Photo credits

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

Monday, July 29

Feeling the touch

Sunday church was fairly normal in many ways.  'Normal' in this context is not a negative word - it was a good sermon on repentance.  Several people we had not seen in a while were there.   All good normal stuff.

As I was singing the final songs, I was tapped on the shoulder.

The prayer team was busy in the back corner with respondents.  But it was an all-famale prayer team, and a man had come for prayer.  For the sake of propriety, someone his own gender should be present while he was prayed for (we do this the other way round, too).  So one of the ladies and I prayed with him.  He wanted physical ealing.  The lady prayed first, then me.

Now, I've been in this situation many times, and prayed perfectly competently, if not spectacularly.  Today was different.  I really felt an excitement while the lady was praying, and then when I prayed it came a a strong prayer fo faith.  The man made no claim to being healed (it was one of these more hidden long-term things where he would need a doctor to observe any change), but I felt really weird.  I cold not go straight back to my seat, but lingered on the way, praying aloud in tongues (the music was still going), and my legs could not keep still - I had to shift from one to the other.  Basically, it was the Holy Spirit.  Although I do get emotional when i feel the touch of God, I am not normally given to physical manifestations.  And it wasn't something psychological - as I say it was a normal service and I ahve done praying for people before - there was no external reason why I should feel it this time.  So I believe that it was God coming on me. 

I just hope the Spirit didn't get stuck on me when it was supposed to pass on to the man!

Tuesday, July 23

Basking in shame

Despite warnings and much family discussion, not all of one's children are following every detail of the lifestyle expected of the faithful to the level.  In fact, in some of my former churches, excommunication would be prescribed.  I have much sympathy with that view.  Normally I bask in refelcetd glory.  Today I 'bask' in reflected shame.  Someone needs to understand that being 18 does not mean being free to do what you want, it means being responsible for what you do.  Please pray for repentance to flow forth before divine discipline is imposed.


We had a fantastic baptism service on Sunday night.

There were six people:

A retired headmaster

A single mum

Four members of the youth group, children of believers making their own commitments.

Three were proper Biblical baptisms: a person having come to faith Christ is baptised into his name. In the Bible baptism always comes after a confession of faith.

There now follows a rant about baptismal theology. To skip to the narrative story, scroll down to #####

The other three were 're-affirmations' of baptismal vows. This is a curious Anglican get-around for situations where people have been put through an infant baptism but then come to a true faith later in life. The old way round this was confirmation - a ritual in search of a theology. There is no Biblical basis for 'confirmation'. But let’s take what is good about it - it’s a person committing themselves to God and asking for the Holy Spirit. Fine - I have no problem with that. But it is no substitute for baptism. So these people now want a Biblical baptism, but the church says you can't be baptised twice and doesn't want to dismiss its own infant baptism practices. So we have invented a 'reaffirmation of Baptismal vows'. It would be better in my view to admit that infant baptism is not true baptism. Parents cannot make promises about their children, not least because baptism isn't about promises. Baptism is about being joined to Christ, which happens when we come to faith.

Now I hear you say 'baptism equates to circumcision, so its right to do it to the children of the household of God'. Circumcision was done when the child was born into the family. I believe life starts at conception, but it is not until the child emerges that the circumcision is performed. Now it is by faith that we are Abraham's descendants. We are not his physical descendants (well, the reader may but I am not), but we are his spiritual descendant, by faith. It is when we believe that we become his children; that is when we are born into his family, and into his covenants. So if the physical circumcision happens after the physical child is born into the physical Israel, so the spiritual circumcision (baptism) happens after we are born spiritually by faith into the spiritual Israel. To baptise an infant is like going into the womb to circumcise the unborn child. To baptise the infant is to say to the unbeliever that he is a member of the family of believers. Which he ain't.

In the case of the Philippian jailer, when the whole household was baptised, the last line of the story is that 'they all rejoiced because they had all believed'. Those who were baptised were baptised because they themselves believed, not because their daddy believed.

### Continuing the story.....

The first of the youth was my third son's steady girlfriend, having a non-reaffirmation baptism despite being the daughter of a vicar. Excellent news all round. Hope it progresses to a wedding.

The first of the adults was a friend of my wife's. She had a bit of a crisis, having woken up from an afternoon nap to find that her three small children had been taken out of her house by persons unknown. I called the police for her while she descended through ever deeper levels of sheer panic and terror. It turned out that it was her own father, responsibly looking after the kids while she was out for the count. It would have helped if he had left a message, but he meant well. Anyway, apparently the sleep had something to do with alcohol, and the whole incident brought the lady to a realisation of her need for a new start. My wife prayed with her, speaking in tongues, and the lady was baptised with the Holy Spirit - which was a surprise because although we nominally subscribe to that sort of theology it’s one of those things that always happens to other people. Then the lady prayed to be born again. (Yes, I would have expected those to be in the opposite order, but I suppose it’s just her mind catching up with a fast changing reality). Then we arranged for her baptism just three days later. Woohoo!

So we were excited by the baptism, and the crowded service was a real banger. Good stuff!

Tuesday, July 16

Theological ordination concerns

I think I have said stuff on these lines before.

My wife is bringing back from her theology course a lot of convincing information suggesting that the Bible is not as [shall we say] 'simple' as my evangelical background would have me believe.  She is convinced by arguments against the assumed authorship of various books, for example, and is now keen on the idea of John being developed through three editions, of which the last may not even have been by the apostle.  In my view she then goes overboard in dismissing the later editions. 

Because I'm not also on the course, I don't have the material with which to balance the case.  So I have to go along with her.

This has several impacts;

  • Feeling overtaken by my own wife, I no longer feel like a leader
  • the scriptures that used to excite me now seem grey and lifeless, mere human inventions
  • I have huge doubts about my own faith - how can I teach stuff I barely believe myself?
And so on.

Although I am at the door of re-starting my own ordination  process, it is no longer a joy to me.

Where I used to see it as a thing that woudl make me flourish, I now see it as a way to extend the period of the day during which my wife tells me what to do, what to think, and what to say.

Ordination news

Mrs has now had her first encounter with the DDO office, which went very well.

The form-filling begins!

Of course we still need to get our finances in order, but God's timing being what it is, we expect my Mum's inheritance to arrive at the time when the finances need to be resolved.  God is good!

Portuguese man-o-war

A baby one stung my daughter, who is currently doing some voluntary work in Africa.  Unpleasant, but fortunately not fatal.

Wednesday, July 3

Great news on the ordination front

Mrs is beginning to make progress towards ordination.

Followers of this blog will know that we have always felt that our Vicar had prejudices about her that would always be an obstacle to her making progress in this direction. And I think I reported before that she had met with him and he said he wanted to see her initiating more things. After that she wrote him a long letter – well more to the point a short letter with a 15 page appendix – in which she detailed all of her initiatives over the last twenty years, most of which he has overlooked.

Well it seems to have done the trick.

He arranged another meeting with her, this time with our assistant minister present too.

That was yesterday afternoon. I was at work, but held my breath and prayed a lot while she was in there.

It was basically an interview. He seemed really impressed by her document, and she spoke confidently (for a change) backed up with the things she has recently been learning n her MA.

So the meeting culminated with him giving her the phone number for the DDO’s office which is tantamount to an endorsement of her desire to be ordained.

I cannot state strongly enough what a breakthrough this is. We know there will be many difficulties along the way, but we have always seen getting our own Vicar’s buy-in as being the biggest obstacle of all.


Monday, July 1

Day of the wild women

So, you've been following my gender traffic survey?

In today's morning commute, I was overtaken by more women than men.  And they didn't just inch past me - they were flying! ... hunched over the wheel, pedal to the metal, teeth clenched in determined grimaces.

Female overtakers outnumbered men by 4 to 3.

Female overtakers outnumbered female 'overtakees' by 2 to 1.

(As with all my commutes, this was a very small sample - 22 drivers of which 12 were women.  Overall, it's still 66% of men encountered that overtake me and 58% of women encountered that overtake me, both measured when I am driving at the speed limit in freely flowing traffic in good weather, at times when the traffic is not too dense for counting without causing an accident)