Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Google Wave

Sorry to those who follow my blog and are relatively normal... this is another geek post!

So I've discovered Google Wave and managed to get myself an invite (just like when Gmail started, this is still invite only). To sum it up really simply, this is a combination of E-mail, IM, Wiki and social networking. Basically you start a conversation (a wave) with other people and the content of that conversation changes - every member of the conversation can edit every part of that conversation!

It's pretty exciting, useful for communication and collaboration (provided, of course, that it takes off).

The thing is, I have 18 invites remaining and it's a bit boring (and pointless) if I have no one to talk to, so I'm looking to get some of my friends on board - especially people who are likely to use it to communicate a lot. If you want an invite, just let me know!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Body Confidence

OK, so it's probably not cool to admit that I watch "How To Look Good Naked" (or that I actually enjoy it), but we'll ignore that point for a couple of minutes.

I want to promote the Body Confidence petition that they're currently running. They want the government to agree to putting Body Confidence on the national curriculum for girls AND BOYS!

Boys are equally affected by low body confidence as girls. For boys, they're "supposed" to be slim and toned, even muscular. For girls, they're "supposed" to be slim and curvaceous. The media puts these false images of perfection in front of us and makes us believe that we're not good enough! It's not on! Let's teach our children that they ARE beautiful!

All that's fine, but here's my main reason for posting this. A woman's body confidence affects us men too! When you watch this program you hear about men who have not seen their wives naked for years, some have NEVER seen their wives naked!! If we could make it so our wives had more body confidence now thanks to something in school before we even met them, wouldn't we?

This nations children need your help! They are surrounded by voices telling them they are not good enough and what's more they pass that message onto their friends without realising. Man, woman or child, please add your name to the petition: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/bodyconfidence/

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Aggregating Vodcasts on KDE4

OK, so this is a really geeky post, so if you're not in the slightest interested stop reading now...

So I'm quite into the concept of vodcasting (Video-Podcast). Getting new episodes of a "programme" as and when they are released and automatically downloading them. For a while a year or more back I was using a program called Miro which was fantastic, but sucked the life out of my computer...

More recently I was using a combination of hpodder and reencode to download and encode the vodcasts for my GP2X and then watching them on the train to work. When I stopped taking the train, I stopped keeping up-to-date with the "channels" I was following.

I finally have my dream set-up in my office: 1 computer, 1 laptop, 1 keyboard, 1 mouse and 2 screens - all thanks to a KVM... woop!

Anyway, my computer has Kubuntu 9.04 (64bit) and KDE4 on it. Love it! Had a few teething problems with the network managers, but eventually found WICD (pronounced "wicked") which works perfectly! Also had some dodgy graphics and some issues with the dual screen, but that is all sorted now.

Anyway, thought I'd get a vodcast aggregator now that I have my own computer again (Lucy also has a computer in the back room, so at the moment there are 3 computers on... ooops). The question is, what should I go for?

I thought about Miro, but when I went to install it, saw a whole load of gnome packages, which I wasn't really into. So I had a look around and found a KDE compatible equivalent... Kitty. To be honest, Kitty looks like it hasn't been developed for a couple of years. With just a few tweaks it could be really nice, but it was just too naff for me. It doesn't automatically download new episiodes and it doesn't tell you what you've watched.

I did think about just using my hpodder/reencode combination, but this would have the same drawback (although I could cron it to run regularly, there would be no way of seeing what I had watched).

So it's Miro after all. I like the way it has a great guide full of other shows. I like the fact that it automatically downloads new episodes. I love the fact that once you've watched it it gives you 7 days and then deletes the old videos unless you select to keep them. It's brilliantly thought out and I love it! Such a shame it's Gnome, but nevermind.

So, in summary, Miro is much better than Kitty.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Sword Drill: Proverbs 12-14

Hi folks. You'll be pleased to hear that the drills have been continuing, to some degree of success or other. Also, in other related news, I've also started reading the passages by myself, without the need to rely on the man reading it to me!

Passage is: Proverbs 12-14
SAYsoaps Day 245


There's far too much wisdom in these passages to go through every point saying "yes, that's true... and that one's true... that one applies to me... etc". I noticed several similar comments on the SAYsoaps site. So instead, I'm just going to pick out a few that speak to me particularly at this moment.

One thing I will say, that another soaper commented, a lot of the sayings in these passages relate to the way of the righteous man and his reward (for man read person) and also the wise way to respond to discipline and correction (and also, therefore, to some degree criticism).

12:1 - "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." (All quotes NIV unless otherwise stated)

12:10 - "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel."

12:15 - "The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice."

12:16 - "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult."

12:28 - "In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality."

13:3 - "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."

13:18 - "He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honoured."

13:24 - "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Note the phrasing "careful to discipline him", this isn't about beating your kids, this is about disciplining them - it's slightly different!)

14:11 - "The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish."

14:27 - "The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death."

14:32 - "When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge."

A lot more quotes than I wanted to include, but just a sample of the wisdom contained in the Bible - oh that I would read it more and learn more from it!!


I think there's three important things to take from todays passage:
  1. Be disciplined, enjoy discipline
  2. Live a righteous life
  3. Remember that the Bible is filled with wisdom and therefore use it!

Father God, help me to seek your wisdom. Help me to seek to live your way not to walk the way that seems right, but the way that is right. As I walk along your way, create in me righteousness, that I might have all the the wise and righteous man can have and not be counted amongst the foolish and the wicked. Draw me ever in towards your word, that I would learn wisdom from it and discipline. In Jesus' name I ask all these things. AMEN!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sword Drill: 1 Timothy

Incredibly, for the first time in a very very long time, I have just read (or been read) a whole book! Admittedly 1 Timothy isn't long, a mere 6 chapters, but I really would have struggled to read it. However, whilst I listened to the lovely man read it I actually spent most of the time reading along, even pausing him sometimes to read back over passages. I think this really works for me!

Passage is: 1 Timothy 1-6
SAYsoaps Day 238


As with a lot of Paul's letters to individuals, we have almost a complete set of instructions on starting (or in modern parlance "planting") a church (read a local group of believers) and them guiding through an initial period of growth - this was, of course, Paul's speciality.

Two important concepts come up right at the beginning and repeat throughout the letter: true teaching and love. "stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work— which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1:3-5, all quotes NIV unless otherwise stated) Again, "I give you this instruction... so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience" (1:18-19)

Instruction on worship is always good, so "first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone" (2:1) and Paul really does mean everyone (the kings and rulers of most people he was talking to were the Romans, including Emporer Nero). Why? "Christ Jesus... gave himself as a ransom for all men" (2:5-6, emphasis added) Paul gives another useful lesson in personal devotion and public worship later: "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching." (4:13)

I'm really struggling with the passages about women in 2:11-15. It just doesn't seem to fit with anything else I've ever seen or heard... I'll have to look into this more and then perhaps I'll get back to you.

Next Paul goes on to instruct Timothy in how to choose leaders. As I understand it, Overseers are people who oversee Deacons and Deacons lead a group of believers. So we're talking Bishops and Priests or DCs and COs... I think... To be honest, Paul doesn't expect much more from one than the other. Importantly, what he's asking should be possible of all leaders and indeed all believers: "be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well" (3:2-4)

On the subject of leaders, Paul also says something useful later on - this time not about selecting them, but about how Timothy should deal with them: "Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning." (5:19-20) If the elders are to be above reproach and respectable, a single accusation will likely be an attempt to damage their name, but more than 1 should be investigated. When it comes to rebuking elders publicly, the Church (and I'm thinking particularly about The Salvation Army) has been particularly bad at this, preferring to brush it under the carpet lest the reputation be ruined. Perhaps it's time to deal with it?

Chapter 5 is jam packed with instructions about all sorts of things and Pauls instructions about widows fascinate me. I think, in summary, he's saying: "concentrate on helping those that no one else can/will help". Importantly, Paul says to Timothy "keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism" (5:21) Treat everyone the same, all the elders, treat them the same, all the widows, treat them the same - but the same goes for people he hasn't mentioned, be impartial. Add to that the key aspects of true teaching and love and we have a fair and structured and well taught group of believers.

Chapter 6, again, is almost just a collection of sentences of wisdom, each relating to something different: not least the concepts of good and faithful service (whatever our circumstances) and the important matter of money (don't love it, and if you have it don't rely on it).

Finally, in closing, some good advice to us all "guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith" (6:20-21)


Here's the key stuff I'm taking from this:
  • Love
  • Keep focused on good teaching
  • Be a source of good teaching
  • Worship
  • Be focused on the word
  • Be impartial
  • Don't love money
  • Be above reproach
  • "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (4:12)
  • Fight the good fight

Father God, thank you for the wisdom and teaching contained in the scriptures. Help me to be a wise and faithful servant, loving all and showing impartiality towards all your people. Keep me ever focused on your word, listening to sound teaching and avoiding false gospel. Help me to be an example, help me to be above reproach. Help me not to be a lover of money, or to depend on it too much. I ask all these things in and through the name of Jesus. AMEN!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sword Drill: Proverbs 4-7

The first of my Sword Drill blogs! hoorah! I've actually restarted some decent Bible study!

Passage is: Proverbs 4-7
SAYsoaps Day 237


I have to say, it's really fascinating how Solomon tries to drum it home to the reader/listener. You can imagine an older man saying "listen to what I say, avoid other peoples mistakes, live a life of wisdom". Wisdom, according to Solomon, springs from the father - if this logic was followed we'd be extremely wise by now, but unfortunately children sometimes need to or want to make their own mistakes, or perhaps this is a human flaw. Still, we can learn much from someone older and wiser than ourselves and this book is no different.

We learn a little about what it is to be wise and where wisdom comes from:
"Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding" (4:4-7, all quotes NIV unless stated)
Question: should we pursue wisdom at all costs, or are there objects of higher value? (c.f. Matt 13:44-46)

An important nugget is dropped early on:
"Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way" (4:13-15)

Wisdom, knowledge, teaching and experience - they're all useful! I feel that this sentiment is echoed in Pauls later teaching, avoid sin, "run away from the evil desires of youth. Try hard to live right and to have faith, love, and peace, together with those who trust in the Lord from pure hearts" (2 Timothy 2:22, NCV) No doubt Paul was aware of Solomon's teaching on wisdom as he wrote this passage.

Again Solomon makes his point with "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (4:23) Here is wisdom indeed, as true today as it was in Solomon's day. We have so many things pulling us this way and that, we must be careful to guard our hearts and the best way to do that is by living a life of righteousness (which can be made easier with a little wisdom).

Solomon uses a very specific example to explain what happens if we do not guard our heart, if we do not live lives of wisdom and righteousness. He spends most of the next 3 chapters (5-7) talking about adultery and prostitution, but I think he is also using the "adulteress" as a symbol of the ungodly. Heed his warning: "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?" (6:27-28) Jesus, when he talks about adultery, puts it this way "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matt 5:27-29)

One thing, though. If you do stray, if you do something unwise or unrighteous, there is forgiveness, there is a second chance - but it may come at a cost!


I think there are two things that ought to be applied from this passage:

Firstly, "listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart" (4:20b-21)
What a great place to start with my first decent reading for ages... read it and keep it with you. Take it in and make it a part of you. I always like the phrase "hide them in your heart" although I can't remember where in the bible (or what translation) that comes from.

Secondly, beware distractions - particularly but not exclusively the sexual kind. Or as Solomon puts it: "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil" (4:25-27) Make life easy on yourself, avoid the questionable! A help in this respect? "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105)


Father God, may I keep my mind fixed on you your word in my heart. May I live a life which pleases you and honours you. Lead me away from temptation and keep me on your path of righteousness. In Jesus' name I ask these things. Amen

Sword drills and SAYsoaps

So a couple of days ago I said how I was going to engage in training and spiritual exercise, in an attempt to build myself up and prepare myself for what's ahead.

To be honest the knee drills have been easier. Although I've only actually been on my knees once, I have been making an effort to spend some time praying every morning to varying levels of success - in the words of most of my teachers: "Could do better!"

However I've really struggled with the Sword Drills. I know it's vitally important that I don't just dip into the bible but actually bite huge chunks out of it - that's why I picked the SAYsoaps stuff. It's online and I can look at it whenever, plus it has other peoples observations, applications and prayers attached. However I've been struggling a little because the passages are so long!

So today my brain actually kicked into gear and I had a think. It became quite obvious eventually - SAYsoaps includes a link to BibleGateway, BibleGateway includes a "listen to this passage" feature et voila, listen to the passage whilst I do other stuff! Yay! I tried it today and got through Proverbs 4-7 quite painlessly (I'll be blogging about this shortly). So pretty good really!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Tech meets holiness!

I love it when I can combine my two loves, technology and Christianity! As I've said lots of times before, I'm trying to get myself trained up as a warrior. Recently, however, I've been a bit lax. I've let myself go!!

So here was my plan over a year ago now: morning and evening knee and sword drills - a good combination of exercise and discipline. The situation now? Unfortunately I haven't continued any one of those four exercises... oh dear!

It strikes me that perhaps God has postponed our engagement in the battlefront in Looe until we are properly focused on Him (especially me). I'm now working from "home" for the same company, and the joy of this situation is that they told me that as long as I was available 10-4, I could pretty much work whenever I wanted. The last few days I've been waking up at 9:30 and still having to rush to work... what's that about?

So, anyway, it's time to recommit myself and get a little bit more disciplined!! As part of that, I've been really impressed with SAYsoaps - it's an interactive daily reading guide provided by the Youth Department of The Salvation Army USA Western Territory (SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application & Prayer). I wanted a way to view it on my phone and use it in the morning, so I played around with the site a little bit and I've managed to develop an RSS feed of yesterdays, todays and tomorrows readings.

The feed (built using Yahoo! Pipes) can be seen at http://pipes.yahoo.com/dave_lumm/saysoap and the RSS feed is there (or here).

In order to build the feed, I had to start with the yearly outline and build from there. It takes the list of daily readings and uses those for the item titles, the link points to the specific record on the SAYsoaps site and the "description" (or body) of each item is captured from the BibleGateway.com mobile website.

This means I can read on my phone and then comment on the site if I so wish. Good eh? I really love playing around with Yahoo! Pipes, they're brilliant!

OK, finally, what's the plan for my spiritual exercise and training?
Morning Sword Drill - SAYsoaps - Something big to wrestle with to get me going for the day (hopefully you can expect to see some output from these morning sessions on here)
Morning Knee Drill - Literally get down on my knees and thank God for another day, pray for people, situations and places, pray through issues of the day

Spiritual food/snacks (important to match exercise with a healthy diet ;-) ) - A few daily readings to provide extra bits of spiritual nourishment

Evening Sword Drill - Specific study of passages as led
Evening Knee Drill - Praise God for the day, pray through issues of the day

At least once a week Lucy and I will also spend some time studying, praying and worshipping together, something that we haven't done regularly for a little too long!

Cheerio for now!


Monday, 10 August 2009

Let your little light shine...

So me and a friend of mine have thought about starting a company to install multimedia equipment in homes, churches, workplaces etc (Shameless plug time: CJ Technologies) and to get a feel for the work and to build reputation we approached my Church to do their upgrade.

The work was planned to go over two weekends, little did we realise the sheer scale of the project. The job entailed new speakers, a sound/multimedia desk at the back of the hall, a new projector, mounting the projectors from the (extremely high) ceiling, a front facing screen at the back for the leader.

We had some major issues with the wiring - this being mostly that I have a fear of heights and Chris can't use the ladders at the moment and I had to try and secure the cabling at a height beyond what the ladder could reach, so had to do lots of leaning and stretching... I was not comfortable and it severely slowed down the process!!

Anyway, there we were working through the night between Saturday and Sunday, to make sure it was all working for Sunday (which it did perfectly, with the exception of the projected images being tiny... doh!) and a couple of thoughts came to me.

Firstly was commitment. We were totally committed to the job and did what needed to be done, we kept going till it was finished. So there's your first lesson in the Christian life: make a commitment and stick to it until the task is complete, no matter what the cost is.

Second lesson comes from the fact that I was wearing a white t-shirt whilst doing very dusty dirty work. It was gross by the evening. I was walking up a ladder past a hanging globe light and a thought struck me - it wasn't the obvious about how the light showed up the dirt, I knew how drty I was, I could feel it in the material and could smell it... The thing that struck me was that despite how dirty the light was (and it was far dustier than I was) it was still bright enough to make my dirty white t-shirt look a bit whiter.

It made me realise that however useless I am (even when I predict that a 24 hour job will only take 6) my little light can still shine and can still make a difference - it still works better when it's clean, though!!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson

I'm not the first to blog, tweet or comment on this and I'm certain I won't be the last.

I was shocked to find out this morning. Just after I started the van up and was setting off to work the radio came on with the news: Michael Jackson has died.

He was a leader in the music industry and really helped to shake things up. He was an eccentric character (aren't all the best geniuses eccentric?) and was greatly troubled. Those close to him should never have allowed him to get into the situation with those children, however innocent he may have been - this was his ruin. His fortune, his possessions, his lifestyle and his vibrant character were robbed from him.

I pray that God will be with his family and his children at this time. I hope the fans are courteous and gracious, even those that paid a lot of money for O2 tickets (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8120412.stm for more info).

The king is dead! Long live the king? To be honest, I don't know who could take on that crown next, is there anyone big enough?

Thanks to the British way of dealing with such things, expect a lot of jokes to come out in the next few days.

All I can say is "Thank you for the music" and I hope he was saved so we can boogie down in heaven!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Practical Holiness

I've re-started following Captain Andrew Bale's blog after a time of neglect - in fact, I've neglected to follow any blogs for sometime until discovering the incredible usefulness of Google Reader!

Anyway, fitting in perfectly with what I've been thinking recently came this post on his blog http://beyondthebrook.blogspot.com/2009/06/one-way.html. It includes his manifesto for practical holiness (my description, not his):

I believe that the following lifestyle manifesto is a gift from God, it is not an attempt to earn God's blessing but is a response to blessings already received, it is not an attempt to win 'salvation by works' it is a commitment to see God's words reflected in my actions. This manifesto is an extension of my Articles of War, and is from now on a sacred part of my Salvationist covenant. I would encourage others to sign up.

  • As long as people are hungry I will only eat the minimum required to remain healthy.
  • As long as people go thirsty I will only drink water.
  • I will not waste or mince my words while there are people who remain deaf to God's word.
  • I will not abuse my freedom in Christ but will use it to release those who are bound by sin and addiction.
  • In a world of increasing leisure and dubious entertainment I surrender all my spare time to God to reach the distracted.
  • In a world of increasing materialism and consumerism I will embrace poverty (as much as I practically can) and surrender my money to God to reach the dissatisfied and sell all personal possessions which are not essential to my mission.
  • In a fragmented world of broken relationships, where individuals are increasingly marginalised, I will not forget my own family in my enthusiastic efforts to welcome the excluded.
  • I will remember that rest is a command and obey it even though to do so is against the grain.
  • In an environment damaged through the apathy of greedy industry and lazy humanity I will use the minimum of both natural resources and energy. Practically, I will wash only with cold water, walk (where possible instead of drive) and where I can travel by public transport.
  • In a world of political, economic and social oppression I will fight for social justice, champion the cause of the forgotten and bring those out of sight into mind. I will make myself aware of, and join in, campaigns for social justice, I will use any purchasing power that comes my way to shop ethically.
  • In a world of political correctness and Christian hypocrisy I will hate and oppose the sin but adamantly refuse to hate the sinner - I will love the unloved as Christ loves me.
  • I am a resource in God's hands made freely available for him to spend as he wishes. I give myself totally and without any reservation to God and the Salvation War.
  • I am dead long live Jesus
Definitely inspiring stuff, I think I'll have to spend some time getting to grips with how this would affect my life and what steps I need to take to make my life more in-line with what I profess. I guess I may spend some time addressing these points one by one over the next few weeks.

Friday, 5 June 2009

The problem with consistency

Followers of my gorgeous wife's blog will know that we're trying to live an organic and ethical life - she sums it up perfectly as SOLES (Seasonal, Organic, Local, Ethical and Sustainable). As Christians we believe we should do no less (it's part of our holiness), and would encourage the rest of you to give it a try.

There's only one problem with making a statement like this, only one problem with making this stand: consistency. Now that we have made this decision we cannot go back on it and we really shouldn't compromise.

At the moment we're going through a bit of a financial crisis. Ho hum, it happens. We're trying to work it all out. In the meantime, we're buying more expensive stuff, because of our rules. Normally in this situation, I would have downgraded as much as possible to ASDA Smartprice, not this time (and never again). So what do we do?

We're trying to eat less, waste less and make more of what we have. We're trying to buy the minimum we can. It's tough, but people used to live like this all the time. For instance, the other week we had quite a lot of our vegetable box left over, so I made stew out of it and froze them. Minimal waste. Perfect!

Look out for tips on saving and making your ethical produce go as far as possible on Lucy's blog.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Say goodbye to "Pick Your Own"...

The idiots of this land have done it again. Taken away something beautiful just because they can't look where they're walking.
There won't be as many Pick Your Own places any more, because the Health and Safety inspectors are saying they're too dangerous and demanding a lot of expensive "improvements", on top of that Insurance companies are pushing up their premiums. Why? Because some stupid woman is suing some Pick Your Own farm because she fell over.
Did she not know she was on a farm? Did she not look where she was going? Did she not enjoy the opportunity to have strawberries so fresh because you have just taken them from the plant?
People don't seem to understand the damage they do by suing someone else, they just think about themselves and how they can make some money out of an accident. Well because of this one woman, a British summer-time institution is slipping away.
See this BBC article for more information: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cornwall/8082238.stm
Goodbye "Pick Your Own" and thanks for all the fruit!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Salt and Light - A Lesson in Holiness

This is a transcription of a message I presented at my Church, Sunday the 3rd May. It is based on Jesus' preaching on Salt and Light (Matthew 5:13-16).



Ever been cooking and had to frantically search through your cupboards to find an ingredient or suitable substitute? It happens all the time to me, I'll start making something and then realise I don't have all the ingredients. It's very frustrating and it doesn't get better when you find out that your chosen substitute just doesn't stand up to the job.

In order to be effective as Salt of the Earth or Light of the World, we must first of all be the genuine article. How do we know whether we are or not?

Salvation Comes First!

Let's just recap this, although I'm sure you all know this bit already, I think it's important that we're all starting from the same place.

I'd like to introduce you to something called the 4 points, it's a great summary of the gospel of salvation. [Find out more at the4points.com]
  1. God Loves You - This love is summed perfectly in one verse of the bible: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16)
  2. I have sinned - The bible says "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) Sin is the part of our nature which makes us continually fall short of God's ideal for us, sin leads to wrong actions, wrong thoughts, wrong words. The bible says "The wages of Sin is death" (Romans 6:23)
  3. Jesus died for me - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, so that whoever believes in Him shall be saved" (John 3:16)
  4. I need to decide - Do you want to accept the gift of life, life to the full, life eternal? Romans 10v9-10 says "...if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Now what?

There are ways to help salt keep it's saltiness and to prevent a light being hidden. They all involve a third party, an outside entity distinct from the salt or source of light.

In the case of spiritual salt and light this third party or external agent, however you would prefer to think of it, is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit comes after Salvation. It is not the blessing of a few, but the right of the many. If you are a Christian, you can have the Holy Spirit to help and empower you.

Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit and described it as the New Baptism. After His death and resurrection, Jesus says to them: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5) When Paul met some believers who had only received the water baptism, he was quite troubled that they should be missing out like that (Acts 19:1-7).

The Holiness movement of the Methodist church (out of which The Salvation Army was born) knew this baptism of the Holy Spirit and knew it well. The Salvation Army called this baptism, and the resulting holiness, "Full Salvation" - not that the initial Salvation wasn't enough, rather that this is the full extent of what we were promised.

Being fully effective and protected from losing our saltiness or our light requires Holiness.

What Holiness is not

Holiness is not pious perfection. Holiness is not following rules. Holiness isn't your Sunday School teacher telling you off for eating a sweet in Church! Holiness is the infilling and completion of your holy nature (as verses your human or sinful natures).

Holiness in some ways is quite simple, but the moment you start to delve into it you can start to get overwhelmed. There's too much to explore in a single sermon, even a 2 hour one like this... seriously, though, I encourage you to read into this subject a little bit and to discuss it with people.


Let's look at some aspects of holiness. The first is "Wholeness". Holiness takes us from "Holey-ness" to "Wholeness". Cheesy, I know, but it'll help you to remember! When we come to Christ we become a "new creation". Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Our 'God shaped hole' that people are keen to talk about, becomes filled.

The Holy Spirit fills us, if we allow it, and this allows us to push aside our sinful nature and all the worst parts of our human nature.

Another way of understanding wholeness is "purity" - hopefully that's something that you'll all understand. Purity is more than cleanliness, rather it's completeness - nothing added or taken away. For instance if you add anything to gold or silver it becomes impure, if you take anything away from an alloy it becomes impure or incomplete.

Have you all seen that advert for Smirnoff? Because Smirnoff is apparently so pure, when a bottle is dropped in the sea, all of the rubbish in the sea is thrown out. The purity of the Smirnoff rejects all impurity around it.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is like that. Such a degree of holiness and purity within us casts away all impurity.

Salt will lose it's saltiness if it is impure. A candle won't burn as bright if it is impure.


What does righteousness mean? The easiest way to look at it is "right-ness", or being right with God and in accordance to His law and will. Literally, Righteousness means: "adhering to
moral principles".

Rightness with God means coming before Him with a clean slate and balanced accounts. This is not something we can do on our own!

This starts with Jesus, when we become saved and is continued through the wholeness of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness isn't the path to Holiness, but is definitely a result of it!

When Jesus came, we believe He fulfilled the Old Law to which we were slaves. Immediately after the parable of Salt and Light, Jesus says "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." (Matthew 5:17) Paul says that the law still has the power to convict us of our sin and convince us of our need for a Saviour, but not to hold us prisoner. Having fulfilled the Old Law, Jesus then reinterprets the law for us (see the rest of the Sermon on the Mount for examples) He also makes particular mention of two laws: 'Love the Lord your God' and 'Love your neighbour as yourself'.

If you can keep those laws, you will maintain your spotless record or perfectly balanced account (however you prefer to look at it) without the need to come back to the Cross for forgiveness.

Don't believe that you can stay pure? Do you remember the promise made by the Junior Soldiers a few weeks ago? This perfectly encompasses the whole gospel of Salvation and Full Salvation. They promised to "live a life clean in thought, word and deed" made possibly by His help now that they had asked for forgiveness. That is righteousness!

The promise of Holiness is that we never need to fall captive to sins again!


OK, so I'll be honest, I am being a bit naughty defining a word in terms of itself, but you could look at the other two qualities as being the result of holiness.

The Holiness that we might call Full Salvation is characterised by holiness, the concept of something being holy. This is the concept that most people are confused by! What does holy really mean? As well as being whole and pure, something that is holy is set apart.

God is the most holy, and He is the most set apart, different from all of creation. There truly is none like Him! God is, in fact, so holy that His holiness is dangerous! High Priests had to enter the holy of holies with a rope tied around them, in case they died whilst meeting with God. When Moses wanted to see God he was told "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."(Exodus 33:20)

Holiness means that we will be set apart for a purpose, set apart for God. If I use the word sanctification, that may make the distinction a little easier for some of you.

Items in the Temple were sanctified, that is set apart (or consecrated) and made clean for the use in Worship to God. The gift of Holiness means that we too become sanctified, fit to be used in His service and for His worship!

If the temple is no longer the dwelling place of God and we have become the Temple, then surely we should also be made holy?

Being sanctified means we have a purpose, we have a task to which we are appointed. Our purpose is God's worship and service! Our purpose is to live out our holiness and invite other people into it's liberating power.


This power, this purpose, this Holiness and all that come with it are going to affect things around us. Just like Salt and Light have an impact on the things around us. In this illustration Jesus is not only saying "don't stop being affective, don't hide your light," He's also saying you need to be salt and light in the first place! You need to have an impact in the world, you need to be pure, you need to be set aside for a specific purpose.

This Church is growing in many ways, more Holiness amongst us would push us on to be even more like Jesus and have even more impact in this community.

As always, the option is entirely yours. You have the mercy seat and the Holiness table here. Back in the day, people would come and stand at the Holiness table to ask for the gift of Holiness. If you don't want to come forward, or you can't, stand where you are. I you don't want to do that, or can't, call someone over to pray with you. Or pray on your own. Pray silently if you want, or loud. [You can do this at home, or anywhere else too]

If God moves you now and says "this is what I want for you", don't shy away from it. Yes, it can be a scary concept sometimes, and yes it might mean you have to give up things you think are good now, but sharing the heart of God - having His desires and His passions - surely can't be a bad thing?

In the Old Testament God said "Be holy, for I am Holy". In the New Testament Jesus says "Be salt, but don't lose your saltiness. Be light, but don't ever be hidden". Shine your light, change the flavour of this world!

Robot to create Facebook profile

From the BBC:
Facebook could soon be helping bridge the divide between humans and robots.
Researchers are giving a robot its own Facebook profile page to help foster meaningful relationships with people.
Researchers are constantly trying to get normal humans to interact with robots, it's the best way for them to learn. This might be an interesting turning point in the interactivity of robots.

Cool stuff!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Microsoft Announces End of the Road for Encarta - ReadWriteWeb

It's the end of an era! Microsoft have made the inevitable decision to stop making and selling Encarta!

Those of us old enough to remember the oddity of owning a computer without access to the internet will remember how important and useful Encarta actually was.

Sadly, Wikipedia and Google together provide a free and relatively easy method of finding anything you want. Encarta was well put together and in many ways far superior to Wikipedia, you were far more assured of it's accuracy. Wikipedia is of course a growing and developing site, with many of the articles written by experts in the particular field, but it's also open to abuse... beware you students who submit Wikipedia articles as coursework...

If you have access to an Encarta CD, look after it - it's an important part of IT history!

Microsoft Announces End of the Road for Encarta - ReadWriteWeb

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

ASDA Razor

I'm not a fan of shaving. I'm lazy and I can't stand the faff. You shave; it takes ages, hurts, makes you bleed and you still end up with a face covered in hair. Joy!

I've heard some good things about the King of Shaves Azor, so was holding out to buy one of those. Unfortunately we shop as ASDA, one of the few places that don't sell it (yet, presumably). So I was forced to rethink, and quick, because I'd already thrown my last razor away...

As well as shaving, I'm also not a fan of spending money. There was just no way I was going to pay Gilette money and end up with the same result... Frankly the Sainsbury's own disposables had been doing almost as good a job! So I thought I'd try out the ASDA Triple Blade Razor. I was impressed!

Honestly! I know this sounds a little "out-there", but it's a surprisingly good razor. It's a good weight, it picks up the hairs well, it's smooth, it's close (but doesn't slash my skin to pieces). It even manages to cope with my patch of multi-directional hairs which even caught out my old Mach3! I'm still going to try the Azor when this runs out, but this one's pretty good.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Moral Code for Military Robots?

Just read an interesting article on Times Online about some research being undertaken by the US Navy regarding AI in field robots. Interesting stuff, although it's all been talked about for quite a while now.

Two key questions come up:
1. How do you stop the robots from going all Skynet on you?
2. Who's responsible when the robots go wrong?

You can see the article here: http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5741334.ece

Friday, 13 February 2009

AI to help you get to work

I'm catching up on some of my e-mails, I have something like 30 e-mails from Google News alerts relating to Artificial Intelligence. Even though I've sort of left that behind, I like to keep myself up-to-date. Anyway, more point is, I may make a few posts on my findings from those e-mails...

This one relates to the use of AI (fuzzy-logic) to aid a GPS navigation system. It's called CADRE and you can see more here (Science Daily).

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Everything is now a computer...

I loved this article on Wired.Com

It's about a computer system that uses your phone, a camera and a small projector to make everything more interactive.

It's cool, but on the other hand it means there's even less chance of breaking free from your phone.

All those poor people who can't break free of their Blackberrys will never be able to escape!!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Yahoo Pipes

I've recently created myself a new "homepage". A single page combining my presence on the internet into one bitesize chunk. This means that anyone can come and see what I'm up to! This is, of course, a public site, so I don't want to give too much away (or say anything that my employer or future employer may find offensive, disturbing or generally off-putting).

I'm getting my current Facebook profile picture and status using a Facebook "badge", my 4 most recent blog posts using feed2js, my pictures using Yahoo Pipes (and Picasa Web albums) and finally a list of top links again using Yahoo Pipes (and Google Documents).

I can't believe Yahoo Pipes! It's so incredible! For instance, the list of links is actually a spreadsheet on Google Documents with 3 colums (Name, Link and Description). It's then published as a CSV which my Pipe then takes and reencodes as an XML compatible feed. What's even better is that you can then stick that on your page as a "badge" like the two I have on mine. Brilliant!

As an aside, I've also updated my profile on here so that it no longer says that I'm getting married, but that I am...

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Whats the obsession with skinny?

I've just seen an advert for Heat or some trash like that, moaning about Charlotte Church being a normal sized woman. Oh no, she's just given birth and she's not trying to kill herself by being stick thin.

What is the obsession with disgustingly thin women? Why are the media constantly trying to kill young girls? Let's be blunt, the media say thin is good, the girls don't eat and they die. It's horrible and upsetting and I can't believe it's allowed, but I guess that's the cost of free press.

Get over it people. The average British woman is size 16 or something... not -14...

Friday, 30 January 2009

I'm back

Cor blimey, it's been a long time since I blogged!

I've noticed that it's become increasingly hard to maintain my presence on so many different different sites! What with Bebo, Facebook and this here blog; plus I've just joined LinkedIn.com (great for professional networking). I don't really have time to keep all those up-to-date as I have a job and a life.

I've recently added a program to my computer called Pidgin (available for Windows, Linux and Mac) which allows me to keep connected with everyone on MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk and even Facebook chat! So that helps my communication.

To help people find me and see what's happening with me I'm planning on putting together a "This is me" page with information on where I can be found and updates from the various sources. If I can make it work (and work well) I might open it up to other people!

Until the next time I blog... cheerio!