Archive for the ‘Tim Keller’ Tag

LONDON MEN’S CONVENTION

Saturday was my first London Men’s Convention. I almost feel it’s too late to post about it now. The blogosphere is festooned with reviews and highlight summaries; particularly regarding the contributions of Tim Keller. However, as suggested by the title, I’m posting about it anyway. I’m going to start with the statement that it was brilliant. I’m then going to suggest some reasons why.

 

1. It was brilliant because it meant quality time with blokes from church

Yes we see each other every week. But the time available around the biscuits immediately preceding or following a meeting is limited. What’s more, it is largely occupied with us asking out about each others’ week, sees people variously joining and leaving the discussion – dependent upon their biscuit needs, and is also populated by those of the fairer sex.

The time spent travelling to the Docklands, taking breaks, eating lunch and getting back home on the other hand was hours long in total, saw us captive in our proximity to one another, and allowed a more bloke-friendly realm of banter. This therefore enabled hours of uninterrupted chat – spent dispensing borderline abuse or considering football, workplace pressures, health concerns, preferred worship styles, ideas for talking to others about Jesus, film recommendations and much else that helps grow relationships. It’s sometimes nice to hang with the boys…

 

2. It was brilliant because the talks were brilliant

 

A confession: I fell asleep during the second Keller talk. It was still brilliant, or so I’ve heard, but I’m really lacking kip at present, and I blame the carb crash that inevitably results in following Pete Matthew to Square Pie for lunch… Anyway, regarding the talks I do remember – I was often struck by the little things I’d never previously noticed – skilfully pointed out in otherwise familiar passages regarding the person of Jesus.

Wes McNabb pointed out Jesus’ authority in ‘dismissing’ the large crowd prior to his walking on water – that and the fact he knew exactly where their boat was! It was pitch black!!

Tim Keller blew my mind by pointing out the significance of every little thing recorded in John whilst Jesus hung on the cross. A few folk more learned than I were open-mouthed at his linking the water from his side to that which gushed from the rock struck by Moses’ staff in the wilderness… particularly when it was pointed out that the rock too played a substitutionary role in taking the blow from the staff (usually a measure of punishment) prior to pouring forth the water of life.

His second talk (that which I was conscious for) was helpful in pointing out the lunacy of no-one expecting Jesus’ resurrection – following all his talk about the ‘third day’ – and then making clear that it’s because they were no more naturally inclined to expect the dead to rise than would we be! This was linked to prevailing ‘chronological snobbery’ in people assuming they would have gone along lightly with such a notion.

Mike Cain strengthened my belief, borne of Revive 2007, that he has rare gift of analogy. Whatever modern day scenario he picks to depict biblical concepts, he tends to stick with it throughout – anchoring the talk in the familiar whilst doing thorough justice to the passage. In this sermon examining Jesus’ return, it was the idea of him awaiting his wife’s return from a trip away; we progressively heard of the wisdom in him following those instructions she left behind and of the need for him to show his love by doing the washing-up before she return, and not waste his time watching football!

I would also like to ‘big up’ Richard Coekin, who looks admirably comfortable in front of a crowd of thousands and seems utterly authoritative in his role as chairman.

 

3. It was brilliant because the worship was brilliant

 

This is a qualified statement. It could have been more brilliant if we hadn’t assembled the most reserved 4,000 men in all London. That number of voices could truly have raised the roof… As it was, most arms were held vigorously at sides, but the basso tones nevertheless swelled my heart as they grew in confidence throughout various well-penned anthems, each pointing surely at the figure of Jesus Christ. Stuart Townend and his band are skilful indeed, but it is overwhelmingly the words, particularly of those penned by Townend himself (In Christ Alone, How Deep the Father’s Love etc), that leave me euphoric… He truly has a great line in triumphant last verses!

 

4. It was brilliant to see people from other churches

 

By virtue of a couple of years doing summer camp, I know a few faces about the place. There is also the constant anticipation of bumping into one of my blog heroes (someone please introduce me to Jam Carey – I never managed to spot him!) and the surprise of stumbling upon of couple of Year 11 students from my school! It is great to be reminded that this community of ours is larger than a corner of Balham. With so many faces, both familiar and otherwise, surely we can impact upon this capital of ours?!

 

So, there you go. It was also brilliant to buy a newspaper, but to be so busy chatting and listening that I never read a single page! That said, I want to add a proviso here – I know from posting a similar review of the Lads’ Weekend Away that not everyone does so enjoy this ‘sort of thing’. The large crowds can alienate those who feel less comfortable among their brethren, whilst the constant singing and hours of Bible-bashing may not be to everyone’s taste. However, there can be little real harm in hearing skilful Bible exposition, in getting to know other Christians a little better, nor in letting the many secular support staff about the place see the passion that exists for Christ. I would hope few ultimately regretted spending the time or money… For my part, I deem it to have been worth very penny. I very much hope I can return next year (along with a non-Christian mate or two – it’s the mission version next time as part of Passion for Life) and tell you again how brilliant it all was!

 

DETOX/RETOX

Posted 21/1/09

As noted at the end of the prior blog, last week was an interesting one. I described it to a church friend last week as ‘detox’. She assumed this to mean I was taking time off from Bible study and the like. When I told her I was actually endeavouring to do the opposite she enquired as to whether I then meant ‘retox’. It’s true, but if I’m perfectly honest I was actually trying to detox myself  – from sinful patterns that I felt I’d become trapped by in December. As it is, I knew the only way of this realistically happening was by setting my mind on godly things as recommended in 1 Corinthians. I have been setting about this in a pretty literal way, filling my time (probably at the detriment of work, tbh, but that isn’t a long term approach) with pre-school quiet times, MP3 sermons on the journey to school, subscriptions to a host of blogs from leading evangelicals, writing this, re-engaging in debate with various atheist sites (a risky endeavour given the extent to which it disheartened me last year – a post to follow on that), reading Tim Keller and throwing myself into the organisation of the aforementioned lads’ weekend away. I know these things can’t become idols in themselves; I know they don’t transform in themselves (quiet times excluded – given their content of God’s word and prayer) and I know this is unsustainable. However – I believe my reasoning is relatively sound, as is my ‘detox’ terminology.

The fact is, we are ‘what we eat’. Having consumed little but junk of late, through my eyes and ears as well as through my mouth over Christmas, much of my output has been similarly rubbish. Whatever the pitfalls of an over-the-top compensatory response, reading about Jesus, thinking about Jesus, talking to others about Jesus and hoining my apologetics is far more healthy a way to spend time. Similarly, I did need to purge myself of various things, with the Spirit’s help. I needed to break the patterns of spending my time thinking and worrying about unhelpful things, and thus feeling more like a slave of sin than of righteousness. I don’t suggest that I am endeavouring to do so by works – but the grace that allows repentance calls too for a practical response in ourselves.

The time when I am least obviously sin-afflicted (don’t worry, I’m well aware it’s still very much there – usually in the form of swelling pride) is when I help lead a kids’ Christian camp in the summer. It would not occur to me on such a week to swear, to bitch, to fixate upon ugly sexual preoccupations, to drink to excess etc etc. Now I have thought about why this is so – it’s not an automatic process based on the inherent godliness of ‘doing a Christian camp’. Nor is it a front and a facade. My conclusions are that the following conditions there exist: 1. No idle time. There is no busier time in the year. Every second and more are accounted for. There’s no time for doing anything untoward!! 2. No ungodly stimulus. It is the only week of the year devoid of television, magazines, billboards, non-Christian company, the internet and everything else sexualised and materialistic that we take for granted. 3. Preoccupation with godly things.  Every spare moment on camp is spent praying, writing talks, planning Bible studies etc etc. There is little time for anything else. I am well aware, honestly, that watching movies, drinking beer and playing sport with non-Christian friends can also be ‘godly things’. However, for these purposes it is worth noting that the Bible, on camp, is rarely closed. And that’s a good thing. So I guess I’m wondering, whilst remaining in the world, how best to apply these lessons to an everyday life. And… to be honest I’m not sure I have the answers yet.

But this I do know – last week felt a LOT better than those that preceded it. It is amazing how quickly you can become conversational and useful in terms of arguing biblically and engaging in relevant issues – particularly given how unlikely such concepts felt immediately beforehand. If there is any value in such an upbeat posting (the more laceratingly self-immolating I am, the more thanks I usually receive!), let it be that this is the effect of but a few days – God is generous in allowing us to grow. No-one in God’s family is ever rubbish enough to need give up on themselves entirely…