Tuesday, 31 March 2009

The journey continues! Step 4...

In case you're new to the 'diaries, I started a project back in the summer whereby I wanted to create a poetic response to each of the chapters of the book of Romans. I called it '16 Steps from Rome.'

Having done three way back in August/September, I have finally got back on the road and taken that fourth step (as it's based on Romans chapter 4). I don't profess in any way to be a poet, but big Eugene told me pastors are like poets so I figured I should give it a crack! Coincidently, we're studying poetry and prayer in psalms at the mo so I thought it would be especially timely to get back writing. Enjoy....


Decaying bones and a barren desert
Signal the end for this progeny. That is,
Where things are as they are.
Life to the dead and future beckons.

"Credit where it's due?" Fat chance.
This needle of hope is found
Without the Mosaic stack even in sight.
Mighty, and willing, to save.

To exist is to define or be defined;
A vacancy that produces anarchy
Escape! For no rebellion goes unpunished.

Not by words and not by deeds, but
By that so incalcuable of qualities -
Faith in the "dead" man and his daily deposits.

Things are not as though they are;
Or really should be.

Monday, 30 March 2009

"The masseurs have become the massees!"

Ok, so I already knew God was pretty good at sorting out our debts, but I never really thought he was in the business of racking up his own! Check this out...

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done."
Proverbs 19:17

So when we give to the poor, essentially we're lending to God. We give, they receive, he gives its back - no doubt with plenty of interest!! I love how the whole bible weaves together to display God's character. He promises to pay everyone's spiritual debts because he's a loving, mericful, generous God. And so, because he is such not just sometimes but all the time, he also steps in and pays material debt too. The not only does it demonstrate his heart to bless the poor but also backs up everything he tells us about it being better to give than receive. Not just from a moral point of view, in that it's a jolly good thing to do, but in an actual, tangible sense too - if you show kindness, God will show it back; if you give, even just a little, so much more he'll give back to you! Why? 1. Cos he loves to see his kids doing his will and 2. Cos he's just better at it than us!! I love Jesus.


While I've got you, check out this extract from friend-of-the-blog, Eugene Peterson:

"An understanding of people as sinners enables a pastoral ministry to function without anger. Accumulated resentment (a constant threat to pastors) is dissolved when unreal - that is, untheological - presuppositions are abandones. If people are sinners then pastors can concentrate on talking about God's action in Jesus Christ instead of sitting around lamenting how bad the people are. We already know they can't make it. We already have accepted their depravity. We didn't engage to be pastor to relax in their care or entrust ourselves to their saintly ways... We have come among the people to talk about Jesus Christ. Grace is the main subject of pastoral conversation and preaching. "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom. 5:20)."

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cheap laughs

"Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. "
Ephesians 5:11-12

"Those who control their tongue will have a long life;
opening your mouth can ruin everything."
Proverbs 13:3


Maybe more like expensive ones.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009


As I was driving to Bolton this morning I was thinking about the people I most respect in life, and what is about them that makes me do so.

It dawned on me that often I can be far too concerned about knowing the right things, or being up with the latest arguments, or being able to present a water-tight theology. Translation: looking the part. Then, i reason, I can be a great example to people for how to live the Christian life. And if nothing else, you couldn't label me 'wooly'. Sorted.

But you know what? The people who I look up to and think 'yes!' to are people who don't necessarily talk a good game (i'm sure they could) but actually get on and live it. They don't waste time theorizing but let what they know about who God is affect their attitudes and decision. As such, they hit a great balance between knowing the truth and living a magnetic lifestyle that is relevant to those outside of God-club without compromising their integrity.

Jesus had this nailed. He didn't fight theology with the Pharisees, he pointed out their hypocrisy and told everyone else to get on with sacrificing themselves for God and others. And he had that element of danger too, he was exciting, people wanted to be around him, he wanted to be around them. He didn't care about the little stuff. He taught when we wanted to. He partied (evangelical translation: "had fellowship") when he wanted to. He maximised his life from a position of complete acceptance as a son of God.

I want to be like that.

All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas... Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious...
..."The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else...
..."Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill."

Bits of Acts 17

Monday, 23 March 2009


So we finally went and did it... Deeper is officially out of the bag and ready for your interest!

You can check out the (rather attractive) flyer right here

Saturday, 21 March 2009

If you build it, they will come.

So tomorrow is the day we finally re-launch Deeper!!

Deeper is Vinelife's gap year opportunity that I've been tasked with redeveloping and over the past few months I've been putting together a week-by-week overview of how it'll all look. Personally, I think it looks great and if i wasn't going to be leading the thing then I'd want to be doing it myself. (honest - i'm not just on a sell)

Now we have all the graphics and a rough infrastructure in place we can finally unleash it on the (un)suspecting reach congregation. So hopefully over easter a few people will really consider taking the challenge on and I can spend the rest of my intersnhip tying up loose ends and getting ready to hit it hard in September.

Part of me is worried that we won't have any takers, yet since I've started working towards it in earnest I've had the same phrase rattling around my head which I really believe is prophetic encouragement...

...If you build it, they will come.

Well the front door's in place so let's see what happens!

Monday, 16 March 2009

New season, new start.

It transpires that the winter months have not been so conducive to regular bloggery but now that the sun is starting to fight its way back from behind the iron grip of British gloom, I invite you to dust off your metaphorical glasses and watch as I take this leaf that I'm holding and proceed in turning it right the way over! aaah... much better.

I'm not going to try and fill in all the gaps since my last post as I'm not sure there are enough characters left in this here window to do so. I will, however, tell you that things have been progressing very nicely. We had both the Youth and Reach weekends away, as well as putting on the second 'Gathering', so it's been a busy time but then I wouldn't want it any other way! Reach itself is going great and we've continued to see new people coming along as well as seeing those who've been around for a few months getting connected with lifegroups and starting to move towards involving themselves with the myriad of ministries that we have at church.

One thing that God is irking me with at the moment re: gathering new people is that we do so with people who aren't Christians yet. It would be really easy for me to look at numbers and say "we've gathered x amount of students. great. job done." but that just won't cut it. 1) we're dealing with hearts and minds, not attendance figures and 2) the vast majority of the growth we've experienced at reach this year hasn't been so much growth as transfer - i.e. settling in those who came to Manchester already as Christians. Don't get me wrong, it's been amazing to have been blessed with so many students and it's so important that we do our best to stop them from falling away from God when they come away to uni, but I'm also really conscious of the need to not rest on our laurels and think we're a healthy, growing church because we've got more bums on seats. We need to be doing all we can to see the lost saved, people coming from death into life! So that's one of my main foci at the moment - working out what I, as student worker, can be doing with our students to get out there and "do the stuff". So watch this space!! It's so encouraging tho as it's something that God's really put on our heart as a church and Phil & Sarah and James et al are doing a great job in challenging and facilitating us in living as partners in that there Great Commision.

There are a couple if things it would be great you could pray about if that's your style:
  1. I've got a few 'preaching engagements' over the next few weeks and would appreciate being covered going into those - Man Met CU on 17th March, Reach Exchange seminar on 22nd March and then Salford CU on 26th April.
  2. Next year! It's still up in the air as to what's happening after my internship finishes so if you could pray that God's will would be done but, more specifically, that if I'm to stay at Vinelife he would make the required resources avaialable.
That should sort you out for now - catch you again very soon! (I promise)