Tuesday, 9 October 2012

You get me...

Dilbert comic strip for 03/19/2012 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.:

I think Dilbert is great. Sometimes I think we have too many words...

'via Blog this'

The Sheep and the Goats

The Sheep and tha’ Goats- Harvest
07.10.12          Bawtry

A note to the reader:

These are my sermon notes, they are not entirely polished, i occasionally miss bits out and add other bits as I feel lead during a service. However, no one sermon can fully express the gospel. I hope they are helpful.


Today is our harvest service and I think we are doing three things today:

1.      Reminding ourselves that God is Lord of the Harvest
2.      Responding to his word (which includes our offering)
3.      Celebrating his harvest (INVITATION)

There is a disconnect for us living in 2012 in Bawtry. 100 years ago many of the congregation here would have been involved with growing food and all would have been reliant on the harvest. A good harvest and there would be much rejoicing:
Tearfund and organisations like them remind us that in other places harvests make a massive difference. It is life and death to them.

SO what question is Jesus answering in Matt 25. 31-46?

Let's look back at the question the disciples asked Jesus.

Matt 24. 1-3
“…When will this happen, and what will be the sign of the end of the age?”
Jesus says:
*Day & hour unknown *Prepare *Talents

It seems that on that great and glorious day it will not all be rejoicing…people will be held account for what they did with what God gave them…
This isn’t popular. Maybe you think this morning how could God judge anyone?
You may think that if God is good then all people will be welcomed in?
Or maybe you think why would God want anything to do with me after things I have said and done?

Two Visual Aids:

Use the large eraser:

I stand here today as a person who messes up who makes big mistakes or mis-steaks as it says on the eraser. So I don't stand as one who is perfect, but somebody who knows how much I am in need of Jesus Christ to be my Lord.

Pull the large throne like chair to the front of church, ask people who they think sits in judgement on them.

The Judge:

But let’s take sometime this morning to consider what Jesus says on this matter. This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus because we don’t like to think that anyone judges us but I would argue that judgement is something which goes on everyday in our lives.
Who is it who sits on the throne in judgement on you and me?

Let’s look at who he isn’t first:
If your house-hold is anything like mine, then the television is switched on on a Saturday night and you hear the familiar refrain “Strictly Come Dancing” or maybe “X Factor” you have four judges in strictly and four in X Factor.  In X Factor the bias is obvious, their act comes on and the judge says “that was amazing, that was the performance of the show” and the next act comes on, maybe they are better, but the judge says “it was a good performance but you just lack the X Factor”.
Even Strictly the bastion of the BBC has bias. There are four judges and each seem to have four different criteria.  One gives an 8 and another a 4. How can it be so different?
Judges who are biased who pursue their own ends.

If I asked you what is the greatest threat to our world today I am not sure what you would say. But it is not global terrorism, global warming, the next pandemic, even the economic crisis, it is our selfishness. And the Bible has a word for it, it is sin. Sin has “I” in the centre of it. That is what it is when we put ourselves on this throne.

But as I stand here this morning I am well aware of my own sin. The choices I make the way I live my life “I know to do good and yet do not do it…there is no health in me”
You see the X- Factor and Strictly judges are biased and so am I, I think that I am doing better than the next person (give an example)
We are reminded this morning that he is Lord of the harvest but he is also  Lord of all. This passage helps us to understand this.

Who is the Judge?

Jesus uses the words Son of Man glorified. He became one of us, was tempted in everyway but was without sin. He lived the life, he stands as judge having first lived this life out in all its fullness.

3 days later he was crucified, they mocked him and hung a sign around his next which said "Jesus Christ, King of the Jews" but he knew who he was.

This is the one who judges us...

The Sheep

The judge is not somebody who dosen’t know us, the passage shows he does. The sheep are on the right and the goats on the left, they have not been mixed up, he hasn't made any mistakes. There are no stray sheep on the left, or rogue goats on the right. He knows us, he knows exactly what we are like.
 “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;”
This is what God had always intended, before the world was created his invitation is come to him…
Isn’t it obvious the sheep see the needs in front of them, they don’t think what is the angle this person has in trying to get money out of me. How much of this money actually gets to the person in need, they purely responds to the needs they see. God sees the heart.
        When did we see you…


I have worked in some big companies and the day arrives when the chief executive is due to visit. Maybe you are a teacher and you remember the Ofsted visit. The office is cleaned the rubbish is shoved in cupboards. Someone goes to Marks and Spencers and buys some nice cups and some posh biscuits. There are always biscuits when the boss comes. Shoes are shined, name badges are positioned to cover the coffee stains on the tie. Office politics are laid aside to be picked up again when the boss has gone and the image of a well-oiled machine all working in harmony is portrayed.
But God is not mocked he sees that…

When did we see you…

Those on the left say But if we had known it was you Jesus, we would have brought you into our home, we would have given you a shower, put fresh clothes on you, made you a meal got the biscuits out. If we had just known it was you. But the king is not mocked he knows the heart.
He doesn’t like white washed tombs, instead he saw their actions. If we are truly Christians we will love one another, we will forgive one another we will show mercy .

A vision of community

One of the reasons we find judgement so difficult is because it reveals our dependence we are used to being in charge of ourselves, we value independence. But this passage reveals again that we are not actually Lord of our own lives. We all serve something. The church is meant to be a community which loves one another. As forgiven people.

It is meant to be a community that is actually serving Christ and from this we go out to the world.
Something that was spoken nearly 2,000 years ago still resonates with a lot of the church across the world who are poor and imprisoned but the King is also one who has suffered himself. He is not someone who has always sat in his ivory tower and looked down without care and compassion and love in the world but it is king who when we  look in Matthew 26 and 27 we see he was hungry, and he was thirsty, he was a stranger even to his friends, he was naked and he was beaten. So he knows what suffering is about he is a king who's gone through it.

He is also the King who is first judged for us.

So as we celebrate this harvest today, we also realise that we are people who mess up, who want to be Lord of our own lives, but the Lord of the harvest is the glorified Son of Man…

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Coffee and Ritual

The one treat I have indulged in is a coffee machine (thanks M&D). I think it is going through the ritual of making a coffee which is satisfying. Grinding the beans, and smelling the fresh grinds, running the water through the system twice. Brewing the coffee the aroma rising and then steaming the milk. It cannot be rushed or you end up with a luke-warm coffee.

It is anything but instant, and I don't always have time to do it. When I worked as mortgage adviser I would be in back to back meetings and would not always have time for a break, sometimes missing lunch or only having a snatched break but I liked making the customers a cup of tea as I had to go down stairs and boil the kettle and brew the tea or make the coffee which gave me time to think and clear my head from the last appointment.

As a trainee priest we have a lot of ritual in the Church of England but I am beginning to feel the need to emphasise the pauses within a service, that we might stop and prepare ourselves as we go. In fact this was a bit of the conversation I had with someone from church on Monday. In life leaving and entering are important, in our services our children leave the service and come back in for communion and we have a start and a finish, so some of my thinking over the last few days has been on this.

However back to the coffee for a minute sometimes you need tools to assist you and it takes time to do these things well. My lovely wife bought me this espresso cup:

You may have noticed it says Grumpy Mule on it, I think she may be referring to the occasional morning when a coffee seems to be an essential before saying hello.

It will take time before I have worked through some of these things and even with the right tools I still need to slow down and not rush and rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal more of Jesus.

I enjoy coffee and I think it is great hospitality to be able to offer it to visitors, a warm welcome and fresh cup of coffee I think are essential! I hope that our rituals may be life giving because God is the author of life and Jesus came to bring life and life in all its fullness...

Coffee drinks illustrated - Lokesh Dhakar

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Quarreling with God- Jonah

This is one of my sermons from a few weeks back, it is an evensong sermon so shorter than at the morning service. 

Quarreling with God- Jonah 3.10-4.11

Sunday 9th September 2012- Evensong


It is just not fair…(give an example). Jonah felt justified in complaining. I told you so he tells God and so he retreats to a hill and sits there sulking hoping that fire will reign down from heaven and destroy Nineveh.
Jonah is a book with plenty of humour but it rings true doesn’t it?
Jonah’s name means “Faithful Dove” he is neither, faithful or dove like in his desire to see them punished.


“Anger is actually a diagnostic tool, when it erupts in us it means something is wrong. What it fails to do though, is to tell us whether the wrong is outside or inside us. We usually begin by assuming it is outside…” (Pieterson, 1992, 157).
The issue for us is to rightly discern which it is. Jonah is angry with God yet throughout Jonah we hear how God is merciful to him. He could have let him drown, he could have smote him for questioning him and he didn’t have to let the vine grow. Jonah reveals to us a God who is faithful in spite of our unfaithfulness.


Jonah joins a host of others who quarreled with God:
·         Abraham
·         Peter
·         David
·         Moses
·         Job
He is not unique, yet for someone who is appointed as a prophet, he is more reminiscent of a child whining on a long car journey. Kicking the back of the seat, yelling at not having their choice of music or not having the right sticker book…

Surprised by Grace-

In the end Jonah is more than surprised by grace it is scandalous to him. Why should spare these foreigners? They aren’t the people of God, God has no business forgiving them. Is grace limited to Israel?

Incomplete Ending-

Jonah ends without us hearing Jonah’s response, did he repent, did he sulk and starve himself on that hill? Did he carry bitterness with him until his last breath. You are invited into the story, what is your response to God? It just isn’t fair, I have worked hard, I have been good and yet I am still finding life a struggle and my neighbour, you know the one the loud obnoxious one, the one who is always on foreign holidays and gets a new car every couple of years is fit and healthy… people are starving in this world, the rich get richer and we have seen the bankruptcy of our politicians, reporters and bankers. Today is racial justice Sunday and we know that 27 million people are in slavery today…
But Jonah was not crying out for the plight of the Israelites or the poor or the weak but because God didn’t do what he wanted him to do.
God appointed:
·         A fish
·         A vine
·         A worm
·         A prophet?
·         You and me?

Are you right to be angry?-

Let’s not misunderstand this passage, Jonah is not being rebuked for questioning God. Throughout scripture we see people wrestling with God, complaining to him or about peoples situations or circumstances. No, instead he asks Jonah if he is right to be angry. Are we right to be angry? 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Who is this man?

A couple of people at church have asked me to provide notes from my sermons. This is an embellished version as my preaching notes wouldn't make sense without it...

I hope it helps.

Mark 4.35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’


As I begin this sermon I realise that maybe Jonathan would be able to give us a very eloquent sermon based upon his personal experience of his crossing the channel yesterday!

In Mark’s gospel, we have a whistle stop tour of Jesus’ ministry, beginning not with all the details of Jesus’ birth but starting from John the Baptist and Jesus’ temptation. Jesus called Andrew, Simon, James and John four local fishermen among others. As the disciples followed his call they were confronted by the question, who is this man?

The crowds flocked to hear Jesus, which meant  he preached just a bit from the shore in a boat and probably at the end of another busy day he said let’s go to the other side. He fell asleep…

  Familiarity leads to faith in ourselves (It’s all about me)

It’s alright though, he had chosen fishermen for such a task, they knew this sea like the back of their hands, they could do this easily, they didn’t need Jesus to help them. It was there job, they knew all there was to know. In their hands they will easily make it to the other side.

You can just imagine as they pushed out the sun was beginning to set it was still…

And then the wind began to pick up, the waves began to swell and the boat began to lurch and water broke across the bow of the boat…

Ferry journey

When I lived in Bangor I occasionally went across to Dublin on the ferry. One particularly stormy day we crossed the Irish Sea and the wind began to pick up and the waves swelled, up and down (keep repeating) sorry if you are feeling sea sick, and as everyone around me clung to something to anchor them, I tucked in to my MacDonalds…

The perfect storm

Picture how small the boat is against the sea

They couldn’t do it in their own strength and skill they were going to meet with disaster.

I know that I am tempted each day to live it without a second thought for needing Jesus. Tempted to do the daily tasks of life without stopping and asking for help. 
  • What about you? 
  • When you work out what you are going to spend?
  • When you go to work or out and about? 
  • When you decide what you are going to give or how you are going to shop?

Milton Jones:

“Hearing God’s voice is often like trying to hear a satnav that you have locked in the boot of your car because you thought you wouldn’t need it”

I don’t know about you but I am tempted to do plenty of everyday things without a thought for his guidance and often I become aware of how out of my depth I am.

I need help making good decisions with my finances, with my children, with my conversations, with what I buy and what I spend my time on.

I faintly hear the satnav.

What about you?

What do you do every day without thinking about needing help from God?

IN the midst of the storm they cry out…Mark seems to capture the urgency and fear of the situation.

The wind and the waves have already heard this voice

When Jesus speaks it is the same voice that creation heard at the beginning…

…in the beginning was the word…

Jesus had calmed the storm, which could be translated “muzzled”…the wind and waves held on a short leash and muzzled and is still before Jesus. ..

I        When the physical storm is calmed another storm rages within

The disciples had left the crowds but they couldn’t escape the storm and as he stilled the fierce storm raging around about them a new storm rages…

   Who is this man?

They would get there but he wasn’t relying on their strength or ability…

What did they face on the other side?

Demons bowed, the sick were healed and death had to submit…

The people were afraid…

Yet Jesus continued to reveal himself to be the one who not only said nice things but also had a power about him which was scary. Following Jesus is not always easy, we need to pray before we start work that he helps us…

The same question the disciples asked among themselves is allowed to be asked here and with your friends and on your own…

  • Who is this man that the wind and waves obey him?

 Maybe it is time to remove the Satnav from the boot.
  • Why try and live this life without him?

 26.08.12- Bawtry

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Your 100 day Prayer

As you may know from a couple of previous posts, I occassionally do book reviews. And I choose to do this one.

The idea of 100 days of prayer appealed to me. Like essential 100 or other 100 sets of things to do it is a significant commitment. So praying and combining this with journalling something else I have done since I was 17, seemed a great idea.

Praying for something important to you continually for 100 days will make a difference to you, not because it is a formula to follow and then cash in at the end but because prayer is powerful and will change us (read C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity on prayer). Reading scripture daily is a good practice, I pretty much do the daily office all through the working week (I am not ordained till July when that concept of a working week will go out the window). I think it is great to combine the journal space, scripture, a few thoughts and disciplining yourself to pray for something which you want to see change.

I am pleased to see John Synder doesn't explain suffering away, he engages with the psalms "the prayer book of the Bible (Bonhoeffer)" and the book is well written. Which you would expect  from someone who knows their way around academic writing alongside a journalists eye for the everyday connection of life and faith. It is almost blog like in its format. Here is a quick extract to wet your whistle:

"Thats the good news! Jesus outfits us for the journey. He finds us where we are (in our distrust, confusion, and wandering), equips us to get through this life (through our pain, losses, grief), then ushers us into Gods kingdom at the end, fully prepared to meet our Creator. That is the gospel. There is nothing in the world better than that" (Synder, 2012, day 37).

I think that it maybe a helpful resource for someone who wants to move beyond a word for the day, especially if you have never journalled before, use the scripture and the thoughts with them even if you disagree with them to reflect and grow in your journey with God.

On the downside the first is simply a recommendation don't buy the kindle version because it will frustrate you, adding notes is a faff and you cannot see them without clicking on your bookmark, it would work on a touch screen version better. Get the book version instead.

My only other concern is that occasionally he slips into hero language (it may be a cultural thing me being a Brit) but I think saint is so much fuller a term than hero. Hero continues to remind us of our effort and discipline bringing about the changes in our life and has less emphasis on the work of God though he does also emphasise this aspect too so it is not a major criticism.

So I would say worth a look at especially if you want to try journalling, or want to try a different approach to prayer.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Feel free to contact them and get reviewing too.

Monday, 5 March 2012

L- Is for Leader?

Below is a link to a great reflection on leadership.

Have a read of Michael's blog page:

Theologisches Nachdenken...: Leadership, Priesthood, and Ministry: Some Reflect...

I don't want to summarise it for you as it is worth reading fully. But here are a few of my thoughts in response.

Having been on leadership training courses for banks and other similar organisations, I was always surprised at the inclusion of Biblical allusions. Yet often I am surprised at how little scriptural study is carried out on leadership course in the church. Could it be like Stanley Hauerwas suggests that we have lost the ability to speak Christian? Maybe a lack of confidence in the time eternal truth?

I also find we take on the language of management and success too eaily and see this in terms of the size of a church or amount of activity. But what do I know? Maybe the L in leadership is for learner...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Free Track

Hi everyone, I don't normally do freebies but I really want to highlight Human Trafficking, it is something I have been reading a lot about recently and I feel strongly that it is sub human abuse of all that God has given us. I will do a longer blog post on this in the future but for now this will have to do.

Currently Matt Redman and L27 have written a great single which is aiming to help highlight this. Please consider downloading from here:


I am prepared to buy 3 copies of the song from Itunes for the first 3 who reply to this post (Not sure how that will work but I can figure it out).

The campaign is A21 here is a link:


The 21 things you can do is great idea.

You may not like Matt Redman, you may think this is just a bunch of Bible bashers, a cheap promotion and a way to make money but please consider doing this.



Freedom- What is it?

This weekend was a great one for good sermons. Chris spoke strongly on Gal 5.22 and Matt 5.1-12.

But my highlight was Rowan Williams on Radio 4 (Sorry Chris). Other than a great message on freedom, Bonhoeffer takes centre stage...It is worth a listen:

Rowan Williams summarises Stations on the Road to Freedom:
  • Discipline
  • Action
  • Suffering
  • Death

(Taken from: Bonhoeffer, D. (1956). Letters & Papers From Prison. London: SCM Press. (July 1944, p170)

He comments on how counter cultural true freedom is. Most people would avoid each of these, freedom for most people is to enjoy life the way they want to. It is about choices and enjoyment. Bonhoeffer provides a critique to this.

It makes Freedom something which is judged according to God's criteria, maybe the Jesus Manifesto (Luke 4) would be the way to express freedom:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

   because he has anointed me

     to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
   and recovery of sight to the blind,
     to let the oppressed go free, 
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ (NRSV)
In Nachfolge (aka Cost of Discipleship or the new addition Discipleship), Bonhoeffer goes through the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). Following Jesus is the call. Jesus Christ laid down his life freely, no one took it from him (John 10.18).  True freedom is a life laid down.

The link between the two sermons is fruit, Chris concentrated on Kindness and what true kindness would look like. The fruit of the Spirit is what we so want for our lives, but the fruit comes as we follow Jesus Christ and lay down our lives, not endless striving. Fruit takes time to grow.


Lord Jesus Christ, you call us to follow you,
Help us to lay down our lives and take up yours,
That you may produce a harvest in our lives and an overflow to the rest of your creation.
Come Holy Spirit.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Cycling as formation...

5 Things which irritate me when cycling:

  • Other cyclists who don't have lights in the dark
  • Cyclists who jump the lights
  • Slow cyclists who cycle in the middle of the cycle lane
  • Cyclists who overtake pedestrians when there is no space for them to pull in causing me to break hard
  • People who think it is funny to jump out in front of me

Other than that I love cycling to college in the cold and wet... and of course I am a great cyclist ;)

Formation is the word which could be replaced with character building but with one key difference. From a Christian perspective life transformation starts with God. Often this comes in humility and confession of sin. Cycling, just like driving with my family, is formational ie patience can be stretched. Jesus said it is out of the abundance of our hearts that our mouth speaks, things will always irritate us, especially with 5.30am starts to the day, or a 3 year old asserting themselves. I cannot excuse myself, but need to continue to be prepared to listen to the things God highlights and others highlight.

Still, I have a new bike which makes my journey in to college a bit easier. It is a shame to put the old bike to rest but having sheared of the pedal, and damaged the bearings, the cost of repair is just not worth it. So I had another formational experience of trying to put together a bike carrier in Ikea car park

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

God's View of a Woman | Beyond Evangelical | The Blog of Frank Viola

Thought some of my friends at college may like to have a read of this:

God's View of a Woman | Beyond Evangelical | The Blog of Frank Viola:

God's view of men and women is far bigger than our own. I think often we miss it, we concentrate on Jesus being a carpenter for men, that being a man is all about being good at sport and diy, or being a woman is all about being good at craft.

via 'Blog this'

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Do you ever feel got at?

If you know me, then you will know only one of the above applies... though when I watched the DVD of my videoed sermon yesterday I did have a very shiny forehead maybe it is 2 of  3.

100th Post

Well today I post my 100th blog post. Something which gave me a little stage fright, what could I write which would be profound and yet at the same time fun?

Well it stumped me, so I thought I would say thanks for reading the blog. It has been a while as I am really trying to both catch up with my reading schedule (I have a mountain of assignments to write), and integrate new technology into life (Kindle and an Android Phone). Both have been recommendations as ways to work better I will blog a simple users guide to each...

Basically I went to my dyspraxia study skills and found that simple things make a profound difference. I have a rubbish memory but have just learned the planets from Mercury- Pluto in about 10 minutes (using mind mapping and story telling) which is amazing, and it encourages me to keep trying. The reason I ended up with the new phone was talking through my organisation (lack of) and the 6 places I keep info of the stuff I am meant to do. Now I have it in one place my pocket!

But I have now been introduced to the world of Android phones, and I am loving it, it will make blogging easier and should hopefully resolve the issue I have in logging in from time to time. As long as I stop playing angry birds...