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Showing posts from November, 2008

Listening in on the Emmaus Road?

So, on the road to Emmaus and with his disciples in Luke 24 Jesus shows beginning with moses and all the prophets that the Christ had to suffer and rise and that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed to all nations... I've heard people say - it'd be great to have been in on that Bible study. And it would. Could it be that Luke-Acts is essentially that. Luke's ordered account of what was fulfilled about the Christ and his suffering, resurrection and the subsequent proclamantion of that to bring repentance and forgiveness to the ends of the earth?


Ruth and the Temple?

Peter Leithart writes fascinatingly on Ruth
"Ruth adorns herself as a bride, but she also dresses herself as a priest... As 2 Chronicles says, the temple was built on the piece of property that David purchased from Araunah or Ornan, the threshing floor on Mount Moriah. Ruth prepares like a priest in order to approach her husband on the threshing floor. Israelites reading Ruth after the building of the temple would think of the temple and its worship... Ruth seeks a husband on the threshing floor near Bethlehem, and Israel sought her husband Yahweh at the temple built on a threshing floor. We too come to worship, washing, anointed, and clothed by our baptisms, and we come to seek our husband. We are adorned as priests, and as the bride."

24: Redemption

Last Monday evening I went out, played football and came home to watch 24: Redemption at 10pm until 1145pm. It'd been 18 months so any 24 was going to be good 24...

The series needed a reboot and the angle taken is to try and fuse West Wing and Blood Diamond (though the Africa bit should be out of the picture by the time Day 7 starts in January). What we get is Jack shouting in Africa, child-soliders and an introduction to new characters in Washington though with no identifiable focus. A new enemy is coming though we don't quite know why or what for, a new president is being sworn in and hasn't made much of an impact yet.

While it was good to have Jack back this felt a bit weak, a bit unfocussed. Partly the problem was only having two recognisable characters from before - Jack and the exiting president. I know that others will be back in Day 7 but for now we didn't have much to connect with. And likewise, CTU Los Angeles is gone but all we now have are non-specific loc…

Newfrontiers Church Planting

Genesis 11:10-12:9: Waiting for the Word of God

Something strangely familiar. A ten generation genealogy ending with a man with three sons. Hello! Seen that before. In the wake of Nimrod's thwarted building project we could use some news. Last time we had a genealogy like this it ended with Noah, a man prophesied to bring relief and rest to a people made for rest. Name after name this one builds expectation. It's a curious one because we've already seen the start before - we've rewound the tape and we're taking a detour. When Eber comes along we don't run with Joktan, but with Peleg. And that brings us to Terah and his three sons.

Hope is high until we get a bit more acquainted with this family. One brother dies but he does have children. One stays put. And the other goes with his father out of the land of Ur and off toward Canaan. This son is called Father (Abram) but he has no children and a princess bride who is barren. It's not looking ideal. His nephew Lot comes along for the ride. Elsewhere we disc…

Thursday at Gethsemane

Tonight I'm preaching on Gethsemane at Bath. David Gibson (my co-editor at pointed me to Donald McLeod's The Person of Christ, p174-175:

“Here is a man pouring his whole strength, physical and spiritual, into a plea that God would save him. It is clear from all the accounts that Jesus’ experience of turmoil and anguish was both real and profound. His sorrow was as great as a man could bear, his fear convulsive, his astonishment well-nigh paralyzing. He came within a hairsbreadth of break-down. He faced the will of God as raw holiness, the mysterium tremendum in its most acute form: and it terrified him….
…What Christ saw in Gethsemane was God with the sword raised… the sight was unbearable… in a few short hours… he would stand before that God answering for the sin of the world: indeed, identified with the sin of the world. He became as Luther said, ‘the greatest sinner that ever was’ Consequently, to quote Luther again, ‘No-one ever feared death so much a…

Tim Keller - Preaching to the Heart (at Oak Hill)

Tim Keller is in the UK on several occasions in 2008/9. Most recently he was at Oak Hill Bible College this month on Preaching to the Heart.

MP3: Tim Keller at Oak Hill College (1) November 2008
MP3: Tim Keller at Oak Hill College (2) November 2008

Jonathan Edwards believed that the ultimate purpose of preaching is not only to make the truth clear, but also to make it real – affecting and life-changing. This is usually covered under the topic of "application", though framing the subject in that way often results in a "tack-on" of practical advice after a dry, academic exposition How can we preach the text from first to last in a way that exalts Christ, changes heart motivations, produces wisdom and wonder, persuades the sceptical and results in real life change? In his two lectures, Tim Keller explores these challenges to the preacher.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vagueness

Mike Reeves writes: Fear and Loathing in Las Vagueness. Published in the latest UCCF nb magazine and now at Theology Network.

Five hundred years ago, the church was in much the same state as today: in desperate, desperate need of reform. Then, in to the rescue galloped a posse of the most talented individuals of the day. They had among their number the very finest scholars, they shared a heartfelt passion for the renewing of the church – and they accomplished virtually nothing towards that goal. The rescue failed.

That was the sad story of the sixteenth-century humanists (nothing to do with later atheistic humanists!). But where did it all go wrong? They were absolutely sincere in wanting people to live whole-heartedly for Jesus; they were unstinting in their efforts. The problem was, they never thought they needed to bother with theology.... Continue reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vagueness.

Would we recognize Jesus as Son of God?

"Mark is known for the understated irony of his gospel, but there is a large-scale irony overarching the book that is worthy of Sophocles. Readers know from the first verse of the gospel that Jesus is Son of God, and that title is used periodically through the gospel by the Father and by demons. But no human beings recognize Jesus as Son until the centurion at the cross. There is the ironic distance between our knowledge and the knowledge of the characters in the story. But that irony is eventually doubled back on the reader: Would we recognize Jesus as Son of God while He’s dying in anguish?" -- Peter Leithart
Also on Mark: Terry Virgo recommends James Edwards Pillar Commentary.I'd agree, it's very helpful - typical of the Pillar series.

Out of the Silent Planet

Currently on Radio 7, ht: Rosemary.
And written about by Pete Lowman: Chronicles of Heaven Unshackled: Part 2. Out of the Silent Planet

...this is basic to his fiction; in seeking to 'widen' his reader's notions of what the universe might possibly be conceived as including, he is aiming to make room for the Christian cosmology, along with much newly-imagined material. This is fiction with an apologetic purpose, even if it is much more than apologetics. The 'fictional hypothesis' is related to the author's worldview more directly than in Tolkien. As Lewis said of the second novel of the trilogy, Voyage to Venus, 'It wouldn't have been that particular story if I wasn't interested in those particular ideas on other grounds.

"...take not thy Bible from us"

As quoted by Mike Reeves at Transformission:

Mr. John Rogers was at the time on the subject of the Scriptures, and in the course of his sermon, he falls into an expostulation with the people about their neglect of the Bible; he personates God to the people, telling them:

"Well, I have trusted you so long with my Bible, you have slighted it; it lies in such and such houses, covered with dust and cobwebs; you care not to look at it. Do you use my Bible so ? Well, you shall have my Bible no longer! " And he takes up the Bible from the cushion and seems as if going away with it; but immediately turns again, and personates the people to God, falls down upon his knees, cries and pleads most earnestly, - " Lord, whatever thou doest to us, take not thy Bible from us; kill our children, burn our houses, destroy our goods, only spare us our Bible! " And he personates God again to the people, "say you so ? Well, I will try you a little longer, and here is my Bible for you…

Transformision 2008

"We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the Royal Law. These are the lively oracles of God." ...said at British Coronations to the new Monarch.
Today was our annual South West Christian Unions conference, Transformission, in Exeter. Mike Reeves joined us to speak on The Word of God - stunning us with the glorious doctrines of scripture. Download:

Session 1 - The Most Valuable Word - Judges 3

Session 2 - The Christian Word - John 5

Session 3 - The External Word - Psalm 42

Transformission 2007 focussed on The Glory of the Cross, also with Mike Reeves speaking.

These MP3s are also available to download from UCCF South West

JFK. CS Lewis. Aldous Huxley.

45 years ago today they died.
Huxley predicted, in the words of Neil Postman, that we'd amuse ourselves to death.
Lewis said we're far too easily pleased.

All three faced the same person that day: Jesus who had freely offered unspeakable joy to anyone who would come to him.

Getting into God's story

I'm studying Genesis at the moment and loving getting to the narrative.

Richard Pratt's excellent book He gave us stories is a helpful textbook approach to thinking about how to engage God's narratives and begin to study and preach them.

James Jordan's Primeval Saints is less about how to handle narrative and more an imaginative look at the details of the text of Genesis - to see how the repeating details and themes unlock the message of this foundational book. It's not necessarily a book that you're going to agree with everything in, but it's masterful and enjoyable in drawing into the stories that shape the rest of God's plans in the Bible.

Jordan writes along similar lines to Stephen Dempster's Dominion and Dynasty and Peter Leithart's The Kingdom and the Power.

Know Where You Are (Stay Free 4)

Final session at UWE-CU last night looking at where we are in view of the resurrection and return of Jesus.
Flitting around a bit between Mark 13, 16 and 8.

Some kind of technical problem on sermoncloud at the moment, so this is hosted differently...
Download: KNOW WHERE YOU ARE (mp3)

"Jesus didn't teach that his death was substitutionary and penal"

Everyone in UCCF is studying Mark's gospel at the moment, so that students in our mission teams are equipped to open that book up with people who aren't Christians. And then I read this, Adrian's summary of Steve Chalke's "arguments" against penal substitution

Claim: Jesus didn't teach that his death was substitutionary and penal.

I'm not sure that's actually accurate, but even if he didn't explicitly teach then the argument betrays a twisted doctrine of scripture. And that's what I want to write about here.

The argument suggests that if we don't have Jesus gathering the crowds ands saying "Let me tell you about this doctrine called penal substitution" then it's not there. It's the same argument used to say "he didn't say he's God" or he didn't teach "Trinity". When you read the books as literature these things stand out page after page as being there.

From Genesis to Revelation it'…

UCCF Bloggers

Because this makes my life easier (or makes checking blogs easier)

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You, too? Thought I was the only one."

The End of the World and The Beginning of the Kingdom of God

Arguing from The Cross from a Distancefrom IVP's New Studies in Biblical Theology series. 

Usually Mark 13 is said to be about the fall of the Temple in AD70. Peter Bolt differs and reads it within it's more immediate context. He argues that Mark 14-16 carries the expectation of Mark 13, and particularly 13v35. We're to be awake and alert, looking for the Son of Man to come, in the evening, midnight, when the cock-crows, at dawn...
14v1-11. Famous incident. Anointed for burial – because he won’t be there to be anointed after his death in 16v1. This will be told when the gospel is globally preached (v8-9) –  which it will be when the Son of Man comes (13v27).
14v-12-31. Evening comes. The Passover. But there is no Lamb? The only blood to paint over the door is Jesus' blood (v24)Then, at midnight in Gethsemane as Jesus wrestles with the cup before him. The future of the world, our future, hangs in "this passionate exchange". Everyone flees, scattered as the Shep…

Preaching 2009

15/11 Proverbs 8-9 at Frontiers Church Exeter
13-14/11 November 2009 - 'Love the Church' Marjons CU Weekend 30/11 Oxford CU evangelistic lunchtime event
11/10 Proverbs 4 at Frontiers Church Exeter
10/10 - CU meeting (Durham CU)16-18/9 - Team Training: 'Love the Church' (UCCF South East Team)14-16/9 - Team Training: 'Love the Church' (UCCF South West Team)13/9 Proverbs 1 at Frontiers Church Exeter
1-3/9 - Transformed by the Gracious God (UCCF Forum, with Nay Dawson)19/7 - Exodus 18 (Frontiers Church Exeter)28/6 - Proverbs 8-9 (Arborfield Church)20-21/6 - 'Love the Church - The Song 3:6-5:1' (Reading Family Church) 20/6 - Love the church - The Centrality of the Church (Reading Family Church)20/6 - Love the church - Ambition for the church (Reading Family Church)15/6 - The Bible and Doctrine: The Centrality of the Cross (Pennisula Gospel Partnership)25/4 - Exodus 4 (Frontiers Church Exeter)20/4 - Effective Pastoral Ministry: Discipling Others (Pennisula Gospel…

Chronicles of Heaven Unshackled by Pete Lowman

Chronicles of Heaven Unshackled by Pete Lowman - is publishing an lightly edited version of Pete Lowman's PhD in English literature on God and the novel. Pete was my pastor for a couple of years in Reading and prior to that was the guy at the forefront of pioneering IFES ministry in the former Soviet Union. He is the author of A Long Way East of Eden and Gateways to God.

Genesis 9:18-11:9: Naked man sins with fruit, and the fall of the city of giants.

Continuing to walk through the Book of Genesis: There has been a new creation. In Genesis 8-9 we’ve found a man (Noah) on a mountain (Ararat) in the middle of a formless world (covered in water) like we found a man (Adam) on a mountain (Eden) in Genesis 2 in the middle of a formless world (wilderness). The Man is commissioned to fill the earth as before. In Genesis 9v18-11v9 we’re desperately hoping that we will see him multiply and fill the earth so that one of his seed will crush the seed of the serpent (3v15). Like the first Man he has three sons so there is hope, and at least one of them now has a son (called Canaan 9v18 and repeated in v22). We want to see them scatter and cultivate the world, under God's rule. There wont be a flood and we'd love to see no sin either. We especially don’t want to see sin like when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in Genesis 3, nor the idolatry and of Cain in chapter 4, nor the boasting city builders Cain and Lamech.

1. Naked Man Sins With Fruit.

Mind-boggling, category-shattering truths demand our best thought and our most creative labors

This month's study programme takes us into Church History / Historical Theology on Athanasius and Augustine. For some that is an immediate turn-off, but without our history we're pretty much doomed to miss the mark badly.

Piper writes of Athanasius' ministry, contending  for the divinity of Christ:

"What was clear to Athanasius was that propositions about Christ carried convictions that could send you to heaven or to hell... 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”.. I think he would have said, “Our young people in Alexandria die for the truth of propositions about Christ. What do your young people die for?” ...Athanasius would have grieved over sentences like “It is Christ who unites us; it is doctrines that divides.” ...Those who talk like this... think they have…


Through the Curtain - True Greatness

Download MP3: True Greatness, through the cross from UWECU.
Continuing a four part series in Mark based around reasons Jesus came:

1. Jesus came to preach so listen to his word.
2. Jesus came for sinners, like us, be found with him.
3. Jesus came to die, come to the cross and find life.

Bad Meetings

Bad meetings generation real human suffering... by Matt Perman"Bad meetings, and what they indicate and provoke in an organization, generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism. And while this certainly has a profound impact on organizational life, it also impacts people’s self-esteem, their families, and their outlook on life...."I couldn't agree more. A challenge to me as a Team Leader, and to those who lead in churches and Christian Unions...

Mike Bullmore - The Heart of Preaching

Mike Bullmore - Lectures on the heart of preaching and the preachers heart

Session 1: The Functional Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching + Q&A
Session 2: The Five Greatest Heart Challenges in Preaching + Q&A
Session 3: A Passion for the Gospel (Philippians 1) +Q&A

ht: Andy Naselli.

The Resurrection Empowered Life by Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is the latest blogger to get a book contract from Crossway. Having glimpsed the outline of this it looks like it could be a good one.
"The book is based on the premise that we have a tendency to under-emphasize the resurrection. I will discuss why this is, and then explore the evangelistic, doctrinal, and experiential implications of the resurrection. I have personally been greatly affected by thinking and studying about the resurrection for many months now. I genuinely believe that it is a subject that can energize and empower us."Pray for him as he writes it. Publishing date wont be til sometime in 2010.

Get a taste by reading this post on the resurrection empowered life from April 2007:
"To me the conclusion of these verses is simple. We are supposed to gaze upon the glory of Jesus, the Risen Lord, and as we do so, we will be transformed into His image and live a resurrection empowered life."

Remove This Cup

Spoke last night at a joint meeting of University of Plymouth and Marjons Christian Unions on Mark 14v1-42 under the title "Remove This Cup" (as part of a series they're doing in Mark's gospel). In the first half I try to argue for divine judgement being reasonable and then show that what we're trying to avoid we can aviod - not by denial but by Jesus drinking the cup of divine wrath at sin for us. The first half is essentially the same as I used for my talk on "Death and the Smell of Jesus" in September. I find speaking on this subject personally affecting as I engage with the reality of wrath, the situation of those I know who aren't Christians and the amazing extent of salvation.

DOWNLOAD MP3: Remove This Cup - Dave Bish (34mins)

The quality of the recording isnt great. I've cleaned it up a bit but it's still a bit noisy.Obviously CJ Mahaney's "The Cup" has influenced my reading of this chapter. I avoided re-listening to it wh…

The Tower of Babel

“Man, rashly daring, full of pride,
Most covets what is most denied.
And a little afterwards, —
“Counts nothing arduous,
and tries Insanely to possess the skies.”
cited by Calvin in his Commentary on Genesis 11.

The lasting legacy of Babel.
Daunting, dazzling and doomed (The Guardian - 11 Nov)

"These fascinating images are attempts to illustrate the greatest story ever told about a building. The tale is in the Bible. After the Flood, the descendents of Noah spread over the earth, and resolved to build a city and a tower, whose top reached 'unto heaven'."

Though the article goes on to suggest that the story of the tower of Babel is angry Jews responding to being exiled. I'd beg to differ and suggest it was written a bit earlier than that. This is one of the cities of Mighty Nimrod who comes up against the Lord (Gen 10), a successor to the idolatrous cities of Lamech (Gen 4) that is established in "Direct violation of God's command to fill the earth" (Le…

Top 10 UK Christian Bloggers (by Technorati)

Back in two weeks (24)

24: Redemption - Mon, Nov 24th 9pm Sky1
The storyline takes place on Inauguration Day for the next U.S. President, Allison Taylor, and is shot partially in South Africa. "Jack is a soul in turmoil and has been moving from place to place trying to find somewhere he can be at peace," says co-executive producer, Manny Coto. "But he winds up in Africa in the middle of a military coup." Meanwhile, Bauer is subpoenaed to appear before the Senate hearing while in Africa, but doesn't want to go... 
Wikipediaht: Digital Spy

MP3: Lost and Found - Luke 15 (Andrew Wilson)

I am who I am because of everyone?

I'm fascinated by this new Orange advertising campaign. What I love about it is the way that it understands us as people shaped by our relationships with other people.

Push it too far and we all merge into the crowd, but don't push it that far and we have being human as being in relationship. Ultimately it's our relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that defines who we are, but that must then be lived out through our relationships with everyone else, some who will benefit us, some who will harm us.

Photo: mid-term holiday with my sister. Cornwall is great.

Has Science Killed God? Andrew Wilson

Last night we went to Ask for dinner with some of Em's colleagues and about 20 other people. We talked about babies and Bond films and many other things.

We were there because our church had booked out a room and invited Andrew Wilson from Kings Church Eastbourne to speak between courses on Has Science Killed God?

Andrew challenged the idea that the two are really competitors... it's a bit like asking if the Pakistan Cricket Team have beaten Manchester United yet. He suggested there are two key issues to consider, the question of origins and the question of miracles. He showed the merits of science but said that in the end science can only get us as far as saying that either we're here because: there is one unknown entity (God?) or because of aliens (Francis Crick suggests) or that there are billions of unknown entities (multiverses, without any prospect of evidence).

At this point science has to admit it's done all it can do and then we're faced with the public trut…


1.No trains. Didn't use one this week. That's very rare, but then I didn't leave Exeter this week either!
2. Team. Having the team in town is always a pleasure, being joined by church based student workers was a real joy too.
3. Real-world. Delaying our training on Wednesday afternoon because our speaker was surrounded by non-Christian students asking him questions.
4. Relays go Apologetic. Hearing seven persuasive young apologists giving their first talks. Imagining what ministry might be done through them in future.
5. IKEA. Building furniture the easy way - and looking at cots. Never done the latter before!
6. Family Night. Praying with our church.Unmissable.
7. Technology. Phone died so I had to get a new one. And got a webcam.

Best Third Space

Third space is where you want to be. Not your home. Not your work. But the third one. Matt Perman suggests Starbucks could up their game on this with free wifi. I agree.
I don’t want to sound down on Starbucks here. They do great work. But if their value proposition is that they create a “third space” rather than simply selling coffee, they have an opportunity here to do things better and advance their brand.Plug-sockets would help that too. The one other thing they could do, in the UK at least, is start opening late into the evening.

Anyways, ht to JT, and nice to have a new clear-thinking blog to read.

Richard Cunningham // Gathering at Mars Hill

Richard Cunningham (UCCF Director) has been with us this week, serving the UCCF South West team and friends from St Leonards, Belmont and Frontiers churches involved in student mission.

He took us through Acts to examine the persuasive preaching of Paul as he engaged in the spiritual battle of bringing the gospel to devilishly blinded people who are taken in by the two lies that God has not spoken and that there are no consequences.

Included along the way were a sample talk on "so long as it makes me happy", a lunchbar on the arrogance of Christianity (not recorded, version at Durham) and the practicalities of putting together a talk, identifying with people, entering their world, persuasion through smaking sense, experience and history, and then invitation for response, largely from Paul in Athens in Acts 17.
Download Session 1 - developing convictions about persuasive evangelism in the spiritual battle of evangelismDownload Session 2 - convictions and clarityDownload Sessio…

Kilby on Christian Imagination

“Now when we look from these three facts (that the bible belongs to literature, that the Bible is an imaginative book, that God is the greatest artists of all) to contemporary evangelical Christianity, we find a great oddity.The people who spend the most time with the Bible are in large numbers the foes of art and the sworn foes of imagination….How can it be that with a God who created birds and the blue of the sky who before the foundation of the world wrought out a salvation more romantic than Cinderella, with a Christ who encompasses the highest heaven and deepest hell, with the very hairs of our head numbered, with God closer than hands and feet, Christians often turn out to have an unenviable corner on the unimaginative and the commonplace? Evangelical Christians have had one of the purest of motives and one of the worst outcomes. The motive is never to mislead by the smallest fraction of an iota in the precise nature of salvation, to live it and state it in its utter purity. But…

You'd wish it were true

In my previous post I alluded to this idea from Pascal's Pensees.
"Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire respect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true."I'm increasingly convinced that a key part of our apologetics is to enter people's world, understand their ideas such that we can articulate what they believe and their objections to Christianity clearly and strongly, and then be able to show how these things don't make sense in themselves and/or of the world we live in... and to engagingly show that the Christian account of reality is more coherent and more compelling, more engaging, more reasonable and more appealing. Which it is.

We follow Luther: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely th…

Looking for a warm and persuasive apologetic

Comparing 1st and 2nd century apologists. The NT Gospel writers had:
...a warmth, a Christ-centredness, a deep and obvious concern for people marks every page of the Gospels and Acts, with the possible exception of a chapter like Matthew 23; but in the second century this too often gives way to a rather cold, almost arrogant, battering of the opposition.... To launch a full-scale and at times bitter assault on someone's cherished beliefs is not the best way of inducing him to change them. (EITEC, p351) (EITEC, p351)
That's the kind of apologetics I want to have. Positive, contructive, Christ-centred and evidently loving. Yet, it's all too easy to be negative and just throw dirt. It's easier and feels better short-term. Much like this recent campaign poster against Christians in Exeter, in a campaign accusing them of being fascists, a campaign that comes under the banner of "equal opportunities". This excites the choir, and motivated them to vote down the Chri…

Richard Cunningham

Song. Thesis. Radio. Deism and Dinosaurs.

Blood and Smoke. Ed's changing his mind about The Song. Happy Days. Amazing what happens when you look at the evidence!
"Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon" Ros Clarke cites Thesis 37. Nice. David Capener on Brand and Ross. I think I'm more outraged by the outrage too. Radio is optional. Speech is free. And anyone who chooses to listen to Brand & Ross knows what they're going to get, surely? Melanie Phillips in The Spectator, Dawkins evolving towards Deism?. Not quite. But conceeding that a serious case could be made for it is something interesting. Moreover, it's quite a long way from Deism to Theism, and particularly to Christian Theism. Respect to him for debating with John Lennox again and for being prepared to be corrected.

James Bond: Vengeance is a dish best served cold (no spoilers intended)

Quantum of Solace through the lense of Pete Dray's film questions. I watched this having heard Mark Kermode's scathing review of "Question of Sport"I enjoyed the previous Bond film Casino Royale.

QoS ends like the previous film with the classic Bond images and tune. We're reminded of where we are, but at the same time left wondering where we've been. The action began so frenetically and we've been round the world a couple of times. I watched it with four other people and I think I was the only one who seemed to have anything positive to say about it.

We picks up straight from the end of Casino Royale. Vesper died and Bond is on the trail of the people who caused her death. What follows is a chase for the guilty party based on duty or vengeance. Along the way we meet Dominic Greene who is manipulating Latin American states in pursuit of money. We assume that, being Bond, he will succeed though it's not particularly obvious how, when or where. The ob…

The Washington Post

Enjoyed these interesting articles in the last few weeks.
Pearls before Breakfast by Gene Weingarten about the post's experiment with Joshua Bell (ht: an illustration in a sermon by CJ Mahaney)
It's not just a matter of time by Monica Hesse, about our attempts to control time 
(ht: Josh Harris) And this is just amusing (at BBC News). Yesterdays papers wrote about the Stanford series on the assumption that England would win and how the unselected players had missed out on the money: Instead they all leave with nothing.

Communities of Grace on Mission (Total Church in the USA)

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis have been in the USA:
Total Church Conference mp3s/video

The book is excellent so I'd imagine these are worth a listen.

Tim Chester's blog, recently posting:

Communities of Performance
the leaders appear sorted
the community appears respectable
meetings must be a polished performance
identity is found in ministry
failure is devastating
actions are driven by duty
conflict is suppressed or ignored
the focus is on orthodoxy and behaviour (allowing people to think they’re sorted)

Communities of Grace
the leaders are vulnerable
the community is messy
meetings are just one part of community life
identity is found in Christ
failure is disappointing, but not devastating
actions are driven by joy
conflict is addressed in the open
the focus is on the affections of the heart (with a strong view of sin and grace)

Stay in the World

Second part of a four part series in Mark's gospel - Mark 7: Stay in the world / Jesus came for sinners. I experimented with Bible and a very minimal outline for this talk, though it was originally written with a full script. I think this helped connect with the cafe-style context of this Christian Union meeting. The downside is that I wasn't as clear as I could have been at some points.

Should Christians go clubbing? Should Christians drink? What does holiness look like? Should we amputate sinful limbs? Should we be handwashers like the pharisees? Jesus The Wisdom of God looks us all in the eye and exposes the real issue. Our attempts at holiness deny the word of God because sin is not circumstantial. Sin is in the heart. And we can't do anything about that. Good news though, Jesus came for sinners- turn to him and then stay in the world where he was found with sinners.