Thursday, October 30, 2014

Krish Kandiah: "Why I have changed my mind on Halloween"

This post by Krish is an interesting one. Krish taught me mission and evangelism at Vicar Factory.

For the pod: Praying in the Spirit

'Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God's messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.' 

Andrew Murray

Tonight Mrs C and I are teaching the Prayer Course to a few folk. We have been through this material a few times now and every time there has been something new to learn. It is always an adventure to once again ask Jesus to 'teach us to pray.

This morning I listened to a talk called 'Praying in the power of the Spirit' which expounds that odd verse that tells us the Spirit intercedes for us 'with groans'.

I am looking forward to reading a couple of new books and am excited about Metaxas on miracles. You will remember me enthusing about Metaxas on Bonhoeffer which if you haven't read yet you should take on your next holiday. I am also awaiting delivery of the new book by Keller on prayer which will soon to drop on the doormat.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I pal recommended to me reading 'Awakening' the fascinating story of Christophe Blumhardt and the Mottlingen revival of the 1840's in Germany. It's interesting and intense stuff. Karl Barth looked historically to Blumhardt as something of a mentor
(Free as an ebook -126 pages):
'Man, think on eternity,
And do not mock the time of grace, 
For judgment is not far off. '

Monday, October 27, 2014

For the pod: Pastors who pray

'Prayer is learned not in the classroom but in the closet'

E M Bounds

This talk 'Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor' gave (and is giving) my prayer life a kick.

So good and so much food to chew on.

Oh that we pastors would pray with more zeal and more expectation.

Oh that I would do so.

Do listen to it, pastor or not, and I do believe there will be some nuggets that will light the fire of prayer in you once again.

Monday musing

We had a very good and busy Sunday but if I ever tire of seeing someone declaring Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and submitting themselves to a pool full of water for baptism I am in the wrong job. There was much rejoicing in our church family yesterday. We had 18 to lunch to celebrate (it was 12 but somehow I can never stop myself adding a few more). Mrs C cooked 'Pacific Lime Chicken' from Cook Simple. It was stupendous.

Apparently, one in fifty of the C of E's clergy don't believe in God and we wonder why we are struggling a tad.

I am still chuckling about a phrase Geoff Surrat used about applying Willow leadership fads to the local church. He said too often pastors find themselves ''Up a creek without a Hybels"

I am so enjoying Shrink. I've had it now for a few days and it's dog-eared and heavily underlined. So much that Tim Shuttle writes is resonating with me and the way I am shaped. I used a story about Andre Agassi in my sermon on 'Justification by Faith' (do listen to this by Keller if you want a primer on what JbF is!)

This story that Ann Voskamp posted is one to read about Ebola.

I have been mulling on the testimony of Rev Richard Coles and the fact that Forward in Faith Bishop Jonathan , Episcopal overseer for traditionalists opposed to the ordination of women, has asked for permission to remarry which has been granted.

Since reading about Rev Richard Coles I have been singing 'Don't leave me this way' around the house which was something of a dance floor smash in the 80's. To my disbelief, Mrs C had never heard of it and was not even helped by my trying to dance to it in the style of Jimmy Sommerville. She was only 8 in 1986 so I've let her off the hook on her musical ignorance. Next things is she'll be telling me she's never heard of 'Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark' :)

The is a lot of darkness advertising locally. Halloween is Christmas for the other side. I always remember Danielle Strinkland's phrase in a talk at Soul Survivor that went something like- 'where the light is passive the darkness advances unopposed'. It has and will act as a wake up call for me and our people.

Boris Johnson has written a biography of Churchill called 'The Churchill Factor'.

We had a fantastic film sermon at our 16:30 service. It used the film 'The Guardian' which for some reason had passed me by. If you watch this film and it doesn't ignite the evangelist in you then I'll eat my sandals of peace. I watched it last week and, of course, it made me cry.

An unrelenting 'reach the lost man' is a American fellow called Perry Noble who has a church the size of Leamington Spa. Over the weekend, I spotted a post that he had written entitled 'Seven reasons I believe Jesus is going to save 500 people this weekend' and everything in my spirit said 'Give me a flipping break'  [Probably because I am mid-flow with reading 'Shrink' which is a critique of the mega-church]. I clicked on it anyway. Imagine my surprise to find myself won over as I read and by the end of the post I was left wondering how I could invite someone to his church. The little phrase that got me was this this one:

'Found people find people' which I quoted in my sermon.

I've nicked that phrase lock stock and barrel and am quoting it everywhere I go. Hope that's OK Perry :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two shots in my arm

A couple of posts at have really given me a shot in the arm today. It was very timely.

1. A leader must be a reader

2. How to reignite ministry passion

How to be useful to God

From BiOY today:

'He is one of my great heroes of faith. He was a model of godliness, faith and humility. God used him greatly. When he died in 1982, his executors were unable to trace a single member of his family still living. No one came forward claiming to be even a distant relation.

Yet, The Times obituary about him rightly noted that his influence within the Church of England during the previous fifty years was probably greater than any of his contemporaries. John Stott, who was one of the numerous influential Christian leaders whom he led to faith in Christ, said of him: ‘Those who knew him well and those who worked with him never expect to see his like again; for rarely can anyone have meant so much to so many as this quietly spoken, modest and deeply spiritual man.’

Why was this man, the Reverend E.J.H. Nash – better known as ‘Bash’ – so useful to God? How can we be useful to God? It is no secret, the Bible tells us how.

St Paul writes, ‘In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets – some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing’ (2 Timothy 2:20–21, MSG).

John Stott writes, ‘No higher honour could be imagined than to be an instrument in the hand of Jesus Christ, to be at his disposal for the furtherance of his purposes, to be available whenever wanted for his service.’ Being useful to God starts with dedicating your life to him and re-dedicating it regularly to his service.'

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shrink: Fruitful or Faithful?

I have been chewing over the question of whether we are called to be faithful or fruitful. Chris Hodges suggested that God doesn't call us to be faithful but fruitful when I heard him speak and he echoes this in his book 'Four cups'. An alternate view, offered in a book I am currently reading called 'Shrink' suggests being faithful is what counts.

'I have become convinced that the Christian leader's first job is to become a good and virtuous human being and a good and virtuous leader, and then to leave questions of growth and perceived success in the hands of God. Sometimes all God requires is to do the small things faithfully for the rest of his or her life. How many of us have the tools to even imagine that, much less carry it off?'

Shrink, Tim Shuttle, Page 26

The size of any particular church is somewhat incidental if in order to grow it you have to forfeit your marriage, your kids walk with Jesus or your Sabbath. Does anyone care that Mars Hill now has less than half of the congregation that it had six weeks ago? What does matter is that for a variety of reasons their pastor failed to finish the race well with devastating consequences for him, his church and his family. He was at Gateway Church over the weekend and he tells the throng that he's healing up and taking some time out.

I am enjoying reading 'Shrink' which captures many of the tensions for those of us who both long to see the church grow, whilst also wanting to preserve our sanity, health and passion for Jesus along the way.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Jacob Moment

'Correct him, but not as a foe, nor as an adversary exacting a penalty, but as a physician providing medicines'


'Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy'

General Norman Schwartzkopf,1991

I was chatting with a friend today and he reminded me of a comment a mutual pal had shared a few years ago about Mark Driscoll.

Our pal said this:

'He's not yet had his Jacob moment'

He then went on to suggest that he would be a much better writer, preacher, pastor, husband, manager, father and friend once he'd had it. Observing his so obviously deeply flawed character, he suggested that it was only a matter of time.

And so arrives the Jacob moment.

A Jacob moment is the kairos event that humbles you. The event that levels your confidence, your pride and your reputation and sets God in his rightful place. It leaves you a deposit of pain in your hip and forever more you will walk with a limp.

The internet is awash with reflections and I too am quietly reflective.

The ministry of Mars Hills been a blessing and encouragement to me in more ways than words can express. It was never a perfect one and was led by a seemingly very imperfect chap and my experience of it, as for many others, was from afar. I discovered them via their church planting and The Resurgence and A29 networks were the source of much wisdom, books, talks and collected learning as I planned for our venture here. Driscoll's passion for Jesus, his fire to see churches planted, his supreme giftedness in many areas, his longing to see the lost reached (particularly men) and a desire to see marriages strengthened impacted tens of thousands of people across the world. Both the church and A29 planting network he started will now outlive his tenure as founding pastor.

I have no doubt the fall out will be, and has been, devastating for those in his church and those connected and associated personally with and to this ministry and its tribe. Unaddressed and unacknowledged brokenness so often does that to others. It is timely for all of us who pastor churches, however large or small, to search for the inevitable planks in our own eyes (and leadership). Of all our flaws, and in my case there are many, it is our unfettered and dealt with pride we must be most ruthless with.

Here are some posts offering further reflection and reading:

The Mars Hill Postmortem

Seven better ways to respond to Mark Driscoll's Resignation

A tale of two Mars Hills

Unhealthy Christian Organisations

The True nature of Elder Authority


'In a grace-driven approach, we don't obey because we have to but because we want to. The Moral Law, which condemned us outside of Christ, has now become our worship list. Obedience is now just one of the fun ways we say thanks to Him while he drenches us with favour; it naturally flows from our lives. Christianity is not a process in which we earn love; its a process in which we reflect love. Or as it's often said, "We are not saved by good works. We're saved for good works!"

Pharisectomy, Peter Haas, Page 21

Mums: Be you bravely

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still more

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.”
“Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
A W Tozer,  The Pursuit of God
(Quoted by J D Greear in his post 'Six ways to experience the presence of the Spirit')

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Right Thing

'Martin Luther King said, ‘On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”

‘The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.’

Doing what is right in difficult situations in the workplace is a huge challenge. In his book, God at Work, Ken Costa writes, ‘There are right and wrong choices … all the invented terms such as “inappropriate” and “counterproductive” are efforts to avoid the simple ethical fact that there is a right and wrong course of action.’

When facing a difficult pastoral situation those of us in the leadership of the church need to remind ourselves that the first question we have to ask is, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ And only then move to the second question, ‘What is the most pastoral way to do it?’

Of course, none of us get it right all the time. We all make mistakes. As Ken Costa writes, ‘We only grow in wisdom if we learn from our mistakes. Siegmund Warburg [Ken’s first boss] said on this subject: “Some name it disappointment and become poorer, others name it experience and become richer.” ’

In today’s New Testament passage, Paul writes to the Thessalonians, ‘Never tire of doing what is right’ (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Jesus did not go for the easy or popular solution, but he always did the right thing. This is an important principle that runs throughout the entire Bible.'

From my BiOY notes today. As it happen Ken is coming to speak to the 350 today. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The 350

I am on the Southwark Clergy Conference (4 days)

In the last week, I will have listened to and been taught by as great a variety of people as anyone I know. 

Geoff Surrat of Seacoast Church, Peter Haas of Substance and Chris Rogers of Church of the Highlands are all part of a church planting movement called ARC. They taught me for a couple of days last week and were excellent. 

This week, among others, we have John Sentamu ++ of York, Sister Dominica founder of Helen House, Mike Lloyd-Principal lf Wycliffe Hall, Ken Costa CW of HTB and Sam Wellls- Vicar of St Martin in the Fields. We also have African theologian Esther Mambo with us who taught us wonderfully on the Woman at the well first thing.  

There is lots I could share but Mike Lloyd's phrase 'If you create your own meaning it's always smaller than you are.'   particularly struck me. However,  probably of all that has happened thus far Esther walking into a room of 350 Clergy with a clay jar on her head is the thing that will stick most with me. 

I will post some more as I find time. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Questions, a book and growing things

Someone asked me why anyone should come to our church. I told them the homemade lemon cake was the best in West London and felt that that isn't quite how Jonathan Edwards would have responded.

I've started Edwards on the Christian life which is why he came to mind.

This post got me wondering about being wooly and silent on ethical issues. I do like Andrew Wilson.

The Bishop of Buckingham has a new book out and Andrew Goddard has thoroughly reviewed it.

The Guardian advises that the C of E shared conversations are proving to be challenging.

A verse in Colossians 4 jumped out at me this morning and I have been turning over in my mind what it means to wrestle in prayer.

Any leader should I suppose learn to ask better questions.

Maxwell, the yoda of leadership, has a book to help you.

I watched this again having sent it to someone yesterday.

I am going to listen to a chappy called Greg Surrat teach tomorrow morning. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Faith is rising

A pal who is both a surgeon and a worship leader has been singing this song at an NFI Leadership weekend. Thinking about it, surgeon and worshipper leader is not a bad job description for a pastor. Great song.

Friday, October 03, 2014

How bad can you be?

A lady in our church pointed me to this Speccy article by Mary Wakefield entitled 'Can brutalised jihadis be saved by forgiveness?'

The only chance

'Not long ago I read a newspaper article about an executive at Boeing. The reporter asked him to name the secret of his success, and he said, "There is nothing you can do about the past. The only thing you can do anything about is the future." Christ saw life very differently. For Christ, the only thing you can do anything about is your past. God alone can deal with your future. If you have repented of your past, if you have taken an inventory of the full extent of hurt, victimhood, malice, and self-service that describe your achieved life, if you have said one single needful word, "sorry," then that is all. There is nothing more. The future which Paul would later call the "fruit of the Spirit," flows totally from "sorry". The past resolved gives the present its only chance. The future is the Spirits job.'

Grace in Practice, Paul Zahl, Page 11

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Grace, Creeds and bumps in the road

A pal said to me recently 'I'm not much for calling everything spiritual warfare but....' and then went on to recount some things that had hit his life and ministry in recent times. His comments and reflections made me pick Clinton Arnold's book off the shelf once again to assess the theology of bumps in the road.

Rick Warren is revisiting his sermons that you'd most want a friend to listen to.

This talk on Romans 7 really awakened my expository geek within.

You can find all the DG Conference talks here 

I really enjoyed '25 struggles only  ENFP's will understand' as just perhaps I may be one :) Helpful insights- especially if you have to work with me.......

Mark Meynell heartily recommends this BBC documentary about missionaries in North Korea

I spoke at my pal Will's tenth anniversary of his church plant- The Point Church. It was a joy. Check out Ten Years in Ten Minutes  for a flavour of this wonderful bunch of saints and a nice reflection from Will and Caroline. This should encourage all budding planters or churches that hope to plant.

Tim Keller writes 'Different but the Same' to his church which makes for interesting reading.

A pal spent a whole afternoon picking my brains about grace. Reading 'Grace in Practice' started him on this fresh quest together with a John Peters talk on grace.

Andy Stanley's two questions.

An arty and musical pal is excited about Inherent Vice coming out.

Periodically, I reread 'Why work?' by Sayers.

Mrs C and I are these days mostly watching Suits.

Bishop Alan gets a response from Peter Ould on gay Bishops in the C of E.

I enjoyed reading The Philosopher (and through it I discovered these Max Lucado videos on Grace which I may now check out)

An Anglican apparently challenged Hillsong to set the Creed to music and they came up with this. I wonder what you make of it?

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