Thursday, 31 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
We sang our last carols of the season this morning, the congregation a little disappointing with less than we would have most Sundays but a good time had by us I think.
After coffee and lots of friendly chat together we went our different ways. We had a couple of single elderly people back for Christmas lunch with us and it was a great experience again. Elderly man who lost his wife in '96, very witty and sparky and easy to have around. Woman of 88 (I was surprised to learn) and as sharp as a needle, funny, self-deprecating and almost embarassingly grateful to be with what she describes as "a normal family" for Christmas. Hmm, I wonder if she thinks we aren't very holy.
I took them back the long way home at about 5pm, taking in the Christmas lights and came home reflecting how such a small effort seems to have made a big difference to their day. It was far from a hardship for us. The kids enjoy it as well and it's kind of exciting to see that becoming a part of how they think things are done. These people would have been on their own otherwise and we are grateful for wise people who showed us many moons ago that this is a part of being church family together.
I hope you had a great day too and you get a decent break over the holidays.
PS - The picture is for illustrative purposes only, our dinner was much nicer. And far bigger.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
This week's offering was Nativity! I partly went because I was desperate for new Christmas talk illustrations but really enjoyed it. The previous week I had been to see the one about "The men who stare at goats" and this knocked it into a cocked hat.
If you get the chance then go - it's great fun and quite moving in a soppy sort of way. I certainly had something in my eye at one point. Will be going again next week and taking my family with me.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
I managed to shock someone from the congregation today who had dropped into the office and in parting he said, "See you tonight". His jaw literally dropped and he didn't know what to say when I told him I wasn't going. "But you...", he spluttered before being unable to finish the sentence. Because surely if there's one thing a vicar likes more than singing carols it's steam trains?
I went to a carol service last night and I have two more tomorrow. So far I have sung 32 this season. Why would I want to sing carols tonight as well?
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Quickly trying to regain lost credibility (a scarce commodity as it is) after the last post.
I preached on "Christmas from a man's viewpoint" (idea from Hybels) last Sunday. In the course of my research I googled the phrase only to get, "Did you mean to search for: christmas from a woman's viewpoint". Says it all really. We looked at the stereotypical male who, like Jim Royle, sits in front of the TV rather than doing anything constructive to help at Christmas.
Contrasted that with Joseph who is described as being a righteous man. He was someone who left his fiance alone before they got married and then decided to do the honourable thing and go for a quiet divorce when he was devastated by the news that Mary was preggers. Also looked at him as a man who listened to God and obeyed him and someone who was fully involved in the business of raising Jesus. Amazing to think that Jesus would have learnt about God as a child from Joseph!
I then asked how we guys measure up to Joseph's qualities. Not so well I suspect. My conclusion? As a Christian I am supposed to become more and more like Jesus. I'm not sure I even look much like his earthly Dad.
The ladies loved the sermon. But next week it's their turn.
Anyhow, I only discovered this track today - too late to use in church even if it had been culturally relevant here. But it could be useful for a youth club talk on Friday. Don't know how I missed the song last year but there's a link here for those who are as out of touch as me.
Could be even better than the Wombles...
Monday, 7 December 2009
Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
Gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story.
Gold, a King is born today,
Incense, God is with us,
Myrrh, His death will make a way,
And by His blood He'll win us.
The three gifts is a great sermon outline and I am blown away afresh by the image of the shepherds bowing before the Lamb of God.
Well worth looking out for on the internet or rediscovering if you have the live Stuart Townend double CD; it's tucked away at the end of side one.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
In Why Wish You A Merry Christmas - a new book published by the Church of England - the bishop also criticised schools which introduce snakes and grizzly bears to nativity plays.
He said it had the effect of 'relegating the story [of Christ] to fictional fantasy'.
'I always find it a slightly bizarre sight when I see parents and grandparents at a nativity play singing Away In A Manger as if it actually related to reality,' he writes.
'I can understand the little children being quite taken with the sort of baby of whom it can be said "no crying he makes", but how can any adult sing this without embarrassment?'
However, the Right Reverend Nick Baines calls carols 'embarrassing'
He said that Jesus would be abnormal if he had not cried as a baby.
'If we sing nonsense, is it any surprise that children grow into adults and throw out the tearless baby Jesus with Father Christmas and other fantasy figures?' he added.
'Once In Royal David’s City has Jesus as "our childhood’s pattern" — even though we know almost nothing of his childhood apart from one incident when he was 12 years old and being disobedient to his parents — and invites children to be "mild, obedient, good as he", which means what, exactly?
'This sounds suspiciously like Victorian behaviour control to me."
Has to be said I have some sympathy for him.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Today the Skids came up with Working For the Yankee Dollar and I thought of Steve Mills as I always do when I hear the Skids. Neither of us were great fans but I remember an occasion when we all jumped over the wall of the school playing field we spent all of our time in and into the alley. Steve sang "Into The Alley" (a clever word play on the Skids' biggest hit) as we did so and we all laughed. He will not remember it and if he does he may deny it but it happened. I was there. Happy and uncomplicated days.
Funny how music takes you back.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
But then it kicked in. The verbals from the home crowd at their own team. Every misplaced pass, every missed tackle, every perceived lack of effort. I guess a number of the crowd are used to us winning a lot of games over the last couple of years and playing some fantastic football at the same time. Now it's tougher and - unbelievably - some are calling for our (most sucessful manager ever) to go.
It's incredible that the team plays as well as they do with the rubbish they have to put up with from so called supporters. It cannot help the cause.
If Paul Tisdale were to pack up and walk away we would only have ourselves to blame. Thankfully he seems to be more gutsy and more intelligent than that.
There have been times in the past when church seemed discouraging because of the moaning and grumbling that went on. I can now see it was very small beer indeed.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Being raised in the sticks I was pretty unaware of the whole Frankie thing until being at a concert and seeing all the Frankie Says Relax teeshirts. Oddly it was a concert featuring unlikely Frankie bed fellows (I know...) Nazareth, Jason and the Scorchers (who were bottled-off), Gary Glitter on his umpteenth comeback, Marillion (who were a lot of the reason I was there) and Status Quo. It was billed as "Quo's Last Stand" their last concert ever. they were also on the radio this afternoon talking about how they have always toured and only took a year off in about 1984. They are touring again this autumn. It was 25 years ago when I saw them and - as is the case every now and again - I feel a bit older. Quite a bit older.
But then I am spending my leisure time making soup and listening to Radio 4.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Basically he says that sometimes he wonders why he bothers. At the Crem he has to stand by like a lemon as people have a Tina Turner song played or "My Way" as the coffin disappears behind the curtain. He says he has better things to do.
I have some sympathy with him and in a slightly different context Jesus did say to to let the dead bury their own dead. Doubtless Jesus would get into trouble for having that on his blog.
Some personal observations from funerals I have officiated at:
- Sometimes you do feel like a spare part as some people seem to have you there because it is the done thing. They seem to have no real interest in anything other than getting through the best way they know how. And I guess that's understandable.
- It is emotionally gruelling to do funerals on a regular basis and I say that as someone who takes less than a dozen a year. Ed will, in all likelihood, being doing one or more a week.
- I find that the hardest funerals to take are those where there is no obvious hope in the face of death because the deceased expressed no interest in God. Playing ''My Way'' at a funeral is a good expression of that independent spirit that says, 'I make my own rules'. The Bible calls that sin.
- You may find this odd but the easier funerals are where you know and love the person and know that they trusted in Jesus in the face of their death. You still grieve but it is tempered by a certain joy as well - "we do not grieve as those without hope" as it says in a book I am reading.
- I was once at funeral where "Goodbye My Lover" by James Blunt was played. It was very raw and ripped shreds out of people - a ghastly experience.
- Most of the relatives I sit with are grateful for assistance in planning the funeral and I have never been turned down when I have offered to pray for them at the end of our meeting together. I can leave booklets about coping with grief with them.
- The Crem service is about 22 minutes long where I am (it varies around the country) which is a little too rushed for my liking. But it gives me a little time to lead people in prayer, read a short passage from the Bible, and to speak in the address of the hope that can be found in the face of death through trusting in Christ and his forgiveness.
- Nearly everyone I ever buried has the most wonderful person imaginable. I look forward to people being a little dishonest about me at my funeral.
- Sometimes you wonder whether anyone is capable of hearing much at the service itself.
- I often think that my 'aftercare service' is sadly lacking in terms of following people up a month or two down the line. Realistically do we have the resources to do this though?
- I think that nearly all the families I have dealt with have been very thankful and they have expressed that to me.
- I never feel like doing anything after a funeral. Which is difficult when you have a funeral in the morning.
- I'm glad that I am able to be of assistance in this way but I don't go out of my way to look for funerals, they are hard for clergy too.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Thankfully they were able to arrange a new venue and will go ahead with the opening tomorrow.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
We gave out eighty envelopes containing a tenner each and gave out the challenge to put those talents to work. Which means I was £800 down to begin with and silly as it might sound it felt like a big risk. And to be sure some of the envelopes haven't been returned and may never be. A quarter of the envelopes were returned with the ten pounds and nothing more - which I find quite amazing given that we spoke about the parable of the talents and the fate of the duff servant on the day it was given out. I got one note back telling me the point of the parable was to show that we could be trusted with small things in order to be entrusted with greater things - but simply returning the £10 too. Weird.
But, lots went for it as recorded previously in Giving Away Money -3. One man walked from Burnham-on-Sea to Bridgwater and another sponsored effort was a swim which the woman used to tell people why she was doing it and it gave her the chance to tell people about the church. There are some great stories amongst the feedback.
So we are currently in the position where - without having all the envelopes returned - we have turned £800 to just over £1500. I think it's more than likely that we will, like the good guys in the parable, double what we were entrusted with. Which is a fabulous effort. I'll post a final figure when we know it.
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Friday, 25 September 2009
I left (later) with two questions:
- What do you say in a situation like that?
- Why did I bother?
Last round of games and with the summer having officially ended earlier in the week, what better way to spend a day off than in the warm sunshine watching a county match? So, to Bristol to see Gloucestershire score 418 in the day for five wickets against a de-mob happy Kent.
I met up with Dad and we enjoyed a lovely day chewing the fat (and given what we ate that is about right). Always good to spend a day like this and the weather and the amount of runs scored was a bonus. It was a grand day out.
The picture is of James Franklin who scored a century to go with his five wickets of the day before.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
This doesn't fit what I am doing but rather than lose it:
"Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest... You cannot break men's hearts by jesting with them, or telling them a smooth tale, or patching up a gaudy oration. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks, or to care much whether his request be granted."
The Reformed Pastor, 1656. Quoted in Stott (BST), p.107.
Monday, 21 September 2009
We were away enjoying the bright lights of the city and friends' 25th wedding anniversary at the weekend so don't know everything about the response yet. Envelopes are due in next Sunday. Thought I'd record that a lot of people are in the swing of it though. One man went to a stamp fair and turned his £10 to £25. My wife is making portions of crumble and selling those. We have someone knitting snowmen, a coffee morning and sale, a living room bistro opening for the night (a trained chef doing this); lots of things. Perhaps the oddest is the woman who is a keep fit fanatic who is fining herself everytime she messes up her hula-hooping. Hope I can hula-hoop when I'm 73! As someone pointed out, it's a bit upside down in terms of using a talent because the more you raise the more questionable your talent but good on her! It's going to be an interesting Sunday!
As for me, I have put some stuff on eBay and as I type this I just realise that I've made a mess of the timings - the auctions end after the Morning Service. What a twit!
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Day off today and so try to adjust my bike brakes for about an hour and a half before giving up and deciding to take it to be mended (having made it a whole lot worse). Why do I feel so embarrassed at not being able to do simple stuff like this? My Dad would have fixed this in a jiffy. He'd be spinning in his grave.
If he were dead.
Monday, 14 September 2009
In the morning we continued our series on The Hope of Heaven looking at Revelation 21 and the picture that it paints of heaven. It includes the famous verses about being a place of no tears, no suffering, no death, no more pain.
Afterwards I talk to a visitor to our church, one who I think I recognise but I'm not sure. Turns out he was visiting us and he had been with us last May. He reminds me that he was with his wife who was returning to fitness after a liver transplant. To cut a long story short his wife passed away a few days after they visited us in May and then two months later he lost his father too. He talked about how it felt that I was speaking just to him as I spoke from Rev 21. Of course it was not me, only God can do this. It reminded me what a privilege it is to hear God through the words of the Bible and to be used to help people hear that.
Rev 21 also points out in the last verse that nothing impure can enter heaven. Which is only bad news if you have ever done, said or thought anything bad! So we talked about Jesus - as the only truly pure person - had paid the price for our impurity and how you can have your name in the book of life. I talked about how it's not enough to know this stuff, you have to make a personal commitment. And I did something I rarely ever do. I asked people to consider their response to the invitation that God makes, close their eyes and raise a hand if they wanted to make that commitment.
I felt that I was a bit unclear as I hadn't really scripted it but I lead a prayer and five hands went up. Two are people who have started coming to the church having come to our Holiday Club for over 60s (pre-blog!). They are down to start the Christianity Explored course tomorrow and are as thrilled as we are. One was a lady in her 80s who has been in church all her life but says that while she understood the gospel message she had never responded to it in a personal way before. Hers is a long story but, again, it's exciting that she took this step. The fourth hand belonged to the visitor mentioned above who, having been through such a tough time, wanted to respond to what God was saying to him in the service. And the fifth was a man in his nineties who misunderstood what I was saying. Told you I was unclear.
But, me of little faith, I was taken aback. It is exciting to see what God is doing and we pray that these are the first fruits. Seems he did some harvesting this morning.
Afternoon spent visiting someone in hospital in Taunton, on to Evening Service which I led and preached in and then I went to visit a man who is on the edge of death. I was pleased to go to see him as I got there just before the nurses who came to administer his first dose of morphine, which was something the family were resisting unless it was absolutely necessary. I was able to hold his thin hand and pray for him. He hasn't long and the promises of Rev 21 are particularly pertinent at a time like this.
A long day. A good day. A long post but not everyday is like this and I wanted to process it as I typed. I am encouraged and hope you are too.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
10 of those have these at £20 for 20 of them and I have ordered a bunch for the congregation because the Word of God is the most important thing that they can take away with them from a Sunday service. Even when some idiot pastor is dishing out cash.
I'd quote some and give you more details but I've already passed on my copy. Have a look, I think it's worth it.
On Sunday I rather nervously took £800 in used tenners to the service. I was preaching on how we use our talents in the light of Jesus' return. The parable in Mathew 25 makes it clear that we will be held accountable for what we have. So, as a practical illustration I drew virtually all the money out of the fund we have for helping the poor and sent people off to participate in what I wish I had had the foresight to call 'Burnham's Got Talents'. The idea is that in three weeks time we'll see what people have been able to do with it.
Feedback to me has been very positive. Some amusement, some enthusiasm, a lot of wondering aloud as to what they will do. The reaction I feared most was the Treasurer's but he was a brick, his only concern being the short amount of time - he is away for half of the experiment. Foolishly I didn't consult anyone about what I had done - I think I had suspicions that I'd be talked out of it if I did. Yet I guess the trust is established and no-one seems concerned. (I should explain that I cannot - as rule - just draw out the church's money whenever I feel like it). Otherwise I would spend even more on filling my iPod.
Some feedback that I have heard secondhand has been less positive - as is often the way! But overall it's been so far so good. I had 80 envelopes for 86 adults and there were none left over so the take up has been high and there was an additional encouragement in that I wasn't expecting so many in church in the first place.
As for me, I am spending my tenner on insertion fees and the like for selling some stuff on eBay. I'm thinking that hoarding stuff ready for Judgement Day might not be such a great tactic and this might be a prod in the right direction for me.
Watch this space.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
Just started a short series on The Hope of Heaven and start tomorrow with Matthew 25 where Jesus tells three parables in a row concerning his return and the judgement that will follow. Structure of the sermon is a doddle:
v.1-13 The Parable of the Ten Virgins - Are you ready for Christ’s return?
v.31-46 The Sheep and the Goats - When Jesus returns as shepherd will you be found to be a sheep or a goat?
v.14-30 The Parable of the Talents - In the light of Christ’s return, how are you using your talents?
Taken them out of order so that my illustration for v.14-30 doesn't completely drown out the first two sections.
Yesterday I went to the bank and drew out £800 in used tenners. The challenge is for whoever is in the congregation on Sunday to take a tenner and use it for the kingdom. The money is from a fund we have for giving aid to the poor and idea is that we increase "talents" as the servants did (v.20-23) and that it all goes back into the fund so that we can do all things we are supposed to do as true believers in v.35-36, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, look after the ill etc.
But it's not primarily about fund raising. It's about being accountable for what we are entrusted with. Jesus' parable tells us we will be acountable for what we have been given, how we use our talents. And of course that applies to our gifts, time and money. But Jesus does seem to be talking first and foremost about money here.
I am hoping this will be a lesson that lives with us and that we learn well because we have done something to reinforce the words that were preached. In four weeks time we will have our time of reckoning.
The night before the sermon I can't decide if what I am feeling is fear or excitment. I really have no idea how this will be received.
More on this tomorrow I suspect.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
"I would say in the Reformed world - I see this with young guys - we make an idol out of being a great preacher. I know a lot of guys who, more than anything, they want to be great preachers. They make an idol out of the gift of preaching. They want people to flock to their banner, because they're such great preachers, and as a result they're not working on pastoring, they're not working on listening to people, they're not working on evangelism. They're working on their messages. They want that more than anything else. It's an idol... and it's all based on mistaking spiritual gifts for spiritual fruit."
Something to think about.
It has got me to thinking about how formative that transition to big school is for us. I don't really remember much of it - too long ago - though I do remember going up for an introductory evening the previous term and seeing that something exotically called chicken fricassee was on the menu. Despite my thorough Comprehensive School education, I still don't know what a fricassee is. Must Google it later.
But this summer I met up with old friends who I realised I had first got to know 34 years ago - friends that I met on the first day of Secondary School. We had a barbeque and joked and chatted about old times and realising that my son (the youngest of the group there) was about to start a similar adventure made me feel a littler older.
If the boy comes out of it with friends like mine in his middle age he won't have done so bad. And he'll be bright enough to learn what a fricassee is, how to make it, and then have the good sense to know that it probably isn't worth the effort.
PS - to save you the effort, it's a generic term for any kind of white sauce usually used in poultry dishes. Though the Greeks use it with pork apparently.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Of course, he is right. I don't look a lot like Jesus and I manage to make a mess of it often enough. And so I learn a lesson that is of more use to me than the dimensions of the new temple as recorded in Ezekiel - today's Bible reading.
I am also reminded of the title of David Pawson's autobiography. I find his stuff a mix of very helpful and quite odd to be honest but I like what he called his book: "Not as bad as the truth". His reasoning was that whatever anyone said about him, it was...
Sunday, 30 August 2009
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
You also get to listen to sermons as a bod in the pews. I listen to a lot of sermons at home or in the car or on headphones as I move around. But I don't often sit on a (hard) pew and listen to a sermon first hand these days. (I listen to others preach here but we have great chairs).
This has got me to thinking again about how long I should aim to preach for. I think I preach for too long. I am happy to preach for 40 minutes plus but I don't want that to be a barrier to people hearing the gospel. I aim for 25 minutes but almost never hit it. It's probably regularly between 35-40 minutes. And that isn't always good.
Any honest answers on what a good length for sermon would be for you? I'd appreciate your insights as I don't want my verbosity to get in the way.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
I love these weeks, partly because I can just forget the admin side of things and do what is important, and partly because it is such a buzz to be working as part of a team like this. I quite like not leading it as well - Lin is doing a great job of that - I am able to support different people in their roles instead.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
This is how we are set up for Landlubbers. All the chairs have been removed and everyone is making last minutes preparations. We have a retired signwriter who has produced our fabulous backdrop with help from his team. The fishing nets, treasure chest, palm trees and other things that you might just be able to make out are all real. The wall in the righthand foreground is where the puppeteer hides as she does her stuff. As always we feel excited and daunted. Please pray!
Now to look through my sermon on Ezekiel for tonight!
With Holiday Club on it was appropriate to be preaching on 1 Corinthians 9.19-23, where Paul writes about being all things to all people in order to save some. In doing so he relates and lives differently when with the Jews compared with when he is with the Gentiles. The gospel always remains the same but the way it is brought to people varies tremendously according to your audience.
In the first part of the chapter Paul writes about giving up his rights as an apostle in order to communicate the gospel. As if that were not hard enough, Paul then tells us we need to be prepared to give up our preferences for the sake of the gospel too.
I illustrated this by talking about how we might prefer different musical styles but that we need to put these aside for the sake of the gospel. (This seemed appropriate as the new kids songs are loud and fast). So one way we can apply this is by putting aside our musical preferences for the sake of the gospel.
The first person I speak to on the door after the service tells me, "I didn't like the music today and nor did a number of others."
It made me smile.
PS - The reference to the title of this post? 45 today.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
A joke from stand-up Emo Phillips ...
"Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!"
He said, "Nobody loves me."
I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"
He said, "A Christian."
I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me, too! What denomination?"
He said, "Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."
I said, "Die, heretic scum!", and pushed him off the bridge."
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
I have a few people in the church here who pass me clippings from the Daily Mail which demonstrate the latest way that we are all going to hell in a handcart. Now they no longer need to, thanks to the Daily Mail-o-matic, which generates random headlines.
Have fun - and if you are so inclined there are links there to similar toys, such as Michael Howard sings the Smiths.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Sunday, 16 August 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Listened to Sawdust for the first time today, despite having it for about six months. For a filler album of B sides, covers (including great ones of Joy Division's Shadowplay and Dire Straits Romeo and Juliet) and alternate versions, its a cracking CD. Saw them on TV a couple of weeks ago, the whole of their set from T in the Park, and they were just brilliant. Great songs. When You Were Young from Sam's Town (complete with refrain, "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus") would make a great basis for a Youth Group Talk on 1 Corinthians 7.39.
Even with U2 touring this summer I have to ask are the Killers the best band around at the moment? If not I'd like to know who.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Overall it has been a positive experience. We have used the evening services to preach on Scripture that most of us have read in the previous week and that has been good to do. It gives us the chance to encourage each other as we read and spur each other on. Sometimes it has helped us understand things that we haven't picked up by reading on our own. At Easter we asked if the evening congregation wanted to carry on with this pattern and they all said yes. Such unity is wonderful, albeit rarer than it should be. Another benefit of the arrangement is that we have an increased evening congregation, as well as having people reading the Bible regularly if not daily and getting a Bible overview. There are helpful maps and charts in the book too. So it is a positive experience for us, though I would also make the following points.
- Cover to Cover is a bit more specific in the dates for Bible history than I would want to be. So for instance there is a note in Day 3 that says "The flood approx. 2319 BC - probably a Thursday." Okay, so I made up the last bit, but you get the picture.
- I find the section at the end, "For Thought and Contemplation" pretty twee and trite but guess some are helped by them.
- Because they use the "Holman Christian Standard Bible" I was a bit unsure about whether to use this or the church Bible when I preached. I have ended up reverting to the TNIV and this has been fine.
- The strongest criticism I'd have is that they have been a bit too eager with the scissors in dividing up the text sometimes. So you will be in Hosea and (hopefully following the flow of the story) when suddenly here are some chapters from Isaiah, or Micah, or 2 Kings, or 2 Chronicles, or a Psalm. Which just makes for it being harder for people to see the sweep of the book to my mind. Perhaps the most striking example was when we read Amos and I realised on preaching it that the end of the final chapter was not where I expected it to be. A competition ensued and two church members won themselves a Mars bar (we are big on prosperity here) for finding the off-cut last five verses. Turned out they were before the rest of the book! Examples like this make it harder to read and understand the Scriptures, which is not good.
BUT - it's been good to do this. It means we can preach on Amos and give an overview (with handout if I am organised) in about 35 minutes on the whole book. And it means I am reading more of the Bible devotionally than I would normally. So even though I am lagging embarrassingly behind the schedule at the moment I console myself with the knowledge that I am still doing better than normal.
Monday, 20 July 2009
Mentions amongst other things that...
The study revealed that 62% of respondents did not know the parable of the Prodigal Son and 60% could not name anything about the story of the Good Samaritan.
One respondent said David and Goliath was the name of a ship, while another thought Daniel - who survived being thrown into the lions' den - was the Lion King.
Fewer than 1 in 20 could name all ten commandments either, though to be honest if you were to stop me in the street at a random moment I think I'd struggle too.
Well, no good sitting round saying "Tsk!", we have a job to do and it looks like it's even bigger than we realised. Makes me realise what a great opportunity it is to go and teach these stories in school today.
Dear Steve Ayers,
I shall be staying in Burnham for the night of August 9th and have just looked up churches in Burnham and listened to your sermon on Mothering Sunday about Peter. Will you be preaching on Sunday morning the 9th August?
With love in Jesus,
Was I really preaching on Peter on Mothers Day? If so, why?
Still, notice that she doesn't let on as to whether me preaching would draw her to the church or put her off?
I just emailed back to say that she was perfectly safe, I am going to be on holiday.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
- 51 years old
- been in ministry for nearly 17 years
- works 56 hours a week
- 6% are under 35
- 40% are over 55
I have no axe to grind here and am paid okay. No one comes into the ministry for the money - or the glamour, come to think of it. But is it any wonder that young fellas aren't attracted to serve in a church?
Thursday, 16 July 2009
I mainly chose it because I don't know it so well as some books and as Andy Gemmill pointed out at New Word Alive, it doesn't get preached much because it's a longer book. So before this I have preached on the cross being foolish and a stumbling block to those who don't believe (1:18-25), the chapter on love (13) and the evidence that Paul gives for the resurrection (15). The rest is pretty much a preaching blank, so this has been a good exercise for me. I love this part of my job, I get paid to read the Bible and study what it means.
Which is challenging. Not only because Sunday rolls around relentless but because it says some tough things to me. Reading through 1 Corinthians I am struck quite forcefully at how out of step it is with our culture. Or more accurately, of course, how out of step we are with the Bible. So we had to take a time-out (and an extra week) during chapter 6 to look at what the Bible says about homosexuality. And last week - in chapter 7 - we hit marriage, singleness, and divorce -affording us much light-hearted relief. I have flagged up a future time-out for divorce and remarriage, which I need to do some serious study on before I wade in. But one thing is for sure, people are talking after services about the Bible. That doesn't always happen and so I am very encouraged.
This week 1 Corinthians 8 and the easier topic of what to do about meat sacrificed to idols. Or is it easier?
While the stuff I get at Asda hasn't generally been offered up before foreign gods before it hits the shelves I have to look at the chapter and ask, "What are the principles for me, here?" Paul makes it pretty clear - that we may have great freedom in an issue but that we cannot use that freedom to destroy others. So while it may not be a problem to eat meat offered to idols (because idols are nothing and there is only one God) Paul does add that if tucking in will destroy someone with a weaker conscience then he'd rather go veggie.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
BUT - these are exciting times to be an Exeter City fan because two years ago we were promoted back into the League. And then last year they only went and did it again, didn't they? So this year they line up in League 1, which sounds so much more impressive than the old Third Division. This means that they are now playing teams that my friends have heard of. Opening game of the season? Leeds United away. First cup game? QPR at home. First league home match? Norwich City. These are all teams my mother will have heard of. We have hit the big time.
And to kick it all off tonight Spurs came a visiting. A sell out! And I got seats via the website. And I felt too lousy to go. So Mrs A took the children and I will have to wait till later to see the new players and trialists that I've been reading about. Oh, yeah, and all those international superstars of Spurs. Seems like I will have to wait for the season proper to start. Oh well.