Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Wednesday, September 27

On doubt

I found this while surfing today. On doubt. This little saying is quoted in the context of sceintific research, but is very applicable to theology.

I forgot to go and do my bit [a reading] at evensong today. woops. We shall see how much trouble i get into!

Still, it gave me a chance to catch up on a talk on Bolivia that I have to do for my own church, in conjunction with another memebr of the congregation who has also been there, based around a Tearfund pack. It contains a very good sermon on poverty by Elaine Storkey, which I can use without any significant alteration at all. It has revolutionised my own "you shall always ahve the poor with you" [Jesus - in a particular context, now much abused] view to a "There shall be no poor among you" view. [Deut 15]

So, I may be mostly arrogant, but I am still a bit teachable.

Tuesday, September 26

Church Discipline - The Elizaphanian Discussion

I have been looking at Rev Sam's fantastically deep Elizaphanian Blog, and have got into a deep discussion about Church Discipline, excommunication, etc. Have a look at the following posts and the comments, and then let Rev Sam and I know what you think.
  • Discipline in the Church
  • Not a moralism but a mysticism
  • What not ducking looks like

Monday, September 25

Faith, Hope, and Sunglasses

After a weekend;

Baby: - still no signs, but at least this is the week when trying is great fun!!!

Training: - struggling a bit – see my reply to Kyle Potter's comment under “One theme four applications” below.

Work: - Couldn’t get my hopefully future client to sign anything till I have handed in my notice with my employer [politics]. Today I have handed my notice in. It’s like jumping off a tall building hoping that the person who said he wants to catch you but can’t promise till you’ve actually jumped, actually turns up to catch you. But then that is faith, isn’t it?

On Sunday saw a man wearing sunglasses on a cloudy morning. Perhaps he knew the weather forecast said it would brighten up? This to is like our faith – we live today in the hope of God’s promises as if they have already been fulfilled, and the world thinks we are mad. But they don’t know our God.

Wednesday, September 20

Baptise a Horse

An extract from my training journal:

I stayed behind to make arrangements for the next few weeks. I will be holding a chalice at communion for the next two Sundays. This lead on to a discussion of what should happen if I spill it. Rod impressed on me, only half joking, the importance of not spilling it. He described how, in ‘really high’ Anglican circles, where he doctrines of sacramentalism are taken to their logical conclusion, if the wine is spilled it must be soaked reverently into a cloth. This is then paled in a bucket of water until all the wine has come out, and then the priest drinks it. He also described the differences between his position, based on Cranmer, and Rome. He did not ‘do magic’ or transubstantiation, but none the less the bread and wine is more than a symbol. On the other hand, it also requires faith on the part of the recipient. I put it to him that since the drain has no faith, it would not be sacred to the drain, and therefore no offence to the body and blood. Rod replied that the recipient’s faith is only part of the equation. At this point Bob suggested that the answer was to baptise a horse [to drink the bucket a a Christian]. Rod commended him for thinking ‘on the hoof’. Bob had to point out that the horse’s response would in any case be ‘neigh’. Later though, Rod pointed out the horse would have to be over 11 years old otherwise it would be subject to the assumed faith of the Godparent and its own faith would not really count. In fact in some churches it would have to be 15, by which time it would be an old nag and the alcohol might put it in heaven sooner than planned.

One theme, three applications

Baby: definitely no baby this month – fertilisation yes, implantation no. Try again! But each renewed effort is more full of worry and doubt taking away the joy. I wonder how Sarah must have felt waiting till she was eighty. No wonder there was that business with Hagar! This is part of the theme of this blog – stepping out of the comfort zone to have a seventh child.

Work: The wheels are now turning and it looks relatively certain that on 1 Nov I will go Freelance. All the relevant application forms are in, and it’s just a matter of negotiating a rate with my first client – i.e. to stay at my current ‘on secondment’ desk – and handing in my notice to my current employer. I don’t think he will be too pleased. On paper I will be very much better off – why did I not do this before? – but there are obviously risks and unforeseen problems. However – this is all part of the theme of this blog – stepping out of the comfort zone of a secure job to on where I will have to rely on God to keep me employed.

Training: I have to do my first reading in the Oxford Movement church tonight – scary, disturbing, part of the theme of this blog is stepping out of the comfort zone to let God take you to places that you really do not expect. PS I found out yesterday that one of the key people there is a freemason. Is this combat testing for me, meeting the enemy, or is it God telling me freemasons (whether individually or as a system) are not as bad as we make them out to be? Questions questions! Pray for me to be open minded without being deceived.

Wednesday, September 13


Work: my boss has been chasing me for a decision, so I had to tell him no decision yet but most likley moving to Freelance work. I just need confirmation that I have somewhere to jump to.

Baby: Mrs is still having some feelings - the next few dasy will reveal if implantation has in fact occured. In other words we are still riding the roller coaster.

Other: trouble with a teenage son. Being argumentative, not accepting discipline, and bullying younger [and older] siblings. Stubborn - like his Dad. He is his own worst enemy - if he just kept quiet we wouldn't even know he was doing anything wrong.
The picture shows the lake at Riano, Spain. Pinched off someone else's website - apologies for copyright breach but I can't remember where I got it from to acknowledge it. I passed through this valley before the dam was sealed to make the lake, and was friends with some of the people who were moved out of the original Riano village that is now flooded. I get homesick looking at it!

Monday, September 11

Jonah - chaos and courage

Firstly, my special thanks for all your support and prayers – particularly James who spends his valuable time reading my blog and praying over the issues. It really makes a difference.

Over the weekend I had to attend a year group meeting for my training course. The speaker focussed on the book of Jonah, bringing out valuable lessons – albeit taking a diametrically opposite view to the NIV study bible notes. He said the fish represents Leviathan, the ancient sea monster that embodies chaos – and this was the creature directed by God to accomplish his purposes. We expect God to deliver us at the last minute, yet in the case of Jonah he had gone passed the point of no return and drowned at the bottom of the Mediterranean before god sends the chaos monster to bring him back. So we should not be disturbed when we pass the final opportunity for rescue and the worst outcome happens and chaos ensues – this is God’s vehicle for accomplishing his purpose.

The other lesson is to obey God – even if this involves going where we don’t want to go. I had more confessions for my wife this weekend [not the usual ones, fortunately], and based on the message I had just heard from Jonah, I faced up to the challenge and endured the outcome. But then God speaks in strange ways – that night my child’s bed time book was about a bunny that plucked up the courage to tell mummy bunny he had eaten all the carrots. And mummy bunny’s wise words of love, comfort and encouragement were God’s oracle to me – and I welled up with tears as I read.

I have started at my placement church, attending the Sunday evening service. Not the sixty people in charismatic praise that I am used to – 6 pensioners in the cold Lady Chapel where the vicar solemnly read the exact words from the ASB and a licensed reader spoke an empty academic sermon on the interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer through history. It was really dire! I gather their morning services are better! But even bad experience is good experience and it will all contribute to my training.

At work I have started making enquiries with the people I want to do freelance work for, and the response was encouraging, making me believe it will come about in due course.

No baby news except that we think implantation has failed again – another month gone. Mrs has been avoiding church to avoid people asking her questions and roping her into activities that would be incompatible with the morning sickness she is preparing for, but felt she should come on Sunday morning to avid people asking me where she is. She got roped into helping with the coffee morning on Friday and did a heavy counselling session for a friend who has child custody problems, when really she was not in a fit state to counsel anyone. So she was very fed up and is unlikely to show her face again until she has a strong pregnancy going. This is getting too long. Must stop.

Monday, September 4

Back on track

After last week’s crisis, I can start to think about life again.

Why does God allow us to have these troubles? It is part of his training. Clearly, if you come to understand the consequences of your sins, it helps you to resist the temptation. Also, as Christians especially within Evangelical Protestantism, we get too casual about sin. “It doesn’t matter – just a quick prayer and God will forgive”. Would I sin so much if I had to tell my wife everything? Yet if I am afraid of her wrath, why do I think God is a soft option? If I am frightened of her knowing about my secret doings, why does it not worry me that God catches me red handed every time?

So it has been a lesson in holiness.

Regarding our baby plans – we are currently at a waiting stage. Will it fertilise? Will it implant? Have her hormones settled after the miscarriage? We shall see.

Regarding my work, I have been concerned about what will happen to me as a freelancer during the lulls in the workload, with the five year cycle of the water industry. But I have done my sums, and it does seem that overall I will be better off. My employer is aware of where I stand, and is disappointed but supportive while advising me (for my own good) against it. But they don’t know God’s provision, or the danger of not following his call. I have sent my CV off to an agent who cold-called me (he actually got me my present job). I have contacted other agents, but they can’t be bothered to respond. So was his cold-call God’s perfect timing, or a distraction? I would prefer to go without an agent and negotiate my own work if possible, and so avoid a massive agency fee, but I’m not sure I have the ability to do this. I would stick with my current secondment and work direct instead of via my current employer, but this is full of political pitfalls. I shall have to see how the Lord leads. I still have most of September to make up my mind, make plans, and make the jump.

Regarding training, I have this week to get my stuff in order for a year group meeting next weekend. Then I will meet with my Oxford Movement Church to find out what role I will play there. Pray that while I learn from them in humility [since I think I know best], God will use me to bring about his purpose for them. And then also pray for me to find my role once the training is finished. I entered it with a view to just being on the preacher’s rota, but it seems the Vicar doesn’t want this and would like me to run a church plant. I see myself as a preacher but not as a leader. They are very different skills.

Watch this space!