Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” Matthew 13v44, The Bible.
1pm. Sat on the steps at All Souls in London sipping a Mocha in the company of two friends. The conversation is very surreal and the northern one is taking a kicking from an old aquaintance whose briefly back from the US. Earlier I'd arrived punctually at Kings Cross only to find his train getting progressively later as time passed. Such can be our rail system though it served me well today - except at Edgware Road where our train decided to stop for 8 minutes. Like robots under the station announcers control everyone stands and disembarks to board the incoming train on the next platform. Back at Paddington the chocolate machine was sold out of everything. The delay at Kings Cross causes me to spend 52p on a bar I'd tried to get for 50p earlier in the journey.
From All Souls we depart to Brick Lane for lunch and more surreality and a touch of seriousness. I don't quite recall how we got there, except that I don't think we walked the whole way - which is what normally …
I was always an avid reader as a child, I read books like I breathed air. I think I was nine when I read Lord of the Rings, and ten when I read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Books always facinated me. Bookshelves still form an integral part of the furniture of our house and they're overflowing with all sorts of books.
Somewhere along the line - I think maybe when I was 16-18 and I dropped Arts subjects for Sciences at A-Level (why did I do that??) - I stopped reading fiction. I've returned in fits and starts since then but this year I think I've managed to get back into the habit again and discovered a whole load of new titles that have captured my imagination and taken me into their world.
I've really enjoyed Five People you meet in Heaven, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, To kill a mockingbird, Life of Pi and Eleanor Rigby over the last few months. Today on the bus I finished Ian McEwan's Enduring Love which is really good. The film of it is out …
"Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charisties of this life... all these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.." David Livingstone, Dec 4th, 1857 (quoted in Desiring God: John Piper, p243)
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose" Jim Elliot, Martyred, Jan 8th 1956 (quoted in Desiring God: John Piper, p251)
Reading these quotes again today captured much of the challenges of the Reading houseparty to me. Once again I find myself pierced by the famous words of C.S. Lewis that expose what so often holds me back:
"It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is me…
Had a nice restful day today, much needed after a hectic fortnight!
These final two talks from the Reading CU houseparty were aimed to be a gentle encouragement and envisioning time about the work of missions for the joy of the peoples of the world in the glory of God's rule. As it turned out Michael Ramsden's material the day before really laid the foundations for this which is a real work of God's sovereign grace in the situation.
Home from Reading CU's houseparty. What a fantastic weekend! Digging into the heart of the gospel, into Christian Hedonism and the greatest treasure of all that is found in Christ. Michael Ramsden spoke fantastically on Saturday and got everyone looking forward to him speaking at the CU's carol service and mission.
I spoke this morning, twice on God's Global Eden Project. This seemed to follow on well from Saturday which was good! Really trying to ground what we'd seen of God's glory and the joy found in him as we looked at Psalm 67 and Matthew 8-9. I edited my notes a bit over the weekend so I'll hold back uploading them til I've added in some of the changes.
I'm well excited from seeing what God has been doing in the CU this weekend and also having to chew over some stuff myself. Just great to have my vision of Christ lifted again and to be reminded of the sheer pleasure that is found in him alone.
BeginningWithMoses.org is a web project begun just over two years ago, through a wierd sequence of events which I might recount another time I ended up as the webmaster of the project. Basically it's a tool and resource to help ordinary people like you and me study the Bible, and to help preachers preach it better. We gather together the best articles and book reviews and commission briefing papers. The briefings are sermon texts with comments edited back in. Comments that explain why the preacher said what he said, and didn't say other things. Comments that explain the difference it makes to put the passage in the context of the whole Bible (what we call "Biblical Theology") as well as flagging up some of the common mis-interpretations of the passage. It's updated every month with new material so why not take a look!
Seriously, I do. Last night, after several months chewing it over, was my talk on Church at Reading CU. Strangely this is just the third of about 10 talks in two weeks which has the danger of me feeling lost in the middle of endless amazing opportunities to teach the Word of God to people. Anyhows, I think it went well I just hope I did justice to the material.
The next major project is two talks, again for Reading, on "God's Global Eden Project" from Psalm 67 and Matthew 8-9. This kind of develops the church theme further and explores God's purposes to gather people into his presence for his glory and our gladness.
And in the meantime just the small matter of a talk on Colossians 1 for Surrey CU. Last night, whilst I stood up to preach in Reading, Surrey held their first grill-a-christian event. Reports from Guildford suggest it was a good night with about a third of those present non-Christians. And …
Spent last night in Egham. A new experience. I was invited to give a talk to a new CU at Royal Holloway University. A great opportunity to speak to a gathering of about a dozen students, committed to mission on campus. Our passage for the evening was John 9 - Blind Man Sees! And he does. I was rejuvinated as I prepared, seeing the way in which Jesus comes both to illuminate the darkness and yet to blind people at the same time.
Evil and Virtue are defined in the narrative of John 9, and they have their focus on what you do with Jesus. Recieve or reject? Love or Hate?
Here are a few of my conclusions...
1) As you confess Christ in corridor, course and clubs, some will come and confess Christ like you do. Some will encounter the greatest of all joys in life. Seeing the only Saviour! Seeing the Light of the world who died to save them. Some will do that.
2) But others will become more and more hardened as you confess Christ before them. The simpler you put it the harder they will get. T…
In the last couple of weeks I've discovered the work of Joshua Harris and CJ Mahaney from Covenant Life Church in Maryland USA. Both write with a solid commitment to scripture and above all to the centrality of the cross of Christ.
CJ quotes David Prior's BST Commentary on 1 Corinthians as a favourite quote...
"We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross"
(Quoted in CJ Mahaney The Cross Centred Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing and Christ our Mediator: finding passion at the cross)
Both have written short accesible books which open up the old truths so clearly. CJs books are all about being Cross-Centred which the students I work with will tell you is one of my passions... always banging on about the gospel!
Harris' has written on my other passion - the church. I'm preparing to speak to Reading CU on the topic of Church in just over a week which I'm really looking forward to. As I've studied Ephesians 2v11-…