Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday blog-sweep

Eric Metaxas (of Bonnhoeffer biography fame) has 'A fireside chat with Timothy Keller'. If you have ever wondered about creation and evolution, about heaven and hell and are interested in a bit of his story then you will find this truly fascinating. It's well worth 55 minutes of your life. I like his concise definition of what it means to be evangelical.

"The original idea of evangelicalism that goes right back to Luther is that you need to have a conversion experience, it's not enough just to go to church....there has to be a personal encounter and that for me is the essence of what it means to be evangelical"

Facing up to depression: so now it gets personal

'So I was open about my own struggles over the last 7 years. A very weird business really. And I had hugely mixed feelings about doing so. But as I said during my first talk, it was not out of a desire for therapy by ‘over-sharing’ public confession; nor was it because I’m expert on the subject; and it was definitely not in order to become the go-to-guru in All Souls for any similarly struggling (I’d lose it completely if that happened!). But it was simply to break the taboo… and to be a help to those who need to know they’re not alone.'
'True sexual morality is seen as inane and archaic. Sex and sexuality are governed by the immoral, and the pornographic mindset has cornered the market on all sex. In short: we live in a Pornopoly.'

David Keen offers some compelling, depressing and thorough analysis on the state of the C of E in The Leading of the 5000 (inspired title David!)

'Whoever our next Archbishop is, the CofE needs some serious strategic thinking if we're not to collapse under our own weight. Despite a bewildering array of measures of church attendance, there isn't a single one that at the moment is out of the red. We have to face the facts of being a shrinking church if we want to stop being a shrinking church'

10 Fun summer reads: Non fiction and Novels

The page that changed my life

'This is, simply put, one of the most eloquent statements I've ever read on the purpose and meaning of life'

George Orwell offers four interesting reasons for 'Why I write'

I realise as an extrovert and as someone who is a work in progress that I need to learn to listen better. I stumbled on this called 'How to take care you listen' and I hope it may help me and might help you too,

Finally, the Bible's grand narrative shown through art

Friday, June 29, 2012

For the pod: Loved

'You can be straight as a gun barrel theologically and just as empty as one spiritually'

A W Tozer 

I have been away on retreat for a week. I have much to reflect on and share but that's for another time.

I know I am sometimes given to banging on about things (I like to think it's enthusiasm :) and often tell you that you HAVE TO listen or read or watch something but I really mean it today. I wouldn't wonder if there's a better talk you will ever listen to on the love of the father than 'In whom I am well pleased' (5/6/12). I listened to it a while ago and then did so again yesterday on a long car journey with a Vicar pal and we concluded this may very well change the way you/I/we see lots of things. As is said in the talk:

"This is the whole ballgame"

Jonathan Martin is funny, winsome, profound, relaxed, pentecostal, creative, broken, humble and if I lived nearer (and didn't have my own) I would want to attend his church.

You should add him to your podcasts.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


The Porn Path

When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her"

John 8:7

"There is more spent on porn in the US than all the money spent on pro-football, basketball and baseball combined and this amounts to more than the US gives away in foreign aid ($11bn)"

"One in four women in our culture are subjected to abuse or rape at some point in their lives"

"The average age a boy will start watching porn is 11- two years before he reaches sexual maturity"

"The greatest consumers of porn are boys aged between 12 and 17"

"You should journal out your sexual history and encounters with porn and lay them before God"

"It is never too late and you are never too far in to turn around"

"MD: Do you think that Jesus has cleansed you from your past?

Chrissy "I know he has"

Not only in our days have we denied the power of prayer but we have also denied the power of sin and the means by which sinful hearts can and must be redeemed and saved- the Cross of Jesus Christ. 

This interview with Chrissy, an ex-porn star, is truly shocking and moving in equal measure. Praise God for grace and the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit. 

You should watch The Porn Path. Everyone should.

For those who want/need more teaching on shame, abuse, guilt and how to find freedom (an issue for both women and men) this was highly recommended to me by a woman in my church: Grace and Disgrace . Incredibly powerful stuff and so helpful about facing our stories which ALL have some measure of brokenness in them-for some readers this may be extreme. Most of us today have a sexual past, things that have happened/ been done to us, mistakes we have made, broken relationships and issues we have not faced or are simply buried away.This talk I pray may unlock these for you and lead you to Jesus and his cleansing power and loving freedom. You might also like to get hold of Rid of my disgrace and the book by Mike Wilkerson called Redemption. The person who recommended this talk to me found one of the chapters in Death by love a great resource for her and this is a book every pastor and Christian counsellor should, in my opinion, own.

If you need help then a ministry started in and working out of our church may also be of help to you. It is called The Riverbank Trust.

Usually, I couldn't care less if anyone reads the blog (thankfully a few do and are kind enough to encourage me to keep at it) but on this one do please link to this post or feel free to tweet it or forward it to others by email.

You might also want to download the free e-book Porn-again Christian and to watch this if you don't yet understand the answer to the question "What is the gospel?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Prayer makes 'no difference overall'

The Guardian reports 'This Christian was lucky not to be struck off':

One of the most authoritative scientific studies comes from a Christian organisation. Just last year Leanne Roberts [DDO], from the Southwark diocesan office, published a scholarly assessment of the power of prayer. Together with colleagues, she evaluated a number of research trials which involved nearly 8,000 patients. There was no difference overall in recovery from illness or death, whether subjects were prayed for or not.

Readers may like to read the Prayers for the sick in the Book of Common Prayer and I would encourage them to be prayed with faith.


This is arguably the greatest ad ever made but I would say that wouldn't I

I used to be the Marketing Manager for Hamlet Cigars which constantly used to cause the more religious to tut when I told them what I did. This story from Beyond Evangelical by Frank Viola smiled on me and I can't believe it has taken me so long to hear it. The chapter is called 'Sinning differently than others'

"Allegedly, Charles Spurgeon invited D.L. Moody to speak at an event he hosted.
Moody accepted and preached the entire time about the evils of tobacco, and why the Lord doesn’t want Christians to smoke.
Spurgeon, a cigar smoker, was surprised at what seemed to be a cheap shot leveled by Moody, using the pulpit to condemn a fellow minister.
When Moody finished preaching, Spurgeon walked up to the podium and said, “Mr. Moody, I’ll put down my cigars when you put down your fork.”
Moody was overweight."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Born again again

"Christians get very angry toward other Christians who sin differently than they do" 
Philip Yancey

We have been preaching through Galatians and what a rich stream full of grace and truth we are swimming in- it's quite remarkable. Grace is literally being unleashed afresh on our hearts every time we meet. People have been saying to me that they feel like they are "being born again again" every week. 

In case I didn't mention it before, these sermons changed the course of my life :) You can sample a couple: 'How to change" and "Justified sinners".

I spotted this quote and it wonderfully captures what it means that we are justified by faith. 'God is love' and you're not and once you get that and see the Cross this saves you from all the virtuous trying at love, righteousness, religious striving, my church is better than yours effort, behaviour management (the core of the self-help business), comparison and self-justification by your own willpower and frees you instead to walk in the Spirit. We love out of his love for us rather than to earn or deserve it which we will never ever be able to do. That's grace my friends and it's terrifically good news.

Read this twice and let it sink deeply into your soul:

"To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition? Here’s the way J. Gresham Machen answers this question in his 1925 book What Is Faith? 'The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man . . . is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us.'

In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it crystal clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us, and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God." --John Piper, Think! The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

(via Take your Vitamin Z)

Monday, June 18, 2012

They think it's all is n....

'If Christianity is to receive a rejuvenation it must be by other means than any now being used' 
A W Tozer

I once heard someone suggest that the process of evangelism is simply finding something you enjoy doing and then doing it with people who don't yet know Jesus.

One of the things I have on my heart for my next adventure in Barnes is that my church will be the sort of place that people want to come to. You can call that 'seeker-friendly' if you like but I pray it will be less marketed and pseudo-intentional than that. It seems to me common sense that 'church' should be a rich experience for people to meet with both each other and with God.

Our next gathering is tomorrow watching football and eating food. V holy.

Welcome is a good word. Welcome to families, welcome to singles, welcome when you don't know where to sit, welcome when you don't know what might happen next, welcome when you don't know what to do, welcome if you can't sing, welcome if you don't think you are dressed right, welcome when you think you won't be, welcome if you have never heard or read the bible....

Our problem in the C of E is our liturgy doesn't do 'welcome' that well for unbelievers. I will never forget a young lad from Wakefield who had never been to church before who I invited to church when I was living in Canada- the things he told me afterwards about the liturgy have always stayed with me. Before I get lynched by the liturgical commission what I mean is so often we 'insiders' of all flavours don't see our services as a problem because everyone coming to church (especially the people in charge like me who read all those words out and tell everyone what to do next) so often love it's form and content. Interestingly though, three clergy in the last six months have told me of the heated debate they have had with people in their churches upon changing the Lord's prayer to the modern version. 'Thy' to 'your' is radical stuff for us in the C of E and it might seem to you and I dear readers like another world but this is the unchangeable land the vast majority of the C of E still resides in.

We wonder why the genuinely unchurched don't attend our services and might it be:

1) We don't invite them
2) When we do what we then expose them to is a service that is so hard to follow and uses such incomprehensible language and styles of music and songs that are so utterly alien to our culture that we may as well be from Mars. (If you haven't read 'The purpose-driven church' although now old hat it is packed with wisdom but you need to filter out all the contextual American stuff.)
3) Often in the C of E half the service is taken up with a rite and ritual that non-attenders are not only not included in but are, in fact, actually intentionally excluded from (I do know it is possible to do 'trad church' well as Robin Gamble has written of but this is often 'well' for those who are familiar with it). Next time you attend a baptism look at the faces of the unchurched visitors.
4) We do this rite by Canon law in every church every Sunday up and down the land (since the 1950's Parish Communion Movement which in my opinion fired the first killer bullet for the C of E and made it even more 'religious' than it already was) Please be clear, I am not anti-communion which is vital but the 'when' and the 'how' we share it might benefit from some post-Christendom missionary rethinking). The result of this lack is over-worked clergy running totally exhausted from one gig to the next to minister the sacrament to three men and a dog with little encouragement or support. And it costs £100K to train someone to do it.
5) Finally, it is only on the rarest of occasions in C of E pulpits that one hears even the simplest articulation of the gospel of grace (Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration) and most clergy have never been taught how to preach but instead are 'taught' to administer/lead the liturgy- it's staggering I know. This is the one opportunity we do have to explain 'communion' to the unbeliever (which is surely quite important and necessary for secular-folk) but the people tasked with this are sadly often not gifted in preaching/teaching so manage to miss kicking the ball in the back of the net  of even a the most open of goals.

A while back I attended a posh car boot sale in the grounds of a National Trust home. Amidst the cars was a tent and in it I met a crowd called 'The Norfolk Churches Trust' and they were very jolly, all over 70 and were selling branded tea-towels and aprons to raise money for the church. When it has come to selling a tea towel dear friends it's all over. You'r not a church- you're a museum. And they are considering the Bishop of this diocese for A of C. Paddy Power has the latest odds.

Here's what prompted this post. Ruth Gledhill predicted in Saturdays Times the 'certain death' of the C of E unless things change but hear this -this is not the same thing as 'the church of Jesus Christ'.

The 'church' (a people who love and follow Jesus as 1 Peter 2 tells us) dear friends is very very very much alive and well. Ruth might like to check out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. I'll stop now but you get my point....

I agree in part with Gledhill's ever more gloomy prophecies of doom for the C of E, much of them of our own making,  and due to a failure to answer the BCP 'each generation' mandate but I disagree with her remedy and it's not due either to the impositions of VAT in the budget.

Making the church, as she suggests, more 'gay-friendly', more tax efficient or theologically revisionist is not the key to revival fires and you can call me a stick in the mud orthodox creedal Christian or 'traditionalist' (to use her words) if you want to. It's funny that all the here churches appear to be that way inclined. Any cursory reading of church history will demonstrate this for you.

The key to revival fires is, it seems to me and to the BCP, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with power and call sinners to repentance and faith in him and pray- a lot. And to do this 'afresh' for this generation.

Apologies for being so Cranmerian.

I am going to 'a crisis meeting' (or Consultation in Anglican speak) on Thursday with my Bishop. When the Bishop's start acknowledging that no one is coming to church believe you me we do truly have a serious problem- they are often the last to know because everyone usually turns out for the shiny pointy-hat bun-fight occasions. The grand plan appears currently to be to close churches and reduce the numbers of clergy or for some to leave with bat, ball and most importantly the cricket club kitty (how exactly we work out who is and isn't allowed to play for the new cricket club, who the team captain will be and how one organises the fixture list with the old club is not yet entirely clear to me but it may yet be explained?)

Did I mention I wrote something called 'Why plant churches?'

May I suggest the answer I offered in it.

Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and call sinners to repentance and faith and to be full of the Spirit and do this afresh in this generation.

Oh sorry, I've already said that......

Sunday, June 17, 2012

If you gave it a name?

I have only got a few thoughts today.

This mornings sermon included a film about Greece called 'The human cost of the Euro' and suggested the extraordinary idea that all this mess might not in fact have been caused by the banks, quantitative easing or the Greeks at all but by something called 'sin'. Whatever will be suggested next?.....

All the men of the church got a copy of 'Sorted' for Fathers Day.

I have been reading a book about evangelicalism, a descriptor a hugely diverse group of Christians are sometimes labelled with, and it starts like this:

"Recent studies indicate that evangelical Christians are known by the world as people who are narrow minded, judgemental, self-righteous, legalistic, callous, hard-hearted, politically partisan, and quick to attack their own. Why is this and is there a viable cure?"

It contains within it this quote and has left me tons to reflect and muse on (v quick read-only 80 pages and packed with quotes and interesting perspectives for any theology wonks out there):

"You can assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do" Anne e

In time, I will write a few thoughts about it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

For the pod: "Sometimes we just don't understand"

Death is not the end of the road; it is only a bend in the road. The road winds only through those paths through which Christ Himself has gone. This Travel Agent does not expect us to discover the trail for ourselves. Often we say that Christ will meet us on the other side. That is true, of course, but misleading. Let us never forget that He walks with us on this side of the curtain and then guides us through the opening. We will meet Him there, because we have met Him here.

Erwin Lutzer
One Minute After You Die, Moody, 1997, p. 78-79.

Peter Drucker the business guru and author of this wisdom was once asked how he was saved by Jesus. He said "When I fully understood grace, I knew I'd never get a better deal".

Yesterday, I had an interesting and lively chat about death, Jesus and faith with a friend and a dear and inspiring lady sitting on a next door table in a coffee shop. Neither of them are Christians. We talked about meaning, doing 'meaningful things' and fear of dying. I tried, rather unsuccessfully it felt, to explain that the death of Jesus takes away the sting of death for us and tried as best I knew how to explain grace.

Death is so very hard. A few weeks ago a dear Vicar friend and his church faced the fact that someone they all loved was probably going to die. I say probably because this is not just a church but one of great faith and Nix was neither someone who liked to give up nor did she want death to have its way, as her blog request for us to pray showed. She fought for life, believed for life and wanted life for her and her three young children. She longed to defeat the dreadful cancer that had gone to war with her body and many thousands of us were praying around the world and believing for a miracle. Sadly it didn't come.

A few days afterwards my friend preached this moving sermon to his church. Many of my readers are pastors and we know what it is to preach into pain and to face people's deepest questions, as well as our own which are so often mixed together at these times. Many others of you have faced the death of those you love and in some cases the seemingly random nature of those it grabs. This talk has helped me deeply personally as I walk with someone day by day in the midst of fighting cancer and it keeps me believing and praying. This will be a talk I will return to often- you might too, especially at times of suffering and questions (the story of the school is amazing). It will always remind me never to give up on hope, to pray continually, to always pray for those who are sick and to trust in grace.

If you have not watched Death is not dying it might be a blessing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I met with my MP and heard him speak and he used a Warren Buffett quote that made me smile.

"It's only when the tide goes out that you see who isn't wearing any swimming trunks"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good news vs Good advice

This Keller piece explaining the difference between good news and good advice is worth reading in full. Here is a taste:

'You know what, when you hear the gospel, when you hear a message that it’s all been done for you, that it’s a historical event that’s happened, your salvation is accomplished for you, what do you want to do? You want to obey the Ten Commandments, you want to pray, and you want to please the one who did this for you. If on the other hand, you send military advisers who say, “You’re going to have to live a really, really, good life if you want to get to heaven.” What are you going to do? You’re going to want to pray, you’re going to want to obey the Ten Commandments—it looks the same doesn’t it? [But] for two radically different reasons: one is joy; one is fear. In the end, in the short run, they look alike. But in the long run, one leads to burnout, self-righteousness, guilt and all sorts of problems. Isn’t that fascinating?'

Monday, June 11, 2012

True conversion

'True conversion lies in not only awakening to the Lord, but in awakening to the lost. While we may be quick to convert to Christ, we can be reluctant to allow Christ to convert us to his will and way'

Epiphanies of the ordinary, p. 190

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Saturday blog-sweep

Only a few things today:

1. Great rockumentary on Punk

2. The new Anthony Beevor book

3. The new Keller book called Centre Church

4. Why you should read fiction.

5. Volf on Forgiveness

6. Letter from a 13 year old asking how to go deeper in the Bible and if you feel your Bible-reading has become stale, non-existent or is just in need of a life-giving/sapping MOT then this sermon called 'The Word of God is at work in you'  tells you the 'How?' and 'Why?' of the letter.

'You are right to read it every day and seek to let it permeate all your thoughts and feelings. When Paul says it is all inspired by God and that it is profitable so that you will be equipped for every good work, I believe he means that even the parts that are hard to read, or even sometimes confusing, will in the long run have an effect on your mind and your soul that will shape you into the kind of woman who can stand strong all your life for Jesus, and sniff out the errors of the world, and love all that is truly good and beautiful.'

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Why are 'Christians' such a bad advert?

Here is a thought for the day (I am preaching through Galatians so this post is really sermon-thinking prep)

My dear pal who isn't yet a Christian is always asking about 'Christians' and why they live exactly the same way as those who aren't. Aren't they supposed to live a different kind of life from us non-Christians he wonders?

I tell him they (we) are saved by grace not by works.

What an interesting thought though.

Is perhaps the answer that some of those 'Christians' might not actually be 'Christians' at all but are just religious people going through the motions (living by the law). That's very judgemental you cry but seemingly so was Paul. In my passage he says 'Mark my words!' and then tells them to go and cut their bits off...He really does (5 v 12).

A forthright explanation and revisiting of 'Justification by faith' might help explain the gospel for my questioning friend and speak it anew to my own hard heart. But here's the thing -I know this because I was a 'Christian' who wasn't one so I feel qualified to at least comment on my own legalistic heart- you'll have to decide about yours. Keller too was born again after he thought he already was (he would say it happened while studying for his MA after he had been ordained)

To be a Christian is to be justified by faith in Christ. By what He has done not how we perform or the things we do-good or bad. Good news methinks. I know this you say.

Do you?

Why is it then that so many Christian's (the hand-waving, Alphary, 'quiet timey' tithing (10% ish) bible-owning , not indicative of actually it being read, proper one's like you and me) seem to so often have exactly the same priorities, aspirations, risk-free, consumeristic, materialistic, inability to bear pain, comfort-oriented outlook as all those people we often so un-helpfully describe as 'non-Christians'.

If I knew I was already justified, secure and assured of every good thing and destined to live forever free from pain and death in eternity why then are most of us proper 'Christians' not living more radically, worrying less, giving away more, taking more risks, open to the possibility of sacrifice and suffering in order to serve others in love and why are we not a bit more joy-filled? We only have a blink before we go to glory so why would you choose to live the same idolatry-saturated dull life all those people on the wide road we so often describe as 'non-Christians' are living? In what sense then is my road and your road 'narrow' as Jesus says the true believers road needs to be? Worth pondering that....

Bless them, so many in my own church are indeed on the narrow road and full of joy. I am constantly amazed by them. We also preach this 'grace and justification stuff' a wee bit from the pulpit which helps.

Be honest though, and this is the heart test for each one of us -does your, or put another way, will your ultimate joy spring from your performance/ marital status/ achievements/ family/ house/ bank balance/wardrobe/car/health/children/
comfort/ church/ communion-taking/pension/ religious attendance or from what Jesus has already done for you on the blood-soaked cross? Realistically is my own effort and performance (the Galatians word is 'righteousness') ever going to add enough bonus points to justify myself over His performance and record? It would be folly to believe such a thing yet it seems so many do. His CV or yours is the decision.

Here's the nub.The trouble is most people (all of us in fact by nature) are trying to be justified by everything apart from grace through Christ. We are hard-wired for works not grace. In a nutshell, correct me if I am wrong, but that's called not being a Christian (or in Romans /Galatians speak 'justification by law'). The Cross is then of no value (Gal 5). And living by the law sounds to me like a fairly joy-sapping, dull, same life as all the other noddies existence.

Most of us are actually choosing to be justified.....

1. Through the performance of our careers and the salary we attain (Jesus and the NT are oddly rather silent on the idea of a 'career')

2. Through the numbers who attend our church or the fact we are planting a church.

3. Through the way we look, the car we drive and the clothes we wear.

4. Through how well our children perform and the school they attend.

5. Through the way our peers (for that read other mothers, friends, church leaders, kids at school or people we went to university with) perceive us.

6. Through the amount of 'good' and 'justice' we bring to people (particularly as compared to those other nasty people who don't care about such things).

7. Through the amount we read/ blog and our education/intelligence/ learning/theological understanding/the soundness of our doctrine

8. Through the fact that one day we will be a somebody in the church (have a big church, publish a book, wear purple, speak at a conference, have a reputation, be 'in charge' of a significant thing or gain a phd)

9. Through having a perfect house in the perfect place and practicing recycling.

10. Through being the one person who understands justification in a way others don't by writing a rather superior blog post.

You are justified by Jesus. End of. Finished. Just Jesus. Jesus plus nada. Not Jesus plus baptism, not Jesus plus tongues and charismatic gifts and experiences, not Jesus plus moral living, not Jesus plus weekly 8am BCP communion attendance, not Jesus plus have a quiet time, not Jesus plus no sex before marriage, not Jesus plus justice and charitable giving, not Jesus plus confession, not Jesus plus join a home group, not Jesus plus tithe, not Jesus plus three worship songs all in a row, not Jesus plus no drinking. Nothing extra. Just Jesus. Nothing else. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

That dear friends is freedom. That dear friends is good news.

Here is what you might like to do. Go into the Redeemer apple podcast (oh no you groan, he's not on about him again:), download it and listen to the latest sermon called 'Justified by faith' (25th May 2012).

Listen to it repeatedly till what you hear sinks in.

And here's a thought -some of you might even become Christian's (I did so it's not entirely out of the question) and then just imagine how such a life might impact my 'non-Christian' friend. You never know when he sees the sacrificial life you then live joyfully and free (5 v 1) through the Spirit (v 5) out of justification by faith he might even decide to become a Christian too (depends whether you think my friend will decide or God by his mercy and grace does (Eph 2:8-9) but that's another post for another day).

I'd love it if my friend became a follower. Now that really would be good news.....

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

No boasting

'Grace puts its hand on the boasting mouth, and shuts it once for all'


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The two great questions

A couple more underlinings....

'There are perhaps two great questions to resolve in life. Bonhoeffer had settled both of them. The first is: Will I live a life of love? Then, secondly: Will I give up my life for love?

He also wrote famously:

'The Cross is not the end of an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die'

Epiphanies of the ordinary, p. 165

Monday, June 04, 2012

The one who keeps asking

I have been revisiting the bits from Charlie's book that struck me and here are a couple of things I underlined:

'The fact is that God is a God of love, and he loves his people with inexhaustible benevolence. This is a truth we can count on, and can know experientially and the knowing of it will change our lives forever. .......when this truth is grasped, and by a community, the result is....revival. Or, one might say, it is in times of revival this truth is grasped..... (p.37)

....'To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God's first love, we have to be 'mystics'. A mystic is a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God's first love. If there is any focus that the Christian leader of the future will need it is the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking: 'Do you love me?'
Henri Nouwen (p. 47)

Epiphanies of the ordinary

Sunday, June 03, 2012

A treasure house

'To what greater inspiration and counsel can we turn than to the imperishable truth to be found in this treasure house, the Bible?'

Elizabeth II

Friday, June 01, 2012

A Watchman

I told someone I am reading about George Whitfield and he replied 'Who's he?'

When you are planning and praying for a church plant and only have but a handful of faithful Saints gathering, you look out over the harvest fields of your parish for whom you have the responsibility of 'Cure of Souls' and, if you are me, ask the Lord "How can they be won?"

Do pray for me.

The one thing about the Parish system is you get given a plot of land, a field, some soil and it's yours, with God's help, to till. Believing in the new birth (Dallimore p 124) makes me a bit unique and something of a theological odd ball, I think in my part of the city. Many may think my oddball-ness is not only theological:) There are indeed other plots of land around and about but the truth is the one I will give account to Jesus for is my few acres of Barnes. The tilling we have been doing thus far has been prayer. But any cursory reading of the NT does not leave me wondering if it matters if people believe in Jesus. It surely matters like nothing else on earth.

One of the things I am doing as I mull on this challenge and think and pray is to start by learning from people who have seen the harvest reaped. It tells me it's possible, offers me hope and pours loving fire on my heart. It's time friends for this to happen again in the parishes of this land.

The subtitle of Arnold Dallimore's biography tells us what he did:

....'The life and times of the great evangelist of the 18th century revival...'

Whitfield was an Anglican clergyman and arguably the finest preacher who has ever lived. He was a man who shook the foundations of the dead soul of this land and literally preached it back into life.

As we plan to close churches up and down the country (circa fifty posts to go apparently by 2015 in my own Diocese) while witnessing simultaneously the pain, addiction, family breakdown, licentiousness, poverty of spirit, child poverty, hopelessness and greed all around, would it not be a good time to see his like again? May there please be a young preacher on his knees somewhere around earnestly praying as 19 year old George did. He pleaded day after day after day after day to be filled with the Spirits power. And he was.....

Here is a Spurgeon quote that jumped off the page at me.

'Every man (or woman: my addition) who is rightly in the ministry must have been moved thereto of the Holy Ghost. He must feel an irresistible desire to spend his life in his Master's cause. No college, no bishop, no human ordination, can make a man a minister; but he who can feel, as did Bunyan, Whitfield, Berridge or Rowland Hill, the struggling of an impassioned longing to win souls of men, may hear in the air the voice of God saying, 'Son of man, I have made thee a watchman'

C H Spurgeon 1854, Page 78, Dallimore's George Whitfield

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