Monday, 31 January 2011

Modern Love

Here I tend to do a lot more funerals than weddings, so it's always a pleasure to do the latter. However I am very glad that no-one has thought to do this at one that I've taken yet. From the look on the Minister's face, I think that this is for real rather than a set up job. Hope this doesn't become a trend!

(I am partly posting this in order to remember where it is when I talk about a person's new status in Christ when they become a Christian). Don't be put off by that though, it's pretty funny of itself. Check out the link.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Swindon Town 0 Exeter City 0

What is it about football that drives otherwise reasonably sane men (in the main) to drive for over three hours to watch a game of football in sub-zero temperatures? And for no reward goal-wise either.

Been a long time since I was at the County Ground, which must still be my second most visited ground. It was the nearest place to watch proper football as a kid yet it's still twenty years since I went to see West Ham in an FA Cup match. That was a 0-0 draw too.

The closest that the game got to a goal was this disallowed effort from Swindon, for whom man of the match O'Brien was devastating on the left wing. Both sides hit the bar and in truth it was my team, the visitors, who will be happiest with the point.
Good to meet up with my good friend Andy who sportingly pretended to be a Grecian for the afternoon. Actually they could sponsor his hair products these days! It was he who pointed out that the Family Stand and it's sponsors don't seem like an obvious partnership (look again at the picture at the top).

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Junior School Assembly

Was in the Primary School of my favourite parishioner yesterday to take the assembly. This is something that I do every few weeks and I always enjoy, though trying to talk sensibly to infants and juniors together is quite a large age range. The Head is very supportive and encouraging and she even lets me just go in and tell stories from the Bible rather than have to follow the theme that is being used for the rest of the term, which is fine by me.

I used the wonderful Jesus Storybook Bible with them again, reading them the story of the calming of the storm and projecting some of the beautiful pictures on the screen too. (Example above from the story of Noah's Ark). Then started to teach them "What kind of man is this?" which is a kids song by Dave Godfrey, listing some of the things Jesus did. The first verse is on Christmas, second verse on some of the things Jesus did (included aforesaid storm calming) and then finishing with a verse on Easter. The theory is that kids will remember what they have heard as they sing the song over the next couple of assemblies.

I think it went okay, without being world beating. Did get some good feedback from one of the older boys at the end - a big thumbs up and smile and the words, "Cool trainers, sir!"

Makes it all so worthwhile....

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Water drop

I joined a Camera Club a couple of months ago and was daunted by some of the work they are doing. I still am but they are an encouraging bunch and they are happy to advise and help someone like me. Last night was a practical night and using their know-how and with some luck I captured this. I joined to get better and I could never have done this before, so somethings happening!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Respectable Sins - 1) Ungodliness

Don't tend to think of myself as ungodly, so it was a bit of a shock to read the chapter in Jerry Bridges' book on ungodliness. I approached it thinking that it might be interesting and put it down thinking God had done a number on me.

Bridges defines ungodliness in this way. It's a long quote but worth reading:

“Ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God. You can readily see, then, that someone can lead a respectable life and still be ungodly in the sense that God is essentially irrelevant in his or her life. We rub shoulders with such people every day in the course of our ordinary activities. They may be friendly, courteous, and helpful to other people, but God is not at all in their thoughts. They may even attend church for an hour or so each week but then live the remainder of life as if God doesn’t exist. They are not wicked people, but they are ungodly.

Now, the sad fact is that many of us who are believers tend to live our daily lives with little or no thought of God. We may even read our Bibles and pray for a few minutes at the beginning of each day, but then we go out into the day’s activities and basically live as if God doesn’t exist. We seldom think of our dependence on God or our responsibility to him. We might go for hours with no thought of God at all. In that sense, we are hardly different from our nice, decent, but unbelieving neighbour. God is not at all in his thoughts and is seldom in ours.”
Respectable Sins, p54.

Ouch! This is too much like me. How self-sufficient do I kid myself I can be? How much of my prayer life is based on "Help!" or "Please bless my 'To-do' list"?

The passage that we looked at in church about this on Sunday was James 4.13-16 which warns us:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

Verse 13 sounds like the sort of thing candidates on the Apprentice say in the boardroom to try to impress Lord Sugar with.

Verse 14 reminds us we don't know what tomorrow will bring (and how true that turned out to be on Monday!) and that life is brief. So we mustn't be too quick or too certain in making our plans.

Start of the year we are all filling in diaries and calendars. Whose plans are they? Whose agenda? Have we even asked the boss? Or do we still figure we are in charge?

(The photo is of Siena in Tuscany. We were going there for our tenth anniversary. Then tomorrow happened - in the form of a car clutch needing replacing - and we went for a picnic instead).

Little things mean a lot

Lovely gesture on Saturday from a friend in the church who brought a meal round for us on the basis that my favourite parishoner had been off work ill and, to quote them, "I looked really tired last night".

A very simple and thoughtful gesture which was really appreciated and I was touched that they hadn't asked (which I would have inevitably politely declined) but had simply gone ahead and brought round the meal.

I did however feel a little guilty because a great deal of my tiredness was self-inflicted, what I like to refer to as "Ashes fatigue". A great 3-1 series win but I'm very glad that I can get back into some healthier sleep patterns now that the urn is coming home.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Changing Rooms

To see in the New Year, last week in church we looked at the new wardrobe that Christians are given to wear. It's out with the old and the way we used to live and in with the new, the way that we are supposed to live. In Paul's letter to the Colossian church (chapter 3) he describes it in clothing terms.

This is what we used to wear...

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

This is the new outfit...

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Hardly rocket science, is it? To put it another way, we can't sing 'Jesus is Lord', or 'Jesus is King' and just live however we feel like living, can we?

The trick is to remember the new outfit - the uniform that we are expected to be wearing, if you like. And not to go rooting through the bin-bags for the old stuff again.

This is the introduction to the series we are starting on "Respectable Sins" based on / nicked from Jerry Bridges' excellent book of the same name. Looking forward to getting into it again tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Today I am 62

Thanks to the Wii Fit Plus I took a test to find my fitness age this afternoon. First time I did this (before Christmas) I was 36. This afternoon I was 62. This puts me at the same age as Elton John (pictured above when he was a mere 61). Actually, that jaw line....

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Back from an all too brief break between Christmas and New Year, think I took the bank holidays and one day's leave this time. Must remember this when I feel tired early in the New Year. Lovely to see friends and family we then came home to (more) Christmas cards, a credit card bill and a funeral request. Back in the saddle for tomorrow's service, the first of 2011 as we start thinking about "Respectable Sins", inspired by Jerry Bridges' excellent book of the same name.

New Year's resolutions? I am old enough to know better.


I could do with eating and drinking less, exercising, praying and sleeping more. I'd like to improve as a photgrapher, do some more writing (an ambition so vague that I fear it will never happen) and .... oh, you know, the usual. Who knows what the year holds? I guess I want to be faithful in good times and bad - perhaps the best resolution I can make this year.

All the best everyone.