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Showing posts from March, 2014

Find me in the city

In the beginning, the creator paints in the broadest of brushstrokes.
The sky and the land, the land and the sea.
Cutting through the formlessless to give it form.
With the technology of language 'let there be light'.
The creator creates sub-creators who live in each of these.
Filling up what was empty with the possibility of fulness.
The birds of the sky, fish in the sea.
Animals and Homo Faber on the land.
To each he says - multiply and be fruitful.
First the Creator, then the sub-creators.
Make more of you like you.It is good but not finished.
Good but incomplete.
And to humanity last of all he says - have dominion.
It is very good but not finished.
Very good but incomplete.
Add the detail. 
Wield language and name animals.
Duckbilled platypus, a pig and a cow.
Take up tools and work the land.
Sub-create form and fulness, make a garden for praise.
A fracture, a scar, a cut in what's good.
Now, cultivate the wilderness of the land into habitats for life.
Garments …

Less policy; more gospel theology

People who follow Jesus differ. Maintaining unity isn't easy. How do you do it? We need something better than requiring conformity.

In Romans 14, Paul identifies one cause of difference as being due to the strength/weakness of faith. He anticipates in Rome's church that people will look at the cleanness of food and the specialness of certain days differently. All food is clean and all days are holy for someone who follows Jesus, but some have weaker faith and don't embrace that freedom.

Principle 1. Welcome as God welcomed you (neither the weak or the strong in faith should judge the conservatism or liberty of the other).
Paul addresses how they welcome one another - 14:1-3. Knowing God's welcome of someone else (and yourself) defines your welcome of others. A strong faith appreciates God's welcome deeply, and is surely exponentially welcoming.


Principle 2. God cares about the heart more than its actions (tick box pastoral care isn't the gospel way).
We can want…

No God in the Old Testament unlike Jesus

Luke is a meticulous historian, gathering up eyewitness evidence about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But he's also a stellar theologian, interpreting the eyewitness testimony he records in light of the writings of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms to show the necessity of the death, resurrection and subsequent global proclamation about the Christ.

Luke says: this Jesus who was eyewitnessed is that Christ of the Scriptures.

Luke reports that Jesus' coming will bring forgiveness of sins like the sun rising for a new day (Luke 1). As Jesus dies Luke tells that the sun's light failed. Yet at dawn on the third day the Son comes, telling his witnesses that forgiveness is to be heralded to all people groups. No imperialistic imposition, but warm beams of divine love shining out from the risen Son.

Mike Reeves has said "there is no God in heaven who is unlike Jesus" and Luke would agree wholeheartedly. The Son reveals his Father whom only he knows.

But, Lu…

Jesus enjoyed wine. Jesus had blisters.

I love this short video from Tanya Marlow


On Sunday I was reflecting on the resurrection appearance of Jesus with his friends in Jerusalem. I appears and they are doubting and troubled, though they become joyful and marvel. They assume he's a spirit but Jesus' kind of spirituality isn't 'spiritual' -- it's embodied, physical. Unlike Plato, unlike Mani, unlike so many of today's secular religion that struggle with bodies and food and sex and death, the follower of Jesus finds one who validates and values all of these things. And amazingly, there is now a physical human body in the life of the Triune God... and one day, he'll be back here on this planet, walking with his followers... and the frustration will be over, the blisters will heal and the wine will be better than ever.

Can we talk about talking about Jesus without sounding sinister?

On Sunday I spoke for our church on Evangelism. Usually talks on evangelism aren't presented in evangelistic contexts, but our church is exactly that. We operate on the assumption that we're not just gathering followers of Jesus but all kinds of different people. 
For me it felt like the latest in a long line of real-life exercises contextualisation, trying to embody the good news of Jesus so it can be heard by our city. It was hard work but I really do think its possible to talk about pretty much anything to do with the good news of Jesus with anyone - you just need to think hard about your tone and your language and your heart.
The follower of Jesus doesn't exist in a bubble away from everyone else in this world. But if we live like we have our own sub-culture we'll start to use language (which reflects attitudes) that is at best rude, and at worst at odds with the very good news we believe.
Terms like "Non-Christian" are major red-flags, for example. Con…

He was known to them in the breaking of the bread

On Sunday we considered Hearing God Speak through Communion. I was personally refreshed to consider this again and then to take and receive the bread and wine - physical proclamation of the good news of Jesus. We saw, from Luke 24:35 - "how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread."

Leithart puts it this way in a sermon on Luke 24:
"But Word by itself is not enough. Even after Jesus has explained everything about Himself in the Scriptures, the two disciples still don’t recognize Him. That occurs only when He breaks bread with them It is the same for the church throughout the ages: The Word without the Bread is merely intellectual, detached from the things of real life; the Bread without the Word turns into a magic act. When the Scriptures are taught and the Bread is broken, then Jesus can be known." Elsewhere he also notes from the structure of Luke 24:
"the point of the structure is to highlight the mission that the disciples are being given. Throu…

#WGUK14 Here is love (Matt Giles version)

Matt Giles has added some extra verses to a well known hymn and taught them on Friday evening at the Worship God UK conference.

Here is love vast as the ocean
Loving kindness as the flood
When the Prince of life our random
Shed for us his precious blood

Who is love cannot remember
Who can cease to song his praise
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heaven's eternal days

Here is love, that conquered evil
Christ the firstborn from the grave
Death has failed to be found equal
To the life of him who saves


In the valley of our darkness
Dawned his everlasting light
Perfect love in glorious radiance
Has repelled death's hellish night


Here is love vast as the heavens;
Countless as the stars above
Are the souls that He has ransomed,
Precious daughters, treasured sons

We are called to feast forever
On a love beyond our time
Glorious Father, Son and Spirit
Now with man are intertwined

The resurrection has NOT already happened!

There are people in the church who say "the resurrection has already happened." They may not use the phrase but the idea is gangrene. It is deathly. It is setting up a snare for people. It is the stuff of shipwrecked faith. It cuts off the blood flow and leaves parts of you dead. Dangerous stuff.

But, really? So says Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 2).

Now, be clear. In the same chapter he says that Jesus is "risen from the dead." That resurrection has already happened. Our champion has his victory! But there is another resurrection to come.

The Christian life is union with Christ.
It is "if we have died with him, we will also live with him."
Repeated in parallel: "if we endure, we will also reign with him."
Death and resurrection. The cross and the crown.

But where are we today?

Some want to say we're in resurrection and reigning now.  I'd like that.

And in some senses we are. It's absolutely certain. As sure as Jesus' resurrectio…

God's engineers and toilet cleaners: thinking about technology

I've been pondering the effects of technology on life, particularly through the lens of Christian life, ahead of a seminar on the subject at a conference later in the Spring. Some early sketches.

Many Christians measure their spiritual health by their personal bible reading. Yet, for 1500 years until the invention of the printing press that wasn't really possible for the vast majority of believers. They accessed the Bible, some times in their own language, as it was taught publicly, but wouldn't have imagined personally reading its pages.

Gutenberg's printing press changed your spirituality, though it made possible Popish indulgences that so provoked Luther. Technology changes your world. Technology, good, bad, neutral...

Christian conferences are also the fruit of technology that enables large residential and meeting facilities to be built and rapid transport to get people there, not to mention the technology that spreads word.Technology, good, bad, neutral...

Or thi…