Monday, November 29, 2004

daily prayer resource added

just added a link to the re-Jesus daily prayer site (it's on my links sidebar under 'ancient-future daily prayer'). it's really one of the best daily prayer sites i've come across. it has scripture, meditation, and creative prayer ideas and is updated daily. have a look!

in the marketplace of ideas...

b.n.d. nov 04
On Saturday I took part in a demo for 'Buy Nothing Day' (see previous post). Just handing out literature about ethical consumerism/fair trade, giving out free cups of tea etc.
I did it for two reasons : i'm looking for contexts where i can build relationships with people outside of church; and i believe in this issue...i happen to think that people of Christian faith have something important to say about these things. I think the first factor without the second factor lacks integrity i.e. i'm only here to try to convert you. So it's important that I can put my hand on my heart and say that this stuff really matters to me.
We've been talking in hOME about how we do mission and one of the phrases that's been used is 'mission in community around activity' i.e. we build relationships with each other and with people outside of church around doing something together. This, I think, is quite similar to some stuff that Pete Ward talked about in Liquid Church, and also the notion of communitas put forward by Hirsch and Frost (may their names live forever!). (communitas being about uniting around a common quest a la 'the fellowship of the ring' sort of thing). So we look for contexts in our locality where we can, with integrity, engage in relationship-building around a common activity like sport, or community action groups (like culture-jammers/buy nothing day etc.)
What was quite funny/intriguing was the amount of groups who were all hitting the streets to promote their 'thing'. So we had church carol singing groups, the Jesus Army, some sort of Parade, Christian Aid etc. I did have a moment of schizophrenia when the Jesus Army band stopped right next to us and decided that would make a good place to sing their songs about the 'blood of the lamb' etc. I was asked by one person whether i was part of the Jesus group and I (quite thankfully) said 'no' and sent them off to a man in a brightly coloured denim jacket and fluroscent cross. I'm just not at all convinced by this idea that singing songs on the street achieves anything at all - judging by the reactions of some of the people walking past the Jesus Army it just got their backs up.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

the big chill

the legendary 'big chill' festival happens each year at the beginning of August in the grounds of Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. Sadly, I have never been. I've wanted to go for the last couple of years but it's always clashed with the New Wine conference. Next year Pip and I will probably opt for the Big Chill and we're hoping that a posse from hOME are going to come too. It is supposed to be far and away the nicest summer festival. The Big Chill are pioneer advocates of everything chill-out - so who's up for a blissed out long weekend then? for more info go here.

the big chill 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Phoenix Night II

another great night last night at the Phoenix last night. did a review of the 4 spiritual disciplines that make up the 'inward disciplines' - meditation, prayer, fasting, and study.
when it came to prayer there was some interesting discussion (and it would have been great to have had more but time did not allow) about the classic traditional "if it be your will" prayer tag-line. I was suggesting that actually you don't find that line being used that often in prayers in the bible - with obvious exceptions like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. the feeling from Rich was that was a different order of "if it be your will" prayer. in fact the word "if" doesn't actually appear in that prayer. What Jesus actually says is "nevertheless not my will but yours be done". When we use that phrase it's often because we don't know what the will of God is but that's not the sense that you get when Jesus prays - it's more of a struggle to submit himself to the will of God that he already knows. so when jesus says that phrase it's about him laying down his agenda not questioning what the will of God might be.
most of the rest of the time in the scriptures people don't use that phrase in the same way that we often do (and certainly how i was taught to pray). I think that's because there is a such a sense of being in synch with God we already have a sense of what his will is and therefore we're free to pray with a greater sense of confidence and authority. so there's a challenge there to keep 'in step with the spirit' and then pray from that place. I know that could sound like presumption - and there's always the chance that we can get it wrong - and what I'm saying is not meant to suggest an arrogance or over inflated self-confidence when it comes to prayer (thanks for your comment last night on this point, Justice) but i still think we can pray more confidently and more humbly at the same time.
anyway, i am beginning to really love our nights in the Phoenix bar.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Buy Nothing Day

In our struggle against consumerism we need more initiatives like 'adbusters' and 'buy nothing day'. The British buy-nothing-day is coming up on November 27th (this coming Saturday). here's a quote from the site:
"The challenge is to try simple living for a day, spend time with family and friends, rather than spend money on them. People make a pact with themselves to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement and the best thing is - IT'S FREE!!!"
It's not going to cure us of our consumerist impulses overnight - but it's a start. Give it a go!

'buy nothing day' promo pic

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

i've seen it all now

this is classic! a ten year old piece of toast has fetched $28 000 in an ebay auction because the face of the virgin Mary is apparently visible on it. now where did I put that potato that resembles Nicky Gumbel? read the article here.

virgin mary toast

Monday, November 22, 2004

busy blogging day....nothing to do with mental block on talk (see previous post) honest!

just read an interesting article in the Times online edition. It's good to see that in most people's opinion the church comes just behind the local shop and just in front of the local post office in contributing to a sense of local community! well done the church! Ben Bell asks what would happen if everyone who helped out on an Alpha course went and worked in a local pub on that night instead. interesting question. below are the results of the survey. you can read the whole article here.

Which one place within a “community” contributes most to social interaction and develops interpersonal skills?
Local pub 58%
Church 14%
Post office 11%
Shop 16%

Which of the following social activities do you do more frequently?
Go to the local pub with friends 43%
Play sport 11%
Go to the cinema 26%
Play bingo 3%
Hold dinner parties 15%

Why do you go to your local pub?
To get drunk 6%
To socialise and meet friends 62%
To get out of the house 2%
I don’t go to pubs 23%
Other 3%

Blessed are the Cheesemakers (where would we be without the Life of Brian)

doing a talk on Weds morning this week on the verse 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God'. really struggling to come up with something worth saying without getting deep into the pacifist/just war debate. i think i may have to plunge headlong into it. if anyone has any (interesting or otherwise) perspectives on the verse I'd be overjoyed to hear from you!
I do think that, when it comes to the Beatitudes, Jesus is primarily referring to the disciples and those who would follow in their footsteps. Otherwise we have Jesus saying that the poor are blessed just for being poor which just doesn't sound right to me. Interestingly in the parallel passage in Luke it says that Jesus turned to his disciples and 'Blessed are you who are poor' etc. So perhaps the Beatitudes are there to describe the character of the disciples : poor, mournful, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaking, persecuted. When we are like this we will know the blessing of God upon our lives.
It's hardly a 25 minute talk though! I'm gonna need more than that!

mum's birthday

today is my mum's birthday. gawd bless 'er.



reading Richard Foster's book : Celebration of Discipline : has made me think about a number of things. One of them is the discipline of studying. I have decided that - as part of my Rule of Life - I am going to set aside some time regularly to study. I have also decided that this should not be study for a talk I have to do or anything like that but study for the sake of study, or rather, study for the sake of spiritual formation. I am going to make a list of things I would like to know more about and then just study them to enlarge my understanding. I happen to live in one of the best cities in the world for studying, with one of the best libraries in the world. There's a picture of a bit of it below. It's called the Bodleian library and I have a Reader's Card. I would be a fool not to use it.

a bit of the bod

Friday, November 19, 2004

amazon wish list

at the bottom of the sidebar I've now added my 'wish list' so all you lovely people who want to buy me a Christmas present now have no excuse!


band aid 20

well I got it wrong about the new Band Aid vid. it certainly wasn't being similtaneously shown on all 5 major channels at 6.05pm last night. you can't trust anyone these days. i did see it for the first time later on on BBC3 and again this morning. I think I'm gonna have to disagree with Rich - I think it's quite a good re-recording. I like most of it apart from the Jamelia/Will Young bit. the Radiohead/Thom Yorke dimension really adds something and I thought Bono acquitted himself quite well. Anyway you can download it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


in our huddles this month we are studying the first part of Richard Foster's classic book - Celebration of Discipline. The book is divided into 3 parts : The Inward Disciplines, The Outward Disciplines, and The Corporate Disciplines. We're looking at part 1 this month. Tonight me and the boys had a really good discussion about the discipline of fasting.
I think, for me, the danger is to make the disciplines an end in themselves. but actually they are just simply a means to an end. There's lots of good things in our culture, but i don't want to be a man who is squeezed into the world's mould (in the negative sense). I think the disciplines are there to provide a context - to put us in a place - where God can mould us and shape us instead. That's the goal.

A Manifesto for Corporate Worship

A couple of weeks ago we had a night at hOME where we reviewed the vision behind what we are about. one of the things i presented was a 'Manifesto for Corporate Worship'. Now before you all get on your high horse I know that worship is about the whole of our lives etc. but this is a set of values that relate specifically to our times of gathering together, as a community of faith, to express corporately our worship of our God. below are the 11 points that i think inform what we are doing in this aspect of our life together. some of these things are already coming through strongly and some are more aspirational at this point. anyway, see what you think.

A Manifesto for Corporate Worship

God centred : Our worship is not primarily for us. It is for God. We will not indulge ourselves in worship but seek to honour and reverence God before everything else.

Passionate : We want to not be ashamed of an enthusiastic response to God in worship. We will not judge each other for displaying an exuberance before God in worship. We will not judge each other for NOT displaying an (outward) exuberance before God in worship. We aspire to not care what others think of us but to be abandoned to God. We want our worship to be intimate but acknowledge that it is sometimes hard to be intimate with God in front of others. We recognise that passion can be expressed in many different ways.

Honest : We are not into putting on a show in public that does not really reflect who we are or where we are at. We will attempt to find the balance between being honest about our situation as we come before God in worship on the one hand, and CHOOSING to worship God despite our circumstances on the other hand.

Experiential : we do not seek to be ‘seeker sensitive’ but to allow our worship to offer the opportunity to experience the presence of God

Creative : We want our worship to be creative because this is a reflection of our being made in the image of the creator God. We want to distance ourselves from worship that is routine, formulaic, and unimaginative whilst at the same time seeking to avoid doing new things for the sake of doing new things. We aspire to be a community that welcomes artists of all kinds just for who they are and also as those who can help us to honour and delight God by the creation of beautiful, imaginative acts of corporate worship.

Rhythmic : Whilst honouring and highly valuing creativity and originality in our worship we acknowledge the value in a sense of rhythm in our worship which will incorporate the various liturgical seasons of the church year, and a daily rhythm of prayer.

Holistic: we want to bring our whole beings before God in worship so we want to see worship happening that connects us on a mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional level to God. We want to see all of our senses engaged in the worship of God.

Home grown: (linked to creativity) we want the worship of this community to arise first and foremost from this community. That means that we will not import or buy in pre-packaged worship from elsewhere but look to develop our own worship materials because we want our worship to be an offering to God that represents who we are. At the same time we want to acknowledge that we are also part of a wider church both historically and contemporarily, so we will express this by our use of historic material (e.g. creeds) and material from other parts of the church because we do not exist in isolation from the rest of God’s people.

Communal : we seek to recognise that God is far more interested in a people than in a bunch of individuals engaging in a privatised spirituality. Therefore we aspire to worship God in community. That will mean joining together in liturgy, song, meditation, study of scripture etc.and collaborating to create worship material. It will also mean being sensitive to each others needs in the communal setting.

Spacious : In our corporate acts of worship we want to create space for people to encounter God in many and various ways. We recognise that people need a variety of different kinds of space in order to connect with God : physical space, musical space etc. the worship we create will recognise the importance of space.

Open : we want our acts of corporate worship to be accessible to those who are not-yet Christian and for our worship gatherings to be spaces where people can encounter God

Buy a piece of the moon - an acre to be precise - Buy 1 get 1 free

Buy a piece of the moon - an acre to be precise - Buy 1 get 1 free are now offering the opportunity to buy a piece of the moon. with only 40 or so shopping days till Christmas the offer has come at just the right time. i'm particularly pleased to see that for a limited time only you can get 2 acres for the price of 1!! follow the link above. we like to own things, us humans.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


i've finally got around to adding some links to my sidebar (scroll down) and will continue to add more as time goes by.

The Da Vinci Codswallop - THE DA VINCI CODSWALLOP
I for one really enjoyed this book - in fact I couldn't out it down and read it in a few days. i realised at the time that it was complete codswallop - enjoyable codswallop though (by the way, what is the eytomology fo the word 'codswallop'?) - but i thought it was interesting to read this article about it in The Mirror today (have i given myself away?!). It's not often you find a newspaper commenting on how Jesus was divine after all with proof texts to boot! Hilarious!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Band Aid II

apparently the song's crap (Rich Body) but we should buy it anyway (Rich Johnson). I haven't heard it yet so can't comment. I do know that they are broadcasting the new video on Thursday evening this week (6.05pm) similtaneously on all 5 major channels (is Channel 5 a major channel?)

Monday, November 15, 2004

the weekend - part II


Jim - who has to be one of the most generous guys I've ever met - threw a party for about 25 of his friends on Saturday night. I am lucky enough to be one of them. Some top tucker, top chat and one of the finest firework displays the world has ever seen made it a top evening. Thanks mate!

the weekend - part I

Martin Jol - Spurs Head coach - the face says it all

The North London derby on Saturday lunchtime - featuring my beloved Spurs against our arch-enemies Arsenal - proved to be something of a classic. we lost 4-5. it was an extraordinary game of football. we opted for the 'one step forward, two steps back approach' as we kept scoring and then giving away a goal at the other end. It certainly kept me and Marchy on the edge of our seats in the Radcliffe Arms, Jericho. Still I'd rather see us lose like that than lose 1-0. there i go again trying to look on the bright side!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

am I charismatic?

am i really charismatic? in all many genuine healings have i seen in the last five years beyond the "my back was aching a bit but it seems a bit better now" variety? How many genuine prophetic words have i heard, beyond the "i feel the Lord is saying the word 'truth'" variety? i'm not blaming everyone else - how many people have I healed? (and before you start telling me that it's not me that does the healing it's God go and read the account of Jesus sending out the 72 - he told them to heal the sick (it should go without saying that it's by the power of God)). How many prophetic words have I given that have had any weight? well, ok, a few but not that many.
where is the expectation that the kingdom of God really can break in and change things dramatically? perhaps we spend a lot of time maintaining the illusion of expectation but really we aren't that expectant. sure it happens in Africa and China - pretty much anywhere really apart from the unbelieving UK.
if being charismatic means believing and seeing on a regualr basis the supernatural in operation then I'm probably not one. but i do speak in tongues so i guess that gets me in the club.
i know this probably sounds very cynical but i think it comes from a place of frustration with church and a desire to see our walk match our talk.
and another thing...Simon preached a really good sermon this morning on 1 Corinthians 12 and the gifts of the Spirit. but i wonder whether we need to understand that in the context of worship i.e. when the church gathers together for worship the Spirit manifests his/her presence by giving gifts to the different believers so that the body may be built up as it is gathered. In other words the gathered part of that concept is key. i.e. it's not about us personally and individualistically being given gifts of prophecy or whatever to take away with us - you cannot remove the gifts from the context of the body gathering for worship. that's where the gifts make sense. it's not about praying that an individual will receive the gift of prophecy as everyone is heading to the back for a cup of coffee. it's about the church gathering and the Spirit being invited to come and the expectation that when and as he does so he will manifest his presence in certain ways as we are worshipping together.
that's what i think Paul is getting at in 1 Corinthians 12.

Friday, November 12, 2004

hOME had the first of its (our) monthly worship nights last night. we have begun exploring a new pattern of meeting through a 4 week month. week 1 we meet in huddles, week 2 we have a central meeting with a worship focus, week 3 we meet in huddles again, and week4 we have a central meeting in the bar of the Phoenix cinema (that i have previously blogged about) with a discussion/learning focus. i guess if there's a five week month we'll have a party.
we are trying this pattern because we slightly felt like we were cramming a lot into our usual twice monthly hOME-central meetings and we wanted to take more time over what we were doing without feeling like we were in a rush. Not that the worship-focus was devoid of teaching or the learning-focus devoid of worship. We had a 10/15 min spoken worship (liturgy etc.) beginning last time we met in the Phoenix. And last night Pippa did a 10 minute homily, and Kate did a meditation based on Mary and Martha. We also had some great prayer stations provided by Jules, Naomi, and Justice. Jon, Tom and Lois led us in some sung worship. Jim supplied his usual talents on the visuals (some great VJing last night). I led communion (we were slightly caught out by the number of people there so we ended up with a bit of a long queue for bread and wine!). Nita and others were welcoming people with a friendly word and a drink. Rich was running the PC that displayed the words for the songs and liturgy. and Oli played the bongos. quite a team effort! It was great to see everyone combining like that to create a great evening of worship in lots of diverse ways. there was a real sense of space and opportunity to take time to focus in upon God and encounter him in different ways.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

music plasma

music plasma is a great site where you can enter the name of an artist or band you like and watch while it creates a kind of musical family tree, plotting your artist in relation to other artists of a similar ilk. particularly good when you know you need some new music in your life and you want to explore some unfamiliar artists.

Monday, November 08, 2004

unspiritual Christianity

it is almost a cliche today to talk about the re-spiritualising of our culture. we are continually told how people today are more open to the spiritual side of life than they have been for a long time. one of the most interesting things for me - a deeply sad observation - is that the church is seen as being unspiritual. if someone is spiritually curious the last place they will think to look to explore the spiritual side of life is church. it's not a very spiritual place.
Carol Midgley of the Times illustrates this point in a recent article (which you can read here).
I found it really interesting that she contrasts 'religion' with what she calls 'holistic activity'. to me it highlights how badly wrong the church has got it for such a long time. isn't christian faith supposed to be a 'holistic activity'!!
we need to recover a holistic Christian faith that impacts our bodies, minds, souls, spirits etc. etc.
that's why I'm glad that at our home-central worship service this coming Thursday night one of the prayer-stations will be exploring 'body-prayer' i.e. using our bodies to pray. this will be uncharted territory for some of us but we must be willing to re-spiritualise church if we are going to connect with the world around us.

hi priest

a little while ago the Church of England in their wisdom decided to make me a priest. i just got given a photo of the occasion - here we are out the front of St Mary's church in Bloxham, near Banbury, where the service took place, with Charlie (my boss) and the missus (on my left) and some of the guys from hOME - (you can click on it to see it larger should you so wish).

they'll let anyone in these days

seeking the kingdom...building the church

time for some extrovert processing. a thought has been buzzing round my head for the last few months and it is to do with what we are called to do. in my job/vocation - serving the missional community of faith which is 'hOME' - i spend a lot of time doing churchy type stuff.
but as i read the New Testament it would seem that we are called to seek the Kingdom more than we are called to build the church. the latter task God (in Christ) reserves for himself ("I will build my church"). Now obviously one of the ways God builds his church is through human beings. and i don't think I'm saying that we should therefore pay no attention to church. but what is the relationship between 'seeking the kingdom' and 'building the church'.
Perhaps I've overstated the case. Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 3 that he is an 'expert builder' (it would seem he never had a crisis of confidence!) who laid a foundation which someone else is now building upon.
but it's something to do with focus I think. am i more focused on running a church or on looking for signs of the kingdom.
hmmmm..unfinished thoughts.

Friday, November 05, 2004

more on Bush

I've been wondering about the Christian vote in the U.S. election. my guess is that most of the evangelical Christian vote went to Bush and that's probably because of his stance on pro-life and homosexuality. these are seen to be big Christian issues. but isn't the fact that he refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty on Climate change a big Christian issue? isn't his aggressive foreign policy a big Christian issue?
it's not that issues of human sexuality or abortion are un-important but i do wish we Christians could think more widely about what is and what isn't a Christian issue.
i guess as long as he's pro-life nothing else really matters.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

you go away for 24 hours, come back and find that the world's gone mad


Chris and Annie at New Wine meeting

busy week

it's been a busy week in my world. had a st aldates staff away day on Weds in a place called Clanfield. We hada guy come in and do some Myers Briggs stuff. I am an ENTJ apparently although the J/P thing was quite borderline. spent the whole time trying not to think about that classic episode of The Office when they get the trainer in and Brent ends up going home to get his guitar!

The last 24 hours I have been in Reading at the home of Chris Russell for an extended overnight meeting about New Wine. I am privileged to be a part of the team that co-ordinates the 'emerging church' side of New Wine. We have been talking amongst ourselves and with John Coles who came for the first (pre-curry) part of our meeting about changes that will be made next year. can't say any more than that right now but watch this space.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Emergent Conference

Just booked into the UK Emergent Conference in December in London. If you're interested you can book in here. I'm currently reading Brian Maclaren's book : 'A Generous Orthodoxy' (I guess I'll blog about it when I've finished it) so it'll be good to go and hear him. He came and did a younger leaders day here in Oxford last September and was very good value then.

Brian Maclaren

bonfire night

on Saturday night me, Pip and some of the home-eys went to the annual round-table bonfire and firework display in South Park, Oxford (not named after Cartman and Kenny I assure you). Those of us that had previously lived in Edinburgh - myself, Justice, and Rich - were being a little bit superior about the fireworks ("you haven't seen fireworks till you see the display at the end of the festival" - that sort of thing). but they were really good and everyone made the appropriate 'ooh' and 'ahh' noises at the appropriate points.
I was asking why we had our night this weekend instead of next weekend. Apparently the queen has her own firework dude - 'keeper of the royal fireworks' or something. and he's a clergyman that lives in Oxford. He does the Oxford firework display the week before Bonfire Night so that he can go and do the Queen's on the day itself. So there you go.

bonfire night in South Park