June 25, 2007

He lifted me

Yesterday’s Piazza concert was not a warm fuzzy experience for me, I’m afraid. After standing around in the rain like a muppet during soundcheck we decided that sharing the bass playing was not going to work. Plus, my voice gave up during “Holonofatsa”, so I was left feeling decidedly flat afterwards.

A new day, though.
To Westwood this morning for room checks, and “He Reigns” going round in my head, I just felt the whole thing lifted from me.

You often read how some ancient song “sounds as fresh as if it was written yesterday”. Well, try this 3000-year old song:

I waited patiently for the LORD
He turned to me and heard my cry
He lifted me from the pit [which I had dug myself into]
and gave me a new song to sing…
(Psalm 40 – bit in square brackets added by me)

Our God is an Awesome God.

April 22, 2007

An overcomer – Rev 12.11

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6568911.stm

This week's news has been dominated by the events at Virginia Tech, but for the small group of Christians in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, another event has sent shockwaves over the country. In Malatya, eastern Turkey, a  Christian publisher's office was attacked by a gang of thugs who tied up the staff before slitting their throats.

I would like to say I knew one of the victims. In fact, in my six-and-a-half years in Izmir, I probably met Necati three or four times, and all I can really remember is that he knew my name, which I was quite impressed by, considering how rubbish I am at remembering names.

But among the 100 or so Izmirli who have come from a muslim background and embraced the gospel, he was held in high regard as one who had faced arrest, false charges and the Turkish justice system - yet still went on and did what he believed God had called him to do.

He will be very much missed.

March 04, 2007

Do you know what you are?

5 out of 5 stars

This is such a darned good album that I had to write a review of it sooner or later.
Jars of Clay are an American Christian band, comprising four guys who met in college. None of them play bass or drums, and only seem to recruit said instrumentalists for recording or touring. This may seem strange, but I believe it makes for a more focussed group. Why have a permanent bassist/drummer just because every body else does?

To the album,then. Jars songs reflect a God who is not afraid to look down with compassion on this Earth. “Even Angels Cry” tackles homelessness and drug addiction in a very sensitive way, while the Elvis-like “Mirrors and Smoke” tells us the things we may not like to hear about romantic relationships. (“You always make me cry but that’s what true love is all about”)

The title track, which is on YouTube here challenges the tendency towards inertia in the Christian community:
“All the good monsters rattle their chains
And dance around the open flames
They make a lot of empty noise
While all of the bright eyes turn away
As if there wasn’t anything to say
About the justice and the mystery…... ”
is about an inward looking group who only, it seems, turn up to have a good time “worshipping” (if that’s what it is) while the difficult issues get ignored. This is the heart of the challenge “Do you know what you are?” The songs themselves are not judgmental in a holier-than-thou sense, but Jars themselves confess and repent: “We are bored with all that we know”, “We are slaves of all the things we love”.

“Light gives Heat” gives an example of another issue that the church IS addressing to a degree – globalisation and cultural imperialism, which seem to go hand in hand. (This year we are celebrating the bicentennial of the law outlawing the slave trade, at least in the UK. It took Wilberforce and his friends 20 years of overcoming discouragement, entrenched attitudes/interests and parliamentary inertia, to achieve this. Are you ready for a 20-year battle to “Make Poverty History”?)

Only in one or two songs do the Jars address more direct subject matter. “Oh my God” is a straight “How long, O Lord” cry from the heart about the state of a fallen world, while “All my tears” reminds us that no matter what, when this life is over, we will get to meet the One who loves us like no other.

You won’t find this in HMV/Virgin/Fopp, and you certainly won’t hear it on Radio One I’m afraid. Most mainstream retail outlets avoid Christian music, either because it is Christian and therefore very non-PC, or maybe they just think they can’t make any money selling it. If I wasn’t so cynical perhaps I could believe the latter, but….. At least Amazon don’t seem to be as choosy. And if you want a couple of samples, you can go to YouTube. Either way…. essential listening.

February 15, 2007

Your God?

Is this the God you want?
One that you can ignore all your life
(as you drink/smoke/snort/screw)
And then blame when everything goes wrong
Finally to be dismissed as non-existent
Because he didn’t do what you wanted him to do
When you wanted him to do it?

Well, you’re almost right.
God doesn’t exist.
Not that God anyway.

And, Oh!!!!! the very idea
That you should live the way someone else wants you to
There goes the “Personal Freedom” alarm bell
Someone’s going to get locked up
Or P.C.’d on from a great height

Stalin, Mao and Hitler
Were so good at using their personal freedom
They and their minions
Killed 100 million people.
But you can go ahead and bang on
About how religion causes all the problems.
Far be it from me
To limit your personal freedom.

Why should The Living God
Invite you to His party?
Oh, yes. There is one, you know.
It’s decorated with Joy
With large helpings of Hope
And the truth of Salvation
Is enough to make anyone want to dance.
God wanted us to come
Enough to send His own son to invite us
And to pay the price for us to get there.

Not all Christians are perfect
In fact, I haven’t met one who is, yet.
God invites people who are far from perfect
To His party.
Just as well, really.
It means that you can go as well
If you really want to

October 29, 2006

Bald face blues

I woke up this morning to find that what I had assumed was my moustache and beard had woken up and crawled off my face during the night.

I was greatly shocked by this as I had got quite attached to it. There was no sign of it anywhere.

I’ve tried to get in touch with the Natural History Museum in London, (but there’s no-one there with it being Sunday) and BBC News hung up when I called them.

Meanwhile little children cry at me and my daughter says I look like a Vogon.

Has anybody else experienced this sort of thing?

October 13, 2006

Once upon a time…..

... England used to have a decent manager. His name was Sven. His teams didn’t win every game, but usually managed to come up with the goods when it mattered.
Then the tabloids came along and decided that it would be a good way of selling newspapers if they slagged Sven off and hounded him out of his job. The weak and useless F.A., scared of the criticism that may come their way if they stood up for their man, duly obliged and got rid of him.
Along came Smoggie McLaren who, fresh from his triumph (keeping the Boro in the Premiership), was appointed manager solely, it seems, on the basis of being English.
The results are there for all to see. After the disaster of finishing in the last 8 at the World Cup, it now seems like getting into the last 32 in Europe maybe beyond our abilities.
And who are the tabloids blaming? Are they going to admit their part in this fiasco?
Don’t hold your breath…

September 21, 2006

Any Syd Barrett/early Floyd junkies?

Look at this

It’s a tribute band called Darkside
They are playing at a festival in Brighton on Saturday (23rd) so, if you’re in the area, and want to finish the hols on a high note….

August 26, 2006

An Odyssey with Linux II

Got the Ubuntu 6.06 LTS "Live/Install" CD (via Personal Computer World).
Put it in, fired it up. Eventually, it's there! Yes! With wallpaper that makes me want to go and eat a Galaxy Ripple. But it's so s–s–s–s–l–o–o–o–o–o–o–o–o–w–w–w! Reminds me of the DOS emulator on the old Acorn Archimedes, where you could actually watch the screen being painted. Thankfully my experience with Red Hat tells me this is not normal Linux speed.
OK. I have quick kip while I'm waiting for it to sort itself out (I am at home) and then start the installation. I have two 40 gig hard drives, one with Win98 on it, so I swap them to make this the Primary Slave, and put Linux on the drive which is now the Primary Master. That way I should still be able to boot to either drive, and if the Linux installation bombs it hopefully won't take out my Win98 installation with it.
About an hour later it's on. And running at a decent speed. w007!
The text is a bit small. Turns out its on 1600×1200 resolution. When I try to change to another resolution, it goes back to the sign–in screen. At 1600×1200. Is this a driver problem? Good job I've got a 21 inch monitor.
Also, there's no root account in Ubuntu. Whose bright idea was that?! It won't even let me copy files from my other hard drive or my CD ROM. How do I get round this? I've just figured out the only way to edit system files is by typing

sudo gedit

at a terminal screen. But surely there are ways other than terminal to copy loads of files over. What's the point of having a GUI otherwise?

I hardly dare say this, but it seems the horrid yellow boxes have also invaded Linux…...

July 28, 2006

An odyssey with Linux

How long can you have a conversation with somebody about something? Chances are a few minutes, if you can be bothered, and you already know a bit about the topic in question.

Ok, so what happens when discussing Linux with a penguin–head? Ten seconds? Even if you have a modicum of knowledge, it seems to encourage them to go deeper and deeper into it until you’re well and truly lost. And what happens then, is that if you showed a bit of initial interest, they took it as permission to ramble on endlessly, ignoring your body language (such as shuffling in the opposite direction…).

Linux has definitely got its attractions. Mainly, it’s free, and that * Microsoft lot haven’t found a way of making any money out of it yet. (and SCO are trying even harder).

It’s just that my attempts at installing it, and getting it to do what I want, have not been successful. I’ve always foundered in a sea of devs, vars, etcs, dhcps…the list is endless.
Linux to me is like walking around a marquee, trying to find the entrance, and becoming more and more convinced there isn’t one. The few times I’ve spotted a gap, I’ve looked through, only to find that there is another * marquee inside, again with no sign of an entrance.

Anyway, I’m not best pals with Windows XP. Not only am I really racked off with those little yellow boxes that keep appearing every time I let my mouse pointer stay in the same place for more than a second – what are they called, by the way? They always cover up the bit I want to read.
BUT ALSO Microsoft have stopped supporting Windows 98, even though I am quite happy with it, and my machine hardly ever crashes these days.

Let me put it another way. My house is 97 years old. My car is 13 years old. I have 4 guitars, between 14 and 30 years old. All of these things are serving me nearly as well as if they were brand new, but Microsoft think an operating system is fit for nothing but the scrapheap after 8 years. It probably would have been much less, if Windows Me hadn’t been such a mound of manure.

Also, I’ve got a Hauppauge Freeview card, which a quick look at the DigitalSpy forums assures me works much better under Linux.

So here goes. A voyage of discovery.
Hopefully I’ll keep in touch.
Helpful, encouraging comments are welcome. Even ones which take the proverbial, if they make me laugh. Just no jargon.

July 17, 2006

Have I been here before?

Double red lines
Stuck in a line of slow–moving traffic with mild panic setting in
Did I give myself enough time?
Will there be any spaces left when I finally get there?
A row of vast concrete blocks separate us from the traffic crawling the other way
Through the maze of portakabins and plywood walls until
We finally reach the building
Light and airy, with corridors going in every possible direction
Small groups of people, gazing upward at signs
Hoping for guidance as to their best direction
Others wait nervously, in multi–coloured chairs, for their time to
Go and sit in other chairs in other, hidden rooms

Ladies and Gentlemen
Walsgrave Hospital
has turned into Heathrow Airport…

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