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Showing posts from 2011

Limping over the line

In 1992 Derek Redmond pulled up in the Olympic Semi-Finals of the 400m, eventually carried over the line by his father. It's one of the most iconic sporting moments, not of joy but of anguish. A million miles from a Usain Bolt decelerating to a 100m world record, for example. Which is more glorious?

As 2011 comes to its close I feel myself limping over the line. By the grace of God I'm alive. I'm welcome in the family of the Triune God.

I'm still doing a job I love and I've received some brilliant support and training in the last year which has increased both my knowledge of God and of myself.  I've has the privilege of working as a Bible teacher and Evangelist in a wide range of contexts, opportunities I feel very thankful to have received. I'm probably playing to my strengths more than before, because I feel like I know what some of them might be now. And at home, we've received the gift of a second son and seen our first son turn into a full-blown to…

Praise be to Woody Allen Zombie Jesus

Tim Minchin wrote a song for Jonathan Ross's Christmas show about Jesus. And the ITV bigwigs cut it. That's the story. The assumption being that the song is considered to be offensive, presumably to people like... who knows really. What's true can handle a little satire. You can't watch it on ITV but it's on Youtube (see below).

Minchin likens Jesus to Woody Allen, Derren Brown, a Zombie, Superman and other stories and references in our culture.The story of Jesus is very like all our stories. Stories that speak of the need for a Saviour, even a suffering Saviour, that recognise we can't save ourselves.

None of them as audacious as the story of Jesus, of a Triune God, one who is self-giving love, who comes enters into our flesh to put it death and create a whole new humanity who will be filled up with God and who will fill up God with his people.

Some will say Christianity is just a derivative story among many stories, but perhaps it is the original story - and…

Podcasting is not Pastoring

There is more to pastoral leadership than a podcast. This is my own reflection on Trevin Wax's thoughts

In recent weeks my pastor has been able to observe a behaviour in my life and offer quite specific correction and instruction, he's been able to deliver me specific and detailed encouragement about my own service of the church, he's preached God's word for me to hear as I've sat with the rest of the church at our church weekend away. He's prayed and prophesied and strengthened our faith.

He has prayed for me, and my family during a difficult week - which I know because he told me. He's probably also prayed for me and not told me about that.

I've sat with him and other young men as he's shared his dreams and ideas and taken feedback. I've taken a train journey with him. We've talked and prayed and eaten around the same table.We learned together in the on-the-job training course we're doing. I've observed him with his wife and his …

All that I have I share with you!

We enjoyed witnessing the beginning of the marriage of Harri and Chris on Saturday, it was great to share their wedding day with them. Our friend Mike led the service, his rich and booming voice relishing the opportunity to have Christ proclaimed through the vows and commitments of a wedding.

It was particularly poignant to be reminded that when a couple make their vows to one another its like the commitment Christ makes with his church, it's like when someone becomes a Christian - to take all that is ours, and give us all that he is. And you can bet he makes that vow with even more joy than a couple of their wedding. Not to mention that the proclamation that no man put this union asunder is another way of saying, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

That we can be wed to our Saviour is unspeakably beautiful, to enter into such a union as to make us one with our Saviour, and to know that union leads to a very real and experiential communion with him. Vivid remi…

Christmas: Always Scrooge and Never Kirstie?

I love our church. I love the opportunity to be with God's people who are our family, and when we gather (and when we're scattered) to find ways to serve one another in drawing near to Christ. It was my privilege to serve our church by preaching.
My text was Genesis 3:15 asking What's Christmas About? You can listen here:
Download mp3 - "Always Scrooge and Never Kirstie" (30mins)(low quality recording taken on my phone on the lectern behind me - hopefuly the church website will have a better version soon)


I attempted to dig into some of the common views of Christmas, where there is much to affirm and console, and also to explore how those resonate and point towards the hope of The Promised Son.
Beginning with Scrooge's misery - which is both justified and overly morbid, we see there really is war and evil in the world, and yet we long for hope of victory - why is that?Considering the festivities offered by a Kirstie's Handmade Christmas we saw that it'…

Everyday Church MP3s (Steve Timmis)

As a gospel principle my desire is not to hold on tight to God's gracious gifts, but to share them as widely as I can.
I think Marcus Honeysett taught me that.
When I managed to persuade Steve Timmis to to spend 48 hours with the UCCF South West team that meant looking for ways to open our doors.

Steve spent four sessions (including Q&A) with us as a team along with a number of guests. Additionally we were able to open our doors for an evening event for the Exeter CU and other members of local churches, and a breakfast for local church leaders. We recorded the sessions and I'm posting them here for your encouragement - find yourself over 8.5 hours to listen in. I'm deeply challenged and looking forward to implementing ideas that flow from Steve's rich Ecclesiocentric gospel theology.

Monday
Session 1 (80mins)
Session 2 (84mins)
Tuesday
Session 3 (90mins)
Everyday Church Evening Talk (53mins)
Everyday Church Evening Q&A (30mins)
Wednesday
Church Leaders Breakfast - Tal…

Hugo: If you ever wonder where your dreams come from

Yesterday I took my wife to see Hugo 3D. I can't remember what the last film we saw at the cinema was, possibly Inception more than a year ago. Hugo is a wonderful fantastical story set in a Paris station in the 1930s. It's about machines and dreams, about finding purpose.

Hugo says: "I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason."

Which might all sound a little mechanisic and predestinary but really its about imagination and knowing you have a part of play in the world, however seemingly small. It's a Martin Scorsese film about film and the way the big screen unleashes the imagination. It's about adventures and about love. Dashed and recovered dreams and  boys who live in the walls of stations.

Based on the book The Invention of…

Think: Did Humanity fall on Day 6?

A month ago I received some excellent training on Genesis 1-11 that helped us understand different view points and engage with different questions that people might have. Our speaker was aimed to make us agnostic about these chapters, or at least to not make any particular reading a necessary thing for someone to be a Christian.

Some approaches major on fitting the text with scientific approaches, others lean more to a literary approach to the text with less concern for fit with science.There are choices to make. Sometimes not much is at stake... sometimes a lot is at stake.

What follows is an argument I heard from a theology student last week, from the more literary approach to the text, approaching the question of when the fall of man happened.
The events of Genesis 2 occur in "the day" that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens (Gen 2:4). You could say thats some period of time, but what if a day is just a day. And if finished means completed then we can speak of…

The Old Testament is Christian Scripture

I've found myself in a few conversations recently about how to read the Old Testament. This is a passion of mine.In 2002 I became one of the founding editors of BeginningWithMoses.org which is designed to equip people to get into the Old Testament as Christian Scripture.

Seems to me there are six common approaches to the Old Testament. Three mistaken approaches are surely...

1. The god of the OT is a primative brute.
2. The OT teaches children to be moral, or at least some of it does.
3. The OT teaches a Messiah who isn't Jesus of Nazareth. (like the Pharisees did)

Better are these three, and FWIW I don't think these are necessarily alternatives to one another.

1. The OT teaches a Messiah will come. Revealed through the story of God's people in God's place under God's rule (Graeme Goldworthy's approach), the end point of these lines is Jesus.
2. The OT gives some examples for believers to learn from.
3. The OT shows us the Triune God. Father, Son and Holy S…

The story that all humans know in their bones they want to hear

"Being a Christian means living from within a particular story,. It is the subversive story of God and the world, focussed on Israel and thence on the Messiah, and reaching its climax in the Messiah's death and resurrection.

No Christian can ever tell this story too frequently, or know it too well, because it is the story that has shaped him or her in baptism and that must continue to shape thought, life and prayer thereafter... the exodus sttory, which stands behind so much of [Romans 6] remains decisive... Just as Jewish people discovered in the exodus story the character of their rescuing God, so the covenant faithfulness of this same God has been fully unveiled in the paschal events of Golgotha and Easter.

Learning about the Christian life and learning about the God revealed in Jesus Christ are two sides of the coin... the exodus story offers itself as the true story of the human race, and the Christian retelling of this story in terms of the death and resurrection of Je…

MP3: Noteless Preaching

Since August I've been trying to preach without notes, although I've bottled it a couple of times and reverted to a short outline that I've reached to from my back pocket.

On Sunday morning and evening I held my nerve as I preached from Acts 2:33 on Jesus Ascended for my good friends at Reading Family Church. You can listen to the morning mp3 here: RFC Resources. I think the evening one was slightly better and a few minutes longer than the 30min first run.

The whole experience of going noteless has huge advantages - no lectern, no notes to look at, no need to break your eye-contact with people, no formality of words... and everything seems to flow better. The cost is sometimes a little lack of precision in language, though not much if you work at it and continue to love language and reading as I do, because really the cost is in much more preparation time, internalising the message and believing it... which is no bad thing! It means that what I preach isn't the transf…

By his wounds we are healed

Last Tuesday Anna Mason preached at Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union from Isaiah 53. She showed this video before helping us to see the new life and sonship we have because of the cross:

Why God Loves Halloween

Pete Dray has some cracking thoughts to give a different angle on Halloween. And fwiw I think this is exactly the kind of event CUs should be putting on at this time of year. Read 3 parts - Pete Dray: Why God Loves Halloween
"So why did celebration of All Hallows’ Day and All Hallows’ Eve emerge? What did they originally mean? In short, they were a celebration of the victory of those who trust in Jesus over the devil and over all evil..... 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 …

Thank God for The Law!

My boys are the 22nd generation of Bish's in Britain according to a distant relative who did some genealogy research about 20 years ago. That this rare name has been carried onwards for that long is cool to a geek like me... developing as it has from 'de la Bysse' to 'Bysshe' to 'Bish'.

As the New Testament opens we find that Jesus is the culmination of an 1800 year genealogy from Abraham via David and the exile. It's remarkable that this has happened and is traceable.

The Bible is a relentless search for The Seed (Gen 3:15) and so genealogies are mines in which to search for the gold of the gospel.... in which to search for The Christ.

What's The Law got to do with all of this? God made a promise and then 430 years later gave The Law. Later additions don't cancel or modifying the terms of a promise so why give the law?

For 430 years Abraham's family have been a family, a small family in Canaan who grew to a large nation contained in Goshen…

Isn't the Bible's god violent and evil?

Here's the tension. Jesus shows us the phenomenal love of the Triune God, the loving face and heart of his Father, annointed with the love-bringing Holy Spirit. And that's sweet.

But, doesn't the same Bible that shows us this God also reveal and angry and nasty god who told his people to commit genocide so they could acquire the land of Canaan for themselves...?

The Bible's claim is that God is a Trinity of love, revealed by Jesus - from beginning to end. It knows no sense of disunity between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. One Bible, one God. No half-time reinvention. No plan B.

When the Bible itself evaluates what we see of God it doesn't say - the OT god is nasty and the NT god is nice. It says, the OT shows the Triune God looking excessively patient, forgiving beyond the bounds of reasonable love. And it's not til the cross of Jesus happens that we have the event that helps us see that abundance of love was truly legitimate.

See for yourself.

This year we're inviting students to invite other students to see for themselves who Jesus is, to uncover the evidence about him in Luke's gospel. Will you join us?
Evangelist Becky Pippert spoke at our national leaders conference to launch this initiative and she has written the resource and already 15,000 copies of it have been delivered to Christian students who are beginning to use it to read Luke with their friends. I hear of an Exeter student who has already seen a friend become a Christian through Uncover, has started reading with another friend and has another in mind soon too. Brilliant.

If God is good, why so much suffering?

I spoke on suffering at Bristol University today. I began with Marcus Brigstocke's quest for god triggered by the death of his best friend James... considered the denial of suffering suggested by the western physical-only and eastern non-physical worldviews that are woefully inadequate... contemplated the horrifying karma approach before turning to the god we see in the face of Jesus, a god like no other god we've ever heard of...   This is the subject I've been asked to speak on most often and its not going away yet - so your feedback and thoughts are very welcome.

mp3: If God is good, why so much suffering?(33mins, inc Q&A)

My Notes

In the Q&A the following questions arose. I don't think I gave the best answers to them when I was in the room, so here's some "after the event" responses that I wish I'd articulated....

1. Wouldn't an omnipotent god end suffering?
I don't believe in the omnipotent god. I believe in the god revealed by Jes…

JESUS: Transformission 2011 MP3s

A Day About Jesus

UPDATE: Download the MP3s from TRANSFORMISSION 2011: JESUS here You're invited to join us in Exeter on Saturday 22nd October for Transformission. This year the conference is all about Jesus. We'll see how Jesus reveals, redeems and ask 'how does Jesus feel about you"

10.30-4.30, Belmont Chapel Exeter.
No booking required, free entry.
Catch a flavour from this video with our speaker, Mike Reeves:


A chat with Mike Reeves about Transformission 2011 from Dave Bish on Vimeo.

God hates you?

A video has been going around online featuring a prominentpastor telling his people (or at least those in his church meeting that day) that God hates them. This leader is someone I've benefitted much from, though I don't see eye-to-eye with him on a number of issues.

All events have context and in recent years, even this year, some well known leaders have wanted to say God doesn't get angry and hell will be empty and such like. To which others have piped up that we must re-emphasise the holiness and wrath of God. And make no mistake God is wrathful towards some and Jesus is the clearest teacher on hell.

But...

God isn't a set of attributes to keep in balance. A bit of love, a bit of holiness and so on. God is a community of persons, and we know who he is as he comes to us in the person of Christ. Jesus loves us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20) and he said, John 16:27, the Father himself loves us. He is all love.

Which means, however frustrating and unchanging people…

Richard Sibbes for Today

Over the past year or so I've been working on some lightly edited and modernised versions of material by the sweet puritan Richard Sibbes. I've self-published two volumes which you can order online via Lulu.com.

The Sunshine of the Gospel (151 pages. £4.99 + p&p) is a foundational introduction to warm Sibbesian thinking. Catch his emphasis on Christ, and on the heart being changed with these seven sermons on Josiah, on the Matchless Love of Christ, on The Song of Songs and on Lydia's heart being opened.

A Fire Kindled from Heaven (125 pages, £4.50 + p&p) builds on the first volume by bringing you some of Sibbes loveliest material on The Song of Songs.

P&P works out at about £3 if you just buy one book reducing to £2 per book for two... and if you buy 25 books it drops to about 69p per book etc. Lulu often have discount codes available that can take 15-25% off the price. Google for them. Use code CYBERWEEKUK305 at the checkout to save 25% off book price until 28/…

A Game Changing Moment: Offer them Christ!

UCCF teams are made up of evangelists in the sense that they are made up of people who love to make Christ known and to equip the saints for evangelism, all for the good of the churches.

We gathered as a regional team for a couple of days this week, and were joined by two evangelists whose ministry includes working with Christian Unions. Glen Scrivener joined us with a brief for 'proclaiming Christ' and Michael Ots spoke on planning and strategy for missions among students. Between the two of them I think we're better skilled to help CUs plan for mission, and massively moved to offer Christ to people.

Proclaiming Christ 1 (90mins)
Proclaiming Christ 2 (78mins)
Proclaiming Christ 3 (81mins)
Proclaiming Christ 4 (65mins)
Proclaiming Christ 5 (81mins)

We considered Luther's categorisation of the three-fold word of the LORD (Christ, Scripture, Preaching) throughout the Bible, the life-giving way that the LORD is not needy but full of love, an overview of the LORD in Exodus in …

I'm an atheist

I was asked on Sunday how I'd recommend responding to those who are 'new atheists' (followers of Dawkins/Hitchins etc). I want to listen and love them and invite some conversation. Often it goes this way:

Person A: I'm an atheist. Person B (often): Oh.  End of conversation.
What if we could try this:
Person A: I'm an atheist.  Person B: Can you tell me about the god you don't believe in?
This is a way of opening conversation that was probably being closed down, and it doesn't require expertise, just a listening ear. If the invitation is accepted what you'll often then hear is...
Person A: god is big, nasty, accusing, condemning, unstable, against us... Person B: Interesting, sounds horrible - I don't think I'd want to believe in that kind of god either, where does that view of god come from? Person A: ... Person B: Can I tell you about the god I know, would you take a look at Jesus with me...
Which presupposes that a Christian gets that their god isn…

Only Jesus doesn't make demands

Elliot Morley was released in September after serving four months of a sixteen month sentence for fraud to the amount of £32,000.
Prior to that he was the MP for Glanford and Scunthorpe. One of those caught in the expenses scandal. And we're disappointed. Leadership is entrusted to people and they seem to fail us... sometimes they're corrupt, sometimes they're conspiratorial, sometimes they're abusive...
Morley is just an example, and the same can be seen closer to home. .

My first experience of leadership was as a Scout. I was overlooked for leadership as a 13 year old and was furious, frustrated and angry. When a year later I was finally given an opportunity to serve I seized it with a clenched fist, a bad temper and a stamping foot. Not everyone has had authority but invariably, we're all either in authority over someone or under someone elses authority. Some carry that well but many fall short. Yet we hope and dream for more. We long for someone to lead well.

Isn't the Bible unreliable and irrelevant?

I gave one of the lunchtime talks on behalf of the Evangelical Christian Union at Exeter University today. These are public events, with food, a talk and Q&A.

The talk is a mix of Ian McEwan's melancholy stories, John Gray and Brian Cox on the story of progress, the speeding neutrino moment, a smattering of manuscript evidence, an introduction to Luke's gospel, and a bit of the parable of the sons.

Download mp3 including the Q&A (40mins)


I was basically pleased with how it went, feedback was positive and the four questions asked were good questions. I went in with a bit too much material and full-notes which I dipped in and out of - less would have been more helpful. Live and learn. Hopefully I can use a version of this again at other CUs in the South West this year.

The Sub-Atomic Particle That Was Caught Speeding (or, what could convince Philip Pullman to believe in God)

BBC takes five minutes with Philip Pullman in which he speaks of his love of storytelling and plot - which I love, life is a story. We all have a story to make sense of life's big questions - about how we got here, about what (if anything) is wrong with the world, about how to fix things, about where we're going... What's your story?

Ian McEwan gives Bryony Tallis a tragic story that she wants to give a haappy ending, but can just make up a story. Facts and evidence matter. And experience.

Pullman admits that it's not a rational argument that could convince him to believe in God but rather a direct experience (which suggests its his experience of a lack of experience of God that means he doesn't believe) - experience drives so much of what we believe!... and of the stories we love.

 Meanwhile, four minutes with Brian Cox on the particles that might have been caught speeding: Brian Cox on the possible rewriting of a century of physics. I'm guessing we'll fin…

Spirit Break Out and 10000 Reasons

This week I've been enjoying the recent worship albums from Matt Redman and Worship Central. The roots of both albums are the youthful Spirit-filled life of Soul Survivor church and festivals, though both are now more directly connected to Holy Trinity Brompton or it's Brighton church plant St Peters. This is what comes out of the Church of England at it's best.

We've been using some of the Redman songs in church and last week at UCCF Forum, and I'm taken by them - songs like Bless the Lord O My Soul (or, 10000 reasons) are melodic worship songs that allow the heart to be lifted, and Here For You is the heart's cry to meet with God. I also love We could change the world - what if the gospel is as good as it seems...


Spirit Break Out has a slightly different feel - it's a more edgy live album, and features several different lead musicians from the Worship Central collective - and even a bit of Graham Kendrick's Shine Jesus Shine turned into a rap by Myle…

You're Welcome

Why is the church in China growing? The BBC report:
"But in church people feel warm, they feel welcome… they feel people really love them so they really want to join the community, a lot of people come for this." Of course the church grows because the Triune God builds it, but the least you can expect if that's happening is a relaxed and warm welcome. Jesus is friendly and the church imperfectly reflects that.

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins?

I'm intruiged by Richard Dawkins new teenager-targetted 273 page book (released Sept 15th) which attempts to dispel the beautiful myths that humanity loves - aka the world's religions. Evolution he says is "more poetic than the bible" (so much for it being science then....)

Jeremy Paxman interviews him (from about 37mins onward) on Newsnight. He's persuaded that evolution tells a better story than the old stories we love... I'd have loved to have seen him debate with JRR Tolkein on Fairy Stories. He admits to being affected by Genesis, but wont believe its true... because only "stupid and ignorant people" would believe it... instead he says, believe the better story of science.

The best story should win - and will win - and shouldn't just be the best story but the truest story too - he's right about that. Now we can talk about both the quality of our explanatory stories and the evidence for them.

Further Reading: The Magic of Reality - Richa…

Transformission 2011 - a chat with Mike Reeves

Last week at Forum 2011 I had a chat with Mike Reeves about Transformission 2011, a free one day conference happening on Saturday 22nd October at Belmont Chapel, Exeter, 10.30-4.30pm. Targetted as a launch to a year of united student mission but open to the wider church. No booking required.
Shot on the campsite, hence the chatter and wind noise. Unedited.

#FORUM2011: Leaders in Mission

Today 121 students, six staff and seven Relay from the South West will join with around 900 others at this year's FORUM conference. This is a leaders conference for students, to equip them for mission. A leader in that case isn't someone who has a "job" in a Christian Union but someone who is on mission, influencing others, leading the line to win students to Jesus and see the local churches built.

You'll be able to follow along at #forum2011 and UCCF on Facebook where I'd expect an outpouring of social media. I'm camping so subject to getting access to enough power I'll tweet along.

Teaching will be delivered by CU staff - I'm co-leading a track with Jo Larcombe and Cat Caird on Being Disciples of our Transforming God which will be an adventure into espousal and adoption theology applied to our lives and mission. Worship will be led by Canterbury CU Staff / City Church Canterbury worship leader Olly Knight. And we'll be joined by guest spea…

Plentiful: The Taste of the Gospel

Something about tight-fistedness, smallness, monotony, lack of progress, lack and loss of life grates against us. It feels out of place. Not proof in themselves of how things are meant to be, but a hint engraved on our hearts that this world isn't meant for frustration.

The story validated by the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus is different. Tracking backwards it says the Triune God created a world in which there is fruitfulness and multiplication, in which emptiness is filled by beings who will spread outwards. The love of the generous Father is like this. A fountain of life, flowed from the hills of Eden and from the heart of the Father to his Son and to the world. He gives his son, and he gives the Spirit. He gives and goes on giving.

When people curve in on themselves he comes out to them, and keeps on coming. And when he wins their hearts he turns them inside out so they cease to overflow with sewage and begin to overflow with spirit-filled life. When invita…

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 dbish@uccf.org.uk 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
2. YOU NEED THE REJOICING KING (11) 

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…