Month: May 2007

Joyeux anniversaire Mim!

The weather seemed to change during the night, causing me to awaken in the middle of the night with cold feet sticking out of the end of my duvet. After various bouts of intermittent sleep I awoke on Bank Holiday Monday  morning after a rather poor night’s sleep!

Good job I wasn’t driving up to Hemel Hempstead for Andy’s flat warming event! It was good to see Andy again, and to see his new abode. He’d done a good job fixing the place up and it looked really nice, even if some of the electrics were a little dodgy! Alas, after not sleeping well, I wasn’t in the mood for much food, so I had to pass on the impressive spread he’d laid out!

I spent most of the journey home sleeping! After an hour’s nap at home, we were all off out again for Mim’s birthday at Nandos in Staines and then a few rounds of Mafia at Dave’s afterwards. I think the nap did me some good as my appetite was regaining strength, as was my ability to hold an half-intelligent conversation! Regardless, the birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself and I went to bed very early! (Well, early for me anyway!)

a.m.: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 p.m.: Romans 6:15-23

As the apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth concerning the wisdom of God, and to the church in Rome concerning the bondage of sin, we are told of one who is able to release us from that sin. Rather than the foolishness of men, God uses his Holy Spirit in the salvation of his people.

For God the Holy Spirit inspires the Scriptures. Only God knows the mind of God. Through the Scriptures, we can know the will of God. Any serious look into the Scriptures will reveal a canon which, although inspired by God through 40 different men over a period of around 1500 years, is consistent throughout.

Yet, even with the Scriptures and the weight of evidence in their favour, our minds resist God’s will. Our sinful natures are enslaved by that sin and are constrained to go against God’s will. The Spirit illuminates our minds that we may turn to God. If any of us have already turned to God, it is not because we are any smarter than others, or any other reason within ourselves, but because of the Spirit working in us. However, once the Spirit enables us to turn to God, we will turn to God freely.

He changes us from within, for only with a changed heart can we truly do the will of God. He will sanctify us, slowly conforming us to the image of God the Son, slowly being made holy. We will desire to know God’s will and will want to carry it out, he reveals the will of God through his word. He enables us to understand and in so doing, be able to glorify our Creator.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

We had our first quasi-match as HWEC football team, versus this afternoon! There were enough people from the church, and enough of an opposition to pretty much play as a team. We didn’t do too badly either – 4-3 in our favour was the eventual result.

In the evening the usual suspects went to Nige and Karen’s to watch The Pursuit of Happyness on DVD, which is based on the life of Chris Gardner. As a film, it was very well-made, with some great acting portraying the drama of the daily grind of existence and trying to make a living, and the effort involved in improving ones circumstances. As with most film adaptations, there are a few artistic liberties taken, but a mildly interesting story none the less. The thing is, whilst it is mildly interesting, it only really shows a brief slightly rosy tinted glimpse of a more complex story. I’m also not sure it’s a story worth telling. I wasn’t even sure by the end of the film that the intended goal was achieved. Whilst the plan succeeded, was the plan correct?

Evangelical vs Evangelistic

As I  watch the TV, when I talk with others, I find it irksome when words are misused. One of my pet peeves is the misuse of the words evangelical and evangelistic.

From context, you can usually guess which of the two a person meant to say, yet it would be nice if they used the right one in the first place instead of relying on error correction in the listener!

For the record, an evangelical is a Christian who holds to a particular theology, with a strong emphasis on the Bible as the word of God and the gospel (the ‘evangel’) of Jesus Christ contained therein. Something like the basis of faith from the Evangelical Alliance is fairly representative.

Whereas an evangelist is a Christian who seeks to tell the gospel (the ‘evangel’ to all. So they both have similar roots word, but are different in meaning.

With this in mind, it’s possible to be an evangelical and not an evangelist (although it shouldn’t happen!), or an evangelist but not an evangelical. Ideally, an evangelical should also be an evangelist.

Mrs Peacock, in the library, with the candlestick

I always wonder about people who approach you in the street trying to get your attention for something. I always wonder if they’re after money. As I stood in Slough high street waiting for Ally this afternoon, this chap came up to me and asked if I could spare a moment. Not knowing how long I had before she’d appear, I attempted to decline, but he didn’t give up. I eventually caved-in, and after a little explanation, it would appear he was after my details for Oxfam in order to remind the G8 of their promise to cancel the debt of a number of developing countries. For my troubles, I received a badge and a leaflet, and he was on to his next passer-by. Oddly, when Ally turned up, a woman came up to us, who was also from Oxfam, and tried to persuade us both to divulge some details. When I said I’d already been got, she wouldn’t believe me until I revealed my badge! I did wonder what the whole purpose of the exercise was, but then I suppose any effort to raise the profile of the plight of those in the developing world is probably a good thing.

After trudging around the shops and grabbing some food, a few of us congregated for a game of Cluedo. I must admit, I hadn’t played in ages and needed a few reminders! After a short while I thought I was getting the hang of it, and decided to make an accusation. It would seem my logic was impeccable, but my character judgement failed me – someone had cheated and withheld information leading to garbage in, garbage out. Ah well, was fun none the less. 🙂

The evening was finished with a game of Perudo, where Dave and Deanna succeeded in adding chaos to the mix!

The will of God

Q: What do we pray for in the third petition?
A: In the third petition (which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven) we pray, That God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

(Question CIII of the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

a.m.: Mark 10:1-12 p.m.: Romans 5:20-6:14

As Jesus taught in Trans-Jordan, some Pharisees thought they’d trap him with a burning issue of the day. Two rabbinical schools of thought on the grounds for divorce vied for popularity. Surely Jesus would take a side and become entrapped.

Jesus saw beyond the facade, and instead addressed the real question, which neither school of thought really addressed.

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.

Instead of only touching the surface of the laws concerning divorce, he addressed the heart of the problem – the human heart. He diagnosed that the human heart was sinful and needed fixing, but we ourselves are not capable of fixing it. However, Jesus is not only a great teacher, but he is the great physician and saviour. He is able to fix the human heart, to renew it, to restore it that it can be in right relationship with God. He can soften the heart which has hardened.

For Jesus goes back to the beginning as his basis for marriage. How God had instituted it before sin entered the world. This was to be an exclusive, lifelong, intimate relationship between and man and a woman.

The divorce laws were not to be used as a first resort, but as a last resort. All efforts must be made to nurture a loving relationship. However, even as Christians, our hearts are still imperfect, then the relationship might be beyond repair. It may be that one party is so hardened as to be abusive, or failing in their basic duty to care for their family.

Whilst the bible presents God’s ideals, it is also realistic and shows how we should handle others. For we are not to stand in judgement over others, that is the preserve of God alone. Instead, we are to show others what God word says is the best way to live, but to realise that even we fail to live according to God’s word and that there is remedy to our sinful state, the source of our failing.

re: Little things with so many possibilities

It’s been almost three weeks since I put the ultrasonic, electromagnetic, electronic rodent deterrent in my loft. (I feel a quote from Aliens coming on…anyway) I’d been periodically inspecting my loft to see if I could work out where the squirrels were entering. Alas, nothing.

However, as I lay in bed last night, I didn’t hear anything at all. Well, nothing from the loft anyway. It would seem the ultrasonic, electromagnetic, electronic rodent deterrent has done its job and deterred the squirrels. Which is probably a good thing, as I’m not sure I’d have liked trying to flatten the head of a squirrel frantically running around inside a bag! Not because Sarah’s tactics of showing me lots of pictures of ‘cute fluffy squirrels’ changed my attitude towards them, but that I was more likely to damage myself than the squirrels!

The question is; Do I deactivate the ultrasonic, electromagnetic, electronic rodent deterrent? I think I might leave it one for another week or so just to make sure.

It just came off in my hand

On of those Saturday’s where nothing appears to go to plan, but it all turns out ok in the end. I guess the start of the day was a sign of things to come. The cadence of my morning ritual was disturbed with the cistern handle falling off. Not a disaster, I could still flush by opening up the cistern and pulling the flush directly, but unexpected!

Routine was momentarily resumed as I hung out my washing to dry, and then ate my breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches. Fortunately, the regular afternoon of football was planned to be cancelled due to a little event known as the F.A. Cup. Seeing as watching football is nowhere near as interesting as playing, I traipsed down to B&Q to purchase a new handle, picking up Ally along the way to share the experience.

On getting home, I attempted to fit the handle only to find it didn’t fit the cistern! Slightly disconcerting as they all seemed to be a standard size in the store. However, on return to the store with the ill-fitting handle, they happily refunded me my money and I purchased another after carefully checking it was more adaptable. The application of a hammer ensured that I was once again able to flush without taking the lid off the toilet cistern.

The day ended watching I am Sam on DVD with Sarah and Ally. Apparently, everyone else had better things to do. Seemed like a good way to end the day to me. A nice relaxing evening after spending, what seemed like, most of the day staring into a toilet.

Social music

I guess music shouldn’t always be a solitary experience, but a shared one. The advantage of learning the violin is that there is plenty of duet material out there. Whether it’s duets with other violinists, or material accompanied by a pianist, the experience of sharing music with other musicians is something I’d missed when I’d finished accompanying the Harlington Singers.

As instruments go, the violin is second only to the piano in repertoire, but is eminently more portable, making it much easier to play in groups. I must admit, I enjoy playing music with others a lot, although I also cherish my moments alone with my thoughts and mistakes. 🙂

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

Goodbye Bafana is yet another film whose subject is Africa. It bears similar resemblance to Blood Diamond and The Last King of Scotland in that it tells us a story in Africa through the eyes of a white man. This film differs in that, unlike the other two films, and more like Hotel Rwanda, the man actually existed and is based on a true story.

The story starts with a prison warder setting off from Cape Town to Robben Island prison. Of course, the prison warder, played by James Gregory, isn’t a well-known character, but the man he is sent to guard personally is Nelson Mandela, of the ANC, and a significant player in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

The film shows South Africa under apartheid, through the eyes of an average white African family struggling to make a living. It shows their ignorances and their prejudices. It also shows how Gregory’s history, his interaction with Mandela and his quest for truth slowly changes his life, for both good and bad.

Compared with the other African themed films, this film doesn’t go to great lengths to portray the violence carried out by all parties, but concentrates on the relatively mundane existence of the Gregory family. Whilst it’s view of South African life is from a certain perspective, it is fairly even handed in its dealings. I’ve never lived in South Africa, so I have no idea how realistic the setting is, and I’m fairly sure that if I did, my experience wouldn’t be the same as that of the Gregory’s!

The situation is a complex one, and any attempt to make it appear simple, with any one party being good and any one being bad, would’ve been very misleading. One slight niggle is that the film only really shows the parties to be white and black, whereas there were several differing black factions.

The only other niggle is that there isn’t as much about Mandela, but it does provide you just enough information to want to know more.

As with all the recent African related films – well worth seeing. However, don’t go in expecting light entertainment – You’ll need to keep your brain plugged in to fully appreciate this film and be prepared to come out with more questions than answers. Whilst the object the the struggles was a noble one – equality for all, regardless of colour. You do wonder about the methods employed.

May God bless Africa!

a.m.: Proverbs 31 p.m.: Romans 5

This chapter of the book of Proverbs starts with words of caution from a mother to her son. Words of caution concerning his relationships with women and finding a mate, that he choose wisely and carefully. The Proverbs in general speak much of friendships, and how one should choose friends carefully, based more on character rather than appearance or personality. How much more are these wise words applicable to marriage, which should be one of the closest, and long lasting, human relationships. To this end, verse 10 starts with

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Pr 31:10

Wise men and women are hard to find, for whilst wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, it doesn’t end there. This doesn’t mean men should hold out for the perfect woman, for if one ever turns up, she’ll be looking for the perfect man.

A husband and wife are to complement each other, such that the union between them can glorify God more than they can as individuals. The biblical view of men and women is that they are created equal, but with different strengths and weaknesses. This is not to say that the traditional view of the roles of a husband and wife are necessarily the same as the biblical view. Only a cursory glance through the chapter reveals a woman who is business orientated, buying and selling not just food and clothing, but invests in property without the interference of her husband. Her husband has full confidence in her abilities. Of course, such a woman has married a man who is respected for his counsel and wisdom.

This husband is not boorish, but praises his wife. He considers her abilities. He encourages her in her strengths and, as mentioned previously, has full confidence in her abilities.

Finally, they are committed to each other, for life. Elsewhere, the Proverbs exhorts men to remain faithful to the wife of their youth. The apostle Paul reminds men they are to love their wives, as Christ loves the church. The church made up of sinful men and women who don’t deserve their Saviour. Yet Christ gave up his life for the church.

May showers

It would appear that April and May have been swapped! Whilst April was remarkably warm and dry, May (so far) has turned out to be wet and ever so slightly chilly!

However, this didn’t stop us playing football this afternoon. As we made our way to the park, the rain was lashing down, but once we’d arrived and started, the rain had stopped, and by the time the whistle was blown, it was bright and sunny. The sunny spell only lasted a few minutes though and the clouds loomed once more. A good runaround though, with a few goals scored by almost everyone.

The evening was spent at Feltham Evangelical Church for a talk given by Brian Allenby, of Christians at Work, on Christians at work(!) Given that we spend most of our waking life at work, and that we are to glorify God in all that we do, then how we spend our time at work is important. An interesting and encouraging reminder to Christians of the benefits of their salvation, and with that in mind that they can glorify God in their line of work.

The remainder of the evening was spent at Sarah’s, chilling and chatting about issues ranging from the emerging church movement, through to experiences of youth camps!

Evidently not as geeky as I thought I was

Hat tip to Luke.

My results from O’Reilly’s code quiz, which although is merely shameless advertising, is slightly fun. 🙂

Total points: 215
Bonus points: 30
Number correct: 36
Number incorrect: 14
Number skipped: 0
Fastest answer: 3.27 seconds
Slowest answer: 23.11 seconds
Average answer: 11.37 seconds

There were some things I just didn’t recognise – What’s Actionscript?

Scales of B and C major, three octaves

It seems odd that, one of the first scales you ever learn on the piano, C major, is one of the last ones you learn on the violin. After attempting three octaves of it,  I can see why though. I must admit to being constantly amazed how close the fingers can be to the bridge and yet still produce a discernable note! Definitely a case where not having frets has its advantages. Strangely, B major is easier on the violin than C! I think sharp keys are easier in general than flat keys.