Showing posts from 2012

Mine and Jude's top 10 Christmas jokes!

I’ve been searching for the best Christmas joke and I can’t decide. The best ones are either so bad that they belong in a Christmas Cracker, or so old that we all mouth the words together and recite the punchline before it’s delivered.

So here, in no particular order of preference are my current favourite Christmas one liners (apart from No5 which is a three liner, but I like the shuddering literalism of it!)

1/Q: What do you call Frosty the Snowman in May?
A: A puddle!

2/Q: Who hides in the bakery at Christmas?
A: A mince spy!

3/What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?

4/It just wouldn’t be Christmas without M&S.
It would just be Chrita.

5/It was Christmas Eve in a supermarket and a woman was anxiously picking over the last few remaining turkeys in the hope of finding a large one. In desperation she called over a shop assistant and said "Excuse me. Do these turkeys get any bigger?"

"No" he replied, "They're all dead…

Angel Choirs, Shepherds & Belinda Carlisle!

The extraordinary angel choir ambushed the Shepherds, singing of a new kind of peace on earth. It was quite possibly the first choir those Shepherds had ever heard, and maybe even a premiere performance of angel singing anywhere on planet earth!

A description of the first century Palestine of these Shepherds sounds depressingly familiar to those of us who have seen the 21st century version on the news broadcasts - Split into deep historic rivalries, vying for power and favour with the Romans (or present day America). Even on a good day, tension never far from the surface, always ready to boil over into violence, which in turn can quickly escalate from a minor incident to sweep up the whole region in blood and revolution.

Not exactly 'peace on earth' now or then,unless you are prepared to fundamentally water down the definition of the word peace. From whichever century you look at it we seem as far away as ever from the tantalising hope of real peace.
Maybe the Angel choir j…

The Cultural pendulum of purity

It's easy to adopt a revisionist view of missions history, believing our missionary forefathers stumbled through foreign lands with British blinkers on, blind to cultural sensitivities which have only been discovered by us in this global generation.

This assumption is arrogant and wrong. From the very beginning of the spread of the early church we find Paul relating the gospel first to Jews in the synagogue with a narrative they understood, then to to the Gentiles, adapting his story to point to the same Jesus. His Athenian preaching is well noted as a masterpiece of bridge building cultural awareness.

Later, some of the early church Fathers used the philosophical worldview of their day as a launch pad to communicate the gospel. Origen's strategy was simple. In his own words, he used philosophy 'in the same way the Egyptians were plundered by the people of Israel.' Their wilderness tabernacle was built by instructions given by God to Moses, but it was constructed with m…

The ghost of Christians past and the modern Romanian

One amazing conversation in Romania last week highlights more than anything the huge shift that has taken place in 20 years or so since the fall of the Communist regime.
Aurel, a 26 year old teacher was a small child when Communism fell. Whilst things can still be incredibly tough for young Romanians, Aurel is a part of the generation that have grown up with relative freedom and without the oppression of the old order.

As a Christian, Aurel told me that he had got hooked on buying bibles! So many bibles, in so many shapes, sizes, versions and covers are now available: From red letter words of Jesus, to two tone leather pocket paraphrases - Aurel was hooked and buying them all!
One night recently in a dream, he had a conversation with William Tyndale! Tyndale is the father of bible translations, martyred for his English bible under Henry VIII's own brand of controlled regime.

Aurel says that Tyndale approached him in the dream holding a big black leather bible. Speaking in a stern …

Women Bishops and the wife who wouldn't stay in the box

The General Synod of the Church of England will decide today whether to appoint women as Bishops. Many say this is the biggest breakthrough for women in the church, but history would contend with that idea.
The true architect of the Anglican church, Thomas Cranmer had woman trouble himself. The idea of appointing women to the clergy or to hold the office of Bishop would have been laughable to him. Cranmer’s women's issue was about his ability to even take a wife!

The tradition of clerical celibacy, approved of by Henry VIII in both his Catholic and Anglican phases, meant that Priests like Cranmer were unable to marry. In fact, it was simply easier to take a mistress, this was generally accepted as necessary, fulfilling the letter of the law if not the spirit of it.

Upon his first marriage, Cranmer had to resign his post at Jesus College and was almost reduced to poverty. Sadly the first Mrs Cranmer died in childbirth.
Cranmer’s rise to power was sudden and unexpected, as were his …

From Hobbit holes to the ends of the earth!

I've been enjoying the Hobbit again, this time with my youngest son for the first time. Maybe it is stage of life, or coincidental to what I'm currently teaching through from the bible, but I'm seeing so many connections between the life of Bilbo Baggins and the call on ordinary people like us to wake up to the big promise of the kingdom.
The Bilbo we meet early in the story may have hairy feet and three breakfasts, but in every other respect he mirrors our lives - a love of comfort; a fear of strangers and of the outside world. The word "adventure” is not one he would use, that kind of thing is for others. For the Hobbit there is the satisfied pattern of a familiar, easy life.

Bilbo doesn't even know that he has a hidden longing for adventure built deep inside of him, it's in his Tookish side, in his blood, it's what he was really made for. Listening to the Dwarves sing their deep, mysterious songs of far off places, “Something Tookish woke up inside him a…

Mainstream Mitt? What do Mormons believe?

Mitt Romney has not only brought slick hair back into American politics, but his Mormon faith has stirred up questions on both sides of the Atlantic.In the last few days I've been asked a number of times about what Mormons believe and whether they are mainstream or a cult.Assumptions range from Mormons being dangerous cultists, across the spectrum to believing that they are essentially Christians. Where do they stand?

This isn't a political blog posting, nor is it anti Mormon. Indeed, whilst the Mormon theology may be off track, Christians might find themselves closer to a Mormon politician on values than we realise. As Luther put it rather crudely 450 years ago, it's better to be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian. I'm not calling Romney a Turk any more than I'm labling Obama a fool - but I am against knee jerk dismissals of potential leaders simply because they don't tick all of our boxes. Some Christian commentary has been so angrily obsessed …

All Saints Day discipleship with Thomas Cranmer

Regular readers of this blog will have heard me wax lyrical about one of my heroes, Thomas Cranmer on numerous occasions. His 1549 and then 1552 revision of the Prayer Book would have changed English social history for ever had Edward VI only lived a few more years. As it was, Edward's untimely death meant the end of a reformed Prayer book, and soon after, an end for Cranmer, burned alive at the stake under Queen Mary.

We reformed modernists have turned our back on the old church calender with it's connection to the land, the seasons and the peoples of another age. However, the nuances of Cranmer's measured language, and his systematic teaching of theology to those who knew nothing of the gospel or the grand narrative of God's dealings with men, has yet to be surpassed in any generation. Quite simply, Cranmer discipled the entire English tribe with his simple daily prayers and scripture readings. His biblical ideas gradually becoming established and embedded in a nation…

Monsters v Anglicans 2

This is a re-post of a blog from a couple of years ago which begins to explain a little why we are hoping to redeem something from Halloween tonight, rather than just reject it wholesale and hide behind our front door.

Whatever has happened to Halloween? In 2001 we spent a collective £12m in the UK, by last year, this had grown like a prize winning pumpkin to a big fat £235m!
Shoppers to the nations favourite supermarket, Tesco (where every little helps, apparently) can pick up a 'Devil Witch' costume, age 3-10. If these tough economic times are straining your Halloween budget, you can settle for a 'Devil Alice Band' for £3 - I always thought there was something dark about the Alice band.

Before 2001 it seems we were happy spending our money on just the one big festival at the start of the winter season - Bonfire Night. Invented by our Anglican friends to help fuel anti catholic feeling & necessitated by fears of invasion or terror attack. Substitute Catholic for Isl…

Culture:Queues, Queens and other opportunities.

There is lots of talk in the worlds of politics, the arts and religion about culture. Shifting culture, niche culture, world culture, youth culture. For some around the globe, culture is morphing so rapidly that new trends and ideas emerge and disperse before they can be caught. Others though continue to live and think as they have always done, and as their parents generation before them did. It can be a bewildering, dizzying experience trying to pin down what our culture is and how it really affects us and those we do life with.

Simply put, culture is the way we organise our lives. The millions of daily, unconscious agreements we make that have been shaped by our society into rules and patterns that we unthinkingly conform to as normal. Normal to us anyway, perhaps not to those from across a cultural divide.
Culture is woven together like a complex tapestry that is passed down through generations, giving a society a way of expressing it’s corporate identity - Culture enables us to …

Temple tantrums and new truths!

I love to visit some of the grand church buildings that have been preserved for us. St Paul's, almost hidden under all the new glass and chrome in the best part of London, the turreted Orthodox cathedral in Cluj Napoca, Romania. My favourite of all is still the Pantheon in Rome, with it's odd mix of Roman pagan, catholicism and Italian nationalism rolled into one breathtaking whole!

2000 years ago Jesus outraged the legalists by standing next to Herod's massive temple building project in Jerusalem and claiming that he was going to tear it down, then rebuild it in three days. He was either crazy, or he had a different way of understanding the way we think about temples and church buildings.
Jesus took all the prophetic promises about Jerusalem's temple and pointed to himself. This centrepoint building in the nation, where broken, penitent people would come to find forgiveness of their sins, to get right with God, for physical healing even – Jesus put all of this on Him…

Strangled for scripture. A tribute to William Tyndale

476 years ago today, one of the greatest Englishmen to have ever lived was first strangled, then burned at the stake in Flanders.
William Tyndale's terrible crime was to have translated the New Testament, and large parts of the old into The English language. His mission, for ordinary Englishmen to be able to hear the scriptures, and therefore the gospel for themselves.

Tyndale's work was a terrible threat to the Catholic monopoly, their need for control meaning that most of the population never understood a word that was being said by Priests. More significantly than just understanding the words spoken, the gospel itself was shrouded in medieval mystery and superstition.

That psychotic monster Henry VIII was the worst player in all of this. Remembered now for his reforming zeal, his earlier years were defined by defence of the Pope and violence against reformers. The royal title,'Defender of the faith' which remains to this day, arose from Henry's own flawed theologi…

A view of Naples : Not so innocent abroad?

144 years ago when the idea of the grand tour through undiscovered southern Europe was at its height, Mark Twain published his ' Innocents Abroad.' About Naples he remarked: 'I will observe here, in passing, that the contrasts between opulence and poverty, and magnificence and misery, are more frequent and more striking in Naples than in Paris even. One must go to the Bois de Boulogne to see fashionable dressing, splendid equipages and stunning liveries, and to the Faubourg St. Antoine to see vice, misery, hunger, rags, dirt--but in the thoroughfares of Naples these things are all mixed together. Naked boys of nine years and the fancy-dressed children of luxury; shreds and tatters, and brilliant uniforms; jackass-carts and state-carriages; beggars, Princes and Bishops, jostle each other in every street.'

Naples remains a wonderful, terrible city rolled into one. Driving through the heart of the city earlier this week I wondered that whilst Naples has modernised in part…

Prayer is......Part 2

I'm concluding yesterday's blog post with part 2 of 'Prayer is....'These headings have been taken from Jason Mandryk's outstanding latest edition of 'Operation World.'

Prayer is.......

4/ An act of warfare:
We are pictured in the scriptures as soldiers in a battle when it comes to prayer. Somehow, in the plan of God, we have been given the task of engaging on behalf of the millions around the world in our generation who do not yet know Jesus Christ. Mandryk says, ‘The gates of hell will not prevail against the church, but they must be stormed!’ Ephesians 6 instructs us to train ourselves to pray in the Spirit on all occasions, armoured up and ready for action.

5/ An act of sacrifice:
Daniel’s prayers resulted in him being thrown to lions. Many around the world today take great risk, even for their lives, in meeting to pray together. My overriding concern is often whether I will miss all or part of a Champions league football game on the TV if I go to the midwe…

Prayer is...... (Part 1)

I’ve been reading the introductory notes in the latest edition of the magnificent prayer guide, ‘Operation World’ this week. Normally, I dive straight into the information sections on the nations and their stats in order to feed our praying, but the notes by Jason Mandryk are well worth reproducing for some additional stimulation in our prayer week.
It’s so good, I will simply use Mandryk’s own headings below, and some of his quotes in places.

Prayer is :
1/An act of faith:
Prayer is light years away from the normal management or administration of our lives. When we pray we are recognising that we cannot operate in our own strength. We realise that we are asking for impossible things from an invisible God – this requires a genuine act of faith. F B Meyer said, ‘You do not test the resources of God until you attempt the impossible.’

2/ An act of obedience:
The Apostle Paul instructs the early believers to ‘pray without ceasing.’ The Psalmist prophesied, ‘Ask of me and I will give the natio…

For runners everywhere : From Kenya to Kent.

I am an averagely slow, heavy, heel first runner, who has been trying to get fit by getting out early in the mornings over the last year since I had to give up my promising football career!

Next week, with a team of 15 or so local runners, including one of my sons, I will run a local 10k race to raise money for our Jubilee Initiative, a group of charities which we are personally involved with. Some of these charities are run by my friends, Jospeh and Lillian serving street children in Zambia, or Rod and Diana working for justice amongst girls sold into sex slavery in India for example.

I’ve recently read a great little book called, ‘Running with the Kenyans’, By Adharanand Finn. At a time when my training has suddenly got a little more serious, his personal story of transformation through running has made all the effort seem inspirational, almost spiritual. There are some great quotes from his book here which runners everywhere will find themselves identifying with. Enjoy, then get you…

Apostolic foundations and the nations part 3

This is the third video blog of the summer, attempting to outline some of the vision and values that underpin how we are working into the nations from our local church base in East Grinstead.

For those of us brought up in church on the genuinely inspiring missionary stories of the past, it's hard to imagine a different way of operating. However, this global generation requires new thinking on missions that will be effective into the 21st century. The rapidly changing, ever more connected planet offers new opportunities for mission that are rooted in the strategies of the original church planting Apostles.

This third video emphasises a focus on development over aid, and gives some scenarios where this shft is beginning to make a difference. Your comments and feedback are welcome, and if you want to know more about how we are working or get involved, please contact me.

Apostolic Foundations and the nations part 2

This is the second short video of the summer, designed to give you a taste of some of the vision and values that are shaping our developing work into the nations from our local church base. If you want a recap, part one can be found in the July archive of this blog.

So many of the old missionary models which have been unquestioned for generations, are being challenged in this new global, fast moving 21st century. We are discovering that we need new thinking about how to engage with the world and establish simple, effective new testament partnerships. Such partnerships are effectively the same new testament foundations that the first Apostles laid in the early church, albeit, reimagined for our generation.

This clip looks at some of the downsides to the old missionary model, and describes the thinking behind the kind of apostolic partnerships that we are now actively engaged in.

Let us know what you think, comments always welcome!

5 Cultural Observations from the Olympics!

1/ High Five whenever you can.
I’ve been trying to contextualize this for those of us who are not Olympians. Maybe when you’ve successfully sent an email, put the bins out in the nick of time - just spread the love and success by high fiving a friend or colleague.

Even if you’ve lost the point it seems a high five remains appropriate. In moments of extreme tension such as set point, or perhaps dealing with a difficult customer at work, a full chest slam or group hug is now de rigueur. Good to see too that the reassuring bottom pat has made an unexpected return. Reassuring yes, office!

2/ London is a truly great international city.
With the rise of fast expanding mega cities in the east and the global south, big European cities will no longer be able to compete on size alone over the next 25 years. London has proved that size isn’t everything. The public transport was good, the doomsday reports of gridlock were wrong, the signs and stewarding were excellent. In fact hap…

A small Olympic stage in a vast cosmic arena.

The eyes of the world will be on a stadium in East London tonight. A global audience of billions will be watching one city on the planet to see who is the biggest, strongest, fastest and best over the next two weeks.What has been built in the Olympic park is staggering. The sheer hard work and brilliance of the thousands of athletes from around the world just to get there is incredible.

As we celebrate pinnacles of human achievement in sport, architecture and a regenerative city legacy, we are in danger of our own Babel moment of hubris though. This old Greek word is ideal for our over confident, self sufficient generation. Hubris, tips us over the edge, over hyping, strutting, swimming in a pool of self congratulation at our own human effort, courage and skill.

I’ll enjoy the Olympic spectacle and fireworks tonight, but I’ve been reminded this week to get a better perspective. Reading Louie Giglio’s ‘Indescribable’, he references a photo of planet earth taken by the Voyager space …

Flags, Olympic Chaos & other doomsday scenarios!

Let's hope the North  Korean's geography isn't as bad as ours. I would like to point out that if they are planning to fire their shiny communist era missiles our way, it was Scotland that snubbed you, not London!

If the chattering liberal doomsday media hadn't made such a fuss about the wrong flag on the PowerPoint then no one would have known - in the words of Scooby Doo : We might have just got away with it if it wasn't for you meddling kids. 
This was a women's football match between well supported Columbia and North Korea, traditional footballing powerhouses. It was being played two days before the London Olympics officially begin, in the capital city of a neighbouring country! There was no one in the stadium other than the few hundred school children they could give tickets way to, no one was watching on the red button on BBC3 and nobody has a tv set in North Korea, other than Kim Jung Ill Junior,  the new Dear Leader who has a big room where he has gathere…

Wiggins v Eddie the Eagle - the changing face of the British Anti hero

Oi Bradley, read the script! You were supposed to get a puncture on the Chans de Élysées, or do the gentlemanly thing and let that nice Italian pass you on the last lap, or even get your sideburns caught in your chain and come in second, bloodied but heroic. But what is this kind of relentless victory?

This was a Sunday when the sporting psyche was turned on its head. A confident Australian bottled the Open when he practically had his name on the trophy, and a plucky Brit closed out a victory without even a hunt of a wobble. What kind of summer is this where the weather and even the national sporting stereotypes are upside down? We just don't have a paradigm for understanding this!

Bradley Wiggins is a total failure of a British hero. Doesn't he realise, his role is to raise our hopes, try really hard, then fail spectacularly at the last to a technically superior foreign opponent? We can then satisfy ourselves by saying its not really a proper sport, or the way that these Europ…

Living with margins and dodging camels!

Who says we have to own a bigger home or drive a newer car, or that our kids have to be involved in 5 competitive sports a year? I know some parents who keep a spreadsheet on their computer in order to keep up with the activities of their kids - Never mind a spreadsheet, we've made life so frantic we need a therapist!

Maybe it's driven by the usual tiredness that hits us the week before the schools break up, but we don't have to buy into the lie that the world determines how fast a pace of life we live. We don't have to let our children buy into it either.

It's that time of year again where the allure of slower summer days begin to nibble at our subconscious and leave us dreaming of a different life. If like me, you find you have got caught up again in busyness and find yourself living for the next break, wake up - like the English summer, those days of ease are never going to come!

Our western consumer culture defines how we live more than we like to admit. It shap…

Prayer of faith for the gift days

A number of you have been asking about the prayer that I read out at the second of our gift days at New Life in East Grinstead yesterday. For those who want to read it, use it, or share it - here it is.

Lord we remember the stories of how you have provided for your people. How your children in the wilderness saw you give them food for 40 years and shoes and clothes which never wore out. We remember Elisha and the widows pots of oil,  she kept pouring as you kept giving. We recall Ezekial and the army you called out of dry bones. We remember the Acts community giving generously, living with devotion to Christ and one another, having no poor among them. You've called  us to shine with your glory in the same way to our generation, You're going to bless us so that all the ends of the earth will be blessed

We're going to keep trusting and walking forward. You will put in our hands what we need every step of the way. Every time we pour out, you are going to give us what we need.

Apostolic foundations in the nations

In response to some questions about how we are working into the nations, I'm going to post a few short videos over the summer. These should give you a taste of the vision and values that are behind what we are doing, and that directly shape our church planting work into a number of countries.

A lot of the old ways or 'missionary models' are being discarded. There is much we can learn from, but we are also needing a new way of engaging with the world in the 21st Century, ways of working in simple New Testament pioneering partnerships. These are essentially the same apostolic foundations that the first century church planters laid, albeit, contextualised for our generation.

This first clip details some of the structure behind the vision to see churches planted and leaders released - the need for financial support. Do we follow the old missionary handout model, or is there a more dignified, mutually beneficial way of generating wealth to support church planters?

Let me know w…

Bankers, handshakes and the heart of forgiveness

Whether it's HSBC or Barclays money traders, the Queen and Martin McGuinness, John Terry and Patrice Evra.....
Payday delay chaos, immoral work ethics, empty gesture handshakes, or no handshake at all - it seems the whole world has someone to forgive!

Everyone has all kinds of issues in life. Forgiveness, or the lack of it, is one of the universals we all face. To qualify for forgiveness issues, we simply have to live for long enough - it won't be long before someone hurts you, inadvertently or deliberately.

Like it or not, we will also hurt others in the same way. Mostly we seem to stumble through life oblivious to the trail of damage we leave in our wake - like the old boy who drives the wrong way up the one way street, shaking his fist at all those who seem to be against him, unaware of the carnage that a glance in his rear view mirror would reveal!

What are we to do with the accumulated pile up in our rear view mirror - that done to us and by us? Whatever sweet pill of self …

Two weeks with John Livingstone Nevius

I've had plenty of wonderful two week holidays in far flung places over the years, but if you wrote to the locals today they would not remember me. There is no trace of me having been amongst them, no legacy from my impact.

John Livingstone Nevius spent only two weeks in Korea in 1890, yet the simple advice he gave to missionary leaders on that visit continues to shape the ongoing growth of the Korean church to this day!

Travelling into Korea from his base in China, Nevius was at odds with the normal, colonial missionary approach. He understood that both the gospel and church plants failed to penetrate national culture when they remained in the hands of western missionary leadership. Nevius believed that local leaders could and should be trained. Leaders who could establish their own churches and reach their own people far more effectively.

Thankfully the Korean missionary group who heard Nevius in 1890 were open to his remarks. He left them four principles which continue to underpi…

Unreached people groups next door

For those of us who grew up with an old 'missionary' mindset, unreached people groups were exotic tribes in far flung places.Our basic understanding was that these people were totally different from us in every aspect of language, culture, education, and lifestyle. They didn't know the gospel and someone would have to go to them.

In more recent years we became aware of phrases like 'the 10/40 window'; That helpful description of the geographical area of longitude and latitude which covers the least evangelised people on the planet.Stretching across the Arab world, North Africa, through the Middle East, eastwards towards it's extreme end point, Japan.

This truly is unreached territory, and rightly has the focus of mission groups and churches. The most unreached nation on the planet, Tunisia, has a Christian population of 0.21%, of which a sum total of 0% are evangelical believers! Indeed, of the top twenty most unreached nations, 19 of them are Islamic, and one…

Barking up the wrong worship tree

I've been doing some thinking about worship, creativity and post moderns. For those of us who have grown up in this generation, it is possible for us to be breathtakingly introspective.Our characteristic consumer culture and 'meet my needs' worldview, turning our worship of God into an exercise of naval gazing narcissism.

Whilst we sing,'It's all about You', we actually think,'It's all about me'. This is a dangerous perspective if left unchallenged, which robs God of His rightful place, and leaves us thinking that His role is to serve our needs. The old dog and cat theology lesson says it best:

A dog sees his master return at the end of the working day and thinks: 'This guy looks after me, he plays with me, he feeds me, he gives me somewhere to sleep, he's always there and he cares for me. He keeps me safe and I want for nothing. He must be God!'

A cat sees his master return at the end of the working day and thinks: 'This guy looks a…

Heathen Europe and the greater Carey legacy

William Carey, the Cobbler from Kettering who became the 'Father of modern missions', was famously rebuked 230 years ago. At a Ministers meeting, agitating about the possibility of foreign missions, Carey was put in his place by this patronising reply, 'Young man, sit down! When God chooses to save the heathen, He will do it without your help or ours!'

Could there ever have been a more monumental misunderstanding of how God chooses to work in the world to fulfill His great plan? Undaunted, Carey wrote his 'Enquiry' pamphlet - An attempt to show that the Great Commission remained valid, and probably the first missionary survey of the nations in the English language, showing regions, languages, main religious groups.

Carey was both disdainful and pragmatic in dealing with some of the main objections to missions amongst the nations.'First, as to their distance from us....' He puts this down by saying modern boats have a compass and that sailing is now more …

Bankrupt worldviews and the developing world

Materialism and consumerism are probably the two defining worldviews which operate within our Western culture in the 21st Century. More than 'operate', they have us in their vice like grip - worse than this, we are blind to it, stumbling unaware through our lives filled with plenty of stuff but devoid of any real meaning.

One of the best ways to spot whether you are being lied to by a defective worldview is to get outside of your own culture and enter someone else's paradigm. There is no bigger jolt to our system than landing amongst people who don't see the world in the same way as us, who don't value the stuff that we thought was of primary importance. For many of us, we get the occasional hit in this area through watching Comic Relief. Seeing through our TV's the lives of the have nots, only to be astounded that those who go without are actually happier than we are - happier than us, with all our stuff? And suddenly a bankrupt worldview is exposed.

One of my…

Mad Priests, Angry Mobs and Biblical Plagues!

Operation World, the fine prayer catalogue for every nation on planet earth, is right when it asserts that there is more opposition to the churches in Romania from the Orthodox Church than there is from the state.

Last Sunday I was taken to preach in a small town in the north of Romania called Solona. There is now a church plant there, an established, growing work in this rural community. I had the privilege of appointing a new leader whilst I was with them, and afterwards, heard the amazing true story of their inception.

A group of believers from a nearby town had been making regular evangelistic forays into Solona, they had seen some early converts and were looking to step up their mission. One Sunday, they travelled together in a convoy of 3 or 4 cars to visit the town after their own Sunday meeting was over. About half a mile outside of Solona a man could be seen in the road walking towards them.

Pulling over as the stranger waved them down, this group of believers were not surpris…

The Scream of expensive religion

Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' painting sold at auction yesterday for £74m, making it the most expensive art work sold to date.

Surely there are few paintings which give a window into the soul of a man than this one? For me, The Scream is as much inspired by the claustrophobic effects of dead religion more than any other hidden angst in the life of this troubled artist.

Munch was raised by his father in small town, reformed Norway, his mother died of TB when he was still only five. Here is where the seeds were sown which produced the kind of work that now sells to billionaires.

Writing about his troubled and strange home life, Munch said, 'My father was temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious - to the point of psychoneurosis. From him I inherited the seeds of madness. The angels of fear, sorrow and death stood by my side since the day I was born.' Not the warmest family tribute you could read.
Later, Munch spoke about how his father w…

These days of hurry & bustle or the normal Christian prayer life?

As we come to the end of another great week of prayer, I have been challenged again by these old words from E M Bounds on prayer. You may have already come across these stories, but don't allow their familiarity to rob you of the provocation that they provide. I will let Bounds speak in his own words.

'The men who have most fully illustrated Christ in their character, and have most powerfully affected the world for Him, have been men who spent so much time with God as to make it a notable feature of their lives. Charles Simeon devoted the hours from four until eight in the morning to God. Mr Wesley spent two hours daily in prayer. He began at four in the morning. Of him, one who knew him well wrote, 'He thought prayer to be more his business than anything else, and I have seen him come out of his (prayer) closet with a serenity of face next to shining.'

Luther said:'If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I h…

What's so good about Good Friday?

If you had asked the disciples, the friends of Jesus who had shared their lives with him and lived through all the highs and lows, they would never have called it a good Friday. They would have called it 'Very Bad Friday', or 'Friday the Worst!'

They still didn't understand, immersed in the story as they were, unable to see the end from the beginning. It's not like that for us, we are not in the dark. We know the end of the story. Can you imagine anyone going to see the relaunched Titanic movie in 3D this weekend and wondering whether the boat sinks or not?! This is our position, we know that the man who died on the Friday, came through death and out the other side into indestructable life!

We know Good Friday is good news because with his death on the cross, Jesus broke the curse that we were under. The curse of separation which has been marked over our lives since the beginning, in the Garden, when Adam and Eve first made a decision to live their lives independ…