"Imperial Shuttle Birthday Cake"


Imperial Shuttle Chocolate Cake


  • 20cm square baking tin, greased and lined on the bottom
  • Modelling clay
  • Cake board, black fondant icing, silver shimmer powder


Chocolate Sponge Cake:

  • 350g softened butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa power (optional)

Milk Chocolate Ganache (filling and crumb coat):

  • 150ml double cream
  • 150g good quality chocolate (dark or milk as desired)

White Chocolate Ganache (detailing):

  • 100ml double cream
  • 100g good quality white chocolate

Chocolate Mirror Glaze:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 55g cocoa powder
  • 3 gelatine leaves

Tempered Chocolate Wings:

  • 500g good quality chocolate


First of all, make the sponge cake.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 ° (160° fan).
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined, adding a little flour with the eggs.
  4. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, and fold into the batter.
  5. Spoon into the prepared tin, and level.
  6. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, removing the lining paper, then
    turn again onto another (so it’s the right way up again), and leave to cool completely.

When completely cooled, the cake can be carefully cut into the elements of the shuttle, as follows.

  1. Cut the cake in half vertically, to be end up with two 20x10cm blocks (A and B).
  2. Cut A half in half vertically again, to end up with two 10cmx10cm blocks (A1, A2).
  3. Cut A1 of these quarters diagonally from back/top to front/bottom, to create the front part (pilot’s cabin).
  4. A2, and the rest of A1 are spare (yum!)
  5. Cut B in half horizontally, to end up with two half-height 20x10cm blocks (B1 and B2)
  6. B1 forms the lower main body of the shuttle.
  7. Cut B2 in half vertically, to end up with two half-height 10cm x 10cm blocks (B2i and B2ii)
  8. B2i forms the upper main body of the shuttle.
  9. Cut B2ii in about half again vertically, then cut off the front part of it diagonally to make the top of the shuttle, which holds the top fin.







At this point I froze these 4 elements, because it was going to be a few days before the next stage.

Step 2 is to assemble the shuttle, and crumb coat with chocolate ganache.

  1. Put the dark/milk chocolate and double cream into a pan.
  2. Heat gently until the chocolate melts, stirring all the while.
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour into a bowl.
  4. Whisk until thick and glossy – this is the ganache.
  5. Put the lower main body on a wire rack on a plastic tray (to catch the excess ganache)
  6. Pour over ganache to coat the top and front (long edge)
  7. Put the upper main body on the lower body, and again pour over the ganache to cover the top and front.
  8. Press the pilot’s cabin against the ganache covered front of the shuttle so it sticks.
  9. Put the top of the shuttle on top of upper main body.
  10. Cover the entire shuttle with ganache, ensuring the tops, sides, and back are all completely covered. You can scrape up the excess from the
    tray to cover any awkward parts if you run out.
  11. Put in the fridge to set.



I saved the excess ganache, and popped it in a piping bag. After a couple of hours, I then piped this to fill up the gap which had opened up between the upper shuttle body and the cabin, and also to pipe two parallel lines of ganache on the very top to held hold up the fin.

Once the ganache has completely set, you can do the mirror glaze.

  1. Put the double cream, caster sugar, cocoa power, and 150ml of water into a pan.
  2. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring all the time.
  3. Bring to the boil, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Leave to cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in a bowl of water for 5 minutes.
  6. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, and stir into the glaze, until dissolved.
  7. Leave the glaze to cool to 38°, then pass through a sieve into a jug.
  8. Put the cake on a wire rack on a tray, then pour over the glaze ensuring the whole thing is covered.
  9. Put the cake in the fridge to set completely.



Now for the wings.

I made these using a DIY chocolate mould, made out of air drying clay.

  1. Roll out a lump of modelling clay to around 3-5mm thickness, forming a 20x30cm rectangle.
  2. Using a sharp pencil, mark out the two wings, and the top fin.
    • Each wing was a cut-off right-angle triangle, with base 60cm, trailing edge 150cm, wingtip 30cm, and the leading edge whatever it needs to be.
    • The fin was a double cut off right angle triangle, with base 80cm, trailing edge 120cm, top 20cm, leading diagonal 120cm, and a short
      ‘backwards’ leading diagonal of about 20cm.
  3. When this was completely dry, use cling-film to fill the inside of the model. I also put clingfilm underneath to help it “cling”.
  4. Temper enough dark or milk chocolate as desired, pour it into the models, and level off with a ruler.
  5. Leave to cool for 30 mins, then put into the fridge to cool.
  6. Carefully remove from the mould.






Assembly and decoration.

  1. Roll out some black fondant icing to cover the cake board.
  2. Use a brush to swirl on a galaxy using silver glimmer, and dust some stars.
  3. Move the glazed cake onto the cake board.
  4. Make a small amount of white chocolate ganache (or just tempered white chocolate), and with a small nozzle pipe
    on the windscreen, and over details.
  5. With a large nozzle (or cut a larger hole), pipe along the sides of the base to glue the wings on.
  6. Push the top fin into the top of the cake, and pipe along it.




"Summer Discoveries – Pt II"

The second discovery we made this summer was The Forbidden Corner, up near Middleham.

What an extraordinary place, and well worth a visit.

It’s quite hard to describe in many ways. A common description is “folly” or “maze”, and they seem as good as any. It’s essentially a very large, enclosed garden (in the sense of a walled garden, not in the sense of having a roof), which is organised internally as a complex maze with several distinct areas, and at least two substantial underground sections. (I never quite managed to establish in my mind whether all the parts of the underground section meet up!!)

The maze is probably the most helpful description, as you can mostly only see a few tens of feet ahead or less (due to trees, hedges, walls, gates, etc), although there are some wider open courtyards / gardens. There are always clear paths to follow, although again in the way that a normal maze has paths through it. There are almost no dead-ends, except for in the proper hedge maze (where you expect to find them), but paths often loop round and branch, and take you back to where you started.

It is a fantastically confusing and inviting place, and after about an hour and a half of walking around, thinking we’d probably seen most of it (although a bit confused about all the warnings of the underground bit), we took a turn we hadn’t noticed before, and came across the other half of the garden, including all the underground tunnels! My advice is not to try and get a specific place, but to wander and take paths that look interesting, and try to remember paths you haven’t taken, so that if (when) you end up in the same place again, you can try a different way. Our boys were desperate to find the stepping stones, and we must have spent an hour trying to get to them. We kept seeing them, but couldn’t get there!!!! Our efforts covered almost the whole garden (which was nice), but it was only when we more or less gave up that we stumbled across the entrance.

It is by no stretch the imagination a safe place. There are long drops, narrow stone staircases, open water, rocks which stick out, etc. The regular signs telling parents to watch children are well advised, and I would hesitate to take my younger son with his school friends (at least, not on my own), as there would be every chance they would run off and come a cropper. I don’t say this as a negative criticism at all, on the contrary it’s refreshing to have somewhere with a bit of bite, which hasn’t been health-and-safety-ed to death. I suppose, upon reflection, that it’s a similar level of hazard to Fountains Abbey, or Brimham Rocks (“if not duffers won’t drown”), but it isprobably the least “tamed” of any of the places we’ve visited recently, which was refreshing.

It’s worth a quick word about the underground bits. They are very dark, low, and narrow – essentially single file and one-way. There are stark warnings for people with anxiety or claustrophobia, and these are well placed. They are like a maze, in as much as there are junctions, but not really any dead-ends (you just end up somewhere else). In fact, it’s kind of one-way tunnels from entrances (or which there are a few) to exits (of which there are a few), which join up with each other from time to time. The one-way aspect needs to be borne in mind, as when it’s as busy as when we were there then it is very difficult to backtrack. The one-way-ness isn’t enforced as such, but strongly encouraged by doors which can only be opened from one side, plus of course the fact that the tunnels are only really big enough single-file. You don’t need to go into the tunnels, and would still enjoy the garden. The first bit of tunnel we found wasn’t part of the main bit – it was a single downhill tube, which got narrower and narrower, and ended with a very small aperture. The boys could fit through fine, but we had to remove our backpacks and squeeze through sideways on our hands and knees. Probably best avoided by adults.

We also had a certain ambivalence about it spiritually. The underground sections are all “halloweeny”, and trying to create a scary atmosphere. There’s pictures of snakes, and the walls resemble bones, and there’s skeletons in closest, and so on. At one point a statue of a centurian (I think) is whispering an incantation, which as far as I could tell was just Latin, but clearly intended to sound like a magic. Like halloween, the feel is intentionally dark magic and evil. There’s also a “mausoleum” elsewhere, which is bit like a ghost train (except you just walk through it). It’s a long, extremely dark, underground tunnel, with sudden noises, and things that light up, and pictures which come to life and start bleeding, and coffins, and zombies and things. I wouldn’t haven taken my 6 year old through it if I’d have known what wass coming, but he doesn’t appear to come to any harm. More humourously, three older teenage girls went in just ahead of us, and 5 seconds later they came running out screaming. They did go back in again, and we decided to gave them a few minutes headstart!

On balance, I think it probably comes down (just about) on the side of the intention being “harmless fun”, rather than anything more sinister – for instance other “fairytale” imagery is freely mixed in (dragons, giants). Never-the-less, in principle I am not comfortable with glorfying evil and darkness, and I think it was a shame Forbidden Corner has chosen that route.

All of that said, I would visit again. It’s a magical place (in a good way), especially for children, with wonder and discovery around every corner, literally.

Final point in closing – there are several water “traps”, where the unwary get sprayed with water, in some cases substantially so. It’s a good idea to take a change of clothes for children, as they have ample opportunity to get soaked. My top tip is to check the ground – if it’s wet, then watch out!

"Summer Discoveries – pt 1"

We made a couple of discoveries this summer of good places to visit, both on the recommendation of friends.

The first is Redcar beach, which was a great place to visit. At only just over an hour from Harrogate, it is probably the closest beach to us in terms of travel time, and it’s pretty much motorway or dual carriageway the whole way.

The beach is enormous, especially at low tide, and – at least when we were there – largely empty. I did one of those fancy panaroma things on my phone, which gives the idea of just how spacious it is. Do click through and zoom in for the full spendour.

Redcar Beach

Admittedly, this particular spot was probably 20 to 30 minutes walk along the beach from Redcar itself, and I’m not sure if there was anywhere closer to park. On the other hand, even when we were on the bit of beach much closer to the town there were only maybe 2 or 3 other groups anywhere near us. There is a stretch of beach with a lifeguard and designated swimming, which I guess may have been a bit busier, but as we were only paddling we opted to explore along the beach a bit. It also wasn’t the hottest of days, and a Friday, but it is such an enormous beach, it’s hard to imagine that 5 minutes walk wouldn’t get you somewhere secluded.

It wouldn’t be to everyone’s liking – it’s quite an industrial area, and there’s a substantial wind farm just off the beach to the north. The main sea-front itself is everything you either love or hate about the British seaside, with amusement arcades, chippies, ice-creams, …

Also worth a look is the Redcar Beacon – a “vertical pier” on the seafront, that’s free entry to climb up, with a viewing platform on the top (and also the home to Zetland FM, it would seem, so if radio nerdery is your thing – and if it isn’t then it should be, let’s face it – you can while the hours away watching the presenting doing his or her thing through the glass-walled studio halfway up the tower).

You want to see the view from the top? Oh, go on then…

2016-08-26 17.44.28

The council website, while a little obtuse, rewards careful investigation with lots of information about parking, tide times, etc. Long stay parking is three pounds for the day, and the carparks are all only a short walk from the beach.

If we’re talking about beaches, then Sands End (near Whitby) and Robin Hood’s Bay also deserve honourable mentions as good places for a day out.


Just a quick shout out to LightReaders (www.lightreaders.com) who sent me a lovely e-mail, asking for permission to use this photo of mine (right) in their advertising this year. They “have presented Christian music with Biblical storytelling to numerous churches and organizations in Ohio for the past twelve years. We present for the Audience of One, only accepting freewill donations, often presenting free of charge, and operate on a shoestring budget.”

Very nice to be asked! They even asked if they had to pay (to which I answered no).

In general, I’m very happy for people to use my photos I put online, provided:

  • They ask first,
  • They don’t make a profit out of my photos (or at least, not without sharing some of it!),
  • They give me a credit somewhere.

So a minor slap on the wrist to Trinity Churches of Shrewsbury for using my Growing Leaders Photo (left) on their course page without asking. There’s no doubt that it’s mine because the large version has my watermark on it (my initials – bottom left in this instance). I’m such a big advocate of CPAS’s Growing Leaders I’m haven’t complained (other than this post, I suppose). Actually I’m secretly chuffed that they wanted to use it. 🙂

I stopped visually watermarking my photos a while ago, as it was adding to much time to the workflow, but I always enjoyed working out how to put it in creatively.

I was also pleased to provide several photos recently for the website and prospectus of what is currently called the Yorkshire Ministry Course (the prospectus can be downloaded from the website) – you can try and guess which are mine if you want! By all acounts vicars are meant to have a hobby, and photography will do me just fine, thank you!

I have now successfully submitted an assignment in PDF format via the Common Awards Moodle, including analysis by TurnItIn!!

I did have to do a few more tweaks, so I’ve updated my Using LaTeX for Common Awards page with the final instructions/template for anyone mad enough to do the same.

While I was at this year’s Easter School in Durham, I have the chance to attend the book launch of a new book, which has several contributions from YMC tutors.

Book Launch

John Wigfield

Line up

Line up 2

The book looks excellent, and is available now in paper and Kindle format from Amazon. Once I’ve read a bit more of it I’ll do a more detailed review.

"Corporate Prayer"

2012-04-21-webPrayer is the lifeblood of the church, and having discussed personal quiet times, it is worth thinking about corporate prayer – or prayer meetings. Sadly these can make the heart sink, at the thought of sitting in a cold, uncomfortable chair for 20 minutes in silence without 3 other people who are looking at their feet! However, there are many models of prayer that enable a group of people to pray in a way that is exciting, relevant, and powerful.

The nicknames of these models are not my own, they are how I have heard them referred to over the years.

I would say that the “ideal” prayer meeting blends together several of these different models, to keep things interesting, and would usually cover a variety of topics (even if there is a single theme for the meeting overall). An hour is a good starter – it sounds like a lot, but the time soon goes. You could run a schedule something like this:

  1. Welcome / Introduction (2 mins)
  2. Opening Worship (2 or 3 songs – 10 mins)
  3. Topic 1 – Introduction and Pray (6 mins)
  4. Topic 2 (6 mins)
  5. Worship Song (5 mins)
  6. Topic 3 (6 mins)
  7. Topic 4 (6 mins)
  8. Prayer Walk (10 mins)
  9. Worship Song (5 mins)
  10. Closing prayer (3 mins)
  11. Lord’s Prayer / Grace / Blessing (1 mins)

Topics can be specific items for your situation (Children’s work, local drug problems, upcoming mission event), bigger political issues (upcoming election, gay marriage), or global events/situations (e.g. Syria, persecuted Christians). It is good to have a mix of the global and local to help us remember we are part of a bigger body of believers.

I find that is always good to pray “for” something, rather than “against” it – so pray for peace and reconcilliation, rather than against war. Praying against has its place, particularly in the spiritual warfare domain, but we also want to foster an attitude of love and respect to those who are also made in God’s image.


Worship (by which I specifically mean singing worship songs to God) is a foundational part of prayer. Intercession and worship go very close together. Worship is a form of prayer, and if we are in tune with God’s spirit (which singing helps with), our praying is likely to be closer to his heart. I believe the first part in prayer is to seek God’s heart and agenda. I’m not sure how you can start interceding without first spending time focussing on and adoring God, although of course this doesn’t have to involve music – I just find it particularly helpful.

It is also worth mentioning that most of the songs we sing in church are extremely scriptural – in many cases entire passages set to music. The Word of God is an integral part of prayer, and singing it (or saying it, or reading it) can only be a good thing.


Best suited to a larger group of people, the principle is to split into two halves – one half of the room pray out loud together for a specific issue, the other half worship, usually to an up-tempo and “spiritual warfare” type song (“There’s a burning in my heart”, “We want to see Jesus lifted high”, “Lord you are calling (let your kingdom come)”.

After a couple of verses, the two halves swap, and the half that was singing start praying out loud, and vice versa. It helps if each half has a “leader” they are following, so they know if they should be singing or praying! This can just be someone at the front, facing everyone else, or the meeting leader can always pray and physically change sides.

As with all corporate prayer, there should be guidance from the leader as to what the topic of prayer is. To some extent, if you are all going to pray for different things you may as well be praying alone, and we know from the bible there is power in Christians standing together and agreeing with one another. It is also helpful if the topic is fairly specific, so everyone knows what they are praying for.

Also out loud means out LOUD – while not necessarily shouting, it is awesome when everyone prayers in a raised voice. Of course it depends on the topic, and quiet speaking may be more appropriate, but generally the louder the better.

There are two particularly good things about this model – Firstly, and this is a practical reason, it’s great for people who may not be very comfortable praying out loud. With half the room (and the band) belting out a song, no-one (except God) can hear what you’re saying! Secondly, the music really helps to keep things moving – you know you’ve only got a minute or two to pray for the given topic then you really get on with it, and don’t have to stress about running out of things to pray.

A variation on this model is to intersperse singing and praying, so every sings (perhaps the chorus), and then everyone prays out loud (perhaps while the band plays through a verse).


Similar to the above, except this time everyone is just praying out loud together. Again this is better suited to a larger group, otherwise it’s easy to get a bit self-concious. That said, to be honest by the time there’s 5 or 6 of you, and everyone’s talking loudly, it becomes a blur and you can’t tell what anyone else is praying.

You probably only want a 5 minute slot maximum for this per topic, probably with some singing or silence thrown in between topics.

If you believe that the gift of tongues is still a gift for today (and I do), people who exercise this gift may find it easier to pour out their heart to God using words from their spirit rather than from their mind.

Silent Prayer

There is a strange power to a large run of people joining together in absolute silence to pray in their hearts, together. This model is best suited to repentence or sorrowful/awful situations, when words aren’t enough.

Prayer Walking

Some people find it really helpful to actually do something physical while praying. Getting up and walking about is a great way of keeping focussed and awake, and if you are praying for a particular neighbourhood, what better way then to so do walking around it?

This can either be inside your building (if it’s big enough) – either just wander around (e.g. praying for the activities that happen in each space, or groups that meet there), or have stations up with items, pictures, news clippings, stations of the cross, etc.

Prayer Tree/Stones/…

As a variation on the above, it can also be helpful to have some sort of craft activity associated with the prayer.

If you get hold of a small branch (that looks a bit like a tree), and “plant” it in a pot so it’s upright, then prayers can be written on “leaves” (leaf shapes cut out of paper), and attached to the branches of the tree. Alternatives are post-it notes on a board, ribbons tied a large cross, stones built into a cairn. The imagary is being used to paint a picture of how our individual prayers join together into a corporate whole, as well as providing an way to pray for those who like to do something a bit more tangible. Holy Communion is not a million miles away from this sor of prayer activity!

Another variation is a confessional exercise, where sins can be written on a piece of paper. The bits of paper are then burnt or shredded, as a sign of God’s forgiveness.


Slightly different form of prayer, and better suited to a small group setting.

Each person takes it in turn to sit (or stand) in the middle, while everyone else gathers around, ideally lays on hands, and prayers over the person in the middle. This often has prophetic elements to it, as people pray out loud and share any words or pictures they may feel are from God. Probably 5 minutes a person is plenty.

It’s worth considering having someone as a “scribe” too, to jot down the encourages and words each person receives, for their individual journals.


Good for a youth group this one. The group sits in a circle, and the leader has a football (or cushion, or tennis ball, or …). The leader then throws the ball to a member of the group, who then prays a short prayer out loud, before throwing the ball on to someone else in the group.

If further guidance is needed, the “prayer on receipt” could be for

  • An issue the recipient is facing
  • General prayer for the sender
  • General prayer for the next recipient
  • A pre-determined topic


The psalms are an amazing collection of prayers, adoration, lament, confession, repentence, and worship – and they lend themselves very well to being spoken (as you’d expect).

In particular, they can be spoken corporately as an antiphon. For example, one half of the group could say the odd verses, and the other the even. Or if there’s a natural response, like in Psalm 136, the split can be done in this way – maybe changing sides at each stanza. As with YWAM, it helps to have a designated “leader” for each half to follow.

The splits could be demographic too – so male/female, or young/old.

Out of the hat

Another smaller group one – everyone writes a prayer request on a slip of paper (anonymously or otherwise), and puts it in a “hat”. Each person then draws a slip out of that hat, and prays for that issue for a couple of minutes. Then the slips can back in, and everyone takes another.

The slips could also be pre-determined topics, or areas of ministry, or specific people, or even streets in the parish.


The usual rules for prayer meetings apply – start on time and finish on time. Allow people to stay and pray/worship, but make it clear the meeting is over and everyone is free to go. It is always better to leave people wanting more – and however much they enjoyed it, if it over-runs then next time they will be more reticent about coming (“I really ebjoyed it, but it was a late night”).

Also try and end it well – saying the Lord’s Prayer together, or the Grace, or having a blessing, or even the Peace all bring the meeting to a natural conclusion.

"Quiet Times"

2013-09-08 If you attended a Christian Union (or equivalent) as a schoolchild or student, you will already be familiar with the concept – if not always the practice – of “Quiet Times”.

What is it?

For those who aren’t familiar, the “Quiet Time” is a (ideally) daily exercise of taking some time out, and spending it intentionally with God. It usually involves elements such as worship, bible reading, prayer, journalling, meditation, and so on. Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer (or compline) are very structured way of doing this, required of all Church of England clergy as a part of their Daily Office. Compline is a particularly gentle way to end the day.

Less structured approaches include sitting in the study with a bible and a notebook and a cup of coffee, perhaps with a worship CD.

How to do it

It’s very simple – all you need is a bible (and sometimes not even that), and a little bit of quiet.

A really good tip is to have a bit of paper and a pen, to jot down those really important (but oh so distracting) thoughts that do pop into your head. “Ooo – I must remember to put butter on the shopping list” – fine, write down “butter” on your bit of paper, and then forget about until after your quiet time.

So, for a 10 minute “unstructured” quiet time, you could try the following:

  • 1 minute in quiet settling down and clearing your mind. You could also use a worship song here.
  • 2 minutes reading a short passage. A gospel or psalm chunks are good choices.
  • 1 minute thinking about it – perhaps asking God if he wants to say anything, or just “being”
  • 3 minutes praying to God. A good model is ACTS:
    • A – Adoration. “God you’re great”
    • C – Confession. “God, I did this, and I’m sorry. please forgive me.”
    • T – Thanksgiving. “Thank you that I got on ok with a difficult colleague today”
    • S – Supplication. “Please help the situation in Syria”
  • 2 minutes writing down in your Journal anything that struck you about the passage, or particular prayers you prayed, or actions you need to take.
  • 1 minute saying a short prayer of thanks, and ending.

Obviously any of these elements can be extended. You may be able to spend 10 or 15 minutes in worship if you have a CD that you particularly like. Or if you are halfway up a mountain you may spend much longer in the “being” phase, enjoying God’s wonderful creation.

The Daily Office liturgies mentioned above are a far formal setting (although can be done in 10 or 15 minutes), and broadly have this structure:

  • Preparation
  • Word of God (set readings from Psalms, OT and NT)
  • Prayers (including set collect)
  • Conclusion

The advantage is that all the work is done for you, and the lectionary (set readings) cover the whole bible over time.

In between these two approaches are “daily devotionals”. These are typically booklets lasting between a month and a quarter that have a usually have a short reading, a reflection/commentary, and a prayer every day (usually dated, e.g. “1st March 2013”). There are also masses and masses of these (e.g. at Eden Christian bookshop), and you are more or less gauranteed to find a flavour that suits your palate. I can particularly recommend Topz for 7-11 year olds.

Finally, you might like to consider setting 12 months aside to read the Bible in a year. My Bible in a year has readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms every day, and in chronological (as opposed to canonical) order.

If you have a dated resource, you should decide in advance what you will do if you miss a day. You may decide to read every entry (and hence get “behind” – it’s pointless trying to catch up by doing 2 a day), or you may decide to always do “today’s” entry (and hence sometimes miss entries). I would generally recommend the latter, as it gets very disheartening to always be 2 weeks behind!

Why do it?

There is an awful lot of guilt about this practice, especially in evangelical circles, where it can sometimes seem like if you spend less than an hour in your QT each day then you’re somehow a failure. However my experience is that even 5 or 10 minutes makes a tangible difference to my mental state, attitudes, and holiness.

To misquote a famous saying, if I miss one quiet time then I notice, two and my family notices, three and the whole world notices.

If we are seriously about being followers of Jesus, and being transformed into his likeness, then we kind of need to know what he looks like!


“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” – 1 John 1:9

At Spring Harvest 2014 I was struck by something the speaker (Ness Wilson) said in the context of the above verse at the main Bible reading. She said that at her church they use this verse as a sort of general confession, but that there was a danger here that we would never confess specific sins, and therefore not really confess them at all. In her words (as I remember them), you can’t disown something until you’ve first owned it. We also can’t experience the freedom of being forgiven our sins until we have confessed them to God.

Without wanting to get into the whole area of confession, I think the protestant/reformed church has lost something important in its rejection of regular confession to the priest.

The truth is that sin is powerful and addictive. The truth is also that we don’t face up to our sin, look it square in the eye, and “own up”, we can’t truly repent and turn from it, and “disown” it. And it can feel very humiliating and painful to own up to our sins, but I believe this is the what the bible calls us to.

Ness Wilson has a particularly approach that I think sounds good, and obviously works well for her – which is in her daily devotion she writes down in her journal the specific sins she has committed as an act of confession. The times she has failed to be the human being God has made her to be, or fallen short of his image.

For instance (and these are my words):

“I have been short-tempered with the children today”
“I promised a friend I’d ring, but was too tired and busy to fit in the call”

By writing them down, we own up to them, admit to ourselves and God that we have not made the mark, and from that position we can confess them, and truly know the fogiveness and freedom of God’s grace. There’s no justification, or excuses. We just admit to ourselves and to God that we did bad (if you excuse the English!).

The only thing I would add is I would say that on-going, addicive or deep rooted sin needs a firmer hand. If, every day, we write “I looked at pornographic websites again last night” (or whatever), this needs dealing with. This needs confessing to another person who you trust and can meet with regularly – perhaps a church leader – who will hold you to account, suggest external sources of help, and if necessary remove you from public ministry while you seek healing. While we all are sinners, and will continue to be until glory, no Christian should be a slave to sin.

"2015 – A year of Tweets"

As has become my custom, I like to pick my top tweets of the year. I’m including some of my favourite re-tweets this year too.

  • Nothing like a spot of website maintenance to start the New Year. All links now working as they should, and information is up to date! (Thu Jan 01 08:21:35 +0000 2015)
  • May the love of the Word made flesh enfold us,
    his joy fill our lives,
    his peace be in our hearts;
    this night and always. #compline (Sat Jan 03 21:01:57 +0000 2015)
  • Started my placement at Knaresborough today. Next 4 months joining in the worship over the Nidd. (Sun Jan 04 13:39:09 +0000 2015)
  • Blowing the metaphorical dust off the lunchboxes. It all starts again this morning. (Mon Jan 05 07:41:02 +0000 2015)
  • I wonder if I should have read up on the (n)etiquette of e-mailing a columnist in the newspaper out of the blue before doing so? (Mon Jan 05 21:10:15 +0000 2015)
  • Newspaper in question being @churchtimes, so it’s not quite the same as dropping a line to @caitlinmoran about why Kermit was only number 3. (Mon Jan 05 21:11:56 +0000 2015)
  • May the living waters of Christ cleanse us,
    may the Spirit descend upon us,
    and the blessing of God be with us
    this night and always. (Tue Jan 06 20:48:09 +0000 2015)
  • Overheard on the way to school:
    “We’ve got RE today?!”
    “Oh God” (Wed Jan 07 08:45:24 +0000 2015)
  • Today’s main task is to make a minion birthday cake for No 1s birthday tomorrow. And prepare a presentation on ministry and leadership. (Fri Jan 09 10:30:56 +0000 2015)
  • Car being mega buffeted in scout carpark! Hard to tell the difference between the road and the woods on the way here. #BitsOfTreeEverywhere (Fri Jan 09 20:56:32 +0000 2015)
  • Pretty much a full house of weather warnings: Rain, wind, snow, and ice. #YorkshireWeather (Fri Jan 09 22:19:04 +0000 2015)
  • I realise that I’m actually quite looking forward to the start of term at YMC. Really enjoyed last term, once I’d got into the groove. (Sun Jan 11 09:14:56 +0000 2015)
  • Our loss is your gain #YMC. I only had 1 term and 1 module with Christine, but wow! @Steven_Croft @DioceseofSheff (Sun Jan 11 09:59:49 +0000 2015)
  • RT @metoffice: AMBER warning for #UKSnow, YELLOW warnings for ice, rain & wind have been issued #WeatherAware (Tue Jan 13 12:50:13 +0000 2015)
  • Another Mirfield weekend rolls in. Worship will be all from the Book of Common Prayer this time round, apparently. (Fri Jan 16 16:20:46 +0000 2015)
  • Found out in this evenings Theology lecture that God doesn’t exist. Turns out there is a God, and it was a semantic exercise. #phew (Wed Jan 21 22:18:00 +0000 2015)
  • @NessWilson @springharvest Hearing you speak at Skeggy a couple of years ago was a joy and a highlight – sad not be with you again. (Wed Jan 21 22:19:30 +0000 2015)
  • PC has just given up. Hoping that its just the PSU which has blown (it was v hot when I looked in the case). Emergency trip to Maplin! (Fri Jan 23 11:13:07 +0000 2015)
  • PC seems to be working again PTL. Nasty moment when wouldn’t POST, but the mighty Tom’s hardware helped me track down the schoolboy error! (Fri Jan 23 12:39:56 +0000 2015)
  • Someone’s turned the scout hut car park into an ice rink!! (Fri Jan 30 21:00:52 +0000 2015)
  • Quietly satisfied that I got full marks on the Harry Potter quiz in this week’s First News. (Never mind that it’s a newspaper for children.) (Sat Jan 31 22:10:45 +0000 2015)
  • Wednesday is the one day I have to travel any significant distance. Another weather warning of snow for this week makes it 3 in a row!! (Mon Feb 02 21:42:32 +0000 2015)
  • I used to wonder if hyperbole was the next series up from Superbowl. (Thu Feb 05 21:53:49 +0000 2015)
  • Pikachu Pancake photo.eutony.net/365/2015-04-28 (Tue Feb 17 14:47:21 +0000 2015)
  • Time for Penguins of Madagascar! First cinema outing for No. 2!! (Wed Feb 18 09:58:23 +0000 2015)
  • Can’t believe someone is having Fireworks in this weather, but not sure what else it would be? #BigBangs #Harrogate (Mon Feb 23 20:16:27 +0000 2015)
  • Fifteen years ago, the most wonderful person I know said “I will” to me, and me to her. Feels like yesterday. (Thu Feb 26 19:41:55 +0000 2015)
  • RT @TheRealNimoy: Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015 (Sat Feb 28 06:33:30 +0000 2015)
  • Thank you @TheRealNimoy for being such a major figure in my childhood! #TrekkieForvever #RestInPeace (Sat Feb 28 06:36:48 +0000 2015)
  • Who’d have thought I would end up citing Richard Feynman in an essay on doctrine? #LifeOfAnOrdinand (Sat Feb 28 09:08:07 +0000 2015)
  • I somehow seem to have agreed to plan and a lead a 6.20 sunrise service on Easter day. (Sat Mar 07 20:57:44 +0000 2015)
  • Do you think that a mid-life crisis is when you reach the age when you realise there will be no deus ex machina? (Mon Mar 09 12:42:11 +0000 2015)
  • Weird to be planning an Easter day service in the dark depths of Lent. #LifeOfAWannabeVicar (Fri Mar 13 12:45:26 +0000 2015)
  • Right, signing off twitter for the weekend as I’m on silent retreat! Admittedly you may not notice any difference!! See you on Sunday. (Fri Mar 13 17:29:03 +0000 2015)
  • Great weekend. Very quiet and peaceful. Was almost a shame to start talking again. Think getting home to a bouncy 4yo will be a shock!! (Sun Mar 15 14:50:58 +0000 2015)
  • God is sort of the opposite of us – He remembers the good stuff forever and forgets the bad straight away. (Mon Mar 16 08:52:54 +0000 2015)
  • Good to see @NYorksPrepared taking prayer seriously: “Having a BCP is about being prepared should disaster strike” 🙂 #BookOfCommonPrayer (Tue Mar 17 11:33:29 +0000 2015)
  • The lord is risen. Alleluia!! (Sun Apr 05 06:22:08 +0000 2015)
  • Led a sunrise service at 6.20, now on the train to Durham for a week of Easter School. #LifeOfAnOrdinand (Sun Apr 05 12:31:32 +0000 2015)
  • Jesus is Lord – by his death and resurrection, God is saving the world in a way that can be received by everyone through faith. @MarkPowley1 (Fri Apr 10 13:09:21 +0000 2015)
  • In a range of contexts, how do you communicate gospel values most effectively to young people? #BigQuestions #YMC @twurchordinand (Fri Apr 10 13:12:41 +0000 2015)
  • Answers from panel to last tweet: “role model”, ” sharing life”, “Godly play.” (my paraphrase/brevity) (Fri Apr 10 13:53:55 +0000 2015)
  • Suddenly have a load of (other) trainee vicars following me. Feeling I need tweet super spiritual tweets (as you can tell from this one!) (Fri Apr 10 20:40:02 +0000 2015)
  • I don’t really like the idea of lining up a week’s worth of automated/scheduled tweets on a Monday morning tho. Misses the point for me. (Fri Apr 10 20:49:36 +0000 2015)
  • … Bit like scheduling the year’s birthday e-cards on Jan 1. Practical, sure. Better than forgetting? Almost certainly. But feels soulless. (Fri Apr 10 20:51:35 +0000 2015)
  • Lots of food for thought yesterday. Especially struck by church as authentic, changing, doubting, spiritual, community. (Sat Apr 11 06:37:23 +0000 2015)
  • The challenge with authenticity is not making our character flaws into a virtue. (Sat Apr 11 08:14:34 +0000 2015)
  • Survived my first YMC Easter School. Good stuff, but looking forward to seeing clan. Not so wild about normal life resuming in the morning! (Sun Apr 12 15:34:05 +0000 2015)
  • I packed a huge wheely suitcase. The Brother who joined us from CR appears to only have a small backpack for the week! #TravellingLight (Sun Apr 12 15:36:32 +0000 2015)
  • One high point was deciding not to suggest the actions to “allelu allelu” at morning prayer, only for everyone to rebel and do them anyway! (Sun Apr 12 15:40:58 +0000 2015)
  • Today I learned the importance of listening carefully to one’s beloved’s questions:
    “Did you have any trysts?”
    “Nothing major.”
    #doghouse. (Sun Apr 12 22:01:04 +0000 2015)
  • Just so we’re clear, I didn’t have any trysts! I thought it was a question about fallings out!! 🙂 (Sun Apr 12 22:04:28 +0000 2015)
  • Sad news of fatality on railway near Harrogate. Thoughts and prayers with those involved and left behind. (Thu Apr 16 13:21:33 +0000 2015)
  • USB wallsocket. Genius. photo.eutony.net/365/2015-04-19 (Fri Apr 17 13:36:14 +0000 2015)
  • Just had my first, and quite probably last, Prestat hot chocolate. Not really my cup of tea (and not just because it’s not tea). (Fri Apr 17 20:43:57 +0000 2015)
  • 4yo: “No no – I’m a hungry hungry cakeavor not an apricotavor’ (Sat Apr 18 09:26:53 +0000 2015)
  • Can’t really believe my placement is nearly over. Going to be odd to be back at St Andrew’s! (Sat Apr 18 21:12:29 +0000 2015)
  • RT @RevRichardColes: Silent Breakfast at Mirfield. One of the great gifts of western monasticism to the world. http://t.co/u67eUVg9E9 (Mon Apr 20 11:22:42 +0000 2015)
  • Here’s an idea… How about we (a) all vote and (b) vote for the party we want, & ignore the “safe seat” “wasted vote” nonsense propaganda? (Mon Apr 20 21:11:30 +0000 2015)
  • Probably happier than I should be that next Saturday’s day on Church History has been cancelled. #FamilyTime (Fri Apr 24 16:59:27 +0000 2015)
  • Well that’s it – my placement at Knaresborough is over. Bit sad really… (Sun Apr 26 12:10:52 +0000 2015)
  • Feel v sorry for the cyclist who thinks it’s ok to nearly knock down a 10 yo on the stray and then swear at them. Must have troubled life. (Sun Apr 26 15:00:18 +0000 2015)
  • It’s 1 year since I said the last goodbye to my Mum. So glad that I was with her for her last few hours. Slightly subdued day ahead, but OK. (Mon Apr 27 06:40:51 +0000 2015)
  • This is how my day is shaping up! #porrige #explosion photo.eutony.net/365/2015-04-29 (Mon Apr 27 06:50:51 +0000 2015)
  • So I posted a bowl of porridge on Instagram. It’s been heart-ed by 2 Russian ladies who don’t seem to own many clothes. How does that work? (Mon Apr 27 21:06:23 +0000 2015)
  • One of the great things about being a Dad is that the kids haven’t heard all your old jokes before, so you can inflict them all over again. (Mon May 04 18:11:27 +0000 2015)
  • This mission model has been fascinating. I genuinely didn’t think the basis of mission was in Genesis! (Mon May 04 21:12:37 +0000 2015)
  • I’m thinking that Carly-Rae is this generations Kylie. Irritating pop that you end up really really really really really really liking. (Thu May 07 06:39:49 +0000 2015)
  • Oo – power cut in Harrogate. Only 30s or so. Computers won’t have enjoyed that. 🙁 (Sat May 09 17:30:07 +0000 2015)
  • Hard to tell what’s really going on in London protest right now. Pinch of salt re Stuff on twitter, but why apparent media blackout? (Sat May 09 19:59:19 +0000 2015)
  • Who’d have thought a Taylor Swift video would give a precis of modern dance genres? #ShakeItOff (Wed May 13 06:48:52 +0000 2015)
  • I’m no expert on the fairer sex, but I don’t think I’d like a boyfriend to describe our relationship as “I’ve found myself a cheerleader.” (Fri May 15 06:38:43 +0000 2015)
  • The gardens at Mirfield looking (and smelling) fab in the spring sunshine. photo.eutony.net/365/2015-05-17 (Sat May 16 12:35:58 +0000 2015)
  • Really interesting discussions today about baptisms and funerals as ministry and mission. #FoodForThought #YMC (Sat May 16 21:08:07 +0000 2015)
  • Also interesting to note that YMC is a nominee in the Yorkshire hospitality awards. Only in that instance the M is meatballs! (Sat May 16 21:10:01 +0000 2015)
  • There would be a certain irony to being run over while walking along playing Crossy Road. #RememberToLookUp (Tue May 19 12:17:14 +0000 2015)
  • I had to be filled with the Holy Spirit before my ‘Christianity’ was anything other than just words. I still do! #Pentecost (Sun May 24 05:58:02 +0000 2015)
  • Putting off my lunch so I can hear @alexbcann play electric dreams. (Wed Jun 10 11:12:05 +0000 2015)
  • Anyone else got dimming lights in Harrogate? Twice in 20 mins where i am. #BrownOut (Thu Jun 18 20:04:59 +0000 2015)
  • It strikes me that ordination is the result of ministry, not the cause/source. Obvious I guess, but easy to think of it t’other way around. (Sat Jun 20 05:28:36 +0000 2015)
  • My first weds evening off since I started ordination training, and I don’t know what to do with myself!! (That may be a slight exaggeration) (Wed Jun 24 19:38:14 +0000 2015)
  • @alexbcann I guess you know when its a good one cos the crowd goes ho? (Thu Jun 25 10:46:49 +0000 2015)
  • What’s with the KT Tunstall thing in the Lawson track? @StrayFM @alexbcann (Thu Jun 25 10:52:05 +0000 2015)
  • Thunderbolts and lightning very very frightening. #harrogate @StrayFM (Wed Jul 01 13:10:24 +0000 2015)
  • Things hotting up at the Great Yorkshire Showground! Except for the rain, that is… (Mon Jul 13 12:15:38 +0000 2015)
  • The Divergent books are gripping – almost forgot to pick up my boy from scouts! #whoops #badparent #NoseInABook (Fri Jul 17 20:28:26 +0000 2015)
  • Just spent 1.5hrs catching up on admin and emails. And a little bit of Facebook, if I’m honest. My ‘reward’ is a trip to IKEA. (Fri Aug 21 09:13:18 +0000 2015)
  • Made it through IKEA in record time (45 mins) AND only bought 1 thing that wasn’t on the list! (Fri Aug 21 10:51:50 +0000 2015)
  • My approach to hoovering (and ironing) is that any amount I do is an improvement on the pre-hoovered (or ironed) state. (Sat Aug 22 10:09:49 +0000 2015)
  • I discovered one of the hidden dangers of scrabble last night, when I told my 11yo son he was ‘allowed to have sex’. (Fri Aug 28 18:30:55 +0000 2015)
  • Why is it take a 5 minute fix always takes an hour when JavaScript is involved? (Thu Sep 10 11:58:33 +0000 2015)
  • The depressing thing about fixing bugs is that you can work for hours, and have a single line of code to show for it! (Thu Sep 10 12:22:50 +0000 2015)
  • First online shop of the term, and I now realise that I utterly failed to compensate for the fact both boys now have school dinners. (Fri Sep 11 10:03:21 +0000 2015)
  • Starting to get the impression that community/fellowship is (particularly) on God’s heart right now. It keeps cropping up…. (Tue Sep 22 21:06:03 +0000 2015)
  • Nothing like a good baking session. Flapjack for scouts to sell at firework display, Christmas cake in the oven (2.5 hrs still to go!) (Sat Nov 07 13:08:11 +0000 2015)
  • Horrible journey home from Mirfield – cars at all angles on M621, then several lakes instead of roads through Leeds. (Wed Nov 18 22:16:37 +0000 2015)
  • RT @FrizFrizzle: Leeds to the left of me,
    Wakefield to the right,
    Here I am,
    Stuck on the M62. (Wed Nov 25 16:26:46 +0000 2015)
  • I must remember to try and arrange my work Christmas day the evening before a liturgy construction assessment day again next year… #D- (Sat Dec 12 07:00:46 +0000 2015)
  • In the end, the liturgy construction went quite well, aided by being allocated to a fanastic group of fellow ordinands. Plus lots of coffee. (Mon Dec 14 07:35:34 +0000 2015)
  • Oooo – empty can rattling down the road on an otherwise quiet dark and misty night. Have I walked into a horror film? #GladItsNotElmStreet (Tue Dec 15 21:03:55 +0000 2015)
  • Christmas cake! photo.eutony.net/365/2015-12-23 (Sun Dec 20 08:25:21 +0000 2015)
  • Brass quartet playing “Let it go” outside M&S. #HarrogateLife (Tue Dec 22 13:31:26 +0000 2015)
  • The wait is over – The king has been born, in a stable! Merry Christmas one and all – may it be peaceful and joyful. (Fri Dec 25 08:48:31 +0000 2015)
  • Don’t want to be grumpy on Christmas Day, but I don’t like the arrangement of “Joy to the world” with minors/sevenths. Misses the point! (Fri Dec 25 15:53:47 +0000 2015)
  • RT @metoffice: News Release: Red warning is issued for rain(Sat Dec 26 09:42:53 +0000 2015)
  • Just been for a drive through Harrogate – town roads all fine, except for some deep standing water in usual places by stray. @alexbcann (Sat Dec 26 10:56:23 +0000 2015)
  • Last of our Christmas guests on their way south again. Lovely time had by all, I think, house now feels a bit empty (even with 4). (Wed Dec 30 11:12:47 +0000 2015)
  • Rains coming down again… Does Storm Frank mean we have to be particularly direct with one another? (Wed Dec 30 12:53:44 +0000 2015)

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