Wednesday, April 29, 2015

For the pod: Chan on having a vital relationship with Jesus

Mrs C awoke me at 5am and told me I had to listen to this talk. She'd been up since 4! This is a stunningly challenging word for anyone requiring a thorough soul MOT. This is a particularly vital word for those of us who are professional Christians (Pastors or Vicars). We can far too easily make the church about us and our plans and not about God and His.

Take time to soak this one in.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The answer's Jesus

I really enjoy the blog of Matt Redmond called 'Echoes and Stars' and on it I found this treasure from John Calvin's Preface to Olvetan's New Testament. It's worth reading over and over again: 
Therefore, when you hear that the gospel presents you Jesus Christ in whom all the promises and gifts of God have been accomplished; and when it declares that he was sent by the Father, has descended to the earth and spoken among men perfectly all that concerns our salvation, as it was foretold in the Law and to the Prophets — it ought to be most certain and obvious to you that the treasures of Paradise have been opened to you in the gospel; that the riches of God have been exhibited and eternal life itself revealed. For, this is eternal life; to know one, only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, whom he has established as the beginning, the middle, and the end of our salvation. He [Christ] is Isaac, the beloved Son of the Father who was offered as a sacrifice, but nevertheless did not succumb to the power of death. He is Jacob the watchful shepherd, who has such great care for the sheep which he guards. He is the good and compassionate brother Joseph, who in his glory was not ashamed to acknowledge his brothers, however lowly and abject their condition. He is the great sacrificer and bishop Melchizedek, who has offered an eternal sacrifice once for all. He is the sovereign lawgiver Moses, writing his law on the tables of our hearts by his Spirit. He is the faithful captain and guide Joshua, to lead us to the Promised Land. He is the victorious and noble king David, bringing by his hand all rebellious power to subjection. He is the magnificent and triumphant king Solomon, governing his kingdom in peace and prosperity. He is the strong and powerful Samson, who by his death has overwhelmed all his enemies.
It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for Our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune. For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.
This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father. If one were to sift thoroughly the Law and the Prophets, he would not find a single word which would not draw and bring us to him. And for a fact, since all the treasures of wisdom and understanding are hidden in him, there is not the least question of having, or turning toward, another goal; not unless we would deliberately turn aside from the light of truth, to lose ourselves in the darkness of lies. Therefore, rightly does Saint Paul say in another passage that he would know nothing except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Returning from Rest

We had a week away and upon returning have been a little too busy for the blog. Apologies to readers.

The testimonies from our APCM were breathtakingly encouraging (Claud/Ru/Gerry and do also listen to Ollie (age 10) who encouraged us all a couple of week ago.

I have listened to a few Keller's that blessed me.

A reason for living

Laboring for a God who fights for us (Nehemiah 3-4)

Praying in the Spirit

You won't find a better talk to mail to a clever seeker than 'A reason for living'. The 'meet me' illustration at the start is fantastic.

I read 'Scary Close' on holiday and resonated with Don Miller's emotions and reflections around his marrying late. He's such a gifted storyteller. I have also been reading The Establishment as my political pre-election read. Owen Jones is an interesting, angry but passionate socialist.

I spent a happy half an hour watching a bit of Third Day which was fun.

I made a delicious Onion tart from the Higgidy Cookbook. I've been very much enjoying Masterchef and think the final may even be tonight? My money is on Simon although the chappy with the fine tash might sneak it.

Keller has a book on Preaching coming out and Saturate by Jeff Vandervelt looks like a read to check out.

We had a great visit to City church Salisbury and it gave me a glimpse of what a ten year old church plant looks like.

The This world series is worth checking out.

This song has captured me again recently

The Cooke's are not now far from parenthood (2 weeks to go). 

The times they are a changin.....

Friday, April 10, 2015

Changing (or not?) face of Christianity in Britain

21st Century Church....


'You are a Christian because somebody cared. Now its your turn'
Warren Wiersbe

John Bingham has some interesting and depressing stats on belief in Britain in his recent Telegraph article.

A Vicar pal sent me this film from a recent service in Lichfield Diocese and asked me for my thoughts. Where do I begin. My thoughts are simply that 40% of the clergy of the C of E are due to retire in the next 10 years and the average age of a congregant is rapidly advancing towards 70. Also, according to YFC, apparently 85% of children will leave school having had no participation at all in church. David Keen has plotted the latest C of E data and 'minus' seems to be the theme. The C of E is sadly on course to become little more than a minor sect in a post-Christian world to which, according to Bingham, the Chinese will be sending missionaries.

Don't get me wrong- it's a huge challenge with no quick fix and we are, as one local church, trying to write (and pray for) a very different story- as this post encourages.

What would Hudson Taylor and C T Studd have made of it all I wonder?

And the plan is?

Did I mention I wrote a post called 'Why plant churches?'

Instead of spending the next year having shared conversations about human sexuality we could perhaps better focus our energy talking about mission, evangelism and church planting in the post-modern world? Check out Hillsong London (below on USA Today) for one of the fresher faces of contemporary Christianity planting churches in the UK.

Which of these two expressions of Christianity would you want to engage with if you were 19?

'Touch the sky when your knees hit the ground'

It's just a thought......

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Shared Conversations

The Church of England has embarked on a season of shared conversations about human sexuality as a result of the Pilling Report.

There are two competing schools of thought currently on this issue. What the Archbishop hopes to achieve through this process is 'good disagreement' in light of it being unlikely there will be consensus:

1. One school (my own) reads from the Bible to the culture which lands you in a place that acknowledges the shift in the culture but seeks to remain faithful to the teaching of the Bible and the historic position of the church on issues and definitions of marriage and sex. The C of E (as overseen by its Bishops), for the time being, remains doctrinally in this place.
2. The other (taken by revisionists) reads from the culture to the Bible and seeks to change the churches position on the nature of marriage to line up with shifts in both attitude and practice in (Western) culture.

I personally found this discussion an interesting and informative one that covers quite a few of the critical issues that will no doubt be raised and discussed at length during these many shared conversations. The content offers no radically new material for those who have, like me, read and thought a lot around this issue but it does collect most of the arguments helpfully into one place. Jackie Hill's short description of why Jesus is good news to all of us is well worth watching at the end and really blessed me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A Book List on the Holy Spirit

We are starting a new preaching series on the Holy Spirit taking us through Pentecost and into the summer. The theme of our church weekend away in May is 'The person and work of the Holy Spirit' which I am really excited about.

As a result, I have started to read afresh quite generally on the Holy Spirit and also am taking delivery of a new book by J D Greear called 'Jesus Continued'.

Here are some of the books I will revisit, dip into and reread over the next few months:

God inside out, Simon Ponsonby

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts, Max Turner

God's empowering presence, Gordon Fee

I Corinthians, Gordon Fee

Keep in step with the Spirit, J I Packer

Come. Holy Spirit, David Pytches

Spirit-shaped Mission, Andrew Lord

Forgotten God, Chan

Come creator Spirit, Cantalamessa

The Descent of the Dove, Charles Williams

Jonathan Edwards on Revival

Nine o'clock in the morning, Dennis Bennett

Know your spiritual gifts, Stibbe

The way in is the way on, Wimber

Power evangelism, Wimber

More, Simon Ponsonby

Be filled with the Spirit, David Watson

A new pentecost Suenes

Encounter the Holy Spirit, Morgan

Prophesy, Bruce Collins

Understanding Spiritual gifts, Arthur

When heaven invades earth, Johnson

The works of John Owen (Vol 3 on the Holy Spirit)

What happened to the power of God? Brown

Great Revivals, Whittaker

Joy Unspeakable, Lloyd-Jones

Spirit-filled church, Virgo

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

A good read, pastry and resurrection

We had a good Easter.

Tom Wright's tlittle phrase that when we die in Christ we say 'Good night and see you in the morning' has really stuck with me.

A book I spotted while clicking about is 'Redefining rich' which I may, at some point, read.

Sometimes, listening to a Jonathan Martin sermon is just what my soul needs.

Yesterday we made a pie. I have been reading this cookbook for more pie inspiration.

Darryl has been helped by reading Honest evangelism which has a good first line.

A pal sent me this book called 'Jesus Christ the Lord' which was a gift to me from its author who is part of my friends church (I can't find a link to the English version). By the way, he's looking for an Associate Vicar is you know anyone who might fit the bill.

This post called 'The dead end of sexual sin' is one I am pondering. I was particularly struck by her post-conversion emotions and turmoil that characterise all of us, to varying degrees, after we are born again.

'Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.'

If you are happy and you know it clap your hands :)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

I stand at the door

I Stand at the Door

By Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)

I stand by the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

'I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.

H/T Perry Noble

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

From here to there

'Cookies day's' is a place that I hope some of you find some interesting things to read and click on. A friend sent me an encouraging email about the blog that blessed me and has spurred me on the keep on writing and sharing.

Today, Paul Sohn's '30 'Must-reads' on leadership' and Mark Meynell's 'Q marks the spot'  are worth clicking around on.

Mrs C and I watched this talk on the Holy Spirit together and we chatted about it at length afterwards.
We decided it's one to watch again with a notebook and one to pass around to others.

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