Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blog Update

A few changes to my blog:

Ben Jackson and Mike McCredie are out. I like to think I've been patient up until now but it's simply been too long. Nothing from Mike since July 31st and nothing from Ben since July 6th (if he thinks for one moment that I'm going to count "I'll blog soon" and "here's a question I found from a book - discuss" as credible posts then he is sorely mistaken - lazy toerag).
Taking their places are:

Becky Wainthropp - My beautiful cousin who, like the rest of my family, I don't get to see nearly enough. She's getting married in the not too distant future and I've met the guy, like, once. Anyway, she has a good blog (despite the pinkness) and it's worth checking out. (P.S. Her name isn't really Wainthropp. I'm just trying it out to see if it sticks.)

Kirsty - Kirsty, much to her family's horror, was born without a surname. After months of painful surgery, the name Bolchett was attached but soon fell off after a bicycle accident. On legal forms, she puts her name down as Kirsty Kirsty. Kirsty is a good friend and former partner in crime (if only they would legalise drama lessons) although she has recently left me to continue her work with MI5 (she tortures terrorists for information). Kirsty's is a deep and thought provoking blog (kind of like this one - but the opposite).

I've posted another bit of writing in my ever slowly growing anthology. I wrote Amazing Grace for a Songster weekend last Saturday and got some positive feedback so I thought I'd post it here.

I think that's it for now.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My First Crack at Driving.

Well after setting myself the challenge to drive within a year I'm off to a flying start 3 months later after having had my first lesson yesterday morning.

It was fun.

I didn't actually start until we were 50 minutes into the 2 hour lesson. I was staying with Matt Leeder the night before and we got stuck in traffic on the way to the lesson so I was 25 minutes late. I then got to the guy who was to be my instructor and he drove me exactly (and I mean exactly) the way I came which meant getting stuck in exactly the same traffic as I'd already been stuck in and then finding out that we could have met there and had an extra 50 minutes of driving knowledge impartation. Grrr.

But it was a good lesson and I thought I did pretty darn well considering it was my first time ever (I didn't stall once). I'll have this license by the 27th July no problem.

Friday, October 13, 2006

My First Crack at Apologetics.

This Wednesday a number of us (that number being eight) went into William de Ferrers High School to take part in a sixth form conference type thingy to discuss suffering and the existence of God. On one side was atheistic philosophy professor Stephen Law, insisting that the Judeo Christian God could not exist alongside so much suffering. And batting for the other team (as it were) were us, an army of Christian youth workers, church pastors and scientists prepared to take on and defeat the moral indecencies and intellectual inconsistencies of this misguided professor. We had one problem, however. He was better than us.

Let me explain. The day wasn't in the form of a debate infront of a group of 16-18 year olds. Rather they split into two groups each (we had the year 13s in the morning and the year 12s in the afternoon) with one group staying with Professor Law (in the school's perfectly designed presentation room) while the other group came with us (with our army) into the school's brightly lit, projector incompatible, will become impossible to hear anything once it starts raining (which it did), anti-teaching friendly conservatory. So already we're at a disadvantage (but then we do have an army to level things out) but it turns out to be for the best. Without the means to deliver a decent presentation, we had to rely on group work and conversations. This was brilliant. Throughout the day I had some great thinkers come into my group and debate some of the issues on suffering. Most of them were quite outwardly atheistic (although some, in their atheism, sill disagreed with what the philosophy professor was saying which I thought was interesting) and it was great to be able to talk to them and challenge some of their views and encourage them to rethink certain things that they had taken for granted. It was fantastic and I loved it.

But the real treat came at lunch time and then again at the end of the day when our army of Christians were left in a room with the godless professor. Now it deserves noting at this point that he was actually a really nice guy and, for the most part, the debate continued quite amicably. But there were still eight Christians and one atheist. Imagine, if you will, eight children, each with their favourite playstation game in their hands. And in the otherwise empty room in which they gather is a single playstation - with one controller. Now imagine a similar scenario except the children are adults. And instead of a computer game, they're clutching their favourite indisputable argument for the existence of God. And instead of a playstation, there is an atheistic philosopher called Stephen Law. I think you get the picture.

I didn't get too long a go on him but for a while, during lunch time (before another one of the kids came along and took out my Crash Bandicoot Racing and put in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), I was arguing with a professor about the existence of God - and I loved it. Now I'm no apologeticist and, had he had the time, he would no doubt have chewed me up and spat me, ever so metaphorically, out. But for that brief period of time, we were arguing and it wasn't completely one-sided. He seemed to respect my points. He particularly liked one of my analogies. And at the end of it all, I realised that I had been arguing, philosophically, with a guy with a PhD in philosophy, and I wasn't completely laughed out of the room. I was making him think. I was making him argue back. I was, for a good 5-10 minutes, up there in his league.

Now maybe I could put this down to my natural intelligence or the fact that I simply had truth on my side. But I believe God was with me, not giving me the tools and the arguments to completely demolish this guy perhaps (although I have thought up so many great arguments since - typical) but I do believe he was with me, making sure I didn't do anything to make Him look stupid. On the whole, this guy was far better than any of us in terms of constructing an argument or making our arguments look invalid or making our existences look invalid. This guy had 15 years experience doing what he does. I, on the other hand, had had 15 days. He could have destroyed us in a debate. The fact that he didn't, is proof enough for me in the existence of God.

Friday, October 06, 2006

My First Crack at Evangelism.

Right. So it's been a couple of weeks now since I started working with SYM (Schools and Youth Ministries) and thus far I've yet to do any of 'S' and have only done a little bit of 'Y' and 'M'. I'm still finding my feet it would seem. Most of my time has been spent in the office (which, if I'm honest, kinda suits me coz the idea of taking lessons is still a bit scary) eating biscuits, planning lessons and, well, eating biscuits. It's going alright but I'm aware that I haven't really started proper yet. And the closer I get to doing the schools work, the more I realise that this is going to be a real challenge. One of the things that I've always known is going to be somewhat uncomfortable for me is the transition between discipleship ministry and evangelism. Pretty much all of my youth work experience (and indeed most of my church experience in general) has been with Christian people. I like Christian people. There's a less likely chance that they'll thump you when you say "Jesus". And so while I may be comfortable in speaking to Christian teenagers about God, I've never been the kind of guy who is breaking the front door down so he can get to the unsaved and unrepentant sinner and bless them with his wisdom. So this job, while being necessary in its scariness, is frightening the ever-loving pants off of me.

This afternoon, I had my first attempt at an evangelistic ministration. I went in with a guy from the Gideons to help him deliver some bibles to a school that's within my remit (i.e. a school in Chelmsford). We had the afternoon assembly in which he spoke a bit about the bible, I then gave my testimony, saying what the Gideon bible has meant to me and he then wrapped up and we gave the bibles to the kids as they left the hall. The thing is, what I'd planned to say kind of relied on my being funny and cool. I was going to talk about how I remembered what it was like having the Gideon people round our school and how I thought they were complete losers but it's alright coz since that time, I've discovered that reading the bible is a good thing and they'll listen to that and respect that and go away reading their bibles coz I'm funny and cool. But as I walked in front of them and opened my mouth, holding the little red bible in my left hand and got ready to save Chelmsford something occurred to me. As I stood there, speaking and watching them sniggering and rolling their eyes, it hit me. I'm the complete loser now. I'm that guy who goes round trying to be funny and cool so that I can relate to da kidz. And it dawned on me that regardless of who I actually am or what the truth is, in their eyes I was no more than a young, surprisingly attractive, religious weirdo who's not worth taking seriously. And no amount of clever jokes or witty anecdotes was going to convince them otherwise. And I have to come to terms with that. If I want to be a Christian leader, I'm going to have to be weird. And I'm going to have to let people think that I'm weird. And I'm going to have to walk around the town with a Tesco's bag in each hand (each filled with hair-nets and dog food) and shout at passing teenagers, demanding to know why they're not in school on a Saturday afternoon (just like St Paul would have done).