Monday, 18 August 2008

Time off and clearing up

One thing about taking a week off at very short notice - you get the chance to relax and really enjoy things before the excrement hits the spinning object again.

For example, I watched a lot of the Olympics - and I'm glad that the UK did so well in the sports we are excelling in at the moment - sailing, rowing and cycling, as well as a medal in the gymnastics for the first time in 100 years and two golds in the swimming pool.

A word on Michael Phelps - yes, he probably is the finest swimmer of all time. But the finest Olympian - sorry, tell that to Sir Steve Redgrave, five times gold medallist in the cox less fours.

As for other things, I spent a couple of days in the heart of Wiltshire, visiting small towns and rinking tea with my wife. We also found a shop that sold sweets in quarter pounds - sorry, 113 gram portions. Ah, sweet taste of childhood.

As for the future - Doreen still needs to attend a dressing clinic weekly, and then they start inflating the temporary implant they gave her until they get the right size. After that, they replace ti with the final implant and do some "resizing" on the other side if necessary. Another operation, but less traumatic and a shorter stay in hospital. There's also mammograms on the other breast every year for the foreseeable future.

For those who care about such things - the final examination showed the plaques had spread even more than at first thought, but no signs of changes into the nasty (?) form. So we carry on with recovery until we get back to whatever normality will be in the near future.

And now, back to work...

Friday, 8 August 2008

Elephant Hunt - the result

The Elephant is dead.

And there was much rejoicing.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

It was 26 years ago today

When I was a lad, I was very heavily involved in a youth organisation called the Boys' Brigade - like the Boy Scouts, but more firmly based in church and "discipline". Put it this way - Baden Powell's first camp was actually a group from a Boys' Brigade company.

Anyway, by the time I went to University I had been selected to go on their leadership training course, which consisted of two weeks a year apart. I attended the first week in 1981, then left home to go and study at Newcastle University.

The reasons for picking Newcastle were two-fold. Firstly, they offered me a place without needing to get certain grades in my last school exams, and the course was good. Secondly, and more subtly, I wanted to make a clean start. As a result of various things that had happened to me and my family, I was an incredibly shy and withdrawn teenager, and I thought the only way I was going to break that was to get as far away from home as practically possible.

Well, it was a good plan, but I had overlooked one small point. I had become so withdrawn and shy it was virtually impossible for me to make friends easily, so for the first few months at Uni I was a loner. Over the year, I eventually got to know some people very well, and make some friends. A number of those friends were exploring their own lives, and through a group called the Navigators had come to know Jesus as their saviour.

At the time, I called myself a christian, but I also realised they had found something else. Regretfully, my BB commitments meant I could not go to the meetings they were attending, but I attended a church with them from time to time and started to explore the issues myself. Without realising it at the time, I was slowly beginning to understand that there was something wrong, something in my life that was out of balance, but I had no idea what that was.

Until the second week of the training course in 1982.

The course was at a place called Carronvale House, an old manor house outside Larbert near Stirling. At the end of each day, there was an evening devotional, but on the Friday evening, 7th August 1982, the devotional took the form of a communion service.

The previous year, I had been lucky enough to attend an event in Denmark called Julsolejr, a massive camp held every five years for young men and women involved in organisations like the BB, and there I had attended a communion service in the open air. There had been a strange feeling that day, but I had no idea at the time what that feeling was - only that I felt happy afterwards.

On that night, 7th August 1982, I felt that feeling again. Complete, total peace, the feeling that no matter what may happen, someone was there waiting to help you, if you only asked them.

So, after the service was over, I went outside the house and looked up at the clear night sky, with the stars twinkling overhead, and I said something like the following.

"God, I've heard a lot about you, but until now I don't think I've ever really experienced your presence. But tonight, I really think you were there with me and telling em that your son died for me. I do believe you are real - so take me and help me to learn more about you. "

As a commitment prayer goes, it's probably not the most eloquent or theologically correct, but that was it. From that day on, I have called myself a Christian, and although I have made mistakes over the years and felt lots of pain, I have never regretted that decision once.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Kinda missing the point

Look back in my archives, and you will see a post on "When Religion and Politics Mix." Go on - I'll wait until you come back.....

Back? Good. I made two points there. One was on the then upcoming vote in the Church of England on women bishops. I did a follow-up on that in "Fudge".

The other was on openly homosexual priests. An anonymous commenter made this reply.

Thanks for your interesting and candid comments. Wondering if you have ever happened upon a rather unusual article titled "God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up." I found it while visiting Google. Mack

I'll save you the search - the relevant link is

It's an interesting article, I grant you that - and it is an argument I have heard of before. To me however, it misses the point in a fairly big way, which is this.

Who the hell are we to presume to know what God is thinking on this matter, in terms of when he may be coming back as opposed to the actual act?

I say "Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner." The writer of this article seems to be saying "Encourage the Sinner to Sin, so that the End Times can come more quickly."

Reality check, folks - We don't know when God is coming back. In fact, Jesus himself said in Matthew 25 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come..... You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

God wants us to repent of our sins, and some to him in that repentance, not to be encouraged to continue in their sin because we want to be in Glory with him that much more quickly.

And to those who might say "you are not seeking to advance God's kingdom", yes I am - in love for my fellow man, not in condemnation of them to a life without God. Jesus also said "Let him without Sin cast the first stone" when confronted by an angry mob wanting to stone an adulteress to death. Is what is written here really any different to that scenario? If not, then I can;t say I'm without sin - can you?