Singular or plural

20 01 2014

I read this tweet last night

which obviously makes perfect sense, but then I thought of an example where things get very odd

“The trousers are blue”
“The pair of trousers is blue”

But the sentences both mean exactly the same thing, refer to exactly the same item.

How on earth does that work?!


19 01 2014

Today was Covenant Sunday at our church, this meant that all members recommitted to, remade the promise they made when they first became church members there.

When I first became a church member of the church I grew up in, the process was such that I had a chat with a couple from the church, they asked me questions and got to know me a bit better, then they fed back at the church meeting and I was voted in. After that, at the first communion service following the meeting, I was welcomed into membership formally.

When I became a member at Heathervale, on top of the process above, at that communion service I was asked to make a promise. That promise is a covenant, that each church member makes with one another, and is renewed at the start of each year.

Here is what we said:

“Having been led, as we believe, by the Holy Spirit to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and on profession of our faith having become a member of His Church, we now enter into a covenant relationship with Him and with each other.

By God’s grace we endeavour:

  • To lead a holy life and to walk together in Christian love according to the command and example of Jesus Christ.
  • To strive for the spiritual advancement of this church, to sustain its worship, ministry and discipline by our presence and means.
  • To behave before the world according to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ as recorded in Scripture.
  • To bring up our children with a knowledge of Christ’s love and Christian values.
  • To act in a way that promotes fellowship and unity.
  • To remember each other in prayer.
  • To support each other in sickness and difficult circumstances.
  • To endeavour by all means to share the gospel with those who have not committed their lives to Christ.”

I think it’s great that firstly we make these promises as part of our membership, but secondly, that we recommit each year, and are reminded afresh what it is we have promised, covenanted, to do and to be.

Does your church make promises as members? What do you promise if so?

Fellowship in the Gospel of Jesus Christ

15 01 2014

This Sunday we started a new series on Philippians, starting with Philippians 1vv1-11 – here are the notes I took!

We should be constantly praying for opportunities to share the gospel.

Many of us lose our passion, we need to recover the joy and unity that Paul has in this passage. It’s written from a prison cell, not an easy place to have joy!

Paul’s primary purpose is making Jesus known. If as Christian’s we want to get more passionate, we need to get passionate about the Gospel, and sharing it.

Fellowship is so much more than a chat over tea and a biscuit.
Fellowship = Partnership.
Partnership is working together for a common purpose and vision. In this case, spreading the Gospel.

The church is a diverse group of people, unified by the Gospel. It’s not just a case of sharing the Gospel, but growing in it.

As Christians, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit, God has begun something in us that He will finish, so have confidence – one day we will be perfectly like Jesus!

People feel like they know about Christianity, and tend to be cynical of it. They need to see us walk the walk as well as talk the talk – not in our own strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.

People need to see us united, as something different from the world.

A passion for God gives us a joy that curries, xbox and football cannot. [Can you tell our pastor is male?!]

There is no greater joy than leading someone to Jesus. What are we really passionate about?

“Don’t let my love grow cold, I’m calling out, light the fire again.”

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator – by Roald Dahl

14 01 2014

This book is utterly nuts.

Roald Dahl writes some really odd stuff. You don’t notice it as a child, but working through these as a grown up I’m seeing just how odd they are!

If you’re not sure if you’re read it before, do the words, “Vermicious Knids”, “Wonka-Vite” or “Minusland” mean anything to you? If not, you definitely haven’t read it!

In this sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we go into outer space, we make people younger, we go to the centre of the earth – definitely not a book of reality, but still utterly genius and grabbed me ’til I finished it.

It only takes a couple of days, give it a go if you want a break from all the heavy grown up reading you’re busy doing!

Oh, and if you were wondering why it’s not called “Charlie and the Great Glass Lift”, may I refer you to this quote from the opening chapter:

“‘Madam,’ said Mr Wonka, ‘it is not a lift any longer. Lifts only go up and down inside buildings. But now that it has taken us up into the sky, it has become an ELEVATOR. It is THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR.'”

charlie and the great glass elevator

Don’t believe your eyes!

12 01 2014

I’m generally a fan of a good optical illusion, but some get so overdone. There’s pictures you’ve seen a million times, which line is longer, etc, and you just know what to expect.
optical illusion

You then go one step up to things like this, which manage to move without moving – harder to get your eyes around, though I find if I blur my eyes, not only does it go still, but it also goes black and white?!
optical illusion2

But 2 or 3 years ago there was an episode of QI that blew my mind all over again, and still does when I watch it afresh!

Then last night I saw this, along the same lines but almost a step further

I seriously don’t get it – I’ve been wearing glasses for over 20 years now and I’ve seen all sorts of tests, but this is bizarre. It’s the sort of trick that when it’s happening you literally can’t see how it’s doing it!

America Unchained – by Dave Gorman

8 01 2014

I have utterly loved joining in on the journey in this book.

The basic premise is that he buys an old second hand car, and tries to drive coast to coast across the USA without giving any money to chain stores. This means finding independent motels, restaurants, and petrol stations! I don’t think they even exist in the UK, and it turns out that in America they’re pretty few and far between as well!

The thing I love about Dave Gorman’s books is that they never end up being about what they’re meant to be about. His books always end up being about the people he meets on the way through his various adventures/challenges/whatever you want to call them (at least one or two fall under the heading “bets made whilst drunk”!). Plus the whole way through I had utterly no idea if he’d even manage to complete it (and I won’t spoil it for you) – I was definitely kept guessing.

One of the most fascinating sections for me, oddly, was when he visited a town with a high population of Mormons. He looked into it a bit and thoroughly explained (far beyond any level of knowledge I had previously) what they were about, what they believed, where Mormonism originates from – anything you’d ever want to know. I’ll be honest, he doesn’t portray them positively, but then from what I’ve now learnt, I do understand why! I won’t say any more as I don’t want to offend, but it’s definitely interesting, and I’m more educated than I was.

A highly recommended book. I started it in Uganda because the book I was reading at the time was too heavy to take with me, and then picked it up again last month when I finished the large book. Since then I barely put it down. It had me picking it up whenever I could, which I think is always a strong recommendation 🙂

america unchained

“For I know the plans I have for you”

6 01 2014

Before we start our next sermon series on church we had a look at this passage – what a good start to the new year! Here’s my notes from the service.

Jeremiah 29vv1-23

Picture a child learning the piano. They’re trying their best to play a tune but there’s a lot of duff notes. The teacher sits next to them and plays around their notes and it turns into a beautiful tune.
The child is us trying to follow God’s plan, the tune, but we muck up, so He works around us, fitting our attempts into His plan.

If we don’t listen to God, He may need to use a megaphone. This might sometimes seem like pain or suffering.

We shouldn’t boast in things we plan to do as though they are independent of God’s plans for us.

As we love one another and bear the fruit of the spirit, then others will see Jesus in us. This is how we can live for God’s glory.

We may not know God’s plan for us yet, but in the mean time we need to keep moving and seek Him. It’s much easier to turn the wheel of a moving car than a stationary one.

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans” – John Lennon

For some reason we think the world owes us constant comfort and security. This is a very western attitude. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4 v 11b

We tend to have a habit of making plans and asking God to bless them later. That’s not really the idea!

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29 vv 12-14a.
This is a great motto text for the year.

What the seeker is really looking for, whether they realise it or not, is Jesus.

“‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.'” – Matthew 7 vv 7-8

What tune is God calling us to play on the piano for Him to work around? We need to ask, seek and listen.

We need to put Jesus in the centre and He’ll take care of everything else. We mustn’t put our plans first, we mustn’t put the cart before the horse.

New Years Resolutions 2014

5 01 2014

I’ve been doing this a couple of years now, blogging my new years resolutions and then reviewing a couple of times over the year to keep me accountable – here’s what I have for 2014. A few come from those that didn’t go so well last year!
I’ve also tried to make them measurable as otherwise it can be so vague you can’t tell if you’ve even achieved it!

  • Actively make more time for reading – I read before I go to sleep, but sometimes I doze off before I find what page I was on. Maybe lunchtimes at work, or free evenings. Let’s aim for three times a week. (My book wishlist suddenly got massive!)
  • Limit DVD binging – No more than one episode a day
  • Exercise regularly – At least twice a week (this may be aiming high, once a week would be a vast improvement!) – hasn’t started yet as been getting over a cold and totally exhausted, but maybe starting this week.
  • Lose weight – sort of combined with the above really, I don’t really plan on changing what I eat. My meals are ok, it’s only snacking that’s the issue, but I hope adding exercise to my life will do it’s bit! I have a target weight, but don’t feel like sharing that with the universe… sorry!
  • Make a better attempt at the happiness jar – Make sure I’m up to date at the end of each week. (though still need to empty last year’s!)
  • Learn more meals to cook – I was going to say once a month, but I’ll go with 6 a year on meals, and 6 a year on other things, eg cake, snacks, things that aren’t full meals.
  • Keep clothes organised and tidy – Last year I had put clothes away at the end of the day, there was an improvement but definitely could have done better. I’ve also spent a good chunk of today sorting out my drawers so stuff is folded rather than all bunged in (and put loads out for the charity shop), so I’ll try and keep this tidy too!
  • Learn to love God more, do everything for His glory, and make time for Him. – This is a resolution for every year!

That’ll do for now, I may add a couple more later if I think of them, but time to commit to these, we’re already 5 days in!