- My beautiful wife and daughter: your support, humour, inspiration and downright general ability to put up with me are more than I could ask for (all cheesy but all true...)
- For "The Dark Knight". Three further viewings in the past fortnight have only fortified its richness... Top film of the year? Oh yeah...
- For the great success of our Coffee and Chaos toddler group: all down to Jennie's hard work, our rota'd recruits from Beacon and God's rich blessing...
- For the mighty returns of Extreme and Metallica after years lost in the wilderness. Extreme's "Saudades de Rock" isn't quite up to the dizzy heights of "Waiting for the Punchline", but Nuno's licks and grooves will always make my day; as for Metallica's "Death Magnetic", it's a massive classic already. Can't get enough of it... Track 9 gets played over and over and over and over again in the car (much to Jennie's chagrin) ;-)
- For Graham and Sue Hall (Gateway Church, Ashford) and Tom and Josie Shaw (City Church, Canterbury): their joint support as we find our feet within the Beacon family has been fantastic, and their vision, wisdom and prophetic insight are a total gift from God. Love you guys...
Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Saturday, 20 December 2008
The Biblical "cord of three strands" (Ecclesiastes 4:12) adage is often used as a picture for Christian marriage, and it rings so true. Sure, we have a 3rd party involved in our marriage - like so many others these days, it seems - but ours is different. It's me, Jen and God. God's involvement in and intention for our marriage, our family, our sex life - God's way is old-fashioned and uncool. But it's also the best way; it brings mutual security, support, encouragement, exclusive intimacy, appropriate male and female input into a child's upbringing and the best expression of God's intention for mankind. In an age when this blueprint is continually under attack (check out the latest venom being flung at Rick Warren over Barrack Obama and the same-sex marriage debate: Al Mohler's blog), then we as Christians need to stand firm in our views, despite the criticism hurled our way, and know we honour Him as we do. It's hard, and we must never judge or patronise those that oppose us - we need to love them and let our lifestyles be our witness - but letting God's view of marriage - male/female in exclusive and committed union - be the light that shines. For His glory.
(*click here for an Illicit Encounters article - and there seems to be a whole lot more similar sites appearing in my google hits when I was searching for the latest figures on the subject...)
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
- for the "Mamma Mia!" cinematic experience to have just been a horrible dream after all (baaaaaaaaaaadly made film)
- for "Watchmen" to live up to my hopes in cinemas in March
- for an extra 3 hours in each day and an extra day in each week
- for my latest novel to [actually get finished and] be taken on by an agent & publisher this time around
- for God to continue to bless us at Beacon Church in numbers (15% extra new folks in the past 6 months!), and to help us grow in our relationships, our worship and our boldness in sharing the Gospel
- above all, for the three of us to excel as a Christ-centred family throughout 2009
Sunday, 9 November 2008
This is something I'd probably want to tweak every time I look at it - there's usually something I've forgotten, or rewatched recently and reappraised. Plus, of course, there's movies I aim to finally catch up with in the near future - M, Third Man (STILL not seen it), Holes - and I'm sure "Watchmen" will go straight in to the number 1 spot next Easter...!
So... come on all you Browncoats, Blade Runner fans, Kubrick-ites, gorehounds, Tarantino-phobes, and Fincher-philes, if you don't agree with your favourite movie's position or absence, let me know!
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Fellowship of the Ring
- The Dark Knight
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Star Wars IV: A New Hope
- Kill Bill 1 & 2 (just can't split 'em, no matter how hard I try...)
- Fight Club
- Cold Mountain
- John Carpenter's The Thing
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Godfather 2
- The Matrix
- Pan's Labyrinth
- Reservoir Dogs
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
- Monty Python's Life of Brian
- Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor)
- Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Breakfast Club
- Moulin Rouge
- An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
- Pulp Fiction
- Die Hard
- This is Spinal Tap
- The Big Sleep
- Finding Neverland
- Death Proof
- Double Indemnity
- Taxi Driver
- The Abyss
- Pride and Prejudice (2005)
- Blade Runner
- Gone Baby Gone
- Lawrence of Arabia
- The Two Towers
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Das Boot
- Batman Begins
- Hot Fuzz
- The Usual Suspects
- La Vita e Bella
- Apocalypse Now
- Schindler's List
- Road to Perdition
- Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
- Shaun of the Dead
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- V For Vendetta
- Sin City
- Pitch Black
- The Lady From Shanghai
- Back to the Future
- The Shining
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
- X-Men 2
- True Romance
- The Kingdom
- The Sixth Sense
- American Beauty
- Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
- Iron Man
- Garden State
- Dances With Wolves
- Be Kind Rewind
- Brief Encounter
- Natural Born Killers
- Jurassic Park
- Alien 3
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
- there's a Walmart on every corner
- there's 20 times the amount of churches than Walmarts
- you have to love country (Nashville), blues (Memphis), rock n roll (Memphis) or contemporary Christian music (everywhere): it's your choice...
- your Baptist minister can't buy alcohol within 50 miles of his church, but he can smoke or chew tobacco
- you can drive for over 2 hours on the interstate without touching a pedal (good ol' cruise control)
- watching High School Musical 3 at the drive-in is marred only by the steamy windscreen
- Graceland isn't a cheesy experience in the slightest, it's really rather tasteful (unlike Elvis's choice of decor)
- the Newsboys sound better live than in the studio
- playing $3000 Gibson Les Paul's leaves one rather weak at the knees
- the homeless in Memphis rather fancy themselves as tour guides
- we could buy a 4-bed house with 25+ acres outright and have spending money left over... :-S
- baseball is much more fun than American football
- only in America could a grocery store chain be called "Piggly Wiggly"
- the US aren't interested in being green in the slightest, they'll just do anything to avoid relying on Arabs for fuel
- you never have to leave your car for anything: drive-thru ATM's, drive-thru pharmacies, drive-thru libraries...
- grits aren't worth all the fuss
- WHOEVER wins a government election, they can't save a country. God's in charge.
- speedboats, handguns, samurai swords and throwing stars are all readily available in your local mall
- shooting shotguns and rifles in the back yard is not only legal, it's really great FUN
- if the Shakers thought we were already living in the post-Second Coming Millenium, then their expectations of heaven must have been WELL below par...
- Christian Halloween parties are theologically a bit weird, but do feature great chilli
- the Amish are pretty cool neighbours
- Kentucky Baptists party just as well as Kent Charismatics
- a red-neck's last words = "Hey y'all, watch this!"
- if we ever moved to the States, we have a ready-made family in place... love y'all...
Friday, 19 September 2008
I'm not for one minute suggesting we all wear glum faces at church, nor "airing our laundry in public" simply for the sake of it either - let's exercise some wisdom here! -but the reality is that without true honesty amongst us, genuine community will not develop amongst God's people, and a truthful witness will not be portrayed. The best opportunities Jennie and I have had in discipling others - and also in sharing our faith with friends outside of church too - have not been in the once-a-week coffees (which are still worthwhile, of course) but in sharing our home with others at dinner time, at Amy's bed time, when we're ill, etc. It opens up a whole other realm of honesty... It's easy to throw out glib "never let the sun go down on an argument" idioms over a mid-week coffee, but if your spouse doesn't wish to talk and goes to sleep instead, then that argument will still be hovering over your Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (TM) in the morning, despite the wisdom of Paul's words (Eph 4.26). Watching Jennie and I as we deal with Amy throwing a wobbler, or having 'words' and then making up, or responding to disappointment, allows for far greater integrity on our behalf (hopefully!) and the chance for friends to genuinely learn from us and vice versa. We don't always get it right, but how we then deal with that boo-boo is in itself a chance for more of the same.
What the Hughes family have done is incredibly brave (I tip my hat to you guys) and I trust that the reality of family life as God intended - a real, honest learning curve based on His values - is portrayed in the public eye and consequent debate. May our own family life, and the sharing of it, do exactly the same.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
...it's still early days, of course (we moved at the end of April) but it's been long enough to see stuff happening. The whole idea behind our move was a definite sense between ourselves and the local New Frontiers leadership that God had plans for Beacon and that, in an otherwise predominantly older and smaller congregation, the time had come for a younger generation to join and knit in, ready for the future. We joined with no role in mind, nor any defined either, but simply to help lay the foundation for the future. Thus far, there's two significant areas that we've been concentrating on, for others to be focused on later:
1) We've begun a parent & toddler group - "Coffee and Chaos"; the City franchise grows! - which has been heavily invested in financially, and the Beacon folks encouraged to get involved in personally with weekly duties to be shared out on a rota basis. C & C kicked off yesterday, with 7 mums/carers plus about 8 or 9 kids arriving. A fantastic start, without being deluged either! Our own friend Bev (not from church) worked wonders, bringing 3 others with her, and she's been handing out C & C business cards here there and everywhere. Good girl... The idea is simply for Beacon to make friends with the community around us and build quality relationships from there, sharing our faith as we go...
2) We are spending the entire next term training Beacon (everyone!) in Cell as a new small group structure ready to be launched in the New Year. Helping them understand the ethos of the Cell structure over 6 specific sessions with the weeks in between to fellowship, pray, and consolidate together will be invaluable for all the members as well as new Cell leaders. "Getting" cell can take years - that it is Bible-based values that underline it and not a formula, and that it is about building genuine, outward-looking and inclusive community to further the Gospel. Jennie and I have been involved in leading and overseeing Cell groups for best part of a decade and know how well it works WHEN IT'S DONE WELL. We're in this for the long haul and firmly believe this is a specific foundation that needs implementing well (to clarify: we're not talking "Cell Church", which can tip the balance away from the Sunday services, but church life that invests hugely in both the small group community AND the ship's rudder of the corporate worship/teaching/fellowship of Sundays)
There's more stuff on the horizon, which I'll keep under my (enormous) hat, but I'll divulge more as time unfolds...
In the meantime, please pray for:
1) The new small group "revolution" to be received well and enthusiastically.
2) For Coffee and Chaos to progress from strength to strength, and for the wonder and Truth of Christ to be preached through our relationships with the parents we're entrusted with. Each one is a gift from God to be treasured.
3) For more younger Christians to join us quickly. We are more than expectant for growth through preaching the Gospel and subsequent salvation - God's sovereignty is a great reassurance for us - but we do also need able Christians to mentor, lead, disciple whomever will come our way. In a lot of ways, a complete church plant may have been easier, because there tends to be a younger chunk of gifted folks that are available for various roles. Jennie and I have been grieving our City family - which is natural, and expected, of course - but we would now like some more fresh faces to help pave the way for God's purposes here. He is sovereign and we're trusting Him - He is definitely in this - but we need to be realistic and accept that a bit more help would be wonderful. I don't say yes to everything, because I need to protect our family time more and more ruthlessly (especially now Amy's at school) as more responsibility comes my way. And everybody wants more friends, eh? Wanna join us? (*)
(*)I'm serious! Does God want you to come and join the Beacon explosion? Read more!
Sunday, 24 August 2008
... if the budget for our very own 2012 Olympics is a third of the Chinese one, what are our ceremonies going to be like? Here's a rundown of the current plans, leaked from Sebastian Coe's bedside cabinet drawer:
1) The Krankies and the Chuckle Brothers performing a medley of hits from Oliver!, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
2) Instead of Zhang Yimou coordinating the event, we'll have the likes of Michael Winner; OR, the other option (as yet undecided) is a Blue Peter presenter running the show as a hands-on "work experience" feature for the following week's episode.
3) Bruce Forsyth tap-dancing (you gotta love him).
4) Bobby Davro doing, erm... whatever exactly Bobby Davro does...
5) Everyone who's ever been in the Big Brother house demonstrating how to make money from absolutely nothing.
6) Orville the Duck and Spit the Dog upstaging those who have a hand up their bottom.
7) Barbara Windsor doing arm exercises in a bikini.
If you're anything like me, you'll be chomping at the bit to see such a spectacle... Read more!
Saturday, 16 August 2008
However, I have had extremely grave concerns over the doctrine of Todd and his circle. I'm not going to list the issues here and add to potentially negative internet traffic, that's not fair, but email me if you want more of my thoughts. Suffice to say, many of Todd's articles are hugely errant and unbiblical, and people lap it up. However, sadly, now that the TV coverage has come to a close, it's been reported that Todd and his wife have separated. Let's not point the finger but let's learn from this:
1) Let's pray for the Bentleys; for prompt reconciliation and healing in that family.
2) Let's continue to remember in future that we need to be ever discerning in our acceptance of ministries, etc as they occur. We can neither decry immediately anything supernatural - and risk throwing the baby out with the bath water - nor embracing every 'move' of the 'Spirit' at face value. For further, see John Piper's or Josh Harris's thoughts...
3) Let us still continue to seek signs and wonders in our church - not for the sake of them, but as a divine endorsement of our pursuit of God as we glorify Him - by stepping out in faith as we seek Him and pray for healing, etc. Don't let this or other incidents/examples be an excuse to not step out further in what the Spirit has available for us and those around us. Just be sure of our doctrine at the same time...
4) Remember your family when church work sucks up so much precious time. This is something I've been struggling with over the past few months - coming home from work and starting my 'other' job. If I can't fulfil my church role whilst at work, guess who I have to steal time from? My wife and daughter. It's hard and we need to strike a wise balance. If "the harvest is plenty and the workers are few", then we're going to have to do plenty of overtime between us, but God does NOT want us to do it at the expense of our precious families. There's the old adage of "God first, family second, church third"; I've heard report of a prominent leader in my movement explaining that it depends on the season, and sometimes church comes before family, sometimes vice versa. I'm not convinced: I can see what he's saying, but I do still feel that your family should never suffer at the expense of church. Our families are a mirror of our leadership qualities (1 Tim 3.4-5) If you're too busy, then maybe it's time to raise up yet more leaders (where possible & appropriate)? Be wise, know when to say no, talk about it openly with your family, and know when you're doing too much... Read more!
Saturday, 26 July 2008
I've seen it.
The Dark Knight; a film I'd been so hungry for since the early days of that remarkable viral campaign... since Batman's flipping over of that calling card at the end of the last one, in fact... a film that was destined to have geekdom in a fever without Heath's sad and premature death adding to the frenzy...
... but was it THE film of the year thus far, to quote the early US reports?
Well, I'm reluctant to get caught up in hyperbole for hyperbole's sake, nor sentiment for sentiment's sake. That's always a danger, and I know I can be prone to it. So I'll just try and stick to the facts:
1) With Heath's performance, we finally have the Joker as originally created: a maniacal and unpredictable and FUNNY catalyst for chaos. You will not see Heath anywhere on that screen, only a clown with no origin who will leave a trail of destruction and death and pain in his wake. He's not a man, nor a beast, nor an icon. He just is. Can anyone fill Heath's shoes for a future installment? Yeah: Ben Whishaw (Perfume, I'm Not There), but it won't be easy. And would Heath be worthy of an Oscar next year? For sure. Check out that disappearing pencil magic act. The best intro to a character I've seen for years...
2) Aaron Eckhart gives Harvey Dent the soul he needs for us to invest in his fall from grace. He makes us care, and makes us genuinely believe in a DA of integrity in a city of rampant corruption. I BELIEVE IN HARVEY DENT, I really do.
3)The script is crafted so that no one gets left in the shade of the Joker. Wayne/Batman, Dent, Gordon, Rachel, all have depth and breadth and the performances fill them well. Maggie Gyllenhaal slips into Katie Holmes' role well, and you don't miss Mrs Cruise in the slightest (no offence :-)). And Bale, of course, is solid.
4) The effects will leave you wondering how on earth they did Two-Face's deformity. A fantastic, horrific design that serves the character well.
5) The action - not Nolan's strong point, let's be honest - is still gripping and pumping. He's learning on the job and coping well. With the likes of him and Marc Forster and others, Hollywood has a future...
6) The film may be relentlessly dark, but thank goodness the Nolans (and Goyer if he played a part in this detail) have retained some glimmer of hope in the climax. The people of Gotham City - both ends of the spectrum - reaffirm a faith in mankind that we needed all along. EVIL WILL NOT WIN.
I'll leave it there. I could go on forever about every detail, and have already said more than I intended. Don't wanna fall into the usual trap of getting carried away. You may notice I do that...
...so, was it THE best film of year thus far?
Absolutely. Read more!
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Unfortunately, the whole debate of homosexuality, ordination of women bishops and so on is merely scratching the surface; these are all symptoms of something far deeper: the authority of Scripture. If you choose to dismiss just one aspect of it, then by the same model you have to dismiss everything else, simply because of the rules you're viewing it by (and the Bible is clear, particularly on the former issue I mention). When it comes to the Bible, it's all or nothing. Dismiss one part, and you automatically call into question everything else by your same action. I'd rather people threw the Bible out completely rather than pick-and-mix... (*)
If, as Timothy informs us, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3.16), and Jesus Himself says that, "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10.35) - and taking on board that same rule of thumb that these statements are fact because I'm not calling any other piece of Scripture into question either - then the Bible is more than a book, more than a guide, more than just a manual; it is God's revelation to us of Himself, it is prophetic, it is inspired through man (as opposed to the common assumption that it was written simply by man), it is His living Word...
In which case, ask yourself the following:
Do I understand the Bible in the light of my own life and surrounding culture?
Or do I understand my life and surrounding culture in the light of the Bible?
I know where I stand...
(*I'm not for one moment suggesting that we accept the Bible blindly or naively [the writer to the Hebrews reminds us in chapter 5.11 - 6.8 that learning should be a part of our maturity - in fact, it is part of that process, no?], but we need to be absolutely determined in every way that our study of God's Word is not filtered by a subjective approach. Remember Who ultimately wrote it. Then study it.)[For further blogging on the same theme, check out bluefish ) Read more!
Friday, 11 July 2008
I'm back from the New Frontiers' Leadership International 08 conference in Brighton and I have to say... it was so profoundly resourcing in many ways, so much fun and so ground-breaking as an event. Where on earth do I start?
"...so profoundly resourcing": the wealth of equipping tools provided from the likes of Dave Holden, John Groves, Matt Hosier and others was phenomenal (those named being the particular guys I heard on my training track: between them, they spoke on building counter-cultural churches; on how the post-modern world - which is basically the world coming back full-circle to the multi-faith, multi-culture, multi-idol, multi-sexual, multi-truth world of the Apostle Paul's day - thinks, and how Christ IS relevant to every area; on how the church should be fearless in speaking out on what good Biblical sex really is, on porn and many Christian men's proclivity to it - let's not pretend they/we're not). Practical and profound... And the main session speakers? Terry Virgo himself, Steve Van Rhyn, David Devenish, David Stroud, PJ Smythe, and the phenomenon that is Mark Driscoll. He da man... All these godly men spoke deeply into where we are at as a movement, and prophetically, more importantly: God used these mighty men to lead us ever-stronger into the next phase of New Frontiers history. And speaking of the prophetic, Julian Adams and Keith Hazell (love him - had the privilege of getting to know him recently, great guy) brought powerful prophetic words to us all about radical changes in New Frontiers and, more significantly, in our nation at a political level. Hold on tight, guys... [listen to the downloads if you missed it: TOAM 08 ]
"...so much fun": I caught up with so many of my old and new friends - Dave Watt and Tom HC from ChristChurch London; Dave Pask from my Vietnam jaunts; Jennie White, Sarah Fergie, Kev & Lydia Jones and Bill & Margaret Law (all ex-City); and of course my buddies still at City - Tom G, Oli & Hazel, Dodge and George, Rob, Ashley, Bill Hayes (loved your dancing, man), Olly, Ben & Jo, Tom & Josie Shaw and the girls, and not forgetting the unforgettable Joey Natali... the list goes on... oh, and I got to know Darren Blaney from the local Baptist Church a whole lot more. And I couldn't get enough of the dancing in the worship times. Oh, and I saw Wanted at the cinema (3.5/5)
"...so ground-breaking": well... that Mark Driscoll (I love him in a non-gay way - here's an intro if you don't know the guy: MarsHillChurch) is fearless. He spoke to us gently and humbly but also boldly. What he shared with us allows us to speak openly about the future of New Frontiers: life after Terry... it was to be one of those moments when you say "I was there..." History was made. Mark basically warned us against dishonouring the future of NF by only honouring its founder. We need to honour both simultaneously, or risk becoming an institution and a museum, dead within 2 generations, rather than a pioneering movement ever-continuing forward, making progress for the magnificent good news of Jesus Christ, seeing lives, communities and cultures transformed into HIS people for HIS glory... Hoo-ha...
I think I'll shut up now; does it sound like I'm buzzing? Jennie's had it in the ear-hole since I got home... I'd best leave it to my good buddy Tom "Absolutely" Shaw to summarise:
Thursday, 3 July 2008
Next week we welcome approximately 5,000 people from over 50 nations to our conference in Brighton, Together on a Mission.
A week before they were due to go to Calcutta to get visas to be with us in Brighton, John and Esther Pradhan, who are church planting in Nepal, had a terrifying experience.
John and Esther had gone to a graveyard for the funeral of a child in the church, with their daughter, Aradhana, who is 2½. Aradhana fell down a narrow and very deep crevasse nearby. Newspaper reports say it was 60 metres deep at least. Because it was so deep and dark they were unable to see anything. At first they could hear her crying out, but after a while there was no sound.
The police were called in, and then the army, but the crevasse was so narrow, it was impossible to tunnel down. By now, darkness was closing in. To add to their fears, it was monsoon season, and if it rained, water could rise in the hole adding another terrible possibility of drowning.
Many prayed all night
John had contacted all his relatives in India, who in turn contacted friends literally all round the world, and believers began to intercede, both for her rescue and that there would be no rain. Many prayed all night.
An expert team was dispatched from Kathmandu, who encountered another hazard: a huge boulder inside the pit further impeded access, yet to break it up could be very risky. Aradhana could be hit by falling rock. To their great joy, around 3 a.m., Aradhana’s voice was heard again, and attempts were made to lower food and water to her.
By morning light, some progress had been made in digging, but it was disheartening to discover that the crevasse was in an L shape, and the food and drink had failed to reach her. The rescue crew kept everyone away from the spot, but Nepal TV were covering their efforts.
All adult men were too big to squeeze through the narrow aperture but just before noon, a young boy of 12 or 13 volunteered to be lowered down. He managed to crawl over to where she was and found her curled up in a corner, alive.
“Who are you?” she asked innocently. He helped her to crawl along to a space where she was visible to the team and they dropped down a harness which the boy strapped on to her, and they were then able to lift her out, covered in mud but otherwise unharmed. She had been in the pit for 22 hours without food, water, and limited oxygen. Her father, John, held her in his arms, tears pouring down his face. “Don’t cry, Papa,” she said, “I’m fine.”
The news went out on national TV and was labelled “miraculous”. John was interviewed clutching his daughter, and used the opportunity to say it was an answer to prayer, and to preach Jesus to them. Another miraculous aspect was that it had rained in all the surrounding region, but that particular area had stayed dry!
The family is full of thanksgiving to God for preserving Aradhana, and desire to honour all who helped in rescuing her, especially the boy. They are also grateful to all who poured out their hearts in prayer.
You can see dramatic pictures on
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Well, they decided. And they made the movie. But was it any good?
I for one enjoyed the film, but hard as they'd tried it could never have lived up to 20 years of expectation. If you're interested, I think the first half is outstanding, nearing perfection in banter, innovation and spectacle (and I forgive the ridiculous "flying fridge" moment... the spectacle of that scene is still a wonder...), but once they reach that jungle... oh dear... I understand the 50's setting virtually dictates its theme: aliens, communism, paranoia (the latter of which resonates well in our day and age of "terrorists living next door"). But the way the story plays out on the road to Eldorado is flabby, lame and ultimately unsatisfying.
Anyways, that's just my humble opinion. It's a good film but not a classic. It would never compare to Raiders of the Lost Ark (now that's a near-perfect blockbuster in script, cinematography, action, dialogue, acting; counted along with Jaws , SW Episode IV & V, Aliens and not many more) but it handles itself. Unfortunately, this year we've been spoilt with the hard-heads of Iron Man, Hulk and Dark Knight... As for other people, so many I've spoken to feel very let down by Indy Jones IV. And it's all down to the script.
Now, there's a Frank Darabont's draft out there - he's the guy behind Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, The Mist - and I've wanted to read it for a long while. Lucas and Spielberg commissioned him to write something that became "Indiana Jones and the City of Gods" but subsequently passed on his take. It's been leaked, something which was bound to happen at some point, and I'm intrigued about the film Indy Jones IV might have been, but again the same niggle worries me: I could be equally disappointed by reading a utopian "what-if" to find out that it too would have failed to reach expectations (which is exactly the reports I'm hearing).
Why do we do this? Why do we hope for something that is almost certainly likely to let us down? Something in the way we're wired? Read more!
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Amy was recently given a place at our local primary school, which was not our choice. We'd asked for a church school 10 minutes' drive away on the basis of faith. There's nothing inherently wrong with our local - it's a good school and we know parents with kids there - but our choice was a school that most definitely wears its Christian values & beliefs on its sleeves. Just like we do. If we want God to invade every corner of our lives, then we want that to include Amy's education too.
Well, we went to appeal and had the hearing last week. Before a panel of 3 (none of whom are affiliated in any way to the Education Authority OR the school) I presented the case for our faith and how strongly we believed that our lives - not just as attendees, but as leader(s) in our local church - should envelope those values. Then Jennie - she was amazing, I must say; her grasp of the system and how to demonstrate statistically that an extra space could be argued for left me gobsmacked - presented the case on the grounds of how the system works (or doesn't) and our appropriate response. The representative of the education authority couldn't compete!
Well, we left happy that we'd done our bit and then prayed like crazy. Talk about old testament prayers: "Enlarge our borders!"; "Favour your people!". We were convinced this was a right thing to ask for, and yet were also able to leave it in His hands, knowing that if the decision remained the same, it was because of His will and not man's.
... and the letter arrived today. She got the church school! But what's best about it all is this: the (independent) appeals board felt that to make an extra space in the class for Amy would be prejudicial, but that the case for her education to reflect our faith and values was strong enough to do so anyway. Hallelujah! It was on faith and not on secular, statistical reasons that she got in!
God loves to enlarge our borders and honour those that love Him. We have asked for things in the past that have not happened 'our way' but we've stuck with him through thick and thin, knowing that He knows best. And He will always honour that heart... Read more!
Saturday, 3 May 2008
Gary Thomas - an author of books and articles on Christian marriage and parenting amongst other things, and a teacher at Western seminary in Portland, Oregon - has carefully unfolded nine distinct spiritual temperaments in such a way that we can either relate to them, or clarify that they are NOT the way we're wired, and then learn from this subsequent knowledge. Wisely, he lists the pitfalls/dangers of each temperament, and also acknowledges that NO temperament is completely exclusive, nor that their unique paths of time spent with God should ever supercede or contradict the authority of Scripture.
The nine pathways and their characteristics are:
NATURALISTS... who worship God best when surrounded and inspired by God's creation; they just love that outdoorsy stuff...
SENSATES... are moved by a devotion that incorporates all the senses: the sight of a beautiful sunset or majestic cathedral, the song of a violin, the smell of incense can all stir their heart to commune with God...
TRADITIONALISTS... worship God through ritual and symbol; they love liturgy and find structure extremely helpful in enabling their quality time with Him...
ASCETICS... need simplicity and solitude to commune with Him effectively; they are otherwise easily distracted, and quiet focuses their thoughts on God...
ACTIVISTS... are fired up by injustice and a heart to see greater holiness in the church; they love nothing more than seeing God's Truth changing society, and are not afraid of confrontation...
CAREGIVERS... love and serve God by serving and loving others; they are the Mother Teresa's, big and small, public and private, of this world...
ENTHUSIASTS... are God's cheerleaders; they thrive on celebration, big musical worship, the inescapable urge to clap and dance in response to His revelation and revel in His supernatural power... Hallelujah!...
CONTEMPLATIVES... are bowled over by the love their Lover casts upon them; they spare no hesitation in sitting at His feet, gazing adoringly and wondering in awe at the "divine romance" they have the privilege of entering...
INTELLECTUALS... love nothing more than to study systematic theology and church history; academics who allow their 'head knowledge' to flood their hearts, they feast on Scripture, exegesis, hermeneutics, apologetics (hmm... I'm getting carried away here; guess which is one of my pathways?) and so on, and each revelation spurs them deeper into worship...
So that's the nine. Like I say, most people relate to more than one, or even a few, and Thomas is quick to point out the inevitable, and avoidable, extremes of each, and also how we can learn from those we don't naturally relate to. We need to learn from each other.
All in all, this is a fantastic book that reminds us God is wholeheartedly committed to revealing Himself to us and turning our hearts to Him yet more. We are all wonderfully and fearfully made, no one else can have a relationship with Him like WE can, each of us is unique. Moses, David and Mary each had an insatiable heart for quality time with Him, and each demonstrated that in very different ways. And God is equally desiring of that depth of intimacy with you and me. Wow.
(And if you're still not sure from my little clues, I'm an Intellectual Enthusiast with a bit of Caregiving on the side: I devour theology, jump about and sing songs when the Truth hits me, and express it elsewhere by caring for others, by helping my friends and those in need. Those are the times when I, personally, am drawing near to Him...) Read more!
"Ninety-nine percent of communication is in the interpretation. A man who begins giving a portion of his income to the church and its work, carves out time two or three times a week to attend church services, tells people on the street about his God, and reads books about God on a regular basis may appear to be a 'religious fanatic'. If, however, the same man were to begin making payments on a diamond ring, spend his weekends going on dates, tell all his co-workers about the lovely woman who has come into his life, and read love letters over and over, the world would simply say he's 'in love'."
That's us. Madly in love. With each other, for sure, but also with the King of kings. Read more!
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Recent reports & research from the likes of Friends Provident and Consumer Analysis Group have sought to understand what's going on: 48% of folks say they are busier now than 5 years ago with less time to relax, with 43% feeling as busy at the weekend as they do during the week (1), usually because our gadgets keep us 'on duty' when we shouldn't be. 1 in 3 people tend to feel busier BECAUSE of their PDA's, mobile phones, laptops and Blackberries. Hmmm... I'm guilty of all of those... guess what I'm thinking...
And then there's this: a certain Professor Richard Wiseman and his team have conducted a study that measured the speed of pedestrians in 32 city centres across the globe (2) They discovered that the pace of life has increased by 10% over the past decade. Singapore was the worst (pedestrians walked 60 feet in 10.55 secs), with Blantyre (Malawi) three times slower. London, you may be pleased to hear, is not in the top ten, but still not far off at 12.17 secs.
So what's going on? Are we making ourselves busier? Is it just that myself and most of my friends have kids AND jobs AND interests AND gadgets? Or is there something more sinister going on?
I for one have an idea that may at least assuage the inevitable stress a little bit more: I'm gonna have a gadget-free day (yes, me!) once a month. No emails, no texts, no Blackberry Instant Messaging, no blogging, no RSS-feeds, no message boards.
Can I do it? I hope so. I'll survive, that much is true. And I'll probably feel a lot better for it, too... Read more!
Monday, 28 April 2008
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
I've just realised this week how much I hate the term "in touch with his feminine side"(*). It often gets used as a compliment these days, denoting a guy who is sensitive and empathetic and not some lager-swilling, odorous lout. I mean, some 'blokes' need a slap 'cos they sashay through life on a mist of pot pourri and with a Body Shop bag of goodies and a handshake like a dead trout, but still others take it too far the other way. Leaving all the housework to the missus and flirting with female colleagues does not make you more manly. There's nothing like a good pizza-guzzling LAN party with the boys, fragging each other in a deathmatch, but I'm also happy to hang out with a bunch of women, have done on occasion, and still enjoy myself; it's not because I've got a strong "feminine side" but because I'm confident enough in my masculinity to not be threatened by that environment. So, again, what makes a man a man?
If you ask me, I'll always look to the Bible for the definitive truth, and to Jesus Christ as the definitive man. Now, I know He was King of all creation in the form of man, and that He was perfect in every way, untainted by sin of any kind. But that doesn't disqualify his example: in His demonstration of what it is to be a man He was strong, empathetic, not afraid to cry, honest, responsible, standing up for what He believed, practising what He spoke, unwavering in His devotion to the Father. For starters. So, if I'm to be a real man the way God intended, I need to be willing to be counted for what I believe, to be willing to tell my mates the truth if needed even if it may hurt (whilst practising sensitivity to the context, obviously), to not be afraid to tell them I love them too, to take the lead in my household and adopt responsibility for my wife and daughter's moral welfare, to not be overbearing or dominating in my leadership but serving Jennie and Amy in ways that make them both know they're loved like princesses and I'll be there for them, to not fear a good cry, to know which fights to pick and which to walk away from, to lead younger men by example, to demonstrate to the world who a real man is and point the way to Christ every time.
I'm trying, I really I am. And I often screw it up. But I'm trying, and that's the point.
(*How many women are praised for being "in touch with their masculine side"?) Read more!
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
I've done that. Exactly that. I may look like a guy who tries to keep his head down and is a "nice"bloke, but I've been guilty of treason. No, really. Ignoring and or blaspheming God is tantamount to exactly that: treason against the Ruler of all. Devoting my life to something, anything, that I've placed on a higher pedestal than Him is treason. Not accepting His rightful rule, or going out of my way to slur Him, wrongfully accuse Him, or tell Him where He's going wrong is treason. My actions have usurped the Lordship that belongs, by right, to the One Who made me and every molecule that exists in this universe.
And yet... the King of the universe has not only taken the punishment I deserve for resisting His authority in my life and then cast it upon His own Son Jesus in a lingering, unimaginably horrible death, thus diverting the wrath and penalty that was to head my way, He's taken it one step further. Yes. To stand in that dock and be found guilty, and then to be suddenly set free by the Judge's astonishing act of love would be mind-blowing. But... what did He do beyond that? He saw His Son, killed by my crime(s) and raised to life again 2 days later in victory over sin (our falling short of God's standards) and death (the resultant punishment for that crime), He then turned back to me and said, "NOT GUILTY." Wha-? He said what? NOT GUILTY. I'm not only free, but my record has been wiped clean forever too, as if it never happened in the first place ("as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us" Psalm 103.12 - the east to west = infinite distance! Hallelujah!). It's the ultimate amnesty.
As I've had the opportunity to reflect on this scandalous truth once again at Easter, I can only fall to my knees before my King, allowed into his throne room only by the work of His Son, and let my heart overflow in gratitude, my mouth sing with all I have, and my life reflect what He has done for me in word and in action.
Can you say the same? Read more!
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Unfortunately, my line of work has become increasingly harder to appreciate or enjoy (shift work is not agreeing with my 'ageing' body like it used to; shift patterns themselves are becoming worse; and I won't bore you with the rest of my gripes... probably wouldn't be particularly gracious to particular parties either, so best avoided :-)) and now I hit the full understanding of what Paul is saying to the church in Colossae (and Laodicea) in his letter:
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23-24)
Driving into work this morning, heart heavy and my mind raging with a myriad of ideas that might help me get out of work - including breaking my leg (I kid you not) - I had to turn off my 'Coheed and Cambria' album and talk to God about what this was doing to my heart and head. It was driving me crazy. And He reminded me of the above Scripture: no matter who I work for, where I work, who I work with, or what I do, if I do it for Him I will find the missing joy; He is my King and when He wants me to move on, He'll pave the way. Until then, I'm where He wants me to be.
I'm still here; 2/3 into my shift and I've not thrown myself down the stairs yet. And I'm still struggling to maintain that Godly attitude. But I'm getting there. I won't be here forever, I know He has other plans for me in the future, but until then I intend to do it His way: not wracked with bitterness, nor as a jobsworth, but knowing my job's WORTH. That's where the adventure unfolds and my heart sings in praise to Him. Read more!
Sunday, 24 February 2008
But it did get me thinking. The world we live in is so much more than just skin and bone, metal and plastic, bread and water. There's a spiritual realm that contains a constant, current battle around us and so many forget or simply don't realise. I'm not going to go off on a "Matrix" analogy, don't worry (!), but how many people live solely in a world that will always die and fade away? The money we earn, the houses we buy/rent/paint, the gadgets we play with, the careers we build, the bands we listen to. It's stuff. And stuff is destined to die.
I've been greatly challenged by a book I'm halfway through reading - Bill Johnson's "When Heaven Invades Earth" - and realised that once again I'd been compartmentalising my life by stealth into two quarters: God's Kingdom and the world outside. Every now and again I need another poke in the ribs to stop doing that and realise that this faith I have - that Jesus Christ is alive and well, that all things were made through Him and for Him, that He, through His unimaginably horrible death and His mind-blowing resurrection has paved the way for me to live forever reconciled with God, far beyond this decaying life into eternity - is relevant for every single part of my life, not just "church" stuff and occasional opportunities to share my belief with friends and family. Bill Johnson reminds us who believe that the Holy Spirit can have dynamite power (the Greek "dynamis" is one word used to describe God's power in the Bible; the Holy Spirit's work is dynamite!) in each and every aspect of our lives. Darnit, why does my little brain keep forgetting that? I do know it really, I always do, but still it slips regularly from my thinking...
So, I put it into practice. I bumped into a mate of mine yesterday with whom I'd previously had opportunities to share my faith in some small way, and he'd even opened up about his depression before. I'd offered to remember him in prayer, and he'd appreciated it. And I had. But yesterday, good ol' Bill Johnson was on my mind when I saw my pal outside his place of work, so I immediately began praying under my breath while I sauntered over, speaking in tongues, inviting the Holy Spirit into the situation and asking Him to guide me and demonstrate God's reality to my friend. He was hunched over his car with the engine running, bonnet up, scratching his head. He informed me he'd been having some problems with it, and had also had no heating inside for some weeks. He jumped into the driver's seat to demonstrate; I promptly stuck my head under the bonnet and asked God to fix the heating right there and then.
"It's working!" shouted my mate. "I've got heat!"
Thank You, Lord... "Do you want to make the most of this?" I asked him. "Want me to pray for anything else?"
"You could pray for my depression," he replied. So I did; we jumped into the (warm!) car and I laid hands on him, asking God to lift my pal's spirit, to show Himself to him, and commanded the depression to go in Jesus' Name. I must admit, we did start having a good laugh afterwards...
It's not the be all and end all; I'm expecting bigger things the next time I have a decent chance to chat with him again. But he came away from that moment with a tangible realisation that there's more to this life than what we merely see with our eyes. Praise God.
So, HD-DVD is dead. But my King lives and I'm intending to live more and more in the light of that. And get a few cheap discs while I'm at it too. Read more!
Sunday, 10 February 2008
Well, THAT’s the point. THAT is my “that”, of course... and now it’s become clearer than a Hi-Def picture (I love my HD player… :-))...
God has unequivocally called us to be a part of Beacon Church in Herne Bay. He has spoken to Jennie and I in a powerful way to join the guys there (John and David are the elders at Beacon; great, Godly guys) in laying the foundations for something profoundly new. Since November,
The details and timing for our move are still to be thrashed out over the next few weeks, and we need to be subsequently patient in developing a God-founded, Christ-centred, Spirit-led vision and strategy for what God has prepared for Beacon Church and the local community. Either way, this is the true epitome of adventure: where we will see God’s hand at work, souls saved, the church added to, the sick healed, lives transformed and broken relationships restored (*), and Jesus Christ – the Answer to everything in this life and beyond – glorified throughout. Where my all-round gifting that God has been developing in me will make itself evident in His intentions. Where
Thank You, Lord. Here we go...
(*) If you’re reading that list and think it all sounds a bit utopian, believe me, I’ve seen exactly those things happen on many occasions; even while I type this, names are already springing to mind on each and every one of those counts. This is real, not romance. Thank God :-)Read more!
Sunday, 20 January 2008
Anyways, why've I done it really? Because I want to keep a detailed diary of my everyday shenanigans? Not bloomin' likely... (a) I'm not that disciplined, and (b) my shenanigans aren't always that interesting to other people.
BUT, I know for a fact that the life I'm living is most certainly an adventure and that there are going to be moments in my precious time on this planet (and already have been) that need to be shared or expressed for reasons self-evident at the time. I may post every few days, it may be every few months - who knows what's gonna occur - but if you're willing to put up with my occasional rants, I think you'll find there's something going on here. So, hold on tight, 'cos this could get a bit wild...
Check back soon, the man of many ellipses (...) will return with the next instalment in a little while... Read more!