Friday, September 30, 2011

School reunion

Last night was my school reunion. Now that really is an odd experience. I thought to give you a flavour of the night I would share a selection of the things people said to me. These quotes are verbatim for real:)

"I am in IT services and live in Chobbam. Dreadfully dull I know"

"I've got seven kids and a grandchild"

"Actually, I'm gay, an accountant and my partner and I like playing golf"

"I am still a stockbroker but hope to get out by the time I'm 50"

"I was a complete prat at school-it's rather nice to have the chance to apologise"

"All I remember about you from school is you were fun so it's odd that you ended up a Vicar"

"Oh, you're a Vicar. I became a Christian through the gay underground church in Watford"

"You must remember him. Weirdest thing- he died of a brain aneurysm aged 29. Just dropped dead just like that. A complete gonna"

"I have made tons of money so I am thinking of moving to Devon and buying a farm"

"I can tell you but don't for God's sake tell anyone else. I've started going to church in Teddington"

"I do go to church but for me it's a private thing"

"My wife once pointed at you in a school photo, asked who you were and told me she thought were really quite good-looking"

"Are you one of those happy clappy's"

"Wow, it must be so cool to have a calling"

"The wife's a Catholic. The services are irresponsibly dull but we have to go to get the kids into the school"

"Did we do French together?"

"I'm in hedge funds. What about you?"

"Funny how we all so easily lost touch"

"I have a grass treatment franchise. I just wish it was organic"

"I remember jumping out of an aeroplane in a parachute with you. What were we? Fifteen"

"You know you are getting old when you are teaching your friend's kids at A level"

"Are we absolutely sure that the fat bald bloke was at school with us?"

"So tell me. What happened?"

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Thursday, September 29, 2011


Tonight is our Alpha supper and it has got me thinking about 'apologetics'.

I used that word chatting to a friend and she said that she had no idea what it actually meant. So here is a definition: it's ...'the branch of theology concerned with the defence and rational justification of Christianity' .

These days there are so many resources available to Christian's to enable them to defend and justify faith. A new resource I spotted is Douglas Groothius's Christian Apologetics that you might like to get hold of.

Here are some more for any budding apologists. 

1. These talks

2. John Lennox Gunning for God

3. McGraths The Dawkins Delusion

4. The New Dictionary of Apologetics

Arguably the world's leading apologist, William Lane Craig, is coming to this fine city as part of 'The reasonable faith tour' and I have invited a couple of pals to the debate at the Methodist Central Hall on 'Does God Exist?' on October 17th.

Why not ask a sceptical friend or two and come too.

(H/T A faith to live by)


"...I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves'

David Platt, Radical

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Satellite link

Thanks for praying.

Annoyingly, the satellite link up to the other multi-sites (Willow, Saddleback, HTB and South Korea) weren't working for my 'conference'. Bill, Rick, Nicky and Paul will have to hear me another time. Just in case anyone was under the impression this was my launch onto the worldwide 'conference-circuit' it wasn't- thank the Lord. I'll leave that to others.

In fact, the location of my global evangelism summit was actually Sunbury-on-Thames. I was asked to bring a word of encouragement to a wonderful bunch of saints (all non C of E) doing door to door evangelism around the cities of our land. It was a joy. They were a scripture saturated, prayerful, faithful and jolly bunch. Evangelists are generally a lively lot.

So sadly I'm afraid, news that I am to be the next D L Moody is perhaps just a tad premature:)

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Mission matters

I am speaking today to a gathering of evangelists at a conference. Do pray for me.

Sometimes the night before I speak I don't sleep and so last night at some unearthly hour I listened to a talk from the recent Desiring God conference on Missions. David Platt's preach called 'The Glory of God and the Lostness of Man and the Glory of Christ' truly shook me to my bones and left me stunned and humbled.

He is the author of Radical.

You can download the rest of the talks and particularly check out Michael Ramsden, one of the keenest apologetic minds around who runs RZIM.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Men in church (or the lack of them)

Without question the best talks I have ever heard given to men on loving their wives and being on mission are two talks I heard preached in May called 'Faithful @ Home' and 'Faithful in Mission'.

The church can be a rather slow organism at times, but it is slowly awakening to the reality that it is men who so desperately need to be reached with the gospel in these days. If the C of E is to have a future then we  must surely come up with a plan as local churches on how we are going to reach the men and the fathers of this land with Christ. Happily New Wine and others are on to this.

In this film, Carl Beech who runs CVM has a stunning statistic that '..when you share Jesus with a man, in 93% of cases, he will then go on to bring his whole family to faith in Christ'.

You might like to encourage your church to pile a few men in a minibus or a few cars to go to one of these days in November.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For the pod

A couple of talks recommended to me:

Nicky Gumbel in a humble, honest and inspiring talk called 'A Time to Lead: Part 1 and Part 2'

Also recommended is Ortberg's talk called 'Vision' and my friend said this: "It's just a great reminder of why we love the church and why we all do what we do even when it's difficult."

Two questions

I have been challenged by this quote from Dallas Willard:

"Every church should be able to answer two questions: (1) What is our plan for making disciples (2) Is it working?"

You should take some time to this post by J R Briggs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Ideal Conference

My pal wrote emailed me wondering which of these seminar options he should choose for his Diocesan conference. I haven't made this up I promise.....

1.  Advocacy at a time of Climate Crisis: What is our Christian calling?
2.  Is there a Legitimate Green Reading of the Bible?
3.  Earth Education for the Next Generation Greening: Greening our Sunday Schools
4.  Learning from Christian Aboriginal Traditions
5.  Local Food
6.  Practical parish Actions
7.  Crafting the Prayers of the People in the Time of Climate Crisis
8.  Theology & Ecology - Living Roots: Discovering and Recovering a Theology of Creation Care
9.  Urban & Community Gardening
10.  I don't plan to attend a workshop

As I reflected on my dear friend's behalf, I started to wonder about an ideal conference, what seminars might be offered and who might run them. It was quite fun simply writing a few off the top of my head and do feel free to add you own. 

1.  The New Birth ( J. Edwards)

2. Communicating the gospel to young people and their on-going discipleship (Paul and Timothy)

3. Preaching to unbelievers (G. Whitfield)

4. Organising the believers once you have seen them converted (J.Wesley)

5. Sharing your faith with others (B. Graham)

6. Prayer for Revival and experiencing it (The Moravians)

7. The Spiritual Gifts (J. Wimber)

8. Women in Ministry (J. Pullinger)

9. Pastoral letters (J. Newton/ S. Rutherford)

10. Community and training ordinands (D. Bonnhoeffer)

11. Preparing for martyrdom (J. Elliot)

12. Reaching men with the gospel (M. Driscoll)

13. The resurrection and eternity (T. Wright)

14. What is the Gospel? (T. Keller/ M Lloyd Jones)

15. Revival in an Anglican context (N. Gumbel)

16. Leading worship and writing songs for the church (C. Wesley)

17. Praying for the sick (H. Baker)

18. Raising leaders (B. Hybels)

19. What should an Anglican Bishop actually do and who should be doing it? (J. Stott)

20. Loving the poor ( M. Teresa)

21. Writing theology that lasts (J. Calvin/ T. Cranmer)

22. Coping with a season of theological controversy (Athanasias)

23. Prayer (Paul Yongi Cho)

24.  Facilitating and leading the church (The Holy Spirit)

25. The End Times (Daniel/ John)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jesus Culture

A friend gave me a copy of Kim Walkers album Here is my song a few years ago and I listened to it over and over and over again during a particular season of my life. She has the most incredibly amazing voice. Recently, I have been encouraged by the first song on Jesus Culture's first album called Your love never fails based on Romans 8.

I was chatting with a pal and he told me that the Jesus Culture movement was born out of a youth group worship band with a passion for worshipping Jesus and praying for revival (hard to argue with either of those as passions?) All the worship wallers from my old church are descending on London for a 'putting the band back together' reunion and I have talked to quite a few pals who are all planning on attending this night of worship and ministry. I will also be there with a crowd from here.  From all I hear, it should be quite an experience :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why don't we hear more about heaven?

I have been away in Switzerland and while I was there I attended my friend's home group and her church.

She has had a question down the years that has bugged and frustrated her since she started following Jesus and this is it: Why don't we hear more about heaven in church? Why don't pastors preach on it? Why aren't we more excited about it?

To rectify this her group are studying Randy Alcorn's excellent material on heaven and I can't recommend it highly enough. I went through 50 days of heaven (faster than Randy recommends I know) while I was away as part of my devotions and was truly encouraged, fascinated, excited, amazed and at times surprised by it. Hear me on this- every Christian should read this book

Here is how they planned their studies

1. Buy everyone in the group a copy of 50 Days of Heaven and commit to reading it daily

2. Buy the study discussion guide 

3. Get a copy of the DVD

4. Plan the eight week study programme

5. Then buy the book called Heaven and keep it for reference.

6. Ask your pastor to think about preaching a series on Heaven and point them to these Outlines

So if you are struggling for an idea for your community/home group then this is great. Here is an introduction to it all from Randy Alcorn.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Your life is not about success

"In Ethics he wrote:

In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is best the object of pity. The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done.......With the frankness and off-handness which no other earthly power could permit itself, history appeals in its own cause to the dictum that the end justifies the means.....The figure of Christ invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard"

Bonnhoeffer, Eric Metaxa, Page 363

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bonnhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

I always have a pile of new unread books. Perhaps you think this irresponsible and that I should only buy a book when I am definitely going to read it but that's not the system I have going. Sorry about that. So when I embarked on choosing my holiday reading for a break in the Alps I decided that a central European holiday warranted a central European biography. 

If you are like me, the discovery of the Christian world's 'who's who' is a journey that unfolds gradually after you are born again. The names preachers quote start to catch your ear, "Did he quote C S Lewis again?" or lives that seem out of the ordinary like Jackie Pullinger or a fascination peaks over a nutty Victorian toff who you learn gave up playing Cricket for England to go to China. So down the years you build up a list of the happy few who become rather like friends as you discover their stories, read their writings and as you try to let the way they led their lives and their insights on following Jesus slowly permeate the way you think about and live yours. On all our lists of Christian lives there will always be a few that you have heard mentioned over and over again but for some reason you have never quite got around to reading their books or a biography about them. For me, Bonnhoeffer was one such life. 

I knew five things about Bonnhoeffer before I read Metaxa's stunning biography. I knew he was German, that he wrote 'Life together' and 'The Cost of Discipleship', that he came up with the phrase 'cheap grace', that he prayed the Psalms and that he was executed by the Nazi's. 
There is too much in this book to share in a review but here are some bullets I wrote in my moleskine under the title 'Insights and lessons from Bonnhoeffer':

1. Theology and study without a relationship with Jesus can be just dry bones and dead religious intellectualism.

2.  'Some have gone so far as to call it a conversion' [p. 123]. I am one of them

3. Evil creeps- so catch it early. Bonnhoeffer saw it long before many other good and godly men (1933).

4. 'Life together' at FinkenWalde is a picture of radical community. Read this book. I say it again to myself 'Read this book!' Question to self: How does one build such a radical discipleship community today?

5. Bonnhoeffer demonstrates that utter obedience to Scripture will lead you inevitably to the crucified life. My thought: are so few of us crucified because so few are obedient to Scripture?

6. Friendship with a handful really matters (Bethge and George Bell)

7. There is such a thing as a courageous Church of England Bishop

8. Pray the Psalms

9. Write more letters of encouragement

10. Remember the tears that came as you read the last chapter in that alpine restaurant. Remember them.

11. Bonnhoeffer read books, asked for books, learnt from books, thought about books and read all genres of books right up to the very very end. If ever there was a contemporary man who said 'Send me my scrolls' this was he. Lesson for me: never ever ever ever stop reading. 

12. Love and pray for the Jewish people and remember that this evil happens, is happening and will happen again. The Devil is alive and busy. Prayer : give me eyes to spot evil schemes early and fight them will my might. 

One of the reviews of this book said, "This book could change your life". My copy is now dog-eared, scribbled over, broken-spined, underlined and if not literally certainly emotionally tear stained. I think the reviewer was right and for me at least I pray that it might be so. 

Truly, don't miss reading this.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


The best book on marriage?

I came across this quote from Perry Noble.

"I recommended this book on Sunday in nearly every service...but I will say it again, IT IS THE BEST BOOK I’VE EVER READ on the subject of marriage, I cannot recommend it enough!"

The book is called 'Sacred Marriage'. You and your spouse might like to read it as it sounds like it will be a blessing. One for the date night perhaps?