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Showing posts from July, 2005

More from Bulgaria

Today, here online again. Yesterday we had a bit of a rest exploring nearby Veliko Tornovo and Arbanassi. Beautiful places. Photos to follow when I get back! Great to relax with the team and the Bulgarians.

We've continued to teach English (using Mark's gospel and The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe - today Aslan died). Its great to show people Jesus and explain about his grace. Our discussion groups have continued well. Today I spoke on how can we believe, and about the Holy Spirit. Final sessions tomorrow morning on the Crucifixion and also Having a Personal Relationship with God.

Pray that God would open eyes, using weak people like us to display his power, grace and justice. Much encouraged from reading the Psalms and Romans in recent days. Also being helped by John Owen to see The Glory of Christ! Our Mediator! Our Treasure!

This is probably my last post from Bulgaria. We leave camp on Monday and begin our journey home. See you all soon.

Lyaskovets, Bulgaria

Unexpectedly got to an Internet Cafe here in Lyaskovets co-leading our UCCF Summer Team. This is why I went offline for a while... still since I'm able to get online for a few minutes you may as well know how things are! I don't expect to make any further posts for a while though!

Our journey was fine and we arrived safely last Thursday evening. Its very hot here. The camp is going well so far. We've taught two days of English. Our advanced English lessons seem to be going well - doing manuscript study from Mark's gospel and also acting out The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. After that has been the Visa course. I spoke this morning on Sin and we had a good discussion in our group after that. Its great to see people grappling with the truth of the gospel, for the first time. We have around 20 students here, some of which are not believers. Tom Riches and I are leading one of the discussion groups - it was good to see him leading the discussion today for the first t…

Offline til August 22nd.

Everything is still here but I'm taking a five week break from blogging. I moved to Blogger on August 18th 2004 and 252 posts later its time for a short break! There's plenty to read in the archives. I do intend to resume blogging on August 22nd so do return then. Thanks for visiting.

The Wedding of Dave & Ros Cox

Another student wedding! This time Ros Ottley from Reading. Lots of students there and surprisingly a former colleague. So we have, Ed Goode, Ben Prior, Sharon & Ian Coates, Helen Greaves, Adam Davies, Simon Fern, Ceryn Oakes and Chris Foster. I did get a few others but I ran out of montage space.

Also recieved my copy of The Brooms of Destruction: The Dave Bish Project. I am somewhat flattered by an album named after me, and greatly amused by the parody "Staffworker" song that appears on the album. Songs by a variety of talented Reading University Christian Union musicians.

Where are you Luther?

Phil Johnson The Worst of Times in Evangelicalism echoes the thoughts of David Gibson's Assumed Evangelicalism. How do we get out of this mess? Break away from being "Fad-Driven® Churches" and become those "where Christ is honored and His Word obeyed". Ian Stackhouse's The Gospel Driven Church made a similar call, to charismatics, to abandon faddism and get back to preaching the gospel. Is anyone listening?

Cracked Eikons

Interesting thoughts from Scot McKnight:
...for us to believe that Jesus dies "for our sins" we have to be committed in faith to the "story of the Bible" -- that the Creator God make us to be Eikons, that we are cracked Eikons, that God in his embracing grace gathers up the pieces of our lives and glues them together, in the context of a community, through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is our "story" or our "metanarrative," and for Jesus' death to be seen as "for our sins" we will have to embrace that story as our story. This means also that the "story of the Bible" is a Spirit-inspired work of God through the community of faith. (I admit, this is a lot all tangled together.)

Which means, and this I believe with all my heart, faith that Jesus died "for our sins" is the result of God's grace. (I just hope this doesn't make me a Calvinist!) ...

Nothing wrong with be…

Once a Relay, now a blogger??

It used to be said that when a Relay worker finished the Relay programme, they kept on being a Relay... since the comission to Relay is not to skills or projects or programmes but to ongoing vibrant grace-filled discipleship, passing on the gospel in the style of 2 Timothy 2v2. Remembering to Encourage the good where-ever you find it.

Hopefully that still happens... But in their legions the Relay of 2004/5 are becoming bloggers... To be fair this is only 6 of 68 so there are plenty not doing it... but here's to a growing minority! Time will tell if they become essential reading... lets hope so.

Steve LW
Gareth L
Gareth B

Steve's elective studies on Christian Hedonism are now online...

Earl Devine 1910-2005

Earl was my great-uncle. I only met him once, when he was in the UK about 15 years ago.Earl Devine
Peacefully, following a brief illness, at Pontiac Community Hospital, on Saturday, July 9th, 2005 in his 95th year. Beloved husband of Daisy Devine.Loving father to Andrew (Claire), Linden (Darlene), Shirley (Richard Roy) and Earleen (Jim Stark). Fondly remembered by grandchildren Tamara and Chad Devine, Erin and Megan Roy, Thea and Martin Gregory and Anne Stevens and Sylvie Moore. Proud great-grandfather of eight. Also survived by brother Lee Devine of Florida. Friends may call at the W.J. Hayes & Sons Funeral Home, 134 Centre Street, Shawville, Quebec on Monday, July 11th, 2005 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral service in the Chapel on Tuesday, July 12th, 2005 at 3 p.m. Interment Maple Grove Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Terry Fox Fund or the Palliative Care Unit at the Pontiac Community Hospital.
Published in the Ottawa Citizen from 7/10/2005 - 7/11/2…

Painful Beauty

We have a UCCF Summer Team out in New Zealand at the moment. Gareth Batten tells the story. He's been on Relay this year, along with a few others in the above picture. I had the priviledge of sleeping on Gareth's floor as a CU guest in his first year at Bath. The team will soon descend on Massey, where Scott Mackay is a student. Andy Shudall is also in New Zealand blogging.

As Andy reflects: "It is great to have time to stop and think - and to think of the painful beauty that makes up New Zealand and the challenges that lie here: beauty because of what God is doing and pain because the hard work of the gospel is never easily accomplished or completed."

And then I discovered... Mo, Andy's replacement as Relay Coordinator... also now blogging.

Grace gives permission

Chatting with a Reading graduate I'm reminded of the beauty of God's grace. I remember talking with her years ago, trying to get my head round how even faith is a gift from God. It does not depend upon me!

Since I started out as a CU Staff Worker I've tried to keep in view a permission to fail. Its surely foundational to all Christian ministry. Grace means I can put my foot in it. Grace means I can get stuff wrong. Grace means I can fall flat on my face and be picked up again, and again.

That actually literally happened about 7.5 years ago in my first steps into ministry. I was running to collect some flyers for an event to deliver to the end of a evangelistic course meeting, back in December 1997. It was dark and I was focussed more on my destination than where I was. Next thing I knew I've had an intimate connection with a concrete bollard and I'm flying flat out on the ground in the rain. The grace of God picks us up again, and again, and again.

Meanwhile I feel ob…

A Generous Reward

Matthew 19v16-20v16. A generous reward is offered to all humanity. Not for the solving of a crime. Not a prize for the greatest competitor. A reward that is freely available to anyone who would come and receive it. But on the path to this reward is an obstacle. That obstacle needs to be overcome. Then, the reward can be received....

A Great Obstacle
A man comes to Jesus, asks a question and goes away sad. He asks – how do I get eternal life? What must I do? He asks Jesus because he considers him to be a good teacher. Jesus enquires of him – why call him good? Only One is good – God.

Does he ask of God? Perhaps better than the man knows, he is asking of God. Jesus puts obedience before him. The man claims to have achieved such obedience. Yet that is not enough. Jesus lays down a final mark – sell your possessions and give them to the poor, then you'll have treasure in heaven. Treasure in heaven meaning eternal life. And the man goes away sad. Jesus responds – how hard it is for the …

Harry Potter and Magic-of-Hype

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince gets released later this week. It's already the number one seller at Amazon. And it's not even available. They report it has 672 pages. I would imagine JK Rowling would be within her rights to release a book with 672 blank pages, or just a short story with 100pages. And maybe if she did that we might learn to be a bit more critical and discerning rather than throwing money at a book which could be total drivel...

Religious Hatred Bill?

Read the Bill at
BBC News - new effort to band religious hate

This legislation is potentially concerning. The government is keen to implement it. Is it going to become illegal for me to preach the Christian gospel? Will my job land me in prison? What does religious hatred mean? Could people really interpret the preaching of the good news of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as inciting hatred?
In this Part “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief"Not sure I quite get what this means."having regard to all the circumstances the performance is likely to be attended by any person in whom the performance (taken as a whole) is likely to stir up racial or religious hatred.”Theoretically this will protect my freedom to preach the Christian gospel. No preaching of the gospel is designed to produce hatred for another faith or person as a response. Christians are to love those o…

New Adventures in Blogspotting

Sven noticed I'd been blogging on the road from NewFrontiers... also noting that Phil Johnson had been recording his visit to London last week. Paul Huxley noted privately that the world might be safer if Phil Johnson stopped travelling and I stopped going to conferences.

Meanwhile newly arrived in the blogosphere Andy Shudall is blogging from New Zealand... where he now has full resident status. Also in New Zealand is Scott Mackay who confesses that he reads thebluefish.

Newly arrived are ex-Relay's Steve, Charlie and Gareth. Along with Reading University graduates Sal and Chris who bow to popular demand to reveal their new images. Finally a belated thanks to Adam for noticing my thoughts on Discipline and Intergrity

Update: Rosemary proved unable to resist the lure of blogging as she heads overseas.... probably a good thing.

Make Poverty History?

Matthew 18v21-35. The so called Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. This is the simplest of parables. Its imagery is vivid. Its message is painfully clear.

The argument of the parable is very simple. A man has his debt cancelled but does not cancel the debts of those who owe him. So, judgement awaits him. And Jesus presents this as an illustration to us of what God has done for us. Our debt against God is cancelled – and the reality of our taking hold of this gift will be shown in the way we live in the light of it...

In this year of Making Poverty History there is a bigger debt at stake. Third world debt is undoubtedly a major issue. It is undoubtedly a just cause. It is undoubtedly an urgent cause. But for every single member of the human race there is a greater debt to be settled. There is a greater poverty to be made history. There is a debt to be cancelled that no world leader can cancel. No bank. No campaign.

To convince you of this I need to show you that you owe God a great debt.…

The Wedding of John & Katie Tucker

This weekend we went to John & Katie's wedding. John was one of the first students I discipled at Reading University, starting back in 2000. I found him out in the almost entirely female Bulmershe campus and figured a bit of support wouldn't go amiss. Later that year he hooked up with Katie... its been several years wait to get here but a real joy to see them committing to marriage.

In the picture you can see them, obviously... along with Hannah Chitty and Iain Fletcher. The bottom right picture is the car they left the church in... The top right is the car they left the reception in. The reception was at The West Lodge Park Hotel... that car is parked outside our bedroom window the following morning... at The West Lodge Park Hotel. Seems they drove out through the main entrance and back in again...

(CJ's Talks) from New Frontiers

CJ Mahaney's talks at NewFrontiers Leadership 2005 have been given before, and I've found text/audio's of them! Two are from his series on The Passion (The Cup, The Mediator).

Christ our Mediator - The Divine Dilemma Resolved (HTML)
Christ our Mediator - The Divine Dilemma Resolved (MP3)

The Cup: How did Jesus view the Cross (MP3)

When Life doesn't Make Sense (DOC)

Other Audio's from Covenant Life Church, from Google

Third talk in The Passion series... The Cry

We Weep in Faith

We weep in faith that soon we’ll weep no more—
Assured it’s but a moment, now, before
We will see Christ—the hope in whom we died.
We will see Christ and hope be satisfied.
Awak’ning then from life to life, through death,
We’ll breathe of Christ upon earth’s final breath.

We follow Christ, who did not fear the tomb,
And know when he stands in our dying room,
“Laz’rus, come forth!” we’ll hear him shout, with cries,
Or whisper softly, “Talitha, arise.”
The tears that flowed down Jesus’ face were shed
In faith that, conquered, death will soon be dead.

Christ, help us bear what burdens now we must
With constant hope for what you hold in trust.
And help us weep as you taught us to weep,
Knowing each child you’ve claimed, you’ll kindly keep.
Awak’ning then from life to life, through death
We’ll breathe of Christ upon earth’s final breath.
tune: Finlandia ("Be Still My Soul," "We Rest on Thee")
words: Abraham Piper,

More songs from Abraham Piper

Dear Kenny,


This evening you'll be flying back into London Heathrow airport after four nights at the ChSA evangelistic camp in Poland. Some things have changed since then. Some things haven't...

Last Sunday morning Tim Silk preached at our church - in view of G8 and the Religious Hatred Bill, he reminded us that God rules this world, not man. Then you arrived to stay over en route to the airport. We watched The War of the Worlds. Aliens don't rule anymore than man rules it. Two things I remembered - one: Spielberg is a great director who still makes some rubbish films, two: God rules unchangingly.

If you caught sight of a paper on Monday morning on your way from our house to the aiport all the headlines were about Live8. Tuesday was all about G8, and I headed off to a conference in Brighton. On Wednesday Olympic expectation filled the air like it has so many times... and yet, this time we got it! England won the bid! On Thursday morning the papers where jubilant, and yet before m…

(Home) from NewFrontiers

I decided to leave the NewFrontiers conference a day early. Two reasons. One - I've been away from my wife too much this year. Two - the nine talks that I've been to in three days have been awesome - and I need time to process and apply. It was great to spend time in the company of passionate people, lovers of Jesus who love his word and long for their lives and this world to be changed by him.

I forgot to mention that I'd run into... Andy Bawler (first time I've seen him in about six years), SIAD CU Leader Penny Skeels! and Surrey CU's Jon Carter! Also Ryan from Winchester CU... its great to be with the people of God.

The last twenty four hours have been strange. In the space of 24 hours we heard reports of London's Olympic Bid victory for 2012, and then of the appalling terrorist strikes there this morning. Being at a conference when these things happen is strange. There is a programme. How do we respond? I remember being at our UCCF Forum Student Leaders Con…

(Blogging) from New Frontiers...

I've dived into the free internet cafe here at New Frontiers Leadership 2005 conference. I only have a few minutes.... So here's a few highlights. To be expanded later...

Monday - Stephen Van Rhyn - a superbly honest talk from Exodus 1-2 on stepping out in faith. He challenged us that:It's not enough to simply defend orthodoxy,
we need to do great exploits for God
. Terry Virgo was also excellent in the evening with the first of a two parter on Gideon, led into by Isaiah 9 - Christ's victory is like that at Midian. To be concluded on Friday morning. I gather this is the same material he taught at the UCCF Preaching Persuasively staff training.

Tuesday - I'm on the Mobilise (Students/20s) track so I was up at the Clarendon Centre this morning. First up Lex Loizides on Signs & Wonders. And God did some!

Then secondly the highlight so far - CJ Mahaney on Christ, Our Mediator. This was absolutely fantastic - let us look to objective truth and believe that Jesus is our …

What makes GOOD NEWS good?

What is the good news? What is the heart of Christianity? What is the best thing in life? John Piper on 2 Corinthians 3v17-4v7 presents the answer. You want to listen to this. You need to read this. You really do. As do I.

"What makes good news good? Seeing the glory of Christ"
MP3 | Script

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God,we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has b…

Re-reading the Good Samaritan...

Luke 9v51-10v42- Knowing Jesus

This is a big passage to start the year with - and you have 40 minutes to study it! There is lots of stuff in it and one very familiar parable at the start of it. Remember that when we study we’re looking for the big idea. We don’t have time to explore everything – we need to be disciplined in working through things quickly. This will be rewarding when we see the bigger picture.

The question raised at the start of the good Samaritan parable recurs at the end of our series, with the rich young ruler. This is a key question: how do I get eternal life? The answer is made clear if we will see it....

57-62. The big thing to see here is that following Jesus is costly – but Jesus spells out the cost. Why? Because it is worth it. The costs don’t outweigh the benefits. Hold that thought!

1-20. Here Jesus sends out his disciples. But this is not a mission training manual. You will have to avoid getting bogged down in all the detail here… at least for now. The key pla…


Dan Cruver has a gift for finding great gospel-centred material. Here'a couple he's spotted. You need to read them. Full of practical help to stay cross-centred... cruzcentrica.

The Centrality of the Gospel (Tim Keller) PDF
Gospel-Driven Sanctification PDF

And... my favourite little book on this vital issue:
CJ Mahaney - The Cross Centred Life

Until we see that Christian life isn't about "performance" (Bridges), or "plate spinning" (Mahaney) but actually about the application of the gospel to all of life we will never truly live.

New Frontiers / Leadership 2005

Later this week I'm off to the newfrontiers Leadership Conference in Brighton. Should be a great week - some top Bible Teachers on the bill. Looking forward to hearing CJ Mahaney and Ian Stackhouse amongst others. And hopefullly a good opportunity to catch up a few colleagues who should be there too.

Excitingly Terry Virgo is teaching Romans at our UCCF Christian Unions Leaders Conference, Forum in September - it's great to have him on board for that..... and, big thanks to the guys at Reading Family Church for getting me a ticket for this week. Sadly I don't have the technology to blog the conference while I'm there so I'll just have to catch up when I get back.

Gateways to God

I want to introduce you to a book that I'm sure you've never read. It was published in 2001 but has been cursed with an appallingly designed cover - the death of many good books. Sadly, we judge books by their cover - but the contents of this one deserve attention... As Peter Lewis of Cornerstone, Nottingham, says in his coverword about the book it is "a good and helpful book: sound, intelligent and challenging. Pete Lowman understands his Bible and its place in the modern world as well as in the believer's heart. He read the Bible as a man of his times"

I found it through the author, Pastor of our previous church, Pete Lowman. It's called Gateways to God - Seeking Spiritual Depth in a Post-Modern World. The essential premise of the book is to lead those looking for Spiritual Depth into the one place they can find it. To set us off, pioneering, off the beaten track into the New Testament.

Pete Lowman walks alongside us through Ephesians, 2 Corinthians, Mark, 1…

The Da Vinci Code

Finally decided to read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code yesterday. Now I'm done. It's a fast-paced escape thriller. Very reminiscent of the Nicolas Cage film National Treasure, particularly with its Knights Templar reference. Less treasure and more religious belief. Its not the best literature I've ever read, but it is clever and gripping. It's a Novel, not an essay on religous theories. But Brown undeniably has an agenda.

My friend and collegue, Tom Price, at our UCCF resource has written - Dan Brown: Looking behind the Code. I'll explore some of my own thoughts here - particularly about faith/evidence - in the coming days. But Tom's thoughts are worth a look in the mean time. Dan Brown writes boldly against the Catholic Church. I'm no Catholic, but some of the issues he touches on have bearing for me as an Evangelical. From Brown's portraL of the church you may get the wrong end of the stick.

There are issues of knowledge and the basis…

Ruined by Pain? Ruined by Pleasure?

Justin Taylor is thinking about 1984 and Brave New World. Two of my favourite books. He cites the comment of Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death: "In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right."

Your Worship Leader, Your Most Influential Theologian

Continuing to think about... The Word's We Sing Do Matter, led me to An Essay on Hymnody.

It begins..."'Tis hard to say if greater harm is done
When heresy is preached or when it's sung,
But I will argue that the latter's worse—
More virulent is heresy in verse.
The simple reality, and a sad one for a preacher to admit, is that what is sung often carries greater weight and memorability than what is preached. The worship leader in any Christian group may well be the most influential theologian there. They could potentially be the best theologian, but that is by no means guarenteed.

As a former* worship leader, let me appeal - we must sort out the theology of our songs. We must consider the words we sing. Too much is at stake not to. Worship that gets it wrong steps away from worship and towards idolatry. We do not want to go there.

See also:
Worship Wars
The Word's We Sing Do Matter
The Words We Sing

*former, because of a calling to preach.

How did you get here today?

Sitemeter tells me the most common google/yahoo searches that get people here are:1. Preach the gospel and if necessary use words
2. Obadiah Comment
3. Dog Cat Theology
4. Marcus Honeysett Controversy
5. Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words
6. Howard Guinness Sacrifice
7. St. Francis of Assisi
8. Theology of Cat and Dog
9. Preach the gospel. When necessary use words
10. Phil McAlmondNot sure what the controversy with Marcus is, other than that some people don't like his superb book Meltdown. Meanwhile I guess these two articles are quite popular:

Cat & Dog Theology
(thoughts on a competent introduction to Christian Hedonism, often a bit too black and white, but with some useful illustrations)

Preach the gospel and if necessary use words
(reflections on the distortion of St. Francis of Assisi's words)

Total visits per month now avergae - 2200. Thank you for dropping by.

Worship Wars?

Thanks to Justin Taylor for flagging up this excellent article:
From Worship Wars to Biblical Consensus by Ligon Duncan. Some well needed sanity for those responsible for worship in church.

My first steps into theologican understanding came as a result of leading worship in my Christian Union. I realised that my synthy-atmospheric keyboard sounds could affect people. Eyes would close. Hands would rise. But I had no idea what I was actually supposed to be doing. Was I leading people into the very presence of God? Was I manipulating them with music? Was I helping them to worship the Lord?

It's very important. The reality is that if we get worship wrong then we become idolators. As Giglio observes worship is really a matter of value. If our worship is valuing anything ahead of God then it is idolatrous. And we really don't want to do that!

More often that not it ends up over-valuing me - "above all you thought of me...???". Our worship must value the one who is most valu…