Monday, June 30, 2008

Love the Church

Preparing my Forum Seminar on 'Love the Church' I've been re-reading Josh Harris and Terry Virgo on church. Tasty stuff.

I want to exalt the church because [she] is exalted in Scripture. [She] is the bride of Christ: a reflection of the glory and the beauty of the love within the Trinity...

Church is clearly important to Jesus.
'Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her'.
Virgo, p94 & p13.

Virgo's book btw, going for £2.99 at the newfrontiers website...

The Shape of Ministry

Today I did the first of five Annual Reviews for my staff team. It's a pleasure to be able to sit down for a few hours and take a look at what God has done this year. Before reflecting back on that this morning we looked at Galatians.

In Galatians 4v8-20 Paul gets intensely personal with the Galatian church. His love for them is evident as he makes his appeal.

We see the goal of Paul's ministry.
  • He works to see them continue to know God / be known by God. This is the great work of God's gospel, to bring his people to him. The gospel brings us into relationship with God, through the cross, by the Holy Spirit. Living in a foretaste of the great marriage of Jesus and his church in the new creation.
  • Furthermore, that know/known relationship with God is to lead to Christ being formed in the Christians of Galatia. The Spirit of the Son is in them, they wear the righteousness of Christ but their hearts too must be changed more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
We see the experience of ministry.
  • Paul fears that he may have laboured in vain. Any departure from the gospel is vanity. Paul fears this when he goes to Jerusalem but his fears unnecessary (2v2). He fears it for the Galatians when he asks them if they endured persecutions in vain (3v4). The prospect of meaninglessness hovers over ministry in case the Galatians depart from God and his gospel.
  • We also see the the experience of ministry as like the anguish of childbirth. I've no idea what that's like directly and neither did Paul. But painful would appear to be the case. Gospel ministry hurts.
  • Moreover, Paul is perplexed that they would turn from the gospel. The unfolding of gospel work can indeed be confusing.
And yet, Paul goes on. He doesn't pack up and give up because of the prospect of meaninglessness, the pain of childbirth of the perplexity of the people. The gospel is of such great worth that his work is worth completing. And so he persists with them:
  • Telling them the truth, the precious truth about Jesus.
  • Preaching the gospel, the one and only gospel of Christ crucified.

These are sobering lessons and they just up my appetite to be involved in this ministry of bringing the gospel to students and serving the church.

Great preaching should blow the doors off

The Best Sermon Ever - Because of the Sting. I like having mottoes. 2 Tim 2:2 is one of my mottoes. Another one is “encourage the good wherever you find it.” But the one that is stuck to the pinboard beside my desk at the moment is: Great preaching should blow the doors off. OK, it’s a bit crude, but you get the idea. The story of the prodigal son may just be the greatest preaching of all time because the way it ends is with the most gut-wrenching sting in the tail. You see, as challenging and wonderful as the story of the saved younger son is, the story isn’t really about him. And it isn’t told to people who are like him.
Three Ways to Live (Marcus Honeysett)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The LORD will provide! (Genesis 22)

This morning at Frontiers Church Exeter 22 year old Andy Larkin preached a confident and sparky Christian message from Genesis 22. The mp3 will no doubt be available soon.

In the meantime here's a 10 minute excerpt from 'Enjoying the Cross' by Mike Reeves recorded at Transformission 2007, the South West Christian Unions one-day conference on the same passage, making many of the same points...

The LORD will provide: A Christian Reading of Genesis 22 (10mins)


The full three Transformission: The Glory of the Cross talks are available at TheologyNetwork.org

UPDATE: Andrew Larkin - Genesis 22

The Incomparable Grace of God

Last Sunday I was preaching at Grace Church Bristol. Here's the mp3:

The Incomparable Grace of God, or The Incomparable God of Grace - Micah 7v14-20 (41:42)

Add to favourites


BBC: The Jerusalem Declaration - hope for Anglicans?

Gledhill: Jim Packer says Rowan Williams should resign

eBay: Life weighs 21 grams and costs £192,000

Abraham: Great instruction directs us toward ideas, while helping us feel like we’re genuinely finding these ideas ourselves...

9Marks.org: Love your wife

Tim Keller: The Prodigal God - follow-up to The Reason for God, exploring the parable of the sons and their father in Luke 15 (forthcoming)

Abraham: on Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which I'm currently reading

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Christology & Revelation (Mike Reeves)

Historical Theolgy isn't consider all that cool but when you hear Mike savour the taste of it that's likely to change.

Mike Reeves, UCCF's Theology Advisor, is gradually walking us through Historical Theology over the course of our rolling 4 year study programme. This began at our Staff Conference in January with his material on the early church fathers (now available at TheologyNetwork.org).

Next year we'll move to an indepth study on Athanasius, but midway (at our tri-regional Summer School) we considered the debates over Christologyin the 5th Century which led to the writing of the Chalcedonian creed. Why? Because Christology has huge implications for our Doctrine of Revelation. Mike's work here is an excellent example of the need for Historical Theology. It'd be easy to respond quickly to false doctrine about the authority and nature of Scripture, but with this historical perspective the real underlying issues can be addressed.

Three sessions here are split into six files around 35-45mins each.

Christology & Revelation (1 - 35:17)


Christology & Revelation (2 - 38:20)


Christology & Revelation (3 - 44:35)


Christology & Revelation (4 - 40:46)


Christology & Revelation (5 - 38:34)


Christology & Revelation (6 - 38:18)


The UCCF Staff Study Programme, launched in 2007/8 is a rolling four year programme of study on Historical Theology, Doctrine, Biblical Studies, Apologetics and Pastoral Care - study is done 4 hours a week through reading and mp3s, supplemented with regional team training and annual Staff Conference. Study is designed to add depth to understanding, richness to love of Jesus, and character to living.

The Triumph of the Gospel

Some will disagree with much of what John Piper says in the context of this quote (which runs along the lines of his preaching at New Word Alive, see the Comments at Tony Reinke's posting of this), and some of that critique might well be fair, with a little too much being concluded from the verses cited. Also, it is The Cross rather than nature, law or suffering that is the great revealer of the dark depths of moral evil, though none of us can claim to be over-outraged with the evil of sin. Nonethless, this excerpt is a glorious telling of God's story:

"[The Universe] will be created perfect. It will, by my decree, fall. I will labor patiently for thousands of years with a people recalcitrant showing the depth of human sin and I will at the center and apex of my purpose, send my Son to bear my wrath on my people. And then I will gather a people who believe in him for myself. And then I will return and I will cast all of the unbelievers into hell, which will demonstrate the infinite worth of my glory and the infinite value of my Son’s sacrifice, which they have rejected. And I will renew the earth and I will make my people so beautiful and then tailor this universe for them with this purpose—that when my Son is lifted up with his wounds, they will sing the song of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world in the mind of God who planned it all."

John Piper: The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Resolved Conference 2008, Palm Springs, CA) (mp3)

ht: Tony Reinke

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seven Days

  1. Chantmarle, the UCCF Summer School (South) with outstanding Bible Teachers, singing great songs together to our God, The Kenny & Ally Show, good food and an indoor pool. Thanks for the discount.
  2. Rooming with Marcus at the above event. Sorry to Mrs H for keeping him up talking til the early hours of the morning, but it does take two to converse so it's not entirely my fault! A pint with Mike & Marcus was another highlight... 'just a few more minutes, there must be a roadside inn somewhere along here...'
  3. Jumpers for goalposts. Sporting home groups social by the Mill on the Exe.
  4. Jonny & Charlotte. Always a pleasure to see a Christian couple marry and provide us with an object lesson for us about Jesus and his bride. I count at least 10 past, present or future Relay in this room... maybe more if some of those younger siblings do it too!
  5. MP3s. Recording, processing and uploading.
  6. The great joys and deep frustrations of ministry, all evident in one week.
  7. Kath Arnold. Thanks for the last five years of gospel-partnership. Thanks for the banter. Thanks for passing on the gospel to those Reading grads who did Relay under your care. Thanks for all the journeys to Quinta, the music and conversations. Thanks for the beer in Bulgaria.

Friday, June 27, 2008

When I open my Bible and pray...

"I believe the purpose of personal devotions is to meet God, to make the soul happy in him, to adore him, delight in him, glorify him. When I open my Bible and pray, that's what I am praying will happen. I am not satisfied when it doesn't. Educating myself in the text may be a help to this, or it may be a hindrance, if it turns my personal devotion into merely gaining knowledge or furtively just prepping the next sermon. I need to ring fence my devotions away from that."
Marcus Honeysett: How to grow spiritually. Listening to Marcus' on Revelation on the train to and from Jonny Herring's wedding today I was struck by his words on Revelation 1 (in Part 4).
"Let me ask you this. What did it do to John? ...Too right, of course it is. He fell at his feet as though dead. Do you think this Christ is somehow less present in this room now than he was when John saw him? Do you? No. Lord Christ we are reading about your appearance to our brother in words and descriptions that awe us... my deep prayer is that coming to these words and being aware that we read them in your holy presence we might not do any less than worship you like he did. As we come to the wonderful task of seeing how you reveal yourself we cast ourselves on you and raise our affections to you. Be our delight we pray and our confident source of security.... we are meant to read this and worship. We are meant to read this with awe. We are not meant to read this for the sake of information. We are not meant to read this dispassionately. We are not meant to read this without being arrested by it. We are not meant to read this without adoration and fear and trembling... it would be a very good application of what we're doing here, before we got to bed this evening to get on our knees and tremble"

"I am wondering whether to write a book entitled Charismatic Calvinistic Church Planters. Do you think it would fly?"

Not me, (though perhaps I'll be one someday!)
That'll be Terry Virgo's question.
Do I think it would fly. You bet I do.

Phil Whittall lists all the newfrontiers blogs he's found - seems there are quite a few of us.

Elsewhere Marcus is on fire with these thoughts on
What Apollos Lacked and How to grow spiritually.

Glory soaked adoration for this awesome Saviour

Erik Raymond asks: WHY DOES THE FATHER FIND DELIGHT IN THE SON? Why is the Father’s posture one of ongoing, uninterrupted delight in Jesus? Let me give you some fodder here, and this is by now means exhaustive, for no finite man could ever plumb the depths of this infinite reservoir of divine beauty and glory.... Go and taste the answer.

The Book of Genesis (Jason Clarke)

Part of the training at our Summer School this week was from The Book of Genesis. Jason Clarke took us through the book in two sessions (cut up into 5 talks here). A lightbulb moment for me was Jason getting us to ask the 'who wrote this, for whom, for why' question that is normal when reading a NT letter but often overlooked with the Pentateuch. Jason contends that Genesis speaks to the wilderness questions of 'was it right to leave Egypt?' and 'can we carry on into Canaan?'

The Book of Genesis (1 - 37:03)


The Book of Genesis (2 - 38:10)


The Book of Genesis (3 - 26:49)


The Book of Genesis (4 - 33:05)


The Book of Genesis (5 - 36:17)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Almost every commentary ever written on the start of Luke 16 is wrong."

When Commentaries get it wrong. Discuss.

We ♥ Ed

Sean honours an 'RFC Hero'. It's good for us to honour those who see as clearly as Ed the glory of Jesus - and who take costly action to see the kingdom extended, even if it has to take them to the USA and to Bulgaria.

The Book of Revelation (Marcus Honeysett)

Relay is the UCCF discipleship training programme in a student context. Students who have been part of Christian Unions whilst at University give 10 months to be discipled in grace by our Staff team whilst serving as pioneering missionaries alongside campus Mission Teams (Christian Unions) for the growth of the local church, to the glory of God.

This years Relay finish this week and we wanted to give them a parting gift to say how much we love them. So we invited Marcus Honeysett to dish up a five course feast from The Book of Revelation in the context of our end of year Summer School. I've divided the MP3s into 11 parts.

The Book of Revelation (Part 1- 11:29)


The Book of Revelation (Part 2 - 27:46)


The Book of Revelation (Part 3 - 20:02)


The Book of Revelation (Part 4 - 23:14)


The Book of Revelation (Part 5 - 26:09)


The Book of Revelation (Part 6 - 34:35)


The Book of Revelation (Part 7 - 19:04)


The Book of Revelation (Part 8 - 21:18)


The Book of Revelation (Part 9 - 05:45)


The Book of Revelation (Part 10 - 17:57)


The Book of Revelation (Part 11 - 09:10)

Ceiling lights, not prostitutes

Marcus Honeysett muses on Luke 15:
"The temptation for me isn't to blast into hedonism. Its to drift into it. We have just had our house redecoated. Boy did it need it. Now it looks really nice and I am tempted to think "I am doing OK in life because I have some nice antique copper ceiling lights! And, hey, that's OK because its not the pleasure seeking of the prodigal son." Ceiling lights, not prostitutes. There is a qualitative difference. Ceiling lights can be moraly neutral. Prostitutes aren't. Is it wrong to have lights in my house? No. But is it be wrong to while away my life thinking how I can improve and trade up so that my delight is in my house? Absolutely."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Micah 7v14-20

My preach from Grace Church Bristol last Sunday on Micah 7v14-20 is now available on iTunes (41mins). Essentially it's about The Incomparable Grace of God: that being that his gospel uniquely brings repentance and removes our sins.

UCCF Free

Ten MP3's from the UCCF Summer School (South) to come soon (with Marcus Honeysett on Revelation, Mike Reeves on Christology & Revelation, Jason Clarke on Genesis). For now Have a look at the branding kit for the UCCF Gospel Project 'Free'

Monday, June 23, 2008

CJ Mahaney - The Holiness of God (People God Killed)

From Adrian Warnock:.
Download an old recording of CJ Mahaney on the Holiness of God. I've heard of some of these 'People God Killed' talks, helpful at last to hear one of them.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

CH Spurgeon on Micah 7:19

CJ Mahaney says he reads CH Spurgeon the night before preaching.... And so here's a glimpse of Spurgeon on Micah from my night-before reading:
We read about their sins in the earlier part of the chapter; and what a horrible catalogue of evils it was, yet here we read, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth inquiry?” Even those mountainous sins of which the prophet writes, the Lord will tear up by their roots, and cast them into the depths of the sea ...As for the guilt of our sins, how gloriously is that removed! “All their sins”—yes, the whole host of them; “thou wilt cast”—only an almighty arm could perform such a wonder; “into the depths of the sea,” where Pharaoh and his chariots went down. Not into the shallows out of which they might be washed up by the tide, but into the “depths” shall our sins be hurled. They are all gone. They sank into the bottom like a stone. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

I ♥ Sound Doctrine

"Sound doctrine is God teaching us about himself, his ways and works, in his own words. And he tells us these things so that we will worship him alone. Without sound doctrine we will think of God, ourselves and creation in the wrong way. And we will therefore relate to God and the things that he has made wrongly too."
Martin Downes

Apology meaningless without atonement

The Vancouver Sun (which I obviously read all the time...) reports.... Wednesday's apology is important, but it will be meaningless without atonement ...But as a society, we also have to back up the apology with a commitment to enable Canada's first nations to be equal citizens of this country in a way that allows them to draw on the strengths of their culture and to share the prosperity others enjoy. Almost half of the aboriginal population in Canada is under 25. They did not experience residential schools. But many of their parents did and they passed on the destructive legacy of their suffering.

ht: James Allaway, who has been in Vancouver , who comments:
The view that Jesus took the punishment for the sins of those who put their faith in Him seems objectionable to some. I find it interesting that inbuilt into the way the world thinks is that where someone is wronged there is a price to be paid. The editorial in the newspaper recognised that it was not enough for the government to apologise, there was a price to be paid in order to make things right with the Indian peoples but that it still would not undo what had been done. In the same way there is a price to be paid in order for sin to be dealt with. It is not enough to only apologise to God. Jesus death on the cross pays that price. Because the one who committed no sin died in our place, God no longer sees what we have done as what we have done. He sees us as being right with Him.

Friday, June 20, 2008

“you didn’t get to heaven but you made it close”

I've been struck this week by how easy it is to settle for almost. Like Truman Capote said "life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act." Why should life just be 'moderately good'? Why just average? The meaning of life the universe and everything isn't 42. Life is better than that. Coldplay celebrate in their song: “you didn’t get to heaven but you made it close” - what use is close? England got close to qualifying for Euro 2008. Close is nothing. England and Andorra both have the same amount of participation in Euro 2008. Close is nothing.

The J.W.'s who visited us last Sunday presented us with something 'close' to the new creation on their pamphlet. Close, but lacking Jesus at the heart of it. 'Close' is no good at all. 'Close' is absurd. Many idols get close to looking like God but they're a million miles away from our God. Who is like our God? None. Our God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit is incomparable. There is no almost in his story. There is no close in his story. Either we try and get to him ourselves and definitely fail. Or we let him come and bring us into the perfect love of the Trinity forever, with absolute certainty - to enjoy being found in Jesus, loved as he is loved, for eternity in his very real new creation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Christ

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me... But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith..."

Christian life is not a matter of doing but of being. Of being in Christ. With him we die, crucified. With him, we rise. In him I gain his status, his future promised inheritance, his relationships within the Trinity. All by his giving of himself for me, for my sin, in love. Union with Christ is the Christian life. A life lived in step with the gospel, in step with the Spirit - growing to become who we already are rather than trying to earn our own way into access to God.

O Father, You have made man for the glory of yourself, and when not an instrument of that glory, he is a thing of nought; No sin is greater than the sin of unbelief, for if union with Christ is the greatest good, unbelief is the greatest sin, as being cross to thy command; I see that whatever my sin is, yet no sin is like disunion from Christ by unbelief.

...The more I love you with a truly gracious love the more I desire to love you, and the more miserable I am at my want of love; The more I hunger and thirst after thee, the more I faint and fail in finding thee, The more my heart is broken for sin, the more I pray it may be far more broken.

My great evil is that I do not remember the sins of my youth, nay, the sins of one day I forget the next. Keep me from all things that turn to unbelief or lack of felt union with Christ.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Systematic Theology online (Wayne Grudem)

Genuine: Wayne Grudem's AUDIO versions of some parts of his Systematic Theology - at TheologyNetwork.org

UCCF Christian Unions and Local Church (Terry Virgo)

I was particularly pleased to note in the current issue of the UCCF magazine an emphasis on being passionate about the local church. It’s so good to read Richard Cunningham, the UCCF Director, making it so clear that all students in CUs are strongly urged to get stuck into a local church as soon as possible, and the clear statement that CUs can never replace the local church ...testimony was given by one of the senior [UCCF] leaders that he knew that following his conversion at university, he would never have grown into maturity without becoming a member of a church.

Prayer will consume sin or sin will choke prayer

"We pray so that there may enter into our heart no desire an dno wish at all of which we shoul dbe ashamed to make him a witness, while we learn to set all our wishes before his eyes, and even to pour out our whole hearts" (Calvin) "Praying and sinnng with never liver in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin or sin will choke prayer. I cannot forget this" (JC Ryle) "Awake faith until all heaven fills my soul and all impurity is cast out" (Valley of Vision)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Viva La Vida, or Death and all his friends (Coldplay)

On Thursday I downloaded the new Coldplay album from iTunes. It's the one in the current iTunes adverts, and darn it the adverts got me...

The title track is the standout song, uplifting music with strangely hope-lacking lyrics of lost grandeur. NME report today that it could be a rip off someone elses song. The lyrics are intruiging and it's not the only one on the album with religious overtones in the language. Lovers in Japan is also good, and you get two versions of Lost which inevitably makes it more memorable.

Most of the album has the feel of songs you've heard before, which is no bad thing, and there is a bit of a range of songs across the album - feels like slightly more variety than previous albums, though it's a while since I listened to the previous three.

It's not earth-shattering, but it's a good listen. As Krish Kandiah puts it "It's OK". Coldplay make nice listenable music that happily played in my ears all the way down the train line to Falmouth on Friday while I read Calvin's Institutes. Nice combination.

The clearly intelligent and well read Pete Dray makes a more thoughtful commentary on Viva La Vida, or Death and all his friends

Anglican church in meltdown over gays and women

Cover story in todays Times... Anglican church in meltdown over gays and women, by Ruth Gledhill. Tired old question, but could this be the straw that breaks the camels back, or is there still reason for the evangelicals to stay in fellowship with the anglo-catholics and the liberals?? I love (most of) the 39 articles as much as anyone else, but this thing has drifted so far off that it doesn't even realise the problem.

Further into The Times it's noted that having Rabbi Sacks speak at Lambeth is a positive step... Now, it's good to understand others, but I'm not entirely sure how someone who doesn't think the Messiah has come yet is going to help the CofE move forward positively

Drift happens. The Bible shows us that.
And history sings the same song.

What matters when that's happening is staying with the gospel. The gospel is then far more important than the sentiment historical unity. Unity is always selective anyway (note there are plenty of people not in the Church of England in the first place) and should always be surrendered for the sake of holding to the gospel, for the sake of the glory of Jesus. Maintaining unity without the gospel is just pointless. Where unity based on the gospel can be maintained then obviously that's the ideal, a clear basis for friendship, relationship, partnership....

The Jehovah's Witnesses who popped into our house on Sunday afternoon would have had us believe that we shared the same gospel as the four newfrontiers-types they were sitting around the table with - but that's only true if you skip Anglican articles I, II, V, VIII amongst others (that is if you skip Trinity, divinity of Jesus, the historic creeds etc). The Reformed Charismatics and the Jehovah's Witnesses hold to different gospels. We can't unite in gospel-fellowship. Likewise, how can those in the CofE who have such different gospels prentent to be united? Why would someone who loves the gospel want to fellowship with those who openly flaunt sound doctrine?

Furthermore, given that Anglican churches are essentially independent churches, and that the evangelicals are usually more than capable of self-funding - why stay in the bigger thing? I know you can never have a totally pure church. And I know it is possible that evangelicals might one day be a majority... but is that faint future hope worth the cost today? There are plenty of churches to form fellowship with instead of those that deny the things that matter. Plenty of churches who love the gospel, who will contend for the truth...

Our Big God requires Big Words!

I used this thought in my recent preach on Hebrews 13. I knew it wasn't an original thought! This is where it came from... Mark Altrogge: We should learn certain biblical and theological words because they will help us love God more.

Walking in the garden

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in love for eternity past. Love overflows and creation happens by the Word. The heavens and the earth. Man made in God's image. Man walks with God in the garden. Man rejects the word of God and is kicked off the mountain. Rest of the story? How to get God and man walking together again...

Enoch briefly does it but is a rare exception. Abraham knows God. After bringing his people out of Egypt God comes to dwell with his people in a tent. The tent is replaced with a temple. Then God the Son comes to tabernacle with his people. God walking around with people. Immanuel. Jesus dies on a cross and the temple curtain is torn. Man and God can now live together again.

Better than Jesus walking around, the Holy Spirit is poured out on God's people. Curse removed. Jews and Gentiles alike can enjoy God's blessing. God now lives in his people, personally, intimately.

End of time, Jesus comes back from heaven to earth. Jesus brings his people into the new creation. The jubilee trumpet sounds. The second Adam climbs the mountain back into Eden. A renewed heavens and earth, where God lives with his people. "Would you be happy in 'heaven' if Jesus was not there?" No. But the good news is that Jesus will be centrestage in the new creation. In the eternal city, the new Eden, God and man walk together forever.

thebluefish.org - life made easier

This blog is still available at thebluefish.blogspot.com but now you can save time by just using

thebluefish.org

Top 10 Referrers to thebluefish.blogspot.com

I've been using Google Analytics to monitor the site over the past couple of months. Thanks to the top 10 referrers since then, all of them from the UK... This list excludes Google and Facebook which top the list.

I have the pleasure of knowing 8/10 in 'the real world' which is great.

The list also reveals the niche nature of blogging - since these are all Christian blogs.

1. Adrian Warnock - interviews and liveblogging etc. Adrian's blog is the most read UK Christian blog and he's a quality bloke too. Five times as many referrals as the #2 referrer.
2. Colin Adams - preaching blog from Scotland. Probably producing the most consistently high quality content of any UK Christian blog. Yet to meet.
3. Sean Green - Reading newfrontiers elders blog, soon to become the blog of an Amsterdam church-planter.
4. Maurice McCracken - UCCF Relay Co-ordinator.
5. Dan Hames - church history, theology, music. Dan's blog reflects who he is.
6. Kath Arnold - Unique angles on life.
7. Ed Goode - ex-Relay, Christian Hedonist. A great testimony to the treasure that is Jesus.
8. Glen Scrivener - Anglican vicar dude, and the other one I've not yet met.
9. Nathan Smith - the Grace Church Blog, part of Sovereign Grace Ministries in the UK. Grace and gospel loving sermons, links etc.
10. Hugh Bourne - Christian student from Sussex.

Seven Days

  1. Entertaining Angels. Dinner with Anna, Hannah & Jon. Plus non-competitive board-gaming. Matt joining us for dinner at 11pm post-Soul Survivor Exeter. Jon's lame duck. Good coffee, strong coffee..
  2. Butternut Soup. Steve & Claire, Tim and Andy for Sunday lunch. That moment when, to avoid losing at Uno Extreme, Em invited the Jehovah's Witnesses in.
    "This doesn't happen often... any of you have religious beliefs..." (two theology students, the full-time evangelist and my evangelistically minded wife)...
    the heart-break of the JW's-Gospel-minus, minus Jesus.
  3. The Beach. Being Tuck's barber. And Exmouth beach.
  4. The Beach 2. Hours on the train to Falmouth, running into Jon & baby Benjamin on the train. Falmouth beach with Kenny.
  5. I'm with the Luddites. Death to laptops. Grr. Who knew that hal.dll was so important. Anyone got a spare Windows XP install CD cos I lost mine in the move.
  6. Team. Planning September Team Days. Living three months ahead...
  7. Church. Finished the joining the church course. This is our church, this is home.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Grace scorned... Grace abounds!

Genesis 21 paints a great picture of the gospel, one that will be magnified in Genesis 22.

1-8. After years of waiting God's promises are kept. The LORD visited Sarah. God did as he had promised. His word didn't return empty. And God did it at the time he had promised. At exactly the right time. He kept the promise for Abraham to have a Son, as he would 1400 years later when the ultimate Son of Abraham was born. God's Son incarnate come to save us... but more on that in Genesis 22. Good news and great joy. God keeps his gospel word to his people.

9-10. The son of Abraham's self-religion responds to this with laughter, mocking Isaac. This grieves Sarah - only the Son of Promise should inherit, not the slave boy too. Calvin notes:

"...nothing is more grievous to a holy mind, than to see the grace of God exposed to ridicule. And this is the reason why Paul calls his laughter persecution; saying, ‘He who was after the flesh persecuted the spiritual seed.’ (Galatians 4:29.) Was it with sword or violence? Nay, but with the scorn of the virulent tongue, which does not injure the body, but pierces into the very soul. Moses might indeed have aggravated his crime by a multiplicity of words; but I think that he designedly spoke thus concisely, in order to render the petulance with which Ishmael ridicules the word of God the more detestable." Commentary on Genesis
Abraham is rightly distressed by this situation. Self-religion always opposes gospel grace, it's to be expected. Nonetheless, it's lies should not be tolerated. God's people should remain in freedom, the freedom of being inheriting sons of God with Jesus. The great hope of inheriting all things, most of all, access back into the greater Eden of the new creation where God dwells with his people, intimately and personally forever.


All this is a great treasure magnified in my heart after an hour this afternoon talking with J.W.'s - not only does their twisted version of the story of salvation not tie up with what the Bible plainly says about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and his people, it's also a rubbish hope. All they have is the hope of a patched up world, not a return to walking with God.

Key questions to engage with here, reflecting on the ways they tried to make out that there isn't much between us (and if you ignore The Trinity, the Deity of Jesus and the nature of the new Creation then there's not much difference!!):
  • why does it matter that Jesus is God, or put the other way, what's lost if we say he isn't?
  • would these J.W. guys have been happy in our church meeting this morning?(were we distinctively Christian...
  • is my preaching sufficiently Christian? (or would a J.W., a Muslim, a Non-Messianic-Jew etc be able to agree with the content without changing their existing beliefs)
  • how many genuine Christians wouldn't see the difference?
Back to Genesis 21...

11-13. Nonetheless, Ishmael is a son of Abraham and so will be blessed. The sin is not approved but the grace keeps abounding. This a postscript of grace produced from Abraham & Sarah's unbelief. God's overflows in abundant blessings. Blessings that can reach even J.W.'s and others who consider themselves to be part of the church, if they'll come and freely receive grace from Jesus who is God.

Not about 'faith' but about 'faith in'

"The new theory denies infallibility to the words of God, but practically imputes it to the judgments of men; at least, this is all the infallibility which they can get at. I protest that I will rather risk my soul with a guide inspired from heaven, than with the differing leaders who arise from the earth at the call of "modern thought."

Either we have faith in God or we have faith in ourselves. Ironically, as Jesus notes, when you give up on self you save yourself. Or as Calvin puts it, when we know God we really know ourselves - knowing our mighty giftedness and our deep depravity as men before Majesty.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Grace of My God (audio)


At Matt Giles' Myspace:

Listen The Grace of My God (acoustic demo version)



Also on that Myspace, PDF sheet music for The Grace of My God.

MySpace also has tracks from his album 'Undone'. Undone is available to buy from Risen Records.

Prognosis interview Pete Greasley (part 1)

Pete Greasley on Books...

The Science of Living Blessedly Ever After

Calvin says that God reveals himself to make us happy (roughly paraphrased).
Reading from The Institutes on the train this week has been helping me with the happiness. Having supervised three of the six team members I'm directly responsible for is pretty good for the happiness index too. When, by grace, I can do that on Exmouth beach, Plymouth Hoe and Falmouth beaches that also helps! God's word against the backdrop of sea-views in God's world.
Happiness. The sea testifies. The sand testifies. The sunny skies testify. Everything God has made is designed to speak of him. And not just creation - the church speaks too. **Mo says: The church doesn't just talk grace, but it shows grace. It doesn't just say "Jesus", it is Jesus

Skies and stones and the crucified Son

Spoken all into being in six days
Forming and filling every page
Male and female, divine love displayed
For the joy of those he has made
This the glorious theatre of his grace!

Everything in it's good place
All things together preach praise
Skies and stones, the crucified son
Sing the answer to every question
For his glory and by his grace!

Seasons tell of the salvation he'll bring
Falling to winter, new life in spring
Light defeats darkness with every dawn
As when he came and was born
Creator and Redeemer, he sings!

Into the human heart he's speaking
His glory never so brightly shining
Who died in darkness, "it is done"
Sweetest sight, his salvation come
The song of grace abounding!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beyond... Air Guitar Art

Air guitar is escapist fantasy at it’s best.
All twang and no substance. There’s nothing real about it. Beyond the ability to press the play button on your Sony walkman, air guitar requires absolutely no skill whatsoever.
Air Guitar is a pretence: we pretend we’re doing something amazing when really we’re just larking around. I've been thinking about how sometimes we Christians in the arts play the Air Guitar in creative culture. Sometimes we play air guitar to the creative industries. We see some really cool graphics on a billboard or the cover of an album and we copy it for our mission week publicity. A Christian band like the music of a guys like Coldplay or U2 and copy their sound exchanging but changing the lyrics to be more edifying or more ‘Christian.’

Awake faith to put forth its strength

The Puritan prays (Valley of Vision, 'Faith'):
When faith sleeps, my heart becomes
an unclean thing,
the fount of every loathsome desire,
the cage of unclean lusts
all fluttering to escape,
the noxious tree of deadly fruit,
the open wayside of earthly tares,
Lord, awake faith to put forth its strength
until all heaven fills my soul
and all impurity is cast out.
Genesis begins with man in Eden with God, and ends with a man going into a coffin in Egypt. The story has spiralled downward terribly, but as Joseph speaks his last words he speaks in confident faith: "God will visit you and bring you up out of this land into the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob... God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here." - things are out of place, the sins of the amorites have not yet reached their height, God's people wait in faith to come into Canaan's rest. Waiting for God to visit his people when Christ comes to take his people back into Eden. Lord, awake my faith until the new creation, with Christ enthroned at it's centre, fills all my affections.

Enjoying the Grace of my God

Much of yesterday was spent sat on Plymouth Hoe with Claudia. A particular highlight was continuing our study in Galatians - enjoying the freedom of the gospel from fear of others and from needing to add 'works' to faith in Jesus. We were exploring Galatians 2. I love Galatians, and I particularly love 'The One with the Apostle and the Bacon Sandwich at Antioch'.

I love the way Paul shows us how to care for one another, how to do pastoral care, by carefully walking Peter back to the cross (Galatians 2v11-3v1) filling his horizons with God's big event - the death of Jesus with whom we die so we can rise to new life in Christ who loved us and gave himself for us. This is the way to reply to legalism: not to go searching for it but to go and fill your affections with the grace my God at the cross.

In the evening we met with others from our church on the last part of our 'joining the church' course here. The grace of giving, the grace of God that leads us to generosity. I loved elder Andy's observation that the best answer to the devils lie of materialism is to abound in generosity. Grace drowns out the anthems of sin.

And with that we've covered all the foundational material ahead of joining Frontiers Church Exeter!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

UCCF INTERFACE 08 is a creative convergence of students and professionals in the arts and media...

INTERFACE 08 is a creative convergence of students and professionals in the arts and media who love the Lord and want to see him glorified in the creative industries. As the end of term beckons it’s the end of a year for some and the start of a career for others. Before you jet off for that beach holiday or summer project why not meet with fellow Christian creatives to converse the joys and challenges of serving Christ in the arts.

Interface is a mentoring conference; our speakers don’t talk at you: we talk with each other: Life After Art College. Creative Careers for Christ. Self-Expression versus Godly Communication. A Christian Understanding of Dance. Design. Music and Art. Art and the Bible. Film and the Media. Visual Communication and Why Evangelicals Don’t Do Art. There’ll be all the usual open mic shenanigans, show and tell, plenty of prayer, worship and good times. Everyone has the chance to show recent work and to bring your own ideas to the table.

4 Jul 08 - 7 Jul 08. Otford Manor, Kent

UCCF Artsman, Ally Gordon is blogging 'beyond air guitar' : the contemporary arts and the christian mind including the story of this paiting of his called 'gather we no more':

Yeah, it’s just God’s grace! ...it’s just the Bible put to music.

Nathan Fellingham in an interview with Adrian Warnock:
I think There is a Day is probably one I’d go back to. I was reading a book called The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges. It’s not really a book about the second coming and our future in heaven, or anything like that, but there was obviously something that he put in there, a page that I read—that chorus literally just descended on me like—instantly. I can’t put it in any other way. It was like I got so excited by reading what I was reading... the chorus, “We will meet him in the air and we will be like him, and we will see him as he is . . .” and then that “Oh yeah!”—it was just genuinely what was in my heart. I remember I was in my bedroom. I slammed my fist down on the bed. That was genuinely what it was—it was like, “Oh YEAH!!” It so gripped me—so just from there I kind of started looking up some simple passages and, you know, I did the whole kind of following Scripture links to this one, and I’d follow it through my Bible and just came up with various lines, and really felt God’s grace in putting it together. A lot of people said to me, “It’s a great theological song.” You have some guys who really do know their stuff theologically, and it’s like, “Yeah, it’s just God’s grace!” I mean, in a sense, it’s just the Bible put to music.
Which is one of the reasons I'm glad we give this to Relay to read over the summer before they begin their year of discipleship training in a student context, a year that is all about grace.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Together at Taunton (podcasts)



Five preaches from Simon Walker (x1), Terry Virgo (x3) and Matt Partridge (x1) at the 2008 Together at Taunton Weekend are now available

The power of the pulpit, and this work of the Holy Spirit

As one looks at the Protestant Churches in Britain and America in the second part of the nineteenth century, the impression given is one of abounding vitality. It was as an age when rationalism and scepticism were spreading... nevertheless, for the mass of the people, loyalty to the gospel call and to the Church was a notable feature of the time. It was an era of great theologians and great preachers, and the churches were excellently attended. It is questionable whether the power of the pulpit on such a wide scale was ever so marked in the English-speaking world as it was in the years from 1840-1890. There were, indeed, giants in those days... [Spurgeon taking up the mantle from Charles Simeon. Simeon's legacy in part leading to the birth of the gospel-centred student-witness of the UCCF...]

...it has never been adequately realised, however, how much this period owed to the great revival movements which took place. This was particularly true of the 1857-1860 revival. As a result of this work of the Holy Spirit, at least one million coverts were received into the Church of God in the United States alone... from America to Ulster and then to England and Scotland.... The tremendous effect of this can scarcely be exagerated. It came to many congregations as life from the dead.

...the effect produced upon William Booth and his wife led to the founding in 1865 of the Salvation Army...it was through the influence of the revival that Thomas Barnado was converted in 1862. The story of the establishing of his orphan homes is typical of the great upsurge of philanthropic activity during this period which derived its vitality and earnestness from the evangelical convictions of those who shared in it...

Its most remarkable feature was the way in which [Moody's ministry in 1873] affected men and women of all classes, educated and illiterate, rich and poor.

... the revival was started not by special revivalists but in ordinary services... Businesmen, deeply troubled by an economic recession that has caused a spate of bankruptcies, crowded to the midday prayer meetings, timed to last exactly one hour and compatible with a full diary.... it was marked by dedicated prayer, evangelical cooperation... instances of physical prostrations associated with conviction of sin....

Not only were there many thousands of conversions; there was also a distinct quickening of the pace of global efforts to spread the gospel. Between 1860 and 1884 some 12% of total spending by Anglicans of all church parties was on foreign missions: the proportion among Evangelicals was undoubtedly far higher.... there was a surge of interest in overseaswork from the mid-1880s, much of it in response to the stirring news that a groupof gifted young university men, the Cambridge Seven, had undertaken service with the China Inland Mission. [Fuller's support of Carey and Simeon of Henry Martyn having preceeded this by a couple of generations]

Extracts from Renwick & Harman, The Story of the Church, chapter 21.
and David Bebbington, The Dominance of Evangelicalism, p100ff.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Dwell London: Grace for the City


DWELL LONDON: Grace for the City
with Mark Driscoll, Steve Timmis & Scott Thomas. July 12th.

Seven Days

1. Writing the last of the 'Stay Free' studies for new Christians on losing your life for Jesus and the gospel. And then the phone rang:
Timing is for joy.
2. Caught in a storm on the dartmouth coast. This redefines rain:
Trials are for joy.
3. Passion for the local church @ 'Joining the church':
Church is for joy.
4. People who love the crazy idea of the gospel project. The born-againing power of the word of God:
The Bible is for joy.
5. Matt & Cat visiting. Musing on the glory of the gospel. Alex preaching on the last days:
Gospel partners are for joy.
6. Baptisms on Exmouth beach at 22 degrees:
Devon is for joy.
7. Matt's song online:
Grace is for joy.

Ed does Seven too

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Grace of my God (Matt Giles)



THE GRACE OF MY GOD!

1. The grace of my God, an unbreakable chain,
for those He redeems, He in grace will sustain.
I will treasure the cross and rejoice in the Prize,
This unspeakable Gift! This the gospel of Christ!

2. Without Him my eyes would be downcast in guilt,
And in trembling shame would my lips have been sealed.
Yet my mouth fills with praise, when I call on His name
And my eyes may delight in the wonders of Christ!

Yes, wave upon wave of grace reaches me,
He deals with my sin and He washes me clean.
And each accusation is drowned by His blood,
For Jesus has paid with immeasurable love!


3. Without Him is hell, where His wrath will consume,
In perpetual fire; an eternity doomed.
Yet in Him is all love, and my soul is at rest,
For hell's gates have been barred through His glorious death!

4. Without Him the darkness is all I can see,
And the terror of sin would abound within me.
Yet a boundless horizon of glory is mine,
When Christ in the depths of my heart is all light!

5. By grace my affection is drawn to the Lord,
And by grace I'm renewed by the power of His word.
It is grace that will strengthen my will and resolve
To live for my Christ 'til I kneel at His throne!

Matt Giles © 2008. Honeycomb Music Publishing Ltd.
v1, v2, ch, v3, ch, v4, ch, ch (instrumental), v5, ch.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Save the cheerleader, save the world?

Na, Preach the Word, save the world.

When I was at Covenant Life Church at Easter one of the most striking things was the way that Josh Harris concluded the meeting, picking up on something in Bob Kauflin's sermon that could have been misapplied, and whilst honouring the preacher and serving the people by ensuring that we applied rightly something that we could have applied wrongly.
Harris does exactly the same thing at the end of Eric Simmons NA talk. This man is a gifted pastor.

Tim Wilson highlights the NA talks too.

Open Heart Surgery @ UCCF South West

In May Adrian Reynolds spent 24 hours teaching the UCCF South West team about The Heart. As a team we'd spent time in May reading books from the CCEF by Paul Tripp, Timothy Lane, Ed Welch & co. to prepare us for these sessions.

The first session didn't record for some reason. Basically it was on Jeremiah 17. You can get the gist from this sermon on Jeremiah 17 from Yateley Baptist during the summer of 2007, which prompted me to invite Adrian to come and address the team.

Adrian's talking was interspersed with unrecorded group discussion.
The Heart (2a)
The Heart (2b)
The Heart (3)
The Heart (4)

Adrian reflects very generously on his time with us.
Adrian on John Flavel, and on the deceitful heart.

As a team we gather seven times a year. In February we had Nathan Smith on Humble Orthodoxy.

You leave with nothing



ht:Desiring God

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Only is a most Christian kind of word

I love having 800 pioneering missionaries in Christian Unions in the South West. But,contrast thousands upon thousands outside of Christ.The maths is hopeless! But, God says his gospel is the power of God to defy the maths and save the nations.

  • I cannot save them.
  • You cannot save them.
  • They cannot save them. Nor are they inclined to save themselves.
  • God can save.
  • God can save the obviously sinful–he has saved you and I.
  • God can save the self-righteous, those lacking justice, love, kindness and humility –like us.
*ONLY THE GOSPEL BRINGS REPENTANCE.

The grace of God does this. And onlyat the cross do we see how God can both punish sin and save sinners. Jesus dies in our place for our sin!!

*ONLY THE GOSPEL REMOVES SIN.

Only the cross makes forgiveness possible. This is Christianity! Jesus died for our sin,throwing them into the sea.
  • We don't scrub ourselves clean.
  • We don't improve ourselves.
  • We don't try a bit harder.
  • We don't pedal faster.
  • We don't do more.
  • We don't get spiritual or more religious.
Idols require us doing. Christianity is God doing it all. God done it all.
See, Micah 7v18-19:
  • It is HE who pardons.
  • It is HE who passed over the sin of Israel because of the blood on their doors.
  • HE does not retain anger.
  • It is HE who delights in love.
  • It is HE who has compassion.
  • HE treads sin under foot.
  • HE hurls our sins into the sea.
This is the Incomparable Grace of God:
Our sin removed – by HIM! At the cross of Christ.
That is what Micah sees as he looks upriver.

*ONLY THE GOSPEL REMOVES SIN.
  • Only when we see the unique power of the gospel to bring repentance, andthe unique power of the gospel to remove sin will we see the church built.
  • Only then will we see genuine joy in our lives.
  • Only then will we step out of mediocrity and into the unstoppable purposes of God, swimming in the depths of God's river of salvation history. We need the grace that only comes in the gospel, grace that all the scriptures testify about.
  • Only when we see God's big gospel story, his big gospel river and our place in it will we have faith to see this world changed.
  • Only in the gospel is repentance possible, only in the gospel can sins be removed. That's why the church stands on the powerful word of the cross, able to believe for more than we can imagine.
All of this ONLY talk is really unacceptable in the 21st Century. But frankly, I've had enough of the mediocrity. What God lays out for us in the gospel is more compelling, more glorious, more sense than anything this world offers. For the gospel presents us with Jesus Christ, the Shepherd-King. How Micah must be overwhelmed as the eyes of his heart see with faith what is coming, and has now come. Overwhelmed by the unique, incomparable grace of God in his powerful repentance-bringing, sin-removing gospel.

NWA The Interviews - Terry Virgo, on Word & Spirit

Terry Virgo on word and Spirit. The opportunity build bridges, avoid caricature as people who love the Scriptures and who love the life of the Spirit. Particularly how this plays out in New Word Alive, Newfrontiers etc.
Amen. Amen. And Amen.



Love conferences, and love the local church the most.
...if you don't love the church, love your church, you haven't entirely understood the gospel.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New Word Alive 2009!



Student price - 89 quid. Low income discounts in week 2.
With Don Carson and Terry Virgo (both weeks), Vaughan Roberts (week 1), Liam Goligher (week 2).

The Broken Preacher

"The preacher.. has been powerfully affected by the truth that he is proclaiming. He himself has spent a considerable time canvassing his own heart for agreement with the text’s proposition. Where there is a deviation from the divine will the preacher has bent his own will through prayer and meditation that he might be aligned with heaven in truth. Furthermore, the preacher is one who has worn out a path to the throne of grace petitioning for the hearts of his people to ‘get it’. The preacher is convinced of the urgency and power of the message; he really believes that what he is about to say is exactly what God wants these people to hear, therefore, it is the most important thing in the world for them to attend to at that very moment."

Erik Raymond: Sweat the Text
ht: Milton Stanley

Pete Greasley & co.

Here's fresh fuel for the iPod. I want my primary food to come from the preaching in my local church, but even Paul said "bring my books" - eating from the books of the internet age is good for my faith and good for the glory of God. These church-planting, gospel-centred, reformed-charismatic, grace-exulting guys from South Wales are worth a look, worth a listen...



Listen. Watch. Download:
Christ Church Newport: Media Library

Preaching is

...like men that go wooing a bride or announcing a wedding.
Posted by Dan Cruver, from C.F.W. Walther. HT: Milton Stanley

"Whenever I see a worn-out, burnt-out Christian leader, then I will give odds of 10 to 1 that their church has never thought about honouring them..."

I'm determined to keep doing what I'm about to do. To keep pointing you in the direction of Marcus Honeysett's 'Digital H20' blog. Why? For things like this:
...if you were to list what we might call ‘freshness busters’ (things which typically trip Christian leaders up) what would be included? I have a LONG list in answer to that. Here are 5 of my top answers:
There are no easy ways to measure success, because our success is measured spiritually and invisibly. Numbers are not a good measure. But in the absence of measures (and remember every other type of work has them), it can be easy to feel guilty or that we haven’t done enough. And nobody will tell us to stop. Indeed its possible to get to the point where people think that us doing 110% is the expected basic norm. Connected to that nobody who isn’t in Christian leadership knows what it entails or how much time it takes....
Spiritually fresh leaders 1, and Spiritually fresh leaders 2.

NWA The Interviews - Terry & Wendy Virgo

Adrian Warnock continues his interviews from New Word Alive... with Terry & Wendy Virgo. Terry gave the opening preach of this new conference and he and his wife Wendy stayed around for the rest of the week.

For students there's some helpful stuff about Terry's involvement with UCCF, which includes being a part of New Word Alive. The conversation then moves on to the rising prominence of the 'reformed charismatic'.



Part 2, Wendy talks about family life and then the conversation moves on to "apostles".

Florida, Yateley

Adrian adds his perspective: ...this Florida stuff is not right. I am one of those old fashioned Christians who long for revival with all my heart. But this is not it.

Things Imperishable: changing the world.

I've spent much of this year thinking about how to see more effective mission by students in the South West. People have asked me how things are in the region and I've gotten to a point where I can barely answer. Lots of evangelism doesn't prove anything, though I'm glad of it. High numbers doesn't prove anything, though I'm glad of them. What I want to see is the thing I can't achieve - students being born again. I can't make it happen but I can equip students to do something about it.

Peter tells us in his first letter says there are two things that don't perish.
1. The blood of Jesus (v19) by which we're ransomed (v18).
2. The word of God (v23) by which we're born again (v23).
Not two things but one. One word of God that is supremely about the cross of Jesus that brings new life: an inheritance that is imperishable (v4) by the death & resurrection of Jesus!

How will revival come? How will things change?
As the word of the cross is preached (v25).

How do we see students preaching the cross. Not by applying some other strategy, only by preaching the cross to them so their hearts will be changed by the gospel. That's all we can do. Pray and preach the gospel. Let the Holy Spirit by the word and the word by the Holy Spirit set hearts alight with the glorious grace of the gospel.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"you are an unpleasant legalist who really needs to repent and receive of God's grace."

Marcus: On responding to grace: "10 years ago my life and ministry were turned inside out by a single conversation. A godly friend took me for a walk in the country. In the course of our conversation he said "Marcus I believe God wants me to tell you something." Curious, I asked what it was. I wasn't prepared for the answer: "you are an unpleasant legalist who really needs to repent and receive of God's grace." As soon as he said it I knew he was right, uncomfortable though it was. "

Toby on teamwork ..."Our team is a better team than that White House team. Our boss is an infinitely better boss, our task a monumentally more important and exciting task. How could we possibly be less committed to being in the team for fulfilling the purposes of God than Toby Ziegler and his White House aides?"

Rumours of War

A nasty rumour of war went around,
So they armed the missiles, air to ground,
And they kept an eye on the radar screens,
In case an unknown object was seen.

They tld the President, he went pale,
"Suppose the Fail-safe were to fail,
And what about the 4 minute line,
UI wish we had a little more time".

They check the missiles under the sea,
Polaris, Posidon, they smiled with glee,
All systems go, A-1,
Even the 1000 Megaton.

All it would take was the phone bloody red,
A couple of fateful words would be said.
One by one the missiles would fly,
And mushrooms soon seen to bloom in the sky.

And a man in a room saw and odd looking tracel
An expression of fear was seen on his face.
He reached for the phone... Oh, yes he was sure,
After all there had been a rumour of war.

© Derek Bish (c.1970's)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Where is Adrian Warnock?

Adrian's blog has gone offline due to a fire in the place that holds all his data. Apparently he'll be back online soon. In the mean time, plenty of other blogs to be reading!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

"Boring Bible studies are an idolatrous abomination." I once found these words falling inadvertantly out of my mouth when speaking to a conference....

Marcus Honeysett on those infamous words about idolatrous abominations : Application for Adoration

The Incomparable Grace of God (mp3)

Home from a great four days on the road, preaching at Bath CU, visiting several old friends (including dinner at the funky pancake's house) and then preaching at our 'sending' church, in Arborfield.

Download: Micah 7v14-20: The Incomparable Grace of God: Only the gospel brings repentance and removes sin.
In this preach I'm aiming to show the power of the gospel, which is greater than what God did in the Exodus. Like it, but greater. The Exodus caused the nations to fear, and some repentance. This new Exodus will bring many to repent which is the power of the gospel.

And, the gospel brings phenomenal assurance of sins removed. As Micah stands in the river of salvation history there appears to be a tension. After page after page of God speaking against sin, how can he forgive? Micah sees the cross. The cross again presents something greater than the Exodus. First time around God's enemies are sunk into the sea. This time, the sins of God's people are sunk without trace. (I illustrated this with Titanic, saying 'never to be seen again' - which sort of works).