Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Justin Welby @ the Trent Vineyard.

I went to listen to the new A of C speak at the Trent Vineyard. Such an encouragement and blessing. Do take time to watch this great interview and talk.


'Religious people find God useful. Christians find God beautiful'

Tim Keller

(h/t Keller quotes)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The worst place

"The absolute worst place to begin constructing an identity is you, which is precisely where most counselling begins. The absolute best place to begin constructing identity is Jesus Christ, which is precisely where Scripture begins. Knowing Jesus and being saved by him in faith is the key to your identity and the defeat of your idolatry. It's not about you. It's all about Jesus"

'Who do you think you are?'
M. Driscoll.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ten things for a Monday

1. Steve Furtick has a word for church planters. I owe him a lot. If you haven't read Fresh wind fresh fire you should. He's coming to speak at this. His church is blessing amazingly and he probably got these 'Eight reasons' right.

2. I've been listening to Endless years and Jesus Culture Live in New York

3. The iTunes audiobook transformed my pal from a non-reader into a voracious one. He started with Courageous Leadership and has not stopped reading since. Recently he was blown away by 'The Screwtape letters'. He listens on a bicycle in the gym.

4. A morning away in January for you and you husband/wife (if you have one) to reflect on Running with the witnesses could only do you good. Take a bible, a journal and find some silence and solitude.

5. Chapter two of Deep and Wide made my friend blub.

6. I've written my Vision for our church and it took me all night until the sun came up. If half of it comes into being it will be a miracle. There seems to me no point in having a small vision. A vision is picture of what could be and should be.

7. Driscoll's first talk from his series on Ephesians made my friend cry.

8. Nine things about Martin Luther King as it's his day.

9. Every so often I watch one of the testimonies from 'I am second'.

10. Jamie Munson tweeted this: 'Worry and anxiety often come from not having a plan. Put a plan together and your outlook on life looks more manageable'

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nothing else

"The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the 1) numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and the 2) continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else - not crusades, outreach programs, para- church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes - will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial."

“The average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer from other congregations. This means that the average new congregation will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size.”

Tim Keller

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Neither one thing nor the other

'A missional church will be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional fundamentalist churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional liberal churches. This kind of church is profoundly counterintuitive to......observers, who are no longer able to categorize (and dismiss) it as liberal or conservative. Only this kind of church has any chance in the non-Christian West.'

Tim Keller, Centre Church

For the pod: Prayer and the girls on a night out

Pete Grieg is the founder of 24-7 prayer and has just launched the 24-7 Prayer Room at HTB.

Book yourselves in. Every slot is booked until April. How exciting to know so much prayer is happening for this great city and nation.

This talk called New Years Resolution is truly wonderful and worth listening to just to hear the story of the bunch of girls praying.

It REALLY blessed me and renewed my passion to pray with more devotion in 2013. As it will for you too I hope

Saturday Blog-sweep

Keeping an eye on the backward clock

Piper on Tongues and Prophecy and Healing and Exorcism

If my life falls apart do I still matter to God?

Seth Godin's idea for revolutionising education 

Steve Chalke in Christianity Today and the fall out and The EA has a thought

Practical tips to make more time for reading (h/t T Wax)

Phyliss Tickle causes a curfuffle among Emergents. (h/t Scott McKnight)

Frugal billionaires

Top 12 Quotes from Tim Keller's Centre Church

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Strategy

'Doing nothing is the only option that is not viable' (p.3)
A Strategy for Mission

My Diocese covers half of London and now has 'A Strategy for Mission'. Yes. The Diocese of Southwark has a strategy for mission. This is the most exciting thing I have read in a long time and I have scribbled all over my copy. We have also appointed Stephen Hance to be Canon Missioner (That's C of E for someone who knows something about mission, planting, leadership and evangelism) All we now need is money, people and prayer and God's got all three in measure.

Oh, and this document contains the words 'Church' and 'Planting'. Did I mention I wrote something called Why Plant Churches?

This is worth a re-listen and you can read the detail here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A bit and a bob

I've been a very busy bee so no time for blogging.

1. 10 Signs of a Health Team

2. What do you make of Robert Downey Jnr on  forgiveness?

3.. I recommended Deep and Wide to my Vicar pal and Chapter Two made him bulb

4. Another pal says God wins is a brilliant response to all the hop-ha about Rob Bell.

5. This will make you laugh a lot.

6. The world is watching

7.  How to measure discipleship

8. This is all over the place: How to write a joke

Sunday, January 13, 2013

For the pod: Reminded

This talk by Bill Hybels (available here and you can subscribe to the podcast here) reminded me afresh that the only hope for the world is the local church. He really only has one talk but it always sets me aflame anew.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Free falling

Years ago now I got a call telling me that I needed to visit Toronto. It was the early 1990's and I was living in Russia. I had been a Christian for three years or so.

So I got on a plane and to this day am not really sure why. I arrived at the Toronto Airport Vineyard and I have never experienced anything quite like it. People in my motel were unable to eat their breakfast cereal because they had been 'slain in the Spirit' and were seemingly physically impacted under the power of the living God. To be honest, I thought they were all absolutely nuts. I went up for prayer morning, noon and night and truth be known I only really wanted one thing. To fall over like everyone else. I didn't. I didn't even wobble a bit (except at my own instigation to feel like I was joining in). The person I had travelled with did fall over. I was very very frustrated and jealous.

Anyway, on one night early on in the week I went up for prayer and was ushered into a room to be prayed for by a dear couple. I explained to them why I had come all the way from Moscow to Toronto and some of the stuff I had going on in my heart and life, including not falling over, and once I had splurged it all out this is what they said to me:

'What you need to know is who you are in Christ'

They gave me a piece of paper and on it were about 25 verses and we prayed them through together. No wailing, no shudders- nothing very dramatic at all.

From that moment on my life was perfect. Actually, that's absolute rubbish- of course it wasn't . I had years yet of rebellion, mess and independence. But it was without doubt one of the most important moments I have ever had.

We all need to know who we are in Christ. It's vital.

What happened to the person who fell over? Well, that's about it. They fell over. They aren't as far as one can tell following Jesus, they have ceased attending church as far as I know, and reflecting on it, I am not quite sure if they are or ever were born again. Who knows but God. It's one I'm still pondering.

And if you're wondering, I have as it happens fallen over since 'in the Spirit' but that's a story for another time.

Do watch this and then read this book and you can also read a review commending it here. If I'd read this when I got back from Toronto it might have saved me some time and bother. Great book to give to new Christians, teenagers or people in an identity pickle (which, let's be honest, we all are -which is why Paul wrote to the Ephesians)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


A member of our church who is involved in the great work Regenerate do was much inspired by this.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Ten things for a Monday

1. 'Accept that God is good and that your relationship with Him is prayer, and you must conclude that prayer is an act of utmost simplicity' Sister Wendy in Prayer.

2. A thought that suggests not why things go badly but why in any way we should expect them to go well and when they do to be thankful.

3. Someone was blessed watching 'Coffee with God'.

4. The Trip was the funniest and at times saddest thing I watched last year.

5. Team commandments.

6. Do and don'ts for gay bishops

7. Suffering fools gladly

8. Dream

9. 2012 films from Desiring God

10. Roger Olson says 'Who does that anymore" (h/t Scott McKnight)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

No looking back

"Most Christians can give a number of reasons why they cannot or should not disciple other people: "I don't feel called to minister. "I just have too much on my plate right now; I don't have time to invest in other people." "I don't know enough." "I have too many issues of my own. I'll start once I get my life in order"

As convincing as these excuses may seem to us, Jesus's commands don't come with exception clauses. He doesn't tell us to follow unless we're busy. He doesn't call us to love our neighbours unless we don't feel prepared. In fact, if you read Luke 9:57-62, you'll see several individuals who gave excuses for why they couldn't follow Jesus at the time. Read the passage and take note of how Jesus responded to them. It may surprise you."

Francis Chan

Friday, January 04, 2013


Simon Guillebaud author of For what it's worth (which should be on your reading list) shared a NY thought of Shoedel's 7-ups: 

‘The first is wake-up - Begin the day with the Lord. It is His day. Rejoice in it.
The second is dress-up - Put on a smile. It improves your looks. It says something about your attitude.
The third is shut-up - Watch your tongue. Don’t gossip. Say nice things. Learn to listen.
The fourth is stand-up - Take a stand for what you believe. Resist evil. Do good.
Five, look-up - Open your eyes to the Lord. After all, He is your only Savior.
Six, reach-up - Spend time in prayer with your adorations, confessions, thanksgivings and supplications to the Lord.
And finally, lift-up - Be available to help those in need – serving, supporting, and sharing.’

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Well a new year begins and I am blessed to have a few days break. I had the Noro virus on C day which you don't want if you can help it.

I decided to eat mini mince pies this year trying to cut the calories and simply found I ate twice as many. There must be some lesson there.

We all start with a few fresh thoughts for the year ahead. I have long since given up on the 'new year resolution' and for what it's worth have found it more helpful to think in decades not years. My old Vicar told me years ago 'you can get far less done in a year than you imagine and far more in a decade than you can ever currently comprehend'.

We got a church planted in 2012 which was an adventure and really began ten years ago but that's another post. We are very much still climbing to altitude and I haven't yet turned the 'fasten seat belt' signs off.

I always suggest readers start a journal and you might be blessed reading Keep a record of your story.

At this time of year I enjoy reviewing all the things I missed in 2012. I have become perfectly content that I seem to now operate a year in lieu on matters of fashion and popular culture. Otherwise known as being past it.

Steve McCoy's Best Albums of 2012 is a joy to read and I have picked a few off the list.

My highlight (due to my love of Country folk) is Brandi Carlile's Bear Creek. A simply wonderful album to listen to loudly in the car and 'That wasn't me' is as good a song as you'll hear this year. If you like a country ballad, that is.

Now onto books.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” so said C.S. Lewis

What I generally do is draw up a list of books that catch my eye from all the many 'year lists' and they go on my pile and I may or may not read them.

The Spectator columnist's always list their favourite books which is such a good read. Here's why- illustrated by a sentence by Lloyd Evans

'Last year I read lots of books by stand-up comedians. They were good fun but entirely unmemorable. This year I read lots of books by philosophers. They were no fun whatsoever and also entirely unmemorable. The topic of metaphysics has fallen into the hands of people without a sense of humour.' 

The recommendations are in three sections: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Here's my pile for any who are interested:

Deep and wide: Half way through and such a helpful collection of wisdom and experience.
In the shadow of the sword: A book to read if you feel you need to know more about Islam
Churchill: Biographies of this great man are all fearfully thick and Johnson's is only 200 pages.
Seven men: Metaxas Bonhoeffer bowled me over in 2011 and so I eagerly anticipate his new tome.
The Advantage: My pal recommended a book by Lencioni about meetings but this seems to be his catch all read.
The Shadow of Death: My RS teacher at school taught me nothing and just read us Father Brown stories out loud which may have, in fact, taught us everything. Apparently, this may be it's heir.
Generation to Generation: Family process in church and synagogue: I read his 'Failure of nerve and this is apparently the better book and a classic.
Who do you think you are?: He may not be everyone's cup of java but he's forgotten more than I will ever know. Who we are in Jesus is such an important thing for each of us to grasp and I can't think of many Christians who don't need to read this book.
The Conviction to Lead: I have made a few comments about this and thought I had better read it.
Getting the love you want: My sister is doing an MA/Doctorate in Couples Therapy and she is recommending a few interesting books to me.
Multiply: A book about making disciples.
Fierce conversations: A great Vicar recommended this book to me and if you don't like having difficult conversations or are too easily a people pleaser then this might be one to read.
Waiting for sunrise: Boyd is one of my favourite novelists.

The list will be constantly added/subtracted during the year. Not very planned or strategic but as I have never been accused of being either that's probably OK.

A book on the CT Books of the Year list that caught my eye was Still: Notes on a mid-faith crisis by Lauren Winner. If you are struggling or have a massive sigh in your soul as we start this year this might be the book for you. It's on my list.

So enjoyed watching Last orders a documentary about the legendary Chas and Dave. Do watch. I saw them in 1985 in Margate.

The thing I read that most impacted me over Christmas was 'Why God?' by Maureen Dowd in the NYT. John Stackhouse has some thoughts on it.

James MacDonald was my find of 2012 and he's what one of my readers calls 'those bombastic preachers you like'. I have listened to the same talk called Vertical Church Reprise three times in a month and think you should all sign up to his podcast. Comes obviously with a 'bombastic' warning.

David Stroud's talk 'The Kingdom and Church planting' is a great one he gave to the Vineyard Leaders conference. He leads NFI. Incidentally, some pastor pals and I have Terry Virgo coming to speak to us in March which is exciting.

One of the least bombastic men in my roster is Jonathan Martin and his preaching has really been an encouragement-so one reader tells me.

I found listening to 'The Vision of a Leader' interesting but he's another of the shoutey American's I'm afraid.

Don't miss Sister Wendy in Art and the Gospel and her wonderful Desert Island Discs She's not American, shoutey and manages to make becoming a hermit sound appealing. Her book on prayer is the best on the subject. It should go on your list.

We could all do worse than allocate a couple of prayerful reflective hours to read 'Blemishes to Christian Character'

If you haven't watched Simon Sinek on 'Asking why' it's thought-provoking.

I spent NY's eve with friends away from the big city eating roast lamb, shared a rather fine Pomerol, watched a film about a blogger on BBC 2 (Julie and Julia) and eased into Petula Clark and Adam Ant on Hootenanny. Crazy life me.

Films I am looking forward to:

Promised Land

Happy clicking.

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