ten ways to read scripture

1. from genesis to revelation, from start to finish

2. old and new testament simultaneously, so genesis and matthew,  exodus and mark, etc

3. use the new revised lectionary, a 3-year cycle of reading scripture (an OT, psalm, gospel and epistle reading every day)

4. start with a gospel, mark's probably the best, then acts and then maybe romans

5. read a daily psalm or proverb

6. randomly (open the bible and read a chapter)

7. thematically (for example miracle pregnancies - sarah, rebekah, rachel, hannah, mary)

8. quickly (get a copy of the 100-minute bible)

9. in everyday language (try the street bible now called word on the street and its sequel the liberator)

10. with a commentary (new testament for everyone series by tom wright is good or interpretation series, or texts for preaching lectionary year A, year B, year C)

ten ways to resist empire

Tomorrow I'm preaching on Revelation 17-19. My main theme is unveiling and resisting empire and so as a practical resource I thought I'd give the church some ideas of resisting empire.

1. join the campaign not to renew Trident - the replacement of Trident is the empire mentality that trusts in military strength to keep Britain safe and secure; nuclear weapons are anti-gospel, they go against Jesus command to love your enemies and the exhortation that blessed are the peacemakers

2. don't let your charity become commodified - more and more recently charity has been linked to entertainment and consumerism. 10p of this call goes to charity; buy this 'thing' and we'll give £1 to this charity. charity is about giving voluntary to those in need, it shouldn't be about us getting some in return. see kester's reflection here and here

3. reconsider where you buy and your food - what food can you grow in your garden? what food can you buy fairtrade? what food can you get locally? what would happen if as many people in the church as possible grew food and we shared it with each other? many global food and clothing companies are destroying the world's resources and enslaving the poor. find out where your food is made and by who. boycott the worst offenders.

4. become less addicted to our cars. Most of us are slaves to our cars - what have forms of transport can we use? what would happen if as many people in the church as possible shared lifts on sundays and in the week?

5. orientate our lives around being a community of God - around praying together, reading scripture together, visiting one another, being hospitable to one another, worshipping together, being truthful to one another listening to one another - what would happen if we made time to be together as a church family? how could we celebrate sabbath as a time of rest and worship?

6. become globally aware - too often we're ignorant of what is happening around the world and how our lives, our governments and multinational companies are affecting the lives of others around the world - what would happen if everyone in the church - young and old - chose a country to pray for and learn about? what would then happen if we made time to share stories from around the world to inform our intercessory prayer and our day to day choices?

7. reading scripture together - what would happen if we read Jesus' sermon on the mount so regularly it become written on our hearts and minds? we need to school and train ourselves in christian politics - that is a vision shaped by compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, love and peace

8. affirming self-image - one of the biggest lies a empire mentality tells us is that we are not beautiful, that we are not the right bodyshape, we don't have the right clothes - what would happen if we removed the magazine and tv adverts that lie to us from our lives? what would happen if we discovered ways to affirm and celebrate the way we look? what passages from scripture or  moments in our communal worship help affirm one another?

9. disconnect your television - how does the empire mentality sell us its myths? the answer is namely television. why don't you disconnect it every once a while? what would happen if we were more selective in what we watched (i.e. cut out the rubbish)? what would it mean to turn the TV while we eat? what would it mean to only have one TV?

10. become ethical bankers - how about switching accounts to more ethical bankers? how about checking where your money is being invested? if you have a credit card, switch it to a tearfund or christian aid one.

Ten ways to help save the planet

1. turn off the tap - especially when brushing teeth, try and flush less | how about using bath or shower water to water your plants?
2. recycle - paper, cardboard, class, plastic bottles, clothes
3. turn off the standby button (tv, video, dvd, stereo, cooker, mircowave) or simply cut down on how much you watch ...
4. get a compost
5. clean green - use ecological products like the Ecover range
6. walk, cycle or take public transport more | avoid using your car! - probably the hardest!
7. buy a 'bag for life' and avoid using free plastic bags  (although these can be recycled at supermarkets)
8. buy fairtrade | grow your own food
9. check out oxfam and other charity shops for clothes and other items
10. buy from local producers and not the giant supermarkets (or at least avoid Tesco and Asda - Waitrose are the best - it's worth spending that few extra pounds)