Photo credits

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

Wednesday, May 30

What is the speed limit?

This post is relevant only to UK residents.

When I first learned to drive in the 80s, there was a rule that if the street lights in a 'national speed limit' zone are more than x yards apart, the limit was 60mph, but if the spacing was less than x the limit was 40mph. i always thought this was daft because I would never be able to judge that distance.

Fortunately, soon after i passed my test, they revised the highway code and removed that rule.

That left it as:

Urban areas 30mph
Single carriageways 60mph
Dual carraigeways 70mph.

There is no longer a 40mph National Speed Limit.

Yeehaa....zooooooom.....laugh mockingly at fuddy-duddies crawling along at 40mph every time they see a street light.


I looked at the highway code today, and it says in the small print for the asterisk note that if there are street lights it is 30mph unless signs show otherwise.

"* The 30 mph limit applies to all traffic on all roads in England and Wales (only Class C and unclassified roads in Scotland) with street lighting unless signs show otherwise)"
This means that those fuddy-duddies are [shock horror] SPEEDING! And they thought they were such good drivers!

But lets sit back and think about this for a minute. Many motorways have street lights. There are only National Speed Limits signs, nothing showing a different limit, so does this mean that you have to do 30mph on the motorway? likewise on a dual carriageway, does it become 30mph at the first hint of a street light? I don't think so. So on a normal road, say an A road, does this rule apply? And if not there, does it apply to the more countryfied roads that I am thinking of? What I understand this rule to mean seems to be totally impractical and in fact dangerous if people do suddenly slam the brakes on to meet the 'limit'.

So - I am very confused. Can anybody clarify this for me please?

Hot Springs to Heresy

As I child I went to Rotorua in New Zealand. This is an area of geysers, hot springs, and boiling mud. The mud made an impression on me because you could see where a bubble was about to appear – the surface would slowly heave up, then it would seem to stretch and get thinner before finally the bubble would burst, splattering hot mud randomly in all directions.

The is how this post is coming – it has been brooding for some time, and now it is, sending stuff randomly all around.

Some bloke wrote a letter to the Church of England Newspaper, saying that in ‘Penal substitution’ the word penal doesn’t come in the legal sense but in terms of the penalty, ie consequences, of our actions. He argued that Jesus does not take our punishment, just the fallout from our deeds.

This is in line with a lot of other stuff I have read recently, all with his same theme that God is such a loving God that he couldn’t possibly dream of punishing us for our sins, and that God has not written any laws for us to break and so there is no need for punishment: its just a matter of trying to live without hurting anyone and facing natural cause-and-effect consequences of our mistakes. There is a suggestion that God himself is not wronged by our sins, its just our fellow man.

So why do we always repeat in the Lord’s prayer “Forgive us our trespasses…”?

If there is no law, there is no need for forgiveness.
If there is no punishment, there is not need for forgiveness.
If we have not wronged God, he does not need to forgive us.

Therefore, since we regularly beg for forgiveness as Christ taught us, there must be something to be forgiven for.

If there is no law, there is no trespass.
If there is no trespass, there is no need for forgiveness.

So what I am saying is that the Lords Prayer, recognised by every Christian in the world, embodies the concept of breaking God’s law and needing to be forgiven by him for it.

The Penalty is not just a natural consequence, it is punishment according to God’s law. (PS, to say Penalty just means consequences doesn’t make sense, either from the etymology of the word or from its use in common language. If the Police give me a fixed penalty notice for illegal parking, it is a punishment for breaking the law, not just a natural consequence of my action)

Now, without going into a whole "quote scripture" section which would take all day, the punishment for trespassing God’s law is death.

[NB I am not referring particularly to the OT ‘law’, more to God’s instructions and commands generally]

This takes us on to that verse in Hebrews – “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”.

The punishment for sin is death. That is an absolute eternal principle that even God will not break. Every sin requires a death. Forgiveness is not a casual “oh well, never mind, don’t do it again’. Sin can’t be forgiven without death. If you think about it this makes sense – if I sin against God by injuring my brother, and God were to just dismiss it, my brother would say “Hey, what about me? Where’s my justice?” So my sin against my brother requires justice – it requires a death under the terms of God’s law.

So the only way that we can be forgiven, is for that punishment to be implemented, but not in a way that we feel.

And so, Jesus bore my sins in his body on the cross. In a sense I was in him, crucified with him, but he was the one that felt the pain.

When my victims turn to God and demand their justice, he replies “Yes, those sins have been punished, Simon died in Jesus”.

Yet when I present myself to God, he says, “Yes, you have lived a perfect life in Jesus”

This is the love of God. Not that he ignores sins, but that he deals with them properly in a way that ensures justice for the victim and freedom and forgiveness for me.

And it is only by taking that punishment onto his eternal self that he could bring these opposites together.

And so, I believe in Penal Substitution. I believe that I deserved to be punished because I have broken God’s commands. But I believe that I have been crucified with Christ, and that I live with Christ.

He has substituted himself for me and taken my Penalty.

And I can only say Hallelujah, and worship him with thanksgiving.

But the reason I say all this is that I am really worried that there is a deep, truly sinister heresy growing in the church.

If we deny that God makes laws, and if we deny that he will punish us for breaking them, then we are saying exactly the same as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. And that is Very Dangerous!

And that is why I speak out for the true message of the cross.

Tuesday, May 29

Was it a miscarriage?

Reading the signs, it may be that what Mrs has experienced over the last few days was a kind of mini-miscarriage. She may have been more pregnant than the test indicated – we think that there was probably something happening but that it was doomed to fail from the start. This could be counted as a week 8 miscarriage, though we doubt that any embryo had developed to the 8-week stage. This would explain why she felt things were happening, why the last period was small, why she felt bloated, why she didn’t ovulate last month, why this period was large and [sorry guys] clotty, and yet why the pregnancy test had been negative. Hopefully the way is now open for the next attempt….

Monday, May 28

Tight Scehdule III

OK, so I turn up for the 9:30 service at 8:00, since the Vicar has already asked me to be there early.

When I get there, he is having a panic becaue he ahs forgotten that next week there will be no ordained ministers, so they have to do communion this week. (This is one of the shortcomings of the Anglican Church - depriving the laity of its right to preside at communion.) So that measn that they don't need me to lead the service after all. But as a token, they ask me to do the prayers. Oh, and since the people that normally assist with the distribution won't be there owiong to the change, can I do it? Oh, and since nobody has brought any bread (we don't do those wafer things), can I pop out and buy some rolls?

So it seems that I was sent by God to help out in a moment of crisis.

However, one would like to think that these things can be organised a bit better.

Then in the evening service, it is again communion as planned. This time, none of the distibutors on the rota have turned up, and the new warden (whose duty it is to chase them up) hasn't done so. So at the critical moment when they are supposed to go to the front, no one does. and so, I have to step in to the breach once more.

One would like to think that these things can be organised a bit better. But when I am perfect, I can critisise.

At least it wasn't a U2charist!!

Saturday, May 26

Tight Scehdule II

Apparently on 10th june - my busiest Sunday, I am also supposed to be on warden duty. I shall have to swap with someone!

Thursday, May 24

Tight schedule

This Sunday - lead 9:30 service (Technically 'Lead worship', which we rightly take to mean the whole service, but I omit the word 'worship' to avoid you thinking I am running a singalong, as some peolpe seem to think worship is limited to)

Next Sunday - lead intercessions at 9:30 service.

Following Sunday - lead 9:30 service, distribute comunion at 11:00 service, preach at 6:30 service.

Have I done enough preparation? No

The sermon is on Phillipians 4 v think of something original to say about Euodia and Syntyche for the regulars, while covering the basics for new people, and while not getting too focused on the famous bits of the passage since there is other stuff there too. Plus, make it lively enough for the youth targeted by the service without losing the older people who come.

Not pregnant

If i had been numbering the posts on this subject i would be getting quite high by now.

Mrs remains unpregnant.


We are sure we heard from God to try.

Will we have to wait until our 80s, like Sarai and Elizabeth?

Why has her arthritis been worse since she was prayed for?

How does one keep faith when all the signs are against you?

Wednesday, May 23

Anglicans Gone Wild

The following is plagiarised with permission from Kyle Potter.

Anglicans Gone Wild

No, really. These dudes are off the freakin' chain.

Rowan Williams announced that he's sent the invitations to Lambeth 2008, the big gathering of diocesan bishops of the Anglican Communion. This will be important because at that conference, all the conservative and liberal bishops are going to have a big cage fight to determine which side gets the Anglican trademark, and whether the center of gravity in the AC is going to be officially Canterbury or Abuja.

I don't care what you say, that's totally what's going to happen.

Williams' spokesman has announced that neither Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire (he's the one married to another dude) nor Minns of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America) will be invited to the big party - which means +VGR will not have the opportunity to use his patented sleeper hold, and the conservatives will not benefit from Minns' Tai Kwan Do.

The Windsor Report (praise God) asked that the liberals please stop consecrating dudes who are married to other dudes as bishops until this can be talked out a lot more, and also in the meantime would the Global South bishops please stop crossing canonical diocesan boundaries and keep up the pretense at least for a little while longer that TEC on the whole is a Christian church rather than an auxiliary of the Hair Club for Unitarians.

Rowan Williams' action indicates that he's gonna be a Windsor hardliner. Which kicks ass. However, +Akinola of Nigeria has announced through his guy that if +Minns (the American guy) stays home, so will the entire Church of Nigeria. But if +VGR (the guy with the husband) were to not stay home, Nigeria would still stay home. So in effect we have coming out of Nigeria a power play (and how!) that declares, "Rowan Williams does not invite people to Lambeth. Peter Akinola invites people to Lambeth."

Meanwhile, will the liberal bishops of TEC play the same game, refusing to go if +VGR can't go?Whatever you folks think +Akinola is, he's not as good as all that.

Early linkage here.

Tuesday, May 22

Hey, I'm cool

Today I designed an air release chamber to deal with any air entrainment between the BAFF plant and the magflow meter that serves the UV plant. I cunningly incorporated an existing chamber into the design, thereby saving about £15,000. I should ask for a bonus....except that the overall project is still £5million (no, I am not exagerating) over budget, so I had better keep a low profile for a bit longer....


Finally, got paid through my new comapany for the first time. there's still lots of administartive fallout, but at least it seems to be working.

Wednesday, May 16

New company

My new company is still struggling to get going, mainly becasue me, my agent, my bank and my accountant all ahev a different idea as to what my bank account number is.

Anointing with oil

We asked the Vicar and Curate to come and anoint Mrs with oil, praying firstly for an end to conception troubles and a succesful pregnancy, and secondly for the easing of her arthritis, particularly during the anticipated flare-up after any birth.

The bad - the Vicar got distracted and started praying for my readership ministry - which showed where the focus of his mind was and served to further rub in my success and her lack of it. Fortunately the (female) curate got him back on track.

The good - after the session, Mrs got up out of the sofa in one smooth movement, for the first time in months! Other problems remain, so we shall see how extensive any healing that may have taken place is over the coming months.

Illinois baby gets gun license

See BBC article.

Enough said.

Tuesday, May 15

Not pregnant

As usual, having dared to believe, we are knocked down.

We go again through the usual cycle of depression, despondancy, flatness, questions, tension, lack of faith and huge faith simultaneously, wondering how to counsel without patronising, confusion, despair, hope.

We still believe God has given us a vision for another child.

This blog is about walking on water.

We are sinking in the waves.

We cry out, and wait for Him to lift us up again.

This is in my verse of the day at left...

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)


A water pipe broke in our basement last night. Our youngest thinks that it was his fault, but all he did was bang on the wall and he's not exactly the Incredible Hulk.

I rushed home from work when my wife phoned me, but by the time I had got there she had alreqady organised a plumber who was already part way through the repair job.

Nevertheless, the water was about 1.5 inches deep, and being the man of the house (Quote Kyle "Oh, and Simon - cleaning is a woman's work. Scientific fact." see here) I just had to do a lot of moving furniture, mopping, and dragging of carpets into the yard.

But, the Lord knows what he is doing......

It turns out our neighbour's house uses the same water supply as us (this needs to be rectified for legal reasons) and when we turned off the water supply she was cut off too.

This got us talking, and I discovered she suffers osteo-arthritis in her knee which has done damage to surrounding tissue which the doctor says is inoperable. She will have to leave her job and sell her house. Now our church has been encouraging us to bring CHrist into the community and to pray for people's needs. So here was a perfect chance to put that into practice. I asked if she would like me to pray for her, either in our private devotions or on the spot. She asked me to pray on the spot - and seemed very appreciative when I had finished. I was too chicken (or lacking faith?) for an instant miracle, so I prayed for a diffrent doctor to be able to do something for her and for it to be a new beginning rather than an end. No- I didn't lay hands on her - it would have looked very dodgy. No she wasn't instantly healed, but she does know that in her time of desperation the Kingdom of God came to her house.

Not sure how to follow this up. I don't want to be pushy, nor to be neglectful, and it's hard to get the balance right.

Monday, May 14

Creation in the womb

This passage appeared today in my blog's verse of the day (at top left):

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

Coincidentally, (?), the same verse forms part of my wife's favourite song on the Matt Redmann CD she has just bought.

In the light of my "Is this it?" post below, it may be the Lord teeling us something, or it may be just our own wishful thinking. Time will tell.


my second child has won a silver medal in the local orienteering competition (covering two counties)

My third child's football (soccer to you yanks) reached the semi-finals of the one day tournament in the town's stadium, with my son being the team Captain for the first time.

Saturday, May 12

Is this it?

Well, don't tell anyone, but we might have a pregnancy going.

We have had some sensations but they felt different from the usual fertilisation and implantation things (more fo a burning feeling), and then she had a period, so we hought it was out.

But come this months ovulation, nothing happened, instead, the feelings seem to be getting stronger, more like morning sickness.

So - it may be good news something may be working. But then again, it may be a repeat of last summer's miscarriage when she didn't develop along her normal lines and it ended a 7 weeks.

Watch this space.

If this is a pregnancy, it came about while we were rocking the caravan on holiday - great stuff! Anyway, we have one fantastic name for it if it is a boy - a name that would be full of divine anointing. Can't wait!

Some kind of Saturday....

I have to fill in four long and complex forms - taxes, mortgage applicactions, life insurance, etc. Well its a change from vacuuming!

Thursday, May 10

Girardian Scapegoatism

Buck Eschaton has introduced me to the Girardian concept of atonement and scapegoatism.

While it raises some valid points, and rightly denounces any form of mob lynching, it requires you to suspend a consistent interpretation of scripture, zooming in on the bits that support the theory but disregarding those that don’t.

This idea reduces the death of Christ to a mere mob lynching (it was a lynching but that is only one aspect of it).

It denies that God is angry at sin. (He’s not much of a God if he will watch Hitler and Pol Pot without getting a little hot under the collar…)

It denies justice for the victims of sin. Unqualified forgiveness is an insult to the victims. (See recent press reports of English Vicars who sexually abused choir boys and the church forgave without taking disciplinary action. These cases have now blown up 20 years later.) In true Christian Atonement, the perpetrator is punished by God in Christ, and so from the victim’s perspective, bearing in mind that He forbids us from taking revenge but says "Vengance is mine, I will repay", justice is received from God.

It denies the divine origin of the Old Testament sacrificial system, in particular the scapegoat ritual. (It makes this section of the OT to be a product of Josiah’s reforms.)

It introduces a non-biblical “Oh, well, never mind, forget it” concept of forgiveness which has more in common with Islam than Christianity. (as above)

It insults the heroes of our faith, and makes Joshua to be guilty of lynching Achan, when he was following God’s orders in a state execution.

The whole idea is a classic case of theological invention, and a poor one at that, which would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. In fact, blasphemous. It interprets the work of God as human sin.

Some of you will no doubt follow my links, read it and be taken in. I urge you see instead the gaping flaws in the logic.

For example – in one of Buck’s posts he denounced Joshua for sentencing Achan without the evidence of two or more witnesses. Well, he confessed, and when a group of men went to his tent they found it was true, ie there were more than two witnesses, and the legal requirement was fulfilled. If this is the quality of the Girardian case, it is clearly weak.

The strength of this rant gives it more credit than it is due.

Wednesday, May 9

Faith and the Environment


One of the environmental Professional Institutions of which I am a member is supporting an event promoted by AntiApathy (they're good) in partnership with elements of the sex industry to promote awareness of climate change.

Whilst I welcome every effort to communicate this message to everybody, I wrote to the Institution suggesting that the event would also promote casual attitudes to sex and relationships. I illustrated a domino effect of how this attitude contributes to family breakdown, which has incresased the number of single parent families, which according to the BBC correspondent is a factor in the current housing crisis in this country. This means developers are building more houses, which means more roads, more quarries, more central heating boilers churning out carbon, and of course more climate change. I suggested if the Institution supports the event it is shooting itself in the foot.

They liked my ideas and wrote back asking me to write an article on the contribution of social changes to climate change for the institution's professional magazine.


It's OK to have a rant in an email, and to tenuously link together loads of effects with little substantiation in that context, but to do so to the standard required for the magazine is a tougher call.

Tuesday, May 8


I felt really battered last week.

Rather than elation at being licensed and being delegated to deanery synod, I felt a huge burden of responsibility.

Responsibility to know.
Responsibility to have answers.
Responsibility to be wise.
Responsibility to find out what is going on in the local and national Church.
Responsibility to be aware of what is going on in the wider church
Responsibility to discern what is a core doctrine and what is negotiable.
Responsibility to be right (ie find out what is right).

I have been reading the Church of England newspaper, and find that the church is run increasingly by people I disagree with on fundamental issues.

I have been reading a wider range of blogs than my normal favourites, and getting bogged down in theological debates. No matter how much I try to tone down my language I always sound polemical an argumentative. I have had to write apologies. I have been exposed to strong doctrines that undermine my core beliefs. I have felt broken by the strength of the tide flowing against me.

On Saturday night I woke up at 2 am, and couldn’t sleep again, tossing and turning, churning these things in my mind, trying to fix the Church of England and the Blogosphere while half of my brain has been shut down by sleep deprivation. In particular, the ‘off’ button was not working.

I needed strong coffee to get me through the day.

At the morning service they announced that at the evening service there would be a time of prayer where members would pray for each other. I determined that I would be there and that I would use the time to reconnect with God.

I was on warden duty that evening, but when the time came I delegated my tasks to a sidesperson and was the first at the front.

The first person to pray with me spoke in general terms and didn’t really cover the ground I wanted. The next person had a similar lack of prophetic insight, but did include a request for wisdom in his prayer. The last person (The Vicar) also had a more general prayer but it covered more of the ground that I needed. But mostly, it was a time of simply being in the presence of God. Standing, with my eyes closed, hearing the music around but not focussed on it, in the company of others and feeling their support but basically alone with God,
Presenting myself to him as an offering.
Acknowledging weakness.
Receiving the Holy Spirit.

I went back to my post at the welcome desk, tears still on my face and being replaced by new ones as God’s work in me continued.

God is not greater when I am high, or less when I am down. Salvation s by faith, not by emotions. Christianity is not about how we feel. But to exclude our emotions from our whole-person dealings with God is also a mistake.

And so, to come into his presence troubled and anxious, and then to leave full of peace and at rest, is very good.

I went home with three more editions of the Church of England newspaper, and joked flippantly to my wife that they were three more nights of lost sleep. But she knew it was a joke.

She is very wise, and has said that I should be both more bold and more cautious. I should not try to fix the world in the night, and should not just fire off randomly in all directions, but in due time in the places where God has placed me I should stand up and say the things he has put me there to say, boldly.

Thank God for spiritual refreshment.
(and for wise women!)

Conception worries again

As usual, nothing is simple. We can not be left to simply try each month. Each month she feels pregnant and is convinced fertilisation has taken place, but then menstruates either early or late so that we can’t accurately predict the dates for the next attempt, and so she has a constant rollercoaster of emotion.

But now we can’t even settle into that rhythm. She now experiences burning sensations in her womb, and is increasingly anxious. Is it just a new manifestation of the usual fertilisations feelings? Is it a pregnancy going wrong that will ultimately end in miscarriage and further damage to her mind and body? Is it the sign of other unknown obstetric problems?


Please pray for the adult daughter of a friend, a mother of two small children, who has a malignant tumor around an artery. The doctors will soon be making their final attempt at chemotherapy, and if that fails there is nothing more they can do and they give her six to twelve months. She is a woman of faith, but faith is hard to sustain under such duress.

Friday, May 4

The Body of Christ

Even after the resurrection, the body of Christ bears the wounds - the nail holes in the hands and feet, the thorn-scarred head, the whip-lashed back, and the spear-pierced side.

As Christians, we are the body of Christ.

Yet we still ask "Why do Christians suffer?"


The bank account has finally set up, so although the wheels grind painfully slowly, I might actually get paid through my new company next Friday.

Very scary video

I have been invloved in this type of case before through my job but this is the first time I have seen it on video.

When a water pipe stops for some reason, the momentum of the flow behind tries to keep on coming and sometimes there is only one way for it to go.

Tuesday, May 1

I am now a Licensed Reader

On Saturday I was licensed as a Reader in my Diocese.

I went to the Cathedral in the morning, and contrary to my normal practice I arrived on time, at the right place, and NOT flustered!

The first stage was an hour of preparation lead by the (suffragan) bishop in the Lady Chapel. This was four meditations on the resurrection, with a quiet period between each. It was very good, with invitations, to consider our first call, our doubts, our fears, and our commission, laying each at the feet of Christ.

During the first quiet period, a latecomer arrived all hot and bothered and puffing and blowing, and the service was interrupted while the bishop fetched her the service sheet. In the second quiet, someone’s phone went off, followed by much rummaging to switch it off. In the third quiet, we could hear the distant sounds of our coffee being prepared and then trundled down a corridor on a trolley, making us all thirsty. But I mention this only for amusement – the meditations were excellent.

Next we had a joint seminar with the Reader’s association, whose AGM was concurrent. The guest speaker was the Bishop of another diocese, who gave an excellent talk on the five-fold ministry and the importance and unimportance of Readers.

This went on a bit so we missed our lunch break and rushed to don cassocks for the rehearsal, held in full view of the tourists. We were arranged alphabetically, so I ended up right a the front of the Cathedral, with the row reserved for my family next to me – the ideal place for small kids!

Another quick break for lunch, then we had to go to the chapter house to do the legal bit. I struggled with the affirmations – I always hesitate to promise to obey a man when my allegiance should be to Christ. But thinking about it, every other church of which I have been a member has expected me to obey the elders, and this was not really any different. If I find myself unable to obey, I will inevitably break the vow and presumably get chucked out of the readership. This has been a difficult issue for me, but I don’t believe God has brought me to this point only to quibble over the wording of the affirmation.

Next, surplices on, and get ready. The family arrived at this time despite the trains being off due to engineering work. They had got over laughing at the outfit at home, and now seemed pleased to see me.

Time for them to sit down and for me to get in place for the procession.

As I take the first step my brother turns up.

From there on the service runs smoothly with only two mistakes (I stepped right instead of left and had to be corrected by the bishop, and I enthusiastically and loudly sang what the choir was supposed to – but never mind, there were only 1000 people watching so nothing to be embarrassed about)

Several parts of the service were quite moving – too many to list here. Maybe another post?

Then we had to process back to the doors. As I arrived at the end and turned to face the way I had just come, I felt like I was looking upstream at river rapids – tere were so many white-robed clergy and readers pouring down the steps towards me – it was quite scary.

Then photos.

My wife’s camera broke so we relied on my snap-happy son with his…. Only the photo above was publishable. For all the others he caught me talking and I seem to look really worried, really angry and vicious, or really depressed. I didn’t feel any of those things – have I got the wrong face?

Shook loads of hands.

Went home. Took the family to Pizza Hut since I couldn’t really expect Mrs to cook. A good time was had by all.

And the first stage of my plan for world domination is complete………?
My thanks to everybody who has helped me along the way. In the blogosphere several deserve special mention for helping me socially and stimulating me spiritually.
Thank you Kyle
Thank you Rev Sam
Thank you James Church.