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Showing posts from July, 2011

Thankful at the end of the year

It's the end of the 2010/11 academic year for me. When I return to work in three weeks it'll be 2011/12 and the start of my eleventh season working with UCCF... how did that happen!

I'm thankful for the last year in so many ways.

Outside of 'work' I'm thankful for my Saviour who has kept me and shown me fresh depths of his love for me.
I'm thankful for the family our local church and the mission that he's called us into in our city. I'm thankful for our friends in the church, and outside of the church.
I'm thankful for my family. A year in which our first son has learned to talk and our second son has been born.
Considering the work I've been doing with UCCF, the first sphere of my work is with the South West team:
I'm thankful for Cat who (re)joined us last August after a year of student mission in Peru. Her first year has been outstanding, she's a deeply theological, gifted apologist whose work I'm thrilled with, and whose hear…

People are bruised reeds, please don't break us

I've found myself in a twitter conversation about a certain American pastor who protests he's not a legalist but would consider my application of 1 Timothy 5's exhortation that men should provide for their family to make me "worse than an unbeliever".

How so? I've pursued a call to ministry with a mission agency who for better or for worse can't fund me to the extent that I can live in my part of the UK on a single salary... at least not if I want to live somewhere convenient to the ministry and if I want to be responsible for the future by having a mortgage and if I want to follow the call to increase and multiply (i.e. be a Dad). I've watched this pastor on video say he'd subject me to church discipline for leading my family in such a way that my wife needs to work part-time (about 2.5 days a week). It seems he'd kick me out of the church...

I'm prepared to accept that I've made some bad calls along t…

Because our dreams are destroying us

I love films and novels. I love the way someone can tell a story and enable you to see things differently - to step into a semi-reality to see where dreams and desires lead. This could be a self-loving escapism (and may often be that) but its equally capable of enriching life, casting fresh light upon my questions and putting beauty into the monotony of life. Pointers to what life could be...

We watched three films recently.

The Adjustment Bureau follows the life of David Norris, a remarkable young politician faced with a Presidential future and the opportunities of true love. He is a man with a void in his heart, can he have the politics and love, or if he finds satisfaction in one will it ruin him in the other... and which would be more significant.

The DVD box says it's Bourne meets Inception. It's a bit sci-fi (based on a Philip K. Dick short) which reminded me of Vanilla Sky / Open your eyes at times and it stars Matt Damon, but really it's a story about love and the p…

The Beloved Son

Last week I read Trevor Burke's book Sonship. I loved these quotes he cites:
"The greatest unkindness you can do to [the Father] is not to believe that he loves you" John Owen.

"It pleased [the Father] to enfold us in the eternal family... it thrilled his heart" Mark Stibbe. My review will of Sonship will be posted at Together for Adoptionon Tuesday. Burke uses a moving story to show the importance of sonship in his book, and Student Alpha have made this animation of the story:

My Beloved Son from Holy Trinity Brompton on Vimeo.

The Vengeful God of the Bible

Owen Brown features in the BBC Wales Today talking sense after a vicar exhibited the Bible verses he thinks show how nasty god is and then burned the remnants of his cuttings. You can watch it on iPlayer BBC Wales Newsfrom about 1min50 into the programme, for five minutes, available until 7pm on Saturday.

The Reverend Geraint op Iorwerth is free like the rest of us to take offense at the Bible - better than apathy! Strangely the Bible's own offense at the Old Testament is the extreme extent of the LORD's love for his people....

And I don't really mind the Rev cutting up a Bible - good to engage with it, though cutting up any book feels sacrilegious! - it's great to engage with the text, I read mine with a pen in hand.

The problem is that when you play pick n mix with the Bible you become god, you stop letting god speaking and just define you own deity, dressed up in Bible language. It's the advantage of churches preaching it page by page, means they can't dodge…

Big Towers and Big Names.

God said multiply and fill the earth. Humanity multiplied, and tried to stand together. Standing together is fun because when you're big you can do a lot, you're safer and stronger and more unified. You can maintain common language and avoid trouble. You can make a name for yourself. You can build a big tower and a big reputation.

God said scatter. He came down and scattered them. He is always coming out of himself to us and sending us out of ourselves beyond ourselves to the ends of the earth. To enter into his spreading goodness and so go.

Diversity. Going brings diversity. God instigated diversity of language but this could/should have happened anyway as humanity scattered, and will seemingly be preserved/redeemed in the new creation. New societies develop new dialects and angles and approaches. Part of the glory of the new world is it's diversity. Diversity of culture, language, personality, passions, tempraments, skills, knowledge, giftings and strengths - and perhaps …

Of raising sounds of joy

Charismatics Christians love to sing. As we educate our son about church it's about Jesus and about singing to Jesus. We read The Jesus Storybook Bible and we pray - and we sing. Maybe we're a bad stereotype but Jesus makes me feel like singing. Perhaps it's not a charismatic thing... maybe it's just a Christian thing!

In 1 Chronicles 15 David appoints a group of Levites to be musicians for the people. They are appoint to "raise sounds of joy" (v16). What a great job to have - one many musicians will take up as churches gather. The worship of God's people was not sedate and stoic, sounds of joy were raised. With the richest of scriptural lyrics, let joyful melodies stir joy in people's hearts.

As David sings in chapter 16 that the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice (v10),the LORD's presence is a place of joy. I don't think we can pass off an absence of joy as 'British reserve' - the majority of the people in the 5000-strong cro…

Nigel Lee Archive at Living Leadership

Living Leadership is building an online archive of the preaching of the late Nigel Lee (1946-2006). They say:
"he left very little by way of writing, he was a preeminent missionary statesman of the latter half of the 20th century and a prince among Bible teachers. His legacy is in the transformed lives of countless individuals around the world, and a huge number of evangelists and preachers whom he befriended, encouraged, mentored and passed the torch to." Nigel worked with OM and with UCCF and I had the honour of working on a CU mission with him at Reading in 2000/1. I last heard him preach at our 2003 student leaders conference, in my first year on our staff team. Living Leadership have uploaded over thirty sermons uploaded thus far with more to come. In his obituary for Nigel Living Leadership director Marcus Honeysett noted:
"When Nigel Lee first discovered he had life-threatening cancer he said to a friend ‘this is when people get to see if I really believe all I’ve …

The loved are free to love

There's nothing macho about Christianity. Our Head (Christ) was the humble king who gave himself up to death for us. Nothing strong about that. Nothing self-loving and self-protecting and self-advancing about that. Christianity is for losers. It's good news for losers.

When we speak of Christ as Head over all we surely exalt his love and humility rather than his brute force power and dominating sovereignty. Anyone can follow one who  wields power - and look good for doing so - but it takes a different Spirit to follow one who is all love, who lays himself down, whose strengths is manifest in weakness. One who does not seize greatness but receives it as his Father raises him up above all else.

Hosea 1:11 sums up the gospel as concerning the appointment of Christ as Head, as the true husband who gives himself for a desperately unfaithful whore of a wife. The image isn't flattering - we're the whore. But the image is beautiful - in the place of abuse by others and self-in…

The Prophet and The Whore and the Biblical kind of Headship

Sovereignty has its appeal. If someone or something is head over us then we’re not cut adrift. How about the LORD as your head?
Christ the head of the church? Husband the head of his wife?
Longing for that?
Marcus Brigstocke, cut adrift into agnosticism by the death of a friend and destabilized by the rantings of Richard Dawkins longs to believe in god, any god but the god of the Bible – he says. Many consider the god of the Bible is like a phone-hacking, teeth-drilling, expense-fiddling, investment banker who is out to ruin your life.

Yet Bible implies headship is something good, attractive and something to hope for.
Somewhere someone has misread the script. Here's gospel hope:
"they shall appoint for themselves one head" (Hosea 1:11) Rewind. The Prophet Hosea is give a call that makes Jonah’s call to Nineveh seem one you’d jump at. The prophet Jonah took extreme action to avoid his call to take a message of grace to a people who would receive it, wanting not to have …

Marcus Brigstocke on God

On Richard Bacon's radio programme the entertaining and ever interesting Marcus Brigstocke articulates his problems with Judaism, Islam and Christianity. He cites anti-feminism, belief in the same god (!!), the content of the bible - old and new testaments, and 'the thug' who is Jesus' father and numerous other charges. Whilst being good to listen to and attempting to be fair and generous... a million miles from Richard Dawkins - this is the witty voice of modern agnosticism.

Inevitably I think he's missed the story of the Bible, but nonetheless there are difficult passages and commands - ones that really aren't going to make much sense without some key issues in place. Consequently, Brigstocke is left with a struggle - a desire to believe in god that he thinks we all generally have, but a desire for that not to be the god of Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Meanwhile in the interview Richard Bacon embodies liberal Christianity by generally saying 'but most…

A bride knows her husband. We know the Lord

(Hosea 2:20).

It is a fruit of the conjugal union betwixt Christ and the soul. When a man and his wife are but suitors they do not communicate their secrets one to another; but when they are married they open all their hearts. There is no secret but they will disclose one to another. So says God, when I am once married to you, I will even open my whole heart to you.

A man in the dark may know where he is but feeling, he may discover the length and thickness of many things in the house, but when the light of the day comes, he knows what there is in the room in another manner than he did in the dark: this is the difference between knowledge of God in a natural man, and the knowledge of one espoused to Christ.

By his natural knowledge he may understand the history of the gospel, and have some general notions of God, and of Christ; but when the Sun of righteousness arises, he sees the excellency and glory of God shining in all his attributes, he sees…

You that are ministers!

"Oh, if you would draw any to you, let it be by love. You that are ministers, and especially appointed to the work of drawing others to God, what should you do?Open the love of God to them, present the grace of the gospel to souls, labour to work upon their hearts by all the mercies of God; by the mercy of God to them, received by them, and bestowed upon them.

Have you to deal with stony hearts? the way is to lay them upon the soft pillow of the gospel and so you may break them... the word is compared to a hammer; yea, but we must labour to lay the hearts of people upon the pillow of love, upon the grace of God in the gospel, that is the way to subdue them. None are so bound to God as those who are bound to him by love: those that are bound to God by fear, unmixed with love, their bands will not hold... but those who are held by bands of love, are bound for ever unto God.

When men cast off the sweet of their sin by the sweet of the love of God, then they will never return to the…