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Showing posts from February, 2007

Reasonable Faith Debate

Last night at the Westminster Central Hall, debate between William Lane Craig and Lewis Wolpert, chaired by John Humphreys on the question of : Is God a delusion?

Craig opened with his five arguments why God is not a delusion. These are found in expanded form in his booklet God, are you there? Wolpert replied, beginning with a sincere apology to all the theists in the room (probably 1800 out of 2000 at a guess...). He said he was sorry but we only believed because it made us feel better, conceding that we may have a happier and longer life... but such are the benefits of being stupid (which it seems we're supposed to believe we are). Ultimately Wolpert simply said that there was no evidence and kept asking who made God?

This was a bit disappointing because he didn't engage seriously with Craig's five arguments for God's existence, merely dismissing them. The two atheists sat in front of me really didn't like Craig's arguments. He played at a high intellectual le…

Alvin Plantinga on Richard Dawkins

Review (ht: Albert Mohler)The Dawkins Confusion: Naturalism ad absurdum, by Alvin Plantinga"You Might Say that Some of His Forays into Philosophy Are at Best Sophomoric, but That Would be Unfair to Sophomores"Buy The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, from Amazon

Live large, drink deep

"...we speak frankly, but not crassly, about sexuality because if our people do not get their information from the living words of scripture, their thirst will compel them to drink from the toilet of pornography and perversion"

Human beings are thirsty beings. We can't survive long without water. But it's not just our bodies that thirst. Our eyes thirst to be filled with wonderful patterns of refracted light. Our ears thirst for different frequencies of sound. Our minds thirst for ideas and answers, and our hearts thirst for affections and for eternity. Our spirits thirst for God.

We're locked into a room called history in which there isn't enough water to quench us. But there is some. And there is something more. Reverberating into the room are the words of the living God. And these words are the not just water, they are living water. The stuff that wells up in us to eternal life.

Those words give a deeper satisfaction than any sound or sight, and they also ena…

Graeme Goldsworthy Interview

Biblical Theology Interview
Graeme Goldsworthy on Biblical Theology
by Justin Buzzard. "Biblical theology consists in the study of what the Bible teaches as the Bible teaches it."Graeme is on the advisory board for and his books are a resource that should be on the shelves of every Christian. We need Biblical Theology to understand God's word the way he revealed it.

Raise the Titanic!

James Cameron thinks he's found Jesus tomb. If he had that would destroy Christianity. Contrary to Richard Dawkins opinion we're not fundamentalists - we have criteria that would change our minds... (namely, if Jesus were not raised from the dead).

(ht: Gareth Russell)
Responses from: Michael Spencer - iMonk and Ben Witherington

Meanwhile Faith vs. Secularism in the Guardian. Read it just for the humility of Dean of Southwark, Colin Slee (paragraph 3). More interestingly Christianity is on the line at Westminster Central Hall, as Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig faces off against Atheist Lewis Wolpert, chaired by BBC Radio 4's John Humphreys, on the question of Is God a Delusion?

More on that at Is God a Delusion?

Life will leave you thirsty

Wisdom is needed to live in life. Wisdom doesn't start with years lived, but with the Lord feared. The epi-centre of wisdom is Jesus. Not just someone with wisdom, he is God's Wisdom.

The Teacher, writing Ecclesiastes 1, shows us that life is vapour. It's his thesis in his book. It's the theme he keeps repeating back upon. The Teacher gathers a wealth of evidence, even in his prologue to show that life can't deliver... The first key lesson to derive from the book is to BE HONEST. We need to be honest that life can't fill us up. Life is like fast food, it can make you feel bloated for a few moments but nothing more. We'll waste our lives if we try quench our thirst by drinking 'life'.

That's not to say that life isn't full of amazing things. It is. There are great things to see in God's creation - sunsets and landscapes and people. And then there's all the great stuff that God enables people to make. The same applies to the ear. The w…

Seven Days

Links of the week:

Ed Goode on Gospel Foolishness

And.. Starbucks talks about Darwin....

1. VapourLife and Laptops... and the pleasure and priviledge of preaching Ecclesiastes to the students at Reading. 2. Old times...with re-discovered friend. 3. Big Story!Enjoying Galatians 3 with Matt - Paul's glorious exposition of the Old Testament to show that by faith two Gentiles could be sons of God!4. SoupBack to supervision with Ed and Carolina. Always a pleasure.Soup is also good when enjoyed with the Staff team, as in on our Staff Day on Thursday in the company of Prof. Dawkins and Psalm 3.5. Seeing people in the streetTom from TVU and then moments later, Jenny from the bank - and at last they're refurbishing it, only 4.5 years after they said they would.6. ParentsSpending Saturday with my parents. Burgers at Tootsies, walking in Dinton Pastures. 7. In Praise of...The Mango Smoothie. Mmmm. Simple, and yummy and healthy.

Don't Waste Your Life - Vodcasts

DWYL Part 9 - A Wasted Life

"God is not interested in the American Dream. But millions of people still waste their lives pursuing the short-term pleasures of this world. They have never discovered that God’s steadfast love really is better than life. Our desire is that Jesus Christ would explode into your life and produce a single, holy passion for his name. In this passion, you will be set free from small dreams and weak visions. Christ will be so valuable to you that it will feel like no loss at all to give your life to his cause. You will come to the end and realize that you have everything if you have him. Jesus says in the book of Mark, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” You have one life. For your own sake and Christ’s, don’t waste it. "

Pierced for our transgressions

Pierced for our transgressions
Rediscovering the glory of penal substitution
by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey and Andrew Sach
Published 16th March 2007 (UK)

"Pierced for our transgressions is probably the most significant book on the doctrine.. since The Cross of Christ. It is timely and urgently needed. Let the exposition of this magnificent doctrine both inform your mind and warn your heart."- Mike Pilavachi, Soul Survivor

"I will make it required reading for all the students I teach.."Michael Ramsden, ZactrustI don't want to overplay the significance of this book - but it's encouraging to see the breadth of endorsements, from The Proclamation Trust to Soul Survivor, from Newfrontiers to Affinity, Anglicans and Free. Could it be that we've finally found theone thingthat can bridge the divides in evangelicalism in the UK? We've stood apart as a fragmented people, defined by a million differences and endless hyphenations…


Rumour has it this guy is the next big thing in music....

Maps... James Chapman - I think I went to primary school with him!
Maps on MySpace

Life is vapour (mp3)

Reading University Christian Union - Life is Vapour - Ecclesiastes 1v1-11, Dave Bish (MP3)Barry Webb pictures books of the Bible as items of clothing to wear in different situations. Ecclesiastes is a garment to wear when you're done with triumphalism and cant, and ready to face life as it really is. I like that. A lot.

Charles Simeon - Online!

Charles Simeon's works are now online with the Logos Bible Software

Adrian Warnock has a deal which offeres 25% off Logos Bible Software on his blog.

Charles Simeon is a quality (dead) guy, the one who talked about how nominal Christians understand the cross, and real Christians love it, revel in it... and shudder at the thought of boasting in anything else.

Life is vapour

...and so is my laptop. Or least the software... and thus I am unable to run windows, access my files... get to a script I've been working on on Ecclesiastes for tomorrow (ironically). I can get limited internet access away from home, but for now... that's it.

Pastoral Refreshment Conference

Dave Burke spoke at the Living Leadership - Pastoral Refreshment Conference. Talks are online (text).

Here's an extract....

The Pharisee within
Inside every Christian there is a Pharisee trying to get out. The legalist within longs to torture us, or other people, with our failures and shortcomings. Imagine this conversation:
“Read Exodus 34, there is no hope for you. Obey the law or you are doomed”
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love”
“But this is God’s law, it’s clear ans simple, he blesses the obedient and curses the failures.”
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or reward us according to our iniquities”
You should be afraid, you have gone too far, you have failed too frequently and too often.”
“As high as the heavens are above the earth, so gret is his love for those who fear him.”
But sin is sin is sin!
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgrassions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the…

Long time since the summer of '97

It's nine and a half years since I left school. It's also nine and a half years since I became a Christian. The later happening somewhere between my last A-level exam and getting the results. And last week someone I went to school with walked back into my life. The last time he and I spoke I wasn't a Christian, and I don't really know where he stood back then (may a seventh day adventist??) The last decade has been a long time... and a lot has changed. Back then I didn't know what the grace of God was. I didn't know that the cross was important. Now I know I can't live without the grace that comes through the cross.

Easy for me to forget that. The change in my life in the summer of 1997 was probably not very obvious at the time. I was already a church goer before that, and superficially nice enough... though the heart was seriously dark. Becoming a Christian was something that happened privately for me - a weekend home alone in which I sat down and faced up …

Seven Days

Links of the week:

Mike Russell on Raping the Bible

And the oddity of...
Fifty years of the John Frum cult...

1. ProvidenceDouble booked rooms that meant we could fit more people into our venue.2. Changed heartsSeeing the gospel change lives among students!3. FreewayEm's band playing their first gig. Next gig - April 21st, The Swan, Arborfield.Also enjoying the singing of Caroline Bridges, Drew Hunt and Pete Sene.4. LyricismGot back into doing this again. Yay.One Hit Wonders, Bit Part Superstar, Teenagers write introspective songs... now they just need music...5. 24 deliveredGlad to be of service to Becci and to Tom. Enjoy. 6. hebelPlaying in Ecclesiastes 1. And William Lane Craig on meaninglessness without God. Ecclesiastes expresses something that Craig says: "...people occupy their time and their thoughts with trivialities and distractions, so as to avoid the despair, boredom, and anxiety that would inevitably result if those diversions were removed" And Christians have …

Surrey Mission 2007 - belonging

Thanks to Dave Partridge and Facebook. Find out more from: University of Surrey Christian Union

Twenty-four: Integrating Faith and Real Life

Twenty-four: Integrating Faith and Real Life - Krish Kandiah, published March 9th, 2007.

"Twenty-Four" is designed for Christians everywhere to gain an exciting new perspective on all parts of their lives. It works through a normal day: getting up, commuting, working, shopping, cooking, family, fun, exercise and sleeping. Each chapter is filled with illustrations from modern culture and the biblical viewpoint on each area is considered. Through Krish Kandiah's thoughtful and original teaching we see how to serve and worship our amazing God in each of these.

Who is Jesus, really?

Day Four

Today, Surrey CU mission for lunch. A packed out LTB for Debbie Cordle speaking clearly on 'Christians love sex, don't you?'... hearing of God at work in Aaron's life from him at lunchtime (Aaron was the guy I met on Monday), and then of him becoming a Christian tonight! Evening event at Reading CU where Em's band played their first grown-ups gig - including one of my songs too many hours. Big gospel preaching from Dave Burke. Much encouragement.

All Authority (where 'all' includes over everything)

So, on Tuesday morning I got the train down to Surrey mission with Drew and Paul. As we travelled I wondered whether I'd be better off being in Reading, having been to Surrey the day before. I'm not much of one to take account of 'providential' details... But then ...we were double booked on the venue we'd used on Monday (capacity 50, attendance 48 of whom about 30 weren't Christians), and moved to a new venue (capacity 80, attendance about 80 - with about 50 people who weren't Christians).....and then, in the venue I sat down next to David. That might seem unremarkable to you. But, David is someone I went to school with. I've not seen him for the best part of 10 years and had completely lost touch with him. Turns out he works at Surrey Uni... Of all the lecture rooms in all the world, he comes and sits down in the one where the CU I work with is holding an evangelistic event. I hope to meet with him in the next week or so, we have 10 years of life to c…

A Dawkins Parody

I enjoyed Richard Dawkins' book, although I disagree with many of his arguments. His book obviously requires more serious engagement, but a bit of fun is good sometimes...

Today at Surrey University, Gareth Davies will be seeking to engage with some of Dawkins argument's more seriously, in addressing the question: 'has science disproved God?'

Hamsters on a wheel, stuffing our faces and getting nowhere

Dawkins et al say that life is progress. They're still loving the modernist dream of a scientific utopia. They remind us that we've advanced beyond previous generations in our genertics, innovation and ethics.... This point of view is clearly appealing to the human ego, we're the best yet, it's never been better and will keep on getting better... we are simply the best. And proud of it.

Now, it's true that in our 'life under the sun' we do make progress. But we also lose ground. We have new technology that has created the global villiage and helped us to keep in touch with people more easily. And, I now have 307 friends ('it must be true, it's on facebook'), and yet so much of that is utterly superficial. We great new ways of treating illness, and yet we're now more efficient than ever at killing one another.

It's all been done before, for all our progress we're just running on a treadmill. Hamsters on a wheel, stuffing our faces and g…

Together on a mission

Today was the start of the Surrey and Reading CU's mission weeks... I'm splitting my time between them. We have about 25 guests standing along side the students in the CUs, and I have the priviledge of just floating between both places... plugging into the advancing of God's good news!

Getting volunteered by Ben to help him with the Q&A after his talk at Surrey on 'can we trust the bible?' - it's great to engage with real questions. Tomorrow Gareth's speaking on Science.
Talking with one of the questioners afterwards and having my heart broken at how hard and blind he was to the truth. How blind to think that eternity with Jesus sounds like dull retirement...Only God can change that situation and open eyes to see and love the glory of Jesus.Jesus is the King!

EMA 2007

Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2007
27-29 June 2007
Cost: Bookings before June 1st, £30 per day.
Venue: St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate, London Tim Keller - Defining times: what is an evangelical?Dick Lucas - ‘A strange fellowship!’ expositions from PhilippiansVaughan Roberts - Daniel, expositions for expositorsRichard Cunningham - Persuasive preaching, EMA address on preachingSeminars: David Jackman - Release the Word, in church trainingPanel - On the record, off the cuff! Tim Keller, Vaughan Roberts, Richard CunninghamTim Keller - Ministry in the CityDeclan Flanagan - Rural ministryJason Clarke - Emerging Church Christopher Ash - Who decides what the Bible means?Richard Simpkin - Music and the Word: developing Word centred Music and musicians in the local church

The Sign of Jonah

Salvation is a popular term these days. People might not be flocking to Christian salvation but everyone is offering salvation of some kind. It's the theme tune of advertising. Everyone has the magic elixir that will save you from misery, aging, emptiness... Look inside, ouside, anywhere...
As we come to Jonah 2, we lean upon those who have gone before us. I want to follow Jesus' preaching of himself from this book. Jesus considered the whole Bible to be about himself.. and so if we're not finding him then we're sub-Christian in our study. What we find should not be acceptable to a Muslim or a Jew. Before we learn the meaning we need to catch up on the story. At the end of Act 1 we found the sailors caught up into God's story of saving grace, and Jonah was dead in the middle of the Med. THE LORD WHO SAVES
We find him in 1v17. We find him swallowed up in God's grace – the death wish rebel rescued by the LORD, in the form of a big fish. Most people, when they think…

Seven Days

Links of the week:

Maurice McCracken on Serving the Local Church

1. In praise of Vitamin CThanks to Ed for the overdose story. Maybe if Mike Reeves had done the same he wouldn't have got Flu. We'll never know.2. The verb: "to 2 Corinthians 3:18"As in... "They can be saved, they can be 2 Corinthians 3:18'd because i was. And here's the other thing, what has a nihilist or a transcendentalist actually got to be happy about? What has anyone got to live for without Christ?"3. Hove ActuallyTeam in Hove. John Piper comes to visit and we learn about persevering in ministry. Hanging out together as weak people who need and have God's grace. Yay. And watching Little Miss Sunshine, again!4. Teaching God's wordAn excellent talk on Daniel 4 at Reading CU by Simon Pethick from Carey Baptist Church. Also enjoying 2 Corinthians 9 and Galatians 3 with the lads. 5. Party at the funkypancake's house.Talking theology with Big-eye. Pie and pudding. And Russel…

Writing 'Treasure'

I've once again done some book writing this morning. After a few months away from the project I've found a fresh enthusiasm for it. The last two friday mornings I've been trying been working on 7000 words in the chapter on Giving, provisionally... Chapter 3 - Giving: The art of displaying your treasure.I've found getting the words on screen relatively easy (though it may all be utter drivel). The hard part has been feeling the effect of God's word on my heart, cutting deep at my priorities and true passions. God's word cuts deep. The thesis of the chapter is that far from being a miserable burden, giving is meant to be both a work of God's grace in us and a great display of that same grace which is found in our treasure, Jesus. This however utterly reorders our economic ideas and does havoc with our ideas about what we need in life.My fresh energy for it is partly thanks to former Reading CU chairman Tom Riches, with whom I've been doing some Bible stud…

Biography: Andrew Fuller

Can you handle the word of God?

JONAH 1:1-16, Reading CU cell leaders weekend 2007 (session 1)

Welcome to cell leading. Some of us feel we don't belong here. Some feel we've made it. But our foundation is God's grace, so you're welcome. This weekend begins a years training – we'll give you some skills but the key thing is deep roots in God's grace, deep foundations in God's word. And that begins with three studies into Jonah, one of my favourite books of the Bible.


Normal start in v1. God speaks. The Word of the LORD to the prophet. Straightforward and clear. It's a true story, from the time of King Jeroboam II. Jonah is in the history of Israel in 2 Kings 14 and Jesus treats these events as history. Jonah is an odd prophet. A short book. Mostly narrative and psalm with minimal prophesying. Full of suspense and surprise, a classic tale like all your favourite films. The story of a rebel on the run from God... a man about to be ruined by the…

Vitamins, emptiness and anti-intellectualism

Mike Reeves couldn't make the Surrey CU lunchbar on The Trinity cos he has flu. Get well soon!Maybe Mike should be taking advice from this wise Relay worker...
With 1000mg ONE A DAY vitamin C tablets...
"I thought that you took 2 every 4 hours, so I took 8.... then I did feel a bit ill"
"... so really, you took 80x your recommended daily allowance?!"
well done!

Helpfully reported by Naomi Beth Tostevin.
Crying with laughter is good therapy for the soul.Meanwhile at Reading, Andrew Towner spoke to a crowd.Later I walked home as the sun shone low in the clear cold blue sky, while Dan Hames sung gladness in my ears.Home for encouraging MSN conversations and some administration, before reloading my MP3 player ahead of tomorrows journey to Hove. Really looking forward to a few hours together with the team. In other news, this morning I started work on two projects due in the next month - one is a talk on Ecclesiastes 1v1-11. Ecclesiastes 1 by Mark Driscoll has been a help…

Jonah and new cell leaders

On Friday and Saturday I was in Southampton teaching Reading CU's new cell group leaders. It was an intense five session bootcamp, with seminars on skills for Word Leadering and Witness Leadering, along with three talks on the book of Jonah.

Jonah is one of my favourite books and it was a great priviledge to be able to unpack it for them. The book reveals theology in story, and shows the absolute sovereignty of God over his universe, and that he is full of grace - he is the LORD who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. And he will show grace! The big ideas in application to new leaders were these:
1.God uses losers to get his work done. So you qualify. Not because you're worth it but because God is gracious. So get on with getting into God's work. Keep the attention on him. People don't need us, they're starving for the glory of God so let's get God's word into their hearts.2.God does saving. No conditions. No contributions requ…

February Update at

The beginnings of a Biblical idea

(Paul Williamson)

A critical evaluation of Kath Bath's suggestion that Biblical inerrancy is theologiclaly indefensible

(Jonathan Gibson)

And in books....

Will Lind reviews Graham Beynon's Experiencing the Spirit... and Graham Beynon reviews Keith Hacking's Signs and Wonders, Then and Now.

Preaching Christ

Mark Lauterbach is on form again, blogging about The Measure of a Sermon:

"What NT preaching does is bake the cookies and let the Spirit empowered fragrance draw them to the Savior, stir hunger, and provoke godly motive.... we are to point them to Christ, and out of a reflection on his grace and sacrifice, bring them to see their sin as on offense against his love. If I think carefully, I can use the cross as an argument about the seriousness of sin, even with a secular person. What evil requires this death by this Jesus? I am to point them to Christ and his generous grace as what they have already experienced and draw them to yield themselves to God in response." (from Part 4, within which are very examining words for young preachers - how easy it seems to force change by guilt... when the better way is to show people Jesus Christ!)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Seven Days

Links of the week:

10 Things to look for in a church

1. Two hours of 24And feeling really tired from being away at Relay2. What a shocker at the end of the fourth hour....2. The Day OffMonday. A precious concept and a relaxing day reading Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 in Starbucks for a couple of hours. 3. TeamTuesday was time with Gareth, Ed and Carolina... and Jehoshaphat.4. TreasureFinally, getting on with doing some work on 'the book' again. Acknowledgement to Tom Riches for being a guinea pig.Chapter 3 - Giving: The Art of Displaying Your Treasure5. Providence and Ruth 4.Or, Rich Fairbairn giving an outstanding talk on Ruth 4 at The University College for the Creative Arts CU on Thursday, and then being able to give me a lift home. 6. The Cell WeekendThe excitment of hanging out with Jonah and the new cell leaders - studying Jonah together! Costa Coffee with 7/8 of the new committee. Big Thanks to the May's for cheese & biscuits and a beer. A bed instea…

Mike's tips for students...

I don't know Mike Gilbart-Smith. I should know him. He was working for one of the churches on my patch (in Farnham, Surrey) when I began working as a Christian Union staffworker in 2003. We never quite got our diaries to match, and then he left the country. Our loss would appear to be America's gain. He's been blogging for a while on the whole students and church issue at his loving church blog. Two of his latest posts here::Join a churchPractice hospitality

The Story of Gideon and his fleece...

Maurice McCracken - Gideon and the fleece - Judges 6

I've had the pleasure of hearing this talk a couple of times - very encouraging gospel challenge.

On testing prophecy

From 2 Chronicles 17-19...

King Ahab loved his false-prophets because they always said good stuff about him. All 400 yes men would would stand and tell him how much God approved of his plans, loved him and would bless him. Always encouraging, always affirmative. True prophecy in contrast can be both encouraging and convicting, affirming and correcting.

Above all it includes messages like that of Micaiah to Ahab... That true prophet told Ahab that his people were sheep without a shepherd. They had no king. They were like the people in the days of the judges - unruly and unruled. Self-ruled and doing whatever they felt like. They were people in need of a true king, the true king.

It's here that Micaiah is proved a true prophet - his word is one that proclaims the need for God's King to rule. In Ahab's case he exposes that the Messiah has not yet come. Neither Ahab, or Jehoshaphat for that matter, are Great David's Greater Son. They had to keep waiting... Ahab failed to list…