Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The all-rounder

Someone sent me this and it really made me smile:

I am the vicar, I am.
I am the pastor, the carer, the listener
the one with the time to drop everything and
I also understand global politics and immigration and
I am the one who knows about Afghanistan
and cares about ‘our boys’
and I care about speed-humps
and the positioning of zebra crossings near schools.

I am passionate about school assemblies
council meetings
mums and toddlers and also
I am good at one-to-one and small groups and
I listen and empathise and at the same time
I am the one who plans and strategizes and
I am the one who understands budgets and decides if we can buy any staples
or replace the heating system.
I am the vicar, I am.

I am the quiet reflective prayer and
I am the speaker, the enthuser, the motivator, the learned teacher and
I can engage a room of 10, 50, 300 people with no problem because
I am the one who relates particularly well to children
older people
the middle-aged
the jobless
the employed
the doctors
teenagers and
I am the one who is always one step ahead and
I am the one who is endearingly disorganised.
I am the vicar, I am.

I care passionately about church politics
I care passionately about domestic abuse
I care passionately about the plight of Anglo Catholics
women priests
gay clergy
evangelicals and
I listen to the pope
the archbishop and
Rob Bell.

I am up-to-date with theological developments.
I understand the history of the reformation
the armed forces
the war
the government
the deanery
the Jewish background of Jesus and
I care about the excluded and
I manage my admin and
I know how to access children’s services.
I am the vicar, I am.

I am the one in whom trust is placed
I am the one in whom grumbles are placed
I am the one who is always talking to everyone else
I am the one who models worship

I often get it wrong.
I am the one who has to keep my doubts under wraps and
I am also the one who is vulnerable and

I am the one who chairs meetings
I am the one who manages group discussions
I am the manager of an organisation that employs only me
I am the volunteer co-ordinator
the opinion co-ordinator
the trespasser on the territory of people who have been around a lot longer than me
and will be there after me.
I understand the heating system
the financial system
the rota system.

I love committees.

I drink tea with older people
And coffee with younger people
I listen to stories of bus routes and hospital visits and
I believe in transforming our community through the power of Jesus.

I am the one who is very tired.
I am the one who hates wearing dresses but still smiles
and would love to be muddy all the time.

I am the one who only works one day a week.

I am the one who loves this job.
I am the one who is making it up as I go along.
I am the one who would not swap this for anything.
I am the vicar, I am.

© 2009 Kevin Lewis

Monday, April 29, 2013

Three clips

Love this called 'Evolution of Music'.

Sometime a cover is better than the original

Just a great song. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Three clips

Contain the quote from David Walliams 
"....so good it made me want to go to church"

Absolutely brilliantly funny.

Encouraging words from our King-in-waiting about the church

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thinking like a servant

'Servants think about their work, not what others are doing.

They don’t compare, criticize, or compete with other servants or ministries. They’re too busy doing the work God has given them.

Competition between God’s servants is illogical for many reasons: We’re all on the same team; our goal is to make God look good, not ourselves; we’ve been given different assignments; and we’re all uniquely shaped. Paul said, “We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

There’s no place for petty jealously between servants. When you’re busy serving, you don’t have time to be critical. Any thinking spent criticizing others is time that could be spent ministering.

It is not our job to evaluate the Master’s other servants.'

The Purpose Driven Life, Page 268

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For the pod: James MacDonald

A while back I heard Craig Groeschl of Lifechurch.tv (a thriving and hugely innovative church) say that on his day off the preacher he listens to most often is James MacDonald. My dear Vicar pal Peter attends MacDonald's annual conference and also put me onto his deeply challenging book called Vertical Church which I am currently reading.

I commend subscribing to his Weekend Feature podcasts as food for the soul for a car journey or walk and, at the prompting of Billy Graham's advice, here are a couple of tasters.

The Discipline of Personal Bible Study

The Discipline of Personal Prayer

Unwelcome visitors

Just a note of apology to readers who may have encountered unhelpful and pornographic images when visiting 'Cookiesdays'. Thanks for letting me know and I think it happened particularly when visiting using an iPad. I hope that I have now cured the problem.

While on the subject of the unhelpful, this is the best talk on these issues I have come across and is well worth a listen (also good to use as a means to dialogue with your kids/youth group about sex and the internet). It contains a moving interview with an ex-porn star. I have also had Tim Chester's book recommended to me as a good and helpful read (although have not read it).

Apologies again.

If you do this one thing.....

I have dipped into a deep well of Leadership resources and this one written by the excellent blogger Ron Edmondson impacted me:

"Dr. Graham was frail, obviously weakened from how most of us think of Billy Graham, but he was gracious, gentle, and still very alert.
One of the coaches asked Dr. Graham a question.
What word of advice would you have for guys like us, just beginning our careers and still young in our faith?
The young coaches expected something profound from the famed pastor, but Dr. Graham frailly and simply answered:

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

Did you catch that? Was it too fast for you? Should I write it again?

Read your Bible and pray everyday.

Wow! Deep!
Billy Graham, after years of influencing others with the Gospel, encouraged these men with what was most important in developing themselves longterm as believers.

Spend time with God everyday!

Here’s my take on Billy Graham’s encouragement:
Don’t try to make it more complicated than it is. Sometimes simple is the most profound.

Read your Bible and pray everyday."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

No rush

'Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.........Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away'

Mark Buchanan quoted by Ann Voskamp, in 'One thousand gifts', Page 66

Friday, April 19, 2013

Four keys to God building the church

'We chose to believe that God promised to build his church. We committed ourselves to unapologetic preaching, unashamed worship , unceasing prayer and unafraid witness. And God began to reveal His glory slowly at first but more over time'

From 'Vertical church' by James MacDonald

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For the pod: Church planting 1 Corinthian style

We had our first AGM last night which is something of a landmark.

This talk made me chuckle so many times. Perhaps it is because I have planted a church that I found it quite so funny - see what you think.


'Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail' 
Ralph Waldo Emerson
(h/t Michael Hyatt)

Volleyball player and Surfer' approach to marriage is 'highly controversial' to contemporary American culture.

     When you feel behind

     Joy joy joy

     Weakness is the way

     Top five books on creativity

    Gosnell stirs debate

    Only a committee (of clever Clerics) could come up with paragraph 49 happily some clarification is offered here.

    Regrets and retirement which contains the quote ''A man is not a good man if he doesn't think he  could be better'  from Charles Spurgeon

   The open secret about pastors

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saved to serve

The Bible says, “It is he who saved us and chose us for his holy work, not because we deserved it but because that was his plan.” God redeemed you so you could do his “holy work.” You’re not saved by service, but you are saved for service. In God’s kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role and a function to fulfill. This gives your life great significance and value.

It cost Jesus his own life to purchase your salvation. The Bible reminds us, “God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honour God.” We don’t serve God out of guilt or fear or even duty, but out of joy, and deep gratitude for what he’s done for us. We owe him our lives. Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured. In light of these incredible benefits Paul concluded, “Because of God’s great mercy…Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service.”

Purpose Driven Life
Page 228

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Everyone's at it

Today I thought I might write a few thoughts that stem from yesterdays blog-sweep. They largely collect around the subject of sex, which is seemingly one of the deepest idolatries of our day.

Tim Keller has some observations that since reading them have not left me. He says people in our culture won't become Christians because they think it means they can't have sex any more, which I think is possibly true. He unpacks this all in more detail in his book 'The meaning of marriage'. It's an anathema, says Keller, to most teens and 20's to practice sexual abstinence. Also, he notes, those raised as nominally Christian (kids in the youth group who eat the snacks during bible study week by week but are not yet born anew) often fall off their chaste and religious bicycles once they leave the watchful eyes of parents and youth workers- in reality probably before. And single people in the church are all having sex with each other too, if the evidence is to be believed.

'Keller illustrated the point by talking about a tactic, one that he admittedly said was almost too cruel to use, that an old college pastor associate of his used when catching up with college students who were home from school. He’d ask them to grab coffee with him to catch up on life. When he’d come to the state of their spiritual lives, they’d often hem and haw, talking about the difficulties and doubts now that they’d taken a little philosophy, or maybe a science class or two, and how it all started to shake the foundations. At that point, he’d look at them and ask one question, “So who have you been sleeping with?” Shocked, their faces would inevitably fall and say something along the lines of, “How did you know?” or a real conversation would ensue. Keller pointed out that it’s a pretty easy bet that when you have a kid coming home with questions about evolution or philosophy, or some such issue, the prior issue is a troubled conscience. Honestly, as a Millennial and college director myself, I’ve seen it with a number of my friends and students—the Bible unsurprisingly starts to become a lot more “doubtful” for some of them once they’d had sex.'

I am preaching on Mark 7 tomorrow where Jesus calls the Scribes 'hypocrites' which was never likely to make him terribly popular. It is an interesting thought that we become more lax and questioning of God as we witness are own inability to keep His standards and commands. No sex before marriage being one of the most unreachable, yet it's so crucial as 1 Cor 7 makes abundantly clear. The rejection of faith is therefore a better or inevitable option for many rather than living inconsistently.

I worked for a time with someone who had trained to be a Catholic priest and was a gay man and his reason for giving up the priesthood was not so much his lack of devotion to God but the fact that so many of his fellow priests were practicing homosexuals. He decided that if he couldn't adhere to celibacy it's better to leave rather than be forced to lead a double life or one contrary, as he saw it, to scripture and the church. I always admired his conviction and honesty. When Jesus quotes Isaiah in Mark 7:6-7 it strikes all our hearts and if it doesn't it should do.

Lauren Winner has written a good book called Real sex and in this interview she says that good intentions and religious will don't work without grace. 

'And while I think the will is certainly a part of Christian living, it's the will that is empowered through God's grace. The catch phrase of 'just say no' places too much burden on our will and doesn't acknowledge the crucial place of God's activity in our faithful living.'

As with all other things, the gospel of grace holds the key to issues of sex (as it does to money and all other matters) and it all stems from a revelation of the finished work of the cross. Yesterday, a pal recommended to me Larry Crabb's book 'The pressures off' as the best articulation of the gospel that he'd read.  We can only live differently, joyfully and hopefully out of what Jesus has done for us. It's comprehending this grace that releases the resurrection power to live purely whereas, in contrast, legalism/moralism too easily enslaves, condemns and kills. 

In preparing for marriage Mrs Cooke to be and I have been listening to these talks and our most recent listen Sex: God, Gross or Gift  was helpful. Incidentally, whilst I know Pastor Mark is not everyone's cup of java, I can't think that many couples would not find it helpful to work through these talks. They are truly real, biblical, hugely honest, practical and we are finding them a blessing to think about and discuss. 

As a final slightly unrelated aside, I really enjoyed reading this wonderful conversion story.

Friday, April 12, 2013


How Thatcher's Christian faith shaped her leadership

Don't miss this wonderful tribute to Margaret Thatcher by Conor Burns MP
(h/t Cranmer)

The Resurgence now has a weekly summary of good things.

There is a lot being written on celibacy. Read interesting reflections here, here and here.

A moving film called 'I am not sure I want to be married any more'

I met Joni and Ken at Wycliffe and Joni spoke to us. She is a remarkable woman.

The Gosnel trial and how its being reported and for the background to this shocking story do watch 3801 Lancaster

Where are Rob Bell's glasses?

Ann Voskamp on 'How to make a home' with some lovely photos that show you one.

Piper on 'What is speaking in tongues?' is first on the list of 25 top films @ Desiring God this year.

Alister McGrath is superb on 'What would make you lose your faith?'

Good old fashioned fornication.

Learning about preaching from Steve Jobs

A very interesting post called 'What's wrong with Calvinism?'

How can the church help those struggling with depression

A good review of 'Playing to win' which might be a helpful business/commerce read for some.

Rick Warren, the Critics and the Hope of God's Son

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's get the toes tapping

Thanks again to the Opinionated Vicar David Keen for posting this interview about a song I posted on the blog a few weeks ago (watch it here) . It will make you want to dance. Spread the word and why not dance in church this Sunday and invite others to dance with you!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Bono @ TED: Good news on poverty

(H/T David Keen)

No Comment

I wonder what you make of David Fitch's idea of having no view on issues of human sexuality and faith (I'm not sure Mrs Thatcher would be happy with the thought of anyone 'not having a view' but there you go).

Worth some pondering.

Wisdom, leadership and having a bit of courage

‘Wisdom is choosing to do now what we will be satisfied with later.’

Joyce Meyer

Yesterday, Margaret Thatcher died. This news among my many emotions, took me back to my childhood in the eighties and also to my undergraduate dissertation. It was entitled 'Thatcherism and the geography of share ownership in the UK'. As part of the literature review, I think I read just about everything written about Margaret Thatcher and her political times and thought and I was particularly impacted by the late Hugo Young's 'One of Us' . You can read a reflective piece that Young wrote in 2003 called 'Margaret Thatcher left a dark legacy that has still not disappeared'. This is the quote from it that stood out:

'I think by far her greatest virtue, in retrospect, is how little she cared if people liked her. She wanted to win, but did not put much faith in the quick smile. She needed followers, as long as they went in her frequently unpopular directions. This is a political style, an aesthetic even, that has disappeared from view. '

[Hugo Young]

As I reflect on her life here are some thoughts that come to mind.

1. She was a conviction leader (see more here)

2. She stayed married and faithful

3. She didn't mind being unpopular

4. She understood thrift and learnt it from running her father's grocery store

5. She lead and won a war

6. She didn't expect people to cut her some slack because she was a woman

7. She understood the power of words

8. She often took the hard road

9. She made mistakes

10. She understood the value of hard work

11. She believed educating people in things for which there is no work was a waste of resources.  

12. She understood it's hard to sell things no one wants to buy or that you can get better and cheaper elsewhere.

For what it's worth, as I studied her life and convictions I became a great admirer and confess that as time has passed this has not wained. Feel free to disagree.

One tweet by Charlie Peer summed it up when he wrote:

'Watching Thatcher footage made me nostalgic for politicians (of all parties) who actually knew what they believed in' 

I must agree.

For another take do also read Adrian Warnock.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Greatest Letter

'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.'

Martin Luther's Preface to his Commentary on Romans

A while back I wrote a post called 'The two greatest words in the NT' :

1. A Sabbatical: Ten years ago I spent a sabbatical from work travelling and fly-fishing and read Romans constantly. My 'call' came from my immersion in this great letter and the revelation of the gospel I gleaned from it. I was shown grace through this but I was called by reading Romans.

2. A Set of Sermons: John Piper has recently preached his final sermon to Bethlehem Baptist Church. This is a significant thing when you have spent a year with a man listening to most of his 11 years of sermons on Romans. I resolved to listen to one a day every morning and worked my way through almost every sermon.

3. A Book: My pal preached through Romans too and he has now turned these into a book which I am now reading the manuscript of. Martin Lloyd-Jones's commentaries are worth a look too and here is some advice on how to read them.

4. A Forty Days: Rick Warren has been on my heart and the hearts of many after news of his son's suicide. Reading 'The Purpose Driven Life' over forty days almost a decade ago was such a helpful thing for me. In this fascinating interview Rick Warren reveals that Romans 8:28 colours his whole theology and is the text that underpinned the whole book. Never more will this dear man and his wife need to cling to this great truth that he has held so dear for so long.

5. A Fresh Challenge: I have recently come across the blog of a wonderful woman called Ann Voskamp and amidst the many other things I like about it is the beautiful piano music that rings out as you read. I can't quite remember how I discovered Ann but I am glad I have. She has something called 'The Romans Project and with others is memorising Romans 1, 8 and 12. Do watch the video and read the post here and I am thinking of giving it a go. Voskamp on committing things to memory is beautiful writing and seduces and excites  me rather than guilts me to want to do it :

"Memorization isn’t for the saints who have made it. It’s for the sinners who want to make it.
Memorization is like learning to say your name, like learning where north is, like knowing your phone number home — it’s knowing who you are, where you are, Who He is. What the heart knows by heart is what the heart knows — how else can we know who we are? Memorization is 24/7 soul orientation."

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Rick Warren's son

Less than weeks ago I spent some time with Rick Warren. He was an extraordinary encouragement and blessing. Very sadly today, we learn that his son has committed suicide after a long battle with mental illness. Read more here and do please pray for the Warren's as they mourn.

Here too are some helpful resources on the subject of suicide.

Faith, God's plans and your work

A good interview with Keller about his book about God and your work called 'Every good endeavour'

Friday, April 05, 2013

For the pod: 'God loves me and I'm his favourite'

Reading 'The Reality of Prayer' and the story of my friend's aunt blessed me.

I once heard John Peters say that if you're a pastor and understand your job you have to like talent contests. I agree and so, of course, I am greatly pleased by the return of 'The Voice'. This morning I listened to a great John Peters sermon called 'Being Known'. It includes an explanation of how treasured and valued you are by God.

It would be a good compliment to you reading 'Who do you think you are?' and is well worth a listen.

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