Monthly Archives: March 2012

Thy Kingdom Come

Jesus took three parts of Isaiah’s kingdom message and set about implementing them.  Release for captive Israel; the defeat of evil; and the return of YHWH to Zion.

Page 30.

Rather think of it like this.  Jesus was the medical genius who discovered penicillin, we are doctors, ourselves being cured by the medicine, now applying it to those who need it.  Jesus is the musical genius who wrote the greatest oratorio of all time, we are the musicians, captivated by his composition ourselves, who now perform it before a world full of muzak and cacophony.

Page 33

There is one important spin-off of this.  Along the unbiblical view of the Kingdom that sees it as the escape from the created order, rather than the redemption of it, there is a view of prayer that sees it as essentially the activity of the mind, the heart, or the soul, leaving the body untouched and irrelevant.  This view has a certain strength: it will never fall into ritualism or magic, or into thinking that we can put on a pretty little outward show which God will then politely applaud.

But that’s actually about all that can be said for it.  They kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven; and we who pray that prayer are ourselves bits of earth, lumps of clay.  If we really want God’s kingdom to come on earth, we should of course expect that the earth in question will include this earth, this clay, this present physical body.  That means, of course, holiness.  It means, of course, sacraments, it means the physical act of prayer.

Sadly for those who like everything tidy there are no rules at this point…

The ideal posture they would tell us is relaxed but not slumped; poised but not tense; alert but not fidgety; above all, humble but happy in the presence of the Creator whom you are learning to call ‘Father’.  Find the posture that does all that for you, find the gestures that express and symbolise the life and love of Jesus for youl and you will be teaching your body to pray – which to the surprise of many modern persons, is no bad way to teach your mind, heart and soul to pray as well.

Reasons for Church and a heroine of grace

Got these both from the Gospel Coalition website.


The first is a pastor’s wife giving 15 reasons why she stays in the Church.  Particularly humbling is number 10:

I have brothers and sisters in Christ who have been imprisoned and lost their lives for doing the very thing that I would be giving up.


Also a brilliant story about anti-Christian litigant who ended up having his medical bills paid by the local Church.



All me matter.  You matter.  I matter.  It is the hardest thing in theology to believe – Chesterton.


Existential despair did not germinate in the hell holeds of Auschwitz or Siberia but rather in the cafes of Parish, the coffee shops of Copenhagen, the luxury palaces of Beverley Hills.  During the Cold War, Philip Roth wrote “In the West everything goes and nothing matters, in the East nothing goes and everything matters.”


“What is the meaning of life?” said the student to the Rabbi

“That is such a wonderful question, why would you want to exchange it for an answer?” (Page 152)


“If there is no God then everything is permitted – Dostoyevsky


The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility.  Humility is endless – T.S. Eliot.


Roger Shattuck wrote of the “wife of Bath” effect “We are discontent with our lot, whatever it is, just because it is ours.”


In Ecclesiastes there is a longing, or Sehnsucht, that C.S. Lewis wrote about so eloquently “Drippings o grace.”


There had come into my mind a vauge and vast impression that in some way all good was a remnant to be stored and held sacred out of some primordial ruin.  Man had saved his good as Crusoe saved his goods; he had saved them from a wreck.  All this I felt and the age gave me no encouragement to feel it.  And all this time I had not even thought of Christian orthodoxy. – Chesterton.


Human alienation, wrote Walker Percy, is “first and last the homelessness of a man who is not in fact at home.” (page 164)


Ecclesiastes is the one book in scripture that is expressly designed to turn us into realists – Packer


“To believe in a God means to see that the facts of this world are not the end of the matter.  To believe in God means to see that life has meaning… That this meaning does not lie in it but outside it” – Wittgenstein


Are we, as Mark Twain suggests on this “plodding sad pilgrimage, this pathetic drift between eternities” (page 166)


I don’t know Who – or What – put the question.  I don’t know when it was put.  I don’t even remember answering.  But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.  – Dag Hammerskjold, Markings

All In – Serving



Ministry is that which is called, that which draws strength, which blesses others, which grows me.


The idea that Ortberg says that the Holy Spirit calls to something that only we have been given to do, and the tragedy of the gifts not being used.


Gifts are like carrots that the farmer has at the market at the end of the day, you either give them away or they go rotten.


We need to talk about Rewards, because Jesus spoke a lot about Rewards, and how they are given when we give of ourselves, and the joy of God saying to us “Well done.”


Nancy sat on the seat for the whole of this talk and she did not talk, and actually she found this quite comfortable, and she was able to think about a few other things that she needed to do, but actually she was called to get up out of the seat an serve.


Talks about the story of David Livingstone when he was a small boy in Blantyre, when the offering went around, not having any money, and being so inspired by what Christ had done for him that he put his whole self into the basket.


I think about this flawed man Livingstone with many problems, and with a legend that does not always tally with critical history, still being so much more because he put his whole self into the basket.

Emotional Heath – 1 – Look beneath the surface

– Why is that I want to succeed so badly in my ministry?  Is it out of need to prove my worth and value or is it because I am a good steward of my gifts and talents?  What is going on beneath the surface of my life?

– Why do I avoid confronting difficult people at Church?  Is it because I am trying to model humility and peacemaking or is it because I don’t want to be rejected?

– Why am I so rigid about dropping everything to return my phone calls and emails?  Is it because I want to please people?  Is it because I want everyone to think I’m competent as a leader?

“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people” – Richard Foster.

“Al men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” – Pascal

3. Linking the Gospel and Emotional Health

“If God ever allowed us to see more than 1 per cent of our sin, we would fall down dead.”

“you can be yourself because there is nothing left to prove.”

Final quote is from Glittering Images by Susan Howatch.

4. Getting rid of the “Glittering

All In: Healing

November 13, 2011, PDF is here:


Looks at the categories of healing in the Jesus story.  There are the sick, there are the healthy and there is the doctor.

Looks at the way that Jesus heals in Matthew, and how the conversion of Matthew is surrounded by a whole group of healing stories, suggesting that Matthew’s conversion is also a healing story.

Then looks at sin as the thing which we need above all to he healed from. There are three dimensions to sin which we need to be aware of. Continue reading

Be in the game

Be in the game – 5th February

A great talk (seemed to be mixed in with a video) about getting involved in the game and not staying apart from it.


That is the thing with the parable of the talents – where it seems that God is using the talents to grow the people, and not just the people to grow the talents.


He talks about the way that for slaves this was like gaining the lottery, that this was full of risk (and more about risk than stewardship) and giving things up for God, and being prepared to let go of them, and also about going to bed full of ideas about what to do with this windfall and the tragedy of the man who does “same old, same old” and ends up doing nothing.

Early days in Community

Almost everyone finds their early days in a community ideal.  It all seems perfect.  They feel they are surrounded by saints, heroes, or at the least, most exceptional people who are everything they want to be themselves.  And then comes the let-down.  The greater their idealisation of the community at the start, the greater the disenchantment.  If people manage to get through this second period, they come to a third phase – that of realism and true commitment.  They no longer see other members of the community as saints or devils, but as people – each with a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, each growing and each with their own hope.  The community is neither heaven nor hell, but planted firmly on earth, and they are ready to walk it, and with it.  They accept the community and the other members as they are; they are confident that together they can grow towards something more beautiful.

– Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities.



This is John Ortberg on the inspiration of Jesus, how Jesus has inspired art and inspired the Church more than any other.


He begins with the Colossians 1, and the way that Paul takes this hymn (pointing out the Chiastic structure) to point to Jesus – if you think the creation is impressive, think how impressive is the creator.


Talks about Bach being inspired, talks about the way that Durer (13 minutes – story may not be true but encapsulates a deeper truth) was inspired to paint his brothers hands (hands which had worked to fund his art career, which were disfigured and yet were able to pray).  Then relates to the Heidelberg Catechism. (19 minutes)


What is your only comfort in life and in death?

“I am not my own”


Looks at a painting by Hans Holbein, showed the price that Jesus was willing to pay (20 minutes), this moved Dostoevsky to stare at the picture for days, and to write this in “The Idiot”:


Death has senselessly ceased

Cut to pieces and swallowed up, impassively and unfeelingly,

A great and priceless being

A being worth the whole of nature and all its laws

Worth the entire earth

Which was perhaps created solely for the coming of this being


Dante: above the doors of hell are written a single statement

“Abandon hope all you who enter here”


When all hope was gone, on the third day he rose again, and the tomb could not hold him, and the grave could not contain him.


Question – is he your only hope?


Jesus is our reconciler – number 6

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him”


Fullness I important – God loves to create spaces and then fill them.


The fullness of God is a huge theme in the Bible – all of his fullness to dwell in him, and through Jesus to reconcile to himself all things


Tolstoy – War and Peace


Men need only trust in Christ’s teaching and obey it and there will be peace on earth.


Went up a hill, going up the Cotswold for Olympics, there was contest called shin kicking, and kick until someone falls down – until someone falls down.


In this pathetic, you hit me, I’ll hit you back,

And someone has torn down the dividing wall of human hostility.

He himself is our peace.


In London, went to see Les Miserables – a scene where the convict is shown kindness by the priest, and he takes some of the priests silver from the table,

And instead the priest says

These are my gifts, and he gives the silver candlesticks that are worth more than anything, “now you must always remember my son that I have bought your soul for God “ to love another person is to see the face of God. (26 minutes)


Jesus is our Sin-Sacrifice


By making peace through his blood shed on the cross.


There is one more symbol that adorns more art, marks more graves than any other in earth.


The oldest poem of the English Language – the dream of the Rude

“I saw the God of hosts, harshly stretched out

All creation wept, Kings fall lamented,

Christ was on rude

May he befriend me, who here on earth died on that Gallows tree for mankind’s sin”


John Bunyan “I saw a man with a face turned away from his own house,


A book in his hand, a burden on his back


I carry that burden “



Paradise Lost

The first lines of pilgrims Progress (25:02)


Satan “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”

I would rather reign without with God, than submit, yield serve under him,


Jesus is the crucified God, the question is “Are you ready to meet him”


Met Prince Charles two weeks ago – etiquette lessons

Just five or six in the group, nervous – needed to buy new shoes

When we met, Nancy Curtsied, never for me


A tiny little frame of reference – what would it be like really if Jesus were in the room,

What would that mean, with the truth about our lives,

The shabby little secrets that nobody ever knew,


One day we will be in our presence

One day every knee will bow

One day everyone tongue will confess, every tongue.

You can be ready for that, if you will humbly confess your sin


Ask God to forgive you, for his death on the cross,

Trust him to be your forgiver and your friend.

And he will send his spirit to inspire you, because nothing is too much for him


We are going to worship him.


He is the maker of the universe

He is the sustainer of existence

He is the ruler over every power no matter how big it looks to us

He is the image of God, the eikon

He is the fullness of God

He is the wisdom of God

He is the presence of God

He is the death defeater

He is the sin conqueror

He is the guilt obliterator

He is the final sacrifice

He is the blood giver

He is the cross bearer

He is the tomb breaker

He is the peace maker

He is now head over his body the Church

He is the reconciler of all things

He is the maker, redeemer, saviour, forgiver, Lord, friend, guide, shepherd

And hope for all of eternity

And his name is