Friday, 30 January 2004

Sarah is due back in about 20 mins

She's been on an activity week in Wales. Pot holing, canoeing, getting VERY cold (for the UK).

Not such good news.

Heard yesterday that Chris's mum will have to have a radical mastectomy next week. That's moving pretty quick from a biopsy sample last week. We're wondering how she'll cope at 75, and how her father will be too. Neither are especially nimble these days, and there is a nasty feeling of inevitability about this. Not that we don't care about them, but they're not easy people to get on with.

It's a good incentive (if we needed one) to pray.

Way cool

Is what we are.

Heating oil is a wonderful thing, especially when you have it.

We don't.

Thank goodness for a decent coal burning stove.

More promised for tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 January 2004

There is some weird, weird stuff out there.

Thought to myself that rather than be narrow minded I'd have a look at some of the blogs of 'key people' in the 'emerging church'.

I'm really disappointed. I'd expected all these people, really going for it. And instead I seem to find a bundle of humanistic half baked ideas, wrapped up in the anger of the disadvantaged and sprinkled with a bit of biblical icing sugar. I'm not sure I can face digging any further.

Actually it's everything I feared was true about North American Christianity.

I had not realised the stature of guys like Leigthon, to be able to stand up in the middle of this and seek God with integrity.

Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Legal white powder.

fell from the sky today. And was caught digitally for your delight.

I seem to have been upsetting people.

So no change there then.

Stupidly I managed to paint myself into a corner with arguements about sexual propriety and relationships with women, over on Jordon Cooper's blog. Unfortunately I reacted to increasingly 'liberal' posting, and presented an unbalanced view.

The essence of it started with the idea of networking with women and finished with the idea that we need to get over our fear of inappropriate relationships. I waded in with size 13s suggesting that I'd want to be cautious. Re-reading I can see that I left a lot of context information out, and that made me sound like some kind of authoritarian, religious hose-beast.

The point is, for us to make a difference in the world we need to be different. People need to feel safe in the church to draw close together. Over the years the church I'm part of has had a number of divorced women through it's doors. They have felt welcome and part of the family because they were able to talk (even hug) with men as well as women without concern about sexual overtones. I can actually remember one standing up in a meeting and saying exactly that. How was it achieved? By ensuring that males did not spend time on a 1:1 basis with females outside a partnership context. In addition, we all remain vigilant to ensure that hugs etc. are 'brotherly'. This places no restriction on the role or function of women in the church, but it does allow everyone to relax and trust each other. This is significantly different to the world, where sexual politics seem endless, however it is certainly not prudery either.

There's a further point too, that was missed in the discussions. Church is an emotionally charged place, often with tears, repentance, reconciliation, love and all kinds of things. In that context people are often open and emotionally vulnerable. In those circumstances chemistry does happen, and it is essential that relationships respect the appropriate boundaries.

Monday, 26 January 2004

The best comment I've read, probably since I've started blogging.

From "The Dying Church"

Comments:

May, I, a virtual stranger to your congregation, weigh in on this debate? I have been following the discussion with some interest, and find myself unable to contain myself any longer.

While I am a born-again, Bible-believing Christian, it is precisely because of controversies such as this one, that I find myself reluctant to align myself with any so-called Mainline Denomination. It is also because of these arguments that unbelievers refrain from any involvement in "church" activities, and believers are leaving the organized institution in droves.

Sacred cows; those issues such as whether women should hold positions of leadership within the church; whether women should be required to wear hats; whether we allow contemporary music or restrict ourselves to the traditional hymns; whether we worship only in huge organized edifices or whether the store-front church is acceptable, and so many, many, more points of conflict, fall into the category of useless arguments mentioned by the Apostle Paul.

Even in his day, Paul had to contend with issues such as whether non-Jews should be circumcised or not. (And what was his answer? Galatians 2:16. "We are not Justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ... for by the works of the law shall no man be justified."

Without wanting to appear as though I am blown hither and yon by every cultural shift in the wind, I ask you: Where would we be today if our ideas of God's Will; our ideas of Worship; our perception of Truth, did not evolve with the changes in knowledge and understanding that come with exploring, and being open to, New Ideas?

I am not a scholar of Church History or doctrine, but if Martin Luther had not challenged the pre-conceived notions of the leaders of the church in his day, would we still be paying for Indulgences? Would the Gospel still only be under the proprietorship of the rich and elite?

Would we be able to sing "Amazing Grace", or would slavery still hold sway in most of the civilized world, if not for progressive thought? Not too long ago, people of colour were not thought of as humans, never mind being capable of being saved.

Women would still be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, if we did not allow some progressive ideas to come of age in our culture -even in our church culture. I doubt very much that God had in mind the perpetual (virtual) enslavement of over half of His people when He inspired the apostle to write what he did concerning women in leadership.

What ever would we think today of such people as Aimee Temple McPherson;(correct spelling?)Kathryn Khulman; Catherine Marshall, to name but a few? Where would we be if Industry subscribed to the same old way of thinking? Would we have women like Mary Kaye; Martha Stewart; Belinda Stronach? What of Politics? Would we have women like Margaret Thatcher; Kim Cambell; Ghandi?

Did God intend for us to leave common sense at the door when we entered His Family? Or did he intend us to judge "secular" activities differently than religious ones?

I also doubt that the author of Hebrews was inspired to write "forsaking not the gathering of ourselves together" as a means of flogging the unchurched with the Law. It is good to gather together with like-minded believers; to worship God together; to share His Goodness and Mercy, but does "like-minded" mean we agree with everything someone else believes?

Surely we can agree that for some people, the Institutional Church is where it is at, but for some others, small groups are better. For some, Hymns are the only music worth listening to, but many young people today are so turned off by them, that there would be no way of ever reaching them were it not for Contemporary Christian Music. Some decry make-up, some of us need all the help we can get.

Listen, People. It is not HOW we come to the Lord, or where, it is that we come at all that is important. It isn't who leads us, it is that we are shown the Way. It isn't what we wear, it is that we are clothed in Righteousness. Paul Bunyan's way may not be mine, nor C.S. Lewis's. Maybe Tolkien reaches me.

By all means test the spirits against Scripture,
but please do not be so dogmatic that you limit entrance to the Kingdom to only those with whom you feel comfortable. God, throughout history, has chosen some very unlikely people to do His work: Moses for one, an ass for another. (Hey, there's hope for ME!) He has also chosen some very unlikely places as proving grounds: the desert, the wilderness, the filthy River Jordan.

I wonder how we would accept this guy as our Senior Pastor today? He persecuted Christians, even to the point of having them put to death. He spent many years in prison. He fought, or at least had a disagreement with, one of the men known to be closest to Jesus in his day, to the point of denying him the opportunity to serve on a very important missionary trip. The Apostle Paul was no angel, but became the fiercest and most influential defender of our Faith.

" They shall know we are Christians by our LOVE!!!"

Posted by Arthur at January 25, 2004 11:08 PM

The link is here.

There are a number of areas where I disagree a bit, but I can actually say 'Amen' and feel happy about it. Now that's refreshingly different.

If you care to look.....

here are the photos from Saturday night.

Sunday, 25 January 2004

More images in the gallery

From Saturday's ride. Some are actually OK, together with some nice views.

Had a curious night tonight.

We had the mountain bike (C1XV) club AGM.

Now being the sort of thing it is, this was held in a pub at the start of one of our regular routes. Plenty of beer was consumed before the start by various members, thus the evening was calculated to run with a lurch or 2.

Started off with a presentation from the Genghis 4.5 (otherwise known as the committee) that run things. The chairman was absent (working in Boston) so there was some leg pulling. Then came the awards.

First up was the award for mistaking new shiney kit for ability. The 'Pimp' award. This was won by Alex (the chairman, in his absence) for continually building and selling bikes in order to get newer and more exotic ones. His personal estimate is that he's spent into 5 figures since starting in 2000.

Then there was the most bikes destroyed award - given to a guy I rode with today, who has destroyed 1 entire bike (and nearly himself) and the frame of a second this year. He's presently riding a Canadian built Cove 'Handjob' which seems to be of tougher stuff.

There were various other awards for things like the greatest hangover, won by an Australian lass, thanks to the quote "I can't do vertical today, horizontal is all I can do".

Then there was the 'who ate all the pies' award - A contest was held and 2 guys had to eat a pie each - first to clear it won.

We had 1 serious award - man of the year - given to a guy called Tom Stone, who started riding this year and has come on in leaps and bounds.

Finally there was the "mincer of the year" award. One of the standing jokes in the club is about those that ride too cautiously - usually referred to as mincing - down difficult bits of trail. There are references made to 'wearing comfy shoes and dungarees', and 'riding like a lesbian'. Not to be taken too seriously - it's all part of 'robust banter'. There is a weekly award given for cowardice/poor riding, called the "Baton de Lesbos" which is a short cyclepump painted pink.

Well, this year they came up with the 'shield of Sappho' (yes, I know the derivation) awarded to the 'mincer of the year'. Really it's a sign of affection, as well as a bit of a leg-pull. Anyway there were a number of nominations for this, including me, for an embarrassing bit of riding I did last winter over the 'roots of doom'. I compounded this by riding it cautiously not once, but twice. And yes, you've guessed it, I'm now the holder of a large 'shield of Sappho', plus a medal with 'mincer' engraved on the back and a bottle of 'old tart' wine.

Anyone else ever get something they weren't entirely sure they wanted?

Friday, 23 January 2004

Suicidal tendencies.

Ever do something, only to realise immediately after that it might not, just possibly, have been the best thing to do?

Just emailed Chris a picture of a toothbrush with a bubble over it's head saying "I have the worst job in the world" and a loo-roll behind it with a thought bubble "that's what you think".

Title was captioned 'you're a pink tooth brush, I'm a blue loo roll'.

Also included was a pic of Einstein standing with a blackboard covered in equations and the caption "but I STILL don't understand women".

I detect incipient sense-of-humour failure, although they seemed funny to me at the time.






Quick, pass me a gun, my foot's in view.

More on MikeRoweSoft

There may be a way out afterall.

Just lost a long post

I hereby rename this OS windows XP UN-professional.

At least with 98 you knew it was a good idea to re-start every day. Although to be honest, I reckon it was fully as stable as XP. 95 was actually more stable.

I'm using a completely standard IBM laptop BTW. No overclocking, no strange software installed. Rebuilt about 2 months ago.

Note: didn't lose it after all, but no thanks to M$. Blogger held it, even though I'd only 'previewed' and then gone to re-edit, rather than publish it.

Wonder if Linux really IS better? I've got a Mandrake 9.0 distribution set laying around.

Post parents evening

At the Marlborough School parents evenings happen with the kids present too. Poor Ben had to sit there while they discussed his successes and shortcomings. I'd say there are 2 groups of people at things like this: butterflys and pins.

As one might expect, he's a normal, healthy teenage boy, and therefore a certain proportion of the work hasn't been finished or handed in. There has been a bit of 'covering up' at home (have you done all your homework? The answer YES doesn't include 'coursework'!) In some subjects he's been very successful (possible A* grades, others we'll be happy with a C). Naturally he works as hard as is necessary to keep going, rather than sweating for hours to produce the very best he can. (my aim is to help him fall between these 2 levels - better than the minimum, but I don't expect to lock him in a tower for the next 5 months).

However Chris was not in the least chuffed, and as time went on, became increasingly upset by it all, asking very tightly defining and pointed questions in the car on the way back. Lots of other pressures all joined in (Chris is the 'organiser' of the household) and came to the surface too. I made the mistake of escaping to the PC when we got in, when I should have been in the kitchen, serving dinner, and the explosion finally happened. Things did get smoothed out eventually, but it left me feeling hurt and angry.

And so to bed.

Angry.

Not good.

Sleep helped, but only a little.

Heavens feel 'as brass' this morning.

And so to work.

I could feel my shoulders sagging as I walked the path to the car. Once in, normality began to re-assert itself. Then a quick conversation with the MD (currently in the French office) brightened things a bit more.

It's a sad day when you go to work and cheer up.

Thursday, 22 January 2004

Cheating

This blog looks a little interesting. Inapplicable to non-US dwellers, but food for thought to everyone.

I was sufficiently interested

in what he had to say to add Paul Woodburn to the blogroll. I'm kind of choosy about who goes on the roll, so this is a recommendation, really. Doesn't mean I agree completely with him, mind you.

Thinkin' bout singin'

And why we sing in worship.

I've been stimulated by PWoody and his blog, not that I agree especially, although I think he's trying to stir reaction in his posts, rather than posting what he thinks.

Anyway, I just wandered into the lab singing a worship song. (it's OK, I can post from work before 9.00 - I've been in since 7.50am). Made me wonder why I was doing it. I was aware that as I sang it altered my perspective. Postured me toward God. It's not just about the words, although they are important, because they stimulate our our rationality to adoration. It's not about the tune, although it should produce a response from our emotions.

Thinking about the best lead large worship meetings, they all involved orienting people toward God and then taking them closer. I'm not thinking of the meetings where everyone is champing at the bit, and all you have to do it play the first chord and every one's there. But the times where you've travelled to get there, been hassled, experienced family etc. There's a time when everyone gets collected together in some exuberant praise, then a deepening of the intimacy where people can slip into the transcendent worship phase. Finally the 'slow dance' songs, where you're holding your beloved and your beloved is holding you, whispering to you about all kinds of things that really matter. And your heart is open and responsive.

Now I've made it sound really corny.

Wednesday, 21 January 2004

I've just built someone a blog today.

When they start using it I'll add it to the blogroll.

Come on Az - post something :-)

Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Canukes seem to get in everywhere

Seems perfectly reasonable use of a name to me.

Thanks Haloscan

As you can see, I now have comments back. And all quite painless too!

What kind of opportunity is there for the next generation?

I've had a number of threads running through my mind for a while, which are starting to coalesce into a theme.

100 years ago people were good, law abiding, polite and respectable. Huge generalisation, I know, but as my mother observed, people were like sheep and would do what they were told whether by the guv'nor or the law. It was expected, and apart from criminals or those that were odd, you conformed.

Then came WWII.

My mother was a little girl during the war years - a 'latchkey kid' as they were called. Father was in the army (as a cook - he was a pacifist) and her mother worked in central London. She got a view on life that opened her eyes to many things, and in the 50s became a young communist, and was (I suspect) quite wild in her beliefs, politics and expectations. She had grown up in a brethren congregation, and was far too much her own person to just shut up and put up. And although she is very circumspect about her church background, I know she rocked the boat at times there too.

Fast forward 20 years.

I had a loving family life, growing up in London with far more freedom than children would or could be allowed today. At 16 I became a committed Christian and embarked on a life of 'radical Christianity at any price'. Since we were part of a Baptist church at the time (very respectable, no obvious space for God) I had a perfect opportunity and target to rebel against. Sure I caused some headaches (I do regret some of it now, especially the 'black and white' harshness) but it was a great training ground. OK, lets rebel by trying to know God better and be like him!

And so we now wind forward another 20 years.

I am now a little 'respectable' (only a very little though ;-) and part of a somewhat turbulent but established church. My son had his 16th Birthday on Saturday last week, and my daughter is 14.5. My mother saw a corrupt society full of inequality and rebelled, wanting righteousness to prevail. I saw a corrupted structure that seemed like an empty powerless shell, and rebelled, wanting to know God at work in my life. My children are now in the place that we wanted to be, where we're trying to work out radical Christianity. The UK is a 'nanny state' where true poverty is rare and people are protected in myriad ways. My problem is; in what manner can they rebel positively? I can see lots of opportunities for negative rebellion, but I want to stir them to go further than me, to be more radical, to change and lead and pursue God.

How can I make them break out of their comfort zones and become disruptive and difficult individuals, determined to get closer to Him?

Monday, 19 January 2004

Was I prophetic on Randall's blog just now?

Just copied this from the blogspeak website:

"The site looks pretty bare (obviously) after the recent events, but BlogSpeak is coming back as a web ring of sorts, as well as a portal to the open source side of BlogSpeak, and possibly a forum for just all around blogging chatter. You'll be able to submit your site for free, after which you'll place a small bit of code on your own page linking to other blogs. This means more traffic for you, and also keeping the BlogSpeak name alive. Keep checking back for updates as BlogSpeak rebounds and comes back to life in another form."

Apparently blogspeak is being acquired by Haloscan. So there you go.

Comments should return soon. Please don't get too blogstipated (thanks Randall - good worm) while waiting for normal service to resume.

Saturday, 17 January 2004

And I have a funny shaped briuse now.

In the middle of my forehead.

I don't crash very often (good job too) but I managed it twice this morning. It was beautiful, crisp, mostly clear and frosty. A lot of the mud was frozen still at 8.30 when we left the car park in Watlington. Al's pics of the ride are here.

Prang 1 was from having to jump drainage channels cut across the trail - they consisted of a trench about 12" deep and 2 feet wide, with the earth from the channel piled at the lip - first one was OK, but the second one I landed slightly squiffed and the front wheel let go. I bruised and painful knee later, I managed to climb back on the bike.

Prang 2 was at the end of the ride. We were just riding the last couple of miles back on the ridgeway when conditions deteriorated to 'complete quagmire'. Cue a little detour on 'permissive bridleway'. Al had dropped his front wheel down a hole, almost falling in the process, and steadied himself by stopping and dabbing. I was close behind, and braked hard to avoid him. When I'd almost stopped my front wheel too dropped into a dip, gently easing me over the bars at almost no speed, to land on my head! I've now got a strange shaped bruise in the middle of my forehead from the helmet :-/ What made it funny was that Al, having caused me to fall, didn't hear the 'thump' and rode off leaving me laying in a heap on the trail. After completing self-testing (anything hurt? can I feel everything OK? arms and legs move?) I climbed back on unhurt and wobbled off to eventually catch them.

Still, it was a good ride.

I did it!

Finally got the pickups in the guitar, and it sounds great. Clapton's 'woman tone', no problem. Probably won't use that sound in church a lot, but it sounds good a little lighter too. Ended up completely re-wiring it, but it was worth it for the better reliability and sounds.

Thursday, 15 January 2004

Oh no it isn't. Nuts.

Just a cached copy of the webpage. Shame.

It's good to see

Blogspeak is back up. Wonder what happened? Investigate tomorrow.

The best laid mice of plans and men

Tonight was a night off, so I thought I’d wire in those nice new pickups for the Washburn.

I’ve had this guitar a few years now, and it came to me very very cheap and very beaten up. I didn’t mind at the price (£125! They were about £600 - £700 new in the 80’s) and a few dings adds authenticity. What was odd is that there is pink showing through the black where the paint is chipped, apart from the spot where it’s bare wood.

Anyway, first off I managed to open it (screws are the tiniest I’ve EVER seen on a guitar) and find that the wiring is a complete mess, and looks really complicated. Considering I’ve had the strat to bits a few times and it’s got one more pickup, this looked daft. Also the wiring has been done really badly – clunky joints, broken/fixed wires - def not original at all, which explains the stupid control setup (toggle toward the bridge is neck PU and vice versa, bottom knobs work neck, top work bridge – weird).

Then I twig – it was originally pink, and has had a pro refinish. Now that IS funny – a ‘metal style’ guitar in pink. Ho hum. I’m almost tempted to try to strip it, just for the fun of using a pink guitar in church, but I just don’t have the time or energy.

Anyway, get ready to disconnect all the wiring, only to drop and break my soldering iron :-( There’s a kind of spare, but it’s really a de-solderer, and unsuitable. Then I find the new pickup surrounds don’t quite fit (originals are washburn custom jobs!!!)

Its got to 10.30, I’ve copied the original wiring onto paper, designed my new layout with controls in rational places and I’ve had enough. Got to be out early (7.00) tomorrow. I’m going to bed before I do something stupid.

Night

Wednesday, 14 January 2004

Beware the phisherman

If you use M$'s bug-ridden browser.

See this article on The Register for more details. If find it astonishing and almost unbelieveable that something could have been left in like this. It's not as if this is IE 3.0, after all.

www.opera.com is my recommended fix.

Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Blogspeak is definitely down.

Apparantly he's been pulled from the server, from the sound of things without warning.

Nice, not.

Yet more news

The car is now ready, or so I've been told. It's weird, because I've hardly felt the need to keep knocking on heaven's door about this, even though it feels like I should have been. Is it trust or laziness?

And just as amazing, Chris has found the missing key to our old car in her 'spare' bag. Shame she couldn't find it 4 weeks ago :-/

BTW blogspeak appears to be down at the mo.

After the rain, a little sun.

I had a bit of a scare earlier this morning.

Stephanie (our book-keeping person) has been extremely busy with the tax returns of her other clients, since the deadline for them is the end of Jan. I mentioned how glad I was not to have been asked to do another, when she told me that since I'd already done one and received a P11D it was extremely likely I'd have to do it. Not only, but also that I probably wouldn't be notified that it was required of me, as I'd done one before. Add to that the fact that as well as the £100 fine for being late, from this year you are now charged £60 per day over the deadline!

Anyone else know that clammy, sweaty feeling?

She did have a number that connected me with a real person at the tax office - last year I called and called using one of their regular public numbers, but could NEVER get through. This time I was assured by a 'Liz' that I was not required to do the return. Rejoice!

Not only but also, the long awaited pickups (a late late Christmas prezzie) have finally arrived. Can't wait to try them now. We've got Housegroup tonight. Wonder if I've got time before we go? If I do them after we get back, I won't be able to test them at a sensible volume :-)

Saturday, 10 January 2004

Well that was a crappy day, that was.

Best laid plans etc.

We had to collect the new car today - it's from a dealer down by Heathrow Airport - about an hour and a quarter away. We'd wanted to get away quickly but Sarah also wanted to go shopping with a friend. Who lives on the wrong side of Oxford. And didn't want to go early.

Pattern emerging?

Anyway, we finally got away, eventually reaching the motorway about 10.30, and arriving about 11.35. Did the paperwork and payment, signed the old car over, checked a few last things and we were off. As part of the deal the new car was to have the discs replaced (they were warped - normal for a 406 of this mileage). As I slowed for the first junction I could feel a gentle pulsing through the brake pedal. Ignore it as feelings of a new car. Happens again at next junction. Hit some dual carriageway and speed up, then brake moderately from about 60mph. The steering wheel jerks firmly from side to side as the old discs brake unevenly. @%$#! I show Chris, and she can see the wheel whipping about, an inch either way.

By this time we're on the motorway heading back, so I eventually find somewhere to pull off and turn round. Stop and call the dealer. They're terribly sorry, but the MOT (road worthiness testing) station said the pads were worn, but the discs were OK.

Well, they were wrong.

So back we went. Swapped cars back and left in the old one, to collect this one when it was fixed.

It was all conducted in a friendly and apologetic manner, but in retrospect I'm quite cross. I'm not some twit that can't tell a petrol pipe from an exhaust pipe, and given the tools I could probably replace the discs myself in less than an hour. And I explained the symptoms and why they needed replacing while we negotiated the sale. Now I'm wishing I had asked to put it on ramps and go over it with a sharp and enquiring eye instead of trusting the dealer and the RAC report. And so we've lost one of our precious Saturdays.

On top of that I bought some guitar pickups (out of new Les Paul) from a guy in the US through Harmony Central a couple of weeks before Christmas (destined to be my Christmas prezzie from Chris). Did they appear? Did they heck. Many failed tracking numbers and a tranch of email later, I received a letter yesterday from Parcelfarce, the post office's shipping arm. My PUs are in Oxford. Would I like to come down and pay £8 admin fee plus £12 tax so that I can collect them? That's great. I paid $100 for the PUs and they want to charge me $35 for the priviledge of them entering this scrofulous country. I guess I should be grateful they were intercepted, since at least I've paid proper legal duty on them.

Count it all joy bretheren.

Thursday, 8 January 2004

Back again

Integrity mostly intact.

The journey up was the quickest ever - 3.5 hours for about 270 miles. That's quite amazing for a midweek morning. The customer seems happier with the product, and the equipment works OK now, having decided to fail while it was sat un-used after my last visit 4 weeks ago.

More or less successful then. Thanks Father.

Wednesday, 7 January 2004

Back to Newcastle today, return tomorrow (Thursday)

Just pray things work and I can retain my integrity. This isn't an easy visit.

Tuesday, 6 January 2004

Warning - philosophical bit ahead.

Better get the caffeine ready then.

This may come out as a mishmash, because that’s how the data has been fed in – a right ole mess.

I was provoked by Leighton’s discussions last year about Eastern Orthodoxy (EO) and the assertion by some of the posters there that the EO was the only authentic church. My comment early on about not being certain they had any validity apparently caused some amusement. Actually I’ve not seen anything yet to completely counter that view, but bear with me.

I was also provoked recently by a further discussion on Leighton’s blog where the word ‘Theodicy’ (the justice of God IIRC) was used.

I also seem to remember reading a post somewhere about how the church was being made less by simplification of the gospel for simple people. The discussion went on to use lots of silly words, all with their own special meaning known only the educated few.

Finally, this morning I was reading in Job. Now this is a book that I don’t normally relish, and having plowed my way through it before, read the opening few chapters yesterday. I was in mind to skip the rest and move on, when I felt God indicate that I should read a bit more, so I skipped the tedious bits of Jewish legalistic theology and went straight to the end where God starts talking to Job. Now I’m lucky enough o have an NIV study bible, and in this, under the scripture is a section offering a brief explanation or commentary. After completing the last chapter I then had a quick scan through the commentary, as I often like to. The words for 42: 7-9 leapt off the page at me:

“Despite Job’s mistakes in words and attitude while he suffered, he is now commended and the counsellors are rebuked. Why? Because even in his rage, even when he challenged God, he was determined to speak honestly before him. The counsellors, on the other hand, mouthed many correct and often beautiful creedal statements, but without a living knowledge of the God they claimed to honour. Job spoke to God; they only spoke about God. Even worse, their spiritual arrogance caused them to claim knowledge they did not possess. They presumed to know why Job was suffering.”

What’s this all about?

It reminded me about how things were in the Baptist church I grew up in. We had all the great and good through the doors from Spurgeon’s college, most of whom seemed to talk about God as the object of their life’s study, but not as if they knew him and knew what he was saying. The similarity to some of the discussions I’ve read were quite striking, with clearly clever men explaining things in eloquent ways using specialist language. Just as it was then for me, so it was again – it sounds correct, and working the logic through it looks OK, but something in my spirit says “this isn’t quite right”.

What does the bible say about the early Christians? Not many of you were wise, not many of you were noble. But you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified through the blood of Christ. I hope and pray that in my foolishness I may be one who talks to God, rather than about him.

It does, however, seem to me that a theology that does not build up the ordinary Christian isn't worth a wet slap. But that's just me talking now.

I have more thoughts, but it’s 12.15am, and that’s enough for now.

Saturday, 3 January 2004

Bushed again.

Did a couple of hours through the Chilterns this morning, starting from the wonderfully named "Christmas common".

While I was putting the bike in the car it was just dusting with snow. Once there it was quite bitter, and by the end of the first descent fingers, toes and forehead were aching with cold. Unfortunately most of the mud was still liquid (another night like that and it won't be). However where it hit the bike it froze solid, resulting in my gears refusing to shift up, due to the mud built up layer on layer on the gear cable.

The up side of this was that putting the bike in the car meant I didn't get too dirty :-) The downside was that it melted and fell off into the back of the car :-(

It was a good ride, with 9 of us out there. At this time of year there's always plenty of camaraderie, and when there was a puncture people would stop to help. We also didn't have any crashes this time, as conditions generally made going too fast difficult. Some places were good though. The section affectionately known as "the roots of doom" was really quite grippy, and was much more "roots of mild inconvenience".

Most amazing was the guy (whose name I forget) that did the ride in shorts and short socks! A true hard man, despite being about 8 to 10 years older than me.

Friday, 2 January 2004

Normality re-asserts itself

Well, I'm back at work, skies are grey, we have electricity again.

The good news is that we can't collect the replacement car until next week, so I should manage to get a ride in this weekend :-)