Wednesday, November 28, 2007

School Days in France

I am just about to return from France after spending a week with my friends the Hadleys who live in Sorbiers near St Etienne.

Yesterday I went with Wayne to his school, St Paul's, to take part in an English Conversation lesson. I did this a year back and recognised some of the faces of the pupils. The lesson took the same format with me being asked questions about myself, my name, age, where I have been etc.

Last time this happened I was with my wife and another friend, an older lady from the church we attended. A question I was asked was, 'Is this your daughter?' pointing to my wife! There were puzzled expressions when I said it was my wife. The next question was, 'Is this your mother?', pointing to the older lady! It grew worse as we were then asked our ages etc. They couldn't quite get their head around the fact that I was married to someone so young. It caused great hilarity for Wayne and the team visiting France with us.

This time the questions were kinder. Age and name came up but nothing embarrassing. I really enjoyed my time with the class. They were really nice kids and I already have added one of them, Camille, as a friend on Facebook.

I find its much more interesting to visit France and stay with a family. You see the people and country in a different way. I love France and have a growing love for the French. I have found a welcome in this town and enjoy the experiences of being here.

So its off to the airport in Lyon and back to my home country but part of me is in France and I hope to come back again and again and again. My prayer is that this country will find God's blessing and the love and joy that I have found in serving Jesus.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New Operating System

I have finally come to realise that soon I need to buy a new laptop for my business. Normally I would be excited and in part I am but I know this time it will mean I have to get to know a new operating system, the dreaded Vista.

It is so different from what I have grown used to but because I sell PC's and repair and fix them I need to bite the bullet. I know I will get frustrated because they have renamed familiar tasks and some of the ways of working will seem long-winded. Its par for the course.

I then realised that coping with change is not something that I have just found difficult as I get older, I have never relished the process of change. What is it about change that is challenging? For me it is having to become vulnerable. I like the unfamiliar that change brings but the vulnerability is the thing that gets to me.

I remember when Windows XP replaced Windows 98. I was an expert in 98. I didn't want to become a novice again. Now I am quite knowledgeable on a PC with XP installed so I don't want to move into Vista.

In the Bible there were similar experts in Jesus time. They were experts in the law of the Old Testament. They could quote it, tell you how to apply it and in some cases how to get round it. In one example the law says that on the Sabbath you can't travel more than a mile from your gatepost so they made the gateposts portable and put them in the cart with them.

Jesus came a long with a new operating system. It was all about humility and grace, love and meekness and faith in God justifying a person for eternity. It threatened the whole way of life for the law experts. They were sincere in their beliefs but Jesus said the effect of this on people was like carrying a heavy yoke on your back.

This challenge of new things didn't end with Jesus. The Apostle Paul began to reveal new things as well. Things like, no circumcision, priesthood for all and everyone being Spirit-filled believers.

The challenges still continue. I am seeing that the new challenge is for the church. Is God bringing new things that we are seeing as a threat to our way of doing things? I think He is. After all its His Church He can do what He wants with it can't He?

Eventually the thing that I was expert at will become obsolete. Windows 98 is a fading glory, XP will follow in the same way. Vista is the new thing and if that's were the work is I have to adapt. I won't get much work as an expert on Windows 98! I have to name the old as obsolete and embrace the new.

Maybe spiritually this is what is holding some of us back. Has God moved on and we are clinging to old operating systems.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Not fit for the task

This week I returned home from working away and discovered the next morning that the shower was faulty. It was no longer fit for the purpose it was made for. I was hoping for a rest yesterday, I had only slept in my own bed three times in the previous three weeks, but the shower needed replacing.

I managed to find a bargain and presumed that if I bought one almost identical that I could fit it without too many problems. I duly ordered one and decided to have a go with the help of my son Ben.

I was brought up not being shown anything about DIY and it always makes me feel inadequate when I have to do any. The theory seems easy but application leaves me at a loss. When I lived in my first house after being married I was hopeless. What made it embarrassing was that it was the church manse and as such a public arena. Most of the older men in the church were skilled workers and this made it worse. I was hopeless and only one of these guys, Mr Wills, took the time to get alongside and do jobs with me. There were some funny moments and not so funny moments. In truth looking back I can probably laugh at them all now. The familiar cry during those times was, 'What have you done now?' This was the beginning of my 'DIY' history and like the shower I often feel 'unfit for the task' when I attempt any. Some of us are just not built that way.

Ben and I took our time and began the job after lunch. All went well, we managed to get the old shower off and started to fix the new one to the wall. I then realised that although the water and electricity supplies would be fine I needed to drill new holes through the tiles to screw the unit to the wall. I have done this before so I knew to put tape on the wall to stop the drill bit from slipping but I couldn't remember which drill bit I used. I came to a full stop, realised that I needed to buy a special bit or risk messing things up. Off to Wickes and hey presto the right tool made it easy and the shower was up and running in no time. I could feel a certain amount of pride at completing the job.

I was reminded of how important it is to have the right tools and for things to be fit for purpose otherwise they are useless. Spiritually there was a lesson in this for me. I need to be reminded that if God chose me for a reason He must think I am 'fit for purpose'. The Bible says that we are 'called according to His purpose'. I know that when I have messed up its because I have done things outside of that call, I wasn't made to do them and therefore couldn't do them well.

Often I don't feel fit for His purpose. I sometimes feel that maybe God has got it wrong or that I am doing things that I can't really do and one day the whole thing is going to blow up in my face. I then realise that all I have to be is His tool. A great tool can be right for the task but in the wrong hands its useless. All I have to do is keep submitting and obeying and He will continue using me. I am not great, in fact I wouldn't cross the road to see me but if God speaks and acts through me that's something different.

I am only a great tool as long as He uses me.