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Showing posts from June, 2013

Thankful to God for Bill and Shirley Lees.

I heard last week, from Andrew Page, that two of my heroes Bill and Shirley Lees have both recently gone home to be with their Saviour. I told their story to new CU leaders in March, just a two weeks before Bill died, as examples of endurance and legacy in the gospel. Shirley followed him home in May.

Bill and Shirley were in the 1950s and 1960s missionaries in Borneo before returning to the UK where they became significant figures in the history of the UCCF, their local church in Reading, and in sending many more overseas with the gospel. Bill was converted as a teenager, and if I remember rightly Shirley was converted while studying at Cambridge, a contemporary of John Stott.

I met them in the autumn of 2000 and was - by the grace of God or some administrative fluke - a member of their home group for a couple of years. Week after week sitting as a very arrogant young man under the shadow of the spear that hung on their living room wall and in the warmth of their generous hospitalit…

On dealing with differences in the church

I love the way stand-up comedians observe the details of life with fascination and wonder. For example:
(Language warning.)

In any community, any society, there are things that are things for me that wont be things for you. And that can cause all manner of problems for us as we run into one another. The second half of the 14th chapter of Paul's letter to the church in Rome speaks to this issue of dealing with differences.

I'm refreshed by its honesty. I like when my friends feel they can argue in front of me... no hiding and faking. People sometimes say they can't believe in Jesus because Christians disagree and break into denominations etc. But, the Bible is upfront and honest, we disagree. What interests me is, what next? 

How to deal with the differences...

Most of the issues are questions of ethics. Of ordinary life. About eating and drinking and working and shopping and music.

The Bible could say: here's the long…

Father's Day without the DIY

Father's day is often celebrated insensitively. I know I've done that. I remember my overwhelming joy the first time it was celebrated 'for' me four years ago...

Christianity centres of the love of God the Father for his Son, this relationship is the fountain from which everything flows, the Father's song concerning his Son the music that shapes the universe.

Considering the image of that in our lives is to consider something badly marred. It's easy for young dads to be so immersed in their children that we forget to observe the lives of those around us, those who long to be parents but can't, those bereaved of children, those for whom family is badly broken and deeply painful.

Sometimes Father's Day is celebrated with a chiding and belittling call for father's to do better... try-harder dads against a backdrop of the ridiculous Daddy Pig and the buffoon Homer Simpson. Fatherhood should be honoured... but an Gospel o…

Video: Andrew Wilson - when life hits the wall and everything changes

I really appreciate this rare message from Andrew Wilson for several reasons. It's on a rarely preached passage in Nehemiah 3 - y'know one of those very long lists of names!! And it's marked by a rare and striking honesty about the death of destiny, potential and history maker mindset. It's an uncomfortable message that resonates with my life and my sin.

I've valued Andrew's ministry for several years - for his strength in engaging hard questions over a meal in Exeter several years ago and for his clarity and skill as a teacher and author on many occasions, but his honesty here is so fresh and liberating as he shares the way that arrogance "was knitted into [his] soul and then he got mugged by life".

Mobilise 2013 - Main Meeting 5 - Andrew Wilson from Mobilise on Vimeo.
See also Andrew's repentant review of The Good God earlier in the year.

Watch me! Don Carson on leadership by example

There are people I follow. Those running ahead of me - people I'd be ruined without. People whose example, vulnerability, steadfastness I've watched for many years.

There are people I walk with. Good company among my peers. Often occasional companions along the way for a season.

There are people who follow me. My wife, my boys, my team, in my church, readers of my blog. Gosh!

Don Carson:

 A careful man I want to be; A little fellow follows me. I do not dare to go astray For fear he'll go the self same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes, Whate'er he sees me do, he tries. Like me he says he's going to be; The little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I'm so very fine, Believes in every word of mine. The base in me he must not see; The little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go Through summer's sun and winter's snow, I'm building for the years to be; The little chap who follows me.

(Author unknown)

Who do you watch? Who is watching you?

Video: Mike Reeves at Mobilise on how Christ feels about his church (Isaiah 61-62)

Please don't miss this beautiful exposition of how Christ loves the church (from Isaiah 61-62) by Mike Reeves at the 2013 newfrontiers mobilise event.

Mobilise 2013 - Main Meeting 7 - Mike Reeves from Mobilise on Vimeo. A couple of quotes from Twitter about this:
""Best preach I've heard in my life" High praise!"
"Arguably the best session from @mobilise 2013"

The Chief of Ten Thousand

Something I've been enjoying.

I sing "you're altogether lovely..." not realising I'm quoting from The Song of Songs. From a poem, like Revelation 1, that gives a detailed description of the Christ. Sibbes advises that we note the attention to detail. Are we as attentive? He is the chief of ten thousand. A poetic way of saying, he's the best of us.
I sing "beautiful one..." not realising I'm invoking Psalm 45:2, The Song in miniature. Spurgeon: "the Psalmist adores the matchless beauty of Messiah." In the Psalm, the description is: you are the most handsome of the sons of men. yaf yafita ben adam
The beautiful beautiful of Adam's sons. Of Adam's helpless race and yet is most unlike Adam. Very much one of us, very much unlike us. The second Adam who can bring life to many. A new head of a new family. Both songs speak of royal husbands, and can be rightly understood to tell of Christ.
He is son of Adam and yet son of God (Lk3), a …

The Wise vs. The Fool: can you tell the difference?

Can you spot a fool? Who do you think of as wise? Is it about thinking? Lifestyle? Recklessness vs. conservativism? As Jesus famously put it: both the wise person and the foolish person build houses.

As Paul writes his last words to his spiritual son Timothy wisdom and folly are his subject. There is much in 2 Timothy 3 to chew on.


Human beings are lovers. The question isn't do you love, but what or who do you love? Some love self, money, pleasure and don't love good and God. They LOVE - LOVE - LOVE LOVE - LOVE but it's empty in the end. The folly of such fools (v9) will be evident before long. Time will tell.

In the short term, such fools look godly. A glance. A brief meeting. The public face of a fool looks wise. You might call them a wise person.

Wisdom and folly, in the moment, can look the same.

Lady Wisdom and Dame Folly, in Solomon's book of Proverbs, sing the same song but one allures to life and the other entices to death.


The Banner of the Deliverer appears through the gloom, for the sake of the tender love he bears to them.

Andrew Bonar looks away from himself to the banner of the deliverer.

Daily we die. We're being killed. Slaughtered. There are days that swear words were invented for. Days to cry with Solomon: 'hebel', smoke, vanity and meaninglessness.

Aching limbs and tired eyes whimper and whisper: what just happened... again and again.

Not every moment. There are rays of light.

We went on a road train and saw Llamas, and ate cookies by the river.

But, for me recent months have been hard. My friendship with the Psalmists is stronger for it. My trust in my Saviour too. More days in which I have no words to pray, yet a deeper sense of my security in his love. My longing for the renewal of all things never more tangible.

Again, let me not overplay it: there is food in my fridge, I have a fridge, and a roof over my head, my family around me but the chronic frustration of this world and particularly it's effect on my second son have made life sadder, gloomier.

Psalm 44, on which Bonar r…

MP3s: Psalm 45

This summer we're sending 19 teams of students and our staff to nations across the world to be involved in short term mission projects. Last weekend I had the privilege of preaching at their Summer Team Orientation conference. It was a bit short notice so I reworked some material on Psalm 45.... it's a wonderful mainline station in the Bible, cited in the New Testament and applied to Jesus. A song of Korah's resurrected sons about the king, a song of the Father about his Son. A song that shows us the beautiful truth and truthful beauty of King Jesus.

Love Sings Psalm 45:1-534mins
Love Invites Psalm 45:6-1134mins Love Endures Psalm 45:12-1741mins
A delegate sent this in a really encouraging email:

"Listening to your talks was like being dipped in a vat of God's love and soaked through with his beauty and goodness. I LOVED how unashamedly all-about-Jesus it was, and how you reflected the rich imagery of the Psalm in your own presentation of what the Psalm was talking a…