Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Too hot for Pip (2)

"What do you mean, 'We don't have air-conditioning'?"

Too hot for Pip!

It's just too hot for a poor pussy cat to handle!

My brain hurts!

As a school governor, in fact as the chair of the governing body of a local school, I get a fair amount of paperwork across my desk. One of the things we need to do as governors is to complete the wonderfully named FMSIS (Financial Management Standard in Schools) assessment by March 2010.

I had a look today at the DCFS website to see what we needed to do and see if there were any useful documents. Apparently there are. In fact there are over 150 useful documents listed on the toolkit "useful documents" page. 150!

Exactly who the government think sit on governing bodies? People with nothing else to do expect read their circulars! I'm all for doing things well and doing them right, but at this rate I'm not surprised fewer and fewer people are interested in being governors.

If anyone has any influence in these things, please don't bury people who care about supporting schools in paperwork and expectations that become a full-time job in themselves.

Moan over!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Scripture Memory

I use BibleGateway a lot these days. It's fast and fairly easy to use, although I do miss some of the nuances of my old software. One day I will take a deep breath and buy some software for the Mac, but as I yet I haven't seen anything that I really like and can afford!

Anyway, as I visited the site as part of my study time I noticed a link to the "top 100 verses" searched in March and April this year. Intrigued I took a look. Unsurprisingly John 3:16 was top of the list, but out of the 100 almost all of them would be worthy of learning if only we had the desire and discipline so to do. I remember my early days as a follower of Jesus as I rigourously and diligently applied myself to Scripture memory.

In that first year I did more foundational stuff than I think most new Christians get to do and it was all largely thanks to the fellowship and encouragement of the members of the Navigator group in Cardiff at the time. Sadly, my discipline in memorising the Bible has never quite reached the level of those early days, but there are times when I find myself committing things to memory. Perhaps it's time once again to take up the challenge.

Anyway, take a look at the list and see how rich the resource is that we have to hand.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fibre-glass first run

I was not the teenager who got a car at an early age and learnt to repair bodywork and fix engines. In fact I didn't learn to drive until I was 24 or 25. To be honest I couldn't afford it before then and when I did learn to drive the company for whom I was working at the time paid the bill. But that's a story for another time!

Anyway, not withstanding my lack of experience with fibre-glass, I decided that it would probably be the best solution to some broken spigots from a gazebo. It blew over a couple of years ago and while all the poles and the canopy survived, three of the spigots didn't.

Two of them were badly broken with one tube detached from the main body and two or three tubes split along their length.

Using some two-part epoxy glue, I repaired the cracks as best I could. I used hose clips to secure them and apply pressure to the glue joint. Next I dabbled with the fibre-glass kit I bought from a local motorist store.

For our first attempt (I was ably assisted by Ally) we cut longish strips and wrapped them over the cracked sections. It was quite messy and while I think the result will hold, it wasn't very pretty!

Second time around I cut shorter pieces of the mat and built up a patchwork. This worked much better and was far easier to push into the corners and around the curves. Hopefully both will hold, but we shall find out on Sunday when we use it again, weather permitting!

Woodworking bits

Not much happening in my outdoor workshop. I was doing a repair job on some bits from a gazebo that had broken when the wind picked it up and blew it across the garden! Lots of epoxy adhesive and some fibre-glass too. We'll see how well it works. I also used some jubilee clips as part of the repair. Quite a Heath-Robinson affair.

One job I did do for the tool chest project was to make a couple of trays for bits and pieces. I continued with my scrap philosophy and found some pieces of 9mm ply for the sides and 6mm ply for the bases. They will do the job.

Another little job that needed finishing off was an adjustable stop for my mitre saw. It's a simple hand saw, nothing fancy. I usually end up with a block of wood clamped to another block of wood clamped to the bench to provide a stop, but I knew there would be a better solution. Once again I looked at all the 12mm ply left over and created a simple base with a sliding block.

The block can be clamped anywhere along the bench and the sliding block gives me a measure of fine adjustment.

The central slot was cut in two passes using a 6mm cutter in the router table.
These simple little jigs are really useful things to make as you go along. It doesn't take much work and it's quite a nice feeling to solve little problems that crop up time and again as you try to make repeatable cuts.

My end stop can be used with my drill press with a minor modification and I guess with anything that needs a measured distance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of copiers and mortal men

For about 3 months now I've been trying to get a photocopier fixed. You'd think it would be fairly simple, call an engineer, pay the fee, fix the copier. Not so easy. I have to confess that some of the delay is because it's not been No.1 on my priority list.

The company from whom I purchased said copier (a Canon IR1022A for those who want to know), have been helpful but I've struggled to get to speak to an engineer. I tried Canon themselves, but they were less than interested given that I didn't buy it directly from them and haven't got it on a service contract with them.

Finally I thought we'd cracked it this week having made contact with an engineer and arranged a service call. I thought too soon! I got a call this morning to tell me that I should call Canon because according to their records I'd only taken delivery of the copier in December of last year and therefore the problem would be fixed by Canon under warranty.

So I called Canon.

"Your contract isn't with us, it's with the distributor, you'll have to get them to organise it." I was not impressed. No matter how I pleaded for an explanation there was no moving Canon.

So I'm now back to very near square one, not knowing if anyone is going to fix my problem. And I'm rather frustrated. Canon is not on my Christmas card list!

And you know what's really frustrating is that when an engineer finally makes it to my door, he or she will plug in a laptop, download a bit of firmware and the thing will wake up and copy away as it did before the dreaded "Standby download" message appeared.

And the Doctor tells me to reduce my stress levels!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Simple ways to live out the mission of God

Back in April of this year the Church Planting Novice posted this "8 ways" article about being missional. Here are the 8 ideas, you can read the full post here.

1. Eat with Non-Christians.
2. Walk, Don’t Drive.
3. Be a Regular.
4. Hobby with Non-Christians.
5. Talk to Your Co-workers.
6. Volunteer with Non-Profits.
7. Participate in City Events.
8. Serve your Neighbours.

Following my Grandfather

I've had a little question buzzing around my head for a little while now. Should I follow my grandfather and go to the Gambia? Not  permanently  but at least for a visit. Let me tell you the story.

One day, while I was at college in the late 1980's studying theology I got a 'phone call from my father. He had a question for me about my grandfather. Now I knew very little about him. I knew that he'd been a Methodist minister at some point and that he'd left the church for some reason but that was about my sum total knowledge of the man. My father's question was about his father's nickname at college. He was called Typhos, and my Dad wanted to know what it meant. Well, it's a Classical Greek word not used in the New Testament so I looked it up in my big Greek dictionary and told him it meant a small lake or pool. Fairly obvious given that the family name is "Pool". Clearly they were nothing if not inventive at the turn of the 20th century.

Having shared this information with my father, I then asked why my grandfather had a Greek nickname. It turns out he was at a Methodist training college in Birmingham (which I think later became BBI) and cut short his studies to go and serve in Africa. Sadly the yearbook that had his photograph in and a something of the story of his call and response was lost in father's later years when he was suffering from dementia.

As I recall, someone came to the college to speak and talked of the desperate need for workers in the Gambia and my grandfather dropped everything and went. Suddenly I was no longer the only member of my family that had ever shared a passion for God's mission in the world. 

And now I have the opportunity to visit the Gambia and stand in the place my grandfather stood. I wonder if he felt the pressure of living on a limb, I wonder if he felt the burden of the church in the UK that I felt when I was in Africa in the 1970's. I wonder if he prayed for more people to follow God's call into kingdom service. I wonder if I am part of the answer to a prayer my grandfather prayed.

Such wonderings make me worry that my view of his life and ministry has more in common with the little house on the prairie than it does with the reality, but I can't help feeling that there's part of my journey that somehow connects with his and that it would, at the very least, be interesting to see the land he once felt compelled to serve.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day

Here are a few characteristics of our heavenly Father that you might want to reflect upon as Father's Day approaches.

He was willing to pay any price in order to save you.

He is always ready to meet your needs.

He loves you so much he is willing to disciple you to bring you to maturity.

He continues to do what is best for you even when you rebel against him and reject his love.

He does not make his love for you conditional upon you loving him.

He loves you even when you are not loving him.

He has made you an heir and has a home reserved for you in heaven.

Quite a tall order to emulate as a father!

These characteristics were paraphrased from a daily devotional in Experiencing God day-by-day, June 17th.

On moving

The penny is slowly but most definitely dropping that we are moving in the autumn. September is not that far away, and the enormity of the decision we've made casts quite a shadow! I guess that ministry has few peers when it comes to the factors involved in the change process.

Not only do you change jobs, but you change location, you change house, you change friends! The last of these is sometimes the hardest to bear. Maybe it's just me, but I always consider the people around me as friends more than "clients", so moving has quite an emotional cost. The truth is that busyness takes over and no matter how deep the friendships might be, busyness can rob you of the relationships you once enjoyed.

The nice thing is that you know that there are people all over the country, well at least in 6 places for us, with whom you have a strong connection. A connection that can be renewed through a chance encounter or an intentional visit. Just recently I bumped into an old friend at the Christian resources Exhibition. I hadn't seem Ian in a long time and it was great to pick up a conversation that rumbles on through our lives whether we're together or apart.

So here's to more friends with whom to enjoy the journey with God and for the many friends we already have who still mean much to us and who we miss now and will miss in the future.

Great Commission Resurgence

This is interesting.

I came across the GMR through a Google alert I have set for anything missional that pops up on the internet. If you've not tried using alerts, give it a try. It's a useful tool to capture themed ideas and resources.

Anyway, back the Great Commission Resurgence. GMR sets out ten core commitments for Southern Baptists with the intention of refocusing SBC churches on fulfilling the great commission of the church. Restoring the missional mandate to the church you might say.

Whilst not all the points would translate for every church, clearly some arise directly from recent debates within the movement (I'm no expert on SBC history and debates), there are some valuable core commitments that we should all take note of and consider.

I'm particularly drawn to the principles of Biblical communities, a clear focus on the great commandments and the great commission, gospel centredness, the Lordship of Christ and diversity. But it's all good.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wood storage

It was high time I did some sorting out of all the accumulated bits of wood from last summer's projects and this year's woodworking. It had become a bit of a mess, and given that I work outdoors, it was getting unsightly too for anyone sitting in the garden.

The problem is that off-cuts always have a potential use someday!

So, with the able assistance of Ally, we made a bit box for all the off-cuts. In fact we made it from off cuts in the first place. A truly green woodworking project.

Now at least the waste wood looks tidy and the bonus was sorting out all the little blocks I'd cut for protecting surface during gluing and clamping.

Tool Chest Project (update 4)

Not much to report. I still need to decide what I'm going to do about the "tote" that goes in the back of the tool chest. I'm considering a sort of parts case of some sort, but then again, a simple tote for screwdrivers and bits and pieces that you don't want to go searching in the drawers for might be a good idea.

The thing is, I haven't actually decided if this is a workshop caddy or a portable tool chest. It's a bit on the heavy side for lugging around, and when it's got tools in it, it will obviously be even heavier!

It looks quite nice sitting on top of my router table cabinet, so maybe it will become a workshop cabinet for chisels and other things. So that begs the question, what would go in a tote for a workshop tool chest? Hmm. The metaphysical conundrums of woodworking!

The finish is yacht varnish, just two coats has produced quite a nice surface.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dreaming of lathes

Well, I can dream can't I?

I've been looking, longingly at times, at lathes over the last week. I'd sort of settled on the one I was thinking I might buy and then I came across this Axminster lathe that looks exceptionally well priced.

Of course it doesn't stop at a lathe. I'll need a good set of turning tools (£100-£130), a decent scroll chuck (£100), a face plate and revolving centre (another £30-£40, although some lathes come with these and some don't) a bench grinder (£50-£60) and some wood to turn!!

Still, if I can sell the cross trainer, the airwalker and my golf clubs...

Maybe it's time I took the plunge and investigated ebay?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Daniel's Prayer

In chapter 9 of the story, Daniel prays a prayer of repentance on behalf of the nation. He associates himself with their failures, although he himself has lived a life of dedication and wholehearted commitment to God. He understands the times and knows that God spoke through Jeremiah about how long the exile would last.

In all of this there is no hint that Daniel judges the people for their sin or that he adopts a attitude other than that of a fallen human being desperately seeking grace from the God ho has come to know and trust throughout his faithful life.

When we pray for our nation, do we pray prayers of judgement or repentance? Do we pray for others the prayers they cannot or will not pray for themselves?

I wonder what difference it might make if we took Daniel's approach in our time?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Create Booklet

Ever since changing to a Mac I've been looking for something that will produce a booklet nice and easily. I've tried a couple of things including Clickbook which worked brilliantly on the PC but never seems to do what I want it to do on my Mac!

I may have found the solution courtesy of a friend of mine who pointed me to this neat little utility. It may not have the bells and whistles of Clickbook, but at least I get a booklet at the end of it in the format that I want.

The next step, and I hope the author finds it in his heart to do this soon, is to be able to shift the margins so that when I print out my address list for my diary, there is a suitable margin for the hole punch!

Missional Renaissance

A few quotes from Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal:

Missional is not a place you arrive at but a direction in which you are moving.

The role of the church is simply this: to bless the world. In doing this, the people of God reveal God's heart for the world.

The true vitality of a congregation rests in the abundant lives of its participants and in the blessed lives of the community it serves.

Our acts of service and love, not our oratorical brilliance and institutional success, will intrigue people with our message. Jesus followers live the truth; they don't just study it. Because of this, others are invited into truth and life.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Q&A from "The Church Must Change"

What was interesting, and not really surprising, was that many of the questions about engaging with the world beyond the church focused on "doing evangelism". It was as if the only way we can think of engaging with our far from God peers is to share the gospel with them.

Sharing the gospel is important, why wouldn't we want to tell them the truth about who God is and what he's done or them? But it wasn't what I was trying to get at. 

It was really interesting and challenging to hear and see that we haven't really got it yet when it comes to what living missionally might mean.

I hope I can make it a little clearer when I preach for them tomorrow morning. We shall see!

The Church Must Change

I went to speak at a nearby local church's weekend away this morning, although they are staying home for it! My topic was "The Church Must Change" and I was asked to be provocative! In brief, this is what I said.

I believe that the fundamental shape of that church is missional (and I’ll define that in a moment) and it’s focus is not internal, meeting the needs of the gathered faithful, but external, influencing the world through sharing kingdom life.

I would not argue with those who quote the creed and say that the chief end of man to worship God, but I would dispute that as a definition of the church. That, it seems to me, is where we have gone wrong. We have turned the missionary movement that we were meant to be into a gathered community of like-minded people who share their sense of collective disappointment that the rest of the world doesn’t realise how wrong it is.

The missional church refocuses our attention where it ought to be, on God’s redemptive work in the world he made amongst the people he loves. To be a missional people means simply:

To be partners with God in his mission.

That mission is redemptive (restoring the broken relationship between humanity and God through the cross of Christ) and it’s active (God came looking, Jesus said, “Go!”). God’s intention was made clear through his covenant with Abraham when he declared that he would bless Abraham in order that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to others.
Time and time again this principle of the people of God being a blessing to the world beyond the confines of the people of God is seen in the Old Testament story. Jonah is sent to Nineveh, Daniel serves in Babylon.

Fast forward into the New Testament and although the Gospels make it clear that Jesus focused his ministry on the Jewish people, he consistently blessed those beyond the nation of Israel. The Roman Centurion’s servant, the Syro-Phonecian woman’s daughter, and a Samaritan woman of questionable moral standards.

More telling than that was the derogatory title the religious people gave him: Friend of sinners. Not only did he bless people beyond the confines of the nation, he also befriended those within the nation but excluded from the religiously faithful community.

This is the kind of church I believe Jesus wants to build. A church made up of people who will partner with him on his mission to bless the world and share the message of his redemptive love and sacrifice.

What must Change?

Two fundamental things have to change. The church’s view of the world, and the church’s view of the church. Alongside these fundamental perspectives, our motivation for evangelism must also change.

The world is not the enemy, and it’s not the fault of the world that it finds itself as it is. Let me explain. Darkness is by its very nature dark. The problem is not the darkness, but the lack of light. When light shines, darkness disappears. Darkness does not overcome light, but where there is no light, darkness will rule.

Most church rules set out the responsibilities of members somewhere. They are almost always internally focused. It is heartbreaking that the expectations on members of the greatest missionary movement of all time makes little reference to the mission in which it's supposed to be engaged.

Secondly we must stop seeing ourselves as the faithful few who remain, but as the kingdom task force we are called to be.

Finally we must reshape the church. We need to adopt the principle of Christology drives missiology which drives ecclesiology. In other what we believe about Jesus determines how we understand our purpose and this in turn shapes the kind of church we become.

More than one way to use a post-it

Thank you Michael for pointing out this video.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Woodturning project 3

This is my final piece from the course.

It was meant to be an ornamental shaving bowl for soap. I'm not sure it will get used for that purpose, but it certainly was interesting to make.

The body and the lid are formed from two pieces of maple (I think it's maple), the body first. That's left in the chuck and the lid is turned from a separate piece of wood.

Very carefully a rebate is formed in the lid.

 The body is pushed into the lid as a tight fit and seated in the bottom of the rebate.

The whole thing is then put back in the lathe and the outside of the lid is shaped.

It has a oil finish.

So that's it. Two days, three pieces and a whole lot of fun.

If we had hamsters they would have enough bedding for a decade. 

Will I get a lathe? I think I might, I will need to talk nicely to the senior income earner. Maybe I can sell a few bowls, do you think that will persuade her it's a good idea? 

Woodturning project 2

Having made a bowl, I began work on my second project, a candlestick. 

Roughing down the rectangular blank to a cylinder sends small chips of wood everywhere. In fact you end up with a shirt full of little bits of wood. At the end of the day, you have to untuck yourself and shake all the chipping out before you go into the house!

The candlestick is made in two parts, the shaft and the base. The base is turned in the same you turn a bowl.

And this one is finished with shellac and canuba wax, which I'm told has many uses in the sweet industry possibly even to polish Smarties! But that may just be a rumour!

Woodturning project 1

Here's the bowl I made on Thursday under the excellent supervision of Chris Child.

It's sycamore and the finish is a simple wax finish.

It's rather nice and a great first piece. 

Hollowing out the bowl is one of the most tiring things I did. You just have to keep going and going until you get the shape you want. I particularly like the wide rim on this bowl.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Woodturning Course

I've spent most of the day doing the first part of a wood-turning course, learning all about how to sharpen a gouge and practising with all sorts of tools on a lump of tree that was cut down only last week! 

After that I was given a nice piece of Sycamore to turn into a bowl. It's quite a challenge to learn how to control the cutting edge of a turning tool, but hopefully practice will make perfect! I'm really grateful to Trevor, David's grandfather for letting me have a go on his lathe, and the course is adding to my desire to give turning a decent go.

I'm the only one on the course, so I'm getting individual attention. I guess the tutor must get quite bored only having one student!

Tomorrow's project is going to be a candlestick, so we will see how that turns out (excuse the pun!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Changing Church

This article arrived in my inbox as part of the Preaching Today newsletter. I thought it was worth sharing wholesale:


In his new book The New Shape of World Christianity (IVP), Mark Noll illustrates how dramatically the face of world Christianity has changed in recent years. He writes: "The most important thing to realize about the current situation of Christianity throughout the world is that things are not as they were. A Christian Rip Van Winkle, who fell asleep under a tree midway through the 20th century and then woke up this past week to the sound of church bells (or a synthesizer with drums) on a Sunday morning, would not recognize the shifted shape of world Christianity. It is as if the globe had been turned upside down and sideways.

"A few short decades ago, Christian believers were concentrated in the global north and west, but now a rapidly swelling majority lives in the global south and east. As Rip Van Winkle wiped a half-century of sleep from his eyes and tried to locate his fellow Christian believers, he would find them in surprising places, expressing their faith in surprising ways, under surprising conditions, with surprising relationships to culture and politics, and raising surprising theological questions that would not have seemed possible when he fell asleep.

"A series of contrasts can underscore the great changes of the recent past.
• This past Sunday it is possible that more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called 'Christian Europe.' Yet in 1970 there were no legally functioning churches in all of China; only in 1971 did the communist regime allow for one Protestant and one Roman Catholic Church to hold public worship services, and this was mostly a concession to visiting Europeans and African students from Tanzania and Zambia.
• This past Sunday more Anglicans attended church in each of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda than did Anglicans in Britain and Canada and Episcopalians in the United States combined -- and the number of Anglicans in church in Nigeria was several times the number in those other African countries.
• This past Sunday more Presbyterians were at church in Ghana than in Scotland, and more were in congregations of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa than in the United States.
• This past week in Great Britain, at least fifteen thousand Christian foreign missionaries were hard at work evangelizing the locals. Most of these missionaries are from Africa and Asia." 

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Is Daniel Missional?

I'm currently reading the story of Daniel as part of my devotional time. I love the story as it unfolds across 70 years following Daniel from youthful commitment to elderly faithfulness. 

But one of the things that can go unnoticed as we focus on Daniel's faithfulness is God's mission to Babylon. Daniel rises to prominence, not on account of his faithfulness, but because God speaks to the kings of the empire and uses Daniel to interpret the dreams, visions and signs he sends. At least that's one reading.

If we are willing to look, we cannot ignore that fact that God speaks beyond the confines of his people into the lives and situations of the nations and peoples around them. His purposes are fulfilled and his plans worked out through them.

So it would seem that Daniel is missional, dare one say even incarnational, as he lives out the mission of God in exile. 

Monday, June 08, 2009

Church Membership

I've been working on some questions to ask an informal gathering of all the folk at church. The idea of the meeting is to have lunch together one Sunday and talk about membership. About what it means and how we can better engage in membership as a meaningful part of being a local church. 

So far I've generated a lot of questions and they need to be narrowed down. I won't even be surprised if they are not replaced by a few new ones too as we process them as a leadership team.

But I wouldn't mind finding out if anyone who reads my blog has any thoughts about membership and what questions we should be asking ourselves.

So here are my initial 16 questions! I did say there were a lot, and they will be narrowed down I promise they will.

1 What is Church Membership
What exactly is a church member? Is anyone who comes to church a member?

2 How should you become a Church Member 
Is it by faith or by vote?

3 What should a Church Member do?
Is this something that is internally focussed, ministry and service within the church, or does it have a wider, mission-focussed heart?

4 How do we make Membership more meaningful?

5 If we had a membership covenant, what might it look like?

6 Should it be easier to become a member or harder?

7 How often should we meet?

8 What kind of church meetings should we have?
How much prayer, worship, sharing should they include? What should be on the agenda?

9 How should we make decisions?
Should we vote more? Are we supposed to be doing things democratically? What principles should apply?

10 How should the church meeting and being a member relate to the church leadership?

11 Is church membership just about having your say or are there other things that should apply?

12 What should we do about “inactive” members?

13 How would you feel if you had to opt into membership each year?

14 How do we express membership beyond the church meeting?

15 What kind of members does God want us to produce in this church?

16 What kind of experiences do people need to have in order to become these kinds of members?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Interesting opportunities

A couple of interesting opportunities have come my way recently. Next weekend I'm taking part in a nearby church's weekend away, except they are not going anywhere! 

I've been asked to take a session on the Saturday morning looking at the church and the need for change, and then to preach on the Sunday morning as a follow-up to the Saturday.

The other opportunity came about through a conversation at a CWR event in March. I've been invited to do a training day about pastoral care and about the health-check document I introduced to the church last year. In fact it's time to do the check again, which I hope we will do in a couple of weeks time.

So, I'm rather looking forward to doing these things. It will be different and a challenge too. But then what's life without a challenge?

Leaving Bedford

This morning at church we made the announcement that we are leaving Bedford. It was an emotional time as I shared with the church how God has called us to a new setting. We've been here for 8 years and we love living here and being involved in local church life and local community life too. 

The anatomy of moving church in Baptist circles can be quite a long process, but God has once again be gracious to us and what began in January came to its conclusion last week with an invitation to become the pastor at Upminster Baptist Church. I've wanted to blog bout the spiritual process, but I haven't been able to do that because of the circumstances that surround moving.

I may look back through my journal and see if there is anything worthy of posting, if only to let you see the process from the inside. As it is, I can at least begin to blog about preparing to move and how we handle moving etc.

So a new chapter opens up. I'd have happily stayed in Bedf0rd until retirement, but it wasn't to be. Perhaps we'll come back in 13 years time when I reach 65!!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tool Chest Project (update 3)

Had a little time to myself today so I did a little work on the tool chest. I had to buy the hinges for the top and I found some nice brass case latches that I might put to good use. 

The handles are from the pack I bought when I made the tool box last year. They came in a pack of 10, so with five used here, one on the tool box and another on a case I made, I've almost used them up. 

What's the betting I do something that needs four next time!

Anyway, it's looking like it's nearly finished. Not sure what I'm going to store in it. I might put a tray in the top drawer for my chisels. There are about 14 of them as I recall. Some mine, some inherited from my father and grandfather.

I'm pretty sure I'll fill it up!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Acts 2 Church

You may have heard the phrase "Building an Acts 2 church" from time to time, especially if you have been around any Willow Creek events, but I'm not sure I've ever heard a succinct definition of what it means. I'm sure I've heard lots about it, but over the years it gets muddied by lots of other things.

So I was really pleased to hear Bill Hybels do a four phrase synopsis of what and Acts 2 church is all about. Here's a precis of what he said.

An Acts 2 church is about:

  • Helping people far from God find faith
  • Growing believers into fully devoted followers of Jesus
  • Developing a Biblical community
  • Carrying a servant towel

So there you go. I think it's a really helpful description of the purpose of church, it might even make it to my wall!

Pdf to Word anyone?

One of the things I've always liked about the Mac is the ease with which you can create a pdf version of a file. Simply choose the pdf option from the print menu and the operating system does the rest for you.

I like pdf's because everyone can read them and see them exactly as you send them. No need to make sure you have a compatible version of a programme. This is great for me because I use programmes like Omnioutliner and Scrivener, and when I want to send the data I can simply convert it to a pdf.

The only problem is what do you do when you get a pdf that you want to edit? Well, if you are a Windows users, then you might find this application worth a look.

You can find the download here, and there's a free trial version.

As a Mac user I haven't tried it but thought I'd point it out in case anyone I send a pdf to wants to be able to edit the content!

I've yet to find a pdf editor for the Mac that I really like, but that may be because I haven't looked particularly hard.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tool Chest Project (update 2)

 Final update from the workshop! 

I made my runners, rounded over the front ends using a sanding drum attachment for my power drill. I had the drill in the stand and used a small platform to provide a flat, stable surface from which to work. The only problem was that the sanding drum sheet kept riding up off the rubber cylinder. 

I can't see how to fix this, so it's a bit disappointing, but I managed to get the job done. Perhaps a big washer that overhangs the rubber drum would do the trick. It's the first time I've used it and I did wonder id this might happen.

I pre-drilled pilot holes for the panel pins that hold the runners in place. They are also glued in!

After that I dry assembled the whole think and fitted the drawers. There was, and still is, a little bit of adjusting that needs doing. But everything fitted together.

So now it's all glued up and the drawers are eased and have their cleats fitted ready for the locking mechanism to be made.

So that's the end of today, and I'll get back to it in a couple of weeks time. Next week I'm off to learn more about wood-turning, so I dare say there will be more woody blogs after that.

Tool Chest Project (update)

The project is coming along nicely. I'm just taking a break for lunch and thought I'd post a few pictures of the progress so far. 

The first thing I did this morning was to set up the router to make the rebates for the half-lap butt joints for the two trays that form the lid of the tool chest.

I was a bit overcautious and they are not a close a fit as I'd like, but they're okay. Once I'd glued them and clamped them I left them to dry for a while before adding the ply skin. I decided to use some 6mm ply in a contrasting colour rather than make some 12mm matching ply tops. I just thought it might give a nice effect. We shall see later when it gets the finishing treatment.

Next I reset the router to run the grooves in the sides of the drawers.

This took a little time to figure out the best way to do this for maximum stability. In the end I put the bottom of the drawer against the fence and marked on the table the start and stop points so that I didn't break through the front face of the drawers. Running the groove from the back is easy because it goes all the way. You just have to make sure you stop at the pencil mark. From the front you need to lower the drawer onto the cutting bit. I usually start this slightly away from the mark and the pull the draw back to the pencil line, then push forward.

After that I put a flush cutting bit in the router and trimmed up the top trays before putting the router away and getting the circular saw out!

I needed to make some runners for the drawers and found a piece of 9mm ply (remember this project is all about using up the ply I had left over from the blanket box project) from which I cut the runners using my sawboard.

Here's the "mock assembly" so-to-speak. You can see how the top trays will fold out and the drawers are not yet on runners.

The runner material will also provide the cleats for the drawer ends as part of the locking system.

The next challenge is setting out the runners so that all the drawers run smoothly and accurately in and out of the frame. I need some 1mm shims to help with this and so I'll have to see what I've got or go and get something from the shop.

Eugene Peterson

I've been listening to an interview with Eugene Peterson from 2007 where he's talking about books and literature and reading and things. He made a really interesting observation about the purpose of church (in the sense of the gathered community I would say).

He said that we gather this group of people together on a Sunday to:

incrementally build a true, whole picture of God.

And that the role of the pastor was to:

keep the perceptions clean about God.

Clean as in clear and pure.

These two together are quite a challenge when you start to think about them. Perhaps one can almost hear an echo of Paul's word that he taught the whole counsel of God not just a part of it. 

I wonder whether some of problems we have with God arise because we don't see the whole we only see the part. There's that great scene in Bruce Almighty when he decides that the easiest way to deal with all the prayers is simply to say yes to them all. I believe it's one of the deleted scenes where God shows Bruce that by doing so he robs people of the experiences that shape them. There's a boy, as I recall, who asks to be able to climb the rope in the gym, and he does because Bruce says yes to his prayer. But his "success" creates a mean-spirited person rather than the thoughtful and reflective poet that he could have been.

So here's to the gathered church as it seeks by faith to reveal the whole and true picture of the God we know and more importantly who knows us.

From the BBC

Great quote on the newsfeed for the BBc website:

Robinson takes home Orange Prize

Well of course they do, they make the drink anyway!

It made me chuckle.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Measuring success

Listening to an interview with Bill Hybels he shared these two questions when it comes to measuring ministry success:

Did I hear God's calling for my life accurately?

Am I carrying it out faithfully?

When we're tempted to measure our personal success in ministry by comparing ourselves with other ministries, or by numbers, then maybe these two questions have real value.

And while typing he said this:

If I'm doing the work of God at a pace that destroys the work of God in me, then I'm in trouble.

Pentecost, The Spirit and Mission

I was at our housegroup last night and we were reflecting on the Pentecost theme from Sunday. The reading was part of Peter's sermon, but we read right to the end of the chapter. 

As we read and talked I began to reflect on some of the things I've been reading lately and the overall pattern of my thinking about church for the last 20 or more years. As I looked at the whole story of that day recorded in Acts 2 a questioned formed in  my mind: When we ask God to pour out his Spirit upon us, what do we expect? Moreover, where is the focus of that outpouring? 

I think most often the focus is on the church as the inside world of the believing community. We want God to pour out his Spirit to enrich our worship, improve our discipleship and increase our experience of him. But that's not the point of the outpouring on Acts 2.

In Acts 2 the impact of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was mission. The church as it was in the meeting room found itself empowered and thrust out into the community. 3,000 people were added to the church, not by being drawn to the room, but by their encounter with the gospel.

I just wonder if the biggest challenge is to set ourselves free from the selfishness of prioritising our needs over and above the mission of God. 

The change in mindset that this requires might be a quantum leap for many of us as we move away from developing programme after programme of outreach towards becoming a truly missional community. It's a change that will take great courage and faith, but a change that I feel more and more convinced will need to happen if we are going to become the partners of God in his great mission-movement to the world he loves so dearly that even the life of his Son was a price worth paying to redeem it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Models for Ministry

My post the other day about an ideal working week got me thinking about how we measure what we do in ministry. Some people will advocate really tight measuring to check effectiveness, others might take a more eternal view, arguing that you can never really measure the true effectiveness of ministry this side of heaven. 

But that's not the kind of measuring I'm thinking about today. It's more about the appropriate use of time and the concentration of effort. With all the tasks that present themselves for us to do, how do we determine which ones to give what amount of time to doing? 

This got me thinking about Acts 6 of course. The apostles have a very clear view of their role and their primary responsibility. But 21st church is not like the early church! That made me think about Ephesians 4 and got me wondering if here was a framework for ministry just as much as a description of the ministries God gives to the church.  

Now I know that the passage clearly states that God gives some not all to be apostles, prophets etc. And I believe that we need all the offices fulfilled if we're going to be effective as the church and  active as partners with God in his mission. But, I just wonder if these roles at least provide us with a model for ministry, a rough guide, where we are the primary leader and sometimes the only leader. 

If you do not yet have a team around you that provides these key leadership functions, then you can at least look at the structure of your diary and the pattern of your ministry and check it against the list. In other words, if you carry the weight of leadership in your local congregation, then simply ask yourself how you are fulfilling the role of apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher and evangelist.

Perhaps, as you criticise yourself for not doing enough visiting, you might just want to ask yourself if the visiting you are doing is in proportion to the evangelism you are doing or the teaching. Do you get the idea?

I certainly do not believe in the one person ministry as an effective model, but over the years I've found myself in just that kind of situation form time to time. Maybe asking these kinds of questions would have helped me get a better perspective on what I was doing.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Glorious June

Welcome to June!

The wonderful weekend weather has continued into today and my thermometer says it is 24 deg. C in the shade.

I feel an iced tea and lemonade has my name on it somewhere. Garden chair here I come!

PS To read of course, in the light of my previous post!! (actually I had my prayer-time out there earlier this morning does that count as work?)

The Working Week

Over the years I've been asked, quizzed, interrogated and grilled about what I actually do week by week. The simple answer is that it's actually rather difficult to quantify, and the day the put a time-sheet against ministry will probably be the day I stop doing it! Ministry is hard to measure in a way that truly reflects the nature of a call and an office.

On the other hand, it's always helpful to review what you think you do and what you think you ought to be doing. Most of the ministers I know work really hard but think they are lazy at some point in their lives. And it doesn't help when you have to listen over and over again to the comment that you only work one day a week! I think it has a lot to do with the mix of personal expectations and the expectation of the church you're serving. That and the feeling that you're never quite "there" when it comes to doing the job.

Years ago I did a survey for the national statistics people. In the process, and it was early on in my ministry, I discovered that I was working incredibly long hours. More than even I thought was healthy. So I sat down and wrote out what my ideal week might look like. Somethings have changed along the way, but it still looks pretty similar even today.

The problem is trying to put hours against things like Sunday, or pastoral care. But in order to keep myself sane and not present myself as just another overworked workaholic who can't stop themselves and whose time disappears from view almost as quickly as it comes into view, I've written out my list again.

For what is worth, here's my outline of what might happen in a typical or ideal week. The kind of week that rarely ever happens in my universe.

For want of a better term, I'm going to list "tasks" and the hours  a week I'd like to devote to them. Some are not really tasks, but you'll get the idea.

  • Prayer & reflection: 2 hours a day
  • Reading: 1 hour a day
  • Study time: An afternoon a week = 4 hours (I remember John Stott talking about an afternoon a week, a day a month a week a year or something like that)
  • Preparation time (for Sundays): 12 hours a week ( this is really hard to quantify because I don't sit down at 9:00am and work until it's finished, but it's not a bad guess)
  • Administration (we all have to do it no matter how much we hate it!): 3 hours a week (I can always dream!)
  • Sundays: 8 hours (we only have a morning celebration, so it's not as long a day as it has been in the past)
  • Pastoral Care: 8 hours a week (how do you measure this? I still don't know, but it seems reasonable to give it a day so-to-speak.)
  • Leadership & meetings: 4 hours a week (if only!)

So that all comes to 60 hours and then there's community stuff and spending time with people who are far from God. And I guess there are degrees of overlap. I think that if you totalled it all up in detail it could come to as much as 70 hours, but then again it might come to a lot less depending on how you count it. As I said it's not easy to quantify.

Some of you might be thinking only 8 hours for pastoral care. Just remember it's a guide, a guess if you like. You might also want to know how much of the two hours prayer is personal and does that count.

The thing is, ministry is not a job you do, it's a life you live and you just can't stuff things in a box and say that's my private world, that's my ministry world. I have quiet weeks when I rejoice in being able to kick back and relax, knowing full well that the 'phone can ring at any time and will be thrown headfirst into a crisis or something that could demand five minutes of my time or five hours.

And of course this is not like an office job, it's not as if you're doing 60 or 70 hours without a break and chained to a desk. It's very different.

Having written the list out quite quickly, I'm wondering now if I've missed something. for example where does writing my blog fit?? Better stop now and get back to some real work.

Mind you the weather is looking good and I have got a couple of books I'd like to get stuck into!