Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Well, after a day off yesterday I am briefly back in the saddle today for a (quite a) few hours in order to be able to take the rest of the week off. But I had to do this today or a) take it with me when I visit friends, or b) have nothing to preach when I get back on Sunday.
As I was looking for the words of a different hymn, I found this classic first verse of an Isaac Watts hymn. It's a pretty good argument for the updating of the language in hymns and translation of the Bible.
Blest is the man whose bowels move
And melt with pity to the poor;
Whose soul, by sympathizing love,
Feels what his fellow saints endure.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Mine was at Word Alive, a conference for students (in those days) and I was nominated by the people I worked for (UCCF) because I had played around at student radio at one time. Looking back it was a tremendous risk on their part, not sure how playing the Milltown Brothers on university radio was any help for the task in hand.
So it came to pass that I had a carefully scripted and timed Thought for the Day recorded live in front of several thousand people at The Gaiety Theatre, Skegness as part of the student celebration. A nerve wracking experience that took way longer than it should. I remember the director telling us we weren't saying 'Amen' correctly at the end of the prayer so he recorded doing it lots of different ways. We also had to record a period of silence in case the Queen Mother or someone similar died overnight, before the broadcast went out.
UCCF representing students from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, we had representatives from each nation doing the prayers and the splendid Geoff Baker led the worship. The theatre has since been demolished and Butlins (did I mention this was where we were?) have redeveloped the site.
We still go to the conference, now New Word Alive, located in North Wales, and now open to all. It's a positive oasis in the calender and an annual event that we prioritise in the calender every year. Does the whole family the world of good.
Actually, as I write this I realise that I didn't really do Thought for the Day at all, it was Morning Service. The Pope wins after all. But has he ever done Morning Service in Skegness?
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Billy Graham on Christmas from an interview with Fox News, 20/12/10.
Fuller interview at http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=34303
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
The Jesus Storybook Bible is a fabulous piece of work. It tells in about 40 stories the story of the Bible and is a particular favourite because of the beautiful illustrations and the fact that it shows how the whole of the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) fit together and point to Jesus. It is so good that about three years ago we read the stories one a week in church to give young and old a simple Bible overview. Probably about time we did it again, actually.
Well, now it comes with moving parts. This is a clip I found telling some of the Christmas story. I do hope this means that they are animating the whole thing. Click the top right hand link under Our Friends Eclectic to see it for yourself.
Monday, 20 December 2010
'There is your hope lying in a manger. He is much bigger than he looks.'
J Wilson (no idea who he/she is I'm afraid).
I think it ties in nicely (or could be made to!) with this quotation from C.S.Lewis' The Last Battle.
"It seems, then," said Tirian, smiling himself, "that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places."
"Yes," said the Lord Digory. "Its inside is bigger than its outside."
"Yes," said Queen Lucy. "In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world." It was the first time she had spoken, and from the thrill in her voice, Tirian now knew why. She was drinking everything in even more deeply than the others. She had been too happy to speak.
It was this quote that has got me thinking and so I have called the Christmas Day sermon, "The Tardis and the Stable". I remember another friend using line about the Timelord and the Lord of Time; will be nicking that too!
Sunday, 19 December 2010
The New Zealand kids nativity is a great piece of video for a Carol Service. I am using it in the Crib Service on Christmas Eve and it even comes in HD.
The quality of the Lego Nativity is not so high but it's engaging and I plan to use it this afternoon in what is usually one of our biggest services of the year (only our Kids Holiday Club Service is bigger). With all the ice on the ground it will be interesting to see if that is the case this year.
You can see both videos by clicking the link under "Our Friends Eclectic" in the top right hand bit of the page.
Saturday, 18 December 2010
Good to get out in it with my camera.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
Made me laugh - could well be finding it's way into a sermon this season.
Churches fit GPS to Baby Jesus to stop nativity thefts
Updated: Sunday, 05 Dec 2010, 8:46 AM EST
Published : Sunday, 05 Dec 2010, 8:46 AM EST
(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) - Churches in the US are fitting their baby Jesus statues with GPS trackers to stop them being stolen from their Christmas nativity scenes, myFOXny.com reported Friday.
Company BrickHouse Security is providing free GPS trackers to churches and communities across the country.
Religious institutions and nonprofit organizations can enroll in a program to get a free GPS tracker to install inside a baby Jesus statue. Jewish organizations can also fit them to their Menorah candle holders for Hanukkah.
The company said the tracker means that if a thief makes off with the cherished item the church, synagogue, or other group can log on via computer or mobile phone to track the missing items.
St. Ambrose Roman Catholic Church in Old Bridge, New Jersey -- about 40 miles (64km) southwest of New York City -- installed the device after suffering from thefts and vandals in the past.
"There's been no attempt of theft since we announced that we're tracking our Jesus," said Alan Czyewski of St. Ambrose Church. "This is our third year, and we love this. People are now well aware of our GPS Jesus, so they leave it alone."
Read more: http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/offbeat/church-protects-manger-with-gps-jesus-20101203-akd
Friday, 3 December 2010
Last time I posted I mentioned that the standard of the pictures at the camera club is dauntingly good. Here is a link to the picture that won the competition on Monday, a truly stunning image.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Take a look at the link at the top right hand side of the page to see for yourself.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
"A dozen yards or so down the beach, he (Jesus) saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee's sons. They were in the same boat, mending their fishnets."
Either a wonderful Christian innocence in Eugene Peterson (the translator) or it doesn't have the same connetations in America.
Monday, 15 November 2010
On reflection I realised I had a choice. Tear down my wardrobe and build bigger ones (or at least put together bigger ones) or do the right thing and redistribute the wealth.
So I had a sort through this morning and am as embarrassed as I was surprised to find that I was able to lose 23 shirts and still have plenty left to wear. Felt pleased with myself until I counted what was left. I still had too many, so a second cull was called for.
This time I got expert assistance; my wife helped. Another dozen were added to the pile. I am rather ashamed that I was able to be rid of 35 shirts. I still have plenty.
The result? I find out some things about myself. Last week I had over 60 shirts. I am surprised because I think you'd be fairly hard pressed to find anyone who would describe me as fashion conscious. I guess I have aquired shirts here and there and not thrown out or donated at anything like the same rate. I am embarrassed because I realise that this is an example of greed, something I don't like to associate with myself. Sometimes the evidence is a lot less attractive than what we like to picture in our heads.
I dare you to count your shirts. You may be almost as bad as me.
The picture is of a man who came up with a different solution and decided to wear all 120 shirts at the same time.
Friday, 12 November 2010
But one of the ways the internet is fantastic is in finding stuff that someone has an interest in that few others have. Thanks to the www. I was able to trace and purchase an album that very few people bought at all, let alone on CD. Neither is it available as an MP3 download - at least not legally. And now I have replaced my cassette copy of the final Heaven 17 album (until they reformed) with the CD.
All this is thanks to a fellow with an unpronouncable name in some corner of Japan who cleared out some of his CDs one day - quite possibly at his wife's insistance. (Some things are pretty universal). About a tenner and just 7 days later it lands on my doorstep. The result is a singular joy - in that no-one else in my family shares it - and a slight feeling of guilt that I still know most of the words a mere 22 years on.
Coming soon - I hope - Pleasure One, the CD before, which lost the race to arrive first, coming from Washington DC. Can't wait.
The top right hand column has one of the tracks linked to it. Nothing to see but it'll give you something to listen to.
Thursday, 11 November 2010
With a little time to kill today I found myself in Bridgwater Indoor Market, possibly the most depressing place in Somerset. Even then, it's hard to pass by a pile of books that need to be browed through and I was leafing through when the volunteer (I was in a charity shop) informed me that the men's books were on the shelves 'over there'.
Slightly wary of what I might find, I saw that she was directing me to pile of thrillers and war books. Some odd choices in amongst them - Harry Potter a men's book? - but they were all of a genre.
In the end I made my choice, a Will Self novel that was in the other section. Tongue in cheek, I asked if it would be okay to buy it, even though it was in the women's section. "Whatever, I don't care if you're AC/DC", came the reply.
Good old Bridgwater.
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
I thought he came over really well, you can check it out for yourself on http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/dailybacon.
Monday, 1 November 2010
As usual I have prepared a playlist for pre-film. A pointless exercise, I suspect, as I am probably the only one who recognises the songs or realises that they are themed. But it's light relief on a Monday morning and I enjoy it. Note the intrusion of Belle and Sebastian, a relatively modern beat combo.
Always Crashing In The Same Car - David Bowie
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word - Elton John
Sunday, 31 October 2010
An extract written by a Brentford fan confirms:
"well what can i say.
two pints of guiness and time to reflect with a pub full of exeter city fans.
Basically outplayed and outpassed for 80 mins. won 4 : 2 had one disallowed and missed two penalties. Who said this is a strange game.
Came away thinking we had got away with it and really deserved nothing from the game.
Three points is three points and on we go. Unfortunately it was exeters fpptball i would rather watch each week.
Not being negative but very honest after a very strange game.
I would suggest Andy Scott does the lottery tonight though."
Never mind, hey? Onwards and upwards. Let's see, who's next? Ah, top of the table Brighton away on Tuesday. Hmmm...
We were also blessed with a musician who led us in some new songs - so nice to sing live songs rather than CDs as we usually do in church services. And to top it off we all went along to a terrific service at Brixham Baptist Church on the Sunday morning. It was a combined family service for harvest and the festival of the sea and was SO creative that you really did not know what was going to be happening next - a rare thing indeed in a church service.
Followed the weekend away with a few days in Brixham, a truly beautiful place to relax in. And play with a camera at.
One of the churches present shared a story of how they made some structural changes to the fabric of the building which marked a new beginning to who they were and what they were doing as a church and it struck us very clearly that this is what we had done as well.
We were left a legacy as a church just after I got here which meant we could update our building. We took out the pews, installed chairs, rid ourselves of some 'sacred furniture', removed the pulpit. All the kind of thing that religious people hate you for doing but nearly all the negative comments we had were from people who don't come to our church and like to look in on dark wooden pews and panelling when they visit every umpteen years.
Without intending or realising it, it seems we put a new stamp on the place and it has signalled a new start for us, or a replanting if you like. I am quite excited to find that we have been doing this without knowing and it helps us to make sense of what we are doing. We have a long way to go but without having done all this we would still be fighting tradition at every corner. Instead we can move on and fight battles that are worth fighting.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Saturday, 16 October 2010
Down a couple of divisions I support a team that is owned by their own supporters - the only trust owned team in the football league. It came out of similar mismanagement some years ago and now, safely promoted from non-league football, Exeter City seem to be punching above their weight as we rise to 7th this evening in League 1. It's a family orientated club with a genuis manager and a great crop of players. The side has been built steadily over the past five years or so and there seems to be an eye on the long term stability of the club. Being owned by the fans works well and it is a joy to support.
It seems to work well for Barcelona too.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Anyhow, bids for an exclusive action shot from the game will be considered - this is Soton's number 19, ex-Exeter City man Danny Seabourne in action. Not that he had a lot to do on the day. Taken on maximum zoom from up there, you can see why they were worried!
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Monday, 4 October 2010
Real, Real, Real - Jesus Jones
Absolute Reality - The Alarm
Somebody Up There Likes Me - David Bowie
Watching - The Thompson Twins
Even Better Than The Real Thing - U2
Once In A Lifetime - Talking Heads (You may tell yourself, this is not your beautiful house, with your beautiful wife...)
Looking forward to it!
Monday, 27 September 2010
The afternoon was very sunny and warm and the family sit outside to watch the boy at a tennis tournament. There is a McEnroe moment or two and he's now saving for a new racquet. He is back on an even keel soon enough though and we get back for a good Indian meal with old friends to round off a really good day.
Sunday is mixed. I have to confess to some disappointment at Back to Church Sunday. We have ninety attend the service, which is better than average for us, but none of the ten people / families I have invited come along. In the end I think we have five extras attend due to being invited for BTCS. It doesn't seem many but without knowing how many were asked it's hard to know if this is a sign that people didn't feel able or inclined to invite friends or whether their friends (like mine) didn't fancy it. From what many think of as "church", I don't blame them and maybe it's a sign of the size of the task that we face.
Evening service is okay, we are boosted by four holiday makers but some noticeable absentees due to it being the informal prayer and praise. Our youth discussion group afterwards is loud and seems to make little progress. I come back with a headache and feel low. This is not my greatest strength and I need to work harder and prepare better for it.
Monday brings some refreshment - meet and pray with an old chum who offers some perspective, which in my tiredness I have lost. Listen to some good sermons read some helpful things and then Tuesday brings fine weather and a game of golf on my day off.
Glad to be refreshed and thinking straighter. Need to be - six talks and two groups to lead in the following five days.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Monday, 20 September 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
The series is on objections that people have to the Christian faith and week two was called, "I'd like to believe but religious people are too intolerant". Good old Tel provided me with a perfect illustration, though I wish he hadn't.
By way of contrast I spoke on John 8.1-11 and the woman caught in adultery. Can't help but marvel again how Jesus said to her, "I don't condemn you". How different we often are. Grace is so outrageous. Caught in bed with a guy and Jesus tells her this!
I had one person walk out - to later return to tell me I was off-beam on this. Trouble is, he missed the second point - Jesus tells her to go home and stop living this way. There's a Charles Spurgeon quote (think it is him) that says that if a person is scandalised by grace to the extent that they think you are in danger of being too soft on sin, then you are probably preaching it well. So I hope it was that. But, of course, I may be kidding myself.
I suspect that people like Terry Jones would be picking up rocks. It isn't the way of Jesus.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Monday, 6 September 2010
The Last Balloon - XTC
In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins
Up, Up and Away - The Beloved
Castles In The Air - The Colourfield
Tonight We Fly - The Divine Comedy
Up, Up and Away - Andy Williams (different song to The Beloved)
99 Red Balloons - Nena
Am very excited about tonight's film. The very first in our series Reel Issues, organised with the local churches. We have hired the cinema, rented a film and are offering the chance to discuss some of the issues it raises afterwards. Have done some homework so as to appear intelligent in discussion and just hope I am not there with only my family for company.
We had a number of new people around for the first 'proper' morning service after Holiday Club, some extra kids, some Mums (because everyone knows Dads are too hard to go to church) and the Dawkins thing turned out to be less scary than I feared. Was surprised by how feeble some of the professor's arguments are. He is (presumably - it's hard to tell with O level Physics) a brilliant scientist but his theology is very poor. Wasn't the greatest sermon ever but got a few thank yous from people who seem to have appreciated it.
Lunch was lovely, with a family 'home' from Ethiopia who popped across to speak in church about the work they are doing. Rather humbled by what they have chosen to do in order to do their work, in terms of such a different country and culture. As always, interesting to hear what they find odd about UK compared with five years ago when they left.
Grabbed a little sleep (a Pastor's secret weapon on a Sunday afternoon) before the evening service, where I think I completely woke up about 20 minutes into the service. Great to be able to preach about the complete freedom that there is for Christians, how the slate is well and truly wiped clean. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Reflected on the difference between feelings and fact. There are times when we don't feel this but it is still fact. Glorious.
Then one burger too many at the BBQ but great to see extra kids come along. Three were new because they have just become old enough to attend, two are on the fringes and have hardly been around at all. Hope this will encourage them to join with the other six and that we'd grow into something great for the kingdom.
A long day. A good day. The next few days are busy too but predictably I was get to sit and read and rest for the best part of the day this morning because the dentist was running late. Is it healthy when you look forward to a filling and the time you have to spend in a waiting room?
Friday, 3 September 2010
A very encouraging day yesterday. Each year the leaders of the church go away for the day to think and pray and plan. This year we were helped by Nigel, who helps a bunch of churches in this area, as we thought about the future.
We started by looking at the last five years and were asked how things are, compared with then, in four areas - Numerically, Spiritually, Relationally, and Missionally. Some of those things are hard to gauge of course (we didn't even reach consensus on some of the numbers). But even though we know that we are far from the finished product it was encouraging to see how we have changed and, dare we say, progressed? There is much to be thankful for and sometimes you need to sit down and have these discussions in order to appreciate how far we have been brought on our journey.
It's impossible to know what the future holds, of course, but we then discussed what we might look like in 2020. Firstly, if current trends continue, and secondly, our best (realistic) hope. We have been blessed with growth this past five years. If it continues, or even increases, (and it's a big but possible "if") then what steps do we need to take to play our part in seeing it happen? And what will church need to look like in terms of support structures and the like if it does come to pass?
It confirmed a lot of my thinking and was very helpful in that Nigel drew these things out of us far better than I would have communicated them myself. Plus he had a good number of further insights which helped us all. As a result of the day we left as a group closer to sharing a vision rather than me just assuming everyone knew what we are doing - because, hey, it's obvious isn't it? We have some things to mull over and put into place after the day and that is going to be helpful to us as a group.
A good day, only enhanced by being able to eat outside in warm September sunshine.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Next week we start with Disney Pixar's Up, which we are showing in 3D. Having seen the film on DVD I am really looking forward to seeing it bigger and in an extra dimension. Will probably blog further as I think about it over the next week. In October we will show The Truman Show - another film I don't think I have seen on the big screen, in November it's Changing Lanes and then we will kick off the Christmas season with It's a Wonderful Life.
It's very exciting to have a digital projector in our small town and an independent cinema owner who is so cooperative. More to follow no doubt!
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
One of the things that I think it highlights is the sense of connection that you get with supporting a smaller club rather than being distantly yoked to a Premiership outfit.
On a lighter note, did you know that Oliver Holt's mum is the actress that played Emily Bishop in Corrie? Me neither.
Monday, 23 August 2010
Should I be concerned that on my birthday the second hand of my watch fell off?
Top tune of the day is the very appropriate "Older" by TMBG. It should be available to listen to on the link in the top right hand corner.
Saturday, 21 August 2010
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Must make mention of a terrific book that I read on holiday. Mirror, Mirror is a book on self-image written for a primarily Christian audience. Its basic premise is reasonably simple. We tend to get our self-image from what we think people or our culture think of us and so are prey to the vagaries of fashion, mood-swings, passed comments and the like. While that is one mirror that we use, Graham points out that there is a truer mirror in knowing what the Bible says we are like. If this is true then we can live stable and secure lives rather than be blown around by whatever is going on any particular day because we know who we really are.
The book is well illustrated and really well applied – it’s a really practical book. And timely. Self-image is a massive issue for teens (amongst others!) and I guess I have become very aware of this through being more involved with this age group recently. All I seem to hear is self-image from this age group to the point that I fear some will follow Christ so long as he makes them feel good about themselves. But what happens when suffering and persecution come along? What happens when they feel rough and down on themselves or when they realise what a mess they really are?
These are not exclusively teenage problems and I don’t harbour the illusion that I am fully worked out and balanced. Most of us are self-absorbed to an unhealthy degree, some even blog about themselves like they are at all important! But this is a book that will be useful to work through with the teens I am working with and I am looking forward to using it with them.
Back to work, back to reality. We’re back in Somerset and already preparing for the madness and mayhem that is Holiday Club which starts next week. Really looking forward to it, it’s always a great week and we have 64 kids signed up, a few less than previous years. The theme this year is Xploration Force – aimed at dyslexic adventurous types – and so we are busy copying resources, planning programmes and learning lines. I have been given the part of a grumpy and bad-tempered character in the drama – I know, but I’ll manage it somehow...
Looking at the church now and then, things have changed a great deal. A lot of good people have worked hard to see this happen and we have had a very encouraging year with people becoming Christians and being baptised. Hope these are the first of many. A mark of the change is that we are taking part in Back to Church Sunday next month and I, for one, feel much more confident in inviting people to a service than I would have previously. More on this in due course.
Exeter’s game at Dagenham was postponed at the opposition’s suggestion – a gracious act. Which means that the home game against Bristol Rovers on Saturday is scheduled to be the first game after Adam’s passing. We ordered tickets before going on holiday and I want to be there and I don’t want to be there.
Adam’s funeral is on Wednesday at Exeter Cathedral.
Frankly it was probably a good experience for me to be bored in a church, it doesn’t happen much. When lots of the service is sung and you aren’t in on the tune they always use then it’s hard not to feel like an outsider. At no point in the service was any mention of the world or the country outside made. We could have been in England had the weather outside not been a giveaway. It did make me wonder how many of our churches are happy to go through the motions and play church while the rest of the world goes about its business unaware and unaffected.
The sermon was ten minutes long and should have been shorter. The preacher contradicted one of the readings at one point during the sermon – though I don’t think they even realised – and missed a great opportunity to expound on a wonderful passage of the gospel. Instead we just got some rambling reflections on what faith is. I didn’t need their opinions, I needed to know what Jesus said. Sadly, I didn’t get that.
I feel mean being this blunt – they were lovely people and this being a French congregation the coffee was fantastic. But it was a timely experience for me. I had read Bill Hybel’s book “Holy Discontent” earlier in the holiday. Basically he advises discovering what winds you up to the point of you having to do something about it. He reckons we all have something that we are driven to do something about in this world and I think mine is about wanting church to be interesting and accessible and creative and showing that the gospel is relevant to everyone today. I appreciate that people like different styles and approaches but in church here I felt alienated and it felt that someone had done their best to hide God. And I think the vast majority of my friends would feel the same way.
Which is why I do what I do.
Rant over. Sorry.
We had two great weeks in France. The first week was spent in a converted barn in the middle of nowhere. It was a fantastically relaxing place to be and we slept a great deal which I think we all needed. The second week was in less good surroundings but we met some lovely people and were ready to communicate again so that was good. Lots of days out, plenty of baguette, cheese and red wine, some games of Risk, sleep and reading books – a terrific time.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
- Pluck up courage
- Clear away old printer and defunct computer (which has only gathered dust for months)
- Take new printer out of the box and read the instructions
- Look for the USB cable they claim to have sent
- Try the cable that they sent instead
- When this doesn't work, search through the drawer of cables and wires at home
- Tidy them and throw some out
- Go into office to find a USB cable in cupboard or in box by sound desk
- When this fails, try the music shop opposite - a long shot
- Then the shop on the corner which is bound to have one
- Then the shop round the corner - a very long shot but recommended by #10.
- On being told best place is in the next town, go home to collect machines to be taken to dump on way.
- Discover why they call it a hard drive - break hammer.
- Go to the dump and dispose of machines
- Go to Asda on way to comuter shop and buy a USB lead!
- Get home and discover they didn't mean a USB lead at all but a lead I had all along.
- Follow very complicated instructions for setting up a wireless network
- On failure realise that I have been talking to myself for quite a while.
- Finally get contact, without ever really knowing how.
- Print a page
- Calculate that this simple process took just under three hours