Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday thoughts

1. I found some notes of a book called 'Zeal without burnout' which I sent to a pal. It's so easy to become overwhelmed as a pastor.

2. I friend is being ordained on Saturday which is exciting and I am planning to attend. He invited me by text saying 'You got me into this; so you'd better come'. He will make a fine Vicar.  I read this reflection on the nature of ministry and found it a timely challenge.

3. I am greatly enjoying 'The Story of Reality' :

'Did you ever wonder how to sum up the main theme of the Bible accurately in a single, simple concept? It's right there in the first line: 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'. Put simply, the Story starts with a Sovereign who creates a domain he benevolently rules over. There is a King and his "dom" so to speak. There is a kingdom' 


4. Someone asked me on Sunday about the C of E's latest agenda items on sexuality. I pointed them to Ian Paul's piece entitled 'Three miracles'.  Won't it be great if the GS ever gets around to speaking about mission and evangelism before deciding to schism.

5. I preached on Sunday about heaven and hell and I tried to tell it as Jesus did. One of the most challenging sermons I have ever listened to is 'Why we all need to gospel' by Francis Chan.

6. Sometimes on a Monday morning it pains me how few in Barnes are in church.

7. I am increasingly convinced that pastors need the skills of the cross-cultural missionary. Yesterday I was reading a book by Andrew Walls and this quote struck me:

'About the third year of my liberation from slavery of man, I was convinced of another worse state of slavery, namely, that of sin and Satan. it pleased the Lord to open my heart......I was admitted into the visible Church of Christ here on earth as a soldier to fight manfully against our spiritual enemies'

Samuel Crowther quoted in 'The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History' , p157

8. This morning I wrote a sermon in my head after reading Paul's experiences in Athens. Given the above, this sermon should be one of our go-to texts.

9. I am going to do some mulling on 'The Five Marks of a Servant Leader'. Number Five reminds me of a Nouwen quote my pal used on our recent church weekend. Christians should seek to be 'downwardly mobile'

10, I enjoyed this review of David Fitches 'Faithful presence'

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday wanderings

1. I have finished a book recently and have not chosen the next one yet. 'The story of reality' from this list of summer reading caught my eye and looks interesting.

2. The Grenfell tower disaster requires 'prayer not rage'

3. I have been mulling on the parable of the wheat and the weeds.

4. A line from Leading with a limp has stuck with me:

'Courage is fear that has said its prayers' Ann Lamott

5. I spent some time with some of the ''Senior Management" of the C of E and was left encouraged that there is something of a strategy for survival. The big idea for survival is resourcing churches that have planted to themselves plant churches.  Now there's an idea. Did I mention I wrote 'Why plant churches?'

6.  This article told me the average salary in Kensington and Chelsea is £123k which represents dreadful inequality. That seems to me staggeringly high or have stipends just not kept pace with everyone one else's incomes? Someone tell my Bishop- actually the truth is none of us do this for the money. I suppose a few Russian billionaires must up the average a tad.

7.  Many in our days are crying for human justice. In commenting on the destruction of evil and the divine justice of the Wheat and weeds (Matt 13) Michael Green writes:

'All this is very unacceptable to people today; we do not treat evil with great seriousness, and many do not believe in a future life, a heaven and a hell where the great separation will be finalized  But it is an undeniable part of the  teaching of Jesus. Are we going to claim to know more about it than he?'

Green, Matthew BST, 157

8. I read 'Healing Kenosis and the Third person' with interest. I also mused at my many memories of SS reading this article that appeared a while back in GQ.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday wonderings

1. I have ordered Eugene Peterson's new book which comes with happy expectancy of it hitting the mat.

2. I have revisited and been humbled again by a book I read a while back called 'Leading with a limp':  

'Few leaders operate out of confidence built on anything but the crumbling foundation of arrogance. Few know peace that is not dependent on performance. Few exercise freedom and creativity that are not bound to conventionality. And few possess the capacity to care for people that is not shadowed by either the urge to please others or to knuckle under the tyranny of "should".

Take a different path. As an act of leadership, consider the risk of giving up your life through facing, naming and bearing your weakness, and imagine the paradoxical yet promised benefits. Let's walk into that reality, but it's imperative to remember that all movement into reality requires enormous faith'. (p.8)

3. Tuition fees policy was a winner for Labour. However, I am still pondering how righting off the debts of largely middle class/privileged university students can be considered 'socialist'.VAT on private school fees was to be given back to the wealthy in no university fees.

4. I spotted someone recommending Ann Lamott's Ted talk.

5. I spent the early morning listening to an Irish friend talk about Northern Ireland. So helpful to hear from someone who actually knows something about Northern Ireland and the DUP. Much hangs in the balance once again.

6. I had to take a deep breath of air after reading today's Cranmer post.

'If “Mission is God’s way of loving and saving the world”, does not the mission leader (at every level) need not only to be “sympathetic to” that love, but to have tasted it? You might know in your brain that salt is sodium chloride, but until it has touched your tongue you cannot truly know the full meaning of Jesus’ exhortation for believers to be the salt of the earth.'

7. What a terrible fire in London.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Cross (in the box)

I enjoyed David Keen's election reflection.

For those of you still working it all out Ian Paul has these three posts:

Why I am a Christian voting for Labour

Why I am a Christian voting Conservative

Why I am a Christian voting Liberal Democrat

The only advise I am willing to offer is vote for someone. If you don't vote you can't complian....

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

You can only give out what's been sown in

A friend said that they used to read the blog but when I stopped writing things here they stopped reading. My friend suggested I try writing again so I will try and share a thought or two.

'Don't focus on church growth'. If you grow yourself everyone around you will grow because of it'

Play the Man, p.125

David strengthened himself in the Lord

1 Sam 30:6

1. For a long time it's struck me that it's very possible to lead a church without both prayer or personal Bible reading. This was born out when I read an interview with David Platt, a Bible teacher and preacher I respect. who confessed at the height of his success speaking internationally and writing he had all but stopped engaging with God in the scriptures for himself. There is a stat that is sometimes trotted out that pastors spend less than 5 minutes a day in prayer and scripture which of course I have no way of verifying. The best I could find was this which is happily a tad more encouraging.

2. I have a Facebook Vicar friend who is brimming over with successful initiatives and enthusiasm and offers this across the internet in short films about his church, marriage and life constantly. He really is, as far as I know, a genuinely good and Godly chap, but I have decided that it would not be helpful for me to mirror his approach.  I learnt recently that the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek roots en and Theos, meaning in God. Batterson writes on this....'the more you get into God, and the more God's Spirit gets into you, the more impassioned you become' (Play the man, p 81). Though I agree and am something of an enthusiast myself, I resist going on camera as one because I am not sure it would be good for my heart.

3. There was a lady interviewed about her son on the BBC post-London Bridge who spoke about 'religions' in a way that I imagine many secular people would. She quoted the first commandment as 'Thou shalt not kill' and of course it's semantics to point out that it's not. However, we are, as the Archbishop has noted, a theologically illiterate nation and he has had some courage on 'Today' to say as much. He is doing his job which is directing the conversation towards Jesus.. I also read this piece in the Sun quoting my local MP who seems to suggest radicals go to Syria 'for foreign travel and to find a wife'. She might perhaps do well to educate herself slightly better on the theology of Jihad.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Monday musing

1. I watched 'Broken' which is one of the most captivating bits of drama I've seen in a while.

2. Archbishop Cranmer has a challenging piece about some of the more stark realities of Islam that politicians to date have been reluctant to articulate. For more about the why's of relativism in our culture do read 'Against the flow'.

3. This was an interesting piece on leadership.

4. I have been mulling on the trend in the C of E to make more 'senior' appointments to head office of varying types and titles tasked with dreaming up new ideas all captured in courses or pamphlets. A Vicar pal commented to me recently that expansion in the upper tiers of an organisation is generally an indication of its final days. He went on to say 'We are greatly deluded to think the answer to decline is more management from above'....'the church is a bottom up organism'.

5. I listened to 'On the mountain' while I was away and it's worth your time.

6. Mrs C did a short talk on our church weekend which she would not want me to tell you about.

7. Batterson's 'Discipleship Covenant' is an interesting idea for any believer not just as a rite of passage for a son. He quotes Diana Nyad's little phrase 'You must set your will' (Play the man, P.168) which is a challenging one.

8. I think people have warmed to Corbyn because he has an integrated front stage and back stage. For more on this, you should dive into the work of Simon Walker. I genuinely have nothing more than a hunch but I think due to this fact he may even be our PM by Friday. Millennials like 'authentic' and he seems to be that.

9. I appreciated Tim Challies on 'Prioritize the local church'

10.  I spent the evening with Mrs C watching 'One love Manchester' which told me a few things

a. I've turned into my dad
b. Justin Bieber with just a guitar and voice was simple and moving. I confess I had never heard a song of his (see point a)
c. Imogen Heap was a bit flat or was it just me who thought that?
d. No cameraman was interested in a rear view shot of any artist apart from Little mix.
e. It struck me as interesting that a large crowd chose to sing about love on the day of the festival that celebrates and remembers its outpouring. For more see Acts 2.
f. What a sweet young women Ariande Grande seems to be.


I always enjoy an interesting book list and Al Mohler's 'Summer reading' doesn't disappoint.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Canada called

1. I spent some time in Canada with a dear pal and was so blessed. He gathered a wonderful crowd and we immersed ourselves in the world of Daniel. I  recommended 'Against the flow' as a follow-up read for a window into what it means to live in a pluralistic/relativistic culture.

2. As an example of 'With the flow', the Anglican church in Canada voted recently to change their doctrine as it relates to marriage.

3. While I was away I read 'Play the man' and was struck the chapter about wonder.

4, This post made me pause and ponder:

Our main problem is not lack of time or resources or the annoying people in our lives. Your main problem and my main problem is that we do not see enough the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We are not amazed. We do not stand in awe. We are not rendered speechless in his presence.

5, I have been much blessed down the year reading Dash House. It was such a joy to hang out together in Toronto. 

6, I have pre-ordered 'The Unhurried leader'.

7, I have been enjoying the song 'Love so great'.

8. I also read 'Contagious' while sitting waiting for my pal to finish his meeting. By the way, if you read this can you put it back on your church office desk!

9. I showed 'God's wonderful surprise' as part of a sermon which quotes C S Lewis and the phrase 'Will everything sad come untrue'.  As a result a dear lady wanted to meet so I could explain what that means. I did my best to help and have since been working it out.....

10. I showed a clip of the final scene of 'Man on Fire' which is a fairly on point example of substitution.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday terror

1, Unbelievable carnage in Manchester as captured here.

2. My friend Simon saved our church weekend as our speaker cancelled with three weeks to go. You should listen to these talks on Ephesians 3. It's quite beyond me why someone wouldn't want to hear these three talks at one of the big summer festivals but of course we'd rather have a 'big name' which is of course our great loss. It never ceases to amaze me the treasure trove of teachers and preachers the fly under a C of E banner. We were so blessed. Get Si to do your next weekend away.....

3. Seven ways the OT deepens our love for Jesus 

4, Simon ended his talks with this quote from Kierkegaard

''For all that has been thanks. For all that will be yes'

5. I am looking forward to hanging out with Darryl this weekend. I've read and been blessed by his blog for many years.

6. Good post about old books.

7. The book Grit was mentioned on our church weekend and a few of our number have done the Grit test.

8. Off to Canada to do a church weekend for a dear pal and to preach a bit so the blog will be quiet for a few days.

9. I am just closing out 'Love does'.

10. This is a horrifying fact.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

LC17 Talks

The LC 17 talks are now up. I really enjoyed Sinek, Cardinal Tagle and John Gray made me laugh so much it was good for my soul (Wonderful preaching too). Louise Pentland and Miranda Hart were also very funny. The highlight for me was Nicky Gumbel on 'Leadership and love'. Enjoy.

Not the road we want

“Since making disciples is the main task of the church, every church ought to be able to answer two questions: What is our plan for making disciples of Jesus? Is our plan working?” 

Dallas Willard

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Jesus is described as having "an uncanny ability to look past the obvious flaws in people's lives and envision who they could become if the power of God were released in their lives  Intrinsically, he just wondered about people. Wondered what they could become. Wondered how they might look in a transformed state. wondered what impact they could have if their lives were invested in things of eternal value'

When was the last time you stopped in the middle of a busy day and simply wondered about someone you came across?


Friday, May 12, 2017

A conversation with Jean Vanier

Way better

'We're God's plan, and we always have been. We aren't just supposed to be observers, listeners, or have a bunch of opinions. We're not here to let everyone know what we agree and don't agree with, because, frankly, who cares? Tell me about the God you love; tell me about what He has inspired uniquely in you; tell me about what you're going to do about it, and a plan for your life will be pretty easy to figure out from there. I guess what I'm saying is that most of us don't get an audible plan for our lives. It's way better than that. We get to be God's plan for the whole world by pointing people toward him'

Love does, Page 143

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday thoughts

1.My pal recommended a sermon called 'The Land Between' which for a season he tells me he listened to over and over again. It was first given at The Willow Creek Leadership Conference. If you feel you're life is in transition then this might be worth a listen.

2. I enjoy Kevin de Young's blog and books and note he is something of a high-capacity man. He's the author of 'Crazy busy.'  It was a help to me. He has two jobs- a seminary professor and a senior pastor, a Phd in progress, an author, has an international preaching ministry and ....wait for it.....seven kids.....Wow. Pray for him. I've heard him preach and he seems like a good egg.

3. The C of E is entering it's next incomprehensible but not quite yet entered into a 'schism development plan'. Ian Paul to the rescue for what's happened. For a minor point of interest, many years ago I was born again into the love and power of the Lord Jesus in Jesmond Parish Church (the centre of the latest curfuffle).........

4. I've bought 'Play the man' by Batterson. He's another busy bee.

5, I've been pondering on the Great Get Together which is sort of like the idea of something called the church given it's remembering someone who tragically was killed and working good from it (but not church cos it's only on one Sunday...and of course its not about Jesus)

6. Someone cut out Bear and stole him from our Alpha banner.

7. So enjoying preaching a series inspired by this book.

8. This quote was on the Forbes website: 'If you delegate tasks your create followers. If you delegate authority you create leaders' Craig Groschel

9. "For me a leader is a story teller" is something Cardinal Tagle said at LC17 and I haven't been able to shake it.

10. Jean Vanier, when I heard his speak last week, moved me to tears and the word he said that stuck was 'Tenderness'.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Blessings everlasting

'Nothing can surpass or supplement the forgiveness of sins. This is so because the Sovereign rule of Christ is present where there is forgiveness of sins; and with forgiveness of sins everything, life and blessings everlasting, has in fact been granted'

Lohse quoted by Lucas in 'The Message of Colossians, p.42

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How many breaths?

'No one knows how much longer they have in this life- how many breaths, how many beats of the heart, how many opportunities to say 'yes' or 'no'. But we will certainly all stand before our Maker soon enough. And on that day we'll be held accountable for the decisions we have made, and especially for the ways in which we have stewarded and shared the riches of the gospel.......And after more than twenty-seven years as a Christian, I am ashamed to admit how few there may be because of me, how many gospel opportunities I have squandered because I was merely too scared, or too busy, or too uncaring to speak'

Dirty Glory, 218-9

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Some time ago I spent time listening to J I Packer preach about Catechism in two talks (here and here). It is, he believes, vital that this practice is recaptured by the church.

He also writes this, which I have been reflecting on:

“I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before. Church-growth theorists, evangelists, pastors, missionaries, news reporters, and others all speak as if
(1) numerical increase is what matters most;
(2) numerical increase will surely come if our techniques and procedures are right;
(3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does;
(4) numerical increase must be everyone’s main goal.
I detect four unhappy consequences of this.
First, big and growing churches are viewed as far more significant than others.
Second, parachurch specialists who pull in large numbers are venerated, while hard-working pastors are treated as near-nonentities.
Third, lively laymen and clergy too are constantly being creamed off from the churches to run parachurch ministries, in which, just because they specialize on a relatively narrow front, quicker and more striking results can be expected.
Fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy temperament and not-so-flashy gifts return to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, concluding that the pastoral life of steady service is a game not worth playing.
In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.
Shrinking spiritual stature and growing moral weakness thence result, and in pastoral leaders, especially those who have become sure they are succeeding, the various forms of abuse and exploitation that follow can be horrific.
Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.
The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.”
J. I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah (Wheaton: Crossway, 1995), 207-209.

These talks on Catechism made a deep impression on me and so it's with interest that I see Tim Keller has now produced a resource called 'The New City Catechism' that takes what Packer says and puts it in an accessible resource for people to use. Here is a sneak peak at the contents.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


1. Traditionally, on Maundy Thursday, those of us who are ordained in the C of E recommit to our ordination vows and collect a fresh batch of blessed oils (3 bottles). I think I must have missed the lecture at Vicar Factory about oils :) The Bishop gave an encouraging address to his clergy yet and one I/ we probably need to hear. It was about well-being, self-care, joy, worship and '...quietness, love and peace'. He also made a parallel between eating good cheese and evangelism. He commended us to, from time to time to:

....'sit still without feeling guilty'

2. The baptism pool is up in the church garden. Join with me in praying for warm weather as I am going to be standing in it for a while on Easter day.

3. I have been studying for a message on 2 Thes 1: 11....'we constantly pray for you that our God may count you worthy of his calling'...:

'When was the last time you prayed this sort of prayer fro your family? for your church? for your children? Do we not spend far more energy praying that our children will pass their exams, or get a good job, or be happy, or not stray too far, than we do praying that they may live lives worthy of what it means to be a Christian?'

A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Carson, p.54-5

4. The was an interesting BBC survey of 'Christians' that Peter Ould has done some statistical analysis on.

5. I have for many years been blessed by Oswald Chambers and this review of 'My Utmost: A Devotional memoir' looks interesting. The same list contains a review of 'The Techwise Family' by Andy Crouch which seems required reading for the modern parent, teacher or anyone involved with young people or kids,

6. Darryl has some wisdom if you are preparing to preach this Easter.

7. The dialogue between Matthew Parris and Rod Dreher  is worth checking out in this weeks Spectator and its lead article 'Keep the faith'.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday wanderings

1. 'The writer Donald Miller rightly observes that no one makes a movie about a guy whose dream is to buy a Volvo. To this day the greatest stories of all time are adventures of sacrifice, resilience and risk'

Dirty Glory, p 202

2. There is an often publicized figure that '40% of the clergy of the C of E are due to retire in the next 10 years'. Someone recently told me that that figure is actually nearer 70% but for PR reasons no one dare mention this so as not to cause a panic. I am sure it must be possible to work the real figure out factually?

3. I fell asleep listening to this talk called 'Help me teach the Bible'

4. I have put 'Practicing the power' on my list of 2017 reads.

5. I do agree that there has been a stunning media silence since the massacre of Christians in Egypt.

6. I have this quote in mind as encouragement as we approach 24 hours of continuous prayer from 6am Easter Sat to 6am Easter Morn.It's not too late to sign up for an hours slot! :

When your prayers are accomplished and you are in heaven your joy will surely be fuller for having prayed. For if there is joy in heaven at the conversion of a sinner, as at the birth of a new prince and heir of heaven, then in happy proportion shall we rejoice most when our prayers have had a hand in it and a special interest therein. As with your other works, so your prayers follow you "and the fruit of them (Rev 14:13; Jer 17:10). At the Day of Judgement, you shall rejoice with those who enjoyed the fruit of your prayers, you having sown the seed of their happiness. "Both he that sows and he that reaps shall rejoice together' (John 4:36)

The Return of Prayers, Thomas Goodwin, p 25

If I had $220 to spend on a set of books I'd buy these.

7. Love Does.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

No more sting

.'..There is no true proclamation of the gospel which does not explain, in New Testament terms, the link between human sin and the death of Christ. Indeed, there is no gospel at all unless the death of Christ can be seen to deal with sin once and for all. The fact of resurrection by itself says little about the heart of  the gospel, unless it can be shown that 'the sting of death is sin' (1 Cor 15:56) and that the resurrection of Christ has therefore drawn that sting.'

The Message of 1 Cor, David Prior, p.260

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Take notice

'The reason you pray so much and give such little thanks is that you do not observe God's answers. You do not study them. When we have put up a faithful prayer, God is made our debtor by promise, and we are to take notice of his payment and give him an acknowledgement of the receipt of it. He loses glory otherwise'

The Return of Prayers, Thomas Goodwin


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

For the Pod: Porn free

These are the notes, resources, books and links for Ruth Jackson's brilliant and courageous talk on pornography last Sunday @ HT Barnes. It should be listened to by all who want to be better informed about this cultural pandemic and particularly its impact on young people. Please know this talk is not for the easily-shocked and contains some challenging material. Ruth is a member of our church and is a speaker, apologist, journalist and Deputy editor of Youth and Children's Work Magazine, 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Cor 3:17

'Regardless of how messed up we have become or how far we have travelled from our Father's home, God does not forget who we are. We are his children and he is always waiting for us with an embrace and an offer of new life' 

Ian Henderson of Naked Truth

The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention. What do you enjoy day-dreaming about? What is it that occupies your mind when you have nothing else to think about?' 

Tim Keller

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
    but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:12

'Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don't be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you......
for your creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven's armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, the Lord of all the earth'

Isaiah 54

The only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one' 

Thomas Chalmers

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

C S Lewis 'The Weight of Glory

'I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be but by the grace of God, I am not what I once was'

John Newton

Christian Books

Confronting porn- Paula Hall

Understanding and Treating Sex Addiction- Paula Hall

Every Man's Battle Stephen Arteburn (and 'Every woman's battle')

A Parent's Guide to Young People and Porn- Rachel Gardner

General Books

Sex, Likes and Social Media- Harvey and Puccio

Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality

Your brain on porn Gary Wilson

Christian Websites

the naked truth project.com- helpful videao, resources, recovery programs, support groups, conferences, workshops, schools work (UK Based)

click to Kick- support groups from Naked Truth

xxxchurch- online resource for those struggling with pornography (US based)

Your children are watching porn



covenant eyes.com

There are numersous TED talks on pornography (not Christian):

Why I stopped watching porn Ran Gavrieli

The Great porn Experiment Gary Wilson

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Not about the eyes but the heart

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matt 5:28

'What one generation tolerates the next generation will embrace' 
John Wesley

Quoted in 'Different', p. 117

Tomorrow, we have a sermon on 'adultery in the heart' as part of our series called 'Different: Living the Holy Life' which will address the cultural pandemic of pornography. In preparation for leading, I have re-read MLJ's sermon on Matt 5:28 and this section struck me:

'Above all, this doctrine of sin leads us to see the absolute need of a power greater than ourselves to deliver us. It is a doctrine that makes a man run to Christ and rely upon Him; it makes him realize that without Him he can do nothing. So again I would say the New Testament way of presenting holiness is not just to say, 'Would you like to live life with a capital "L"? Would you like to be permanently happy? No, it is to preach this doctrine of sin, it is to reveal man to himself so that, having seen himself he will abhor himself and become poor in spirit and meek, he will mourn, he will hunger and thirst for righteousness, he will fly to Christ and abide in Him. It is not an experience to be received so much as a life to be lived and a Christ to be followed'  

The Sermon on the Mount, p.240

Feel free to join us at 9.15  or 11 if you are around.

Saturday blog-sweep

Three myths of Co-habitation

Egalitarian and Pro-Keller

The Billy Graham Rule

Your vision may not be what you think it is

Michael Gove next Bishop of Sheffield and Pope Francis to become Anglican :)

To preach like Luther, you must listen like Luther

Do evangelicals have a spirituality?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lift my eyes up to the mountains

'Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage' 
Psalm 84:5

Another year of walking, praying and telling our annual story with my seven friends. I am happy that we are all still standing, married and remain followers of Jesus. We're different, older, more battle weary, full of zeal but with questions, joys and challenges. The truth is we are a mix, as Rick Warren says, of battle and blessing. I am moved by my friendship with such special men.

One quoted a line from Hamilton: The Musical 

'Talk less and smile' I agree.

This journey started because one of our number read 'Relational leadership' which asks the question 'Who's going to see you through?' so he started what we now call 'Men on Mountains'. Fresh air, honesty, painful moments, laughter, stories, debate, beer, 'trail mix', endless chatter about life (and the C of E).

The now retired Bishop of London would be by the phone for any of his clergy to call him between 9 and 9,15 each Monday morning.

Tom Smail's question in 'The Forgotten Father' is one I have been asking since my pal told me about it walking up a hill:

Is Jesus facing me or the Father?

How might we start conversations about God. A pal is most impressed by Table Talk: A Game of Conversations. I am planning to explore more. Good for a bunch of men in the pub. 

One of us is preaching on 1 Peter 3 and was struck by Piper's question in a sermon which we chatted about on the mountain:

Who says 'Let's.....' in your marriage? Too often, it's not the man particularly over spiritual things.

If you want a good present idea: Spicery

These are the books we chatted about and have been read by our number:

John Flett 'Apostolicity' and he writes:

This is important because it challenges how we do mission and it’s just as important for doing church plants and Fresh expressions today. If we’re really reaching new cultures then we need to be prepared not to impose our leadership structures on new churches, but we also have to redeem the whole of these cultures (and their history) - so we have to really get inside the heads of those sitting sipping their cappuccinos reading the Sunday Telegraph.

He also read:

Michael Goheen 'A Light to the Nations': Haven’t finished reading this yet, but it takes the whole of Scripture and shows how missional church has been part of the plan from the beginning - not least it’s about bringing people together from different cultures (ethnicities). Me speaking: It’s a travesty that the word ‘nation’ is now understood as ‘nation state’ rather than ethnic - we of course are ethnic cousins of Saxons, Vikings and Normans but we are transfixed on our nationhood as defining our identity. Churches need to overcome ethnic differences and demonstrate unity in Christ, and offer that to divided world. 

Also read by the chaps in no particular order:

We chatted about a few films Chi-Raq, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, La La Land and a few others.

My pal and I listened to 'The Pastor, the People and the Pursuit of Joy' in the car on the way home. This quote from the sermon seems like a good place to end and I pray I can be this for my own people in the years ahead.  

Now a pastor hearing this realizes, If I groan with the burdens and difficulties of the ministry and am not sustained by joy in this work, I will be of no advantage to my people. That is really important — no advantage to my people, no good for them, no blessing to them, no help to them.
So as he ponders he realizes: In order to love my people — to serve them and be of an advantage to them — I must devote myself to being happy in this work. I cannot let my heart be defeated by this work. I can’t act as though emotions are superfluous. As though I just need to do my duty and show up with a plan and word from God. And how I feel doesn’t matter as long as I do my duty. No. This this text says joy is your duty. Because love is your duty, and your people will not be loved without your joy. If you try to do this ministry dutifully, without pursuing your joy in it as part of your duty, this people will gain no advantage. That is, they will not be loved.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


'In every age God has given the church the resources and the ability to evangelise the whole world'
Leonard Ravenhill

As a very new Christian, my Vicar suggested we try a 'morning of prayer' and so I gave it a go. I can distinctly recall sitting on a park bench on a Saturday morning feeling rather shabby reading John Pollock's 'Wesley the Preacher' and being gripped by the story of revival it told. As a matter of minor detail, it is the same park bench I proposed to my wife on over 20 years later.

A wonderful team are planning 24 hours of prayer to take us into our Easter day baptisms and their plan is to end with a sunrise service. I have been tasked with crafting a liturgy for this which is, for those who know me, quite clearly my sweet spot. Fear not, the Moravians (who I first learnt of on the park bench) are coming to my rescue.

Watching this film will tell you who the Moravians are and if it stirs you as it stirred me then that will be an answer to prayer. It's fascinating and worth the time. I've sent it to the team.....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Empty hands

'At the heart of true repentance is an acceptance that we bring nothing to God but empty hands to receive his grace'

Different, p.183

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Half a mill

1, I noticed on my sidebar that the blog has hit over 500K. It began on a wet afternoon in the Bodleian library. I have no idea who visits here and I only know of four people who are still reading it. Anyway, thank you for passing by from time to time....

2. I enjoy Matt Redmond's 'Random thoughts' and very often there is one sentence in his list that is worth a good ponder:

Christians should be more offended by unkindness and gossip than by culturally-conditioned profanity. Far more. 

3. I always enjoy a bit of Francis Chan. Here he is on the JW's :

4. Here is a quote about repentance which is my topic of the week:

'Repentance is not fundamentally a motion of the hands, mouth or feet; it is a motion of the heart in which we abandon our posture of rebellion and adopt one of submission toward Christ. Repentance is evidenced by outward action, but it does not equal that'

5. Neither Simon in his chapter on repentance in 'Different' nor J D Greear in 'Asking Jesus into your heart' are great fans of the sinners prayer. I think they would get on:

I think Peter and the apostles would laugh and then freak out at today's evangelical 'Sinner's prayer'- where the listener is encouraged to echo the preachers pithy penitential prayer, then raise a hand, while every eye is closed and every head bowed, before coming to collect a leaflet from the preacher. That only became de rigeur in the Victorian era. How are we to be sure the new birth has been given, a new life has come into existence? This model seems neither biblical nor fruitful- how many of those whose hand went up incognito became true disciples' p 183

I am mulling on the repentance chapters in both books (which are excellent by the way) and I am someone who 'prayed the prayer' and here we all are. However, there is of course a little more to the story than that.....

6. I sent this talk to someone after a long discussion about the difference between religion and the good news of Jesus.

7. In the context of point 5, A W Pink prayed this prayer at the end of one of his sermons.

Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself; and why not tonight? Why not tonight my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight, 'Come, for all things are now ready' A Life, p.52-53

8. Simon references his favorite preacher James S Stewart in 'Different' and blow me down here is a post on him. Si sent me this book when I got ordained.

9. As I have been studying holiness of late this prayer and insight hit me. It's the gospel in a couple of sentences:

Augustine's famous prayer, 'Give what you command, and command what you will,' expressed a profound insight into biblical theology. God does indeed give what he commands; the holiness which He required of His people is also His gift to them. God himself sanctifies sinners.' 18 Words, p.170

10. Mrs C is still reading bits of 'Dirty Glory' out to me. Did I mention at all that you really should read this book......

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Surveying Clergy Stress and Well-being

I remember visiting a Bishop to discuss the prospects of a Curacy in his area (not in my current Diocese) and him telling me that nearly half of his clergy were suffering some form of work-related stress, addiction, depression or some other mental health condition. He said dealing with the fall out from this occupied much of his time. Unsurprisingly, I have never forgotten that meeting.

My friend Kathryn is doing her Phd on this subject and would greatly appreciate Clergy doing a questionnaire that will form part of her research data, If you are able to 'pass this forward' to other Clergy then please do so.

This is her study:

 Enhancing Ministry and Encouraging Clergy Well-Being
A study to support the development of ministerial resources

A group-coaching course that engages with the relational challenges of ministry is currently being piloted in three Church of England dioceses. The course offers a framework for thinking about congregational relationships and supports participants to develop an empowering response to these, potentially emotionally demanding, situations.

This research project is exploring the impact of this course on participants’ experiences of ministry and on their personal well-being. In order to ensure our conclusions are robust and meaningful, and identify whether it might be pertinent to offer this coaching approach more widely, we are also conducting a Church of England wide study. We are inviting a random cross section of clergy across England and Wales to participate in a survey that explores the influence of pastoral role and relationships on clergy’s experience of ministry.

Previous research indicates that relations with others, whether inside or outside the Church community can be both a resource and a demand for clergy. Facing unrealistic congregational expectations, dealing with conflictual situations and managing the diversity of the pastoral role are some of the interpersonal scenarios which have been found to act as significant sources of ministerial pressure (Berry et al., 2012; Charlton et al., 2009). Alongside this, support from colleagues, congregation, friends and family have been shown to sustain clergy and promote their well-being (Ling, 2016; Proeschold-Bell, 2015). This research will explore the impact of these relational factors in greater depth.

If you are a full-time stipendiary minister working in a parish whose role is of incumbent or holds incumbent status (e.g. team vicar, priest-in-charge) we would like to invite you to participate.

The survey should take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

If you would like to take part in this research please visit here: