Sunday, 26 December 2010

Who's invisible?

invisible-man

At our Sunday morning church event, I lent over to a friend this morning while we listened and whispered: "Why is God invisible?"

He pondered for a moment and then replied: "Maybe it's us who's invisible."

Worth a mention, I thought.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Live slowly, love quickly

When you've got a million things to do, and quickly, the temptation all too often is to get into a state of rush inside. Not that rushing is always bad; I'm sure it's needed often. But why run ourselves into an early grave by getting worked up to the point of frantic, rat-race, bullied-by-life stress?

I sometimes have to tell myself to slow down - on the inside. I'll always be the sort who has umpteen things on the go at any one time, but I find if I just slow down a little, I get just the same amount done, maybe even more, but without totally exhausting myself. Slow down. Take life in. Don't bomb past it all at 100 mph, missing the detail of each moment. Savour it. Live slowly.

I'm on a mission to pour out my life for Jesus and His people. I'm on a mission to love people as much as possible, and sometimes slowing down a little can help there too. I don't want to be so busy serving and giving that I forget to actually love people. Too busy loving to love.

Live slowly, love quickly.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Am I really a 70s man?

Goodness me. I never think of myself as a 70s man. I grew up in the 80s, the decade of Star Wars, of The A Team. When shell suits were in and BMX bikes were all the rage.

But I was born the year after this video was made. I was conceived a mere few months after this bizarre, yet nonetheless remarkable, live performance. Shocking. Scary. Was life, was reality really like this in my era?

And my brother was born a few months before this. Although, that I can kind of understand...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Take a leak, for example...

Apparently, there are only three reasons a fridge can leak water. Youtube said so, so it must be true. One, dodgy tray at bottom, need to buy a new one. Two, drainage hole behind salad tray blocked, need to push something through it to unblock. Three, water pipe behind leaking, need to screw it in with fingers.

The fridge I fixed today had been spewing water out of the front door for weeks. Turns out it was reason two - drainage hole blocked. Or was it? Lovely pink 'old water and ransid food' gunk came out of the back when I forced an old rag down the tube from inside the fridge, but not enough to convince me it really was that that was the problem. Mmm.

Life often seems to not quite fit into neat solutions. Bit of a picture of my life generally at the moment. Often things come up that seem straightforward but you never quite know if you've got it right. Take a leak, for example...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Apostolic church? We're all a load of crackpots!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
(2 Corinthians 4:7)
Paul and his apostolic team carried a power that was over and above any other power in existence. An all-surpassing power of such mind-blowing proportions. A treasure above all treasures. The very light of Christ.

But he was painfully aware of his weakness. 'Jars of clay,' he says. Fragile, earthen vessels. Weak, breakable. Broken. Wounded, hurting. Hurt.

cracked-broken-clay-pot

Why should those who carry such power be vulnerable? Why are we who carry that same light so exposed? Surely we should be stronger, shielded, impervious to the cracks and knocks and jarrings of life. Surely power should mean protection. But no. Power means pain.

Paul's next breath tells that he was hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. But he was NOT crushed, NOT in despair, NOT abandoned, NOT destroyed (vv. 8-9).

Done over but NOT done in.

There's something about those who carry the life of Christ that is unstoppable. A hidden treasure unsurpassable. A light unsnuffable. An unrivalled, overcoming power that comes not from the person, but from God.

Strong vessels hide their contents; cracked pots show it. And that's the point. God shows his power in weakness. Is there any greater presentation of God's power and character than that of Jesus, bruised, beaten, wretched, wounded, hanging dying on a cross? Is there any better way for God to show his power in my life, in your life, than for us to suffer and yet shine? That is the way of the cross. Always, in Paul's next words, 'carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.' (v.10) This is the essence of apostolic church.

Currently, I'm tired but not negative; I'm failing but not losing; I'm damaged but not relenting. What are you? What are you NOT, my brother, my sister, my fellow crackpot?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Electrifying Pete

lightning-bolt

On the way back from our antics in a field last night, we popped in for a cuppa at the Cornerstone community house (yes, all thirty of us - it's a big place), and over a cup of tea, something profound happened. As if young people together in a field expressing their passion for Jesus, really getting to grips with the Jesus Revolution, wasn't profound enough already. But something else happened.

I got talking to Pete as I sipped my tea. Lovely bloke. Been living in community for "many, many years." Baptised at Bugbrooke Chapel in 1972. (I was minus two at the time so I hadn't yet had the pleasure of meeting him.) I only really met him properly last night, and as the conversation developed, something began to happen to me on the inside. Hard to explain, but I think something of his spirit rubbed off and had an effect on me. Electrifying.

The conversation ran something like as follows, being from my point of view a three-way conversation - both me and Pete talking, and at the same time something weird happening to my insides:

Me: "So, do you live here, then?"

Pete: "Oh, yes, I've lived here for many, many years."

My insides: "Pause for thought. How can I get to know this nice-looking, pleasant-natured man? What's his story? I wonder if he's married. Ah, he looks pretty old. Maybe his wife has died. If so, I shouldn't mention it. Or should I?"

Me: "So, do you live here with your wife?"

Pete: "No, no, I'm celibate ..."

My insides: "Ah, of course, now he mentions it, he looks like a celibate. But he hasn't finished his sentence so I'd better listen on. Why is he smiling? And why is he holding that smile for so long? He appears to have interrupted himself in mid-sentence in order to smile for a very long time. Goodness, he's beaming! Wow. What a genuinely joy-filled brother. Something tells me he's really going to mean what he says next."

Pete: "I been a celibate for many, many years - and it's brilliant."

My insides: "Man, I appear to have stumbled across an opportunity that is seriously worth not missing. This guy's for real. He's been celibate for 'many, many years' and I bet he could tell me a thing or two. But I'd better smile back and take a few sips of tea before I carry on. Wouldn't wanna push it. Just met the bloke."

Me: "So what things have been a real strength to you as a celibate over the years? What would you say has really kept you?"

Pete: "Well ..."

My insides: "He's taking a long time to think. Maybe he needs a while to chew it over. Big question after all. Oh, hang on, there's that smile again. Ooh, I feel a bit funny inside all of a sudden. Tingly."

Pete: "... Jesus. Yeah, it's Jesus! Nothing else can really keep you ... except him."

My insides: "He really means that. Oh yeah, I'd forgotten it was that simple. Ooh, I really do feel quite funny. Good funny. Hearing the name 'Jesus' said like that appears to have done something to me. Hairs on back of neck standing on end. Electric inside."

Me: [Stunned silence. Lost for words.]

Pete: "And ... yeah, thanking the Lord. Thanking the Lord for everything, always thanking the Lord even when things are difficult."

My insides: "That smile. Those words. I want to be like that. I want to 'always thank the Lord'. Fuzzy tingly warm sensations. I appear to be experiencing the Holy Spirit through what this dear man is saying. Nice. More than nice. Ooh."

Me: "You know what I like about what you've just said? The fact that it's so simple. It's so simple, yet so profound."

Pete: "Yeah, well, to be honest ..." - excited smile, eyes beaming - "... I am simple. Yeah, I'm simple. It's another thing that has kept me over the years. Keeping an uncluttered life. Many years ago, I was going to get married, but the Lord said to me, 'I want you for myself,' and I was more than happy with that."

And he clearly still is.

He is known by many as Pete 'Trusting' - and I can see why.

RAW Youth in a Field for Jesus

raw-jesus-army-marquee

Thirty or so of us went to Cofton Park last night. We got together all the young people in our church living closeby and drove to Birmingham, to the very site where RAW 2010 is being held this August. We were planning and plotting about how we could get as many of our friends there as possible, so we thought we might as well do it on site, as it were.

The field is big, big, big and will be an excellent site for the Jesus Army giant marquee. It was raining somewhat, but that didn't put us off worshipping, praying for our friends and sprinting all around the field praying for the site.

I really got a feel for what it's gonna be like having hundreds of young people gathered in that field in August. It gonna be well good. Unmissable. Revolutionary.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Social Networking Assimilates Me

the-borg
"Resistance is futile!" they said to Jean-Luc Picard all those episodes ago.

That's how I feel currently. Social networking appears to have taken another gulp out of my planet.

I've just been assimilated by Twitter.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Never trust a cow even if she's licking your face

licking-cow
Take my advice. I know what cows are like.

I had a chat over lunch with a friend of mine yesterday at our national leaders event.

And he told me a great story about a time a few years ago when he was wrestling through whether or not God was calling him to celibacy.

He was living at New Creation Farm at the time, one of our community houses in Northamptonshire (which is also a fully operational farm site - hence the name, clearly...). He was asking God whether he should be celibate or not and decides he wants to really get to grips with the issue, so he takes a walk out into one of the Farm's fields and plonks himself down with a book to read.

The book was Seven Silver Rings, which outlines the stories of seven celibates, and he decides that if God is really gonna speak to him it'll be through this book.

So there he is, reading intently on the grass, pondering deeply before God. A quiet moment. The sun breathing warmly on his face, the wind licking over the fields. When a herd of cows approaches.

If you know anything about cows, you'll know full well that they always try to look innocent but are usually up to something (like I say, trust me, I've been there - and more than once, too).

Anyway, they swan right up to him and start sizing him up, sniffing him, bumping up against him, flicking him with their tails, like any normal, self-respecting bunch of cows would do, with someone else on their territory. At first he's liking it (don't worry, he's a Londoner-type) but after not very long at all he's starting to wonder.

"They're big old things, cows," were his words, thick with the London accent that clearly knows what it's talking about, and I found myself unable to argue with him on this point, especially considering the resolute, gangster-like expression on his face when he was telling me - and not to mention, well, the size of cows.

He's just wondering whether to make a run for it or not when one of the more assertive ones starts to lick his face with its bovine tongue. Not generally a pleasant experience, I'd say, but he didn't seem too fazed by it (like I say, he's a Londoner). But then she goes a step further, the cow that she is, and grabs hold of the book he's reading (not with her hoof, may I add, although that would make a great story in itself), yanks it out of his hand and starts to unashamedly munch on it with her bullish, grass-stained, merciless teeth:
"Okay, God, I get the point," he said. "And I never thought about celibacy again after that."
Needless to say, he's now a happily married man with kids, who can tell a story like this with a twinkle in his eye.

Oh, and in case you're worrying, he got away from the cows as well - he's a Londoner - although his book was never seen again.

Not in the same form, anyway.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

FRIENDSHIP IN THE GARDEN

leaf

Once upon a summer time there lived a girl called Charis.
One day, she picked a leaf up in the garden.
She took a breath
And counted two,
And when she blew the leaf began to harden.

She wondered what on Earth could be the matter,
So she sat down on the grass and had a think,
But as she looked upon the leaf
She saw it change beyond belief
For suddenly its colour turned to pink.

‘What’s going on?’ she said out loud;
She held it up and had to stand,
For when she blinked the leaf grew eyes
And suddenly it shrunk in size
And winked at her and wiggled in her hand.

‘This cannot be!’ she said to it,
‘For surely you were just a leaf,’
But then the leaf began to smile
And asked her if she’d chat a while
And showed her all its beautiful white teeth.

She smiled back and showed her own,
And chatted with the friend she’d made
Until it sprouted six short legs
And grew pink feelers on its head
And tried to fly away from where it laid.

Then Charis knew what she must do
To help her friend to fly away.
She closed one eye,
And said goodbye,
And wished her friend a fine and lovely day.

And when she closed her other eye,
She blew her friend up to the sky
And gave it wings
And all the things
That friendship brings and money cannot buy.

And sometimes Charis goes outside
And if she looks up very high
She sees her smiling friend fly by –
‘Hello,’ she calls, ‘my beautiful pink butterfly!’

pink-butterfly

s0upy - 2 March 2009 – For Charis' 6th birthday

Friday, 30 April 2010

Man Without a Past - 1978



The professionals. One of my childhood favourites. Heros of mine. Bodie and Doyle. 1978. Little did I know, when I was four years old, that Doyle was setting foot in my garden-to-be trying to track down the man who may have planted the bomb. The man without a past.

It is White Stone, isn't it? Answers on a postcard.

Many thanks to Chris for spotting this. Apparently, he leapt to his feet and pointed at the TV, exclaiming, "That's White Stone!"

Life without sex

life-without-sex
 
Check out this link. A blog post from a friend of mine.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

THE IMAGE OF BEAUTY

my face
beauty reflected
mirror in a hand
I stand
head high
eyes clear
a tear forms
and is wiped away
thoughts play
smooth skin
soft thin
lips moist
flowing hair
breathes the air
brushes free
look at me
head held high
nails filed
I smile
love looks ahead
beauty looks
ready to face
the day
his face
beauty marred
image smashed
he hangs
head bowed
eyes cloud
a tear breaks
and aches away
thoughts prey
flesh rips
fresh drips
dry lips
thorned hair
grasps for air
haggard grim
look at him
head bowed low
nails scrape
he gapes
love turns away
beauty turns
ready to face
the night

s0upy - March 2009

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sucking the Marrow out of Life

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived ... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world ...
(Henry David Thoreau - Read full version here.)
Anyone up for a trip to the woods? With me?

I wanna get the most out of life. I'm determined to live life to the full, to suck out the marrow, to scrape every last scraping from the barrel. Every experience in life can be lived with the utmost passion and enjoyment, be it a seismic, life-changing encounter or a seemingly mundane everyday experience.

I'm pretty well known for finding the small things in life enjoyable. The saying goes that small things please small minds, but I'm not convinced. My friends don't think so. A very good friend of mine often laughs at me in a wonder-filled, how-do-you-get-so-much-out-of-such-a-small-thing kind of way, when I make a big thing out of the trivial, yet infinitely wonderful, details of life.

I thought I'd take the liberty of giving a few tips for getting the most out of life, just off the top of my head, like; make of these what you will:

  • sleep in a dark wood with a friend next to a blazing bonfire with no tent - just laying next to the fire on a blanket
  • make a point of explaining to someone in great detail the world's best way of making a hot chocolate, aided by a real-life demonstration
  • next time you ask a shop assistant to show you where to find something, pull the stupidest face you can while they've got their back turned
  • read a good mix of inspiration, poetry, humour, history, children's books and science
  • fill your life full of people from all different walks of life and backgrounds, and determine to enjoy them for what they add to your life
Well, there's five to be going on with. Anyone wanna add another five?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Vacuum? Yes. Empty? No.

I'd better start at the beginning, I suppose, and let you into a few of the secrets behind why I'm living single for Jesus.

Girls were very important to me. So important, in fact, that my record stands at six. At the same time, that is. Girlfriends. Only one was serious, though, before you start thinking bad of me. She was serious about things too, although not quite serious enough in the early days to be too bothered that one of the other six was in the same class as us at school. Juniors', that is. I loved her. Enough to show off in front of her; enough to chase her more often than the other girls in the playground. Enough to tell her. She moved away one day without telling me. I was gutted. Gone. Couldn't believe it. Vacuum inside.

Although my current number of girlfriends at any one time quickly reduced to one as I matured and learnt some of the rights and wrongs of love, I found that my need for that one girlfriend was constant. Over my teenage years, I had a number of different girlfriends and soon after finishing with one, I would be yearning to meet someone else. The vacuum needed filling. I, like the rest of my fellow humans, was a well-developed love junky.

At the age of twenty-one, I came to believe in Jesus (a story all in itself) and had a very powerful experience of God, filled from head to toe, outside and in, with love . And that insatiable thirst was suddenly - shockingly - met by someone who was actually capable of quenching it: God. Although I'd been on the journey many years seeking love, I hadn't thought of looking to him. It came rather unexpectedly. And I've never quite been the same since.

Love is the reason I'm single. Love for God. At the end of the day, no one person can fill the love-vacuum inside. Except him.