There is a single thread that links this all together and if we get it, it can keep us in the right place. HUMILITY The book pivots in 4:7-10 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. CS Lewis described humility as not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. The test of humility; When you work into a room do you need everyone to see you Do you always need to have the last word? Do your ideas always have to be best? Tim Keller The Freedom of self forgetfulness – based on 1 Cor 4 So look […]
James 2 & 3 Faith and works James wants us to link our faith convictions with our attitudes. Our WISDOM, WORKS and WORDS. But he’s not a linear thinker, one issue then another – these motifs occur in various places. He keeps looping back round in a cyclical way and intertwining them so we connect what we believe with how we will. Like going round a spiral staircase and passing the same thing over and over but from a different perspective. But what’s at the centre is not ‘WORKS’ but WISDOM. James is about living a godly life. And you can’t do that without godly wisdom. It’s like a tapestry and the threads are wisdom, in how you speak and live – woven together. Chapter 1:20 was about how we engage with anger. How to respond based on God’s perspective. ‘Your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.’ = Don’t assume your anger equates to God’s anger. You may feel you are angry for truth when in fact you are angry for your preference. He says ‘be angry and sin not’. How […]
My notes from today’s Bible reading at Spring Harvest Harrogate Who was James? How does he establish his credentials? He doesn’t say ‘Jesus’ brother James…’ but ‘James the servant of Jesus.’ The church does not exist to serve us. We exist to serve Christ. It’s a pastoral letter (paraenesis) James is reminding them – to exhort them. Not saying ‘there there there’! He’s inspiring them that they are more than they think they are, and they can live differently. He picks up many threads – loose structure. James has more imperatives in a short letter than any other book in the NT – yet delivered in a caring way. Full of metaphors. Mirror, horse, ship, arrogant businessman, patient farmer. We can connect to them. And echoes of many sources – not just OT and Jesus, but others like apocrypha. It’s a book that challenges our view of ‘success’ – a worldly church and a fleshy faith. This has to speak to the western C21st church. The only way out of worldliness is repentance. Letting God define us. James 1 – living in faith […]
We were privileged to host Dr Matt Lynch at Ivy last night where he gave great teaching on the subject of how we encounter our God who is ‘a consuming fire.’ My (unedited) notes are as follows – Exodus 24:17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. What does the Bible mean when it says our God is a consuming fire? It occurs a number of times in the Bible and the OT occurrences seem pretty scary! Eg Isaiah 30 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray. God comes and settles his presence on a mountain but then warns the people not to come anywhere […]
My friend Steve Barnett who runs St Andrew’s Bookshop has asked me to put together my top ten recommended books on Leadership. This is very hard! There are more books on leadership than anything other than romantic fiction. Thankfully as I never read the latter I have lots of time to spend on the former, so here goes (these are just Christian ones, when I teach on Transformational Leadership at Westminster Theological Centre I have many more eclectic, business focused and academic suggestions for students too). I’d love to know which ones you would add to the list? Leadership Axioms Bill Hybels Willow Creek’s founder distils decades of leadership at the sharp end on issues such as envisioning others, people skills, financing the dream and releasing the power of everyone. My favourite axiom? ‘Don’t say anybody else’s no for them.’ 76 short chapters to dip in and out of over and over again. Down to earth and actionable – itself a model for leaders and communicators. The 360 Degree Leader John Maxwell I was going to say I’ve read everything Maxwell […]
This was an incredible talk that I will return to over and over. Its implications for the church and its mission are inestimable. Dr Kate Coleman The characteristics of a strategic mission mindset (Acts 2) There are themes here for us all. Main event = PENTECOST Acts 2:1-13 Acts 1:13 tell us the disciples were gathered. Doors locked. In fear. This room = their place of security and bonding together. They had encounter and hope there. They got fired up there! They were where Jesus told them to be. They were united there! It was very special place – but also potentially a very dangerous place. It had the potential to become their prison. We have to be willing to engage in ‘the mission before the mission.’ To keep an ‘upper room mentality.’ Attached to the last encounter, the last paradigm, the last place Jesus spoke to us. Waiting for lighting to strike the same way, twice. People say ‘This where God did this and that, I loved it then, it used to be packed out.’ Hoping for a repeat […]
Face the challenge – and seize the opportunity. How? Hold together attractional and missional Both/and Come and see and Go and share church From the outside in AND Equip to go from the inside out. Because we want to see the multitudes around us saved! COME AND SEE This isn’t new and invented by Willow Creek! It’s in the OT. Isaiah 2. The mountain of the Lord that many peoples come to it! Direction there = outside in. Temple, tabernacle. Jesus, the Word became flesh – tabernacle among us. So – ‘Come and see’ is there in the gospel. Jesus is the living temple. Acts 2, and 11. Multitudes converted to the new temple – US! Living stones. We have to rediscover the wonder of gathering as God’s people and increase our expectation of what can happen when people ‘come and see’ a church alive! Full of the presence of the living God in the gathering. This needs INVITATION. Someone bold enough to say ‘Come and see.’ We want to be part of God building something that people come and see. […]
I was reading a post written by my friend Ian Paul on his fantastic blog today as I prepare for my talk on Sunday night where I’ve been going through the Lord’s Prayer. At theological college Ian was always the smartest guy in the room, and I highly commend you subscribe to the blog as I do. There’s always so much to think about even in the throwaway lines, as he boldly goes where Anglicans usually fear to tread. In this example, Ian mentions as a Greek scholar something which has quite profound implications that I want to ponder. Ready? “John 3.16 does not mean what most people think: ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son…’ but rather ‘God loved the world in this way that he gave his only Son…’ That was the meaning of ‘so’ in 1611 but is no longer today—but the traditional rendition is so powerful that even Bible translators have lacked the courage to make this clear.” I love it! It’s the manner of love that’s being described and not the […]
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the farthest you have ever felt from God, 10 being the closest you have ever felt to God) what number would you give to how close you feel to God today? Why? Kevin M. Watson. The Class Meeting (Kindle Locations 333-334). Kevin calls this The Transformation Question and suggests we should ask it of each other in small groups so that we are not just meeting for affinity or information, but transformation. I LOVE IT! I’m going to use it. How about you? What do you think? AND if you have time… what number do you give yourself today – why? This is Quickblog. I read a lot and make a lot of notes, and through quickblogs I hope to share some of my pondering more regularly.
The brain’s appetite for energy is enormous. The brain represents only about 2 percent of most people’s body weight, yet it accounts for about 20 percent of the body’s total energy usage— about 10 times more than would be expected. When the brain is fully working it uses more energy per unit of tissue weight than a fully exercising quadricep. In fact, the human brain cannot simultaneously activate more than 2 percent of its neurons at any one time. More than this, and the glucose supply becomes so quickly exhausted that you will faint. Medina, John. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (p. 20). Pear Press. Kindle Edition. (These quickblogs are from things I read and find interesting – feel free to comment or share if you do too!) By the way the answer to how to fuel your brain better now is NOT to get some glucose from a can of soda. Exercise creates new pathways so your brain works more efficiently.