I know I only have about 3 readers who, now and again, drop by in vain hope that I’ve posted something new. But to all three of you I say this: Stop what you are doing and go to Christ The Truth right now.
I mean it. Are you reading this sentence? Stop it and click the link above. Glen recently reached his 1000th post, and he’s summed them all up in 1000 words. I’d post it here, but I don’t want to overwhelm his blog with even more incoming links.
Right, off you go then. And don’t come back until you’ve had a good feast on lots of tasty riches.
Here is the script from a sermon on Luke 1:5-25 preached at St Bart’s on the 4th of July 2010. For a PDF file click here. Always remember that the script and the actual delivered sermon might not be exactly the same! Those with good memories might recognise some of this from an earlier post.
Imagine your whole life was displayed on the walls of this church. Everything you have have done. Everything you have ever said. Everything you have ever thought. What would it feel like if your friends and family could walk around the room and see all your secrets. I tell you, if that was me, I would be deeply ashamed.
But here’s the good news. A day is coming when God will come to fix the world. To you, to me, to followers of Jesus around the world – God says a day is coming, a day of his favour, when he will take away our disgrace. All our guilt, all our shame, all our brokenness, all our mess – will vanish.
Full text after the break…
Here is the script for my sermon on Luke 1:1-4, given on 27th June 2010 at St Bart’s Wednesbury. If you don’t like what WordPress has done to the formatting, click here for a PDF file.
Every day of our lives Jesus summons us to follow him and die. That is the call. The Bible says nothing about churchgoers. It says everything about being disciples. Learners. Followers.Luke’s gospel will challenge us to the depths of our being. If this message is true, then everything changes.And so Luke begins his gospel by telling us that this message is true. This message is trustworthy. You can be certain of it. Luke says he has set out to write an orderly account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And there are 4 reasons why we can trust what he writes.
Full text after the break…
Here is the script from my first sermon here in Wednesbury, back on June 20th 2010. If the formatting is rubbish, try the attached .pdf. Bear in mind that occasionally my script is more note-form rather than full script.
The question is: where should I stand my ground? What is the foundation for the decisions I need to make?
There will be many things in the life of this church that are good and need to continue. Some that need to change or end. How do I judge? When difficult decisions needs to be made, where do I stand? What do I hold on to?
This passage from 1 Corinthians tells me to stand on the cross and resurrection of Jesus. My priority is to hold firmly to this message. At a training day I had back in March, the Archdeacon of Lichfield said this: A Vicar is not primarily there to do fundraising, maintain a building, organise rotas. A vicar’s priority is to keep the church faithful to the gospel. The gospel is the foundation. It’s where I stand.
Full text after the break…
Well, I’m 2 1/2 months into being a Vicar, and this blog has been somewhat neglected. Again. Won’t be the last time.
Here is proof that I am the Vicar of St Bartholomew’s Wednesbury, in case anyone was wondering. I discovered a few weeks ago that as Vicar I cannot be a pub landlord (without being kicked out of my post).
I’ll try to post a bit more regularly. But no promises!
Well, about 3 hours ago I became Vicar of St Bartholomew, Wednesbury. As I’m no longer a curate, I’d better change the name of this blog. Any suggestions? Thank you to everyone involved. Right now, I’m off to bed.
Over at the Telegraph a few weeks ago was an interesting article about the use of Cocaine: “Is taking cocaine socially acceptable now?“ Andrew M Brown, the author (“a writer who specialises in mental health and in the influence of addiction and substance abuse on culture”) writes about the growing use of cocaine – apparently use has increased five-fold among 16 to 59-year-olds in the past 12 years, although the purity of cocaine on the street has decreased.
Andrew shows that cocaine has lost its aura of danger, and points to a suppressed World Health Organisation study that suggests cocaine use is not as harmful as portrayed on anti-drugs adverts.
I’m not that interested in the medical science, and I’m not suggesting you go out and take some! Of more interest is Andrew Brown’s description of the problem that underlies drug use (emphasis mine):
My own view is that “harmful use” – whether of cocaine, alcohol, over-eating, or any other self-destructive behaviour – is a symptom of an underlying malaise. This is when a desperate person starts worshipping a substance, or turning it into the primary relationship and the primary source of pleasure. Then what happens is that the substance or the behaviour starts possessing the person. Much better, I feel, that humans should gain this kind of satisfaction from other living people, from meaningful work, and from families especially. So rather than focusing on symptoms, politicians might better spend their time thinking why, under their management, the structures that used to hold society together and support people to have healthy and fulfilled lives seem to have crumbled.
I have no idea about Andrew’s religious beliefs, or lack of. But it is fascinating how the language of worship is used. The substance has become an idol, a functional saviour, offering satisfaction but leading to slavery. Andrew would rather we look to work, family and relationships as better idols, but that’s no solution. None of these are inherently reliable and none can give true meaning. Only Jesus can satisfy. Worshipping him is true liberation. Which is why the best solution to the drugs problem is not education or wealth, but the good news of Jesus Christ.
When I move to Wednesbury, one of my priorities (after prayer and proclaiming Jesus) is to listen. I’m an outsider coming in to a new area and I want to listen to people’s stories so that I can understand the community (church and unchurched). Paul’s letter to Titus gives a good example of how understanding culture (1:12 Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”) helped Paul target his presentation of the gospel (1:2 … which God, who does not lie, …).
Jesus loved to ask questions, see e.g. Mark 8:17-21; Luke 2:49, 5:21-23, 7:39-44, 8:25, 9:18-20, 10:25-28, 18:18-20, 20:1-8, 24:17-19; John 4:7, 9:35-38
The GCM Collective community site has a discussion about this, and here are a few suggestions that came up:
I have found the below questions helpful in drawing out who people are – their history, interests, dreams, and faith. I have found that asking the questions with sincere love makes people feel cared for and opens up great conversation.
I am wondering…
… What was your upbringing like?
… What is your relationship with your parents like?
… Who has had the biggest impact on your life and why?
… What are you passionate about?
… If you could do anything you wanted to what would you do?
… If you could live anywhere you wanted to where would you live?
… Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?
… Do you believe in God? In what way?
… What has your spiritual journey been like?
… What guides your life?
… What do you see as the biggest social problem of our day?
… if you could tell a group of Christians anything you want what would you tell them?
… In your opinion who is Jesus?
… If Jesus were here today would you follow him? Why or why not?
… Is there anything you would like prayer for?
A worldview is the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. People everywhere ask four questions. (Who am I? Where am I? What is wrong? What’s the remedy?) Their worldview shapes the way they answer these questions:
I am wondering…
…what do you see as the purpose of your life? (Who am I?)
…how do you view the nature of the world we live in? (Where am I?)
…from your perspective what is wrong with the world we live in? (what holds us back from full attainment?)
…what do you see as the remedy of our worlds problems? (How do I attain salvation?)
The same author linked to a booklet he’s found helpful:
“The Art of Powerful Questions” – http://www.theworldcafe.com/articles/aopq.pdf
And another person recommended this: http://fieldgatemedia.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Twenty-Questions-to-Help-Me-Care-for-Others.pdf
Any other recommendations? Mention them in the comments.
It’s a bit late for a St Patrick’s Day post, but better late than never. Especially for someone as great as Patrick! Despite the celebrations, Patrick’s greatest achievement was not to drink 10 pints of Guinness while dressed as a leprachaun. He wasn’t even Irish!
I last mentioned Patrick two years ago. This year I have some more good links:
Patrick of Ireland gives a good summary of his life. I didn’t know Patrick wrote against slavery, but I do now. On the subject of Patrick’s method of evangelism:
their methodology of evangelizing the pagans of Ireland has much to be commended for our day. They lived in Christian community while living in close proximity to those who worshipped many gods. By voice of their preaching and example of gospel living together in good works, Celtic Christianity spread rapidly over Ireland. Furthermore, they remained orthodox to the teachings of the Bible and the early creeds while living out this faith in a way very close to the lives of the Celts.
In this article, Mark O’Driscoll also describes Patrick’s method. Patrick’s endeavours bore much fruit:
Patrick gave his life to the people who had enslaved him until he died at 77 years of age. He had seen untold thousands of people convert as between 30-40 of the 150 tribes had become substantially Christian. He had trained 1000 pastors, planted 700 churches, and was the first noted person in history to take a strong public stand against slavery.
Russell Moore explains what lessons evangelicals can learn from Patrick.
Over at The Fundamentals of Orthodoxy Peter Ould has an 8 minute video about St Patrick to want, from the creators of Veggie Tales!
If you’ve just come across this blog, welcome! I hope you find something to encourage you as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I blog very irregularly; when I post something new it is because
a) I’ve found something that I find interesting;
b) This coincides with having a quiet moment to go online and write it up.
This means that this blog is a hopeless guide to my main interests and passions. For that you’ll have to get to know me! I love hiking, with fond memories of damp tents on Dartmoor. I’d be very excited if I could do some caving again (last time was October 1999, yes I’m counting the months and years). I’ll read anything, especially by Tom Clancy. I tinker with computers and think you should ditch Windows and replace it with Linux Mint. On Tuesday night you’ll find me at my local Wetherspoons with some guys from church, and when I was thinking about St Bartholomew, Wednesbury, I was delighted to see there’s a Wetherspoons just across the road!
How about I give you some of my favourite Bible verses?
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colosians 2:2)
Here Paul’s passion is my own as well. People may be Christian, or may not be a follower of Jesus, but I can guarantee that they need to discover more of the riches that are in Jesus Christ. Nothing compares to him. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in him, and no-where else.
“On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
In that day they will say: “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” ” (Isaiah 25:6-9)
What a glorious description of the New Heavens and the New Earth that Jesus will bring when he returns! That is our hope. When we truly know this to be our future, through faith in Jesus, it sets our heart free from making this life our ultimate goal, releasing us to serve and love others, no matter the cost.
I could give many others. How about Numbers 14:14 – and ask yourself, “Who is the LORD who has been seen ‘eye-to-eye’ (literally)?” Can’t work it out? John 1:18 and Colossians 1:15 might help. Or what about Ephesians – one of the best places to see what Church really is all about.
Enjoy the blog. If you’re interested in more, I’ll be in Stone until May and in Wednesbury from June 16th onwards! And, as I’ve said many other times, if you really want some food for the soul, check out Christ The Truth, or A Spreading Goodness.