A year of firsts…

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I spent last week in London doing work experience at Blink Productions, who subsequently asked me to freelance for them. This makes my 24th year on earth a year of firsts: first lecturing job, first running job, first trip to Bethel…and tomorrow I’m making my preaching debut. This is what I’m sermonating about:

Psalm 90

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
 Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 

You turn man to destruction,
And say, “Return, O children of men.”
 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night.

You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
 In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers. 

For we have been consumed by Your anger,
And by Your wrath we are terrified.

You have set our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
 For all our days have passed away in Your wrath;
We finish our years like a sigh.
 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is

as great as the fear that is your due. 
 So, teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Return, O Lord!
How long?
And have compassion on Your servants.

Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,
The years in which we have seen evil.
 Let Your work appear to Your servants,
And Your glory to their children.
 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.

Hello again

I’ve been feeling the urge to resurrect this blog, although time will tell whether or not I keep up with it. It’s quite difficult when you live with friends! Anyway, quick catch-up. I have two new jobs, plus a mortgage! Number one is, I no longer work at the haberdashery-of-stress-and-inflexibility and now work at the fabric-shop-of-glory that is The Sewing Shop. It’s flexible, I can wear my own clothes, drink coffee, listen to Kylie Minogue AND make cushions and stuff at work. It’s lovely. Second new job is…I’m a freaking lecturer now. As in, running my own module and supervising dissertations. It’s really fun in one aspect, although I really do feel like I’ve been thrown in the deep end and am struggling to get to grips with the core material of the module I’m meant to be heading up. It’s all old-school television stuff, which is interesting for a bit but not something I feel I can really get my teeth into – not to mention no-one’s really shown me how to plan a lecture. No matter – the first- and second-year stuff is really fun (can’t go wrong with auteur theory and spectatorship) and I’m enjoying the practicalities of helping people with their essays/dissertations. Time will tell whether or not it leads anywhere. I could definitely see myself being up for doing this longterm if that proves to be a possibility, provided I get to actually teach things I’m passionate about.

Having a house of my own is also fun; freedom is so valuable to me, so things like painting a feature wall if I fancy it or simply knowing I’m not going to have to up sticks in another 12 months = happy Aideen. We’re also planning (me and my flatmates, that is) on putting a long-time plan of ours into action by putting up a local woman who is homeless. More on that later, perhaps. On top of that, we’re finally getting to host our own cell group, which is a dream come true (although very gestational at present).

Anyway, this is all just to give a decent impression of where I’m at at present and what major-life-events have taken place in the past few months. Hopefully actual content won’t be far behind!

Word.

I haven’t had much time to update this thing lately (by the way, Lent went off the rails weeks ago), but I wanted to highlight a little design blog that has been a major source of delight to me in the past few days. Jim LePage is a graphic designer who decided to do an original design for each book of the Bible, and the results are fantastic. The actual designs themselves are quality, but what I also like is Jim’s honesty and his curiosity. He doesn’t gloss over the gnarlier bits of the Bible or things he doesn’t understand; rather, if something stands out to him (such as the fact that many of the Psalms are about cursing your enemies or his boredom at the minor prophets), he simply makes a feature of it. Yet, despite his sarcastic streak, Jim maintains a sense of reverence and wonder. Take a look:





The pitfalls of Kingdom potential

Okay, so I’m getting really excited by this season of MORE. God seems to be galvanising and bringing into reality things which had been bandied about by our community in theory-land for quite some time (I’ll perhaps share some stories with you next blog post or so). I can see the hand of God cranking up not only our worship life as a family, but also his influence in our daily lives. I’m having more God-conversations with friends and colleagues (don’t you just love those?), enjoying greater intimacy with God, hearing cool God stories from others and seeing a whole slew of answered prayers. The dam is bursting!

With this in mind, I want to discuss two potential pitfalls that go hand-in-hand with this sort of Kingdom amplification; pride and despair.
PRIDE
To paraphrase Bill Johnson, your weakest point is not at the moment of your greatest failure, but of your greatest victory. At times when things are clicking into place and we begin to live more and more radically for God, we are especially prone to the sin of pride – arguably the greatest sin in the Kingdom of God (it is, technically, what got Satan kicked out of heaven, as it were). Pride blinds us to our need for God and especially to our need for his grace.
One particular manifestation of pride that I have observed in myself and among followers of Jesus is the sort that creeps in when you are ‘getting it right’. We are called to live lives that are radically sold out for God, wherein we tap into all of heavens resources and pick up our cross daily. At Canterbury Vineyard, we believe unashamedly in not settling for anything less than the fullness and abundance of life promised to us by the scriptures – this means love, miracles, salvation, gifts of the spirit, fruit of the spirit, healing, deliverance, holiness, intimacy, passion and more. As we press into this lifestyle, frustration with the mediocrity of much of what passes for the Christian life today will arise; this is natural. However, we must never allow this to turn into pride or self-satisfaction. Don’t be deceived about your immunity from this; pride is like sand – it gets into every nook and cranny (even nooks and crannies you didn’t know you had). Have you ever looked at other Christians who are less on fire than you and gotten frustrated with them? Have you met Christians who don’t believe in miracles, who are hypocritical, who are too middle class, who aren’t as free as you think they should be, who don’t pray enough, who are not seeking God in every area of their life – and thought, “thank God I’m not like that”? Because I have.
Don’t ever forget that it is only by God’s grace that we get anything right. It is only by God’s grace that we found Jesus in the first place, and it is only by his grace that we find ourselves in a community that is going hard after God, and it is only by his grace that we actually take any of it on board ourselves.
DESPAIR
Another risk of not settling for mediocrity in Christian life is despair, or despondency. I see it rear its ugly head time and time again in my own life and in that of others. You pray for something and it doesn’t happen. You hear about the MORE that is promised to us by Jesus and wonder why you aren’t experiencing it. You see other people get set ablaze or experience victory and wonder what is wrong with you. You desire more of God, you desire miracles, you desire mountaintop experiences or a more tangible sense of his presence, you desire the salvation of your friends and enemies, you desire the influence of God over situations in your life, you desire spiritual gifts, you desire the Kingdom; these things don’t come as quickly as you’d like them to and you begin to wonder if they ever will.
‘Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”‘ – John 20:27-29
If we aren’t seeing all of the Kingdom that we want to, but keep pressing in anyway, we are blessed. It may be a cliche by now, but it’s vital to be intentional about which well to drink from – what God is doing – and his promises and potential – versus what he isn’t.
A couple of nights ago some friends and I wrote down some insanely outlandish prayers, just to put our money where our mouth is and mark out our territory as people who genuinely are seeking more. Among the stuff we listed came such gems as “I want to have frequent visions of heaven”, “I want to be sick with love for Jesus”, “I want people to be healed by just my walking into the room”, “I want every single one of my friends to know God”, “I want to see Jesus breakdance”, “I want to glow like Moses”, “I want to raise the dead” and so on. We did it because we know it’s possible, we did it because we know there’s more, and we did it because we know it’s ours. Does raising the dead and having frequent visions of heaven seem a long way off? Yes – so all the more reason to go ahead and make those huge requests! It’s all too easy to limit your imagination and faith in order to avoid disappointment, but we must at all costs resist the urge to shrink our vision to match our experience.

I challenge you to give your despondency to God and go ahead and make some ludicrously humongous demands on his generosity. Ask God to make you persistent and able to keep knocking until he opens that door. Do it now!

Lighten up!

So, I realise that the entire last page is crammed with nothing but academic writing, which doesn’t make my blog look particularly inviting, so I thought I’d break it up a little by posting one of my favourite vids from “Tales of Mere Existence”. This was pretty much my life while I was still writing the damned dissertation…

 

Monday round-up of awesome

First and foremost, click here for a gorgeous timelapse of a Sigur Ros show! Via Pete Greig.

By Katie Thompson, via Fuckyeah Quilting. I bet I could make that (I say things like that all the time, then eat my words when I actually try).

Check out these beautiful photos by Ditte Isager:

Also, make sure you get yr filthy paws on Definatalie’s last ever calendar desktops!

I’m gonna post a link to this freaking amazing photo, but it’s a photo of underwear therefore not safe for work or for those who struggle with lust 😉

Finally, as a freebie, a random ten from my iTunes:

Paramore – All We Know

Hole- Dying

Portishead- Cowboys

M.I.A. – Dash the Curry

The Knife – You Make Me Like Charity

Sonic Youth – Dirty Boots

Biffy Clyro – Bubbles

Blue Foundation – As I Moved On (Trentemoller remix)

Placebo – Happy You’re Gone

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Honeybear

Monday round-up of awesome

I’ve made some flippin schweet discoveries this week. Top of my list…Mariah McManus:

I had been a fan of her dad, Erwin McManus (a visionary church planter and author), for over a year since I got given his book The Barbarian Way for my baptism in February 2009. He would always go off on little anecdotes about his kids, and Mariah in particular seemed pretty bad-ass. So imagine my joy to discover that now she’s all grown up and in a band! And a frickin awesome one at that. As well as some solo stuff, she’s got a band called Glare of Rockets, and a lovely voice that fluctuates between Hayley Williams and Joanna Newsom. I recommend the song ‘Kansas’ in particular.

Next up, in my never-ending quest for tattoo inspiration, I found one that kind of parallels an idea I’ve had for one on my right arm:

Via.

I also have an ongoing interest in blogs dedicated to ridiculously specific things. Like letterheaded paper:

Chez Letterheady.

There’s also the Musee virtuel de l’Absinthe:

And last but not least, the ultimate in ridiculous-specificity…Fuck Yeah blogs! There’s Fuck Yeah Mighty Boosh, Fuck Yeah Lady Gaga, Fuck Yeah Cupcakes, Fuck Yeah My Little Pony, Fuck Yeah Rainy Days, Fuck Yeah Sharks, and my personal favourite: Fuck Yeah Doilies: