Thursday, September 23, 2004

Decisions, decisions

Indecision can be a horrible thing, and I've had a summer full of it. At the end of June, I finished 2 years of bible college, coming out with a quite respectable diploma in theology.
I originally embarked upon the course, partly because I found God had put a passion in my heart to study his word and theology, partly because I was starting to get more involved at Coventry Vineyard, doing bits of teaching, leading small groups etc, and partly because I was sick of software engineering and an opportunity to get out of it via a voluntary redundancy package had come up.
I had a fantastic first year, which was very much a survey of the whole bible, along with modules in pastoral theology, missions, evangelism and lots of other fun stuff. Some of it was new to me, some I already knew, and some parts were downright frustrating, but on the whole I enjoyed it and I was hungry for more.
So, I started the second year. This felt like a real privilege. Su was so supportive. I had a bursary from The Jerusalem trust (from one branch of the Sainbury's family), and combined with a house remortgage, I was able to pay the fees. The work was more in depth, and more interesting. I especially enjoyed Pauline theology and anything by the NT lecturer Dr. Moxon. (some of my fellow students found this stuff mind-bogglingly difficult, but I relished every minute)
All the time I had a growing sense of wanting to be able to teach this stuff, and pastor people, helping them to grow as disciples. Dare I possibly believe that God might be calling me into this role? But I had, (and still have) questions : did I really believe in paid ministry? doesn't this perpetuate a clergy/laity divide? aren't we all 'full-time' for the kingdom? do I really want to deal with the pressure and the problems and the people and the pain? if I was to do this stuff 'for a living', when and where will it be? and what job should I do in the mean-time?
The plan was, to finish the second year, get my diploma, get a proper job, see what develops at Coventry Vineyard and await further instructions. It crossed my mind that it might be nice to finish off the degree, but I quickly wrote this off as a purely selfish notion.
Trouble was, towards the end of the second year, some of my lecturers, and in particular the college principal, Dr. Massey, started to suggest that it might be a good idea for me to do the third year. (well, they would say that, wouldn't they?) Dr. Massey even prayed for me and gave me a 'word' about not leaving foundations unfinished. (I managed to discount this fairly quickly too). I talked to him and Dr. Moxon in depth, voicing my objections. How could I possibly expect Su to support me for another year? How could we afford it? Shouldn't I get a 'real' job and support my wife like a good husband? What about our plans to start a family in the not too distant future?
But it was too late. The seed had been sown. My quandary had begun. All summer I have prayed and thought and weighed up the pros and cons: I might never get this opportunity again, but what's it leading to? it's what God has given me a passion to do, but am I not being selfish? How can I put Su through the pressure of exams and essays again (when, believe me I'm not a nice person to be around), what on earth would su's dad say? what is God saying? SHOULDN'T I JUST GET A PROPER JOB? and on and on it went.
I applied for jobs that sounded interesting, where I would be expressing my pastoral heart and hopefully doing some good - the probation service, the Cyrenians (a homelessness organisation in Coventry), the refugee centre, but nothing came back. I didn't even qualify for dole!
I feel I have had a taste of what it must be like to be unemployed. I have felt depressed and useless. The indecision has been killing me. I was waiting for a clear 'Go for it!' or 'Don't do it!' from God, and nothing seemed to be clear.
Most people I talked to, reflected back to me that they thought it was in my heart to go back. It seemed the main objections were financial, and wanting to know that Su was happy with it.
To cut a long story short, I have decided to go back and finish off the degree. I don't know where the money's going to come from, but we're looking at it as an adventure in trusting God, we need to learn how to live on less money anyway. Having made the decision, I feel at peace, and I'm really excited about going back. Su has been amazing. As I tell her often, she is the best wife in the world, ever!

Lord, I thank you for helping me through this tricky time. I thank you for my wife and the way she supports me and puts up with me. I pray you'd help me to make the most of this year and that you'd reveal more of yourself to me. Make me wise,keep me humble, help me to pass on what I learn and guide me into the vocation you have for me, your grateful servant. Amen.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Time for a change

Had to pick a new template, 'cos it seems blogger have changed the way they store the archive files. Not entirely satisfied with it but it will give me a chance to try and get my head round css. I'm sure after playing about with it a bit it will look ok.

Oh dear, it seems to have lost my old comments. Anyone know how you can edit the archive template?

Thursday, September 16, 2004


This year we spent our summer holiday in France, camping. For the last 5 years or so we have been down to Cornwall or Devon, which is probably my favourite part of the country. I love the rugged coastline, the waves crashing on the rocks, the surfing and the pasties + cream teas. However, it must be admitted, that the weather is somewhat changeable to say the least. So, in the hope of some sunshine, and for a bit of a change, we decided to head over to France.
After taking the ferry over to Calais, we took a 10 hour drive down to Royan, on the West Coast. The campsite we stayed at was really cool. We had a huge pitch, amongst the trees, and although it was definitely a family site, it wasn't too noisy.

It took me a while to wind down, and for the first few days I was in a totally foul mood (sorry su), but after a few cycle rides, some barbeques, some beach days and plenty of good French wine I was a bit more chilled. I loved the French attitude to food. Every meal is an occasion. At first it annoyed me that it was impossible even to get a simple lunch in under 2 hours, but when I got used to it, it was really nice to take time out and chat or just watch the world go by. In France, (at least where we were), everyone stops for lunch for at least 2 hours, even the lifeguards on the beach announced that they were off for lunch at 12, so could everyone be careful in the sea until 2.30! Once Su and I were cycling through a forest, in the middle of nowwhere, and we saw several couple and families sat eating lunch at the side of the path. They were sat up to tables with table cloths, full crockery and of course the obligatory bottle of wine.
I enjoyed cycling out in the mornings to get bread, croissants or pain chocolat with fresh orange juice for breakfast. Definitely a good way to start the day.

Cycling was fun. They're definitely more set up for it over there. Lots more cycle lanes, and the drivers are definitely more curteous towards cyclists than in England. To overtake they would often indicate and move out to the opposite lane. Several times when we were waiting at the side of the road, drivers slowed to a standstill to allow us to cross.

The other thing we did a lot of was wandering around old churches. From vast gothic cathedrals at Chartres and Orleans, to little 11th century Romanesque village churches and even one monolithic church entirely carved out of a rock by monks at a medieval town called St. Emilion. Fascinating stuff (well I thought so).

The surf wasn't up to much, so I'm still craving some waves, but other than that it was a great week. Lots of time to think and chat through the decision about college next year. Didn't actually decide until we got back, but that's for another blog.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Long Time No Blog

Well it's been about a month since I last blogged. Never been the most consistent of journal writers. I guess I haven't had much to say. I read quite a few blogs these days, and I'm constantly amazed at some people's ability to write thoughtful and interesting pieces on a regular basis. Of course there is a fair amount of people just linking to cool stuff that other people have linked to as well. Then there's the really open and honest personal reflections that some people write. I guess I've never really decided what I would like my blog to be centred on or why I write it.
I think it's mainly for my own benefit. As I don't really keep any other kind of diary, (I would like to, but have never been self disciplined enough), at the very least this blog is a very loose record of some of the stuff that's been going on in my life. I would like it to be an expression of some of the stuff I've been into, a mixture of the trivial and the profound. I don't really mind if anyone else reads it or not. Of course, it's always nice when a comment pops up and a bit of interaction takes place, but I don't want to fall into the trap of keeping a 'hit-count' or keeping a close eye on who's reading the blog.
I received some rather bizarre e-mails recently, which if I was being unkind seemed rather spam-like. They kind of said 'hey, really loved your blog. thanks for sharing your resources with the public. I've linked to you, would you like to to link back to me?'. Just seemed weird to me. Is this the way it works?
Anyway, here are some things I intend to blog about from the last month, if I get round to it - holiday in France, no longer sitting on the fence, diy and self-esteem, and a wet weekend in the lakes.