Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ten thoughts for a Tuesday

1.  Recently, I shared the not very profound insight about the C of E that if you keep doing what you are doing you will keep getting what you're getting. Mark Sayers book 'Reappearing church' shares this sentiment and captures lots of the material from his podcast This Cultural Moment. It's an important book. We are planning to use it as a read for our early morning pastors prayer group. Buy this book, read the first chapter, follow the suggestion that you select some people to gather with who want renewal and then commit to actually gathering. I have discovered over thirty years that the kingdom comes to those who turn up. Church- we need to raise our game, get accountable, start to pray earnestly and trust in God to move his hand. BBC news website today tells me child poverty is on track to reach 34% by 2023. Blue, Red or Yellow are not going to sort this fractured land- the gospel is. Awake o sleeper.....


We will not experience renewal by following the same patterns of life and ministry that are not delivering renewal

(Reappearing church: The Hope of Renewal in the Rise of Our Post Christian Culture, Page 11)

2. David Keen hits a political observational nail on the head with this post about 'Families'  and a post on marriage discrimination.

3.  Someone in our church family told me that this book might very well be changing their life. They have only read half of it so we laughed together and we agreed we'd reserve judgement until she's actually finished it.

4. If you know a better story to illustrate the reality that we belong to God then do let me know. I read it to church on Sunday and made myself and everyone else cry.  It's on pages 81-84 of 'Proof'. Read out in the context of the gospel and I would beg to suggest it's hard for someone not to get  saved - it might even be you  :)
Image result for proof montgomery"

5. A kid at school has been giving our son an occasional hard time. We've all been praying for them. Today, by the providence of God, the mum of the child asked me to drop the them at their class as she was rushing to work. As we waited outside the classroom, Christmas came on the agenda which is apparently about elves and Santa.  I said simply 'Christmas is all about Jesus and it's amazing that God is alive, he's come to us and his name is Jesus'. She pondered this thought and said, beaming, 'Christmas is Jesus' birthday'. In that brief moment, I felt I'd got one over on the elves...

6. My daily devotional is 'Seeking God's Face'. It has a prologue written by Eugene Peterson that I happened to read for the first time. It moved me and if you read it might move you too.


Yesterday, someone arrived at the Vicarage door who has been around the edges of our church since I planted it. They said 'I am sorry I don't come very often but your a good Vicar and the Vicarette is fantastic. I'm not sure how you describe her [Vicarette will do].....Anyway, I took this photo and have been meaning to frame it and give it to you for ages. Your church is doing a good thing'. That was quite encouraging.

8.  Someone else arrive on the doorstep who was homeless. We invited her in, made her a cup of tea, heard the story, shared the gospel, prayed for her, booked the hostel, gave her the Vicarette's favourite coat, and then, as she was leaving, I sensed the half read book by my bedside was for her not me. At very least, the subtitle resonated with her.

Image result for manna farrar"

9. I am planning to read a very thin book called 'Creative Minority' today.

10.  I heard Bishop Nazir Ali speak on Saturday who had many reflections on the state of the C of E. His big idea was hospitality and I felt prompted to buy a book that's been on my radar for ages. Why not invite someone into your home for a meal and see what happens.....
The Gospel Comes with a House Key: A Book Review

Luke 24.....'did not the word of God burn within us while we were with Him'

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday musing

1.  I have been listening to the sermon series 'A missional life' by Jon Tyson. The teaching of Suzy Silk is also worth checking out and I was blessed by her message on Micah 6:8. I have also been listening to one of the worship songs they have in their canon.

2.  I said I'd let you know on news of the thing that I've been working on that might have happened. It hasn't, which is a shame and feels like nine months of prayer, ideas, potential and effort down the swanny. However, I've been doing this long enough to know nothing is wasted in the kingdom. Did I mention this post and that I wrote 'Why plant churches?' 8 years ago? In it, I quoted Ruth Gledhill who wrote this in the Times:

'Some senior clergy believe the entire parish system could be at risk. They have warned that, with as many as four out of ten clergy due to retire within the next decade, the next ten years are crucial in determining whether the Church of England survives as a visible entity or turns into "little more than a sect" run by unpaid volunteers.' 

The Times, 2011

As I look from time to time at Thinking Anglican's (where I discover who's been appointed to the see of this or that) I can't help being reminded that if you keep doing what you're are doing you will keep getting what you getting. Keeping on with a 'more of the same' process is fine if you are looking to curate a museum, but not if you are seeking to usher in the things of the kingdom of God. Or in Cranmer speak 'to declare the gospel afresh to this generation' which is as I understood it is the call upon the church of this land. I heard someone in the upper echelons of oversight of the good old C of E say recently that '....we're about to go over the edge of the cliff'. On Ruth Gledhill's 'a decade to go' timetable we have a year or so left to run so maybe, just maybe, it's time we cracked on.

3.  I have started writing more in my journal. I used to journal all the time but someone this discipline got lost in everything else. I've pulled Ron Klug's 'How to keep a spiritual journal' off the shelf again to inspire me.

4. John Mark Comer's book on hurry is all the rage at the moment and it's a reworking of Ortberg's 'The life you always wanted'. I'm enjoying it and it's helpful on the spiritual disciplines. The older I get I see the bright young things of the day simply discover the basics of the faith and repackage them for their generation. It was ever thus.

5.  'The Marriage Story' looks like an interesting but painful watch.

6. Charlie Mackesy is number one in the Times bestsellers with this book. A gift idea for Christmas?

And here he is speaking about Christmas....

7. A couple of blog posts from J John as we approach the election.

a. What wrong with the country?
b. .....And what can we do about it?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hidden Christmas

‘Because of the commercial indispensability of Christmas, it will remain with us as a secular festival. My fear is, however, that its true roots will become more and more hidden to most of the population. The emphasis on light in darkness comes from the Christian belief that the worlds hope comes from outside of it  The giving of gifts is a natural response to Jesus stupendous act of self-giving, when he laid aside his glory and was born  into the human race. The concern for the needy recalls the Son of God was born not into an aristocratic family but into a poor one. The Lord of the universe identified with the least and the most excluded of the human race.

These are powerful themes, but every one of them is a two-edged sword. Jesus comes as the Light because we are too spiritually blind to find our own way. Jesus become mortal and died because we are too morally ruined to be pardoned any other way. Jesus gave himself to us, and do we must give ourselves wholly to him. We are, therefore, “not [our] own (1 Cor 6:19). Christmas, like god himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than we imagine.

Every year our increasingly secular Western society becomes more unaware of its own historical roots, many of which are the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  Yet once a year at Christmas basic truths become a bit more accessible to an enormous audience. At countless gatherings, concerts, parties and other events, even when most participants are non-religious, the essentials of the faith can sometimes become visible  As an example, let’s ask some questions of the famous Christmas carol “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” heard in shopping centres, stores, and on street corners. Who is Jesus? He is the ‘everlasting Lord’ who from ‘highest heaven’ comes down to be the ‘offspring of a virgins womb’ What did he come  do? His mission is to sin ‘’God and sinners reconciled’ How did he accomplish it? He lays his glory by that we ‘no more may die’. How ca this life be ours? Through an inward, spiritual regeneration so radical that, as we have seen, it can be called ‘the second birth.

 With brilliant economy of style, the carol gives us a summary of the entire Christian teaching.
While few of the most familiar Christmas songs and Bible readings and that comprehensive, it remains that one season a year hundreds of millions of people, if they would take the trouble to ask these kinds of questions, would have this same knowledge available to them. To understand Christmas is to understand basic Christianity, the Gospel.’

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas, p.2-4

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Murray on the death of Europe

This is a thought-provoking interview and captures many of the issues that a bubbling under the surface on all sides of the arguments about Brexit and other matters during election season.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Towards the conversion of England

1. My pal Matt, a Vicar of a wonderful church in Fulham, organised an evening with Sandy Millar with a twofold purpose. Firstly, he wanted to encourage the use of social media. Secondly he wanted us to be encouraged by some teaching from Sandy on Ezekiel 37.  It was a terrific night. If Sandy's talk comes online I will post it here. Sandy recommended we all read 'Streets paved with gold: The Story of London City Mission' .

2. Another pal Wayne recommend a book that, as it happens, was just reviewed by Daryl Dash. If you find yourself in a hurry a lot then this might be one for you.

3. One of the people who spoke last night was Chris who I have known for a few years. It was my Canadian/English friend Peter's daughter who made me aware of his online persona. He is part of something called 'The Korean Englishman' and remarkably it's had over 300m hits.  He also runs something called 'Young Franciscans'

4. I am really enjoying Manna by Steve Farrar. He's a man whose writing has kept me running the race down the years. It's one to read if you feel you are in a tough spot.

5. Politics is too important to leave to politicians. 

6. I've been pondering the expression used by Emma Watson 'self-partnered'. As someone who was single until 45, I can't say that I ever sought an alternative descriptor.

7. If you want a good devotional on marriage and relationships then Keller has a new one called 'A seal upon my heart'.

8. Sandy used a Wimber quote (about church planting) that has stuck with me:

'It's easier to have babies than conduct resurrections'

9. This is great  and thanks to Tim Challies for posting.

10. John Mark Comer apparently reads the book Sacred Fire once a year. I've just started it.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

A week is a long time...

This was how James Forsyth started his article in the Spectator this week:

'This general election isn't the most important in a generation, it is the most significant in the lifetime of anyone since 1945. It will decide whether Brexit happens, whether Britain has the most left wing prime minister in its history, whether the Scottish Nationalists are able to secure a second referendum and whether the two-party system can survive'

I have also been reading Dominic Cummings blog and this quote stuck with me and chimed a similar chord:

‘Politics is a job that can really only be compared with navigation in uncharted waters. One has no idea how the weather or the currents will be or what storms one is in for. In politics, there is the added fact that one is largely dependent on the decisions of others, decisions on which one was counting and which then do not materialise; one’s actions are never completely one’s own. And if the friends on whose support one is relying change their minds, which is something that one cannot vouch for, the whole plan miscarries… One’s enemies one can count on – but one’s friends!’ Otto von Bismarck.

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