Thursday, November 02, 2006

oxymoron list

top of the list: Microsoft Works!

*hee hee*
theological world view results

prompted by andrew's post, i ripped through the test and came out as...



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal




Reformed Evangelical


93%... hmm, i didn't figure on that. some odd questions though.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Thoughts are not your thoughts
by Penelope Wilcock

God, you are my God and you do not sleep.
As ceaseless as the drone of traffic on the motorway
as remote as the distant train rattling across the valley
Your watch continues, your silent sight
looking over our night,
the time of our forgetting.
Me, I am not like you, my God.
I am tired, and I cannot see the point,
and my eyes are closing.

You are the God of abundant life, the God
who dances in creation;
And I, I covet death because life is so difficult,
So fraught with responsibility, and because I fear
the end of mercy.
I am not like you.
And yet, for all that, I inch my way to your dwelling,
And drink in secret at your quiet springs of hope,
enough to keep me going.

And then you Jesus, the party-going Jesus,
life and soul of every occasion,
Never lost for words, and your words never lost:
I am not like you.
I have spoken words that cut and stung,
words that betrayed and trivialised.
And more often than not I can think of nothing to say,
tongue tied and discourteous.
Jesus was not shy, and not afraid, and not starving for approval.
Jesus, he was not like me.

Your ways are not my ways and your thoughts not my thoughts,
Saith the Lord:
And I would be the first to agree with you there.
My sulking, smoking fire barely warms the grate,
While your blinding sun sets the winter sky ablaze.
But because my breath is your breath,
and because the flesh of Jesus is my flesh,
And because you stay awake to watch over me
when my tired eyes give up on the day,
I love you different God,
And I creep in at your side, calling you my friend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

what's in a word?

suggested replacement definitions for some common words and phrases, now rather battered around the edges, from dallas willard:

disciple: one learning to live their life as Jesus would if he were they - an apprentice of Jesus; instead of someone who is serious about church involvement

salvation: being caught up into the life that Jesus is living right now on earth; instead of going to heaven, not hell, after death

grace: God acting in our life to accomplish what we cannot do on our own; instead of God's forgiveness for our sins that takes away our guilt

love: to will the good of another; instead of a feeling of desire for, or to act nicely toward, another

kingdom of God: the present range of God's effective will, where what he wants done is done; instead of heaven, or the perfect realm that will exist at the end of history

Thursday, October 19, 2006

'Come, let us reason together...'

The Christian message, which in its origins intended to be an affirmation and culmination of Judaism, became very early diverted into a repudiation and negation of Judaism; obsolesence and abrogation of Jewish faith became conviction and doctrine; the new covenant was conceived not as a new phase or disclosure but as abolition and replacement of the ancient one; theological thinking fashinoned its terms in a spirit of antithesis to Judaism. Contrast and contradiction rather than acknowledgement of roots relatedness and indebtedness, became the perspective. Judaism a religion of law, Christinaity a religion of grace; Judaism teaches a God of wrath, Christianity a God of love; Judaism a religion of slavish obedience, Christianity the conviction of free men; Judaism is particularism, Christianity is universalism; Judaism seeks work-righteousness, Christianity preaches faith-righteousness. The teaching of the old covenant a religion of fear, the gospel of the new covenant a religion of love.

Abraham Joshua Herschel

Friday, September 29, 2006

the journey begins...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

back from the 'garve

so my old laptop got a knock in the trip to portugal and is in for data recovery* at the moment.

*i.e. it's too old to cost effectively repair it, so grab what you can from the hard drive and sell it off for parts

the aluminium lining to this cloud is that i have been saving up for the past few months to buy a new laptop. immediately before we flew to portugal, i was engaged in my virgin eBay auction to purchase said new laptop. while the actual process of buying a laptop from eBay successfully was a bit of a drama**, i am now the owner of one of these:

15.2 inch Powerbook, G4 1.67 GHz, 2MB RAM

which is a 15.2" Powerbook. i am very happy with it.

**i won the first auction, paid, got refunded, lost faith in the seller and bid on a second auction. first seller comes back to life and offers to re-sell, just as i win the second auction. refuse first seller and confirm second seller. transfer money to second seller and get refunded again. second seller requests funds are transferred to a suspected third party email address, which i do. second seller then goes incommunicado for a week. thinking i have run into a rogue seller, i slope back to bristol from my not-so-relaxing-after-all-holiday to find new laptop on my desk at work as requested. i smile and praise god.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

on hols

am in portugal (the algarve, near a lovely little town called silves (pron. sill-vsh)).

it is hot.

mrs hope and i are not up to much at the moment, but 'the not much' is more than enough to keep me from blogging.

will be back at work next tuesday, and you can be sure the blogs will start flowing. human nature, eh?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

and then what?

i remember a conversation being recounted to me in which 'and then what?', as the basis of persistent questioning from one party, took the other participant through their entire life forecast from nascent legal career through, marriage and kids to rounds of retirement golf in the algarve. the next question was obivous.

i was lying in bed last night thinking of this blog, and what would might turn out to be in the event of my death. a kind of dislocated memorial? would anyone have the ability to add a closing entry to say that i'd passed on? would blogger still be going 100 years from now? will the interweb still be functioning? will it be stuck on data chip in a basement, never again to illuminate any liquid crystals? even if i gave someone my password and log-in, would that ensure an explanatory entry? say that i handed it over... then what?

at the end of deuteronomy, there is an account of how moses dies and is buried. it still puzzles me in an amused sort of way that the very books moses is supposed to have written contain an account of how he dies and is buried, and mourned for. i mean, who had the guts to write those words in his place? and how did they know God buried him? but what i like is that it's not the end of the story, you can still ask 'and then what?'

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

flickr update

View from the basilica

have now posted some select pics of our trip on flickr.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

on the other hand...

i have just returned from a three week tour of syria and lebanon - thanks to all who supported us in prayer and other ways. whilst it will take a while before the intense experiences of that trip condense into coherent thoughts, i wanted to share some wisdom which was gleaned from the Syria Times on the return flight:

"On the other hand, you have different fingers."

"Nothing is foolproof to a talented fool."

"If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

beetle breakfast

this morning was nice enough weather for me to sit outside for breakfast. as i munched on my toast (peanut butter and jam), i spotted an iridescent beetle in a nearby shrub. it didn't seem to be too active - more collapsed on the leaf than perched. halfway through my banana, and i manuevered the beetle onto my plate; it was extremely sluggish and sank to its knees in a piece of orange peel (didn't know beetles have knees? well they have at least two pairs!). i decided, in a fit of generousity, to share my banana with it; it was probably the most productive thing i've done today. i enjoyed about two minutes of watching it devour an infinitesimally small amount of banana before it started 'swallowing' repeatedly (okay, so it's hard to tell exactly what a beetle's doing, but it looked like swallowing, or at least nodding its tiny head. it could have been slow-mo moshing, but there was no music.) after a minute or so of this, it woke up! in three seconds it scrabbled out of the orange peel, paused dramatically on the edge of the plate, fired up its wings and, like a minature botanical harley-davidson, buzzed off into the morning sky.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

non sequitur?

taken from the bbc's sport website, this is the full brazillian squad for the upcoming world cup. those who want a proper build-up should read the line up in full, but if you're short on time, just run through the forwards out loud, putting on your best portuguese accent.

Goalkeepers: Dida (AC Milan), Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Rogerio Ceni (Sao Paulo)

Defenders: Cafu (AC Milan), Cicinho (Real Madrid), Lucio (Bayern Munich), Juan (Bayer Leverkusen), Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid), Gilberto (Hertha Berlin), Cris (Olympique Lyon), Luisao (Benfica)

Midfielders: Edmilson (Barcelona), Juninho Pernambucano (Olympique Lyon), Emerson (Juventus), Ze Roberto (Bayern Munich), Gilberto Silva (Arsenal), Kaka (AC Milan), Ricardinho (Corinthians)

Forwards: Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Robinho (Real Madrid), Ronaldinho (Barcelona), Adriano (Inter Milan), Fred (Olympique Lyon).

i hope he scores the winning goal in the final.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

final thoughts on worship (for now)

so my initial thoughts on worship centred around the general feeling that worship isn't scratching where it itches. people who, through worship, have briefly tasted God now long for more. other people who, through worship, have found themselves transformed in some way now long to continue along that process of transformation. and, if something is missing from worship, i believe that looking for innovations within the current methodology is not the way to go about finding whatever is missing, i.e. there's no point in hankering after 'more intimate worship' because a) that is what we're already doing for quite a while, and b) it is patently not working if people are still unsatisfied.

following up that bunch of thoughts, i wondered if one way of arriving at a satisfactory answer is to ask the question 'what is worship for?' and to then consider the secondary purposes of worship which God has graciously arranged. so, although worship is primarily for God, he also has made it so that worship changes us and that we enjoy worship.

so final thought - let's start by asking another question: 'how does worship work?' as briefly discussed last time, the process of worship (bringing images and thoughts of God before our minds) is a form of meditation. by immersing our minds in correct images of God, our trust in God is built up. learning to trust God means we unlearn the ways of the World (trusting no-one but ourselves for our safety and welfare) and anyone who pursues this will know that it brings about tremendous change in the deep heart of a person that cannot leave the behaviour and attitude unaffected.

always, always ask 'yes, but how?'

i love hearing what worship does to people. i love hearing how wonderful worship is. write glorious prose about the intimate language of love that flows between Father, Son and Spirit and that all we are doing is joining in with that ongoing Trinitarian ecstasy! i love it and can't get enough. but write more about how we do it. write in simple terms how an average human being, fraught with human concerns of money, hunger, self-esteem, lack of guitar skills, tone-deafness, can do this. and demonstrate it! demonstrate that a worship leader doesn't have to worship with a guitar. demonstrate that you don't have to sing. because people will hear what you say, but do what you do. and while we can (and often do) wax lyrical about how worship is more than singing songs, we do not demonstrate to people otherwise. our common experiences of 'joining with the Trinity' remain entombed in 'corporate sung worship' and we do not give people any other viable models of worshipping (by 'viable' i mean a) do-able and b) experientially true.)

if worship is meditation, then we need to teach people to do it. (we also need correct subject matter to meditate with, but thankfully theological analysis is done on a song well before we ever buy the CD.) if worship changes us, envigourates us (literally 'fills us with life') then we need to teach people how to do it. to do the first thing, we must stop looking for the 'cutting edge' and trusting in our own smartness - God may be mysterious, but he is always accessible. and to do the second thing we need to be serious about doing it ourselves.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

let's talk about worship some more

so andrew gave us a great definition of intimacy - "recapturing that which was lost in Eden". what i like about a definition like this is that it doesn't attempt to nail it down for you, but rather gives you an image to explore and taste and imagine.

but we're talking about worship. for me, an interesting angle from which to examine worship is to ask what is it for? easy enough, you say, the primary purpose of worship is to glorify God. God deserves praise and glory and thanks and honour for who he is and what he's done and worship is how we regularly do that. you can then follow that train of thought into how worship should then be more than just singing songs once or twice a week, but should involve a lifestyle of constant appreciation of God, his person and actions and constant appropriate responses to those.

what's so amazing about God is that he is a master of design. so, while worship is for him, he graciously uses it for our benefit as well. as a few have testified, worship can change our lives, whether it be the single intense experience or the regular rhythm over a period of time. and, he even makes worship a pleasurable experience for us - how cool is that? something that by rights could be expected of us is actually beneficial to us and enjoyable for us.

so what happens when we bring God, his person and his actions before our minds and, in recognition of them, give thanks for them? our vision of God is enlarged. our image of God gets bigger. we have more of God to explore and taste and imagine. no wonder our lives are changed, sometimes even instantly. with a clear picture of God before us, proper perspective is given for our hopes and fears, likes and dislikes, desires and attitudes. with God before us, we feel safe in his goodness - we can stop our striving for security, and rest securely in him.

the content of worship is therefore crucial.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

for nicola jane...

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

taken from The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjery Williams.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

let's talk about worship

it's not without some apprehension that i enter into the current discussions about worship that you can find over at andrew's (see his 16th march entry) and matt's (see his 18th march entry). i'm apprehensive because the topic of worship is quite a sensitive one: everyone has an opinion on it and everyone has precious worship experiences to savour. you would be a fool to wade in and not expect to tread on someone's toes. so from the outset, i'm not trying to disprove anyone's personal experiences, but try to start a discussion based on people's opinions (including some of my own). and if your experiences challenge any opinions expressed here, please do say so!

first off, a working definition to set the scene: worship in this entry is sung worship, not a lifestyle of worship. quite simply, most people mean sung worship when they say 'worship'.

when i first came into contact with vineyard worship, i was struck by how the personal the language was. the usual phraseology goes something like: "instead of singing songs about God, i was singing songs to God". the story that goes hand-in-hand with that is that the vineyard movement is anointed for intimate worship, or to borrow some of matt's wording, a core value of vineyard worship is intimacy. yet would it be fair to express the current stirring within the ranks as a frustration that somehow our worship isn't scratching where it itches?

of course, it's normally expressed among as a call to reclaim our value of intimacy. conversely you even hear others ask why we don't sing more songs about God any more! you might hear a scathing critique of how we have become 'consumer-worshippers' and that we're teaching people to be hungry for experiences, not hungry for God. maybe i'm painting too bleak a picture, but i believe that frustration with our worship is a good thing, if it leads us onwards and upwards.

so let me play the 'what-if?' game. what if the anointing that the vineyard movement received was an anointing for rediscovering worship, instead of an anointing for intimate worship? it would mean that the movement kicked against the prevailing worship expressions of its time and wrote songs 'to God' instead of songs 'about God' and rediscovered an aspect of intimacy in worship, rather than intimate worship itself. it would mean that we have to kick against the prevailing worship expressions of the times again (now that could be rediscovering intimacy again, but i suspect it will be something different). something that confronts individualism without sacrificing the personal, something that confronts consumerism without sacrificing excellence, something that confronts spiritualism (sensation-seeking) without sacrificing hunger for God.

what if, when we say the movement is anointed for intimate worship, we are playing ourselves down too much? what if we're shying away from something bigger? why can't vineyard worship be proclamation songs about God's characteristics (such as those mentioned by matt: "His perfect love, His unashamed mercy and [His] grace") and at the same time have the anointing of 'intimacy'. why can't we move towards 'us' and 'we' and 'our' language and at the same time have the anointing of 'intimacy'? note that i haven't defined 'intimacy' - maybe we need to work towards a better definition. those who argue that intimacy is preserved by 'i/you' wording may be shrinking the meaning of intimacy to 'pop-chart' dimensions.

and how do we create more room for the Spirit in all of this? worship can't be reduced to a recipe any more than you can analyse an emotion. if the Spirit doesn't turn up, it's just music, just as, without the Spirit, the bible is merely ink on paper.

one final throw-away comment: doesn't it strike you as slightly odd that we even use the phrase "intimate worship" for what we aim at? by that choice of words we allow the concept of "non-intimate worship" to exist. ah, it may just be word-play, but then isn't your favourite lyric just word-play too?

so come back to me. tell me more about the inheritance of the movement (seriously, i love hearing stories on this and need to know more); give me a working definition of intimacy (there must be someone out there who's at least read a good definition!); tell me your stories about how meeting God face to face changed your life (wendy's testimony moved me too). let's talk...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

what do you do with your leisure time?

mrs hope and i are visiting a friend in toulouse this weekend. it is lovely spring weather over here - perfect for doing very little. we went for stroll through town at lunchtime, stopped in a random little gallery before lunch, sauntered along the banks of garonne on our way home, then mrs hope napped while i've tapped away on this. blogging, for me, is very much a thing i do if i've lots of spare time.

meanwhile out on the streets of toulouse, the temperature is rising as not only are the students revolting but apparently playing with tear gas.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

last friday...

my iPod died. my iBook went to sleep with it plugged in, the iBook refused to wake up so i 'force-restarted' it. *bleep* iTunes does not recognise this volume. Please restore iPod.

4000 songs wiped just like that. oh well, that'll teach me to manually update the old 'Pod and not have it backed-up anywhere else.

it's now happily sync-ed, and all the fusty old tracks that i never listened to anyway have gone. it's a new slimline spring-cleaned 'Pod - or that's what i tell myself as i painstakingly load all my music back on to it again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

form 2006 - do you trust me?

i've finally gotten round to updating the bristol vineyard form pages. check out this year's team (and my new 'do) here.

i also saw my dentist on monday afternoon. apparently there was some tooth decay underneath the filling that fell out, and you can't expect a filling to last if you have decaying foundations. the conversation, hampered slightly by the fact that the entire left side of my face was paralysed by the anaesthetic, went something like this:

dentist: "statistically, the primary cause of tooth decay in people of your age is due to eating lots of sweets."

me: "huh? but I don't eat sweets."

dentist: "well you've got decay under the filling, are you sure you don't eat a lot of sugary snacks?"

me: "um, yes, i don't like sweets that much."

dentist: ...

me: "honestly, i don't!"

dentist: *continues to drill disbelievingly*

me: *drools slightly defensively*

dentist: *finishes procedure* "so lay off those sugary snacks in future, okay?"

me: "#%$@£¢! i don't eat sweets!"

Monday, February 13, 2006

chew on this

last night i flossed a piece of dental filling out. email me and i'll tell you what brand of dental floss i use, and which dentist to avoid.

check this out:

Get Camino!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

a good egg

our neighbourhood watch newsletter slid through our letterbox this week. three crimes were reported for our area - a mugging, a burglary and criminal damage. the last caught my attention, despite the typos/funny application of grammar and syntax in the first two reports. i'm trying to figure out whether carelessly kicking a football on our street can make one a 'suspect' for criminal damage. or is it, once you've been told off by a car owner, the throwing of an egg in anger? i have to say my sympathies lie with the bored kids who were out of school for Christmas and were killing time in the street. i can't really see how much damage a carelessly kicked football can do to a car. good thinking with the egg though. poor kid had the police called on [him] to give him a proper telling off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

i've totally lost it - part 2

so mrs hope took me shopping to try and console me in my loss. and all i found was that my lost beanie was one of a kind (or thousands among Gap's 2004 winter collection, it's all relative here). so, safe in the knowledge that no beanie could replace the one i lost, i bought three new ones instead.

is that going too far?

Monday, January 16, 2006

i've totally lost it!

i lost my favourite beanie hat today. i was cycling up from town and lost it somewhere up the gloucester road. i discovered that it had silently fallen from my pocket as i was approaching oddbins, and turned back to check my route. unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen and i just got more hot and bothered than before. why is it so irritating to lose something precious, even if it is only just a hat?

to top it off, my a*se is killing me as i haven't cycled for ages.

p.s. check out new links to two formette's 'myspaces'

p.p.s check out j-mo's new website/business idea