Tuesday, 30 September 2008

On eating meat when the stakes are high...

Spotted this article in the newspaper in the staffroom whilst I was rummaging for articles for my A-level class. It's hard trying to get boys to have opinions on more than just football, girls and alcohol!

Embracing a way of life in the gospel that has poverty and deferred gratification as its inspiration is not something that comes naturally to me.  Exchanging my burgers and bacon for beans, lentils and pulses is, in all honesty, not something I intend to do in a hurry.

But the truth is that the way we have been living in the West is not only unsustainable, it's also unfair and unloving.  And that is something I cannot ignore.

Whilst I'm no eco-warrior-tree-hugging-protesting-by-handcuffing-myself-to-a-bulldozer kind of guy, Jesus' and Paul's words are making me think long and hard on the subject.

PS  To avoid this becoming just another vain blog post, PLEASE watch this space... and more importantly, my example for evidence of any real change and take me to task if need be!

Sunday, 28 September 2008


What follows was inspired by a spin-off thought I had, whilst listening to the bible being read at my church meeting this morning. We were reading Joshua 1:5-8.

The Lord commands Joshua to be strong and courageous when leading the people into conquering the land of Canaan, but when he commands Joshua to lead the people in obeying the Law, (The written down words of God.) he tells him to be strong and very courageous...

I have often, on the surface of things, fancied myself as a Braveheart like figure, but in truth, I feel quite weak and queasy at the thought of slaughtering a lamb for lunch, let alone charging into battle, sword in hand, trying to avoid being sliced by an enemy sword and simultaneously thrusting my own into as many enemy bodies as possible.

But military courage, hard as it is, is not the greatest battle requiring the greatest courage.

The greatest battle requiring the greatest strength and courage is that of being faithful to obey all of the words that God has spoken. Spiritual courage, the courage of obedience and faith requires the greatest resolve and therefore the greatest help. That is why, to those who look to Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help them persevere and overcome in this life, God will give the greatest reward in the next life. Not a temporary one, but an eternal one.

It won't be the military heroes who are welcomed into Heaven, but rather the ramshackle bunch of individuals who have, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, lovingly obeyed, even unto death, the One who loved them first and gave his life for them.

Friday, 26 September 2008

The most expensive taxi fare!

I heard today about a former pupil from our school who was killed recently when he got hit by a car. He was trying to get out of paying a taxi fare and obviously was concentrating more on making a clean getaway than he was on the speed and volume of the surrounding traffic.

The desire to save a couple of pounds cost him his life.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Some things change...

In education, this video is all the rage in trying to help us get our heads round what kind of adults we want to produce at the end of 14yrs or so of schooling (It's 8mins 19secs long):

Last week a kid looked at me like I was from the middle ages when I told him I used to load up games on a computer using a tape recorder.

As the video shows, technology is changing the way that we think and function, we are able to transcend the limits of our bodies and influence life all across the world for good or evil depending on what we want to achieve. It's also jostling around the global pecking order. If I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure whether to be excited or wary about some of these stats, but I know that God is in control and whatever predictions futurologists make about the world of 2020, his intentions for human history will be the ones that stand at the end of everything when his Son, Jesus, returns. So I can entrust myself to a faithful creator and continue to do what is good.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Trying to make myself look good...

This morning I read 1 Samuel 15.

Saul, one of the main figures in the chapter, frightens me. Why? Because I see more of him in myself than I would like.

Saul leads the Israelites into disobeying a command of God. This is bad enough, but he then goes a hypocritical step further and dresses his disobedience up as obedience and worship!
When he is finally exposed as a liar, his true motive comes out: he wanted to please the people more than please God. God's verdict is that he is no longer fit to be God's king over God's people.

Passages like this bring me up short. How often have I disobeyed the simple commands of God, even going to the point of deceiving myself that I am doing Him a favour. And all I am really doing is pursuing my own ends, namely that I want to be approved by certain people more than approved by God. Man, how I need help! More often than I care to admit!

Thank you Jesus that you are a perfect king over all. Thank you for mercy to fools like me! Please help me to desire your approval more than anyone else's. Amen. PS God, I know the answer to that prayer is going to hurt, but I believe in faith it will be worth it!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The old chestnut of Creation vs. Evolution is older than I thought!

In a week which has lamentably seen the resignation of Michael Reiss as Director of Education for the Royal Society, I have found myself thinking again about the whole creation vs. evolution thing and what the implications are.  In my quest for material to help me ruminate, I found a presentation by a guy called Joe Boot, made at the European Leadership Forum.  His talk, entitled The Battle for the Beginning – the creation foundation of Biblical apologetics, (audio file here, outline here), is a provocative one.  

(Warning: It's 1hr40 in length.  Joe Boot works with RZIM and my experience of anyone who works for them is that their material is outstanding, but it comes out of their mouths at 100mph and so needs all my of concentration power!  I will need to listen to it a few more times before I can get the full benefit of what he is saying!)

He makes many fascinating points, (not least about how Darwin himself and how Darwin's Origin of the Species was received by Darwin's contemporaries).  Two of them I found particularly interesting.
  1. That evolution was not Darwin's invention and is a system of thought that is as old as the Tower of Babel.  Boot recommended this book on the subject.
  2. That (controversially) the first 11 chapters of Genesis must be read as literal and that Jesus himself would assert this (albeit implicitly rather than explicitly).
I still have my own questions about how the first 11 chapters of Genesis all fit together, but I am even more convinced than ever, in mind, heart and spirit that God's literal account of how it happened is the one to believe and with trembling joy bet my life on.

Friday, 19 September 2008

A sobering reflection...

It's great that Lee Strobel has finished this project and it will no doubt make fascinating viewing, but Charles Templeton's story is a sobering one for any Christian who takes their faith seriously, especially those in leadership positions. It's biographies like these that admonish me to stay humble and prayerful as I walk with God.

Monday, 15 September 2008

My pupils are provoking me!

I was on duty in the playground last week when I happened to strike up a conversation with one of the new Yr 7s.  I made polite conversation and asked him what he had had for lunch.  He said that he had had nothing because he was fasting for Ramadan.

Ramadan lasts for a month.  This 11yr old boy would not eat between sunrise and sunset for 1 month, which in September is still a long time.  If it was up to me, I would have made Ramadan only ever take place in December!  

If I am honest, I couldn't help but be impressed and healthily provoked by this kid.  He was neither boastful, nor bitter about the fact that he was fasting, just very matter of fact.  This little guy over the course of a year possibly out-fasts me, (I haven't yet sat down and calculated it yet.  Not sure I want to.  I could end up feeling a little humiliated).  Not that it is about competition, it's not.  And yet, just as I wouldn't expect to be beaten in an arm wrestle with this same kid.  So I should not expect him to out do me in spiritual disciplines either. 

I have a wonderful God and an awesome saviour.  How much more should I use all the tools that the spiritual disciplines are to pursue intimacy with God and fruitfulness in life than people who have been duped by the lies of the devil!

Moreover, God-willing, if I ever have any kids, I want them to be up for Jesus from as early as possible and in as sold-out a way as possible.  I guess, much like these little guys below.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Walker - Live for Jesus!

After a quiet period of seeing if I like blogging, along with the encouragement of others, I have decided to go live (you decide on it's pronunciation), for Jesus in the blog-o-sphere.

Therefore, (addressing the trusted friends who have known about this since just after it's inception), should you wish to mention it to anyone or to blog-roll me, then feel free!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

How much would you make others suffer for the sake of what you believe?

As a head of department, I am the one accountable for the GCSE results we get. This summer's results weren't pretty reading. The headline A*-C pass rate for the school was 75%. In Modern Languages, it was 66%. However I cut the cake, I couldn't make it look any better.

I won't bore you with any more stats, but when I investigated the figures further, I found that what put us significantly behind nearly every other subject was the fact that we had opted to do a final writing exam rather than coursework.

I took that decision on the basis of what I thought (and still think) were sound educational principles, the two main ones being that: 1) It kicks into touch any possibility of me being tempted to give my students a "more generous level of support" than I should (in case you weren't sure, that's another way of saying cheating) and 2) It makes the students better linguists because they have to have more of their whits about them and a more masterful grasp of the language learnt because on exam day it's "do or die." No chance for a second draft!

Of course there are counter arguments like: 1) When everyone else is doing coursework, I am making my students look unfairly poor against the rest. 2) The average employer neither knows nor cares about my educational ideology; so long as the grades look good, the details behind the grades aren't important. In the light of the arguments above, the first of these two arguments makes me feel guilty, the second, plain frustrated.

So will I eat my words and go back to coursework? Time (and senior management) will soon tell, but I hope not, and here's why: Life is ultimately about a big day of reckoning before the King of the Universe. Any little rehearsals we get along the way like exams and Performance Management Reviews that help us feel, in a small way, the weight of that great account giving of ourselves on Judgement Day, then so much the better. It is to that day that I want everything in my life to point, not just when I preach on a Sunday, but also when I teach on a Monday.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A word to the dis-CERN-ing

It was never going to be the end of the world today.


Cos we still have work to do!

I wasn't going to say anything on this, but then I enjoyed punning with the title of this post!  Does that disqualify me?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Why worry...?

Money is tight this month; not only because my housemate and I are funding an extension to our house, but also because we have lost our lodger (Tim), who got married to the lovely Jodie yesterday and because as a teacher, not working during August means you have more opportunities to spend money that you wouldn't have the chance to take if you were at work!

So when a guy I barely know, but who is a Christian for sure, asks me for £50 straight up, I am immediately nervous, but then this verse pops into my head... And so I go to the cash machine opposite our house and get it for him.

Since then I have been to a wedding.  As you well know, these kinds of outings can be expensive, but on this occasion it wasn't.  For whilst I offered people petrol money, they all refused. What's more, people offered to buy me drinks and I was able to camp in a back garden and so not incur any B&B costs. It was the cheapest wedding I have been to in a while, considering what it could have cost.

I feel like I am living in the good of these verses...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Fighting for your Life...

When I first saw this picture, it reminded me of this verse .
Anyway, that's not the point of this rumination. The rumination is this. Science defines life as consciousness - being awake and having the capacity to respond to your surroundings. However, Jesus said that real life is not about consciousness but about having a friendship with him and God the Father.
If that is true then, I fight for life everyday, because everyday I have to choose to spend time cultivating friendship with the Living God. It doesn't happen naturally. Everything in me wants to serve sin - my own selfish desires. Those desires must be fought and fought not just today, but day after day after day after day after day... Victory in self-discipline today is no assurance of victory tomorrow (although it does help).
Even if I manage to set the time aside, I still have to make sure I listen and talk to him and not just let my mind wander off into oceans of worry or banality. That's hard, especially in a week when I am beginning the slow process of rewriting all the files from my stolen laptop.
So how is your fight for life going? Are you solid as a rock or as a bowl of jelly? As we fight for life, let us encourage our hearts together in this, that God is the rewarder of those who seek him.