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.