Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Busy Week

In a moment of sheer madness I decided that adding a Personal Trainer qualification to my Sports Massage would be a good idea and might open a door to some potential income while I continue my trying as a therapist. So I signed up for a 4-week intensive course which began this week.

At the time of signing up I didn't realise how much online reading there was going to be. I knew there was some, but it turns out to be more than I imagined. So now I'm trying to learn Pt and Sports Massage and my brain hurts. It hurts a lot.

What this leaves me with is the thought that if only I'd behaved myself and been a a good little minister, then none of this would have happened. I could have continued to think that one day I might do something in the area of sports and bodywork and/or fitness, but never actually needing to apply myself to it. Dreams are easy things with which to live as long as you don't try to realise them.

I, of course, am mad. Completely and utterly mad. No one in their right mind would toss everything in the air at 54 and start over. At 54 you should be planning how you're going to spend your retirement.

So here I sit, after a long and draining week of learning to be a gym instructor (you have to do that first) and then a full day doing MET (that's a massage thing) and I feel like giving it all up as my brain slowly melts as I try and remember my ischial tuberosity from my anterior, inferior iliac spine.

Madness. Sheer madness.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Change-city, an uncomfortable place to visit

I was at a conference a long time ago in the US and the speaker kept referring to Scare-city during his talk. I thought this was some sort of colloquialism that all the Americans understood and I would eventually discover a context as I listened that would make it all clear. Well it did become clear when I realised that he was talking about scarcity not some mythical place called Scare City. The joy of a common language!

On the other hand, Change City is no error in wither pronunciation or hearing, but the place in which I seem to have tank up residence these last few months, and it's far from a comfortable residency I can tell you. Change is always hard, even good change. On Monday I start the intensive four-week part of a personal trainer's qualification. In my crazy, idea overloaded mind, it made good sense a month or so ago. Personal training seemed to fit nicely alongside the massage course and the nutritional stuff. Now I wonder if I've made an error of judgment and taken on too much. Why didn't I just get a job stacking shelves at Tesco or working nights at a hotel. Well because there weren't any for one thing. Add to that the sense of being unemployable, and you get the picture. It's a painful place to be.

Of course, in a year's time when I'm looking for premises for my new clinic and wondering how I'm going to fit all these new clients into my already busy schedule it will all be different. But that's a dream, not even a vision, at the moment and there is no promise of reality.

Somehow I have to find a way of living with the sense of failure and the fear of future failure that surround me in this oddly named city in which I've taken up residence. I need to get to know the neighbours. The one thing all the inhabitants of change have in common is the insecurity of what bough them here. Some are fearless in their pursuit of a new outcome, others are more tentative, hurt by their past and paralysed by their present, they can't see very far into the future. But you can't settle down in a place of change, you can only adjust to the pace of change. Change will go on around you, whether you want it to or not.

I want the change. I want to explore this confused and incomplete idea that church can be more than just a gathering of equally disappointed people who think the world is a dangerous place and needs to adapt to us before we adapt to it. But I'm not a good adapter.

Well it's time to stop rambling and at the very least help this bee that can't adapt to glass and is stuck in our new dining room tiring itself out in a win attempt to fly through the invisible barrier that confronts it.

Makes me wonder what my invisible barrier is. The existence of which would at least explain the headache!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's not as bad you think it is!

On the way home last night I caught a little bit of a Radio Four programme about society. In a nutshell the discussion centred around the theme that society is getting worse and we're destined to destruction. There were arguments for, and there were arguments against. 

What was interesting was that there was also some discussion about how we are programmed to pay attention to negative stimuli. For example, if you're wandering around the African pain and someone shouts, "Lion!" you take notice. If they said, "It's been four days and I haven't seen a lion," you'll probably ignore that and go about your foraging.

Setting aside arguments about evolution, I think this has profound implications for being good news people. If we too are predisposed to hear the negative above the positive, then we will look at the world around us and conclude that it's getting worse, but we'll take another step. We will add a layer of Biblical interpretation to that perspective and conclude that this is the way it will be and there' little to be done about it expect wait for the inevitable day of judgement.

But even that is not all we do. We assume that everyone else sees the same inevitable decline all them and has a similar sense of despair. We offer hope against this interpretive background, but what if it's not true? What if things are actually better than they once were? What shape our hope then? 

Now I'm fully aware of what the Bible says about the future and how we can understand that. I know that judgement is coming, but our anecdotal evidence for a worsening society and a theology predicated upon that may not hold up to inspection. 

Here's another thought. John Kramp in his book Out of their faces and into their shoes makes an interesting point when he suggests that the so-called lost (I prefer Jim Henderson's "missing" to lost) are in fact quite happy. In other words, people who do not share our faith position are not as miserable as we think they should be!

Because we are predisposed to react to the negative more than the positive, we more easily reinterpret things within that negative context. We may not mean to do it, but do it we do. 
So here's my question: How would our mission look if we took a more positive view of the people around us? If we all, and I mean all, carry the image of God, then how do we celebrate that in the people we meet? 

Maybe, after the celebration, we'll find a way of pointing them to a fuller expression of that image in Christ, rather than offer him as a get out jail free card.

Monday, May 14, 2012

First prayer adventure

Yesterday, Sunday, Anne and I ventured out into our new community to walk around and to pray a little. We're going to take as much time as it takes to figure out what to do next before we begin anything church-like. We have no fixed model to apply and no fixed agenda to follow. We do have a vision, but aren't making plans beyond taking a few simple steps.

The first thing we are doing is to settle down into life in the new house and new community. We'll try to get to know the neighbours and seek out people of peace with whom we can build relationships. How do we do this? We have no idea! All we know is that we are not looking for a place to hold a Sunday morning worship event.

There's already a sense of home about the place. Even the cats seem remarkably settled to the new house. Once the carpets are down and the boxes unpacked, it will feel so much different.

Without all the trapping of legacy church life, it's quite a challenge to think about how you go about being the presence of Christ in a community. To be honest, the traditional pattern of church probably gives us a false sense of security about our profile in a place. Asking yourself what church might look like for this community is probably a good place to start, but so easily confused with what we think from an insiders perspective.

Our dream, our vision, is to see a group of people, gathered in community, doing life and faith together, engaged in the mission of God. It really is that simple. How hard can it be?!

Fixed heating

I'm tempted to claim that I fixed the heating, but I didn't do anything other than poke around in the wiring centre to see what was going on. Having had no pump running and no apparent reason for said lack of action, I left the programmer running and yesterday morning I suddenly realised I could hear the pump running! We've had a few noises in the system this boring, but it seems to be firing up and working after a fashion.

Curtains are up in the bedroom, so we can sleep in the dark now! My next job is to get on with some studying for my courses, but practically speaking, I need to sort out a damaged stair riser and start planning how to level the floor in the kitchen diner. Plywood and self-levelling compound are the order of the day. Getting the cooker out of its rather tight gap will be a challenge. If I had the time and inclination, I'd adjust the gap, but it's only a matter of 2 millimetres and I don''t think it's quite worth the effort.

After that, it's tiling and retouching the paintwork that got damaged during the moving process. Sad to say we have yet to encounter a removal company that actually take as much care of our possessions as they say they will. Maybe we just get assigned to the fact that things will get damaged, but it's frustrating to not be told and to discover it for your self. Does an apology really cost that much?

Friday, May 11, 2012

As if there were't enough jobs to do!

The chaos of moving is slowly giving way to the chaos of settling in. We're waiting to hear form the capet company about when they are coming to door the floor coverings, so we're not unpacking too many boxes at the moment. We have also begun to think abut a plan for moving stuff around while they fit the carpets and vinyls too! Yes, it would have been easier to have the carpets fitted before we moved in, but that wasn't possible.

We spent yesterday boring hauling boxes into the loft. literally hauling them. I rigged up a hoist with some rope a over a beam and lifted the boxes while Anne was in the loft on the receiving end. She did a grand job with some heavy boxes.

Today the builders finished, so we can now set about the jobs that are down to me to do. I ned to level the kitchen floor before the vinyl arrives and fix a damaged stair riser when I find my wood glue (or buy some more!)

I think the next photo's will be of completed jobs and the carpets down.

And the unwanted job? Well that's the heating system. I got it working at the weekend, but when I put it on the other day it didn't work. I think I've traced the fault to the 3-way value, which looks unpromising for a quick fix. Some valves have replacement heads, but this one looks like a whole value job, which in turn might  means raining the whole system down. Might be a job for a plumber, I'll see how I feel.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Moving Day

Everything is in a box somewhere, and if it's not in a box yet, it will be in the next few hours! It's just before 6:00am and moving day has finally arrived. In 32 years of being married, this will be our 9th move, and for me it will be number 13 overall if you don't count university, 15 if you do! That's an average of just less than 4 years between moves.

I don't like moving!

This time I hope we will be settled for a reasonable length of time, but how long is that? 4, 5 10 years? Who knows! The problem with moving is all the hassle of finding a new home and organising everything. It's quite exciting to go and explore a new place, but the pain of packing up and unpacking can far outweigh the excitement of what's new.

So, in a few hours we will be in our new, not quite finished home a few miles away. Not quite the cross-country move that has been the feature of our lives as we've criss-crossed the Eastern half of Southern and Middle England over these past 32 years. There's still much to do at the house, but it's certainly liveable and the builders should be finished by the end of the week, maybe next week.

Time now for a shower and breakfast, then it's dismantle the book case and wardrobes, take down the network and internet and get over to the new house to clean and prepare for the arrival of the furniture later this afternoon.

Friday, May 04, 2012

How long does a promise take?

For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.

Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Heb. 6:13-20

Read this passage yesterday. In the previous section, there was the great promise from God that he does not forget what I have done. It seems that this promise is reaffirmed as God speaks about blessing Abraham. Now I know that these are the words of the writer of the letter, and not God speaking directly and personally. On the other hand, God uses his word, the Bible, to speak directly, so I have no issue with reflecting upon the personal application of these words.

But the key is not the promise of God so much as the patience of Abraham. I know the story, I know how impatient Abraham actually was at the time. It must have been quite an internal struggle.

"Lord, how long do I have to be patient?" I ask this question a lot. Abraham waited a lifetime to see the ultimate expression of God's promise fulfilled. Am I willing to wait that long?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Just in time

There are moments when a simple act or word of encouragement comes at just the right time. None more so than when God speaks through the Bible as one reads through it. Here was my "just in time" moment from yesterday:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Heb. 6:10)

Now you may not think it means too much, but to me it was a very important moment, and one I would have missed had I not slowed down long enough to read or been rushed into the busyness of the day to have though I could always read it later.

It's not so much the daily discipline of reading that's key, at least not for me, but the systematic reading that's important. I may spend several days pondering this verse, I may read something new. If there's one thing I've learned over the last 30+ years, it's that we don't really dwell in God's word as much as we ought. We move on to today's note, driven by some sort of evangelical legalism designed to prove we are spiritual. In truth, all it actually does is demonstrate how shallow our spirituality has become as we strive to add another star to our loyalty badge.

And I'm no different. My spiritual life is shallow too. I take my encouragement where I can find it.

I'm glad that today I can remind myself that God does not forget what I've spent my life doing for the last 20 years and more, even if it's been less than effective for some.