Christmas giving – a lesson to me on grace.

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Wow, what a year it has been. My wife passed her driving test, I got told I don’t have cancer, I went the the XCEL men’s conference, and we sponsored a second child in Kenya. Career-wise I’ve worked as a Principal Designer on the biggest Mosque in Britain (yes Christians help people that don’t yet know Jesus also to have a nice place to meet – love thy neighbour… who is my neighbour?…). I have also worked on the biggest school ever built in our county, and on the largest project University of Cambridge have ever built (£1.2 billion). My wife and I attended some lovely functions including Cambridge Architecture Awards, the LuvEly winter ball and a lovely party with my colleagues at the Grad-pad in Cambridge. Christmas day this year (yesterday) was spent with my family and it was so lovely. We presented my wife with her Christmas gift, her very first car and course it had to be the car of her dreams, a Smart car. There have also been some awful challenges and fights, with cancer attacking many friends. Two have had the fight of their lives and beat it, two are in the fight of their lives against it now, another one is waiting to hear if he has it, and I was just told I do not have it. We just keep praying and hoping and trusting the Lord. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. It has been a roller coaster of a year, but this Christmas has been a real high note.

Here’s a thing. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would do the things I have done since Jesus took me from my old life. In 2017 I am living a life that I could not have dared dream for. I am married to the girl of my dreams and she is the best wife I could ever ever imagine, I have a fabulous job that I always wanted, working with architects on building design, we are sponsoring children in Africa and that feels so good, and I just bought my wife a brand new car. Five years ago none of these things were even in my mind. I had a hum-drum job that did’t pay so well, an appalling wrong relationship and the girl I was one day going to marry I had not then last seen since nearly 40 years.

God’s grace took me and put me in a place that I could not have foreseen or hoped for. Part of me never quite stops being amazed and asking the reason, but grace really has no reason except love, and love knows no reason as to where it lands, being a bird of the heart not the head.

Right now you may be in a hard place where you have forgotten to even dare to have dreams of anything different that the life you know, or awful health or financial issues are devastating you or those you love, but I now know from experience that He can change all of it in a second, and sometimes He does just that. Not only in your lifestyle and relationships, but in your health and the health of your friends. DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE. DO NOT STOP BELIEVING. There are miracles, healings, breakthroughs, reconciliations. Jesus does save lives, and He does love you. Remember Lazarus – even when hope seems irretrievably lost, yet Jesus can even rebuke death itself. He makes a way where there is no way. The Bible says: Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” and Acts 2:21 “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The timings and reasons of the Lord are not fathomable to us, but we can start to understand a little if we study His Word and try to follow his teaching. Ecclesiastes 9:3-5 teaches us that where there is life there is hope. So if you are in a hard place, call upon Jesus. Have the faith to ask. Do not be afraid of asking in case you are not answered. The evil one wants you to stay silent for fear of not being answered. Do not give in to fear of rejection, for you have nothing to fear except fear itself. The story of the prodigal son tells you that the father will not reject the child, regardless of what the child has done. So do not be duped by the devil’s deception, for deception is all he has. Call upon Jesus, put on the full armour of God, fill yourself with the Holy Spirit and stand, and when you can do nothing more, yet stand.

Jesus gently prompted me out of an old sinful life of which I had truly had enough, He made a way for me and I chose to follow Him, not knowing where it would lead, but just feeling comfortable that it was the the right path. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” That’s the closest I can come to understanding how and why He put so much blessing into my life.

As far as I can see I do not deserve this, but He in His grace and love and generosity has said it’s OK, take these gifts simply because I want you to have them. When you feel blessed, you start to want to bless others. Jesus lights a fire of love in your heart, and so here’s what I have learned yet more deeply this Christmas: It is far better to give than to receive. The pleasure of knowing I am helping to give children a hope and a future in a poor country far away, or of giving food and gifts to the poor in my own town as our church did, or of making my wife’s dream of a owning a car come true – these things fill me with a so much joy so I have literally walked along dancing.

Perhaps Jesus feels that sort of joy when He helps us in grace. Perhaps when we accept Him as real and enter into true friendship and relationship with Him, and through Him with all mankind and His creation, He feels such joy. If so, then I maybe I am starting to learn after all, why he extends grace to those that do not yet deserve it. Because He stands outside of time, He does not only see the people that we are, He sees the people that we can become for Him if we choose to accept fully His gift, which ultimately is the gift of His very own life itself, given freely for us, even though we did not deserve it.

May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you – Numbers 6:24-26. Amen.

There are a couple of nice music vids at the foot of this post. Enjoy.

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Smart choice

My beautiful wife passed her driving test. Yay!

So I asked the Lord should I buy her a car. He answered “Song of Solomon 3:9-10. King Solomon made a chariot — In which the royal bridegroom and bride might ride together in state.” I took this to be a yes.

So I have purchased her a brand new Smart car as her Christmas present, because she likes Smart cars. The registration number plate ends in YWA. Hmm… sounds like Yaweh. Yep I think this is the right one.

Here it is being prepped at the dealer’s shop ready for me to collect it:

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Who collapsed it?

All things are quantum probability waves until an observer collapses them – so teaches physics. If there is no observer the universe is just all the possible states, all at once. So before there were people, who or what was observing the universe for it to have a definite state? How can there be any definite history of the universe between the big bang and the appearance of observers? Any definite history sufficient for instance to have definite solid planets, functioning stars and emerging evolving biology so as to give rise to the observers.

Physics requires a priori, an observer, to be anything other than an infinite mush of all possibilities.

So what constitutes an “observer” anyway? A plankton? A bacterium? A monkey? Whatever, no observer could have been around early enough to make the universe probability wave collapse into something that could give rise to that observer – it’s a paradox.

The answer is, of course, God. Oh how predictable those Christians are eh?

Now while you digest that, ponder this:

If a load of heavy stuff in a tiny place makes a black hole from which nothing can escape, how come the expanding big bang, which was ALL the heavy stuff there ever will be and all in a teeny weeny tiny place (to start with) didn’t disappear up its own bottom?

The answer is of course it was expanding fast enough to escape its gravity as it expanded faster than light and there wasn’t yet any space to curve into a hole as it was space itself expanding as it went. It wasn’t going backwards in time despite the expansion going faster than light as the time-space was expanding with the light, so the light was not travelling through space and time, it was travelling with space-time.

All this required an observer to actually be rather than potentially be. The only possible candidate is, as previously noted, God.

No, not noise… Well not yet…

He is hard to see as he has no high-vis clothing for the roadworks he is working at, but you may just be able to make out that he opens the tar boiler on his lorry with his unprotected hands. A lorry that is also carrying half a dozen cylinders of propane and is parked under a nice combustible autumn tree. He bends right over the open boiler peering in, putting his unprotected face and eyes right over the boiling tar, inhaling the carcinogenic smoke and fumes deeply without any respiratory protection.

The sign opposite entreats folk not to make unnecessary noise. Unnecessary noise could include coughing as the fumes choke one or screaming as the boiling tar suddenly bubbles and explodes over one and the lorry and half the street catch fire and exploding cylinders launch across the street to kill the early morning diners at the McDonalds opposite and fly into the skies to rain down like cruise missiles on the local area.

Overly dramatic? Maybe, but in the UK a tar boiler van carrying propane cylinders did catch fire and the cylinders did fly like missiles, into a local shopping centre a quarter mile away, and into the school opposite where the van was parked, killing an 11-year-old boy, and it was caught on video which is used in training sessions which I have attended.

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Safety highlight

Live working at height. Let’s just take the light apart while it’s still live. Live working is of course the last resort allowed by law, not the default way to replace the bulbs to make sure they are working without having to re-energise. They did several as I watched. Matey walked directly underneath, so as to feel part of the risk I suppose. Presumably they have not heard of the Electricity At Work Regulations or the Work At Height Regulations. Anyway they kept us amused as we paused for a coffee on our journey, somewhat appositely to attend a funeral.

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Meteorite strike?

Yesterday it was the regular Orionid meteor shower. I was travelling in my car with my wife in the when there was an almighty bang on the roof. We wondered what it could be as the impact was so strong and there where no stones or any way a stone could have come up and hit the roof in that way, there were no nearby vehicles that could have dropped something form above and no birds or trees that could to cause the incredible impact we heard. I stopped to look at the damage fully expecting to see a very large expensive dent in the roof.

What I saw, or more really felt with my fingertip, was a sub-millimeter chip in the outer paint plastic protective layer. Very difficult to photograph but I have just managed it. It is the small off-white dot in the blue paint above my finger  (reflected sky clouds are seen in the blue paint of the car roof)

I think this tiny chip in the paintwork was caused by the last gasp impact of a burnt-out meteor from the Orionids. I can only emphasise the incredible force with whatever the tiny particle was that caused this chip. The bang was really loud, my wife was startled and wondered what it was and we were grateful it had not hit the windshield as we felt certain it would have smashed it. It may sound far-fetched to suppose it was a meteorite, but given the time and context, such a quite rare but not unknown event as a meteor striking a car seems the most likely to me.

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Woodwork

Here is some pretty and large woodwork. This section is about 10 meters across and sits about 10 meters high. It is just one of many sections that will support a huge roof. A 100 tonne crane does the lifting.

No-one will ever have the chance to see the sky through this woodwork again once the roof goes on, and most people are highly unlikely to get access onto this site currently under construction. So my photo here is just about unique. Enjoy.

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Catatonic Catalunya

I have visited Catalunya three times. Each time I stayed in a big hotel in Malgrat for two weeks. I am not a club or beach tourist. I saw some of the tourist sites of course, Barcelona, La Rambla, Picasso’s place, Sagrada Familia, the architecture of Gaudi. I got pickpocketed, probably by one of the many Somalian pickpockets in the area. I liked the people apart from the thieves.

Now here’s a thing.

The Catalan people seem to want to be separate from Spain but Spain apparently does not want to let them go.

Last year poor young Catalans were demonstrating about not having jobs, and were blaming the Spanish government.

Now poor young Catalans are demonstrating against tourists because they say they don’t get the money but it goes to AirBnB owners, pushing up housing costs and all the jobs go to East Europeans.

The poor young Catalans have had no luck with protests against their government, so they are now scapegoating the tourists.

So here’s what I think. I am sad that I am no longer welcome in Spain/Catalunya, but I saw Spain/Catalunya before it became an unfriendly country. As usual, once again (as per history – civil wars, Basques etc etc) Spain is tearing itself apart. Fortunately I don’t need to go back there – I’m looking outside the EU for my holidays – maybe South Africa, China, Canada, Japan.

I think the people demonstrating in Spain are wrong, because the money the AirBnB owners get is spent mostly in the Spanish economy and pays Spanish taxes. I also think Spain is wrong because it lets Europe allow cheap labour to flood its market unlike Britain, that has said it will leave Europe so it can stop that problem and control the labour supply to the UK.

British tourists react very quickly – think of Tunisia. The IS attack in La Rambla has frightened some away. Spain’s attitude to the EU negotiations and Gibraltar is making more Brits think of boycotting Spain. The anti-tourist protests and attacks on tourists that are spoiling British, German and Dutch people’s holidays really are the last straw.

I think that maybe many British tourists, and maybe German and Dutch ones as well, might teach the foolish anti-tourists a deep hard lesson and very few at all will go to Spain as a tourist for many years. Then I think the East European cheap labour would go away from Spain as there would be no jobs in the empty hotels, bars and restaurants. There would be no income to all the AirBnB properties to be spent in Spain. There would be no taxes from the hotels, bars and restaurants and tourist shops. There would also be no subsidy from the EU to support Spain any more as the EU would be supporting all the extra jobless East Europeans that Spain would have created, and would be doing that without a third of the EU income – only Britain, Germany and France have any money, and Britain is taking it’s money away.

Perhaps the Spanish anti-tourist protesters would be left dirt-poor with no jobs to even compete for against the East Europeans, their rich class having no income from the AirBnB to pay tax for their welfare system, so their government would have no income to help the poor, the EU would not be able to help them and there would be not even jobs in fishing (because Britain is taking back its waters). These protesters would be left to share their country with their unwanted guests, the Somalian pick-pocket gangs. Maybe Germany could lend them some money then become hated as has happened in dirt-poor Greece. Meanwhile the drug dealers who lost their most valuable asset, lots of tourist customers for the clubs and bars, would probably be looking for the heads of whoever drove their customers away. Britain won’t even buy salad from Spain if the EU exit is not favorable. Britons can buy some nice salad from Africa and help to develop some nice new tourist places there, in the Commonwealth.

Catalunya could become a broken torn-apart land populated by poverty-stricken people, angry drug dealers and Somali pickpockets. Tourists would not want to visit, anti-tourist protesters would have got their wish.

So then it would be Hasta la vista Catalunya – oops I mean – a reveure Catalunya.

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Entourage

Entourage – it’s what they call those funny cut-out people in architectural renderings of things they might build.

Some of the cut-outs available really make you wonder though…

For instance you might ask where your energy drink came from, and what makes your kids hyperactive, and just what you neighbor is into. Wonder no more, the Entourage people reveal all. Now you just wish you hadn’t asked. These architectural cut-outs are REAL and available and are all from the SAME set.

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The Bridge Cafe, Oban, Scotland

No, not at the bridge above, the cafe is in Oban town, a few miles further on from the steel edifice pictured over the title.

The cafe is a complete hidden gem.

Lovely town Oban, but the cafes in town are tourist places and frankly not so all wonderful as they might be.

However hidden away in the unprepossessing environs of an industrial estate that borders on urban-explorable in parts, beside a little green=painted iron bridge near the back of Tesco, is a delightful little cafe.

The owners have created a chic friendly cafe where the discerning will know they have stumbled upon L’Ecosse Profonde (Urbain) – i.e. the “Real” (Urban) Scotland – and can enjoy great value tasty cafe food and drink. No pretensions (unlike my prose), just clean, lightly assembled design from simple components. Excellent. They also have toilets one need not be afraid to use – no really it is a real plus marks.

So, 100 percent recommended. Go out of your way to this less obvious place and get a decent repas instead of tourist-priced auto-fodder. Enjoy living like a local and watching ducks with the Mums.

See the webpage here http://www.bridgecafeoban.co.uk

Trip Advisor apparently calls it a hidden gem – well, YES IT REALLY IS!

It is at
3 Soroba Ln, Oban PA34 4HX
Phone 01631 566697
Opening time on the website – its a daytime place.

I have no commercial connection with the cafe and gain nothing from posting this other than the good feeling that I am telling people about a lovely business that deserves lots of nice customers.

Google stuff about it here https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Bridge+Cafe/@56.4095754,-5.4705996,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x81d13b63895b882!8m2!3d56.4095754!4d-5.4705996