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Showing posts from 2012

Think Trinity. Sing Trinity.

Olly Knight is a worship leader from City Church Canterbury, part of the Newfrontiers family of churches, and a former UCCF colleague of mine. He has written these two new songs about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
iTunes Download: Fountain of Goodness by Mike Reeves & Olly KnightiTunes Download: The Father's Love by Olly Knight Lyrics/chords The Father's Love / Fountain of Goodness

Andrew Wilson writes for Think Theology that Mike Reeves book The Good God is the best Christian book he's ever read.
And I've written a post there this week too: Avoiding Trinity

#8 The Son is good news (Luke 24)

The King has died. Luke shows us what happens next. Jesus predicted his death and his resurrection and here will show us how necessary that was. Then Jesus will depart – so what will happen to his kingdom until the King comes back? How will the Kingdom grow. Luke gathers up the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection appearances to show us.

Luke began by telling us he would record what had been fulfilled. Jesus tells his friends on the road that the Old Testament said that he had to suffer and then enter his glory (26), and that he had to suffer and rise on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations starting at Jerusalem. This is the message of the Old Testament. There are things fulfilled.. There are necessary events in history. This is not meaningless. The good news of Jesus is the plan and the story.

If we miss this we’ve missed the message. Which is exactly what Jesus’ friends seem to have done, until he cause…

#7 The Son dies (Luke 23:25-49)

The whole story of Jesus has been about the coming of the perfect son who would bring forgiveness to his new human race, but how can he bring forgiveness to people who are deserving of death? Here at last as we see Luke’s account of the cross we’ll find our answers.

Jesus’ death is the focus of all four gospel accounts. Jesus has been walking towards his death since Luke 9 when he set his face to Jerusalem. And the Old Testament has spoken that this must happen. Luke tells the account of the cross broadly in the same way as the other two Synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark do. But there are differences which highlight particularly what he wants to emphasise about Jesus. These three gospels are called The Synoptics and have strong similarities – whereas John’s account is substantially different. All the events recorded at the cross happened, but each writer selects their material to show us a particular aspects of what the cross means.

"Why did Jesus die?&quo…

#6 It's all about the Son (Luke 20:9-18)

Jesus is in Jerusalem, the authorities are biding their time to arrest and kill him. Luke has shown us that Jesus really is the perfect son – a second Adam to rule the world justly. How we respond to Jesus is the vital question.


People are questioning Jesus. It’s not pretty because the questions aren’t particularly genuine. Jesus challenges their questions with questions, not accepting their assumptions and directing them towards more important questions. Listen to Michael Ramsden’s talk on Asking good questions from for more on the way Jesus handles these situations.

In the middle of it he tells a parable which goes a long way to explaining the conversations. The story is simple enough. The beloved son of The Owner is sent to the vineyard, and they kill him, seeking his inheritance. He’s the heir of all things. If they will oppose him he’ll give the inheritance to others. Explaining his parable Jesus cites Psalm 118:22. The Peter and John will do …

Becky Pippert in Exeter (Sat 1st Dec)

It's not too late to book for our day with Becky Pippert in Exeter on Saturday 1st December. The day conference runs from 9am-5pm at Belmont Chapel, Exeter. A day of world-class training from the author of Out of the Saltshaker and into the World for just £15 (including lunch).

Open to all - students, non-students, Christians, non-Christians. This is a Residential Weekend for Falmouth CU, Plymouth CU, and Marjons CU. It is also a One Day Conference for Exeter CU and Bristol CU and the wider church.

Book online via the UCCF website

Guilt-free Bible Reading

I've got a new post today at Theology Matters:
Why are we scared of the very book that defines everything we believe? Why is the Old Testament a closed book to so many of us? Why is the 'what about the God of the Old Testament?' question the one we hope we won’t get asked? It just might be that we don’t read it. Ron Frost, in his book Discover the Power of the Bible suggests a highly innovative solution! Read it. Just read it....Continue reading this post on the Theology Matters blog

#5 The Son will be King (Luke 19:1-44)

The journey to Jerusalem reaches its completion. Jesus has shown those walking with him that those with nothing to bring are able to receive his kingdom life, whereas those who are strong tend to stumble.

This is a longish passage. The focus is on Jesus as King. He passes through Jericho and encounters Zaccheus. The tax collector is seeking to see Jesus but we’re told that Jesus is seeking (and saving) the lost. Because he’s near Jerusalem the crowds are expecting the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ message is about the kingdom of God (1:33, 4:43, 8:1, 9:2, 9:11, 9:27, 9:60, 10:9, 10:11) and they’re expecting a coronation in Jerusalem.

Jesus tells a parable about a King who is about to begin ruling over a country. His future subjects hate him. They don’t want him to be their king (14). This is reflected in the way they respond to him – particularly the third servant who feared him, assuming that Jesus would be against him. And it seems he is against those…

#4 The royal son's feast (Luke 14:1-24)

Jesus’ journey to the cross continues as he illustrates through events and teachings what it means to be part of his kingdom, to enter into renewed relationship with his Father.

Luke shows Jesus coming eating and drinking with people (7v34). Meals are at the heart of his ministry. Meals are a place of friendship, of deeper relationship. If you’re struggling to talk to people about Jesus, or about anything that’s not trivia, trying eating with people. Get hold of Tim Chester’s A Meal with Jesus to explore this further.

Jesus takes the opportunity of a meal to talk about a greater meal, the banquet in the Kingdom of God. His teaching uses the way people respond to invitations and the way they take their seats as a way to expose their hearts towards him. Jesus often eats with tax collectors and sinners, but here he’s at the house of a leading Pharisee (14:1), and they’re watching him.

The King challenges those at this meal about the way they withhold good from pe…

Trinity's song rings out

It's the anniversary of the deaths of CS Lewis, Aldous Huxley and JFK.  Lewis who wrote that Aslan sang creation into being... so very appropriate for the day of his death. It's St. Cecilia's day.

John Dryden wrote an Ode for that day, and the Lutheran Handel added the music: In the beginning. Love. Diversity. Harmony. Music to dance to.

 From harmony, from heavenly harmony, 
This universal frame began. 
Through all the compass of the notes it ran, 
The diapason closing full in man. 

Listen to more with Mike Reeves - Enjoying Trinity 2: The Spreading Love

And then Mike Reeves - Theology in Music

Weak is good, right?

The last six weeks has been a fresh journey in discovering my weakness (which I use as a catch all for everything from physical limitations to sin). Many voices have spoken into this ongoing journey - which isn't done yet by many miles.

A phrase I read several months ago has rung in my ears Manure grows extraordinary, tangible fruit. 

And then I read Francis Spufford's sweary book Unapologetic, which seems flawed in many ways but is so helpful against triteness. Railing against the atheist bus's callous "So enjoy yourself" he says we need better than that.

Enjoyment, he says, is great but it's not everything.
Enjoyment is great when you're young, fit and wealthy - but doesn't carry much weight when things go wrong.

Today, my in-laws are both in hospital. A 33 year old pastor who I met once died suddenly - which is clearly more of a struggle for those who knew him better but I'm 33 and its jarring when someone your own age dies. We spent a weekend…

#3 The Son and his Father (Luke 10:20-11:13)

We’ve seen Jesus announced as God’s bringer of forgiveness, and seen that he is God’s son – head of a new humanity to bring life to the world. He goes on to do just that.

Jesus says to tell John (Luke 7:22-23):
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Jesus then begins to talk about his necessary death and in 9v51 sets his face to Jerusalem. Everything between the end of chapter 9 and the middle of chapter 19 happens on the road to his death, before he arrives at Jerusalem.

As Jesus begins his journey to his death we begin to see what life will look like in his new human race. He is the perfect son, unlike Adam and Israel. What will it mean to be part of his new people? This passage will show us that if we receive mercy from Jesus, by…

Smug marrieds and true beauty

We've just had a marriage enrichment weekend with our church. It was brilliant in so many ways. Life should not all be marriage weekend's but it was a brief moment of grace that was much needed.

Along the way we came across this quote, from a well known American pastor:
"One of our culture's powerful lies - fuelled by pornography, sinful lust, and marketing - is that having a standard of beauty is in any way holy or helpful. God does not give us a standard of beauty - God gives us spouses. Unlike other standards of beauty, a spouse changes over time. This means if your spouse is tall, you are into tall. If your spouse is skinny, you are into skinny. If your spouse is twenty, you are into twenty. When your spouse is sixty, you are no longer into twenty, but rather into sixty. And if your spouse used to be skinny, you were into skinny, but now you are into formerly skinny. We are to pour all our passion and pursuit of sexual pleasure into our spouses alone, without comp…

#2 The Son is here (Luke 3:21-4:22)

In our first discussion we saw how God will bring forgiveness of sins through one who is born in Bethlehem (chapter 2), who grows up to be pointed to by Zechariah’s son John the Baptist. We rejoin the action at Jesus’ baptism by John.

The theme running through this passage is the question of Jesus identity. Luke records evidence that identifies Jesus as the Son of God. Luke cites the evidence of the Father’s testimony at Jesus’ baptism which echoes what’s said in Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1-2 expressing the Father’s delight in his Son. Bert de Clos rejoiced over his son Chad when he beat Michael Phelps in the Olympic swimming (video: Youtube saying: ““Unbelievable! Unbelievable! Unbelievable! Look at him, he’s beautiful, I love you!”

Jesus is being identified - and its happening at baptism. Everyone is trying to get clean and he comes to be numbered with the transgressors. His baptism tells us that he will die and rise in our place - inviting us to trust him as he…

#1 The Son will Bring Forgiveness (Luke 1:57-80)

Luke’s account begins by telling us that he’s presenting the evidence of what has happened and been fulfilled from the Old Testament. His thorough research has yielded this evidence which he shares with us in his gospel. The opening chapters concern the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, and through encounters with Angels and prophetic songs display the immense significance of what might otherwise look like very ordinary events in the history of the human race.

This is Luke’s emphasis. Jesus is the Son sent from his Father. One who in childhood was left behind, “in my Father’s house” (2v49). He came to invite us into his family. Jesus prays “Father” (10v21, 22v42, 24v34, 24v46) and invites us to do the same (11v2). Through his death He brings forgiveness of sins and so we’re invited to step inside his relationship with his Father.


Like his Son (1:15) and Mary (1:35) and his wife Elizabeth (1:41) Zechariah emerges from nine months of silence and is filled with…

Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own!


It's noisy.

The world fills us up with its messages. The advertising industry knows that it has to speak in the language of desire, it has to win our hearts, and it throws millions and millions of pounds at doing just that. Our sinful flesh, dead and yet still being carried around by us fights with the desires of the Holy Spirit and our new heart... and the accuser whispers in our ears. All of them seeking to seduce us away from our betrothal to Jesus and into spiritual adultery.

Offering us happiness better than we have.
Offering us a warmth we can't find where we are.

It happened in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
It happened in Corinth (2 Cor 11:1-4)
It happened to Israel (Exodus 34)
It happened in Eden (Genesis 3)

Sin isn't petty rule breaking. Sin is relational betrayal.

And just restraining ourselves doesn't work any more than the ropes and ear wax strategy employed by Odysseus to stave off the alluring Sirens…

Psalms: Don't miss the title

Psalms are a favourite book. Dip in anywhere, right? Or perhaps read it as a coherent book, a gospel book...  With a few pointers from good friends the Psalms have started to turn everything upside down for me.

Psalm 45 begins like this:
 "According to Lilies; A Maskil of the Sons of Korah; A love song."  It's easy to skip the title, but a while back I had my attention drawn to them and it's changed the way I read Psalms.
Lilies (shoshannim)- probably a reference to the tune, but a reminder that this is a song for Spring time. It's a song around the time of the festival of Passover. Salvation is in the air when you sing this song. Psalm 8 is "According to Gittith" - which means Winepress (big idea in the Bible!)A Maskil of the Sons of Korah. The Sons of Korah are singers best known as the Resurrection Men. Korah had been judged and taken down to the grave in the book of Numbers, but his family lives beyond death. Maskil, usually left untranslated with a f…

Video: Mike Reeves on Trinity

You can now get hold of our series of 9 short videos of Mike Reeves talking about Trinity through these three places...

Trinity Media Youtube channelVimeo on thebluefishTrinity Media vimeo channel We hope they'll serve you well as you enjoy entering into the life of God.

The Life of God

We're spending 20 weeks as a church in John 17. We're six weeks in and this is what we've got so far.

#1 Father (Stu Alred)
#2 The hours has come (Andy Arscott)
#3 God gives glory (Stu Alred)
#4The God who gives to give (Dave Bish)
#5 Eternal life (Dave Bish)
#6 Objects of his affection (Stu Alred)

We'll reach 10 by Christmas, and finish the series just before Easter.

Trinity isn't the easiest subject to approach.  You can begin with history, or vast theological concepts and many books on the subject do this. Trinity isn't PhD Christianity, it's Basic Christianity, it's Mere Christianity. Nothing more fundamental than to say Jesus is the Son of the Father, anointed by the Holy Spirit. And nothing is more profound and wonderful.

We've begun with a prayer and are slowly piecing together doctrine as we overhear the conversation of the Son with his Father. This is a softer way in and I think a fruitful approach. It wouldn't surprise me if several among us…

Video: #9 Trinity and John 17 (Mike Reeves)

If you want to enjoy the life of God, how would John 17 help? Mike Reeves explains:
Trinity and John 17 from Trinity Media on Vimeo.
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At Frontiers Church we're digging into the doctrine of Trinity by spending 20 weeks in John 17. It's a slow-burn way to get into the life of the Triune God. Turns out its not so complex and incomprehensible, this God loves to make himself known and to welcome us into his life.

MP3: What kind of God allows genocide?

Pete Dray speaks on this emotionally demanding title at Durham University:
mp3: What kind of God allows genocide?

The hardest questions shouldn't be avoided.

From orphans to heirs (Galatians 3:16,25-4:7)

I preached for my dear friends at Reading Family Church on Sunday. You can download the mp3 here: Trinity: From orphans to heirs (33mins)

We see that Jesus is The Heir of everything (Galatians 3:16) ...but by faith in Christ we get dressed up as Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit. We get Jesus - his status, his future, his relationship with the Father. Jesus gets everything, we get Jesus. 

Video: Visit us (What to expect at our church meetings)

Lots of people in our city don't come to church, and have never come to church, but they'd find themselves very welcome if they came along. To ease that we like to share in advance a little of the experience people can expect...

Find out more here: Frontiers Church Exeter
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Christian Unity: A luxury we can't afford?

I'm speaking at a Christian Union later this week on our value "we're passionate about unity".

I've heard it said: “Unity is a luxury we can’t afford” . i.e. Christians are such a minority that we need to forget about getting along and just get going in mission. Seems to me the opposite might be true when I hear Jesus speaking with his Father. Unity is a necessity we can't dismiss.

Unity vs. Mission isn't a choice Jesus gives us.

“Father... I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:20-21 ESV)

Jesus prayed for a unity that is: • Doctrinal • Relational • Missional

It's doctrinal - its a unity "just as" the Father and Son are united. Everything we do flows from our personal knowledge of God, as revealed in the Scriptures and exper…

Why God Loves Halloween

It's Halloween (or, Reformation Day) tomorrow.

Pete Dray wrote this for a 2011 event at Durham University. One of the most helpful reflections on Halloween I've seen... Why God loves Halloween. Read the whole thing, or just taste this extract "What has happened for centuries on All Saints’ Eve – or Halloween – is quite simple. God’s people act out a drama – a drama in which the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is seen for what it really is. What is the means by which the demonic realm is seen for what it is? In a word: mockery. 

According to the Bible, the devil’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. And so, to remind themselves of Satan and the evil realm’s ultimate defeat because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians ridicule them. In fact, this is why the Medieval custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. Nobody thought that the devil really looked like this; indeed, the Bible teaches that he is a…

Video: A message from Becky Pippert to Exeter

On the weekend of 30 November - 2 December Becky Pippert author of Out of the Saltshaker will be in Exeter. Don't miss out on the opportunity to benefit from her training. Saturday 1st December - Saltshaker day conference is open to all - cost £15 including lunch.

More information here:

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Leaders who form a culture of grace and change

In the last few weeks Jesus has been teaching me about being weak. I'm freshly reminded that I'm in the middle of my sanctification not at the end of it, and as an unfinished person I'm not strong - despite my own deep sense of self importance.

I felt that afresh preaching on Sunday - probably the second illest I've been when preaching. For the second time in two months I was the fourth victim of the family cold - there's only so long you can spend in the company of illness before you get ill too! I have to ask myself did I fall ill because I've been burning the candle at both ends but I think the honest answer isn't that on this occasion. The weakness of my voice yesterday and its absence this morning is a helpful reminder of my lack of strength in myself and that Christ who became weak for me is my strength.
"Self-disclosure from church leadership is a wonderful thing that can be done to inculcate a culture of grace and change."--Lane #ccefcon

Video: #3 The Heart-Winning Trinity (Mike Reeves)

Knowing the God who Christ makes known changes us right to the heart, as Mike Reeves shows here. With Trinity we don't have a single person god who is alone. With Trinity we have a God who is inherently relational - a Father loving his Son forever. So, forever God is love. Here is a God who knows how to love...

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Video: #2 Trinity and our good news (Mike Reeves)

In my early days as a Christian I was told Trinity was the thing you don't want to talk about when sharing what you believe with others people. The advice was well meaning but deeply disturbing. Without Trinity isn't god just God is Ruler and We've broken the rules... with Trinity things aren't like that...

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If Darius had written Galatians...

I'm enjoying The Gospel According to Ezra at the moment with the CU Staff team, working through the the book of Ezra month by month. I've been struck by a refreshing resonance... hardly a surprise since all Scripture sings the same song.

Paul wrote:

Galatians 1:8-9 "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."

Which from the mouth of the soundly converted King Darius would surely be phrased....

Also I make a decree that if anyone alters this edict, a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled on it, and his house shall be made a dunghill. May the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who shall put out a hand to alter this, or to destroy this house of God that is in Jerusalem...”(Ezra 6:11-12 E…

Becky Pippert - Coming to Exeter

Saltshaker Exeter from Dave Bish on Vimeo.

Becky Pippert is a bestselling author of Out of the Saltshaker, accomplished speaker but above all she's a Christian who has given her life to sharing Christ with those around her and equipping the church to love people, to open the Bible with those who don't yet follow Christ and see Jesus walk off the pages of the Bible into our lives. She's an evangelist. And she's spending a couple of years in the UK to equip University Christian Unions and the wider church. This term she's touring round the UK and this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear her speak in the South West.

If you live in the South West book online at Saltshaker Exeter is for students and is for those who aren't students. While it'll have the feel of training Christians it'll be accessible to those who don't know Jesus --- Becky will be speaking about Jesus.

Transformission 2012: Adopted

Today we gathered in Exeter for our sixth Transformission day conference. The aim is simple - look to Christ. It's my privilege to host the day.

Our theme for the day - adoption into the family of God, with Mike Reeves, Glen Scrivener, Peter Mead and Dan Hames speaking, a veritable band of Christ pursuing brothers.
Main Session 1 - Mike Reeves - 43minsMain Session 2 - Mike Reeves - 45minsPeter Mead workshop: Adoption and the Bible - 94minsDan Hames workshop: Adoption and church history - 67minsGlen Scrivener workshop: Adoption and Evangelism - 75minsWatch this space for some extra media from the day. 
You have no idea how worth-the-wait it'll be...

We're thanking God for all those who came - we would've enjoyed Christ without you but it was great to have you there! Thanks for the UCCF South West staff and Relay who did all the behind the scenes work. Thanks for Mike, Peter and Glen for preaching Christ - and Dan who did that and led worship in our main sessions. Thanks fo…

Where the battle for Unity rages

My work with the UCCF is founded on the prayer of Jesus that we should have the same kind of unity that He and his Father enjoy. A mutual indwelling, rooted in the life of the Father and the Son - a unity of in the Holy Spirit.

You can describe this unity doctrinally - but it's meaningless if it's just a formal unity. It needs to be experienced relationally. I've been reflecting on the way I fail to do this. I'm probably known as someone who unites of people - I love to introduce people to one another. Yet so many times I screw it up.

As a wise friend has said: "some of us are prone to be broader than the gospel when it comes to unity and some to be narrower."  I'm sure I do both....

I know I've definitely been overly narrow... which given how dodgy some people probably think I am would almost be amusing if it wasn't so painful and sinful. Truth is, I've approached others with suspicion and defensiveness rather than with generosity and joy.

Creationism Conspiracy?

Andrew Maxwell gathers some companions to take them on a Conspiracy Road Trip to crack the nuts. In the first episodes he attempts to persuade his travellers that 7/7 happened. In episode two he turns to Creationists.

Watch at BBC iPlayer until 22nd October.

I'm intrigued on a number of levels - not least that holding to a young earth view of the world is in the category of crazy conspiracy theorists! Gulp...

I don't want to be harsh on the believers, who knows how much or how little they've been edited to tell a story... but the Creationists don't exactly come across well.

Some of them keep quiet and some are definitely stronger than others - I was most impressed with Sam, who I've subsequently discovered is a CU Leader. Phew! Perhaps they've submitted themselves to something of a fools errand and some seem not to be particularly well equipped for the challenge. Why no one suggests (in the clip we're shown) that whales wouldn't have been in the ark beca…

The God who Gives to Give

I preached today for our church on John 17:2 in which we see that the Father gives authority to his Son, and the Father gives people to his Son, and then the Son gives Eternal Life to people.

MP3: The Life of God #4 - The God who Gives to Give - John 17:2 (30mins)

A Christian who doesn't look weak is faking it. Last week we recognised a new church elder and in being introduced to the church he shared that he struggles with anxiety. Jesus says, don't worry because your Father in heaven cares for you. But this leader struggles with Anxiety.

A Christian who doesn't look weak is faking it. I don't struggle there. I struggle with friendliness, relational sin. I don't make a good friend impression though I warm up in the end. I struggle to be interested in others.

This is because of our sin, this is because of the gods we worship. And we become like what we worship.

Everyone worships - not everyone calls what they worship "god" but we all give our hearts to some…