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Showing posts from August, 2011

Can you help with my training?

Dear Blog Reader,
I'm learning that its all too easy to say "I need nothing" (Rev3:17) and that is rarely true.
I'm writing this because I have need and, in Christ, you might help. Please feel no obligation to be the answer to my prayer.

I'm half way through a two year leadership training course which has been very helpful for my development. The course covers training on leadership and preaching, doctrine and Biblical studies. Thus far I've raised about 66% of the course fees so far but that leaves a shortfall of about £800 (or £640 + giftaid).

If you'd like to help me towards that total please drop an email to and I'll let you know how you could give via my church.
Thank you. Dave.

Normal blogging will resume shortly and sink this post into the archives.

Can you make good decisions?

At the recommendation of  @stualred I've just read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It's a storytelling exploration of decision making, of "thinking without thinking".

 Gladwell considers that we can make good decisions based on very thin slices of information - if we know what we're looking for (finding out might take enormous amounts of research - something Stu's Rugby coaching Dad has done for his PhD).

But we don't always get those moments right...
Sometimes we have too much information - drowning out what we actually need to see.  This is compellingly illustrated from the case of a hospital discovering that three questions could help them work out who needed immediate care for risk of a heart attack, for example.Sometimes we develop an "in the moment autism" that stops us from reading the situation. So, in the moment we might get it wrong because of the heat of the moment. We choke. Whether sportsmen or policemen caught in a tense situation.Someti…

Is your ministry manipulative?

"I'M A COW... COME PLAY WITH ME... HUG ME." Kids toys have this strange way of sounding both patronising and terribly needy and (after a while) annoying. Though kids love them the rest of us can only live with them in short bursts....

No gospel minister would want to be so soul-destroying? When Paul is reminding the Galatians (Galatians 4:8-5:1) of the contrast between his ministry and that of the incoming Slave Teachers he follows a long theological argument with one drawn from their experience.

The slave teachers come in to "make much of you" - which is ok (genuine encouragement and affirmation are vital), but they only do it so that "you'll make much of them". I'll love you if you'll love me back. That's to say - they're manipulative ministers. At first everyone likes to be made much of but after a while this power play gets tiresome. Paul observes it has drained away the Galatians joy, it has cast aside "the blessing they …

Preaching to Yourself (Not really a review of Note to Self)

This is a cool book. It's RELIT. It's 48 tiny chapters in a pocket size book. I had this planned to be my bathroom book for 48 days. It's aim is to address the question of what it means to preach to yourself. This isn't a review of the book, it's more a thought that sparked from reading it. 

PREACHING TO YOURSELF has become popular of late. Mostly I think lifted from Biblical example, mediated by Martyn Lloyd-Jones' exhortation in Spiritual Depression to spend more time talking to yourself than listening to yourself. Which is a great thing. There is a need to address our souls, to speak to our hearts. Joe Thorns book seeks to show HOW to speak to yourself.

The introduction immediately threw me off with it's call to not just preach gospel to ourselves but to preach law and gospel too. There are several evangelical approaches to law, and my disappointment is probably that mine isn't the same as Thorns. My view (Modified Lutheran) shoots for law being Scri…

We're praying for our vicar to be saved!

On Friday at Together at WestpointTerry Virgo told an anecdote of his experience of meeting someone who had been awakened to the grace of God and the work of the Spirit at a major Christian conference. As they thanked Terry for his teaching on this they said, "now we're going home, praying that our vicar will be saved".

Terry's reply was of some bewilderment. Reminding us that "just because it's called St. Something's" doesn't mean it's a church.... and if the leader isn't a Christian then the thing is probably failing some sort of test of being a church, right?

Obviously praying for the vicar to become a Christian is good, but the observation suggests that these newly revived believers need to go and find a church they can thrive in - and from there look to win the world for Christ, even the bits that call themselves churches.

If your "church" doesn't love the gospel then it's not a church right? And a Christian has g…

What makes a leader?

At the recommendation of David Capener I got hold of a copy of HBR's 10 Must Reads: On Leadership. A collection of papers from the Harvard Business Review. The first chapter is by Daniel Goleman, you can read it online here What makes a leader?.
"Every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job. And they also know a story about someone with solid-but not extraordinary-intellectual abilities and technical skills who was promoted into a similar position and then soared. Such anecdotes support the widespread belief that identifying individuals with the "right stuff" to be leaders is more art than science. After all, the personal styles of superb leaders vary: some leaders are subdued and analytical; others shout their manifestos from the mountaintops. And just as important, different situations call for different types of leadership. Most mergers need a sensitive …

Fairy Tales: Eternal hope in a melancholy world

We don't read fairy tales to escape reality - think CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein or JK Rowling (initals required) - but because they are able to draw us out of self love and cynicism into bigger stories, even while we remain in our small situations. By carrying us into their semi-reality they take us into underlying reality.

Erik Davies observes that Tolkein's stories offer "eternal hope in a melancholy world".Tolkein argues that "people sense that such stories point to some underlying Reality. As we read or watch them, we are being told that the world is certainly filled with danger . . . nonetheless there is a meaning to things, there is a difference between good and evil, and above all there will be a final defeat of evil . . .the gospel story of Jesus is the underlying Reality to which all the stories point. . . it is the true story; it happened".

Don't we long for such stories?
Wherever we find ourselves looking we long for better, for more... what if som…

You need the rejoicing King

Part 3 of 3 of my script from my sermon on Psalm 63: Finding Satisfaction. MP3: Finding Satisfaction - Psalm 63

V11: The beloved king rejoices! This David had appointed priests to “raise sounds of joy”. The King Rejoices in God. And isn’t his joy infectious, you look at his smile and you can’t help but begin to smile… And the point?

Andrew Bonar observed: “when we read this Psalm as spoken of and by Christ, how much is every verse enhanced?" 

This is David’s prayer of his desire, but truly it is the prayer of the True David, the True Beloved. Of G reat David’s greater Son: King Jesus. Here him sing this song. Here the voice of the one who has always been satisfied in God – even in the wilderness of his great suffering at the cross. King Jesus rejoices. Hear Jesus’ thirst for God, My God! Jesus’ vision of God! Hear his estimate of God’s loving kindness, for the Son always enjoyed his Father’s steadfast love, from eternity past. Hear his soul sat…

The better story of the gospel

Part 2 of 3 of my script from my sermon on Psalm 63: Finding Satisfaction. MP3: Finding Satisfaction - Psalm 63
David claims to have seen God in the Sanctuary... BUT… for all that, David hasn’t been in the sanctuary.

David was a King not a Priest. And only Priests could enter. His descendent King Uzziah would try to do both and be struck down. David was thrilled to watch from a distance.
He was thrilled to read the Scriptures - as a king he wrote out his own copy.
 He was thrilled to have the Teaching Priests preach the gospel to him – telling of the meaning of the blood, of the God who is with his people. Holding up the God of love before his eyes. Publicly portraying the cross of Christ for his heart to feed up.
He saw the tent from a distance. He saw the priests go in.
And, perhaps, even like Isaiah in the year King Uzziah died, he saw a vision of Jesus at the heart of the sanctuary?

What does David conclude? v3:
“because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise…

You need to see the God of love

Part 1 of 3 of my script from my sermon on Psalm 63: Finding Satisfaction. MP3: Finding Satisfaction - Psalm 63
“There’s probably no god. I know that because I read it on the side of a bus, and that’s one of the ways you can know things.” So writes Marcus Brigstocke in his new book, God Collar. The book is his entertaining and honest search for god. He repeatedly expresses his inconsolable longing for god to exist, but he cannot bring himself to believe in the god he finds in the bible. His search is strikingly different to the raging voices of the new atheists like Richard Dawkins who fume as they tell us that god is unattractive, unknowable and undesirable. Brigstocke wants to believe, but he hasn’t found what he’s looking for and admits he’s scared of the aloneness of life without God.

What if the beauty, the satisfaction and the passion he seeks could be found? What about you? Do you – like so many, like Marcus Brigstocke yearn for more – for peace, for hope, for a better world?


Psalm 63: Finding Satisfaction

This morning I preached Psalm 63 at our church. I decided to preach without notes so the mp3 isn't quite the same as the script I wrote out.
I missed some bits, rambled a bit, gained some bits, lost some of my crafted language, plus our 10 week old screamed over a few bits, but I think going without notes gave me much more connection with people and freedom in preaching.
It was also great to see the Spirit preach the message in our worship time, through readings, prayers and a prophetic song. Very encouraging.
MP3 from my iPod: Finding Satisfaction - Psalm 63 (42mins)
UPDATE: Better recording:Finding Satisfaction - Psalm 63
I'll blog the script over the next three days.

Everyone is Welcome

Have a watch of Bill Hybels wonderfully generous response to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultze' withdrawal from speaking at his Leadership Summit.
Book: In dealing with his friend, Hybels is gracious - letting him out of a commitment, encouraging people to back his company and suggesting that they send some encouraging emails to drown out the vitriol. To his 'opponents' Hybels appeals for understanding, dialogue, reconciliation - or at least respect, and states that where a closed door has been perceived really it is open. His appeal for people to build relationship rather than make assumptions about others is very helpful too. And he recommends Onward by Howard Schultz. One for my wishlist.

Changing the expression of Christianity: A Charismatic History of the Church

Phil Moore observes that the gospel progresses with signs and wonders in his survey of church history beginning in Acts. Phil Moore on the Demonstration of the Spirit's Power - Training Track at Together on a Mission 2011Moore:
"church history was always meant to be like something out of Acts" Is preaching the gospel enough? Or, should we expect the preaching of the gospel to be accompanied with power? Moore argues that the successful advance of the gospel comes through confrontation between the Triune God and demons and idols, rather than a softly softly approach. Evil definitively overthrown by the gospel. Where are these confrontations today?

He says, the church flounders when the power of God is abandoned, to political power and human activity - whether in the days of Constantine or the Reformation etc. He documents Augustine's late-in-life conversion to belief in healing (documented in City of God ch22.8). Moore asks, could it be that the reformation lacked tra…

Slaying dragons: Did Christianity copy Egyptian mythology?

Earlier this year I spoke at an evangelistic event at Bath Spa University. A student stood up in the Q&A and read from a piece of paper a description of something that sounded very like Christianity before asking me, what do I make of that. I bounced the question back to him before he revealed that it was a description of an Egyptian religion, lifted it transpires from the writings of retired Professor Richard Dawkins.

The other day I came across a 150 year old book: William Haslam - The Cross and the Serpent via on Acts 15:21 - Moses preached in ancient times. Haslam studies the idea of the serpent (to be crushed according to Genesis 3) and the cross in the mythologies of the ancient world. He considers the presence of these kind of stories and indeed prophecy of the cross to be entirely expected in ancient cultures - the LORD revealed and his people spread through the world carrying the story.

Of the Cross, Haslam writes: "He was consigned to the ignominous Cross; and…

The prophetic vision for the UCCF and IFES

Norman Grubb (1895-1993):
"Before I left, near the end of that term, the Spirit distinctly came on me to go and speak in no uncertain terms to all I knew personally who had not accepted Christ, or who at least showed no sign of spiritual life - men whom I never expected to see again in this life. I went and pulled no punches, and a number came out for Christ, about sixteen of them. This caused a stir like a touch of revival and the C.I.C.C.U. men asked me to come and tell them about it. As I did so, it came like a vision to me that every university and college in Britain and the world should have its evangelical and witnessing union, as we had. So I suggested to two of my friends that we take a hall in London and invite some from Oxford and London and other colleges, and hold an intervarsity conference. About sixty of us attended. Little did I then realise that this was the start of what has since grown to become the world-wide InterVarsity Fellowship, now in hundreds and probab…