Thursday, March 31, 2016


The blog will be quiet for a week or so...

Ordinary church

Mark Noll:
As a historian, three things increasingly impress me about awakenings in church history:
First, that they really do occur, and—from medieval, monastic revivals through classic evangelical awakenings to modern Pentecostal renewal—they really have brought great benefit to the church.
Second, revivals tend to exaggerate, so that along with the real benefit often come increased problems like exalted opinions of one’s self in God’s general design.
Third, most of the circumstances that have made a permanent difference in spreading the Gospel and deepening the church’s understanding of the Gospel have taken place in ordinary church settings rather than revivals.
—quoted in “What Christian Leaders Are Saying about Spiritual Renewal,” Vocatio 11, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 6.
HT: John Piper via Justin Taylor

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Down time

I have a cold and I'm rather tired but thankfully have Sunday off which will be a timely break for the family.

1. It's nice to get a bit of advice from a pastor who has been at it longer than me.

2. I revisited a quote from 'Leading on Empty' I had written in a 2010 journal that is now in my sermon for when I return from holiday. It's a book with a lot of wisdom to share.

3. I can't remember where I read it but someone advised that if you read books a chapter at a time leaving a book mark in each one you get more read. I am finding this to be helpful. I read the first chapter of 'Jesus Continued: Why the Spirit inside you is better than the Spirit beside you' which encouraged me, A quote from it:

''We all see problems in the church. We don't need another book to point those out. We need the faith to believe that the solution is really quite simple. The Holy Spirit." Francis Chan

4, I put a friend on to the sermon 'The centrality of the gospel' and he is finding it a great way into comprehending grace. He tells me he keeps returning to it. It's part of the Rise series which Mrs C and I have been falling asleep listening to over the past few weeks.

5. Did you know William Carey's missionary text was Is 54:2-3?

6. Here is Keller on 'Why Culture Matters' which is worth 20 mins.

7. I appreciated Darryl on small things.

8. Darryl's post reminded me of a friend who is being blessed by 'Staying is the new going' which they tell me I recommended here.

9. A friend arrived at our Easter lunch with this which Mrs C and I are now reading before we slump into slumber.

10. Line of Duty has a cracking opening episode.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Giving account

A pal asked me for some good accountability questions and I sent him here.

The best of the bunch is Chuck Swindol's question 7:

'Have you just lied to me?' 

Simon of Cyrene

A pal sent me this last week and it has lingered with me since Easter.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Monday Musing

A good piece on how a church can get off mission.

I quoted Lee Stobel yesterday which seemingly hit a few hearts:

“Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live.”

I revisited 'A Christians happiness' and it helped me see again that God's in charge rather than me.

The war on Christians

10 thought on ministering to the sick and dying

This morning as I listened to the news of the deaths of Christian women and children at the hands of Islamic terrorists I found this piece and this one interesting as I reflected.  

The words of 'Come now fount' made me cry at a beautiful wedding I attended.

And a final thought on 'Being happy'

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Eugene Peterson on Holy Saturday

Yet, there was one large omission that set all other truth dangerously at risk: the omission of holy rest. The refusal to be silent. The obsessive avoidance of emptiness. The denial of any experience and any people in the least bit suggestive of godforsakenness.

It was far more than an annual ignorance on Holy Saturday; it was religiously fueled, weekly arrogance. Not only was the Good Friday crucifixion bridged to the Easter resurrection by this day furious with energy and lucrative with reward, but all the gospel truths were likewise set as either introductions or conclusions to the human action that displayed our prowess and our virtue every week of the year. God was background to our business. Every gospel truth was maintained intact and all the human energy was wholly admirable, but the rhythms were all wrong, the proportions wildly skewed. Desolation—and with it companionship with the desolate, from first-century Semites to twentieth-century Indians—was all but wiped from consciousness.

Ht Kendall Harmon

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday bits and bobs

1. Mark Batterson was worth the four hour drive north. His talks were helpful and came at a good time for me. Session 1 on prayer was especially stirring yet very simple (Dick Lucas would say he wiggles his bum too long on the tee so start at 13 mins). While you are on the site- Nicky Gumbel's talk was profound and full of humility.

2. Darryl says this book is 'worth four dozen self-help books'.

3. A friend has been really blessed listening to Judah Smith Music Project . It's sermon nuggets set to music which sounds weird but is powerful. 'Jesus is loving Barabbas' is one for Holy Week.

4. I am slowly reading about being a more healthy leader

5. I've been mulling on the word 'Wow'

6. 'The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision' Helen Keller quoted in 'If' (Page 131)

7. A pal is taking his church through 'For the life of the world' having read about it here. That encouraged me and so does he. He tells me it's brilliant.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

For the pod: Brother Edward

We showed this sermon in church today with a suggestion that folk might like to respond by both praying and giving £71 to Open Doors (which feeds a family for a month). Syria is not just a headline or an EU summit agenda, it's real brothers and sisters in Christ suffering hardship and persecution, as you will see if you take the time to watch this. Do show this sermon in your own churches.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

For the pod: Justin Welby @ New Wine Leaders

Well worth a listen.....

For the pod: The right order of things

“Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.” 

Now if I were to explain the 'Good news 101' it would be that salvation comes by grace. Everybody knows that surely. For years, I would have agreed but my heart was telling me something very different as I strove to be worthy of His grace. I would regularly beat myself up when I failed and try harder to be good to compensate. It was a season of religious misery. It was Keller who set me straight on grace and moved the gospel from my head to my heart. This sermon called 'The Centrality of the Gospel' (29.2.16) unpacks how that works. You should get the podcast and listen to them all.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Unflagging trust

Someone sent me this in reponse to my sermon this morning:

'In the arc of my unremarkable life, wherein the victories have been small and personal, the trials fairly pedestrian, and the failures large enough to deeply wound me and those I love, I have repeated endlessly the pattern of falling down and getting up. Each time I fall, I am propelled to renew my efforts by a blind trust in the forgiveness of my sins from sheer grace, in the aquittal, vindication and justification of my ragged journey based not on any good deeds i have done, the approach taken by the Pharisee  in the temple, but on an unflagging trust in the love of a gracious and merciful God'

Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust

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