it and ponder its consequences. As has often been the case over these last few months, this is a sermon that has forced me to think deeply and pray earnestly.

Here are two questions for you to ponder that God asks you.

1. Do you love me?

2. Why do you love me?

We are familiar when this first question is asked of a husband by his wife and the answer is obviously yes, of course I do darling. The second is the follow up. "Why?...." (with a raise in pitch to the voice). I remember hearing Keller teach on this and it has stuck with me ever since. The question "Why?" often forces us to wrongly resort to a 'because' and then attach some attribute. "I love you because I think you are the most beautiful girl in the world". The trouble with an attribution is that were it to be taken away would you still love without whatever quality you attach after you say the words 'because'? Is the beauty you cite the same before and after a terrible car crash that require you to see your wife's beauty in an utterly different way perhaps than the way you meant it in answer to the "because"?

My friend told me that his mother has very sadly recently been diagnosed with alzheimer's. He told me his niece always used to love it that her granny could draw and loved the amazing pictures she drew her. A few days ago the little girl asked her grandmother to draw a princess and she tried to but the picture was very poor as her disease has now taken hold "That's rubbish" she exclaimed running off in a huff. The question one might ask the little girl is do you love granny because she can draw or do you love granny? We are all rather like the little girl demanding her princess.

The right answer is "I love you because I love you"- end of.

That is a wonderful thing for a wife to hear and it is what God demands of us. I love you come what may. I love your essence. The 'you' of 'you'.

Here is the final section of the sermon for you to grapple with:

"Do you love God in this way? Let me help you love him by exploding a certain Catch-22 effect that Romans 8:28 has on some people. Suppose you come to this promise in Romans 8:28 and feel yourself excluded. You say, "This promise must be true for me so that I can love God in response." But you see that this won’t work, because the promise is not true for you unless you love God. "The promise must be true for me," you say, "so I can love God. I must love God so the promise can be true for me. Catch 22."
This is the trap of many people who think that the love of God is essentially gratitude for his blessings. I will love God when he treats me well enough, because, they say, love for God is essentially a response to receiving his gifts. There is no way out of that trap and that Catch 22 in Romans 8:28 if you hold on to that meaning of love for God. The promise must be true for me so I can love God in response; and yet I must love God for the promise to be true for me.
The escape from the trap – and I invite you to take it right now – is to look through the promise to God himself first, before he applies the promise to you, and behold God himselfin and through his promise. Look first at all that he has done in history to reveal himself. Look especially at Jesus Christ and the glory that he had before he came, and the glory of his sacrificial coming and his servanthood and suffering. Look at the mercy and wrath and justice of God mingled on the cross for utterly undeserving sinners. Look at the power and righteousness of God in raising Jesus from the dead. Look at new-covenant, promise-keeping faithfulness that pours out the Holy Spirit on sinful people. Look at the triumph of God’s grace to change hostile God-neglecters into humble God-lovers.
Look at God in all these ways, I say, and behold the God you were made for. Behold the fulfillment of all your desires. Behold the most satisfying treasure in the universe. And then when you see his glory and his worth, and when you treasure him, then the promise is yours. All things will work together for you good, because you love God.
And what if you say to me, "Pastor John, I don’t feel like looking at God. I just want to go home and watch television. I just want to be with my friends. I just want to eat and work on my house. I don’t feel any desire to look to God"? To this I respond, "If there is any remnant of fear, if there is any shred of desire to desire, O endangered sinner, use it to pray the promise of Deuteronomy 30:6, ‘O Lord circumcise my heart—change my heart—to love you with all my heart and soul, so that I may live, and all things may work together for my good. Have mercy upon me that I may love you.’"

Monday, March 28, 2011

An open apology

As I read an Open Apology it moved me and I thought of all the people I know and love who are ticked off with the Church (a bunch of deeply broken, flawed, forgiven sinners of which I am one). I so often meet people who are angry with the Church, with Christians, with some experience, with some untruth they have been wrongly led to believe, with boredom as a child, with religiosity, with the behaviour of some pompous cleric, with a lack of welcome, with an absence of kindness, with a failure to forgive, with inadequate love, with a denial of grace, with a Christian who let them down or failed to live up to whatever standard they were supposed to and all I can do is join with Joe in offering an apology. We're sorry. I'm sorry. Please forgive us and give us a second chance. If you don't know where else to show up and don't expect us to be perfect you would be welcome on Sunday with me if you fancy braving another go . I also offer you 'What's it all about?' written by my faltering hand and inadequate pen to explain afresh the gospel to you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday blog-sweep

How to help Japan- five options

It was one of the stories of the year so 33 Men looks worth putting in the bag as a summer read.

The idea of a 20-minute plan

The Civil Wars is one to buy.

All the big dreamers start small

A friend emailed me to say just how much these talks I recommended had blessed his relationship with the one he loves- they listened to them together. Always nice to get a bit of feedback and encouragment...

I met a wonderful entrepreneur who told me about Hootsuite. Please do check out her website and why not give someone a days course as a present? I think she might like Enchantment.

A friend is reading and greatly enjoying Desiring God and here Piper explains Christian Hedonism

I like this both/and thought

What will a world without Jobs mean?

The key trait of successful teachers

I want to be better at listening

15 books you should know are coming soon ( H/TDash House)

How to have a creative life

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Productivity uplift

Seth Godin suggests an idea to lift productivity which I liked called 'Are you making something'. If ever there was a reason to buy an iPad 2 this might be it. Joking apart, I like the idea of a division between work and leisure by device.

The Church Mouse made me laugh out loud with this post about the Bishop of Burnley. Mitres are very silly and you won't be surprised to learn there is no chance of ever seeing me in one (despite my friend who recently read the ad in the Church Times asking for suggestions about the appointment of the Bishop of Winchester and thought he might write for a giggle and suggest my name).  Can you imagine:) Not

Our wonderful women are off for a weekend away and are exploring the truth that we are adopted as the Father's children. As it happens, todays Romans sermon was on adoption so I sent it around to the team.

I had lunch with a pal who is going to work with Gary, author of the excellent Redhill thoughts whose writing is a constant encouragement to me. This is a very exciting prospect. We spent some time pondering 1 Tim 3 v 9 over a cuppa and I recommended he read Why Revival Tarries so he hits new turf with fire in his belly!

Finally, as we watch things unfold in Libya this quote by a Libyan soldier that Marcus Buckingham tweeted moved me:

"Those that I fight I do not hate. Those that I guard I do not love"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do you treasure the Bible and does it make you dance?

(H/T Leading smart)

How to get a coach

I spent an hour reading Michael Hyatt's Life plan which has some helpful things to say. It has got me thinking about coaching. (By the way I know it is a strategy to promote Thomas Nelson but it is a good and inspired one)

One of the books on the resources list that caught my eye was Becoming a coaching leader.

I don't have a coach (apart from Jesus...) but having the blog has opened my life to so many great thinkers and leaders who coach and inspire me. If I have any vision at all for blogging it is the hope that some of the collected wisdom that lands here might coach you and keep you running the race.

I am currently being coached for free by Mark Driscoll which is pretty cool. The latest edition is Terry Virgo on Spirit-filled leading. You can be too.

Have you ever wondered how you know if you are Spirit-filled? You might like to read this called How do I know if I am Spirit baptized?

Tim Keller says he is always reading The Lord of the Rings. I decided to buy a copy for my kindle which seems to lend itself to reading something 'all the time'. Was miffed to find it cost £11.99 but there again it's worth it.

I am currently reading Movements that change the world which opens with a wonderful account of the life of St Patrick. He was quite a man and I wonder if he liked Guinness?

Once every couple of months I send out an encouragement email to all the leaders I know and I included 'The call to endure' in this edition. Quite a bit of wisdom packed into an hour on surviving fruitfully.

Three people independently this month have told me their marriages are being blessed listening to these talks.

I had a joyous breakfast after our early morning prayer meeting. We prayed through Psalm 145 and ended by singing 'The Lord is gracious and compassionate'.

He is indeed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where to?

"The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you're not going to stay where you are"

-John Pierpont Morgan

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

The Next Story

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Twitter. As it happens, it coincided with a weeks experiment that I am having using twitter. If you don't know about twitter, until a week ago I was with you but am now feeling a little better informed. If you want a primer Michael Hyatt offers a beginners guide to twitter.

My conclusion is that like all things on the internet it has the capacity for great good and used selectively can be an enormous source of quality information. Brent Oberman (co-founder of speaking on the Today program commented that, "It really matters who you follow".   I couldn't agree more. My strategy has been to follow a few friends, some journalists, some celebs and notable church leaders. My conclusion is that most people don't have anything very interesting to say but a select few do. However, much as we may not like it technology and social media have changed everything and now we must all try to work out the implications on faith, work, family, relationships, community and the proclamation of the gospel 'afresh' to each generation.

(H/T Lesley)

The benefits of twitter.

1. A quick and easy source of news and comment (Today, BBC, Sky, Guardian)

2. A direct way to interesting posts on the net by bloggers, culture makers and commentators

3. A source of good quotes (Keller daily, Piper, C S Lewis, John C Maxwell, Tozer, Nicky Gumbel, Rick Warren, the Resurgence)

4. Does what Facebook does on 'News feed' but you get to choose who and what you get news from rather than 'the regulars' who annoyingly dominate.

I think Tim Challies new book called 'The next story: life and faith after the digital explosion' will be a helpful primer for many of us trying to work out the good from the bad on social media and its impact on culture and the church. Too often recently, I have observed people interacting with the people they are not with (me included on occasion sadly) whilst not engaging with those they are actually with. Over the last few months, I have become concerned about this and Lent has been a time to reflect and observe this in myself and others. We are becoming a nation that is being increasingly distracted and I am not sure it is a good thing. This promotional film  for 'The next story' tells us what many of us already know and it should awaken us to some reevaluation I hope. Oberman is right- it really does matter who you follow and I want it to be Jesus that occupies my time and thoughts and not Charlie Sheen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some new week bits and bobs

1. A friend is starting the adventure of the Helper

2. I downloaded Tim Hughes new album yesterday called Love shine through

3. A pal is spending Lent listening to the NT all the way through with You've got the time done by Riding lights in various regional accents.

4. A friend came up to me and said she is captivated by The greatest letter ever written-7 in and 243 to go......

5. Chatted with an IT sort who put me on to Uncrate: The buyers guide for men as a source of geeky gadgets

6.  Todays sermon How to kill sin Part 2 dealt with addiction and recommended a book called A banquet in the grave

7. I sat next to one of my childhood heroes in a Thai restaurant at the weekend. Watch this from 1981 and relive one of the nations great sporting days....

8. I wonder if Bob Willis has a 'Life plan'? If you don't have 'a Life plan' you may like to download this for free and maybe you'll end up bowling out the Australians to win the ashes for England. Hyatt is what good, generous and thoughtful blogging is all about.......

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Blog-sweep

Rather the week of Rob Bell- a mountain of words spilled on his new book Love wins.

My pick for a flavour of the views- 1. David Fitch 2. Mouw 3. Bashir's fascinating reflections on the now famous interview. As it turns out his pastor is a man called Tim Keller who I may occasionally mention 4. Relitavizing the relitavizers 5. Eugene Peterson 6. The McClaren Moment

A few readers are concerned I am banging on about Romans and also one simply can't abide Piper. My prescription for all you non-Piper folks (there are many of you) is this man and also this excellent book that stunningly suggests that God may be at work in other places apart from the reformed church in the US. What a remarkable thought......

3 Kinds of Days (H/T Dash house)

It was in truth really the week of Japan and do watch this amazing footage that displays how quickly things were swept away. Keep giving and praying.

A world obsessed with Facebook

A artist friend sent me an email that just said 'This is cool"

Some advice on having two lists.

Tim Keller on beauty and duty

And listened to this talk by John Eldridge in my car and am left wondering who the villains are in my life?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The divided man

Some months ago now I listened to a friend's sermon called Romans: an introduction and it had a deeply profound impact on me.

"This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes. Therefore I want to carry out my service and, with this preface, provide an introduction to the letter, insofar as God gives me the ability, so that every one can gain the fullest possible understanding of it. Up to now it has been darkened by glosses [explanatory notes and comments which accompany a text] and by many a useless comment, but it is in itself a bright light, almost bright enough to illumine the entire Scripture."

[Martin Luther]

If you haven't listened to it do and it may propel you into reading this letter as it did me. Romans is the letter in the bible that revealed the gospel to me while fly-fishing in Chile and now here I am leading a church. These past few months, I have listened to over 100 sermons in the early mornings and am now well into chapter eight. I have so often been in awe at Piper's ability to teach scripture and reveal grace. He is very often breathtaking in his handling of the word and is clearly a man of stunning intellect. I should imagine he may be a bit tricky to live with though :) Interestingly, as we now come to matters of the Spirit I am just starting to sense he may not be quite as strong but it may be too early to tell.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time you will have encountered Romans- if only picking it up for a bit and thinking 'what on earth is all that about?'. You see, it is a book that needs to be worked at systematically with thought and time being allocated to it and patience needed to wrestle things out. The Facebook generation want a quick click and an easy nugget neither of which works with Romans. Time, silence, solitude, a pen and notebook, prayer, discussion with others, struggle for meaning and if you read it enough shock- these are the things of this letter and most I don't think have the stomach for this sort of study.

The truth is Romans won't agree with you it will change you.

My first main encounter with Romans was a famous and brilliant five-week study my dear Vicar did in about 1995. I enjoyed it apart from one crucial thing and that one thing left me confused and in slavery for many years. The one thing was his take on Romans 7 and the question of how we struggle with sin. If you are saved and have received the Spirit you will know about this struggle. It started the moment you were born again. You screw up, you fail, you do things you don't want to, you think terrible things and all the while, at the same time, you love Jesus.

If you don't properly understand Romans 6 and 7 the struggle with sin can lead you into complete despair and utter joyless defeat. I think this is why so few actually speak of Jesus to others. You can so easily end up feeling the bible is a manual to a car that no matter how hard you try to drive it doesn't work as it's supposed to.  Put in simple 21st century lingo, how can the same person who goes to church on a Sunday and sing worship songs declaring their love for Jesus also be the person with capacities to watch porn on the internet or get smashed in the pub with their mates on a Friday night or put one over on a colleague at work for a promotion? Who on earth is this divided man or woman I have had to live with? You may, like me, have heard the very words of Satan accusing you saying "Give up- you're a duplicitous sinner, give up, give up, give up.". He seems in my experience to attack, confuse and deceive those who love Jesus the most.

I didn't know this then but there are two takes on Romans 7 (my vicar didn't have much truck with the other option sadly) and where you land on this is life-changing. The question theologians have batted around is whether or not this is the old Paul (which I was told categorically it was) or the new Paul who still struggles with his sin (no it can't be, I was told or certainly that is what I heard, because he is "victorious"). QED - I am victorious, Paul is victorious but David you are not and must try an awful lot harder until you can be like us and live in victory. I remember hearing Keller say years ago that his watchword for a non-gospel is the word 'try'. Everything in my experience told me this could not be the case and that this can't be the gospel. Everything.

Imagine my joy all these years later to find that John Piper, one of the greatest living bible expositors, agrees with the very thoughts I had all those years ago in that Church hall. I was right after all. I knew it. Wow. How helpful would it have been to have had this explained to me fifteen years ago? I guess that's just not how Jesus had it tumbled for me. Maybe you have following Jesus all sorted out (booey for you) but if like many you don't and you struggle with defeat, sin, battles over your mind, anxiety, sleeplessness and despair these few sermons I pray will set you free. Sermon 2 reveals Piper's stance on Paul.

It will take you some time to get this- hence it took Piper 6 sermons. Listen to them all and if you still don't get it listen to them again!

Who is this divided man Part 1

Who is this divided man Part 2

Who is this divided man Part 3

Who is this divided man Part 4

Who is this divided man Part 5

Who is this divided man Part 6

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The morning I heard the voice of God

I was travelling somewhere recently and this appeared on Piper's twitter so I listened to it for 10 minutes. I have been musing it ever since. I wonder what you will make of it?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What do you say to questions about hell?

As an evangelist, I am often talking to people about Jesus. Yesterday, I sat with a man who was confused about the purpose of 'the mass' (he is not yet a Christian but his brother is a Catholic priest and academic and is always on about the mass). As we talked, I asked him a simple question that rather took him aback.

"Do you love Jesus?"

That is the question.

It drives everything else. It is my one crucial pastoral question.

He accepted that this was the crucial restorative question.

Does he love Jesus?

The answer for him and for you is 'Yes' or 'No'

We then discussed Peter in John 21.

I then told him we know his love through the cross and the sacrifice of himself for OUR sins taken upon himself. We are justified by faith in that once for all event.

This love is received by the Spirit who we receive by grace.

It was such a good time over a cup of tea.

Do you love Jesus is the question.

This has never been a more important question than over the whole question of hell that is abuzz across the internet due to Rob Bell's book (if you missed the hooha here is the chronology).

I like to be before the curve and was pleased to remember I dealt with this question in 'Why are there so few evangelist's?' only recently but it is worth a revisit.

Apologetics 101 must equip the believer to answer the question

"How can a loving God send people to hell?"

How would you get on with that if you were asked it today?

I cannot commend my friend's book And the lamb wins highly enough on this question. His chapter 'Heaven or Hell' is the most thorough and accessible theologically robust working of this I know.

'But we must trust that he who is absolute love and absolute justice, revealed in the nightmare of Golgotha, is doing what is most loving and most right. Ultimately, I must not put God before my human bar of judgement, questioning his actions-I must make sure I am right before his bar of judgement.'

[Page 267, And the lamb wins]

To be honest, what a celebrity Christian pastor and all his trendy followers thinks about hell is by and by. What matters is what Jesus thinks and what the Scriptures say. I would be grateful if someone the other side of the water in the States would review 'And the lamb wins' for surely Simon wrote it for such a time as this. His chapter called 'Signs of the End Times' is also worth reading too in light of recent events. If you know Challies, De Young, McKnight, Mohler, Steve McCoy, Mark Galli, Buzzard or Trevin Wax then why not forward this post and I hope one or more might grace Simon with a review.

I personally found this post  'To Hell with Hell' a very helpful read and you may like to take some time to read it.

So back to my question

"Do you love Jesus?"

It' all about Jesus. To love Jesus is to tell of the cross and tell of salvation and tell of his amazing grace and goodness and yes, amid all that when the question comes, to tell of the peril of Hell.  If Hell be true then to not tell of its existence and of the need for repentance and belief in Jesus would surely show the most terrible terrible  lack of love.

So why not today tell someone about Jesus.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Do something now

I heard a quote from SAS Andy McNab today who when asked how he copes with life threatening challenges simply said "There is no plan or strategy you just have to get on with it"

Looking at the pictures on your TV we can all feel impotent and one thing you can do is give away some money to help. I know it doesn't seem much but there is a touch of "Just get on with it" about it.

I usually give to Tear Fund but my friends their tell me that they don't have a work in Japan. Therefore, I have chosen to give here but you could choose here or here or surf about and find a place to park some cash to do what you can to combat untold suffering, pain and loss.

And then pray and pray some more.


This moved me. If you don't understand why you need to study Romans.

(H/T Take the Vitamin Z)

How we say things

(H/T History in the making)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

True vs self-righteousness

I have been pondering this since I heard it in my car early yesterday morning.

"I have said many times in years gone by that the only sin we can defeat is a forgiven sin. Let me say it more carefully this morning: the only sin that you can defeat in daily life and replace with righteousness is a sin forgiven for Christ's sake. I say it carefully because I know there are natural ways to overcome bad habits that aren't based on Christ at all. But when those changes occur in life without forgiveness from Christ, the result is not God's righteousness, but self-righteousness – which in God's eyes is no righteousness. So I say it again and carefully: the only sin that you can defeat in daily life and replace with righteousness is a sin forgiven for Christ's sake."

(Piper on Romans 8:1-4)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Blog-sweep

1. It's hard to say how much I am enjoying The Pastor and no surprise it is not available on the Kindle...

2. If you want to understand the Tsumani Piper's interview I found very helpful so do make time to listen to this extraordinary Q & A on NPR.

3. After all the fuss about Rob Bell's book Tim Challies has a review having actually read it.

4. When I was skiing I was ironically blessed by a new song Like an avalanche off the new album Aftermath.

5. I enjoyed Jenny's thought on Lental paralysis

6. Not many of you should presume to be bloggers (H/T Dash house)

7. I have passed this talk on the cost of discipleship forward to many and it seems to have been a blessing.

8. Michael Hyatt has put me off (only a little bit) with his three questions you should ask.

9. Hard books.

10. Malcolm Gladwell caused a stir with his thoughts on twitter but I missed reading him and only read commentaries which is usually a mistake.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to spend a day on 'The Art of Self-leadership'

We went away as a church leadership team.

What should you do if you have half a day or day with a few people and you want them to reflect on their leadership, their calling and the state of their souls? Maybe you have a church staff, a small group, a small gathering of Christians vocationally or maybe you want to do this personally as a retreat.

Feel free to use this model and I say that because it blessed me so much and it may bless you too.
If you haven't read Courageous leadership I recommend it. It is more packed with wisdom than one person can cope with in one lifetime (and that is from someone who loves Eugene Peterson A LOT)

1. Arrive and have coffee together

2. Sing and praise God together

3. Reflect on 1 Samuel 30 and about what it means to strengthen yourself in the Lord

4. Give everyone a copy of 'The art of self-leadership' from Courageous Leadership [p. 185-197]

1. Is my calling sure?
2. Is my vision clear?
3. Is my passion hot?
4. Am I developing my gifts?
5. Is my character submitted to Christ?
6. Is my pride subdued?
7. Am I overcoming fear?
8. Are interior issues undermining my leadership?
9. Is my pace sustainable?
10. Is my love for God and for people increasing?

5. Allow 45 mins of solitary reading, journalling and reflection on these questions and 1 Sam 30 then gather and allow each person a time to feed back on one or two things.

6. Have lunch together of food that nearly everyone has brought and shared (Sheena thanks for buying my cheese!)

7. After lunch sing again

8. Each person consider and share briefly their prayer needs (personal, ministry or other)

9. Pray in twos and threes.

10. Drive home


(H/T Kester)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sue him for it

I have borrowed my pal's Lloyd-Jones commentaries and he needed a quote from the sermons on Chapter 5 so he made me type this out for him.

As I've gone to the bother here it is:

"So I end by quoting the words of Thomas Goodwin

'Sue him for it! Sue Him for it! Ask him for it! Don't give up!' ....

Ask him for it. Do not be content with less. He has promised to manifest Himself to those who keep his commandments, to those who really seek him in this way. You will find that saints throughout the centuries have been able to testify to this 'immediate' knowledge,...

Has the love of God been shed abroad in your heart? Do you rejoice in Christ 'with a joy unspeakable and full of glory?' This, it seems to me, was given to the first Christians universally to start off Christianity and the Church, and to show us what is possible. It happened to the people on the Day of Pentecost, it happened to countless others throughout the centuries, it has happened to those who sought it truly. Why should you not know it, so that you may bask in the sunshine of His love, more sure of His love than of anything in the entire universe? Sue Him for it! 'Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us'"

[MLY Romans 5 v 5 Page 88]

Don't quit

My friend is making some changes. He is showing amazing costly courage in giving something up- costly to his friendships, his reputation, his habits and certainly in the short term to his body. I have the very greatest respect for him and he knows it's hard but he also knows it will be worth it.

Last night I hope I encouraged him with the words 'Don't quit'.

He so wants a different story from the one he has had for the last ten years and I believe and pray he has just begun to write it.

Many years ago a friend gave me a book called Finishing strong. He bought ten copies and gave them to as many men as he could and I was one of them. I will always be indebted to him. At the time, my life and my sin was quite simply all over the place. The story at the start of the book tells of three men- two of whom lost everything- one didn't.  I decided I would like to be the one. The book shook me and eventually set me on a new path.

As it turns out, I am now my friends Vicar. Funny how things turn out.

As Lent starts commit to do one thing.

Don't quit on Jesus.

Keep on keeping on.

This talk called 'The cost of discipleship' is stunning.

"You’re gonna die. I’m gonna die. We’re gonna die. I’m not looking to die, but if it comes, I want it to count. I want your life to count. I want your death to count. I want your legacy to matter. And what I love about Jesus’ words is that they are brutally honest. It seems unconscionable or perhaps just miraculous that this man, with this message, would gather billions of people. And that’s what he’s done."

You would do well to make time to listen to it.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The books that went skiing with me

1. The one thing you need to know

This is a book about leading and managing things and people. I discovered Buckingham when he spoke at the Willow Creek Summit and liked him both because it was nice to hear someone English and also he shared oodles of helpful material. He is a truly superb communicator and this book could be your one stop stop about management and leadership and what it means to be 'successful' in what you do. Some of this is just common sense but as often said the trouble with common sense is it isn't very common. Here is my question. Do you manage or lead anybody? Are their people in your workplace, a group in your church, your children or anyone else who would benefit from you being skilled at leading and organising them better for their fruitfulness in life. If so, do them a favour and read this book. My kindle copy is now heavily underlined (which is a fun function I discovered)

2. The greatest secret in the world

I was intrigued by Mandino when the author of a book I found helpful said he has read this over a 100 times and it was the most life-changing book he had ever read. I am not entirely sure about that but as it turns out it is a very profound little read and I read it in one sitting. As you will discover, you are not actually meant to do that but believe you me there is a nugget or two that could really make a difference to the way you do life. It is actually the seven habits it's just that Mandino had the idea first. The book contains twelve 'habits' that you are encouraged to get into your thinking  over a period of 45 days. He promises you will end up earning more money at the end of reading it but as I have no desire for more money this was rather wasted on me as I have downsized for an unchanging C of E stipend. The idea was born as a book to help salesman become more effective but has since been extended as a life manual. Now, of course we already have a life manual don't we (well done class) but this book is not without some considerable merits. Reading this might change your life and Mandino certainly wrote it for you hoping so.

3. Unbroken

Tim Challies rated this as one of his '2010 must-reads'. This is a fascinating story and should go in your bag as your next page-turning holiday read. It tells the tale of Louie Zamperini who was a runner, war veteran and many other things and I am, as yet, only half way through. What has struck me so far is the amazing resilience of this incredible man. The account of his war years and the things he was subjected to confound belief and made me think that our current age is so soft, lacking courage and woolly. We need to read books like this because they remind us of brave men, of friendship, of faith and of the triumph of good over evil.  It's hard to put down.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The hills are alive

Well, have returned from the slopes in one piece.

Here is a very quick summary of some bits and bobs:

1. I visited the International museum of the Reformation and had a moment.

2. Learnt to play Monopoly deal which is stunningly good fun.

3. Watched the Little House on the Prairie with my Goddaughter and her little sister and was left wondering if the perm is ever likely to make a comeback? Great wholesome storytelling.

4. I read Poke the box among other things and you should too. Do read this and then do what it says. I got it for free (finger and pulse and all that) and you can read more about it here.

5. Listened to the Wallin Jennys while playing Monopoly. Lovin it.

6. Finally, I have got to Chapter Eight. Praise be......If you missed 1-7 you can catch up here.

7. Soul Survivor 10 is out. Happy memories.

8. Krish has some wise advice about Rob Bell. This discussion is already off about his new book.

9. I arrived back to deliveries of the new Keller and the new Peterson.  A which to read first dilemma.....

10. My Swiss friends home group are reading this and are being much blessed. It has 40 chapters and so it's going to be my Lent reflection.

Glad to be back dear friends......

Saturday blog-sweep

 Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful