Tuesday 30 September 2008

Riding the crest of a wave.

As a church, we try to have at least a couple of half-night prayer meetings a year (7.45pm to midnight). These are usually good times of worship, prayer and often have a strong prophetic content. Our next one is this Friday, the last was in January.

At the January session I was praying with a smaller number of guys when I saw a 'minds eye' image of Bicester with a huge wave above it - if it was real, we'd be talking a thousand feet high type wave. The wave was in the act of breaking, but was moving imperceptibly slowly above the town.

Now we (both Chris and I, and the other guys we were with) have heard all kinds of words of 'revival is coming' and 'God's going to do it now' over the years, and certainly for us, we've passed the point of predicted revival fatigue. But at the same time, it seemed there was an element of authenticity about what I saw, so I did mention it, together with the emphasis that the wave we've been waiting for was about to break over us - or somesuch.

Now in the church, we have been working hard preparing for this autumns Alpha course. Alpha is a great way for people with or without any kind of faith to explore the Christian faith without anyone getting religious, pressurising or even trying to convince them as such. Most of the guys in our housegroup have been really committed to it, full of faith that God is going to touch a lot of people this year, and have absolutely worked their socks off.

Well, it seems that God is honouring that. We had a bit of a strategic meeting last night, with all the various leaders in the church. There are 30 signed up for the BCC alpha (as well as lots with the other churches) which means that there is a need for lots of stuff, like housegroups, being laid down to serve the alpha course. It's really good to see the church re-shaping itself to take up the challenge, and it IS a challenge. 30 people is about half the committed church, so it will be interesting to see what shape the church finds itself in come January 2009, who will find themselves going from being mentored to mentoring, taught to teaching.

Monday 29 September 2008

Don't tell

Don't tell people what you really think.

Whether you're right or wrong, it will get you into trouble.

Friday 26 September 2008

A reluctant book review.

Why reluctant?

Well, I haven't finished it yet. And a lot of book reviews either badly misrepresent the book (causing friction) or are inadequate (also causing friction). I wish to do neither, and because this book is SO important, SO significant, I really don't want to put anyone off, yet feel I must talk about it.

This is the antidote to church book porn as blogged by Paul Mayers.

This is a stream of clean, wholesome nourishment that has risen above the detritus of deconstruction.

To me, this book should be required ready for all who wish any kind of role in church leadership, regardless of church background.

Liberals and conservatives will HATE this book, if they ever read it, and will use the same reasoning to discard its interpretation of scripture.

OK, what book?

From here in the UK or here in North America.

This is not a highbrow, intellectual book. No-one is going to praise its astounding intricacy of theological perception. It isn't *that* big and the words are in fairly large type. Even the way it's written is relatively simple plain English, obviously for ordinary people.

What makes it so special then?

It describes the biblical functioning of the church, under the guidance of Jesus as the head, directed by the Holy Spirit. It explains what the church is, what it does and how it should live and grow. It describes the ministries required and how they function, authority in the church and the relationship between local eldership and apostolic teams. It gives understanding as to why fellowship is such a fundamental requirement in the church, and why churches that do not have true fellowship cannot function as church. It even tackles the issue of church membership!

I am sure that to some, this will be 'no big deal'.

For me, this has been, so far, a concise description of how I've long known church should be.

Is there stuff I don't like?

Sure. I don't like the North American confrontational manner that comes through in places. Derek Prince lived in the US and even became a US citizen, I *suspect* in order to be more effective in an intensely anti-European environment. He talks about churches from a US church standpoint, and for those of us in other countries, there is often a mis-match with what we see in the church in our own countries. But theologically, for me, this book just seems to line up with the truth, especially in the broader principles. I don't find all of it comfy, but I do find it good.


I plan to put the photos together quite soon, from our Italy trip + the Thailand pics we took last year.

I've been using photobucket for a couple of years to add images to web pages, and it has been GREAT. Fast delivery, little hassle. The one feature it didn't seem to offer was online galleries. I do have a gallery, but fotopic is clunky and the images always get a bit degraded by their compression algorhythm. Flickr is just too slow.

Picasa has been advertised when I log into Blogger for some time, so I signed up.

They want to install software on my PC.

I DO NOT WANT software installed on my PC. Keep your dirty hands off my computer. I only want web space to upload images for general viewing.

Maybe I need a second Photobucket account, for public display.

Perception might not be everything

But it does affect the reality we try to manipulate.

I always wondered why the Italians could not make a good 'family sized' car. Having now visited 5 Italian cities, I can see that *most* of populated Italy has tiny roads that are overcrowded. Anything family sized in a UK sense would be too large, difficult to park (too large to double-park, as they just do whenever convenient) and would wear out fast from continual thrashing about.

On a completely different subject, although the same topic, I was talking last night with an Afrikaans guy about his family in different parts of the world. We had such different views that I wondered if he thought me strange. His perception and mine were so out of step that conversation was too difficult and I ended up leaving him talking with someone else from Zimbabwe.

Perception and reality is something God has been talking to me about during our stay in Rome. Thoughts have not yet firmed up enough to blog, but were centred around the manner of church operating there, the manner of buildings and politics involved in creating them and a bunch of stuff relating to values and faith. I *hope* it's a sign of maturity that I am being taken through this, rather than just weakness of mind and lack of rigour in filtering the acceptable from the unacceptable.

At least it seems to be filtering through to practice, at least a bit.

Thursday 25 September 2008


Not random (I shot loads I'd never show anyone) but just a few that are representative.

Seiano, looking toward Vico Equense

Seiano Marina

Seiano beach. Sorry - beach?

Vico Equense. Note that the air is not clear. This area is like Central London at rush hour, only with more Italians and better scenery.

Il Vesuvio, from the hotel terrace.

Cake in Positano.

A bath in Pompei

Chris near a church building in Rome.

Wonder what's for dinner?



Oh, errr, hi. We've been back an hour now.

It's great to be back.

The whole house STINKS, mostly as a result of the cats litter tray, plus empty catfood tins that were filled with water and left on the side.

Everything is dirty, partly from the cats, partly because we're having some work done, and you can't make an omelet etc. And it just plain needs cleaning lots anyway, being that kind of house.

But it's great to be back.

Ben seems OK. Good.

He had dinner with my mum last night, which also means that she's mostly OK, so good there too.

I have sort-of rellies in Austria (the link is too vague to go into now) and it turns out that one who had been a friend of my fathers has just died of a heart attack. We'd planned to go out to maybe spend a little time sometime in the next couple of years, but looks like that won't happen now. Not good. I'm sad for Monica, who buried her mum only a relatively short while ago, now a widow a few years younger than she would expect.

So that rounds off this holiday. It hasn't been a rest as such, so much as a time of challenge and self discovery. There have been good bits and quite frustrating bits, but I hope I will have regained enough energy for continuation into the next phase for us.

Holiday taster pix up soon.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Life got very exciting as of yesterday evening.

I had an email from expedia.

The hotel in Rome could not accept our booking.


The choices were: ignore the email, turn up and let the hotel sort things out (they are obliged to do this according to hotel staff here, also booked through expedia) or call the number in the US at some expense and ask what was going on and to sort things.

After a day of debate (and praying somewhat, but lets not spiritualise this too much - I was not all that spiritual about it) I DID call. Seems the hotel has *closed its doors* whatever that means. So turning up might not have been especially useful. Expedia did book us into a new hotel, just round the corner from the original, and for that I am truly grateful.

So tomorrow we are back on the road.

Do all of them lead to Rome? Maybe, but I bet they do not all go nicely past Ciampino airport, where we have to return the car first. Driving here has been interesting, and I hope the final part of getting the car back does not prove the most stressful.

Off to dinner soon. Mustaphas in Seiano. Hope it is nice.

Saturday 20 September 2008

Well, life gets interesting.

Chris and I prayed this morning before leaving, and forn the first time this holiday everything *felt* just right. We found Herculaneum in the car, found our way to the top of Vesuvius. We have had a good day.

Now I have just checked my email back at the hotel to discover that our hotel in Rome cannot accept our reservation (email sent to me Friday night - what if I could not read email here?) and we need to contact a reservation service to find an alternative.

This trip is turning into a learning experience alright.

I also got a parking ticket last night while we had dinner.


Never mind. Challenges need to be risen to.

Friday 19 September 2008

Dan - you might be impressed.

The PC I am using here is running a special form of Linux OS, designed for hotels.

I can post about this now.

The other thing that has been hanging over my head recently is the fate of the organisation I work for.

As expected for some time now, my job is "at risk" because they plan to shut our part of the operation. The guys working for me were told yesterday (I was told officially last Friday night) so it is all public now.

Time to polish that CV.

And the rain came down

Because gravity works in Italy just like it does every where else.

Well, it is being kind of interesting. I have this distinct feeling God has us here in an uncomfortable place to work on us.


Yup. Nice hotel, mostly great scenery and exotic food in a language we cannot really speak.

We are actually fairly uncomfy, and that is becoming increasingly apparent.

I think I am listening.

I HOPE I am listening and hearing.

Are we resting? Well we are generally getting around 8 hours in bed every night, so I have definitely had more sleep than usual.

A part of the frustration for me is that everything here requires financial lubrication, and that is both wearing and grating. It is wearing because you always have to be thinking about having coins of the right type and quantity available. It is grating because I grew up poor and hate to keep paying and paying and paying for stuff like parking. Some things have been better than expected in that area, but some have not. I understand the need to distribute wealth, but it takes away peace of mind and drains the pleasure from stuff.

Today was almost funny.

We tried to visit Herculaneum. It is around 1 hours travel on bus and train (forget taking the car!) only to find the place shut. So we went into Naples instead, did the archeological museum and then came back.

Poof! Day gone.

In about 45 mins we will attempt to find somewhere that is not cold where we can get some food that appeals from a menu we can understand. This has become our nightly challenge, sharpened by the rain.

Thursday 18 September 2008

We are having interesting times

But at least I managed to eat something that was not based on wheat flour this lunchtime.

Yesterday we spent more than 5 hours at Pompei, which was interesting, but hard work. Fascinating place. Tomorrow we shal visit Herculaneum (Ercolano) where the ruins are more complete, even though considerably less has been excavated.

Today was really our 'rest and recovery' time, as we were tired from Pompei and one of Chris knees was hurting. The sea here is actually great, but finding a decent beach is not easy. We ended up on Seiano beach, which is small, stony and dirty. However the sea did make up for it.

I need to finish now - more when I get a chance.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Well I can blog here after all.

We got here fine - really no problems at all, for which I am VERY grateful.

The Hotel is mostly great, with a few bits less great (warm water would help) and the room is nice.

Now, Sorrento and environs.

Sorrento today was like Central London in rush hour, but with better scenery nearby. Note nearby.

TBH I think it would be my idea of hell in mid summer, when it is more crowded. I really had no idea this area would be like this - I imagined like Greece with more style. Where greece is relaxed, this area is frenetic and anything but relaxing. There are similarities and diametric opposites in Greek and Italian culture.

Now some of the scenery IS quite breathtaking, but whoever described this area as having the most beautiful coast in the world needed to get out a bit more.

It is nice, do not get me wrong, and we HAVE enjoyed ourselves. But some holidays embrace you and say "have a great time". Instead we have so had to determine that we shall enjoy ourselves and look for the good bits in the difficulty.

Positano IS lovely, and seems quite different from Sorrento. And if you can find somewhere to park, there is a lot to see.

Tomorrow we shall probably try Pompei. TTFN

Sunday 14 September 2008

We *seem* to be packed.

Docs all together, individual sleeves for parking, flights, hire car, hotels and maps.

Chris's contact lens stuff sorted.

Sunglasses (just now) sorted.

Clothes, sorted.

MP3 player - new audio uploaded, sorted.

Camera batteries, charged.

Reading materials - 2 guitar mags, peoples friend, a Derek Prince book on church, Ray S Anderson book on emergent theology, bible (just remembered) novels for Chris, guide books for Naples/Amalfi and Rome, sorted.

Food in and spare cash left for Ben while he looks after the house and feeds the cats, sorted.

Wonder what we've forgotten?

I probably won't post as I don't have a PC with me.

Now - bed, sorted.


Saturday 13 September 2008

And the really good news is

That my mum's out of hospital again.

Dropped her at home about 30 min ago. Plenty of time for her to get ready for her holiday to Scotland on Monday.

Friday 12 September 2008

One of the things that's becoming increasingly evident

About economics and politics is that it doesn't seem to matter whether the politician or economics expert is incredibly bright or rather stupid. They don't seem to be able to grasp what's going on, regardless.

QED the present situation of recession where thousands of intelligent and VERY highly paid individuals didn't take suitable evasive action in advance and appear to have blindly panicked once it was too late.

QED the present US president who, while he could certainly not be considered a great success, has not led his country to utter ruin, despite not being the sharpest tool in the box.

Thoughts arising from reading another blogger who was a bit swoony about the intelligence of Obama, while deriding Palin (McCain seems to have been forgotten in their rush to protest about women's rights to abortion).

Thursday 11 September 2008

Back to that routine

Last night my mum went back into hospital (the JR, for Bicester people).

AFAIK breathing difficulties and overdoing it when trying to lift her scooter from the back of her car were the main cause. I didn't get to see her in the end, due to the call we were expecting not being caught by someone who should have taken more care, even if they were tired.

So it goes. Please pray for her.


Thanks for praying.

It seems her potassium levels had dropped away, and with it, her blood pressure. When I saw her last night she seemed effectively normal for the way she is these days. The hospital have given her potassium in various forms, and that seems to have largely restored the balance. She's hoping to come out today, as she'd like to go on holiday to Scotland on Monday!

Wednesday 10 September 2008

If only

....this would happen to inappropriate phone users more often.

There's a sense of relief now.

Last night we talked with our wider family - our housegroup - about what we feel God's plans are for us. Neither Chris nor I like 'secrets' and it's much easier to be open with everyone all the time. We Talked with Steve (who heads up BCC) at the end of August, but really wanted to talk with the housegroup before making this public.

After 17 years in Bicester Community Church we feel quite strongly called to move and become involved in Heyford Park chapel and church in the valley generally.

This is much less dramatic than Randall's news, especially as we are phasing it over about a year in order that the church can fill the holes we'll leave. But it's still a HUGE upheaval in a way, as we feel far more a sense of family with these people, especially the housegroup, than we ever did leaving the church in London - we seem to have acquired many sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.

What will we do there?

To begin with, just get to know people - we're not moving a ministry so much as just transplant and see what God has for us. However I expect us to have a pastoral role there, very much working to support Ian (who heads up that HPC) and maybe coming alongside and teaching new Christians etc. Almost certainly I'll get involved in the music too, although I'd rather be just another musician for a while.

There's a little more news waiting, but relatively small fry by comparison. Bag - say au revoir to cat.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Sorry to so enigmatic.

Stuff is working through.

The truth is in here.

Mind you, I've not seen Mulder for a while and Scully doesn't like my deodorant: my fault for buying cheap stuff in Tesco.

But hey, I've still (to quote JH) got my guitar.

I *should* be playing in one of the bands at the Bicester fun day, next Saturday. Hope I can still remember how to rip off Chuck Berry. I rather wish I could go play with some guys this evening - feels like there's something inside I'd like to work out of my system, although I've also been dog tired today. And I fancy acquiring yet MORE gear that I don't need, as well as some that *will* be useful. Like the pignose arriving next week - a 40W amp weighing 30lb instead of 60lb like my 18watter - that should still have a big sound instead of the rather small one I get from Voxy baby, mostly because of the tiny cab and low wattage.

So I'm not really posting about anything as such, but hey, this is my blog and I can have textoral diarrhea if I want.

Just been up to judge the village show photographic competition. There were some good pix, but it amazes me how people don't think about their images. A minority of entries were beautifully printed, while a substantial number were just printed from PC onto plain paper - some of the otherwise best images were produced like this.

Maybe time to go make dinner. Should it be curry, Chinese-style, Mediteranean or just one of our simple cheating dinners?

Friday 5 September 2008

Off to see

....not the wizard, but Dan and Kita.

And looking forward to it.

If you're reading guys, hope to be there between 7 and 7.30.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Actually one other reason

I can't sleep is because I've been practicing my version of James Gang's Funk #49, and that main riff has just buried itself in my head.

In the livingroom it just sounds.... nothing. I played at the practice it tonight at slightly higher volume through the Godin and it just sounded great. It's just got such a good feel to it (even if the words aren't THAT inspiring).

Want to know what the fuss is about? Here's a clip on the tube. Song starts about 3 1/2 minutes in after a somewhat pedestrian blues jam. I don't want to embed anymore as it slows the blog unacceptably.

I'm going to be tired today.

We went to bed at a sensible time: I've been out this evening at a music practice with church no.2 and got in at 10ish. Lights out just after 11.

Something woke both of us a little later, but after about 20 min Chris was sawing wood enthusiastically. A little after 12 I knew it was pointless, and got up again.

Why can't I sleep?

Deep changes are in progress in every area of my life, except possibly our marriage, and while I'm at peace over them - I'm sure it's all from God - the things going on still cause a reaction inside.

I'm trying to navigate situations I can't yet see while floating on a sea of unknown.

Already this evening God's whispered about some of the things in the future, and that's great, but they are FUTURE things, and the present situation is NOT there yet.

And some of the things He HASN'T whispered about yet.

There are too many 'coincidences' for me to believe it's not all been planned. But rather like an Indiana Jones movie, there may be a lot of struggle, uncomfortable discovery and plain difficult obstacles to work our way through before we find the treasure at the end.

I need to be in bed.

Just seen an email from a good friend land - wonder what they say?