Monday, December 29, 2008

Mars Hill visit

I was glad to have the opportunity - together with my family - to visit Mars Hill in Grand Rapids this morning.

Although Rob Bell wasn’t around today, having become a regular listener to the podcast and like many felt the benefit and influence of Rob’s writing & teaching it really was good to check out the community there. I’d been looking forward to it for some time, and the day didn’t disappoint.

Although I don’t want this to come across like some kind of Secret Worshipper/consumer test thang, I thought I’d outline a few impressions….they’re all good.

Today’s teaching came from Ed Dobson, sporting a spectacular beard of quite literally Biblical proportions. At first I surmised this was just Rev Dobson’s particular preferred fashion arrangement, but he unpacked a little of the back story as part of his oratory. We learned that Ed is coming towards the end of a year of living as closely as he could in line with the teachings, example and life patterns of Jesus. Local rag, The Grand Rapids Press gives it’s take on the story here. It’s worth the read.

Aside from the fascinating facial hair story, Ed spoke powerfully from Luke 1v67-79.

Look out for the podcast at the Mars Hill site in due course

Above and beyond the Teaching and the Worship, a few things that impressed me:

• The unassuming building that somehow reflected the character of the Church
• The genuinely warm welcome from individual folks, despite the size – I guess about 3,000 people – of the congregation. It felt authentic and unstaged
• The obvious attention to detail right across the board. All the handout materials were well displayed plentiful, easy to understand, aesthetically pleasing and consistent
• Good coffee, in eco friendly cups!

God bless Mars Hill. It was a pleasure to drop by.

Baruch El-Elyon!

HT to Grand Rapids Press/Emily Zoladz for the Ed Dobson pic

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Peace of Jesus

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

May you and yours feel the peace of Jesus this CHRISTmas time...



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Empty Church?

HT to Dana and Chris for the heads up about this post about Empty Churches on Billy Ritchie’s blog.

A couple of paragraphs caught my attention:

Now the church is more than a building its people but somehow I think that one of the reasons these churches are empty is because they stopped serving their community a long time ago.

How about us all looking at this a different way. At the same time as this decline there is also stories of growth all over the country. Many churches taking on building projects. What if we all forgot denominational divides and gifted each other property. What if a church on the edge of closure struggling to keep up a building were to find a church that was bursting at the seams and say here is your answer.

….some really interesting things to think about.

Thanks, Billy


This little fellah was wandering around in our office car park a few minutes ago....our London, densely urban, gated office buildings.

Slow down

I’ve become interested in the slow movement over the last year or two, as I often struggle to justify and see the real core benefits of the extraordinary pace of urban life these days. Quite regularly it feels like the wheels could fall off at any given moment.

With this in mind, it was good to have an article from the excellent online ‘zine Worldchanging bounced over to me via Twitter flagging a book by Carl HonorĂ©, In Praise of Slow…something I have to check out.

There’s another site you might want to visit that focuses on the SlowHome. Lots of interesting bits about healthy vibrant neighbo(u)rhood, beautiful eco design and architecture.

In a not entirely unrelated piece in London’s throwaway freebie commuter rag this morning , the METRO listed Michael Pollan’s In Defense Of Food as one of it’s Food Books of the Year. Although I can’t say it’s a maxim I’ve wholeheartedly adopted yet, Pollan’s
“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants”
mantra has a lot to be said for it. Maybe a good New Year Resolution for me.

Also, anyone who champions the idea of leisurely meals in the company of friends as the way forward gets my vote!

Friday, December 05, 2008


Now this is a site worth exploring!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

My tribe

Thanks to Chris at This Fragile Tent for giving me the heads up about this Salvation Army Christmas appeal ad

Isaiah 58 (The Message)

“What I’m interested in seeing you do is:

Sharing your food with the hungry,
Inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
Putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
Being available to your own familes.

Do this and the lights will turn on,
And your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say “Here I am”

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Luke 4

This little story has been brewing for a while…

Once a month – usually the second Sunday - Janet & I get together with some friends, have some lunch together and share what’s been going on in our lives over the previous weeks and look at Scripture.


On the second Sunday afternoon in November we looked at Luke 4 as part of a DVD we’ve been using as a starting point for our discussion.


The following Monday morning, I received the week’s overview of a daily e-mail I receive from Ian Adams:

Greetings morning bell people

The Church is in the 'kingdom' season this month. This time encourages us to look for the new thing that God is doing, to seek God's better-world-now breaking in and breaking out all around us, even to open ourselves up to somehow becoming a sign of that state of 'shalom'.

This week’s morning bell will take as its starting point an insight into Jesus’ own sense of God's new thing being done in and around him, as told by the Gospel writer Luke. You can find the passage in Luke 4.

Pace bene!
…then I received the first of the week’s daily “Morning Bell” e-mails working through some thoughts inspired by Luke 4, outlined here from The Message:

Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, "You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place."


On the way to the Office on that same Monday, I randomly selected a podcast to listen to on the train….Mars HillWalter Brueggemann, journeying through Isaiah, in that wonderful expansive raspy passionate way he has when teaching. Brueggemann made reference to the passage in Isaiah 61, which Jesus recalls in Luke 4, as he quotes scripture.

...again from my most regularly read version, The Message...

Isaiah 61

Announce Freedom to All Captives
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn..


I’d excitedly been sharing this increasingly consistent series of prods with my friends from our Small Group, by firing off an e-mail each time another one came along.

Here’s the one reply I received from one of those friends:

Was listening to Premier yesterday and the thought read during one of the shows was Isaiah 61 v 1 couldn't believe it almost word for word Luke 4 v 18…


Then, last night I was noodling away on Youtube, having seen a little vid by Rick McKinley of Imago Dei in Portland who had been the target of my search, and found one of the clips of Bono and Bill Hybels, and ……whaddyaknow? It’s those passages again!

Check out the vid:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Check out this little bitty promo vid for an upcoming show, which features - among others - my blogging buddy, top man...Pernell Goodyear of the Freeway in Hamilton ON.

Monday, December 01, 2008


I’ve been really struggling to keep pace with the blog lately. I’ve had thoughts to share and things to say but haven’t been able find the time to tap away at the keyboard and get them added.

So, with that in mind, here’s a bit of a round up:

1. I’ve been meaning to spread the word about this positive and inspirational post by my good buddy and Grumpy Old Git, Andy Greig. I’ve known Andy and his family since we were young kids, so it’s been painful to see him go through such a heavy thing, and wonderful to see him coming out the other side.
2. Glad to hear via Alan Hirsch’s blog that his new book with Mike Frost – ReJesus – has been released in the US. Hoping to pick a copy up when I visit the States for Christmas.
3. It’s been good to hook up (at least in a cyber-stylee) with Chris & Dana Byers of Lifechurch.TV here in London.

Maybe in the New Year we can turn the virtual to actual, and we get a chance to meet over a coffee.
4. A few changes due to the johnnylaird blogroll: Stewart Cutler will go in, as will the other good people from my Twitter tribe who blog; namely Rob G-T, Theresa, Alex and John.
Then there are a few good friends, whose input to the blogosphere has dried up, so they’ll come off the blogroll.
5. While I’m talking about Twitter; it’s interesting that there’s a little bit of a local connection thing happening for me there, where guys who live in our around my little home town are slowly connecting via Twitter. Hi guys!
6. Although I’ve mentioned Something Beautiful before, I wanted to give a little shout out to JB & Thomas to say thanks for the consistently good content they are putting out. A weekly podcast with co-presenters working on opposite sides of the pond is some undertaking, especially when JB & Thomas have daytime jobs, families and all manner of community & tribal connections to maintain, and the guys do it…beautifully. Big up Something Beautiful!
7. ABC Pastor and Randy Bohlender have moved and spruced up their blogs a little. If you don’t know these guys - and even if you – it’s worth checking out their stuff; always fresh & thought provoking.

I’m sure there’s more to say, but that will have to be for another time.

In the words of my blogging buddy, Ian Adams

Pace Bene!