Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Carpe diem

Once, Jesus had the opportunity to heal a man on the sabbath, but was opposed by some pharisees. He could have said to the man, "Come and see me to-morrow." Surely it wouldn't have made a huge difference to the man, and would have kept happy those who wished to defend the sabbath. But, of course, he didn't.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Jim Packer, in Keep in Step with the Spirit, mischievously comments that there exists no contemporary account of holiness, so he will perforce write his own. He begins by suggesting that the New Testament view of holiness has two components - the idea of being set apart, and the idea of being morally pure. Coincidentally, I read this passage from Matthew's gospel this morning (Matthew 10:34-39 Msg):
"Don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me.
"If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
I've always found Jesus' statement disturbing. Is he against families? Jim Packer proposes a paradox: the detachment implied by our being set apart for God enables us to be more loving towards family members, neighbours, friends, etc. Possibly. There is a state called codependency which is regarded as unhealthy; maybe if we are firmly dependent upon God, we can be more real towards our fellow human beings.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Still struggling

This weekend, I wondered if the troubles of the past week might have been a punishment for my less than enthusiastic response to Awakening UK. I was challenged by what happened to the official who responded to Elisha's prophecy of deliverance thus (2 Kings 7:2 Msg):
The attendant on whom the king leaned for support said to the Holy Man, "You expect us to believe that? Trapdoors opening in the sky and food tumbling out?"
to which Elisha responded:
"You'll watch it with your own eyes," he said, "but you will not eat so much as a mouthful!"
There doesn't seem to be a place in the Christian life for honest scepticism (which is what I thought that I was expressing).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Drawing lines in the sand

How do we move forward? Something unfortunate has happened. Maybe it was avoidable; maybe it wasn't. There is a certain amount of anger in the air - maybe on both sides. There have been problems - nagging problems, which I haven't been able to solve - whose presence may have contributed to this particular conflagration.

Who was to blame? Am I (to some degree) at fault? Do I need to change? Do other people need to change (recognising that whatever I think, it is they who must decide the direction of their lives, and how they live them)? Does the situation need to change?

How do I move forward? If I withdraw, behave more coolly, what will be the consequences? What, exactly, does forgiveness mean in this situation?

Is a more radical departure called for? Should I be seriously looking for another job? In the same instituion, or elsewhere?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Psalm 55:12-14 (Msg)
This isn't the neighborhood bully
mocking me—I could take that.
This isn't a foreign devil spitting
invective—I could tune that out.
It's you! We grew up together!
You! My best friend!
Those long hours of leisure as we walked
arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation.

Just possibly

This will get through ... How quickly we unlearn things! It's probably less than a month since I last wrote in Graffiti 1 (Palm's original writing system) and already it feels 'wrong'. Is new always better?

Monday, September 04, 2006


Was at Awakening 2006 at the weekend. What was it? A concert? A service? A worship event (whatever that is)? I was disappointed. The weather was awful (a not improbable circumstance in this country). My wife did find value in Ruth Graham's testimony. And, yes, it was OK; just that, basically, she and Mark Stibbe told us of occasions when God met with them. Great! I'm happy for them. But why did I stand in the pouring rain? I wouldn't have minded a meeting with God.

If I want to meet with God, I find a quiet corner, open a bible (which usually means, start up a bible reader on my PDA), read, and pray. Crowds do not help.

I should say, though, that the highlight of the afternoon was definitely the session by Ian White and High Voltage. I probably shouldn't be singling out any one performer for praise, but the assurance of the 11 year old drummer (Harrison White) was truly amazing.