Monday 30 June 2008

Tomorrow nigh I shall introduce the housegroup to a new word.

The word is 'effulgence'.

Apparently it means brilliance, splendor, the state of being bright, radiant.

To Chris and me it sounds like the description of something brown with bits in it.

'Mazin wot bein eddycated duz for yer.

What's worse?

Someone being a right old cow to you or someone who was a right old cow to you eating humble pie in front of you.

Not my experience, but one from a relly.

The last shall be first

Sunday morning we went to St. Mary's Anglican church in Banbury, where a friend was being ordained.

It's a large, quite highly decorated church, and since a number were being ordained together and we arrived just 3 min before kick off it was packed to the gunnels.

On entering we were asked "were you invited"? Well, Ian who was being ordained asked us to come along a couple of weeks ago, so we said "yes" and who had invited us. Next thing we know we're being marched to the very front but 1 row and given seats with his family.

I was NOT dressed to fit with lots of people wearing smart suits, and both Chris and I were more than a little self conscious and apologetic to the family.

It WAS extremely funny, especially in retrospect.

Thursday 26 June 2008

I'm struggling to work out why?

Actually I know.






In no particular order.

I'm struggling to work out why we came back.

England is cold, damp and miserable. House is badly untidy, dirty, scruffy and somewhat broken (lightswitch in kitchen failed while we were gone). It's just tazzing down outside. Instead of being cared for like honoured guests, we are having to do the caring.

So I uploaded 525 images from my camera, and there's probably another 100 more from Chris's. I've already looked through mine, and it makes me want to just go book up to get back out there again (as I heard one chap at the airport say he'd done when he got home).

So here's some pics. These are not dial-up friendly and I make no apology for that. Sometime I'll get around to uploading them to fotopic (flickr ain't never going to happen).

That'll do, before I overload everyone's connections.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

35'C and gently breezy

However we have seen some clouds. They were all over the Turkish mainland, around 12 miles away.

I was afraid that I wasn't going to take any pictures, but as it is, after the first couple of days I've taken plenty.

What did I say we'd done in the last post? We've snorkelled around Roman ruins, canoed in the sea over some quite respectable waves, visited other towns, seen amazing sights, driven up tiny alleyways AND met cars coming in the opposite direction! We've made new friends, cooked with HUGE amounts of garlic and speak more greek now than we did before we came. Chris "efcharisto's" at every opportunity.

Lesvos is like Greece was when we first visited, except the Greeks are a little wealthier maybe.

It still smells the same, only moreso here. If you know the smell of fenugreek then you have an idea of the kind of smell that pervades. They also take astonishingly little care about drains ocasionally, and while typing this, the most awful pong wafted through! In the evening there is the smell of cooling pine trees and meat cooking on taverna grills.

We've already decided that we'd like to come back here, and that there's enough left for a full fortnight holiday.

There's 2 nights left. At this time on Thursday we should be most of the way home, but I won't worry about that. Tomorrow for our last day we're off in a small party to visit the area where the hotel owner's wife grew up.

That'll do for now.

Sunday 22 June 2008

So here we are.

This is already half way through (no more 1 week holidays for me, if I can help it) and already wishing we'd decided to go for a fortnight.

What have we done and why am I here?

Well, I'm here because we got back from a trip out and are due to start a Greek cooking session in about 40 min. Chris said that wasn't long enough to do anything else (M&D take note ;-) so she'd prefer to read in the shade. I've had enough sun this morning, and my poor head will get shinier than a bowling ball if it gets more.

We've visited a couple of towns, swum a bit, snorkelled (found a column from a submerged Roman ruin) eaten interesting food, met interesting people, done various walks, canoed in the sea a bit. It's taken a few days to jog my memory of Greek, not that I speak much, but there's a way of doing things and of talking that takes time to come back. The drivers here are just NUTS though - never met any like it anywhere else in the world.

This place really does feel like Greece did 20+ years ago: at least outside the resorts anyway.

This keyboard is VERY strange - Greek-English and laid out a touch differently, but if I can survive typing on a French keyboard I can certainly manage this one!

Pictures when I get back. I'd not taken many to begin with, but I've just started now, and at least some will be tolerable I hope.

So TTFN. Catch up in a few days. Already missing some of you guys.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

We're packed.

I'm going to bed. Alarm in 3 hours. Drive to Gatport Airwick for a 7.10 flight.

TTFN - see you around the 26th.

Monday 16 June 2008

Would it be mean of me?

If I told you that in 3 days we are going here.

Sunday 15 June 2008

Well, this morning

we went to a service saying 'goodbye' to Heather, the local Anglican vicar.

Going to a formal Anglican church has again reminded me that there may yet be a cost to count in terms of having to live with 'other religious traditions' (I believe that is the phrase) and things that run contrary to many deeply held beliefs. Can I retain integrity in such a situation? Will compromise actually make such involvement untenable? I don't know, but I'm quite unhappy with things at this point in time, and it's definitely making me wonder how the group we've come to know somewhat can function under an anglican umbrella. This also left me feeling down and unsettled - I can't shake the feeling of 'wrongness' that I get from this kind of thing.

In a previous blogpost I described this kind of religious practice as quite bizarre, and I stand by that still, although it's marginally less alien when the building is more brightly lit and near capacity instead of cold, dark and 90% empty.

Heather is lovely, and we wish her and her family a happy and fruitful ministry in Pangbourne.

I wonder who from the village reads this, and whether I've offended them? Offense isn't the plan - this is just a place I write where you've been enabled to read some of my less publicly offered thoughts.

Saturday 14 June 2008

We've just watched the last....

in the 3 early Indiana Jones films.

I suggested to Chris that we could now see the new one.

Who's in it, she asked?

Harrison Ford.

Who's playing Harrison Ford? came the question.

Harrison Ford.

But he's ancient - he's about 70. He looked really old when he played Crocodile Dundee.

He's about 65, and that was Paul Hogan.

My wife is really cool (and I mean that) being oblivious to various stars, regardless of how famous they might apparently be. I love her for grasp of what is important.

One day

I'd love to get this done to a couple of my guitars, along with stainless steel frets.

A right tension?

I was turning over part of Linea's comment about that frustrating meeting while in the shower this morning after I'd prayed: about quaker meetings suiting us fine. IF my understanding of quaker practice is correct then I'd stand by the going partway thing. I was also turning over on the other side of my mental desktop the way we're feeling drawn toward that little anglican fellowship right now (and I thank God they are not really *Anglican* in approach).

I was asking God why there was this tension in everything when He's a God of peace and perfection? Surely there should be harmony instead of opposite pulls?

I really felt Him say that it was a part of the fallen-ness of this world, that these things were designed to work together, but instead they have been pulled to opposites as corruptions of their original intentions. So we have the left and right political divide. We have conservative and liberal world views. We have intensely structured and totally unstructured church practice. There's a bunch of other examples, but you get the idea.

In a truly perfect world, as it was designed to be, these work together, not merely balancing to centralise but actually broadening the range of coverage in their areas. In their corrupted polarised forms they narrow and exclude instead of covering all and including.

Right, off to the second prayer meeting of the morning. ;-)

Friday 13 June 2008

Now a bit of non-gratitude.

We have just been migrated across to the full corporate IT network of the multi-national entity that bought us. All I can say is, with email systems like this, no wonder communications are so poor.

No fault of the IT guys themselves, they were patient and did exactly what thyey were required to do by the constraints of their jobs and corporate IT policy. But let me say this:

Lotus notes sucks harder than an aeroplane toilet.

Over the years I've used a number of email clients. Bmail, eudora (nasty) various versions of communicator, various outlooks and expresses and thunderbird. Notes 6.5 is by some distance the worst that I've ever used, even less intuitive and cooperative than eudora, and behaves like some kind of windows 3.1 app.

Outlook 2003 was, by comparison, sophisticated, sleek, intuitive and actually helpful. It was designed with the users in mind (not just IT administration) and compared to notes, would offer a potential huge boost in productivity.

I have a number of other grumbles about the changes to our IT systems, but notes is by far and away the biggest. It is seriously awkard enough that I'd almost wish I could change jobs to be rid of it. Almost. I shall need to do some serious work on ergonomics too, as the new laptop has a widescreen running at 1440X900 (15" diagonal running at 19" monitor resolution) with fonts so tiny that I have to bend over it, and it's giving me neck ache after just a couple of hours. There is more to mobile computing than getting more and more onto smaller and smaller interfaces, and this has just gone beyond the limits of bearability. Strictly speaking not the company's fault at all, of course - they've actually 'bought' me a nice new laptop of 'standard' specification.

Internet usage through internet explorer 6 has an interesting 'retro' feel to it as well. Tabbed browsing, how I miss you - so far no way has been found to install Opera or Firefox. :-(

I'm also having to fight the temptation to hack and modify the corporate screensaver. It presents us with corporate platitudes encouraging us to 'do the right thing' etc, and is just crying out for all the gooey stuff to be replaced with amusing vulgarity. This stuff works in the US ONLY. In the rest of the world it can only have the opposite effect.

So Mr. corporate person (company name NOT mentioned) if you followed this from my web useage through the company network, I'd LOVE to help you create a corporate IT policy and system that encourages creativity and efficiency, rather than kills it as I fear this one does. There are some things more important than reducing cost of ownership models.

Lunchtime posting over.

I'm in my lunchbreak - first post from the new laptop.

OK - so let's make this one of thankfulness.

My passport arrived this morning, on time and NOT late.

We can now go to Greece next week, and get our much-needed break. We are truly grateful.

BTW marc and Dixie - did my email arrive a few weeks back (sent to the vandersluys gmail account?)

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Interesting how things seem to come together.

There’s a bunch of stuff going off with Chris and me right now. Not completely sure what’s in her head, but there’s certainly some cross over.

Randall’s post a week or 2 back about being called to work in a church group he didn’t want in a town he didn’t want etc found a much deeper target in me than I’d have expected. We’ll see how that develops.

Last night a bunch of us were praying together and I was asking “why is there a gap between what the bible says about power and the reality we see in our own lives?”. 5.30am this morning I was awake and God said “go down and pray”. Bluergh! “Can’t I sleep?” “I thought you wanted to see some power?”.

I made it downstairs at 5.40something.

Praying was sleepy. Started off with Rev 22 about the river of life, and praying it would flow through the village, then worked my way round everyone I have responsibility for plus whoever seemed important at the time. I have no idea where this is going, except that I think I’m supposed to do it for the next 6 weeks. Expect blogging to suffer horribly and my ability to enjoy a disgustingly late night to totally vanish.

But I’ve been wondering why? WHY WHY WHY do guys like Todd Bently, with all their wacky ‘kick me in the face for Jesus’ theology apparently close this gap? Is it obedience? I’m starting to think it is. What I don’t understand is also why they peter out, like all the power disappears as more people get saved. Do the ‘founders’ of these things get bored/familiar, slip into patterns of casual obedience (as I think I have) instead of radical obedience. Maybe even fall into sin as the size of their ‘ministry’ goes up and private jets become affordable?

I think this is really challenging the attitude that’s developed in me over the last 3 or so years, that I’ve got my own time now to spend as I want. I’ve long known this to be an anomaly that couldn’t last, but just let it be as it was quite pleasant.

Who’s a hero – certainly not me! But the question has been asked “what are you willing to do to see the power of God – how much effort would you put in so that He might put effort in?”. It’s not that I think God will respond to me, the harder I try to persuade him, but instead there is a heart issue. Will I respond when I’m asked, even if it’s something as strange as standing on my head while singing happy birthday to someone in Tesco, or will I decide it’s too silly and ‘God would never ask someone to do anything stupid like that’. How about prejudice? Would I get involved with an Anglican church – an organisation I’ve felt at odds with almost all my Christian life?

One thing I HAVE learned is that God’s not really that fussed about our detailed theology (Marc V proves that – joke!). Actually we all prove it as a church, since we can see that God blesses, loves and cares for His church, despite it doing so many things contrary to His character over the years.

So where's this leading - I've only a bit of an idea, but I'd rather wait and see than state we'll do such-and-such and hold us up to ridicule later if we've got it wrong.

Guess I should probably try to go to bed soon too.

Prayer request

Chris writes:
Please could you all pray that Toni's passport gets here in time for our holiday next week. it is an Austrian passport so has to go back to Austria via the Austrian Embassy. They only have one courier delivery a week, on Fridays, & it should be in this Friday's delivery. If it isn't we are stuffed because we are meant to go next Thursday (19th).We have already had to postpone the holiday for two weeks (incurring additional costs) & the Embassy did assure Toni that it would be possible to get the passport through in time, but they do not seem to be able to do anything to ensure that it is.

The only thing left to do is pray, so please would you.

Thanks very much,

Monday 9 June 2008

Tonight we....

... spent several sweaty hours at a meeting.

The guy speaking had far too little to say and took much too much time to say it. There were little gems buried in the mire, but he seemed much too fond of his own voice to stop sooner.

The POINT of the meeting was to spend time receiving from God. This ended up being relegated to the fag-end of the time (7.30 start, praying commenced around 9.45) rather than the focus.

Despite repeated (many times) assurances to the contrary, I wonder if people like this are actually scared that if they move aside God won't turn up. I got quite cross several times, not because he was being challenging but simply that he seemed more an obstruction than anything. Maybe someone there needed to hear it (again and again) and he was really hearing God in this?

I don't know.

We almost took friends, and I'm REALLY glad we didn't.

I'm almost convinced what we need is times for worship and prayer, and if anyone is inspired to bring a word during the meeting then they are given opportunity if there is time. That way our focus is on God, and not on completing the religious format before He gets a look in.

Roger, someone we've known a long time from OCC had been somewhere interesting, and we were expecting him to talk about that. Instead he got no chance, and all we heard was the dozen + times Mr. Speaker had been to Toronto so he could bring it back and how Cheshire was God's own country.

2 hours after we left I'm still cross.

It WAS good to pray for various people, and I believe that a breakthrough took place in at least one person from our housegroup. Maybe a couple of hours of discomfort and boredom are a small price to pay.


This morning I can remember some good things he said, so maybe it wasn't a dead loss. I STILL wish he'd got on with it though, and don't retract a single thing above.

Sunday 8 June 2008

Dear Neighbours

I think we need to talk about re-locating a piece of furniture in your house, away from the wall.

Either that or else you seem to be hanging a lot of pictures in very quick succession on the wall that joins our bedroom. Usually after we're in bed.

Thank you.

Saturday 7 June 2008

I don't know who she is, but we pray for her.

Ben's wife.

AFAIK he's not in a relationship at the moment.

Both Chris and I pray for Ben's future wife, that she is safe, moving on with God, growing in grace, getting nearer to meeting him. Who-ever you are, we care about you already.

Wednesday 4 June 2008

Key points from the register


Several years ago I posted about machines that would allow you to construct other devices in 3 dimensions by printing them. Then a couple of years ago I mentioned a seminar/show where a business built around rapid prototyping used such devices, but at high cost.

It appears that it's now possible to make one for about £300.

We're not at the stage where you can order a new design of washing machine in software, then create it in your garage overnight, but it could create useful parts none the less.

Now, less fun - scams

Want someone to negotiate lower interest rates with your bank for you? Sounds like a nice idea. Don't give them your credit card number what ever you do.

It's very obvious, but it only takes 1 person in 100 to make that mistake for the scammers to make a lot of money.

And finally - Safari.

Apparently it is rather desperately insecure in a way that should make even the smuggest Mac user sit up and take notice. If I was already looking unfavourably at this browser, this has killed off any desire I might have to explore further.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

I realise it's a long time since I commented.....

....on Fern's blog.

You're not ignored. I just don't feel I can write anything that's worthy of the original posts.

Ummm, that sounds a bit sycophantic, but is really more a reflection of feeling a bit dumb and muddly-headed on my part.

Monday 2 June 2008

This is NOT the original meaning

But it's actually right!

Interesting how connections get made

And how hearts join together.

Chris and I have no intention of moving churches at the moment. However we went back to that little church in Upper Heyford again yesterday morning, and there seemed a very natural fit. This seems to be about forging links instead:

Ian, the guy that heads it has recently started going along to meet with all the others that head up churches in Bicester.

Erica (Ian's wife) is looking at working for the pre-school we've (BCC) started.

There's another connection that I forget right now.

So yesterday I spent about an hour talking with one of the guys there who came from Zimbabwe about 6 months ago, and it was like we really connected. On the Thursday evening before God gave me a scripture for him, which lined up with the things God has already said to him. Considering the enormous differences in our background and likely upbringing, it's amazing how much we have in common. Think we'll be spending more time over the next few weeks.

So I can sense the outlines of a strategy, but not exactly where it's fastened or what the specifics are yet. I hope finding those out will be as much fun.