Thursday, 31 January 2008

My mother is back in hospital.

Increasing trouble from her digestive system has more-or-less taken away her ability/opportunity to sleep. She's in for investigation and exploration for about a week. Any spare prayer would be gratefully received.


I appear to be a somewhat maturialist crunchy conservative

It isn't a *good* description, but it does fit a bit.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

I listened to radio 4 this morning

Before the Archers started.

There was a female part-time judge on amongst others, talking about the case in Crete where a husband picked up his children and walked off his 6th floor balcony while holding them. They were there on holiday to try to re-build the relationship, but the wife had just told him she was leaving and things were finished. He has been found Not Guilty of murdering his son, who died in the fall (both he and the daughter survived). The judges comment disturbed me - her conclusion was that of all the evidence brought up in court, it was emails showing that the wife had been fooling around 5 years previously that made a difference.

She suggested that in a case like that, blaming the woman was always good for sympathy, and an effective tack in an otherwise hopeless defence case.

While what she says may be true generally, it concerns me that someone in such a position can make so shallow a judgement in this case, based on such a small shred of evidence (the quote ABOUT the email) from such an unreliable source (the News Of The World). I hope she's never sitting if I ever go to court.

BTW If you've a free minute

Pray for Candace and Robyn, off with a youth group this W/E.

It worries me

It worries me a little to be discussing things with those I know to be more intelligent/better educated than me.

It worries me when those things are of life-changing importance.

It worries me most when I *know* inside that some of those with greater intelligence and training are *wrong* about key things, but I can't say exactly why or how.

Does anyone else out there wonder how it is that HUGE numbers of people are apparently lead by the nose down dark alleys and into bad places, probably in all sincerity.

Can I change the world?

Saturday, 26 January 2008

To answer Georgia - another blog post.

A problem for me is that there are several levels to relationships I have with people, and I want higher level relationships with more people.

The highest level is where love is reciprocated and there is a unity of wishes and purpose, both conscious and unconscious. Obviously there is a spectrum to this, with Chris at the top end, but also the majority of people I know through Bicester Community Church as well as a substantial bunch of guys outside that body. We willingly line ourselves up, and where there are significant issues, we'll work them through.

Next down are those with whom there is a friendship/love relationship but not necessarily a common purpose and understanding, although no specific disagreement either. I can relax and enjoy such company, make and receive comments where we don't line up, but not feel a need to watch my back or carefully monitor what I say.

Then there are those that do seem to be part of the family of God, yet with whom there is a feeling that says "there's something not right: watch yourself and what you say or agree with". I cannot relax and I frequently feel I cannot align myself with these people. It is as though my acceptance of a close relationship automatically means I must embrace their values and aims too. In this group are those Christians with a liberal theology, and to a lesser degree those of other faiths (I suspect the 2 are connected - maybe I'll follow that up sometime). Also in this category are the 'hard right' conservatives of a flavour that says ONLY my theology is right - how d'you measure up, boy? I tend to struggle less with them because often their basic beliefs are reasonably sound but their hearts seem to have missed it, whereas with the liberals often their hearts are right but their theology is stuffed, and I care more about the heart.

There is a 4th group - those who are not part of God's kingdom. Relationships here are altogether different. I can care deeply for these people as equals, yet there is not the same sense of family, of belonging to each other, of being joined.

I should mention BTW that I NEVER consciously band relationships like this, but it is easier to break things down instead of trying to describe a spectrum.

Some of this thinking comes out of my life on the WWW and conversations I've had through blogging. Some of it comes from reading. Some from plain wondering why I feel the way I do about certain people, yet differently about others. I have mild suspicions about the theology behind this thinking, but as it's a development and not cast in stone I'll just run with it for now. My wish - is that those in group 2 could move up to group 1, group 3 to group 2, and especially group 4 to group 1 (from experience, that is an easier move than 3 to 2).

And some of this comes out of what I see as a worrying trend - the Christian faith as worked out in some parts of the world to abandon a sound faith and strike out on its own. I see liberal theology as being the next real crisis point for the church. Not that we want to go round burning the heretics, but we also want to see that it doesn't deviate so far away from sound teaching that those who might otherwise be saved instead are denied saving faith in Jesus. That would be real heresy, and that IS scary.

Posting is kinda thin recently.

Actually, having typed that I realise it's been thin for quite a while.

One issue is that my sleep patterns have been shot to ribbons over the last 5 or 6 weeks, and it's been making me muddle headed and tired during the day. Plus I used to post a lot from work (when I thought best) but I MUST back away from the net in work time: which I'm mostly successful at, hence the lower post number.

Anyway, we're heading off to Oxford. It'sa leadership training day again, and we're serving in the kitchen this morning. If you want to lead, you need to learn to serve.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Do you ever wish?

That you could know and be in agreement with many of the other people in the blogosphere?

I was just reading Linea's blog, and found a post by Jamie Arpin-Ricci wishing her well and telling her that he was praying about her heart issues.

There seem to be a whole bunch of people out there that I'd love to be able to agree with over (sometimes fundamental) theological issues and be at peace with instead of reading their stuff with analysis and care. Jamie wrote an article about his struggle with homosexuality, and it made my heart go out to him. At the same time I struggle with the emergent movement with it's overtly liberal and post modern approach to theology and praxis.

But there's a whole bunch of people I'd *like* to be at peace with, yet don't feel totally comfy about. I wish it were not so.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Computer's back online again

No idea WHY it wouldn't recognise the SATA drive, but by the grace of God, it does now. had some cheap fast memory in, so I bought a second 2Gb - now running 4Gb of CL4 667MHz RAM, but this stuff is rather nice, and runs happily overclocked to 800GHz to 2.0v. The update was originally intended to let me use 'Tiger one' which is MSI's overclocking software. But that started hanging when I tried to use it, so it's uninstalled and any overclocking will be done the conventional way, through the BIOS.

Live and learn.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Today Ben is Twenteen.

Well, that's the word HE used for it.

Our child has outgrown his teenage years. Is that a pension book I see on the horizon? Nope, it's a commission.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

My good friend

Martin Stead has a thread that really could use some more comments. Volunteers welcome.

Afraid of disappointment?

One of the stand-out issues for me reading 'Christian' or theological books has been that I can never relax and just accept or receive the teaching that comes through the book. It probably stems from on-line experience over the last 5 years, but I find myself reading with a suspicious and critical eye, especially when the book makes some reference to emergent theology. Brian McClaren's A Generous Orthodoxy was a prime example, where I just got sick of sorting wheat from chaff after a couple of chapters and could face any more. It's still sat here by the PC, untouched for more than a year.

There's also a HUGE swathe of books available with dreadful titles by authors I've never heard of (or worse, some I have). What on Earth do you buy if you want to educate yourself?

I have a strong interest in 'Church': how it works and why it should. It was natural therefore at the conference last weekend that I should spot a book that produced both hope a dread in me. Hope, because I'm interested in making the Church (and especially our church) better, and dread because it was by an unknown - to me - author (Ray Anderson) and had the title An Emergent Theology For Emerging Churches.

First skim made it look good, so I bought it (you knew that already) plus another book by Derek Prince, also about the church, that I considered would at least provide a counter-balance to this work.

I read the foreword and my heart fell - it was full of slightly icky mutual admiration by Brian McClaren. But I wasn't going to bin £9 worth of book just for that, so I pressed on. I have so far covered the introduction ONLY. This is not light hearted read, although someone like Fern might skim through. I have no formal theological training, and in addition, my eyes and head are out of practice reading anything of substance. So it's taken 2 mealtimes (we usually all read at table) to get to the start of the book proper. Thus far he's reminded me why I was emergent (and now consider myself post-emergent, although I'm still emergent in his terms) and in his comparison between the churches at Jerusalem and Antioch sounds like he's going the same direction I am.

And so I'm here at the start of the book.

There's a slight reluctance to get stuck in, as the start has actually been pretty good. My biggest fear is that he's going to turn into a liberal and the whole thing will go sliding down the pan. One of my strongest objections to the on-line EC community has been a liberal theology that seems to have been *almost* universally embraced. I am hoping that he will be sound and the theology described in this work will be careful, considered and reflect a biblical theology interpreted form the context of our present society, rather than the whims of society imprinted upon the theology as it feels is so often the case. I keep hoping that someone will uncover some deep spiritual truth somewhere with clear biblical backing, but all it ever turns into is wishful thinking and self-deception.

There's another issue too: Anderson is in California, and American Christianity seems to have little resonance with the rest of the world.

But I will press on. If anything exciting drops out then I'll blog it. Should you hear nothing then either the book is pap or I'm just too busy.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Sleep seems to have been a precious commodity.

Thursday night was brief, at around 1.5 hours.

Last night through to this morning we had a 'half night' of prayer (the church always starts the year like this) getting home at 12.40am.

But sleep was full and sweet through to 8ish this morning.


Friday, 11 January 2008

I'd like to believe.

That this is a good sign. I guess nothing short of impeachment will remove George Bush from office before the end of his term. On that basis he has little to lose and quite a lot to gain. Better late than never?

Should I take the green pill or the silver pill?

I asked this question a couple of weeks ago: the answer has become YES.

I'm having one of those nights where you go to bed at a sensible time, only to wake a couple of hours later. In this case lights out was 11.00 and I awoke around 12.30 wondering when the alarm was due to go off. My head's whizzing away, yet has that cotton-wool feel and various passages aren't free either, so I suspect the real culprit is a minor infection that's been lurking since Christmas.

Anyway, after all I said about Peugeots, silver cars and black interiors, it seems that is what we've replaced the 406 with. On Wednesday night Steve dropped off a 307 SW (basically the estate with moveable seats) and collected the old one. Guess I needed to stop worrying about externals.

So I've driven it to Banbury and back this evening to go shopping, and that's another part of the reason for not sleeping - the head won't stop analysing. 20 odd miles isn't really enough to know a car, but it *feels* like I already understand it pretty well. Compared to the 406 it feels quite a bit smaller, but with lighter, sharper handling: more tension and less smooth unruffledness. The bigger pug had a particularly good ride on bad roads and very relaxed neutral handling where this is sensitive, responsive and quicker, although not truly sporting with a bit too much body roll.

The comparison is interesting because I drove another 307 over the Christmas break. That had 43K on the clock, and was - I hope - the 90bhp version instead of the 110 like this. It felt so much like the 406 in a slightly smaller package that there was zero familiarisation needed. It was also sluggish feeling (compared to our 200,000 mile car). This one theoretically has the same power output as the older 2.0L 110 406, but feels more powerful as it doesn't run out of steam above 3200 revs like the older car. Gearing is the same with 70mph at around 2400rpm ish, and at speed it's a little quieter, as you might hope from a younger car. On tickover it's noticeably more dieselly sounding, but not unpleasantly so.

While typing this I popped the Beatles Revolver album in the drive (bought cheap at Tesco this evening). They really were hitting the pharmaceuticals for Yellow Submarine. Not being a Beatles fan I also never realised how much they've been ripped off by everyone from the Jam through Oasis and all the crappy Indie bands.

Back on topic, fuel economy should be pretty special - if we can keep our right feet light. Steve reckoned it was doing 65mpg on his journey up from Exeter at a steady 70mph. The 406 did around 40 to 45mpg mostly, and from tonights drive I reckon this'll be doing around 55mpg with normal use. Saving 20% of our fuel bill wouldn't do any harm at all.

Just a couple more comments. Modern car designs seem to be placing the windscreen further away from the occupants. In this car its a lot further forward than in the 406, and very similar to the beetle. I'm not sure how it'll be possible to wipe the screen on that car and it'll be a struggle to reach on this one. The roof line is also very high (like the beetle again) and with the panoramic roof (basically a large glass section that doesn't open, but instead is covered or concealed with an electric blind) it feels like there's a lot of space above your head. Outside it's OK for a silver car, with one of the more sparkly silvers available (VWs tend to be grey, even from new) and various other shiny bits. It'll dull down to inconspicuity after a couple of week road dirt covers everything.

So what's not to like? I'm struggling to find a seating position I like in the rather firm (less so than the BMW) seats, and the wheel/seat/pedals relationship needs some tweaking. I was spoiled with the 406, as it had one of the best seating arrangements I've found and was only really beaten by our old Citroen CX GTi. Wheel height needs tweaking, as there's nowhere comfy for the elbows. One more thing: this car has the least effective heating system I've come across in as long as I can remember. Maybe I'm doing something fundamentally wrong, but it only really became warm after winding the heater to max, turning up the fan speed and setting air on re-circulate only. The 406 had climate control that I never really cared about, but was really extremely effective with the cabin becoming warm within about 5 min of starting off. I'll reserve judgement on this until I've done more than one journey, but find it hard to believe this is real.

So for all those who wondered, now you know - probably way more than you wanted to.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008


Not REALLY hungry - mouth hungry.

Maxine has just waved a biscuit tin under my nose, and my mouth is telling me it wants filling.







12st 7lb this morning.

Ever lose comments?

I posted a comment on a blog about feminisation of the church. Someone then posted a 'ranty' comment about how women ought to be in leadership and how typical of me it was to blame women for the troubles in the church. My final comment was to ask what their church background was.

I can't remember whose blog it was.

I've checked the usual suspects and drawn a blank. Didn't mean to step away from the conversation, but that's how it'll seem (if they haven't done the equivalent of lobbing a verbal grenade in and then running out).

There's something that I've been wanting to put into words.

It stems from a contradiction that caused great internal angst and unrest, yet could never be brought out to a satisfactory conclusion.

The issue is when those that are Christian brothers condemn one source of evil while supporting another.

An example would be the condemning of Islamic terrorism while applauding the mis-treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

I cannot minimise the effect this has had on me internally, and the effect that I believe it has had on them. It is an insidious evil that has seared the consciences of otherwise good men and made them the helpless tools of wickedness in those aspects of their lives. I believe it has blinded their eyes to the plight of the poor and helpless and hardened their hearts to suffering caused by the regimes they support.

In the Christian walk it is difficult to live the black and white reality of absolute good and absolute evil, yet we must learn to distinguish between them. This also has implications on how God works and walks with us, but those are thoughts for another time.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Thoughts from the leaders conference: Toni

Well, I managed to get to all of it, despite some headaches and a quick dose of serving.

This is a bit of a random record. Some things I'll try to come back for and maybe expand later. Others are just passing comments that I'll leave where they lie. Not necessarily in any particular order.

Steve Thomas: Speaking prophetically, the kingdom of God has now bottomed out. We should be expecting to see a rise in the kingdom in the future.

Mark Stibbe: The 2 main demonic forces ruling the world today are battling it out, and the church is sleeping while this is happening. [I believe he's referring to western consumerism and Islam.]

Barney Coombs: The church is full of spiritually orphaned, crying out for parents. Who will be spiritual fathers?

Mark Stibbe: People ask me why I am still in the Anglican church. It is because there's more glory in raising the dead than healing the sick.

Mark Stibbe: "there is HOPE in the neutral zone". Talking about Noah, after he was shut in the ark (Gen 7v16) being afloat, not able to navigate anywhere and just having to live through a time of drastic change. It is fully acceptable to float through the 'neutral zone' without having a specific destination you're heading to.

Sally Harding: If you want to put rocks in your bucket then you'll have to leave out some of the sand. "When I had less rocks in my bucket then I just put the sand back in - did anyone notice that for 6 months when I did less things my floors were cleaner?"

Mark Stibbe: The Ark was a temporary place of shelter and confinement and was not home. After restriction comes release.

Mark Stibbe: Change and transition are different. Change is situational, Transition is psychological. We need to not just create change, but manage transition. We need to move through the gate in 2008.

Sally Harding: It's not enough to just trust God - you need to take responsibility.

Barney Coombs: Handling finances according to how God speaks will influence the whole capacity of your ministry.

Richard Colebrooke: We need to oppose doubt masquerading as rational thinking, moaning and grumbling. We also need to be aware of people who can't keep up and aren't yet ready to move in faith.

Barney Coombs: Pruning is a blessing from the Lord.Pruning comes in seasons, but we need to ask: if God is not pruning me, is it because He's had to shelve me?

Barney Coombs: The first voice you hear is usually God. The second is usually the devil.

Steve Thomas: We have a rich heritage that travels with us in a ruckasck.

Mark Stibbe: We need to make a good finish. It is better to finish our lifelong race being supported than to win minor races but fail in the end.

Martin Dunkley: (quoting Barney) If God has said to do something then that's good, but if God hasn't said to do something then why are you doing it?

Other realisations that aren't exactly quotable.

We (Chris and I) are called to be spiritual parents here.

I am a natural and instinctive law-breaker. I instinctively lack respect for authority and automatically distrust it. I also lead others astray with my thinking.

I need to be ruthless about sin in my own life.

Most men are happy to make plans up as required at the time. Most women want plans in advance, despite knowing they will have to be changed.

I still feel a call to Italy some day, and wonder how it may be possible for us to become involved there.

Thoughts from the Leaders conference: Chris

Well, I manged to miss half of it anyway. What with helping with the catering Friday morning, which was absolutely exhausting. (Who would ever have thought that washing up 1,000 cups & saucers could be so tiring?) And then having a migraine for 2 days. Presumably God got me to the things he wanted me to hear!

Primarily what I think he said to me was:
1) The anointing that we received in 2005 is still on us, but that the special grace we had for that year is no longer required. We need to step out in faith & be disciplined in preparation, & he will meet us halfway. What he won't do anymore is carry us.
2) We are to focus on what he wants us to do, i.e. disciple & nurture our group of young Christians, & concentrate on trying to do it excellently. Everything else will just have to fall into place or fall by the wayside. I am NOT to worry about the things that fall by the wayside as they won't be things of eternal consequence!

Friday, 4 January 2008

Chris has just told me to......

create a blog entry telling you what car we bought.

We bought a green VW Beetle.

We *may* buy a silver Peugeot 307, but that's still under discussion.

I guess it would keep us balanced, with one vehicle with a little individuality and one vehicle without.

This weekend we're at the Salt & Light leaders conference

Which IS a good thing, although it takes us out for effectively 3 days, which makes life a little strange after the Christmas break.

If I get time and remember I will try to blog a couple of the key thoughts for me that have dropped out.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Apparently it is now illegal...

.... to create MP3 files for personal use from CDs you have paid for.

It's not too surprising this has happened, because this is a business to make as much money as possible, so fair use is not a concern. And IF they win (which they might well) then I really hope all this stupidity remains in the US and doesn't get imported here. However since we have our own share of the greedy this is an issue of concern for anyone that enjoys listening to music on more than just their CD player.

Or maybe not according to an ex Washington post reporter (story originated with the WP apparently).

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


Ask Robert Heinlein.

Luke and Hayley came by to borrow some heaters as their heating has broken and we're due freezing temperatures and snow tomorrow. Since they were coming over we invited them for dinner.

Before Christmas Sainsburys supermarket had a special offer on LARGE pieces of beef at half price. I bought one, and as well as feeding 12 people it was one of the nicest bits of beef we've enjoyed here.

So I bought another, as the offer was still going.

This one was tough. So tough that some sections were almost inedible, even when cooked to perfection. The twist was, Luke and Hayley were our guests being fed this incredibly chewy beef. Flavour great, edibility minimal. And to cap it off, the Apple pudding I bought did not thaw adequately over a 2 hour period before being eaten, so they got frozen pudding on top of un-chewable meat.

Guys: this is NOT our normal level of hospitality.