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Showing posts from September, 2009

Passing on the baton

This morning I was sat in Starbucks with Harri who I'm supervising on Relay this year. We had a great time talking church, discipleship, apologetics, Galatians etc... Got me thinking about the other seven Relays I've worked with and where they are now. I've had contact with the previous four in the last couple of days.
One spent last evening writing up minutes from his local political party meeting in London.Another spent yesterday learning French in Paris which he's a student worker.A third is a teacher in Brazil where her husband is a student worker.A fourth is at the bedside of his newlywed wife in intensive care in the USA - thankfully she's making good progress after a road accident at the weekend.The previous three I've not had recent contact with, but they're collectively a youth worker in the Midlands, a speech therapist in London and an accountant in Cambridge.

Relay applications for next year open tomorrow.

Because it's hard being a pastor

Living Leadership invites you:

The annual Pastoral Refreshment Conference aims to provide a place for sustenance of heart and family life, for developing intimacy with the Lord and close bonds of fellowship with others in leadership.

The conference provides a setting for leaders, pastors and partners to seek God together for the on-going refreshment of life and ministry. There is a lot of prayer and worship , inspiring preaching and a safe environment in which to be yourself. Seminar subjects in recent years have included: Grace, Marriage and Ministry; Looking after your Spiritual Life; How to Love Your Church and Leading with a Forgiving Heart. All with a strong ethos of experiencing the grace of God together.

Publicity and Booking Form. Book before the end of November to get best prices.

What's been happening in the last week...

Last week was effectively my first "normal" week of the year. I love the variety of the job and the opportunity to see God at work in multiple situations. Last week included two days in Bristol, one in Plymouth and two in Exeter and all these things for which I'm thankful...
Hearing encouragements from a freshers week  - two new Christians, in response to the gospel shared by a student! That - is - what - this - is - all - about.Writing and sending a prayer letter to supporters. Those guys are the unseen engine who drive the work forward.Meeting with Hannah, Brian, Harri and Jo - members of the South West team, reviewing and reflecting on their work, planning ahead, praying and studying Scripture together. I love my team and the way they pour their lives out to serve students and the gospel.Hearing of an encouraging meetings between the team and church leaders, possibilities of partnership in Cornwall and in Bath. Meeting with Grant, a new church leader in Plymouth, build…

Stunningly Still Here

tgc blog, Ray Ortlund:
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.” Isaiah 1:9
Did you notice how God intervened this week?
The Church of Jesus Christ did not go completely apostate.
The Gospel Coalition did not disown its Confessional Statement.
Acts 29 did not repudiate church planting.
Together For The Gospel did not fragment in mutual recriminations. Sovereign Grace Ministries did not deny the new birth.
And I did not walk away from Jesus.
We all sinned this week, and a lot. No surprise there.
After all, original sin means our wills are unfree.
But we held fast to Jesus our Savior, and for a whole week.
Truly, the age of miracles is not over.

The Song of Songs, about the church

Recently I did a session for my team on The Song of Songs.
Download a version of it here if you'd like:
Love the church: Song of Songs - Lyrics of Love

Relatedly, Dan Bowen posts from Spurgeon on The Song

Making sure that what I say makes sense

Justin Taylor has notes from Peter Kreeft's Socratic Logic:
To make a convincing argument you have to fulfill all three of the following conditions:

Your terms are clear.
Your premises are true.
Your logic is valid.
If you want to critique someone’s argument, you have to show an error in just one of the following:

They are using a term ambiguously.
They are using a false premise.
They are committing a logical fallacy (i.e., the argument is invalid; the conclusion does not follow from the premises).
 Often it takes more than logic to persuade someone, it has to be worth it and not just true. Other times it takes less than logic, because people do things for illogical reasons because it seems beneficial. Either way, I figure it's worth at least trying to make sense.

Watching films

Blockbuster gave us a stack of free dvd vouchers recently - probably to entice us back cos we'd not used the store for ages... a few of these we saw at the cinema but the arrival of Zach has limited that a lot!

***** Gran Torino - another excellent Clint Eastwood film, I could watch him growling at the camera all day.
***** Slumdog Millionaire - brilliantly colourful, the location and the music make it.
***** Revolutionary Road - Sam Mendes with another angle on the American Beauty suburban dream thing, a disturbing drama.
***** The Wrestler - bleak drama about life, the hope of redemption and what happens when you can't find it.
***** Wall-E - smart animation with an environmental message and observations on freedom.

**** The Reader - very interesting drama about Nazi atrocities, about guilt and innocence.
**** Star Trek - the best Trek film in years, hardly a classic but good fun.
*** Yes Man - good fun with Jim Carrey, though a bit too much Carrey overwhelmed the idea for me.
*** St…

Love me, love my church

Small Talk and Big Hearts

I'm not much good at small talk, and I've probably kept myself too guarded too much of the time. With a little help from my friends I'm learning to change, to show more of myself and find out more about others. I'm finding it's good.

I feel like I have to keep learning basics to outwork the fact that I do genuinely love people and am interested in them, I just find the initial bit of conversations a bit weird!

I'm learning that the gospel gives me freedom to be open and real. We make all sorts of assumptions about one another (we discussed this in our homegroup this week - we all do it), thinking that others are better or more important than us, and that other people don't have our struggles - when we're all wrestling with the same sort of stuff, the stuff of life and grace. And God arranges us together as a body so we can weep together, rejoice together, and not be divided from one another - which is an urge we all seem to find hard to resist.

On my tr…

What happens if you preach a false gospel?

I love Paul's letter to the Galatians. It's a church formed from his preaching, a people who warmly embraced him and the gospel he preached. However, some time later they have changed direction. Paul diagnoses this as a move from freedom to slavery. That freedom was won by Jesus in his death and resurrection to set them free from the slavery of the present evil age (1:3-5), which manifests in religion and idolatry (1:14-15,4:8). At the outset he takes on the magnitude of preaching a false gospel, which is his charge against the cross-avoiding (6:11) preachers who have arrived in the church. I'm riffing on some observations Justin Taylors blog a few weeks ago here:

What happens if you preach a false gospel? (v6)
God is deserted (1:6). Departure from the gospel is to depart from God himself. This is why it really matters. Adopting a different gospel means we've adopted a relationship with a god who isn't there, who doesn't exist. By contrast, the gospel brings us …

Starting University?

I've written up various bits of advice for new students previously here and here, as has my former relay worker Ed Goode. This year, Matthew Weston has some wise words for those starting University this year.

More at UCCF Freshers Site with videos and other helps.

UCCF Year Book 2009

UCCF's review of the last year is now online annual review, pdf to download plus extra video content online.

Psalm Singing: "if Jesus is not the God of the Psalms, I do not know who he is at all"

A thoughts from outside my churchmanship that is well worth some consideration:

"the whole purpose of the New Testament is that we will believe that Jesus is more than Jesus – that he is the Son of God, and that for us there is only one God, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things. The burden of the New Testament is to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Old Testament, the One in whom the whole fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. We worship the God who saves, and in doing so we worship the God who anoints Jesus, the God Jesus who is anointed, and the God who anoints us by the Holy Spirit."
Iain D Campbell

See also:

12 minutes of Mike Reeves on Psalms

New way? The Sermon that misses Jesus

Photo - Matt Herring and others in Paris.

Raised With Christ (Adrian Warnock)

My friend Adrian has almost finished edits on his forthcoming book. The publisher posts an extract:

"Jesus’ resurrection really did change everything. It changed the cross from a tragedy into a a triumph and it changed the Roman Empire into a Christian state. This was the most powerful divine event in the history of creation, and it ushered in a new age of the Holy Spirit’s activity and power in saving and transforming lives.
When considering if Christianity is true, it all boils down to whether Jesus rose from the dead. The lives of Christians today demonstrate that the resurrection is still changing people…" (Raised With Christ, pp 15)

Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything - Adrian Warnock

Raising the bar on Small Groups

For the next couple of months we're studying as a staff team some books to help us serve and resource CU small groups better. Across the region we're meeting to study Leading Better Bible Studies (Rod & Karen Morris) and then Total Church (Tim Chester & Steve Timmis), ahead of some discussion in November when Marcus Honeysett is with us, and hopefully leading on to enhanced training for students in the region.
In chapter 1 of LBBS I'm struck by the need for a central purpose to leadership, namely Christ. Furthermore leadership is about knowing Christ and relationships. This is a great governing principle to have.In chapter 2 they explore how adults learn. Many of us might be suspicious of this material, and I confess it's not where I'd look first. That said, it is very helpful to consider the need to "establish a need to learn" (p24) rather than assuming people want to, they note "information for the sake of information is not necessarily a co…

Making a Christian Difference

My former supervisor, Gareth Davies is now blogging on the CARE website. His tagline is "Travelling the UK helping others make a Christian difference"
"In the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal it may be that the electorate is looking for integrity above over-inflated promises. Tired of spin, perhaps we’re beginning to value those who tell us the things we would rather not have heard in the past."

All we have is the gospel

I loved gathering my team in Exeter for 3 days last week, to train them about 'loving the church' and to build the new team together over good food, an open Bible, walking in Dartmoor and various other contexts. I'm thankful for gospel-loving colleagues and partners and for the hospitality of Kathy and two households from our church who accomodated us. Thankful also for the opportunity to serve another UCCF team with the same training later in the week, airing the study from my sabbatical. But, hence no blogging.

My great aunt died on Thursday, we heard of home group members facing difficult situations, people facing complicated situations, opportunities to love, opportunities to suffer together and to rejoice together, to be body. Good as it was to study 1 Cor 12-14 with my team I find myself painfully aware of past failure to live in light of the gospel, times I've taken the easier gospel-dodging way.

I had a nightmare train journey home from Southampton on Friday, a…

Proverbs 1 Sermon, MP3

DOWNLOAD MP3: Proverbs 1:1-7 - School of Wisdom (Dave Bish, Frontiers Church Exeter). - version from second service.

“the most devastating criticism turns out to be the finest mercy.”
(Alfred Poirier, The Cross & Criticism)

Imagine yourself standing in front of a crowd. Think a bigger than here – thousands. And you’re on stage. You walk out and open your mouth to sing a song. Three minutes later you’ve finished, the crowd goes quiet and the spotlight falls on four people sat at the front. Only the one sat on the far right, from where you’re standing matters. What will Simon Cowell have to say about you? Knowing my lack of talent – despite being married to a singing teacher it’d be: Look, “I think you just killed my favourite song of all time. Not in a billion years. It was dreadful, really dreadful, I’m saying that to be kind…” Or: “Terrible, a complete and utter nightmare”

It’s genius because of the talent and because of the talentless. We love to look on and dish out our wisdom t…

The Gift of Administration: I love it when a plan comes together

Nigel Ring blogs about organising the Newfrontiers leadership conference, sharing from the key roles involved. Helpful stuff from a gifted administrator (1 Cor 12:28), a much needed gift for the church!

There is administration to do in my work and I really have to work hard to do it because its out of my gifting - I love the big picture but detail is something I find more difficult. Because it's difficult it'd be easy to convince myself that it's not necessary or even that it's have plans and programmes and budgets and strategy and order.

Thing is, so many of the best things are only possible with advance planning and excellent administration. Great things rarely just happen out of no-where. Reflecting on last year and looking ahead over the next it's a joy to see where a plan has come together and the opportunities that has created for God's people to meet with him, whether Christians growing or those who weren't Christians coming to hear t…

The Perceptions of Christianity (Krish Kandiah)

Krish Kandiah posts lecture pdf on evangelism

Some really interesting notes on barriers to the subject and these stats on perceptions of Christianity. Whether or not we can or should do anything about these perceptions it is good to be aware how we come across and what we have to face, defeater beliefs that keep people from even beginning to listen or care about Jesus.

(Krish's Blog)


My wife and I started leading a home group for our church last night, a joy to see God's people together seeking him. We ate together last Sunday and meeting again yesterday we studied 1 Corinthians 14v1-26 (in view of it being preached last Sunday) and the sought to do what it says, pursuing love, eagerly and earnestly seeking spiritual gifts to encourage, console, strengthen and build up the church - and setting ourselves to continue to pursue those things. Christ's body matters to him and he plans for each of us to play a part in her upbuilding in maturity and by her extension as unbelivers are added in.

Interesting: Marcus on prophetic urging

MP3s: Doctrine of Revelation (Mike Reeves)

Adoption Song by Olly Knight

Nay Dawson and I taught the Transformed by the Gracious God track at Forum last week, we invited our colleague Olly Knight to lead us in worship at the end of sessions 1 and 3, we used his song "Adoption Song". Olly is a member of The City Church in Canterbury.

Once we were far from God, we were His enemies
Our master was our flesh and we were slaves to sin
We were fa-ther-less, and we had no hope
God chose His only son, and poured out all His wrath
Jesus became our sin, perfection scarred for us
We were re-con-ciled, and made alive in Christ

You chose us to be Your sons and daughters,
Adopted in- to Your family.
With no blame and with Your full approval,
Standing as co-heirs with Christ.

Now we may boldly come, towards Your throne of love
Your grace it cascades down, upon our thankful hearts
And You’ve caught us up, in Your eternal plan
Forever we’ll stand in fatherly promises
On earth we’ll do Your will, until we’re face to face
And Your church will rise, together as Your bride!"


Terry Virgo Interview (part 3 of 3)

Terry Virgo continues to take questions from the floor, beginning with his answer to a question about baptism in the Spirit...

Life Long Grace: Dave Bish interviews Terry Virgo (part 3 of 3)

Photo: Harri Guyer, Relay Exeter

Saving Britain's Past: Bath

iPlayer has a documentary on what happened to the city of Bath after the war, the plans of Patrick Abercrombie & Buchanan and the attempt to preserve the past.

"Series charting the development of the conservation movement in Britain since the Second World War. Architectural critic Tom Dyckhoff describes how Bath, widely regarded as Britain's most beautiful city, was almost destroyed by Hitler's bombs, before narrowly escaping further damage from developers. Plus, a look at the birth of the listings system."

Bath in Time website

Terry Virgo Interview (part 2 of 3)

Continuing my interview with Terry Virgo, mostly considering God's grace in his life.

Terry posts his reflections on being at UCCF Forum

Life Long Grace: Dave Bish interviews Terry Virgo (part 2 of 3)

Photo: Hannah Cordle, Bath CU Staff

What does your termcard look like?

The way we communicate betrays our priorities...

Nay Dawson notes: "This is a great example because right from the start this shows that the CU exists for its non members, it focuses on events that are interesting to non Christians as well as important details of regular CU activities for Christians. Note the important information it contains; dates, times, titles, location and contact details..."

Terry Virgo Interview (part 1 of 3)

Last week I had the opportunity to host an interview with Terry Virgo at UCCF's Forum Conference. It was in a seminar track on Motivated by Grace under the title Life Long. I elected to interview Terry rather than for us both to teach on the subject. In this first part Terry speaks from 1 Corinthians 15v10 as we see Paul speak of being what he is by the grace of God.

In part 2 I ask Terry to share some biography of grace in his life (part 2) before concluding with questions from the floor (part 3) starting with a question about baptism in the Spirit.

Life Long Grace: Dave Bish interviews Terry Virgo (part 1 of 3)

By this we know love: First back-to-back Sunday at Frontiers Church Exeter

This morning was different to previous Sunday mornings. I left the house just after 9am to walk to church for our first early meeting (9.30am) and was there through to the second (11.30am) after which we had the pleasure of eating with some of our new home group family.

It was good to gather to continue our 'all of life' worship together with the church family, with Matt Giles leading us. We learned a new song from Sovereign Grace Music,By this we know love which was great, and welcomed good contributions in prayer, revelations, tongues and interpretations from the members of the church in both meetings, with elder Andy Arscott speaking on being filled with the Spirit, with a call to worship God and serve one another.

Our new meetings are smaller at this stage but were still well attended and we have some new challenges with keeping to a tight timing, but generally it all seemed to flow well. Next Sunday I'll be kicking off our new six month series in Proverbs which is so…

New Worship CD from Clive Parnell

My good friend, long time colleague and former member of IndigoEcho, Clive Parnell has been dragged kicking and screaming by God to write and produce a worship CD, you can get it here: You are with me.

For Clive this project has been an opportunity to die to his own way of doing things. The album was profiled at UCCF Forum and I commend it to you.

UCCF Forum - French-speaking world, Krish Kandiah and loving the church

Open Forum went well on Wednesday afternoon, with some great questions and little controversy -gladly it seems the fellowship is growing in understanding and unity, and openness to explore issues together.

On Wednesday evening we turned our hearts to the French speaking world with pray led by guests from Chad (Daniel Bourdanne) and France (Raphael Anzenberger) - I was particularly struck by the need for church planters in France. It was great to catch up with my friend Raphael and hear about his work. I'd love to see him doing more in the UK but the needs in France are probably enough.
Thursday evening was a particular highlight with UCCF Alumni Krish Kandiah of Evangelical Alliance joining us for a brilliant evening. Simple and clear communication, engaged with the student scene and mindset, calling us to Spirit-filled mission. I was sat at the back of the marquee having come in a bit late (phoning home), when Krish put out an appeal asking if we were unlit, on fire or burnt out m…

Forum 2009 Liveblogging: Terry Virgo interview, Ann Brown on engaging culture, Phatfish and some rain

Tuesday continued well. In the afternoon we got heavily rained on before workshops. I had the privilege of interviewing Terry Virgo for an hour and a half - some great questions and answers, I'll try to post the mp3 at the weekend.

In the evening Ann Brown spoke calling us to engage with culture rather than being suspicious of it, or assimilated by it, to be a people who will shape the world. The whole evening will have been fresh thinking for some students so do pray for the outworking of what was said. To truly engage means working twice as hard but imagine the impact of a generation who connect God's gospel with people.

After hours I ducked into a chilled acoustic gig from Phatfish before being collared to be on the panel at the Open Forum (ask any question about CUs) this afternoon.

Our dig deeper track continues this morning where we'll be shooting down legalism and exploring walking it the Spirit, before that Terry has a fine breakfast for us from Ephesians.

Forum 2009 - Terry Virgo etc.

Briefly, a rainy start to Forum, first few sessions have been good - with Tim Rudge on Isaiah 6 and Terry Virgo on Ephesians 2.

A stunning gospel challenge to know that we aren't just miserable pigs dressed up in righteousness made miserable by a call to fly. We're changed people by God's gospel, saints by grace!

In a couple of hours I'll be interviewing Terry on living life long in grace which I'm looking forward to, before which we have a gig from Phatfish.