Monday, February 28, 2005

Lent Day 20

Su's Dad had his heart bypass operation today, and everything seems to have gone smoothly. Su's off to see him tomorrow, for a couple of days.
Thanks to everyone who has prayed and supported.
Almost finished my Daniel essay, although as always, I'm way over the word count.
Cool story of generosity here

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lent Day 19

Well my flickr zeitgeist thing seems to work in Safari and Firefox, but not the dreaded IE. (Just out of interest, can anyone else see it? it should be underneath where it says Photos:). So, anyway, in the interests of public service, I thought I'd join Graham and post this little warning :

Lent Day 18

I've added a funky little flickr thing to my sidebar which flicks through some of my favourite photos. I think it looks pretty cool, so there.
My blogroll continues to grow, I think I'm up to 42 or so now. Thanks to bloglines it doesn't take me all day to check them all (just half a day). Recent additions (some of which I still need to add to my blogroll) include :
bigbulkyanglican - a guy called Tom Allen, an Anglican priest up in the Pennines
The destruction of Gog - Richard McIntosh, fan of NT Wright so must be a decent chap, friend of :
sven - consistently funny and articulate theology student in convalescence, through whom I found out about :
The Full Stop - Surreal, hilarious, Vonnegut-like blogging Genius
Gower Street - Jason, an Episcopal priest in Michigan, who likes the Beastie Boys, and interviewed N.T. Wright, which I think is a good combination.
Meam Commemorationem - Anglo-Catholic American? who I think is studying at St. John's in Durham.
NT Gateway blog - Mark Goodacre's NT gateway blog
silken threads - Haven't read much of this yet, but I think it's another theology student who seems to be researching all things 'emerging' church, nice looking blog.
Anyway, that will have to do for now, 'cos it's way past my bedtime.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Lent Day 17

Wow that week went fast! Glad it's the weekend though, even if I have nothing except essay writing to look forward to all weekend. Something weird happened to me on the way home tonight. I got egged! I think it was a 'drive-by' egging, but I can't be sure. I thought this was only supposed to happen to politicians. Got quite angry, momentarily. Thought I was gonna have to pop a cap in someones ass. But I soon calmed down and realised I'm not actually a gangster. I am the egg man.

Fernie 2004

Fernie 2004
Originally uploaded by Jon Taylor.
All this talk about snow got me thinking about last year's holiday in Fernie. Testing out this flickr photo posting thing

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Lent Day 16

Where's our snow? As I was cycling in to college today in the slush, mud and sleet I couldn't help but be jealous of those places where it dumped it down properly. I love the snow. I like the way it makes everywhere look fresh and clean and beautiful. I also enjoy throwing it at people. Be careful though, else this can get you into trouble. I enjoyed sven's take on the chaos a bit of weather can bring to the UK. See here for some proper snow stories.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Lent Day 15

Just a quick one tonight. Had a quiet housegroup tonight - just me and Su. Gave us some well needed time to pray and listen to a Wimber tape. It's a bit of an anxious time for Su at the moment as her dad goes in for a triple heart-bypass operation next Monday. Do pray for John if you get a chance.
Heard that guy from "Christian" voice on the radio this morning. They actually threatened to protest outside the premises of the cancer charity if they took the money from the Jerry Springer people. He said something like 'we just want to protect you from a PR disaster if you were to take this money'. He kept talking about the poor, put-upon Christian minority. David Soul is right to call them blackmailers. Made me want to scream. Words fail me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lent Day 14

Went to 'meeting place' tonight, it was a lot less hectic than last week. Did a bit of a 'talkey bit' about Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda. Seemed to go across ok. Spent quite a bit of time with a guy who I've got to know reasonably well. I'll call him Ali. Ali is an asylum seeker from Iran. Actually he's a failed asylum seeker in that he's claimed asylum twice and has been refused, and has no more appeals. This means he could officially be detained at any time and forcibly deported I guess. In the mean time he gets no support, has no status, cannot work and is pretty much destitute. I cannot imagine what it is like to be in his position, sleeping out every night in the freezing cold, the snow and the rain. Separated from family and friends, no job and not a penny to his name. Ali, like most Iranians I have met, is gentile, polite, generous and patient. He doesn't complain and has a quiet determination and a hope that his situation will turn around one day. He is a Shia muslim with a strong faith. We talk a lot about God and Jesus and the world and war and peace and stuff. I wish I could help him more.
Father, I lift Ali up to you. I pray you will provide for him and protect him. You know what's best for him. Reveal Isa to him and help him to follow Him. Give me wisdom to know how best to be his friend. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Monday, February 21, 2005

Lent Day 13

Been listening to some teaching today on how true worship humanises us, overagainst the dehumanising idolatry that we are surrounded with and all take part in to some extent, worship and addiction by Don Williams. I guess the Vineyard church is not really known for it's preaching, but this guy is awesome. Actually Vineyard do have a commitment to good, biblical teaching. Last year at the pastors conference we had Gordon Fee, who is one of my favourite New Testament scholars, speaking on Philippians, and this year we had someone called Simon Ponsonby (fantastic name) from St. Aldate's in Oxford on Colossians. When I hear great bible teaching like these guys do, something inside me just wells up, and on the one hand I think 'Wow, I would love to be able to teach like that', and on the other hand I think I will never be able to, but I think it's a desire that God's put in me. This is quite wierd 'cos I think I'm quite an introvert, and speaking in front of people always scares me to death.
Now, I know we are a much more visual culture, and I know we need to explore more interactive, discussive, less 'monologue' style ways of learning, but I also think that there will always be a place for preaching and teaching and I'd like to be able to do it well. So I'm looking forward to the upcoming Vineyard preaching conference at Trent Vineyard Nottingham.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Lent Day 12

Just got back from a weekend at Su's dad's place. Definitely not a weekend of fasting. In fact quite the opposite. Janet is a great cook and always sees it as a challenge to give me more food than I can eat. This is a challenge which I rise to, and then usually regret afterwards :
Jon: I'll never eat all that! (pointing to a huge portion of banoffee pie)
Janet and family : Go on, you're not going to be beaten by a bit of pie are you?
Jon: Oh, alright then
Janet: good lad
Jon:I feel ill.
It's now 11:40 at night and I'm still full from dinner. (2 platefuls of shepherd's pie, one huge portion of banoffee pie, 2 pints of lager)
Su pointed out to me that I don't have to eat everything that is put in front of me. This is a strange concept that I've never really considered before and may have to give some thought to in the future.
Oh my goodness, I'm blogging about what I had for dinner, things are getting desperate. Still, back to college tomorrow, maybe that will give me some food for thought. (no pun intended)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Lent Day 11

OK so I missed a day. So sue me. Couldn't be helped as we are paying a visit to the father-in-law's this weekend. Everyone's gone out so I've sneaked onto their machine for a quick blog fix.
I would just like to say how much I hate windoze, and in particular, Internet Explorer. I am more and more convinced that I could never go back to the darkside. IE is not only ugly to look at, it is slow, the pop-ups are infuriating, the pop-up banner doesn't work properly, and it has so far crashed on me 5 times. Oh well, I'd better go and write some essay, on a real computer.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lent Day 9

Only one day left of reading week! Well, I've certainly done a lot of reading, but I haven't actually started my essay yet. So par for the course basically.

Started a book last night which I thought would be good Lent reading, 'Once and for All' by Tom Smail. The blurb says :
'Tom Smail takes the connection between the atonement and the Trinity as the underpinning of Once and for All. If we recognise that the work of the cross has to be seen to involve all three persons, and their relationships to one another, we have a structure that enables us to deal with the problems the doctrine of the atonement raises. This presentation of Christ's atoning work in his cross and resurrection both does justice to its decisive character as a once and for all historical event, and at the same time explores the sense in which a long past historical act can be universally relevant to and effective for everyone.'
A snippet I read last night which is relevant to the debate which adrian, sven and richard have been having following the whole Steve Chalke debacle :
'We shall have much to say about such biblical and classical metaphors and models all the way through our study, but at the moment the important point is that the mystery of the crucified Christ surpasses them all. That is why it is always inappropriate to claim to have comprehended that mystery in some all embracing 'theory of atonement' which can then become the sole measure of acceptable soteriological orthodoxy in terms of which everyone and everything that does not speak in conformity with it can be criticised and castigated. That represents a theological arrogance that itself disqualifies its proponents from speaking appropriately about the cross by which all human arrogance is exposed and deposed.'

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Lent Day 8

No thoughts tonight just a few links :
This made me laugh out loud (but then I am a sad nerdy type)
baby got book (requires broadband)
On a completely different note, for those who are wondering what on earth this Lent thing is about, Maggi Dawn gives a potted history which I have found fascinating. It's in five parts : one, two, three, four, five
That's it for now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Lent Day 7

Tonight was one of the nights where I felt completely out of my depth. On Tuesday nights Su and I go down to something called 'meeting place', which is a drop-in evening meal at one of the churches in town. We give out free soup, sing a few old hymns, pray and have a meal together, but mostly we just chat to people. I say chat, but it's mostly about listening. Often the evening passes without event, and a pleasant time is had by all, but now and again things tend to get a bit chaotic. A few too many people get in with a few too many drinks inside them and things feel like they could kick off at any minute. They rarely do, but it can be a bit fraying on the nerves. Thankfully, we have a good team and we often sense God's presence helping us along. Every now and then I get a real glimpse of the brokenness of some of the lives there. Just tonight a talked to an alcoholic who was sexually abused as a child and is now suicidal, a homeless guy who was in tears 'cos he doesn't know where to turn to next, several others who have lost loved ones recently. The sense of pain was tangeable. I have a part of me that wants to 'fix' things, to sort people out, so I often get frustrated at not being able to do more, say the right thing, pray the right prayer. I so badly want to minister the love of God to these people, but it often feel like we are just applying a band-aid.
Jesus, equip me to be a real minister of your good news, to love in actions and not just words, to see people with your eyes, to have faith to pray, and wisdom to know how to deal with messed up people in a way which will make them depend on you.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Lent Day 6

Well I made it through the whole Ikea experience, and only lost the will to live for a short while. Poor Su had to spend longer at the store than we had planned. By the time we'd filled up our car with flat-pack book shelves there was no room left for passengers. I had to do the 3/4 hour journey back to Coventry, unload the car, then go back and pick her up. Imagine that, stranded at Ikea on Valentines day. We then went and watched A Very Long Engagement which was very beautiful and romantic, and er.. French.
A good discussion about prayer over at coventry vineyard's blog

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lent Day 5

How not to lead sung worship.
1. Turn up to church late, and a bit stressed.
2. Rush around trying to find microphone stands and lecturns etc.
3. Forget the words and chords to one of the songs you're intending to play, hence having to scribble them down a few minutes before the start. Get more stressed
4. Make sure you don't get time to pray before the service begins.
5. Ensure the microphone stand gets moved around until it is in a position where if you are singing into it, you can't quite see the words/chords.
6. Have the PA turned up nice and loud so you can hear your guitar strumming right in your ear but can't quite hear yourself sing
7. Get quite enthusiastic with your strumming, snap a string. Get incredibly stressed.
8. Continue to play and sing, never quite working out which string has gone, and hense hitting as many duff notes as possible. (see 6)
9. Take your eyes off God, 'cos it's all about looking good after all isn't it :)
10. Try to retain some semblance of piety while in your head you are picturing yourself doing this with your guitar :

or maybe this :

11. Pray to God that the ground will open up and swallow you.
12. Snap at your pastor when he asks you to put on some chilled out music later on in the service and then doesn't like your choice.
13. Go home in a foul mood.

ever have one of those 'church' mornings?
This evening we had an awesome bible study on Hebrews. 'For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.' Thankyou Lord, I need your mercy and grace, forgive me for being such a muppet.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Lent Day 4

Just been out for a meal for Nick's birthday at a Lebanese restaurant called Habibi. It was very good, but we ate late, and now I'm absolutely stuffed. Spent most of the day doing the reading for my next essay - Discuss the meaning of 'son of man' for the original readers of Daniel. Should be an interesting one. 'Reading' week next week so I'm hoping to get a fair amount of work done. Su is off work as well so there'll be no slacking allowed. I think we may do some decorating as well. This means we have to go to the dreaded Ikea on Monday. Hopefully I won't get crushed or even stabbed.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Lent Day 3

Just watched the Michael Mann thriller collateral. It was pretty cool I guess. It was interesting to see Tom Cruise as a bad-ass hitman. So what's happened today? This morning I had a pretty interesting lecture in our Christianity and Secular Thought module about miracles. We have covered the whole Hume 'miracles don't happen' thing, and today we we're looking at Tillich. Tillich, and many other liberals, in reaction to the view of God as a usually absent Diety who occasionally intervenes in the world to tweek it, saw God as within the cosmos. He redefines miracles as sign-events, which cause no disruption to the laws of nature, but are basically in the eye of the beholder. I guess in reaction to this, many conservatives still hold to the supernaturalist view of God who arbitrarily intervenes in ways we cannot explain which we then call miracles. The truth is, as so often it would seem to me, a both-and. God is involved in the everyday laws of nature, upholding all things, underpinning them. But He is also free to interact with humanity in surprising ways, which may be seen to violate but not destroy the laws of nature. We must be careful of a God-of-the-gaps attititude, whereby things that can be explained by science are not attributed to God and everything else is, but there are more things in heaven an earth than Hume will allow for. Anyway...
this afternoon I worked at Wesley-Owen which is always a strange experience. Listened to some Christian death metal. Latest in the Jesus junk line is the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' study bible...genius.
Oh yeah, why not send Mandy a letter, courtesy of Christian Aid. Just fill in your name, print out, sign and post.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lent Day 2

Ok, so I'll give this daily blogging thing a go, and see how long it lasts. I have added a couple of new links to my blog, the New Testament Gateway which is probably the most comprehensive website around for NT scholarship. It is the work of Mark Goodacre at Birmingham University who is supervising the PhD of the guy who is teaching the gospel of John module I'm currently studying, and the Paul page which is dedicated to the 'new perpective' on Paul which I may blog about at some point. I have also been enjoying read the world of sven blog. This guy seems to be studying theology somewhere, and he is incredibly articulate and very funny. Although the poor guy is currently not very well.
Had an old friend round for tea tonight. He's going though a bit of a tough time at the moment, so I cooked him a curry. He asked me what he should do with his life, so I told him he should start following Jesus to which he replied, 'why where's he going? is he going down the pub on Saturday to watch the rugby?' :)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ash Wednesday

Well today is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. We did pancakes a day late with our housegroup tonight as we were out last night. I only managed 5 pancakes, which is quite frankly pathetic. Hayley ate about 12, but then she bounced out of our house on a sugar high which is probably going to get her arrested. It was Pete and Hayley's last night at our housegroup as we are planting them out to start a new group next week which is quite exciting.
This lent Su and I will be mostly...not watching TV, praying together nightly, and I think I'm going to read through the gospel of John. Suzy said I should give up blogging, but I said that was going too far:) Then I was thinking, maybe as a discipline I could actually try and write a blog each day for 40 days! (so expect a significant dip in quality, if that were possible)(although thinking about it, this may turn into yet another essay avoiding technique, so may not be wise). It's interesting how many Christians in non-traditional churches seem to be up for using lent as a season of focusing/fasting/slowing or whatever these days. Just found out my parents are doing '40 days of purpose' at a Pentecostal church in Bedworth. Life is weird.
I'm about half way through my dissertation now, and I'm going to give in a (very) rough first draft on Friday to check I'm not completely barking up the wrong tree. I do seem to be the world's slowest writer, today I wrote about 2 paragraphs all day, and I was really trying!
Well, it's getting late, so I'm just going to treat myself to a new Tom Wright article then it's off to bed.