You can quote me on that (part 11)

Here are some more quotes. Not all are positive but all where interesting in some way. Reading them through again they are a bit of a mixed bag actually:

Steff Listern quoted Spurgeon about the Phoenician woman at the last Prayer and fasting. Can’t find the exact quote but its something like: “She asks and doesn’t get an answer so she reasons that he has not said no so all is well! Then she asks again and he speaks! She has word now from his lips and so is confident that works will follow! Then he calls her a dog. A dog she reasons is part of the family, and get crumbs from under the table!”

Elijah in the Old covenant  caused famine, called down fire, summoned bears to tear apart youths. In the New Covenant Elijah will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers. It all changes! It’s not judgment but reconciliation. (He emphasizes the discontinuity) Kris Vallotton

It seems to me to be very, very hard to come up with an atheistic explanation of conscience, any more than you could have a compass without a magnetic north. PETER HITCHENS

Hunger is an escort to the deeper things of God, You satisfy! Misty Edwards

When are my greatest moments of doubt? Often when I’m reading the Old Testament or indeed the Epistles of St. Paul. I do find them rather provoking towards feelings of, oh, no, do I really have to put up with this? PETER HITCHENS

When you tell God you love him he puts it on speaker phone” Bill Johnson

Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Mercy is getting what you don’t deserve. If a policeman stops you for speeding and doesn’t give you a ticket – that’s mercy. If he stops you for speeding and gives you $1000 that’s grace. Kris Vallotton

“Christianity is not about God it’s being with God.” Joaquin Evans

“There is a divine, redemptive nuclear power in words.” Rob Bell

‘I had so many irons in the fire I put the fire out!!’ – J John

Religion looks in at the party through the window. From the cold street outside it makes a virtue of freezing to death. Jesus invites us in to the warm to eat and drink with him.   me:-)


Christmas : Drawing it all together

A couple of years ago I did a talk at our church Christmas carol concert inspired by Rob Bell’s “Everything is Spiritual” talk. As he spoke he illustrated the concepts on a massive white board. This really drew me in (if you will pardon the pun) and kept my attention so I decided to experiment with the style. When Christmas came I built a massive back-projected white board 7 meters long by 2 meters high and used it to illustrate my points. I have just found the audio and redrawn some visuals to go along with it. The actual context of the talk is based around the idea of separating everything into the visible and invisible  and showing how it all points to Jesus. I hope you like it.

play part 1 on YouTube.

play part 2 on YouTube.

play part 3 on YouTube.

play part 4 on YouTube.

The reason for recreating it was to begin to explore how far I can take the idea of illustrating truth with doodles. This was relatively easy to do as the talk was designed to be drawn out but I would like to try other talks and see if it’s possible to illustrate them in this way.

You can quote me on that (part 4)

The person who wrote this sign should check this out:

It’s very helpful. Anyway, here are some more quote I have picked up. The first is one of my favorites so far. Hope you enjoy the rest.

Sin is saying to God “you’re in my seat!” Rob Bell

Max Lucado

God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called MaxLucado

May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your lifeMaxLucado

the sermon raises the question ‘when is lunch’Rob bell

Old folks tell me in your later yrs,you’ll regret the GOOD you DIDNT DO in life far more than mistakes you made. Do it now. RickWarren

The bible starts with a garden and ends with a city. What is a city? A city is a lot of well organised gardens.Rob Bell

I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is to try to please everybodyBill Cosby

Heaven is where God is storing the earth’s future. Rob Bell

‘Not called’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call’, I think you should say William Booth

Love the Puritan quote “peace is joy resting; joy is peace dancingTerryVirgo

Start at the beginning – (Poets/prophets/preachers Part 2)

Rob Bell is a popular but controversial Pastor. He is part of what’s called “the emerging church”, a feature of which is questioning the way church has traditionally been done. One of things it questions is the preach; “a monolog of one person telling a lot of other people what to think.” Some argue that people don’t process information like that anymore. They need to discus and argue and engage with truth. Truth is digested in a “conversation” not a presentation. It is a testimony to the diversity of thought in the emerging church that Rob Bell seems here to be arguing quite the opposite. At any rate it is not the monologue he wants to change (these seminars are basically him talking for 5 hours), it’s the content and style. Here are some rough notes on telling a story from the beginning to the end.

Start from Shalom rather than sin:

We need to start telling the story at the beginning. When we give a sermon are we starting in Genesis 1 or Genesis 3.

If we starts from Genesis 3 then the issue is the removal of sin. If it’s in Genesis 1 it’s in the restoration of shalom/peace. Sin then takes its place within the larger story.”

“Don’t cold call with sin ie ‘lets talk about you, you are an abomination!’…They will respond ‘I don’t need once a week to be told how terrible I am’.”

Begin in Genesis 1 when everything was very good and shalom. Then people will see their part how it got messed up. If you start with “sin” then people just go “what? What are you talking about?

The end of the story is like the beginning:

It’s about heaven and earth coming together. I get concerned that some people will be on the way up as God is on the way down and they will pass in the air

(ie God is coming down to dwell here, rather than us going up to be with him -lets not be too busy trying to get up there to heaven, the deal is heave  coming down hear to earth).

“when we preach the resurrection there is the belief that something big is going down and it is happening right in the midst of the old creation”.

Rob bell makes the point that Shalom in Genesis 1 and 2 is several elements of peace. Its peace with God, peace with other people, peace with the earth, and peace with yourself. I think I have heard that before buts it a helpful reminder.

“The story is anticipating the coming day when heaven and earth are one again.”

He mentions the “triple bottom line” of People, Planet and Profit. It brings a consideration of  how your business effects people, the environment and it’s place in the vital and necessary task of helping organize/manage/steward creation.

We must not tell people how to escape the “soil” to get to a “spiritual place” or the business woman will think she is not in the game. She will think she is making money to give to people who are in the game but we are all involved in extending the kingdom in all we do. Making money is part of redistributing resources.

He made a couple of other intersting statments that I will note here:

“Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus and thinks he is the gardener!”

“heaven is where God is storing the earth’s future.”

I really liked this last section as it highlights the current nearness and touch-ability of the future unity of heaven and earth. It reminds me of the whole Bill Johnson emphasis of seeing the kingdom of God come now on earth as it is in heaven. It also means that what we are doing now can last. 1 Cor 3:14,15 talks about a mans work being tested by fire. Depending on how its built it might be “burnt up” or it might “survive“. It’s much more motivating doing something that will last. I am reminded of the old chorus: “I want to give my life, for something that will last forever”.

Many Rooms

I watched the Miracle Maker recently with my children. It’s a stop motion version of the life of Jesus (who is voiced by Ralph Fiennes) seen through the eyes Jairus’ daughter, who I think is called something like Tama in the film. At one point she dies and Jesus brings her back to life. At the end of the film, she is there when Jesus is giving his final instructions.

“Go through all the earth and make disciples of every nation. Baptise in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy Spirit. For the spirit will come upon you soon, the Spirit will come upon you. And I will be with you always. Even to the end of the world.”

Then Jesus disappears.

Another little girl is looking around for him, trying to find him. Tama says to her “Don’t be worried or upset” and quotes something Jesus had said earlier “In my father’s house there are many rooms.”

“In Capernaum?” asks the girl? “Yes” replies Tama, “in Capernaum, in Jerusalem and the whole world. The kingdom of God has come and he is with us forever.”

It occurred to me that she might be saying the rooms are churches and Jesus died to make the church possible. I have never thought of it that way. Jesus went to prepare a place not in a heavenly mansion but in earthly kingdom outposts.

I remember Terry Virgo preaching on John 14 saying that the emphasis was on the now rather than the later. It was a brilliant preach. His thesis was that Jesus is talking about going away and not leaving them as orphans. He emphasised that being a Christian was about being with Jesus. The disciples bought into Jesus. Not a religious code, not a philosophy, not a way of life, but being with Jesus. Jesus had asked them to follow him. That was it for them. Now he says he’s going away so where does that leave them?

“It’s ok”, says Jesus “I am going to come back to you”. “Oh, well”, they say, “that’s ok then”. Now if Jesus is talking about his second coming then their reassurance and relief evaporates. They are going to have to live the rest of their lives and die without Jesus after all. But what if Jesus meant what the disciples would have understood him to mean – that he was really coming back to be with them soon so they could continue their lives with him. As Jesus goes on its apparent that he would be present with them through the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings the presence of Jesus and gives them access to the Father. The rooms must be a now thing!

There is something else I have noticed here though. The context of the “many rooms” saying is John 14 which starts with “do not let your hearts be troubled”. (just like the little girl said)

Trust in God. Trust also in me. In my father’s house there are many rooms…I am going to prepare a place for you. …I  will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am going. You know the place where I am going“.

Thomas says “how can we know the way“. Jesus says “I am the way… if you know me you know my father“. Philip chips in “show us the father, that will really help us“. Jesus says “I am in the Father and the Father is in me….if you struggle to see that think about all the miracles“. Then comes a key miracle verse. We were just talking about it at a wedding a few days ago.

I love the way John 14:12 starts in the KJV. “Verily, verily“. In the NIV its “I tell you the truth“. In California it would be “Hey dude, check this out, its like totally awesome”. Then Jesus says “Anyone“. That’s a big word, let me look it up in the Greek (it’s almost 10pm, I’m exhausted but buzzing, don’t you just love the bible!!). Oh, there is no word for “person” in the Greek text or “man” or “anybody”. I don’t know enough Greek to translate the words properly but it’s translated “the person” in the KJV, and “whoever” in the ESV so it seems everyone is agreed that its “anyone who believes in me” or “the person who believes in me” so that’s ok. It’s anyone. (Maybe I should learn some Greek sometime).

Anyway its “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” What’s he been doing? He’s just been talking about miracles. Miracles is the nearest context to hand.  What’s next? “He will do even greater things than these”. Not lesser. Greater. It’s such a shame when people interpret this verse to mean “well, it will be lesser miracles but more of them“. That’s like saying “you’re going to run faster than Usain Bolt – well, over a 10 mile distance with him running the whole way and all of you doing it as a relay; running a 100 meters and handing the baton on to the next person.“. It sounds amazing at first, then it’s a bit of  a let down. To me Jesus is clearly saying “through faith in me, you, in fact anyone, will do greater things than I have been doing”. Turn over a few pages to the book of Acts and that’s just what’s going on. Peoples handkerchiefs are healing the sick, their shadows are falling on individuals and they are cured.

So we know it’s through faith in Jesus, in the name of Jesus you might say, but there is more. The reason why this will be possible (because faith in Jesus was possible right then) is “because I am going to the father.” What’s that about? It’s about the Holy Spirit being poured out. (“the Spirit…had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” John 7:39). Again that’s just what we find in Acts after Jesus has been glorified (“Father, the time has cone. Glorify your son” John 17:1) . Jesus leaves in Acts chapter 1, the Spirit is poured out in Acts chapter 2 and people start getting healed in Acts chapter 3. Awesome.

But we still have another dot to join. What about the “he in me and me in him” stuff? That was the evidence and result of Jesus being in the father and the father being in him. Now, I recon, that’s what happens when the Spirit is poured out. The Spirit is in us and on us and we are in him (well in Christ at least). The Spirit brings a unity between us and Jesus such that he is in us and we are in him (John 17:23, Rom 8:1 etc). Now what is the evidence and result of that? It’s just what Jesus has been saying. We do a whole bunch of amazing miracles and healings. If someone says “show us Jesus, prove hes real” we should be able to point to the miracles and say “look, heres in us by the Holy Spirit”.

Going back to whether the rooms are the church, even if they are not (maybe it’s a kingdom of God thing and we can’t quite bring the church into focus for sure), it really seems that it’s a “now” thing not a “much later thing”.  It reminds me of some of the stuff Rob Bell says in his  Poets/prophet/preachers seminars. He stresses the fact that heaven and earth are going to be together and that we live now in the light of that joining.

God’s been speaking to me a lot recently about being a conduit; a conductor, a ladder between heaven and earth bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.  Jesus himself said “the kingdom of God is at hand“. It’s not up there or way off in the future, its breaking out in the here through those willing to take hold of it. We pray “your kingdom come“. Bill Johnson emphasises the kingdom of heaven coming on earth particularly in the context of healing. In the context of the poor we and oppressed we don’t just say “hang on in their and wait till Jesus comes back” we help them, seeking to bring the kingdom of heaven in the here and now.

I’m still not sure if the rooms are the church. I’d like to think so.  It certainly makes you more focused on enjoying and advancing the kingdom now and emphasises the wonderful nature of the church as the house of God. Maybe the small groups are the rooms! In any case, I’m defiantly up for the greater things.

A lost art form – (Poets/prophets/preachers Part 1)

Rob Bell

I really enjoyed watching Rob bell’s “Everything is spiritual”, not simply because of what he said but more because of the way he said it. He is a great communicator. That’s why I am really enjoying his “Poets/prophets/preachers” seminars where he looks to inspire and equip people in the lost art of preaching.

I won’t post detailed notes (he talks for five hours!), just a few highlights.


The sermon is “its a brilliant primal art form”

“As the world gets more twitterised I believe that what’s going to happen more and more it actually people gather in an actual room which an actual person who has actual flesh and blood who is actually talking in real time, about things that actually matters and people actually hearing it and saying I was there and it did something.” Rob Bell

Wong responses to a sermon

  • For some people their posture to a sermon is whether they “liked” it or not.
  • Sometimes people say about a sermon “she did a good job“, to which his response is “yeh but how did you do, because the point was to listen and then do something with it

What if after Martin Luther King’s dream speech people responded “it was a bit long and I’ve heard some of those stories before”.

What people want from a sermon

“Be vulnerable and honest and personal but not too personal because this isn’t a therapy session and we need lots of bible but not too much because it has to relate to what’s happening in our lives and in the world today but it can’t be political and it has to be challenging and deep and significant and at the same time easy for everybody to understand and it has to be funny but not too funny because you’re not a comedian you’re a pastor and while you’re at it mix it up and try new things and don’t get it in a rut but make sure to be consistent and talk about your own struggles, but not too much because that’s depressing. And we love stories about your family. But not too many. That can be weird. Just be vulnerable and honest and…”

A sermon can be:

  • Gorilla theater to wake people up and get them to think. Leave the thinking.
  • A wake up call “your better than this”
  • A sub-version “there is another better story going on here, its not how it looks”
  • A warning “you’ve lost the plot” (my example)
  • An invitation
  • A Witness

“sometimes a sermon is straight up witness. If you don’t share it, speak it, tell it, point to it, express it, preach it, you’ll spontaneously combust.” You have witnessed something and you just have to share it. Jeremiah 20 “his word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones I am weary of holding it in, indeed I cannot”