Monday, August 31, 2015

Positive illusion

25% of people believe they are in the top 1% in terms of how well they get along with others

94% of college professors in the United States believe they are doing above average work

Craig Hamilton, Wisdom in Leadership: The How and Why of Leading The People You Serve (Matthias Media, 2005), p18

Friday, August 28, 2015


In a talk to Christian teenagers, The Revd Dr David Field suggests that slow down, be still, pay attention and give ourselves, and more specifically that, we attend to our PIE, PO, FAG:


(Our attention is limited. Life is about what we give ourselves to. Attention is a precious gift).

Position – where? When? – where are we in the story of the universe? - Missionary, Jim Elliot, in his journals said: “Wherever you are, be all there” – be present here now, breathing – don’t live in the past nor in the future

Identity – who are you? – appearance? Posessions? (a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of posessions) – Titus 3 – achievements? Connections? Reputation? – what others think of me? What I think others think of me? – 2 Cor 5:17 – In X, new creation! – Jn 15, Jesus’ friend, a friend of the king of kings – Rm 8, God is my father, I am a child of the almighty creator God, a slave / solider of Christ, in the image of God, X’s sheep, (part of) the bride of Christ etc.

Environment – who or what is with you / surrounds you? So often surrounded by noise, colours, flicking images! – Who is above, beneath, below, in front of and behind you? – who is our only real circumstance? The one who is around us. In him we live and move and have our being. Ps 139. God is inescapable. Nicholas Herman, Brother Lawrence, 17th C monk, Practicing the presence of God. God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Realising the presence of God. The company we keep affects us. Ps 16. 2 Tim 4 – The Lord stood by my side. J promised to be with us (by his Spirit). Coram Deo – Luther, all life lived before the presence of God.   

People – relate to others – attend to them – don’t interrupt! – listen! – don’t just mentally prepare what you are going to say next – make every effort to hear what someone is saying, try to think what it is like to be them and to understand them – look at them, listen to the pace and tone of the words, the gap between them, watch. Stand in someone else’s shoes, put yourself in their position. Why did someone do that? What is driving them? – Jesus became incarnate, he chose to stand in our nature. He really understands. He sympathises. (Hebrews) Jesus even welcomes little ones, Mk 10. Jesus gives them the gift of attention.

Objects – 1 Tim 4 – all stuff is good and not to be rejected if received with thanksgiving. Amazement – wow, it’s so much richer than I thought. Notice the different colours. Stop and notice. Really taste the wine. Attend to detail. No two noses are identical. We live in a fantastically rich world of sights, tastes, touches, smells, sounds etc. The wonder of a toddler. Relish. Heaven above is deeper blue… something lives in every hue, Christless eyes have never seen. Look at the lines in your hand. Gratitude. Contentment. The hedonistic fallacy – x will make me happy. Buyer’s remorse then boredom. We are much richer than we think. Nietzsche – “possessions are generally diminished by possession”. The generosity of God. Taste something really slowly today.

Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes – with her toddler, dog, suergeon, sign-writer, geologist, architect etc. noticing different things

Feelings – be aware of emotions and pay attention to them – one of the best ways to get rid of an emotion is to get rid of it – curiosity can drive out happiness. Why am I feeling like this? Step away. We are not simply our emotions. Try not “I am sad” but “I feel sad”. Don’t identify with your emotions – interrogate them. Which of these ambush us and why? Self-pity, envy, grumpiness, anger, fear. What do we say to ourselves when these emotions confront us? How can we counter them? Help the police with their enquiries into these negative emotions. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Sometimes we do well to ask ourselves, why are you angry? Why are you grumpy? Etc. Jesus wept – it is not a sin to be sad. Righteous sadness is not the worst thing in the world.   

Activities – what are you doing?

God – Give yourself to God. Between ascension and Pentecost, sit in the city and wait. Sometimes it’s important to do nothing. “Quiet time”. What is the Bible saying to me? How should I pray in the light of it? What difference should this make to my day? Space for the echoes of the word of God. Where will the water flow? God gives us sleep & Sabbath. Wilderness – X, Moses. Find a point when you can be quiet in the presence of God with your Bible.  

Bill Bright, founder of US Campus Crusade for Christ, “spiritual breathing” – breathing out as a sign of repentance of sin, breathing in as a prayer for filling with the Holy Spirit

Ps 46
Calming of the storm
Mary & Martha – Lk 10
Ecc 5
Eph 5 – wise living is careful being aware, circumspection

To remember PIE PO PAG we might think of a red telly tubby eating a delicious handheld meal with a pastry crust and then smoking a 1970s cigarette.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Warbleton Church Jonah Holiday Club Report 2015

I have of course taken the liberty of writing up Sunday's service before it happens in the faith that it will be epic!

Warbleton Church Jonah Holiday Club 2015

We had a fantastic time at Holiday Club on Tues 25th and Wed 26th at Warbleton Church, Church Rooms and outside, while the weather was kind to us. On the Wednesday it chucked it down unbelievably but it didn’t dampen our spirits!

Unusually, our holiday club runs alongside a toddler morning. Pre-schoolers and their mums or carers (and the Rector and other helpers) enjoyed snacks, drinks, cake, and a great variety of toys, as well as songs, musical instruments, a story and crafts. Sometimes our regular toddler group on Tuesdays can be quite full and busy, so with some families away on their summer holidays, it was nice to chat in a less full on environment.

Four to eleven year olds had games, craft, refreshments, drama, music, teaching and a mini-Bible study in the church. The church took on a bit of a nautical theme with a cardboard boat, a paddling pool and oars in evidence, along with dressing up as characters from the book of Jonah.

On the Sunday after the club, we held a special Holiday Club all age family service. UCCF: The Christian Unions​re were games before the service. Children were invited to come and show off their craft work, we sang some songs from the club and concluded the story of the book of Jonah. It was great to learn something more of God’s love, power and plans for his world. After the service, in addition to the usual coffee, squash and biscuits, juice, nibbles and sausages in hot dog rolls, and so on were served.

We are very grateful to our team of dedicated and talented leaders who provided such a fun, safe and worthwhile club. We are especially grateful to Jeremy who did the main teaching, and to the youth club volunteers who made themselves very useful. Shirley had masterminded the whole things superbly, though she was not able to be with us on the days themselves.

We are already considering our plans for next year. We might expand to Tues, Wed, Thurs & Friday of the last full week of the school holidays – but please watch this space for further details. We would welcome volunteer helpers who are willing to undergo a DBS check and any feedback on this year’s events.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dallington Deanery Website

This may need some updating, I will have to check, but just to get the newish Dallington Deanery Website out to my many millions of readers!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Biblical Covenant Breaking and English Law

Having made a covenant with God in Exodus 24, the people abandon their covenant obligations in Exodus 32 by making and using an idol, rejecting Moses and indulging in gross sexual immorality, perhaps amongst other things. They have not merely sinned. They have broken the covenant such that they deserve death, as God says.  They are Covenant Breakers not just sinners.

UK contract law can provide an illustration.

If I understand it correctly, which I very likely don't, in older law, their actions might have been seen as a "fundamental breach".

Today it might be specifically called a "repudiatory breach". That is, not that one party explicitly announces their rejection of the contract (necessarily) but that the actions of one of the parties are such a serious breach of contract that the wronged party is entitled to terminate the contract (and to receive damages). That is what God considers doing, but Moses persuades him to have mercy and stick with this people, although they face serious punishment.  

Some jottings on a sermon by Vaugan Roberts on Ex 32-

Vaughan Roberts, St Ebbes, 16 Jun 2002
A Terrible Betrayal

covenant breaking – a fundamental breach of contract which allows one party to walk away
Ex 24 – the signing ceremony
Ex 25-31 detailed instructions for the tabernacle – the climax of the covenant is that God himself might be with them and live amongst them
Ex 32 a massive anti-climax, an awful shock
Will God walk away from his people?
Perhaps he won’t draw near after all

(1)   God’s covenant is threatened by a terrible sin


How could they do this after God’s gracious rescue, the miracles, the Passover, all they had experienced?

They forget all about God in v1.
They say Moses has brought them up out of Egypt.
What folly to think you could make a god!

V5 – Aaron appeases his conscience / rationalises

Aaron knew the 1st to commandments well enough

We are so easily just like this

God has made it clear that we are to approach him through his Word, his written word the Bible and the incarnate Word the Lord Jesus Christ

(2)   God’s covenant is maintained through a faithful mediator


(i)                 God listened to Moses as he prayed

Moses prays on the basis of God’s name, his reputation, what will people say?
For the sake of your name, please don’t do it!

The priority of the honour of God’s name

He prays on the basis of God’s Word, his promises

(ii)               God drew near to him

[29 minutes in to recording - includes readings]


Some jottings on a sermon by Dick Lucas on Exodus 32

The 9 O clock Service Sheffield 1986 – an alternative form of service that allegations of sexual and emotional abuse

(1)   The quick descent (v1, v8)
Moses was up the mountain for 6 weeks

Our natural inclination to idolatory – not just a primitive thing
Mental as well as metal idols
The last words of 1 Jn: “little children, keep yourself from idols!”
Idolatry is a constant danger

Cf. Galatians – “I am astonished that you are deserting the gospel so quickly”

Ex 32 not just irrelevant history. This could be repeated in any generation

Self-indulgent religion

(2)   The weak leader (vv22-24)
Cf. Genesis 3 – blaming everyone else
Aaron a great leader, v important, Moses’ right hand man, the spokesman to pharaoh and the people, 1st high priest

Dean Liddle Sermon on the death of Aaron preached at St Paul’s in 18**

He crumbles and compromises on this terrible day
Aaron tried damage limitation (vv5-6)
He was faced with intolerable pressure

Vv21, 25
This great man was at fault
He wanted to please the people, he gave way to pressure
Perhaps he wanted to find a middle way, which was impossible
Avoiding confrontation
Wanting to be popular

The C of E? Strong leadership

(3)   The faithless festival

V19 – Moses’ indignation

(i)                 Synchretism (vv5-6) – compromise – unifying different religious systems
John Hick. The uniqueness of Jesus downplayed

Calf / bull / strength / john bull – English strength

Substitutes a man-made religion for God

(ii)               Sensuality (v6b, v25) – casting off of all restraint – sexual dancing
(iii)             Shouting (v18) – “sound” 3X – Acts 19:34 – shouting for hours, great is Artemis of the Ephesians