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Showing posts from February, 2005


Home from the South East CU Leaders weekend at Sunbury Court. Fantastic to spend two days with my guys from Reading, SIAD and Surrey along with a load of other student leaders from across the region. Its always a great weekend, seeing these young missions leaders gathering to meet with God and be equipped for service over the coming year and beyond.

Ian Marlow taught us from 1 Corinthians 3-6, a great demonstration of God's great wisdom in human weakness, and amazingly pertient application and challenges. (Also worth a look at 2 Corinthians 3-6, which is what we'd planned to study!). Ian as always grounded God's word so clearly into the CU context and the challenges that students face doing mission. Once again this term I find myself humbled by God's Word - our God the great revealer of mysteries, entrusting the gospel to us!

I spent a fairly large portion of the weekend playing with the band. It was great to reunited 4/6th of the old Barefoot crew. First time Em & I…

Contending for our all

Each year John Piper shares a biography at his pastors conference, calling us to sit at the feet of those who have gone before us and learn from them. This year he turned to Athanasius who took his stand to guard in the midst of a crisis over revelation and redemption, a fight that continues today.

What was clear to Athanasius was that propositions about Christ carried convictions that could send you to heaven or to hell. There were propositions like: “There was a time when the Son of God was not,” and, “He was not before he was made,” and, “the Son of God is created.” These propositions were strictly damnable. If they were spread and believed they would damn the souls which embraced them. And therefore Athanasius labored with all his might to formulate propositions that would conform to reality and lead the soul to faith and worship and heaven.

I believe Athanasius would have abominated, with tears, the contemporary call for “depropositionalizing” that you hear among many of the so-ca…

scared of aeroplanes

A little five track "EP", maybe these will actually get recorded sometime this year... time will tell. Either way its been great to get back to writing and to have Rich back in the area to add his musical genius to the mix.

lyrics - © dave bish
music - © em bish, rich clements, dave bish


Its the nature of the blogosphere to canibalise other articles... so let me confess my inspiration for this post, from Sam Storms
TIME Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Evangelicals In America

Probably more lucid than me. But it got me thinking, do we need to be nationally influential? Must each of us deserve our fifteen minutes (or seconds) of fame? And what constitutes grounds for being influential in the world? I think Storms hits the nail on the head in his article, surely its faithful ministry, not book-sales or notoriety.

In Sheffield Church-Planter, Tim Chester's book Good News to the Poor he comments on the influence of William Carey in India. Chester recounts a story from Ruth and Vishal Mangalwadi who ask: "Who was William Carey?"

The answers, depending on who you ask, include scientist, engineer, industialist, economist, doctor, social reformer, educator, administrator and philosopher. Whereas if you asked a Christian in Britain they'd tell of the Northamptonshi…

God rules!

Phil just asked me to sum up my week in two words: God rules.

1. God rules:
As in, God rocks and is doing great stuff in peoples lives. This week is the CU events week at Reading University, life. A week of events, cold-contact and generally inviting people to investigate the claims of Jesus for themselves. Its been great to have a team with us, mostly made up of Relay workers and Reading graduates plus a few other gifted people. Great to see many people making new commitments or recommitments to find their treasure in Christ and live under his rule.

2. God rules:
As in, God is sovereign over all things. Last night was the AGM at Surrey CU and Jon Hobbs spoke on Daniel 4 & 5 to complete the first part of their series in Daniel. IT was great to have the gospel preached to us and be painfully confronted with God's rule. As Jon pointed out repetition often indicates what the main point of a passage is, and in Daniel 4v17, 25 and 32 we find:

"the Most High is sovereign over the ki…

Miss-sold or Made Known!

Miss-selling is dangerous. As a Christian I know this acutely well. The gospel carries a cost and if that cost is not detailed then people can probably rightly ask for their money back. In the long-run the cost is nothing compared to the gain, but it is still often a short term cost against our desires or aspects of life that would be contrary to saying that Jesus is Lord. To omit such information is actually deceitful, and says massive things about how good we think our good news is...

Miss-selling is common place, and it happens with Films very often. The biggest miss-sell I've seen recently is The Village. Marketed as a horror, it's not. Probably the best film I've seen in ages, miles better than Oceans 12 (even comparaing them is offensive). M. Night Shayamalan's best film since Unbreakable, The Village is a great exploration of our desire to escape evil... and our complete inability to do so, however hard we try.

Films are often miss-sold. Good films all the more so…

Seeing it right

Imagine a photo, a crowded scene. I show you the picture and point out one of the people. I start raving about that person, telling you how amazing they are, things they said etc... That'd be great.

Except if I'm pointing them out in the background of a group shot at a family/friend's wedding and don't mention at all the couple getting married, and the relation of the person to the couple etc, then however great my story is I've not really told you what the picture is about, and I'll have insulted the friend/family whose wedding it is. Poor illustration perhaps, but hopefullly you get the picture! We need to view things in widescreen, we need to have the picture in focus.

And that has to happen when we come to the Bible... Fundamentally the Bible is a book about Jesus. However desperately we want it be about us it isn't, not firstly. It has great implications and demands for our lives but its not primarily about us and our lives. Seriously I mean that.

The bo…

there has been an alarming increase in the number of things i know nothing about*

Today, Southampton. South East Team Days.
First up Nay shared with us findings from her study project - looking at "are miraculous gifts for today?". We looked at the four major views and chatted briefly about them. Helpful to try to better understand where other people are coming from on their own terms, and to think a little about how to do ministry in a CU context where all four major views may be represented.... Clearly no position is neutral, but how do we practically deal with the challenges that come from uniting across such convictions to do mission?

Somehow (not sure if it was by our design or not), the three Staff on the team have landed up having really controversial areas for our study projects this year. I was up first on Romans 9 and sovereignty, and in May we'll look at Women's Ministry with Kath. In the meantime I'm still trying to get started on "Preaching 2 Chronicles 1-7" - with all the challenges of Old Testament Narrative and the com…

Unimpressive Power and Foolish Wisdom

For the best part of fourteen years (from age four to eighteen) I went to church almost every week (it was basically weekly for the first ten, and probably monthly after that... either way...). For an hour per sunday I would go through the motions reading the Anglican liturgy. Great phrases, poetically arranged to enable the gathered crowd to affirm and declare their shared beliefs. Except, that four fourteen years this stuff just went over my head, or rather in my eyes and out my mouth without touching my brain, emotions or any other part of me. I just didn't get it.

Yesterday I was reading Jonah from the Bible with Steve - meeting God in his Word, over a cup of coffee.

One short sharp message of impending judgement and the people of Nineveh, perhaps the evilest people since Sodom and Gomorrah (maybe), are on their knees seeking mercy from God. Several hundred years later Jesus speaks far more words of judgement to a crowd of Jewish leaders, and they come begging for a sign to pr…


Good news is encouraging. It's great to hear good news! It's encouraging because of its good content, and so it is with the good news about Jesus.

I've just spent some time with CU leaders from Reading University, we looked at 1 Thessalonians 4v13-5v18. I've come away really encouraged, which I think is the point! 4v18 and 5v11 both tell us to be encouraged in the light of what has gone before.

In the first section - the question of Christians grieving for Christians is addressed. We're told not to grieve like the world grieves. The difference is that we have hope. Hope, because Jesus has died and risen and is coming back - and when he does we will be with him! So be encouraged! And let us encourage one another with this good news!

In the second the issue is the timing of the end, people say its all peace and safety and that life will go on forever, but it will end. Such people will be surprised when Jesus comes. We don't know when he'll come, but since w…

Mission & Mercy, Rights & Responsibilies...

Yesterday was the start of a two week series looking at Mission & Mercy at church. The overwhelming message was the priority of preaching the gospel, since this meets the real need that people have. This surely isn't to the exclusion of helping them in their situation, with their immediate and felt-needs - but faces the reality that without the message of the Cross of Christ no real help is given. Krish Kandiah likens messageless mercy to putting a plaster over a cut on the finger of someone dying of cancer, when you have the cure for cancer.

I was chatting with Steve last week about how Christians should deal with justice issues. He raised his concerns over us helping on the basis of people's "human rights", rights to life and justice, and no poverty etc. I think I have to sympathise. Do we human beings really have any rights, but to be sent to hell for our rebellion against God? I wonder whether the more Biblical approach (which would have at least as much affe…

Life in Surrey

Last week (31 Jan - 4 Feb) was Life week at Surrey University, five days of intensified action to make Jesus known to students. The Christian Union there is a year-round mission team but once a year its resources are focussed on a series of extra events, publicity, conversation and surveying around campus. This raises the temperature a little and should spur ongoing work in the months following.

The week began encouragingly and continued as such. The lunchtime events with a short talk and open questions were well attended and at times had upto two thirds non-Christians attending. Our mass flyering prior to events was very influential in bringing people in.

It was great to make contact with lots of new people and as the mission continues over the next year our hopes is that eyes will be opened to see the good news about Jesus. An Alpha Course kicks off this wednesday and I hope that many of the good things of the last week can be continued.

Many thanks to Ian Marlow for speaking and t…

Making God look big, making grace look amazing...

This weekend was the Reading CU Cell Leaders weekend. My talk scripts now online at

"Preach the gospel and if necessary use words??"

This quote, (apparently falsely) attributed to St. Francis of Assisi - who was a preacher - is a common threat to evangelism today. It plays to our fear of speaking about Jesus, and to our sense of weakness and insufficiency to the task. It is however fundamentally flawed at so many levels... let me deal with six things! Whether Francis said it, or whether it contains useful teaching isn't my point. My concern is the way it is applied.

I believe in showing mercy and loving people and helping the poor, widow, orphan, immigrant. I do. Giving someone a meal isn't evangelism and giving them a Bible isn't filling their stomach. They are different things. Both are important. Both are necessary.

Firstly, why do you need to tell me not to use words?
It is endemic of assumed evangelicalism that we forget that each of us how know about Jesus did once hear about him. People insist on preaching that we need no preaching, this is very like the postmodern wordsmiths who proclaim the mea…

Out of the office

I've been out of the office (not that I have an office) for the last couple of weeks... hence an absence of blogging. Bringing you up to speed then...

Meeting God in his Word
Last week as the second Relay conference of the year. We gathered in Ledbury to meet God in his word. Our focus was on Psalm 119, seeing the glory of the God of the Word in the Word of God. As we worked through the Psalm day by day it was exciting and challenging and eye-opening. We were faced with his delight in God's everlasting word, and with his honest reflection of his afflictinos. The desire of the Psalmist that God's name be lifted high, and his honest reflection that he does not always do that.

I was humbled at the end to see that the Psalmist acknowledging he has gone astray from God. Admitting he needs saving, not because be forgets God's word but rather knowing God's word he knows that he has sinned. The sin is so often less ignorance and more disobedience.

How true for us! And how …

How to fight for joy

"the joy I write to awaken is the sustaining strength of Mercy, Missions and Martyrdom.... Christ will be glorified in the world when Christians are so satisfied in him that they let goods and kindred go and lay down their lives for others in Mercy, Mission, and, if necesary, Martyrdom. He will be magnified most among the nations when, at the moment Christians lose everything on earth, they say, 'To live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1v21)' - When I don't desire God p 20,21.