Blog articles from June 2020

We are not being discriminated against – The Church in the West should be careful about crying wolf.

Will we show that we see and hear them? Let people facing injustice know that we stand with them

Let them eat cake An introduction to fairness and equality with a little help from cake!

A Little lower than the Angels What does Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 have to say about the status of humanity?

Against you only – David says in Psalm 51 that it is against God only that he has sinned. Does this deny justice to his victims?

#BlackLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter ? Some people have argued that using the BLM hashtag misses the point that all deserve justice.

Who will you take the knee for? People have been asked to “take the knee” in solidarity with George Floyd. Some are saying that they bow the knee to no-one.

Private Prayer in a place of public worship is an oxymoron – Some people have been campaigning to get church building re-opened for private prayer. The Government has now agreed to allow this from 15th June, but does that really help churches in their ministry?

Jesus is not ashamed of me – one of the most exciting Bible passages is Hebrews 2 where we read that Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters

On tearing down statues – should the statue of Edward Colson have been pulled down in Bristol?

Hardening my heart to my own testimony -Hebrews 3 quotes from Psalm 95 and warns us not to be like the Israelites who hardened their hearts during the Exodus. Often we harden our hearts by rejecting or forgetting our own testimonies of God’s goodness to us.

We need to talk about privilege, pride and prejudice – should we talk about “White Privilege”?

Pride Prejudice and Privilege in the Church – how can the church provide an alternative culture and community where racial and class divisions are not evident?

How (not) to let the extremists win – the fevered conversations about tearing down all statues only benefit two groups, the hard left and the far right.

Kings and nations tremble at his voice a repost from the old blog, in uncertain times as statues and reputations fall, it is good to remember that God is sovereign.

Leaders set the tone – David’s response to the death of Absalom helps us think about the integrity between our public persona as we set the tone for others and our private emotions as we respond personally to circumstances

The fear of being forgotten – we put up statues because we fear that our own life achievements will be forgotten too.

Leaders set the tone – it is not always about us – some of the responses to #BlackLivesMatter have put the focus on us and how we feel rather than our responsibility to hear the hurts of our congregations and communities

Meaningful traditions and empty rituals – traditions and customs can be helpful but watch out for when they become meaningless or superstitious rituals

Some things take priority over the fear of coronavirus – Protests and shopping trips show us that there are things people are willing to prioritise over physical health in a pandemic. What would you prioritise?

Free school meal vouchers will not solve the problem of poverty. Marcus Rashford has done a brilliant job of getting the Government to change its mind to help struggling families but this should not distract us from asking searching questions about how we can better tackle problems to do with poverty.

The end of the DFID should lead to a bigger conversation about aid and poverty – a government restructuring does not have to mean the end of compassion and care for those suffering from poverty around the world.

If you don’t want to be racist, don’t misrepresent what black people are saying One of the ways in which we see discrimination at work is the presupposition that others lack the discernment and ability to distinguish that we have. When we fail to understand and accurately reflect to what they are actually saying this can reinforce prejudice

A phased return out of lockdown (draft proposal) -here’s my suggestion for how churches could move out of lockdown.

Leaders set the tone – sometimes it is about us. Before we are hasty to announce that such and such an event is judgement on the church, we should check our own hearts first.

A top down approach wont get us out of lockdown. The Government can’t and shouldn’t be expected to drive the lockdown expert plan for churches. Trust church networks to do this.

Families, children and childlessness (Responding to Kevin DeYoung) In an article for The Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung argues that the best response to the culture wars in the USA is for Christians to have more children. Here I respond to his article from a pastoral perspective.

Faith, Hope and children – what Kevin DeYoung could have said. Part 2 of a response to Kevin De Young’s article on having children. There is a better way Biblically and pastorally to talk about the blessings of children

Restlessness We live in a restless culture. How does the Bible offer a better approach to work and rest?

Light and Beginnings (Matthew 4: 1-17) – sermon for Bearwood Chapel

Children, childlessness and culture wars – part three of a response to Kevin De Young’s article on having children. Here we look at the theological presuppositions behind his article.

Did the church miss an opportunity during lockdown? -responding to Douglas Murray’s Spectator article

Lockdown – an opportunity to re-learn how we do forgiveness – Matthew 18 has been turned into a legalistic code to enable shaming and vengeance. We are now presented with the opportunity to get away from this.

How do we talk about work? How pastors talk about work will affect how people approach it. Do we have a healthy, Biblical view of work and employment?

Could Jesus have sinned? – We know that Jesus did not sin but was it possible for him to? Whichever way you answer the question raises interesting implications for how we understand God and humanity

Unasked and unanswered questions – one from out of the freezer. Here we look at how we can rush to give pastoral advice, answering questions before checking what the underlying issues really are

Word crimes? Thought Crimes? How the police’s decision not to prosecute over the white lives matter banner exposes muddled thinking.

Coming out of lockdown may require a church planting mindset. A lot of churches will be harder hit by the pandemic than they know. A church planting mindset may prove essential to keeping going.

Lessons in Lockdown 1: Reach and engagement are not the same thing – don’t be mislead by follows and hits. There are also implications for life off of the internet too

Who is responsible? (when everybody goes to the beach) – Douglas Carswell has suggested that if people broke social distancing on the beach then it is the Government’s lockdown policies that are at fault.

Qualifications matter – why an appeal to authority is not always wrong -before you give me medical advice, I would like to know what your medical qualifications are!

Lessons in lockdown 2: Busyness is not the same as effective hard work. Learning not to be “crazy busy”

When is a church not a church? No, not a joke leading to a punchline, this article looks at the implications of not being able to share communion and have baptisms due to a pandemic.

Lessons in Lockdown 3: Actually People don’t change that much In my old job, one of the psychometric tests we had to do assessed how we would act in normal day to day life against how stressful situations were likely to modify our behaviours…

Following to be part of something (Matthew 4:18-25) Sermon from Sunday 28/06/2020. Jesus calls his first disciples

Why we are going back to the building – Some people might ask why we are keen to return to the Chapel building when there are still so many restrictions on what we can do.

Milk, meat and losing my salvation – Hebrews 5:11 -6:12, Bible study with video discussion

Will God give up on me Finding Eternal Security – Is it possible to lose your salvation

Losing my salvation. When someone stays angry at God. Can anger to God causes us to fall away and lose our salvation?

Returning to church buildings – what does the Government guidance say? We are permitted to open buildings for public worship from after the 4th July. Here is an overview of the guidance.

Lessons in lockdown 4 – it is easier to get into something than out of it Services were fairly normal in the weeks before lockdown but we now expect it to be 2021 before we are approaching anything like normal again.

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