Thursday, November 30, 2006
At last I managed to catch up with Matt at Sure Start and get my certificate from the positive parenting course that I completed before half term with the dad’s group. The point of the course was to discuss some practical methods of behaviour management of toddlers. It was a very good six week course talking about ways of building good relationships in our family, not alienating or harming our children yet at the same time not letting them run riot.
I’m looking forward to seeing the group again next week. Now, I wonder if they remembered to buy the playing cards and poker chips?
Thursday, November 16, 2006
A Family Service simply means that rather than going to Sunday school, the kids will be in and maybe take part, so it needs to keep their attention. Continuing our series in Nehemiah, Nettes & I were given some passages in the middle of the book full of names. So how did we manage it?
Of course everything was on PowerPoint but I think the key was an edited paraphrase come commentary that was performed by three readers alternating lines. This was split into a few very short sections that were interspersed with exhortations, songs and a couple of activities.
One activity was based around Operation Christmas Child which we as a church are supporting and another involved making a family tree of the church. Very simply people wrote names of someone who had influenced them in their spiritually journey and stuck the leaves on a painting of a tree as a representation of our spiritual genealogy. A very moving experience.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
BTW last Thursday we began our new monthly prayer meetings. And we had some really good prayer activities. I do get the feeling we are moving forward as a church in prayer. Praise God!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I suppose this is all part of relating to a different culture. It makes me realise that not everyone will want to listen to someone talking for 45 minutes – especially if they have not had much success in that mode of education. I think this has important implications for the teaching in the church. Role on the day when we’ve got a much greater variety of activities including fun creative things to do in meetings and ICT teaching that can be accessed anywhere. Surely such activities would attract and motivate a much wider audience.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Alan Scotland mentioned the internet. He pointed out the dangers of escaping the real world to play and chat with anonymity. Yet he also talked about the great opportunity we as Christian have to influence the world for good. Gary Finkbeiner spoke of the importance of how we understand the truth. And Ian Rawley underlined this and also criticised on our culture’s tendency to value tolerance. Interestingly, I am just reading Steve Chalke’s new book ‘Intelligent Church’ which gives a counterpoint to this, by saying that tolerance does not imply agreement but rather a confidence and security to leave others to choose their own way.
Anyway, it's good to see the speakers and to have edited highlights of this conference. Mp4s are a great facility.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
As I read through the book of Nehemiah these ten questions occurred to me:
1.How can we be like Nehemiah who honestly looked at Jerusalem’s walls in ruins yet, like Jesus, with a burdened heart and bended knee was utterly dependant on God?
2.How can we have a clear vision to purposefully work hard to transform our city?
3.How can we as a church community work together in mission to accomplish this?
4.How can we handle criticism, discouragement and even persecution when it comes our way?
5.What can we do to stand for peace, justice and liberation politically and be inclusive, welcoming and generous personally?
6.How can we encourage diverse participation and creativity among our church to these ends?
7.As Nehemiah called people to return to God's word how can we return to these ancient ways and yet communicate them in ways that are relevant today?
8.How can we be honest and vulnerable practitioners of God’s word?
9.As we celebrate our festivals how can we both look back and take hold of the future?
10.How can we identify with Nehemiah and with Jesus?
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Monday, September 04, 2006
Monday was a Callie day. We looked round the exhibition stalls and bookshop in the mud but thankfully undercover from most of the rain. In the afternoon we went to a Godly Play session to see some of the wonderful resources that this children’s ministry offers. Finally it was off to some children’s theatre with Callie. Exhausted by the evening all three of us went back to our tent realising that we had never bothered to go to the mainstage.
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Friday, September 01, 2006
I started Saturday early with Celtic style worship from Wild Goose interspersed with contemporary stories of slavery from Christian Aid. Later I went to short session by Revelation – a DJ/dance outfit from Bristol – that used songs that we sing at our church... club style. After lunch in the New Forms Café I had a chance to get a coffee and network with a very wide variety of people involved in creative worship. I had to pick up Callie from her children’s meeting just as we were going to have communion. In the evening I joined in a beautiful Taize worship session that included a very moving few minutes of silence.
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Monday, August 21, 2006
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Friday, August 11, 2006
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Friday, July 28, 2006
Anyway, during our worship a number of us were bringing our prepared and spontaneous contributions in prophecy and prayer. These are precious times for us as a community of those baptised in the Holy Spirit to use these gifts. During this time the Holy Spirit clearly encouraged us to reawaken the visions he has given us in the past and that with his power we can accomplish them
It was also good to then hear Mike Rimmer speak from John 14 on how the Holy Spirit is to us now as Jesus was to the first disciples. He is there to answer our difficult questions and to lead us into peace. Mike encouraged us to allow the Holy Spirit into all our lives – not just church life overcoming the sacred and secular divide.
It’s good to be reminded in so many ways of the importance of our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
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Friday, July 21, 2006
Ryan Bolger co-author of the book Emerging Churches outlined the findings from his research about how many churches are revising their practices in attempts to be more relevant to their culture. The churches that he looked at the US & UK are investigating their own culture and getting everyone involved in designing new ways of outworking the New Testament in today’s world. I felt that there is much that they are doing resonated with our own values as a church: the emphasis on following Jesus not just as saviour but as a role model, hospitality, community, kingdom, etc.
I feel that an emphasis that is relatively new to us that we can learn from this movement is the importance of creativity reflecting God as a creator. For instance, this was illustrated in the worship sessions by the use of spoken mediations over ambient background music with some enthralling video images. Anxieties about dodgy theology were alleviated by the assurance from those presenting stories from their churches that they are expressing the historic faith just in different ways. One leader Karen Ward explained how her church is using both ancient traditions and contemporary styles in their worship but only as far as they felt that these were consistent with Christ.
I think, used sensitively and with discernment, creative elements such as these could be a way forward.
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Monday, July 17, 2006
I am impressed generally by the work of Open Doors in promoting awareness of how the Christian church is persecuted throughout the world. There is plenty of information on their sites. Hopefully these are stimulated us in the relatively persecution free parts of the world to pray for Christians who are suffering. As well as moving into action those who might otherwise have stood by and allowed these things to happen.
I am thrilled that in our church we now has an Open Doors rep. A few weeks ago in our small group we had an excellent time learning about the situation in China and praying for Christians there.
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Friday, July 14, 2006
Please have a look and let me know what you think of it.
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Monday, July 10, 2006
I went to meet Nettes and Callie at the weekend in Winchester where we stayed with some old friends of Nettes. We went with everyone to Winchester Family Church with which we were very impressed. Callie enjoyed the Sunday school for pre-schoolers.
The church is part of New Frontiers and is cast in traditional charismatic style but nowadays of course the preacher uses PowerPoint. There was plenty of praying for the sick in response to specific words from God and a couple of testimonies to healings that occurred during that time. The general feeling was that this was something that was an increasing trend.
How did I feel about all this? Well I’d love to do a stint on a stall like the one I’d been reading about during the week.
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Monday, July 03, 2006
I then found this phrase that I liked and wanted to calligraphy in a book called the Wisdom of Solomon. This is a book in the apocrypha and although I don’t believe that it is inspired like the Bible, I think there are plenty of good thoughts there. As I drew these words I was struck by the fact that God made us to receive eternal life because we were made to be like him. Not that I have an immortal soul just because I am human but that God has given me this everlasting life by his grace.
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Saturday, June 17, 2006
His basic message was that breaking of bread is not just as symbol but that it is a spiritual reality. God is really in it – although not chemically as though the bread and wine were Jesus literal flesh and blood – but by faith. As we eat bread and drink wine we receive realities not just symbols. It is the body of Christ. Jesus provides the food at his table and he is the food – his flesh is meat indeed and his blood is drink indeed.
His exhortation was to refocus church life so that the Lord’s Table is central rather than the pulpit. We are invited to be with him it is not for us to invite him to our meetings. He was encouraging us to see the breaking of bread as the primary reason for the church to get together rather than to see it as something that is tagged onto our meetings once in a while.
I don’t usually find it easy to listen and take notes of someone talking for a whole hour. But it was gripping stuff.
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Friday, June 09, 2006
Last Sunday Barry Fitzpatrick - who has a pastoral role towards our church - was speaking on the bread of life from John 6. He was saying that Christ himself is the true and living bread and that nothing can be a substitute for him, not even bible-study, prayer or church! Though these are good things that we should take part in, they can get in the way of us experiencing the living bread from heaven. Just as bread was a staple food in the middle-east - no potatoes or even rice for them then - so Christ is the staple food for Christians today. Only this divine bread can be truly satisfying. And only this bread endures for all eternity. It was truly inspiring talk.
In the evening I was searching through some old tapes in the bottom of a drawer and found an old tape of David Mansell talking about the breaking of bread that I remember was excellent too. I'm really looking forward to listening to that.
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Sunday, June 04, 2006
Last night we used this time to celebrate the coming of the Spirit. We started, as we often do, by praying - in British Sign Language - for the Holy Spirit to come. Another aid to prayer which we often use is a labyrinth, printed on paper. Tracing the path into the middle, pausing to listen to God, and then bringing the line back out, helps focus our minds on who God is and what he wants from us. Last night, as we did this we began to contemplate the work of the Holy Spirit, and were reminded on the outward path of our task to take God’s message out into the world, as the disciples did after that first outpouring. I found it strangely exhilarating. We also made fans and used them together with poetic liturgy to reflect on the wind of the Holy Spirit.
But the climax of the night was melting ice cubes – in which we had embedded chains – over a candle. We were praying for God to melt our hearts preparing us to receive his power. Melting the ice was slower and trickier than we thought it was going to be. It was a powerful image of God’s patience and gentleness. It reflected the persistence with which he works to enable us to see his power in our lives. We talked about what his empowering means to us and how we limit it. Finally, we broke bread, anointed each other and asked God for this empowering.
Over an hour had passed. It was very late but, as always when we have these times, the hour had flown by. Why do we so often think spending time with God is hard?
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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
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Sunday, May 21, 2006
But how would Nicodemus have understood the term? Anna discussed this well. She explained that born of the Spirit means our spirit is reborn… when we are most in sync with the Spirit we are most fulfilled… Jesus is the mediator for us in this experience… God is not monotheistic alone... Brilliant!
Yet I am left wondering to what extent we should understand ‘born again’ to refer to a process rather than a crisis. A journey rather than a destination? Perhaps conversations are more important than conversions after all?
Just a thought.
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Sunday, May 14, 2006
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Monday, May 01, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
- They eat low fat healthy diets.
- They are pro-active in having health checks and prompt in taking any necessary action.
- They watch their weight.
- They are non-smokers.
- They take regular exercise.
- They keep their brain active.
- They take care of their skin by staying out of hot sun and used sun-block.
- They cope with stress both by taking exercise and using relaxation techniques.
- They are early risers - grasping life with both hands.
- They are active in the community in charity and voluntary work.
- They refuse to look back on their lives with regrets that will only make them miserable.
- They are always working on some project that is a challenge to them.
- They all have some belief in something greater than themselves whether they call that God or not.
- They are very positive in their attitude although they are honest in admitting negative thoughts and tough times they have dealt with them well.
- They value their health.
- They are committed to doing what they want to do.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
This year Nettes and I organised our church's Easter service. We wanted to tell the story of Jesus going to the cross and rising again in some fresh and interesting ways. So as well as some standard readings and songs & hymns – like Hosanna (with the kids processing with streamers) – we also had two or three multi-sensory activities. For the ‘kids slot’ Nettes did a cookery demonstration of resurrection cookies. The ingredients tell the Easter story and the cookies are hollow representing the empty tomb. We also had a table at the front to which people brought items that depicted Jesus agonies on the cross such as a crown of thorns, an alarm clock to represent sleeplessness and a black box to represent horror. Nettes had made a cross for the table – not something we usually have in our church. But first we told the story through a PowerPoint display using paintings of scenes leading up to the cross with sound effects. We watched and listened to these with the lights out. The effect was stunning.
Later that day, as a family, Nettes & I had our Easter dinner of roast lamb and broke bread.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
On Saturday morning there was a choice of workshops. I went to the one on evangelism. Among other things we did a good role play that highlighted for me the importance of listening sensitively to other people’s views on God.
Ian Rossol then spoke about intimacy with God and how God wants to spend time with us. This was encouraging because our church recently did our second 24-hours-of-prayer. Ian also said, ‘There is a hurting world out there that is waiting for the church to emerge’.
In the evening we had a variety performance in which Nettes read the children’s book A Squash and a Squeeze with me acting out the old lady some kids being the animals. Callie was the hen.
On Sunday morning Ian spoke about on ‘Christ Jesus is riding forth in victory’ and how he is inviting us as a church together to join him. After lunch we had a time of breaking bread.
A good time was had by all.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Sunday, March 19, 2006
This may involve changing our attitudes towards that group of people. It starts with changing how we think, but it also means changing what we say and what we do, despite how we feel – a good lesson in itself. Last night, we had been looking at this video about how one teacher taught her class about prejudice. But in our class we simply role played how we can act differently to people. Finally, we draw pictures of different sorts of people – different races, people from different countries, old people, young people, disabled people – on a piece of paper with the verse ‘love your neighbour’ on it as a way of celebrating diversity.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
One headline that stuck a deep chord in me said that the obesity epidemic is a 'bigger threat than terrorism'! The time has come for me to do something about this one: to eat more healthily and get more exercise. I’m going to take a ‘health walk’ once a week. And I’ve picked up some literature on looking after your heart. So I am looking at what I need to cut down on. It appears that saturated fat is a big one. I did order a book from Amazon on getting fit but it’s been delayed - drat it! Nevertheless I’m persevering with this health drive. After a few weeks of buckling down I trust that I’ll have a healthier lifestyle.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Sorry for such an intellectual post. But I just get excited about things like this!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
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Friday, February 03, 2006
All this means that I had the day off on Wednesday, as I was my day to look after Callie, but she was travelling with her mum on the train. So I’ve been using the time to play with flickr – a new photo-sharing site that I’ve found. If you scroll down you can see some of the pictures that I’ve loaded onto flickr at the right of the blog. If you click on anyone of them you’ll be taken to my flickr page and you can start exploring my photos as well as others from around the world.
Anyway, I better get on with the housework. See you soon Nettes.
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Saturday, January 28, 2006
The most important key to having that influence is consistency: across the minority, in the individual over time and between what we say and do. People may disagree with the minority only to agree later forgetting where the idea came from. But interestingly minorities’ influence is impaired if they appear too inflexible. Encouragingly a snowball effect can sometimes be seen – as the idea gains momentum more and more people are convinced. I think a good illustration of this is the film Twelve Angry Men where a jury is convinced one by one to turn to the view of the one juror who initially votes innocent.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
A Listen-Talk involves each of us expressing how we feel about something. The trick is that we must listen carefully and not interrupt our partner. We then have to feedback what they have said while they listen to the feedback and correct any misunderstandings and add anything that has been missed. We then feed that back, and so on – until the fist person feels that they have been heard. It’s also a good idea to hold something like a cushion to designate whose feelings are being discussed.
Listen-Talk is very simple method that is a really good resource for our marriage. We just want to keep doing it.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I love teaching psychology and I love being a father. I also think that in today’s world it is much more common to have a number of careers in a lifetime. For instance, I worked as a computer programmer at one time and I may do something different in the future. Perhaps I should think of my vocation as everything that I do including every part of my life, my faith and my interests, everything. Or maybe even just in being the person I am, living out what I believe in the many different roles that I play in life.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
I was just looking at classroom activities on conformity. One of them outlines the behaviour of gang members. The suggestion is that one of the explanations for high levels of conformity could be to do with initiation ceremonies. For instance to join one Latino gang in LA you need to be beaten up by three other members for 13 seconds! Similarly aggressive initiation ceremonies from a Royal Marine commando base have been in the news not long ago. A bit like the behaviour you might see in the film Jarhead.
On a more positive note, I was interested to see Dr Hilary from GMTV recently talking about overcoming depression to life coach Lyn Blades. One tip was to initiate yourself into a new happier life by ‘baptising’ yourself in some big body of water. Rather than being an issue of conformity this could just be a private commitment but it was also said that surrounding yourself with happy people was a good idea too. So perhaps there are some parallels here. Whether it’s initiation into a gang or into a happy life the rite of initiation as well as others around you appear important in starting the adventure.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions as such. But I do think it is good sometimes to take stock of where we are and to set goals for ourselves. A new year is as good a time as any. One thing that we would like to do more of this year is being hospitable. I think all we mean by this is make a bit more of an effort to invite people round for meals. We haven’t really got the space to invite people to stay. I think it would be good to take chatting to people that step further and start to open up our home. Why not find out a bit more about people, learn from them and perhaps even be an influence on them? We’ll probably start with our own circle of friends, such as the church, but we don’t want to stop there. Nettes and Callie regularly go to a group works both as a playgroup and also a support and information group for people new to the area especially for refugees and asylum seekers. I think this would be a good area to expand our friendships into by way of our hospitality.