In any creative enterprise there are risks, and false-starts resulting in glorious and rare fruit, often unseen elsewhere. Manchester has known the gift of the Message Trust, and God’s honour has been seen in the mix of this gritty, consistent movement of changed lives. The unrelenting faith of a life sent on purpose is portrayed in inspiring terms here. The parallel pathway of Isaiah and northern mission finds rootedness in the pursuit of God, holiness, service and transformation in this world.

Scripture, stories, creativity and journal space give this new title and range of publications, lots of capacity to inspire ongoing urban mission.

This is a title, packed with earthy stories of presence, sacrifice and transformation. What’s not to love about seeing the gospel in action, and this pacy twelve-chapter resource will add fresh energy to the cause of Christ.

Faith and action are best seen together. And this is a great encouragement in uncommon grace and lives given over to all that Jesus wants. Congratulations to Andy Hawthorne and Alistair Metcalfe in the delivery of this attractive and inspiring resource. It’s a refreshing read about the scale of the gospel, the delight of service and the difference that Jesus longs to bring. Top class stuff. 

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“The gospel of justifying faith means that while Christians are, in themselves still sinful and sinning, yet in Christ, in God’s sight, they are accepted and righteous. So we can say that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope — at the very same time.

This creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth. It means that the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acceptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defences and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin.”

Tim Keller, resources from Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel.

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The Lord’s Prayer can get dusty really quick from repetition and overfamiliarity. I heard Dallas Willard’s version of the Lord’s Prayer and really enjoyed the freshness. Take it for a test-drive and see what you think. Here goes…

“Dear Father, always near us,
may your name be treasured and loved;
may your rule be completed in us
may your will be done on earth
in just the way it’s done in heaven.

Give us today the things we need today,
and forgive us our sins and impositions on you,
as we are forgiving all who in anyway offend us.

Please don’t put us in trials,
but deliver us from everything bad.
Because you are the one in charge,
and you have all the power,
and the glory too is all yours–forever.
Which is just the way we want it! Amen”

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We need to consistently get more intimately acquainted with Holy Spirit, but most importantly when our awareness, enjoyment and familiarity with him is more nostalgic than dynamic.

1 Krish Kandiah’s vision of an apostolic church. Compelling stuff.
2 Some of the clearest productivity insight. Six tips for everyday!
3 “Power and authority in the here and now is temporary, but love and kindness, this is for the here, now, and later… it’s eternal.” Evangelicalism redefined, by Andy Gill. 
4 Pastoral health and longevity, Winfield Bevins take on this..
5 Negotiating with others. Really clear stuff, and a bonus if you’re a control freak with your missing summer luggage!

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I’ve still not got my head around the most intensive rummage I’ve had with the book of Galatians. This was a rare and helpful in-depth study last week. There were helpful detailed blog summaries from Robin Ham in particular. And on the last morning Douglas Moo offered the briefest and best application of Galatians for practical pastoral ministry. He offered these headlines from a crumpled lined page of foolscap and I found these some of the most compelling insights. For scripture comes alive in application with real people and real need.

Here’s what I scribbled down:-
This is an important theological book offering a vital Christian worldview.
Here is a place to see the sweep of God’s purpose.
There’s a detailed justification and it’s implications.
Successful pastoral ministry involves a deep sense of God, communicating well and applying carefully.
The gospel is deeply relevant, but it’s a struggle for cheap and quick application.
Identifying threats to the gospel in our own context, is important.
It’s not about a ‘big tent approach’ but do we know where we draw the lines?
We must know theology, grow passion and care deeply.
How do we help others know the life of the Holy Spirit?
Continue on well in the path known……..and don’t do it by the flesh.
It’s not a matter of justification by faith, and sanctification by struggle.
Its grace and faith all the way.
Beware of “spiritual restlessness.” The gospel can easily come to an ‘old tired story.’
Be fresh and creative in our faithfulness, and rooted in a deep confidence in the Holy Spirit.

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from Skye Jethani’s book. Life with God changes everything…for God is enough.

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according the wisdom of an old-fashioned prayer….

“I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,
that You have made me in Your image,
so that I can remember You,
think of You,
and love You.

But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,
and darkened by the smoke of sin,
that it cannot do that for which it was made,
unless You renew and refashion it.

Lord, I am not trying to make my way to Your height,
for my understanding is in no way equal to that,
but I do desire to understand a little of Your truth
which my heart already believes and loves.

I do not seek to understand so that I can believe,
but I believe so that I may understand;
and what is more,
I believe that unless I do believe,
I shall not understand.”

*Anselm of Canterbury

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“Making shelter for Jesus” is the compelling invitation of Richard Rohr’s new title, Eager to Love. It constructs pathways and meeting points with God, offered alongside a unique encounter with Francis of Assisi and the invitation to wholeness. Rohr with deft touch and insight offers us fresh ways, that are free of ‘shoulds and musts’.

Some of the detailed work with language and concepts is particularly helpful, if uncomfortable in its reach and implications. There is plenty of paradox with edgy fresh interpretation in this mix of scripture, psychology and creativity. Feminine spirituality is reasoned, and as ever the prophetic nature of Rohr’s voice is restated. I found the engagement with room, fullness and emptiness particularly striking. I’d dare to say this will enlarge your grasp of the world and engage your heart in new ways.

Hodder and Stoughton have collaborated with Rohr in resourcing us with rich content in an attractive format. All in all, another Rohr gem which places our minds before the mirror of eternity. Whether it stirs up renewed Franciscan interest is by the by. It fuels a greater gratitude for, ‘God’s eternal eagerness to love’ and for that I am thankful.

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“Theology may perhaps be defined as the discipline by which the Church, carefully and with full knowledge of the risk, translates biblical faith into the non-biblical language of another age.” G. Ernest Wright

1 You know it, right…..the liturgy of coffee. That after church thing.
2 Apprentice’s really insightful summary of nine ways we fail at discipleship.
3 The timeless help of Eugene Peterson: “Curing Souls: the Forgotten Art.”
4 Pursuing discipleship in all of life. Gospel discipleship resources here.
5 Mostly why entrepreneurs and start-up’s fail. That thing called focus.

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Don’t be overwhelmed.
Stay the course.
Be encouraged.
Be tenacious.
Do not quit.
Take heart.
Persevere.
Have faith.
Press on.
Trust.
God.

How about it?

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