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Showing posts from June, 2006

EMA: David Jackman - Preach the Word

David Jackman gave the inaugural lecture on preaching, an exhortation against theological lecturing from the pulpit, merely explaining the Bible... when God would have us PREACH THE WORD... This was Jackman doing John Piper's The Supremacy of God in Preaching (see for example: Expository Exultation @

A challenge to follow Jesus' example. In Luke 4v16-32 we see Jesus preaching Jesus from the Old Testament... and we see some hardened... and some softened. Some filled with wrath, some with awe for Jesus. Jesus interprets scripture and he interprets the people... and he brings God's word to them.

Cotton Mather, puritan preacher..."the great design and intention of the office of Christian preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men" ...which he supports from Romans 10v15-15: how beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news? What good news? Romans quotes Isaiah 52v7: "YOUR GOD REIGNS" ...the point of…

Look at the world from a different angle

Andy taught me to encourage the good wherever you find it... and if you can't find it look harder.

Recently Becci started a trend of getting people to look for something cool every day... and many have followed.Becci's 365Ceryn's 365Chris' 365Ed's 365Fi's 365Izzy's 365Kath's 365Katharine's 365Liz's 365Pippa's 365Pod's 365Sarah's 365Steffy B's 365Nicola's 365Meanwhile Funky Pancake is unstoppable in his eye for the mundane.

Now, Dan Hames and Lindsay Langdon may be cheating (from the 365er's perspective)... but its hardly a crime to be thankful for 150 things... in fact its commanded that we cultivate thankfulness! Worse things could happen than for the blogosphere to give itself to looking at the world from a different angle, with thankfulness to God.


So, today was my first ever trip to the Evangelical Ministry Assembly. I'm too tired to blog it in detail now... but suffice to say there was lots of good stuff. Unsurprisingly the talk highlight was John Piper on Venturing in Ministry, or in other words, why RISK IS RIGHT. I will blog my notes on that at the weekend. Other talks were given by Peter Adam & Simon Manchester, along with David Jackman who gave his version of Piper's The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

Meanwhile I caught up with Rich Carding, Jon Hobbs, Steve Casey, Olivia Dunigan, Dan MacLeod, Paula Love, Adrian Reynolds, Ant Adams, Marcus Honeysett, Ben Mandley... met John Gillespie and several others, and saw vast numbers of other familiar faces from a distance. At one moment Rich and I found ourselves sat on the balcony amidst Piers, Marcus, Graham Beynon, Ant Adams and Richard Coekin...somewhat above our station... An added bonus was running into Anna Mackenzie whilst exiting the venue at the end of the da…

Two sinners under the same roof

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: "“We are always to think of the married state in terms of the doctrine of atonement” Can't really capture four years in a few words, especially at this time of day. Instead these are some of the words that played as Em arrived:
"Sing your songs of freedom
Praise the God of heaven
Love that never fails me
Jesus' blood, Jesus' blood"
-- Martin Smith

Three Course Meal

Spent a couple of hours this afternoon trying to unpack Romans 9-11 with a group of students at Reading. Hard on the mind, hard on the heart... tasty lessons in God's grace and glory. About 6000 words of me, interspersed with questions and discussion. My side of the conversation here...

The Doctrines of Grace - Romans 9-11 (PDF)

...and now I'm tempted to follow that meal with some of the coffee mountain of filter coffee that my lovely Relay workers bought for me yesterday. And not just fairtrade coffee, but M&S fairtrade coffee... Apparently, Hoops has rarely seen me without a cup of coffee in my hand... hard to believe.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere:Challies reflects on spiritual lessons from counterfeit detection... an important lesson I learnt in my days as a bank clerk. Part One | Part Two.A Biblical Model of Giving - Kostenberger & Croteau
(HT: Justin Taylor)


...all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory... - 2 Cor 1:20 - ESV This summer we've asked all of next year's Relay to read John Piper's The Purifying Power of Faith in Future Grace. Essentially a 31 day course in Christian Hedonism. I read the book a few years ago and thought I'd re-read it myself ahead of the first Relay conference.

Last night I was reading the comments on the above verse (p104-108) - about prayer. Reversing the order of the verse (and the implication) we see that: We say AMEN through Jesus to the glory of God because all the promises of God find their YES in him. Piper highlights...1. All prayer seeks God's YES through Jesus - we pray in Jesus name. 2. The give of grace gets all the glory - prayer glorifies the one whom we ask of.3. Prayer goes to the bank called future grace - we look to God's promises guarenteed by Jesus' achievement at the cross.4. Our AMEN i…

Reading Family Church Student Day

Today I've been speaking at the Reading Family Church student day. Their elders Scott and Sean have become dear partners in the gospel in recent years so it was great to share in the day with RFC.
Much fun and the opportunity to speak on:Sovereign Grace: Romans 9:1-29Loving the Church: Ephesians 5:15-33On Wednesday I'll be incorporating the Romans 9 talk into an afternoon in Romans 9-11. Gorge yourself on the tastiest meal: God's word of grace!
Further reading/bibliography:"The plan for the finished product is a blueprint that was drawn in eternity past." - John MacArthurRomans Sermons by John PiperThe Justification of God by John PiperStop Dating the Church by Joshua HarrisGod's lavish grace by Terry VirgoPaul, apostle of God's glory in Christ by Thomas SchreinerDoes the future have a church by Terry VirgoThe Deliberate Church by Mark DeverCinderella with Amnesia by Michael GriffithsThe Message of Ephesians by John StottGrace Unmeasured by Bob Kauflin - M…

Why people refuse Jesus

Romans 9 opens with tear-stained words of unceasing anguish at the unbelief of many. Paul teaches us that people don't refuse Jesus because God's word fails, nor for absence of spirituality, or christian background, or good works...

...neither do they refuse because the church is some how irrelevant and not seeker-senstive enough. Rather it is embarrassment of sin, and the scandal of the cross that leads people to refuse Jesus. Presented with a true Biblical portrait of Jesus Christ it is madness to refuse him... to refuse our maker who is most glorious... and who will openly welcome us, forgiving our sin by way of his bloody death on a cross. I maintain that there is no good answer to the question: Why not become a Christian?

Doug Groothuis, reviewing David Wells, Above all Powers:"....[some] churches target specific groups and tailor their services to fit specific preferences. The underlying assumption is that “the chief barrier to conversion is sociological and not theo…

File dump my life

The Team in Washington, Sussex including half a Swede.
Sam, Debs, Kath, Hoops, Gareth,
Me, Nay, Jonny, Dan, Ben

Our team days were much fun... exploring the life of Moses with Gordon Showell-Rogers.... discussing Amy Orr-Ewing's Why Trust the Bible (we like it)... BBQ, night-walk... the match... prayer... swimming... pool volleyball... and much conversation.

On which, Kath from HoveActually records a conversation she and I had on the patio after my early morning swim on Wednesday, prior to breakfast: She reviews Douglas Coupland's jPod. We've both finished reading it. Essentially:...if you like a bit of randomness and ponder what your life would be like on paper if someone dumped the contents of your laptop into a book and published it. I'd be pretty freaked I think... The glories of Microserf life are history, the dotcom bubble burst... the meaningless is exposed... life is full of boredom and trivia, with the odd moment of depth and confessions of confusion and calamity..…

Valley of Vision

Valley of Vision CD coming soon from Sovereign Grace Music. Samples & lyrics here. Some great looking songs based on puritan prayers.

Meanwhile having finished Numbers and moved onto Deuteronomy I find myself drawn back to Numbers 12v3 and surrrounding: "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth" (NIV)

In what sense was he so humble? How did he become humble? The surrounding dispute appears to be over God's word and the ministry given to Moses... It seems that Moses humility is founded on his listening to God's word, whilst Miriam and Aaron's pride is over them wanting God to speak direct to them... rather than seeking to hear what it is that God has said. God's word should surely be considered with fear and trembling, with seriousness and true humility. Any thoughts?

Love the Word

"The quality with which one engages in some endeavors can be gauged by its effects. For instance, concerning karate practice, you could say, "If you don't end up sore and achey, you're not doing it right." Or consider cooking: "If it doesn't make your mouth happy, you're not doing it right." Smooching your loving wife: "If it doesn't feel good, you're not doing it right."

Similarly, concerning Biblical scholarship: "If it doesn't increase your passion, and your love for God, you're not doing it right" (Psalm 119:138 [HCSB]; Jeremiah 23:29; Romans 12:11). When Christ is the teacher, the hearts of His listening students are set on fire (kaiomene) within them (Luke 24:32)." Dan Philips at: TeamPyro. Last month Luke asked me to speak in September for our small group leaders on delighting in God's word, bring it on! One of many summer projects to work on... tasty!

Celebrating Freedom

I am a new creation, no more in condemnation
Here in the grace of God I stand.
My heart is overflowing, let my love keep on growing,
Here in the grace of God I stand.

And I will praise You Lord, yes I will praise You Lord,
And I will sing of all that You have done.
A joy that knows no limit, fighting sin by the Spirit,
Here in the grace of God I stand.
© Dave Bilborough - with modifications
(For the musicians, play it chilled out and slow with conviction)


Sam Storms: Convergence
(2006, Kingsway, UK Edition)

Charismatic Calvinism rocks - how can you take the Bible seriously and not be both?Good interaction with Ian Stackhouse' The Gospel-Driven Church - some critical but mostly positiveFinding the best in Charismaticism and Calvinism!Lessons from Jonathan Edwards' Religious AffectionsSam Storms: Christian HedonistBetter than Jack Deere's Surprised by the Power of the Spirit; both in argument and readability.Warmth of affections and seriousness about ScriptureHelpful teaching about impressions from God, and very clear on testing by ScriptureDon't respond to abuses by prohibition but rather by right Biblical use
Several of typos, at least in the UK edition... e.g. Psalm 19 that should say 119, Joy "expressible" that should be inexpressible...Will the cessationists Storms is writing to read this book? And are there all that many cessationists around these days?Mostly deals with opposed stereotypes …

Would You Rather?

From Marcus Honeysett, Finding Joy, IVP 2005, p53:

In this first diagram the sinful person on the left wonders how he can ever be good enough for God. He is taught that he needs to perform well and do good works so tat God will be pleased with him. He tries to put this into practice in Christian living. Unfortunately it doesn't work, because law has now power to produce good in us, so he wears a mask of works in order to be seen to measure up, but he knows no joy.

In this second diagram the sinful person wonders how he can be good enough for God and hears that, because of the death of Jesus, God will accept him freely by grace. In his heart he humbles himself, asks God to forgive him. He goes on to live as a Christian because he expects to recieve all the benefits that flow from God's grace, through the cross of Jesus. He know sure hope and the joy of realizing Jesus has done everything he cannot do for himself.

These two people could well appear quite similiar on the outside... …


(Romans 8:1-17)

Oliver James wrote in The Times, about Big Brother.... What is the most common reason given by intelligent adults for watching Big Brother or its Celebrity sibling? The self-deceiving spiel is prefaced with “I know its is rubbish, but . . .” Having made this caveat, the speaker feels licensed to spout any old nonsense. Then comes “there’s just something fascinating about it”: the person simply does not know why he/she does it...

The article was followed by a debate asking "Does watching Big Brother make you feel guilty?" - Would you use the preface: "I know its rubbish, but...." An honest reader replies - "Yes, watching Big Brother makes me feel enormously guilty, a complete waste of my time."

Some mundane, trivial or absurd things make us feel guilty... some things more meaningful.... we might feel guilty for past mistakes... failure to meet our standards or other people's expectations on us.

And what about Christians. I wonder what resp…

The Power of the Cross

This CD of the worship from the Newfrontiers Leadership conference last July is excellent. As with all Newfrontiers CD's its packed with brilliant songs - particularly new songs like O Church Arise, The Power of the Cross. Scarily I think I'm in one of the crowd photos in the sleeve...

The songs we sang fitted exactly with the superb teaching of the week from Terry Virgo, CJ Mahaney and others... loved it last year particularly sharing fellowship with Marcus Honeysett, Derek Cross, Sean Green and Scott Taylor. Shame I can't make it this year... 2007 perhaps...

Get the CD from Newfrontiers Website

Also picked up Sam Storms' Convergence, the journey of a Charismatic Calvinist. A man after my own heart. I'll review it when I've read more than 40 pages! Thus far, a fair bit of biography with a promise of exploring the common divide between the Word and the Holy Spirit.

"It's not enough to simply defend orthodoxy,
we need to do great exploits for God"

-- …

Review: Confessions of a Reformission Rev

Generally speaking I've steared clear of the emerging church debates of recent years. I've not read Steve Chalke or Brian McLaren. Apparent trends in the church are all very interesting.. but here and now is often more pertinent. A month ago I had a slight change of heart, or perhaps just a desire to read something different. So, I picked up Carson's Becoming Conversant with Emergent, and Mark Driscoll's Confessions on the Amazon Marketplace.

I wont review Carson, only to say that its a refreshing view on postmodernism and on doing church in today's world. He has lessons for us to learn - not least that postmodernism might not be all we presume it to be.

Anyways, to Confessions of a reformission rev. To start with the bit that's caused much blogosphere controversy....(Challies et al) Driscoll's book tells this story of Mars Hill Church from start to today. Early on in the book we see him at work pastorally. I was struck by his honest struggles with doing past…

The Church that shows God

We studied these chapters at the Relay conference last week. Maurice McCracken speaking. I suppose he might blog his scripts but here's some of my notes.

Session 1. 12v1-11 The Church that has the Holy Spirit; Spice up your life
Why study these chapters?
1. Why not! We can talk about "secondary issues"
2. Church matters! Now more than ever we must be committed to the local church.
3. Relay workers could be Corinthian, gifted and young people can easily assume superiority and be a real pain to the local church.

A. The Spirit acts on us to bring the Lordship of Christ (1-3)
This is the key mark of true spirituality. The Spirit is not at work if Jesus is not confessed as Lord. There is a challenge of selfishness and self-promotion vs. glorifying Jesus. Check: Is it my aim that people will confess hrist?

B. The Spirit acts in the church to bring variety (4-11)
The charismata are grace gifts. Service comes ahead of gifts. Gifts are for serving the common good. Serve not by saying &q…


Over the last week or two I've been working through Numbers in the company of Raymond Brown's BST. I've not yet finished, so these are some thoughts on the road...

Mo said I was brave when he noticed. He may have a point, but this is a remarkable book. Its notable for its title - Numbers. Hardly something that makes it appealing, unless like Rosemary you're a maths geek. Alternative titles are available however. One could call it something like in the wilderness or And God Said.

In the wilderness locates the events. These are the wanderings of God's people in the desert. They could have entered into the promised land, but they declined the opportunity. And then attempting to God in their own strength fell under God's punishment. And the inheritance would wait for the next generation.

And God said captures the events also. God is always speaking in the book. And everything rests upon whether or not they listen to what God says. Frequently they didnm't listen to…

Of Fiction

Someone asked me last week if I only ever read theology. The answer is no. I was carrying a couple of theology books at the time, but that was because my lovely wife had claimed the fiction book I was reading for herself. Anyways, this is my current fiction reading list. I've just finished Saturday, Time Traveller's wife is waiting to be finished by Em....

Always open to tips for things to read next. Stories and imagination fuel the mind. It's easier to sit and watch TV but reading pays great dividends. I've always loved reading, since my parents first took me to the village library some 20 years ago. Books collect and fill up space, but I'd rather live in a crowded house, full of books than without them. Books let me learn from others, and they let me explore and adventure...

See also Book Club by a blogger who has experienced a broken metatarsal.


This is a bit of a lazy post-conference post. I've been at Relay 3 this week. The final conference of this year's Relay programme, practicing Discipleship Training in a Student Context.

This of course is Nathan Burley...

Hot weather at Relay 3 required that we go and buy ice cream...

Arts Relay Simeon Pang, and Sarah Brown

A man full of joy, Ed Briggs...

A giant of a man, Sean Clokey

Sometime later, I'll post some thought on Maurice McCracken's talks on 1 Corinthians 12-14. They were excellent and it was a brilliant chilled week to reflect on God's work in the lives of the Relay guys this year... And in eleven weeks we return for Relay 1 2006-2007.

Enjoying the taste of life

Good Company, Good Art, and a Good Laugh by William Edgar.

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy." - 1 Timothy 6v17, ESV
"A third type of legitimate entertainment is the meal. My wife and I enjoy sitting down for a good meal, regularly. It’s not just the food, although that is certainly a gift (God could have given us pills!). But it is the fellowship, the conversation, the simple enjoyment of a moment away from the stresses of work. We have a friend in France who is not particularly fond of coffee, but she always has a small cup of espresso after the meal, saying, “c’est le moment du café qui compte” (it’s the occasion of the coffee that matters). Many of us don’t eat slowly. Meals are a bother. No wonder we don’t know how to enjoy le moment du café! In her delightful book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano argues th…

Fighting with hearts, minds and bodies

Bob Kauflin reflects on worship at a conference:Eric also asked me to comment on what we were doing as we sang. We didn’t want to assume that everyone would know what we were supposed to be doing. So after the third song on the first night I reminded everyone that we had come to New Attitude to fight. "What we are doing right now is fighting to trust in Jesus Christ. We are fighting to believe in God and not in ourselves. We're fighting for our hearts to find joy in what HE has done, not in what WE have done." The next morning we showed a video that combined pictures of creation with quotes from Job, and sang Laura Story’s, Indescribable, a song that exalts God’s wisdom, power, and beauty in creation. I then explained that while God’s eternal power and divine nature can be seen in the stars, they aren’t the only testimony God has given us of who he is. He has given us His Word, and ultimately His Son to reveal Himself to us. That’s why we don’t simply go out to a field t…


Microserfs for the age of Google...

Here's one of my birthday presents, a bit delayed because its only not being published til Monday (although the nice people at Amazon got it to me today...)
The special edition of Douglas Coupland's jPod. One of 3000! Complete with massive box, hardback book and JPod figure. Thanks Mum & Dad.Ethan Jarlewski and five co-workers whose surnames end in 'J' are bureaucratically marooned in JPod. JPod is a no-escape architectural limbo on the fringes of a massive Vancouver game design company. The six workers daily confront the forces that define our era: global piracy, boneheaded marketing staff, people smuggling, the rise of China, marijuana grow-ops, Jeff Probst, and the ashes of the 1990s financial tech dream. JPod's universe is amoral and shameless. The characters are products of their era even as they're creating it. Everybody in Ethan's life inhabits a moral grey zone. Nobody is exempt, not even his seemingly straitlac…

Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt!

Greg Johnson writes: Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt (HT: Adrian Warnock)

"Imagine for a moment you’re meeting a Christian friend. “How’s your relationship with God going?” they ask you. “Well, I’m struggling with my attitude about my job—but God is teaching me to be content and to not gossip when people rub me the wrong way.” A silent stare greets the words, your inquisitor’s eyes staring you up and down. After a moment of awkward silence, the question comes again, “But how is your relationship with God?” Hmm. What wrong with this picture?

Perhaps this has never happened to you. But I’ve found contemporary Christians are often more concerned about my ‘relationship with God’ than with my relationship with God. Whose idea was it to define the sum total of my relationship with God as my devotional consistency? Your quiet time is not your relationship with God. Your relationship with God—or, as I prefer to say, God’s relationship with you—is your whole life: your job, your family, your…

Start, run and finish

I'm reading Numbers with help from the BST by Raymond Brown. More reflections on Numbers to follow in due course. Brown illustrates at one point from the life of Adoniram Judson (9 August 1788 - 12 April 1850). He comments that Judson ministered in Burma for 5 years before he Baptised his first convert.

Five years... we're so quick to reinvent, change plans and give up. Judson ultimately ministered in Myanmar for 40 years and today there are vast numbers of believers in that nation. How we need to learn perseverance, and trust in God's sovereign election. This is helpful to me to remember as this academic year draws to a close, my sixth in contact with Reading University.

Over that time we've not shared Judson's experience - a number have been converted over those years - though there have been times of particular fruitfulness, and other times without. Fruitfulness should not inspire self-confidence, rather confidence in our saviour.. confidence that it is he who …

Discovering Ireland.

Yeah, that was cool.
Last week we decided, on a whim, to book a 71 hour holiday in Ireland. From Shannon, to Limerick, to Cork, Kinsale, Blarney and Cobh. Very rested and relaxed.

But, some questions.

1. Was that Les Ferdinand in front of us in the check-in queue at Gatwick?. We weren't the only ones to think so. But, wasn't he playing in SoccerAid in Manchester the day before? And, what is an ex-pro footballer doing flying with Easyjet?

2. Is Kinsale at sunset the best place on earth?
Yes. No picture to show you. Largely because I forgot to pick up the camera that evening. But actually, it was better to soak in the experience than spend time digitising the memory. (Even if I'm doing that in words now)

3. Are people really that stupid?
With reference to watching people climb to the top of Blarney Castle, prostrating themselves before a bit of wall and kissing it. That said, we climbed up... did nothing... and climbed down again. Which probably looked a bit pointless. But I enjoy…