Friday, 31 December 2010

Bible in a Year Done - And Yes It Starts Again Tomorrow!

Found here
Today saw me finish the cover to cover Bible reading plan I have been following. The last couple of weeks has felt a bit like the scene (right) from Toy Story, chasing madly to finish on schedule, culminating in listening to the whole of Revelation today on my iPod as I cycled home from my parents. (Not the best way to digest such a complex book! But hey, I'm not doing this for brownie points!)

So what have I gained from such an exercise? Why would I want to start again tomorrow?

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

All the Blood from Abel to Zechariah

In the Hebrew ordering of the Old Testament, Chronicles and not Malachi, is the last OT book.

Russel, a friend of mine, recently pointed out that when Jesus accused the Pharisees and their kind, of murdering Abel and Zechariah, he was using those two names as book ends from between which he heaped on these legalistic zealots the guilt for the all the righteous blood shed in the Hebrew Bible - the Old Testament.

And it has ever been thus, the children of promise have always been persecuted by those whose desire is to set up their own standard of righteousness - refusing to come to Jesus.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Soul First, Circumstance Second

Found here
One of the ways I pray for my local church, is to go through the membership directory name by name. I find Paul's prayers really helpful, because they cut to the chase and start deep by praying for the growth of the soul (horse). I then pray for any of their particular circumstances known to me (cart). I think this holds it in proper perspective.

Recently, I've been using Eph. 3:14-19. Here is my own paraphrase of Paul:

Another Hilarious Scam

Image home
Another classic email scam. More info here.

As if David Cameron knows me personally! Yeah right!

Of course I can laugh, because I didn't fall for it - this time.
We have been trying to reach you since the past few days, as my associate has helped me to send your first payment of $7,500 USD to you as instructed by Mr. David Cameron the United Kingdom prime minister after the last G20 meeting that was held in United Kingdom, making you one of the beneficiaries. Here is the information below.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Human Eyes and the Witness of the Spirit

Glen and Dave have been blogging recently about reclaiming the Old Testament as a truely, madly, deeply and authentically Christian book, (as opposed to a Jewish book that we conveniently map Christian interpretation onto - as if it could make any sense without Christ). I like what they say - a lot. To me, the Old Testament Christians and the New Testament Christians who wrote the Bible consciously and explicitly:

Boxing Day is Also Martyrs' Day in the Christian Calendar

If you're one of those cultural dinosaurs, like me, who likes to dip into church history, then you'll know that today is not only Boxing Day but St Stephen's Day.

The Feast of Stephen is the olden days way of saying St Stephen's Day, which makes much more sense of what good old King Wenceslas was up to, surveying his realm. It has got nothing to do with a eating, (at least not in the first verse). Although you could be mistaken for thinking that he beheld the world's largest pizza: Deep pan, crisp and even! (Sorry, it was in one of yesterday's crackers and I couldn't resist!)

Stephen was

Friday, 24 December 2010

God is Dead - All is Permitted

© David Pham
Peter Leithart, with a short, but brilliant thought the implications of believing that God is dead.

The Birth of the True Passover Lamb

Following on from this post, below is a simple and short video stating the same point. I haven't signed up to all the rapture stuff he mentions at the end, but the first 7mins or so are worthy of meditation:

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

What I Say: Reviewing the Biblical Thinking Forum 2010

If I had to choose a metaphor to describe this year's forum, it would probably be that of a Ramblers' Association hike, because:

What They Said: Reviewing the Biblical Thinking Forum 2010

This isn't us, but it gives you a feel for what the forum was like.
Here is the feedback from the Biblical Thinking Forum. We met (usually) on the third Monday evening of every month (but not at all in August). We started with pudding.

All very useful/interesting to help me decide what to drop and what I need to work on harder to help people make the right kind of connections in the coming year (e.g. session 3).

Here's what we covered and how it was rated. (Note thumbs up/down means that it was cited as a favourite/least favourite session.

Reviewing Reading the Bible in a Year

Here's the feedback that came from a questionnaire I did for a bunch of us who have attempted to read the Bible from cover to cover this year.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

An International Christmas

I love having a window on other people's worlds, so I'm looking forward to Christmas day when I'll, not only remember Jesus' birth, but have the pleasure of welcoming a diverse crowd of nine different people around my festal table.

Represented there will be the nations of India, Malaysia, USA, Botswana, (possibly also Zimbabwe depending on the unfolding action at Heathrow) and, of course, our Great Britannia. I'll provide a classically British Christmas dinner, (however, grump-bag Walker won't be doing any of that "extra mile" decorating stuff. That's too much like effort! As if the labour of love that goes into preparing copious amounts of roast potato for 9 people wasn't enough??! In other words, if you can't eat it - and you definitely can't eat tinsel - I ain't interested. That said, if I was happily newly-wed I'd probably say: "Darling, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to put up the tinsel for you!! Flutter flutter, flutter! ;-) [Note to self: Perform emergency stop on stream of consciousness, NOW!])

They have been asked provide cameos of life in their country and maybe a game or two for us all to play, if not I'll be wheeling out charades! (GROAN) Could be difficult though because although I feel comfortable in the Hollywood edition of the game, if they bring out the Bollywood edition, I'll be stuffed!! These global times are changin'.

Whatever the outcome, it's gonna be a great day! :-D

Monday, 20 December 2010

Christmas Meditation: How Do The Heavens Display the Glory of God?

The more you get freed from the matrix, of Western Philosophy, the more depth you find there is to plumb in the Bible!

For example, Psalm 19:1-6. Have you ever wondered how the Heavens display the glory of God? How they pour forth speech?

If we're honest, in our heart of hearts, most of us would probably say that the Bible exaggerates with the phrase "pours forth" and should really tone it down to a "trickles out." The blended enormity and intricacy of creation proves that that there must be a God somewhere (up there?) who is "well clever and powerful," e.g. Allah, but that's as far as most of us would want to push it.

The problem is the Bible speaks a different language, and until you understand it, you will think that many of the claims it makes are crazy, unfair or plain unintelligible.

Myth-Busting Christmas In Family-Friendly Format

At church yesterday, we showed the video below. Great for sharing with all kinds of people. Sean preached a simple but very powerful sermon on having the wisdom to know what to accept, redeem or reject when it comes to celebrating the Winter Festival commonly known as Christmas. Do listen to it (click here) if you weren't able to be there.

Some of the references might be lost on you (e.g. Sean referring to Scott's Santa hat as a Noddy hat), but if you have ever been to a kids' nativity play, or a Christmas family service, you'll get the picture.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Do you Believe in a God like Santa?

Glen Scrivener has posted this great little video on how Santa exemplifies so much of what we think about who God is. How wrong we are!

Watch on...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Seasonal Invite to Think about the Meaning of Life

A friend of mine forwarded me the following from an email by this organisation.

It's set in a multi-faith context, but carries a seasonal theme. It's the kind of thing you could copy-paste into an email and send to a friend with an invite to a New Year Alpha course tagged on the end. I wonder if there are any of those happening soon... ;-)

Friday, 17 December 2010

God's People: Close to His Heart - Forever

In the strange world of the Bible, God's people are likened to jewels.

In the Old Testament, the High Priest would wear a breastpiece on which was mounted 12 jewels. He would carry these precious stones with him into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle / Temple close to his heart.

Feeling My Age

Had a most enjoyable time at the work Christmas do, but felt my age a bit, not only because I joined a goodly number of my male peers rocking out to the cover band that were playing (they were very good!) but also because in my heart of hearts, I realised I've reached that point in life when the music that really resonates with me and my young days is totally unknown to those who are actually "young."

Here's a video, in case, like me, your air guitar needs a touch more finesse:

More Carols

I do miss choral singing. Other bigger priorities / responsibilities have sidelined it from my regular routine. That's not a frustrated comment, just a statement of fact.

Last year, I posted some of my favourite choral pieces. Thought I'd do the same again this year:

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Biblical Thinking and the Mind of God

Do you think of the Bible, the product of the mind of God, as something that looks like this:

...or like this:

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Understanding Biblical Symbols

A penknife: one object, many uses.
In the Bible, an item can symbolise multiple realities.
Consider it divine shorthand,
in a paper scarce time. 
Am enjoying the "shoes of James Jordan" ;o) currently, helping me to prepare for the final session of my church's Biblical Thinking Forum for this year.

On understanding biblical symbols, especially in the context of the book of Revelation, he says:
The reason the language "Symbol" exists is to say things that cannot readily be said in discourse [linear-logic] languages. A symbol can indicate several different things at once... For example the Temple and the Tabernacle simultaneously symbolise the cosmos, the house of God, the social community, the individual human being and the Messiah as Perfect Man. Similarly, the altar is simultaneously, a minature holy mountain, God's people, the human person and Jesus.

Scared of being bored?

 Click here.

Check out the lineup of speakers at the "boring" conference here.

Friday, 10 December 2010

On Shoes and Biblical Thinking

You and I probably can't imagine life without shoes from both a comfort and a "this is who I am/want to be" self-expression point of view. Clearly some shoes are more function oriented and others more ornamental, (although quite why anyone would want to adorn themselves with this pair - see right, I have no idea!)

But an article I read recently in a triathlon magazine that Sean passed on to me got me thinking. It was talking about how running barefoot is the best way to develop good running technique. The argument went something like this...

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

When Pastors Become Priests

Many modern Christians think that we left the evils of professional priesthood behind at the Reformation, but Glen Scrivener, in the opening paragraphs of an article for Theology Network, highlights the pernicious dynamic of a psychological priesthood that can arise in any church when people accept the attitude that they "pay" someone to do their (biblical) thinking / praying / evangelising / caring / sacraments for them...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Something to Sing Along to...

I love choral singing, so it was a treat to be part of our church gospel choir in the carol concert we hosted at the town hall last Sunday.

Here's one of the songs we performed. Personally I think we sounded better! ;-)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Another, (Less Well Known) Reason Why Jesus Was Born in Bethelehem

A friend of mine, Pete Lovegrove, emailed me a copy of an article he wrote for his parish magazine.

Whilst it remains for most in the domain of speculation, having seen all I have seen reading the Bible cover to cover this year, it would not surprise me at all if Jesus was born around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Nor would it surprise me if the reason the shepherds were chosen to see him first was because God wanted these experts in lambing to inspect the integrity of this the true, newly born Passover Lamb.

With Pete's permission, I have posted his article below...

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Jonathan Edwards & Ice

The current winter weather with its snow and ice is a source of hilarity for some, loathing for others:

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Moses Maths

A friend forwarded me this and it made me smile:

Moses and the people were in the desert, but what was he going to do with them. They had to be fed. Logistically, Moses would have had to have 1500 tons of food each day. Requiring two freight trains, each a mile long! Moreover, they were out in the desert, so they would need firewood to use in cooking. This would take 4000 tons of wood and thus a few more freight trains.

In the News: Jesus, Sprouts and Hope

Elton John guest-edited today's edition of the Independent and among his "10 things he disliked when in his 20's but likes now" are Brussels sprouts and Jesus.

Today is Not Ashamed to be a Christian Day. Difficult to keep track of all these awareness days. Which bandwagon do I jump on again?? Missed the boat on that one. (Ouch! Double whammy of metaphor) Oh well... Could post a FB status I s'pose.

Oh and err... humans are hope machines, apparently. Of course it's nothing to do with the image of God in them and all about how random evolution cleverly made them that way. ;-)

I'm also glad that the true meaning and joy of Christmas cannot be overshadowed by any possible sprout shortage, perceived or actual.