New book: The Promises of God

For as long as I can remember my father has had a plaster bust of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) in his study. Like my father and I, Spurgeon was a Reformed Baptist pastor, and Spurgeon has always been one of our heroes. When, in 2017, my father preached his last sermon, he passed the bust on to me. So, as I write these words, Spurgeon is looking down on me.

Known as “the Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon attracted large crowds, often speaking to over ten thousand people at a time before the days of amplification. His preaching was characterized by the directness of his address and the vividness of his language. In 1861, his congregation moved to the specially-built Metropolitan Tabernacle with seating for five thousand people and standing room for a further thousand. It would remain his base for the next thirty-eight years until his death in 1892.

Spurgeon founded a pastor’s college to train church planters, opposed slave ownership, and opened an orphanage. He also fiercely opposed liberal theology. He paid a price for this work load and the controversies it brought, suffering for many years physically with gout and emotionally with depression. It is to these struggles that he alludes in his preface for this volume.

Spurgeon reached a still wider audience through his writings. His sermons were transcribed by stenographers as he spoke and on sale for a penny the following day. Among his many works was The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith.

It was not Spurgeon’s first book of daily devotional readings. In 1865, he published Morning by Morning, followed three years later by Evening by Evening. Soon they were combined into Morning and Evening, selling over 230,000 copies during his lifetime and many more since. Twenty years or so later Spurgeon wrote The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith as a follow-up. And this was my father’s favourite. He used to read it to our family during my childhood.

In The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith, Spurgeon likens the promises of God in the Bible to checks (or “cheques” as Spurgeon himself would have spelled it). A check is a promise in written form. It promises to give the recipient the stated sum whenever they present it at a bank. The promises of God, says Spurgeon, are like checks waiting to be cashed in “the bank of faith.”

In 2003, Crossway published an edition of Morning and Evening updated by Alistair Begg using the English Standard Version of the Bible. I have taken the liberty of doing the same with The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith. I have replaced archaic words, shortened sentences, used modern word ordering, and added references to biblical allusions. I have also changed the title to The Promises of God, partly because checks are becoming dated and partly to prevent a fight with my publishers over the spelling of “cheque” (the UK spelling) and “check” (the US spelling)! Apart from this the content is the same. Only occasionally have I retained an archaic phrase to retain the poetic power of the original text. My aim has been to let Spurgeon speak to a new generation. Why? Not as an historical curiosity. But so the promise-making and promise-keeping God of the Bible speak words of comfort to his people. As Spurgeon says in his preface: “I have written out of my own heart with the view of comforting their hearts … May the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, inspire the people of the Lord with fresh faith!”

The Promises of God is available here: http://smarturl.it/promisesofgod

#spurgeon

#thepromisesofgod

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New book: John Stott on The Church – introduction and extract

It’s been a great privilege to be involved in giving a new lease of life to John Stott’s great book, The Contemporary Christian, which is being reissued as a series of five short books on 20 June 2019. I was asked to provide a light edit of Stott’s work (removing dated references and discussions) and to add reflection questions to help readers think through the application today. The five books are:

The Gospel: A Life-Changing Message

The Disciple: A Calling to be Christlike

The Bible: A Book Like No Other

The Church: A Unique Gathering of People

The World: A Mission to be Accomplished

Or you can buy all five books for the price of four if you use this link.

(Also look out for my volume on John Stott in Crossway’s Theologians of the Christian Lifeseries which is coming out in June 2020.) 

Introducing The Church: A Unique Gathering of People

Stott begins the volume on The Church with a great example of his double listening (listening to both the world and the word). He explores some of the longings of our culture (for transcendence, significance and community) before showing how each of these is fulfilled in the life of the church (or should be). He then shows how, for both theological and pragmatic reasons, the church should be the main context for evangelism, before exploring the steps required to make this a reality. Then, in a reflection on John 17, Stott argues that church renewal needs to bring together a commitment to the truth, holiness, mission and unity. Finally he argues for a pastoral model of church leadership.

Here’s an extract in which Stott explains how the church must understand itself aright if it is to be an effective centre of evangelism (with footnotes and citations removed).

Many churches are sick because they have a false self-image. They have grasped neither who they are (their identity) nor what they are called to be (their vocation). We all know the importance of an accurate self-image for good mental health. What is true of persons is equally true of churches.

At least two false images of the church are prevalent today. The first false image is the religious club (or introverted Christianity). According to this view, the local church resembles the local golf club, except that the common interest of its members happens to be God rather than golf. They see themselves as religious people who enjoy doing religious things together. They pay their subscription and reckon they are entitled to certain privileges. In fact, they concentrate on the status and advantages of being club members. They have forgotten – or never known – that, as Archbishop William Temple put it, ‘The church is the only co­operative society in the world which exists for the benefit of its non­members.’ Instead, they are completely introverted, like an ingrown toenail. To be sure, Temple was guilty of a slight exaggeration, for church members do have a responsibility to each other, as the many ‘one another’ verses of the New Testament indicate (‘love one another’, ‘encourage one another’, ‘bear one another’s burdens’, etc.). Nevertheless, our primary responsibilities are our worship of God and our mission in the world.

At the opposite extreme to the religious club is the secular mission (or religionless Christianity). In the twentieth century some Christian thinkers became exasperated by the self-centredness of the church. It seemed to them so absorbed in its own petty domestic affairs that they resolved to abandon it. For the arena of divine service they exchanged the church for the secular city. They were no longer interested in ‘worship services’, they said, but only in ‘worship service’. So they tried to develop a ‘religionless Christianity’ in which they reinterpreted worship as mission, love for God as love for neighbour, and prayer to God as encounter with people. A similar movement of ‘post­evangelicals’ or the ‘emerging church’ abandoned traditional congregations in favour of unstructured Christian com­ munities with a focus on neighbourhood transformation.

How should we evaluate such movements? Their distaste for selfish religion is surely right. Since it is nauseating to God, it ought to sicken us as well. But the concept of ‘religionless Christianity’ is an unbalanced overreaction. The message of the gospel cannot be adjusted to suit modern sensibilities. And we have no liberty to confuse worship and mission, even though (as we have seen) each involves the other. There is always an element of mission in worship and of worship in mission, but they are not synonymous.

There is a third way to understand the church, which combines what is true in both false images, and which recognizes that we have a responsibility both to worship God and to serve the world. This is the double identity of the church (or incarnational Christianity). By its ‘double identity’ I mean that the church is a people who have been both called out of the world to worship God and sent back into the world to witness and serve. These are, in fact, two of the classical ‘marks’ of the church. According to the first, the church is ‘holy’, called out to belong to God and to worship him. According to the second, the church is ‘apostolic’, sent out into the world on its mission. The church is to be simultaneously ‘holy’ (distinct from the world) and ‘worldly’ (not in the sense of assimilating the world’s values, but in the sense of renouncing other­worldliness and instead becoming immersed in the life of the world). Dr Alec Vidler captured this double identity by referring to its ‘holy worldliness’.

Nobody has ever exhibited ‘holy worldliness’ better than our Lord Jesus Christ himself. His incarnation is the perfect embodiment of it. On the one hand, he came to us in our world, and assumed the full reality of our humanness. He made himself one with us in our frailty, and exposed himself to our temptations. He fraternized with the common people, and they flocked round him eagerly. He welcomed everybody and shunned nobody. He identified with our sorrows, our sins and our death. On the other hand, in mixing freely with people like us, he never sacrificed or compromised his own unique identity. His was the perfection of ‘holy worldliness’.

And now he sends us into the world as he was sent into the world.We have to penetrate other people’s worlds, as he penetrated ours – the world of their thinking (as we struggle to understand their misunderstandings of the gospel), the world of their feeling (as we try to empathize with their pain), and the world of their living (as we sense the humiliation of their social situation, whether that is poverty, homelessness, unemployment or discrimination). Archbishop Michael Ramsey put it well: ‘We state and commend the faith only insofar as we go out and put ourselves with loving sympathy inside the doubts of the doubter, the questions of the questioner, and the loneliness of those who have lost the way.’Yet this costly entry into other people’s worlds is not to be undertaken at the expense of our own Christian integrity. We are called to maintain the standards of Jesus Christ untarnished.

Seldom in its long history has the church managed to preserve its God­given double identity of holy worldliness. Instead, it has tended to oscillate between the two extremes. Sometimes (in an overemphasis on its holiness) the church has withdrawn from the world and so has neglected its mission. At other times (in an overemphasis on its worldliness) it has conformed to the world, assimilating its views and values, and so has neglected its holiness. But to fulfil its mission, the church must faithfully respond to both its callings, and preserve both parts of its identity.

‘Mission’ arises, then, from the biblical doctrine of the church in the world. If we are not ‘the church’, the holy and distinct people of God, we have nothing to say because we are compromised. If, on the other hand, we are not ‘in the world’, deeply involved in its life and suffering, we have no­one to serve because we are insulated. Our calling is to be ‘holy’ and ‘worldly’ at the same time. Without this balanced biblical ecclesiology we will never recover or fulfil our mission.

@SPCKPublishing

New book: John Stott on The Bible – introduction and extract

It’s been a great privilege to be involved in giving a new lease of life to John Stott’s great book, The Contemporary Christian, which is being reissued as a series of five short books on 20 June 2019. I was asked to provide a light edit of Stott’s work (removing dated references and discussions) and to add reflection questions to help readers think through the application today. The five books are:

The Gospel: A Life-Changing Message

The Disciple: A Calling to be Christlike

The Bible: A Book Like No Other

The Church: A Unique Gathering of People

The World: A Mission to be Accomplished

Or you can buy all five books for the price of four if you use this link.

(Also look out for my volume on John Stott in Crossway’s Theologians of the Christian Lifeseries which is coming out in June 2020.) 

Introducing The Bible: A Book Like No Other

The volume on The Bible is a fascinating example of the very thing Stott advocates. In the opening chapter he expounds 2 Timothy 3-4 to call us to continue in the word. And his exposition show how contemporary the Bible remains. Is this passage addressed to the first century or the twenty-first century? Stott’s treatment very much makes it feel like both. Stott then shows how responding to the word is vital for every aspect of our discipleship and ministry.

In chapter 3 Stott provides a brilliant discussion on how we interpret the Bible in a very different culture to one in which it was written. He calls for what he describes as transposition. ‘In musical transposition the tune and harmonization remain the same; only the key is different. In biblical transposition the truth of the revelation remains the same; only the cultural expression is different.’

Finally Stott offers a summary of his approach to preaching. This involves an explanation his definition of preaching: ‘To preach is to open up the inspired text with such faithfulness and sensitivity that God’s voice is heard and God’s people obey him.’ If you’ve read Stott’s book on preaching (I Believe in Preaching in the UK or Between Two Worlds in the US) then this will be great reminder. If you’ve not, then this is required reading, especially if you’re preacher.

Here’s an extract in which Stott links fidelity to Scripture with humility. It’s an argument he often employed against liberal theology which he saw as an attempt subvert the lordship of Christ exercised through his word.

Submission to the authority of Scripture is the way of personal Christian humility. Nothing is more obnoxious in those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ than arrogance, and nothing is more appropriate or attractive than humility. And an essential element in Christian humility is the willingness to hear and receive God’s Word. Perhaps the greatest of all our needs is to take our place again humbly, quietly and expectantly at the feet of Jesus Christ, in order to listen attentively to his Word, and to believe and obey it. For we have no freedom to disbelieve or disobey him.

The ultimate issue before us and the whole church is whether Jesus Christ is Lord (as we say he is) or not. The question is whether Christ is Lord of the church (to teach and command it), or the church is lord of Christ (to edit and manipulate his teaching). In the contemporary crisis of authority in the world, and loss of authority in the church, my plea is that we return to a humble submission to Scripture as God’s Word. We must submit to Scripture out of a humble submission to Jesus Christ as Lord, who himself humbly submitted to Scripture in his own faith, life, mission and teaching.

In so doing, we will find the way of mature discipleship and intellectual integrity, the way to unite churches and evangelize the world, and the way to express a proper humility before our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what I mean by the ‘wholesomeness’ of submitting to the authority of Scripture.

@SPCKPublishing

New book: John Stott on The Disciple – introduction and extract

It’s been a great privilege to be involved in giving a new lease of life to John Stott’s great book, The Contemporary Christian, which is being reissued as a series of five short books on 20 June 2019. I was asked to provide a light edit of Stott’s work (removing dated references and discussions) and to add reflection questions to help readers think through the application today. The five books are:

The Gospel: A Life-Changing Message

The Disciple: A Calling to be Christlike

The Bible: A Book Like No Other

The Church: A Unique Gathering of People

The World: A Mission to be Accomplished

Or you can buy all five books for the price of four if you use this link.

(Also look out for my volume on John Stott in Crossway’s Theologians of the Christian Lifeseries which is coming out in June 2020.) 

Introducing The Disciple: A Calling to be Christlike

In The Disciple Stott argues that discipleship begins with listening – listening first and foremost to God, but also to one another and to the world around. In the second chapter Stott expounds one of the characteristic features of his theology – the importance of the mind. He also speaks of the importance of the emotions in spiritual experience, public worship, gospel preaching, and social and pastoral ministry. Nevertheless he maintains the priority of the mind for ‘the mind controls the emotions’. Chapter 3 on guidance, vocation and ministry summarises a common theme in Stott’s ministry, namely the need to bring our faith to bear on every aspect of life and especially for Christians to see their careers as a context in which they serve Christ. This volume ends with a delightful meditation on the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Stott says this is a ‘biblical text that has come to mean much to me’. It is one which he recited every morning.

Here’s an extract in which Stott laments the restriction of the term ‘ministry’ to pastoral ministry when it should refer to the work of every Christian (with footnotes and citations removed).

All Christians without exception are called to ministry. Indeed, we are to give our lives in ministry. Ministry is not the privilege of a small elite, but of all the disciples of Jesus. You will have noticed that I did not say that all Christians are called to the ministry, but to ministry, diakonia, service. We do a great dis- service to the Christian cause whenever we refer to being a pastor as being in ‘the ministry’. For we give the impression that pastoral ministry is the only ministry there is, much as medieval churchmen regarded the priesthood as the only (or at least the most ‘spiritual’) vocation there is. Whenever somebody says in my presence that ‘so-and-so is going into the ministry’, I always ask innocently, ‘Oh really? Which ministry do you mean?’ If they reply, as they often do, ‘The pastoral ministry’, then I come back with the gentle complaint, ‘Then why didn’t you say so?!’ The fact is that the word ‘ministry’ is a generic term which lacks specificity until we add an adjective.

I come back to my first proposition that all Christians without exception are called to ministry. How can I make such a dogmatic statement? Because of Jesus Christ. His lordship over us has a vocational dimension. Since he is ‘the servant’ par excellence, who gave himself without reserve to the service of God and human beings, it would be impossible to be his disciple without seeking to follow his example of service. He preached the kingdom, healed the sick, fed the hungry, befriended the friendless, championed the oppressed, comforted the bereaved, sought the lost and washed his apostles’ feet. No task was too demanding, and no ministry too menial, for him to undertake. He lived his life and died his death in complete self-forgetful service. Shall we not imitate him? The world measures greatness by success; Jesus measures it by service …

I was brought up as a young Christian to think of different vocations or ministries as forming a hierarchy or pyramid. Perched precariously at the top of the pyramid was the cross-cultural mis- sonar. They were our heroes. I was taught that if I was really out and out for Christ, then I would undoubtedly join their ranks overseas. If I was not as keen as that, I would stay at home and be a pastor. If I did not aspire even to that, I would probably become a doctor or a teacher. But if I were to go into business, politics or the media, then I would not be far from backsliding! Please do not misunderstand me. It is a wonderful privilege to be a missionary or a pastor, if God calls us to it. But it is equally wonderful to be a Christian lawyer, industrialist, politician, manager, social worker, television script-writer, journalist or home-maker, if God calls us to it. According to Romans 13:4 an official of the state (whether legislator, magistrate or police officer) is just as much a ‘minister of God’ (diakonos theou) as a pastor. It is the hierarchy we have to reject; the pyramid we have to demolish.

There is still, of course, an urgent need for missionaries – people who are characterized above all by humility. We need missionaries with the humility to repent of cultural imperialism and identify with another culture, the humility to work under national church leader- ship, the humility to serve people’s felt needs (social as well as evangelistic), and the humility to rely on the Holy Spirit as the chief communicator.World evangelization remains at the top of the church’s agenda. Pastors also are greatly needed to teach the Word of God.

At the same time, there is a crying need for Christians who see their daily work as their primary Christian ministry and who are determined to penetrate their secular environment for Christ.

Christians are needed in business and industry who see ‘service to the public’ as the first goal on their ‘mission’ statement, who make bold experiments in working relations, worker participation and profit-sharing, and who accept their responsibility to produce an annual ‘social audit’ alongside their annual financial audit.

Christian politicians are needed to identify the major injustices in their society, refuse to come to terms with them, and determine to secure legislative change, however long it takes. And Christian economists are needed to find ways of both creating and sharing wealth.

Christian film-makers are needed to produce not only overtly Christian or evangelistic films, but also wholesome films which indirectly commend Christian values, and so honour Christ.

More Christian doctors are needed who, in co-operation with moral theologians, face the contemporary challenges of medical ethics and develop ways of maintaining the uniquely Christian vision of the human person and the human family.

Dedicated Christian teachers are needed, in both Christian and secular schools, who count it a privilege to serve their students and help them develop their full God-given potential.

And more Christian social workers are needed who, in their concern for those with mental and physical disabilities, abused children, drug-abusers, Aids victims and others, combine the latest medical treatment and social care with Christian love, believing prayer and church support.

@SPCKPublishing

New book: John Stott on The Gospel – introduction and extract

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1783599286/ref=nosim?tag=timche-21It’s been a great privilege to be involved in giving a new lease of life to John Stott’s great book, The Contemporary Christian, which is being reissued as a series of five short books on 20 June 2019. I was asked to provide a light edit of Stott’s work (removing dated references and discussions) and to add reflection questions to help readers think through the application today. The five books are:

The Gospel: A Life-Changing Message

The Disciple: A Calling to be Christlike

The Bible: A Book Like No Other

The Church: A Unique Gathering of People

The World: A Mission to be Accomplished

Or you can buy all five books for the price of four if you use this link.

(Also look out for my volume on John Stott in Crossway’s Theologians of the Christian Lifeseries which is coming out in June 2020.) 

Introducing The Gospel: A Life-Changing Message

Stott begins The Gospel which a description of the problem for which the gospel is the solution. Under the title ‘The Human Paradox’ he provides a masterful explanation of both the glory of our humanity as those made in God’s image and our depravity as those ruined by sin. Then Stott turns to the promise of the gospel. He argues that the gospel theme that most readily connects with the aspiration of our culture is that of freedom. This means both freedom from guilt, self-centeredness and fear, but also more positively freedom ‘to be our true selves, as God made us and meant us to be’. Stott then shows how this freedom is secured for is by Christ in chapters on the significance of his cross and resurrection.

Stott ends with a magnificent exposition of the lordship of Christ. The statement ‘Jesus is Lord’ might sound pretty harmless at first, he says, but it expresses our conviction that Jesus is God and Saviour, and this involves a radical commitment which shapes every area of our lives:

  • intellectual (bringing our minds under Christ’s yoke);
  • moral (accepting his standards and obeying his commands);
  • vocational (spending our lives in his liberating service);
  • social (seeking to penetrate society with his values);
  • political (refusing to idolize any human institution);
  • global (being jealous for the honour and glory of his name).

Here’s an extract from the book. In fact, this is one of my personal favourite passages from all of Stott’s writing. In it he writes beautifully of the nature of true freedom. (Footnotes and citations have been removed).

It is this question of what we are set free for by Christ that we need to pursue. The principle is this: true freedom is freedom to be our true selves, as God made us and meant us to be. How can this principle be applied?

We must begin with God himself. Have you ever considered that God is the only being who enjoys perfect freedom? You could argue that he is not free. For his freedom is certainly not absolute in the sense that he can do absolutely anything. Scripture itself tells us that he cannot lie, tempt or be tempted, or tolerate evil.Nevertheless, God’s freedom is perfect in the sense that he is free to do absolutely anything that he wills to do. God’s freedom is freedom to be always entirely himself. There is nothing arbitrary, moody, capricious or unpredictable about him. He is constant, steadfast, unchanging. In fact, the main thing Scripture says he ‘cannot’ do (cannot because he will not) is contradict himself. ‘He cannot deny himself.’To do this would not be freedom, but self-destruction. God finds his freedom in being himself, his true self.

What is true of God the Creator is also true of all created things and beings. Absolute freedom, freedom unlimited, is an illusion. If it is impossible for God (which it is), it is most certainly impossible for God’s creation. God’s freedom is freedom to be himself; our freedom is freedom to be ourselves. The freedom of every creature is limited by the nature which God has given it.

Take fish. God created fish to live and thrive in water. Their gills are adapted to absorb oxygen from water. Water is the only element in which a fish can find its ‘fishiness’, its identity as a fish, its fulfilment, its freedom. True, it is limited to water, but in that limitation is liberty. Supposing you keep a tropical fish at home. It lives not in a modern, rectangular, aerated tank, but in one of those old-fashioned, Victorian, spherical goldfish bowls. And supposing your fish swims round and round its bowl until it finds its frustration unbearable. So it decides to make a bid for freedom and leaps out of its confinement. If somehow it manages to leap into a pond in your garden, it will increase its freedom. It is still in water, but there is more water to swim in. If instead it lands on the carpet, then its attempt to escape spells not freedom, but death.

What, then, about human beings? If fish were made for water, what are human beings made for? I think we have to answer that if water is the element in which fish find their fishiness, then the element in which humans find their humanness is love, the relationships of love …

True love, however, places constraints on the lover, for love is essentially self-giving. And this brings us to a startling Christian paradox. True freedom is freedom to be my true self, as God made me and meant me to be. And God made me for loving. But loving is giving, self-giving. Therefore, in order to be myself, I have to deny myself and give myself. In order to be free, I have to serve. In order to live, I have to die to my own self-centredness. In order to find myself, I have to lose myself in loving.

True freedom is, then, the exact opposite of what many people think. It is not being free from responsibility to God and others so I can live for myself. That is bondage to my own self-centredness. Instead, true freedom is freedom from my silly little self so I can live responsibly in love for God and others …

Jesus … said, ‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.’I used to imagine that Jesus was referring to martyrs who lay down their life for him. And the principle he is enunciating certainly includes them. But the ‘life’ he is talking about, which can be either saved or lost, is not our physical existence (zōē), but our soul or self (psychē). It is a word that is often used instead of the reflexive ‘himself’ or ‘herself’. One could, then, perhaps paraphrase Jesus’ words like this: ‘If you insist on holding on to yourself, and on living for yourself, and refuse to let yourself go, you will lose yourself. But if you are willing to give yourself away in love, then, at the moment of complete abandonment, when you imagine that everything is lost, the miracle takes place and you find yourself and your freedom.’ It is only sacrificial service, the giving of the self in love to God and others, which is perfect freedom.

New book: Decisions Made Simple

I have a new book out called Decisions Made Simple: A Quick Guide to Guidance which is published Evangelical Press.

As the title suggests, it’s a short book on decision-making. I wrote because I come across so much confusion and muddle thinking about decision-making. I was speaking to a group 100 young people recently and the majority of their questions were about how they should make decisions.

There are three reasons why I wrote it.

1. A lot of Christians seem to expect God to tell us what they should do. Sometimes this is coated with rather spiritual-sounding language; sometimes it leads to paralysis; sometimes it is used to justify people doing their own thing. I wanted to provide some clarity on the nature of God’s will.

2. I want to show how our decision-making should take place within community, taking the church into account and sometimes involving the church. I try to show why this biblical norm seems strange in our culture, why it’s actually vital and how it plays out in practice.

3. Basically, I’m a lazy pastor and so I wanted a short guide I could give to people. It ends with a simple checklist which you can walk through are you make decisions or help others do so.

We find decision-making is a bit of fault line. It reveals people’s attitude to God’s word and to God’s people. People can mouth all sort of platitudes about the Bible and the church, but their approach to decision-making reveals whether these things truly are a priority in their lives.

Decisions Made Simple: A Quick Guide to Guidance is available from https://smarturl.it/decisionsmadesimple.

 

 

New recording of See Jesus Stripped of Majesty (Amazing Love)

Spring Harvest has released their 2019 version of Newsongs for the Church and it includes a new recording of the song I co-wrote with Colin Webster and Phil Moore, “See Jesus Stripped of Majesty (Amazing Love)”. Here’s a preview with a link to full song on Spotify.

lead sheet sheet is available here.

You can also see Colin and Phil playing the song at the Keswick Convention here.

Made primarily for blessing

For those of you who appreciated chapter 3 of my book Enjoying God (“In every pleasure we can enjoy the Father’s generosity”), here’s a little bonus for you. It’s a quote from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson,

[It] reminded me of something I saw early one morning a few years again, as I was walking up to the church. There was a young couple strolling along half a block ahead of me. The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn’t. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.

(Marilynne Robinson, Gilead, London: Virago, 2005, 31-32.)