Adoniram Judson’s Courtship Proposal

AAJudsonAnn Hasseltine asked Adoniram Judson to write to her father and ask for permission in order to begin a courtship with her, this is what he wrote in July, 1810:

“I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next Spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God?”

That is some proposition!

Ann’s parents ended up letting her make the decision. And in her journal she writes:

Jesus is faithful; his promises are previous. Were it not for these considerations, I should, with my present prospects., sink down in despair, especially as no female has, to my knowledge, ever left the shores of America to spend her life among the heathen; nor do I yet know that I shall have a single female companion. But God is my witness, that I have not dared to decline the offer that has been made me, though so many are ready to call it a “wild, romantic, undertaking”.

My Top Books of 2014

At the start of each year I set out to read, on average, a book a fortnight. By the end of the year I’ve usually done that. What can I say, I enjoy reading. It’s usually a mix of fiction (30%) and non-fiction (70%). The list of books I read don’t include the ones I dip into here and there but are the ones I read right through. If you’d like to see every book I read this year then head here, otherwise, below is a list of the top books I read, the ones I gave 5-stars to.

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One Day by David Nicholls

I found this a great novel and it moved me in ways I didn’t suspect. I can understand why it won the 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year Award. It’s the story of two people who circle each other their whole lives and each chapter is written as if it’s a journal note from the same day each year. Worth a holiday read.

You Lost Me. by David Kinnaman

A detailed analysis of why Millennials/Gen Yers are leaving the church. This is an excellent read for anyone concerned about the future of the church and particularly if you are a Pastor or Youth Pastor. Kinnaman bases much of the book on research done by The Barna Group. Much of the information wasn’t too much of a surprise to me as this is my world but it was a good reminder to continue to think hard about engaging and growing young people in the faith.

Calico Joe by John Grisham

Just a classic piece of work by Grisham here. Not a long book but it will keep you reading.

What’s Best Next by Matt Perman

Can you believe that there is actually a theology of productivity? No, either could I until I read through Perman’s book. I’ve been following his blog for a few years now and love much of what he says. I found this volume really well structured to ensure solid theory and practical solutions. If you’d like to be more effective in life and work then read this book. Perman has got great thoughts on productivity and leadership and this book is well worth the time to read. It will take time to implement some of the suggestions he gives but when done I imagine a much easier way of life.

The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper

Such a good book. So good I had to review it. This book is for anyone in the church because it is helpful for Pastors, Pastor’s kids, and the general church member. It names everything a PK will go through and senses while in the church with their parent being a Pastor. It helps naming those things but also helps others understand what and why the PK is going through what they’re going through.

A special mention must go to In My Place Condemned He Stood by JI Packer and Mark Dever. It’s mainly a collection of essays written by Packer and one by Dever. They are all based upon the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, its meaning, purpose, and result. Each essay is comprehensive and will help grow your faith. Terrific read.

Better Together For Mission

The title of this post is the title I have for the sermon I’m preaching this coming Sunday.

It’s causing me issues.

I’ve spent most of this morning writing and deleting words from my screen. I haven’t been able to put into words the things I need to say and so currently have very little to say.

Part of this post is to enable me to write something that may actually trigger what I want to say come Sunday.

Of course, I’m hoping to say what God wants me to say. As I do every time I preach. But that’s all well and good when the words flow, the passage makes sense, and the topic is an easy one.

So far these have alluded me.

When thinking about ‘Better Together For Mission’ there comes to mind the group or communal aspect of mission.

Mission is not a solitary exercise between one individual to another, although it could be. But even when it seems to be this way there is usually prayers from church members or mission supporters that are being lifted up and heard by God, therefore having an impact upon the situation.

In a local church context there are programs run by numerous people within the church, another example of community working together for mission.

Where programs aren’t a big emphasis then the daily mission task of the average Christian is being encouraged weekly through the Sunday gathering with a reminder of what it is to be a believer during the week.

The point is that mission is not individualistic, it is communal. And so the partnership between individuals, the church, and God is evident in each and every mission activity we do.

But this still doesn’t resolve my problem.

If mission is something that is part of the whole of life as a believer then mission is life. It isn’t some part of life, it is the driving force behind a purposeful life.

The reality is this kind of focus and priority isn’t seen as regularly within the church and the Christian life as we’d like. Unfortunately it’s more like a bit part, something that comes to our minds only when we’ve been reminded that God has a mission for us here in the world.

On one hand we could say that mission is a communal exercise, even if we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, with a language we hardly understand, and a culture we find confusing. But it must be ingrained in us to think that mission is a natural part of living. A life focused on another mission – to earn heaps of money, to climb the corporate ladder, to write a Pulitzer prize – is one that doesn’t give God the priority. These things may come our way but they aren’t the driving force in life, they are second to the mission of follow Jesus. be more like him, and see others come to know him too.

As I write these words my mind is cynical about what I’m writing. Is this the reality of the Bible? Is it simply simplistic to write this and how does this play out in life?

I’m not sure right now and I’m not sure when I’ll be sure. Perhaps this speaks more of me than of what God’s mission is for the world.

But if there is a focus on anything but Jesus then something is wrong. That I know for sure.

Perhaps that’s the answer right there.

We won’t be involved in what God is doing around the world, whether right next door to where we live or 4000km away, unless we have Jesus as the focus, priority, and central aspect to our whole life.

If Jesus isn’t the centre of our life then his mission for us won’t be the centre of our thought.

If Jesus isn’t the centre of our church then his mission won’t be the centre of our local ministry,

If Jesus isn’t the centre then something else will be and we will lose out on being part of God’s mission.

Inspirational Books

Inspirational books can shape and change you. They can stay with you for years and years and influence what you do and the way you live.

The other day I was asked on Facebook to list the top 10 books that “have stayed with me” in some form. While that phrase is open to interpretation I listed the following 10 books as having an impact and influence in my life thus far.

1. The Bible by God
2. Jim Elliot by Barbour Publishing
3. Charles Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore
4. Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
5. The Trellis & The a Vine by Tony Payne & Colin Marshall
6. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
7. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
8. Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk
9. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones (2 Vols.) by Iain Murray
10. Knowing God by JI Packer

What books would you list?

The Eighth Sin: Apathy

I’m inspired by today’s The Dailypost topic “The Eighth Sin”.

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First, I’m intrigued that sin is still talked about. Outside of the church I don’t hear too many people talking about sin. It should be talked about more. I’m glad to see it on the radar here in this little exercise.

Second, what came to mind when thinking about what might be the eighth cardinal sin was apathy.

When reflecting on the past couple of weeks I can’t help but think we’re an apathetic people.

This is an apathy that is best wrapped up in the saying, ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. But because of the information age we’re in there is no real excuse for being out of sight. My social media feeds are filled with people sharing articles and posts written about the persecution of Christians in Iraq and the terrible conflict in Gaza. Yet, as I reflect further I notice that it’s only a handful of people that are talking about this, or commenting or liking.

I don’t expect everyone to have their say. For some it’s not a forum where people wish to discuss or even mention their views on anything. Yet, that is one of the main reasons we are so apathetic.

Apathy allows us some emotional distance from what is going on for others. Apathy means we don’t make a stand when we should. Apathy means we don’t give a voice to the voiceless. We let injustice run its course.

To be apathetic means we don’t care. And that’s sad.

Not everyone can care about everything. That’s impossible in such a complex and issue-ridden world. But on things that aren’t ‘issues’ but are to do with the life and death of human beings, then perhaps we do need to care. Perhaps we need to shake off the comfort and ease of apathy. Perhaps we need to confess we are sinners and one sin that affects us is our apathetic nature.

Thankfully sin is forgiven, even our apathy. Yet this doesn’t mean we don’t have to change. Just as the sin of apathy is forgiven through the person and work of Jesus Christ, the ability to change and work toward a more just world, a world where the voiceless are heard, is achieved through the continual trust in Him and His rule.

Who Am I? by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoefferby Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Who Am I?

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell’s confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As thought it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

Cringe-worthy Writing

I don’t think I could’ve spotted bad writing a number of years ago. But, reading my journals and blog posts from the past let me know I can now.

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Every now and then I journal and have done so for the past 10 years. It’s not frequent, it stops and starts. But yesterday I read through some old journals. Boy, what poor writing.

I also read through some old blog posts. They were terrible. They’re written like I’m a Professor of Pompousness, like I’m pontificating about my subject in a way someone from the 1800s would talk. It’s like I’m writing for a costume drama.

I could be depressed by this but I’m not. It’s actually encouraging.

It’s encouraging to see that my writing has improved over the last four or five years. It’s encouraging for me to notice bad writing, like really bad writing. And it’s encouraging to think what the next five years of writing might mean.

You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

After reading Jeff Goins‘ new book, You Are A Writer, you’ll come out of the closet. The little writing closet that you hide away in of course.

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By: Jeff Goins

Jeff is a prolific blogger (goinswriter.com) who writes about writing. This book is an extension of those posts with a few juicy bits added.

Jeff loves giving; you can tell by the way he writes. In this case Jeff is giving advice on writing and how to get your writing out into the world for people to connect with. This advice is aimed at writers and wannabe writers who are too afraid to show their work to others (yeah, that’s me and probably you).

Throughout Jeff seeks to inspire and give practical tips on how to get started in this writing caper. In his fast-paced, sharp, and punchy style the reader is drawn into his personal stories and advice. It’s a great read and could be completed in one sitting if you’re keen.

If you’re teetering on the edge of wanting to launch yourself more seriously into writing but aren’t sure how to do it then this book answers your fears.

In fact, it’s all about fear according to Jeff. Fear is what stops us from doing those things we want so desperately to do. We are fearful of taking risk and in this case we are fearful of others reading our work and laughing, or criticising, or actually liking it!

The two main areas that Jeff writes about are:

Writing. It’s hard, it’s great, it takes practice, and it becomes you. Jeff wants you to find your voice and get you to start believing in yourself. You need to think of yourself as a pro. That’s simple enough isn’t it? Just say you’re a writer and begin writing.

Platform Building. Jeff gives tips on what to do to be heard. In this busy information filled world it’s not easy for our ideas to stick. Jeff tells you how to make it happen. Through a bit of effort and consistency in your use of social media and blogging you can raise your platform just like he did.

This, however, does require a mind shift. The key ingredients to this whole argument are:

  1. Choose Yourself. You’ve got to be the initiator and change your attitude to your writing. It’s no longer a hobby. You’re a pro. Stop waiting around for someone else to pick you on his or her team, start a team yourself. Practice, work hard, and put yourself out there. That’s what Jeff’s saying.
  2. Overcome The Fear. Seth Godin calls it “The Resistance”. It’s that fear factor in the back of your head, or perhaps it’s on your shoulder, stopping you from becoming a real writer (Hang on, that’s right, you’re already a real writer). This fear is costing you. It’s costing you time and energy, it’s stopping you from pursuing your dreams. It’s costing you from taking risk. It’s time to get over that fear and begin.

Perhaps we’ll let Jeff say it in his own words:

“We’re afraid of the cost. Worried we don’t have what it takes. Anxious of the road it takes to get to greatness. So we play it safe and abide by the rules. Before we start, we sabotage our work and subvert our genius” (p13-14).

“Real artists risk failure every time they release their work into the world. If your words are going to matter, you will have to do the same. You will have to let go. Until you do, you’re not creating art. You’re just screwing around. Remember: The fear of something is always scarier than the thing itself. Yes, there is pain and rejection. But the greatest failure is to never risk at all” (p32).

So, what’d I think?

First, I think it is a great book and well worth the time to read. It didn’t take very long and is packed with inspirational advice about writing. I was certainly encouraged to get cracking on a few writing projects I want to complete.

Second, I don’t think it matters whether you’re a writer or not. Much of the book is really aimed at anyone who’s creative, wants to be more productive, or in leadership. The principles in this book can help you launch yourself upon the world. Hopefully for the good!

Third, as I opened with, there are thousands of closet writers. Read this book and come out. I know I will be.

Fourth, if you’ve read a bit of Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt and the like then you will probably notice a fair bit of overlap. Much of the content within is described by Godin and Hyatt in their works. Jeff says it another way and specifically about writing – I think that’s great.

Fifth, if you’re still not won over to buy the book and you’ve actually read this far then my final point would be that you need to show him some sympathy. Go and buy the book. He’s a wranga after all, they need all the help they can get. 😉

You can find more information or purchase Jeff’s book at http://youareawriter.com/.