Photo credits

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

Sunday, May 31

Great Sunday

Today has been a day of God's blessing.

I thought it was going to go horribly wrong. I was double booked, being on warden duty as well as leading the 9:30 service. Half the welcome team didn't turn up, so I had to recruit a spare sidesperson to stand in as steward and rearrange the communion adminsitrators. But once I was on the patform things fell into place more, and the service ran very smoothly. THe assistant mininster preached prophetically. Outstanding.

She preached the same sermon in the seocnd service, which turned out to be exactly the right message for one visitor - the daiughter of one of our members who has been praying for her to come for 12 years, and today was the answer to that prayer. (PS - the sermon was on perseverence in prayer)

The evening service took the form of 'extended worship' - cynically, a sing-song which requires little preparation. But the cynic rarely speaks for God - and every song was directly relevant to my situation - thanks for provision, learning to trust, obeying, etc. Yes - even that order was significant.

So praise the Lord, who dug me out of an awkward position this morning, and who spoke to me in the evening confirming his calling to ordination.

Friday, May 29

Need a new client XX

I have heard today that the local permanent job I was applying for has been turned down. Apparently, based on my CV they think I am more of a hydraulics engineer than a senior modeller in their field. The fact I have already done four years as a senior modeller for their rivals, but only three years in a more junior post in hydraulics doesn't seem to have entered their equation.

Anyway, sour grapes aside: I didn't particularly like that company and didn't particularly want to do Senior Modelling work (it would seem like a step backwards) and i didn't particularly want a permanent job. So apart from being local, and a JOB, I am quite happy.

Mrs will be more disappointed.

Church duties

Last sunday was my turn to lead the prayers at our 9:30 service. It was OK, but rather dry, and no one commented afterwards.

This week, since the vicar is away, I have been dumped with leading the 9:30 service, which being a communion one this time will be different and I don't know what I am supposed to be doing at all. Heeelllppp!

Then on Monday, I am speaking at or Bible Study - so I have to speak for 1 hour on the detail in James chapter 5. As usual, you learn more by dong the study for the sermon than just by listening to other people's contributions on other nights.

James has given rise to an almighty row brewing between the clergy at the church, some of whom believe in 'the assurance of salvation' while others believe that you can lose your salvation if you don't persevere to the end. So the next Bible Study session (after mine) looks likely to be a presidential style debate between the two main protagonists. I'm not sure this is a helpful format! I've told both sides to read 'Justification' by Tom Wright, whihc explains how the two views can be brought together.

Need a new client XIX

Two months with no work!

Still no clarity as to what my future is.

I may yet get that remote contract job, I may yet get a local permanent one. Neither have responded - presumably owing to the half term holidays.

Well at least we are getting good weather!

And despite the holidays, the house is quiet. Yesterday, my eldest was away doing his Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, the next four were away fell-walking with the church youth group, nr 6 was at a friends house, and so we just had the baby at home. who was happy because someone at church has given us a plastic rocking horse for her.

My main worry now is paying the mortgage in June. Thanks to the church's generosity, I think I have enough, but it will be touch and go.

Friday, May 22

Interview report II

Today the agency rang me to confirm that of the two candidates they put forward to the client, the other one was not accepted and I was very impressive. Which is great news!

It doesn't explain why the client told me he has 3 or 4 candidates, when he has told the agency that I am now the only one. He has said he apparently needs someone similar to myself - unlike the other guy - for comparison, for his procedures. Well, it doesn't look like he can find anyone, and that gives me some hope that the procedure might get accelerated.

Anyway - it's a huge boost to my confidence, to get through a competitive interview for a job that is more senior than anything I have done before.

In another unrelated story:
Agency A phoned me today to ask if I was interested in a pemanent position at local client X. I said Agency B was already talking to client X about me. So I phoned agency B for an update. They remided me that I had asked them to talk to client Y first, and now said that client Y had declined my services, and did I now want them to talk to client X? Well i was cross that they had not already done so, but feeling they were in the queue ahead of agency A I said yes. Emailed agency A to explain. Agency A then rang me back - very cross - telling me that agency B had clearly let me down and feeling that I had given bad agency B his work. I apologised. He said he would speak to his own contacts at client X. Later he called again, saing that the client has very specific procedures and these would pick up if they ahd already had my CV, so first comne first serve or something like that. So I let him get on with it. But what it probably means is that in the long run client X will not want me because I clearly can't sort my agents out. So now I'm a bit cross. I don't really want to work for client X, expecially on a permanent basis - I'm not too fond of the company itself and the work would be a step backwards compared to the more distant job I was interviewed for. But work is work, and local work is very much more convenient for my domestic and church responsibilities.

All we can do is wait and see what the Lord provides.

Thursday, May 21

Interview report

Well, I'm still alive!

Generally, the interview seemed to go well - much better than I feared. I think I am probably through to the next stage, but it turns out that there are actually 4 candidates, and the next stage (a face-to-face interview) is two weeks away.

The interview took 40 minutes. There were two categories of questin - managerial and technical. I did remarkably well on the managerial side, but struggled a bit with the question about how to give bad news to people. I think he wanted someone who could be a bit more blunt. I also struggled a bit on the technical questions, which were mroe about managing technical questions rather than the technical stuff itself, and I went slightly off on the wrong tack. But overall, I think I did OK.

The job sounds even better than I thought. I would be in charge of about 40 projects! If I can get the job it will look really good on my CV, and will also be relevant on my ordination paperwork.

I am worried about the timescale: even if I am offered the job it could be over a month before I am at the desk, and all that time I am relying on gifts from the church. It's not on really. So, please pray that either it all gets accelerated or that something local comes up sooner.

Anyway, it has boosted my confidence. I feel that I have interviewed for the most senior job in my life, and come out OK.

Jehovah Jireh IV

As yet another envelope comes through my door with a further unsolicited gift - supposedly anonymous but I caught a glimpse of him on the drive - I am totally humbled by the love of God expressed through his generous people.

This guy isn't even a member of our church.

And since my normal income is significantly greater than his, he has no reason to be giving me handouts. So it's a bit embarrasing really!

Which is why I desperately need a job, so that I can tell the poor to stop putting their hands into their empty pockets to feed the rich (me).

Need a new client XVIII

Nervous now, waiting for my telephone interview.

I've found out that I am one of two candidates, who are seen by the agency as being broadly similar. The client wants the interview to assess out technical and managerial skills. Well, that counts me out then! I have never been succesful in a competitive interview, especially one where they want to know specifically about areas in which I happen to be weak.

Never mind - Mrs didn't want me working away from home anyway.

Wednesday, May 20

Baptised in the blood of Martyrs

It was the Archdeacon's visitation on Monday night.

The liturgy contained a creed with a line about baptism in the blood of our Martyrs. I nearly choked! Surely baptism in with water, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And if the Great Schism occured over the filioque clause, surely changing what we are baptised into must be cause for concern.

Can anyone enlighten me as to the origins of this idea, it's theology, and whether I should evacuate back to a non-conformist church?

Jehovah Jireh III

The church continues to send unsolicited food parcels and money gifts. Despite having no work for 7 weeks, my bank looks healthier than normal. God is good!

Need a new client XVII

My telephone interview is scheduled for 14:30 tomorrow.

Please pray for the right outcome.

.....for... I need a job - any job!
.....against.... I need a LOCAL job!

The work is slightly outside my feild, and will challenge me a lot, but will be very good for me if I get through it.

Sunday, May 17

Need a new client XVI

I have a possible telephone interview lined up this week. The client has seen and liked my CV, and is aware of what kindof money I am looking for, and has told an agency they want to arrange a telephone interview this week.

I've looked at the job description. It would involve running two teams in towns 50 miles apart, working as a project manager to deliever projects to the project approvals group in time, and also to generate a 'realistic' 10 year programme of works. Looks fun!

In every way the job is good - working on a contract basis renewable every three months, which would probably see me all the way through this quiet year.

The only downside is that it is 200miles from home. Mrs has previously accepted that I might need to work away from home, but now that she is faced with it as a realistic propsect, she balks at the idea. She is a woman of faith, usually more faith than me. So she believes that God has something better for us - a local contract job. But of course, when people are giving so generously to us, I can't really turn down what is essentially a good job.

So we shall see how the interview goes. It's not a done deal by any means. Generally my CV does look good but I do struggle to live up to it. I have done all thise things, but I haven't allways gained the maximum experience possible from them or fully understood what I was doing or remembered what it was all about. I do tend to swan through life in a rather blinkered and naive way. So it's hard to live up to the experience I claim.

The Lord knows, and I trust him to work it out for the best.

Jehovah Jireh II

Lat Sunday I reported on how the tax man had given us a nice surprise - enough to keep us going for two weeks.

This week, before that time is up, we were given an anonymous envelope at church this morning, containing £450.

That's right. It's a lot. It's a huge amount for someone to put their hand into their pocket and fork out that kind of money, for someone to whom they owe no debt of any kind. Unbelievable, but true! But this is the kind of effect that Christ has on people.

And I praise him! (as well as the actual donor)

Of course, this places greater pressure on me to find work quickly!

Thursday, May 14

Healing testimony - knee and spine pain

Went to a special worship service last night, led by an American band touring the UK.

Aparently this was their 18th meeting in 18 days. Strangely enough, they looked tired, bored and listless, and the 'worship' comprised the endless repetition of single phrases. Now I am all for a bit of repetition - it gives the opportunity to meditate on the words whereas if you sing a song once it is gone. But these were'nt songs - just phrases. Good phrases, yes. But by the time you have sung them more than six times to the same tune as all the other phrases your mind has drifted and rather than meditating on the Lord you are meditating on tomorrow's lunch.

So already feeling niggled, I was further irked by the old man in the row behind me, loudly telling the lady next to him about his difficult domestic circumstances, who was starting to disturb the meeting.

I put on my deputy warden hat and invited him to come and chat with me outside. His domestic circumstances were indeed difficult - his athiest wife resents him going to church (so why did he marry her? He's been a Christian all his life then marries an athiest in his 70s? self-inflicted domestic problems?). But then he went on to tell me that 10 days ago at the Sunday evening service (the one where I preached) someone prayed for him afterwards (I saw them) and his painful knee and spine have been instantly healed and have not reverted back to their previous painful condition. Praise God!

Tuesday, May 12

And also today......

My daughter, who has worn a brace for nearly a year and is desperate for the treatment to end, was told by the orthodontist that the brace has done all it can and now she needs to have surgery to break and realign her jaw so that her recently straightened teeth will actually meet.

Poor girl.

James Ch 5

My next speaking engagement is on June 1st at our fortnightly Bible study. We have been going through James, and I get chapter 5.

I disagreed strongly with the chap who did chapter 1, so it will be hard to resist deliberately contradicting him. I think I will stick to a relatively light hearted and humourous registration of my dissent as part of the introduction, and leave it at that.

Anyway, they will probably all disagree with me as I manage to weave Tom Wright's ideas of justification into it all.

The truth is - the apparent tension between James and Paul is much diminished by the so called new perpective on Paul.

Justification - Tom Wright II

Well, I finally poughed my way through Tom Wroight's book.

I repeat my previous assertion that it is very hard to read -dense, repetitive, and with over-long sentances. But that's theology for you.

So know I have some knowledge of 'the new perspective on Paul' and some of the debate around it.

Personally, Tom Wright's approach does seem to me to be correct. It makes an awful lot of sense. Not that very question is answered, and not that it does not provoke more questions. But I like his methods, and criteria, etc.

I was concerned that he would teach a doctrine of salvation by works, but he does not. I was concerned he would negate salvation by faith, but he does not. What he does do is flesh out what those things mean.

By way of illustration, my Brethren doctine of slavation by faith, with a massive focus on the cross, was like a child going into a theme park and then turning round to admire the turnstile, ignoring the fanatastic theme park that it lead to. Tom Wright also loves the turnstile - he does not deny that entry is through it, and he doesn not instist that it rotates in the opposite direction. BUt having agreed about the turnstile, his atention focuses on the theme park itself. What have we come into? What is it all for? What does it mean for our day to day life?

Someone who has entered the theme park will tell you of the wonderful rides enjoyed. You don't enter the theme park by riding, but the prupose of entering is to ride. If the preson has no 'ride' stories, you don't believe they have entered the park. So, good works are the purpose and the sign of membership of the kingdom of God, not the entry ticket.

As Tom Wright writes: the Torah was not a ladder by which the Jews could enter the covenant, because they were already in it.

the other main themes of the book are that in Evangelical circles we use the words 'Justification' and 'Righteousness' incorrectly. They have specific meanings in terms of your status in relation to the covenant. Justification only refers to the judicial process of being set right in the eyes of the law. Righteusness does not mean being nice, kind, morally virtuous and a jolly decent chap. It means being right in the eyes of the law. Justification is through the penal substitution of Jesus. Righteousness is received by the penal substitution of Jesus. So Tom Wright does not contradict what I always thought: he just points out how carelessly we have used these words.

But those words and their use are only part of the big theme park, which is the Kingdom of God, or in Tom's book, God's single plan to bless the world through Israel, fulfilled through the faithful Israeilte Jesus. Which is pretty much the same as what I already believed following my time in a charismatic house church, only using different language.

Tom's view comes under the broad heading of 'the new perspective on Paul', but of course that is not a single united new perspective, and much of the mud thrown at the said perspective and much of the alleged negative consequences probably do not apply to the new perspective as outlined by Tom Wright. I don't feel my Evangelical credentials are at all diminished by taking on Tom's teaching on the subject.

Need a new client XV

Still no sign of work. The things I hoped for last week did not work out. Something else I applied for at the weekend, convinced it must be the right one, failed at the first hurdle.

Back to depression again, back to the sense of faith being challenged. Back to the sense of being unwanted. (Or at least unaffordable!)

Having discussed with Mrs - decided to apply for local 'permanent' jobs, on the basis that if it's not right the Lord can close the door. And so I have spoken to a local agency, who will explore the prospects with a few local branches of the main consultancies. Now, whist I am doing this 'in faith' that God can shut the door, I still feel a bit like Abraham taking on Hagar, lacking patience and trying to hurry along God's plan by human intervention.

Although I am outwardly full of faith, under this there is the layer of depression and despondency. But below this is the core faith, that God has never let me down before, and won't do so now.

So although out of a sense of responsibility I feel I have to go through the motions of job hunting, I still feel that the right job has yet to come. the real question is about how much digging I need to do for it to come. It seems unchristian to do nothing, yet it seems faithless to strain and struggle trawling the Internet and applying for every unsuitable job I see.

Guidance, please!

Sunday, May 10

Jehovah Jireh

So - "next week the Titanic sinks"...?

But of course, the Lord doesn't do things that way.

My Blog is about normal life with God being an adventure.

So, because my parent's money was due to run out this week, he arranged for the tax man to give me back a significant amount of money - enough for TWO WEEKS! This results from erros in info I gave in to the tax office last summer - but God was in control arranging a saving package to get me through the next few weeks.

This means that we now believe He does not want us to go down the IVA route, but instead to trust him.

Oh, also, I have just applied for work in the town where my parents live, so if succesful I will be able to assist my sister in caring for them in their old age.

feels like God is at work!

Friday, May 8


While having my cup of coffee, I mused.

There are three ways my employments situation could go in the short term:
  1. Nothing. Zilch. Negatori. Nowt. Rien. Nada.
  2. A permanent job as a staff employee of some company
  3. A contract job - carry on as I was before I ran out of work.

In prayer I put these paths to the Lord, and asked him which one it would be, and what should I do, now, to bring it about.

I then played 'Holy Horoscopes' with my Bible, opening it at random. (That's always a dangerous game which I don't recommend - you might just as well do the I-Ching. e.g. "Judas went and hanged himself" - "Go and do thou likewise"). However, I picked up Isaiah 54 and 55, reading in 'The Message". These two chapters are full of how God is about to abundantly bless his people after a time of trouble, and that this is 'just around the corner'.

So that was answer number 1 - I believe that this means I will very soon get some contract work.

So what should I do to bring it about? The passage speaks only of what God is going to do, in his time, for his purposes, in his way. So it seems that I don't have to DO anything except wait patiently - answer number 2.

Now of course, I could be wrong. 'Holy horoscopes' is a dangerous game. So don't lose faith if next week I am still posting about unemployment. I still have to go through the motions of job-hunting.

But overall, I am enouraged to believe that in His typical style God will rescue me at the last minute. Or shortly after.

Need a new client XIV

None of the jobs I have been hoping for - not even the ones that semed so good that they must be 'The Lord's Will' - have been offered to me.

I am therefore feeling much lower than a few days ago when the future was much brighter. It's now less than a week before I visit the CAB and and have my IVA started. I really need something to come up in time for that.

Mrs is full of faith that it will be OK, and points to the kindnesses of the people in the church as evidence that God will provide [a job]. I also believe God will provide, but also see that sometimes he brings/allows hard trials, and I may have to go through with it. I hope Mrs is right!

Meanwhile I have downloaded and started training myself in the free version of the river modelling software, to help break into the river modelling world which seems to be my only hope at present (my specialism is wastewater modelling - you would think that water does the same whether it is in a sewer or a river and that's true, but the flow volumes are different, the physical structures are very different and the questions being asked about them are different, hence the techniques are different).

Tuesday, May 5

Dumped into it again III

My talk on Sunday night seems to have gone down well, despite my worries. There were a few things that I forgot to say, but the general feedback seems to be good. I do believe that the Holy Spirit was at work, and therefore have to believe that the things I left out were not important to His purposes.

Encouraged by my son

My son is generally rolling in dosh - spare cash from his paper round. This year, having been touched by God at Soul survivor last year, he is planning to pay for several of his friends to go.

But he feels guilty paying for his friends' holiday when people from the church are giving us groceries!

We have thanked him for his concern, but told him to carry on with his first plan. If the Lord has laid on his heart to take friends to Soul Survivor, then He doesn't need that money for us. ie, we will probably get work very soon, and our faith is built up.

Need a new client XIII

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the day I hope to hear about last week's job applications. These are basically my last chance before having to go down the route of an IVA.

My verse for the day in the sidebar is "“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)"

Who your friends are

We have been greatly encouraged by the kindness of friends at this time when I have had no work for over a month. Someone from the church dropped off a box of groceries today, including quite a few tins, bread, and toiletries. The fact that we are not yet desperate enough to need them is beside the point - the fact is, people care. The box came with an envelope from someone else containing £100. Like I say, we don't need it - (YET!) - but it is fantastic to know people are thinking of us with love.

And the reason we don't need it yet is because we still have my parent's money. (Which will last us until 11th May, and then 'the Titanic sinks')

There are others - who one would expect to be at the forefront of such generosities - who are conspicuous by their absence. Times of trouble reveal who your friends are!

Saturday, May 2

New teeth

Our baby has finally sprouted two new front teeth at the top.

Dumped into it again II

My sermon has not been coming together. You can't easily summarise a book as dense as Tom Wright's "Justification" in a way that does justice to the theology and yet is simple enough for a congregation that is 30% "people with learning difficulties". Yesterday I was getting completely bogged down.

So I set my alarm for 5:30 and went for a quiet walk through the town and into the local countryside. (Except it wasn't so quiet in town, with people still coming out of the clubs at that time!)

I tried speaking out what I would say as I walked - which I found to be agood technique - but I kept getting bogged down.

The spirit directed me to turn aside among the long grass and lie down. Looking up I could only see blurred grass and blue sky, and feel adn hear the wind and watch the grass sway in its influence. "Go in among them," He said, "let me do the talking".

So does he want me to have a quiet time of contemplation and no sermon at all? May be. But I didn't feel comfortable with that proposition. But when I got up and continued my walk, and had another go at the sermon, I found the words flowed more easily, and the content of the talk was much more simple and therefore less inclined to get bogged down. (Ironically I was walking through a muddy patch as I thought this! - but just stay out of the muddy bits and you're fine.)

And for the first time I got to the end of the talk.

Time to go home - where am I? --ONLY 3 MILES FROM HOME!