Friday, September 30, 2016

Tozer's ministers dedication

"O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou hast called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou art about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, my Lord, Thou hast stooped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man taketh this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

 

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine, but Thine. Thou hast said, 'I knew thee - I ordained thee - I sanctified thee,' and Thou hast also said, 'Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.' Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done. Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou wilt honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

 

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

 

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus loose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the face of the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offerings.

 

Help me to remember that I am prophet not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to the crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that could make life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or, if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I should have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And, if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

 

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.

 

Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee, therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thoughts on extra Vicars and an interesting quote

I have promised a friend I would write more 'of my own material' on the blog which I will try to do.

In the meantime, David Keen's excellent post called 'More on Extra Vicars' is worth a read by anyone with even a passing interest in the state of the C of E.

As an aside, this Jeremy Paxman quote caught my eye:

‘What interests him now more than the TV ephemera of catching out politicians are the bigger questions. “Is there a purpose?” he says. “What do things mean? What is the right way to live?” I would rather spend an evening talking about those than how to manage Vladimir Putin or reform the NHS.’
Janice Turner, Interview with Jeremy Paxman, The Times Magazine 24 September page 22

Monday, September 26, 2016

Keep running

'All death can do to the Christian is make their lives infinitely better'

Tim Keller
h/t Tim Challies

This post entitled 'Five ways to recover your passion for pastoral leadership' is helpful and encouraging.

I would like to tell you that I have not been able to put Keller's new book down but I have because life and deep reading were not able to be bed-fellows this weekend. However, I am on page 80 and amidst all the intellectual discourse (of which there is lots) I am being renewed and reminded of grace. If I lived in Oxford or Cambridge or a University town full of clever secular people and intellectuals, which I once did, I think I would be giving 'Making sense of God' away to every other person I met. Andrew Wilson has reviewed it and given it a hearty thumbs up.

I had a chat with someone recently about 'Mindfulness for parents'  which seems to be based loosely on Bhuddism (as far as I have yet worked it out).

I preached a sermon about salvation and as part of my preparation I read 'Stop asking Jesus into your heart' which is a book about assurance. I am convinced that if Christians were more assured they wouldn't worry so much or be so interesting in chasing more 'stuff' or be so fearful of what others thought of them or get so easily thrown by suffering and disappointment. I have all those emotions/reactions at different times but considerably less so I pray having read this book.

Alister McGrath interviewed here used to run my Vicar factor and is a very clever and fascinating man. I remember reading in his biography that during his year off he learnt Russian and German in preparation for reading biochemistry at Oxford. I went back-packing in American and drank Budweiser and chased girls (unsuccessfully) which perhaps explains why I am not the leading theologian of my generation- nor very likely to be....

Miriam Swaffield has some fire in her belly and you should check out this talk on holiness which she gave at Focus.

This resignation by Pete Wilson from his church made me cry and moved me and I appreciated this post about burnout.

A pal asked me to name ten things that I think move the audience about this guy that might be transferable to preachers:


1. His ordinary 'just turned up' clothing
2. His non-celebrity looks
3. His passion and zeal for his song
4. He's singing to someone who appears to not be in the room
5. His upward gaze and posture
6. His quiet confidence that what's inside him is bigger than him
7. He knows the words, hits the notes and can sing the tune
8. He's not playing to the judges or the audience
9. The hand in the pocket
10. It's summed up when the first judge says' 'welcome back'

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Some Thursday Musings (from the sofa)

Mrs C says that I should write more and post less links to other people. This morning I read two books that have been on the pile for a while and they were quite helpful in different ways.  One of them was called 'Turn around at Home' which I bought for £2.99 and I promised to read it and glean some parenting wisdom. Well, I am happy to be able to report that I have done that. The other was about marriage and 'Dating' called 'Date your wife'.

Turn your home around: I'll be honest it's not the best book in the world but it had three sections on legacy's which you had to answer questions about and tot up the scores which Mrs C and I did. Oh and it's American so has a rather different context. Anyway, we both answered the questions and found out we had similar legacy scores. The three legacies are Spiritual/ Emotional/ Social and you are asked to reflect on your family environment growing up and mark accordingly. We had a pretty good chat as we did it which was, in itself, probably worth £2.99. It then has a section called tool kits for marriage, parenting young kids, parenting older kids and a section for grandparents with a few quite helpful ideas. If there is a big idea then its really very simple. If you invest in your marriage and your spiritual/emotional and relational life at home then the parenting thing flows from that and your kids discipleship and development should by grace turn out OK.

'Date your wife': It starts with a bit of a rebuke of men for generally being useless ('idiots'  to use the  precise word) which felt heavy-handed and to be honest the Appendix '100 ways to date your wife' is the best bit. The big idea here is that when you fall in love and date etc husbands in the main make a big effort and then, so the hypothesis goes, when you marry you stop doing that and metaphorically buy a pipe and slippers, watch TV and potter in the shed.  In other words, you stop dating. The book is probably not bad to give a marriage a bit of romance and a spiritual/gospel health kick and, not being the most creative of bods, the list of interesting date night ideas was good. Hopefully Mrs C will bear witness to my putting the pipe and slippers to one side in favour of all sorts of exciting and creative dating adventures. We'll see....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday bed-ridden musing

I've put my back out rather badly which is why the blog has been quiet but I hope to be up on my feet shortly. I have been flat out and alone (mostly) for 3 days which is an extroverts nightmare. Mrs C has been an excellent Florence Nightingale. It's also not very easy to type with your back flat which I am attempting today.....

Lots of time to think, some reading, I have been immersed afresh in Galatians, I've explored the idea of Bullet journalling, reflected on Michael Hyatt's ten favourite books, planned some stuff with a pal for our Men's ministry, mulled on what to cook for an event at church that I've agreed to cater, am finishing off 'Stop asking Jesus into your heart: How to know for sure you are saved', had some forced upon me time to stand back from my role (s) and so have been asking the question 'How can I best use my time and plan it better?' The appendix of a book called 'Date your wife' has a hundred ideas on that subject.  Oh, and I've been falling asleep to Martin Lloyd Jones sermons which I have found therapeutic and rest inducing (I fall asleep).

I am excited about Tim Keller's new book 'Making sense of God: An invitation to the sceptical' which looks like a good one for those with questions about God. It should come through the letter box tomorrow and you can watch him speaking about the ideas behind the book here. Also there is an interview 'Why Tim Keller wrote a prequel to The Reason for God'. For ages people have been saying to me that many of their friends are too far back to do Alpha which starts with the question 'Who is Jesus?' Now my answer will probably be- give them 'Making sense of God'.

It took me almost 10 years from giving up my business career to actually becoming a Vicar but as I reflect back it's been hard at times but so so worth it. The C of E are looking for more to follow in my footsteps. The church plant I adventured into is four years old this week. Too many to thank by name but you know who you are. Thank you for everything and for showing me such grace.

Ben Arment is a guy who wrote a book that helped me with some ideas as I planted our church and I listened to his podcast and he always makes me think. He's decided to write a novel.

A line that our new intern said when I interviewed her in church has stuck with many of us:

' I want to see what God can do with a year completely devoted to Him'

I have been revisiting my journalling which is something that I do that has sustained and encouraged me. Having read this post one sentence stuck with me.

'What happens to me is not as important as the meaning I assign to what happens to me'

Mrs C and I have been giving some attention recently to stewardship and this post will introduce you to a chappy called Dave Ramsey who is something of a guru on such matters.  An article in the Telegraph I read last week told me that 46% of lottery winners lose all the money within 5 years. We should give them the book of Proverbs with the cheque.

The TV show that has kept me company while on my back has been Madam Secretary. I do enjoy an American political drama. If only real politicians were more like their fictional counterparts.

I appreciated the post 'Why is preaching so hard?'

A pal sent me 'A guide to northern accents'.

A friend in our church dropped a book by Eugene Peterson called 'Travelling Light' though our letterbox, three bars of chocolate and a lovely postcard. I am so thankful for the saints of our church.

Finally, another dear friend sent me this Ted talk which is simply brilliant. Enjoy....



Monday, August 29, 2016

Support rather than enthusiasm

'Evangelicals have done a superb job of evangelizing people, bringing then to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, but they are failing to provide believers with approaches to living that keep them going and growing in spiritual relationship with him....Many start the life of faith with great enthusiasm, only to discover themselves in difficulty shortly afterward. Their high hopes and good intentions seem to fade away. The spirit is willing, but the flesh proves weak.....People need support to keep them going when enthusiasm fails'

Alister McGrath quoted in 'Future Grace' by John Piper, P 10. 

If you are looking for a read that can help you ...'when enthusiasm fails'.... 'Future grace' is one to seek out, dwell in and take much encouragement from.