Thursday, 11 August 2011

A view from the side


It's interesting how a different perspective changes things.

I'd spent nearly every meeting in Venue 1 in the same place, but this night I moved.

The worship was freer and I engaged more.

Was that just because I had moved, or do different parts of the venue attract different types of people and so *feel* different?

Community Lunch ((daily life))


Here's a panorama shot of our community lunch.



There's something about a sunset on a campsite that is special. Better somehow.


Apparently the marketplace in CSW was much busier than in LSE.

Because of Hampshire, so I'm told.

Whatever that means...

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Day Off Trains

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The trains at New Wine on each day off are a particular highlight, especially if you have young children to entertain...

Gems shaker

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Here's the shaker that my two your old made in her Gems group.

She loved it.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

New Wine day 7

I'm home.

A rather curtailed day at New Wine today brought on by some commitments next week that need considerable preparation.

I'm clean.

I've had a bath and a shower and a shave. It's not that there aren't showers and opportunities to shave at New Wine, but there's nothing quite like having a shower and a shave in your own home.

Today began with another excellent talk from Kenny. Then I got the car and began packing it. The children were a little upset when they came back from their groups to find that we really were leaving and so they would miss their final session this evening. It's not a decision I like to take - we've always stayed to the end before and will do so again next year, but we really did have to get home (I know- excuses, excuses!)

The journey home was fine, unpacking smooth and getting clean highly satisfying. All that's left to do know is to reflect on my notes a little bit more and, err, put it all into action. 24/7.

Dramatic testimonies rarely change ordinary people #nwcsw11

Wow! A great final talk from Kenny Borthwick. He talked again about the twins of 'Nurture and 'Mission' and how the church in the West had become very good at the former, but not the latter.

But what really struck me was the truth that it is important not to over-elaborate or exaggerate my testimony. Real people don't need whizz bang, they just need to know that there's a different way to live. We don't need over-dramatic testimony.

One of the ten commandments says: "Don't bear false witness against each other." how much worse would it be to bear false witness against God. And then there's Eve committing the first sin by exaggerating to the serpent about what God had really said about the Tree of Life.

I guess it's important to tell it. And tell it true.

Friday, 5 August 2011

"The whole place of repentance and surrender is missing" #nwcsw11

Kenny Borthwick spoke these words this morning when talking about the two different words for 'word' used by John in Chapter 17 of his gospel.

While both of them have been translated as 'word' the Greek behind them is quite different. One of then indicates knowledge from heaven, the other, the unalterable truth of the gospels.

It is this latter 'logos' that struck me the most and that inspired the quote from Kenny in the title above.

We live in an age in the church when there had sometimes been an over-emphasis on grace. Kenny mentioned various gurus and leaders on the forefront of the emerging church and speedily growing movements who have said that 'doctrine doesn't matter anymore - it is only grace.'

Yet it is doctrine, coming from the Bible and so elegantly framed in much of the liturgy of the Anglican church that speaks of repentance and coming to the cross. It is those words of saying sorry for our sins that open up the whole world of gave that we don't actually deserve. The gospel does matter.

As Kenny put it, God has His arms of love, but you still need to walk into them.

I wonder if it would be worth having a corporate repentance for this attitude at New Wine - we may not have been personally or corporately responsible for these sort of wrong attitudes ourselves - but there may still be a place for saying sorry on behalf of others.

Where are the tent makers at #nwcsw11?

This was the first title I wrote in my journal as a potential blog post when I arrived at New Wine this year.

I suppose I've always been impressed at how Paul was a tentmaker, working hard by his own hands (1 Corinthians 4). The assumption I've always made is that he (at least) paid part of his way through his own trade. It's encouraging for those of us not in full-time ministry to see how effective Paul was.

I looked through the list of speakers and, not knowing much about them, I had written down the above title, presuming that all of the speakers would be full time ministers of some kind. Now I've since learned that I'm wrong in that - Caroline Cox, the speaker on Tuesday is clearly not in full time ministry, and there's been quite a few seminars addressing Christianity in business.

But what was interesting was when I met an old-friend who's recently left a secure full-time vicar position to plant a church in deprived part of Cardiff. It's been a calling on his and his wife's life for a few years and they've finally got the right timing from God to do it. A brave move.

What I found especially encouraging was that he will be training as a science teacher next year to support the mission financially. He even used the phrase 'tent-making'.

And as I reflected on this and other things - like words that have been spoken over me this week, and the way the New Wine leadership are always encouraging us to step out o the boat - I realised that I had answered my own question. The tent makers are all around me. We are the tent makers. I am a tent maker.

Many of use are much better at our tent-making than our following Jesus. We out our time and effort into our careers, sometimes at the detriment of everything else. It is only at events like New Wine where we realise what the balance could look like. But as Bishop Zac said last night, we need to get out of the 'garage service' and get used to being 'in Jesus' 24/7.

There are only 2 verses in the Bible which refer to Paul's trade - his tentmaking. There are many more that detail his wisdom, his exposition, his reasoning and his deeds that furthers the Kingdom. Maybe I need to think on that when I'm looking at the choices I make about how I spend my time.

New Wine day 6

Just a short one tonight.

My day has been dominated by that hayfever feeling today. Sneezing, itchy eyes, irritable ears and a bleary head.

Kenny was brilliant this morning, speaking further in John 17. We returned straight back to the caravan to clean and tidy as we will be leaving slightly early tomorrow afternoon.

A journey to the marketplace made us richer in 2 ways - a CD containing some of the songs that the children have enjoyed this week and a book that Mary Pytches recommended.

And that was about it really. I'm now listening to Anne Coles speaking from Venue 1 on New Wine Fm on growing stronger in the Lord.

I may manage a glass of wine later sitting with friends, especially considering that tonight will be our last night here.

Sent from my thingamajig

Thursday, 4 August 2011

New Wine day 5

The day started with rain. Lots of it from about 0:05 in fact - pit-pattering away on the canvas and plastic all around the campsite.

The walk to groups first thing was a slog, but it was worth it - the children had a treat time again and Kenny preached a great message in Venue 1 on Chapter 17 of John.

I spent the next couple of hours wondering around with our smallest child, who was quite content to sit in the pushchair, underneath the rain cover, singing to herself and shaking her shaker that she had made in Gems. I tried to get my phone charged at the Tearfund Cafe during this time although it was slightly delayed because hey had got some water into their electrics.

Community lunch followed and it was timed perfectly with the sun coming out. Sixty people or so all sat around eating Chinese food and a pleasant time was had by all - I managed to catch up with a couple of folk who I'd not spoken to all week.

The trip to pastoral prayer was the highlight of my day. A couple of things had really stood out from the morning talk and I went down to pray about them. I came away smiling.

A birthday tea followed, which our children had been invited to - the second birthday of the week. Our youngest was particularly delighted with the pink biscuits.

The evening talk was by Bishop Zac from Uganda - it was really good and have blogged about it elsewhere. On returning, it was our own tea, a chat with friends and I finish with wondering whether I've still got time for a shower before bed.

To an unknown God

The episode of Paul's life when he visits Athens is often used to explore ideal ways of evangelising hostile peoples. Paul sees how the Athenians have an idol for every conceivable deity in the known world, and even one altar for gods they might not know about. It is this insecurity in the Athenians that Paul uses as an opening for his evangelism.

However, I've not heard the passage applied so relevantly to my own life as Bishop Zac did this evening in Venue 1.

He talked about idolatry in categories that I've not heard before. Where before I've thought of television, money and other concrete things, today Biahop Zac made me think about religion, safety, security and even myself.

The point is that an idol is something I create and then worship. It could be anything - my family, my lifestyle, this blog even. When I say I've Jesus in me just as I am in Him, I may be speaking the truth, but not in equal measure. It's far more I'm in Jesus than the other way around - believing that Jesus can bed boxed up is one of those idols that individuals and even churches create for themselves.

Interesting, powerful stuff. And it musts shows how little of God I really know.

And then it started to rain...


There's nothing quite like rain at New Wine. After four days of heat and sunshine, the rain has been falling heavily since the early hours of the morning.


New Wine evening session getting going at #nwcsw11


A view from the side of the main stage at Venue 1

Community lunch


God is good! The rain stopped just in time for the St. John's community lunch.


It doesn't always rain at #nwcsw11


Just in counterpoint to my earlier rain pictures...

Kenny Borthwick: spot on again at #nwcsw11


Morning session in Venue 1 was amazing again.
Kenny Borthwick, speaking on John 17 has been spot on every day - somehow speaking into my life and I know the lives of many others.
He spoke about what John meant by 'the world' - sometimes referring to the lost men and women who live in it; at other times, the organised system of rebellion against God.
He spoke about avoiding the hyper-spiritualisation of God's love - that it is practical. Even the Cross was a practical solution to a practical problem.
He challenged us to to think about what acts of love we had actually done during the week.
But what really got me was when he spoke about a picture he'd had before the meeting. It was one of those times when after the first sentence of describing someone, I thought 'Oh, that could be me.' Then as he went further and further into the picture I became more and more sure that he was speaking about me. I didn't have time to respond, as I had to pick up our smallest child, but I've since been to pastoral prayer, which was brilliant (and coincidentally I was prayed for by someone I follow on Twitter...!)
If you're here and have not made it to pastoral prayer when you've felt the urge to go - I really encourage you to do so - it is positive, encouraging and filled with insight. Amazing stuff! Thanks God!

Another rain picture



View from the swingball


Playing it safe

My 8 year old son, listening to Mark Bailey on thought for the day just now, said: "I like the way he put that."

"What do you mean?" I enquired.

"Well, Peter denied Jesus, but what were the others doing? Playing it safe."

I too am pleased at the message that Mark gives: 'it is risky to play it safe.' I like it that New Wine encourages us to take risks. I've been warned before that I shouldn't post what I really think on a public blog - people might be offended, might think less of me. By cross-posting onto Facebook, my non-Christian friends who I love might decide to break the contact...

It might not seem like the most risky thing in the world, keeping a blog - but it's my risk for the

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New Wine day 4

The day started with a trip to Wells Leisure Centre to swim (and get clean) with the kids. Many other folk from New Wine had had the same idea. I often wonder what the people who run such places in Street, Wells and Shepton Mallet must think when hordes of New Winers converge upon them. The time was made particularly joyful by how our youngest child reacted to the water. Where previously she had been apprehensive, even fearful she was delighted and adventurous, laughing at every splash.

However I couldn't help feeling (for the first time ever) that I was missing out on the communion service being held back at New Wine - the single daytime event that occurs on the day off. I hadn't felt this in previous years, but mainly I'm finally feeling more a part of New Wine - I'll have to reflect on this further.

A trip to Tesco followed, and this wouldn't deserve a mention but for the shenanigans that took place there. Obviously exhausted by the swimming, our youngest had fallen asleep by the time we reached the shop and wasn't going to wake up for anything. I tried putting her in a trolley but the way her head was lolling around really wasn't good, so I picked her up. I soon realised that I wasn't going to be able to carry a sleeping child for very long and push a trolley, so I abandoned the trolley and went to sit down. However my wide didn't realise that and sent back the other two children like outriders to place the required food they had found in the trolley I was supposed to be pushing. I saw them walk past me out of the shop carrying food that was unpaid for. They walked past a security guard also, who didn't even notice. Eventually they did realise that I had given up on the shopping process to sit with the sleeping child and I thought that would be the end of it.

Unfortunately I was wrong. The next thing I knew my son was approaching me, carrying a carton of milk with his trousers completely soaked through. What had escaped me was that he hadn't been able to find his mother to handover the carton of milk, though he had spent considerable time looking. The need to find mum became more desperate when he realised he needed the toilet. The urge became more and more powerful and he had just decided to come and see me about it, when the accident happened. Whoops. Poor parenting there I think...!

The poor boy hadn't had a brilliant night either - he'd fallen out of bed three times and on the third time woken his sister up by trying to get back into the wrong bed. Then, first thing in the morning he had locked himself in the toilet - we had been woken by little cries of "Help! Help!"

Back at camp, we made it down to have a go on the trains - always a highlight of the Day Off if you've got young children.

My evening was dominated by the celebration event at Groundbreakers, 45 minutes of madness which even included a spam eating competition this year. There were some great new songs we heard also.

On the way back I was really struck by the amazing worship I could hear all around from at least three venues. There really are some amazingly powerful songs around at the moment.

Tomorrow brings a return to 'normality' - morning bible study, kids groups and seminars.

New Wine Zoo

Earlier on the week I mentioned that there were one or two nuances of Mark Bailey's talk that troubled me slightly. Don't get me wrong, I think his call to be passionate is timely, spirit-led and biblically accurate. That's why I called my troubles *nuances* only - feel free to comment below or respond via twitter if you think I've got this one wrong.

"Church does to people what zoos do to animals." I can't help agree with Mark on this one.

We tie ourselves up with structures that limit our creativity and, more importantly, limit the holy spirit.

It seemed to me that Mark was talking about the established church in this, referring to how we've turned Jesus into a synod-loving Jesus and how we're the most over-resourced, over educated, least effective church in Christendom.

Now the Church of England is an easy target in this. It's often caricatured and has been guilty of many wrongs in the past. But it's still the church. And Jesus loves it.

And, as I gaze out upon this tented slope before me, I can't help feeling there's something slightly zoo-ish about New Wine itself.

As a 7 year old attendee of the Dales Bible Week in the 1980s (that dates me), I was impressed at how every church group would have someone strumming a guitar first the morning, as each micro-community would join in their own corporate worship before getting on with the rest of the day. This was an empowering act - each group led by the Spirit - and as Kenny Borthwick reminded us this morning, it was part of the pattern of solitude at night, community in the morning and mission in the afternoon.

Yet I never see or hear those mini-acts of corporate worship at New Wine. Only the big stage stuff. It's almost like the music is of such high quality, that those people who can only bash out a few chords daren't do so. It wouldn't be good enough.

At this point I want to make a joke about jumper-wearing, bearded worship leaders from the past. But Kenny Borthwick today warned us of the trap of coolness - we live in a society where the cool-looking, beautiful people take the stage. Is that also true of New Wine? Is that part of the zoo that Mark Bailey was talking about?

I could go on, but I don't want to spend my time nit-picking over New Wine when I love I here so much. There's a far more constructive approach: individual and corporate repentance - because I think there are two responses to the thought that churches limit the Holy Spirit.

The first is to acknowledge where each of us, as individuals, have imprisoned ourselves. Are there traps of coolness or other things that are barriers to the Holy Spirit? We each need to spend time with God for Him to identify where our own attitudes and behaviours have become blocks to the Wild Goose. The second is to acknowledge that as New Wine churches we are part of the whole church and need to say sorry corporately for the whole church. It's not as though there isn't a biblical precedent for this. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the very words of God written in stone tablets only to find the Israelites had made a golden cow to worship while he'd been away, he later repented for the whole Israel people - he didn't say "they did it" - he said, "we did it."

So how about it, New Wine? A huge corporate act of repentance to get us all out of our cages?

It might even spark a revival.

What's it got in it's pocketses?


I thought my shorts had been getting heavy.

I emptied them out this morning and found all this.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

New Wine Day 3

While my friends play a hard-fought game of 'The Great Dalmuti' around the table, I find a few minutes to reflect on the day.

The main one has been the heat: it has been a scorcher today. After the morning talk it was all I could do to sit and perspire slowly for much of the afternoon.

Kenny Borthwick's talk was both challenging and encouraging, and I've already referred to it in other posts I've made today. A brief sojourn in the marketplace before the walk back to the caravan, when the heat was really beginning to tell.

Apart from sweating for most of the afternoon, I also spent sometime looking through my notes on the talks I've heard so far, and meeting up with some old friends who were at or church ten years ago. The highlight of the afternoon though, was a water fight with my son, who had previously been getting slightly bored and miserable, especially because a friend he had hoped would be here had not yet arrived.

There's nothing quite like a water fight on a blisteringly hot day, and not only did it provide cool relief, but it was also a joy to re-engage with my son for a good play.

After tea, more amazing worship at Venue One and then a tear-jerking talk from Caroline Cox. I cried at times as she related the stories of faith, tragedy and triumph from different parts of the world where she has visited.

It's the Day Off tomorrow. Swimming, pub lunch and trains are on the cards, I think.

Kenny Borthwick this, Kenny Borthwick that.

I write this with some trepidation, because in his first talk on Monday morning, Kenny  Borthwick, who is basing his daily Bible study on John 17, declared that when he hears his name being mentioned too much he knows it's time to moving on. He went on to tell the story of a chap called Campbell McAlpine who lived fully in his own glory but was careful not to touch the Glory of God; God shares His Glory with no-one else.
Kenny Borthwick has such a humble air about him that I'm sure he's following the same course as Campbell - so please forgive me for the title above. To God be the Glory.
I don't want you to move on, Kenny, not yet. And I have three reasons for doing so, yet I do want to honour and thank you:
  1. I'm loving the talks you're giving. They are rich food. I've got stuff to chew on and digest that will take me more than this week to do so.
  2. You're about to speak at our Church weekend away in a few weeks and I'm praying that it's going to be a significant point in the life of the church.
  3. One of the most significant moments in my life happened at a talk in a previous New Wine, when during a message ont Isaiah, you talked about American Indian names.

I love you, Dad (an open letter to Brian Philp)

Dear Dad,
An amazing thing happened this morning at New Wine. Before the main speaker (Kenny Borthwick) came on to deliver his message, Karen Bailey, who was introducing him, asked us to pray for someone we were holding in our prayers. Now, I have to confess that I hadn't been holding particularly anyone in my prayers that morning, but I suddenly had an image of you in my mind.
I spun you round there - kind of like a 3D virtual dad in my minds eye.
Then Kenny Borthwick started speaking and I thought nothing more of it.
Until... he started speaking about his own father and how he was really grateful for him. His dad, who is still alive, was and still is a brilliant father. He carried on to say that many so-called 'Father Heart' ministries leave us looking back maybe slightly critically at our own childhoods as if we are deliberately looking for something wrong with them. We can even become petulant about it, saying to ourselves "even only that little thing had been different." It can lead us to be petulant instead of grateful.
I just wanted to say that I'm really grateful about my childhood. I'm really glad that you're my Dad. If I can be half the father to my own children that you've been to me, then I know my children will do brilliantly.
Thanks, Dad.
I love you.

Be Passionate (says @MarkBailey_ at #nwcsw11)

Jesus was so passionate that the last 24 hours of his life were called the passion.
In Ephesians it says 'In your anger, do not sin' indicating that it is OK to be angry.
In Romans it says 'hate what is evil' indicating it is OK to hate.
Mark Bailey said all of the above on the opening night at New Wine CSW as he urged us to be more passionate in our faith. Are we indifferent or are we intense? When we see rubbish stuff going on do we ignore it or do we condense the nonsene?
The Holy Spirit was called 'Wild Goose' by Celtic Christians. My experiences of Candaina Geese is that they are cantankerous things that throw their waight about but also have the stamina to fly to Canada and back every year. That's a far cry from the white middle-class Christianity that inhabits our society. Mark talked about how the road to spiritual maturity may not mean stability or security. But as we follow our God-given passions on the 'wild-goose chase' we would be energised, avoiding the de-energising distractions of sin. After all, nothing is more energising than doing the will of God.
In John 4, Jesus says that he has food that the disciples knew nothing about when they were concerned at how hungry he might be. Maybe that food is doing the will of the Father. Maybe we can be more by being passionate.

A view from the hill


Whatever you say about our site, the view is quite splendid.

New Wine Day 2


A fantastic talk by Kenny Borthwick started the day. He talked about the twins of nurture and mission and how, as churches, we are often better at developing nurture. He also talked about being properly tone deaf and how the disciples didn't really 'get it' about being servant-hearted - even after 3 years day-by-day with Jesus. That must be encouraging for us...
I spent some time exploring the marketplace (including a chance to use the Lee Abbey Internet Cafe to adjust my blog theme slightly). The long slog back up the hill with the pushchair was, too put it mildly, exhausting.
Afternoon was dominated by a birthday party and games for a child on the campsite. It was a Toy story themed event. I had a Buzz Light Year mask and was team leader for a group of 2-8 year olds. To infinity and beyond!
I didn't make it to Rob Parson's evening talk, mainly because I spent the time trying to find a hot shower to wash our two-year old in. Due to various sugar-coated foods and playing outdoors, she had become rather sticky over the last twenty four hours. Good news - she's clean now! After I had got her to sleep I hear some people trying to affirm each other in the next door awning - seems like that had been a theme of Rob Parson's talk.
I finished the day with a glass of day and semi-raucous laughter with friends.
For those avid readers of my blog (that'll be the Reeds then!) you'll see I didn't actually post this last night. That was because my phone had run out of juice. However the photo included in this post demonstrates that I did actually write this by hand first.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Looking forward to Tear-y Tuesday

For myself and a good friend every Tuesday in the year has the potential to become tear-y: a day of tears and sadness. I don't know if it's because it falls before the halfway point of the week; whether it's because it's named after the Anglo-Saxon god of the underworld; or just because. Whatever the cause, Tuesday is often tear-y.

At New Wine, Tear-y Tuesday takes on a whole different meaning. It's the day when the *scary* speaker takes the stage in Venue One.

Jackie Pullinger, Heidi Baker, and this year Caroline Cox. They are all 'doers - people who condense the nonsense' according to Mark Bailey. They offer challenge because they are really out there - far from 'normal jobs' and 'normal church.'

And then there was that one year, 2009 I think, when a pastor from New Zealand preached (apologies - I can't remember his name). He only talked about cost - no successes. He basically told his life story of following Jesus, with all of the good bits cut out. It was powerful, challenging stuff and I remember it caused much debate on our campsite with opinions spread across a wide spectrum from those who had really loved it as a refreshing change, to those who thought it shouldn't have been allowed.

Each year, everyone has a day off on Wednesdays to go and do their own thing. Maybe it's this feature of the week which makes the Tuesday speaker the most challenging - it gives something to think about for the next day. Something to calm down about even.

Or maybe it's just coincidence.

Either way, I've never heard Caroline Cox talk before, and I don't know anything about her. But I'm looking forward to the challenge she will bring.

A small thing can make a big difference


I know the small matter of some matting in the awning of our caravan shouldn't be something to write home about.

But the fact that the inordinately long grass (over a foot high in places) has been covered up by the generous delivery of some scrim by our caravan provider has given us intense satisfaction.

Suddenly we're organised and even more comfortable than before.

Small things, heh?

Flip the worship ((tag; worship))

Flip the worship

One of the perennial problems at New Wine is that many people don't know the songs that are new at the start of the conference. By the time we've learnt them it's time to leave.

That's great for taking fab new songs back into our churches, but can make some of the worship times feel a bit flat.

In education circles new technologies and pedagogies have led to a technique called 'Flipping the classroom." This is where children are introduced to a new concept before they enter the classroom through a YouTube video or online collaboration on Google Docs. The role of the teacher is then to guide the children to applying the concept, learning the skill mote deeply and intervening with this students who haven't grasped the concept so well.

Wouldn't it be great to do that with New Wine worship?

Studio recording sessions could be filmed and placed on YouTube. Chord sheets of new songs shared via Google Docs to worship leaders from participating churches a month or so before.

Then we could be singing the songs on the way down to New Wine and be able to join in much more quickly and deeply with song worship at the start of the week.

Sent from my thingamajig

Good morning Day 2


It rained in the night.

The long grass on our campsite is sodden with the kind of wetness that requires a stout pair of wellies.

The freshness of the field is mirrored by the lightness in my soul that has been accentuated by my First Visit to the New Wine Toilets.

More firsts beckon today: My First Shower; My First Trip to the Tap and (joy of joys) My First Visit to the Elsan Point.