Wednesday, December 31, 2003

time on my hands means blog entries and tweaks to my blog site. not sure i remember what it looked like yesterday, but i promise it has changed a wee bit. i can only make minor adjustments because i don't really know what i'm doing. i thought to change the font and make more room for text - i don't think i'll be adding pictures of anything at any time soon!

thoughts for new year? resolutions? i was browsing my friend jon morgan's site and came across his entry re solitude (12 November i think). i also came across a shout-out on that entry from a friend in beirut - how about that? nice.

it has been hard to find personal space recently. i don't mean that in a bad way - it's not something that i can 'stumble across' in our home, we have to go seek it, make time and space for it (and turn off the TV, stereo, whatever). living with someone is such a big change for me, a change that i enjoy adapting to, but it's taken us both a while to recognise the things we have left behind as a result of joining our lives.

solitude - i'd like to want more of that in the future. 'recognising that you are beloved' is a great description.

we are still in a period of fixing up the house, re-arranging and sorting through our possessions. it is tempting to say once that it all taken care of, things will be "normal" and we can get on and do all the other things we haven't had time for. somehow, i don't think it will work that way and "normality" will be ever-elusive and those best-intentions will never be carried through. so we seek to be less busy each day, but achieve more?

we get our new car today - did i not mention this before? nic's little peugeot 205 runs out of tax on Thursday and it is so old that it will cost more than what the car is worth to fix it for the MOT. we went looking for a new car on saturday and bought a peugeot 306 for £1,700. it's about ten years old, but with below average miles on the clock and is in tip top condition (from a layman's view). i think we have paid a little too much, but the chap who is selling it is a garage owner who is giving the car a full service and MOT before selling it to us, so i am happy to get a car that shouldn't cost much over the next 12 months, other than insurance.

we'd been looking for a few weeks prior to saturday, and mentioned it to a few friends during that time. i got the nicest phone call yesterday from a friend who'd spotted a car for sale and thought we might be interested. he called to leave all the details he could remember (having spotted it whilst driving himself). what a great friend!

new year always strikes me as a funny occasion. to think that everything can be different than last year, everything begins again in some way, because the rock we live on is about to begin a new orbit around its star? i like the optimism, the recognition of new beginnings, but can't help but feel it's slightly misfounded.

Monday, December 29, 2003

'christmas time, don't let the bells end...' everyone loved the single (apart from my wife because i kept singing it to her and, with my singing talent, i didn't do the tune any favours) but nobody actually went and bought it. so 'mad world' was number one. why is the christmas number one such a hyped up chart event? i don't usually pay attention to the charts, but this was unescapable. odd.

we went to the church we were married in at christmas eve. two friends came round to ours beforehand, and the four of us went together. it was really nice to see them, definitely one of the highlights of the holiday 'season'. the church was crowded (we were late of course) and we squeezed up into the balcony, where my wife promptly feel asleep on my shoulder. they told a good story:

three men were walking down the stairs in trenchard street car park. the first man was on his mobile phone, and the conversation (at least, on his end of the phone) went something like this:

"I've just parked... yes, in the Trenchard Street car park... okay, the Guildhall is where I've got to go next... no, I don't, which is why I was calling. If you could look it up and let me know, I'd really appreciate it."

there was a short period of silence, during which the three men tramped down the last flight of stairs. the first man's conversation partner was obviously busy on the other end of the phone. suddenly the third man spoke up:

"Did you say the Guildhall?"

the first man was a little surprised to be brought out of his private musings by such an immediate response.

"Yes, that's where I have to get to. Can you tell me how to get there, please?"

the third man smiled,

"I'm going that way myself. I'll walk with you."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

the wedding is over. phew. it was fun though, don't get me wrong. i think my lasting impression of it will be happy and busy friends helping us through the day. it was such a blessing to have so many dear friends gathered in one place - an amazing day!

the trip to the maldives was interesting. the journey was very long, some 24hrs travelling time each way. there was a bit of a hiccup on the the way there as we didn't have confirmed seats for our first flight. getting put on stand-by for the first three hours of your honeymoon is not something i'd recommend.

the island, called Nalaguraidhoo in the native tongue (i have no idea how it is pronounced), was astoundingly beautiful. it was a picture-perfect tropical island... a large lagoon and coral reef meant the sand was white and the water crystal clear and a lovely colour. our beach-front bungalow was at the quiet end of the island, faced south (so the sun set on our beach) and had a decent sized beach in front of it. there was so much wildlife to see, from the innumerable mosquitos to the huge rays that were hand-fed each night at the jetty. there were myriads of fish, completely unafraid and un-fazed by our noisy intrusions into their world, all the colours of the spectrum. the sun shone plenty, the food was never in short supply and the company was, of course, delightful.

we returned to a wet, cold, grey Bristol at 1am on Tuesday 2 December. the house was freezing and we were knackered, nic had a very sore throat and bad cold.

since then, things have remained indicative of the fact that God loves us and is continually pouring out blessings on us.

we had a lovely trip to the Eden Project and the car worked the whole way there and back (and continues to work reasonably well to date). the b&b was luxurious and had the novelty of a TV! lots of flies though. it was in deepest cornwall though, and incredibly peaceful. we were very well fed by the hosts and rested well.

so now its back to (or rather the first few weeks of) normal life. except we've never been married before or lived together or made a home together before. what fun it is! it is quite tiring though, doing up the house as well as the ordinary things you do everyday. however, we have been very blessed through it all. firstly, we have been supplied with all essential bits of kit to eat with and cook with and clean with and sleep in. we have even been given several things which are not simply functional and are in fact quite luxurious and make our home more than simply comfortable. we have also been able to buy things that are quite nice as well. we really have been well set up, by God, through our friends and family.

things that we're quite happy with are our huge dining table, which can comfortably seat 8 people without needing to be extended. what we'd need to do really is extend our parlour to fit the table in, whereupon the enlarged table could easily seat 10 or 12 if you're getting cosy!

also, we picked up a bargain sofa, which we just managed to fit in the house. it is now snuggly in our living room and very comfortable.

i tackled my first major DIY job last weekend, putting up some shelves in the kitchen, and got away with it i think. very happy with the result of extra storage space in the kitchen and the fact that the shelves, and indeed the walls, remain in position (at least they were this morning).

it's nice to think that nic and i are bringing the house into line with our will - creating our own little kingdom as it were. our prayer is that our home is a place where God's will is done, and truly, we are enjoying the freedom of setting up our home in line with His will.

christmas and thank you cards... there is much to be done!

Monday, October 27, 2003

what is the overlap in prayer and prophecy? the inspiration for this thought is the fact that i went to another church on the weekend on a ministry trip, which involved praying for people and the giving of prophecy or words of knowledge. it was an interesting time, and a good learning experience.

anyway, back to the connection. i am not sure whether there is any gain in drawing the boundary between prayer and prophecy, i suppose i am just curious as to how the two interact. when one gives a prophecy, are those prayers? are they declaratory prayers? what is the posture of the body/soul at that point? does one kneel to receive prophecy, in supplication?

i don't want the discussion to end up being too dry. i don't like reducing something like prayer into a merely academic exercise. i would quite like to have a specific time of praying for people, but this is done regularly anyway. i think there are a few points that i hope aren't lost in the academic dust that may be whipped up. firstly, the enormity of what prayer is: actually communicating with God. secondly, the weight of our prayers, i.e. the effect that prayers can have. thirdly, the way in which we pray, or do not pray, is revealing of what is inside our hearts and what moves our hearts and bodies. if we are moved to pray prostrate, that does say something about what is going on inside us.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

last night i had a sudden nagging feeling i was supposed to be leading the discussion at homegroup, just a few hours before it was due to start. fortunately for the the group it was not so, and i am now once again ruminating on my chosen discussion topic of postures of prayer.

typically, i meandered off to sleep with a dozen thoughts buzzing around my head seldom to be thought again, but i reckon i could tease them out of the ether now.

i guess the nub of my thoughts was examing our bodily posture as revealing our inner approach to God. i guess it encourages adoption of a holistic understanding of the human being, and that God wants to interact with us in body as well as mind and soul. is it a critique on our modern mindset of believing everything to be compartmentalised?

on another level, i am thinking about how to encourage the group with these thoughts. i don't want to talk at them, although there are some ideas that i'd like them to consider. maybe i'm over-analyzing the whole thing. i guess if i leave plenty of room for people to jump in and hope that people are feeling talkative.

check this out (i'm off on another tangent, chiefly because i've run out of thoughts on the previous paragraph):

++Yahwah, raise up pneumanauts who are apocalyptic/prophetic spokeswomen and spokesmen to your church as your prophetics were spokesman to Israel and give the church ears to hear what the Spirit is saying++

this was the daily prayer on the allelon website today. made me shiver when i read it! isn't it great? i wonder what a pneumanaut is; sounds cool though.

my fiance and i have found a place to live after we get married - not long now too, only four weeks or so. it is quite exciting to be planning a new life; i wonder what it will be like on the day, when it divides everything in two... it is hard to think of life like that, but i guess all our lives are 'pre-' and 'post-' something. anyway, it is a big reference point coming up, and i'm glad to say i'm looking forward to it very much! : )

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"It feels like i have been frozen for two years and now i am back to life...." is what my friend said recently. the context (for context is key, of course) is a prayer that has taken two years to be answered.

my musings will be about prayer - the reason being i am now back in a housegroup and have put myself down to bring some material for discussion one night. funny how these things act as spurs to start the thinking juices flowing again. i too, like my friend, feel like i am being brought back to life in a small way. prayer is the overarching topic for housegroup this term, so i ponder away...

i suppose the question that pops in my mind whenever i come across something i don't understand is 'what is it for?' quickly followed by 'how does it work?'. i suppose i'm trying to give myself some kind of context in which to use that something. turning to prayer however, makes me think that i should be using/doing it even if i don't fully understand its purpose or the mechanism by which it works. that aside, i still have thought about it a little, as is my want : )

approaching prayer from the question of its purpose, i suppose the most obvious answer is to have God change things. simply ask our Heavenly Father to do something, and it is done. of course, there are a whole load of guidelines and rationales as to why your request might not be answered (has anyone successfully prayed for a ferrari yet?) but that is, at a basic level, its function. accepting this function reveals more about its mechanism, just like an answer to a crossword clue helps with other questions. you ask God to do something - you have to think about what you want done, approach God and ask Him to do it; a basic mechanism.

at another level, prayer is about relationship - the relationship between the pray-er and God. in this case, the mechanism for prayer is the same; it is essentially interaction at every stage.

at another level, could prayer be about changing the pray-er? i suppose it is a bit sneaky of God, but could a person who seriously devotes their time and energy into developing a relationship with God to the degree that their requests are answered not be affected in any way by this process?

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

i moved out of my friend's house on sunday. he's having the place rebuilt, so time to move out really. bit sad saying goodbye to that place, which despite it's idiosyncrasies, was home to me for two years.

i'm also blown away by how people are generous with their time and energy and how they help out. and i'm learning that lack of food and sleep make me a uncomfortable person to be around... rough edges or what!?

now, however, i am lodging with some dear friends who have provided a beautiful room for me. i have been restricted in what i can fit in that room, so have been forced to simplify my possessions and life pattern a little. it's a nice change! i think i'll throw more away in the future.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

man, it's been a while. in fact it's been more than a while, it's almost been a month!! and i feel rusty at this blogging thing, so i'm going to keep this short and slowly build up to full blogging fitness.

thanks to some friends and conversations i am still pootling along, and maybe maybe starting to be inspired again.

Monday, July 21, 2003

enjoyed a sociable but tiring weekend in london. i find it very easy to avail myself of hospitality sometimes. i guess because it's sometimes rude to refuse hospitality, but does that justify being waited on hand and foot? anyway, people were very generous with their time and energy towards us this weekend, which was lovely. (i'm stopping before ppl read this and never invite me round again!)

how do you change your "want-to"? even if i knew how, looking at my efforts so far, i'm not sure i do want to change at all.

the other day, i suddenly realised i had absolutely nothing of value to offer a person i was praying with. it was God they were to hear from, do business with, etc. and He was to impact their life. i didn't feel like i had anything to lose after thinking that, and was able to pray for them. i guess it's a facet of grace, (costly grace?), to know that the sole point of reference in your life is/should be God. and if He says you're okay, then i guess you really are : )

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

so i haven't blogged for ages, but am now back and silently vowing to blog more regularly - perhaps it is something every blogger does from time to time? anyway, prompted by a perky little shout out, i am reminded that something quite significant has happened recently to me, and i leave you to the words of the email that i wrote soon afterwards:

"I bought some plane tickets on the sly, pretending we were visiting her friends in Southampton. She figured we weren't heading south when we got to the check-in desk, but that was okay. She was blown away by the beauty of the finest city in the world (and I may be slightly bias I confess) and by the fact I took her on a two mile walk up Arthur's Seat - a hill overlooking the centre of Edinburgh. On top of the hill I got down on one knee and asked her if she'd marry me, and she said she'd love to. Since the ring we'd ordered hadn't arrived yet (didn't risk buying something without her input - just as well too, as it was considerable in the end) I slipped a large plastic ring in the shape of a flower I got off the top of a cupcake on her finger and she cried. My hankie wasn't too dirty, and she gratefully accepted that too. We then headed back in to town where she immediately bought a slightly more discreet temporary ring, although she does want to keep the plastic flower for some reason. Fair enough, I suppose. Smiles all round."

the plans are now being furiously hatched for winter, but i think it's going pretty well (the planning that is). the engagement is also going well! my favourite card goes something like: (from a friend in kids writing) "i have heard that you have decided to get married and to engage each other..." for some reason that cute-ness does appeal.

on the discipleship front, things have been a tad wobbly of late. sometimes it seems my resolve is like quicksilver, the harder one tries to grab it, the more it slips out of ones fingers. i'm sure that's just a flowery excuse for sheer laziness and lack of vision. if i really was envisioned with a clear picture of the Lord i am supposedly following, i am sure i wouldn't be floundering so.

God keep me focused on you (how many times have i disregarded that prayer as just christian-ese?) in order that i have a clear and true understanding of Your wonderful character, Your unfailing love and gentle determination, that You are light, and there is no darkness in You at all. And as i gaze upon You, help me to fall ever more in love with You.

Monday, June 16, 2003

so lately i have been reading bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. a very challenging book; it is quite intense reading and i am having to evaluate it carefully as i go. firstly, i have been struck by his chapter on Costly grace, which made me think long and hard about what we communicate to people who ask questions about following Jesus, and the dangers of mis-informing them.

following on from that, i re-read a few pages of The Divine Conspiracy about the basic steps for spiritual formation in Jesus and was delighted to feel it resonate and resonate strongly. it seems deliciously simple - focus people on God, make them aware of His personality, help them develop a deep and intimate relationship to their Heavenly Father. isn't that what we've supposed to have been doing all along though? maybe, but the effects of our efforts seem to demonstrate we have been telling them otherwise, or possibly we have demonstrated otherwise by our lives.

the underlying premise is that one lives from one's beliefs. a person's belief of and about God (the singularly most important thing in a person's life) is therefore the key area in which those who wish to follow Jesus must invest time and energy, in order that the beliefs they hold are correct and true. for example, if a person truly believes that God created each individual human being and imprinted them with His image and loves them dearly, that person will have a high regard for every person that they come across in their daily existence. that person might therefore not struggle to respect others, despite external physical circumstances, simply because of their belief about God being imprinted in every human being. Mother teresa said something along these lines i believe, and she certainly lived it.

in my life, i have been struggling to disassociate myself from certain behaviours which stem from (and in turn encourage) lustful thoughts and lustful behaviour. in the midst of the emotions which result, i have often found i do want to go along with those behaviours, and afterwards i am disgusted with myself as well as confused about how i ended up repeating myself. two conflicting beliefs are in operation: one of my fallen nature that goes along the lines of "i have a right to feel good and do all that is necessary to achieve feeling good"; and one a product of following Jesus which goes along the lines of "you are not supposed to entertain lustful thoughts and allow them to dominate your mind and body".

even though i now see the first belief as incorrect (as well as my actions as illogical in pursuing that belief) it operates to influence my life. the second belief does not correct the behaviour produced by the first, and the end product is my behaviour is merely altered to the extent that i feel guilt and shame. what is necessary is a belief that strikes to the core of the first and removes the source of any behaviour in conflict with the second belief... possibly something along the lines of "sexual pleasure is not the sum of human life" combined with "women are very precious to God" and "my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit".

as i have attempted to correct my beliefs, i have noticed a difference in my behaviour. even though my body has been trained in certain unwanted behaviours, i have noticed an increased ability to resist my body's desires, as well as a freshness of thinking which i believe is the beginning of re-training my body to behave in a different way. beliefs govern your thoughts and actions. i thank Jesus for His company on this journey.

Monday, June 09, 2003

blast from the past!

1. To re-think/re-imagine worship, its form and its function.
2. To examine my heart for the least, the lost, the last, the broken and the marginalized.
3. To re-think/re-imagine Sunday services, their form and their function.
4. To re-think/re-imagine discipleship, what it means and what it looks like.
5. To re-think/re-imagine what it means to be a people who embody the message and how we go about it.
6. To re-think/re-imagine what the meaning and function of Christian leadership.
7. To intentionally become students of Jesus.
8. To learn theological humility.
9. To try to ensure that as we are changed we continue to love the whole church.
10. To learn and retain the ability to ask honest questions.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

the great big giveaway is on sunday - and i don't know how much to give. or i could phrase the question, how much of the resources God has given me dare i keep? so the things that are puzzling me are whether stewardship is a demonstration of faith, or whether 'living by faith' is the model to follow. i almost wrote 'radical giving' but that phrase has slightly religious overtones to it (having said that, so does 'living by faith' but i imagine anyone living by faith isn't that religious. now i've painted myself into a corner about radical giving too... nice one.) as it has been used to exhort people who go to churches regularly to give more of their money away than usual and feel less guilty. i am so cynical sometimes.

bonhoeffer writes that the call of discipleship wrenches a man away from all his quibble-questions and insecurities and sets him simply before the Master with a choice to either follow or not. the very fact that men are presented with this choice is a plus, not a restriction of freedom. the One providing the choice did so at considerable expense.

here we have the opportunity to see whether we are following after the Master or finding our own path through sub-life. Master, you said your yoke fits perfectly and the burden you give is light. i think i feel the weights of disobedience dragging me back. i think that my endless justifications of why i should do this and that and the other are required to numb the awakened conscience into a state of stupor. i also think that giving should not be a source of worrying if i truly believe that God is providing for me - life is more than food and clothing after all. the question then remains, have i trained myself to rely more on the physical comforts of the world, putting trust in possessions, et cetera than in the Master? my mental gymnastics suggest i have...

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

two things i have been able to read today and that struck me as remarkable:

firstly, on a jewish website, i found the daily reading of the psalms included psalm 23. since i have been memorising this psalm, it was interesting to come across it, especially from a different angle. here it is, complete with an introduction that i have never seen before:

"Chapter 23
When King David was in the forest of Cheret and nearly died of starvation, God provided nourishment for him with a taste of the World to Come. David then composed this psalm, describing the magnitude of his trust in God.

1. A psalm by David. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. 2. He lays me down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. 3. He revives my soul; He directs me in paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name. 4. Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they will comfort me. 5. You will prepare a table for me before my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup is full. 6. Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for many long years."

secondly, something that i found whilst browsing through some articles by dallas willard. the title of this particular article was something to do with being a christian in a pluralistic society. but, the reason it stuck out is the precise expression of something that i have never managed to articulate myself, and it was a delight to come across it and have it resonate.

"Truth and reality do not adapt to us. It is up to us to adapt to them. A four thousand year old tradition does not become truer as the years go by. If it is false or wrong, it simply continues to be a long-standing error. If it is popular, it is widespread. If adopted by the powerful, it is authoritative. But it is still wrong."

Monday, June 02, 2003

a blog of two halves:

firstly, i continue to eat humble pie after my sceptical witterings regarding farewell dos. i was privileged enough to be a small part of the last salt, and the farewell and thanks celebration for jacqui. it was a very fun and enjoyable evening; its felt right to celebrate in such a way.

secondly, i have been lent a copy of dietrich bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship and have been rapt by the few chapters that i have been able to read. it's fascinating to read it having read dallas willard's books and remember what he's written.

and for memory this week, Matthew 11, verses 28- 30:

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, for I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.'"

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

from dallas willard's Renovation of the Heart:

"T. S. Elliot once described the current human endeavour as that of finding a system of order so perfect that we will not have to be good. The Way of Jesus tells us, by contrast, that any number of systems - not all, to be sure, - will work well if we are genuinely good. And we are then free to seek the better and the best."

please tell me we aren't succumbing to the first pursuit (a system of order) when we seek to re-invent Church! i would much rather the second... of striving to become genuinely good people for whom any number of systems will work well.

Friday, May 23, 2003

are we in need of a fresh definition of faith in Jesus? or perhaps trust? i suppose the background to this is my own lifestyle, which has honestly and fairly reflected the beliefs and worldview of the person living them, i.e. me! and i don't think, without trying to be overly critical or falsely positive, that my lifestyle reflects any significant desire to take Jesus and his teachings seriously.

dallas willard discusses the effects of the 'gospels of sin management' in The Divine Conspiracy, and goes on to say that these 'gospels' fail to engender a desire to become a disciple of Jesus in the hearer. and i guess i am musing on the 'faith' these gospels produces and i think i am quoting directly here when i say "a mere mental assent" to the information presented. it's hard to encourage people to have more of this kind of 'faith'! they often clearly mentally assent to Jesus dying for them, they are happy with the transactional approach of them believing this information and Jesus removing their sin and shame (the later only temporarily in the normal circumstances). there isn't much scope for this kind of 'faith' to increase, save of introducing more knowledge and information into the mind, which may or may not result in any change in lifestyle.

what i have been attempting to do in my own life is to change my attitude to the information that i have already heard. i think this is born out of a desire to take the teachings of Jesus seriously.

"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?" Matthew 6 v 25.

if God really is God, shouldn't i be able to rely on this? ought i not be able to re-order the way in which i live from self-focused protection of my person, possessions, interests and reputation and become the kind of person who is able to use these very same things for the benefit of others?

so what is the 'faith' here? the desire is to have a respectful and serious attitude to these teachings. i want to 'give a damn'. i want to throw everything i am onto these words and have them catch me, and lift me up out of my present confusion (between knowing that there is more but not how to bring into existence). whatever it (this 'faith') is, i believe it can grow, increase, bring change - it is dynamic.

perhaps the transformations it will bring about will change what i believe, or the intensity with which i believe these things. i hope that this is demonstrated in my lifestyle.

"the system you have is perfectly designed to yield the results you are getting"

also, how do you communicate this to others? how do you suggest that 'faith' is more than mental assent? what word do you offer them to release them from the pre-conception of acknowledging certain isolated facts in order that they can step out?

Monday, May 19, 2003

what you know affects what you (can) think about, which in turn affects what your feelings are. such a simple analysis, but very enlightening. i am watching what i know about God - because surely what one knows about God, his nature and character determines that persons entire outlook on life - and hence changing my feelings.

i saw a very stark indication of a wrong outlook and feelings (and hence actions) as i walked into work today. a rather explosive confrontation between a commuter and a parent on a school run including some rather spicey language, fierce gesturing and reckless driving. what is sad is that to that individual, there was no other sensible way of behaving in that situation - who else would take care of him (it was a bloke), his expensive car, make up for his hurt feelings, sympathise with his thoughts? in his mind, absolutely no-one, hence his behaviour.

if he knew that God cares, provides everything he has anyway and can heal the human soul in ways we can barely imagine, perhaps he would behave differently. so that is what i am trying to do - think about God and take his promises seriously. at the moment, it seems slightly surreal or 'wistful thinking', but i am convinced that is because i need to unlearn my 20th century intellectual post enlightenment postmodern cynical outlook on life and relearn the gentle rhythms of the Kingdom here on earth.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

working on templates and stuff and trying to understand html... a bit slow on the uptake unfortunately.

where do you find out what code represents what colour?

think i've arrived at a satisfactory template for the moment...

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

haven't posted for a while. life has changed a bit as i'm working in a new dept and the pace has upped a touch. it's nice to be busy and learning new things. i hope i manage to hold on to that mindset for a while!

i'm now reading dallas's latest book Renovation of the Heart which is a good read. it's the kind of book that demands a response though, so i am slightly cautious in reading it. having thought about my past, i remember reading The Divine Conspiracy and feeling pretty much the same, but sadly have not put into practice what was written. i suppose i have warmed to the idea, but there is so much more i could do, and being 'warmed' to the idea of the disciplines doesn't make me more disciplined! i'm even struggling to make the baby steps to spend a few minutes more in prayer and study each day. i suppose i'd like to be more inventive and flexible about how i weave these into my daily routines, but it is fits and starts at the moment sadly.

had an interesting conversation about the contents of blogs, and how to 'use' blogs. it's the disclosure thing - it feels good to get things off one's chest, but not everyone need know? so you could have very conceptual blogs, talking in abstract terms about struggles and not getting into particulars. but the more particular you blog, the more people can connect with what you say...

so am i ashamed of who i am? am i too ashamed to admit my character flaws to others?

Thursday, May 08, 2003

blimey tom, methinks this may be a little insight into your 'big blue book'. so by doing this, does that mean i gain automatic entry into shouting in the future? or wait, hang on, am i posting onto your blog now??

i get the feeling that this whole blogging thing is taking us into a whole new dimension...

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

well, my cynical old self was humbled that night. good thing too. something that really made me happy was the evidence that the group had its own voice and identity.

it feels good to have left, it's the right thing. i feel more free to get involved now i don't have a 'title' or a certain standard to live up to. i feel the desire to help out in whatever way possible even more, and now i know my motives are not because i am acting out of a certain capacity of leadership it feels much better.

i came to a realisation (or rather the understanding was given to me) that the interpretation that had been offered to me was correct. what a relief. and now the pieces fit together well, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. the dream is encouraging and enlightening. well, i hope so when i inform the relevant parties.

i think my mum is on to something when she recommends reading the bible out loud. it's different.

i feel i have been plunged into a thicker part of the fighting recently, and have been struggling with specific issues more than usual. i wonder if it can make you physically more tired - because i do feel that way. i guess the next step is to put into practice the right disciplines to make the fight easier - to capture some 'spiritual fitness'.

if we do start blogging frequently, and in discussion mode, i wonder what will happen to rambling entries like these? i guess there could be morsels of discussion in here somewhere, but i would prefer to take the view that the group shares the responsibility for providing themes and conversations, and it never falls to just one individual to spark something all the time.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

today is my last day as a house group leader of this particular house group. it is another of those moments which are heavy with significance, although i'm not sure why. is it because people need to have markers, ceremonies, signposts to remember or to give value to what went before? since i started work in this particular organisation, i note that staff who leave have collections and cards and presentations. it appears to be almost ritualistic. the meaning of the individual's work, effort and contribution to whatever cause they have bent themselves to is supposed to be rewarded, captured, recorded, appreciated and celebrated in those fleeting moments of 'okay, i guess that's it, goodbye then'. i think it sad, but sweet. the sentiment shown there is valid, no doubt, but the manner does not do it justice. so cynical old me will resent the fact that my departure is celebrated insufficiently, but not to celebrate would be insulting.

September 2001 to May 2003. a year and eight months of this house group. i wonder what has happened to all involved. there have been several lives threading through, some that have been a constant presence, some that have been an ephemeral shimmer. i am reluctant to over analyze, or indeed analyze at any depth on this blog. i don't know whether my musings on the house group can add any value to what has gone before or justify what has happened. we have shared each others lives; we have tried to seek god and his kingdom. there... let it rest at that.

the future beckons now anyway. i will take all i have learnt, although a succinct summary of precisely what i have learnt escapes me right now, and apply it at some point. i think i have learnt lots, and probably not all that i wanted to. most likely the lessons were ones that i thought i wouldn't need, but there you go. so yes, the next thing beckons. but i don't know what it is.

the dreams have stopped right now. i am offered an interpretation of it. i don't quite know what to do! part of me feels protective and that it is my dream to interpret. i suppose if i get to interpret the dream, then the application of the dream rests with me, and i can say whether i need to act (if at all) on the dream. but when someone else indicates there might be more afoot than at first glance i naturally shrink back. how does one tell if an interpretation is true if the interpretation does not include a proof built in to it? examples of joseph were quite clear, you had your head chopped off in three days time or you were set free... the bumper harvest and famine happened... his family did bow down to him eventually. then the interpretation of those dreams simply stated what was happening - and no course of action was necessarily indicated. in fact, i suppose his reaction to them betrayed his wisdom at those various stages of life. so what to do now?

i end this blog with the words with which in 1903 sir leslie stephen concluded a famous series of lectures: "i hope i have not said anything original."

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

sneaking in a blog to see if i can now do shout outs...

didn't work the first time, now let's see.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

last night the after dinner talk turned to the state of the world. there was a general feeling of scepticism about the way the world is going right now. if the diagnosis is correct, the solution escaped everybody. there was a feeling of wanting to act, to stem the tide somehow, but the how to engage in such a way as to confront the current power systems without playing by their rules eluded us.

i had another vivid dream last night:

a mountain overlooked a plain, which was beginning to be filled with water after a long time of dryness, as it was meant to be. but there was a terrible smell. the land was full of scorpions, springing on one another from their burrows and devouring each other. larger scorpions prowled the land, looking for other large scorpions to do battle with. also in the land, where the water was beginning to pool, were large worms, from which the stench emanated.

at night when the scorpions disappeared, there came a hunter of the worms, with his huge dog. the hunter would lure the worms out onto the shore, where the dog would kill the worms. the hunter had killed several worms before the dog became distracted by something. a worm took this opportunity to attack the hunter direct, but he managed to kill the worm by himself.

i'm recording this here so that i won't forget it. i have a hunch i know what it means, and having written it down also know why i dreamt it. i hope i'm learning about these things as well. it's pretty new to me. these kind of dreams disrupt my sleep too, so i'm pretty tired today. it's a tricky one, because i want to get better at this, but i also need my sleep!

Friday, April 11, 2003

two thought provoking things i read today:

"Some of those who stop in inns are given beds, while others haveing no beds stretch themselves on the floor and sleep as soundly as those in beds. In the morning, when night is over, all alike and get up and leave the inn, carrying away with them only their own belongings. It is the same with those who tread the path of this life: both those who have lived in modest circumstances, and those who had wealth and fame, leave this life like an inn, taking with them no wordly comforts or riches, but only what they have done in this life, whether it be good or bad."

st. anthony

"The overarching biblical command is to love, and the first act of love is always the giving of attention."

dallas willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines

lunch break over, time's up. no more thinking 'til monday now ; )

Thursday, April 10, 2003

no time to blog much today. out for lunch with a good friend. that's important, to have lunch with good friends; i hope i never forget that. so i was refreshed by the company and fueled by the food too.

how does one learn to interpret dreams these days? trial and error i suppose. better try and remember my dreams and start talking to people about them. it's not very restful, having vivid dreams, but then maybe it's not that important in the bigger scheme of things.

on a completely different issue, having made a decision affecting my future, i suppose i am struck by how fluid things can be, or seem completely inflexible, depending on your point of view. and most importantly, how much control of your future is in other people's hands.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

well i've been playing a little, but not much success. guess you start out quite small and progress is slow. a nice chintzy little metaphor for life - must be the avo sandwich taking effect already.

my instant instinct on creating this blog site (or whatever it's called) was to try and make it mine... create my own flavour/identity in the site. hmmm. frustrating that i don't have as much control over this as i would like to have. but the help function is okay, and i shall continue to make use of it.
how to take a lunch time and make it more than an hour surfing the net? try and record some thoughts on how your life-journey is going. inspired by todd, and chided by the chan for not being involved in blogging, i've decided to give it a go. how long it will last i don't know, and whether i want any of these to be public (which i don't at the moment) may or may not change.

anyway, that's my starter for ten... and i'm off to grab some lunch and will probably return to the site to tweak it to make it look pretty.