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Showing posts from August, 2005

Hope and the Heartfelt

Hope and the Heartfelt (c) Songbird 2005

Stars awake my mind with images of grandeur
Standing on a precipice before the crowd, I see

Lost and the lonely,
The forgiven, the forgotten
Each one of you precious
In the Father's eyes to be.

Silent Whispers crowd my mind with thoughts of wanting more.
Lying down with death quite near, I listen to the sound.

Hope and the Hearfelt
The Sympathy, the tears
Each one of you needing to be held
In your Father's arms here.

The songbird shall sing again...

Began thinking what it would be like to sing home made songs again recently and so have pulled out my songwriting pen and have become inspired... The process is so unpredictable because sometimes the tunes flow and other times, they do not. Here is one idea that i have a melody and chords for:Hold the World (c) Songbird Aug 2005Hold the world upon your shoulders, You don't let it fall.The glory and the wonder of how strong and of how tall.You stand in all your power, the Sky and Stars unite.You hold it altogether, with your splendour and your might.Marvel and wonder (at the beauty)Wonder and Marvel (at the ashes)Who can stand in your presence with their head held high?Searching for the treasure in the deepest bluest sky.Look around you, Open arms, he says "come"."I've paid for your transgressions, See my splendour, it's begun".

Ramblings of a twenty something...

Sheep crossing- where? they were in a closed field where i was on the road so really the sign should say me crossing... Returns!

After a summer break, we're back over at The Biblical Theology Briefings. A whole load of new articles and reviews are there... along with this new Biblical Theology Briefing:


In bt briefings


Further developments over the coming months.

Grace not Karma

Bono gives an explicit confession of being saved by Grace, not Karma - the way he deals with the opening question, superb."The interviewer, Mr. Assayas, begins by asking Bono, Doesn't he think "appalling things" happen when people become religious? Bono counters, "It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.""

My ears are ringing...

This afternoon on the train back from Guildford I started taking a look at Mark 4. Its a very familiar passage, and I'm preaching on it at Warwick CU in a couple of months...

What struck me straight away was that Jesus says a lot in this chapter. My unfortunate Jesus-words-in-red Bible highlighting this for me. And he said... And he said... And he said... The great King who has authority over demons and disease, and the divine work of forgiveness seems to be exerting his rule by his word. Some have ears to hear, and will find forgiveness... others do not and will not. They may hear at first but ultimately they will not live under the rule of his word.... Normally this passage is taught as evangelism training... but I think perhaps we miss as step when we do that. First, as Jesus himself says.... we have to listen!

Meanwhile, we're just in from seeing WireJesus, My Luminaries and Pure Reason Revolution with FunkyPancake. My ears are still ringing. I have ears to hear, but act…

God is the Gospel

John Piper's forthcoming book:
God is the Gospel: Meditations of God's Love as the Gift of Himself

(from which you can read the whole book online)
Introduction & Chapter 1

This looks superb

A Little Less Conversation...

In Bulgaria I got annoyed by some of our team taking endless digital pictures of stuff happening. I even started to write an angry little song about their paperazzi habits (thankfully I lost the lyrics)... It annoyed me that their experience on mission was being largely lived through the camera lense rather than just experiencing the moments first hand.

Then this morning I read this blog post by Joshua Harris and realised its quite possible that too much of my life is mediated through this blog... In all honesty it doesn't take up that much of my time, but it does take sometime.

So, having utterly failed in my intention to disappear for a month earlier this summer I'm now going to try and do that again. Mostly enforced by work commitments over the next couple of weeks. That doesn't mean no posts, but it probably means much less blogging at least for a while... time for much more living.

Anyone for a bit of First Century Church?

Much is said, thought, felt and speculated on what things could be like if we recovered the marks of first century church... but is that really what we want? Anyone for Corinthian Charismania or Antioch Arguments, Laodicean Lukewarming, Galatian Gullibility?

Read this from Deeper Thought: (HT: Jollyblogger)
How Normative Is The Early Church?

Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?

A few months ago the lovely people at Christ Church Newport sent me some free books. Including:

I was busy at the time so they were swiftly filed on my to-read-soon pile of books. And I confess until now I'd barely looked at them. Then, the other day Carolyn McCulley dropped into the blog and commented... and I was reminded of what lay on my bookcase.

So, this morning I opened up Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye?. The foreword by Joshua Harris was encouraging - someone in my kind of position, youngly married male... I've not read too far yet but this looks like a really useful book on singleness by an excellent writer. The church is need of really good teaching on this subject. Too many Christians, and non-Christians for that matter, seem to view being single as being deficient. Now, marriage is great, but its not the solution to sin, or struggle in life. We're complete people in Christ - he is more than enough! That was true before i got married, and three years later its still…

Tragedy or Comedy?

That's the question at stake in Woody Allen's film Melinda and Melinda, a kind of Sliding Doors look at life, but less saccharine and more substance. A man tells a story...
"A bunch of guys are discussing philosophy in a bar. Two writers with opposed views on life argue about it: is life tragic or comic? To illustrate their theories, they imagine a story of a woman. The comic writer presents the optimistic, bright tale of Melinda (Radha Mitchell), who just accepts life as it goes by. The tragic writer gives us a destructive, lonesome and troubled Melinda, who deals with depression and suicide..." IMDB ReviewIs there a real story behind the sparse anecdote?
Is life all about tragedy? Is it all about comedy?
What is the real substance of life? Got me thinking.

The Deliberate Church

A few years ago David Gibson wrote about Assumed Evangelicalism. He identified a problem. A serious problem. In essence, the absence of the "functional centrality of the gospel". That is to say, the church in its various forms assenting to the importance of the gospel, but practically not having it central to what happens.

Rick Warren's bestseller The Purpose Driven Church has helped us to see that it matters what is driving our church. But, has it put the gospel at the centre, functionally? Does it drive our theology? Does it drive our practice? Mark Dever and Paul Alexander's forthcoming book - The Deliberate Church looks like it might provide some assistance in this. The book reportedly builds upon Mark Dever's excellent work with 9 Marks Ministries.

We cannot merely "assume" the gospel.
"You may have heard the story of the Mennonite Brethren movement. One particular analysis goes like this: the first generation believed and proclaimed the gos…

The Spirit calling out Father!

GALATIANS 3:15-4:7

I might write a couple of posts on this section. For now I wanted to put down some thoughts about having the Holy Spirit. For at least the first few years that I was a Christian all I knew about the Holy Spirit was that it was he who did the wierd stuff in people at church- he who made them happy, dance, fall over, shout, cry. He who made them speak in tongues and prophesy. But I had very little concept of how that related to the good news about Jesus death....

It was as if, we started off having Jesus and the Cross. And then do be proper spirit-filled Christians we needed to move on to the Holy Spirit. This seemed a bit odd, but there seemed to be Biblical basis for all this (or most of this) Holy Spirit stuff, so I ran with it.

But it was dissatisfying. Where was Jesus in all this? This vibrant Spirit-Spirituality seemed to be missing something. It seemed to have forgotten where we'd come from. It seemed fairly gospel-less.

Galatians 3-4 sets me free! Here I see a…

Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places

Started reading Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson. Sub-titled a conversation in spiritual theology it initially strikes me as very refreshing. Much like The Gospel Driven Church these are the reflections of a Pastor-Theologian. The first chapter focuses on clearing the ground for what will follow - laying out some foundations for true spirituality, for real life in Jesus. A little lighter to read than John Owen, but still packed with content. Full review to follow when I've finished it.

Sneezing Cows and Climbing Hills

Just back from four relaxing days in Derbyshire. Great weather. Lots of relaxing time with Em. Walked the disused railway at Bakewell, Froggats Edge, Chatsworth and did Mam Tor & Hollins Cross. Aching a bit for it now. And it turned out we were staying just up the road from blogger and Reading graduate Laurence so we had a drink with him.

The Curse Removed & The Spirit Received

I've been encountering Owen. Not England forward, Michael Owen, but 17th Century pastor, John Owen. Whilst in Bulgaria I made my first approach to the work of John Owen. I decided to get into the Puritans in response to Mark Dever's fine chapter on them in Sex & The Supremacy of Christ, and John Piper's many references... that lead me to start scratching the surface of Jonathan Edwards work... and now to John Owen.

The two books I have are The Glory of Christ and The Holy Spirit. The first, almost finished. The second, recently begun. Here's what I read last night... "We may observe, that the doctrine of the Spirit of God, is the second great article of those gospel truths, in which the glory of God and the good of souls, are most eminently concerned; without the knowledge of which in its truth, and the improvement of it in its power, the first will be altogether useless. For when God designed the great and glorious work of recovering fallen man, and of saving…

Should our CU have women speakers?

Here's a question that comes up from time to time... one to start some discussion methinks. Perhaps later we can discuss "Should our CU have Prophecy?" but lets not do that one here.

A few remarks
1. CU - Christian Union.
A Christian Union, for the sake of this discussion, is a Mission Team. It is Evangelical in nature - united around the core truths of the gospel. Doctrinal Basis. This statement of core truths is the basis of fellowship of a Christian Union. It is the common ground that should unite, inspire for evangelism and lead to joyful worship. CU's range from 1-400+ members. Worth noting at the outset that this issue only seems to arise in the bigger groups. CU's must develop practical policy on grounds where partners differ. That is, a CU will have within it people who affirm the truth and authority of scripture but differ on interpretation. Without saying that all applications are valid we must note that there are difficult passages where we may not have t…

The Futility of Adding Law When Grace is Already Given


United by the grace of God
Paul begins chapter two by demonstrating that he stands in unity with the Jerusalem Apostles. He doesn’t consider this a necessity – since he knows his gospel has come from God. But nonetheless he goes to them. He expects that distorters of the gospel may have corrupted Jerusalem. We see his relief that his Gentile companions are not compelled toward circumcision. Nothing is added. Freedom in Christ is not lost. Consequently they stand together, united by the gospel in fellowship. Commissioned to different missionfields, but nonetheless united.

The famous confrontation
So it comes as a great shock to see the tide turn. Paul finds himself confronting the one with whom he was once united. Peter, he observes, puts himself under condemnation, acting hypocritically and out of step with the gospel. This condemnation is perhaps along similar lines to that mentioned in chapter 1 – the fate of non-gospel preachers. I suspect the concern is both for Peter as a…

Hey You Down There!

More from photos and musings from Becci
Also capturing the world from different angles... FunkyPancake

Confronted by the Gospel

GALATIANS 1v1-3v1 -- ESV


1. Paul’s gospel, as preached in Galatia, is a revelation from God of Jesus our deliverer, for God’s glory. And this – God’s Gospel – is the only gospel.
2. The Jerusalem Apostles stood in unity with this gospel when Paul presented it to them. They added nothing. They stood united in fellowship. They were called to a different missionfield – but not a different message.
3. When Peter’s life put him under condemnation – out of step with the gospel, and denying the purpose of Christ’s death - Paul confronted him. Paul taught him again the gospel. Christ’s death was for a great purpose, not no purpose.
4. So too, Paul finds the Galatians denying Christ and he confronts them. He once preached Christ Crucified to them – what that for nothing?


1. we are delivered from evil by God, in Jesus, for God’s glory (1v4)
We’re saved by God for God’s glory. Let us rejoice in this! We do not save, nor keep, ourselves.

How might we try to save or keep ourselves?


We've been to Leicester. Famous for.... Curry? Gary Lineker? The UCCF Office?
Leicester. Home to a number of our friends. It was great to see Reading Graduates Rach and Tom, fellow staff Stanton and James, and also Oliver & Daisy. Real fellowship and friendship, spending time in the company of fellow believers. Always challenging. Always encouraging.

I met Oliver & Daisy a few years ago when they were my hosts during a conference. They showed so much interest in me, my life and my work. And they are so full of wisdom and experience. Its great to sit for a couple of hours a year at their feet. Finally this time Em was able to come with me. I consider it one of the great blessings of being part of the church - to be united with those who are much older and wiser than I am. True wisdom comes from fear of God, from knowing Jesus, not just age - but they have the benefits of both.

Getting to know Oliver & Daisy, and also Bill & Shirley has been something I will always be …

Galatians Challenge

Last year I studied Galatians with my Relay worker, Steve. It was an eye-opening heart-changing journey into the freedom that comes, living by the Spirit - making much of the cross!

I've decided that I'll study Galatians again this autumn with my two new Relay, Hoops & Debbie. I'm going to re-work my studies rather than just re-use them. There are undoubtedly new lessons to learn. (I'm not planning to study all the same books as last year - Steve and I explored Galatians, Ruth, Jonah and Luke together over the course of the year...)

While I was in Bulgaria, Adrian Warnock issued his latest Blogger challenge, on Galatians... seems a good set of questions to set me on my way... I'm not aiming to produce a sermon series, but a set of Bible study notes - but the process is very similar.

1. What do we know about the audience and setting of this book (ie who is it written too, when was it written, why was it written, what do we know about the man who wrote it)
2. What i…

On Art

iMonk is on form again.... A Letter To Andrew and Other Young Artists Injured By The Church

My last mailout from our office confirmed that Christian Artists will be exhibiting at our UCCF national student leaders conference, Forum, this September. Given our Director, Richard Cunningham's, great endorsement of Art as something to explore as a Christian, and the great work that our Arts Staff, Esther and Aly, have been doing this is good news. I look forward to seeing it.

Previous Art articles:
Simeon Lumgair

Christian Art really doesn't mean beautiful sunsets with bible verses written on. Such tranquility in a sinful world is a lie. Create Art that explores the real world, honestly. Create Art that shows creativity. Go create! If you have the gift use it! And whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. Do it in the name of Jesus.

Much as I consider full-time gospel-ministry (such as my work) to be important, we are merely tools to support and facilitate the really importan…

On Sleep

Psalm 121v3-4 -- ESV"He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
I need sleep. God never sleeps.
Note to self: "you are not God,
so don't act like you are."

On Reading

Reading, a dying art....
(from Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, p26)
" must be able to tell from the tone of the language what is the author's attitude towards the subject and towards the reader. You must, in other words, know the difference between a joke and an argument. And in judgeing the quality of an argument, you must be able to do several things at once, including delaying a verdict until the entire argument in finished, holding in mind questions until you have determined where, when or if the text answers them, and bringing to bear on the text all of your relevant experience as a counterargument to what is being proposed. You must also be able to withhold those parts of your knowledge and experience whichm, in fact, do not have a bearing on the argument...."In the age of TV we are rapidly losing the ability to read well, and so Christian Bible study suffers. Where once an ordinary audience could listen to complex political exposition for 3 hours, wi…

Dancing Dave's Photos

Revd Leonard Payne et al (Introducing iGod)

This week's papers, and now today's BBC News have been captured by the story of Revd Leonard Payne, of Wrentham Suffolk who is podcasting his sermons...
But online, audio sermons are not new news.... try these for size..

Arborfield & Barkham (Various, my church)
Guildford Baptist Church (Ian Stackhouse)
Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper) [link fixed]
Capitol Hill Baptist (Mark Dever)
Covenant Life, Gaithersburg (Joshua Harris et al)
All Souls Langham Place (Paul Williams, John Stott etc)
Christ Church Liverpool (Andrew Evans etc)
Moorlands Evangelical, Lancaster (Danny Rurlander)
Cranleigh Baptist Church (Orlando Saer)
St Ebbes Oxford (Vaughan Roberts etc)
Southampton Christian Union (Various)
Bristol Christian Union (Various)
UCCF Forum 2003 (Nigel Lee on 1 John)
UCCF Bethinking (Various)
UCCF North East Rock Solid (Hugh Palmer on 2 Peter)

And there are many more out there... discernment obviously necessary - just because you can download it doesn't mean its true.

"I think you need to read a book, dude"

Reading books is good. Its good to discipline us. Its good to help us grow. Its good because its good. Its good because we need each other.

Top books I've read this year:
Whoredom, Raymond Ortlund
The Roots of Endurance, John Piper
Sex & The Supremacy of Christ, John Piper/Justin Taylor (eds)
The Glory of Jesus, John Owen
Amusing ourselves to death, Neil Postman
The Word of His Grace, Chris Green
Not Even a Hint, Joshua Harris
The Gospel-Driven Church, Ian Stackhouse

Atonement, Ian McEwan
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

On my bookshelf to read soon:
The Holy Spirit, John Owen
Reclaiming the Center, Justin Taylor etc.
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis (rest of series, re-reading)
The Alchemist, Paul Coelho

Books I want to read but don't own:
God is the Gospel, John Piper
Humility: True Greatness, CJ Mahaney

Suggestions for good books to read most welcome, particularly some more good fiction.

God on trial?

No one is shocked to hear that God is loving. Or even that God is love. This is true good news about God. And no one is fazed. No one passed comment. No one even looks up to acknowledge this.

But people do sometimes look up and question him. They question God's justice. They question whether God is fair. Whether God is good. These questions rise out of the situation in the world. There is pain and injustice. And God doesn't appear to be punishing it! Why not!!

This is the issue at stake in the book of Romans in the Bible. Paul writes of the good news about God's righteousness. He speaks of God's love too. But he speaks more of God's righteousness. Of the good news that in fact God is just.

In 3v21-25 we're told that God's righteousness has been demonstrated. People ask - is God just? Paul says - God has shown us. Three times he tells us that God has shown us. The question was raised because sin was unpunished. And Paul says - now God has put Jesus forward to b…

iMonk speaks to Yoofworkers

iMonk is worth reading most of the time. And then he produces a classic.... read on: Five Things That Youth Ministers Need To Hear (and you're afraid to tell them, so, OK, I'll do it.). Youthwork is increasingly valued within churches, but if we're going to do it needs to be a ministry of the church, not a rebel child who causes division.

Point three has been on my mind for a while:"3. Can I ask you to do something for me? Could you read a book? Maybe two or three books. Good books of Bible, theology and the Christian life. Because, here's the thing. I know you watch a lot of MTV and go to a lot of movies. I see your iPod and your CDs. I know you do a lot with music. And I'm sure all that time you spend "chillin'" with your friends and dates is important, but we've handed over our children to you, and frankly, when I stand outside your youth class and listen to what you are teaching them, I want to have you arrested. I think you need to read …

With a Word

With a word the universe was born
The skies stretched out by your great hand
The light and dark, the day and night
Showing your power beyond compare

The living word you entered our world
Made your home with us sinful men
You came to die, to give your life
To call us back to knowing you

You came to give us life undeserved
Whatever we do your love remains
No sin can take us from your grace
Nor works replace our need of you

With a word you opened my eyes
A simple word of amazing grace
Great treasure gained, pleasure forever
The glory of God in Jesus Christ

© dave bish, 2005 - bulgaria

What happened in Bulgaria, stays in Bulgaria

It is in the nature of much evangelistic endeavour that the more we make fools of ourselves, the more God may choose to use us. I'm not sure why but I guess its a matter of pride. There are countless photos that document some of this folly for the sake of the gospel. David Long will undoubtedly publish them but for now I must hold off.

Click to view Dave Long's Team Photo at Veliko Tornovo

In the tradition of one of the greatest films of all time we felt obliged to decree together, that "What Happened in Bulgaria, stays in Bulgaria". Whilst tales of us may not be told, let us echo the spirit of Acts 14v27 and speak loudly of what God did through us, opening doors of faith in Bulgaria. Kath and Ed and Dave will undoubtedly recount some of the stories....

That said, I'm a fallen sinful blogger so I probably wont be able to resist telling the tales, and publishing humiliating photos of myself, Kath Arnold, Lou Waddington, Matt Chen, Dancing Dave Long, Colin Tomsett, Ed…

Capturing the moment...

Thoughtful blogging will resume when I'm not so tired, and I've had a couple of weeks off work. A great 2004/5 year comes to its end now. I'm home from mission in Bulgaria, much encouraged by God's work there. I'll reflect more on that, mission, and a whole load of other stuff sometime.... Next year looms not far ahead but its not here yet.

As a team we apparently took over 3000 photos, 78 of which were mine and here are three of them: (some of the team, and Velijko Tornovo)

On the plane home I read Neil Postman's Amusing ourselves to Death... very interesting. And I got home to find that David Gibson had sent me a copy of Reclaiming the Center from his study time at Princeton... some light holiday reading!

Sola Deo Gloria