Posts Tagged "grace"

Our Deepest Regrets: To the Judas within…

Posted by on Jul 14, 2024 in Blog | 6 comments

I get to preach on Judas Iscariot this week. Yup – I drew the short straw. Sure, someone has to do it, but how do you inspire a congregation with someone who is more infamous than Hitler? “With great difficulty”, I hear you reply – and fair enough. Jonathan Sacks has rightly noted that the Bible is unusual in ancient literature in that its heroes have flaws and its villains have virtues. That’s in stark contrast to the lazy triumphalism that was common for the time. But does it apply to Judas? There is no doubt he was a villain – his kiss of betrayal...

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Effort, Excellence, and Exclusion: Three challenging “E” words…

Posted by on Jun 16, 2024 in Blog | 20 comments

I’ve been fortunate enough to have pastored churches which grew. And I loved the challenge each brought – adding new buildings, enlarging the staff, seeing people grow in their love for Jesus and each other. But each time we came up against what I call the “effort, excellence and exclusion dilemma”. What happens when we grow to a point where what used to be good enough, no longer meets the required standard? To be clear, while much of my life is lived within the broad parameters of the church, the issue is far wider. It’s when the amateur dance teacher has a...

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Cross-carrying or rest? The Matthew 10:38 and 11:28 paradox.

Posted by on Mar 10, 2024 in Blog | 4 comments

In a church I served as pastor, several leaders from the church would meet for prayer before each service. Though sincere, the prayers were predictably repetitious and I’d often be able to pick what someone would pray before they said it. One favourite was the request that God would “comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” It’s kinda clever, though now I’ve heard it in so many places I realise it didn’t have the originality I initially ascribed to it. It points to an interesting little paradox. Are churches about comforting disturbed people, or...

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Why not try framing…

Posted by on Jan 7, 2024 in Blog | 0 comments

In his insightful book The Remarkable Ordinary, Frederick Buechner observes that artists get us to see things by putting a frame around them, effectively saying, “stop and notice me”. Often it is with very ordinary things, a flower, a bowl of fruit, a human face. The artist puts a frame around it and our attention is drawn, and we notice beauty and mystery in new ways. Buechner goes on to suggest that we should put frames around little moments of our life, and then stop, look, and listen to what they are saying to us. I’m trying to put his suggestion into practice, pausing...

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Sabbath as restoring or restorying?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2023 in Blog | 1 comment

Perhaps the title of this post is a little too clever, but it started as a throw away question in a podcast I was half listening to while going through my paces at the gym. My location is important, as it meant I was trying to follow a thoughtful discussion whilst gasping for breath and wondering if I would still be alive in ten minutes. In other words, I might well have missed the subtlety of the argument, but it did set me thinking. So what was the speaker getting at when asking if the Sabbath is primarily about restoring or restorying? I think the implication was that when most people...

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