Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Treasure

Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” Matthew 13v44, The Bible.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Delighting in the details

1pm. Sat on the steps at All Souls in London sipping a Mocha in the company of two friends. The conversation is very surreal and the northern one is taking a kicking from an old aquaintance whose briefly back from the US. Earlier I'd arrived punctually at Kings Cross only to find his train getting progressively later as time passed. Such can be our rail system though it served me well today - except at Edgware Road where our train decided to stop for 8 minutes. Like robots under the station announcers control everyone stands and disembarks to board the incoming train on the next platform. Back at Paddington the chocolate machine was sold out of everything. The delay at Kings Cross causes me to spend 52p on a bar I'd tried to get for 50p earlier in the journey.

From All Souls we depart to Brick Lane for lunch and more surreality and a touch of seriousness. I don't quite recall how we got there, except that I don't think we walked the whole way - which is what normally seems to happen. The waiter gives us loyalty cards valid til 31/12/2006... Not knowing how we got there I will probably struggle to benefit from that. Maybe I should auction it on eBay.

My feet begin to ache and I imagine I'm a bit dehydrated. Still we continue! Into the Aquarium where we're acosted by two very strange tourist guides before being fleeced for the entry fee. They say watching fish is relaxing. Probably true.

Emerging from the depths of the embankment the sun has gone down and rush hour begins. We wander past Downing Street whilst some minor important person queues to enter. Our journey continues via the Trocadero and Hamleys to McDonalds near All Souls. We've come almost full circle. A milkshake later my companions both head north and I return westward to Paddington and home. I'm reminded again of the account in the Curious Incident about this station. So easily I miss the details. And yet the details make the difference in life.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

In my imagination

I was always an avid reader as a child, I read books like I breathed air. I think I was nine when I read Lord of the Rings, and ten when I read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Books always facinated me. Bookshelves still form an integral part of the furniture of our house and they're overflowing with all sorts of books.

Somewhere along the line - I think maybe when I was 16-18 and I dropped Arts subjects for Sciences at A-Level (why did I do that??) - I stopped reading fiction. I've returned in fits and starts since then but this year I think I've managed to get back into the habit again and discovered a whole load of new titles that have captured my imagination and taken me into their world.

I've really enjoyed Five People you meet in Heaven, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, To kill a mockingbird, Life of Pi and Eleanor Rigby over the last few months. Today on the bus I finished Ian McEwan's Enduring Love which is really good. The film of it is out soon but I kind of think I'm happy with it as I've imagined it to be. Where to go next?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I never made a sacrifice?

"Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charisties of this life... all these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.." David Livingstone, Dec 4th, 1857 (quoted in Desiring God: John Piper, p243)

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose"
Jim Elliot, Martyred, Jan 8th 1956 (quoted in Desiring God: John Piper, p251)


Reading these quotes again today captured much of the challenges of the Reading houseparty to me. Once again I find myself pierced by the famous words of C.S. Lewis that expose what so often holds me back:

"It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant bythe offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Monday, November 22, 2004

God's Global Eden Project?

Had a nice restful day today, much needed after a hectic fortnight!

These final two talks from the Reading CU houseparty were aimed to be a gentle encouragement and envisioning time about the work of missions for the joy of the peoples of the world in the glory of God's rule. As it turned out Michael Ramsden's material the day before really laid the foundations for this which is a real work of God's sovereign grace in the situation.

God's Global Eden Project (1) - Psalm 67
God's Global Eden Project (2) - Matthew 8-9

These were very challenging for me to prepare and I'm still amazed to see the greatness of God's global vision!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Weight of Glory!

Home from Reading CU's houseparty. What a fantastic weekend! Digging into the heart of the gospel, into Christian Hedonism and the greatest treasure of all that is found in Christ. Michael Ramsden spoke fantastically on Saturday and got everyone looking forward to him speaking at the CU's carol service and mission.

I spoke this morning, twice on God's Global Eden Project. This seemed to follow on well from Saturday which was good! Really trying to ground what we'd seen of God's glory and the joy found in him as we looked at Psalm 67 and Matthew 8-9. I edited my notes a bit over the weekend so I'll hold back uploading them til I've added in some of the changes.

I'm well excited from seeing what God has been doing in the CU this weekend and also having to chew over some stuff myself. Just great to have my vision of Christ lifted again and to be reminded of the sheer pleasure that is found in him alone.

Loving the Church

Sam's a star - he's put the audio of my Reading CU-"What about Church" talk online...
What about Church (audio)
What about Church (script)
What about Church (powerpoint)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Memory

Trying to avoid the clichés
I end up creating my own
There’s mystery in my madness
Can I remember my own name?

From one place to the next
Another hungry crowd
Looking for a memory
I can only tell what I’ve heard

They think we met before
But I’m not quite so sure
You saw my deepest secrets
When I put myself on the line

(c) Dave Bish, November 16th 2004

Bittersweet?

You look alive today but
Are you going down the wrong road?
Though the views are electric
But the taste is bittersweet

When you’ve seen the sunrise
How could you ever prefer the night?
The silence calms the storms
But the air is full of fear

Heaven seeps through the curtains
There’s hope in these four walls
One day I’ll walk in freedom
There’s hope for this poor fool

(c) Dave Bish, November 16th 2004

Saturday, November 13, 2004

One Big Story!



BeginningWithMoses.org is a web project begun just over two years ago, through a wierd sequence of events which I might recount another time I ended up as the webmaster of the project. Basically it's a tool and resource to help ordinary people like you and me study the Bible, and to help preachers preach it better. We gather together the best articles and book reviews and commission briefing papers. The briefings are sermon texts with comments edited back in. Comments that explain why the preacher said what he said, and didn't say other things. Comments that explain the difference it makes to put the passage in the context of the whole Bible (what we call "Biblical Theology") as well as flagging up some of the common mis-interpretations of the passage. It's updated every month with new material so why not take a look!

BeginningWithMoses.org - The Biblical Theology Briefings

Friday, November 12, 2004

I love the church!

Seriously, I do. Last night, after several months chewing it over, was my talk on Church at Reading CU. Strangely this is just the third of about 10 talks in two weeks which has the danger of me feeling lost in the middle of endless amazing opportunities to teach the Word of God to people. Anyhows, I think it went well I just hope I did justice to the material.

What about Church (Script PDF)
What about Church (Powerpoint HTM)

The next major project is two talks, again for Reading, on "God's Global Eden Project" from Psalm 67 and Matthew 8-9. This kind of develops the church theme further and explores God's purposes to gather people into his presence for his glory and our gladness.

And in the meantime just the small matter of a talk on Colossians 1 for Surrey CU. Last night, whilst I stood up to preach in Reading, Surrey held their first grill-a-christian event. Reports from Guildford suggest it was a good night with about a third of those present non-Christians. And rumours suggest heaven was celebrating afterwards. It was a joy to see the guys in Reading praying for those in Surrey, and also for Bournemouth whose mission week is next week. I love the way that God has landed a weak fool like me in this ministry. Amazed.

I also love the church! And we've pretty much got started at our new church now. Arborfield & Barkham Churches. Amazing little community of believers gathered around God's Word. As we commit ourselves for the foreseeable future to being part of God's story locally in Arborfield I'm sure that there will be many little stories to tell along the way. Leaving Wycliffe hasn't been easy but we feel a strong sense of calling to get stuck into ministry in the ol'Church of England long-term and to being part of this community.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

New Way to be Human

Spent last night in Egham. A new experience. I was invited to give a talk to a new CU at Royal Holloway University. A great opportunity to speak to a gathering of about a dozen students, committed to mission on campus. Our passage for the evening was John 9 - Blind Man Sees! And he does. I was rejuvinated as I prepared, seeing the way in which Jesus comes both to illuminate the darkness and yet to blind people at the same time.

Evil and Virtue are defined in the narrative of John 9, and they have their focus on what you do with Jesus. Recieve or reject? Love or Hate?

Here are a few of my conclusions...


1) As you confess Christ in corridor, course and clubs, some will come and confess Christ like you do. Some will encounter the greatest of all joys in life. Seeing the only Saviour! Seeing the Light of the world who died to save them. Some will do that.

2) But others will become more and more hardened as you confess Christ before them. The simpler you put it the harder they will get. They will stand opposed to Christ and to you who confess him You will be opposed by outright rejection of Christ and yourselves.

3) A third group, really belong in the second group. They will strike you with abject apathy. People who are so blind that when you portray the Crucified Christ before them will say “that’s nice”. And walk on by.

That is the worst blindness of all. Christ who is so supreme and so wonderful and such a shining light treated not with distain but with deference. Outright hatred of Christ I can understand, honestly – the light of the world exposes sin and people hate that.

Apathy to Christ is the greatest proof of spiritual blindness. Christ cannot simply be ignored. But it will happen. And when it does simply keep confessing him. Don’t be tempted to change the message. Don’t be tempted to modify your messiah. It might be tempting but it would be the equivalent of closing your own eyes to him. Confess the Christ of Scripture. Open the Word with people and show them the story of Jesus. Invite them in. Run evangelistic Bible studies with people. Some will believe. Some will not. Nonetheless, confess Christ.

Jesus came to judge, to divide and bring life and death. Blind eyes will be opened. And eyes who think they see will be blinded. Since he is the judge it is who do decides who will come to life.



Meanwhile on the train I finished reading Charlie Peacock's great book
New Way to be Human. Which is, as it's subtitle suggests, a provocative look at living for Jesus. Charlie writes as only an artist could, inviting us to join the story of God-people-and-place. With my interest in "Biblical Theology" it's great to see people writing from this perspective... calling us into the big picture of God's dealings with humanity, God's desire to have us in community with each other and with him. Much recommended.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Stop Dating the Church!



In the last couple of weeks I've discovered the work of Joshua Harris and CJ Mahaney from Covenant Life Church in Maryland USA. Both write with a solid commitment to scripture and above all to the centrality of the cross of Christ.

CJ quotes David Prior's BST Commentary on 1 Corinthians as a favourite quote...

"We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross"

(Quoted in CJ Mahaney The Cross Centred Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing and Christ our Mediator: finding passion at the cross)

Both have written short accesible books which open up the old truths so clearly. CJs books are all about being Cross-Centred which the students I work with will tell you is one of my passions... always banging on about the gospel!

Harris' has written on my other passion - the church. I'm preparing to speak to Reading CU on the topic of Church in just over a week which I'm really looking forward to. As I've studied Ephesians 2v11-3v11 again to prepare it's been great to have the writings of Harris, GK Beale (The Temple and The Church's Mission) and Michael Griffiths (Cinderella with Amnesia) alongside me, sharing my passion and putting things clearer than I often can.