Month: April 2005

Where is the A202?

Another early Saturday morning! This time being domestic IT support for a friend, sorting out his computer installation. I wonder how many people out there would be stuck with their computer if they didn’t have a geek for a friend? It would seem to be something which everyone needs, mostly because computers really aren’t as easy to use as a television, especially if Microsoft is anything to do with it. I’ve noticed I don’t have as many calls to resolve problems with Apple Macs, or Linux. The former I put to real ease of use, and the latter to the fact that only geeks use Linux. Anyway, the worker is worth his wage, and I was provided with lunch.
Spent the afternoon down the snooker hall, as is usual with most of my Saturdays recently, playing David, eventually coming out 4-1 frames in front. Not a bad pace considering it was only for about two hours.
A few of us then bundled down to Camberwell in the evening. I have yet to successfully navigate my way to Camberwell by road, without somehow getting to Vauxhall, getting bamboozled with all the possible routes, eventually ending up heading to Elephant and Castle instead of carrying along the A202 to Camberwell! I blame Karen :), as I was going to turn right, but she reckoned we should go straight on, so I figured I’d listen to her. At least we got to see the church building where C H Spurgeon once pastored. Fortunately, this only adds a few minutes to the journey, but greatly complicates the route. We eventually met up with other folk from churches around London, shared a meal, played games and chatted. After a week in the secular world, it was good to experience a glimpse of the kingdom of God.


What book of the Bible are you?

You Are Romans
You are Romans.

Which book of the Bible are you?
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The benefits of Christ

Q: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.

(Question XXXVI from the Westminster Shorter Catechism)


Dead arms and arpeggios

Today had an interesting combination of events. Some time in the near future, I hope to travel to Kenya. In preparation for this, I need some vaccinations. Seeing as I haven’t travelled outside of Europe in the past decade, I needed the full gamut! A week ago I made an appointment to visit two surgeries, which was necessary because my doctor isn’t a Yellow Fever centre – they can’t administer the Yellow Fever vaccine. However, whilst I was told this information, the nurse gave me a Hepatitis A/Typhoid vaccination. Two down straight away. So today I trundled to my doctor for a Polio/Diphtheria/Tetanus booster in one arm, and then over to the other doctor for the Yellow Fever vaccination in my other arm. I am now all vaccined up for my trip to Kenya. All I need now is some anti-malaria tablets. Of course, I had a violin lesson this evening, which was interesting with two slightly dead arms!
Saying that, I appear to be learning a lot of stuff. I’m currently looking at two baroque pieces, a couple of studies by Kinsey, the major scales of A, D, G, F and C, and the arpeggios of G, A and D. I haven’t quite got the hang of trills in the baroque pieces and my slurring is a little suspect at times. It may be a while before I play as proficiently as I do the piano, but it’s given me a completely new insight into the string player’s viewpoint. I might take it a little easier on them next time I accompany one on the piano!


a.m.: Matthew 8,9 p.m.: 1 Corinthians 7

As Matthew writes his account of Jesus’ life, he structures it in a such as way as to punctuate Jesus’ teaching through his miracles with Jesus’ spoken authoritative teaching.

In chapter 8, Jesus heals a man with leprosy, a Centurion’s servant and heal’s Peter’s mother-in-law. In all three cases, dealing with the people of least significance in the society of the day who put their faith in Jesus. He then goes on to call his disciples to follow him, even though they’ll have no material possessions.

Jesus then goes on to calm a storm, cast out demons and, through into chapter 9, heals a paralytic, who is brought to him in faith, in a twofold healing both physically and spiritually, by forgiving his sins. Jesus demonstrated he had power over nature and the spiritual realm. He then calls Matthew to follow him, and through discourse with some Pharisees, calls on all sinners to follow him.

In the final triplet of miracles, Jesus heals a sick woman, raises a dead girl back to life and heals a pair of blind men. Again, in all three cases, these people put their faith in Jesus and he shows his power over sickness and death.

After these miracles, Matthew tells us Jesus continued preaching the Gospel and healing people, because he had compassion on them. Jesus then said something remarkable, he told his disciples to take on the work he was doing. He gave them authority to heal, and also told them to preach the Gospel. This is remarkable because, Jesus is God, he could’ve done this on his own, yet he doesn’t. He calls on all his disciples to have compassion on those around them, and to bring healing and the Gospel.

If we claim to be his followers, we should continue to preach the Gospel, as he commands in chapter 28 of Matthew. In order to do this, we need to have compassion for all. To do this, we need to have the same mind as Christ, which requires that we know his word, that our hearts become like his and that we pray, that he might enable us to do his will.


This is a marina?

Got home well and truly knackered last night! Saturday had started off with a phone call from Philip at 11.30am. Up until that point, I was fast asleep, having a nice relaxing Saturday morning. It was a good thing to have been woken up though, as I was meeting David at 1pm to play snooker, so I had enough time to wash and get some breakfast – bacon and egg rolls – mmmmmm….
Beat David by 4-2 frames. I think he’s getting better, so I may need to get more practice in and try and improve my own game.
Afterwards, the usual suspects met up round Sarah’s to chat and chill, with a walk around Hayes Marina scheduled somewhere in the evening. I must admit to being slightly underwhelmed when I looked at the marina on the map, but when we got there, it was small, but pleasant, and we had a short walk along the Grand Union canal as well.
Anyway, got home in the early hours of Sunday morning, and went to bed.


Religion and politics

Now they say you should never discuss religion and politics in polite conversation, but anyone who knows me will probably then say I am not particularly polite! With the forthcoming General Election, the young people from my church, some of whom would be voting for the first time this coming election, were given a briefing on how Christians can be involved in politics. Rather than be told “party x” have the best policies, they were encouraged to be more active in finding information about their local candidates, as well as knowing the issues which will affect them as Christians particularly. Some of these issues would be discussed in the next parliament, so it was important they were made aware of them. Whilst I’m not particularly young any more, I thought these were good issues to quiz the candidates standing for election in the constituency I live in, so I’ve sent the following to Andrew Dakers (Liberal Democrats), Ann Keen (Labour) and Alexander Northcote (Conservative).

Dear Mr/Mrs as appropriate,

With the forthcoming General Election, I am looking at the policies and mindset of each of the parliamentary candidates for the constituency of Brentford & Isleworth. Whilst policies on the economy, education, healthcare, taxation and transport are openly available, I am also concerned about moral/ethical issues. In view of this, I am interested in your opinions on the following issues, especially as legislation concerning them has either recently been put to parliament, or will very likely be put before the next parliament. If you would be kind enough to answer the following questions, that would be very helpful to me.

  1. Abortion – Would you favour a reduction in the term for “social” abortions i.e those done for any reason other than to save the mother’s life (at present 24 weeks)? Do you oppose late abortions carried out because of foetal abnormalities?
  2. Embryo research – Are you opposed to the use of human embryos for a) cloning; b) choosing a child’s gender; c) chimeras (human cells blended with cells of other species; d) hybrids (human cells implanted in other animals; e) gathering stem cells?
  3. Assisted suicide – Would you oppose any move to make assisted suicide easier (no longer an offence)?
  4. Euthanasia – Do you oppose the provisions of the Mental Capacity Bill which a) require hospitals to allow patients with little hope of recovery to die and b) require patients to be deprived of food and water if they fall into a coma or become too ill to speak for themselves?
  5. Religious hatred – Do you agree that the measure contained in the Serious Organised Crime Bill restricts freedom of speech, particularly for Christians?
  6. Civil Partnership – Do you agree that this measure weakens the sanctity of marriage and is misguided?

Would you also be willing for your responses to be made known to others?

Thank you for your time,

Gerald.

It will be interesting to see if I get any replies, and to read the content of those replies. You never know, it might even influence for whom I cast my vote…


O thou of little faith

We continued our look at the life of the apostle Peter this evening, concentrating on the time when he walked on water – albeit briefly!

In Mt 14:22-33, we pick up just after Jesus had fed the five-thousand. He tells his disciples to go on ahead to the other side of the lake by boat, whilst he stays and prays. The disciples are doing as Jesus says when they find themselves in difficulty. A storm has developed and the parallel account Mk 6 tells us they were struggling.

Eventually Jesus goes out to them walking on the lake, startlingly them at first, but calming them with his words. Even though they had only recently seen Jesus It is Peter who asks Jesus to prove he is who he claims to be. At this, Jesus tells Peter to come to him, at which Peter trusts Jesus and gets out of the boat and approaches him – getting out of the relative comfort and safety of the boat and walking on the water. For a moment, Peter’s faith in Jesus is unwavering, and then he is distracted by the wind, the wind which has been there all the time. Peter loses his focus on Jesus and starts to sink.

Jesus see Peter’s faith wavering, but his ability to save isn’t dependent on the strength of Peter’s faith. Jesus reaches out and stops Peter from sinking. They climbed into the boat, and the storm subsided. At this, some of the disciples began to realise who Jesus was, but looking at what happens later on, they still haven’t realised the implications!

As Christians, we must remember that life will not always be a bed of roses, or even a box of chocolates. Even though we trust Christ, bad things will still happen to us. Usually, these bad things have a purpose. They are God’s way of making us sit up and pay attention to him, that we might know what he is saying to us. For he is in control of everything.

For the disciples, it was to show them to place their faith in him. In many cases God is saying the same thing to us. It doesn’t matter how strong or how weak our faith in Christ is, for he is able to save. It does matter that we fix our attention on Christ and place our faith in him and not in ourselves, for only he can save us. Ultimately, our faith will bring us to realise who Jesus Christ really is, implications and all.


The scale of F major!

Another violin lesson, another scale! So far, I’ve learnt the scales of G, D and A majors. F major is slightly trickier though as it doesn’t start on an open string, and contains many notes which aren’t in the other scales! I also had a go at playing some Telemann, which was interesting if only because he had penned slurred notes across three strings! Maybe I should stick to playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Anyway, I was left with the challenge of playing two scales fluidly by next lesson. Far too tempting just to sit in front of the piano and play Chopin instead. Must try to practise the violin more. đŸ™‚


Let the little children come to me

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mk 10:13-16

A good friend of mine had her baby baptised this morning, and asked me to be her godfather. In terms of baptism, I am a baptist, rather than a paedo-baptist. However, that’s another issue, maybe something I’ll blog about another time when I’m feeling brave. Also, whilst I am a baptist, I am not a strict/particular baptist, so I had no great theological crisis.

I duly accepted the honour of being the godfather, as it’s not often you’re handed the responsibility of seeing that a child grows up knowing the word of God. It was good to be there, as the canon explained how the washing by water was symbolic of the washing away of sin, to be able to promise to pray for her and influence her upbringing, that her baptism may be confirmed – that she would one day be enabled by the Holy Spirit, to place her faith in Jesus Christ for the washing away of her sin, thereby confirming the symbolism of her baptism.

May God bless her and her parents.


Interpreting

Stopped off in Bristol today as it’s on the way to Wales. As I’m looking for some more violin music, I thought I’d raid my sister’s stash of music. I’d been given a small list of music to obtain by my violin teacher, including an ABRSM scales and arppegios book. Naturally, my sister had a copy of this, which is now mine. I also went shopping in Clifton and bought some baroque pieces for violin, and also bought copies of the whole of Mozart’s piano sonatas!
Met up later on with Chris and Jason to chat over a meal. We spent most of the evening catching up, and remarking on how we first came together as friends. It’s amazing to think I’ve known them for so long and we still keep in touch. We finished off the evening watching The Interpreter in Hengrove. An interesting film, with loads of shots in and around the UN buildings in New York, and an interesting story with a passing resemblance to that of a number of African nations.


Gift of God

This evening’s mid-week meeting was slightly different, as a representative from the Dorothea Mission visited us. He shared with us the great work God is doing in southern Africa. It was amazing to see, through the speaker’s words and photographs, how the Gospel is allowed to be openly shared, by Africans, with the receptive people from these countries. That many people will stop and listen, in comparison to Europe where people don’t even stop, let alone listen. It is not just the spoken Gospel which is shared, but the Gospel in practice, with the provision of free schools and other basic facilities. Yet, in comparison to Europe, while these people have very little money, they are spiritually rich. In some they even suffer political injustice, and from diseases long eradicated in Europe. Despite all these things, the Gospel is spreading and the kingdom of God is growing. The same Gospel which has been rejected by so many in Europe is being embraced by so many in Africa, even though everyone the whole world over needs it. Maybe one day, it’ll be Africa which sends missionaries to Europe?


The scale of G major, two octaves!

After a fortnight hiatus, I had another violin lesson yesterday. Fortunately, I had managed some practice in the two weeks, so I was challenged to work out the scale of G major, which after a bit of thought – mostly to work out where C was – I managed to play, spanning two octaves and all four strings. Very cool!
I then had a go at playing Auld Lang Syne and the theme from Dvorak’s Largo from Symphony no. 9 (The New World), which both required the use of all four fingers on the D and E strings. I must say, this hand coordination is quite tricky – a bit of practice required I think!
Things appear to be progressing nicely though, as I have completed my first tuition book, and have been told to go and find some grade II level pieces as well as obtain the ABRSM scales and arppegio book for grades I-V.
Not sure I’ll be trying any Paganini for a while though!


To be precise

Your results for Christian Traditions Selector
Send your comments to Pete, the creator of this selector.

Rank Item Percent
1: Congregational/United Church of Christ (100%)
2: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic) (94%)
3: Presbyterian/Reformed (84%)
4: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England (75%)
5: Eastern Orthodox (69%)
6: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist (60%)
7: Lutheran (60%)
8: Seventh-Day Adventist (60%)
9: Church of Christ/Campbellite (52%)
10: Roman Catholic (50%)
11: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene (48%)
12: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.) (43%)
13: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God (34%)

Sounds about right. đŸ™‚


a.m.: Luke 18:9-14 p.m.: 1 Corinithans 7:1-7

Throughout the bible, God reveals himself as merciful. Whilst he is holy and cannot tolerate sin, he provided a way to deal with our sin. The unique and very costly, yet necessarily so, sacrifice of God the Son, who took on the punishment for our sin.
Will we be arrogant enough to think we make ourselves righteous, or will we accept the righteousness bought by the blood of Christ? Will we endeavour to find out more about this righteous which is available to us, or will we think it is for others, or is too much effort?

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk 18:9-14

Will we be like the Pharisee, mentioned by Jesus in Lk 18, parading our righteous acts before others, exhibiting an unjustified pride in our own abilities, thinking we are justified before God, or will we approach God like the tax collector who acknowledged his sin before God and pleaded for mercy?
Furthermore, if we have been shown mercy, should we not show mercy to others? Not that by showing mercy, we can earn mercy, but rather that God’s mercy flows through us to others.