Friday, November 30, 2012

A list of thoughts

1. Dilemma of the day is what costume to wear for a party with the theme 'Nativity'. Everyone tells me going as a donkey would be unwise. I still think it's a great idea.

2. Whilst the Church of England goes through its turmoil spare a thought for similar angst within 'The Flyfishers' Club'. Women members or not? Do pray.

3. You must listen to this wonderful talk which will a) Convince you the C of E may already have women bishops and b) Contains the brilliant line "It's quite something to wake up in bed with a Charismatic".

4. I've started reading Dangerous Calling and my pastor pal has just started Vertical Church and tells me 'It's great stuff'.

5. I love this testimony which contains the splendid ditty "Huh- prayer... I never thought of that"

6. I'm thinking of asking Santa for a new set of golf clubs.

7. I am more certain than ever that I would look ridiculous with a moustache.

8. Stop and think

9. I have been looking forward to Lincoln all year and now think I may have actually missed it in the cinema. Duh.

10. Tim Keller has written yet another new series of pamphlets (a smashing but rather odd word) starting with 'The Sceptical Student'

Oh and J R Briggs has a new 'Links that will change your life'

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Synodical matters

This article 'Has the women bishops vote triggered a bigger crisis for the C of E' is very comprehensive and is well worth a read. It includes a piece by Jon Marlow called 'Is Synod broken' which I also found very helpful on the role of 'the laity'.

As I reflect on the ambitions (be they male or female) of religious folk, which I have done over the last week, Tim Challies has written a lovely post called Humble Celebrity.  It moved me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday musing

1. Someone's bought a chair and having watched this is now sitting in it with a Bible in their hands.

2. Billy Graham took this book on the Holy Spirit on his summer holiday in 1981 and read it three times.

3. My friend is going through a set of sermons on Galatians that changed my life. 4 down and 26 to go.

4. This is a good new worship offering if you are looking for one for the car (I listened to it in someone else's)

5. The chapter about Corrie Ten Boom in A Traveller's Guide to the Kingdom about how God guides should not be missed.

6. My mum's Vicar was on Any questions speaking about Synod matters and Dave Walker also has thoughts.

7. Much inspired by Jonathan Conrathe as I lunched and prayed today with him and some local Pastors. I just love being around Evangelists. If the C of E ordained a few more we might not be in such a pickle.

8. Thinking about the 'who' for me of Project Gratitude

9. My pal Rod has some good reflections on last week and he also tells me Calvin's big in China.

10. We had a marvellous Christmas Fair for local traders on Saturday organised by Fabrice the inspiring owner of Spoonful. It raised money for the Riverbank Trust.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday blogsweep

A blog I enjoy has for some months been sharing excerpts from a book called Choosing civility by P M Forni which I have enjoyed and been learning from. Looking on twitter and following the media this week some Christians commenting on Women Bishops may do well to put this on their bedside tables over the coming weeks and months. It's certainly going on mine.

After the vote (links pieces by Tom Wright and Frank Field MP)

'“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasps a feckless official in one of C. S. Lewis’s stories. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”
“I have seen them both in an egg,” replies the young hero. “We call it Going bad in Narnia.”
Lewis nails a lie at the heart of our culture. As long as we repeat it, we shall never understand our world, let alone the Church’s calling. And until proponents of women bishops stop using it, the biblical arguments for women’s ordination will never appear in full strength.....' from Tom Wrights article [Essential reading] in the Times- read it here.

Grace, truth and Synod

......not all evangelicals are against women taking on leadership roles. In fact the Evangelical Alliance survey in 2010 of 17,000 evangelical Christians found that 71 per cent thought that women should be eligible for all roles within the Church.

As I listened to the arguments online this morning, (late afternoon in the UK), I was struck by how few—on either side—appealed to Scripture to make their case. I couldn’t help but wonder what the apostle Junia would think of all of this!

After the Bishop's vote I am ashamed to be part of the Church of England

Remember, the anti-politics lot say sweetly, Jesus said we ought to love our enemies. To which my response is to point out that he certainly didn't say we ought not to have any.

Moving forward

Tonight is pain and grief and puzzlement and lament. Perhaps in the morning I will head across the Thames and join the Eucharist at St Paul’s Cathedral. It will be good to sit with men and women, probably a good mix of people I agree with and disagree with, and just do a simple Anglican thing. If we can share the representation of Christ’s sacrificial victory for us, surely it is not beyond our grasp to work out how to walk forward together?

The Defeat of the measure: Some preliminary reflections

It surely has to be recognised that the power to produce a formula for compromise has, for some considerable time, rested largely with those who have supported the introduction of women bishops. Where simple majorities have counted, that have had the controlling hand. But  this must therefore suggest that had they been willing to concede just a little more, then we would not be where we are today.

Tim Keller on how to read the Bible

Therefore, to say that the Bible is about Christ is to say that the main theme of the Bible is, ‘Salvation is of the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9).

Friday, November 23, 2012

For the pod: Does God control everything?

There can be no grace when there is no sovereignty. Deny God’s right to choose whom He will and you deny His right to save whom He will. Deny His right to save whom He will and you deny that salvation is of grace. If salvation is made to hinge upon any merit or fitness in man, seen or foreseen, grace is at an end.

Horatius Bonar
The Reign of Grace, Preface, 1844.

At the end of a difficult week for the church it's worth asking a question. Do we think God's in charge? This talk called 'Does God control everything?' is quite brilliant. Keller's story of how he came to plant a church is one of the best illustrations of sovereignty you will ever here. Stunning.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Back to the day job

1. A very good piece by Tanya Marlow.

2. It's worth noting that the fastest-growing church in the UK has no women elders. What they are doings, which the C of E is not, is planting lots of churches.

3. Thomas Creedy makes a good point about twitter.

4. I've been pondering the word 'Laity' all week.

5. Always good at times like these to do a word study of the NT on the greek word 'episcopos'.

6. Has the Holy Spirit spoken to the church through this or not?

7. I went around Corrie ten Boom's house last week who was quite a force.

8. My pal in Canada went to this talk which is worth a watch around the idea of carrying the 'weight' (be you a man or a woman).

9. Wonder what Jackie Pullinger makes of it all?

10. My Bishop is away on sabbatical.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A thought for the C of E

'The gospel is good news if it gets there in time'
Carl Henry

Did I mention I've written a piece called Why plant churches?

Saturday, November 10, 2012


In one sitting

I haven't read a book in one sitting in ages but I did with this one. It contains some amazing Holy Ghost stories. I think it has kindled something anew in me and left me with much to think and pray on.

Friday, November 09, 2012


Justin Welby seems to me to be an 'authentic' man and refreshingly normal. May he remain so I pray. Marcus Buckingham author of The one thing you need to know says in this interview :

"If a leader loses authenticity they lose pretty much everything else"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The least qualified

Someone told me this rather splendid quote which I rather liked and I'm sure will end up in one of those books about Einstein being no good at Maths etc.....:

"Of the thousand candidates I have interviewed for ordination you are the least qualified I have come across"

Director of Diocesan Ordinands( C of E for the HR and Recruitment Department) to Justin Welby, perhaps to be the new Archbishop of Canterbury

You can see him interviewed here

Revivals and renewals

'In other words, revival and renewals are necessary because the default mode of the human heart is works-righteousness- we do not ordinarily live as if the gospel is true. Christians often believe in their heads that "Jesus accepts me, therefore I will live a good life," but their hearts and actions are functioning practically on the principle "I live a good life, therefore Jesus accepts me." The results of this inversion are smug self-satisfaction (if we feel we are living up to standards) or insecurity, anxiety and self-hatred (if we feel we are failing to live up). In either case, the results are defensiveness, a critical spirit, racial or cultural ethnocentricity to bolster a sense of righteousness, an allergy to change, and other forms of spiritual deadness, both individual and corporate. In sharp contrast, the gospel of sheer grace offered to hopeless sinners will humble and comfort all at once. The results are joy, a willingness to admit faults, graciousness with all and a lack of self-absorbtion'

Tim Keller, Centre Church

Monday, November 05, 2012

Monday musing

1. I've been singing this song a lot in my car and it's turned into a prayer for those I know to be walking through tough things. I've bought the album.

2. The New Elizabethans is worth a listen and there is also a book.

3. I am doing my first assembly and have been given the title 'Choices'. Inevitably, if you are making choices what you need is wisdom and in order to get wisdom you clearly need to know the book of Proverbs. For more on this do listen to these on 'Friendship', 'Making plans', 'Healing Anger' and 'Tests'  or listen to this series.

4. A pal recommended his friend Thomas Creedy's blog to me.

5. Kathy Keller has written a review of Rachael Held Evans' new book and quite aside from the debate about gender it is as good an explanation of biblical hermeneutics (how to interpret a text) as you will find. You can get all the background to it here.

6. This is a good essay by Skye Jethani that you should take some time to read.

7. This Jonathan Edwards quote impacted me and the author who sourced it is new to me but clearly comes recommended.

8. Some good questions for husbands to ask their wives.

9. Six simple ways to be missional

10. Logos 5 is out.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Saturday blog-sweep

5 Facebook tips pastors should share with parents

Print off this article, share it, or save it to a PDF to email it. I don’t care the medium it gets transmitted, just get this into the hands of parents.

Judging the world [essential reading]

I like the way Dallas Willard talks about this:
Non-discipleship is the elephant in the church. It is not the much discussed moral failures, financial abuses, or the amazing general similarity between Christians and non-Christians. These are only effects of the underlying problem…It is now understood to be a part of the “good news” that one does not have to be a life student of Jesus in order to be a Christian and receive forgiveness of sins. This gives a precise meaning to “cheap grace” though it would be better described as costly faithlessness
Quotes from Movements that change the world  and A Review (get this book)

“God takes the initiative and chooses unlikely people, far from the centre of ecclesiastical power. He works to remake them from the inside out. He inspires innovative insights regarding his mission and how it is to be carried out. Biblical truths and practices are rediscovered. A growing band of ordinary people emerges who have a heartfelt faith and missionary zeal that knows no bounds. Despite opposition from powerful forces within society and the existing church, the gospel spreads into unreached fields. The existing church is renewed, and society is transformed. Eventually every movement declines as it [starts to think] its treasure is buried in this world rather than the next. Meanwhile God goes looking for another lonely shepherd boy who is cold, hungry, and a long way from home.”

You are not a sinful wretch and some push-back in You are not a sinful wretch part 2

So, stop the self-loathing. God loves you so much that he put your old self to death and raised you to new life with Christ, filling you with the Spirit so that you might embrace that new life and live for his praise and glory. Open the settings for your Twitter account, erase the bit that says 'sinful wretch', and replace it with 'new creation'. And rejoice in the new life you have in Christ.

Against abortion but pro-Choice?

The student was hardly alone. She was echoing the sentiments of millions of Americans who personally dislike abortion but do not identify as pro-life. Their beliefs are perfectly summed up in this popular bumper sticker: "Don't like abortion? Don't have one." Notice the bumper sticker completely transforms the nature of the abortion debate with a single word---"like." 

The Secret Thoughts of an unlikely Convert

This is a genuinely refreshing read by a woman who, it seems, states and sacrificially acts on her thoughtful and deeply-held convictions with characteristic boldness. I should love to debate with her about all kind of things, but I hope I have also learned from this sobering, provocative and joyful testimony

Mormonism 101

Presidential elections are important. But believing the truth is even more important. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to provide a brief overview of Mormon history and theology. I won’t try to debunk Mormonism or prove Christianity. But I hope this quick survey will show that the two are not the same.

The Sun will rise (this is beautiful)

(ht Trevin Wax)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Good ideas for entrepreneurs

We are all creating something.

We all have ideas

Some people manage to turn their ideas into businesses and ways of making a living.

Churches are full of people with ideas.

Businesses are full of people with ideas

Churches are full of people who work for businesses who have ideas.

If you haven't discovered TED then where have you been. There will be something here to inspire you I hope if you are a bit entrepreneurial.

(via J R Briggs whose Links that will change your life are always good, resourcing and at times truly funny and fascinating).

Also, if you haven't read Seth Godin's Linchpin it's well worth a read to water your wheels of possibility.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

For the pod: Jesus vs Satan

He who sups with the devil had better have a long spoon. The devilry of modernity has its own magic: The (believer) who sups with it will find his spoon getting shorter and shorter-until that last supper in which he is left alone at the table, with no spoon at all and with an empty plate. The devil, one may guess, will by then have gone away to more interesting company.

Peter Berger

Quoted in: Guinness, Dining with the Devil, Baker, 1993, p. 5.

Yesterday was Halloween.

Satan and the demonic is just a bit of fun and no one actually believes in their reality these days. It's best turned into a ridiculous hideously commercial festival for children.

Or not? It's tricky.

I spoke to a Vicar pal who advised that he has a happy problem. His problem is that his wife has started listening to lots and lots and lots of Bible teaching by a well known preacher. As a result of this, she is starting and is joining Bible study groups in their church and both my friend and his wife are feeling more renewed, refreshed and in love with Jesus than they have been for quite some while. I confess my dear pal (a dedicated and very encouraging reader) did discover these sermons and this preacher here.

Mark Driscoll is not an uncontroversial man and I have written about him in the past in a long piece called Politeness so I won't revisit the same ground (do read it though as it's a helpful primer). Suffice it to say he's a Marmite man, you tend to either love or hate this style of preaching and the theology that lies behind it and you'll have to decide that for yourself. Now remember he is an American and you know I love things American but we are a teeny weeny bit culturally different (watch Man vs Food if you are not convinced). We like warm beer, we invented the Pork pie and the Cornish Pasty, the Aston Martin and we gave the world both Morecambe and Wise and Dad's Army. That's why we've got the word 'Great' before the 'Britain'. Oh, and of course Whitfield, Spurgeon, CT Studd and the 18C Missionary Movement, John Stott, Lloyd-Jones and the Puritans so it's sort of time the US had a good preacher and caught up a bit:)....(excepting Billy Graham who is entirely in a league of his own).

I think I happened upon Mars Hill though on one of the many blogs I read and the person was so hot under the collar in their dislike of Driscoll I thought I'd listen myself and form my own view (a good principle methinks). I started by listening to the series called Trial on 1 Peter and his teaching on suffering and the power of the gospel simply blew me away.  However, I really really do appreciate he's not everyone's cup of java.

One area I have been been greatly helped by Driscoll is through his four part teaching + Q & A on spiritual warfare and by reading Death by love. As it happens, two weeks running I am preaching on scriptures that speak of Jesus and his confrontations with the demonic and it's timely given all the devil costumes I walked past yesterday.

Do listen to this very challenging sermon called Jesus vs Satan.

It ends with three questions and you might like to spend some time reflecting on them.

1. Where are the evidences of Satan and demons at work in your life?
2. How have you aided your enemy?
3. Will you command Satan and his demons to leave?

I told my friend I'd post a few Mars Hill sermons that have blessed and challenged me:

The Heart

Mary and Martha

Heaven and Hell


It's all about: Humility

The Porn Path

Jesus heals a demonised woman

Men and Marriage

Missional ministry

Dance of Mahanaim

Jesus: Tough and Tender

The Gethsemane Prayer

Where is Jesus today?

Jesus is a better mediator

My pal and his wife (on current form) will listen to all these in a blink but maybe pick one or so and see how you go. They're also signing up for the excellent Leadership Coaching.

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