see how transparent they are... for more than shells

Saturday, 17 February 2007

buisness as usual

It's pretty much business as usual here in Peckham. The murders haven't changed much.

There's always a police car speeding or the wail of a siren somewhere near or far. Most nights, helicopters. Lock your windows, lock your doors.

Walking home after dark you get used to looking over your shoulder, walking fast, clenching fists, the beat of a heart.

There's always the guys, smiling, jeering, trying to get attention. You get used to being a peice of meat.

And there's always a man peeing up the side of the telephone box at the end of my road.

There's the kids hanging out two doors down sitting on walls. Always. Hoods up when it rains. Hoods up when it shines. It's only the media that demonise.

There is more fear in Peckham now, and there have been tears. Tears mingling with the pee of the men at the telephone box.

There is high levels of poverty. The highest paid earner at my church is a charity worker and many don't know where next month's rent will come from.

One night last week there were two 'bangs' so loud our house shook and the front door broke. Our house. On the left live a family who frequently scream at each other. They have ripening plantain on a table.

The right is enhabited by a interior design couple, new money.

They're pulling down the Wood Dene estate, where the woman was murdered at the christening. They locked the guy up this week.There's a hughe purple sign on the front of it:
"New homes coming soon." HOMES not HOUSES.

The food shops are as varied as a trip around the world and there's more afro shops and hairdressers than, well, whatever my hair is called. And there's a primark.

The arts scene floruishes in the form of two funky bars, a gallery and the railway arch art studios. Rentable for a couple a hundred a month.

The local library is to be found in any book on postmodern architecture or funky designs. And Monday films at the cinema are £2.99

My local shopkeeps say hello, they give me discounts, they give me freebies.

I wouldn't live anywhere else. It's not because people are poor and needy that I live here (though everytime I step out my door I am reminded how much I have. Its a call to thankfulness and generosity)

It's not that somehow people need Jesus more, or somehow I am more godly for living in a part of London that the rest of the UK despises. That would be some form of post-colonialism and I'm not into that. Everyone needs Jesus.

I live here because it is vibrant. It's a district of multiple personalities. There is alot of fear and many people desperately want to leave Peckham. Especially those with kids. I can't big it up to be something that it's not. That would be insenstive.

But I love peckham, my church loves peckham. And we just have to keep praying for Peckham and it's people.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

The London Underground Escalator

It’s like a fine dance - embarking on the Underground escalator. The steady whir and click of the metallic steps slipping under the solid floor provides musical accompaniment, inviting me to embody its beat; whir, click, step. Whir, click…STEP.

I am on my way to someplace else, transported by a vortex of fake, sticky aired, non-place. Metal structures reflecting modern functionism, with subtle touches of fantastical science fiction, encircle above and beneath.

Signs commanding me to ‘stand on the right’ and ‘no smoking’ sit a top the central reservation like the poking of a crocodile’s head from its watery home. I hold myself ‘to the right’ in this Goffman paradise where all travellers do the same, save for the burning thighs of the busy few. But don’t stop on the left, break the rules; you’ll be ‘insane’. Rush by; careful not to touch, to blend, to affect.

A red square invites me tantalisingly to press in an emergency to ‘stop’ this process. Its rules, which in breaking have a tumultuous effect, bring out the rebellious, the teenagers who dare. Playing, joking, kissing.

I am lost in a function, another product on the conveyer belt to be moved to a destination. There’s a place for each part of my body; hands and feet catered for. At my feet I feel a play of bristling hairs. Jamming my right-hand shoe into them I wonder whether they’ll polish and shine or eject the dirt of the atmosphere. I imagine the experience of trapped shoelaces and move my foot away.

Mind wandering, engagement unnecessary, I suddenly realise I’m tilting forwards, my hand rising on it’s holding conveyor at a faster pace than my feet. Shuffling my hand downwards, I’m drawn out of my dream back into the function, the vortex, the science.

At regular intervals to my left, screens demand my vision to shift from front facing. Bright bold colours juxtapose the consistent silver Underground standard, moving and dancing in a dizzy like fashion. Angled perfectly for maximum viewing, yet what is that? Are they upright or leaning? A confusion of space, proxemics, degrees.

The adverts roll through on a loop slower than my bodily motion up the tunnel. My eyes flick from screen to screen; catching the end of one, the beginning of another; there’s no possibility to stop and stare. An accumulation of images requires my imagination to rustle through; picking, choosing, making sense.

Increasing advertising space opens up possibilities, addresses the consumer, confuses the consumer. Makes the consumer feel giddy.

This ritual, the ‘on’ and the ‘off’, becomes an urgent situation at the top. Have I embodied the rhythm effectively or will I prove myself impermeable to such a dance, resulting in my shame? Catch the beat, concentrate, hold it; whir, click, step. Whir, click….STEP.
Knowing the terror of the Lord should drive you to your knees. When you see the lost, plead with God for them. Be like Christ--"Forgive them for they know not what they do." - Desiring God Blog

Monday, 12 February 2007

happy valentines

How easy it is to look in the wrong places. To see ourselves with needs, psychological needs, as love cups that need filling. With expectations placed on others to fix us, to bring us all that we need we will always be dissapointed and we will always live in selfishness and shame.

Our need is not for other people. But to rightly understand God and how he sees us. To fear him; his holiness his awesomeness. And fall in love with his purity, his mercy, his grace.

Our need is to understand that we exist for God's glory and our relationships are to bring glory and to build his church. There is also great pleasure in loving and being loved. And that is delightful.

Also, how often, whilst accepting that when we come to Jesus we may not get rich materially, simulataneously expect that Jesus will make us emotionally well and happy by our undertsanding of 'how amazing God thinks we are'. There is a real flaw in that method We need that 'pyschological need' for approval smashed by the message of the gospel.

"When the cup of psychological needs is being smashed, one of our remainsing shapes is a cup. This cup is not, however, a cup that says "Jesus make me happy," or "Jesus make me feel better about myself." It is a cup that simply says, "I need Jesus. I am a spiritual beggar who cannpt pray, obey, or even have physical life apart from the love of Christ." "I am dead apart from Christ, and I need his grace every moment." For these needs Jesus pours out his love to such an extent that it is impossible for any one person to contain it.

We nedd to be a corporate body, smitten with the glory of God, committed to the unity of the church, deluged by his love, and faithful as we walk togeher in obedience to him, even in our suffering. We need to need other people less and love other people more." (E.T. Welch)

for my four readers. score.

Your Name:
My name:
Summarize me in three words:
Where did we meet:
Take a stab at my middle name:
How long have you known me:
When is the last time that we saw each other:
Do I drink?:
Do I smoke:
Am I happy:
Am I a good person:
What was your first impression of upon meeting me/seeing me:
What's one of my favorite things to do:
Am I funny:
How do you make me smile:
What's my favorite type of music:
Have you ever seen me cry:
Can I sing?:
What is the best feature about me:
Am I shy or outgoing:
Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules:
Do I have any special talents:
Would you call me preppy, average, sporty, punk, hippie, glam, nerdy, snobby, or something else (what):
I'm hot? Am I not? Go ahead, you can say ... : dancing. Probably.
Have you ever hugged me:
Kissed me?:
What is my favorite food:
Have you ever had a crush on me:
Am I dating anyone:
If there was one good nickname for me, what would it be:
What's your favorite memory of me:
Who do I like right now:
What is my worst habit:
If you and I were stranded on a desert island, what is the one thing I would bring?
Are we friends:
Do you want us to be more than friends?
Do I believe in God?
Am I family oriented?
Who is my best friend? Will you repost this so I can do it?

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

your wants desires needs and wishes will be duly noted

The question is, am i being irrational? Are my expectations too high? I frequently find myself asking this question in a situation where I feel irritated or hurt and I just don't know if I have expected too much of the person. I have 'needed' their love more than I should.

I am reading 'When people are big and God is small' at the moment and it's excellent. It addresses this issue of needs and desires, wants and expectations; when people becme too big in our worlds and God becomes small. When we start to need people rather than just desire relationship and use it to encourage godliness and bring glory to God through it.

Bringing glory to God. Even that desire is so mixed. When i 'desire' to bring glory to God how much of that is more from a selfish ambition that i know that when i do so i will be most satisfied? And actually God's glory isn't my top priority. Or is all that an oxymoron?

Whatever the case is, I know i frequently need people too much. I fear them and I don't fear God. I am selfish with my relationships expecting people to do things for me, and even in my acts of generosity with time and money, i expect others to return those favours with love and appreciation, or indeed the same kind of generosity when I am in need.

The question is, what does it look like to cultivate healthy, God-honouring relationships? I don't just create relationships with the express aim of bringing glory to God and loving that person. There surely is a sense that for it to be healthy it has to be two way. How much to expect therefore? And how much to let go? When am in my rights to say I don't think I am being cared for that well? Am i ever in my rights to do so?


Friday, 2 February 2007

thats a lot of massacres in a week

So two nights after seeing 'The Last Kind of Scotland' I went to see 'Blood Diamond'. From the evil dictatorship of Amin in Uganda to the killing fields of Sierra Leone over diamond trade. That's a lot of sin viewing, stomach churning, children killing action in a week. Mo has blogged about the film and his words echo my thoughts with extra Biblical clarity:

"However, I do generally find that films like this which graphically show us people doing terrible things to each other make me have existential crises of a sort. How CAN God let evil terrorist groups seeking their own wealth chop children's arms off to make their political point? How CAN people be that evil, and we still claim God is sovereign over it? I guess I'd be a rubbish Christian (or, an even more rubbish Christian) in a war zone.

Interestingly the day after (after, if I'm honest, not sleeping very well thinking about children being deliberately maimed in wars) I beetled off to Wales to do a team day on Malachi.

Now, Malachi is all about people who are going through the motions of being God's people but not with their whole hearts, and so God is pretty angry.
As you go through the book it appears one of the reasons that they are like that is because they don't believe that God is against the wicked. The evil prosper. Which is one of the reasons that I guess I'd doubt God a lot more if I had to witness real obvious evil outside of my middle class cocoon.
What's interesting about Malachi is that having those questions under the surface and allowing them to filter the way you serve God is disastrous. Don't trust God's love and promises? You won't really want to serve God whole heartedly. Don't think God cares about justice and honesty? You won't be just or honest. Don' t think God can really be trusted to run the world? You won't entrust him with your money or life.

So how does God answer? Well, pretty complicatedly. But he says, I will judge and I will purify. Evil WILL be dealt with, by my purifying judging messenger. The cross, basically is all we can look at and hold on to to believe God really is committed to judging fairly. I suppose, post-cross, I have more reason to believe that even than Malachi's hearers, who hadn't seen God's demonstration of justice and probably saw worse atrocities in real life than I'll ever see on screen. But God says it is enough, in fact, to say otherwise is to be "harsh against him".

I guess I can't just let my worries about justice and my sick stomach at child soldiers round the world just bubble below the surface until they suck the life out of my service of God. I have to stake the heart of those questions with a big wooden cross, and be as committed to justice as God is. And trust him with the rest because he is God, and has proved that he will deal with sin by judging and purifying.

Blood Diamond insists, despite all the evidence in the film to the contrary, that bad people can turn good. I'd rather place my faith in God who has gone out of his way to prove his justice. I pray I can hold on to that cross, standing their, cutting history in two when I'm seeing it and experiencing it away from the cinema. It's hard though"


Sometimes though I am left asking the question, "is the sacrifice just too high?"

walk this way

They say that when a door shuts, a window opens. My house has lots of doors, shut doors and seemingly no windows.

There's something demoralising about that. Today I was approached by one of the full-time student union officers and asked to run for one of the positions. What a priviledge. Stroking my ego as we speak. But I can't if I want to stay with Pod. And slam, a door shuts.

But it's ok...whilst I fight feeling demoralised I actually do feel at peace. For, as Pod said "Doors shutting is just God's way of caring for us, as hard as it feels." And he's right. I think.

At the end of the day what does it matter? What does it matter what I do in September? What I do with the rest of my life provided I am gospel hearted and passionate for Jesus; living and speaking for him, being generous with what I have and giving to those in need.

"This is what I require of you, declares the Lord, to love mercy, act justly and walk humbly before your God."

I have a giant window open and the air is blowing freely in. It's called being a son of God.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

it really is as shit as romans says

The world really is as bad as Romans says it is. Sometimes, in my quiet little middle class life it's easy to forget the disgusting abhorence of sin can and does produce.

Last night I saw "The Last King of Scotland" and it was shocking. What were my fellow cinema goers feeling as they walked out? What do they do with the emotion they feel when confronted with the horrors of sin? Get angry at the government? Feel self-righteous? Eventually shrug it off and bury themselves in life? Go out to another country and in an act of post-colonialism (?) 'make a difference'?

But what, if all we can do is just say "yep, sin in the world really does make it that shit. Oh how we need Jesus."

The film made me believe the gospel more. It left me with 3 responses - a call to worship God for his mercy and jusitce, a call to proclaim the judegment of sin and the wonder of forgiveness and finally, get off my arse and engage more in both finding out, praying for and being generous in world affairs.