Monday, April 30, 2007

Retreat Compleat

What a fabulous time.

Anafora is a farm half way between Cairo and Alexandria built and managed by one of the most remarkable men on the planet, a Coptic Orthodox Bishop. It is simple, beautiful, quiet and so full of God's presence you feel like bursting in to tears as you walk through the gate. The food is great, the rooms are simple and clean and beautifully designed in the local traditional architecture with domed ceilings and thick walls, the lighting is mostly candles, and there is a wonderful church with the weirdest acoustics I've ever encountered. There is a set of waterways running through the grounds that get filled for swimming and then emptied out into the irrigation system for the farm - most ingenious - and there are all kinds of little quiet spots where you can just sit and think or dream or pray or snooze. I think I managed to do all four at once at some point.

So I spent some time with some friends who were also there (coincidentally) praying and worshiping, I read some of "Soul Cravings", I played my guitar in my room, I took a moonlit walk around the farm and had a really encouraging conversation with God. I swum, I fasted and I spent yesterday afternoon reading through the Gospel of Matthew.

I'm not sure if it was long enough to really re-charge my spiritual batteries, but one of the things I heard God say to me was that I need to spend more time talking to him more regularly. So could you help me out with that and ask me how I'm doing from time to time?

Incidentally, I had the jafferpod set to shuffle, and on the journey up there, God was controlling the playlist - mainly Iona, with a good mix of everything else except Dave Matthews Band. Only one song from Stand Up came on, and the lyrics offended me so I skipped forward. On the way home, there was another from that album called "Everybody Wake Up" with the lyrics

I remember the words of the misguided fool
Do unto others as you'd have them do
Not an eye for an eye is the golden rule
Just leaves a room full of blind men
Well, having just a couple of hours earlier read in Matthew 7:12, Jesus's words "Do for others what you would like them to do for you" my respect for DM has plummeted.

Should I delete the song?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Retreat Update

I'm taking my new Breedlove Atlas AC/25 SR guitar (thanks Dad!), my New Living Bible, my HCSB Bible (thanks ReCreate!), "Soul Cravings" by Erwin McManus, my moleskines, my songwriting journal, the jafferpalm for scratch idea recording, and I'm loading up the jafferpod with:

Sound of Melodies - Leeland

Wide Eyed and Mystified - downhere

Where To Begin - Jared Anderson

Heaven's Bright Sun - Iona

Comfort in Sound - Feeder

Stand Up - Dave Matthews Band

Beautiful News - Matt Redman


Due to heavy state of mental and emotional tiredness, compounded by 24hour bug I had on Thursday, I am taking the next two days off to go on retreat. Heading out to a beautiful Coptic retreat centre on the edge of the desert to spend time with God and get refreshed.

I'll be back Sunday night.

Would you pray for me?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'm interested to know, how many of you read this blog, or others, using an RSS reader? I have Google Reader open permanently in Firefox, and all my blog feeds just update automatically. It's great, and saves so much time. I thoroughly recommend it.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, then watch this video...

Emotional Update

Well, today I feel fantastic. Weird - Jaffers is in touch with his emotions at last. It's only taken thirty six years.

Analysis: Not being able to ride my bike to work means I have to walk, and this is really good. The weather is FANTASTIC and all the Jacarandas are blooming and Maadi is BEAUTIFUL. I have twenty extra minutes of solitude and reflection as a gift from God. Maybe he has allowed the damage to my bike to force me to slow down and get a tiny bit of margin into my life. This extra twenty minutes is also a really good opportunity to pray without distractions, or make non-essential but important phone calls to shore-up neglected friendships.

Also, yesterday, Jan, our Children's Ministry Director, came into my office for our weekly prayer time, and as soon as she had prayed for me I felt so much better. Coincidently, as soon as I prayed for her, she felt loads better too. Why is it so hard to remember to give our worries and problems over to God? He is so much better at handling them than we are.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bike Trouble

I'm feeling a bit low today. There is so much going on here at the church, we are all praying hard and fasting for our relocation project, Felicity and I are dealing with some difficult decisions that we have to make, and I am trying to prepare for an upcoming trip to Poland. In the middle of all this it feels like I am under attack. I'm certainly feeling under pressure, and weighed down.

It didn't help that a run-away bicycle-cart hit my back wheel yesterday as I was cycling home, and mangled the wheel pretty badly. I now have to buy a new rim from overseas and find a way of getting it here to Egypt. I know it's just a bike, but it also in some way symbolises my freedom. I use it to get around town, and most importantly, every Sunday morning I ride out to the desert and bike some really great trails in Wadi Digla. I need that time and space and exercise, and now I feel like one of the highlights of my week has been robbed.

This isn't my bike, but the damage is similar.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monthly Cartoon

It's April, so it's time for another amusing cartoon...

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Worship setlist Friday 20th April

Theme - Serving Others - Ultimate Worship

A very good set of services this weekend. I had a great band with a really good vocal group who pulled off some beautiful harmonies. We saved the main worship segment for the end of the service, and it worked really well.

Psalm 18 - Mark Jaffrey

Psalm 51 - Graham Kendrick
The Church's One Foundation - trad hymn (spiced up a bit)

Holy Is The Lord - Chris Tomlin
Everlasting God - Brenton Brown & Paul Baloche
Your Name - Paul Baloche

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Car Trouble

Last Friday, as the air was nice, we took our friends Tobz & Hez & Grace(z) and drove up to Mokottam, the large range of cliffs on the western edge of Cairo, to look at the view. It was a bit hazy, but nice nonetheless. You could see the pyramids on the other side of the city about ten miles away. Anyway, running along the cliff top there is this road which is constantly under construction, and at the moment they have half of it dug up to sink a big drainage system.

Here's what happens when you come around a corner too fast in Egypt. No signs, no barriers, no warnings, just a huge hole in the road.

The four shabab (youth in Arabic) in the top right of the pic were sitting unhurt next to the trench, probably having just called their parents. "Yeah, Dad, got the car stuck in a ditch..."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Friday 13th April set list

OK, at last I've caught up.  I can now raise my head again and bask without shame in the exalted company of worship leaders around the globe.

Nelly planned and led the services this weekend and I led the band.  We have returned to the book of Romans to take up where we left off last summer, so the service theme was taken from Romans 12:1-2.

Theme - Transformed by Surrender

My Redeemer Lives - Reuben Morgan

To You O Lord - Graham Kendrick
How Great Is Our God - Chris Tomlin
The Potter's Hands - Darlene Zschech
Take My Life And Let It Be - trad hymn

May The Words Of My Mouth - Tim Hughes

Moderately Extreme Weather

We are in the middle of one serious sandstorm right now. The sky is the colour of mushrooms, and the trees are whipping about in the wind. Visibility is still pretty good though, so it's not the worst we've seen but there is a serious amount of sand blowing about. I'm glad I'm safe and sound in my air conditioned office right now.

Thursday night last week our worship service got rained off for the first time in history. The rain came down so hard that just about the time Larry got up to preach it started to leak through the thick canvas tent roof, and suddenly there was nowhere to hide. Larry asked people to get into groups, stand in the few dry patches, and pray for our relocation project!

Then it rained again during the Africa Live service on Friday afternoon, but that only lasted about ten minutes and they were able to continue after a short break.

dancing in puddles

Monday, April 16, 2007

Will blog more (sorry Philippa)

My friend Philippa says that if I don't blog more regularly then she will remove me from her favourites list. If you know her then you would realise that this is very serious indeed, and so I must heed the warning.

Here's a picture I took last week at our local petrol station.

So this is how it's done properly. You cover the car in foam, inside and out, and then you hose it down. Then you let it sit in the sun to dry out with the doors open. Job's a good 'un.

Easter Sunday setlist

What a great service.  The church was packed, and there was a fantastic celebration atmosphere.  Felicity read the story of Mary finding the empty tomb from John chapter 20, and followed it with a meditation by Nick Fawcett  from Mary's perspective.  The highlight of the service though was our closing set from Wale and the Africa Live band, including guest guitarist (me!) and they seriously rocked.  Wow.

Theme - Celebration of Jesus' resurrection

Christ the Lord is Risen Today (hymn)

Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate - Gary Oliver
Trading My Sorrows - Darrell Evans
That's Why We Praise Him - Tommy Walker
There Is A Redeemer - Melody Green
Indescribable - Jesse Reeves, Laura Story

On The Third Day - Matt Maher

African Worship

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Good Friday set list

Well, we've just finished our Maunday Thursday service and have three more tomorrow, Good Friday.  We are celebrating the Lord's Supper and focussing on the God's grace and sacrificial love.  On Sunday we're going to have our Resurrection Celebration service where we get to sing happy songs again :-)

Theme - Jesus' response to the thief on the cross

How Deep the Father's Love for Us - Stuart Townend

The Servant King - Graham Kendrick

Lamb of God - Twila Paris

Jesus Christ I Think Upon Your Sacrifice - Matt Redman

The Power of the Cross - Stuart Townend & Keith Getty

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


You have to check this out! Universcale is a Flash application by Nikon that shows the scale of everything in the universe relative to everything else. It puts everything in perspective in a very cool way, with a smooth soundtrack and tons of information.

You'll probably spend a good deal of time playing with it (how big is a Closterium again?).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Palm Friday set list

So, everyone is doing it; Chad, Nathan, Los (by video of course!), Rich, Mark, Victor and Bob.  It's about time I got fashionable, so here is our order of service from this weekend, although it's been so long now since Friday I'm not sure if I can remember it all...

Theme: 1st Commandment, finishing up our series on the big ten.

Love the Lord - Lincoln Brewster

He is Exalted - Twila Paris
Hosanna - Paul Baloche and Brenton Brown
On the Third Day - Matt Maher

All Glory, Laud & Honour - Really ancient hymn (words written around 800AD), traditionally sung on Palm Sunday.

Hosanna - Carl Tuttle, with kids parading and waving palm branches.

So there you go. Thursday night we started the main segment with Hosanna (Baloche & Brown), then On the Third Day, then He is Exalted, but it didn't flow too well, so we swapped them around to the sequence listed above.  I was worried about the key changes, but it worked out perfectly.