Wednesday 30 November 2016

Words I can't sing.

Yesterday I was asked to lead worship for a business meeting.

Now bearing all things in mind, this was an interesting situation. It feels a little like walking a narrow ledge right now, between wanting to simply reject church & walk away from everything - this is a real desire, albeit under control - and re-embracing the stuff I no longer trust or believe to be real. At the moment the ledge is narrow, because there's not too much understanding to hold on to, things to have faith in, but there are some things still, so I'll keep balancing & walking along.


I have a large body of songs to select from, all handily printed out from previous times. So I created 3 piles: Songs that have words I can sing & keep a clear cosncience, songs that might be usable in the future, songs that don't appear to tell the truth.

Curious how the songs that I could use were mostly old hymns or recycled words and structures from old hymns, "Be thou my vision" being one (aspirational) example, "Praise God from whom all blessing flow" being another.

Minus 6 degrees centigrade

That's how cold it was in Somerton this morning. After about 20min wandering round trying to take pictures, it was difficult to grip the steering wheel to drive into work. My fingers are still feeling the effects half an hour later, and typing is difficult.

T'was pretty though.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Lumia just goes on and on.

Just had almost 6 days use from the phone out of a single charge, and only had to charge it as a 'just in case' measure because of a potential medical emergency.

Charged it last Sunday evening, disconnecting it around 10pm, using it as normal to make calls, take a few work-related photos, send texts & emails, do a brief bit of navigation, a couple of min surfing. Plugged it in around 2.30pm this afternoon with 10% charge showing, which was probably good until Sunday morning without serious use.

Performance wise it's not a ball of fire, and Microsoft's interface is somewhat clunky compared to vanilla android, but I'll accept that trade for this kind of longevity and the fantastic call quality.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

How do I know God is real?

That's a good question, and one that's been kicked around in my head quite a bit recently.

There's a Douglas Adams quote from the HHGTTG that goes along the lines (from memory) of 'it being no good spending hours debating whether God exists if someone then gives you his bleedin' phone number'.

So no phone numbers then.

Entirely subjective, but the pre-Christian Toni was a complete Bastard, really - I know because I was there.

Why bring this up?

Because as I'd got closer to deciding God wasn't there, the inner bastard had been coming more to the fore. I've found myself being more like I used to be: less kind, less gentle, more sweary, more greedy, more depressed, more negative about others, more liberal in my thinking and less self-controlled. It's not much, but it was a solid reminder of who I am without Jesus. If salvation makes me more like Jesus then the opposite does the opposite.

Yes, I've been a Christian almost 40 years, but the flesh - the 'natural' attitudes - have never gone away in all that time, so much as being dealt with on a daily basis, sometimes coming to the fore, sometimes being held in control. Last weekend at the alpha day we had someone talking about how they had never sworn and their partner would never swear, even in court when asked to repeat something said by another person. I was reminded of who the natural Toni is, and how different I would be if left to my own devices.

Never mind pie in the sky when you die - salvation is for now.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Lumia 640 - better than anyone would admit

So I've had the phone just over 5 weeks, and as promised, here's a mini-review of an obsolete phone that nobody wanted:

Battery life - 4 days is easy, 5 days not unusual, with a few calls, texting, a bit of internet or routefinding. I don't live on my phone, and just use it as a tool.

Call quality - is generally landline quality, often in places where I'd struggle to even get a phone signal with the other 2 phones (iPhones seem at least as bad for reception here).

Screen - clear, clean, bright enough and crisp.

Windows applications - generally perform well once I got used to where to find things.

Windows maps - GPS locks in a couple of seconds, then generally chooses a good route with accurate ETA.

Keyboard layout - makes it easy to hit the bar at the bottom & return to the home screen.

Screen/phone size - I'd prefer it to be smaller and slimmer, but it's not unmanageable - glad I didn't get a 5.5" phone.

Lack of apps in general - I mostly don't care that I can't play candy crush. :-)

Firefox isn't available for this version of Windows 10.

The need to perform 2 actions when answering a call from a locked screen - swipe to open, then touch to answer. It should be a single swipe or tap.

The way my google address book has been scrambled when importing, so that names & pictures don't always match the telephone number/email address.

Wish the mapping app could do real-time traffic conditions.

It's a better mobile phone than any of my previous devices including candybar phones, but I just wish it was smaller and slimmer.

It's raining. Again.


Guess we're lucky - some parts of the country are flooded right now.


Especially for Robyn Friesen (if you ever read this) the word of the evening is 'moist'.  ;-)

Mismatch? Postmoderism again? Squitchy Christianity?

In the NIV study bible that I use there's a highlighted theme at the start of the book of Malachi that goes something like "The Jews stopped believing that God loved them and no longer trusted in His justice". I've kept coming back to this phrase again and again, because it matched my own thoughts well and I was hoping to find something that would enable some kind of reconnection (I've read a lot of the 'people in difficult circumstances' passages over the last few weeks).

But here's the mismatch - reading the actual passages of Malachi gives a very different understanding of the relationship between God & the Jews. It's not at all a case of God wooing back a 'lost' nation, but much more a people who have lost sight of God being threatened with harm and the example of Edom being crushed again and again demonstrating the fruitlessness of resistance.

I don't have any particular answers right now, other than I'm sure it's the same God in old & new testaments, God did demonstrate His love for us by sacrificing His only son on the cross, and that He has no problem with us suffering, struggling and dying in this life. So much of the Christianity I've heard preached suggests that God is a great big, soft, loving father who would wrap us in His arms and protect us from the world, struggles and pain - yet this isn't at all the God of the bible that I can see, nor, the God we seem to experience in this life. Squitchy Christianity isn't reality.

In a way I recoil a bit from trying to really understand who God is: apart from the sheer incapability of my mind, with that comes a responsibility that I don't want.

Friday 18 November 2016

Hope I never grow up

My sense of humour is still suitably off-colour that I can find various entirely innocent words amusing when placed in the same sentence.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

The will-man cometh

To talk to us tonight.

About making a will.

Happy days.

Apparently I'm popular in France

According to my blog stats:

Hi to my French Friends. ;-)

And apparently most people came here via yesterday, although I have absolutely no idea why since I couldn't find an obvious link here on the site. Hi Jenifer, if you drop by.

Web stats are curious things - definitely not something to become concerned with - but can be amusing occasionally.

Where do you go - when you've no-where to go?

So the personal fallout of our friend Jo's death, is that God doesn't asnswer prayer, at least not in the way we like to think He does, and that I want to walk away from faith and the church.

Reading church history tells us quite a bit: that we 'see' God as being like us, that He doesn't have a problem with people suffering and dying, that over and over again we ignore some quite key things while focusing on the stuff that reinforces our view that He's like us only better.

Where do you go when there's no-where to go?

After the crowds went away, Jesus asked His disciples "are you going too?" and they came back with "we've left everything for you - where else can we go?".

It's a bleak place, to discover God isn't who you were taught he was, and that things aren't what you hoped they'd be.

I could walk away if it wasn't for the way that God has, sometimes, been involved with my life. Sunday was interesting, going to a big multi-church meeting in Oxford, watching the visiting speaker indulging in very clear emotional manipulation to whip up the crowd, and then God just dropping the odd bit of genuine change in here & there. Bizarre. It made me soul-search about how I've lead worship in the past, but I've always had as light a touch as possible and feel my conscience is clear, at least in that area.

There is no worship in me right now, and I'm grateful not to be having to teach or lead worship. I still want to walk away, but I can't.

A good friend says that he gets angry with God, but this is far from that and much closer to a desire to stop living and stop struggling with it all. My starting point was whether God even existed, which is no place for anger, and it still is to an extent, but it's changed into wondering how we've mis-understood so badly and whether I really have any idea who God is after all.

Friday 4 November 2016

Just found myself about to comment on a post about Brexit.

That was one of the reasons I stopped doing facebook - so much stoopid.