Monthly Archives: August 2011

Review: Total Church

Review of Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis IVP

Currently my wife and I are “between churches”. We’re looking for a church. The usual reaction from our friends and acquaintances is, “You won’t find the perfect church.” And my usual tired rejoinder is, “If we do, it won’t be once we join.”

Currently a lot of Christians are dissatisfied with “church” and more than a few books have been written about it. George Barna’s “Revolution” and Michael Frost’s “Exiles” are just two excellent examples in this area.

Total Church is a worthwhile addition because it adds further Biblical understanding together with “how to” practicality. Chester and Timmis explore what church is, and then show how it can look in practice. It highlights the connection between a living, growing (in understanding and relationship with God) organic community and the task of being God’s witness to the world, and how the two are inseparable.

Coming from an evangelical/reformed perspective, they correctly, in my opinion, highlight the centrality of the Word of God in proclaiming the gospel. However, they emphasise that this needs to be done in community and relationship. That is why the organic church is such an important instrument of God in this world.

If anything, in their attempt to counter the wishy washy-ness of the social gospel they overstate the case. Psalm 19 is used as evidence for the centrality of the Word, but in the process they omit the first 6 verses in which the psalmist declares that the glory of God can be read in the heavens. We know that this is not a salvific Word but it is still God revealing Himself, and the apostle Paul reminds us that leaves us without excuse (Romans 1:20).

But why quibble! I found this book an encouragement as to what church could be in a church world of institutions, programmes, mega churches, church orders and constitutions. The irony is that their view of church is far less tangible as it is not about buildings and programmes but relationships and community, and yet, in an Acts/New Testament sense they have painted a picture of church that is far closer to the maker’s intentions.

They do not dismiss other models of church, but they do challenge them to be aware of the pitfalls and not to take their eye off the main game – the revelation of Christ.

If you are looking for a living, breathing community desiring to serve and proclaim God in this world, this book gives you some great ideas for your search. One the other hand, you may need to gather like-minded people to grow this living expression of God in this world. As for me, my view and expectation of “church” has been irreparably altered.

Categories: Book Review, christian, Christianity, Faith | 2 Comments

God is Greater than the GPS

You have searched me, LORD, 
   and you know me. Psalm 139:1

As a father has compassion on his children, 
   so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 
14 for he knows how we are formed, 
   he remembers that we are dust.  Psalm 103:13,14

I have an app on my iPad that tracks me when I ride my bike. It knows the route, speed and height above sea level. If I turn the volume up, a voice even tells me how well, or usually, how poorly, I am doing. If I think about it, this can feel a little creepy: an invisible satellite stalking me. The good thing is that I can switch the app off.  However, this oversight pales into insignificance when we consider God’s oversight of us.

Psalms 103 and 139 give us some sense of the absolute comprehensiveness of God’s

Old Stone Church Eidfjord Norway

knowledge of us. His intimate understanding of our weaknesses, needs, aspirations – our very being is completely known to Him. He knows our composition, the dust, the atoms and neurons. Even deeper down, He knows our heart and soul.

Humanly, I have two choices: obedience or disobedience. I can either heed God or disobey. The alternatives are stark and simple.

The outcomes however, are eternal. Either I live before my God as one who acknowledges that His intimate knowledge of me is for my own good and His Kingdom purposes or not. The alternative, that  Psalm 103 implies,   is that if I live in rebellion and rejection, He doesn’t forgive and He doesn’t bless.

As the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard suggested, objections to God are not essentially about doubt, but disobedience (Total Church by Chester and Timmis page 171).  What is your response, one of faith, trust and reliance, or rebellion?

The choice is clear.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith | 1 Comment

A Mighty Fortress is our God!

God is our refuge and strength, 
   an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1

The Walls of Avila

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I am a Masterpiece!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Eph 2:10

If God is the Craftsman then I am His creation. But wait, if He is the Master Craftsman then …

I am God’s masterpiece!

A masterpiece is an expression of the heart of the artist.

A masterpiece is created to ‘reveal’ the artist’s message.

A masterpiece lasts.

A masterpiece is not to be hidden but to be displayed as a reflection of the artist.

A masterpiece reveals the craftsmanship/artisan-ship of its creator.

A masterpiece is of great value.

Prayer: Thank you Creator God for recreating me to reflect your son, for the purpose of living for you. Amen

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Not Recycled, Renewed!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17

A new creation in Christ …
A new creation WILL mirror Christ (1John 3:1-3)
A new creation HAS a new set of values, attitudes
A new creation HAS a new worldview
A new creation HAS a new destiny and purpose
A new creation HAS a new understanding of the power of agape love for himself, but especially for others
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Stick Figures in Peril

I am a Flickr addict. I love the cross section of life that it reveals. There is one rather whimsical group that I am particularly fond of – “Stick Figures in Peril”. These are the ubiquitous warning signs that surround us everyday – around work sites and dangerous places, like cliff edges.

These signs reveal so much about us, and some of the revelations are contradictory. We want to be protected and warned so that we don’t harm ourselves, but on the other hand we can often be so foolish and mindless that obvious things still need to be said.

I haven’t come across a stick figure that warns us about the problem of missing out on a relationship with God. Maybe a clever graphic designer could make one. But many of us, even though we secretly know there is a supreme being, live and act as though there isn’t.

Jesus’ disciple, Thomas, asked a simple but profound question, “How do I know the way (into the presence of God)?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The answer is like one of those stick figure signs that we need to heed for safety’s sake. It is a sign saying, that secret belief that sometimes crosses your mind that there is a supreme being, is true. More importantly, that supreme being says, come to me through the doorway that my son has prepared for you.

Jesus’ invitation to enter into the presence of God involves, forgiveness, renewal and eternal life. Isn’t that a “sign” worth heeding?

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“I am the Light of the world” John 8:12

I am the Light of the world

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A Poem Inspired by Psalm 19:1-4

Looking at the stars

Leaves me in wonder and amazement:

Their size,

The distance,

The physics,

The eternity of it all!

My mind cannot drink it in,

But my hearts says, “My God”!

My God the incredible creator.

And then there is

The sheer incomprehensible beauty,

The “twinkle” of the “diamonds” in the sky

Set upon black velvet.


The heavens declare,

Shout, scream, bellow

The glory

Majesty, Vastness, Mystery,

Of God

And proclaim

The works of His hands!

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The Grandeur of God

“The World is charged with the grandeur of God.”

Gerard Manley Hopkins

This weekend Hetty and I walked along sections of the Great Southern Walk near the 12 Apostles. When you look with the eyes of faith you can find God everywhere – from the rugged and ragged cliffs to the tiny beautiful birds foraging in the wet grass. (Don’t ask me for their names – I wouldn’t have a clue). At night, in the pristine darkness you can only get when you are clear of the large cities, the heavens do declare the glory of God (Psalm 8 ) and one reflects on one’s own smallness in the face of such sparkling majesty as the stars twinkle from lightyears away.

The secret rhythms of the waves, the mysterious layers in the strata of the cliffs, the signs of a petrified forest, the tiny beautiful flowers that hide in the rugged scrub, the natives animals burrowing and foraging … the signs of the hand of God are everywhere.

For the Christian it is a helpful reminder of our God whose sovereignty rules over all things big and small. However, the best things is, that as His child, I have, and you may have, a special place, purpose and destiny within that vast creation of His!


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Jesus the Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— John 10:14

If we enter into the metaphor of John 10:14 and we think of ourselves as sheep and Jesus as the shepherd there can be an amazing sense of realisation – especially when we add Psalm 23 to the mix. Jesus my shepherd leads ME, protects ME, guards ME, searches for ME, rescues ME, finds good and nourishing places for me to feed and drink …

It is easy, as adults, to think of ourselves as intelligent, capable, wise and articulate. However, John 10:14 reminds us that really, in contrast to our shepherd, we are none of those things.

God give me the wisdom to follow you humbly, to hear and listen to your shepherdly voice obediently, and when I do stray, pull me back gently – or, any way you see fit.


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