We believe in Jesus so everything is going to work out!

I sometimes wonder whether that is underneath a lot of what we believe…. even we enlightened, ever so holy, knowledgeable preacher-types…


I was reading an interview a few days back with Phil Vischer who was the head of Big Idea productions. They put out ‘Veggie Tales’ which was one of the few ‘Christian’ programmes made ‘across the pond’ that I could watch without all the enamel coming off my teeth (sorry- I am a grumpy Brit with an over developed crap-detector)- in fact I usually enjoyed it. He was talking about how that company crashed the day after the launch party for their first film.

He said this:-

‘The movie became about me wanting God to put a stamp of approval on my ambition. And he didn’t. He declined my invitation. Sometimes the best way to grow is to lose and to fail dramatically and publicly’.


I wonder if that is what happens on Sunday: ‘God put a stamp on this sermon/worship…bless me and make me be a success’. Not just on Sunday; any other initiative. Wonder if sometimes he wants us to just crash and burn?

Hand me that Bible…. I’m looking for the word ‘success’ and I don’t see it. I wish it was more straightforward…..

Note: December 2010- this page seems to be getting a lot of hits right now: it’s great to have you!

I’m just curious as to why- so I’d love a comment of two, whether good or bad.

The rationale for what I do and why I blog will appear on 06/12/10, so have a look and see what you think!

Scenes of Irony Part 2


I love August. I make it a rule not to have evening meetings in August and to chill. You know: see people I don’t usually: ‘Who are you….I know your face?’ ‘I’m your wife, Graham’.

One of the pleasures is to occasionally lie comatose on the sofa watching bad TV. There is a lot of bad TV. I watched part of a programme with a title like ‘You have no soul and an empty life: why not buy a more expensive house- that would be good wouldn’t it?’ (OK I made that one up- but I think you know the type of programme).

They showed us round a nice house (Actually, I am no judge of that- I live in a methodist manse. ‘Nice house’ to me means it has a roof and windows that don’t leak an an absence of budget 1955 carpets….)…. tastefully done. So tasteful in fact that there only seemed to be about 5 books in the house, arranged symetrically on the mantlepiece. The middle book was ‘A simple life’ by Mother Teresa.

Is it just me, but I turned the TV off at that moment with a mixture of extreme anger and maniacal laughter (it is hard to do the 2 together: cheap red wine does help)……. is that what the worst excess of ‘sprituality’ means….it looks good on the mantlepiece and makes me feel better?

At best- that is why I’m part of a church. I get confronted week by week to stop making spirituality/religion/faith /whatever something that fits into my life and makes me feel ‘nice’. At best, it points me on a Jesus way……..I think if I had a faith but did not connect with a church I’d very quickly start lying and pretending to myself (see my Annie Dillard quote of a day or two ago).

And just as I demolish the evils of this world and bad TV with a preacherly air and bask in the smug glow of self-righteousness, I begin thinking ‘Hang on….. the way you follow Jesus often seems like ‘Me me’ and you try to mould someone that is uncomfortable into a cuddly love bunny’.

D’oh…think I may have to go on amazon and order several books/products/cds to help me in the quest for a simple life………. D’oh… I fell into my own trap again….

Scenes of Irony part 1


….last week, visiting someone in hospital who is younger than me. For over 50% of his life he has been in and out of hospital and the dreams he had at 16 are broken forever. In the last 2 years, his parents have been called to the hospital at least twice as it was feared his life would end. He knows his future is uncertain. He remains one of the most grounded and faithful people I know. He always makes me feel better….he makes most people who see him feel better.

So I’m visiting- he knows what is happening, I know what is happening and what his prognosis is. I think of his parents- ground down by what they are going through. On the radio in the background, Lily Allen singing ‘It’s not fair’. I think the song was about a failed relationship/bad sex. I’m thinking what I see in front of me is not fair…. much much less ‘not fair’ than what you are singing about…….

(and even more ironically- I still think that it is a good song….even if its sentiments are not exactly the type I would talk about in an average sermon).


I wish I had said that…part 2

Catching up on old blog postings when I came back from holiday, I came across this:-

‘Fishing is a good illustration: you catch fish by bringing the fish into the boat with the net, but before you bring the fish in, you have to go to where the fish are. Some churches are like fishing boats on a hillside, throwing their nets onto the grass and praying ‘bring them in Lord’.’



I just love the way that language works and the imagery.

I fear that I may be guilty of this, just occasionally. Trouble is, it feels so safe on the grassy hill, not like that nasty wet grey rough thing down there. Excuse me, I have to work through my fishing blogs and my book on the experiences of fishers. Too busy to fish today and tomorrow is full of meetings about net construction, gill definition and shoal studies…..

I wish I had said that…part 1


Discovered this in the comments field of asbojesus (see links)

‘You know you’ve created God in your image when he hates all the same people you do.’

Anne Lamott

I wish I had said that……. conversely ‘You know when you have created God in your own image when he likes all the stuff that you do’. Now I did say that. Just then.

see comment 11 http://asbojesus.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/774/#comments

Pre-U2 conundrum

Ok- this is a practically serious posting. Just for a day or so I’m renouncing the heinous sin of levity.


(image from   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/__JJO6xQURIk/SQJGkniSQZI/AAAAAAAAAkI/slQVBrIbSp4/s400/duffbotblog_repent.jpgI’m not sure it is original to that posting/blog)

So there I was with my mate , it is just before 5pm and the gates are just about to open to the concert. There are 100s of people milling around. A man begins to walk down the street. He is carrying a banner. On the front it says something like ‘Christ Jesus came to save sinners’. On the back it says something that includes the words ‘Comfort ye all men’. It looks like it is from the King James’ Bible.

I turned away: I didn’t want anything to do with it. I think I was embarrassed.

A whole host of thoughts are going through my head; most of which contradict each other:-

** It says something in scripture about not worrying about motive- the word is getting out; so that must be ok, right?

** This guy was doing something to get the message out to lots of people. I was just at a gig.

** This guy needs supporters/ pray-ers- not right on Methodist Ministers who turn their backs.

** Surely his approach puts people off- completely?

** There are a lot of people here having fun, and maybe through U2, open to spirituality….how about an approach that is in harmony with that: ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, but I’m following someone’ (and then a picture of a cross) etc. (Forgive me: I’m writing this post at speed- given time I’m sure I could come up with something better).

** How about blessing people without (appearing to) condemning them? Say- handing out free water or ironic/cringe free tracts or stickers (I can’t think of any, but give me time).

** If you are going to use the KJV as it does not commit the sin of being in a language anyone can actually understand or being gender inclusive, why not go the whole hog and have it in the proper original Greek?

Help me out- shed some light on my conundrum- what would you have done in my position?

Well; what did you expect me to blog on today?

I had another U2 related post in mind for today: I’ll let it marinate for a day or two…..

(Note to readers from the USA and other places: this post has references of a cricket related nature. I could apologise (a British hobby) but I won’t. I can’t)

the ashes 2009

England 2 Australia 1 is all I need to say today.

Well, I’ll say more; blogging is after all an excess of many words when only a few will do. My wife has frequently said ‘Why are you getting worked up: it is only a game of cricket?’ A game! A game! Grrrr. It is like saying (of the Berlin Wall falling) that someone has demolished a wall or something in Germany or (of Mandela being released) that some African politician has been on the TV walking somewhere.

Test cricket is more than a game and the apogee of that; England v Australia is ….well…. the apogee (and that is the first time I have used the word ‘apogee’ twice in a sentence in my life). If there is a game played in heaven, it will be cricket. If heaven is a place of peace and justice, England will be playing and constantly beating Australia IMHO.

If another country had been in the position of England yesterday morning (ie certain to win barring an incredible turnaround), people would have been throwing parties and having barbeques in anticipation of watching a famous victory. As anyone who follows England knows, in cricket or any other sport, we have an ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory….. I spent the day biting the stem of my metaphorical umbrella.

It nearly proved the case today; I was too nervous to watch. In fact I was at a church meeting and then leading worship… this was a relief. Of course, leading God’s people in worship is the highest calling known to people….so my focus was totally on heaven………..and my phone where my friend was texting updates (actually it was mostly on my phone).

I’m stopping there; I am overcome with joy and struggling even to focus on U2…..

A pause from U2 for a day…

You have probably already seen this, but this is for all of us today who have prayed:-

‘Be present with us today God’

‘I really pray that you would be part of our meeting’

‘Come into our presence now Lord Jesus’ (nb: when ‘maranatha’ is used in the NT, it is in the sense of ‘I hope that you will come again and end this longing/groaning of all creation to be made complete’, not ‘be present here, now, at 10.30am ‘cos we happen to be here’).

asbo be here

I’ve recovered a bit… but not much

I couldn’t talk/blog about what I’d experienced at Sheffield at the U2 360 tour straightaway. Sometimes I think it is best to experience something and take time before you write/talk.

This ain’t a concert review: others do that better.

You could criticize it: sponsored by Blackberry, poor transport links (my all-time record from leaving a concert to hitting moving traffic), huge carbon footprint, a bit Spinal Tap ish….. but as someone once sang ‘Take this mouth: so quick to criticize’. It is the easiest thing in the world to watch swimmers and point out what they could do better without being a swimmer or even getting wet.



It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever entered into or been a part of. I was already choking back tears by the end of ‘Elbow’: ending a set with ‘Tower Crane Driver’ and ‘One Day like this’ as the sun begins to fall in a pure blue sky is almost too perfect. Doing it with excellent musicianship, working the crowd and having a clear idea that you are the support but that you are comfortable with it makes it even better. Being comfortable with who you are seems to make it easier to serve I guess.

I had reset my emotional indicators to ’11’ to cope with the state I was in (Unless you have seen ‘Spinal Tap’ that remark will be incomprehensible)…unfortunately this was no help as the next bit was comfortably a ’15’ or even a ’20’. I think it helped as I got in early with a friend and we were about 10 yards back, just under ‘the claw’.

The negatives– standing in the same spot for 5 hours does nothing for 43 year old knees, no easy access to toilets (for the first 40 yards back from the stage there were no crushed beer bottles) so it was a place for the iron-bladdered.

The positives– Too many to count. The most viscerally thrilling concert experience ever. You had to be less British- you had to pogo, to wave arms in the air etc. It was hard to be an observer and reflect dispassionately. Even I became almost engaged. Actually I did- got totally lost in the moment (I’m wondering if to many of us are too often in the seats watching froma distance…)

I hear the new stuff, cut in with some old- I love it, I’m losing it. And then ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, ‘Unforgettable Fire’, ‘Beautiful Day’ and the song that will be played at my funeral: ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’. At that point I lost the plot. One of those moments where I wanted to cry out ‘Take me Lord- life can’t possibly get any better’.

I’m stopping there- I’d give it a 6 (at least) out of 5.

spaceballu2 claw sheffU2-in-Washington-DC-001u2 claw sheff

 (ok- that doesn’t look a lot like Sheffield, but pretend….. better still…try this stream http://www.flickr.com/photos/15288088@N03/sets/72157621972300959/)