Photo credits

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

Tuesday, July 24

Fight Club

Fight Club ws on TV again last night - I forget which channel. I have always raved about this film to my eldest sons and encouraged them to watch it...woops - it gets a bit too sexy for them in places. I think it can officially count as child abuse to show them films above their age. I channel-flicked while the worst bits were on, but this technique only works if the batteries have not fallen out of the remote control (my younger kids always mindlessly destroy remote control battery compartment covers)

The film itself remains one of my favourites as it explores the main character. I think many people are put off by the title and violent content, thinking it is just a a testosterone film and not realising that these only provides a context for the real story. I also like American Beauty - another film about a middle aged man trying to find himself. Does this tell me anything?

Monday, July 23

Kneeling before the Holy Place

Still feeling religious following my previous post...

walked to church to fulfill my turn as duty deputy warden, thinking about preparing myself for worship, etc, prayed "Lord, may I kneel in front of you Holy Place today" [or words to that effect]

Arrived at Church to find vandals had emptied a whole pack of acrylic paints in the porch. So I spent an hour, kneeling in front of the Holy Place, scrubbing the paving blocks with steel wool. Not quite the ecstatic form of worship I had in mind.

Friday, July 20

A modern saint

Much as I resent going on courses AFTER my licensing, last night was very good indeed.

It was lead by the same guy that ran our pre-licensing training programme. Outwardly, he is a plain ordinary Church of England vicar – wears his vestments for communion, never seen without his dog collar etc. The green shirts and beard complete the image. Being with him for three years you also come to realise he is an outstanding story-teller, and more importantly he really really knows his stuff. And not just academic knowledge – he has a real gift for seeing in the text the blinding obvious fact that you have never seen because of your pre-conceived ideas about it. I have huge respect for him as a teacher.

All that I knew.

But last night I found out that although he is usually very scathing of all things remotely Pentecostal or Charismatic, he has also been involved in three bona-fide exorcisms, one or two miraculous healings, falling-over in the spirit, etc.

Take the healing for example. He was working at a kids’ summer camp, where one of the roughest lads was brought to him with a broken arm. You could hear the bones grate against each other. The vicar said ‘shall I pray for it?’ to which the lad replied ‘you can do what you like so long as you get me to hospital quick!’ So after a quick prayer off he went. Four hours later, he was brought back from the hospital, with the report that the X-ray showed there was nothing wrong with the arm. The awed lad said ‘I’m with the Christians now!’ and spent the rest of the camp pointing at his arm and trying to persuade his friends that his arm really had been broken and healed, because no-body believed him and even the vicar thought he must have got it wrong.. The lad went on to become a vicar in his own right, and 15 years later had another, unrelated x-ray. The doctor again said ‘nothing wrong’, but added ‘except for the old break’ – and sure enough there on the x-ray was a healed break. So the guy grabbed the x-ray off the doctor and shot off to show to all his friends again.

But this talk of healing etc was well balanced by a lot of other stuff abut how usually we are not exempt from the trouble of this world (which matures us as Christians), and usually we do not meet demons, etc. The overall message was one of keeping calm and sensible and not seeking the spectacular, while still being open for God to remarkable things in his own way.


Shame I don’t believe in canonising saints.

Thursday, July 19

Pink stuff


I walk past the desk of one of the secretaries – not someone I know. She’s wearing a bright eye-catching yellow top . I’m walking quickly and I just see a blurred image of her, bearing in mind this is at out of the corner of my eye, through the distorting edge of my specs. Two paces further on I realise – that was a nipple I saw! She was leaning forward onto her desk, so that her neckline and bra gaped more than she realised. And I saw everything – albeit briefly and blurred.

A righteous Christian would dismiss this from his mind, and keep quiet to protect her dignity. When I got back to my desk I was still in a state of mild shock – this kind of thing doesn’t happen to me every day. So, knowing that it was not right, I still blurted my story to my colleagues. They immediately got up saying only half joking that they were going to have a look. Back-pedalling I said them I hadn’t told them so that they could go and lech over her, and in the end nobody went. But I still did a bit of damage to her reputation in the office.

So I repent of gossip.

Should I instead have sent her a discrete email, saying ‘cover up’?

Work ethic

Regular readers will know I have trouble making myself work.

Yesterday was a productive day - brought 11 hydraulic models to completion and did a big chunk of the report.

Wednesday, July 18

Google adsense

Shall I sell my soul by putting google adsense on this blog? I have it on amy main non-anonymous 'Reader' blog, which has no one reads and has generated £0.00. It advertises all sorts of dodgy stuff. I also have it on my company website, where it advertises good stuff, and where it has generated $0.32. And that is only because my son tested it on his computer. But nobody looks at that site either.

Yet this blog does actually get one or two people looking at it. So I could put adsense on, and if you all promise to click at least once, I might earn enough to buy a chocolate bar every six months.

On reflection, its not really worth selling your soul for, is it?


So, it starts.

As expected, the sexual orientation regulations give rise to prosecutions against the church for obeying scripture. In my opinion, some of these prosecutions will be malicious, ie provoked as part of a planned campaign, simply to push the church into the world rather than on the merits of the case itself.

I cannot understand why the church should be obliged to employ people who oppose its doctrines. (Note it is not a matter of the person's orientation, it is a matter of their theology and practice concerning that orientation)

Perhaps the church should also be prosecuted for not appointing muslims to the synod? Or Satanists?

Perhaps Manchester United should be required to pay Steven Gerrard to kick balls into the United goal?

Perhaps the Tory party should be obliged to employ communists to prepare party policy?

Perhaps America should put Bin Laden in charge fo national security?

Typical builders

Surprise surprise - the builder's fixed price estimate is more than his budget estimate! We'll have to cut back significantly.

Monday, July 16

Clebrating life (and paying for it)

I turned 43 on Sunday.

Would have been nice to relax…

First stop the 9:30 service, where I had to dress up two of my kids in (authentic) Bolivian ethnic clothes in support of our church’s team visit to our missionary there this summer. Also sold some copies of my Mum’s book about her experiences as a missionary in Bolivia in the 50s and 60s.

11:00 service – normal. On wine distribution again.

Lunch – Mrs took me and the kids to Wetherspoon’s to celebrate. Very nice – totally stuffed – but it was crowded and we struggled to find seats and then had to put up with being overlooked by the queue.

Home to open prezzies – No socks! MP3 player, digital camera, a picture, chocolates, a book etc.

Then domestic servitude for the rest of the day. We have been behind owing to Mrs’ arthritis, exacerbated by her helping out as ‘reception’ for the church café for an hour a day. Excellent for her self esteem, but lousy for housework.

Also, we have finally been given the go-ahead for our mortgage to get the basement done, so we have had to start moving the boys out.

This was weekend 1 of the programme:

Weekend 1
Consolidate the laundry room, (ie send 15 bin bags full to the clothes recycling facility)
move two computers into it,
move child 1 into the former study

Weekend 2
dismantle child 4’s bed and put it in child 6’s room.
Dismantle child 5’s bunks and put them in child 4’s room, where they will share.
Move child 2’s bed into child 5’s room
Move child 6 into child 5’s room
Move child 2 in child 6’s room

Weekend 3
Consolidate the playroom
Move child 3 into the playroom
Find somewhere to put the large freezer, bikes, and other basement stores.

Weekend 4
Builders arrive and commence 14 week programme.
Dig out 4-5 inches of floor throughout
Remove central columns and provide joists instead
Create a new door to child 1’s room
Take out the boiler
Take off radiators
Provide textured waterproof membrane, 80mm battens, and plasterboard/chipboard to all floors and walls, building around the gas and electric meters, radiator pipes, electrics etc.
Install shower room and toilet
Add plumbing for washing machine
Put the boiler (possibly a new one) and radiators back

Sometime near Christmas – put all the kids and furniture back in their own rooms
Child 1 may end up in the big basement room with child 6’s double bed (don’t ask why a 7 year old had a double bed) (yes child 1 will have morality indoctrination before getting the double bed)
Child 6 may end up with child 4’s high bed

And finally, spend 40 years paying for it al

Thursday, July 12


So I resent going on courses for my Readership – they erode my family time.

I had forgotten about last night’s Child Protection course, until Mrs reminded me in our lunch time phone call. So I had to go straight to the venue in the evening with no evening meal. Fortunately there was a kebab shop near the church.

The owner was very friendly, and after I had placed my order he said I should order the popular chicken kebab next time. This gave me the chance to say I don’t normally go that way since I am from ***town 20 miles away, I was just there for a Child Protection course at the church across the road, but would be back for “Vulnerable adults” next week and would order it then.

This lead on to a conversation. Being an Asian immigrant, his knowledge of Christianity seemed to be limited to the fact that some Bishops are not allowed to marry. And so, my kebab lead to that man having his first introduction to the faith, although it was based more on administration rather than theology and we didn’t have time to get on to who Jesus is. But I have an urge for a chicken kebab…..

There are so many people out there who need to know, and we sit in our little introspective holy huddle. Paul says “Make the most of every opportunity”. My Dad used to make me cringe by handing tracts to every shop keeper that served him. I need to find my way to communicate, and so do we all.

So here is my challenge to myself and every reader:

In the next five days tell one or two people outside your normal circle about Jesus, and report back via comments below.

I promise to pray at least once for each person.

Wednesday, July 11

Freelance worries

I have noticed that I have become more stressed since becoming a freelancer. Better off, yes, able to pay bills, yes, able to start eroding my massive debts, yes. More relaxed, well no.

I suppose I could say yes, since if i wasn't better off I would probably be having my house reposessed by the bank and my children taken into care by the council.

But its not a free ride.

There are three main tax rules that wake me up sweating in the night.

  • IR35 - this checks that you are a genuine freelancer and not a disguised employee. I think I am OK but I am borderline.
  • The Managed Service Contractor regulations - if the tax man thinks that my accountant is having an influence over my company he can overlook the fact that I am a limited company and tax me as if I was an employee.
  • The 'Arctic Systems' case going through the House of Lords at present - Arctic systems is a hsuband and wife that jointly set up a company and share its profits, though only the husband's work brings money into the company. The tax man and the lowest court think he is just giving away his income and should be paying the higher tax rate, the court of appeal say they were legitimately sharing the proceeds of thir joint company. The House of Lords has the final say and is due to report in August.

I woke up from a nightmare recently in which dinosaurs with big teeth were trying to eat me, and as soon as i woke I knew that they represented the tax office.

Render unto Caeser the things that are Caeser's. Yes, but not more than he is legally entitled to. for the first two, my case is borderline - i think I am OK but its not clear cut. For the latter, the House of Lords' decision will impact directly.

My Bulgarian Orthodox colleague is impressed that British people generally pay their taxes, in contrast to his countrymen [he tells me], and thinks it is a joy to pay for the priviledges of our nation. My parents simlarly don't claim benefits they are entitled to.

I would be happier to enter into this joyfully after I have cleared my credit cards.

I am clearly the black sheep. Wealth breeds greed. I resent paying one penny more tax than the absolute minimum that a good tax consultant can prove is required by law.

But am I really wealthy? I still owe £XX,000 to the credit cards and have a £XXX,000 mortgage. God also instructs us to pay our debts and to bring up our children. So charity to the govornment will have to wait.

Plus, the fact that I am running a company as well as doing my normal work, ie doing extra hours, and getting stressed by it all, should mean that I earn more than if I was just an employee.

Ultimately I believe God has brought me to this place, and will try to rest in Him, whatever the tax man decides.

Still no baby

Yet another month passes with no pregnancy.

More despondancy, more gloom, more questioning if we have read God's will correctly, more 'opportunities to see God's perfect timing' blown away, more cynicism, more planning for perfunctory dutiful sex, more value placed upon the child that miscarried in January (which would have been born this month).

We have now been trying for 14 months, including the two miscarriages. Seems longer!

This comes just after a visit my her mother, father and sister. Rather than taking the opportunity for reconciliation their words adn actions served only to deepen her sense that they really don't care for her. So her flesh and blood don't love her, and it feels that God does not love her either.

It is not for me to defend Him.

Yet this blog is about walking on water. And today's verse of the day at left reads:

Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)

So we have to keep on trusting in God.


OK, so its not a good idea, if you are employed as a hydraulics specialist, to tell your boss you know nothing about hydraulics.

Monday, July 9

How to behave, when it makes you mad?!

This Sunday there was an infant baptism at our church. Our newly ordained assistant minister was visited by relatives from California, who wanted their children to be baptised, and preferably by her.

Our church steers people away from infant baptism towards a more biblical believer's baptism, but being an Anglican church, cannot refuse infant baptism if that is what people ask for.

I had heard that there was to be a baptism, and came along enthusiastically thinking our immersion baptistry would see action, and was trown into confusion when I found I had misunderstood - I normally stay away from infant baptisms. I decline to endorse them by my presence.

So I told my wife I would have to go to the foyer while the baptism took place. In fact, I couldn't wait that long. The music group started on a series of light hearted bouncy songs (it being a family service with many young ones) - and I really didn't feel I could participate with integrity in that style, rejoicing at the baptisms about to take place, when I did not rejoice in them at all. So I took myself to the foyer early. I have taken vows that I will "uphold the historic formularies of the church of England" - standing up in the middle of the baptism ceremony and loudly denouncing it as unscriptural and harmful to the child would not fulfil that vow, and so for the sake of dignity and integrity, I removed myself from the room.

The PA feeds the service to the foyer, so I could still hear. The Vicar made the best of a bad job, trying to balance his own views with the requirements placed on him by the church. Afterwards most of the evangelicals were praising his introduction as an excellent balance, distinguishing baptism from salvation and emphasising the need for an expression of faith by the candidate later. But it still wound me up strongly, because ultimately he was endorsing something unscriptural and having to distort all sorts of things to make it fit. The whole system is wrong, and so the contortions he (and the CofE) go through to accomodate it just introduce more wrongs.

[The assistant minister took the main sermon, and I didn't catch all of it but the bits that I did get seemed (and I may be wrong about this, i only caught snippets) semed to imply an element of washing in baptism - yes the Bible does speak of washing in baptism but I felt she went too far - but I am probably worng on this point.]

I was able to express my frustrations to the warden and to another Reader, but have to be careful not to talk to persons not in authority over me about this becasue that would break my vows. In fact I was talking too loudly in the foyer, which I regret.

My wife had a go at me at home afterwards, saying that I was just being proud and setting myself up as 'wiser' than the rest of the leaders. But the truth is, last time I spoke about this to our Vicar he was not even aware that some churches do not accept infant baptism at all, so I think I can say without pride that I have seen several perspectives on this and proably do know more [on this topic] than him. He has always been Anglican, and never had the opportunity to see it from outside. So I don't claim superiority, just experience. Plus I studied various views on it when I was doing the Anabaptists project in my training. So Mrs and I had a big row which ended with me stomping out of the room saying something like 'I am a teacher, I have to care about doctrine'.

Now I am not asking you to bombard me with 1000 coments about the pro's and cons of infant v believers baptism. In fact please don't. What i am hoping to gain from this post is other people's experience on how one should behave when the church to which God has called you does things in good faith which you strongly disagree with and consider to be actively harmful. Shold I take on the OT prohpet role, and go and stand on the pulpit prophesying repentance or doom? Should I ignore it and hope it goes away? Should I write to the Vicar? Shold I take him aside and chat? Should I write saying 'I know you HAVE to do this, and I HAVE to register my dissent'? Or what?

Thursday, July 5

No more Google Reader

I am going to dlete 'Google Reader' from my Favorites list.

I come to work each morining, switch on, log on, and read blogs. And so by the time I do any real work, 40-120 minutes (that I am charging my clients for) have passed.

This is clearly wrong, and must stop.

So if I fail to read or comment on your Blog for a while, that's why. Please ccept my apologies.

Wednesday, July 4

Id 10 t

Last Sunday was my first opportunity since my licensing to wear my blue scarf with vestments at the cathedral for a friends ordination as deacon.

Regular readers will know that my own church doesn't use vestments, and so I had to borrow a cassock and surplice from another church for the occasion. So as I set off to the cathedral, i grabbed the borrowed things and set off.

Come the moment to robe, I put on the cassock, put on the surplice, and then realise the scarf is still on the hook upstairs at home. AAARRRGGHH!

I asked to borrow one, and was directed to the main vestry upstairs - where f course I bumped into the bishop who challenged me on security grounds, and i had to explain to him what a total loser I am.

Finally, I found someone who had a spare one.

This guy does conjuring tricks as part of his preaching, and so the scarf had a picture of a magicians hat with a cross coming out instead of a rabbit, and loads of little pockets down the back to keep his tricks in. Now you can think what you want about using conjuring tricks ion a sermon, but isn't that idea of pockets a handy hint?

A bit more upbeat!

Mrs has been a little more upbeat these days.

The church’s evangelistic café used to be in a side street and had to close down because although it was spiritually very successful it wasn’t financially viable and charity laws gave us no choice.

So we have moved the café into what was the church’s lounge, which has big windows onto the town’s main street. Trade is up! But this has created a need for extra manpower: to get to the café you have to go through the church foyer, and so you need security and a welcome team to direct people to the café and the toilets, and generally answer questions and chat to visitors.

In the past, Mrs has tried helping in the kitchens, but her rheumatoid arthritis means that she can’t safely carry hot drinks and food around. She also declined the other main evangelistic role of getting involved in deep serious conversations with the clients: she feels her own life is too messed up and full of doubt at the moment to ‘preach’ to others.

But she has taken on a role in the foyer welcome team, which is not physical work nor does it mean getting too deep into conversations, it just needs a smile. She can do this without her own emotional rollercoaster having too much impact. So at long last she feels that she has a role in the church where she is helpful and valued. It is a real breath of fresh air.

Now if she can get pregnant as well, we will really celebrate!