Friday, February 22, 2008

loyalty

I need to keep things vague with this one, OK?

This week I was filling in a reference of a kind for a friend. He is a committed follower of Jesus. I was asked to respond to the following question:

"Has the applicant ever belonged to or been associated with any ethnic, religious, or political group to which the applicant gives a greater loyalty than to ... (and then the name of a country is mentioned)."

What would you write in response?

nice chatting

Paul

Sunday, February 17, 2008

one week in march

I am pretty excited, eh?!

During one week in March I am going to be able to engage with the two biggest influences on my life when it comes to the vocation to which God has called me.

(a) Chris Wright is in New Zealand
Chris leads the global movement which stewards the legacy of John Stott in an organisation called Langham Partnership International. As a 19yr old I attended the Urbana Mission Convention where I heard Stott expound Romans 1-5 in a series of 50min expositions. I was rivetted. That is the moment when God called me to biblical preaching and I have tried to be faithful to that call ever since - more laterly as a trainer of preachers, which still remains my first love in ministry. Stottie is my hero.
Then as a 24 year old - after my theological training in the USA - I attended a pastors' conference in London facilitated by John Stott. One morning during that conference he invited me to his little flat for breakfast - the highlight of my life. I read all his stuff. He has the best grasp of BBC - 'balanced biblical christianity' - of anyone I know. He is the most humble person I have ever met.



Although I don't know Chris Wright that well, he has picked up the baton from John Stott with remarkable precision. He is a wonderful communicator. Those who read this blog know that I think his latest book, The Mission of God, is "one for the ages". And on Monday March 17th at 7pm-ish at Greenlane Christian Centre in Auckland he will be speaking to that book at a public meeting.

see http://www.langhampartnership.org/

Later that very same week...
(b) DA Carson is in New Zealand
As my grandfather had forbidden me to attend the college of which I am now Principal (!) - and because I had just become engaged to Barby, fortuitously studying at Wheaton College 60mins away, I headed off to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School at 21 to complete an MDiv - the youngest of 600 MDiv students as I was to discover. I showed up one hot August morning for 'suicide-Greek' - six days a week for six weeks, seeking to master that blessed Wenham textbook. My tutor? A very young Don Carson. [His Teaching Assistant? One Tony Plews, a fellow Kiwi who is Director of the Langham affiliate here in NZ, and a lifelong friend). I was to take 6 or 7 courses with Don Carson over three years. Those classes laid the foundation for my life. It is as simple as that.
Sure, his intellect is unmatched; his scholarship unrivalled and in his writing he knows how to go for the jugular in defending the truth. Sure, this caused me to struggle with contextualising my training to the NZ cultural and church context. It took me some years to get through the guru-busting phase and beyond a slavish following of WWCS - "What would Carson say?". It was a good process for me. And I have seen a side of Don that few see. His gentle way with people. His passion for mission. And oh, his prayers at the start of class! His love for Jesus. And once while seated around our dining room table, my little Joseph asked him "Are you Jesus?" Gee - that says something, doesn't it? I will be forever grateful that God brought Don Carson into my life in my molten years.



Don is speaking at an Easter Convention at Hamilton Reformed Church on 21st & 22nd March - three sessions each day at 1pm, 3:30pm, and 7pm.
The venue is at 9 Aberdeen Drive, Dinsdale. (ph Pieter - 07 853 3144)
I will be sneaking out from the nearby Easter Camp at Mystery Creek to take some of it in.

And if you are anywhere near either of these venues ... (I think you know what I would say - but I'll leave it open-ended and let you fill in the gaps!)

nice chatting

Paul

Thursday, February 07, 2008

a diary of private prayer

I used to listen to my grandmother pray these prayers. In fact somehow I've managed to score her copy of this prayer book. John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer (London: Oxford University Press, 1936). First published in 1936, it had gone through 23 reprintings by 1960!





It contains Morning and Evening prayers for each of the 31 days of a month. They are designed for private use, rather than public worship. Barby keeps an eye on second hand bookshops and so we have been buying them for years to give away as gifts. A recent windfall enabled us to purchase copies for each of our children and each person in our home group.

Needless to say - they are wonderful. They take me deeper and wider in my prayers. In a self-absorbed world, they keep me God-aligned in my prayers. They keep me thinking about others, particularly those worse off than me. They introduce a language of confession into my life (particularly, in the evening). They open my life to hope and praise (particularly, in the morning). I love the tenderness in so many of them.

Sure, the language is archaic. But then it has always been a mystery to me how people can love the language of a Jane Austen or a William Shakespeare and then stumble around as they engage the words of old hymns and prayers. Sure, there is the odd theological blindspot (for example, he does not have much time for the temporal and the material next to the eternal and the spiritual). But then I find noticing these blindspots in the prayers just helps me ensure that I don't practise them in my life.

Even though interest rates are a problem, I'd still suggest you mortgage your house or sell your car so that you can buy one of these prayer books and use it. I think doing a Message-like expanded and contemporised paraphrase of them is great for the spirituality! In fact I made it an assignment for my class...

But rather than quote the prayer book right here, over the next week or so I am going to use the 'comments' section to record a few of my favourite sections from these prayers - and I invite others who might use the prayer book to do the same.

Let's see where we end up...


nice chatting


Paul