At church this morning Rob was preaching on John 15 under the title "Living in Christ."
God, by definition, is beyond human comprehension -- but the Bible tells us we must "know God" How do we resolve this contradiction?
In this part of the New Testament, Jesus is plainly preparing the disciples for life without his physical presence. He talks about the relationships they are to have with him, with each other and with the world.
And why does he use the metaphor of the grapevine? Every Israelite would have been familiar with the vines adorning the temple in Jerusalem, and would have been struck by Jesus' claim to be "the true vine".
Being a Christian means keeping in close contact with God - if we lose touch with the vine we certainly won't bear fruit. Verse 6 doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to hell if that happens; we are repeatedly told that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Pruning a grapevine is a skilled job; knowing exactly where to cut is essential. Our Christian lives also need pruning: just as the dead wood needs to be removed and the living wood pruned to make it able to bear fruit, anything we're preoccupied with to the exclusion of God needs to be cut back.
If your conscience doesn't trouble you that could be a bad sign. Being able to do selfish things without being troubled is a sign that you need pruning!
God wants us to be fruitful. If there's no spiritual fruit from your life, are you really a Christian? In this busy world we can easily prioritise things to leave prayer and studying the Bible to "some other time"... no way to keep a relationship going. God should be #1 on our "To Do" lists.
Following church, many of us attended a BBQ across the river at Rod's place in Mount Rumney. Up into the hills, through the gum trees and past the signs warning of kangaroos crossing the road.
I let Julie do the driving. I'm such a city child that I am actually frightened by the prospect of facing those narrow, twisty unmade roads. I much prefer to stick to the bitumen.
Rod must have had a hectic day. In the morning he was preaching at one of the churches in the suburbs, then in the afternoon he manned the barbecue to feed the multitudes before preparing to conduct the evening service at our church. Better him than me.
Julie brought along a rooster -- not for the pot, but to add to Rod & Sandra's hen house. The hens looked a bit surprised at the new arrival, but they seemed to be settling in together by the time that we left.
Less pleasant was the discovery that the e-mail at the church office is down again.
In the past I've had problems with the connection being unreliable or messages simply not downloading. This time it was a little different.
To the puzzlement of everyone who looked at it, the Send/Receive button simply disappeared from the Outlook desktop. People who were experienced computer users would do a double-take and say "I've never seen it do that before!"
This was bemusing. We had no trouble connecting to the internet, or seeing old messages or even writing new ones. What was impossible was to send them out or get new ones in.
In the end I turned to my trusted advisor Mr Google. A search for vanishing Send/Receive buttons turned up a myriad of references, including a long piece from the "Bleeding Edge" website [the IT column in the Melbourne newspaper The Age].
Looking through this, it seemed that what I needed to do was create a new Profile so that the Outlook programme could connect to us. After some tinkering I eventually found that you got to this not through Control Panel but through the options menu in Outlook itself.
I got about halfway through the setting up process, but came to a halt when I was asked to provide the POP3 and STMP codes. I went home and meditated on this.
It seemed to me that I'd been in this situation before. The more I thought about it the clearer the memory became. I remembered the relevant details written on a sheet of paper which I had filed away prudently in 2001 in case they were needed again.
That day had come and (wonder of wonders) I even remembered exactly where that piece of paper was! The human mind is an amazing thing.
Monday afternoon I drove in to the office and extracted the manila folder in question from its storage place. I plowed through it, deciding that 90% of the contents could go straight into the circular file [the waste paper basket]. But there, almost at the bottom of the pile, was the four-year-old message with the STMP details.
I started up the computer and entered the necessary settings. With some trepidation I closed Outlook and then opened it again.
Success! The Send/Receive buttons were back in their usual place. Order was restored to the universe.
While I downloaded the last few days of e-mail, the system flagged that Outlook needed an update. Download time would be about three hours. I decided to postpone that to Some Other Time.
For the moment I was content with my small victory.
Sad to hear that British comedian Ronnie Barker has died. His partnership with Ronnie Corbett in The Two Ronnies made him famous but he had already had a career as an actor and writer before that.
In fact he wrote a lot of his own material under pen-names like Gerald Wiley or Jonathan Cobbald. Some of his fans would also be surprised to see him playing small parts in 1960s shows The Saint and The Avengers.
Although he retired from acting to run an antique shop years ago, I was surprised to see him pop up in the 2003 movie My House in Umbria.
We shall all miss him.
"Any scientist who thinks this issue is settled has been settled has been looking through his telescope too long"
"It would be wise to count the number of assumptions utilised to reach the conclusions listed as scientific fact"
a couple of quotes from a book on science Julie has been reading.
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