Peter's Blog

Building for the future

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Life and Work Survey

Apologies for the quiet blog this week. A combination of toothache - more about that later - and all spare hours being taken up on a job for Life and Work, the Church of Scotland magazine, as part of my role on the Publishing Committee of the Church of Scotland.

At some point last year I had mentioned the possibility of helping the Life and Work team analyse the results from the survey that appeared in November's edition of the magazine with the assistance of Robin, my stepdad, who had helped on a previous survey I did for presbytery. Needless, to say they took me up on the offer...

Wheee, snow!!

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View from front door

With relatives in Alaska, I know it is a bit pathetic to get excited by a whole inch of snow, but... it wasn't just the kids that were excited this morning to see the snow everywhere! It is such a rare occurence here in Blantyre, enjoy it while we can!

I'm really glad I told that old story of the "weight of a snowflake" in yesterday's sermon now.

Baby play

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Ever wondered how those toys get everywhere? 

Making peace

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Gene Stoltzfus

This evening I made it over to the Christian Centre in Falkirk town centre to hear Gene Stoltzfus speaking. Gene was director for many years of Christian Peacemaker Teams. This organisation exists to live out the gospel imperative of non-violence in parts of the world that are wracked with violence, such as Columbia, Israel/Palestine, and Iraq.

It was enlightening, encouraging and motivating to hear Gene talk about his experiences in Iraq in Baghdad following the invasion in 2003.

Whirring again

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Inside my PC

I'm finally getting my desktop computer back the way it was. It takes an age to reload all the programmes that you use regularly, and about 7 hours on top of that to restore all the documents from the backup.

A new hard drive got me back up and running, but the computer is still open to the elements as you can see above, and whirring away until the replacement for the broken hard drive arrives - which will make a nice extra storage drive inside the machine. No sense putting it all back together until that arrives - but I will need to try to make sure prying fingers don't get sliced off in the CPU fan!

Drive woes

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I've reverted to the laptop as now Vista is throwing up "Hard Disk Error" messages on the main computer. Another hard disk has been ordered, should arrive tomorrow, but I will still need to do a couple of piece of work on the desktop tonight to prepare for a funeral - so it is shutdown at the moment to prevent it getting worse. Then I'll need to send the faulty Samsung disk off for a replacement as it is less than a year old. Anyway, it means my attempts to get the desktop machine back up and running are on hold until the new drive arrives and I am not able to pick up email. Grumble, grumble...

Ominous signs...

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Hard Drive Internals

My main desktop computer has been playing up for the last two weeks - I haven't lost anything but almost all the time it would hang when asked to do something (sometimes for 5 minutes or more) throwing up a [Not Responding] message in the title bar of the program you were working with. Very frustrating when you are trying to get work done. I had tried troubleshooting my way through to work out what was the offending item (whether hardware or software) to little avail. Eventually I resigned myself that it must be some clash of drivers in the system, and as it had been over a year of accumulating umpteen different programmes it was probably time for a fresh install. [There's more...]

Love can build a bridge

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Holy City SubWAYS Map

I am not long back home from attending HolyCITY, a worship and discussion evening hosted by the Wild Goose Worship Group of The Iona Community, and held at Renfield St Stephen's Church in Glasgow. I was leading one of the workshops tonight, which I titled "Love can build a bridge".

The theme for the evening was "love".

It begins...

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Shepard Fairey's images of Barack Obama

Sorry for the lack of posts in recent days. We've been a flu-bound house all week. Nonetheless, it raised the spirits to see Obama's historic inauguration on Tuesday.

And already it has begun: orders to close Guantanamo Bay, to outlaw the use of torture and the use of secret  prisons around the globe to which prisoners have been renditioned. Orders for increased openness after eight years of secrecy. If you saw Obama's inauguration speech you will have seen that he made no bones of his intent to reverse much of Bush's policies. That had to be painful for Bush sitting right behind him at the time...

Eddie Izzard on Bird Strikes

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I wouldn't put this up if everything had ended in disaster, but again out of sheer admiration for the pilot and first officer of US Air flight 1549 we can ponder and laugh with Eddie Izzard on the ridiculousness of calling it "bird strikes". 

Fruit Trees

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Painting a Fruit Tree

We are starting a theme during morning worship over the next months looking at the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23) and I thought a good prop especially to use during the all-age time in the service would be a fruit tree that we can decorate as the weeks go by. 

After cutting out a suitable tree-ish shape out of mdf the kids all played their part in painting it. Now need to find somewhere in the church to fix it for the next weeks...

This week it is the first fruit: love. 

Birds and Planes

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I am sure like me you have been amazed that no-one lost their lives in the landing of an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River of New York City. All credit to the captain and his crew. The talk is all about a double bird strike taking out both engines as the plane took off. Want to see what a bird strike can do? Here is a video from Manchester airport. Imagine this happening to both engines... 

The train rolls on...

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Moderator at Re-Energise 4

After getting back from Aviemore I was hoping to have a day or so to reflect on the days away, but alas I also knew I had an article to write for the March issue of Life & Work. That took rather longer to prepare than I thought it would. The word limit of 800 words was proving rather tricky to stick to... but I just about got there in a piece that bridges the two foci of that issue of the magazine: children and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin.

Welcome home

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Michele Guinness

Day Three of the Church Without Walls Conference. At the moment I am listening to Michele Guinness speaking on the story of the Prodigal Son. I first heard Michele speaking at The National Gathering back in May 2008 where her humour and thoughtfulness shone though. Here, this morning, she already has everyone in the auditorium laughing away and shouting out responses to her questions.

Building on Heritage

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Donald Smith

Day Two of the Re-Energise 4 Conference organised by Church Without Walls Planning Group and this morning we had a great talk by Donald Smith of the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. He got us all thinking about our own stories and how our heritage, what formed what we are from our past, inevitably shapes who we are in the present, and who we become in the future.

Coming Home 2009?

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Coming Home Welcome Banner

I picked up a roll-up welcome banner from a local printer yesterday that I had designed for the Church Without Walls conference Coming Home 2009? taking place Sunday-Tuesday in Aviemore. The banner came out okay and matches all the other publicity.

You can see the programme from the Church Without Walls website - there is a good range of speakers and seminars taking place and of course lots of worship, fellowship and talking about ideas, which is always uplifting and encouraging.

This conference will, at least in part, be exploring ways in which the church can be involved and take benefit from the Homecoming Scotland initiative that is taking place this year. I'll try to blog some of the highlights while I am in Aviemore. 

Sweet and Sour

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Watching Andrew trying to eat his sherbet while trying to keep a straight face was just too much this evening - had to grab the video camera as it was just too funny.

Very sweet... if sour!

The Transforming Spirit

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Bible Study in Malawi

The Times columnist Matthew Parris had an interesting take on Christian Missionary work in Africa in an article at the end of 2008. It is worth reading to hear how a self-avowed atheist can still recognise the transforming power of knowing Jesus and the power of good it can do in people's lives. Quite a hopeful piece to read for the new year.

Money quote:

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Hat tip to Iain Cunningham for the link. 

God in a Box

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I'm always fascinated by the different images people have in mind when they think about God - at least in part because it tells you more about that person than about God, of course.

A team have been asking two questions of people all across the US as they make a documentary, called God in a Box. They ask:

  • What does God mean to you?
  • What does God look like, to you? 

How would you answer? What would you draw?

Want chips with that?

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Outside the Ubiquitous Chip

"Want chips with that?" is definitely not what you will hear at the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant. Set up in 1971 to defend the West of Glasgow from the ubiquitous chip found everywhere else it is still going strong.

It seems unbelievable as time has flown past but yesterday Carolyn and I celebrated our 14th year of married life and for lunch today while all the children were at school and nursery my parents treated us to lunch. The food was wonderful, so many thanks to them for a lovely treat! The Aberdeen Angus steak I had was delicious. In the menu there were full details about where all the foods used came from so you know you are supporting local businesses and farms.

However, I was brought back to earth on picking up the older girls from the school and sporting the new jacket I picked up in the M&S sales... I was greeted with, "Oh, daddy, you look silly! You look like a headmaster!!"