Saturday, July 27, 2013


For the Pod: Which tribe are you in?

If you visit here you are probably a bit interested in matters theological. You may also note that I very often post things from different tribes in the Christian world which may confuse some of you as to my tribe.

I will give you a clue: I love Jesus

Which will be followed in your mind with a 'Yes, but......' and that probably comes from some tribal allegiance or other.

The truth is we all have one.

What's a tribe?

Well within evangelicalism there are Charismaniacs, Reformissionaries, Alphabetties, Greenbelt and no braces, Helen-ists, New y-fronts people, Redeemerites, Winos, Kessick mint cakes, Eek-thus and not forgetting Hillocksong and black majority crowd (probably bigger than all the others put together) and all the others I've not mentioned or don't know about.

This is the time of year when many visit their particular tribal gathering so I found this brilliant talk called The Four Points timely. It's thought-provoking, theologically educational and helpful (feel free to disagree).

As you head off to this or that camp or gathering let's all remember Wimber's famous adage that we  'keep the main thing the main thing'.

I'm going to try to.

Saturday blog-sweep

How to raise a kid that isn't whiny and annoying

Don't often post B. Johnson but this is an interesting thought on an interesting verse.

Maybe our churches need less of 'More'.

Willy Wonga and the C of E investment factory

True Biblical Hospitality: loving immigrants, strangers and enemies

85 Questions to ask before you marry

In humility hold others above yourself


How did the Bible end up in that hotel room?

We'll see

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Talk gets old after a while

I say over and over and over again 'You're the church' to the saints of HT Barnes.

We are starting to think about what it means to be a church family on mission and this film is helpful among lots of other material in our thinking about what our community groups might look like. Well worth a watch if you want to see what groups 'on a mission' may look like. Jeff's tears in the film deeply deeply moved me.

The quotes I loved were ...."talk gets old after a while"

..."A Church planter needs to ask God to give them a bigger heart because it's not about them or their church or their success it's about the glory of God..."

I enjoyed Jo Saxton's thoughts on 'people of peace' too which is worth a watch. Jo's an inspiring woman.

I've also re-watched 2158. Who doesn't want to be involved in a day like this at some point in a lifetime? Come Holy Spirit.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Same time next week

I am part of a Church planters network which has the simple aim of encouraging each other and praying and planning how we can see more churches planted in the C of E. One of our number, Rev Cris Rogers, planted into All Hallow's Bow (fantastic film on their website) and had less than 5 people turning up when he arrived. It is located in one of the poorest parts of the East End and he and his amazing wife Becky have spent the last couple of years growing a congregation and reaching out to their community and now remarkably they have over 120 people attending on a Sunday morning.

Do please watch 'Bless'. One story Chris tells is so very deeply moving and hope generating that you will be telling others about it all week.

As a shout out, Chris has launched 'The Rebel's guide to the good news' which is some great material for groups and we are going to be using it next term with our youth and I think in the wider church.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Anglican TV

There's always a bit in 'Have I got news for you' when they have headlines from trade magazines such as 'Tinned Tuna Monthly' or 'Seamstress Quarterly'.

Anglican TV is my equivalent and now has more viewers than the readers of all the church newspapers combined (Church Times, C of E Newspaper etc). I watch an episode every now and then and it's rather good and keeps me up to speed with a host of issues international Anglican. They have just done their 75th episode.

For the tiny proportion of my readers who are interested- happy viewing and well done chaps- keep at it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


"This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes. Therefore I want to carry out my service and, with this preface, provide an introduction to the letter, insofar as God gives me the ability, so that every one can gain the fullest possible understanding of it. Up to now it has been darkened by glosses [explanatory notes and comments which accompany a text] and by many a useless comment, but it is in itself a bright light, almost bright enough to illumine the entire Scripture."

Luther's Preface to Romans

‘We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking we are the worst people on the face of the earth and that nobody does as many wrong things as we do.  But Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory (excellence) of God.  Every man, woman, or child who was ever born, or ever will be, has a problem with sin.  But the good news is that God has provided an answer to our dilemma’, writes Joyce Meyer.
When Saint Augustine found the answer in 386AD, ‘a clear light flooded [his] heart’.  When Luther found the answer in 1515 the Reformation began.  When Wesley understood the answer in 1738, his heart was ‘strangely warmed’, and the seeds of a revival began.
In each case, their lives were radically changed through understanding ‘the righteousness of God’.  The moment anyone comes to understand this expression, it changes their life.  It certainly changed mine.
Nicky Gumbel Bible in one Year, July 16th 2013
I haven't banged on about Romans for a while so why not: 

1. Read Romans

2. Read Romans as part of Bible in One Year (we're in Chapter 3)

3. Listen to these 11 sermons over the next 11 days or download them and take them on your 2 week summer break and make a point of listening to one a day with a notebook in hand. 

4. Get a commentary and read a chapter a week for a year

5. Leon Morris, a NT scholar, says that Romans 3:21-26 is ...'possibly the most important paragraph ever written'... so why not try to memorise it.

6. Teach your church Romans (we are doing 'Romans in 3 Hours' in October and an eight part Saturday morning study next year)

7. If you want the full wallop you could listen to all 229 sermons called The Greatest Letter Ever Written which took 11 years to preach.

Monday, July 15, 2013

An interview with Jesus

Jesus was on breakfast telly this morning.

For the pod: The circle maker

I have read a great many of Mark Batterson's books and blogged a lot about 'In a pit with a lion on a snowy day'.

This is an hours talk called 'The Circle Maker' on things he has learnt on church growth and leadership and draws heavily on the life of Moses. I have listened to it twice and have made some thorough notes on it. If you lead a church, are part of a leadership team or wonder if you might like to be part of either one some day then this is worth your time.

The five principle he lays out are:

1. Walk with God

2. Work with a team

3. Learn to love people and preach the Bible

4. Develop thick skin

5. Take care of yourself

Ten things for a Monday

1. The Archbishop's first address to Synod. Demonstrates what a political machine the C of E is but it's interesting to note the talk of 'revolution'.

2. I always enjoy 'Summer reading' in the Spectator.

3. Logos 5 holds enough info to keep you going until Jesus returns.

4. Some wisdom on how to respond to same-sex marriage rulings and you might want to get hold of 'Is God anti-gay?'

5. The most important word in leadership development

6. When did your PCC (or similar) last consider these two questions.

7. You might like to work through 'The history of Christianity in 25 objects' and I hope you find these as fascinating and informative as I am.

8. "A lot of our heroes in the church are single people" is the line that hit me from this short interview with Shane Claiborne on Fundamentalism.

9. Love the idea of Kickstarter.

10. If you click on one of these ten make it this testimony. It made me cry. I never tire of hearing people's stories of encountering Jesus.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

One for the pod: C S Lewis

I enjoy C S Lewis so the prospect of this conference is exciting. My only question of Piper is why on earth he didn't invite Alister McGrath to speak? If you want a good biography on this great man choose this one.

If you have never read Mere Christianity take it on holiday with you.

Also, if you want an audio primer this excellent biography called 'Lessons from an inconsolable soul' is one for the pod.

Here is a ten minute summary of this great man's influence and importance.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday blog-sweep

A great post called One smart and simple way to share your faith: brag about Jesus. Occasionally, reading something just comes at the right time and is such a help and fits a few things you have been thinking about. This is just such a post and if you are someone who longs to share their faith but doesn't quite know how- this might be a blessing.

If you still have the 'small boy' part of you that will never grow up you'll just love this video

15 characteristics of today's unchurched person

It's not about the nail

Friday, July 12, 2013

The only gaurantee

'A vigorous and continuous approach to church planting is the only way to guarantee an increase in the number of believers.'

Tim Keller

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A few people

The blog has passed through 200K hits which for something that started because I was bored in the Bodlein Library @ Vicar Factory is quite something.

Cookie's days is here to be a blessing so do tell people who you think it might bless.

Yesterday, I spent the morning with Alan Hirsch who is a sharp and very engaging fellow. He seems to really get the fact that we are living in post-Christendom (his big idea) and he is credited with coming up with the word 'missional' for which we will forgive him. His book 'The shaping the things to come' (2005 and since revised and updated) was helpful for me and he has also written 'The Forgotten Ways' and others. His latest is 'The Permanent Revolution' which he has co-written with Mike Breen, the UK's very own missional smissional man.

What on earth does missional mean? Well. Ask Alan

'It's not so much that the church has a mission but that the mission has a church'

'Discipleship is being more and more like Jesus'

One thing struck me right off the bat was when he spoke about Ralph Winter's idea of 'cultural distance'.

This is the idea that there are always barriers between us and the people we are trying to reach and the more barriers there are the more difficult is is (language, ethnicity, economics etc). That's not my thought though. My thought is that Ralph Winter managed to influence and mentor so many people and yet so few know who he is. I'll give you a couple of people he mentored: John Piper and Rick Warren (which is how they both met each other and became friends as you can learn here). There do seem just a few people who impact whole swathes of people and their thinking- Keller, McLaren, Driscoll, Wright, Piper, Stott and Nouwen to name a few. Or to name some from the past: Wesley, Booth, Calvin, Edwards and Owen.

I am no Ralph Winter but I like the idea of being an influence for good. It's why I blog and I hope some of the content here is a blessing and encouragement in the making of disciples. I also try to bring you lots of ideas from various sources and silos. I try to post here a variety of material from different theological camps and perhaps our problem in the church are our little isolated clubs. For example, this splendid chappy writes a brilliant blog that I read but you will note here he only reads Reformed blogs. He doesn't seem to read Cookies days sadly possibly because I do posts on Alan and he's probably not into Alan. Now I love reformed theology and think theology is beautiful (can theology warrant such a descriptor?) but I want to explore, be challenged by and learn from other perspectives and people who don't think what I think and I hope you do to. 

'Have many ideas and let them compete' 
Alan Hirsch 

Here here.

I also like Alan's definition of leadership which I have been mulling on.

'Leaders define reality for others
Alan Hirsch

I've more on this one but I'll stop now. 


Here's our 'Meet the Vicar' video which if something was ever destined not to go Viral this is it but you can have a little taste of my very ordinary clerical self as we're celebrating a double century of hits. Suffice to say I am no Alan Hirsch and the camera is indeed not kind to me- apologies. 

I plan to keep at the blog for another 100k hits as long as a few of you keep reading. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

World premier

Our new church film had its world premier tonight. Feel free to tweet it, send it to friends and fire it all over the inter-web.

We love our church. It's an invitation for you or someone you know to come and join in :)

Last statements

I have been reading the last statements of 500 men executed on death row in Texas.

You might like to read 'The Heresy of Capital Punishment' [required reading] and Some responses to Critics regarding Capital Punishment (via Preacher Smith)

Sunday, July 07, 2013

What's over the door?

I've been immersed in questions of riches and the kingdom. I've also been wondering what words I should have over the door to my study- if any. I remember learning that Leonard Sweet has made the door to his study small so that he has to bend under it order to get in. He says it reminds him to be humble. You can learn what Piper has over his door here.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Cinnamon Network

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again dwell in Jerusalem and sit out in the streets, every man with his staff in his hand for very [advanced] age.

Zechariah 8 v 4

This week I attended the best thing I have been to in ages. It is called The Cinnamon Network. It's funny that I went the same week I am preaching on the rich young ruler and so giving stuff away is front and centre for me.

My prayer for this post is things will happen because of it and you might do something or start something or impact a life because of it. I pray one of the projects you come across through reading this post you might actually start yourself or indeed you might initiate a project of your own that will one day end up on the Cinnamon website. I truly hope so.

The Cinnamon Network was founded by Matt Bird who really really loves Jesus and seems to be a simply splendid fellow. He told the story of the 'kairos moment' he had a few years ago when he realised he had read so many books and listened to so many talks and been to so many conferences that he felt spiritually like he does on Christmas day at 3pm. Absolutely stuffed. It was time to get active and start actually doing some of the stuff he'd spent years writing in a sermon notebook.

As we start though, permit me to recommend a couple of books if you still need convincing that the church should be loving the communities they are part of and ministering to the poor.

1. Loving mercy
2. Generous Justice

These two books told me that a church without a commitment to mercy ministry is not the church Jesus longs for. Second thing that struck me. There were very few from my tribe (Charismatic Anglican Evangelical) at this gathering. In fact, there were v few from the C of E. It was mainly Baptists, Pentecostals, Free Church and a smattering of congregationalists.

Here are some stats for you (shared by Matt at the end of our day that I scribbled down):

  • 20K offenders leave prison every year with only £42 in their pockets. Half will reoffend in two years
  • 5m elderly say the TV is their primary companion
  • 1/2m people spent Christmas alone 
  • 400k kids are excluded from school per year
  • 9k  kids are waiting for a foster home or to be adopted
  • Birmingham council (UK's largest) over the next 3 years have a shortfall in funding of £625m. Merton (among the smallest) has a shortfall of £40m.
The questions Matt posed to those assembled was this:

Shouldn't the church be doing something about this stuff?

He went on to show us a number of what he called 'franchise' local church initiatives impacting their communities that you can run off the shelf in your church if the same need exists in your community. You could do worse than go down the list of all 31 (as I intend to over the next few weeks) and if one resonates with you and a few others and a need you see in your community then go to your pastor/ Vicar and explore if it might be right to start it. Then see what happens. 

These are a few:

I love this one called 'Lunch'. So simple. So easy to do. So loving. Meeting obvious need. 

I love 'Mega fitness

Currently the best known of these is - 'Food bank

Next time I attend on 27th November I hope to see a few of you there. Also a few in our church are going to go to this day on furniture recycling (they don't know it yet) because they have been trying to get this up and running for ages for a charity we are involved with.  

It's simply the best and most inspiring day I've had in ages so why not skip one of the teaching days on 1 and 2 Timothy or Healing Conferences (both of which I'm fans of) your booked in for and get yourself to this. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Letter to the wife of a missionary couple in Uganda who is feeling overwhelmed:

'In all this I take the greatest comfort in simply surrendering to the will of Christ. You need most desperately a centrepiece, an anchor in the storm of feelings and onward turmoil. That is the will of Christ. How did you get there in Uganda? Through the will of The Lord. How will you do your work?  Through discerning the will of Christ. How will you learn to say no when you need to? Through trusting in the will of Christ. Get it deep into your mind that your only master is Christ, and that He has power to show you what to do in situations that are overwhelming or boring or draining.

But what in broad terms is the will of Christ? It is to be gentle and lowly in heart. It is to cast your burdens and anxieties on Him, and to find rest for your souls as you labour to make Christ known. In this resting in Christ comes wisdom. Practical wisdom'

Heart of a servant leader, Page 115

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ten things for a Tuesday

1. The Missing Generation : 18-30's

2. Today parliament is debating faith and community and I'm attending the Cinnamon Network meeting.

3. Three answers to the question "How do I become a better leader?" 

4. I am preaching on the rich young ruler this weekend. Seth Godin has also been thinking about money.

5. Now this a day the preacher truly lost it and then I read The Church is not a democracy :)

6. Channel 4 to broadcast Islamic call to prayer during Ramadan

7. Christians are not called to have amazing sex

8. I married the wrong person (via Challies)

9. What if prayer lists were work lists (via Preachersmith)

10. This talk reminded me that if you haven't got Ephesians 6 you're flying blind. 

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