This week I ended up embroiled in discussion with some CofE friends via Facebook after I retweeted a Guardian article by Giles Fraser on how the best thing to do with dying rural churches is shut them down and sell them off (that’s my summary, follow the link to read it if you like). His idea can hardly be described as original, but it’s put the cat among the bats in the belfry. And here I risk offending even more than he has by commenting that talking about rural churches only is a hostage to fortune. Would your community weep if the church was no longer there? I know some ministers who wouldn’t even weep if it wasn’t there! Places where the local dry cleaners would be missed if it closed more than the local church because at least that’s providing some tangible benefit. Urban or rural, churches that are only relevant to those still attending but irrelevant to connect meaningfully with their local community will die, they can just take a very long time to do so. Meanwhile a […]
I used to always sing this to the kids at bath time. I loved it whether or not they did! As I write the talk now for this coming Sunday at Ivy Church I finish up thinking about our living out our potential. But if we think about our potential as only being for this life, we miss out so much of what God has prepared for us. The Bible says about Jesus, ‘When we see Him, we will know Him,’ (How?) ‘Because we’ll be like Him.’ We live as citizens of heaven. This world is not our home, we don’t always fit in. Some days more than others we feel that don’t we? But our Christian hope is that one day soon, we’ll stand before Him. We would be ashamed of our ‘grubbiness’ as we focus on ourselves, until he says, ‘Look at who I have you!’ The perishable will be clothed with the imperishable. We’ll never waddle again, but soar!
Your Bible might headline the meeting in Mark 10 as the rich young man, he’s also referred to as ‘The Rich Young Ruler’. He is everything our culture aspires to be wrapped up in skin and riding a posh donkey with go-faster stripes, but really he’s a self-satisfied, self-centered seeker. The gospels say he’s rich, but he probably didn’t think of himself as Rich. We never do. Materialism hides well in a heart and keeps you from seeing yourself as rich, however much you have. If someone from my world were to go to the poor parts of the same world – you discover you’re a world apart. In Haiti where I have been a number of times and will visit again next year, if you’re ‘Blanc’ – they see you as a millionaire. Why do we never see ourselves as rich? Because of who we compare ourselves with and come into contact with. We compare up not down, and feel better about ourselves as a result. I’m not as rich as Beyonce, Rooney, lottery winners, or MPs. They should do something! […]
Despite what many people in our culture may think, anyone who reads the Bible will soon discover that Christianity is NOT a system for Good people trying to live good lives. When people say, ‘I don’t believe in God or Jesus – but I’m just as much a good Christian as you..’ You can be sure that probably through no fault of their own they either missed the point or were given a description of Christianity that was about religion and rules and quite rightly rejected it. But the REAL gospel – the good news, starts with the bad news that you’re not good. You’re more sinful than you ever dared believe; and more loved than you ever dared hope. Because of the cross of Christ, if we exchange our own messed up record, we get his spotless one. That’s how we end up being ‘counted or reckoned as good.’ Justified, the Bible says. Because of Jesus taking the punishment for my sins, I’m justified – it’s ‘justasifI’d’ never sinned. If that’s all news to you, please get hold of […]
Everyone on the planet is on a search for joy, but paradoxically most of those searching for it end up with broken lives and disappointment. Bertrand Russell had lots of money, sex and power, yet said ‘The centre of me is always and eternally a terrible pain – a curious wild pain – a searching for something beyond what the world contains.’ Where do you find what he (and everyone else) was looking for? Well CS Lewis said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” Do you find yourself longing for home? Lonely in a crowd? You were made for more! You were made for joy! Joy that’s not dependent on circumstances. Krish once lived in Albania. He saw an eagle – the national bird – but it was in a cage, slowly disintegrating itself because of being bound in its circumstances. The apostle Paul was not confined by his circumstances. We can learn from him. Paul was in prison when he wrote […]
There’s a whole lot of work being done on my blog right now to update it and make it look fantastic and more user friendly. There will be various sections for you to be able to navigate and go deeper with regards to learning about leadership at different levels, whether it’s for church, life or business. Right now though as you will notice it’s just black and white. Funny how we get used to all singing all dancing isn’t it? I remember the excitement in our house I think I must have been about eight years old when my Dad brought home a colour television and I got to see colour TV in the house for the first time. The first program We watched was called, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home funnily enough, because we couldn’t wait till Dad got home and put the plug on and then we could see a whole new world. Once we’d seen it in colour – there’s no way we’d ever have wanted to go back to Black and White again. Gone were […]
There are 2 kinds of pride. One says ‘I am superior to others.’
The other kind says, ‘Everyone’s better than me, I couldn’t do this or that – because people will look at me.’ Pride is your world revolving around yourself.
Humility is you revolving around someone else’s world.
We should STAND UP for what we believe.
We should STAND ALONGSIDE those who are being persecuted.
We should never BOW DOWN to pressure to conform to what people think, rather than what God says.
Bob Ekbald. At @wtctheology Residential Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that […]
The story can tell us a lot about the company we keep and how that can make or break us, it can warn us about who we should listen to as we head into our future, too.
But as the year closes out and a new one gets ready to start, I’m thinking about various wise people I know and those I have read about and how they finish an old year really well, to start a New Year better – and what they do and say lines up well with what these wise guys did too.