Wednesday, 31 March 2010

On Trying to get Perspective When Trapped Inside The Cage

When it comes to life inside the cage of this world, there are many opinions (here's another one) on what constitutes the really important stuff:

One thing Monsieur Lemon is spot on about:

It's the things which pass under our radar, that have the biggest impact on life.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

General Election is on His Way to Town

With a national election not far away, a video to get you thinking...

To find out what kind of politico-Christian contortion you could be, click here. You might be surprised.

Whilst I did scoff a little at what it came up with for me, (Thatcher, followed by Bush, followed by Bono!! :-S ), I must admit, it uncovered my essentially conservative roots and biases.

Do let me know what it gave you, whether in person or in print.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


On a serious note, please consider signing the following petition.

On a less serious note, I recently received this cheesy, but poignant article in a recent email:

Latest news reports are that six terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches. They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, Bin Gosipin, and Bin Missin.

Their leader, Lucifa Bin Workin, trained these groups to destroy the body of Christ. The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt and destroy.

However, there have been reports of a seventh group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along.

Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ. We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell group has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.


(However, you can spot them if you bin lookin and bin going!)

The following poster is also thought provoking...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Preparation for Easter aka Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits

As we approach Easter, why not take 50 minutes out to see how the Old Testament Festivals prophesy about the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the pouring out of the Spirit, the Second Coming and Judgment and the renewal of all things at the end of the age. I am not exaggerating when I say you'll be amazed at some of the things you learn in here:

In the McDonaldised evangelical churches of the West, if we aren't careful, we can too quickly consider, (as Christmas and Easter people), that our remembrances supersede those of our Israelite forbears. Our pride is misplaced.

Give me five minutes to tell you what the Old Testament Church celebrated and how they celebrated it, and you'll be left under no illusion that we suffer from a lot of spiritual amnesia in comparison.

Before you ask, no I'm not advocating the resurrection of Old Testament law or that all Christians resident in Britain write to Gordon Brown and ask him to introduce a few more public holidays.

And yes, you're right, participation in a festival doesn't necessarily mean we believe it. Moreover, it's easy to get caught up in the trappings of doing a festival rather than pondering its significance, but I still have a gnawing sense that in not marking these things communally, something profound is missing.

As humans, we mark what we value. Tell someone you love them and then say you have no interest in celebrating their birthday or marking your anniversary together and that person would be forgiven for wandering just what kind of love you're bringing to the table.

The Old Testament Church had festivals for marking all that we mark and on top of that they marked Pentecost, Judgment and the Renewal of Creation, and yet in the modern church we seem to have lost sight of significantly marking these equally cataclysmic events (and watered down the ones we have kept).

On a pragmatic level, this is understandable. Not least by virtue of the fact that there's nothing jocular about handing a card to someone, especially a non Christian friend, which reads Happy Judgment Day!

Yet, if we don't mark these things somehow, at least in household of faith, we show that we don't value them and if we don't value them, we won't remember them because life is just too busy. The consequences of this are at best regrettable and at worst perilous!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Peering at Shadows aka Why Matter Doesn't Ultimately Matter

Take a look at this photo:

Have a look at the backdrop of the set - a bunch of upside down trees. A little surreal of course, but hey, we can run with that.

If someone came up to me and said: They aren't real trees, that's just a canvas and someone has used paint to render the illusion of trees, I would want to say: true they are't real trees, but that's not the point. The canvas is so painted to help us understand what is going on in the story - it provides the backdrop in front of which the main action takes place. The point is not so much what it is in itself, but rather the context that its creator made it to convey and its relationship to the rest of the stage and story.

Peer too hard at what the canvas is in and of itself and you miss the point entirely. Peering hard at the shadow I cast on the ground will tell you nothing of any real value about me.

In the end, peering at the universe from the scientific point of view, (the kind that has the human as the final authority) will tell you as much about the meaning of life as a canvas and the molecular structure of the paint on it can tell you about the meaning of the painting.

Unfortunately, in our quest to be our own gods, we have come to love information (amoral and impersonal) over wisdom (moral and relational), and so think that discovering encyclopedic amounts about the material canvas and paint is more important than looking at the painting and thus, whilst discovering much of value, have become ludicrously and ironically befuddled and fragmented in our thinking.

The universe is not a collection of things in themselves, but a multiplicity of relationships between things which form the glorious backdrop to the main action of history: the good news from God about his Son. And it is a symmetry (albeit pale one) of the world to come.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Avoiding Amnesia

If you're like me, you need to watch videos like this often, so as not to get amnesia about the big picture of existence.

Friday, 5 March 2010

The Attempt to Cheat Death aka Fallen Humanity Syndrome

There is a lie that persists in our culture, that if there is a God and to be honest we aren't convinced, (because the world is such a mess, and of course that would have to be his fault not ours) but if there is then he/she/it is concerned with sins like sexual lusts, greed, witchcraft, anger, drunkenness and the like and that so long as I don't fall into those kinds of sins I'm doing OK thanks very much. In essence, they are the kinds of things that people often associate with night and darkness.

However, as the following video will illustrate (five parts: 50mins), through seemingly harmless pursuits of the daytime like scientific enquiry, humans are desperate to liberate themselves from their limitations so they can:
1. Have the supremacy over each other (get them before they get you) and
2. Stick two fingers up at the God who has set these limits on them

This is seen most evidently in the desire to cheat death:

Perhaps a representative for the human race is Syndrome from The Incredibles. Syndrome isn't a real deal super hero, he's a counterfeit one. The sad truth is that he will never be a real super hero, not in the same way that Mr Incredible is.

Unlike Mr Incredible, Syndrome has no powers of his own. He manipulates technology to give him his power and in so doing, develops a delusional sense of his own greatness and a murderous desire to rid the world of real super heroes and set himself up as the greatest (counterfeit) hero of all.

Of course, as in all Hollywood feel good films, he doesn't win and the superheroes save the day.

In all this, Syndrome is a brilliant description of a fallen, tragic and evil humanity - desperate to be truly super, desperate to play god.

He is tragic in the sense of desperately emotionally needy - the kind of person that if you got to know on a one to one level you would feel very sorry for.

Yet, he is desperately wicked in that if you saw a list of his deeds you would claim him a lunatic and be clambering for him to be brought to justice for the evils he perpetrates.

We fallen humans are the evil super villains of the cosmos, led astray by the devil, wanting to rid ourselves of our heavenly father and make ourselves gods, but we cannot, no matter how hard we try. We may feign certain elements of divinity for a time, but in the end we fail and instead, bring a curse on the created order. We are both evil and pitiful.

Jesus never came to improve a flailing, but essentially good, humanity, he came to save and transform a fallen, tragic and wicked one. The cross is not the greatest symbol of self-improvement by invention, but the declaration that this world order stands condemned and a new one is coming, not by the design of man, but by the will and power of God. Blessed are all those who take refuge in this Jesus for he alone will surely make them immortal.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Summer in my Sights :-S

I have a good friend and colleague who is getting married in the summer in the south of France.

For a while now, I have also had a desire to cycle from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean coast over the Pyrenees, in a challenge called the Raid Pyrénéan.

It's a bit like this, except it's only one way:

Having let my winter training go to the dogs, with the accompanying tell tale signs like the clothes that have developed more of a snug fit than I remember, it's time to start puffing and panting again. Although I must confess, there's a little bit of me that's nervous at the prospect.

The views from the summits will be nothing short of breathtaking. I just hope to have enough juice left in the tank after a punishing ascent to appreciate them.

Actually, it's the 50mph descents that scare me the most. One mistake and the skin grafts wouldn't be pretty! And yet something about that last sentence makes me feel alive!

Anyone want to come with me? I'd rather not do it on my own... (Support cars welcome!)