Monday, April 30, 2012

Grace drunk straight

The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case. (Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three, pg. 114-115)

(via Tullian Tchividijian)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Blog-sweep

1. Top five regrets of the dying

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

2. How Grace Motivates

This means when you want to see better performance from your staff, don’t threaten demotions or probation; instead, provide security, offer freedom for self-direction, and help them see the larger significance of their work. If you want your children to be more obedient (not just compliant), don’t give them threats, but talk about Jesus’ obedience on their behalf and dazzle them with grace
3. Piper on Learning from John Stott's Godly Ambition 

Ambitions for God, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world?
Christians should be eager to develop their gifts, widen their opportunities, extend their influence and be given promotion in their work — not now to boost their own ego or build their own empire, but rather through everything they do to bring glory to God. 
4. Eugene Peterson on Good Reading and Writing

Good writers are people who pay attention to language, are interested in telling the truth, and are in some ways finding themselves inoculated against the fads of what will sell, what will please. Good literature almost always goes against the grain of the culture: interpreting it, subtly criticizing it, maybe not polemically. Pastors are right in the center of deceit and corruption and bad use of language. We have a commitment to use words accurately and honestly.

5. Chuck Colson on the Crack-up of Postmodernism

Ironically just as there seem to be encouraging signs in the culture, there are also signs that the church is dumbing down, moving from a Word-driven message to an image- and emotion-driven message......
It would be the supreme irony—and a terrible tragedy—if we found ourselves slipping into postmodernity just when the broader culture has figured out it's a dead end

Friday, April 27, 2012

Facing the Canon

Grace is the most perplexing, powerful force in the universe, and, I believe, the only hope for our twisted, violent planet.”
Philip Yancey

I had a wonderful night on Wednesday listening to J. John interview Philip Yancey. He is such an easy and interesting man to listen to. I think I have read almost all of his books and prescribe you reading 'What's so amazing about Grace?' at least once a year if only to read Babettes Feast story and the account of the prostitute. As an aside, I keep opening the Redeemer app just to read and remind myself of the gospel with the phrase 'Grace changes everything'. Try it and see.
It was J John who preached the gospel to me in Jesmond Parish Church over twenty years ago and Jesus rescued me. It was nice to see and chat with him and he gave me a pile of DVD's which blessed me. He was much encouraged to hear about the church plant in Barnes- remember even globally influential evangelist's do need a bit of encouragement every now and again :)
I really recommend the Facing the Canon series to give to a friend, for your home group, youth team (especially the interview with Mike Pilavachi), leadership team or just for personal reflection and insight. Interviews with Matt Redman, Jackie Pullinger, Andrew White and others. A good option for those emergency 'what shall we do/study/watch this week' that we all have sometimes.

I can't stop singing and praying 'Help me find my own flame'. Pray it and sing it with and for me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Telling stories

1. Going to listen to Philip Yancey Facing the Canon this evening. Reading his Soul Survivor introduced me to so many good books and people. I read it in Barcelona as I remember.

2. It's so encouraging when one of our young people who is doing an internship in Chorleywood is able to speak so well. My first talk was rubbish and I have no idea what I was up to at 19- certainly not doing this.

3. I'm baptising someone who is sharing her New Birth story on Sunday. She's going to get wet! You should work your way through some of these New birth portraits if you wonder what on earth being 'born-again' means.

4. A friend at church has been waxing lyrical about the last chapter of 'The Pleasures of God' and has told me 'It's a must read'

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One for the pod: The Anointing of God

Fresh wind, Fresh Fire has been important to me and is a book that I have revisited often. Only this weekend, it was on my mind again as I witnessed 45k pentecostals praying so fervently for this land in the Excel. I was surrounded by mum's holding babies praying and weeping, young men calling on the name of the Lord and thousands upon thousands praying in tongues with passion and faith rarely seen in your average C of E prayer meeting.

I included this quote from FWFF by C H Spurgeon in my Sunday sermon:

'The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by it's prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer'

Fresh wind fresh fire, Page 28

This sermon by Jim Cymbala 'The Anointing of God' is a great challenge to all our 'techniques' that we are so easily utilising in the hope that people will come to know Christ. We must be a people who pray and then pray some more.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Golden Fish

1. I went to an all-night prayer meeting that a Vicar pal invited me to and 45k turned up. Yes I did type that number right. Humbling and truly amazing.

2. I am happy to let you know there is now a Redeemer App and when you open it it says 'Grace changes everything'. Love that. Loads of sermons and stuff to read and explore. You can also now get 1000 Keller sermons on Logos here- for a tidy sum (h/t Dash House).

3. A friend is reading Bonnhoeffer by Eric Metaxas that I recommended to him and he tells me he can't put it down (he would say of himself 'I'm not much of a reader' but this book is proving him wrong- take it on your summer holiday).

4. You should watch Eric Metaxas conversion story involving a dream about a fish.

5. I read this definition of evangelism this morning: 'Evangelism is loving Jesus in public'

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday blog-sweep

1. The last interview of C S Lewis

'At this point I was surprised by the suddenness of
Professor Lewis’ reply. “It is not enough to want to get
rid of one’s sins,” he said. “We also need to believe in
the One who saves us from our sins. Not only do we
need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to
believe in a Savior who takes away sin. Matthew
Arnold once wrote, ‘Nor does the being hungry prove
that we have bread.’ Because we know we are sinners,
it does not follow that we are saved.'
(h/t S McKnight)

2. Blessed are the uncool

 'Our elitism shows up when we forbid others from contributing art and music because we deem it unworthy of glorifying God, or when we scoot our family an extra foot or two down the pew when the guy with Aspergers sits down. Having helped start a church, I remember hoping that our hip guests wouldn’t be turned off by our less-than-hip guests.  For a second I forgot that in church, of all places, those distinctions should disappear.'

3. Keller and Evolution

'The six-part series by Dr. Keller considers three main clusters of questions lay people raise with their pastors when introduced to the teaching that biological evolution and biblical orthodoxy can be compatible. As a pastor and evangelist, Keller takes these concerns seriously and offers suggestions for addressing them without requiring believers to adopt a particular view or accept a definitive answer.'

'We believe technology should work for you — to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don't. A team within our Google[x] group started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment.'
(h/t Jesus Creed)

5. Hirsch on Movements

(H/T Steve Addison)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Inside out

Our Live Life team are starting the Inside out course tonight and are really excited about it. You may want to check it out (do watch Krish Kandiah explaining it) as a resource for your church or community group.

'The course is designed to enable groups to explore just how big God's mission is and discover what part we each have to play within it.  It is called Inside Out because we believe the key to changing our communities is found in allowing ourselves to be transformed.  As we allow God to change us on the inside, external change can't be far off.  We believe God is in the business of partnership and that Inside Out is a great way of making ourselves available to be used by our Father as individuals and congregations.

You will find teaching from a range of top speakers and practitioners such as Tom Wright, Elaine Storkey, Tim Keller, Mark Melluish, Chris Wright, Celia Apeagyei-Collins, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Al Gordon, J John, Pete Greig and Mark Greene, as well as a range of inspiring stories and case studies from around the country.'

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Being a missionary

1. I've been enjoying the Voice and am thinking of relaunching myself in Barnes as Rev Dav.i.d.

2. If you are a Christian in these days we are missionaries but most of us just haven't realised it or been trained up.

3. David Platt's talk called 'The fuel of death defying missions' on mission to the nations is deeply, deeply challenging. I am not sure most us C of E Vicars and the folks gathering in our churches have mission to the nations (ethne/peoples) enough on our radars but you will I assure you once you've listened to this.

4. I've been reading the Missionary Movement in Christian History.

5. I think I should get around to reading Let the nations be glad 

6. I spent the day writing, planning and praying and had to shelter under a tree in the rain storm (I like to walk and pray). A wonderful opportunity to be a missionary as another delightful person sheltered under it with me. I recommended the Reason for God. and invited them to church.

7. Please pray for Sarah Casson who is translating the Bible into Congolese languages in Bunia.

8. Pray for the staff and students of All nations and maybe even consider might you perhaps have a missionary call? It starts with something that goes a bit like 'Here am I send me...'. Not many of the Saints that now inspire us bought a two-up two-down in Chobham and saved for a pension in order to go cruising around the med in their old age (no offence meant if you do actually live in Chobham and like cruises). If you want to know what you might be in for as an alternative read C T Studd: Missionary and pioneer. He was nuts but brilliant.

9. When you have finished the first Andrew Walls book read this one.

10. Read Psalm 67

11. Possibly the most famous missionary sentence are the words of Jim Eliot who died in his endeavour:

'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.'

12. Check out the Joshua Project

13. Finally do watch this.

Monday, April 16, 2012

From Doctor to Pastor

I have a few pastors and writers who encourage me. Keller, MacDonald, Willard, Piper, Wimber, Edwards, Foster, Furtick, R T Kendall, Stott, Breen and obviously the good Doctor. Encouragement for Pastors can often be in rather short supply so you need a few- alive and dead- to help you on your way and to walk with you. It's part of my motivation for keeping the blog- to encourage and resource a soul or two. Most Pastors, it often seems to me, are so preoccupied with their own issues and challenges, churches, reputations, people and projects that they have very little overflow to spare for encouragement of other pastors. Incidentally, I have been reading 'Letters to a young pastor' by Calvin Miller which is packed with wisdom and encouragement that will surely be much needed for all that lies ahead. Not sure I any longer qualify as 'young' though :(

Yesterday, I started on a new series on Galatians. In my sermon, I quoted the conversion story of Lloyd-Jones as it was wonderfully recounted by his daughter. It so struck me I transposed it from the you tube story of his life. It seemed to me to sum up the whole letter in a paragraph.

Perhaps, it is worth asking yourself the same question that was asked of Lloyd-Jones and see how your answer compares to his. It may be a bit different or you may never have thought about it.

The Doctor was asked this:

"Why are you a Christian?"

This was his answer:

'There is no difficulty whatsoever in answering that question. I am a Christian solely and entirely because of the grace of God not because of anything that I have thought or said or done. It was he who by his Holy Spirit quickened me and awakened me to the realisation of certain profound and vital truths taught in the bible.... He brought me to know that I was dead in trespasses and sins. A slave to the world, the flesh and the devil. That in me dwelleth no good thing that I was under the wrath of God and heading for eternal punishment. He brought me to see that the real cause of all my troubles and ills and those of all men was an evil and fallen nature which hated God and loved sin. My trouble was that not only that I did things that were wrong but that I myself was wrong at the very centre of my being. This led to the realisation that I was helpless as well as hopeless- for can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots. All moral teaching and moral effort is useless- for God demands perfection. I could not atone for my past sins or please God in the present or hope to do so in the future. Then he revealed to me the Lord Jesus Christ as the son of God who had come into the world to seek and to save that which is lost. He taught me that Christ had died for my sins bearing my punishment in his death upon the cross and that he had rendered a perfect obedience to God's laws on my behalf. As a result of this he forgave me freely and in addition imputed the righteousness of his son to me that it would be as if I had never sinned at all. Moreover, he created in me a new nature, adopted me into his family as one of his Sons and showed me that I was a joint heir of Christ of a glorious inheritance in heaven'

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chase a lion

"So here is my question: Are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?

Maybe it's time to quit running and time to start chasing. Try something new. Take some risks. Start doing some things that are worth recounting in jaw-dropping detail....

Too many of us pray as if God's primary objective is to keep us from getting scared. But the goal of life is not the elimination of fear. The goal is to muster the moral courage to chase lions. "

In a pit with a lion on a snowy day, Mark Batterson, Page 56


You might want to look up 2 Samuel 23:20-21- the extraordinary verses on which this book is based and then buy a copy and read it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


1. The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust have made the momentous decision to give their content away free. If you don't know who MLJ's is then do watch the film and download a few sermons. Listening to hundred's of these made Keller the preacher he is and reading his two-volume life story has marked my own life and understanding of grace profoundly.

2. Laughed a lot watching this.

3. Ten ways to up your joy-o-meter.

4. I went to see Battleships. Surprisingly rather good- take the kids or your wife/friends if you can convince her/them.

5. A church gives away a car. I'm afraid I'm not joking.

6. God loves you too much to give you what you want.

7. Cranmer on the gay bus hoo-hah. My 'get over it' statement is my love of country music (granted not a stand likely to cause a church schism :) and I have been listening to The Band Perry and The Civil Wars.

8. Will you be my Facebook friend?

9. Gilead

10. If you don't mind being shouted at this sermon is rather good. Interesting not least because of his amazing battle with cancer. Won't be everyone's cup of java but I like the man's fire.

One for luck. What do you make of David Platt's thoughts on the Sinners Prayer? He is a man saturated in  Scripture, author of NYT bestseller Radical and has a burden for both disciple-making and the poor so it's worth a wee ponder.

Monday, April 09, 2012


"You are free to go"

This is the start of Luther's preface to Romans:

"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."

(via Trevin Wax)

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Cross

"All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning."

Oswald Chambers

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ten bits and bobs for Easter

1. Love this clip

2. I've read Living the resurrection this week and The Long silence in preparation for Sunday.

3. Listened to The Spirit-filled Life in the car yesterday.

4. How to preach on Easter offers a few tips and some classic sermons.

5. I've decided to preach on Acts 10:34-43 on Easter morning.

6. "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a good idea until they have something to forgive" wrote C S Lewis in Mere Christianity.

7. A Vicar pal has been reading 1 Samuel and concluded that it can't be said David 'had a plan'. At one point he ends up completely on the wrong side. Fortunately God did.

8. I am re-reading 'In a pit with a lion on a snowy day', particularly the chapter on fear.

9. Some pals who are helping me with the plant to Barnes have just gone off as a family with Mission Direct.

10. The Moravians prayed non-stop for a hundred years and I'm wondering if we as a church can manage one night :)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A one-verse Bible

I listened to Keller recently preaching from Jonah.

He made a fascinating comment quoting his mentor and friend Edmund Clowney. Clowney said that if you were to take one verse to sum up the whole Bible it should be Jonah 2 v 9.

This is it:

"Salvation comes from the Lord'

That is worth some reflection in Easter week. It is also it seems to me a one verse apologetic for a one-verse evangelist. Suffering? Jonah 2 v 9. Other religions? Jonah 2 v 9. Science? Jonah 2 v 9

Why not have a go at having a conversation about Jesus with your new one-verse Bible. I've been doing it all week.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Better than another DVD: A week of prayer

Ellie Hughes who is part of our church and the founder of the Riverbank Trust wrote this blog post which I share with you in full. I join her plea which is that you might find a place somewhere to pray with others this week. We have a week of prayer ending in a whole night of praying into Good Friday and you are welcome to join us.

I’ve been particularly challenged this Lent as I’ve endeavoured to forego my slight addiction to DVD box sets. It would probably be worrying to count up the number of hours I’ve spent over the last few years investing in a fictional American government and worrying about whether they will survive the latest scandal, but this Lent I gave it a shot and lasted well into 3 and a half weeks before succumbing to its political charms. The revelation that has interested and humbled me during my not so strict fast is this - my heart’s own capacity to hide and numb itself in absolutely anything despite the opportunity to draw near to God, experience His love and be everlastingly changed by it. Seriously, I even took up Sudoku.

It’s becoming increasingly easy and attractive to shut our eyes and ears to the cries of our community and nation, and satisfy ourselves with the daily things of life. It always makes me think of the atheist advertising campaign that asserts: “there’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life”, and makes me wonder, if a stranger looked at my life, at the things I choose to care about - would it reflect that phrase?

Because the problem with that pithy phrase is this: Stop worrying? Enjoy life? We currently live in a nation that has approximately 3.8 million children living in poverty, where 70% of all crime is drug and alcohol related, where an estimated 2 million young people have been or are suffering sexual abuse, where 10% of children deliberately self-harm and where at least one in every 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. We live in a world where 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, which averages out to 2 a minute, and their average age is just 14, a world where EVERY DAY 4000 children die of diarrhoea because they don’t have access to clean water.

Now keep reading, because otherwise this just makes for depressing reading. What makes it not so?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

It strikes me that we live in a land, in a world and in a time that so desperately needs healing, where the need for the truth of God’s word, of His love and hope and conviction, has never been more relevant. We live in a community that experiences a significant amount of the issues outlined above, and this Easter I want to be an individual and part of a community that humbles ourselves, prays and seeks the face of God so that He may come and heal our land. So come and join us for Holy Trinity’s Week of Prayer beginning this Monday (2 April) and continuing every day at 9.30am and 7.30pm, culminating in our amazing Night of Prayer on Maundy Thursday. I guarantee it’ll be more exciting than a box set …

Learning to lead

Monday, April 02, 2012

For the pod: the Gospel in the post-modern world

This message called The Supremacy of God and the Gospel in a Post-modern world is an important and helpful one. We are living in a different world- the trouble is most of us have not realised it. An ignorance of the gospel of grace and its contextualisation is having its impact. Yes, some things like Alpha are effective (it gets a mention from Keller) but even it is not doing particularly well when it comes to engaging the un-churched.

To most people in our society, Christianity is religion and moralism. The only alternative to it (besides some other world religion) is pluralistic secularism. But from the beginning it was not so. Christianity was recognized as atertium quid, something else entirely.
The crucial point here is that, in general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him. We see this throughout the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life. In every case where Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (as in Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (as in John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (as in Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the elder-brother type does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders ‘the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you’ (Matthew 21:31).
Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think.

If you are connected in any way with thinking about the gospel in our days get a pen and paper and take a few notes on this one. It's one to listen to twice.

By the way, Keller's new book called The Freedom of Self-forgetfulness

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