Saturday, 23 April 2011

Exeter City 2 Oldham Athletic 0

This was Exeter's second to last home fixture of the season unless they manage to make the play-offs and so we went to see what will probably be our last game of the season on Good Friday.

Exeter started a little nerously but a Scott Golbourne goal settled the nerves and a second from Jamie Cureton settled it. Given that last year we stayed up through a goal eight minutes from time on the last day of the season, to be ninth with three games to play is further proof of the impressive progress made under manager Paul Tisdale (who yesterday looked as if he had stepped out from playing crown green bowls judging from his attire).

Scott Golbourne scored the first.

Jamie Cureton scores - again. He's been a major reason for our improved showing this season.

Paul Tisdale - fresh from his bowls match.

I see that back on 21st August I wrote on this here blog that we'd finish somewhere between half way and the play-off places, falling a little short. After Saturday's results it is looking that, with Exeter on of three teams three points behind the team in that last spot and having the worst goal difference of the four teams in contention. But you never know and I would be love to be wrong!

Ryan Harley - signed by Swansea City and so might be a Premiership player next season. Not bad for someone we signed from Weston-Super-Mare. He's been terrific to watch.

Keeper Ben Hamer is officially leaving because his loan finished after this game. I reckon he might just be fed up with the players who mock him behind his back. He's been a great loan.

Exeter's final home league fixture is against local rivals Plymouth Argyle. A combination of cowardice and a family party mean we won't be going. At the time the fixtures came out there was speculation that this could be the day that Plymouth sent us down into League 2. It's not impossible that the very opposite might happen. One things for certain, both will need 3 points and it should be a cracker!

You can be too religious

This might be a bit of a mind stretch for some but Good Friday was another reminder to me that you can be too religious. In fact it always is. Let me explain.

When I first became a Christian I used to drop into the big church building in my town on Good Friday for part of their service. It went on for three hours and consisted of readings and silent meditations. I don't recall that we sang but perhaps we did. Looking back (and it's a lot of years ago so I may have it wrong) the impression I have is we sat around feeling more and more sorry for Jesus and the terrible things that were done to him. Always came home feeling a bit miserable.

Fast forward to a different sort of church which met in a school hall. Went, as usual, to the Good Friday service, where we did some of the same things but with a sermon and some singing. Over coffee afterwards the Pastor tells us that some of them are going to the pub for lunch and did we want to come along? I'm a bit non-plussed by this and say something about it being Good Friday. Later in conversation he points out to me that it's Good Friday because Jesus went to the cross for our sins, his death was our death and so, while it's a serious and sobering thing it's also to be celebrated. Dwelling on the events of Good Friday is a good thing to do - but if we leave with an overwhelming sense of misery and no joy then there is something askew.

Yesterday we sang some traditional and modern songs about the cross and what happened there. Fifty of us took bread and wine together and knew that we were only able to do so because Jesus did everything to make us acceptable. It doesn't - thank God - depend on my religious performance, my service, or my merits. If it did I would be sunk.

I didn't go to the pub afterwards, I watched a football match instead. It is, perhaps, a sign of an increased spiritual maturity amongst us as a group that no-one expressed horror at the irreligious nature of their minister doing such a thing. Hopefully we are understanding together that these human rules regarding how to be religious are simply that, human rules. The Bible says - "don't let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival... or a Sabbath day." (Colossians 2.16).

No good trying to be more religious than the Bible!

Friday, 22 April 2011

What's Easter about?

Some of our church youth group spent some of yesterday in town asking 100 people, "Name something to do with Easter". We are using the results for a Family Fortunes style game in our Easter Service and I thought if I shared them then it might be of use to someone else.

Eggs 48

Rabbits 20

Chicks 7

Chocolate 5

Jesus 5

Crucufuxion / cross 5

Religion 3

Resurrection 2

Hot Cross Buns 2

Holy week 1

Don't know 1

No 1

Mmmmmm. Seems we have a lot of work to do.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

More books that I've read in 2011

I've been slack in updating this list but then, I have been busy reading! A good batch of books too.

Living the Cross Centred Life - C.J.Mahaney

This was given me by a friend (thanks Stu!) and was a good solid read. In a time and place where some people get their knickers in a twist over the display of palm crosses in vans (according to the news today, anyway) this book reminds you of the centrality of the cross to faith. 8/10

Glory Days - Julian Hardyman

A book about living all of life as a follower of Jesus which highlights not only the need to bring all of life under his command but also enjoying the pleasures of life as well. In a book that celebrates beauty in life it is, fittingly, beautifully written. 8/10

Church Planting is for Wimps - by Mike McKinley

The idea is that church planting is for w imps because the really hard task is in revitalising a church that is on death's door. His situation was really extreme but I could identify with parts of it and it was an encouraging read. 7/10

The Work of the Pastor - William Still

I've heard this described as a modern classic and "unputdownable" but I managed to quite easily. Some gems in here but the style was probably a little old when written in the sixties and now much of it comes across as rather eccentric. Many great men love this book. I don't. 2/10

Respectable Sins - Jerry Bridges

Included here because I must have re-read it in the course of preaching a series based on it. It's been very well received by the congregation who - like me - have been very challenged by it's contents. Basically, there are no respectable sins, just those that we think don't matter. Great book. 9/10

Fortune's Always Hiding - John Lyall

Those of a theological nature may well be scratching their heads at this point, John was manager of West Ham United during their most successful league campaign - finishing third. Comes across as likable and decent, if a little bit Ron Manager in places. Needed to read something less heavy after William Still. 6/10

Worship Matters - Bob Kauflin

This is a book written for worship leaders in churches but as someone who - by default - often ends up doing this I still benefited greatly from reading it. The emphasis is on the character of the people called to the role rather than just their skills and that applies just as much to Pastors. 8/10

Sowing the seeds of love

Last night I went to the pub for a brief pint with my favourite parishioner and overheard on the next table someone telling his mates, "My dad was a Mod, he used to listen to things like The Jam."

Felt very old....

Saturday, 16 April 2011

25 years (and a bit) ago

Somehow I managed to miss it but earlier this year I should have remembered what was for me a very significant trip. 25 years ago I went to the Philippines to help build a playschool at an orphanage. It was only a six week trip but it was an amazing time - physically demanding, heart breaking, eye-opening. I was reminded of it when was looking through old slides recently. The two best pictures I have from that trip I've uploaded on my Flickr account and I include them here with the blurb. The Lost Boys This was taken in a compound in Manila. I was taken here 25 years ago to get an idea of the background of some of the kids that were in the orphanage I helped out in for six weeks. This and the endless slums were a rude awakening to a lad from the Cotswolds. These street children would be rounded up from the streets of Manila and be kept here until... when? The lucky ones, like Ruth (see other picture) ended up in a great orphanage and had a crack at happiness in life. These boys? Who knows. Cameras were strictly prohibited in here the authorities being less than keen to have conditions photographed but I had to risk it. It had a profound effect on me back then and it would probably do me good to go back and be involved in something similar again. Ruth Been looking at some very old pictures, this was taken 25 years ago. Ruth was a little girl who found a refuge in the orphanage that I briefly helped out at in San Antonio, a place on the west coast of the main island in the Philippines. I was there helping build a playschool in the orphanage and was there during the Marcos / Aquino election when Marcos was finally ousted - though it took Catholic nuns sitting in front of tanks to achieve it when he refused to accept the result. I wonder what Ruth is doing today, she would be in her early / mid thirties. It would do me good to go and help somewhere again and be reminded of some of the lessons I learnt all those years ago. I have a sabbatical in just over a years time. Maybe a few days doing something in the developing world might be called for. Thanks to Bob for scanning my slides and to Drew for a quick bit of PP work.

Friday, 15 April 2011

NWA 2011

Another good New Word Alive conference, just got back today. Highlights include singing acapella verses of hymns with 2,500 people in a big tent, David Cook's masterly expositions of Acts in the mornings, Archbishop Ben Kwashi speaking of faith in the midst of horrific persecution in his churches in Nigeria, eating chips while watching Masterchef (which has to be a metaphor for something) and meeting old friends and family, including someone we hadn't seen for nearly ten years and had no idea would be there. It was a good NWA without being a classic and we certainly intend being there - wherever it is held - in 2012. Now to plough through emails and try and remember what needs to be done and how much I have already done for Sunday.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Away for a bit

Just a quick note to warn you not to expect anything from me for a few days. Tomorrow morning we head north west for New Word Alive. This has been a very significant week for me in previous years and I am looking forward to the rest and refeshment that I am hoping it will bring again this year. A chance to think, chill, pray, talk, see old friends, make new ones and enjoy coffee, beach and scenary. Also five or six days away from a computer! More to follow on our return.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Pictures for an exhibition?

Wondering if you can help me here? We have our camera club exhibition in just over a week's time and we are all asked to exhibit four prints of A4 size and one of A3. If you have time would you rank these (some old and some new) for me and help me make the final choice? I am keen to know which you like best as I can only print one at A3. Thanks.

Sunset Now - Burnham Beach in November

Substituted - Steve Tully, Exeter City

Water Colours - Reflections of Cottages in Brixham

Misty Rocks - Kilve Beach, February

Joy! Drew and Anna's Wedding Day

A Shadow of Ourselves - From the Eiffel Tower, January

A Bit Peckish

Monday, 4 April 2011


After a great deal of good solid spiritual reading recently, which I have yet to blog, I am currently reading the collected Father Ted - The Craggy Island Parish Magazines. To quote the good priest himself, "It is disappointing when one spends up to twenty minutes preparing a sermon that one hears rumours to the effect that I am not taking the whole 'sermon thing' seriously."

I am generally as diligent as I can be in my preparation but for a combination of reasons - only some of which are valid - my second sermon was very underprepared. Between two and three hours at the most and so I never got to the stage of completion, let alone editing. Despite all this I managed to get up and speak for about twenty minutes.

Last night I got away with it, not a great feeling, though I'd confess to a slight feeling of relief but certainly not good for me - or my people. It worries me that I can get up and talk for twenty minutes with so little preparation. Not a nice feeling and - thankfully a very rare occurance. I need to keep it that way.

Signs playlist

Another Reel Issues tonight, where we watch a film at the local cinema and talk about it afterwards. Tonight we are watching Signs, the Mel Gibson film about faith, aliens and miracles (the signs of the film's name). I have been telling people it's not a science fiction film as such but as I was refreshing my memory on it this afternoon I fear I have mislead people. We'll see.

Again, for my own amusement I have compiled a few songs to play beforehand. Listening to The Killers and Prince a lot today as a result.

Sign 'O' The Times - Prince

Signs - Michael W. Smith

There's No Such Thing As Aliens - Sparks

Spaceman - The Killers

What Faith Can Do - Kutless