Sunday, 31 August 2008


Goodness me, as they say! It's a wee while since I've been on my blog. The truth is I've been so busy catching up with work - you know how it is after a summer break; and in my line of business you always hope to use the summer to carry out those big projects and that blue-sky thinking you've not had time for the rest of the year. I can't say I've been more successful this year than previously.... but that's life. AND I've been partying. Which has been fun.

After the buzz of New Wine, our morning services have been distinctly more jolly (I mean, worshipful). One Sunday we had two visitors from Germany who'd looked us up on the WWW and chosen to worship here. Wow, I thought, little old Stanford in The Vale! It was so nice to feel that we are part of a worldwide family, and we really loved meeting you, Gerhild and Sabine. Thanks for coming!

Then our young people came back from five days at Soul Survivor. In one way they'd had a terrible time - camping in rain, mud to match Glastonbury, their small marquee lifted like a tissue over the caravan and twisted and torn beyond repair by the wind; BUT they survived along with 10,000 other teenagers, and actually enjoyed it (quote, 'the best time of my life'). They couldn't wait to get to worship God; they'd rush their food to get good positions. One of the adults with them said to me, 'I realised how big the Church is.' Teenagers often get a bad press, but actually they don't deserve it as a breed!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Cover story

I'm glad people like the cover. I can't take credit for it, but the designer knows her/his job, I think. There's a question about the colour of the background. Well, there WAS more pink originally, but with the longer sub-title and the quote from Andrew White reduced the wallpaper! But here's a bigger picture, so you can make up your mind.

Something I thought last night about the amazing athletes was that it's not JUST a matter of their training and tuning their bodies. They were also born with their abilities, God given, I'd say.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Ironic juxtaposition

In the last two days I've written two articles. One was for our newsletter reflecting on the Olympics. (Congratulations to Jess Harrison who came 12th in the Triathlon - respect, as I said before.) GB is doing surprisingly well. Well, I think everyone's been surprised - even though most of the medals have come on bikes or boats of one sort or another. But it's come at a price: £235 million in training our athletes. I don't begrudge it them. But it made me think about all the money we spend on entertainment.... Could it be better used? When you think of the budget for the London Olympics, £9.3 billion pounds - and did I hear right that the Beijing Olympics cost more than £20 billion? That could surely go a long way in relieving famine, providing clean water, treating HIV/AIDs?

The other article was for 'Thumbprint', the magazine of the MND Association. It was about writing my book (see above). There's an ironic juxtaposition with my donkeybody which refuses to do what I want and these incredible athletes who have trained and tuned their bodies to do exactly what they want. (How impressive is Elena Isinbaeva, the Russian polevaulter, or Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter, or the Chinese divers! I love watching them.) Anyway, I suppose I'm experiencing a sort of accelerated decline of physical fitness. But that doesn't mean life is over. In fact I wrote about my next career! So here's the book cover. Hope you like it.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Donkeys again

Our new friends from the Netherlands sent me this picture of Donkeys near Eilat in Israel. Otto tells me that the healthy looking palms are grown on recycled sewage water. Must be sermon there somewhere, but I'm frankly too tired to work out what it is. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

But seriously though

I was concerned to discover that the DLF had hee-hacked into my blog, even using my name. But since it paints rather a good picture of asinine heaven, I decided to leave it there and just say thank you for the kind remarks. Reconciliation is a lovely thing.

I suppose I'm still enjoying the after effects of the New Wine week we returned from on Saturday. What I saw and heard was remarkable - for example, vestibular nerves destroyed by radiotherapy healed during worship. The worship was impressive: a bit loud, but then it would be with thousands singing together plus all the paraphernalia of PAs. I think what impressed me was that I was surrounded by people who obviously WANTED to worship. I have to confess I did too; in fact I had unholy impatience when driving behind dawdling traffic on our way to the site in the morning!

There were sessions which majored on the upbeat aspects of faith (such as healing) but also ones on the darker side (such as desert experiences). Meanwhile we had talks on the life of Elijah given by Greg Haslam, the Scouser pastor of Westminster Chapel - which showed that all of the Bible is right up to date. I might have gravitated to the desert sessions, but I actually found the mixture a satisfying account of the mystery and greatness of God. In fact probably the most encouraging session for me was one called 'Diamonds in the Desert' (by Hils Grew, which I'm sure you can order off the internet, in due course: in which we learned that God takes into wilderness experiences BECAUSE he loves us. To find out more, get the talk.

Another good thing which happened was meeting a Dutch family, Otto, Mirjam and Anne, who came and sat in front of us - such lovely and impressive people. Anne is severely restricted, wheelchair bound and autistic, but spiritually aware and at peace, even in the crowded and noisy marquee. Even though we met them for only two days, it was a wrench saying goodbye, we felt such real friends. I think the desert is a place for such friendship.

I sense I'm not the same as I was a week ago, and that's not just because I've had a birthday.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Birthday Greetings

It has come to our attention at the DLF (Donkey Liberation Front) that it is a significant day for the author of this blog. Hence we have chosen this day to hack into the great man's account, not only to wish him happy birthday but to announce freedom and liberation to all donkeys of this nation and every nation, long live the asses!! We have a dream that donkeys of every size, shape and creed roam this fair isle peacefully, happily and with the leisure rightly afforded the noble beasts. We see a land laden with thistles, grass, carrots and sugar lumps, we see a donkey on every hill, an ass in every valley and on the furthest shore a mule rising with hope in it's heart.

Please buy 'My Donkeybody' released October 2008 (available at all good bookshops) to help make this dream become a reality.

Happy Birthday Michael Wenham.

The DLF.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The other conference

Having been off line for a day, I can write only a short entry today. (Hats off, by the way, to BT who restored our line much quicker than they said.) We're just off New Wine, a conference on the Bath & West showground at Shepton Mallet. Here are some of our friends in a lunch break, and the sleeping arrangements. Sadly, my camping days are over; so we sleep in the comfort of a holiday cottage nearby. It might look like a holiday - but, as I always like to assure people, it's more like In-Service Training for me. Seminars, lectures, and worship. So it's a CONFERENCE.

By the way, isn't it frustrating and worrying when your telephone line goes down and your broadband with it? A bit like doing without prayer. Most of us do without it a lot of the time, but it's nice to know it's there. Of course God never goes off line - though I think he does allow us to have times when it SEEMS like it.