The language of Christian giving

I wish to register a complaint. It’s about how we, the church, talk about giving1The word “giving” in this context can be ambiguous. I am using it in this article to refer specifically the contributions made by church members to the common funds of the church.. I don’t mean them, the big stage TV millionaire prosperity doctrine teachers or the shady con men who ride on the back of honest Christianity. I mean us, the well-meaning local church which never has quite enough funds or willing hands for the work before us. The church which loves God, loves its members, loves its community, loves the wider world. The church which is not looking for a quick buck and will use well the money people offer. We, this church, are rubbish at talking about giving. Continue reading

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1. The word “giving” in this context can be ambiguous. I am using it in this article to refer specifically the contributions made by church members to the common funds of the church.

Dear Mr Trump

I’m not certain “congratulations” is the right word to say to you. You are now set to hold one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the entire world. Not dangerous from a personal perspective (although, there is that) but from the perspective of everyone. You will have the power to start world war three and also the power to bless the world beyond imagining.

I didn’t pray for you to win. I didn’t pray for Mrs Clinton to win either. My prayer has been that whoever wins will be filled with love, wisdom, humility, kindness, grace and courage. My prayer now is that you will confound all our worst expectations by being one of the greatest presidents America has ever seen. My prayer is that you will actually approach the title “leader of the free world” which your country(wo)men like to appropriate for their leader. My prayer is that you will be way, way bigger than your own dreams. Continue reading

New Monasticism Conference Reflections

Last weekend, I attended a new monasticism conference in London. My interest in new monasticism primarily concerns how parish church might be influenced and, in some way, become “new monastic” in character. These are my reflections, then, from a parish church perspective.

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Parish rule of life ideas

This is the third in a series of posts about new monasticism in parish church. Here, I begin to ponder what items might appear in a rule of life for a parish-based expression of new monasticism. I’ve been preaching on these things so, where appropriate, I’ll include links to sermon recordings/transcripts. We’ll start with just two or I’ll never get round to publishing…

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Solved: temperature control

I am very pleased. For years, now, I have striven to develop a clean and simple temperature control algorithm for my coffee machine which gets it to a stable temperature in the minimum possible time. This weekend, I cracked it: two minutes to a stable 95°C on my Gaggia Baby Class with no oscillations at all1That’s not quite all that is needed – the brew head needs bringing up to temperature as well. But that’s a different topic and I’m still working on it. Two minutes is also not an absolute minimum because the boiler power can be increased. Also a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we’ll use the stock 1350W the machine shipped with..

This is how I did it…

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1. That’s not quite all that is needed – the brew head needs bringing up to temperature as well. But that’s a different topic and I’m still working on it. Two minutes is also not an absolute minimum because the boiler power can be increased. Also a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post, we’ll use the stock 1350W the machine shipped with.

See how these Christians love each other

I would hope that anyone who has experienced any significant measure of the grace of God would be able to agree that the phrase “fight fire with fire” isn’t really the sort of thing we hear Jesus saying. I would hope that we’d be more inclined to fight fire with fire extinguishers. To pour oil on troubled water. But, I wonder, is this enough? Might it be that one person’s “fire extinguisher” is another’s “fire” or, at the very least, the other’s “water cannon”? Might one person’s oil on “troubled waters” be another’s oil on a “raging blaze”. Recent escalations in the disagreement between a number of prominent (on social media) Christians seem to suggest so.

Want to know what I’m talking about? Have a look at what Adrian Hilton is saying about Jayne Ozanne and vice versa. But, for goodness sake, don’t join the fray!

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A vote of confidence

Who can comment with any certainty on the current state of British politics? In the surge of the present media maelstrom, so many words and phrases have bubbled briefly to the surface before sinking again out of sight. Chaos reigns. But in the chaos, I think some things can clearly be said and, indeed, need to be said to call our leaders to account. Indeed, it is the very chaos which most excites comment.

Where does this chaos originate? Why could calm not have followed in the wake of last week’s referendum? Indeed, would a period of calm reflection not have been exactly the thing that was needed in the circumstances? Do we not, in emergency situations, praise the people who are able to keep their heads and help everyone else to respond calmly? What airline would want the crew to ran about screaming and inciting chaos in an emergency? Or to begin fighting each other? Indeed, cabin and flight crew are trained to do exactly the opposite: to keep their cool and to help everyone else to respond in a calm and ordered manner.

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Gaggia boiler specs

So, you’re obsessed with implementing the perfect temperature controller for your Gaggia Baby Class (or Classic or any other derived model)1Oh, you’re not: is it just me then?. You’ve realised that you really need to know the values of some important parameters and the only easy way to get those is to take the boiler apart. And you don’t want to do that2Are you sure you don’t? If you do, you can take the opportunity to improve the brew head temperature.. The good news is I’ve done it for you3Where I also took the opportunity to improve the brew head temperature.. Here is everything you need to know4At least, I hope so: I don’t want to take it apart again.: Continue reading

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1. Oh, you’re not: is it just me then?
2. Are you sure you don’t? If you do, you can take the opportunity to improve the brew head temperature.
3. Where I also took the opportunity to improve the brew head temperature.
4. At least, I hope so: I don’t want to take it apart again.

Improving Gaggia brew head temperature

Over recent weeks, I have wasted invested a lot of time investigating the Gaggia boiler thermodynamics. (All part of my master plan to have the entire machine at a stable temperature inside 2 minutes from power on.) A major obstacle to getting a stable temperature quickly is that the brew head takes for ever to warm up. Whilst thinking about this, I hit on an idea for improving the heat transfer from the aluminium boiler shell to the brew head: put heat-sink compound in the join between the shell and the brew head. Continue reading