view from my pew 13

Dear Internet

Mr Grenville-Stubbs here again. Did you miss me? I have been busy trying to make a positive difference in cyberspace. I had an idea for a search engine that I have been trying to get off the ground with what is known as ‘crowd funding’ – where lots of people offer small amounts of money to help make something a reality.

My idea was to create a Christian internet search engine. I did think of calling it ‘Ask Mr Grenville-Stubbs’ but my friends suggested that this might be a bit of a long name for people to type in. They suggested something easier to remember, too. So I came up with ‘Goddle’.

searchGoddle works like any other search engine you can think of: you type in a question, a word or something that you want to find out about and click ‘pray’. (I think ‘pray’ is better than ‘search’ for a Christian search engine).

After you have clicked ‘pray’ the clever software will go to work and find a Bible verse that relates to that question / word / thing you want to find out about. So, if you wanted to search pray for information about ‘wrestling’, for example, Goddle would provide you with Psalm 13 verse 2: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

I put this idea on a website for crowd funding ideas and have been waiting for donations to flood in. I think there must be a bug in that website because even though my idea has been available for the past month so far nobody has offered anything.

I am sorry to have to say that my Minister, Revd Philip Inneck-Tucker was not much help at first, either. I mentioned the idea to him on a Sunday after church but he had one of his mysterious coughing fits and had to rush off to get a glass of water. I tried to talk to him several times later that day but he always seemed to rush away just as I got close to him. In the end I managed to talk to him by waiting outside the church until he had locked up and was unlocking his car in the dimly lit car park.

I came up behind him: “So what do you think of Goddle?” I asked.

He uttered something unintelligible (or it may have been ancient Hebrew) as he clutched his chest. “What are you doing sneaking around in the shadows? You almost gave me a coronary!”

I apologised for surprising him, but insisted he gave me his opinion.

“Why would anyone want to use Goddle?” he asked. “If I want to find a recipe for chili con carne I don’t want to be given some obscure verse from Leviticus about regulations for food preparation.”

“But the Bible has answers for everything,” I said.

He gave me one of his funny looks and that’s when he gave me a brilliant idea. He suggested that if that was my attitude to the Bible I could save myself a lot of time and money by making the answer to every question: “Jesus.”

Why didn’t I think of that?

Yours faithfully

Mr QR Grenville-Stubbs

 

looking for the impossible

searchToday I spent time and effort searching for something. It was an important document. It was my tax return. I had found ones from previous years but needed this year’s. I file my returns online but was sure that I also printed out a summary of this year’s return. Yet I could not find it anywhere.

I had used some tax return filing software specially designed for Ministers of Religion and thought that I would have the document I needed in the backup folders. But then I realised that I had filed the return on a different computer and, not so long ago, I had removed my profile from that computer because I had not needed it. I thought I had made copies of everything and put them on an external hard drive, but when I checked it I did not have a tax return for this year.

My heart sank. It was gone. My tax return for 2014-2015 had vanished.

And then I realised something. I have not yet filed a tax return for 2014-2015 because that financial year has not finished yet! And the return I needed was for 2013-2014 and I had that in my hand.

D’oh!

Do you ever search for what does not exist?

No?

So you have never looked for the perfect partner, job or house – where there is nothing wrong with it at all, it is flawless – so that you will be happy?

You have never bought a lottery ticket (or raffle ticket) or entered a competition and had a feeling that ‘this time’ you would win and life will be better?

You have never caught yourself imagining a different life where ‘the grass is greener’ and you never have any problems?

I think that part of the way that we have been designed is to seek the best, to have ambitions, hopes and dreams. I that is one of God’s fingerprints that is left on us – a desire for improvement, for progress, wanting something better. But it is not intended to be focused on ourselves, it is intended to be focused on others.

But we distort that through selfishness to become wanting to improve our life, make progress for ourselves, wanting something better for us. When we want more, better, perfect in order to make our life easier, better, happier, we find that we will be striving for what doesn’t exist and lose a sense of satisfaction.

Paradoxically those who seek to serve others often find greater satisfaction than those who seek others to serve them (my loose paraphrase of things Jesus said).

Be blessed, be a blessing

specific searches

I have been looking for a new member of the family. It’s nothing as noble or significant as adoption or fostering, I have been looking for another puppet. After Stew the Rabbit’s close encounter of the inky kind the deacons at the church I have just left kindly gave me a gift with instructions to find a new puppet friend.

So I have looked online and have found someone. He’s on his way now, and I may well introduce you when he arrives. But while I was looking online I decided to see if there was any possibility of getting a new ‘Stew’ puppet. I searched in every possible way I could for the puppet, using the manufacturer’s name and code, the name they sold him under and even a description and there was nothing. Just the gentle hiss of static electricity as the internet looked blankly back at me. So I am now going to see if I can give Stew the Rabbit a bit of a clean up as he’s a bit grubby after about 19 years of use. But he’s not going in the washing machine, even if I tell him there’s carrots in there!

frustratedAfter I had given up looking for an exact replacement bunny I wondered what would happen if I put the words ‘stew the rabbit’ into my search engine. It was not pleasant. Rabbit stew recipes everywhere! Then I wondered what would happen if I put ‘”Stew the Rabbit”‘ (in quotation marks) into the search engine and lo and behold mention of him on this blog was the one of the first things that came up! And if I did an image search with the same subject a picture of him was on the first page! Stew the Rabbit is not famous but “Stew the Rabbit” is!

It’s amazing the difference that those quotation marks made. To the computer they made the difference between searching for occurrences of the words stew and rabbit (it ignores the ‘the’) in any order, leading it to find all sorts of ways to cook a rabbit (I hope Stew never googles his name!); and searching for Stew the Rabbit exactly as it is written, leading the computer to find the little white bunny.

I wonder whether in our praying we ought to be as precise? I don’t mean putting ‘air quotes’ around our prayers. What I mean is that sometimes we can be a bit general – God bless all those who are persecuted for their faith, feed all the hungry people in the world, stop the spread of Ebola. I am sure God hears and honours those prayers but they are so general that we may never see the answer to those prayers. However, if we are more specific the easier it will be for us to see the results. That does mean that we need to do a bit of research, finding out about people and their needs, but I believe that if we do we will be encouraged by how we see God at work. And our praying may be more meaningful to us because we will be praying about people not just issues. (Do pray for the big stuff too!).

Don’t think that you will always get what you pray for – God’s not a spiritual slot machine where if you put in enough prayers you get what you want – but you will see evidence of God’s will being done and his kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.

Be blessed, be a blessing.