Just came back from a great holiday in Crete with Anne. Truth be told, Crete has a lot more sunshine than Leeds and Zeus, the Greek god, was supposedly born on that fair isle! We didn't bump into the husband of Hera or any other Greek deity but we did have a remarkable encounter with a witty and outgoing plasterer, Ron and his delightful wife, Sally. (These names are not the real names.)
Last night I delivered my presentation on Mafia and the Problem of Evil to about thirty members of the evening fellowship at St Peter's in Harrogate.
At TFN we are committed to giving Christians an opportunity to think through challenging and difficult topics. Almost every day we hear about atrocities perpetrated by IS jihadists etc. How do we make sense of these terrifying stories? In my presentation I try to help sixth formers (RB in schools) to understand five ways of looking at evil and atrocity.
1) Evil is caused by bad karma (Hinduism)
An Indian fakir had been living on a bed of spikes for 18 months. Why was he doing this?
The desperate man said this: "I worship God in this way but I confess that the pricks of these spikes are not so bad as the pain I get from my sins and evil desires. My object is to crush the desires of self that I may gain salvation."
There are four ways of looking at this self-torturing fakir.
Some say: "Get off the bed of spikes and lie down on this Bonaparte French bed worth £2,700."
Very encouraged that my article 'How Evangelism can be Fun' is featured on the front of the Baptist Times. To date 15 people have made comments about my article.
So delighted that an old friend, Jeffrey Dudiak, Professor of Philosophy, The King’s University, Edmonton, Canada wrote this:
Thanks to everyone who prayed for me yesterday. I really need this prayer support. RB is a ministry that is committed to reaching out to British teenagers and during this conference there was some serious bespoke evangelism going on. Please look at previous postings if you don't understand this way of talking about mission.
Bespoke evangelism begins with everyday conversation. This might involve chatting about vegetarian cooking, fish and chips, the royal family, detective dramas, sport, social events, photography, poetry, travel in exotic locations, gangster films and Hollywood stars. We find out what people naturally enjoy talking about and then we build bridges into this enjoyable chat zone. We seamlessly connect Christian faith to garlic, diamond rings, the royal family and fish and chips. It's relevant, imaginative and fun!
In 2003 football hard man and actor Vinnie Jones admitted assaulting an airline passenger and drunkenly claiming he could have a flight crew "murdered for £3,000". Jones became incandescent with rage when a fellow passenger, Stephen Driscoll told him he was being "annoying", sparking a tirade of aggressive threats from the celebrity. Jones was given 80 hours community service and fined £800.
Despite this, Vinnie is a man of prayer. Surprised? In Vinnie the Autobiography, Vinnie explained his faith like this:
Gareth Jones, our TFN director and I have recently started talking about bespoke evangelism. Gareth is quite good at this but not as good as me!
The heart of bespoke evangelism is to find out what a person enjoys talking about and then to build bridges into this enjoyable chat zone. This method of 'witnessing' is to be contrasted with bible bashing that both ignores contemporary culture and often alienates people.
Here is an illustration of bespoke evangelism that seemed to work very well:
I was incredibly chuffed by these two reviews of my new book. Richard Middleton is a superb Old Testament scholar who is a seminal thinker in both worldview and eschatology. Recently Richard came to the UK and delivered some riveting, brilliant and edifying lectures on a new heavens and a new earth and the psalms. Richard is not only a scholar and a gent. He is also a very warm and witty follower of Jesus who hails from Jamaica. I love his accent!
I have not met Steve Divall. He is the vicar of St Helen's in North Kensington.
Thanks to wordsmith, poet and great friend Rachel Lawrence for this review of The Spy, the Rat and the Bed of Nails.