Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Sodom, Gomorrah and BT customer help

Having just been passed from pillar to post by BT's wonderful customer services; having "conversed" with people from more nationalities than ever before in my whole life; having had more people listen to my problem than Job - I am still none-the-wiser.

This blog entry is a rant. Plain, simple, unapologetic rant. Each and every person I have spoken to has been lovely. I have no problem with them whatsoever. However, the big-wigs at BT seriously need to earn the (probable) 6 figure salary they take home and put a decent customer service in place...

If God did it to Sodom and Gomorrah, surely He can blow the dust off whatever He used to implement that particular rain of destruction and aim it at BT customer Services. Go on... just once more...

Or perhaps I should take solace in the wise words of Christ - with a little twisted eisegesis - "it will be better for Sodom than for you".

A few proverbs come to mind:

"A gentle ANSWER will calm a person's anger..." (15:1)

"Clever people are patient; they will be honoured if they ignore insults" - oh wait, I don't come out of that one well...

Grr, and grr again.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Newday 2008

We got back from Newday 2008 on Friday late afternoon, and what a week we had! You can check out the official Newday blog here. The week was great, and three of the three young people we took who didn't know Jesus, now do. Can't ask for more than that!

Anyway, God did some amazing things throughout the week, and not a single "Bam" in sight (courtesy of the "come get some" charismatic movement). There are some great new songs; one of which was a cover of Steve Fee's "We Shine" - look it up, it's great.


Here's the official review vid

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Honour and privilege

Well, it's 03:32 and I am yet again unable to sleep due to horrific back pain. I shall go and see how the doctor is doing soon. However, my problems have been put into perspective with the very sad news of hearing that a good friend passed away on Thursday morning.

I suppose I am using this blog as a bit of an outlet regarding the whole situation, so please forgive the almost inevitable lack of cohesive writing that will follow.

Rosaleen was a wonderful and much loved member of the church I attend, and although I have not had chance to gauge the reaction of the church to her passing, I assume it was fairly similar across the board to my wife's: speechlessness and tears. Having been on holiday, we only found out yesterday when we returned; and the sudden nature of it all seems a little overwhelming.

I wish to respect her dignity (as well as her husband's) by not going into any real details of what happened. The point of this blog is to reflect theologically on the situations that life (or should I say God?) throws my way. So, in that light, let me briefly mention what I have been thinking.

During our holiday in Cornwall (specifically, Bude - lovely place) me and my wife wrote a song together for the first time. (I shall be leading worship at a church's conference in a few weeks and I usually try to write a couple of songs for that.) Anyway, the theme of the week, and that of the song, is the Power of the Resurrection. So, having brushed up on 1 Corinthians 15 we set to work on writing the song. The main idea was that since Christ has risen from the dead already, and therefore death has been defeated, we really have no fear in death. All in all we were quite happy with it.

So - we really have no fear in death. So why are we generally so afraid of it? I am sure that I have met few people who are genuinely not fearful of death. Sometimes I try to qualify and relativise my fear of death by stating that it is not death itself that I fear, but what will happen to those I will leave behind - as if God is perfectly capable of dealing with my passing away, but not necessarily capable of looking after those still alive (this kind of links with my thoughts that it is easier to die for Jesus than to live for Him - but that's for another time perhaps).

Rosaleen spent many years living a radical life for Jesus. She was such a great person to know, and just as great to have on board with anything the church was doing: usually the first to be bold enough to disagree with a decision and throw the proverbial, but always necessary, spanner in the works! Yet always so warm and gentle to provide the greatest of encouragement. She will be sorely missed.

The story doesn't end there though, and it really doesn't. Rosaleen has finally met her Lord. The lifetime goal of every Christian, and she is now living in it. The theology of the afterlife is a fun, but complicated study - which I shall certainly not go into here - however, whether Rosaleen is with Christ right now or not (my understanding is that she is), she will certainly be raised on the day Jesus returns, she will be made like Him, and inherit her place in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Tom Wright's book Surprised by Hope speaks of the afterlife happening in stages (kind of) and death is merely a level of this. Of course, my theology here could be wrong - like I said, the afterlife is a strange but wonderful study - but what I am absolutely certain about is that Rosaleen is in the hands of the God who is powerful beyond limit, and loving beyond comprehension; and so is her husband; and so are we.

It was an honour and a privilege to have shared a place in space and time with such a great person.

Monday, 14 April 2008

New Life

I've recently been reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Although seeming slightly idealistic in places (though, that is hardly a crime) it is certainly a book that left me different after reading it. For quite a time now I've felt that the Church is missing the point somewhat. In a world of obvious problems, we offer very few solutions. Yet we are said to be following this Jewish revolutionary in the first century who preached a message (and lived a life) of ministry to the broken, the poor and the needy.

However, we seem to have turned the hard, seismic words of 'Jesus the radical' into a self-help guide to living a good life by 'the Buddy-Christ'. That, for me, just doesn't quite cut it. Relatively little time and effort is spent on feeding the poor/clothing the naked/taking in the strangers. Perhaps we give a little to charity? Rely on other organisations to do our "charitable" work...

Jesus came to bring in a new way. A different way of life. Indeed we acknowledge this when we talk of having new life - the mistake we make is that we interpret this only in light of future "life after death". I want a "new life". In fact I have no choice. Theologically, spiritually, or whatever you prefer to say, I am no longer alive. Paul understood this and could say that "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" [Galatians 2:20]. My own ambitions no longer should consume me - only the ambitions of God.

Taking that seriously is a daunting thing! But, how else can we take it? Was Jesus pulling our leg when he demanded a different way of life? Was Paul winking while he whimsically announced that he no longer lived...? But my big question is, "What are we doing?"

What are we doing?

Delirious? have recently released a new album called Kingdom of Comfort. It is a very good offering from the d: boys. The first and title track makes a plea that the singer be saved from "the kingdom of comfort where I am king". Which begs the question for you and I - "Am I building a kingdom of comfort or am I building the kingdom of God"? The church should be making a difference in the community it lives in.

The people of God should be getting their hands dirty. In fact they should be getting their arms, legs, backs and faces dirty! Living a different way of life, to bring about a different way of life. This community of people [the church] should be characterised for their difference - their holiness (in the truest sense of the word]. Sharing EVERYTHING they have (OK, not everything - "swinging" is not advised...!) but you get the point. Do we really share everything? Are we the first to respond to the needs of our "neighbour" - who, by the way, is anyone and everyone we meet (cf. the Good Samaritan).

I am trying to push myself into a kingdom of discomfort. Not allowing myself to "relativise" everything, and excuse myself from action. I was talking with someone the other day about the conversation Jesus has with the rich man, where Jesus says that he must sell everything he has and give it to the poor. We were discussing how it is usually interpreted as: we should be willing to give up anything for the sake of Christ. How we shouldn't place anything above our devotion to God... however - Jesus didn't ask the man if he was willing to sell everything; he told him to go and do it. The man couldn't.

I am worried that the church is full of people who believe they are willing but never actually do that much, really - myself a prime culprit. I know the message, the theology, the "ideal"... I thought I was "willing" - but when was the last time I did sell everything and give it to the poor?? When was the last time you did?

But it's just not practical in our day and age is it? It's too uncomfortable. My "kingdom of comfort" would fall...