Monthly Archives: October 2005

Organised Church?

As regular readers will be aware I was asked to take Sunday’s service. I was asked to do this at our last deacon’s meeting in early September.

Last night I received a call from Pastor Chugabug. It was to remind that Sunday afternoon is the Youth meeting. While talking about this she mentioned that she’d ;like me to take the service on November 27th. One of our deacons cares for her mother full time but has been booked to preach elsewhere. Chugabug volunteered to look after her mum. In addition that is a Pastor’s meeting during the previous week that means she won’y have time to prepare for the Sunday.

I agree; being a nice, helpful kind of guy.

As we talk I mention that it won’t be a problem as I have a reserve sermon that I’d written a few months ago but, as this week’s is on a specific theme, hadn’t used. It suddenly dawns on me that she has been in unreceptive mode and doesn’t seem to have picked up on this, despite my repeating the information several times.

I decide that now would be a good time to point this out. So I restate my previous message and confirm that I’ve planned the entire service, including kids talk. Suddenly there is a grinding noise from the other end of the phone. Then a clunking and rattling.

Finally the penny drops.

“You mean I don’t need to prepare my sermon tomorrow?”

“No, you asked me too do it 6 weeks ago, knowing that it was half term week and you’d be busy.”

“Ohhhhhhhhh!!! Well that’s a bit of luck then.”

Sometimes I wonder what they must teach people at these bible colleges. Is there a section on not listening to your congregation? Is disorganisation a set criteria for passing? Are ministers selected on their inability to recollect previous conversations and arrangements?

I know its not a general thing. Many pastors are very organised but then the newer ones do seem to be less so.

Many its like policemen….. You know you’re getting old when ministers seem less capable!!!!

Blame Bimbling

I’ve gone a done one of those quizzes recommended by other people. I know, I know, you should never to that.
I’ve found out that I should be a Taoist. I was reasonablly excited until I realised that I thought it said MAOIST!!!

How it arrives at these results I don’t know. It’s probably random. How do you begin a Christian on this thing?

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<font size="+2">You fit in with:<br />Taoism</font><br />
<br />Your ideals mostly resemble those of the Taoist faith. Spirituality is the most important thing in your life. You strive to live by all of your ideals, and live a very intellectually focused life.<br /><br />
80% spiritual.<br />20% reason-oriented.<br /><br />
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<a href="http://www.quizgalaxy.com/quiz.php?id=47">Take this quiz</a> at <a href="http://www.quizgalaxy.com">QuizGalaxy.com</a>
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Well, at the end of the day its just another bit of old tosh but it killed two more minutes of my day. Really looking forward to going home at half 4.

Talk amongst yourselves for the next few minutes. Remember it’ll be Christmas soon so we’ll all be able to bring our favourite toy or game to the office!!! Now, where did I put that Meg Ryan I like playing with???

Nearing 300

This is a shameless attempt to hit the 300 visitors mark. 3 to go, as I write this.

So news updates:

1. Found somewhere to live near work for 3 nights a week. Nice house owned by an Irish lad who works for Aston Martin. Have shamelessly enquired on the availability of test models. They do offer them for weekends to taff and friends. However you have to guarantee to return after driving no less than 1000 miles. Now, do I ask and blow my green desires or do I take the opportunity to drive my dream car? You can guess, right?

2. Taking Sport Hater to Berlin for her birthday. This is a shameless attempt to store muchios brownie points and to show that, whatever I say, I do love her.

3. Sermon writing – so far I’m onto draft 5 and counting. Must finish by Saturday morning.

4. Have first non family visitor to the flat tonight. Thankfully its a friend of Sport Haters and I’ll be up here working. They can have a "girly" night and catch up on things, put the world to rights and, of course, run down the male species. Not literally, before you start.

Well better do some work. Must think of a way to insert the Parable of the Ear Syringing into the sermon.

Overheard In The Office

This is the conversation that has just taken place in the office. One of the finiance girls had asked a Production Manager to sign off an invoice for repairs to his company car:

"Can you sign this so we can pay the repairs bill?"

"This is for one the tree jumped out me then!"

"There’s not that many trees in Chipping Campden are there?"

"Its the electric handbrake its fitted with!"

That is one extra I’ve never heard of a tree having before.

Of Cows & Trains – DO NOT READ AFTER A MEAL OR IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH!!!!!!!

This green business is starting to get seriously out of hand. When will it stop?

Having read the report that Sweden is beginning to use cow entrails to make biogas to power trains and cars I began to pull myself together. I checked the date…. not 1st April. I checked other sources than the BBC and found that this was actually true.

Then I began thinking…..

Can vegetarians use this sort of fuel? Would they prefer to pollute the world with CO2 or sulphur than use a more enviromentally friendly alternative?

Does this form of fuel production fall into line with Christian beliefs on the stewardship of God’s creation?

Now I love meat as much as the next omnivore and see this as the perfect way of ensuring that all the waste products are used up. Then I thought…. "Is it only cows that can be used like this?"

After consulting a few online sites I discovered that it looks like they are the best source of the methane extracted for the product. Now I know I’m no engineer; after all, I have a life and do not have a pressing need to keep my pens neatly lined up in my shirt pockets, but surely we could expand on this method of production.

Maybe we could genetically engineer animals to produce more methane. Can we feed cows on things other than grass? Could we add beaked beans to their diet? What about sprouts and fried onions?

Each cow can produce enough methane to run a train for 2.5 miles. The entire bus fleet, of 65 vehicles, in Linkoping is powered by biogas and Saab have released a 95 series car that can use it.

They also produce bioethanol from Brazillian sugar beet. Why Brazillian? Can’t European sugar beet be used instead. Think of it… All that excess sugar that is made from EU beet and dumped at below market rates could be put to much better use. We could help the Third World farmers sell their cane sugar to us and we use bioethanol to run our cars. Carbon neutral fuel production.

Then I thought… is there anyway to harness all that methane produced by politicians? After all 98% of what they say is bull by product, surely we could harness this resource as well.

Now, after all this thinking I need to take a serious lie down to recover. Maybe I’ll start designing an aircraft engine that runs on bioethanol or methane and fly off to the Carribbean for a rest amidst the hurricane damage.

Pondering Life…..

Following a week spent "working from home", a definite contradiction in terms, I have now returned to the fray.

Today has gone really well, so far. A 2 hour conference call/training session did not happen. The person organising didn’t turn up for work. Bearing in mind that "attendence" for training is "mandatory" (our new American MD’s words), this does not bode well. The worse thing is that they training us on our new company IT system. The fact we’ve been using it for 15 months, untrained, doesn’t seem to register.

I’ve also been giving considerable thought to our ethical living project. Following Greenbelt we decided to join the Year of Living Generously project. Most loyal readers will believe that the term "generous" and me are mutually exclusive. Well all I can say is…… Yah boo sucks!!!!!!! What do you know?

Thinking about it has made me realise that some things do not seem to go together. How can you shop locally and support fairtrade in countries overseas? If food/product miles are such a problem, won’t buying locally put me out of a job? After all, us logistics professionals rely on people buying and selling overseas.

I’m also giving thought to next Sunday’s sermon.

I’m quite looking forward to telling people how we need to live our lives in a more Christian way. One that will show people we encounter that Jesus is living through us. Then the thought struck me that we also need to shoe the community around church this as well.

Now we come up against the challenges of an ageing congregation and very few people with enough time to spare to give to churchwork. This is the biggest obstacle that our church has faced throughout my 30 years as a member. We have, finally, got more groups up and running but we all know that we have gaps that need to be filled.

As we are going to celebrate our 50th anniversary next year, we are going to undertake a review of where we are and where we want to be. I’m just hoping that we’ll get the membership interested enough to provide feedback.

If anyone out there fancies a the job of "mystery shopping" our church do let me know. It would be nice to hear what others think of our little fellowship.

Are we really as welcoming as we think? Do we seem to be stuck in a rut we can’t get out of? How can our membership reflect the demograhic of our local council estate?

All applications will of course be vetted to prevent certain undesirable elements infiltrating us.

Disaster or Parable?

Recently we had the Parable of the Ear Syringe. Today we bring you another parable….. that of the SOUP!!!

Sunday was a big day for the extended Tired family. It was the Harvest celebration day. We have slightly changed this year. We have noticed that the bringing of gifts had fallen off in recent years. Whereas we used to give the gifts to elderly members of the church, or the local old folks home, there wasn’t much you could do with the odd can of Spam, a marrow or a tin of peas, that passed their seel-by date in 1937. However, fans of Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook may have a few ideas but as a Christian site I would not endorse doing that to Ainsley.

Sport Hater was doing her first Traidcraft stall. My sister (Cool & Rational) had volunteered to cook enough soup to feed the 20 odd people who’d said they’d attend.

So it was decided that, with a husband (Bald Gardener) and the Troublesome Trucks to contend with, it would be a good idea for Sport Hater and myself to help by collecting a soup container on the way.

Arriving at some previously unheard of hour on a Sunday morning (09:30hrs), we arrived at Coll & Rational’s. We collected a slow cooker full of soup and organised ourselves to go.

Cool & Rational heads off with the Troublesome Trucks. We pull away. At this point half of the contents of the slow cooker decide to part company with the container and distribute themselves over the legs of my dear wife. Cue yelp and slight scream.

Now Sis lives on a very steep hill with just enough room for 2 cars to pass. I’m halfway across the road, having pulled off. I stop the car, get out, retrieve the slow cooker and pour some of the contents into the gutter. Readers of a charitable dispostion will now write and compain at the wasted food that could have fed a small village of starving people in some remote village in the Tawe valley.

THe container is handing back to an upset wife. I start the car and slowly pull off. Cue further escaping soup, again into wife’s lap. Now comes a slightly, and understandable, snappy command to stop the car now, from next to me. I pull up, as further liquid eminations avail themselves of the comfort of my wife’s jeans.

Wife snaps at me. I shout at wife. Tears appear.

I leap from the car. Ok, get out in a slightly faster way than normal. Take the container and pour half of it onto the road. Again, I hear cries of reproach from certain areas. You decide what’s best when you’re confronted by this situation when it happens to you. Remember, "Judge not, or you’ll get thumped by an irate deacon or have to contend with wife’s crying!!"

Now we begin to settle down and decide that it would be a good idea to head home, so wife can change. Soup still moves precariously around the container. However, we come to our senses and decide that it would be better to deliver the soup first, lest wife ruin another outfit.

Thankfully, and this is the parable bit, we were soon laughing at the events that had occurred. Wifey stopped crying, I calmed down and peace resumed. It also helped wifey to relieve the tension she’d felt about the Traidcraft stall.

So there we have it. No matter how tense, crabby, loud or soup covered you get, there is always something that’ll bring a smile to your face.

***** No meat was harmed in the spilling of this soup. Only veg. But they don’t count, do they?

Paid Work & Youth Work

I have found a wonderful timesaving device that allows me to ensure that both my youth and paid work get done. Its called utilising every minute of the working day.

Working away from home means that I get 4 days where I can work 12-13 hours a day. As I can get most of my paid work done in about 2 hours it leaves me with lots of spare time. I now have it down to such a fine art that yesterday I managed to get the next 6 meetings worth of preparation out of the way.

I used to think that I should feel guilty about doing youth preparation in company time. Now I find that it helps to stop me getting too bored and unsatisified. All I know need to do is print the bits out at home. This now saves me hours and means I can devote the spare time at weekends to those more important things – sorting out the flat and SPORT.

Now all I need to do is work out how to get more sport in. Maybe I should send the wife out shopping, or friend visiting, on a Saturday afternoon?

Integrity Day

The one thing I love about working with US companies is the way they introduce meaninless policy. ignore it and then hold "days" to highlight the policy.

Today is Integrity Day at my customer’s site. Mega Huge American Conglomerate are one of the 4 largest capitalist, oppresive, manipulating, profitmongers in the known universe. Thankfully, as a contractor, I’m immune from having too take part. One of the excuses for this is that someone on site needs to be kept immune to such things. Translated this means that I can do the things that they shouldn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong…. I’m not involved in evil plots to overthrow unfriendly governments, that was a previous role I had but now do in my spare time. What it really means is that I ship their products too countries with whom they are not always allowed to deal; or prepare documents with lower values than may otherwise be warranted.

In addition, my boss seems too have the integrity of a very large prehistoric beast with very small hands. Even for a supporter of a non "friendly" political party, I have qualms about my boss’ desire to put profit above everything else. I think that Paul had him in mind when he warned of the love money being the root of evil.

As a bribe to get people involved they have promised that the people with the highest scores, in the subsequent quiz, will win an Ipod. Now too me the very thought of giving people such an over rated piece of kit is an integrity issue.

Then I got too thinking, something I’m not allowed too do to much of since I married. What exactly does inegrity mean to these people. The company still lies to cover its own back; overcharges customers; squeezes suppliers till the pips squeak; and they introduce revised credit terms without negotiation or telling anyone.

From my viewpoint it looks like the integrity policy is a way for the to pretend that they keep a clean ship, while turning a blind eye to what actually goes on. Their integrity does not mean anything other than a piece of paper they can hide behind if they get found out.

What Price Ethics ?

While away with Sport Hater for the weekend we saw a story in the Independent regarding ethical investments. Now I must confess that I am actually a Times reader but bought the Indi as it had a copy of the Indochine DVD for free. As I like the film I thought I’d buy the paper – plus the Times were giving away Cabaret, which I loath.

So we started discussing the issue of ethical investments. As those who know Sport Hater will be aware of her viewpoint I can leave that side alone. Personally I believe that ethical investments are a worthy but poor form of investments. The same with the way that some people choose ethics over everything else.

If I’m saving for my retirement I want too ensure the best return possible. I want too ensure a comfortable lifestyle that will ensure that we do not have to worry about finances after we finish work. I want to be able too do the things that we couldn’t manage before. In addition we’ll have the money too be able to contribute to good causes.

Now if I have a choice between a return of 400-600% or 90-130%, which should I choose? Personally I’ll take the filthy lucre and use it too do good myself.

For some of us this choice is not available. Those in company schemes get no say over their investments.

Another thing that has annoyed me regarding the subject is the love shown for the Co-op Bank. Having worked in the financial services industry I’ve had dealings with them and their agents. Having an ethical policy is all wel and good but if you don’t act ethically what good does it do.

At present the Co-ops insurance/investments division are pushing through a new contract for their staff. There has been very little consultation and the company are using it as an exercise in reducing staffing levels without the need to pay redundancy. So far they have been hit with a 2 day strike, with more planned.

Is this the way a company that makes ethics a big selling point ethical company should act? In fact the Co-op are no more ethical than most other banks or financial services providers.