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Showing posts from March, 2005

The Call

Preach the Word! We're called “to depict the beauty of Christ and his saving work with a heartfelt urgency of love that labours to help people find their satisfaction in him.” Preaching the word to waken a taste for God in people. Setting the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ before people.
"We don’t work to persuade people that the gospel will meet all their felt needs, rather that they were made for the soul-satisfying glory of God in the gospel." That is task I feel compelled to give my life to. To set the gospel before people that they may gaze upon Christ! That the Spirit of God may work in them to transform them.

That is a task I know I'm not up to in myself- to proclaim and portray the one who made all things, and for whom all things were made. To preach him, to preach the cross of Christ. The cross by which I can preach, by which the word of the cross can be recieved, by which sinful humanity (myself included) can come near to God.

That is what…

Joyfully wise, or pitifully stupid

Jesus Christ lived and died, charged with blasphemy by his own people - since they saw he claimed to be God, executed by the ruling Roman Empire on a cross. The significance of this stands on what happened next.

If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead then Christians are pitiful fools. They imagine a relationship with a dead man, wasting their lives. In that case the wise live away from Christ.

If Jesus Christ rose from the dead then eternal life and pleasure with him is available. Available to all who believe in Jesus death as their ground of confidence before God. A certainty confirmed by his words and by his being alive, even today! In that case those who live away from Christ are fools. Where do you stand? It stands or falls on this: did Jesus rise from the dead?


Imagine... an idea so good that if it wasn't happening you would want to invent it. Imagine... a radical witnessing Christian community at the heart of every University and College. Imagine... vibrant mission teams of students committed to reaching other students with the good news of Jesus. Imagine... a generation being equipped for effective leadership in church, community and work place. Imagine... Christian Unions.

You don't have to imagine - it's happening now. But to grow the work we need your help. Imagine... Christian Unions. An idea so good that if it wasn't happening you want want to invent it. UCCF believes that students are the best palced to reach other students with the good news of Jesus.

Our vision is to unite, in Christian Unions, students from all church backgrounds, around the central truths of the gospel. These Christian Unions exist to take the good news to every student on campus in word and action.
Our strategy is that tehse groups are led by studen…

No rules, just grace.

Word Alive 2005 should be remembered for one thing: Grace. Nearly 2000 students gathered for a week to meet with God in his word. Spring Harvest Word Alive week is distinctive for it's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Bible streams which cover chronological and thematic overviews of God's story, and also how to understand, apply and teach the Bible.

The evening student celebrations this year worked through Galatians. Graham Daniels of Christians In Sport kicked us off with the message of free grace, daring us to be accused of lawlessness as we preach about Jesus. Jesus the only one who rescues us from this evil age, the one who does so completely by his death. We were called to take D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones' words serious, if we've not been accused of this, we've not preached the gospel.... Graham dared us to preach in such a way that people would ask - "so shall I sin more so that I get more grace?" reminding us in J.B.Philips words that this question i…

Go explore the new CU apologetics resource

Scandalous Manifesto for Life

Preached at Arborfield this morning: The message of the cross. Looking at God's intent to humble us of our pride and desire to believe in what is powerful and wise, calling us to stake all our hope in the death of Jesus on a cross. Humbling the pride that elevates us and robs God of glory, and so pointing all attention to God and his great purposes.

This isn't how I go

Edward Bloom gets a vision of his future at the start of his life. The vision shows him how he'll die. Knowing this he is able to face endless risky situations without fear of death - knowing "This isn't how I go". His story is full of embelishments and imagination that make his life more flowery and inspiring. Yet, knowledge of the way things end is the kind of thing that can change the way we live.

Common wisdom says that global warming, or nuclear war or an asteroid, or the death of the sun will finish us off. But God says differently. The end will come when He calls time.

We fail to believe this because we fail to believe God's promise and we prefer to follow our own desires. If we believe that God will call time and call everyone to account for their lives then we cannot merely follow our own evil desires - we would need to pursue God's true desire - that we find life in him. But ignorant of the eternal pleasure found in him. In our ignorance we don't…

Cat & Dog Theology

Following hard on the heals of Piper and Storms comes Cat & Dog Theology from Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison. Their challenge to contemporary Christianity hinges on the difference between cats and dogs.

A dog says, "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, you must be God"
A cat says, "You pet me, you feed me, you shelter me, you love me, I must be God"

And so, they observe we work out our theology. The danger they warn is that we become cats. Cat Theology is idolatrous because it says I'm the centre of everything. Dog Theology says God is central and everything is for the purpose of making God look glorious. Cats have staff, Dogs have masters.

This is a quirky, easy to read but not so easy to put into pratice book that has masses to say to the church today - and indeed to the wider world, this is the anti-cat gospel and it is very much needed.

Thanks to Rich for supplying the book, I needed to hear this again.

Shut Up / Speak Up

On the train, Monday afternoon. We sat on Platform 2 at Reading waiting to leave for Basingstoke for 25 minutes. My journey had a 28 minute connection window at Basingstoke for Portsmouth. While we waited our driver insisted on telling us that "I'm sorry for the delay, I don't know why. And I've check with lots of other people, and they don't know either..." Later my Basingstoke-Portsmouth train also suffered, at Micheldever we were informed that "I think that odd sound was one of our engines failing". I'm not sure I wanted to know in either case. Some people just can't help their verbal diarrhea.

Monday night, preached at University of Portsmouth Christian Union. My first trip to Portsmouth since Natwest put me up in the Marriot & Hilton for a week's induction 2.5 years ago. Was good to spend the evening with the guys there - an extended time of worship followed by my talk. After which I had to run for the train. The return journey w…

Together, under the shadow of God's wings

Reflecting on Ruth. An awesome story of God's kindness and sovereign grace. Naomi returns empty and bitter after her disobedient self-emposed exile in Moab. She returns with the Moabite Ruth who makes an amazing commitment - "your God will be my God, your people will be my people".

She steps into the purposes of God and the people God. As she seeks refuge under God's wings God demonstrates his great kindess and love. Naomi's perceptions are reversed, as she ends the story full not empty, and back in the people of God herself.

Through Boaz, Ruth is shown God's kindness to her as an outsider. His sovereign grace works out in the ordinary things of community life to establish her in the people of God. And, as the story is told generations later, in the line of King David... and consequently Messiah Jesus. His backstory telling of the grace that comes through his death at the cross.

I've been struck studying this with Steve over the last few weeks at the way th…

Surprised by the Power of the Spirit?

This book was given to me by Bill Lees and the mission support guys at Wycliffe Baptist Church. It tells the story of professor Jack Deere's journey from cessationism to charismatic theology in the 1980s, leading to his dismissal from Dallas Theological Seminary and a move into the Vineyard Church.

The charismatic theology Deere teaches centres on the ongoing presence of miraculous healing in the church today, and some comment on prophecy - which a later book expands. Through the ministry of John White (author of The Fight), Jack Deere encountered healing and deliverance for the first time in the late 1980s. This, he tells, led him to examine the Bible afresh, and also to meet Vineyard founder John Wimber who influenced him greatly.

Deere outlines many of his newfound concerns about his prior cessationist theology along with many of the concerns people have about charismatic theology. His declared intent is to examine scripture on his own terms, admitting that experience influences…


An achievement today, with Tim (CU Cell Coordinator)! We worked out the Reading University CU cell group programme for the summer term.

Following our rough pattern of Gospels (Term 1), New Testament Letters (Term 2), Old Testament (Term 3) we've studied Matthew 3-8 and Philippians this year, next we move to:

Jonah - God's Outrageous Grace: Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Ruth - God's Sovereign Grace: God's kindness includes sinners.

Week 1. Social / Evangelistic
Week 2. Jonah 1v1-16
Week 3. Jonah 1v17-3v4
Week 4. Jonah 3v5-10
Week 5. Jonah 4v1-11
Week 6. Social / Evangelistic
Week 7. Ruth 1
Week 8. Ruth 2
Week 9. Ruth 3
Week 10. Ruth 4


Finished Philippians with the Reading Cell Leaders today. Notes now online at Many lessons in finding satisfaction in Jesus Christ alone, contentment in him rather than pursuing satisfaction in any number of alternative places.

"God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him"

Socrates, Descartes, Pascal, Newton and Einstein all have the same Myers-Briggs as me, so they say... comical! High company to keep, still there is more to genius than personality I suppose, and more to people than personality! (INTP).

Considering Pastoral Care with Reading's Cell Pastoral Care people, Tim & Rachel today. It was good to remember that people are created beings, not pastoral projects. As we looked through Jude we saw the danger of sin, which is destructive to people and terribly offensive to God.

Jude sets our vision to remember that sin and false teaching will come but to fight against it. Seeing that we should seek to keep ourselves in the fai…

Personality Testing

So, all the Surrey CU bloggers are doing personality tests. So here's mine. At the end of the day I am who God made me which is more than my personality, and he's also changing me daily. A fair part of the result also rests on how consistently/honestly the survey questions are answered...

Advanced Big 30 Personality Test Results
Sociability|||||||||30%Aggressiveness|||||||||||||||||||||64%Assertiveness||||||||||||||||||||||||||||87%Activity Level||||||||||||||||||60%Excitement-Seeking||||||16%Enthusiasm||||||||||||||||||||||||75%Extroversion||||||||||||||||||55%Trust||||||||||||32%Morality|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||92%Altruism|||||||||22%Cooperation|||||||||29%Modesty||||||||||||||||||57%Sympathy||||||15%Friendliness|||||||||||||||41%Confidence||||||||||||||||||||||||||||86%Neatness|||||||||||||||||||||68%Dutifulness|||||||||||||||||||||68%Achievement|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||93%Self-Discipline||||||||||||||||||||||||||||84%Cautiousness||||||||||||||||||||||||||||86%Or…


Just how shocking is the Gospel?
Should this really feel as provocative as it does? Reading this casts my mind back to my study of Jonah with Steve last month as we witnessed Jonah's outrage at God's grace to Nineveh... even as beneficiaries of the same grace how is that we begin to count ourselves better than others? Let us delight that God is gracious!

The message of Jesus death confounds proud minds, it runs against our sinful instincts and desire to justify ourselves for our every failing. How much we need to keep returning to God for grace! And how sufficient his mercy to those who do believe. The same message of the Cross that seems foolish to some is the greatest wisdom to those who are being saved. What is weakness to the proud is supreme power to the humbled.

How hard is it for us to just say sorry and stop making excuses? How hard to belive that we are recieved by God not on the basis of who we are or what we've done? How hard to believe that we are recieved by Go…


I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
(Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1892-1822)
Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. What will remain? The things of this world don't last forever, much like Shelley himself. A sobering reminder from a rather depressing dead relative. Yet there is hope beyond what he knew. Shelley, who declared The Necessity of Atheism missed the point. He raised his questions but did not list…

Film 2005 - It has got to get better than this....

1. The Village (why didn't we see it last year?)
2. Collateral (why didn't we see it last year?)
3. Code 46 (gattaca/lostintranslation-esque)
4. The Aviator (long but ok)
5. National Treasure (really not that good)
6. Oceans 12 (self-indulgent hollywood fluff)
7. Dodgeball (dumb and mildly fun)
8. Man on Fire (well films but average)
9. Flight of the Phoenix (didn't care if they survived)
10. ??

So then roughly 20% of the way into the year here's the best I've seen / been able to see thus far thanks to the wonderful selection our local cinemas fail to offer.... upcoming DVD releases and hopefully many better films will wipe much of this top 10 from memory by the end of the year... If more than the top 3 remain at the end of the year it'll be tragic.

Isn’t being good enough?

“But all my thoughts turned to death. I thought of Gwen’s body rotting away. I thought about what a nice person she was. So full of life & good will. If there is a heaven, Gwen would be there, giving makeovers and offering helpful advice… I thought that if I died today, what would happen to me, a hateful girl, a selfish girl, an adulteress, a liar…” (Justine, The Good Girl)
"I'm a good person. In most ways. But I'm beginning to think that being a good person in most ways doesn't count for anything very much, if you're a bad person in one way. Because most people are good people, aren't they? Most people want to help others, and if their work doesn't allow them to help others then they do it however they can - by manning the phones at the Samaritans once a month, or going on sponsored walks, or filling in standing orders. It's no good me telling you that I'm a doctor, because I'm only a doctor during weekdays. I’ve been sleeping with someone…