July 30th, 2011
Just got back from a week in the middle of nowhere, a place called Mablethorpe. Went up with 250 people from our church to join our larger church family for a week of worship and inspiration. It was full on. So much to take in. I have come away knowing that everybody got something from something and there is just no way to judge anything, but my personal take on the week was very much like the old story of the great wind and storm and fire and the still small voice. There was massive production of the worship, so much sound, so many lighting effects, so many seminars, all so big. But I feel that the Lord’s communication to me was a still small voice in the midst of all these big loud flashy things. My most heart-full worship was in the quietest of moments in the quietest of songs, singing “oh, oh, oh, adoramus Te Domine”.
I have been reading Punk Monk, by Andy Freeman and Pete Greig, and its gone so well with the week’s activities. I feel a need for every greater simplicity. To, as Heidi Baker put it, stop for the One. To take a modern vow of silence – not always reaching for the phone and the internet. To just be. Quietly. Putting aside more time for prayer than even for thought.
This is my challenge for the next season of my life. Here goes.
May 27th, 2011
I listened to a testimony on the radio of a man who was beaten and left in a field with 2000 other bodies. Muslim Croats. He was pinned beneath his brother’s dead body for hours. He had to walk over 100′s of dead bodies to get off the field. The man behind the abhorrent slaughter has recently been captured and will go on trial for war-crimes. When he eventually sees the other end of the trial, he will be imprisoned for the rest of his life.
This is the justice of man.
There are some that would call for worse punishment, the worst being death – the end of him altogether. But this is seen as barbaric by most law systems today.
There are some that believe that an honest loving hindu man, after living a long and good family life, never harming a fly, will stand before God on trial one day and that God will send this man to an eternity of torment.
This is the justice of GOD? I must argue. If we prideful, arrogant men consider it barbaric to even just sentence to death, surely God is not more barbaric and less kind than man, surely God’s judgement in this ‘trial’ (whatever it will be) will show God to be better than human judges?
That is just my little thought to chew over. Glory be to GOD, the Author of justice.
May 24th, 2011
The wind is blowing. The clothing and towels on the washing line are moving in no specific direction with no specific timing. Some trees are leaning and shaking, some are not leaning or shaking at all. When I look at the trees that are not shaken I think that perhaps I will pour myself a glass of port and sit out there in the evening sun listening to the distant sounds of lawn mowers and factory machinery that does not clock out, does not take tea breaks and does not make unforced errors.
Birds are calling in intervals from trees that are leaning and shaking. It surely would not be very enjoyable to sit in the wind with the harsh angles of the evening sun forcing a squint on my face, with the incessant sound of machinery and neighbourhood gardening.
Somewhere (here and there) a mother is putting a child to sleep with a lullaby her mother sang to her 20 something years ago and somewhere (everywhere) there is a stone that God made. That not even God can lift.
We are the greatest cause of the most unspeakable agony, yes we are the greatest cause of the most rapturous, unspeakable delight.
May 8th, 2011
The robin sits at a safe distance in under the shade of a single bay leaf watching me dig the little garden spade, whatever you call it, deep into the flower bed in an ever futile attempt to find the tip of the dandelion root. Immersed in my own world, wondering how long exactly these roots are and how its even possible a plant can regenerate itself from a root fragment buried under 10 inches of pretty hard soil, I do not even realise how many creatures I am surrounded by. The robin watches with a mixture of opportunistic eagerness and fearful reverence, perhaps a morbid fascination as I accidentally mutilate various worms with my little garden spade thing, whatever its called. Gardeners leave a large wake of collateral damage, mostly unknowingly except for the occasional severed worm stuck on the spade. I remove the piece of severed worm with my hand, I don’t know its its the front half or back half and I don’w know why I am removing this thing with my hand. It would come off with my next delve. Perhaps its regret, remorse or respect. If I just plunged the spade into the soil again it would be as if the worm has as little significance as the twigs or stray roots I cut through all the time. If I use my bare fingers to remove it then I prove to myself and it, if it can see me with the last few seconds of its life or from the ground if I am indeed handling its back end, that it matters as a creature. That it was a dear friend, by genus.
The robin watches from beneath the shade of a single bay leaf as a flick the piece of worm out of my direct field of vision, admittedly not a reverent funeral service by any means but my love for worms is on a worm level as opposed to a human level and I have not seem worms conducting any more beautiful a burial service. I move on a few feet to ponder the mysterious depths of the next dandelion’s root and the robin sits a strategic 2 arms length away and snacks on the discarded end of worm. It’s just mad how deep these roots go. Mad.
May 6th, 2011
Ok, Ok, yes. I admit I have a gloomy propensity sometimes. And while we are on confessions, I confess that I am not sure I used ‘propensity correctly there, but I am also sure that you would not know the right use, which provides safety for me to use big words like that and more likely impress you than incite your corrections.
To reform, and to coincide with my reading of Chris Bachelders beautiful novel ‘Abbot Awaits’, I thought it would be good for me to take on a little writing project; to only write about the beauty I see for a little while.
To begin with something small, I picked up a greeting card with a picture of an old lady standing at her open front door, with her spacious and mostly purple living room stretching behind her. Two men in white shirts, glasses and black ties with tie-clips stood at outside the doorway and asked in a speech bubble, “have you found Jesus?”
I put the card down, slightly confused but not troubled. Perhaps just happy with the simplicity of the cartoon, the drawing style and my peculiar fondness for door to door evangelists, be they Mormons or Jehova’s witnesses.
Two days later I picked the card up again and saw sandled feet sticking out from beneath the old lady’s curtains.
May 4th, 2011
You hear from governments how you have to pay your contribution (tax) to belong to a society and to live with the benefits of the system behind the society. You hear emperors talking about swearing allegiance of conforming to a creed. Its human leaders who are insecure about their followers, who demand some form of verifiable proof that you are their follower. This insecurity is a weakness, proven membership gives them recognition and makes them feel that they are succeeding . It is pride, giving them numbers to boast about.
Surely these are not weaknesses God has? God sees our hearts, and know us individually. God does not need affirmation. God does not need to produce numbers and stats and signatures and votes and membership creeds to make God feel that what God is doing is working and worthwhile. God is enough for God. God knows who is for God, and God knows who is against God.
So, why the need to conform to a creed? Why the need to label your faith with catch phrases? Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical, Jew, Muslim, etc. etc. Your relationship with God is self explaining. Your faithfulness is seen through the works of your fingers, the thoughts of your mind, your words. You do not need to say a magic prayer in order to belong to a group so that your eternal salvation is secured. (Pencilled in, mind you, lest you backslide!) – These are lies brought to you by insecure leaders. Or perhaps through well meaning leaders who are part of a tradition created by 2 milleniums worth of insecure leaders…
I reckon this is all that matters: Trust Jesus, Love God, enjoy relationship with our Lord Creator. Whatever beliefs that fit around your relationship with God, they don’t matter very much – and if they do matter, they certainly do not matter enough to cause division in the Church. It is pride to separate yourselves from others just because their beliefs are slightly different to yours. And above all, there is no way on Earth or in Heaven that beliefs should ever cause you to kill or go to war. This is pride and sin of the worst kind.
That’s what I think anyway…
April 28th, 2011
Just watched a documentary on the early history of the church. It showed the history of the eastern church, which I did not even know existed to this extent, that it spread all the way into China. It did not spread as the western church did, with military power and war lust, but it spread through dialogue and mutual respect and understanding. It spread with a willingness to be integrated into existing culture, not like the west which forced its culture upon its subjects as if it was the one and only culture of God. Sure, the east church was most likely full of its own flaws – surely the biggest proof of its flaws is that it is hardly around anymore, comparatively. A faith of Jesus that is untainted by power struggles and crippling religion would not fade away, the true relationship with Jesus is far too vibrant and light bearing to fade away.
But, the point I was most struck by was how the Nicene creed was established. Basically it was about power. Constantine wanted to unify his empire which was being pulled in two by conflicting theories about the nature of Christ. This already saddens me. By the year 300 self professed Christians were already so distant from Jesus that they were fighting and banishing and imprisoning each other over stupid philosophical arguments. They thought, as do many today, that it is vitally important to know all the mysteries of Jesus so that they could be sure of their safety from Hell. That was the crux really. They were arguing about who was safe from Hell. If they truly loved Jesus for Himself, they would not have bickered so much about trivial philosophy and clever words, they would not have feared Hell. And so it has dawned on me that just as the Israelites ruined their faith with politics and religion, so Christians have ruined Jesus’ light bringing words with their warmongering and petty squabbles. Since the very early days even.
Lord have mercy, have patience on your deluded creatures. And grow the spirits of your true followers, the peace lovers. Amen.
April 27th, 2011
John 13: 35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.Ħħ
I am just thinking how loaded this “Christian” tag is. In Matthew 25 Jesus seems to be sadly turning people away who call Him Lord, yet did not have a relationship with Him through their lives. What if a person is a regular church goer, but steps on any heads he can on his way up the corporate ladder, complains about the “disgusting” homeless folk and builds a castle for himself and his many fine clothes, calls himself a Christian, but passes over the old river and meets Jesus separating the sheep from the goats… Matt. 25 says our Lord will send him off with the goats.
I guess my question is; is self tagging at all relevant? Or is it what we do with our lives and how others tag us?
April 16th, 2011
Rebecca Black. Type “rebe” into google and the first suggestion will be this girl. Why is this young lady so (in)famous, so suddenly? Because we are all bullies, that is why. We love to lift up each other’s weaknesses to make others laugh, earning us a handful of brownie points in our social circles. We share a link on Facebook to Rebecca Black’s little music video thing on YouTube, our friends watch it and laugh at the silly words and cheesy pop tune, they click a button that says “like” and we feel really special because more than 10 people clicked “like” on our link. We earn the briefest most insignificant amount of attention that we were looking for by making a joke of this girl.
True, the lyrics are very funny in their silliness, and the video is uber-cheesy, but I think the 100′s of negative comments are uncalled for. One comment begged Rebecca to stop singing. Well… um… if you do not want to hear her, don’t load the video and then push play… its not very hard to not hear her. But there is a reason why she has had over one hundred million views on YouTube; we love it. We love it when we can wave somebody else’s weaknesses in the air, high above our own. We are all bullies.
I watched a video of Rebecca Black singing her song to some friends in a living room, they were all smiling and having fun. Imagine a world where we could all have this reaction. A world where art and creativity and expression is just about the enjoyment of creating. Imagine a world where we did not judge each other’s expressive outputs, but just smiled at the fact that it was happening. I would chose a world with not-so-pretty art and badly sung songs over a world where everybody was too scared to express themselves for fear of the vicious judgement they would incur for doing so. Any day, every day.
This whole thing has made me think about myself. I am so scared to even write down any songs I write, because I know there is a ridiculously judgemental world out there. So why should I laugh at somebody who is brave enough, or naive enough, to put themselves out there. What right do I have?
I want to live in a world where everybody is an artist, and nobody judges each other’s expressions of creativity. Don’t you?
So, be the change.
April 16th, 2011
I met a Libyan man yesterday. He said Tunisia first, but after telling him that I have been to Libya he must have felt he could trust me and confided that he was from Tripoli. He told me in excellent english, as he sold me a bottle of malt drink, that the west should not have interfered with Libya. He said that they should not have interfered with Iraq either, that Saddam knew what he was doing. He said that one has to be violent to rule a violent people.
I had to disagree when he mentioned Zimbabwe. The outside world let Zimbabwe’s tragedy transpire without involvement and the country was decimated. So what if the west had let Iraq play out? Or libya?
It is hard to imagine that some people don’t mind a tough and violent dictator as a leader. Well at least one libyan shop keeper in the South of England does…