Thursday, 18 November 2010

Here we go again...

We went away at the weekend up to Newcastle to visit some friends. It was a lovely trip and it was great to see them. Whilst we were up there they took us to Durham Cathedral, Sanctuary21 in Durham and Lindisfarne. All excellent places. The conversation turned to celtic christianity and monasticism and also how The Salvation Army fits into that.

The Salvation Army is, in many ways, an early form of neo-monasticism. It is an "order" of believers who take on a burden above and beyond that required to be a Christian.

A big part of Celtic Christianity, Monasticism and, at least the early, Salvation Army is a daily rhythm. Bizarrely we tend to have a dislike of things like a liturgical calendar or whatever, but many people actually swear by such a rhythm to their life. Having prayers and bible passages that you can recite just like that has it's benefit.

Also, by taking up such a rhythm, there is a visible constant in your life through your ups and downs, a gently reminder of the constant presence of Christ. No matter how your day, your week, your month or even your year (couldn't resist a friends quote there) the prayers are the same, gently building your faith and reminding you that the big picture is much bigger than a single person.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a long time will probably recognise a recurring theme here (hence the title of the post). I keep coming back to this idea, yet always fail to actually put it into practice.

I like the old Salvation Army terms for this practice, they used to call it Knee Drills (for prayer) and Sword Drills (for Bible reading/study). Much as other drills, they sometimes don't appear to have much link to reality - remember the drills performed by Daniel in The Karate Kid? What about the daft things that soldiers do tossing guns around? It's about making certain actions completely second nature. So it should be with prayer and study.

So, I'm once again having a crack at this. I've started reading a Bible in one year plan, although I've decided to start on the correct date than from the beginning. I'm also planning on at least 3 separate prayer times through the day - Morning, Noon and Evening. At the moment I'm not sure what prayers I'll say at what point, as it's important that at least some of those prayers be consistent, so that they can be learnt. I'll need to do some research, but I'll get back to you when I've got a plan.

Pray for me that I stick with it and establish a pattern of prayer and bible reading!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Rethinking the Desktop

WARNING: This post is extremely geeky and most like boring. I've only written it here because it's the best place I could think to show it! Don't read if operating heavy machinery...

Recently I've been reading a lot of (geeky) stuff about the state of our operating systems. In the first ( KellaByte (not her real name... at least I don't think so) talks about how boring the Desktop OS is these days and how incompatible it is with touch. The second (, a response to the Apple "Back to the Mac" event, speaking about the pains of backward compatibility.

The problem is, we're still using the interface paradigm set out by PARC back in the early seventies. We're still using the basic hardware ideas as set out in the 70s/80s. What happens when you ignore everything that went before and start all over again?

GPUs can perform some calculations considerably faster and better than an x86 processor - people are just starting to get to grips with using them for non-graphic processing. What happens if you build a processor with 4 gpu cores and 4 ARM-based cores, for instance.... what could that machine do?

Could we redesign the bus on a motherboard, could we do it better? What about memory? Could we use mixed memory types to squeeze effectively 32GB of RAM into the space taken by a single stick of 2GB? If we were to speed up the bus and the primary storage, would we still need as much RAM at all?

So, brand new hardware... what about the OS? These days, it needs to be able to fit on everything from a tablet/netbook all the way up to a 24" widescreen monitor. It needs to be built for touch, but still be mouse/keyboard compatible. It needs to be clean, simple and light (on resources). It needs to be able to be simple to use for the average user and for tablets/netbooks, but it needs to be able to knuckle down for high-end stuff (developing, multimedia etc).

The way to go is probably the Linux route - 1 underbelly with a slightly different Desktop Manager for each of the form factors. You have SomeOS Lite for the tablet/netbook/novice user, SomeOS Mobile for the upper-end of the Laptop market and SomeOS Max for the high-end desktop user.

In terms of user experience, you have an App Store - including third party pay-for apps, community developed free apps and OS updates (like an overlap of a mobile app store and the ubuntu package repositories). That way you can fairly quickly have a large collection of applications available for your new OS, despite the fact that nothing ever created before will work without some kind of emulation.

I wish I had the money to put together a team of experts and create something totally brand new. I think we'd give Apple a run for their money...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Becoming a body

So it's finally done! The document I've taken 6 months to write is done! Hoorah!

"Becoming a Body - Rethinking Church" is a quick introduction to my current thoughts on Church, on being Church and doing Church. It's an introduction to the way that I'm going to do my future thinking about Church. Finally, it's an invitation to others to also think differently about Church.

There really isn't much to show for it, but it's been difficult to get the content and tone right. Please understand that this isn't an attack on the way things are for the sake of it, but after incendiary thoughts were planted in our lives we had no choice but to investigate and we liked what we found.

Please feel free to make constructive criticism or to comment on the content - but if you don't agree, let's be grown ups and talk about it, rather than hurling insults at each other ;-)

God bless and happy reading!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Praise to the Holiest...

I just caught the end of Songs of Praise tonight to hear them singing "Praise to the Holiest in the heights".
I've always enjoyed singing the song, it's got lovely poetry and a nice tune.
Anyway, as I read the words going past I realised how much truth and power they contain! We are losing these old songs to our detriment!
To see the words take a look at:

Friday, 9 July 2010

Everyday I am swayed...

Hi all. Long time since my last post.

Confession time: I'm a sinner. I wish I wasn't but I still am. Paul sums it up well in Romans (7:15-20):
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Have had this song for a while, but decided to look up the words as I listened to it today (Shifting Sand by Caedmon's Call):
Sometimes I believe all the lies
So I can do the things I should despise
And every day I am swayed
By whatever is on my mind

I hear it all depends on my faith
So I'm feeling precarious
The only problem I have with these mysteries
Is they're so mysterious

And like a consumer I've been thinking
If I could just get a bit more
More than my 15 minutes of faith,
Then I'd be secure

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

I've begged you for some proof
For my Thomas eyes to see
A slithering staff, a leprous hand
And lions resting lazily

A glimpse of your back-side glory
And this soaked altar going ablaze
But you know I've seen so much
I explained it away


Waters rose as my doubts reigned
My sand-castle faith, it slipped away
Found myself standing on your grace
It'd been there all the time

(Chorus repeated)
My prayer? God, make me better!

Stay on the solid ground and you won't be swept around so much... time to get back some discipline and really delve into the Word.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

March On!

As someone coming from the Salvation Army I have a fondness for the Salvation Army Song Book. In reality it's probably little different for the fondness many Christians over the years have had for their hymn books...

The thing is, though, there's so much good stuff in the Song Book that we'd be foolish to chuck out the baby with the bath water. Yes tradition needs to be chucked out, it's served it's purpose but good poetry is still good poetry and truth is still truth.

Today I want to share the words of a song that I have never sung in a Salvation Army meeting, written by one of the founding pioneers, George Scott Railton. It contains words of encouragement and victory! The only reason I know these words is because they were set to a new tune and performed by the South Youth Chorus.

Just read over them a couple of times and let them sink in...

Shout aloud salvation, and we'll have another song;
Sing it with a spirit that will start the world along;
Sing it as our comrades sang it many a thousand strong,
As the were marching to Glory.

March on, march on! we bring the jubilee;
Fight on, fight on! salvation makes us free;
We'll shout our Saviour's praises over every land and sea
As we go marching to Glory.

How the anxious shout it when they hear the joyful sound!
How the weakest conquer when the Saviour they have found!
How our grand battalions with triumphant power abound,
As we go marching to Glory.

So we'll make a thoroughfare for Jesus and his train;
All the world shall hear us as fresh converts still we gain;
Sin shall fly before us for resistance is in vain,
As we go marching for Glory.

March on, march on! we bring the jubilee;
Fight on, fight on! salvation makes us free;
We'll shout our Saviour's praises over every land and sea
As we go marching to Glory.

Friday, 12 February 2010

"There is Nothing"

In the run-up to Christmas my sister asked what I wanted this year. We're very fortunate in that we don't need for much, we've pretty much got everything we need/want. I tend to ask for quite practical things for Christmas, but there wasn't much to ask for.

After thinking it through I remembered that my sister has pretty good taste in music, and after quite a long time spent working in a Christian Bookshop has a pretty good knowledge of the Christian music scene. It'd been a while since I'd got any new Christian music, so I asked for a new CD - I left the decision of what type to her.

Anyway, come Christmas I had actually forgotten this request and was surprised to find a lovely CD called "Great God Who Saves" by a woman named "Laura Story".

The CD includes a song we both love called "Indescribable" which we had at our wedding (it turns out it's actually co-written by her). But another song on the CD has caught my attention: "There is nothing" herewith the words/lyrics:

Lord I come before You
To honor and adore You
For who You are and all that You have done
Lord I am not worthy
My heart is dark and dirty
Still somehow You bid for me to come

May our time be sweeter
May I be a keeper
Of the promises I make to You in song
Lord may I remember these moments of surrender
And live my life this way from this day on

So clothe me in humility
Remind me, that I come before a King

And there is nothing
There is nothing
More precious, more worthy
May I gaze deeper
May I stand longer
May I press onward to know You Lord