The slimmer’s gospel

Jonny Woodrow shows how the framework of creation, fall, redemption and consummation can be used to connect the stories of our culture with the gospel story. He applies this approach to slimming and dieting.

Jonny is a church planter with The Crowded House ( and a tutor for the Northern Training Institute ( This video clip is from the 2010 Total Church Conference in Sheffield, UK. The full conference media are available here.

Thursday Review: The Prodigal DVD by Tim Keller

A review of Tim Keller, The Prodigal God: Finding Your Place at the Table DVD purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US and Discussion Guide purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, Zondervan, 2009.

I can’t praise this resource too much – it’s magnificent. The presentation of the DVD is beautiful and the content is dynamite. Even though I was familiar with the material from sermon mp3s and the book, I cried as I watched – twice!

The heart of this resource is a 40-minute DVD presentation. In effect it’s the movie version of Tim Keller’s book, The Prodigal God purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US. Keller stands on a stage with an empty auditorium. His only props are a table and two chairs. The layout of the table and the location of the chairs change as the talks unfolds. It’s all very simple, but beautifully done. The production values are superb. Imagine the best of a Keller sermon combined with a Nooma video and you’ll have a good idea what it’s like.

The DVD works very well as a stand alone resource. But there’s also six-session discussion guide that accompanies the DVD and book. Session one is the 40-minute DVD with a few response questions. After that the discussion guide is based on the book supplemented by short extracts for the DVD. There are 6-10 questions in each session, many inviting people to comment on a quote from the book.

It’s a resource for everyone. The 40-minute presentation is as good a one-off evangelical presentation as any I know. I’m salivating at the prospect of using it with unbelievers. But the material is also of vital importance for Christians, especially those with a legalistic bent (and I suspect that’s all of us). And it is so powerfully presented. I would also recommend pastors to watch it. We shouldn’t try to copy Keller – we must be ourselves – but we can learn a huge amount from him for our preaching, both in terms of content and style.

I know many pastors who’ve been hugely impacted by Keller’s ministry. This is your chance to share Keller with the non-reading members of your congregation!

It’s my top resource from 2009.

Click on the appropriate flag to purchase the DVD purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US, book purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US or discussion guide purchase from Amazon UK purchase from Amazon US.

Here’s a sample …

For more resources go to

Bookmark and Share

Video: mission as identity

Here’s the video of my talk at Lead09 on ‘mission as identity’.

The final session of Lead09 was an open session and so less suited to interaction. As I wanted to allow plenty of interaction during my session on ‘mission as lifestyle’, I spoke on ‘mission as identity’ in my fourth session even though logically it provides the foundation for my third talk on ‘mission as lifestyle’. I’ve reverted to the logically order in posting these videos. All the video and audio from Lead09 is available online here.

Bookmark and Share

More thoughts on fasting

Some time ago I posted on fasting. Here are some more thoughts …

1. Fasting better enables to enjoy food with gratitude

Fasting reminds us we are creatures. We are not self-existent. As the hunger pains bite, we recognise with gratitude and prayer:

  • Our dependance on creation for existence. We are intimately bound together with the rest of creation. We depend on seasons, rainfall and harvests – something those of us in cities whose food comes from supermarkets are prone to forget.
  • Our dependence on community for existence. We are intimately bound together with other people. We depend on countless people across the world who produce, gather, process, transport and sell our food. We learn again to value then and give thanks to God for them.
  • Our dependence on God for existence. He provides our daily bread and our every breathe. And so we pray again, ‘Give us today our daily bread.’

One of the dangers of fasting is that we despise food and think of it as unspiritual when food is God’s good gift to be received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5). But I suggest that many of us have lost much of our ability to appreciate food because we over-consume. We miss the joy of satisfaction because we are perpetually satisfied. We are still full from one meal when we tuck into the next. Fasting is any opportunity to rediscover the joy of simple food received as a gift from God.

2. Medicating on sugar, salt and fat – or the living God

When we in the western world have emotional needs many of us turn to food for refuge. We self-medicate with food. The result is ill-health and weight gain. The result is an over-consumption of the world’s resources that contributes to the hunger of other people. And every time we miss the opportunity to turn to God. We don’t live by bread alone. We need God in our lives so that life without God is an empty life. And we cannot fill that emptiness with food. Fasting helps re-oriente us away from self-medication through food towards finding refuge in God. We particularly we turn to foods high in sugar, salt and fat. These consitute our comfort foods. We find comfort in sugar, salt and fat. Sugar, salt and fat instead of the living God. We must be mad! Fasting helps restore our sanity.

Bookmark and Share

Food and Salvation in the Prophecy of Joel

Food is central to the vision of Joel, defining both judgment and salvation.

I think of my own gospel community. A dozen or so people of all ages and backgrounds, eating together on a Thursday night around the table, enjoying simple food yet relishing it (as we do) as a good gift from God, celebrating together what the Spirit has been doing in our lives, praying for the needs of the world, discussing how we can bless our neighbourhood in Christ’s name – this is a fulfilment of Joel’s promised feast.

In chapter 1 Joel describes an invading army of locusts. Verse 4 describes them as locusts and verse 6 as an army. It’s unclear whether the locusts or the army are metaphorical. Is it a plague of locusts like an army or an army like a plague of locusts? What is clear is their impact on the diet of God’s people!

Continue reading