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Showing posts from August, 2007

MP3s - God the Trinity


Just a quickie to say, we have now moved to Exeter.
No landline/internet yet - I'm borrowing access from a friend this morning.
Hopefully online in the next couple of weeks!


Today I start my new job as UCCF's South West Team Leader. Basically, that means overseeing the regional Staff team and seeking to effectively advance the gospel among students in Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Falmouth by serving the mission teams (Christian Unions) in each location.

In this I have the extreme priviledge of supervising the South West staff - Kenny, Claudia, Jim and Su Ann who have been wonderful colleagues and partners in the gospel who have taught me many things. They're joined by new staff member Alex and also Andy who starts our Relay programme next week. Eight other Relays are on our team. Together we stand with our local mission teams, serving them as they live and speak for Jesus, serving the church.

My desire and prayer is to see a generation of students equipped and empowered. A generation who are passionate about enjoying God's grace, revelling in the cross, tasting the sweetness of His word and the power of the Spirit and so wholeheartedly ma…

No distraction

Today was the final Sunday of our journey between Arborfield Church, nr. Reading and Trinity Church, Exeter. On the way over the last few weeks we've enjoyed fellowship with Reading Family Church, St Neots Evangelical Church and today, Avenue Community Church. We walked in and immediately recognised about a quarter of the congregation which was nice. It was great to catch up with Alwyn, Roz, Mike, Rich & Ruth, Kate, Dave & Rachel and Graham.

This summer I've kept running into the end of Luke 10. I've preached it and heard a few sermons on it in different contexts. Graham Beynon preached the same text today and gave a piercing and encouraging word:
Graham Beynon - Luke 10, Mary & Martha

Next Sunday, God willing, we'll join with our new church in Exeter!


Reform/mission... Paul writes to Timothy when everything is falling apart around him - people are deserting the gospel - even from Paul's closest colleagues, Paul himself is on death row and Timothy is plain terrified in the face of a congregation that don't entirely embrace their young pastor.

How do you respond to Pastor Tim? Paul reminds him that he's a genuine Christian. You'd think he wouldn't need to do that. Tim is the pastor of the Ephesus Community Church, one of the flagship churches of the New Testament. But, he needs to hear that Paul sees evidence of genuine Christianity in him. Consequently Tim has no reason to be scared rather he has the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead of cowering in the dark he should stand up and be counted, facing opposition and suffering with Paul for preaching the gospel. This will fan into flame the gifts God has given to Tim.

To further empower Tim Paul reminds him of what that glorious gospel is. Of grace. Of the abolition…

The Times

A little late in the day I finally picked up The Times. Some cracking letters and comment today. For example : Be proud to be from England, Europe... Where are the normal curves in exam marks. And for all my very dearly loved Welsh friends:Sir, David Webb (letter, August 16) refers to “a scandalously absent Welsh dimension in the Union Flag” and views the impending departure of Scotland from the Union as an opportunity to address this oversight.
There exists a Welsh dimension in the form of the flag of St George. Wales is part of the United Kingdom through it being annexed by England hundreds of years ago when it became part of the kingdom of England. While that may be unpalatable to some, the way to address it is not to go along with the fad of rewriting history, but rather to ensure that pupils have a basic understanding of the structure of the UK.
DENIS AYERS, Inverness I also got through both of the Sudoku in good speed. Things you do on a wet and dark Saturday afternoon in August!

Seven Days

I'm not going to get into the current credo/paedobaptism discussion that kicked off after Wayne Grudem rewrote a page in his Systematic Theology. It's not an issue I'm entirely resolved upon at the moment, having begun to consider the arguments for baptising the children of believers about 18 months ago.

That said, I think these thoughts from Abraham & John Piper are well worth considering... Are paedobaptists unrepentant - posted by Abraham Piper.
As part of UCCF we have a doctrinal basis of fellowship that we require Christians to believe to have fellowship with us. The form of baptism is not specified. What do we say about those with whom we differ on other points - be they the specifics of sovereignty, the continuation of charismatic gifts, or baptism?
I'm inclined to say that a brother or sister can, like me, have imperfect theology and still be humbly repentant. Otherwise we exclude everyone. The question remains - where do you draw the line? What is appropriate…

His loud cries and tears have prevailed for us

Edmund Clowney on prayer, from BeginningWithMoses.orgThe very expressions used to describe God's self-revelation show that the initiative must come from him. Man cannot ascend into heaven to look upon the face of God, nor can he build a temple-tower to bring God down to the box of his religious specifications. This was the sin of the builders of the tower of Babel. Rather than calling upon the name of the Lord, they sought to make for themselves a name, and to build a tower that would establish communication with God on their terms. The phrase that describes the tower of Babel (the top reaching to heaven) is repeated in a different context when God reveals himself to Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 11 :4; 28: 12). The stairway of Jacob's dream is set up by God, not by men; it is God who takes the initiative. He descends the stairway to stand beside Jacob in the dream and to repeat the promises that he had made to Abraham. By God's initiative his presence is made known. Jacob marks t…

Light Force

Brother Andrew's story continues began in God's Smuggler in Eastern Europe, Bible smuggling to communist nations. That book was so successful that he couldn't continue to work in the region - the update of the book notes that it had become standard KGB reading. He relocated to the middle east.

Light Force tells of his visist to different parts of the middle east, meeting with Christian leaders on boths sides of the conflict, and with many Muslim leaders. The story has a very different feel to his covert operations in Europe but is nonetheless eyeopening.

Where God's Smuggler testifies to the high value of God's people having God's word, Light Force shows the powerful effects that the gospel must have in reconciling peoples to God and one another. The story is honest and realistic about the struggle to see lives changed by God.

Brother Andrew speaks at UCCF Forum student leaders conference, September 3-7 2007

The final piece in the jigsaw

Today we exchanged contracts and so will be moving out of housesitting and into Exeter on Thursday. On Monday I start my new job.

As I reflect on the last weeks I'm thankful for God's help in quashing my anxiety and helping me to trust that he actually does have all things in his hands, even lawyers and housebuying. I'll miss the first day at the house since I'll be at Orientation learning how to do the new job. But, I look forward to getting down there next Friday and starting our new life in the South West.

Stories of grace

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded.
On what principle? On that of observing the law?
No, but on that of faith.
Romans 3:27
So concludes Paul having shown us the majesty of his justice in the death of Jesus. The glorious day in which it was proven that God wasn't neglecting justice when he forgave sin. Rather, he was leaving unpunished sins that would later be punished in Jesus' death. This is the free justification by grace that comes through Jesus. Unrighteous people righteously counted as righteous. Because of this all boasting is excluded. God's people cannot boast in status or reputation, possession or money, achievements or anything. If we must boast then we boast in Jesus.

Paul modelled this as he told the story of a remarkable visit to a Macedonian church. He'd travelled around preaching to the churches and collecting money to support the famine struck churches of Jerusalem, just as he had promised he would. What happened at Macedonia was a story worth telling…

Literary Sins of the Bible?

From The Guardian, yesterday and already generating lots of comments, here is part of the conclusion:However, these are rare flashes of light in 1,000 plus pages of opaque, dull, greyness. Can anyone honestly tell me that they enjoy reading all those lists of endless genealogies that take up such huge portions of the Old and such hefty chunks of the New Testaments? Has anyone got the stamina to read the entire tedious work from cover to cover? To keep up with all those hundreds of characters that appear from nowhere and disappear without explanation, rhyme or reason (the greatest story thereby displaying ignorance of the most basic storytelling rules)? Do all the cubits, marriages, lists of names, departures, camps in the plains of Moab across from Jericho and offerings of goats say more to you about the human condition than, say, The Great Gatsby? Would you even prefer to read all that bunk about demons in the New Testament, unleavened as it is by humour or the intriguing possibility…

Single column, A5 ESV

The Enemies of Reason

Tonight on Channel 4, Richard Dawkins took on 'the enemies of reason' - by which he means superstitions and non-organised spirituality. He does so because he wants to guard against the effects of fundamentalism that ignores evidence and reason.

My impression is that this less rabid programme is just a reincarnation of his 'the root of evil' which attacked organised religion and was mostly reproduced in The God Delusion. Whilst it seems softer its another attempt to tell us we just need pure scientific reason. However, it's a straw man because once more he fails to engage with the evidential claims of Christianity. (We know why he wont engage with these 'unscientific delusions'.
1. Because the Bible is the evidence and it presumes God's existence and is therefore not something he's prepared to consider.
2. Because the book he ignores says that the gospel looks foolish to him, which is what it does to those who trust in their reason alone.)Back to tonigh…

Christianity straight and undiluted

This God saves to make His name known
(read Exodus, or Ezekiel!).
This God has created us to display
His own power and glory, His holiness and mercy
to His creation. Creation is a theatre for His glory.
This is the God of Genesis 1 and Revelation 22.
Even as the book of Revelation came not from
John’s philosophical discussions in the king’s court,
but from the crucible of persecution by worldly powers
opposed to God, so this world’s increasingly
open and categorical denials of God and His power
will likely be met not by retreats, compromises,
edits and revisions, but by awakenings and rediscoveries
of the majesty and power of the true God who reveals
Himself in the Bible, the God who made us
and who will judge us, the God who in love pursued us
even to the depths of the incarnation and humiliation of the cross.
This is Christianity straight and undiluted.
And the questing, probing spirit of
the rising generation has, by this God’s grace, found this Rock.

Mark Dever - Where have all the Calvinists co…

Justification: no middle way

There isn’t a middle way
between the reformed
and Catholic positions:
you’re either saved entirely by God,
or you’ve got something to do with it.
If you’ve got something to do with it -
then you’re trusting a dead guy to save you…

Tim Suffield

Loungers and weather balloons

"...what Galatians teaches is that if you seek to create or maintain your relationship with God based on your obedience
to the 10 commandments that is not a blessed way to live. Rather it will put you under God’s judgment. And the only way to escape that judgment is to trust in Jesus"Andrew Evans - Galatians 3:15-25

I ♥ the church

Image- HT: Tim Chester

Spending some time with a few people from The Crowded House on Friday I was reminded of conversations I've had with members of Reading Family Church. What they had in common was a love of the church. A love that can make people stay in a place, regardless of their employment, and simply because they know they belong to the local church. It's brilliant.

And the question arises, how do these churches do this?

One thing seems to be that they include church in the gospel. There's none of the it's just about me and Jesus stuff that thrives in an individualistic culture. The future has a church - God's plan is to gather a people. It always has been that way since he gave Adam & Eve the cultural mandate on page 1 of the Bible.

I recall Michael Griffiths' Cinderella With Amnesia pointing out that the you's in Ephesians are plural not singular. I'm reconciled to God and to his people, and if I miss the second part of that I'm real…

Seven Days

Mark Lauterbach - with some stunning words on preaching the gospel

Mark Lauterbach's sermons
1. Reading Family Church.
Was great to meet with the church a week ago, to praise God together and to catch up with Nu, Ed, Neil & Emmie.

2. Phonecalls
To lawyers. And finally making *some* progress.

3. Jeremiah
Fresh words from God's word.

4. Tom & Caroline.
Dinner on Thursday night before finally moving out of Reading. Thankful for the last seven years of serving there, priviledged to have been there.

Good conversations about critical thinking and spiritual formation. And about living justly.

5. Earls Barton
Housesitting for my parents.

6. Tim & Sarah's wedding
Time with Dave & Saz, Ceryn, Jess, Johanna... and the hills in Castleton. I ♥ the Peak District. Photos to follow.

Outstanding wedding preach by Steve Timmis from Genesis 1-2. The more time I spend in Genesis 1-2 the richer it seems. Great to spend time with people from The Crowded House church who love the word and truly…

The Church who did not obey God's voice?

How will we be remembered? What would God say about us, his church? As Jeremiah preached to God's people these were some of his words...
For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' shall say to them, 'This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
Jeremiah 7:21-28:
The simplest thing seems the hardest. God asked one thing of his people. Obedience. Sacrifices were part of the package but only necessary because they wouldn't obey - a gracious advance provision. Five hundred years after they'd been rescued the lamenting prophet has to label this people as 'the nation that did n…

In praise of... waiting

As of yesterday we've been ready to exchange contracts. Everythin is ready from our side. We're waiting for the seller. We've been waiting for various bits of things to do with the house purchase to go through since the morning we put in our offer and waited in Exeter Starbucks for a reply.

Waiting. It's not exactly a popular thing in our instant culture. I've realised this summer that I'm not very good at it. But, I've also been realising in the last few days that it's been increasing my hunger to be in Exeter.

Tonight we move out of our housesit in Reading and actually further away from Exeter for a few days. The next move after that should be into the house - hopefully in the near future.

Throughout the story of God people wait. Kings waited. Prophets waited. And today we wait. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 sayswe wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrathTitus 2:13we wait for the blessed hope—the glori…

Rest for our souls

I'm a Christian hedonist so you'd expect me to see this verse, Jeremiah 6:10, jumping off the page into my life (that'll be the word: "pleasure")
To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the LORD is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.God speaks through Jeremiah to his people. Jeremiah has been told that God's words are able to destroy and plant nations. And yet, as he seeks to speak to the people he finds no audience. He ponders, who can he speak to? Roger Carswell says evangelism is speaking the gospel to non-christians who are listening and by that definition Jeremiah is being thwarted. Why? Because the ears of the people are closed and unhearing. Blocked up by sin. And so here is the verdict that they refuse to hear: The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

The destructive and life-giving word should be beautiful to man and yet it offends, it shou…

God's Smuggler

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew.

This is the gripping story of Andrew, an ordinary dutchman, who found himself smuggling God's word into Eastern Europe 30-40 years ago.

It's very inspiring from a missions perspective seeing the way he took God at his word and lived believing that Jesus was king.

It also deeply challenges how seriously I take God's word. So easily I take for granted that I have access to the scriptures and so I ignore them. Yet, these are the universe-creating, nation-destroying, heart-exposing, life-transforming words of God, written.

Half price at St. Andrews Bookshop

Power for living

He was timid. His mentor was about to be martyred. Reports were coming in of people deserting the gospel. On balance, Timothy's situation was considerably worse than mine. Into the middle of that God spoke, through Paul, to empower and embolden him. How? With a clear reminder that God has manifest himself. He has revealed good news in Jesus Christ. Good news that God rescues people not because they're good but because He is. Good news that his plan is to save those who ignore and oppose him. More than that, this good news means the abolition of death and the introducing of immortality.

When Wilberforce tried to abolish slavery they said it couldn't be done. The empire and the politicians had too much to gain from keeping slavery going. But he did it. Death is a vastly more powerful foe and yet God has abolished it. People still die but death is need now only be a door to the new creation. This new world order is ruled by a new king, Jesus David's Son who himself rose f…

Gaze on Glory


These are Bible Studies I've written in service of Reading University Christian Union between 2003-2007. They're written on the conviction that the word of God is living and active, capable of destroying nations, of creating universes, of awakening the soul, of raising the dead, of exposing motives and of causing God-glorifying transformation. To come to the word of God to simply learn is to miss the point. We come to taste and see that which is more precious than gold. Come and gaze on glory!

Undoubtedly they're not the best studies the world has ever seen and they're not really designed to be used straight off the page - further preparation intentionally required, but if they can be of some service to the wider church then that's great. Feel free to edit and adapt but not sell them...

'Bulgaria went to sleep in the 1300s, and woke up just before the first world war'

Ed posts his reflections on his second trip to Bulgaria. Having had the priviledge of mentoring Ed over the past three years since a few months before his first trip to that wasteland I'm thankful for the work of God in his servant. God has called Ed back to Reading and me off to the South West but we remain partners in the gospel.

Last week I read Brother Andrew's book God's Smuggler - there's something irresistible about getting the gospel to Eastern Europe. My four journeys out that way (Poland x3, Bulgaria x1) have left a mark on me. Andrew is due to speak at our leaders conference in September, something tells me that'll be a significant time. That week the practical work of leading the SW team begins for me - a region linked with Poland as the SE is with Bulgaria. God has given us work to do here, and there.

I've struggled over the last week waiting to move to Exeter, moping around and anxious. Why?! As Andrew reminds me I'm supposed to be serving the o…

Our provisional existence

We've been homeless and housesitting since Monday. We're waiting for a housebuy to exchange so we can move to Exeter. It could be today. Could be tomorrow. Could be some other day...
It's a strange way to live... waiting... this word appears pertient:Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4v13-15, ESV)

The death of Absalom (Christopher Ash)

The death of Absalom - a biblical theology briefing by Christopher Ash:David spoke better than he knew, when in v33 he said, "Would I had died instead of you..."A thousand years later great David's greater Son did just that. He died instead. And as he died the demands of justice were satisfied forever. And the longings of love could be fulfilled at last. The story of Absalom's death ends at the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is a Saviour, who because he has dealt with sin can deal gently with sinners. A Saviour whose Father longs to be Father to you and to me. We shall never plumb the cosmic depths of what Jesus achieved at the Cross. But our lives should be shaped by gratitude for what he did there.

On playing the whore

Jeremiah is sent to confront Judah's kings, priests, officials and people in the days before their exile. His message is far from popular and yet however much they oppose him, the rebellion will not prevail. It will finally end in bitter exile but at all times God's word triumphs. The opening word from the prophet begins with great comfort. Judah are the Lord's bride. Once they were deeply in love, and the Lord protected his bride from all who attempted to eat of her. Those early days were a glorious honeymoon. Sweet days of marriage. (2v1-3) Now however all is perplexing. Jeremiah speaks the word of God with all authority to diagnose the sin of his people. It gives us an anatomy of sin.

They have known the help of God and yet they have turned away. Given the land by their lover they have turned aside from him. Given a land to enjoy they have defiled in a relentless pursuit of unprofitable idolatry. In the cold light of day it is inexplicable. We h…