Sunday, September 28, 2014

For the pod: Romans 7

As readers may know I love Romans and some of you may be interested in the Romans 7 question.

Who is the wretched man?

The answer you come to is not crucial and I happen to be with Piper rather than MLJ or Adrian Warnock.

Adrian's latest post 'Could Piper be wrong on Romans 7 and does it matter?' links to Piper's talks from the DG National Conference and he says Piper's first talk of five is life-changing:

'What is crucial about these talks is that Piper opens the lid on how he approaches the text. These will not only teach you doctrine, they will teach you how to learn doctrine direct from the Bible. And crucially you don’t have to agree with him on every point to benefit from listening. I have already spoken about the strong impact that the first talk had on me.'

I love that sort of recommendation for a talk.

See what you think.


Worship - Military Style

Loved this!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday blog-sweep

This is a very helpful wisdom on how 'To share your story'

'Look at the Book' has now gone live and I spent ten minutes learning from this mediation called 'Fear not, little flock'. This is a hugely helpful way to help you grow in your study of the Scriptures that you might want to use for personal study or with a group. I am going to dip into this with regularity.

Welby on the theological challenge of Isil and also Shock! He believes in God.

J John writes a good reflection 'On praying for ISIS'.

Steve Chalke and Sean Doherty 'Debating Sexuality' 

Everybody is a theologian and Some advice for Young Pastors (via Dash House)

The Quantified life and the Sanctified Christian has some interesting apps and if you want more on this then I commend reading Simplify (which I am currently doing).

The Church Times reveals its first instalment of 100 Best Christian Books (100-51)

It's all about listening

If you are thinking about being a Vicar (or you already are one) here are ten characteristics you might want to cultivate. (via Tim Challies)

Why boundaries are important in our relationships is worth a couple of minutes.

The most important thing

On why 'Left behind should be left behind'

A review of Scott McKnights Kingdom Conspiracy

If you have a pastor then this is some wisdom on how to encourage them: Increase their joy: Three ways to encourage pastors and Should a pastor take a day off every week?

The biography series 'On the Christian Life' has a new edition on Edwards. These are a good way into some of the giant thinkers of Church history.

I spent some time clicking on posts at 3DM and lingered on Mike Breen describing 'How to die on a cross'

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Seven Stories of Hope

I have been reading this helpful book about Jesus movements.

One story in it tells is of a couple (Jeff Sundell and his wife) who were missionaries to Nepal with great impact. Once they returned home to the States, they then applied the same principles that they had learnt in Nepal to their new cultural setting. They asked the same five missionary questions:
  • How do I enter an unreached region and connect with people?
  • How do I share the gospel?
  • How do I make disciples who disciple others?
  • How do I form groups in the community that will reproduce?
  • How do I develop and multiply local leaders?
They started by prayer walking their new town in North Carolina and looked to connect with people who were far from God. 

When they met people they would ask this question:

'If God could do a miracle in your life today, what would it be?

They would then pray for them on the spot. 

This simple approach in the end birthed some new believers and eventually a new church. To make disciples, Jeff took people through 'The seven stories of hope' which asks four simple questions. The people he discipled then took others through the same material:

1. What does this teach us about God?
2. What does this teach us about humanity?
3. Is their a command to obey?
4. Is there an example to follow?

At the end of every study the leader asks

'How can you obey what we learned today?

When they next meet they ask

'How did you obey what you learned last week?'

As an aside, we used this material and approach in our 'Tuesday Gatherings' in my home at the birth of HT Barnes. It's easy, fun and powerful stuff. 

What Jesus started, Pages 55-57

Thursday, September 25, 2014


I've had rather a busy-bee week so not a lot of time to write.

Our church plant was two years old on Sunday. Time flies.

Mrs C and I started 'The Marriage Course' on Monday night. It's really good.

We are launching our '16:30 Service' on Sunday which we would appreciate prayer for.

Ru (who is part of our church) is hosting Reboot this weekend which is worth telling teenagers about.

I'm mulling on this quote:

'Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work' Peter Drucker

A recommendation from Hybels in Axioms was Tom Clancy's 'Into the storm: A study in Command'

Carcassonne was recommended to me by a couple of folk as a great board game.

A C Grayling wants RE in schools banned.

5 Books on Discipleship

And 'One of the most powerful questions you can ask' 

Monday, September 22, 2014

No pressure

A....fear many believers have is failure. If you view your role as just being the second witness, then you realise the outcome is not your responsibility. The performance pressure is off. Craig Groeschl said, "You don't fail when you invite people to repent and follow Christ and no one responds. You fail when you don't invite people to repent and follow Christ". If an irreligious person becomes a little more open because of a warm interaction with you, that's no failure' 

Purple Fish, Page 135

Friday, September 19, 2014

Never say someone else's 'no' for them

So it was a 'No'.

This post title came from Axioms and was the only thing that had a 'No' in it that came to mind. It's one of Hybels seventy-five Axioms. We're going to be dipping into it on and off as a staff team this term.

Pray for Scotland as they go forward.

This is the four-point way Hybels coaches church teams/leaders on assessing the effectiveness of churches.

'I'd like to break you all up into small groups" I explained, "and figure out how you'd rate your church's effectiveness in each area. On a scale of one to ten- one being really bad, and ten being really, really good-assess how well you reach people far from God, help new believers grow up in Christ, inspire the next generation toward faith, and help solve the problems of a broken world. Come up with one number per group, and then post your numbers on this flip chart. Deal?' (p.156)

I am starting to read 'The Walk' through together with someone who is a new follower of Jesus.

We are going to be immersed in Galatians until Christmas:

“To be convinced in our hearts that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing.”  Martin Luther on Galatians

You can get 'Songs of Innocence' free on iTunes. I'm listening to it as I type. Mark Meynell reflects deeply on the album here.

I attended our local 'Churches together' last night at which I am a little sporadic: Methodists, Baptists, Catholics and Anglicans sharing a few things. Nice night. I recommended 'The Prayer Course' and as a result one church is now going to use it next term. It's nice to be able to be able to pass forward something that has been such a blessing to us as a church.

I'm still reading and re-reading 'Purple Fish'

'I'm fishing for men with a certain kind of bait, and the bait that I am offering is not a candy; it's a very specific thing that I'm offering, which is a deep gospel and a deep conversion' 

Larry Norman quoted in Purple Fish (p.51).

Feeling down? They maybe 'The one thing you need to be happy' is a timely read for you?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Prayer for Scotland

O Lord, let us not for Scotland, or for any nation, ask for national prosperity without a revival of religion. Our prayers are only warrantable when we adjust and proportion our esteem of the mercies of God to their real worth, and desire them for their proper ends. A love to one’s country, and a desire of its outward welfare, is, no doubt, an excellent an amiable disposition. But it is much more so to be concerned for their everlasting interest. When we ask for temporal prosperity, without an equal, or rather superior solicitude for the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost, we are alienating his mercies from their proper use, turning them into weapons of rebellion against him, and cherishing that love of the world which is destructive of the love of God.
Are we not also, O Lord, in a very low and fallen state as a church? How have all ranks, from highest to lowest, corrupted their ways. How gross and prevalent is infidelity? How many of high rank have wholly deserted the house and worship of God? And with how much zeal and diligence does the lower part of the nation emulate the higher in that which is the reproach of both? So great is the prevalence of irreligion, contempt of God, sensuality and pride, that many of the grossest crimes are not only practiced but professed, not only frequent but open, not only persisted in but gloried in and boasted of.
It is not, indeed, to be wondered at that not only this nation, but the Protestant states of Europe in general should be brought under the rod, as they have so shamefully departed from that purity of faith and the strictness of morals which was the glory of the Reformation. How many have of late been ashamed of the cross of Christ and the doctrine of the grace of God? And what hath been substituted in their room? A pliant and fashionable scheme of religion, a fine theory of virtue and morality. A beautiful but unsubstantial idol, raised by human pride, adorned and dressed by human art, and supported by the wisdom of words.
For this reason, we ask that we might discover Christ’s power and glory in an eminent and remarkable revival of religion among all ranks.
That our blessed Redeemer, the king of Zion, who reigns to all generations, who hath ascended up on high and received gifts for men, would send forth his Spirit in a large and plentiful measure.
That his work and power may appear in all his gracious influences, convincing and converting sinners, sanctifying, quickening and comforting believers.
That this may be a common blessing on all corners of the land, on persons of every class and denomination, of every rank and degree, from the highest to the lowest, of every station and office, civil and sacred.
Above all, that he would “clothe his priests with salvation, that his saints may shout aloud for joy.”
O when shall the time come when “the Lord of hosts shall be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the residue of his people”? When instead of fine schemes spun for the honor of their makers, those who are called ministers of Christ shall preach the gospel, “with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” When the truth of God, by its simplicity, majesty, force and efficacy, shall make its way into the hearts of the most obstinate, and Satan’s kingdom fall as lightning before it.
We plead that believers may be brought back to their first faith and their first love; that the unhappy divisions among us be abolished; and that the bond and centre of union may be Christ crucified, the only author of salvation.
Let us not give way to desponding thoughts. Though infidelity unresisted spread its poison, though profaneness and enmity to religion and seriousness everywhere abound, though there are few to support the interest of truth and righteousness, let us not be discouraged.
We plead the cause that shall finally prevail.
Religion shall rise from its ruin; and its oppressed state at present should not only excite us to pray, but encourage us to hope for its speedy revival. While every one is diligent in his own sphere, and in his proper duty, and earnestly pleading for the revelation of the arm of the Lord, let us recollect his favor and protection to the church in every time of need, and his faithfulness which is to all generations. Let us say with the Psalmist, “Walk about Zion and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even unto death.” Amen.
John Knox Witherspoon from his Sermon on Isaiah 51:9 'Prayer for National Prosperity and for the Revival of Religion Inseparably Connected, Feb 16th 1758
(h/t Kevin de Young)

Haggis, U2 and some Quotes

Sometimes I am freshly encouraged to keep blogging and to keep on recommending. Yesterday, a friend shouted across a car park to me "Purple Fish is amazing'

Big day in the nation. The best piece I read on Scotland was this one.

By the way 'Archbishop Cranmer' and the 'God and Politics' blog have got married :)

At my school in Moniaive in the Lowlands (1976-81), we had haggis for lunch on alternate Wednesdays. It was truly vile.

Is it me or are all the head issues not a little dull even if they are correct and sensible? Watching the 'Braveheart freedom scene of the battle at Stirling is about the heart of the working man and so if someone told me that the RPI and the price of John Lewis crockery in Dumfries might go up by 0.3% I think I know which one I might choose if I was Scottish. Being the seasoned political pundit I am therefore predicting a YES.

We'll wait and see.

I enjoyed this U2 reflection

I read these on my holidays

-All of Grace
-The Dark Inside (written by a friend)
-When love is not enough
-Captive in Iran

I listened to 'The Price and the Prize' and think I became a Christian once again.

I love lists and recommendations so here are two: A novel every Christian should consider reading and a  Top ten quotes list.

Someone texted me this song.

James believes 'It's time to rethink our attitude to abortion'

I have taken delivery of Simplify.

This piece caught my eye 'Biblical theology and the Sexuality Crisis' having just listened to a Keller on 1 Cor 1 and 7 yesterday. The Bishops of the C of E have just finished having some shared conversations recommended by Pilling.

This review of 'Under an unpredictable plant' has made me reach again for some Peterson.

Watching 2158 was a step on the journey as to how God planted HT Barnes. We are two years old this weekend and are having a party!

I am preaching next weekend at 'The Point Church's' tenth birthday as a plant (one of my bigger, older and wiser brothers) which will be fun.

28th September is what used to be called 'Back to church' Sunday but it's now been rebranded as 'Invitation Sunday. I am going to show this film prior to our pre-Alpha Invitation Service and the launch of our new 16:30 service on 28th Sept. You might like to use it too.

If you want a leadership coach then save yourself $250k and just buy the book.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Purple Fish

'Your role as a Christ follower is simply to be a witness. You don't have to pound gavels. point fingers and cast blame. All you need to do is tell your story. The beautiful thing about sharing your faith story is that nobody can deny it. No one can argue with your own personal experience. When you share personally, it touches hearts deeply. What is most personal is most universal.

We are not called to push anybody into our way of thinking. Rather, we bear witness to what God has done for us, and then leave the outcome in his hands.

"Evangelism is less about trying to manage an outcome as it is sharing events and offering an advent alternative for what everyone clearly sees" said Leonard Sweet. "Rather than wrestling the sinners prayer out of a person who will say anything to get out of the headlock, it is a nudge toward the undeniable truth that is alive in all of us."

Like the redeemed beggar, all you need to say is, "One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see" (John 9:25)

These are a few pointers on sharing a faith story:

1. Pray that God will open doors for you to share
2. When the door opens, have courage to speak
3. Stay humble and never portray an attitude of superiority
4. Keep it simple and brief. Don't share more than they want to know
5. Tell them what you experienced, rather than what they should do
6. Focus on the message (Jesus) rather than the mess
7. Don't engage in argument. If they protest what you're saying, back off and let the Holy Spirit work'

Purple Fish, Page 86-87

God is better

Run to Him, not away.....

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