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Showing posts from March, 2013

Suffering: Voices from a different vantage point

A while back Charles, tweetably, wrote to his friend:
"There seems to me to be too much misery in the world." And from the pain he reasoned away from god. Martin Luther argued that we might well be expected to do that. If we work from our situation its natural enough to think that there is no god, or that any god there is is evil. And in the darkness Charles Darwin despaired as his daughter died.

Darwin's story has left ripples in all our stories - yet where does a godless view leave us? Grasping, gasping:
"Pitiless indifference!" cries the former professor of public science. Yet who can be indifferent to evil. Indifference is the opposite of love. It's neat to say there is no evil and there is no pain, but no one really believes that. The Dalai Lama might want to do away with all desire but he still fights for the liberty of his people... "Karma!" cried the England manager and the Soap Opera stalwart. I remember reincarnation sounding cool in a Re…

An origins story that makes emotional sense

Everything dies. This rings true. It grates, it hurts and its simply observable. Whether or not we can find meaning or significance in it, it still happens. And no one is reliably stopping it from happening. There are no 200 year old faith-healers. Life expectancy might be rising but life still comes with a sell-by-date.

Jesus says unless a grain falls to the ground and dies it doesn't bear fruit. There is death that has purpose.


Death is what Jesus spoke in the garden on the evening at the start of the seventh day - in the Bible's 3300 year old story of origins, written down by Moses.

We could discuss whether the book is historical but at the very least we have to say that it makes emotional sense. I think it is historical but for now just ask the emotional sense question. We all have our origins stories -- and we need origins stories that can make emotional sense of where we find ourselves... Emotional resonance isn't enough in itself, but it's a vital…

FAQ: How to introduce a speaker?

At church and at Christian Union meetings I hear speakers introduced and I get introduced. Sadly this is often quite cringeworthy and ineffective. Can we do better?

In How to Deliver a TED Talk Jeremy Donovan writes on the subject. The famous TED talks videos don't include their speaker introductions but they do happen. He highlights that it would be possible to introduce a speaker by giving their full CV or biography but that doesn't help.

It seems to me that the basic rule on an introduction is that it needs to briefly tell the listener:
Why should I listen to This Person and On This Subject. This can be Informational or Anecdotal and should be brief. Three options:
Interview the speaker.Introduce the speaker.Have them introduce themselves. I'm inclined to think its better to introduce a speaker rather than interview them. What you'd discern from an interview can be found out in a conversation before hand. The speaker wants to be focussed on giving their talk rather t…

What about God killing people in the Old Testament?

On Sunday evening I spoke at a church student group and afterwards one of the students spoke to me, looking for help in responding to this question that her friend, who isn't a Christian, had asked. She wanted to be able to give a thoughtful and helpful answer.

The story: Jesus led the people of Israel out of Egypt around 1300BC, through the wilderness for 40 years and into a partial conquest of the occupied land of Canaan, using them to judge the inhabitants of the land. The story is told in the Bible book of Joshua and its context. The whole Old Testament tells an epic story in which the God we know when we know Jesus sets the stage for his coming into the world to die for us. In wars and political dramas and small personal stories we see the grammar of this good news built up.

The fact remains: God used his people to kill other people. Gulp. What can be said? I'm not looking to explain it away. I want to ask how the Bible as a text "deals with" it. I'm not inte…

Life is better with music

There's something about music that gets into the heart like nothing else can. Songs express the overflow of the heart's desires and one person's song can inspire, influence and teach others. I've not bought any new music in over a year - and £15 got me these (thanks to the generosity of some friends). I've recently acquired some newly released worship music from four different churches.

Each is born out of their own situation and their church's journey and I'll not attempt to critique them, only to commend them with a few thoughts.

City Sounds comes from City Church Bristol (newfrontiers). I was given a copy of this CD. It's really half an album, of home grown songs produced by the team from Phatfish and it has all the quality and the kind of sound you'd expect from that. Good music with lyrical richness. Our favourite track is probably Into the Light. Good music for a drive up the M5.
Rend Collective's Campfire is an intruiging idea - an album re…

MP3: Who are you one with?

Last Month I spoke for Exeter University Evangelical Christian Union as the third part of their series based roughly on Glen Scrivener's 321 Gospel summary.

The question:
Who are you one with: Adam or Christ? 

I took as my text Song 5:11-6:3 which might seem a bit strange but I feel the weight of the history of the church supporting my decision to preach Christ and his union with the church from that exquisite book.

Download: Who are you one with? (Dave Bish, 44mins)

MP3s: Psalm 45 (ForumSW)

Last weekend it was my honour to preach Christ from Psalm 45 at three sessions of the ForumSW weekend.

These were designed to provide the WHY behind lots of talk of HOW and WHAT for those who will lead in Christian Unions in the next year, giving every student in the South West the opportunity to respond to Jesus.

We were indebted to the CU Staff: Tom, Brian, Cat, Becca and Jo for their seminars on finances and time management, unity, leadership, partnerships between CU, church, University, and mobilising and motivating the team, hitting the ground running for mission. We didn't record those sessions.

And I give thanks for the 88 student leaders who came.

Download here:
Psalm 45:1-5 -- Love Sings
Psalm 45:6-11 -- Love Invites
Psalm 45:12-17 -- Love Endures
DRAFT study guide to Psalm 45

Image: Anna Hopkins, used by permission.