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Showing posts from October, 2011

Why God Loves Halloween

Pete Dray has some cracking thoughts to give a different angle on Halloween. And fwiw I think this is exactly the kind of event CUs should be putting on at this time of year. Read 3 parts - Pete Dray: Why God Loves Halloween
"So why did celebration of All Hallows’ Day and All Hallows’ Eve emerge? What did they originally mean? In short, they were a celebration of the victory of those who trust in Jesus over the devil and over all evil..... What has happened for centuries on All Saints’ Eve – or Halloween – is quite simple. God’s people act out a drama – a drama in which the demonic realm tries one last time to achieve victory, but is seen for what it really is. What is the means by which the demonic realm is seen for what it is? In a word: mockery. According to the Bible, the devil’s great sin (and our great sin) is pride. And so, to remind themselves of Satan and the evil realm’s ultimate defeat because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians ridicule them. In fact, this …

Thank God for The Law!

My boys are the 22nd generation of Bish's in Britain according to a distant relative who did some genealogy research about 20 years ago. That this rare name has been carried onwards for that long is cool to a geek like me... developing as it has from 'de la Bysse' to 'Bysshe' to 'Bish'.

As the New Testament opens we find that Jesus is the culmination of an 1800 year genealogy from Abraham via David and the exile. It's remarkable that this has happened and is traceable.

The Bible is a relentless search for The Seed (Gen 3:15) and so genealogies are mines in which to search for the gold of the gospel.... in which to search for The Christ.

What's The Law got to do with all of this? God made a promise and then 430 years later gave The Law. Later additions don't cancel or modifying the terms of a promise so why give the law?

For 430 years Abraham's family have been a family, a small family in Canaan who grew to a large nation contained in Goshen…

Isn't the Bible's god violent and evil?

Here's the tension. Jesus shows us the phenomenal love of the Triune God, the loving face and heart of his Father, annointed with the love-bringing Holy Spirit. And that's sweet.

But, doesn't the same Bible that shows us this God also reveal and angry and nasty god who told his people to commit genocide so they could acquire the land of Canaan for themselves...?

The Bible's claim is that God is a Trinity of love, revealed by Jesus - from beginning to end. It knows no sense of disunity between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. One Bible, one God. No half-time reinvention. No plan B.

When the Bible itself evaluates what we see of God it doesn't say - the OT god is nasty and the NT god is nice. It says, the OT shows the Triune God looking excessively patient, forgiving beyond the bounds of reasonable love. And it's not til the cross of Jesus happens that we have the event that helps us see that abundance of love was truly legitimate.

See for yourself.

This year we're inviting students to invite other students to see for themselves who Jesus is, to uncover the evidence about him in Luke's gospel. Will you join us?
Evangelist Becky Pippert spoke at our national leaders conference to launch this initiative and she has written the resource and already 15,000 copies of it have been delivered to Christian students who are beginning to use it to read Luke with their friends. I hear of an Exeter student who has already seen a friend become a Christian through Uncover, has started reading with another friend and has another in mind soon too. Brilliant.

If God is good, why so much suffering?

I spoke on suffering at Bristol University today. I began with Marcus Brigstocke's quest for god triggered by the death of his best friend James... considered the denial of suffering suggested by the western physical-only and eastern non-physical worldviews that are woefully inadequate... contemplated the horrifying karma approach before turning to the god we see in the face of Jesus, a god like no other god we've ever heard of...   This is the subject I've been asked to speak on most often and its not going away yet - so your feedback and thoughts are very welcome.

mp3: If God is good, why so much suffering?(33mins, inc Q&A)

My Notes

In the Q&A the following questions arose. I don't think I gave the best answers to them when I was in the room, so here's some "after the event" responses that I wish I'd articulated....

1. Wouldn't an omnipotent god end suffering?
I don't believe in the omnipotent god. I believe in the god revealed by Jes…

JESUS: Transformission 2011 MP3s

A Day About Jesus

UPDATE: Download the MP3s from TRANSFORMISSION 2011: JESUS here You're invited to join us in Exeter on Saturday 22nd October for Transformission. This year the conference is all about Jesus. We'll see how Jesus reveals, redeems and ask 'how does Jesus feel about you"

10.30-4.30, Belmont Chapel Exeter.
No booking required, free entry.
Catch a flavour from this video with our speaker, Mike Reeves:

A chat with Mike Reeves about Transformission 2011 from Dave Bish on Vimeo.

God hates you?

A video has been going around online featuring a prominentpastor telling his people (or at least those in his church meeting that day) that God hates them. This leader is someone I've benefitted much from, though I don't see eye-to-eye with him on a number of issues.

All events have context and in recent years, even this year, some well known leaders have wanted to say God doesn't get angry and hell will be empty and such like. To which others have piped up that we must re-emphasise the holiness and wrath of God. And make no mistake God is wrathful towards some and Jesus is the clearest teacher on hell.


God isn't a set of attributes to keep in balance. A bit of love, a bit of holiness and so on. God is a community of persons, and we know who he is as he comes to us in the person of Christ. Jesus loves us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20) and he said, John 16:27, the Father himself loves us. He is all love.

Which means, however frustrating and unchanging people…

Richard Sibbes for Today

Over the past year or so I've been working on some lightly edited and modernised versions of material by the sweet puritan Richard Sibbes. I've self-published two volumes which you can order online via

The Sunshine of the Gospel (151 pages. £4.99 + p&p) is a foundational introduction to warm Sibbesian thinking. Catch his emphasis on Christ, and on the heart being changed with these seven sermons on Josiah, on the Matchless Love of Christ, on The Song of Songs and on Lydia's heart being opened.

A Fire Kindled from Heaven (125 pages, £4.50 + p&p) builds on the first volume by bringing you some of Sibbes loveliest material on The Song of Songs.

P&P works out at about £3 if you just buy one book reducing to £2 per book for two... and if you buy 25 books it drops to about 69p per book etc. Lulu often have discount codes available that can take 15-25% off the price. Google for them. Use code CYBERWEEKUK305 at the checkout to save 25% off book price until 28/…

A Game Changing Moment: Offer them Christ!

UCCF teams are made up of evangelists in the sense that they are made up of people who love to make Christ known and to equip the saints for evangelism, all for the good of the churches.

We gathered as a regional team for a couple of days this week, and were joined by two evangelists whose ministry includes working with Christian Unions. Glen Scrivener joined us with a brief for 'proclaiming Christ' and Michael Ots spoke on planning and strategy for missions among students. Between the two of them I think we're better skilled to help CUs plan for mission, and massively moved to offer Christ to people.

Proclaiming Christ 1 (90mins)
Proclaiming Christ 2 (78mins)
Proclaiming Christ 3 (81mins)
Proclaiming Christ 4 (65mins)
Proclaiming Christ 5 (81mins)

We considered Luther's categorisation of the three-fold word of the LORD (Christ, Scripture, Preaching) throughout the Bible, the life-giving way that the LORD is not needy but full of love, an overview of the LORD in Exodus in …

I'm an atheist

I was asked on Sunday how I'd recommend responding to those who are 'new atheists' (followers of Dawkins/Hitchins etc). I want to listen and love them and invite some conversation. Often it goes this way:

Person A: I'm an atheist. Person B (often): Oh.  End of conversation.
What if we could try this:
Person A: I'm an atheist.  Person B: Can you tell me about the god you don't believe in?
This is a way of opening conversation that was probably being closed down, and it doesn't require expertise, just a listening ear. If the invitation is accepted what you'll often then hear is...
Person A: god is big, nasty, accusing, condemning, unstable, against us... Person B: Interesting, sounds horrible - I don't think I'd want to believe in that kind of god either, where does that view of god come from? Person A: ... Person B: Can I tell you about the god I know, would you take a look at Jesus with me...
Which presupposes that a Christian gets that their god isn…

Only Jesus doesn't make demands

Elliot Morley was released in September after serving four months of a sixteen month sentence for fraud to the amount of £32,000.
Prior to that he was the MP for Glanford and Scunthorpe. One of those caught in the expenses scandal. And we're disappointed. Leadership is entrusted to people and they seem to fail us... sometimes they're corrupt, sometimes they're conspiratorial, sometimes they're abusive...
Morley is just an example, and the same can be seen closer to home. .

My first experience of leadership was as a Scout. I was overlooked for leadership as a 13 year old and was furious, frustrated and angry. When a year later I was finally given an opportunity to serve I seized it with a clenched fist, a bad temper and a stamping foot. Not everyone has had authority but invariably, we're all either in authority over someone or under someone elses authority. Some carry that well but many fall short. Yet we hope and dream for more. We long for someone to lead well.