Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday thoughts

1. I found some notes of a book called 'Zeal without burnout' which I sent to a pal. It's so easy to become overwhelmed as a pastor.

2. I friend is being ordained on Saturday which is exciting and I am planning to attend. He invited me by text saying 'You got me into this; so you'd better come'. He will make a fine Vicar.  I read this reflection on the nature of ministry and found it a timely challenge.

3. I am greatly enjoying 'The Story of Reality' :

'Did you ever wonder how to sum up the main theme of the Bible accurately in a single, simple concept? It's right there in the first line: 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'. Put simply, the Story starts with a Sovereign who creates a domain he benevolently rules over. There is a King and his "dom" so to speak. There is a kingdom' 


4. Someone asked me on Sunday about the C of E's latest agenda items on sexuality. I pointed them to Ian Paul's piece entitled 'Three miracles'.  Won't it be great if the GS ever gets around to speaking about mission and evangelism before deciding to schism.

5. I preached on Sunday about heaven and hell and I tried to tell it as Jesus did. One of the most challenging sermons I have ever listened to is 'Why we all need to gospel' by Francis Chan.

6. Sometimes on a Monday morning it pains me how few in Barnes are in church.

7. I am increasingly convinced that pastors need the skills of the cross-cultural missionary. Yesterday I was reading a book by Andrew Walls and this quote struck me:

'About the third year of my liberation from slavery of man, I was convinced of another worse state of slavery, namely, that of sin and Satan. it pleased the Lord to open my heart......I was admitted into the visible Church of Christ here on earth as a soldier to fight manfully against our spiritual enemies'

Samuel Crowther quoted in 'The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History' , p157

8. This morning I wrote a sermon in my head after reading Paul's experiences in Athens. Given the above, this sermon should be one of our go-to texts.

9. I am going to do some mulling on 'The Five Marks of a Servant Leader'. Number Five reminds me of a Nouwen quote my pal used on our recent church weekend. Christians should seek to be 'downwardly mobile'

10, I enjoyed this review of David Fitches 'Faithful presence'

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday wanderings

1. I have finished a book recently and have not chosen the next one yet. 'The story of reality' from this list of summer reading caught my eye and looks interesting.

2. The Grenfell tower disaster requires 'prayer not rage'

3. I have been mulling on the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

4. A line from Leading with a limp has stuck with me:

'Courage is fear that has said its prayers' Ann Lamott

5. I spent some time with some of the ''Senior Management" of the C of E and was left encouraged that there is something of a strategy for survival. The big idea for survival is resourcing churches that have planted to themselves plant churches.  Now there's an idea. Did I mention I wrote 'Why plant churches?'

6.  This article told me the average salary in Kensington and Chelsea is £123k which represents dreadful inequality. That seems to me staggeringly high or have stipends just not kept pace with everyone one else's incomes? Someone tell my Bishop- actually the truth is none of us do this for the money. I suppose a few Russian billionaires must up the average a tad.

7.  Many in our days are crying for human justice. In commenting on the destruction of evil and the divine justice of the Wheat and weeds (Matt 13) Michael Green writes:

'All this is very unacceptable to people today; we do not treat evil with great seriousness, and many do not believe in a future life, a heaven and a hell where the great separation will be finalized  But it is an undeniable part of the  teaching of Jesus. Are we going to claim to know more about it than he?'

Green, Matthew BST, 157

8. I read 'Healing Kenosis and the Third person' with interest. I also mused at my many memories of SS reading this article that appeared a while back in GQ.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday wonderings

1. I have ordered Eugene Peterson's new book which comes with happy expectancy of it hitting the mat.

2. I have revisited and been humbled again by a book I read a while back called 'Leading with a limp':  

'Few leaders operate out of confidence built on anything but the crumbling foundation of arrogance. Few know peace that is not dependent on performance. Few exercise freedom and creativity that are not bound to conventionality. And few possess the capacity to care for people that is not shadowed by either the urge to please others or to knuckle under the tyranny of "should".

Take a different path. As an act of leadership, consider the risk of giving up your life through facing, naming and bearing your weakness, and imagine the paradoxical yet promised benefits. Let's walk into that reality, but it's imperative to remember that all movement into reality requires enormous faith'. (p.8)

3. Tuition fees policy was a winner for Labour. However, I am still pondering how righting off the debts of largely middle class/privileged university students can be considered 'socialist'.VAT on private school fees was to be given back to the wealthy in no university fees.

4. I spotted someone recommending Ann Lamott's Ted talk.

5. I spent the early morning listening to an Irish friend talk about Northern Ireland. So helpful to hear from someone who actually knows something about Northern Ireland and the DUP. Much hangs in the balance once again.

6. I had to take a deep breath of air after reading today's Cranmer post.

'If “Mission is God’s way of loving and saving the world”, does not the mission leader (at every level) need not only to be “sympathetic to” that love, but to have tasted it? You might know in your brain that salt is sodium chloride, but until it has touched your tongue you cannot truly know the full meaning of Jesus’ exhortation for believers to be the salt of the earth.'

7. What a terrible fire in London.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Cross (in the box)

I enjoyed David Keen's election reflection.

For those of you still working it all out Ian Paul has these three posts:

Why I am a Christian voting for Labour

Why I am a Christian voting Conservative

Why I am a Christian voting Liberal Democrat

The only advise I am willing to offer is vote for someone. If you don't vote you can't complian....

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

You can only give out what's been sown in

A friend said that they used to read the blog but when I stopped writing things here they stopped reading. My friend suggested I try writing again so I will try and share a thought or two.

'Don't focus on church growth'. If you grow yourself everyone around you will grow because of it'

Play the Man, p.125

David strengthened himself in the Lord

1 Sam 30:6

1. For a long time it's struck me that it's very possible to lead a church without both prayer or personal Bible reading. This was born out when I read an interview with David Platt, a Bible teacher and preacher I respect. who confessed at the height of his success speaking internationally and writing he had all but stopped engaging with God in the scriptures for himself. There is a stat that is sometimes trotted out that pastors spend less than 5 minutes a day in prayer and scripture which of course I have no way of verifying. The best I could find was this which is happily a tad more encouraging.

2. I have a Facebook Vicar friend who is brimming over with successful initiatives and enthusiasm and offers this across the internet in short films about his church, marriage and life constantly. He really is, as far as I know, a genuinely good and Godly chap, but I have decided that it would not be helpful for me to mirror his approach.  I learnt recently that the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek roots en and Theos, meaning in God. Batterson writes on this....'the more you get into God, and the more God's Spirit gets into you, the more impassioned you become' (Play the man, p 81). Though I agree and am something of an enthusiast myself, I resist going on camera as one because I am not sure it would be good for my heart.

3. There was a lady interviewed about her son on the BBC post-London Bridge who spoke about 'religions' in a way that I imagine many secular people would. She quoted the first commandment as 'Thou shalt not kill' and of course it's semantics to point out that it's not. However, we are, as the Archbishop has noted, a theologically illiterate nation and he has had some courage on 'Today' to say as much. He is doing his job which is directing the conversation towards Jesus.. I also read this piece in the Sun quoting my local MP who seems to suggest radicals go to Syria 'for foreign travel and to find a wife'. She might perhaps do well to educate herself slightly better on the theology of Jihad.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Monday musing

1. I watched 'Broken' which is one of the most captivating bits of drama I've seen in a while.

2. Archbishop Cranmer has a challenging piece about some of the more stark realities of Islam that politicians to date have been reluctant to articulate. For more about the why's of relativism in our culture do read 'Against the flow'.

3. This was an interesting piece on leadership.

4. I have been mulling on the trend in the C of E to make more 'senior' appointments to head office of varying types and titles tasked with dreaming up new ideas all captured in courses or pamphlets. A Vicar pal commented to me recently that expansion in the upper tiers of an organisation is generally an indication of its final days. He went on to say 'We are greatly deluded to think the answer to decline is more management from above'....'the church is a bottom up organism'.

5. I listened to 'On the mountain' while I was away and it's worth your time.

6. Mrs C did a short talk on our church weekend which she would not want me to tell you about.

7. Batterson's 'Discipleship Covenant' is an interesting idea for any believer not just as a rite of passage for a son. He quotes Diana Nyad's little phrase 'You must set your will' (Play the man, P.168) which is a challenging one.

8. I think people have warmed to Corbyn because he has an integrated front stage and back stage. For more on this, you should dive into the work of Simon Walker. I genuinely have nothing more than a hunch but I think due to this fact he may even be our PM by Friday. Millennials like 'authentic' and he seems to be that.

9. I appreciated Tim Challies on 'Prioritize the local church'

10.  I spent the evening with Mrs C watching 'One love Manchester' which told me a few things

a. I've turned into my dad
b. Justin Bieber with just a guitar and voice was simple and moving. I confess I had never heard a song of his (see point a)
c. Imogen Heap was a bit flat or was it just me who thought that?
d. No cameraman was interested in a rear view shot of any artist apart from Little mix.
e. It struck me as interesting that a large crowd chose to sing about love on the day of the festival that celebrates and remembers its outpouring. For more see Acts 2.
f. What a sweet young women Ariande Grande seems to be.


I always enjoy an interesting book list and Al Mohler's 'Summer reading' doesn't disappoint.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Canada called

1. I spent some time in Canada with a dear pal and was so blessed. He gathered a wonderful crowd and we immersed ourselves in the world of Daniel. I  recommended 'Against the flow' as a follow-up read for a window into what it means to live in a pluralistic/relativistic culture.

2. As an example of 'With the flow', the Anglican church in Canada voted recently to change their doctrine as it relates to marriage.

3. While I was away I read 'Play the man' and was struck the chapter about wonder.

4, This post made me pause and ponder:

Our main problem is not lack of time or resources or the annoying people in our lives. Your main problem and my main problem is that we do not see enough the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We are not amazed. We do not stand in awe. We are not rendered speechless in his presence.

5, I have been much blessed down the year reading Dash House. It was such a joy to hang out together in Toronto. 

6, I have pre-ordered 'The Unhurried leader'.

7, I have been enjoying the song 'Love so great'.

8. I also read 'Contagious' while sitting waiting for my pal to finish his meeting. By the way, if you read this can you put it back on your church office desk!

9. I showed 'God's wonderful surprise' as part of a sermon which quotes C S Lewis and the phrase 'Will everything sad come untrue'.  As a result a dear lady wanted to meet so I could explain what that means. I did my best to help and have since been working it out.....

10. I showed a clip of the final scene of 'Man on Fire' which is a fairly on point example of substitution.

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