I’m speaking at the Making A Difference festival in Newham, London this Saturday (1st September 2012). If you’re in the area, join us!

Each seminar will be followed by Q&A.

Schedule

Don’t All Religions Lead To The Same God? - 1:30pm

If God Is Good, Why Does He Allow Suffering? – 3:15pm

Find out more and register for both sessions here.

Location

UPDATED: Christ Church, 663 Barking Road, London E13 9EX


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A round up of some of the interesting articles floating around the web this week:

Not The God of the Gaps, But the Whole Show
Prof. John Lennox comments on the discover of the Higgs Boson, “So what can we say about the Higgs boson? Simply this: God created it, Higgs predicted it and Cern found it.”

Lance Armstrong Drops Fight Against Doping Charges
Why the world’s most successful cyclist may have to give up every he’s won since 1998 (including all seven Tour titles).

Atheism+
For all those ‘bored’ of the New Atheism.

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader
Could be used as a case study for why apologetics is important for strengthening the Christian’s faith.

How To Be A Better Twentysomething
Thoughts from those gone before.

And I’ll leave you with the best video from the week …



Sorted Magazine
Sep/Oct 2012 edition of Sorted is on sale now in newsagents in the UK. Get your subscription online.

“Christianity? There are some good points to it, but I just can’t believe that one faith is superior to others. That view is intolerant.” You know the idea, it has been said in many ways. Christianity, it is understood, is basically unfair because it says that everyone else is wrong. Oh, the arrogance of this, the intolerance to other ideas and people!

In Britain today there are many people of different backgrounds, from all types of races and people groups. We can enjoy just about any food from around the world and explore just about any belief without ever leaving these fair shores. The world has come to this country and along with it has come a wonderful variety of customs, traditions, and of course, religions.

Unity in all of this diversity is greatly prized. Ideas which threaten the peace are pounced upon quickly. We can of course agree, discrimination against individuals can and should be fought against. We applaud the efforts of organisations such as FIFA to eradicate racism, a horrible and cruel practice. We celebrate equality for women in the work place as noble and worthy. But does it mean that we have to accept all religions as having equal weight? Is it discrimination to say that just one religion is correct?

Essentially this argument boils down to truth claims. When someone says that they don’t like Christianity because it is intolerant they are making a claim about truth. “I don’t like your exclusivity. I don’t like that you say that Jesus is the only way.” But as we examine those very statements being made we realise that the person making them is asserting an exclusive view too! The person who doesn’t like Christianity’s truth claims is in fact saying that their view of truth – that many viewpoints are equally valid – is the right way, the only way, to proceed. In fact, exclusivity is OK – it just must be this type of exclusivity. But hold on, within this belief this person must grant Christianity’s view too. It all starts to unravel somewhat.

The question in fact reveals that Christianity – or any religion – can’t be written off simply for making exclusive claims. All religions and ways of thinking hold some kind of exclusivity at some point. What we must do is investigate the claims that Christianity makes. Do they stack up? Does the evidence fit? Does Christianity make more sense of the world than other religions and belief systems? What we really need to do is investigate, as Alister McGrath says, what Christianity is all about. This is what we will begin to look at in future columns.

This article first appeared in the Sep/Oct edition of Sorted Magazine. Pick up your copy today at WH Smith or get your subscription today.



If you have used Facebook for any amount of time it is possible you may have experienced some, erm, unhelpful emotions as a result of seeing everyone’s fabulous lives played out before your eyes.

Those holiday pics, the oh-so-perfect-marriage, the new job/house/car etc. All those status updates can leave you feeling just a little bit left out, a teeny bit unsatisfied.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about some of the issues surrounding Facebook:

For many, Facebook is less about looking up friends than it is about looking at friends.

The comparisons begin. Additionally, Facebook and other social media can quickly grow your ‘friends’ way beyond the amount of people you’d actually see regularly.

Rather than a way of catching up, Facebook can be one more way of keeping up. What’s worse is that now we feel the need to keep up not just with our closest friends and neighbours, but with hundreds of others whose manufactured updates continually remind us of how glorious life should be. (TDD)

Now hooked into playing keep up with an ever expanding group of aquaintances it’s all too easy to assume that the feed in Facebook is the new social norm. Those updates became our reality.

Most twentysomethings … treat Facebook images and posts from their peers as real. We don’t recognise that most everyone is keeping their troubles hidden. (TDD)

So, away with Facebook! Be done with social media and all will be put right! Or will it? What if, actually, Facebook is just the electronic stage on which we extend the games we play in the “real” world? Blaise Pascal, the 17th Century French mathematician and philosopher says this:

We are not satisfied with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being: we want to lead an imaginary life in the minds of other people, and so we make an effort to impress. We constantly strive to embellish and preserve our imaginary being, and neglect the real one.

Pascal continues:

And if we are calm, or generous, or loyal we are anxious to let it be known so that we can bind these virtues to our other being, and would rather detach them from our real selves to unite them with the other. We would happily be cowards if that gained us the reputation of being brave. What a clear sign of the nothingness of our own being not to be satisfied with one without the other, and to exchange one frequently for the other!

From Blaise Pascal Pensées

Facebook isn’t the problem, but it sure does highlight something ugly about our hearts, something that we try to suppress, deny, and look the other way from.

We can search high and low, online and and off, to taste satisfaction but ultimately it’s only find in one person: Jesus. We can follow all the paths of this world to their end – searching for love, happiness, wealth, success – and arrive at the destination only to realise they really don’t fulfil. And having exhausted every option we can think of we are haunted by an unmet desire, an appetite that can not be nourished from the riches of this world.

At this point it is C. S. Lewis who says it best,

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.



After spending a numbers of years working in evangelism and training around the world I returned to my home country in 2009. I returned in part because Carl Beech, leader of Christian Vision for Men (CVM), asked me to come back and work for the organisation.

Having seen a little of evangelism in overseas countries I was keen to stuck in on the ‘home front’. Through my 19 months at CVM I saw much of the country, much of the desire for people to share their faith with their friends, and the enormity of the task at hand.

During my time overseas I came to see the need for effective apologetics in evangelism. Apologetics, put simply, is dealing with people’s objections that stop them seeing Jesus. I grew to enjoy the discipline, find I had a gifting in the area and the desire to grow in it.

Every culture has its own challenges and obstacles. My time with CVM helped me to understand some of the current problems men face in the UK in their faith today.

In 2011 I was released from my position in CVM to study at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. My time in Oxford boosted my foundation in Christian Apologetics and opened up new areas of engagement to me.

Now I get to put all of this together!

It’s with real excitement that I can announce that Andy Kind and I will be heading up the Demolition Squad, the new apologetics arm of CVM. Through this new initiative we will be bringing apologetics training to the hundreds of men’s groups up and down the country that are fighting hard to see their families, friends, colleagues etc. come to know Jesus.

There is lots more to come, but for now read all about it here.



Matthew Stadlen asks Peter Hitchens a few questions in the BBC’s Five Minutes programme.

Peter Hitchens on BBCs Five Minutes

Peter Hitchens on BBCs Five Minutes

MS: “Do you think it’s possible to have a viable moral code without God?”

PH: “No.”

MS: “Explain to me why you think that.”

PH: “Well, anybody can have a moral code but unless it originates from some power of source that you can’t control you’ll fiddle with it to suit yourself.”

See the whole 5 minute video on the BBC website.



Bits and bobs from around the web this week:

Apple Media Event All But Confirmed for September 12th, iPhone Launch Likely
Here comes the next iPhone.

London2012 Opening Ceremony: The power and the might
The London 2012 Summer Olympic games get underway

Q & A: Os Guinness on What Freedom in the Balance Looks Like
My friend Os Guinness taking questions before his new book is release - A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future

‘Not tailored to U.S. audience’: NBC cuts tribute to London terror victims from Opening Ceremony broadcast
American broadcasts try to explain why honourable memorial is cut out from their delayed feed of the opening ceremony

Helen Glover & Heather Stanning win first Britain gold
The first Team GB gold from Eton Dorney, the beginning of something special. My passion for rowing is only increasing with this Olympics.



There were the scoffers, the doubters, the haters, and the wish-it-were-us-ers. There was the expectation, the hope, the promise, and the collective big breath. There were roles for Boris, Beckham, Cameron, and a cumbersome cameo for a chap called Romney.

London 2012 Opening Ceremony fireworks

credit london2012.com

And then, on Friday 27th July at 9pm, the questions were answered and the negative comments rebutted. London 2012 opened to the world with great panache and splendour.

Danny Boyle and his troupe delivered an Opening Ceremony the nation can be proud of. Colour, movement, prose, pyrotechnics, and sound were threaded together in a collage of creative exuberance.

A captive global audience watched the drama of a nation’s life story played out before them. Literature, healthcare, industrialisation, and music – all British-led world-changing developments – were celebrated, and properly so.

Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II (a constitutional monarch, which is a political and legal triumph itself to rival all others) – opened the proceedings and we were off and away.

There was much to be thankful to God for in the events of Friday night. I love my country and I am proud to be British. Of course, there is more to man than achievement and success, yet these things are worthy of celebration. Humankind is wonderful, diverse, and capable of amazing feats.

By celebrating the wonder of man we must never forget to go one step further and celebrate the Creator of man. An athlete may possess the pinnacle of human power, but it still is not powerful enough to fix mankind’s basic problem.

Consider these words from Psalm 33.

The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

Consider Him who gave us the potential to produce what the world will now be watching together for the next two weeks. Let us remember that all “honour and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”*

And now to the games. May they be a tremendous success. May the competitors give it their utmost and thrive in competition and the spirit of fair play.

And to Team GB – well done. We’re already proud of you. Take this opportunity, grasp it with the strength you have honed. Spend yourselves and leave nothing in the tank. God speed!

*Revelation 7:12



In the absence of anything new on the blog this week please enjoy these links that have caught my eye:

The “It” Factor Every Relationship Needs
What are you prepared to do to make things successful?

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.
“Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English.” Interesting article that’s close to my heart – from the Harvard Business Review blog.

Eight Twitter Accounts During the London Olympics
The New Yorker lists some interesting Brits to follow to get into the Olympic mood.

What Would Jesus Tweet?
Does what it says on the label. Plus helpful terminology guide for those new to Twitter.

Apologetics: An important spiritual discipline for our time
“Christian thinker G. K. Chesterton observed in 1933 that while it is important to win the unsaved to Christianity, leaders must increasingly endeavor to “convert the Christians to Christianity.”

University of Oxford goes to the Olympics
Oxford has a proud sporting heritage. Here are nine alumni competing in the Games this year.

 



Here are some of the things that have caught my eye this week from around the web:

How The Gospel Changes Our Apologetics, Part I
Tim Keller dealing brilliantly with the biblical basis for apologetics. One of the best answers to ‘Why apologetics?’ I’ve found.

Communion on the Moon: The Religious Experience in Space ht Micah Ruelle
An interesting look at why religious experience is mingled in with scientific discovery.

Every Presentation – Ever: FAIL [VIDEO] ht Michael Hyatt
Funny and all-too-true look at the problems many people experience either in giving, or sitting through, presentations.

When Good Ambition Gets You and Part II
How should a Christian see ambition?

It’s Just Stuff
“Stuff isn’t bad. It isn’t even wrong, but attachment to stuff (physical, emotional or spiritual) keeps us stuck”

‘We’ve got better restaurants than Paris and less rain than Rome’, says Boris Johnson [VIDEO]
The best of Boris from this week.

The Social Network 2.0 [VIDEO] ht Krish Kandiah
What would you do without Facebook? Funny take on how Facebook has changed our lives