Monday, January 30, 2006

An Answered Prayer

Feeling gloomy and dispondent last Thursday at Glasgow's Queen Street station, I prayed on the station platform; "Lord, I'm feeling miserable, please let me meet someone who will encourage me". Someone came and sat in the seat facing me and pulled out a book on church planting which he was studying intently. He is a minister in Arbroath and was enthusing about the potential growth of the church there and all he'd like to see happen in the town for God. It was hugely encouraging!

This was an unusually direct (and fast) answer to prayer - for which I was extremely grateful. So grateful in fact that I am directing you, gentle reader, to his church website.

Fogged Up Monday

When negative is so positive

Last weeks drama came in the form of a pregnancy scare, which thankfully was only a scare. The thought that Boris, Norris & Doris were to be joined in October-time by a little Horace was too grim to contemplate. When I say I "thank God" it wasn't, I say it sincerely and quite literally.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tim Keller Articles and Sermons

There's a website about Tim Keller here:

It's a good little page with many of his articles and several sermons (MP3's) available for free download. There's some superb and inspiring teaching here. There's not only detailed studies of the Bible's text but some very perceptive applications and analysis of contemporary culture and society. Although Keller ministers in New York, many of his most telling points translate to the UK context too. His own church website is very fancy, but you have to pay for many of the sermons there!!

Monday, January 23, 2006


.....Straw ................................. Headmaster

The similarities between these malevolent manipulators are too uncanny to be mere co-incidence. Surely they must be related. I think we should be told.

NHS Today

Never Not A Dull Moment

There's never not a dull moment round here, is there?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

East Lomond

The Webbs took, the Mrs & I, Boris, Norris and Doris up East Lomond hill this morning. A great walk it was too, and despite the dreary half-light, the views were more impressive than I'd expected. We could see snow on the Ochil's, the Pentlands, the Forth Estuary, Kinnoull Hill, and many dark shadows of big hills in Northern Perthshire, but it was to dark to pick out their shapes. Boris was a bit whiney, and although the climb was well within his limits he was suffering from not having been put to bed by Gnat-the-crazy-babysitter until very late. Norris' three year old legs managed it amazingly well, while little Doris rode on my back and enjoyed the ride. Following pic not mine - nicked from a tourist guide!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Book Notes: In The Beginning by Alister McGrath


Just finished reading this Chrsitmas present on the way home on the train today. It's a good read, and a fine story, well told. However - it's not as good a book as it shold have been, given the matter in hand and the credentials of the illustrious author. One of McGrath's skills is his ability to pitch his writing at various levels, and this one is certainly 'popular' in approach. His attempts to assume little or no background knowledge and to explain terms as he progresses is well intentioned, but occasionally awkward. The story rattles along well, and builds nicely with the post-Medieval, Renaissance background, and mechanics of printing described in detail. The religious ferment of the Reformation is briefly sketched and the ongoing debates from Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth's reign examined alongside Mary Tudor's counter Reformation. The various translations of scripture from this era are also assessed in a lively fashion.

What then ultimately dissapoints is the second half of the book. It is subtitled "how it changed a culture, language and a nation" - but the book is so weighted towards the background and production/translation questions that the influence of the book is compressed into a mere chapter and afterword. The book ultimately fails to satisfy because of this serious imbalance. To be honest, it looks as if the author got carried away with the research into the first half of the book and ran out of the time and space to do equal justice to the following four centuries promised on the title page! Perhaps McGrath has fallen victim to an overly ambitious publication rate? !

Whatever the answer to that speculation, I still haven't recovered from reading his self-confessedly outrageous comment on the nature of the translation of texts:
"Translations are like women, if they are faithful they are not beautiful, and if they are beautiful they are not faithful".

Monday, January 16, 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Perils of Leadership

Having recently been given some leadership responsibility in my local church, the following is a sobering thought. In 1Sam5 (1-8) the people of God are lead into the disastrous kingship of Saul because of the folly of the last judges (Samuel's sons). Poor leadership had huge implications for all the people. While that didn't excuse many of the poor choices the people went on to make, it certainly prepared the way for harm and led the people into great danger.


Friday, January 06, 2006

As a Post

We received the concerning news that young Norris is deaf. Well clinically he's actually right on the borderline of deafness. The timpanogram showed that the conductivity of sound through his ears is very poor indeed - barely responding in fact. The cause is a build up of fluid behind the eardrum due to infection, apparently. The treatment will be the insertion of gromits into the ear to drain the fluid - which should restore hearing quickly. The problem is that this will expose a 3year old to the dangers of general anaesthetic. However this will be worth doing if his development (and behaviour) continues to be affected. I am realising that some of the time I thought he was being just naughty and defiant - he was just not hearing me.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Santa and the Tooth Fairy

Christmas is a very strange time of year. Like many Christian families we find ourselves uneasily trying to celebrate with the usual round of friends, family, colleagues, school parties etc and trying to recognize the birth of Christ as the central point. This isn't without it's tensions either.

For a start, what about the Christmas tree. For years I have hated the wretched things. Never mind the paganism, they are dirty, take up too much space and drop needles all over the house. I never bothered having one, however my wife has always bought one every year. To be honest this year it grated the least that it has ever done and I didn't resent bringing the thing in at all. This is for a number of reasons, firstly I'm probably just mellowing with age (!), secondly the kids are now at an age when the tree thing really thrills them in innocent joy, thirdly I think that in terms of making Christmas 'Christian' by making Christ central - I reckon there are bigger fish to fry (starting with my own attitude to material things).

Then we come to Santa. Put aside for a moment the oft-noted fact that he is extremely mean spirited when flying over world trouble-spots and disaster zones, but buys the whole of Toys-R-Us for western kids....... Here is an issue on which my wife and I disagree. She was raised in a home where Santa was strongly pushed and believed in - I wasn't. I can't bring myself to straight-facedly tell the kids stuff I know to be false (why then should they believe anything I say?) whereas for the Mrs, Santa was a treasured childhood memory she wants to pass on. I have always been evasive on the subject and this year young Boris noticed (for the first time) the discrepancy between the two stories. "Telll me the truth Daddy, is Santa real, I MEAN THE TRUTH" he said! I mumbled something about his beard looking awfully white for someone who had come down a sooty chimney and tried to change the subject sensing wifely dissaproval!

As for the tooth-fairy. Boris lost his first tooth on the 18th and stashed the tooth under the pillow. Amazingly the tooth fairy failed to show up. Next they'll be telling that she isn't real either.

Monday Pic 2006

MonPic Christmas Week