Photo credits

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

Tuesday, November 26

The universal force of motherhood

In a futile attempt to become more disciplined in my prayer life I have set a calendar event on my phone to remind me to pray each lunch break.  tuesdays topic is the world.

So I dutifully toddled off to pray.  I thought I would pray by the toaster while waiting for my lunch to pop up.  Mistake - the kitchen is crowded at lunch, with a mother loudly discussing her children's bed time.

As I came back to my desk, dissapointed at my lack of prayer, the Spirit zapped me so hard that it knocked me off walking in a straight line.  I was suddenly overwhelmed by the knowledge of a world full of mothers caring for their children.  God is constantly aware of them.  As creator he drinks in the pure joy of it.  It's almost as though he feeds on his creation, in the sense that he derives so much pleasure from it.  And the combined force of all those mothers loving their children is a truly powerful and awesome thing.  We tend to think of the world as full of violence, war and greed, but all of that is nothing when set beside the universal force of ongoing unstoppable unconditional love from mums to kids. 

The Spirit only gave me a tiny window into this cosmic force, and I nearly fell over in the office corridor, so imagine if I had been shown more of it!

And the glory of the creation points us to the glory of the creator.

       WORSHIP !!!

Wednesday, November 20

A storm in the West

After the typhoon in the philippines I had a moan at God, in the way his impudent creations do.  Why do you always hit the poorest people in the world?  The ones least able to cope?

So maybe it is my fault that there were then some tornados in america.

And then this morning we had a bit of bad weather over my house.  And I got a leak in a place that has never had a problem in the ten years I have lived here.  A proper leak - running, not just dripping.  I think the wind was forcing the rain into cracks in the brickwork that it would normally run over, and then it seemed to be coming down inside the cavity and out in the archway over the dining room bay window.  So it's a very minor thing, compared to those who have no house anymore.  But it is still a pain.

My daughter was out on her paper round during the storm, and she said that all the car alarms were going off, the puddles extended across the road and contained hail-icebergs drifting towards the drains.

Tuesday, November 19

Training options

Starting to ask what would be the best training options if mrs and I are both accepted for ordination.logic might say train together for convenience and for a shared experience.  But that makes babysitting harder.  Also we have different needs.  She had a lot of pastoral experience and theological training but little experience with preaching.  I am mainly a preacher with some theology but little pastoral experience.

The residential courses are probably ruled out posting to conflicts with kids education.

There is a local full time course which is 3 days a week working in church and 2 days of study.  But she would struggle working in our church where she doesn't feel at ease with the vicar and where we alway have a trainee that wet would end up being in competition with.

There is also a local part time course which suits her best with it's modular structure.  But it's a bit below her. (BA when she is already on an MA).

Personally I would prefer the full time local course, but this may not be feasible.

Sunday, November 17

Love blossoms

A text on friday afternoon put me in panic mode thinking that it was going to be a really hard weekend with lots of marital stress.  But in fact it set off a deep and very frank open and honest conversation.  Ended very cathartically dealing with really old balrog issues from the 1980s that we had previously not dared to awake although they had day to day repurcussions even now. 
I really believe that the Spirit has worked to prepare the ground for this day, so that what could have been a big row became an occasion for deeper love to spring up.  I now feel more in love and married than I have done for a long time.  And I have to place on record that this is because my wife has shown pure grace  to me.   It was about her understanding and accepting me when she had every reason to reject me.  And she did understand and accept.  Praise God! 

Wednesday, November 13

How to horrify your colleagues

"Hello.  I'm on the committee that is organising the carol service.  We're trying to spread it around a bit.  Would you like to do one of the reasons?"

It's quite amusing watching the reaction.  The colour drains from the face.  The eyes widen and dart around looking for an escape route.  The jaw drops.  There must be a ghost standing behind me or something, judging by the look of total horror.

Then the excuses start.  I get nervous speaking in public.  I an crap at public reading.  They say.  except these are senior engineers who would not balk at addressing a technical audience.

So I'm not really sure if they are flattered to be asked but genuinely terrified, or if they are just too polite to tell me to stick my carol service where the sun doesn't shine.

(I have been asking people that I know are at least occasional church goers, not total atheists)

Monday, November 11

Two Iberias

Went to my sons university town over the weekend, and to a nearby city where my daughter may go next year.

Lunch at Nando's.  Which is portuguese.  But all the waiters were anglo saxon.

Tea at la Tasca.  Which is spanish.  And at least three of the staff were genuine spaniards.  Authenticity rules!

I really enjoyed la tasca.  It made me feel at home with my spanish roots.  And the food was very tasty and authentic.  The only thing is that tapas are quite small so if you want a full meal or can build up the cost quite quick.  But in my blissful trance I forgave them.

Thursday, November 7


Mrs brought home a copy of the church of england newspaper.

I used to read our a lot, but stored because it always left me feeling anxious. 

But I suppose that if we are both to be ordained we need to be up on our church politics.

This edition had a big article on GAFCON.  Now as an evangelical I should gel really comfortable with them.  But I find them deeply disturbing.  Granted, I don't want the church to be run by extreme liberals who see no conflict in claiming to be both muslim and christian.  But gafcon s attempt to proclaim unity while establishing a schematic faction seems to be self defeating.  I don't support them in their opposition to gay marriage.  And generally I just don't like them.

So where will I sit in future if the church divides along these lines?  They are my more natural bed fellows, but I couldn't really start with them.  On the other hand Iwouldn't feel happy on the other side.

I'll just have to set up my own church !

Sunday update

I meant to say how I got on running our invitational service on sunday.

Basically, it went well, but it overran the time allocated and in the end the vicar cut it short.

I am not wholly to blame for the overrun.  The vicar added a ten minute item, which he was target forced into for political reasons.  But out was them unreasonable to expect me to lose term minutes from my time late in the day. 

It didn't help that I over ran on my own talk, but only by a minute.  The various drama sketches all ran to time, but we were not slick at the changeovers and I should have recruited some stage hands.  I ended up running around in a rather undignified way.

The main other issue was that this was my wifes debut on the pulpit, as I had asked her to do it with me as a husband and wife team.  So most of the drama was her contribution, but she also dogs a short talk.  I say short - she was allocated ten minutes but did 15!  So the over run was largely her fault!  But the content of her talk was excellent and put mine in the shade.  She has had a lot of positive feedback, while I got none.

So well done, mrs!

It was also important for her to do well in front of the vicar.  Which I think she did apart from the time, and she showed no nerves at ask which has been an issue.  So it is very dissenting that he has given no feedback at all, when a simple 's well done!'s would have made ask the difference.

Tuesday, November 5

Why is pornography wrong?

Well, all the usual reasons, of course.

But on top of that ....

Some things ate just meant to be for the pleasure of God alone.  And I don't mean to portray him as a celestial lecher ... I portray him as a creator who has made some things for himself.

He has buried jewels and precious stones drop in the earth beyond any human mine, just for his own joy.  And if he has done that here, what about the jewels on all those distant planets we are beginning to hear about?  He has hidden away treasures purely for his own joy.

So not every beautiful thing is to be brought into the light.  Not every beautiful thing is made to be consumed by our greedy eyes.  Much of it is to remain concealed, just for the creator to rejoice in what he has made.

Sunday assembly

You may have heard of this "church without God".

Which is a totally vacuous concept.

Church without God misses the point.  It's a marriage without a bride.  It is spiritual masturbation - trying to have the sensations without having the relationship.  but we don't go to church for the sensations, or even for the social action.  We go to church to meet with God, to talk to him and hear him speak.  Relationship with God is the core purpose of church.  So church without God is a nonsense.

And as a side issue, I posted a well written and slightly more polite version of the above on their blog.  They deleted it.  So out seems they don't handle criticism very well and will censor opposition.  Not a god sign.

Saturday, November 2

Damp squib

Went to see the local bonfire celebrations.

Lashing horizontal rain in the furious wind.  Put the dead umbrella in a bin on the way.

Met loads of people coming the other way.  "the bonfire is canceled.  The rides are closed.  Its knee deep in mud.  All the children are freezing and crying.  And they won't give us our money back, we have to go on the website .... But the fireworks will still be on"

Well the fireworks were the reason we were going.  But we had our doubts, given the wind.

Dubiously we paid, and then behold, the fireworks did actually start.

Embers were falling over the sparse audience so we made sure not to stand directly downwind.

We stood with our backs to the rain and squinted at the display out of the sides of our hoods.

It was ok I suppose.

Meanwhile a display of fire eaters was going on to the right, and they also sent the cried scattering when there sparks got out of hand.

Of don't know why it wasn't canceled completely, but at least we all felt stoically miserable in a truly british way.