Keep your heart on fire and your mind on ice
I had a conversation with a Danish guy at my church this morning. (He was also in an inter-cultural relationship - his wife was from Zambia). He had a cool tattoo on his arm, of De Vinci's 'Last Supper', but as the conversation progressed I started to feel more uneasy. He asked me what I thought of the LGBT issue and I soon realised he was very much against it. I'm getting better at dealing with this kind of conversation. In the past when people have offended me I've got worked up inside, but I managed to keep a cool head and steered the debate away from my own personal view and onto the the issues themselves. I asked him what he would do if the church allowed a gay couple in, and he said he'd find another church...I think what I find strange is the need that some people have to judge other people's personal lives so much...fortunately he's going back to Denmark tomorrow.

Anyway, I had a good night last night. My brother (who I hardly ever see) came up from London with his fiancee and we all went out for a curry and then they came back to ours for a bit.

And this afternoon I took Zac down the park to play football.

One more week of school and I get a week off. Looking forward to it.

(no subject)
I've just been to the Anglican church that I'm preaching at in 2 weeks time. It was very formal and not at all like I'm used to. There was a procession with people dressed in robes, everything followed the programme of a little booklet that everyone was given, pipe organ....
I just need to make sure that I relax when I go there to speak.

When I got back, I put a load of roast veg in the oven and then got this 12 minute workout done before I ate:

It's a killer when you're weak from hunger. :/

Lady wisdom
This year has been named 'the year of the woman' in the UK. It's 100 years since women have had the right to vote here.

It's 'Mothers Day' soon too, and my wife was asked to lead the church service on Mothering Sunday and to include a short sermon on Proverbs 31 - 'the virtuous woman'.

When she told me, I felt a bit uncomfortable about it and I couldn't bring myself to help her like I normally do. It didn't lie well with me. My wife wasn't convinced that it was right either and she told our pastor (who is normally very sound) but apparently he was insistent, saying that we shouldn't avoid challenging passages from the Bible.

So, she did her research and it turns out that this Proverb, which has been used to illustrate how a virtuous woman should be, or should aspire to be, for years, isn't about a woman. It's a metaphor for wisdom.

So there you go...

On Monday afternoon my school got the dreaded call we've been waiting for for a while now - the inspectors were coming in (today).
I've probably explained before, how stressful these inspections are.
The strange thing about this one though was that the it happened to be on a day when students were off timetable doing 'Personal Development' lessons, so I was team-teaching all day and doing fun type of work with the kids. It was the least stressful school inspection I've ever had.
It went really well and we're just waiting now to find out if they want to see more. If they don't, I'm going to be one happy man.

Edit: I've just heard that the inspection is over. We got rated 'good'.
: )
#¥`€|«>*%\>»<¥¥ *\>&¡¡!!

The outsiders
My son doesn't feel like going to our church at the moment because he knows there are homophobic people there. I reckon the vast majority of people wouldn't have a problem with him being gay if they knew but I also know there are a few that might say something hurtful, even without realising. I'm going to try and persuade him to speak to the pastor first.

Yesterday evening I went to a 'Churches Together' church service where at least 5 different denominations worshipped together. About 500 people in total. I like those kind of events because they promote diversity and acceptance. I was told by the Street Pastor leader to wear my Street Pastor jacket because he was doing a talk there about it and he said it would be good if there were a few people in the congregation representing the organisation. It felt good to be part of it.

The service itself was all about inclusion and I wish my son had been there. I don't know if it's just coincidence that I've seen so much inclusion promoted in churches over the past year or so but it feels like the tide turning.

Shabbat Shalom
It was an enjoyable experience running the Alpha course last night.
I got to church about 6:45 and blasted out some music through the speakers while I set everything up. The main thing was getting the projector connected to the laptop to play the video. Once that was working I knew I had nothing to worry about.
The other helpers (about 10 of them) arrived about 7:30, and then the attendees arrived at 8.
We didn't have as many people as I was expecting - just 6, but it could have been worse. The main thing was that everyone gelled well. We ended up sharing our stories about how we ended up at the Alpha course. The good thing about the course is it encourages people to be open and honest and it felt like we got to know each other well in just an hour and a half.
Hopefully there will be more next week, but it's got off to a good start.

Today I slowed right down. Took my time making porridge for breakfast. Took Zac to soccer training. Cooked bacon and eggs for lunch. Tidied up a bit, in between reading my book. Set the fire up for this evening. It felt like a proper Sabbath. : ) (Except the tidying bit).

(no subject)
I went to my house-group last night. Considering the problems I had on Sunday with that strange guy at my church, it was good to be with some reasonable, sound people.
There was Joel - our pastor, 30 years old, Radiohead fan, skinny, dark-rimmed geek glasses, thoroughly decent guy. Looks a bit like Elvis Costello in the 80s.
Cath - in her 40s, northerner (which probably means nothing to you unless you're from England), down-to-earth.
Her husband Steve - currently training to be a Maths teacher and finding it quite tough.
Heather - in her 40s, mother of 3 daughters, raised in France but has a posh English accent. I like her because she swears sometimes and she's the least likely person you'd expect to.
Dave - her husband, Welsh, a but querky - comes out with random stuff sometimes (!?) but I like that. : )
Gary-Lee - in his 20s but quite serious. I wasn't sure if I gelled with him to start with but he grows on me all the time.
We had a missionary with us last night telling us what she's up to in South Africa. She's really into music and was showing us how music is very culture sensitive, so a slow song with minor chords in The West usually makes us feel sad and reflective but doesn't necessarily cause the same feelings in other parts of the world. I found it fascinating and kind of enlightening. She was arguing that creativity is God-given and the more creative you are, the better.
: ) Definitely on my page.

I'm leading an Alpha course on Friday at my church. A course designed for people who aren't necessarily regular church-goers but who are interested in Christianity. Alpha started in London about 20/30 years ago and is now used in 169 countries. Anyone heard of it?
Anyway, they prayed for me and I feel really up for it. : )

Life in the playground
There's a guy in our church who's known for being rude and aggressive to people. He's in his 50s and is in charge of the sound-desk.
A few weeks ago, while I was on the desk, it stopped working and I spent a while trying to work out what had happened. When I asked for this guys help he told me to press a button which had cut out all the sound (presumably by him when I wasn't looking) ...why? I don't know. I thought it was strange but I'd heard other people say that he had done similar things to them.

This morning, I lead communion at church. I set a song up ready to play while the wine was being passed around. Beautiful song. It was working fine. No problem.
Then when I went away from the sound-desk, this guy went up to it 'to help'.
During communion, when it came for the song, there was a long pause, and then a different song came on...?!%¥ One that wasn't really appropriate...

I'm just amazed that someone would deliberately go out of their way to mess something up...
for communion...

At least my message came across. One woman came up to me afterwards and said she thought it was important to be reminded that Christ came for everyone (which was my main focus). I think that message is going to become more and more prominent in churches over the next few years.

(no subject)
There's something very peaceful about a real fire at the end of a busy week.
See all photos here:

The pleasures of not having anything to do
Bit of a weird day. It's my last weekend before I get caught up in the rat-race on Monday.
I didn't have much to do but didn't want to waste my time either.
I went for a run in the park. That picked my mood up a bit. I enjoyed running on the grass and jumping those little bushes, and muddy puddles. It made the run more engaging. It was kind of rainy/misty so there weren't many people about too, so I didn't feel like too much of an idiot doing the jumping...
Then when I got in I cooked myself some breakfast, had a shower and read a little.
I'm currently reading a novel called 'Conclave' that someone gave to me. It's about the death of the Pope and what happens afterwards. My knowledge of Catholicism is limited so I'm finding it interesting.
Then I made some mince pies with the last of the mince meat from Christmas. It took me quite a while to make the pastry by hand and then I didn't have the right tins so the mince pies looked a little odd going into the oven. I should have taken a picture. My eldest son looked at them and said: "Wow, you should be on 'Masterchef'"! (with total sarcasm).
Tidied the house. Made a chicken salad, which was more of a success than my mince pies fortunately and then spent ages sorting out my phone and getting nowhere.


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