Photo credits

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

Sunday, June 28

Happy Birthday to my Blog

I've just realised that my blog is now three years old, having started in early June 2006.

Dumped into it again IV

If you want a rush sermon, ask someone who's unemployed! That seems to be the motto at my church.

So now I have a week to prepare for an hour-long in-depth study of 1 John 2 for our Monday Bible study group. All of it.

OK, in one week I can talk for one hour on 1 John 2. But will the people go away illuminated? I doubt it. The truth is, I've never understood Johannine writing. It's too cryptic and mystical, too simplistic and complex. It's a load of froth and bubble, yet it's too deep and serious to grasp.

Friday, June 26

Interview report XI

I phoned the agent. The agent phoned the client.

One of the guys that interviewed me has been 'out of the office' all week and so has not had a chance to think about it. Also it seems that rather than the 3 candidates I was originally told about, it seems there are five, one of which is internal.

I can feel it slipping away................

But my faith is that God has looked after me this far, and usually does things at the very last minute, and so despite all the stress it will work out OK in the end. In my view, that means I will get the job, whereas Mrs is convinced it measn a local job will come up instead.

Thursday, June 25

Interview report X

Still no news.

Getting desperate now.

On 1st July all my direct debits go out. There is nothing to pay them with. Tomorrow is the last day when I can make internet transfers from my company account to my private accounts, which I can only do if I know I have got the job and there will be money coming into the company. I suppose I can withdraw cash from one bank, walk around the corner and re-deposit it in the other bank on Monday or Tuesday.

If I don't have the job, then the bills will not be paid and I'm off back to the citizen's advice bureau again.

These are the kind of desperate times when God acts. Somehow I feel my recent sermon on 'active patience' from James 5 is relevant.

Tuesday, June 23

New beginnings

Dumped again - "Simon since you're off work you can do the talk at the Tuesday communion service".

That was Sunday.

Scratched for ideas (our church does not follow the lectionary). Prayed like I should have done before. Instantly inspired! "Behold I make all things new" follwoed by Simeon and Anna in Luke 2 - a new revelation of the Christ gives them a new beginning (preaching the news) in their old age. (NB average age of this congregation is 75+) Encouraged them to seek a fresh revelation of the Christ and a fresh comission.

Sunday, June 21

Interview report IX

Still no news. Desperately need to know one way or the other.

Justification sermon

My justification sermon went well today.

My Vicar did his usual thing, making me change large swathes of it half an hour before I'm due to start. "Make sure you mention father's day. Don't get too academic. It's got to be a gospel message" etc. All good points, but better made much earlier.

So my final message was a much cut down version but with additional illustrations. So although I hate the way he makes me change things at the last minute, he does actually change it for the better.

I had three or four people after each service expressing appreciation.

How to judge the quality of your sermon based on feedback:

Number of favourable comments...Quality of sermon
.....-5......................................................Either you or the congregation have serious issues!
.....5+......................................................Truly you are a prophet

(OK don't take that too seriously)

Thursday, June 18

Interview report VIII

Still no news.

Slimy evangelism

"We are Abraham's seed" Gal 3:29

I always thought this was a poetic way of saying we are his decendants. A passive phrase. BUt of course 'seed' is a polite way of saying semen. Yes, that's the stuff. We are Abraham's semen. This makes the phrase much more active. Semen goes out into the world and creates new life, new children for Abraham.

So we need to splash out a bit more. (<-- yes I did say that)

(Now how can I preach this to the 9:30 congregation without causing offense?)

Wednesday, June 17

Interview report VII

An agonising day waiting for the silent phone to ring.

Does this mean:
  1. They are just busy and haven't even made a decision yet?
  2. They've decided but for various reasons haven't said?
  3. They've offered the job to one of the otehr candidates and are awaiting his response?

Tuesday, June 16

Justification - Tom Wright, preaching and blogging

Our Vicar is swapping the preaching rota around, so suddenly I have to preach on Justification this coming Sunday. Well, that comes of lending the Vicar Tom Wright's book - now he thinks I'm the expert!

So I'm hastily re-reading bits of it.

I just have to present two extracts for you.

On salvation: "The closing scenes of scripture, in the book of Revelation, are not about human beings going off to heaven to be in a close and intimate relationship with God, but about heaven coming to earth" (page 7)

On blogging: "It really is high time we developed a Christian ethic for blogging. Bad temper is bad temper even in the apparent privacy of your hard drive, and harsh and unjust words, when released into the wild, rampage around and do real damage. And as for the practice of saying mean and untrue things while hiding behind a pseudonym - well, if I get a letter like that it goes straight in the bin. But the cyberspace equivalents of road rage do not happen by accident. People who type viscious, angry, slanderous and inaccurate accusations do so becasue they feel their worldview is under attack." (page 10)

(I am guilty as charged)

Thursday, June 11

Interview report VI

Man, that was tough!

But overall, I think it went well. The other candidate from my agency went before me - a tall grey man in his 60s, moving to the area for his wife's retirement. His interview took 1/2 hour longer than mine - could be a good thing or a bad thing. There is another candidate from another agency to be done on Tuesday next week.

The questions were pre-printed, to ensure fairness. Not particularly technical, bit mostly along the lines of "give an example of a time when you have....." and it was hard remembering things from some time ago when the more relevant experience took place.

With glorious hindsight I can see that I made many mistakes - not least drawing attention to the mistake in the adress on my business card - so I can only hope that the other guy made more mistakes or that I am just a significantly better candidate overall. I think that they liked me, but is that enough? It could go either way.

But I am sure that the Lord's will will work out, and that if i don't get this job it would never have been right for me anyway - but that does raise the question of how I will pay the mortgage next month. I have told too many people about how the Lord has abundantly blessed us, and so they have stopped giving. Me and my big mouth!

Please pray for me to get thsi job, or else for something better to come up locally, immediately.

Wednesday, June 10

Interview report V

So - tomorrow I have my interview, at 3:15.

2 other candidates - scary - but I suspect that I am still the preferred candidate and that these are just to make up the numbers required by the client's procedures.

They are looking for someone with sufficient 'gravitas' to handle the role. Gravitas is not something I am stong on! I will have to stop picking my nose and scratching!

Bought a new suit, had my hair cut, cleaned the car. I've done all I can. Now I just need the Lord to bless me and let me have a job.

Monday, June 8

Interview report IV

Today's information is thta the Face to Face interview will probably be Thursday. That's the only day the guy is free, but apparently he still needs sanction from his line mnager before its a definite.

We can but sit and wait. And since in my recent talk on James 5 I majored on 'active patience', I suppose I had better practice what I preach

Sunday, June 7

Messed up the Cathedral Procession

I attended an ordination service at the Cathedral today, where two candidates originating from my church were being made priests. In my capacity as a Reader, I was robed and participating in the procession - which I messed up! The two lines of the procession were supposed to pass on either side of the nave altar, to two banks of seats just above the cancel steps. A message was passed down the line, but by the time it got to me it was garbled and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to pass it on to the clergy behind me. I assumed they would just copy what the readers did. How wrong! They all went to the north of the altar, which meant that they didn't fit through the gaps and arrived at the seating area in a bunch which milled around trying to work out where to sit. Perhaps I should have passed the message on!

Wednesday, June 3

Interview report III

I heard today that I definately have a face-to-face interview next week, but don't know what day yet.

Your sins will find you out....

The JWs called at the door.

My 17 year old son answered.

"Are your parents home?"


This might have been more credible if I didn't unwittingly walk down the stairs and look over his shoulder to see who was there.

Tuesday, June 2

James Ch 5

I spoke last night at our Bible Study - which always comprises a 1 hour in-depth exegetical sermon.

It semed to go OK generally, with a few comments from the floor. At one point it started to get out of hand with a subsidiary discussion over whethre Job did or did not lack faith, but I managed to drag it back to James.

I annoyed some people by teaching that the oil is the medical treatment of the day, not necessarily a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and that it's the prayer of faith, not the oil, the heals. We don't do magic with lotions and potions.

But I had a great time with "The prayer of a righteous man is poweful and effective" - holding up a can of RAID insecticide "Kills bugs dead" to emphasise power and effectiveness, and also emphasising that being righteous is our status as forgiven sinners, not something that we attain by efforts of holiness, and so therefore all of us (in that particular congregation) are righteous and therefore all of us are powerful and effective in our prayers. So we got quite excited!

I also showed that the NIV - the 'normally incorrect version' - misrepresents Elijah's prayer as 'earnest', when really the Greek says he prayed a prayer - a normal human prayer. The emphasis is on the power of a simple prayer, and certainly not that the more energy we put into our prayers the better they are; becasue that's what the priests of Baal thought!

There are subtle hints in James that it may be possible to lose salvation, and this is a topic of intense debate at our church at present with some clergy saying once saved always saved you can't be un-born-again, and others saying that salvation is by faith in the present continuous tense and that you have to persevere to the end to be saved. So we are likely to have a special session on the topic in the next month or so and I decided to refer to that session rather than trying to answer all those questions now. Personally, I do believe in 'assurance'. Tom Wright is good on this subject, showing that in the present we are justified by faith and this is an accurate prediction of our future judgement by works thanks to the Holy Spirit producing good works in us. Something like that anyway.