Make Poverty History

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Caffiene Christianity

First impressions are generally reckoned to be a bad thing, but sometimes they give an insight that is worth thinking about.  My first impression of New Wine is coffee. There are coffee bars everywhere,  even the two huge temporary buildings - tent just doesn't describe it adequately - have coffee bars.  Looking just a little closer you will notice that they are all selling coffee AND there is a queue.  Its not decaffeinated, I know this because that's what I must drink now and when I ask for it they make it specially.  It seems the current generation of Christians is addicted to caffeine.
Now, to more important impressions. I have attended Christian Events, festivals, and teaching weeks before Spring Harvest many times between 1980 and 1996, and Greenbelt many times.  Both have the the same feeling of safety.  A sure and certain hope that if you loose you wallet, you will find it in lost property with all the cash still inside, I am very pleased to report that New Wine has the same feeling.

After a difficult drive on Saturday we had a quiet day on Sunday, the first official day. We arrived at the site after a short walk from the Prestleigh Inn, shortly after 9am. We were amazed at the ease of entry to the site – the tickets were checked and that was it. After investigating the site for a couple of hours we returned to the pub and watched the German GP. Then went down stairs into the restaurant for our second meal of the day.  The food at the Inn is basic good pub food served piping hot and in generous portions.

Mark Bailey, the leader of the week welcomed those attending the imaginatively named Venue 1. He also led the worship. I didn't even realize his talk had started, so missed the first few minutes. He spoke on the cleansing of the temple in John2:13-17. The theme for the week is Passion. Here are some of the things he said (or I heard), with some comments from me where they are appropriate. It was a long, but helpful start to the week.  Here are a few comments I recorded and my comments on them.  I have tried NOT to get out of context, but I'm definitely fallible, so if it isn't what you heard ...

"The temple must have looked like a bar room brawl had just happened after Jesus had finished with it."
Jesus was angry, and no doubt did a LOT of damage.

"There is never a dull moment with Jesus"
True, but it isn't all exciting either, sometimes there is hard work and painful processes to go through, but dull - never.

"God is predictably unpredictable."
We can only predict what we can understand, somethings about God are clearly known (He cannot sin, He loves us and has saved us, for example).  Most things are unknown.  This doesn't imply that God is volatile.

"The Holy Spirit is known as The Wild Goose in one language" - as in Wild Goose Chase . This is a difficult concept for me as it implies that God's Spirit fails to achieve his aims, or if not that, keeps the members of the kingdom busy on fruitless work.

"Maturity = sensitivity to the Holy Spirit." While I agree that sensitivity to the Spirit is part of maturity, we must recognize that the spirit communicates with us differently than we do with others. Maturity is certainly not passing on word for word what the spirit says to you (unless that is what he says to you, of course).  Maturity must include appropriate sensitivity to others as well.

"To be like Jesus is to be consumed with zeal."
... and love, compassion, ...

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

"Sin is wasted energy – chasing desires that you cannot attain."
This is a new idea to me and seems helpful, it certainly illustrates an effect of sin. No-one wants to waste their energy. Most of us bemoan our lack of energy at times.

"Following God (Jesus) is not about knowledge but desire"
I've usually heard this expressed as relationship, but of course that must be desired too.

"It is a sin NOT to be angry about the things that God is angry about."
So never being angry is a Sin. What would Julian of Norwich - who says there is no anger in God, say. Personally, I'm more with Mark than Julian.

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