Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2015

Water for coffee

I love Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood's work. His coffee shop Colonna & Smalls in Bath is my favourite place to spend a morning with a cup of coffee made by his team and a good book. Sadly, I rarely have the opportunity to do this though that just increases its specialness.... Maxwell's related Coffee/Craft Beer house in Bath, Colonna & Hunter, is also great.

This is a world made beyond necessity with gratuity. Food could just deliver nutrients but it tastes! Maxwell's book Water for Coffee is coming soon and is the fruit of study into the way treatment of water has a bearing on the taste of coffee. I love that sort of attentiveness to the minutiae of life.

If you wanted to be really nice you could buy me a copy...  hopefully someday when the nappy bill falls I'll be able to afford the £26.99 price tag. Nothing that's worth having is cheap...

Water for coffee.
A taste here:

Beyond Necessity 3: The Hour - what's free costs


When Jesus’ mother says: “the wine has run out” (v4)

Jesus, before he acts says to her: “it is not my hour” (v4) Which as it turns out doesn’t stop him from doing something… but is a hint that there’s something more going on.

 Everything Jesus does here is a trailer, a picture, a foretaste of something more. When he says “it’s not my hour” he’s saying this is not my wedding, so this isn’t my responsibility. But, one day it will be. One day it will be his time not just to save the bridegroom of Cana from humiliation and to provide for his guests.

One day will be his wedding day and he will provide richly for all who are there. But, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to buy the bread. Someone pays.

When The Times newspaper took its website behind a paywall the readership of the site fell but they proved that people are prepared to pay – less people paying something was more effective than lots of people paying nothing for content that …

Silent Witness (Michael Ward)

Michael Ward's insights on The Horse and His Boy

Beyond Necessity 2: The Wine


Jesus’ mother says: “The wine has run out”

What happens next?

I. Jesus could do nothing. 
That would be socially acceptable and reasonable. It’s not the guests responsibility to act. Jesus goes beyond necessity and responds. Jesus could say: oh good. Now these people can stop being so happy. The term puritan describes 15th Century Christian believers. It’s been said “puritanism” is the fear that someone somewhere is happy. The characterisation is unfair but Christians can be a lifeless crowd at times. At the Uni bar with Christian students all too often they’ve all ordered water or a coke when the place serves beer.

 II. Jesus, in providing wine, could just make cheap wine. 
 That would be expected. The party is old and no one will notice if the booze isn’t very good. But he goes beyond necessity and makes fine wine, good wine. I was asked to speak on campus at a lunchtime lecture on how Jesus brings fullness of life while we were offered sandwiches m…

For this is what it means to be a king

King Lune at the end of The Horse and His Boy articulates leadership:
“For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.” (King Lune) First in. Last out. And in the bad years wearing your fine clothes to laugh louder at the little you have.

I love how Lewis voices the third of these through Lune. It strikes me as an easily missing component. The leader doesn't say - these are hard times so let me protect my plate, he doesn't say let me not worry that other lack as I feed myself. The true leader experiences the lack.

And the leader embraces a joviality with the circumstance rather than a misery. Kings know how to feast when there is plenty and they know how to feast when there is lack. They're thankful. They have joy. They are wholehearted. They'r…

Beyond Necessity 1: A window into the heart


For some the hero is Napoleon or Churchill, or a sporting superstar. I find myself inspired by the story of Steve Jobs. I love the combination of passion for beauty combined with high level engineering that Jobs' Apple represent. And perhaps he's just the genius who could make it happen but I'm intruiged.

When Jobs died Walter Isaacson's biography was published. How do you turn an enormous book into a film? That's the job of The West Wing and The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin. Up there on my list of inspirational people too for the Walk and Talk scenes and characters in The West Wing.

Sorkins approach has been to build his film around the launch moments. Get a window into the man by catching his mindset and his heart around those high pressure moments. I can't wait for the film.

What about a window in to the heart of Jesus?

I know that Jesus provides. His Father in heaven clothes the flowers and counts the hairs on my he…

"A God who adopts us rather than a religion we adopt"

I was told that Trinity is the obscure and difficult bit of the Christian faith. Rather embarrassing because we can't really understand it. I was told: don't read John's gospel with your Muslim friend because that puts Trinity centre stage.

That'd be news to Mark (Matthew and Luke too), as Mark begins by declaring that it is good news that Jesus is the Christ (anointed by the Father with the Spirit) and the Son of God (Son of the Father).
Trinity is Theology 101. You can't even name Jesus without it. It's good news that The Father anoints his Son with the Spirit (Mark 1:1) — Dave Bish (@davebish) July 18, 2015 And it's not long before Mark is showing us the Father's delight and love for his Son, conveyed by the Spirit at his baptism. And the Spirit is seen driving Jesus into testing - a foretaste of his suffering - before he announces the nearness of the kingdom of the Triune God.

There's a Western fear of Trinity. One of the classic Systematic T…

To live like a Narnian

Picture: A wooden cabin equipped with a few pieces of furniture, where it is raining inside.

“Not only is it rather delightful to walk around the hut, hearing and watching the water drench the small interior, but such a simple manipulation of reality proves much more powerful in confronting the established understanding of interiority. Turning what we know on its head forces us to interact with our imagination. We tend to think the threats come from outside and shelter is inside. But can we see differently? Will we let our preconceptions be challenged?” (via Inside Paris' giant sticky tape tunnel - The Architectural Review)

In Lewis' Silver Chair the dour marshwiggle Puddleglum fights the Witch's enchantment
“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this pit of a …

Anguish and Outstretched Arms: God's purpose of election (Romans 9-10)

Similar but more detailed reflections on this subject: PDF Download - How should I think and feel about friends and family who don't believe in Jesus? One of the dilemmas of Christian faith is that it makes massive claims about eternity. Believe in Jesus and you have life with the good God forever. But, evidently not everyone believes. What do you do with that?

In Romans 9-10 Paul teaches about "God's purpose of election" (9v11). A deeply loaded term but let the context define it. It's a hard passage written as a Q&A with some surprising answers.

Paul wrestles with hard questions - could he give up Christ so his family could have Christ? No, but catch the depth of his heart. He writes with anguish and tears - he's cut deep by his questions.

The original manuscript of Romans 9, if we had it, would be tear-stained.

Election takes knowing God and says it's not about who you're related to, whether you have the advantages of a birthright, good deeds, …

"None of these is without difficulty"

Last Sunday I preached from 1 Peter 3, on 'An Understated Journey'.
(Download the mp3 here: An Understated Journey - 1 Peter 3:13-22)

Most of which is deeply challenging but fairly straight forward to understand, except that it includes this:
“…he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah…”  I mentioned this to a friend who is doing a PhD on Peter’s letter. The conversation went something like this:
I said: I’m speaking on this passage. 
He said: That’s the most difficult verse in the New Testament of the Bible. I said: agh! help?!
He said: I’ll listen to the podcast… 
I said: Thanks. Gulp.  There are two kinds of difficult verses in the Bible…
1. Difficult to understand – like this verse. There are a small number of these.
2. Difficult to live – like “love your enemies.” There are more of these and they’re much more weight-bearing.  Time to think hard!

Peter is describing part of a journ…