Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Tuesday thoughts

1.  I listened to a talk Forgiveness brings liberty by Bill Johnson who, while not my man on quite a few things, I appreciate from time to time. The first ten minutes stuck with me- then I fell asleep so I can't speak for the rest of it.

2.  I have been praying for a door to open for six years and yesterday it swung ajar a bit and let in a shard of light.

3. Eugene Peterson has told me over and over again, particularly in his memoir, that you have try to stay as a Pastor in a place and with a people for the long haul. I generally think that over time in one place you can connect up the kingdom dots with more clarity.

4. It's hard not to catch a bit of 'Tis the season too by jolly' when you hang out with a 3 year old.

5. Darryl has posted his list of 'Best books of 2018'

6. A clicked about a bit on this set of 2018 links.

7. I have loved preaching on Ephesians.

8. We are going to be walking through Judges in the New Year. This quote starts off one of the commentaries I am reading:

'Whatever controls us really is our god....The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our life'

Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the Saltshaker, page 48-49

9.  Someone today told me of an elderly Godly politically well-read man in a local church near us who said on the day of the referendum result: 'They'll never let it happen'. Quite who 'they' are is one for you to speculate on but that statement looks more likely than it did two years ago when the PM said categorically 'Leave means leave'. We'll see if he's right.

10. The Calvin quote on page 18 of this is blessing and strengthening me.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Monday musings

1. Mrs C went to an Advent service last night while I baby sat.  She was struck by the reading, which was Isaiah 52, and it provided an answer to our 3 year old's question of the day before which was: 'What does Jesus look like?'

2. As you know, I enjoy the book lists at this time of year and here are a couple. Andrew Wilson's Books of 2018 at Think Theology and Tony Reinke's Books of 2018.

3. I am greatly enjoying Peter Marshall's book 'Heretics and Believers' on the English Reformation so I was struck by David Starkey's piece in the Telegraph drawing parallels between Brexit and the Reformation. This is obviously not the first time this has been noted, but as I am immersed in the detailed goings-on during this period it is now on my radar as I read.  What has not yet emerged in our current era is who will take the part of Thomas Cranmer.

4. I drew a number a pals attention to Rod Liddle's article 'Sex is fine but keep the Christians out' about the hoo ha at Derby Cathedral.

5. When I was 'exploring my vocation' I was given a set of tapes by Jack Deere about 'Hearing God's Voice'. It won't surprise you to learn that its wasn't my DDO who put me on to them. I never did establish what exactly my DDO did make of the idea of God's voice but that's another story. One of the talks was about dreams and, in my simple way, I suggested to God that if he really was in the business of guiding by dreams then now would be quite a good time to do it. He answered my prayer in a quite remarkable way which has always left me thankful for Jack Deere. I mention this because I have recently come across his life story which it seems has been marked by darkness and tragedy called 'Even in our darkness'. Ann Voskamp says of it:

'Every once in a while, a gripping book comes along that is profoundly unmasked, unsettling and unforgettable. I couldn't put this down: This is one devastating, though-provoking, and needful read  that will change the landscape of your soul'  

6. I enjoyed David Keen's post on the Signs

7.  This piece posted by my pal Darryl is interesting. 'You don't go to church you are the church...But are you?'

8. It was fun to discover that J I Packer likes mystery novels.

9. Since turning 50 I am finding more things to be grumpy about. The latest thing I've decided I don't like are trendy crisps. All I want is a pack of crisps and I don't need you to make them out of a root vegetable or a poppadom or sprinkle the whole of Mary Berry's herb cupboard on them. Walkers Salt and Vinegar will do nicely thanks.

10. I watched 12 Strong on my own and it moved me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Saltless Salt

'No one will listen to our gospel if we aren't living it. We cannot influence or infect society with something that has not yet infected us. A saltless salt cannot savor and flavor. The church cannot light a fire if she is not on fire. And so, faced with a society in crisis, in wickedness, it is time for judgement, repentance, holiness to begin in the family of God (1 Peter 4:17). We need a reformation, a revival- and holiness will be at the heart of it. The church must again find and follow Jesus- not as a doctrine to be believed but as a Lord to be served and a life to be lived. Only then can we speak with integrity and expect to be heard.'

In Pursuit of the Holy, Simon Ponsonby, p.14

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Piper Book list

I enjoy a good read. At the moment, I am captivated by 'Heretics and Believers' which is brilliant but you wouldn't want to drop it on your toe....

Here is an interesting Piper post on 25 books.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

C of E 2017 Stats

As ever, I am grateful to David Keen who has done 'An analysis of 2017 C of E Stats'.  Did I mention that some time ago now I wrote a post entitled 'Why plant churches?'

Monday, November 19, 2018

Monday musing

1. My silence has been complained about and this coincides with the first sense of clear water I've had in while. Another pal say it's never a good sign when I don't blog.

2. I spent a day with Tim Keller and this sermon as I may have already said is the best I've heard on Dark Times. I preached at the weekend on marriage from Ephesians 5 and found 'The Meaning of Marriage' such a help. I also found 'God Marriage and Family' to be a deep well of wisdom and Bible. I am not sure secular Barnes was quite ready to hear about husbands who take a gospel lead in their families and when I said the word 'submission' I know everyone was listening. Kathy Keller's chapter was informative for me on that one her being a wife n'all.

3. I have been reading Parenting by Paul Tripp recommended by a pal who has a teenager who isn't that keen on church. It's a compelling (expensive) read and doesn't contain any specific advice which is both brilliant and unusual for a parenting book. Francis Chan wishes he'd read it 20 years ago.

4.  I went to a day run by a lady called Rachel Turner about parenting clergy kids ('PK's' as they are known over the pond). It was the best thing (a day's course) my wife and I have done in ages.  Rachel runs a website called 'Parenting for faith' and has written a couple of really interesting books. Her next one is about clergy kids.

5. We've been listening to Hallelujah Hear Below a bit.

6. Mrs C is reading Redeeming Love and can't put it down. 

7. Reading Eugene Peterson since he has died reminds me that when you write your voice lives on.

8. Leading a church is, at times, as hard as it looks. I heard recently of a Vicar I know who is now off with stress so it's a good corrective from time to time to attend to soul care, family, sabbath and right perspective.  I have been re-reading 'Emotionally Healthy Leadership' and am just starting 'Mosaic Leadership'. 

9. I look at every one chasing the 'new idea' rainbow and settle back down with my not very new idea that it's my job to preach Christ and him crucified.  It worked for Charles Spurgeon

10. I had an amazing afternoon on the Isle of Dogs praying with some fellow-travelers. I think we're planning to do the same thing monthly for 7 years. 

Monday, October 29, 2018


Eugene Peterson died last week. I didn't know it was possible to mourn and be so upset about someone you've never met. Yet I am.

Here's a quote of his I have been pondering:

“Busyness is the enemy of spirituality.  It is essentially laziness.  It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing.  It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attentions to God’s actions.  It is taking charge.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Joyfully tough progress

“My pastor used to say you’re either coming out of a tough season, in the middle of a tough season, or heading into a tough season.” 

Craig Groeschel, Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday thoughts

1.  Of all the talks that were given at Focus it was Pastor Agu's on 'Prayer and church planting' that resonated most with me. Sadly they are not  putting it up on line.

2. I spent the weekend with John Eldredge at his 'Wild at Heart Bootcamp' in Wales with about 450 men. Everyone probably has a view on both the man and his books but all I can tell you is that it was a blessing to me in so many ways. I feel both reminded and inflamed afresh by the gospel and encouraged about the things that lie ahead.   Four days, no family (who I missed terribly), lots of silence and reflection, prayer, deep conversation and moving testimony, no mobile phone, my Bible and journal and some amazing men of God. We shared a cabin with a wonderful bunch of students from a church plant in Sheffield and simply being with these young lads who love Jesus and are so passionate about him truly warmed my soul. The last words of our time together are still with me:

"If I don't see you on the battlefield I'll see you at the banquet"

3. I haven't read a leadership book for 12 months- I've been fasting them. However, my fast is over and I have just started 'Mosaic Leadership'. It's profound stuff.

4. I was reminded over the weekend about that passage about hitting the ground in 2 Kings. As a result I am re-listening to this Furtick talk from LC13.

5. This book 'Bad Girl, Good God' caught my eye.

6. I was struck as I read Psalm 119 by how many times it mentions the heart.

7. One of our Connect Groups is spending the term listening to and reflecting upon Simon's 'Jesus' Glorious Commissions to the Church'. I listened to them driving around in August in the car and they so blessed me. Listen to them as a church staff, for yourself or with a group of friends. I can't think of a better way to spend £9.99.

8.  'The question is not what we intend ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when he made us' C S Lewis

9. I have been reflecting much on Spiritual warfare and am revisiting William Gurnell's 'Chirstian in complete armour'

10. If you want another brilliant treatise on spiritual warfare, the first section of 'Walking with God through pain and suffering is worth spending some time in.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Monday musing

1. Lucy has written a good piece on 'Why charismatics need to read theology'

2. I do enjoy the sermons of a Baptist preacher called Johnny Hunt and I listened to this one on Psalm 71 called 'Psalms we need to sing'

3. I was at an event that happens in our church recently and looked across the room and thought if I just spent my time making disciples of those in the room (and they of me) that would probably be time well spent. Jesus spent his time with a very small number of folk and the rest is history. With the help of the Holy Spirit (for more read Holy Fire)

4. We started our new series on Ephesians and I showed this film as an intro.

MY DEAR FLOCK, -- The approach of another year stirs up within me new desires for your salvation, and for the growth of those of you who are saved. "God is my record how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." What the coming year is to bring forth who can tell? There is plainly a weight lying on the spirits of all good men, and a looking for some strange work of judgment upon this land. There is a need now to ask that solemn question -- "If in the land of peace wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" Those believers will stand firmest who have no dependence upon self or upon creatures, but upon Jehovah our Righteousness. We must be driven more to our Bibles, and to the mercy-seat, if we are to stand in the evil day. Then we shall be able to say, like David – “The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined from Thy law.” “Princes have persecuted me without a cause, but my heart standeth in awe of Thy word.”

6. Someone I pastor has been visited by deep fear. I have recommended some time reading 'Surprised by God'.

7.  I didn't know Luther was into journalling.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It’s not about us

1.  A friend I was at Vicar Factory said “....if you are going to read one book over the next decade make it ‘Surprised by God’ by Chris Green”. 

‘We need to grasp- or better, be grasped by- a vision of the divine nature and character. We have to come to know as fully as possible with life-determining force what God is really like’


2. I think I have already said this but ‘The man who made infinity’ made me cry even with my C in O-level maths. 

3. I was reminded at the weekend that it is the gospel that saves not us. It really is ...’power unto salvation’ 

4. The life of a missionary called Robert Morrison has gripped my heart. 

5. I have revisited Simon Walker who taught such a helpful course at college. His reflections on ‘Undefended leaders’ should be embibed by all who aspire to oversight of the local church. 

....’a leader is someone who takes responsibility for someone else’

‘Leading out of who you are’  p.17

6. Someone recommended a book to me called ‘Give up your small ambitions’ by Griffiths. 

7. ‘Child of God you cost Christ too much for him to forget you’ C H Spurgeon 

8. I told someone today, worrying about going on a difficult planting adventure, that the most invaluable experience of church I have ever had was in a church plant on an estate that never grew larger that 20 people. It’s not always about the numbers and on my reading of the NT letters they very frustratingly don’t tell me how many people came to which church......

9. I had a Holy Ghost experience in my local Tesco. 

10. I said in a sermon on Romans 10 at the weekend that the saddest words an unbeliever could ever utter might be ‘No one told me.’ 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Relational Pastor

Over the last few months I have been reading a book slowly and underlining most of it. I often have a few books on the go and this one was recommended by a wise retired Vicar who also happens to be my friend’s dad. As she said ‘Dad and his retired Vicar friends are suggesting it to young leaders as an essential and timely corrective to a wrong and increasingly seductive mode of operating they observe in church leadership today’ 

This among many quotes struck me:

“....the great temptation of power is control, and the great consequence of control is lack of relationship. The reason that intimacy is so difficult in ministry is you’re not in control- you’re in relationship. You have to enter a person’s life and they have to enter yours. The minute you start becoming obsessed with control, you lose relationship. Sadly, pastors can get really good at seeming relational, but they are being manipulative. They know how to play the emotional angles. I think that probably the leading characteristic of successful pastors today is their control’. 

The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb, p. 136

Monday, August 20, 2018

Tim Keller on Secular drift

I was struck by a piece on the BBC news app about 'Humanist Chaplains'. It has made me think a bit about the consequences of severing our Christian foundations which as been much aided by Tim Keller's talk to the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast. There is so much in this talk that it deserves to be shared far and wide.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday blog-sweep

1. I have been pondering Mike Frost's  'Pastoring in a post-Hybels world'.

2. Someone gave me 'Holy Fire' by R T Kendall which was response to John MacArthur's 'Strange fire'.  It makes a compelling and fascinating read. Measured, biblical and inspiring and one reviewer called it 'A landmark book'. I tend to agree. It's lit something afresh in me.

3. This is all truly horrific.

4. Interesting on 'a neutral state'.

5. Scripture before phone

6. Not every church service needs to be epic

7. The wise do not always weigh in

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Moulded by him

‘God did not make others as I would have made them. God did not give them to me so that I could control them, but so that I might find the Creator by means of them.  Now other people, in the freedom with which they were created, become an occasion for me to rejoice, whereas before they were only a nuisance and trouble for me. God does not want to mould others into image that seems good to me, that is, into my own image’

Dietrich Bonhoeffer quoted in ‘The way of the dragon or the way of the lamb’, p. 117

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Silent but moving forward

Sorry I have not blogged and I am sure the two readers I have have long since departed.

1.  I have just bought ‘Heretics and believers’ by Peter Marshall. 

2. Mary Kissell, who is part of our church, has just written ‘Before the days draw in’. I am loving it and it’s a wonderful potted history of a life of ministry. It’s also an account of the Charismatic Movement from the early ‘60’s. Superb. 

3. I have been reminded of Watchman Nee’s book called ‘Spiritual Authority’ recommended to me at a conference I attended in Tacoma over a decade ago. I bought it but never read it. 21 reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon. 

4. A bunch of church leader pals and I have committed to pray together monthly for the next 7 years for the Revival of this land. Granted, those committed to this are small in number currently but there is something brewing I pray. We met today. Sweet time. 

5. I watched and read about George Carey and Peter Ball and it made me so angry having read this Guardian article. Lost for words. 

6. Peterson is selling out the O2 night. He is a voice for our time. 

7. I look at the saints we are gathering at Focus and what God has done our chruch makes me cry.

8. If you don’t have a mentor/ friend as a leader then get one. I wouldn’t be here without mine. 

9. I told a pal to read all three books Eugene Peterson wrote in critique of ‘CEO’ as pastor.

There is a biblical fact that there are no successful churches. There are , instead, communities of sinners, gathered before God week after week in towns and villages all over the world. The Holy Spirit gathers them and does his work in them. In these communities of sinners, one of the sinners is called pastor and given a designated responsibility in the community. The pastor's responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God. It is this responsibility that is being abandoned in spades'

Working the Angles, p.2  

10. I love curry.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Gift of Blessing

Image result for gift of blessing patterson

Mrs C posted this review of 'The Gift of Blessing' on Amazon:

"As a mum of two little ones, finding the time to satisfy my hunger for God's presence and His Word is often a struggle! In speaking to a crowd and his disciples, Jesus said "Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Mark 8:37, NLT) These are challenging words for all of us today. But we live under grace not law, and this beautifully compiled devotional is a wonderful way to receive and re-receive the gift of His blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) in the messy midst of family life. I've already recommended it to a friend."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

In the days of rain

Image result for in the days of rain

My pal wrote this Amazon review of ‘In the days of rain’ by Rebecca Stott which I had recommended to him:

A friend who is a priest highly recommended this book. I'm so delighted he did. It has not been an easy or comfortable read despite or perhaps because of the author's brilliant story telling, beautiful language and fascinating human interest. Reading it seemed to draw up old shadows lurking in my genetic memory, old stories whispered by my parents, old habits observed in my grandparents, old religious anxieties. My own family came out of the Exclusives after several generations in the 1960's when under James Taylor Jnr's leadership, increasingly pedantic and cruel rules were adopted and the formerly strict Christian sect descended into a closed and controlling cult. This was a dark decade, and Stott recounts testimonies of the shattered minds, broken families, suicides and worse. My grandfather - a respected ministering elder - and grandmother (descended from a line of Victorian Brethren) were 'silenced' after grandad said it was not the Brethren's concern if a maid working for two spinster EB sisters owned a radio in her room. But the other elders disagreed - the brethren were to be 'separate from the world' and that meant no maid with a radio in the house ....grandad's worldly view meant he was disciplined and separated.

Grandad refused to march to this warped rhythm and left, but so ingrained was the spirituality that throughout the 1960's & early 1970's he helped lead a meeting for ex exclusives who did fellowship on old exclusive lines. Stott atmospherically explains the meetings which as a young girl she observed, but not participated in, being female. I once attended a gathering as a young boy - the men sat separated from the women and stood and 'prophesied' as the Spirit led and 'broke bread'. It left a lasting impression - but so did a subsequent conversation with grandma who said that same old men say the same old thing every week - so much for the spontaneity of the Spirit! Grandad was a good man, but closed in on himself, he carried a great sadness, I don't recall ever seeing him laugh.

Rebecca Stott's book reminded me of these family aches. Reading it was harrowing but also hopeful. She showed how people could come to their senses, could awaken out of a nightmare, could break free and indeed did, in large numbers, when the whole thing unravelled before their eyes when the supreme leader Taylor was displayed for all to see: an immoral, foul mouthed, bullying, blaspheming, liar, spiralling into uncontrolled alcoholism in the infamous 'Aberdeen incident'. But where do those who have been caged go? What do they do? To walk away from the Brethren was to forfeit your job, your house, your community, your family, your whole rhythm of life. But many on leaving found their souls and drank in deep draughts of newly brewed grace. Rebecca Stott powerfully invites us into the anxiety and delight of her family's new found liberty - I particularly loved reading of her friendship with a Roman Catholic family and her tears at the beauty on attending the Mass and the mother's hand tenderly holding hers. Had Rebecca remained in the Brethren she would not have been allowed to go to university let alone become a professor of Literature and creative writing. But for her father the freedom was mixed: the joy of rediscovering the arts and literature and wide friendships and acting was intoxicating, however chaos pursued him without the bearings and boundaries of Brethrenism and I suspect haunted by what he had been and done. Rebecca's boyfriend secretly wrote every day to her father when he was imprisoned for fraud - an act of tenderness contrasting starkly with the sharp treatment inside the Exclusives.’

The story 'In the days of Rain' will be almost unbelievable to some - a window onto a world few know anything of. But to those whose family were involved it is a painful but cathartic read. This book is revelatory and shows how religion gone bad can crush the soul when man (yes generally male) made rules rule. And this book is redemptive because it shows there is life outside and after a cult - wholeness and fruitfulness and flourishing humanity and contributing and bettering society, as indeed the brilliant Rebecca Stott herself has.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Good questions

I like Ed Stetzer’s accountability questions:

1. Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions? 

2. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?

3. Have you lacked any integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something that does not belong to you?

4. Have you been honoring, understanding and generous in your important relationships this past week? 

5. Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?

6. Have you given in to an addictive behavior this week? Explain.

7. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?

8. Have you secretly wished for another's misfortune so that you might excel?

9. Did you finish your reading this week and hear from the Lord? What are you going to do about it?

10. Have you been completely honest with me?

Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Hills are Alive

...that they may take hold of the life that is truly life' 
1 Tim 6:19

I have returned once again from my annual retreat with the Men on Mountains which is now in its 18th year. We are hatching a few plans for a challenging adventure for year twenty. As ever, we walked, told stories, listened, prayed, asked questions, confessed sins, had them pointed out, poked, laughed and shared each others joys and felt each others pains. These are very special men that I have been graced with to go up hill and down dale and it remains our intention to walk with each other annually to the grave.

As an innovation, this year we had a theme: 'Let's talk about parenting' said one of our number. There are seven of us with children ranging from 0 to 27 so we have a few collective parenting miles on our collective MoM car. Hence, in a pub in Nether Wasdale we each shared a piece or two of parenting advice or a lesson learnt here and there. The Men on Mountains parenting book will follow.

  • Help them take responsibility for their lives
  • Don't intervene too much
  • Eat meals together as much as possible
  • No phones at the table
  • No being different at home than anywhere else- don't pretend
  • Death: deal with death well. Don't hide anything. Cry and be real. Make death normal. Talk about your own story of experiencing death.
  • Talk about things without judgment. Try to listen well
  • Don't drag your kids around to itinerant things.
  • Advice from 'Raising boys': Learn to cook a Sunday lunch by the age of 8'
  • Have explicit family values e.g Generosity. Form a family culture as early as you can eg 'In our family we celebrate with each other'
  • The phrase 'In our family we....' is a good one. However, the caveat is parents need to honour this too. It's not a means of control.
  • One of our number's sons said this at his parents 25th wedding anniversary: 'Dad loves mum way more than he loves us. If there was a train coming he'd rescue her first'
  • Prioritize your wife
  • Read everything on parenting by Rob Parsons
  • Use the 'power of descriptive praise' e.g 'When you sat down with that kid you were really kind'
  • 'To know what your own inheritance as a child of parents is and to know that it isn't the last word'. It can be redeemed. 
  • Don't negotiate with danger. However, patient negotiation is the norm.
  • Danny Silk's advice on 'the naughty step' is: 'Take time- you come back when you are ready'
  • Twins ;'It's them against the world'
  • Christian parents 'We too easily love/speak about grace but do law'
  • Trust God's Covenant in your parenting. It doesn't all hang on you and how you parent so trust his grace otherwise your parenting will simply be 'a work' and that rarely ends well. 
The Reads of the Year.

On parenting there were a couple apart from 'Everything by Rob Parsons'. One of us said that he thought 'In the days of rain' should be read by every children's worker and Christian parent in his Diocese. Its a story of being raised in a brethren home written by a Cambridge don. He couldn't put it down. Although many would be horrified to think there are parallels with the way we aim to disciple children and this story, he thinks there may be a scary amount of unrecognized similarities to the average evangelical home/ youth ministry.  Someone also found 'The Chosen' a help for reflection on parenting. Also Rory Stewart's 'Marches: Border walks with my father.'

Laloux 'Reinventing organisations' has been a help to one while doing a leadership MA.

C S Lewis McGrath

Born to Run Bruce Springsteen

Middlemarch Elliot

The Shepherd's Life was my ten penny worth.

The question that hit me this year was ‘Are your cherishing your wife?’ It was the word ‘cherishing’ that seemed important to reflect on. 

I'll share some more after next year!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday musing

1. Met for a good time of prayer at 7.15 am.

2. John Calvin said 'There is not one blade of grass, there is no colour in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.'

3. I played 'Blinded by your grace' in church yesterday.

4. I enjoyed reading -A pastors week.

5. I have been listening to Beautiful Eulogy

6. I met a man who runs Intercessors for Israel at the invitation of a pal for lunch. Interesting discussion around the table about 'the land' which we didn't all agree on. One of our number had been impacted by Matt 5:5 suggesting Jesus said 'Blessed are the meek who shall inherit the land' (not  'earth' as the NIV has it). I am going to look it up and study the verse. 'God is for us' has helped me on this emotive subject.

7. I have been given a talk to do with the title 'Known water- New winds'

8. A friend has just published this called 'The Gift of Blessing'  

9. I like this suggestion to pick one theologian and study him for a lifetime.

10.  I started a sentence today saying 'I am not very bright...' My school grades bear this out.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Leadership reflections

I went to LC18:

1. 'Know you are loved- that's the secret of leadership' Nicky Gumbel

2. I confess I wasn't looking forward to hearing John C Maxwell as I thought he was going to tell me lots of things I should be doing as a leader and make me feel awful. He didn't. He simply cried while telling us the gospel. What an amazing man.

3. Bishop Kivengere was quoted who said

"Revival begins in the home before there is a Revival in the church"

4. We were at one point told to pray 'our best prayers' which we thought was an odd phrase.

5. Nicky Gumbel thinks 'Just mercy' is the best book he has ever read. Bryan Stevenson was without question the standout talk- stunning. It wasn't recorded but this is his TED talk.

6. The phrase' God works in the cracks and the interruptions' struck one of our number

7. 'Turn the ship around' was another strongly recommended book.

8. I am still saddened by Bill Hybels not 'Finishing strong' which is a book we should all now re-read.

9. This was the song of the conference by Brook Fraser who lead worship

10. John C Maxwell described leadership as 'Postitively influencing people'

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I have got to know someone recently who has this written as a tattoo on his inner forearm:

'No man liveth unto himself'

He told me that part of the reason he did it was the impact of reading a book called 'The Vision and the Vow'. If someone permanently imprints their body after reading something then you might want to get hold of that book. It arrived on Friday and I finished it this morning. So many things from reading it made an impression on me but the story of Pete Greig's dad moved me most. He was a very un-ordinary ordinary man like my own father, who I miss desperately.

'When the Holy Spirit fills our lives, we begin to want what God wants and to see what God sees. In His grace, God interrupts our mundane little lives and calls us to follow. As we obey, our hearts are changed. The old covenant of our selfish motivation and "far-off" vision is replaced with a new covenant written on our hearts, and we now share God's priorities, longing for the fulfillment of His will whatever it may cost. The sacrifices of obedience are outweighed by the joy of being chosen to walk, one step at a time, in relationship with God'

Vision and Vow, p.85

In other news, we are getting involved with Joy @ Kempton.

'Why did it take 34 for years for someone to tell my husband and I about Jesus'

I am going to this tonight to pray for it. Do join me.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Thursday thoughts

1. One of our groups is group of mum's exploring what it means to raise children who follow Jesus. I spotted this new book called 'Devoted'

2. I loved reading this which made the point that reading can awaken revival and has done.

3. I do try and keep a not very watchful eye on the C of E's debates about human sexuality. The latest is that The American Episcopal Church wants a liturgy for 'gender-neutral marriage'.  I understand 'gay-marriage' though don't think it should carry the title 'marriage' and the C of E still holds to the view that marriage is between a man and a women. I had little idea what exactly the phrase 'gender-neutral' meant and my normal practice is to turn to Ian Paul. Happily he's done a piece on this latest wrangle and before reading it I assumed it's about two 'intersex' (the 'i' in LGBTI) people wanting to be married? Don't know about you but I am struggling to keep up as the sexual universe becomes increasingly more complex.

4. Someone recommended 'There is more' to me.

5. I have had Ephesians 5:14 on my heart for days.

6. Such fun having a room full of folk in our home to learn how to pray. I cooked and 'the laity' taught -wonderfully.

7. Mrs C sent me this to watch on Revival

8. The Prayer Course is brilliant. More please Pete.

9. I discovered a pal who I worked with 25 years ago in Moscow is on the run from the HMRC. How lives take a different course. It's never too late to wise up. I would send him this book if I could track him down.

10. A lot of people think, in the C of E, all roads lead to the Bishop. They don't. They lead to the Archdeacon's. Pray for them.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday bits

1. I have been captivated by the recipes of Ottelengi (which I got given for Christmas). Saffron chicken and hazelnuts.....

2. Cory Ashbury's album has been going around in the car. The line from one of his songs 'We couldn't earn it, we don't deserve it' I included in this mornings sermon. It's true by the way.

3. A member of our church is being so encouraged by All things new. You need to hear his story to know why it's being a help.

4. We always have testimony at our annual church meeting. The church is a people.

5. Adrian Warnock's blog has been a real encouragement to me down the years. He's quite sick and would value our prayers.

6. We are going to this on May 10th which is part of this. If you haven't read Dirty Glory do.

7. I played this song in church today.

8. I am going on this in September.

9. Alpha starts here on Tuesday 7.30. Tell anyone who might like to come.

10. We had 16 pastors at our prayer meeting last Thursday. Finding us all on our knees repenting made me think somethings up.

11. A week until this.

12. Lots of Connect groups running this term which is exciting. My FOMO wants to be at all of them so I have narrowed it to three. Sadly, I don't qualify for 'Ladies running'.

13. There is a prayer walk for Barnes this Sat (May 5th) @ 10am- leaving from HT Barnes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Seeing and Savouring

1. 'This is us' is the best thing Mrs C and I have watched on TV for a long while. It's on Amazon prime.

2. What makes Christ glorious is "an admirable conjuction of divine excellencies" said Jonathan Edwards 250 years ago.

3. I am reading Proverbs and the Sermon on the Mount concurrently assisted by 'The Way of Wisdom'.

4. I have been pondering the gift of interpreting tongues. A pal's church tribe see it as exclusively prayer and praise and  interpretation is man speaking to God- and NEVER prophetically in a worship setting. This question came up after I witnessed a tongue and interpretation at their service. The verse they cite is 1 Cor 14:2. I've been reading up and studying on it this week.

5. I am going to hear John Eldredge speak tomorrow night. I am still reading and enjoying 'All things new'

6. 'Sometimes we have to change jobs to maintain our vocation' Peterson, Practice resurrection, p.55

7. I watched this summary of Ephesians about which I am preparing a few talks.

8. We discussed 'Divine women' this week which I want to check out.

9. Anne Ortlund once noted that children are 'wet cement' (Anchorman, Steve Farrar, p.88)

10. 'Salvation is not mainly the forgiveness of sins, but mainly the fellowship of Jesus (1 Cor 1:9). Forgiveness gets everything out of the way so this can happen' Piper, Seeing and Savouring Jesus, p 40, which someone bought me to read.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Lots to say but the baby has been a crying

I have been rather quiet so apologies to the two or three readers I have.

1. Easter was wonderful. A  'Gospel shaped pastor' was a word to my renovating heart.

2. This post has impacted me more than any in a long while.

3. I am planning to read Piper's book on reading the Bible supernaturally

4. Learning to use a potty is a significant milestone

5. I was blessed reading the chapter 'What sort of Christian are you?' in 'God is for us'

6. I think I was born again again reading a sentence in 'I believe'.

7. My Catholic priest pal gave me a very decent answer to my question 'What is the oil of Chrism?'

8. Krish has done a TedOxford talk 'Can hospitality change the world?'

9. I wrote a sermon this week listening to jazz. I don't usually like jazz but it was rather soothing.

10. My wife is amazing.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Babies and bits and bobs

1. The blog has been quiet due to a nine week old bundle of joy

2. Met with some fellow pastors and prayed for the afternoon. Now there’s an idea. 

3. I’ve been reading ‘This is our time’ by Trevin Wax

‘We are no longer seen doing something; we are doing something to be seen’ James K A Smith (p. 30)

4. I’ve been thinking about the absent age group from our churches (16-22)

5. I am enjoying using ‘Seeking God’s Face’ for my daily devotions. 

6. Roast chicken is good for the soul. 

7. We are preaching a Lent series called ‘The power of the blood’

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018

One Generation from Extinction

1. This post 'Four Reasons to think about Hell' is a timely reminder of why the vitality of the local church and its mission is so crucial. Thanks be again for an Archbish who is putting a rocket under the C of E to return to it's mission (as far as he is empowered or able to). Here's a question. Why, when we promote someone in the C of E, do we have to nearly always take them out of their day to day work in the local church thereby distancing them where it all happens?

2. My pal who has recently taken over a struggling and nearly closed church has 59 folk on his first Alpha Course.That's encouraged me.

3. As we were brainstorming reaching 18-30's it struck me that no one had said 'Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ'. I have really no other significant ideas other than that (apart from pray). As I have pondered since, it has struck me that we assume the gospel is being preached when perhaps too often it isn't.

4. I read this quote today:

'Strategy is about commitment. If what you are doing isn't irrevocable, then you don't have a strategy- because anyone can do it......I have always wanted to treat life like I was an invading army and there was no turning back' Troy Tyler

The Shaping of Things to Come, p 201

5. From 'One Generation from Extinction':

'For every 100 children in C of E churches in 1930 today there are nine.' p. 63

6. There is a helpful chapter in 'Our Secular Age' on Millennials. The recommendation is to 'Make space of Thomas':

Likewise churches interested in reaching millennials need to become skilled in that sort of patience that graciously makes space for the questioner,.......Questions and dialogue must be welcome.'. p 51

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wednesday wanderings

1. I have finished 'Strong and Weak' and it's a book that I think I now need to re-read. Profound and helpful.

2. I meet on a Wednesday with some other Pastors. We are a great and eclectic bunch and today's discussion was, among other things, the Jordan Peterson interview.

3. Tonight, we are gathering to remind ourselves of the blessing of the ministry of the Holy Spirit with the help of the wonderful Rev Barry Kissell. A night of teaching and prayer.

4. I am reflecting on a gathering yesterday of the churches in our Diocese with more than 10 people aged 18-30. I think we were about 25 in number. It was a good crew and an interesting time. However, that means that there are another 300 churches with less or none ( there may I pray be a few more who couldn’t come), nonetheless it is salutatory and reflects the urgent challenge of the C of E in reaching this generation. This article in the Church Times tells me the C of E is in the 'last chance saloon'. Not particularly glass half-full but on the showing yesterday perhaps not too far wrong.

‘Revd Dr John Walker wrote that the C of E was in the “Last Chance Saloon”. Six years later, the saloon doors are swinging shut for the last time.’

5. I like having an Archbishop who gets furious for the C of E being 'inward looking'. Just what the last chance saloon needs.

6. We sang a line 'My wealth is in the cross' from a song last Sunday. Someone asked me what that means and I am going to try and answer that with my preach this Sunday. It's a good question.

7. Piper has caused the twittersphere to twitter about women seminary professors.

8. This little section has caused me to reflect and it's a profound observation:

Commenting on the martyrdom of the Charleston Nine and the subsequent faithfulness of the surviving congregation, the Episcopal priest and writer Fleming Rutledge said "They were not ready"- how could anyone be ready for such gratuitous violence?' - "but they were prepared".

Strong and Weak, p155

9. If I was recommending a one-stop book on leadership to a pastor it would be 'Relational Leadership'. Superb.

10,. Reckless love.  He has indeed been so so good to me. Grace upon grace.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A New Place

This is a quote I have been pondering:

"Evangelisation is a process of bringing the gospel to people where they are, not where you would like them to be. When the gospel reaches people where they are, their response to the gospel is a church in a new place'

Vincent Donovan (author of 'Christianity Rediscovered'

Monday, January 15, 2018

An exhortation

I read in 'The Imperfect Disciple' that Ray Ortlund once exhorted his congregation to "stare at the glory of God until you see it"


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday wanderings

1. I saw a friend and reader of this blog who has been fighting with her husband over who gets to read their one copy of 'The Imperfect Disciple'. They are walking with grace and courage through cancer together so its very encouraging they are being strengthened by it. She told me to 'keep on blogging and recommending' so hence today's post. I also recommended 'Gospel wakefulness' to her.

2. As a direct result of this article and then cutting back on news/internet/social media use I read so much more.

3. We are starting the year with a weekly prayer night on Wednesday evenings. These articles on prayer were a spur for me. Tonight we are going to be praying a Psalm and taking an hour to do so.

4. I have ordered a fresh pile of books that appealed from all the 'Book lists' of 2017. The one I've just started is called 'The Strong and the Weak'. A pal put me onto reading and rereading John Eldredge last year so I have ordered his new book too. I am aware I have yet to do my list.

5. I am planning to revisit 'Ordering your private world' as my life has more demands and my heart always needs more attention, protection and care.

6. This piece on 'Are Clergy worth it?' was interesting. As I don't receive a C of E funded stipend and am resourced directly by the saints of Barnes you'll have to ask them....

7. A pastor pal has been impacted by 'A Disruptive Generosity' by Mac Pier. He tells me it's one to give or recommend to those 'in the market place' in your church.

8. A helpful piece on 'How to help your children read the Bible'

9. This quote is true for me: 'As I get older, I see more of my own sin and thus become more humble. As I get older, I see more of my own flaws and thus become more patient. As I get older, I see more of my own weakness and slowness and inadequacy and thus become more gentle'

The Imperfect Pastor

10. Another quote gleaned from the deep well of Jared Wilson that I have been mulling on. Indeed, my question from it is what is it I revere and will it ruin or restore me?:

'What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration' G K Beale

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