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Archive for November, 2008

Sadly this isn’t a post about the classic Cher song, sorry to disappoint. Tonight I had the somewhat dubious honour of doing a session at church on ‘wise and creative use of time’. (Gareth if you are reading this you may well be spitting your tea out in amusement, yes I did tell the story of my days watching west wing when I should have been, you know, doing some student work…). Anyway, my bad use of time aside, we pondered together the author of our days, the God who is in charge of all our time, who holds our times in his hand, and who has really fun stuff for us to do in it.

As part of that whole process I was pondering the things that we think will give us rest. When I am at work it’s easy to day dream of endless days in front of the tv, sometimes when I used to do student work I would give myself incentives of getting through the day to get to the treat of slobbing out on the sofa in front of the tv. Strangely enough it wasn’t satisfying, it made my day strange by making me want it to be over very quickly so I could get to the sofa, and at the end of the day I was left unsatisfied by the tv, it wasn’t restful. Now, sometimes watching tv is very fun and restful, I’m not an advocate of the stripped back lifes style. But I wonder. Do I really expect the tv to be my refuge? My rest? My hope? Hmm. Someone else should be those things, and will probably do a whole lot better job than the large box in my living room.

I guess there are two points here.

1. Am I wasting my day and the right now moments by constantly wanting the next thing? Am I wasting my weeks by living for the weekend and missing out on what God is up to in the present right now, where we can experience him?

2. Do I really think real rest can come from a box? What would life look like if tv and other distractions weren’t my refuge? How can God really be my rest and my refuge?

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1. Go for a storming bike ride on the South Downs (insert your own place of special beauty), marvel at the pretty clouds, sunshine and freezing cold wind ripping through your body.

2. Make soup. Squash, orange and ginger soup. Fry an onion, cut up some squash and make some vegetable stock, cut up a bit of ginger, bung it all in a pan with a cup of orange juice and leave to simmer for 40 min. Blend and enjoy.

3. Make beer bread, even easier than the soup. Take 15oz of self raising flour, sift it and mix it with a can of beer (about 375ml), add a tablespoon of sugar and a tea spoon of salt, bung it in the oven at 190 degrees for about 50 min. Enjoy with soup. Mmm.

4. Read some of Ezra in the sunshine and marvel at the God of heaven sorting kings out so they help the temple be rebuilt. Long for more change and anticipate the wonder of Christmas to come.

5. Buy some socks, cozy pretty ones.

6. Listen to some awesome music.

7. Await arrival of lush friends in a camper van. (or some such friend like activity.)

8. Buy a composter and do some Saturday garden activity.

9. Anticipate the joy of X factor in the evening.

10. Realise that it’s only 2.30 and there is so much more of this day to be enjoyed.

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Listen.

For the uninitiated, or those of you who didn’t do a social sciences degree, epistemology (as well as being one of my favourite words) is the study of knowledge, how can we know anything? A pretty important, fundamental question to be asking. These lectures, if you have the stomach for them are fairly mindblowing in pondering the question of knowing. Despite being three cups of tea talks I’ve found them very very helpful in working out how we can know anything right now.   

Epistemology pt 1

Epistemology pt 2

Epistemology pt 3

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There isn’t much better, in my far from humble opinion, to do with your time than go to L’abri. That’s pretty much all I have to say. Really. But if you need some reasons…

It’s a place to go and ask honest questions of life the universe and everything, a place to discover answers and discover that the answers you had might need rethinking. It’s a place to live in community, to work, to wash dishes, to clean and cook, it’s a place to drink copious amounts of tea and play speed scrabble in the breaks, it’s a place to delve into the tape collection like a child in a sweet shop.  It’s a place to talk, to discuss, to listen and be listened to, it’s a place to stop and think, a place to breathe and realise that God is way way way bigger than you give him credit for.  It’s a place to put down the things you carry and see what is worth picking up again, it’s a place to explore the wealth of space between the question and the answer, it’s a place to ponder the nature of reality and discover all our expert ways at hiding from reality. 

I’ve spent the last 3 days there, and although that’s far from enough, it was enough to stop and breathe again, to stop and remember that God is. It was enough to be reminded that reality is to be lived in, not hidden from. Enough to remind me that God is real, that I love pondering the questions of life, and that I am more broken and messed up than I like to admit. 

It’s not an easy place to go to, one of the things I love and hate about the place is that there aren’t many ‘mountain top’ moments, I don’t generally go and have uber experiential mystic moments with God, but in the breathing, eating, washing up, falling asleep listening to tapes moments I discover that God is in this mundane, in the ordinary, and so he is in the ordinary of all of life. This is no place to escape reality but a place that makes living in reality all the more possible. 

So, next time you’re wondering what to do with a weekend, or a week off, book in. 

Advert over.

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Wishing.

Last night I was on a panel of Christians answering questions on why trust the Bible, (believe me I have no idea why I get myself in these situations). I’m not the greatest fan of being on such panels (mainly because of my pride in hating looking stupid in front of people), I generally forget simple answers to questions like “why are you a Christian?”, or “why did Jesus have to die”, you know, unimportant unlifechanging questions like that. My mind goes blank and I can never think of anything useful to say except 3 days later. ANyway, this isn’t a blog post about my inability to be articulate on demand.

This is a post wishing things could have gone differently. Wishing that amidst the important stating of the reasons why the Bible is trustworthy from a historical and archeological basis we’d covered more reasons to read the Bible. I wish we’d told stories of how this book is freakishly lifechanging, stories of how God has wooed us in it, challenged us through it, walked off the pages into our lives and more. I wish we’d shown that this is a book with power, a book to be taken seriously, a book which is dangerous and subversive to read, I wish we’d made more of it’s speaking to every human condition, more of the God who reveals himself in it, more of the wonder of the massive story of redemption, love, hope and justice contained within it’s pages, I wish we’d talked of the Father who wrote so much to remind us of reality, to speak to us of His love and call for us to come home. I wish we’d talked of the hope on offer, the deep reality that our lives are eternal and how our decisions have consequences. I wish I’d talked of the affect the words on a page have on me, to move me, to make me cry, laugh, mourn, dance and more, because this book is infected with the Spirit who brings to life words on a page. No other book has this much power, this much influence, this much reality.

I guess part of the reason we love other books, other words, and what they do to us inside is because they speak of the truth of the human condition, they speak truth about our experiences and because they point us to the greater story of our lives. Last night I wish we’d explored the stories, the words, the power and beauty of a God communicating with his people and his battle to bring us home. I wish we talked more of the God the Bible brings to us.

This morning I read one verse from this book and it grabbed me, shoved me against a wall and got in my face about where exactly I was seeking refuge, was it in my Maker, my true shelter, my defender, or in TV to bring me peace hope and joy. Thinking about it now it seems obvious which one to choose, but all last week I chose the latter rather than the former. This morning one verse turned my world the right way up, reminded me of reality and caused me to seek God, to enjoy his refuge and love and turn from stuff that just isn’t as satisfying or thirst quenching. I wish I’d talked more of that kind of affect of the Bible last night.

Forgive us Lord for making your life giving Word a little bit dull. Forgive us for the abomination that is and please encounter us with You through it each day. Remind us of the power of your Word of life.

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Nothing

Nothing really to write about. Nothing really. I could write about our shiny new house, with palatial style bathroom, I could write about my new job and all the questions of identity that little number throws up. I could write about elections, Obama and the joy of someone who is a little bit articulate becoming in charge of the good old U S of A. Or how he’s probably imperfect and flawed and it’s about time we were realistic about our leaders. I could write about how strange it is not to be doing full time Christian work anymore, I could write about my new obsession with Life on Mars. I could write about the endless wondering in my head trying to understand the space between the question and the answer, the questions of how on earth we can remain certain whilst retaining so much of the stuff we just don’t know. I could write about how awesome Martyn Joseph was last week, and the way music grabs your soul, squeezes it and leaves you always crying for more. I could write about my friends generosity to me whilst I have been unemployed. But you know what, I think I’ll go to bed instead. Nothing really to write about anyway…

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