Thursday, January 29, 2004

a tweak to my links to friends pages is that i've stuck our community's logo (yes, it's a logo, not a pretty green flower Nomes!) by them to show if they belong to it or not.

over the weekend i got, in addition to a sledgehammer, some odd bits of wood that my father-in-law had. my plan was to build a bird table in our garden. on tuesday, i was excitedly sketching some plans and figuring out how i could put one together - perches for birds, things to hang food off, etc. then on wednesday morning, i was peering out the window hoping to see some birds in the garden, i saw that our neighbours have put up a bird table almost identical to my plans (shows how basic and generic bird tables are, even i can think of how to build one)! my wife says that i inspired them with our peanut dispenser, but i am gutted. perhaps they felt like i was trying to steal the birds from their garden or something. they have a birdbox there too now, handily in time for spring. i guess i could go ahead and build my table, but now i'm going to look like i'm competing with them! the neighbour wars have begun... keeping up with the joneses and all that.

i had a check up with a dentist today. i need three fillings, two in a tooth that might show when i grin. so the decision is whether to stump up £50 each for composite fillings (the white ones that you can't see) or pay £11 each for amalgam ones (the metal ones that you can see). now i probably have less teeth than filling in my mouth anyway, but usually the ones in the more obvious places have been financed by parental sources and are therefore composite ones. now i'm looking at a £100 plus bill to achieve "dental fitness" (as the quote delightfully puts it) and that's largely due to my vanity. obviously there is no difference in performance between the two types of filling. my wife has helpfully indicated it's my mouth and up to me how that affects our bank balance. hmmm.

Monday, January 26, 2004

two things on the news on friday that i'd like to write about:

the first is what is now being reported from the Congo - all the 'war-crimes' that happened during the war there. it was a shocking article, in the sense that it was a shock to be told that those kinds of things had recently been done/happened to people. i guess it's no longer shocking that humans are capable of such things. it was very sad and made me want to do something about it and i briefly resented all the obligations and responsibilities that i have accreted like my job and my rented house and things like that (as an aside, i was re-assured the other day that i have married completely the right woman when i said i wanted to go elsewhere to disciple people and she said that'd be great without even batting an eyelid). then i lapsed into dithering about what to actually do, and my cluttered 'life' gently clustered around me again and i haven't thought about throwing them off again since.

the other thing was the MP who spoke her mind about the plight of the Palestinians. i was pissed off that the only interview they showed was an Israeli bigwig, obviously outraged and offended and dismayed that an MP would say such things when Israelis were being killed by suicide bombers. gutted that the Beeb is pro-Israeli. i thought of the prophet Nathan, who had the kahunas to go up to David and confront him about his adultery with Bathsheeba (and associated murder and cover-up). i want to load that story onto the present day Israel - who is abusing her poor neighbour and killing his only lamb. who can bring it to the attention of Israel that they are doing this? it has to be God; it can only be God.

my father-in-law gave me a sledgehammer this weekend (he had three in his shed). i now own a sledgehammer - how cool is that? i think i'll just have the one though...

Friday, January 23, 2004

blogging from cambridge today - it's nice to be out of the office.

cambridge is a funny town, or maybe it's my reaction to it that is funny (funny=weird, not funny=ha ha). i guess it is a place which strikes me as really rich, in terms of heritage and intellectual prowess. i think there is a part of me that would love to be accepted and belong to that world. yeah, that's my reaction to it i think. but it's also a lovely town, full of wonderful old buildings and hidden treasures. i think it's that hidden treasure aspect that really piqued my interest. one can imagine old colleges full of incredible things that no-one ever gets to see, apart from the crusty old college porter on his annual spring clean. that idea of special things just out of reach provoked huge waves of discontent in me... i almost couldn't enjoy the place. it was weird, because it's kinda gone now (perhaps just sitting beneath the surface waiting for another chance to manifest itself).

i guess the desire to be accepted and belong and stuff kinda springs from the fear of rejection from the same thing. for me, understanding paul's words of "God is for us", will mean digging into being accepted by God. i think i need to make that a real foundation of my identity. i remember steve nicholson talking about how essential it is for disciples to understand that they are children of God. it seems like such trite advice, but i think i have a long way to go on certain aspects of it.

so 'm glad we took a walk through cambridge this afternoon and that i felt all crabby and discontented inside as a result. God is for me, and it's His way of getting me to realise it.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

decided to re-publish the entire site; i'm so particular about things that i can't stand inconsistencies (i think that most people would call that being anally retentive). so apologies to those who commented on my previous facility, as those pearls of wisdom will be lost now. thanks to jon for all the advice on how to dress up my site, jacqui for her first ever shout out and my wife for her pertinent observations. all i can say is that i hope the inconsistencies are ironed out!

thinking generally about the last chapter of j i packer's book Knowing God and the identification of fears in there. i think i need to consider how i am affected by my fear of opposition and how to counter that with the glorious words of Romans 8:

"If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

packer on theology

This is a wicked quote from j i packer, in answer to a question about what theology is (well, kind of, as i didn't really dig the question... here's the rest of the interview).

"First of all, theology simply means the study of God.

This is something that every Christian needs to realize. I think the way that the word has been used in the past has frightened many Christians away from it, even though they never stopped to consider what the word actually meant. People got the idea somewhere that theology is the business of the seminary professors and the clergy, but has very little to do with the day to day living of the Christian life. It's something people seem to think you can get along without, provided that you read your Bible daily and think one or two guiding thoughts from your passage to keep you on the rails. I do not believe it is at all like that.

But theology means the study of God, and if we are to love God, as we are commanded, with all our 'minds' them we need to be in the business of theology. So when I speak of theology, I am referring to the truth that God has given us all in Scripture which we all need to learn and digest. It is truth for life!

Now, I am a professor of theology, but I must tell you that in all of my teaching and writing, I am trying to show that theology is supremely practical. If this could be seen, then I think people's fear of theology could melt away and they would appreciate, and benefit from, serious theological instruction. Again, if you will allow me to beat the drum once more, this is a Reformational emphasis. If you actually get around to reading the Reformers, such as Luther or Calvin, you will find that they did all their work from a pastoral standpoint, but at every point they are applying truth to the lives of people. What they were trying to do throughout their earthly lives was to build the people up in God's truth so their lives might bring glory to their Creator and Redeemer. It's as practical and down to earth, and as pastoral as that. That's what we need to get back to first, I think."

A google search on packer will turn up this website as well: bible discernment ministries. apparently, packer is a neo-evangelical (as defined by the site) and bible-believing christians should read him with caution!

the guy's got some strong views (i'd like to see him persuade my wife about the accuracy of his beliefs about women!), but i was a little disappointed not to find vineyard in his cult section. ho hum...
this is a logo of my larger community - the bristol vineyard... just playing around to see if i can get a decent sized one on my site somewhere. mostly they have a fancy flash logo, but i can't figure out how to link to it just yet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

just changed my comment function to Haloscan. i can assure those who've commented previously that their comments are archived (as long as i remember not to republish my entire site). i'm also told this one is more reliable.
i went shopping at lunch time and saw some of those charity workers - you know, the guys with the coloured bibs and clipboards that try and get you to sign up to give to their brand of charity. idly, i wondered what i would say to one of them, and if they would walk with you to get your commitment. guess what? i caught one chap's eye and he walked with me trying to get me to commit to giving £5 a month to Save the Children. he had some good lines: "only 17p a day!". i asked him how much it cost the charity to hire him and his 9 or so mates for the day. "not as much as the charity makes if we sign up ten people each. i assure you," he continued, "that the charity makes more money than me." hmm. he let slip he gets about £7 an hour. assuming a 7 hour day (he started at nine apparently), that's £49 a day. ten of them equals £490. so, to recoup it's cost in hiring them, the charity needs just over 8 members of the public to commit to £5 a month for a year. each worker need only strike once to make the charity money. no wonder there are so many of them, it's a very efficient (theoretically, at least) way for the charity to make money.

in our conversation he obviously knew to steer away from certain subjects, like confronting me on how much i did give to charity. he quickly ensured we were talking generally, about the typical person in the street, when i told him he had no idea what existing commitments i already had. he wasn't trying to make me guilty, for "guilt is a child's emotion, when the child knows it did something wrong." if i felt guilty, it was my own doing, he told me. i reckon he did an arts degree.

as usual i thought of the question i'd like to ask him after we parted.
i said something really dumb about someone i respect yesterday - trying to be funny i guess, but boy do i feel foolish now. so i walked into work with my demons haranguing me about this and that; i was just trying to cling to the fact that my cock-ups never did take God by surprise and His love for me is far greater than my disappointment with myself. as i got to work, having walked past lots of hurrying people, i thought about those who don't have anything other than demons to harrass them. i guess i was quite morose as i strolled in, but at least i had comfort in God. i suppose people either just don't think about it at all or it overcomes them. that made me sadder than my own mistakes.

i tried to bake some bread yesterday - naan bread to be precise. i didn't figure on the time necessary for proving it, so it was quite dense. i made a real mess though - it was fun! kneading the dough is good too - very satisfying. i want to get better at making bread...

Monday, January 19, 2004

weekends really fly by these days. i suppose we were quite busy, but also having fun. a good friend is moving to another country, and we helped shift some of her furniture into storage. amazingly, some of the furniture came our way and is now sitting smartly in our house - as is her barbeque!

we also inherited some nice house plants - an aloe plant with one teeny tiny offshoot. i planted it in an egg cup to see if it will grow. also in the egg cup is one leaf of a jade plant - another experiment.

still no feathered friends in our garden, but i'm still holding out for some.

we may not go to beirut after all. things there are looking rather tricky. prayer better work!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

been busy, really busy.

still, found time to sleep, eat and attend a short session of football training. i am very out of shape and hurt a bit today.

prayer works: we didn't have enough money to pay for 'plane tickets to Beirut, we prayed and now we're being paid for.

Monday, January 12, 2004

i noticed two little birds in the neighbours' tree on Saturday. while in tesco's we decided to buy a bird feeder to see if we can lure them over into our garden. not that there is much to separate our two gardens other than a low brick wall, or that there are any trees or perches in our garden in comparison to our neighbours' tree, but i thought to give it a go. however, i am not sure whether the birds have noticed the little feeder, enticingly hung on a post, two-thirds full of peanuts. neither am i sure that yesterday's hail storms or this morning's heavy rain will have done the peanuts any favours either. still, we live in hope.

Friday, January 09, 2004

sometimes the internet isn't all it's cracked up to be. this week, we've been trying to buy one item and have repeatedly met with obstacles. and, as the exception that proves the rule, we ordered other items (from a different website) yesterday which were delivered this morning. irritated and confused, we have decided to abandon the first website and use a SHOP ON THE HIGH STREET. slightly more expensive, but worth the mark up in price for the convenience. if that all goes to pot as well, you'll hear about it here.

the worldwatch institute have published a report about how more people are becoming consumers. scary statistic about the US having more cars than people licensed to drive them. actually, that doesn't surprise me. neither does the report that the bush administration is planning to put men on mars in the next decade. what does surprise me is the second last paragraph, where more exchanges of technology are to take place between the Pentagon and NASA. implied is that technology exchanges between these two have been few and far between in the past. great to know that the technology available to the common man is only allowed to advance in the shadow of weapons technology and space exploration. well, in a world which annually spends $14bn on ocean cruises, it makes sense!

Thursday, January 08, 2004

what does God want from me? apparently i had asked someone that question; last night i was reminded of it.

the question came out of an evening of watching celebrities talk about their faith. it occurred to me that their expressions of faith varied according to their view or understanding of God. for some, God was to be feared, a Judge or Jealous Lover, and their faith was a response to that. for others, God was a Friend, or an Accessory, and their faith reflected that. the question then arose: what does God want from me?

it is different from: what does my god want from me? i disagree with some of those celebrities, i think their concepts of God are more incorrect than correct (or less attractive when compared to my own concept of God). i therefore judge them, thinking that they have answered this alternative question. this is, of course, a side-issue. the original question is asked relative to the Truth that rests comfortably on the fact that God defines Himself, and saves us the trouble. we could get into all sorts of bother trying to answer the question of what our own personal gods require from us.

in order to answer this question, one must know God. as defined by Himself. God is free of charge - a magnificent truth.

however a question that i ask of myself, whenever i challenge myself to get to know God more on His terms, is do i really want to know God? what will i do if i really see God? can i go back from there?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

my thanks to jon for showing me how to post pictures. my first test pic is relevant, although i admit it's a bit random.

our attention turned to our garden on the weekend and we spent a chilly half an hour outside getting our hands very dirty as we picked out weeds and stones from our wee beds.

it's quite exciting to plan it, although we have a lot to learn about it. obviously we'll learn a lot from alan titchmarsh in the next few weeks!

i now know, for example, that lavender likes a good sunny spot.