Browsing articles from "November, 2010"
Nov 30, 2010
neil

Facebook: friend or foe?

‘Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire’ so said CS Lewis.

From the printing press to the invention of the internal combustion engine,TV, Personal Computer, Mobile Phone, every culture has had to adapt and adjust to new technology. Maybe you enjoyed watching the Butler struggling to come to terms with the introduction of the telephone in the final episode of ITV’s Downtown Abbey.

Technology often receives one of two reactions either uncritical reception or retreat. I’d like to advocate a third. Perhaps the more biblical position is to recognise that each new technology offers an opportunity: Redemption. Paul put it like this;

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Cor. 10:5

There is no doubt that the internet is changing how we relate and even how we think. Two thought-provoking books on that here and here.

But given that over 500 million people use Facebook (which means if it were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world!) and given that it is now the default mode of communication for the majority (200 million people check their facebook page once a day).

Facebook

Today I make the case for

Facebook as a Friend – opportunity

How can we use Facebook as a force for good and as a way of building relationships.

  1. Use Facebook to keep in touch with one another: students on holiday, moving on with work,  on graduation.
  2. Use Facebook to get back in touch with those who you’ve lost contact with. I’ve reconnected with old school friends and university friends many of whom Continue reading »
Nov 29, 2010
neil

Play at your own risk

Too risky?

I’ve never bungee-jumped let alone thrown myself out of a plane in the optimistic hope that the pull of a cord might delay my descent and save my life so recklessly thrown away. I’m not a natural risk taker. But I’m learning the value of risky thinking.

Since helping to launch 2020birmingham -a church planting catalyst for Birmingham with the goal of planting 20 new churches by the year 2020 – I’ve been learning a vital lesson in ministry. If we want to fulfil the task that Jesus has given us in our generation we must take risks and part of that risk-taking is to reach out to work with those who are different from ourselves. It takes time, it takes Continue reading »

Nov 28, 2010
neil

Who turned the lights off

Maybe ignorance is bliss

Aldous Huxley died on the same day as JFK and CS Lewis, 22nd November 1963. He was also the grandson of TH Huxley or ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’ who was outspoken in his support of Darwinian evolution and in attacking the church.

Aldous Huxley was not a believer in God but he did recognise in himself that the reasons for unbelief are often not as rational as we would like to believe.

I once was blind...

He once wrote:

‘I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption.  Most ignorance is vincible ignorance.  We don’t know because we don’t want to know . . Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that the world should be meaningless . ..For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.’

Maybe unbelief is, as Huxley concedes, a most convenient ‘truth’ and a most liberating one.

Paul in Romans chapter 1v18 makes exactly this point. ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.’

Those of us who are now Christians were exactly the same. We too closed our eyes to the very evidence of God’s existence. We too preferred to operate under the cover of darkness.  It is amazing grace that John Newton discovered opens our eyes so that we too say ‘I once was blind but now I see.’

And on Advent Sunday we remember ‘The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.’ John 1:9

Nov 26, 2010
neil

Whatever Dawkins says it’s just not science

A tangle of wires

Not every statement a scientist makes is a scientific one just as not every statement from a theologian is a theological one. The God Delusion works by mixing up scientific statements with mere assertion and then leaving it to the reader to separate the two.

We saw in the last post that Dawkins at times misrepresents, distorts or skews the facts when it suits which isn’t the best commendation for scientific inquiry.

Today we look at a different example of how some of Dawkins’ statements are anything but scientific. Rather than look at distortion this time we’ll look at omission. What happens when all of the evidence is not considered but instead significant evidence is disregarded, ignored or omitted. We’ll see that it inevitably leads to a bad argument and for bad science.

Remember what he is seeking to do which is to demonstrate the absurdity of religious belief and so in a section of The God Delusion entitled ‘The Argument From Admired Religious Scientists‘ he seeks to respond to the charge that there are many able scientests who believe.

Scientists who believe

Dawkins begins by conceding that there were  great men of science who believed in God before Darwin (eg. Newton) but of course Continue reading »

Nov 25, 2010
neil

It’s not enough to plant churches

If we are to reach a city with the gospel it is not enough to plant churches. We have to plant churches that will plant churches.

From one plant comes many

Church-multiplication comes when it is not enough to see a new church planted but the goal becomes ‘multiple churches planting multiple new churches, which in turn plant multiple new churches. This is the basis of not just a network, but a movement.’ (Viral Churches: Stetzer & Bird)

And where do we learn that model? In the early church in which spontaneous expansion through multiplication of churches took the gospel across the world.

Nov 25, 2010
neil

Which marketing genius dreamt this one up

The coolest fusion of blues and rock anthem!

Nov 24, 2010
neil

My God, my city, my church

Birmingham Skyline by Helen Ogbourn

I love living in Birmingham.

I’ve lived here for over 30 years and  at our church on Sunday we held our annual Serving the City Sunday. Three statistics highlight the challenges and the opportunities that face the church in Birmingham.

1) Birmingham has the highest unemployment rate of any major city in the UK.  At 12.5 per cent it is twice the national average.  Youth unemployment is a staggering 24.4 per cent. Unemployment rose more sharply here than in any other city during the recession.

2) The UK average for church attendance stands at around 10 per cent but for Birmingham it’s just 6.3 per cent. No wonder Birmingham has fewer evangelical churches than many large cities in the country.

3) The church must change to meet the rapidly changing make-up of the city.   The Muslim population, currently standing at over 14 per cent, is due to exceed 20 per cent over the same time. Many others are finding a home in Birmingham – how can we help them find Christ?

City Church is working with others as part of 2020birmingham, a network of churches working together to see 20 churches planted in the city by the year 2020.

Please pray with us and for us and for this great city.

Nov 23, 2010
neil

Mr Muddle and the missing gospels

Maybe you’ve avoided reading The God Delusion because you just fear there might be something in it. Joan Bakewell in her Guardian review writes ‘Dawkins comes roaring forth in the full vigour of his powerful arguments.’ Claire Tomalin is persuaded too. ‘There is not a dull page…a book that makes me want to cheer its clarity, intelligence and truth-telling

Well can I urge you not to lose too much sleep. I quite like sections of the book and it’s an entertaining read. The problem is that I kept stumbling across mistakes and I mean really basic mistakes. You know, the kind of stuff you’d expect an undergrad. to get right let alone a distinguished Professor.I guess that’s the problem with claiming more than you know.

This is the first of a series of posts that highlight from Dawkins own words why we have nothing much to fear from his book. Each time we’ll look at a basic claim in the book and then dig a little deeper. And each time we can’t help but draw the conclusion ‘well if he got something as basic as wrong as that why should I trust him with the rest?’

How many gospels?

According to Dawkins then, p.121 Continue reading »

Nov 22, 2010
neil

the complete anti-God state of mind

the sin that hides itself – part 2

‘I have no vices. I am a hero. Go and look it up in the dictionary and you will find a picture of me.’ That at least is what Chris Eubank told me.  But Chris was wrong for he was overlooking one crucial truth; pride is the greatest vice of all.

CS Lewis, who died this day 47 years ago, observes that pride is ‘ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling, concentration on the self’ and we surely as the ‘Hello’, ‘OK’, and Facebook generation are the generation most at ease with our pride.  We love life centred on ourselves.

And for those of us who doubt that pride has yet to infect us Lewis suggests a test.  ‘If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?’

The virus that infects everything

Pride is so dangerous because it turns everything I do, the good as well as the bad, into sin. It takes a great act of kindness and Continue reading »

Nov 21, 2010
neil

Is it me or are Mars Bars getting smaller

We all know that size is relative. Just think how big the Eiffel Tower must appear to the eyes of a four year old. And so as we grow up so our memory plays games with us. We remember how steep the hill we used to cycle down was and how immense a width of the swimming pool seemed until, that is, we experience them again as adults and they assume their normal proportions.

Well what about when it comes to Jesus? Did he seem bigger once upon a time to you? CS Lewis in Prince Caspian reveals why eternally will never grow dull to the eyes of faith in this conversation between Lucy and Aslan:

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “You’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” he answered.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow you will find me bigger”

May it be so.

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