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Showing posts from October, 2012

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…

We're Unfinished People

Please listen to Paul Tripp's testimony of his own weakness:

Dangerous Calling from Paul Tripp Ministries on Vimeo.

He's not just talking about problems for pastors, though he is talking about that.

We drive leaders into hiding.

We let people hold Scripture without bringing it to bear on our hearts and lives.

We need communities of pastoral care not just academies to train leaders.

We need to be interested in others lives.

We're all sinners.  We're all in the middle of our sanctification.

We easily live with a huge disconnect between our public persona and our private lives.

God has decided to use unfinished people. And that's very good news.

As I hear Paul Tripp's testimony I can relate to his story about his own anger. I feel my own struggles with relational sin and self-righteousness (which can often burn away inside as anger), my failing to value people and give myself to them while delighting in my own interests. Each day I need to fight to look to Christ a…

We are all Daniel Cui

We Are All Daniel Cui from Facebook Stories on Vimeo.

Our culture preaches independence but perhaps we're more connected than we like to admit. We are Adam's helpless race - all of us broken, fallen, corrupted -- glorious ruins? Facebook isn't evil, but it is a symptom of both an unrelational culture where our pixelated gods make themselves known to us without ever knowing us. As so we become like what we worship. We don't pick up the riches or the good looks of our gods, just the impersonal characteristic. (The problem isn't the actual celebrities we worship but the icons they become...)

On Facebook we're reduced from personality to pixels. You can find out if I had a good summer without talking with me but just by stalking me.

And as Daniel Cui shows the medium can be used to harm and to honour.

But don't mishear me I'm a social media practioner - in part because social media is just communication which is good. Necessary. Deeply human and reflective…