Friday, February 27, 2015

The Fiery Blaze

Mrs C and I discussed these words from Eugene Peterson in today's BiOY notes. We are now reading Leviticus:

‘God cannot fit into our plans, we must fit into his,’ writes Eugene Peterson. ‘We can’t use God – God is not a tool or appliance or credit card. Holy is the word that sets God apart and above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfilment fantasies or our utopian schemes for making our mark in the world. Holy means that God is alive on God’s terms, alive in a way that exceeds our experience and imagination. Holy refers to life burning with an intense purity that transforms everything it touches into itself.’

The Hebrew word ‘holy’ (qadosh) probably originally meant ‘separate’ or ‘set apart’. It came to be used to describe the ‘otherness’ of God, and how his character and nature are so much greater and more wonderful than any other person or thing. For something else to be ‘holy’ simply means for it to be dedicated to God. You are holy to the extent that your life is devoted to him and your actions reflect his character. 

..."‘First’, he writes, ‘every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God.’ We are called to holiness in every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Holiness and wholeness are closely related, and God wants the whole of our lives. Second, Eugene Peterson continues, ‘God provides a way (the sacrifices and feasts and Sabbaths) to bring everything in and about us into his holy presence, transformed in the fiery blaze of the holy.’

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday musings

Lots going on so I've been rather off the blog and blogging.

You once had a dream but...... and then I watched this and it made me think about dreams.

I really enjoyed reading the chapter in Andrew Wilson's book 'If God then what?' entitled 'The Redemption of London'

The 'Inside the commons' episode about Rebels has plenty of parallels with the Church of England.

Who didn't feel for Natalie Bennett who sank on LBC?

Is Evangelism on the rocks?

Oliver Sack's piece in the NY Times was a very moving bit of writing.

This paella recipe is perfect for a cold winters night. Comfort food Mediterranean style.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seven thoughts for Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday:

1. Not your typical Ash Wednesday is worth a read

2. Once again 40 Acts has produced a number of good and encouraging things to do during Lent. You can ask yourself the gratitude questions in your journal.

3. I am re-reading 'A Resilient Life' as my Lent read.

4. Sometimes it's good to take something up. Mine is walking, which is being facilitated by a new gadget a chappy in our church recommended.

5. Tonight I am cooking a fish curry for some new friends. Fish is always linked with things Catholic as they seem to eat it on a Friday for some reason. Is Ash Wednesday a non-fish or a fish day I wonder?

6. The C of E's Election Pastoral letter had the LBC phone lines abuzz as I drove back from my weekly early prayers with a group of local pastors. The front page of the Times told me Mr Cameron is very ticked off with the Bishops.

7. Pat preached up a storm on Psalm 51. We're in a series that I've called 'Praying the Psalms' and reflecting on sin was sobering for us all as Lent approached.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feet upon the way

From 'A Resilient Life' by Gordon MacDonald:

'Among the heroes of modern faith from which I have taken much courage is E Stanley Jones, the Methodist missionary and evangelist who spent more than fifty years of his life in India. At the age of eighty-three, after a lifetime of constant world travel during which he spoke to millions, and was instrumental in the conversions of countless people, he suffered a debilitating stroke. It left him without speech or physical mobility. 

In his waning months before he died, Jones managed to mutter through virtually paralysed lips the manuscript of a remarkable book. Short, admittedly disjointed at places, the book is E. Stanley's final declartion of faithfulness to Jesus. In one amazing paragraph he writes:

'There are scars on my faith, but underneath these scars there are no doubts. [Christ] has me with the consent of all my being and with the cooperation of all my life. The song I sing is a lit song. Not the temporary exuberance of youth that often fades when middle and old age sets in with their disillusionment and cynicism.....No, I'm 83, and I'm more excited today about being a Christian than I was at 18 when I first put my feet upon the way'

A Resilient Life, Gordon MacDonald, Page 13-14

Monday, February 09, 2015

So lonely

Well someone told me yesterday
that when you throw your love away
You act as if you don't care
You look as if you are going somewhere

But I just can't convince myself
I couldn't live with no one else
I can only play my part
And sit and nurse my broken heart

So lonely
So lonely
So lonely
So lonely

The Police

Apparently, according to the Telegraph, loneliness is the most pressing problem for both middle class and deprived folk in today's culture. As it happens, this morning I have been reading a book called 'A Leaders Guide to Effective Preaching:' and in it Billy Graham writes this:

'I have a friend who is a psychiatrist and a theologian at an American university. I asked him on one occasion, 'What is the greatest problem of the patients that come to you for help?' He thought for a moment and said 'Loneliness'. He went on, 'When you get right down to it, it is a loneliness for God.' [page 13]

Graham then goes on to list what he calls 'Some safe assumptions':

a. Life's needs are not totally met by social improvement or material affluence
b. There is an essential emptiness in every life
c. We can assume in our hearers a loneliness
d. We are speaking to people who have a sense of guilt
e. There is a universal fear of death

Early this morning, I also listened to a Piper sermon that he gave recently to the DG conference entitled 'Make war: The Pastor and his People in the Battle against Sin'. One phrase in the hour long talk hit my heart and has lingered with me: the root-at the bottom- -sin is a preference for anything above God. Sin is treasuring anything or anyone more than it treasures God'

So, I have much food for thought and prayer as I plan what to preach on during the next season in the life of our church over the next couple of days.

An aside- Ida is my new favourite person!

Do pray for me this week.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Saturday blog-sweep

I have had a few complaints about my lack of blogging. Apologies to all my readers but please know my time has been spent I hope fruitfully on a few other matters this week. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about Swedes and Sweden.

I love the Show up campaign. Play the film in your churches at some point in the run up to the election.

We should all be watching the brilliant and fascinating fly on the wall Inside the commons

69 links for readers, leaders and creatives

Lost for words having read this post.

5 Apps that changed my life last year

I chatted with Kristen this week about her new cookbook called 'Tonight at 7.30'. Check it out.

You can't start a company on your own no matter how big a genius you are.

30 questions to ask if you need guidance

Dear Stephen Fry

A super and timely post for me on 14 Questions every Christian Leader should ask and I am challenged afresh to withdraw and seek God. As it happens, I am planning to do just that next week for a couple of days.

I have Scary Close on pre-order.

J I packer says you should read this book three times.

Interesting thought on fun. Piper much as I love him never comes across as being a pastor in any danger of having too much of it :)

This singleness post caught my eye as Valentines day approaches

The great porn experiment is interesting and worth your time and hold enormous implications for children and young adults of this generation.

h/t J D Grear

Tim Hughes is interviewed about his move to Birmingham. In the interview, he recommends the book Chasing Francis about which he says:

'I read a really interesting book over the summer, a book called Chasing Francis. It's about an American church leader who gets slightly burnt out and he goes on a retreat to Italy, to Rome, and spends time with some Franciscan monks and learns all about Francis of Assisi. At one point he's talking about this idea of a new kind of pastor emerging. He calls them the 'artist pastor', where actually we'd see the amazing blessing and benefit of art and creativity and the visual to really communicate the gospel, to really reach out to people.'

Love your city
h/t Trevin Wax

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