Monday, February 29, 2016

For the pod: A Call to Prayer

The other morning, I woke up at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep so I listened to this talk which I randomly selected from my podcasts. I later encouraged Mrs C to listen to it and she was annoyed by Matt Chandler's accent, the fact that he ums and errs and his generally un-relaxing manner. He's not everyone's cuppa. Nonetheless, at 4am when he got to the bit when he described praying Eph 3 and unpacked it, that really blessed me. So, if it blesses you too then great, Be warned, you may need to listen to it a 4am for it to have a similar impact.

Keep reading

From my Bible in one year notes today:

Rick Warren has written that ‘reading the Bible generates life, it produces change, it heals hurts, it builds character, it transforms circumstances, it imparts joy, it overcomes adversity, it defeats temptation, it infuses hope, it releases power, it cleanses the mind'

Friday, February 26, 2016

Warfare, prayer, lentils and the evangelisation of the nation

1. The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote this letter to me this morning. It's signed personally in black ink. Pray we must. Something's is up in the C of E and there seems to be hope, passion, faith and a bit of plan in the air. It's all rather encouraging.

2. I have been rereading 'Waking the Dead' in light of so much failure and sin among leaders.

‘The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full' (John 10:10) Have you wondered why Jesus married those two statements? Did you even know he spoke them at the same time? I mean he says them in one breath. And he has reason. By all means God intends life for you. But right now that life is opposed. It doesn’t just roll in on a tray. There is a thief. He comes to steal and kill and destroy. In other words yes, the offer of life, but you’re going to have to fight for it because there’s an enemy in your life with a different agenda. There is something set against us.

We are at war.

How I’ve missed this for so long is a mystery to me. Maybe I’ve overlooked it; maybe I’ve chosen not to see. We are at war. I don’t like that fact any more than you do, but the sooner we come to terms with it, the better hope we have of making it through to the life we do want’

Waking the Dead, John Eldredge, Pages 12-13

3. I can't put 'If' down.Stirring and encouraging stuff from Chapter 8 of Romans.

4. Is their so little power and holiness in the church because we have put our Bible's down? I was chatting with a bunch of pastors I meet with weekly and someone told the story of an evangelist who visited a church in the States and at the Sunday morning worship service a women turned up with what she said was a prophetic message for the church: She was wearing her wedding dress and brandishing a sword. Crazy maybe, but I have not been able to shake that image from my mind since I heard it. 

5. Batterson's book pointed me to Deut 17:16-20 which leapt out at me. I wrote in my journal and meditated on. Kings were meant to be saturated in the word of God. Vicar are too.

6. This song has been on repeat as I have been writing my sermon:

7. Mrs C and I have two Swedish bible students staying for a week.

8. I have cooked Mary Berry's 'Lentil Shepherd Pie' which is actually very good. And no- I haven't become a vegetarian. 

9. John Stott and I went to the same school and it's been 78 years since his conversion. As an aside, it took me a while longer to get converted ....

Stott recalls:
His text [E V Nash] was Pilate’s question: “What then shall I do with Jesus, who is called the Christ?” That I needed to do anything with Jesus was an entirely novel idea to me, for I had imagined that somehow he had done whatever needed to be done, and that my part was only to acquiesce. This Mr Nash, however, was quietly but powerfully insisting that everybody had to do something about Jesus, and that nobody could remain neutral. Either we copy Pilate and weakly reject him, or we accept him personally and follow him.
10.You don't want to drop this massive book on the authority of scripture on your toe.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


'We define ourselves by what we've done wrong, instead of defining ourselves by what Christ has done right. Or we define ourselves by the hurtful things done to us instead of what Christ has done for us'

Page 30

If you are someone who likes to set a goal or two you'll love 'If'. It's based on Romans 8 and is very glass half-full, engaging and readable (in a ten things before breakfast kind of way). I am going to hear him teach next week so I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Press on

'I have said for years now that church is the lamest hobby in the universe. Get a boat. Go mountain climbing. Ski. If you're just looking for some kind of self-improvement experience, do something other than church. The church as a self-help centre is a terrible thing to devote your life to. I mean it's on a Sunday morning. It's early. You have to stand up a lot. It's a lame, lame hobby.

Is this all you're doing with your Christian life?  Finding something to put in the 'spiritual' category of your life?

Or can you see the overwhelming truth of God's good news? Do you see that, compared to the infinite perfect holiness of God, your righteousness is garbage? And do you realise that God loves you eternally to the point that He is willing to put his holiness into action to forgive, save, and redeem you?  In faith, not works, Christs perfect righteousness is considered yours. 

So let us join in with the men and women in Scripture and church history, and with creation itself, in groaning for this gracious God. 

Don't stop. Keep pressing on. He has laid hold of you. 
And he will not let go. 
God help us, for the sake of His name'
Matt Chandler, Page 113

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday musing

I spent Saturday with the Men on Mountains (but actually not on a mountain in Hertfordshire). My pal Will preached recently on Friendship and he included in the talk (31.1.16) the impact our group has had on him. Well worth a listen.

Mrs C's song of the season is this one.

I am off to listen to Mark Batterson teach who has been an encouragement to me. I have just ordered 'If'

I did a talk called 'The Bible in my life' which I thought was going to be not very good at all but turned out OK apparently. I tell a bit of my story in it.....

Like us all I am trying to work out what Europe is all about. Michael Gove, who is a Christian and seemingly quite sensible, has a few views that I read with interest. I do need convincing that leaving  is a good idea but like many of us must confess I have never given it much detailed thought. The next few months will be interesting.

Re:sound was recommended by a pal.

A book on Burnout.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Good Good Father

I have had the chorus of this song going around and around all in my head all week.
'It's who you are.....'

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Does your pastor love being a pastor?

I watched this about being a pastor and it blessed me.

Last week I went away on retreat for 24 hours with some church planters. We do this annually and it was wonderful to be encouraged by such a wonderful bunch of pastors and their wives. The book recommendation that came out of it was 'The emotionally healthy leader'

This week I am meeting for the day with MoM (I found this old post called 'Six Nuggets of Mountain chat) and I penned a few questions to help everyone prepare for Saturday:

1 When and where are you most experiencing the presence of God?
2 Where are you going for your spiritual life (e.g. church, times of wilderness/solitude/retreat)?
3 Are you reading the Bible for yourself?
4 What is God saying to you at the moment?
5 What has most encouraged you?
6 What book have you read that most impacted you?
7 What is giving you joy?
8 How is your work/family balance?
9 Are you taking a Sabbath?
10 Are you making love to your wife?
11 Are you spending quality time with your children?
12 What people/institutions/situations are blocking the pipe in your church/life?
13 Are you looking at porn/spending time with anyone who isn't your spouse?

I sat under Dr Michael Leyden's teaching for half a day last week and he inspired my about Barth

Rather slow on the uptake Mrs C and I are enjoying 'Homeland'. Someone last week recommended 'Blacklist' which might be worth checking out of you like a box set.

Another book a pal recommended on our planter retreat was 'Journey's of significance: Charting a leadership course from the life of Paul' by Neil Cole.

I have been reading 'The 39 Articles' with particular reference to what they say about Scripture. 

The chapter in 'Real Valour' about the Sovereignty of God floored me.

I rather enjoyed this little article about Church growth and here is the magic formula:

1. Live like Jesus.
2. Get out and meet people who don’t know Jesus.
3. When people ask about your weird but wonderful Jesus-y life, tell them about Jesus and bring them to His church.

My pal Rod has reviewed an important book on church growth that might be worth checking out. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Bible in my life

"My trust in God's word is greater, my submission to God's word is deeper, and my love of God's word is sweeter as a result of reading this book. For these reasons, I cannot recommend it highly enough'

David Platt on 'Taking God at his word'

I am giving a talk as part of a Lent series for 'Churches together in Barnes' and the title I have been given is 'The Bible in my life.'

I often like to read a new book about a subject area I am speaking on and spotted this on the book table last Friday. I think it will be good sustenance for me as I prepare this talk and might be a good Lent read if you are looking for something to ignite your Bible reading.

I am not sure I have the talk honed yet but my four points (which may well change) are:

1. The Bible reveals Jesus
2. The Bible has authority
3. The Bible speaks and calls
4. The Bible points us to the Good news

I am giving the talk at HT Barnes @ 7.30-9pm on Thursday 18th February and you are very welcome to come and listen.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Monday musing

1. I went to listen to Kevin de Young preach (and a nice chap called Julian Mott). It's probably not going to do me any harm putting myself in the way of some teaching on repentance. It was nice being able to tell Kevin that his books, reading recommendations and blog have been an encouragement to me over the last few years.

2. This post comments on how easily we can be critical of other churches and traditions.

3. I picked up a book called 'Wisdom in Leadership' from the bookstall on Friday:

'God saves people through the gospel.

'One of the difficulties is that it doesn't sound all that powerful on paper. There aren't any bells and whistles. It seems a bit mundane, even un-powerful, to describe our calling as people telling people some news about what's already happened. But that's exactly what God asks us to do. It seems like weakness to Jews and foolishness to Greeks. But it's actually the power of God.....

.....If people were to look at your programs, or your events, or your one-to-one ministry, would they be able to tell you that you trust the gospel as God's power to save? Or would they conclude that you're trusting in something else?


4. Here is a very scary thought. It is possible to preach the Bible and tell other people what they should be doing and be not doing that in your own life. In fact, you can be living antithetically to the things you teach others that they should be doing. What Simon Walker would call a misaligned 'front and back stage' If you teach the Bible this capacity for delusion should both humble you and bring you a fresh sense of the fear of the Lord.

5. I was blessed listening to Nicky speak on 'A Year of Jubilee'. Loved the story about how the Bishop of Islington got started as a worship leader and the amazing illustration "Why didn't you tell me about Jesus"...impacted me.

6.A can't get this quote out of my head: 'Believer, when you are on your knees, remember your are going to a King. Let your petitions be large.' C H Spurgeon

7. True Valour is a compelling read and is immersing me in the story of Ruth and Boaz.

8. As I shared communion yesterday, the song 'Good good father' was being sung behind me and it felt like a holy moment. 

9. Anybody can have affair.  a. Be in the word b. Be accountable to others c. Intentionally avoid temptation d. Trust God's grace. Gordon MacDonald's 'Rebuilding your broken world' had a deep impact on me when I read it and describes how he repaired, repented and reflected following his affair. 

10. Francis Chan has a thought on homosexuality.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

A word to myself: 'Don't screw it up'

“This very day, every man—whether a global leader or an unknown tradesman—has an opportunity to show the world that the gospel does not kill pleasure or aggressiveness. Rather, as [Jonathan] Edwards has shown, it frees Christians to experience true pleasure and to act in manly ways for a far greater cause than ourselves. We grieve the trajectory of modern men, and we feel special pain for the wives and children who are, through no fault of their own, deeply damaged by the sins of men. In a broken world, we pray to God to show the world a better way, a greater joy, and a magnificent Savior, who delights in taking sinful men and turning them into agents of his glory.” 

I remember reading a page in Steve Farrar's book that I have never forgotten. He talks of the capacity of Christians to sin, fail and fall- particularly with regard to sexual sin and adultery. He deals too in the book with abusive leaders and those who get seduced by money and power. He ends the page saying that if you have read it and you think that this could never happen to you, then you are exactly the person it is likely to happen to. It could happen to me- I have no doubt of that. I have just ordered a few copies of Farrar's book to give to friends and people at church and for myself as I have recently given my copy away. I have also got on the phone and email a pal or two and see how they are doing.


Someone I looked to (from afar) and have been taught the Bible by has felt compelled this week to resign his church, ministry and is under the 'Clergy Discipline Measure'.  I have no idea of the details and they don't really matter and my prayers are for him and his family. However, I do know that he was meant to 'Finish strong' and tragically, for whatever reason, hasn't.

This year, I have heard more accounts of struggles in leadership and with sin in the lives of church leaders than I have in all the years since I have been ordained. As a result, we have called an interim meet-up of 'Men on Mountains' to check how we are all doing. I know myself pretty well and know how easily I too could fall and disappoint and mess it all up. Indeed, that would be almost inevitable without the friends I have in my corner dusting me down and looking me in the eye and checking I'm OK.  Grace and humility is the Jesus way. I so need more grace and more humility if I am to have any chance of 'Finishing Strong'.

Pray for me. I need it. We all do.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The missional ordeal

Thanks to Justin Buzzard for this excellent quote:
“We have a friend who says she believes churches should get Bible teaching ‘on a need-to-know basis.’ In other words, a church should open their Bibles together and learn from Scripture according to the contextual challenges and ordeals they are currently facing together. Sadly, many Christians don’t ‘need to know’ what they hear each Sunday, and so they retain very little of it.
Now, we recognize believers should have a clear, consistent biblical worldview, and we can’t offer Bible teaching based only on felt needs and areas of immediate interest. But frankly, we’d rather teach missionaries, disciples who are hungry for Bible teaching to sustain, enrich, and guide them in the missional ordeal, than churchgoers who have little motivation for hearing the truth. And remember, unused truth is lost truth. It doesn’t matter how true we believe the Bible to be, or how effective and gifted our teachers might be. If our congregations are not engaged missionally…they will have little need for our teaching.” -Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch

Monday, February 01, 2016

Monday musing

1. Carson's 'Picture two Jews' story hit my heart when I watched it. It will yours too.

2. I reflected afresh on the impact Simon Walker had on me as an ordinand as I reread his book and thought about my own leadership. I do aspire to be as 'undefended' as possible which I always found a helpful leadership descriptor.

'If you want to know who someone is, do not look at them- instead, as my first boss said, 'Look at the spaces between them and others'. It is in the space that we will come to see who they are. It is the relationships that a person's character is revealed and their identity shown.' 

Subversive Leadership, p. 52

3. I enjoyed watching this about the Cayman Islands.

4. Transexuality is seemingly the chattering classes and Hollywood's subject of the moment. Melanie Phillips has a view.

5. I'm being blessed and helped by 'To die is gain'

6. I am preaching on Phil 2 and this post suggests humility=transparency.

7. I am pondering the curious maths of a growing church.

8. The main reason people leave a church

9. I am speaking at a Watoto event at Greycourt school tomorrow night.

11. 'Spotlight' film review  (h/t Jonny Baker)

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