Saturday, June 30, 2012

New Phone - Nokia 701

I upgraded my cell phone yesterday and it is fun to have a new toy. I went from a Nokia E63 to Nokia 701.
This is how it went:
My phone is due for an upgrade. I feel obliged to get a new one as I continue to pay the same on contract whether I get a new one or not.
I'd really like to play with Android.
Research all the Samsung Galaxies.

My daughter upgrades to Galaxy Y Pro. She puts in the sim and the phone wants her Gmail account, or please open a Gmail account. My dislike of being owned by a software company kicks in. Maybe I don't want an Android phone.
I like Nokia. I find the phones intuitive and practical and while I want to play, I also really need something that works right first time every time.
So research Nokia phones.

Decide on the 701. All my contacts and calendar entries (and other things that don't matter to me so much) transferred via Bluetooth without a hassle and it's all happening.
I'm still getting used to the touch screen keyboard, but so far so good.
(I don't know if I am now owned by more than one software company . . . but anyway!)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coasting

This week, I admit, I am coasting towards holidays. I will be on leave for two weeks from the weekend and may actually not even connect to the internet during that time. For now, things are slowing down. I can't wind things up when I won't be here, so I'm finishing off things and not starting new things. I know that I'll have a bunch of work when I come back . . . , but that's then.
I am already getting a new perspective on my life and realising that I might have been pushing myself a bit hard - but I can also see other people stepping up to the mark and running with things that I have initiated. I am starting to believe that we can win in these churches. Finances are still a sweat and I hate it that church has to be so much about money - but it is in God's hands. We can only do our best.
So at halfway through my first year - I think we are doing ok. God is very, very kind to me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Actually Reading the Text

I've periodically attempted to put together a programme to teach people to read the actual text of the Bible with understanding. So many people are afraid that they will not understand that they don't even try to process the actual text. Others believe that they already know what the text says because they have heard so many sermons on it and they don't actually read the words. I've never got very far with my project but Mark Penrith has put something together that I think could be adapted for general use. His target audience is those who already have some training, but I do think it could be used for others if it is presented slowly and in a step by step way. You can download the booklet here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More on Teaching

I visited the Scripture Union bookshop here in Cape Town because I wanted to buy the Youth Alpha manual. And I was reminded of all the things that are available for teaching courses and Bible studies in the church. Suddenly my perspective on my struggles with teaching has changed. In Johannesburg I found that people were becoming bored with all  the material available, but here I find that people are hungry to learn. It is very exciting and I can start to see what I can apply from my 'previous life'. I think I have a better idea of where people are 'at'.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wishing . . .

that I was at the theology and religion conference at UKZN this week.
I should have gone.
There were just too many hurdles.
I wish I had persevered.
*
On the other hand
my daughters are in Cape Town and it is nice not to have just greeted them and left for Pietermaritzburg!
*
There will be other opportunities.
I hope.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The 'Learned' Teacher

The leaders at Wesley Church, when asked what they would like me to do for them, said 'Run a Bible Study'. So we tried. I knew that I was over-committed, but felt that if I didn't start then I would never get moving.
I found it surprisingly difficult. I haven't led a Bible Study for quite a few years, with being at seminary and being shipped around the countryside for training. I found myself quite clueless as to how to structure the material and what to teach. Which is odd, because I used to enjoy Bible Study.
I think that the problem is that my teaching hasn't kept pace with my learning. Long ago (in what feels like another life) I would read up for a sermon or Bible Study and get all excited about the new stuff that I found and then share it with my audience. This worked quite well. But now I find that I have read a lot of stuff. To get excited I need to venture into areas that people in general might find arcane. My trick of just sharing what excited me does not work anymore. And in a sense, I've never really learned to teach. (Somehow preaching is different, although there are similarities!)
My challenge for myself is now to learn to teach, then get excited about it and then share it. Feels like a mountain to climb, but a good mountain and the Holy Spirit is an exciting guide. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Anarchy and Oppression

Over the last couple of days I have been reading a book that has made me think more than any for a while. It is a free e-book called Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It was published back in 2008 so I am a bit behind the times reading it, but now that I have a Kindle I am getting to these things!

Little Brother is written in response to the security crackdowns in Europe and America as a result of terrorist attacks and threats. The author is vehemently against the invasion of privacy and curtailment of individual freedom that has been the result of this increased security. Think of passenger checks before boarding an aeroplane and of where people are now not allowed to take photographs as examples. The book is written so that it fits in a genre with 1984 and Brave New World - in a possible future.

It raises all sorts of questions about freedom and legislation (or law in Biblespeak). The thing with the book is that I found myself reading and agreeing and then being pulled up - do I agree with this or not? When is legislation ok (or even necessary) and when is it a violation of rights?
I believe that Jesus came to end the oppressive power of law and human authority. He was the ultimate rebel - going so far as to die without a struggle (defeating human power systems) and then to rise again (defeating death and laws beyond our knowledge). When we oppress people with law (legislation) we are taking away the freedom that Jesus died for. BUT what is the alternative? As far as I can see the belief in the book is 'I can do as I like as long as it doesn't hurt other people', which is far too facile to be a life philosophy. The hero had no problem falling in love with a girl even though it hurt one of his other friends. And we cannot consider ourselves islands touching only that which we see - and this I admit the book brings out to some extent.

If we are not guided by legislation, or our own good intentions, what determines our best course of action?
As Christians we believe that God has the overall picture and the best intentions for us and so we struggle to find out what he knows and wants for us. But it boils down to whether we believe this about God. Can we win through ultimately? These beliefs are called faith. But I don't think they are unreasonable.
I'll stop here to prevent this post getting too long! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Double Benefit

I have figured out how to combine my two 'toys' very productively. The toys to which I refer are my treadmill and my kindle. There is the most perfect spot for parking my kindle on the display of the treadmill and if I increase the font size I can read it while I am running. So now everyday I am supposed to read one chapter of a 'useful' book while I spend 20 minutes on the treadmill. This is working very well because I find that if I don't feel like exercise I probably very much want to read the next chapter of the book and vice versa!
I have to concede that I have given in to the fact that I am totally unfit and am now starting an exercise programme at the walking level so it is easier to read. (I use the marathon training schedule suggested by Tim Noakes in 'Lore of Running'.)
The book that I am reading at the moment is 'Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Christ Can Change Your Life' by Lois Tverberg. I thoroughly recommend this book - not only for the interesting reflections on Jewish practices and readings from the Rabbi's, but also for the wonderful contemporary applications of Scripture passages. Very practical.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The value of the individual

Supposedly western culture values the individual more highly than other cultures. It is said that individualism is a fault of western culture. I don't agree with the latter and I don't know about the former.

Stories like the two below challenge me to reassert the rights of the individual. How can people be so basically uncaring?

Dr Bongi wrote this about an incident several years ago:

"good evening sisters." no answer, unless silence is an answer. "sorry to bother you but the patient in bed 5 in cubicle d is in a bit of distress."

"we'll check on her now now." i knew what
now now meant in our strange south african english. now now was not as soon as now and implied no urgency. now now was not as now as i wanted it to be.
***
"mamma, i'm here" i whispered as i approached her bed, just in case she was asleep. she lay with her head to one side. she didn't stir. i walked closer and took her hand. it was cold and clammy. i leaned towards her face. even in the darkness i could see her eyes were open, but they were fixed in the stare of death. she had died alone and i had failed her completely.

Please read the whole story here. It's heartbreaking.

And Cheri shares about something that happened just the other day.

They took her back to that hospital several times over the next two weeks, only to be told there was nothing wrong, and were sent home.  By the time her frantic parents finally got someone to pay attention a week ago, the hospital-acquired blood infection had thrown her into multisystem failure.

This is also a heartbreaking story. Read it here.

Friday, June 08, 2012

E Sword

I need to do a structural analysis/ breakdown of the book of Romans for my thesis. First step - get rid of chapter and verse markings. Hooray for e-sword - print format '7' does just that.
(For those who don't know, e-sword is free downloadable Bible software).

Here is the link.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Beat Frequency

At some stage when I was studying things scientific I learnt about beat frequency. This is the frequency obtained my creating a wave pattern by superimposing several other regular wave patterns. At intervals the contributing waves all peak at the same time - or at least achieve a regular combined maximum.
It feels like my life is like that with different cycles of activity all being added up. There is the cycle of circuit meetings, district events, local leaders meetings, the cycle of the week and the cycle of the day. Every few months things to slow down to a manageable pace for a few days. Today is one of those days - I think. I do have to finish my assignment, prepare a financial report, print out notes for tonight and then spend from 4pm to 9pm at one church event or other. But somehow there has been time to think about other things. Mostly surfing the web for Bible Study material - people rave about Disciple - but would it be right for where I am? And then telling myself I promised I would start nothing else new this year!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Just do it

I have set aside today and tomorrow to try to finish my church studies. Talk about a struggle! My experiences with these studies over the last few weeks have been so negative that I am totally demotivated. My attempts at positive thinking and hopeful optimism are weak and pitiful. Yet I know that they must be done. I can't allow myself to work on my PhD research during study time (I can work on my day off!) until they are done. They hang like a cloud over me.
I know that I am not alone - university students are writing exams - why can't study always be fun?

Friday, June 01, 2012

A bit of space

Today is my day off and I am enjoying the space! Partly, I am actually getting over this cold/flu and feel I can enjoy myself!
Plans for today - Finish rereading 'The Truth' by Terry Pratchett. Play Achievement Unlocked 3 the latest crazy online elephant game by 'John' at Armorgames. Last weekend we put down vinyl tiles in the study and I might buy a carpet and a desk today. I might actually even do some work on my PhD. I have done nothing for weeks with the demands of circuit, synod and EMMU. Actually I need to do some work on my Methodist studies as well, but motivation is seriously low for that.
Try not to think of all the things that I could be doing church-wise!
Oh yes, and hopefully a funny DVD and takeaways with the family tonight.
God is here.